weekend free-for-all – July 27-28, 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: Mrs. Everything, by Jennifer Weiner. Sprawling over seven decades, this is the story of two very different sisters and how they change as the world, and especially women, change. A long family saga wins again!

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

{ 1,363 comments… read them below }

  1. Agent J*

    Is there a way to generally search the comments on the AAM site without knowing which letter/link they’re associated with? Using the site’s search and Googling only brings up letters with the search terms but not comments with those terms, if that makes sense.

    Sometimes a letter sparks a great conversation that I want to refer back to later but without remembering exactly which letter it was, it’s difficult to find (unless I’m not doing it right).

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In Google, put this in front of your search terms:

      That will confine your search to the site, and it’ll search comments as well as posts.

      And actually, the site search engine will search comments too (but I think it’ll return posts first). I find the above method the easiest though.

      1. OhBehave*

        I tried this with search terms. It gave me every instance of the two words together and separately. Adding quotation marks around the term, I got results with only those words.
        However, in searching my user name, it will give me all posts with my comments but will not take me to my comment.

          1. Marzipan*

            But, once you’re into that page you can do whatever the relevant ‘find’ option is for the device you’re on, and search for your username.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Are you sure? When I use the “Search This Site” field in the upper right, it finds comments, too. But yeah, it depends on the terms you use. It may be more rigid than a normal google search, in which case Alison’s search should use the full Google “natural language” guesses about what you mean, which are either really good, or really annoying (if you know exactly what you are searching for, put it in quotes).

      1. Lena Clare*

        Yes, I think if you untick the set collapse all as default site-wide box, your search terms will find the comments also.

  2. LittleBeans*

    What credit card do you like and why? Just got married and my husband and I are looking to get a joint card. Will probably be used for a lot of groceries, restaurants, maybe some travel.

    1. HA2*

      I just use one with the highest percent cash back. The Fidelity Visa card has 2% back on everything which is what I have, I think there’s one or two other cards that give a flat 2% back on everything. I’ve never seen above 2%.

      1. CatCat*

        Yeah, this is my favorite too. No need to think about any particular categories. 2% back on everything and rewards can automatically be redeemed into a Fidelity account.

    2. JKP*

      If Southwest flies out of your airport, the Southwest card racks up miles pretty good. The miles are easy to use with no blackout, and you can cancel at the last minute without an penalty and get all your miles back.

      But the interest rate is unreasonable, so you wouldn’t want to carry a balance on it. But it’s a good card if you put your monthly expenses on it and pay it off every month.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Discovercard has a varying program of higher cash back categories. ..might be quarterly but I just know I sign up each time. I don’t change my spending for it.
      (Although I did once schedule a family celebration dinner a little early to fit it in before the end of a ‘restaurants ‘ period.)
      There’sone trivial thing that has me use my Discovercard more than my other credit card–the edge of the card is orange which means less fumbling in my wallet than for any other piece of plastic. Brilliant bit of marketing, that.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Spouse has a Discover card, and after research it’s what we recommended for our kids as they got old enough to need one. For the cash back rewards program, which is straightforward and useful. (A lot of the high rewards cards that sound so great in offers require you to put $7000 in charges on in the first 2 months. Great if you have that in savings and were about to spend that on furniture or travel; otherwise useless.)

        Some spots only take Visa or Mastercard, but our bank debit cards are MC debit cards so that was covered.

      2. Southern Metalsmith*

        Discover is also my favorite. In addition to what Seeking Second Childhood says, they have great customer service and have always been pleasant to deal with. I have security locked down pretty hard on mine so any time I travel I have to let them know. And if I go to a fair or some gathering with vendors from all over, they’ll notice if I buy something from a vendor in North Carolina and then 30 minutes later from New Jersey and they disallow the second. A short phone call and I’m fine and back to business. I really appreciate that they are so attentive to anomalies in purchasing patterns since I’ve had card numbers stolen in the past. ( I try not to be too creeped out about knowing perfect strangers know how and where I shop.)
        Oh, and they let you choose the picture on the front. I loved the clown fish I had for years, but they stopped offering that one, and now I have a picture of a tropical island.

      3. Booksalot*

        I am hugely loyal to Discover because of how easy they have made it for me to deal with identity theft. I was part of multiple big breaches (IRS, Target, Equifax) and had a slew of suspicious charges over several years. Every time something weird shows up, they catch it and e-mail me a confirmation request right away. Calling for help always gets me an actual human who is pleasant and helpful. Their customer service is top notch.

        I also like that their rewards are straight-up cash. I can’t be bothered with points or miles or other conversion nonsense. Just actual money, which I can apply directly to paying my bill.

      4. KR*

        Love Discover. You get rewards and you also get free credit monitoring and can view your credit score at any time (they update it once a month). I don’t think it includes everything but it’s a pretty accurate score. I haven’t got a late fee once from them for forgetting to pay my balance.

    4. LDN Layabout*

      I’m in the UK, so probably not useful for you, but the standard advice is to get as much back as you can and it’s usually points or cashback. I like to travel and have my favourite airlines so for me it’s points and a card with 0% fees on overseas transactions.

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      If you are a Costco member, the Costco visa:

      4% gas
      3% travel and restaurants
      2% Costco
      1% the rest
      No FTF
      Has contactless function so can use it places like the London Underground that require that

      I also have the Fidelity card – flat 2% is good.

      If you plan international travel, have at least one card without FTF, preferably with a chip and with contactless functionality.

    6. tab*

      I live in a Delta hub, so I like the Delta Reserve AmExp card. If you use other airlines, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is highly rated for travel benefits.

    7. jDC*

      USAA but of course you’d have to be military or Capitol One. I actually even use the Capitol One bank account. They are amazing. No fees!

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        +1 for USAA. We’ve been treated fantastically by them for our mortgage. We use Navy Federal for credit, and it’s been great customer service (and the app works well too).

        I also have Discover, and have had a crap ton of issues with their customer service losing my payments. The cashback is okay, but we really don’t use it enough to justify to be honest.

    8. BRR*

      I have two but the one I want to point out is the Amex blue cash preferred. The downside is it has an annual fee but it offers 6% on groceries among other things. I would look at nerd wallet as a resource.

    9. Aurora Leigh*

      I have the Amazon Chase card. There’s 3% back on Amazon purchases, 2% back on gas and restraunts, and 1% back on everything else.

      I will look into that 2% back on everything Fidelity card though!

      1. Handy Nickname*

        +1 to the amazon card. I do a lot of shopping on amazon and love the 5% back there, plus the pours is money towards amazon. They sometimes run other specials too, so for one month I got 4% back on all gas purchases.
        I’m excited about the new Apple Card coming out this summer yet too. 2% on everything instantly (vs at the end of the billing cycle/quarter), and as cash not points . Looks like there management features will be pretty robust too- communicate with customer support by text and pay bills that way, adjust your monthly payment see how much interest you’ll end up paying. And it’s a sweet looking card too ;-)

    10. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Nerd Wallet is a great source to sort through the options. Also if you use Credit Karma they can show you great choices too.

    11. Kim, No Longer Esq.*

      We have Chase Sapphire, no annual fee and lots of cash back. I’ve also had my card frauded, over the course of my membership, probably around 6 times, and not once have I ever run into trouble with it; never had to pay for a single purchase I didn’t make (and I think I even accidentally marked one as fraudulent that one of us HAD made :/ )

      1. Sled dog mama*

        We have a chase sapphire as well and love it!
        I also have a secondary card from chase (can’t really recommend the specific card because I picked it for very specific reasons and use it only for work travel) but we’ve had nothing but good experiences with chase.
        We previously had a us bank card that offered blanket 2% and higher in certain categories but the categories never seemed to match our spending even when you thought they should. So if you do your grocery shopping at Walmart or Target you probably won’t get the grocery category because it’s based on how the merchant is coded not what you actually purchase.
        At any rate we did not like card because it was hard to get customer service on the phone (which would probably extend to any us bank card) and it had strange categories (for me, I don’t spend on gym memberships so that one was worthless).

      2. Biggles*

        We use Chase Sapphire too and really like it. Easy to use app and good return on points overall.

    12. Gir*

      We’re talking about getting a Capital One Savor card. It gives like 2-4% cash back on groceries, restaurants and entertainment I think it was, then something like 1% cash back for everything else.

    13. lifesempossible*

      +1 to the Amazon card or Costco card.
      I have both cards, and both have great cash back options! Plus the fee to be a Prime or Exclusive member covers any annual card fee. (That’s about $120 for each spot, which is about the same cost to have the great rewards of a Discover card. However, because I’d already want the services anyway, it makes sense to bundle it.)

      Amazon Prime card is 5% on anything Amazon, 2% gas station/restaurant, and 1% everything else.
      I believe Costco is 4% anything from their store (including gas and liquor), 2% restaurant, and 1% everything else.

      Amazon uses Chase cards, which I’ve had great experiences with their customer service and easy-to-use website. Costco goes through Citi, and I just got that a couple weeks ago, so not much to comment on. Both are used through VISA, as well. (VISA is pretty universal, whereas something like Mastercard has more limits.)

      Look at the cash-back options in the long run. Sign-on bonuses are nice and people who are serious card hackers can reap those, BUT you have to be pretty vigilant in that game. For a first card, I’d recommend a card that you will keep in the long run, as that boosts your credit score. Part of the long-run game, too, is whether you will continue to use the service for a longer time. Really, you have to look where you shop. I have weighed pros and cons of a Target card, too. That one saves you 5% each visit, which isn’t a cash payout, but a cash savings. The one benefit of a cash back is that you can use it for something special… like I already have 75% of my Christmas money saved! If you are a serious traveler, Chase has an amazing travel card that extends all your reward points by when it comes to travel. So really, my advice is to consider where you shop, what you what the rewards for, and look at the card fees. All the best cards with high cash back will have fees of $120-150, except if you bundle it with a big-name retailer (i.e. Amazon, Costco, Target).

  3. Disgruntled Daughter*

    Trigger warning: sexual assault, abuse

    Thank you all so much for your support so far as I work to set up financial boundaries with my mom. I’m faced with a new issue in super nee territory and I’m not sure what to do.

    My mom is writing a book on her life. I think it’s a great idea to help her process all the crappy things that have happened to her. She’s been abused, sexually assaulted, abandoned, addicted to drugs, and many other things. I don’t think she’s properly dealt with a lot of the trauma she’s been through and I think writing it out is a pathway to healing.

    The issue is that she wants constant feedback on the content. And a lot of it is disturbing. She says she kept a lot of it from my brother and I to protect us but now she wants to document and share it as a legacy of the resilience of our family and how far she has grown. But I do not want to be involved in this. Beyond her multiple requests for feedback and affirmation every few pages, I don’t think I want to know all of the horrific things that happened to her. I already know my grandparents and great-grandparents did some messed up stuff; reading makes me feel exposed and vulnerable to trauma without the tools or resources to help her with it. It’s like witnessing a car accident over and over again and being helpless to do anything.

    She’s slowed down the requests for feedback. But moving forward, how can I support my mom in this endeavor without getting into the details of the book itself?

    1. Marzipan*

      I’m sure other people are going to talk about the (absolutely understandable and tough) emotional aspect, so I’ll focus instead on the writing part.

      Giving feedback on writing (in the sense of real, actionable comment designed to help the writer strengthen their work) is actually quite a skilled task, so unless it’s something you’ve personally studied or do in a professional capacity then you may not be the best person for that task, and you could acknowledge that you’ve realised that.

      So, in terms of the actual proposition of writing a book and wanting help and feedback on it, it might be good to help her seek out resources to strengthen her writing skills generally (books, oblige classes, local classes, online communities). I’d suggest treading a bit carefully given the subject matter – not everyone would feel comfortable reading it or be the right person to do so. But I’m thinking you could lean into the craft aspect of what she’s doing – because it absolutely is a craft – and support her by helping her find resources to develop those craft skills. That way, you could take a step back from the actual content and more be there to cheerlead the project generally. Even if she’s seeing it as primarily a therapeutic project, a focus on the craft skills involved could still be a good way of offering encouragement and boosting her belief in her ability to achieve her goal.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        Excellent advice.

        I have actually worked as an editor/book coach with some folks who wanted to write trauma memoirs. There are two aspects, both of which should be handled by a professional instead of by you.

        1) The writer has to work through the trauma and process it in a safe setting. This is what your mom is trying to do with you, but you are not the appropriate person.

        It’s not uncommon for people to embue the writing process with magical properties. Many folks believe that if they can just describe the things that happened to them on paper, it will a) immediately make them healed, b) their lives will be transformed from their current struggle to a state of success and happiness, and c) their first draft will be just as meaningful and transformational to other people.

        This is an illusion, of course. Putting things on paper does make you feel better, and you get some sense of control and distance by being able to put those memories and feelings outside your head, into a separate container that you can close and put away. For some people, particularly with less-extensive issues, this first round of venting is helpful, but they still need time to let everything settle and work through their system before working with it as a manuscript.

        If private journaling is not enough to help her (which for something this intense, I expect not), then she needs to take these writings to a therapist and work through them there. If finances are an issue, there are many nonprofits that offer low-cost, sliding scale, or even free counseling. Another option would be to join a recovery group or support group for addiction or abuse.

        This is not your job. Being raised by a parent who is addicted or struggling with unprocessed abuse is enough of a job already. You did that part, you survived and created your own life. YOU DID YOUR PART ALREADY.

        2) After — repeat, *after* — the writer has achieved distance from the material and some measure of objectivity, they can start looking at it as a manuscript. Nobody can write a coherent, readable, or saleable book while they are in the throes of dredging up unprocessed trauma. It doesn’t work like that. If she is dealing with this stuff for the first time, it is a journal. Not a book.

        After the healing stage, then she’ll be ready to have conversations with an editor or a critique group. She is not ready for that now. Those conversations include remarks like,
        “I don’t understand this description. It doesn’t make sense.”
        “This sounds unrealistic.”
        “This timeline is confusing. These things couldn’t have happened in this order.”
        “This is boring. You should cut it.”
        “You’re going on about this at great length, but it doesn’t seem that significant compared to this other thing.”

        I guarantee she is *not* prepared to have those conversations right now.

        Encourage her to keep writing if it’s doing her good. Feel free to tell her that reading it is NOT doing you good. You don’t have to torture yourself to make her feel better.

        Tell her about this two-stage process, and encourage her to work through the healing part with a therapist or support group. Asking you to read and validate this stuff is not going to benefit the end product. It’s not going to benefit her healing. And it’s definitely not benefiting you.

        1. Marzipan*

          This is really what I was getting at and didn’t express anywhere near as clearly as you!

          I think something people often don’t realise about non-fiction is that it’s not just a question of writing true things down and that being that. Writing a non-fiction book requires just as much attention to character, structure etc as fiction does. And it’s really, really hard to give actionable feedback to someone about, effectively, their own trauma. You’ve really summed up what I was feeling around the writing/feedback aspects of this in a very informative way.

    2. Asta*

      It’s really absolutely ok to protect yourself from vicarious trauma. I don’t know what to advise, but try to be gentle with yourself.

    3. Anonymous superhero*

      Could you suggest an acquaintance who could/would read the work for writing feedback but is removed enough not to feel emotionally affected? Especially maybe someone who directly or peripherally works with difficult/traumatic subject matter and is used to coping and not letting it affect them? You could sell it to your mum as, “actually this person will be loads more objective and the feedback will be more meaningful, I think they can really help you” so you are providing a supporting resource without draining your own emotional capacity. Plus the chances are their feedback will be more honest as they are not emotionally linked to your mother (and as such not hidebound by worrying by offending her wit criticism).
      I thought of this because there are people (like me) who deal with reading/seeing disturbing things daily as our job, and we know how to deal with it (or spot if we aren’t dealing with it well). If I was asked this by a friend or acquaintance re writing by their family member, I’d be happy to help with a request like this in principle.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Get very specific, maybe? Tell her that reading about the things she endured makes you feel (adapt for your own experience, but e.g.) scared and panicky, giving you a really fast heartbeat and a metallic taste in your mouth, and you get so anxious that you can’t think straight, so it’s impossible for you to give any kind of thought or any kind of feedback as to what a reader might think of her writing. I normally wouldn’t recommend giving this much insight to someone with whom you have a difficult relationship, but besides what Marzipan said (which might be enough on its own), you really won’t be able to even tell her what an average reader might think of what she wrote because of it’s highly personalized effect on you.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Tell her that she needs an objective third party to help her. as a family member you are too close to the setting to be objective. I really don’t think that she will gain what she is looking for in a finished work by asking family. HOWEVER, she may not desire a finished piece, she may just want to vent to family.

      If resilience is her theme then she needs to show how resilience came into play over and over again. And that does have to be laid out in words because it will not be clear to the reader. Using your car accident example, as a casual observer I have no idea what the driver was thinking or how they tried to save themselves or what they did when they saw all the damage from the accident. I can’t see this by just driving by an accident. Same goes for a reader, they can’t see what your mom was thinking, how she tried to help herself or how she tried to deal with the fallout from all the crap that went on. She needs to spell this all out in words.

      I picture her writing going something like this: Rotten Thing A happened to us. Rotten Thing B happened to us. Rotten Thing C happened to us. [And respectfully, these are truly rotten things that no human being should ever go through.] She can broaden these stories. What did she think? How did she keep moving and keep going? What happened when she wanted to give up?

      This is why I say, an objective third party would be the best person for her to work with. It’s not your job to be her counselor/editor.

    6. Approval is optional*

      I second the idea of trying to point your mother in the direction of an objective reviewer, but if that isn’t possible you could try a strategy that worked for a friend of mine.
      A few years ago, her cousin produced a TV series that would probably have triggered my friend’s PTSD if she’d watched it. The cousin didn’t know about the PTSD, or the events that led to it, and asked for feedback on the series. Trying to come up with a good way to avoid giving feedback was having a negative impact on my friend, mental health wise (her cousin was the pushiest person I’ve ever met, and I’ve been around!), so I offered to watch it for her, and each week I gave her a few bits of feedback on/questions to ask about non-triggering parts -along the lines of , ‘my favourite part was X – it really made me think about …./the funniest bit was Y – I laughed out loud/I thought locating the first scene in the cave was cool – what made you choose that?’, that she could pass off as her own.
      Whether this would work for you depends on what sort of feedback your mother is looking for, what sort of discussions she’ll want to have about your feedback, whether you want to inflict the book on your friends etc, and of course how you want to balance self-care with honesty, but it worked for my friend.

    7. Courageous cat*

      Reminds me of a Vice? article on emotional incest. I would look into that. It is not ok for a parent to use a child for that, imo.

    8. AnonAcademic*

      “I’m not the right person to give you feedback on this. It hits too close to home for me emotionally. I support your writing project and if you want me to review chapters that focus on positive memories, I can do that. But I can’t read or give feedback on the other parts.”

      I’ve said this nearly verbatim when my partner is recounting conflicts that trigger my PTSD-like responses. Your mother is on her own healing journey but it shouldn’t come at the cost of yours. You’re not her therapist and what she’s doing sounds a lot like prolonged exposure therapy for PTSD, which often involves writing a trauma narrative and then hearing/reading it over and over until it loses some of its emotional power. You don’t need to read her writing any more than you’d need to sit in on a therapy session of hers if that we the route she was taking.

      1. ..Kat..*

        I like your wording. Since Mom is a boundary pusher, I would not offer to read the “positive “ parts.

    9. Lobsterman*

      If she cared about your well-being, she would not ask. The boundary can be 100%; you’re completely in the right

      1. WS*

        At the moment, the mother might not understand how hurtful this is to OP, especially as it’s healing and therapeutic to her. If she is told no, and why, and then keeps pushing anyway, *then* I’d say she doesn’t care about OP’s well-being. I agree that the boundary can be 100% and OP is completely in the right.

    10. Observer*

      You’ve gotten some good practical advice. The thing you need to keep in mind as you figure out specific next steps is that this is, again, an issue of boundaries. You have the right – possibly even obligation – to set appropriate boundaries. Refusing to be the editor of your mother’s first draft of her memoirs (or of any draft, for that matter) is a totally reasonable boundary to set.

    11. smoke tree*

      I don’t know your mom, but it sounds like she may be using this project as an excuse to work through these experiences with you. To my view, she should really be seeing a therapist for the emotional side of this, and it can’t be healthy for either of you to keep dwelling on this material. I think you’d be totally in your rights to say that she should be seeing a therapist for the emotional side, and perhaps a writers’ group or experienced beta reader for the literary side (with the caveat that they’re comfortable with this kind of project) and you’re not the best person for either of these roles.

  4. Marzipan*

    I had my double-donor embryo transfer on Wednesday. It wasn’t completely awful! Normally it’s terrible because of the full bladder thing but this time it was a different doctor and he took one look at me (basically already crying) and told me to go empty it out as much as I liked, and not to worry about it at all because he’d do the transfer no matter what. So I was actually somewhat coherent throughout and he is my new hero.

    One day 5 blastocyst transferred, and there were four more early blastocysts that they were going to see if they could get fast enough along to freeze – don’t know yet whether they managed this.

    As ever I don’t believe it could possibly have worked and am super pessimistic about the whole thing. Also we’re currently having a heatwave so I am irrationally convinced I’ve cooked the embryo!

    1. Shiny Swampert*

      All fingers and toes crossed.
      I relate to the “cooked the embryo” fear. When pregnant after my miscarriage I flew and I was convinced that doing so had killed the baby. It was horrifically stressful. He’s 8 now.

      Sending support.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Solidarity here too — I’m sure MANY of us have “OH NO I’VE IRREVERSIBLY DAMAGED/KILLED MY KID” pregnancy stories.

    2. MatKnifeNinja*



      Offering up good vibes your way, that everything goes according to plan, and you only receive good news.

      Hang in there.

    3. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending positive, warm thoughts your way… It’s great that you have a good doctor – what good start!

  5. many bells down*

    Is anyone else watching Harlots? Can we talk about this week’s episode because oh my God

    1. Rebecca*

      I am, but I’m trying to stay away from comments, as I’m only in season 2 – Mom stuff – and I just discovered it on Hulu a few months ago!

  6. Unemployed in Greenland*

    cw: budget catastrophes, too much reliance on alcohol, stress.
    People. PEOPLE. Do you know what’s expensive? Booze is expensive!!!!
    ;___; In other words: I’m tracking every single penny I spend, and have been, for the past few months. This past month, it looks as though I’m coming in to having spent 1.5x on alcohol as on groceries. This – along with so much else – has to change!

    And of course I’m not just wanting to switch out for lower quality alcohol. I’m just edging round to having to create an Actual Budget™ and stick to it. Any recommendations, or advice? I’m poking gingerly at the “You Need a Budget” book – not the program itself, not yet – and feeling overwhelmed.

    1. Agent J*

      Are you spending more on alcohol for home or when you go out? Cutting back on buying alcohol for the house and limiting the number of happy hours I go to has helped me save money.

      Also, YNAB has literally changed the way i see budgeting. I can’t recommend the program enough. It can be overwhelming at first to get set up and use it properly but once you do, it’s amazing (imo)!

    2. Blarg*

      If the drinking is when you are out with friends and you plan to keep going out with friends, don’t fall into “I feel badly that I’m not drinking and wasting this spot at the table/annoying the bartender” and end up buying lots of food. I did that for years and ended up with a lot of heartburn and sometimes just as high tabs. Those potato skins and side salads weren’t on happy hour special like my friends’ pints… Now if I go out, I get a soda/seltzer, and just make sure I tip really well. Takes care of the guilt, saves me money, and greatly reduced the tums intake. :)

    3. Jeannie*

      Have a look at this: https://www.kokotala.com/ They are about to launch an app. I’m not sure of the international uses of it, but from all reports it makes budgeting really straightforward – and because it’s an app, you will always have it with you when you are out and about spending.

    4. CatCat*

      I encourage you to finish the YNAB book and try the program. They have free live webinar classes that are really helpful. I’ve heard a lot of people recommend videos about YNAB on YouTube by Nick True. There’s a very, very helpful facebook forum called “YNAB fans!” But start with the book and give yourself timr to think about it.

      There is a learning curve and you will make some mistakes. But once you learn it, it’s incredibly powerful and freeing, imo. It really helps you set your priorities. It’s great that you’re starting to see that with tracking the expenses.

      If you’re wanting to cut back on alcohol because of the cost, but want high quality, maybe focus on only a few versatile alcohols. Like 1-3 that will be the base for your cocktails. I loooove the book “The 12 Bottle Bar,” which focuses on this concept along with a lot of fun recipes.

      1. Close Bracket*

        My 12 bottle bar has 6 each of fancy gin and fancy whiskey. :) I’m a simple woman.

    5. Marzipan*

      I see you’ve identified “budget catastrophes,” and also “too much reliance on alcohol” as being of concern. Others have already started to give you helpful pointers about the budget aspect, so I want to ask you some more about the alcohol aspect. What’s your relationship with alcohol like at the moment? What would you like it to look like? Budget may absolutely be a helpful tool in addressing that (and a separate issue that you also will want to think about anyway) but it’s probably worth also having a think about alcohol aside from that, if it’s worrying you.

    6. YetAnotherUsername*

      Before I had a good salary I used To go off alcohol entirely for 3 months at a time. I would drink red bull if I was out dancing. There were two reasons for this:
      1 saves money during the 3 months
      2 after the 3 months your tolerance is really really low so you can get drunk on only 2 or 3 drinks. It takes a while for your tolerance to build back up again. So you continue saving money after the three months. (I would drink a pint of water with a dash of lime or something like that between every drink jn this stage).

      When my tolerance got high enough that going drinking was expensive again it was time foe another alcohol free period.

      You may not want To go cold turkey but it is a great way to save. Plus with the red bull you can still have a great night.

    7. Koala dreams*

      I don’t drink alcohol, instead I drink juice or soda when going out with friends. I also love tea but not all bars serve it. At home, I like to do my own ice tea now and then. It’s cheap and seem more luxurious than ice tea from the grocery store. Also, if you are drinking with friends you can tell them that you have a white month/year and ask for their help in coming up with non alcohol related hangouts.

    8. Parenthetically*

      Oof, I feel these feels. At various times in my life I’ve used alcohol to manage stress and for me there’s nothing for it but to say, “Right, I get two alcohol units a week and I’d better use them wisely.” For me, drinking a lot and spending a lot of money compound my stress long-term, despite seeming like great self-soothing strategies in the moment. Even when I’m not on a strict limit, for me it’s really important to manage the other aspects of my life better so I’m not spending just building up stress upon stress. This means stuff like: better meal planning and smarter grocery shopping so I’m not tempted to go out/order in as much, drinking plenty of water since I’ve seen a very bright clear line between “how dehydrated I am” and “how much I am dying for a drink at the end of the day,” decent sleep hygiene/nutrition/sunlight, etc.

      I also think it’s totally possible to take baby steps when it comes to budget things once you’ve worked out what the big YIKES items are. So you spent X this month on booze, next month your budget is .75x and you tackle another smaller category. Then the next month you spend .5x on booze and tackle another category. You don’t have to and probably shouldn’t try to address every single budgetary issue right off the bat.

      Good luck!

    9. MissDisplaced*

      This! I tell my husband this all the time!
      He doesn’t make much and is always broke and wonders why, yet he smokes and goes to the bar 2x a week and drinks. Like, dude, I bet you spend $100 or more per week on that! No sympathy!

    10. Policy wonk*

      For financial advice I recommend Michelle Singletary in the Washington Post. She has a column, The Color of Money, and does live chats (text based, not audio) on Thursdays. I don’t always agree with her, but good, practical, down-to-earth advice

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I am a fan of going to the source of the problems.
      What are you doing to reduce your stress load?
      How is your self-talk, do you congratulate yourself for taking steps or do you focus on the negative?
      Taking walks is a good method of dealing with stress. It does not have to be long walks, 15 minutes every other day is probably going to give you some benefit.

      Budgets aren’t built in one sitting or one week or even in one year. We start with an outline of what we know comes up. Then as time marches on we remember– oh yeah, car registration! whoops, dog license! drrr, annual furnace maintenance! It takes time to find all the stupid things we have to put money into. This month alone, I had my driver’s license renewal, salt for the softener and small item for a minor household repair. If you try to make a perfect list of all expenses, you will never get back to living life.

      Take an hour. Write down everything you can think of then let it rest for a while. Then go back in a few days/a week and hold your checkbook/bank statement next to the budget you have so far and see what you missed. I think it’s helpful to just assume that I have missed stuff.

      But really. Taking walks. I cannot tell you how much that has helped me deal with life. So simple, yet it leads to larger things. When I walk, I can think things through in ways I cannot otherwise.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        I know it sounds small, but the walks do help. I discounted this. But one very bad, stressful day last fall, when the world was falling down around me, I walked towards the sunset and looked up, and saw a rainbow. Just that… the fresh air after the rain, the rainbow, the sun breaking through the clouds… all of that was a small rescue of my heart in a time of financial and emotional stress. A reminder that the world is bigger than me, beautiful, and there is hope. Breathing correctly helps too, btw. Should change my user name to “too late smarter” – years of anxiety when I could have taken the edge off with “nature baths.”

    12. Alex*

      When you finally have a budget in place, it is SO FREEING. Really. I know that sounds weird but it was my experience. When you have a budget, you’ve made your financial decisions already, and so you don’t have to experience each purchase you make as a financial decision. The only question you need to ask is, “Do I have room in my budget for this? Yes/No?”

      Of course, using alcohol to reduce stress isn’t a great long term solution for any reason, let alone the fact that it is expensive. What is making you drink? What can you substitute for drinking? What if you gave yourself an “alcohol allowance” (like, only drink two days per week instead of five)? Could you stick to that or would that be a struggle for you?

      1. Majnoona*

        Someone else may have mentioned this but Mint is a great budget app and it’s free

      2. nonegiven*

        With YNAB, your budget is a living breathing thing on it’s own. You have to borrow from other categories for groceries every month? Why? Could it be you aren’t budgeting enough money in the first place? Also, I want to go out with friends and get a drink but my going out with friends category doesn’t have enough money, can I convince friends to do something cheaper? Do I have money in a lower priority category I can borrow from? Not the rent category, but maybe the next year vacation trip category or the video game category?

  7. matcha123*

    Dating outside of your socioeconomic group came up in an open thread a few weeks ago, and I have a few questions of my own related to that. Based on where I went to university and now where I work, the vast majority of men I meet who could be potential partners are coming from upper-class backgrounds, when I am from a very low-income background.

    My family (parent, myself, sibling) have all graduated from Good Universities. My parent and sibling both have Masters degrees, I only have a Bachelors. However, I have supported my family financially for years, only recently have I been able to start focusing on myself. And after reading through a lot of the comments here, I am wondering if my parent really was unlucky, and not just a problem like I’d often thought. They had the misfortune of being a racial minority, single parent, and not having family or community support. And as we all know, having a Bachelors or Masters doesn’t entitle you to a job…

    I am not interested in having a man take care of me while I spend his money and I try to express that through my actions (always offering to pay my half, ordering the cheapest options, not going out much in general).
    I just wonder if it’s worth it to try and date since people tend to want to pair off with people from similar backgrounds, and I find putting energy into showing that I’m not a gold-digger stressful. It’s also stressful having men assume that I’m lying about my background…perhaps because they expect low-income people to be inherently trashy?
    I also feel like when I ask some friends for advice about my situation, they imply that I am the problem. As in of course a guy from a stable background wouldn’t be interested in someone like me, and I’m dumb for even asking. Or am I overthinking this?

    1. Marzipan*

      I mean, you clearly aren’t a gold digger. What if you gave yourself permission to stop putting energy into showing that you aren’t one? Would dating seem more fun and worthwhile then?

      I guess the other question is, what are you hoping for, from dating – are you just open to seeing what happens, or is it a fun thing for you, or are you keen to find a true partner? Is it something you generally enjoy or generally find stressful? If the whole thing is currently not working for you, then not dating for a while is certainly an option.

      For what it’s worth, you sound awesome. Your parent sounds like they’ve helped you to become a fantastic person, in difficult circumstances. If anyone is giving you any weirdness about your background, the problem is not you; it’s that you’re talking to a massive cockwomble with his head wedged up his arse. Go forth and shine!

      1. matcha123*

        I definitely do not find dating fun! This year I’ve stopped trying and instead am focusing on things that will improve my life.
        I would like a long-term partner that I can trust and feel comfortable with. When I meet new people, I try to put myself in the mindset that we are equals, but little things happen that ‘out’ me and I feel this pressure to make sure they don’t think I was tricking them or that I am trying to use them for money.

        1. StrikingFalcon*

          It sounds like you are trying to pretend to be something you’re not and then getting stressed when the truth comes out. What if you gave yourself permission to just be honest and upfront, and took any annoyance as evidence of incompatibility rather than that you’re doing something wrong? You don’t want to date anyone who assumes people from low income backgrounds are gold diggers or trashy! Why would you? So be as upfront about what you want out of a relationship as you can be. If you’re doing online dating, put it in your profile! Let people self select out. If you’re meeting people other ways, talk about it on the first date. Be clear on things like your preference for dates is inexpensive things you both pay for half of, or that you don’t want kids, or whatever it is that you actually want. And try not to be defensive when it comes up. You’re looking for what you want and for someone who is compatible to share that with you.

    2. Not A Manager*

      “I also feel like when I ask some friends for advice about my situation, they imply that I am the problem. As in of course a guy from a stable background wouldn’t be interested in someone like me, and I’m dumb for even asking.”

      These are not good friends. Disregard them.

      1. matcha123*

        Two of them are pretty clueless. The few others who have given similar advice are coming from a good place. They are immigrants and many of the men I meet are from similar backgrounds, so they are giving it to me straight. I won’t say it doesn’t hurt, though!

    3. Agent J*

      I do think you’re overthinking this, in the sense that you’re probably worrying about something your dates are not. Your default is “I don’t want to look like a golddigger” but your dates (hopefully) are starting from “I want to get to know this person”. I think it’s okay to decrease some of the energy you put into not looking like a golddigger and put it into having fun, getting to know another person, and being yourself. The more energy you put toward it, the more they’ll notice or at least, the more it will color your dating experiences.

      1. matcha123*

        Thanks! Eating out is huge here, and my large city is quite expensive. I haven’t gotten past a third date in most cases. I’d hope to more affordable things in the future.

        1. Elephant in the room*

          I would concentrate on activities you enjoy rather than dining out. A walk in the park, bike ride, scrabble group, dance lessons, met up groups, whatever inexpensive activity you enjoy. That is where you meet partners who share your interests. Establish a friendship within a shared activity first, you will be able to be yourself. You won’t have to worry about seeming a gold digger.
          Good luck.

      2. Dan*

        The first few dates are about getting to know someone. But after the initial spark is established, then financial realities come into play. I’ll be honest, I turn that radar on after a few dates to see if I can figure out what’s up.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Golddigger. So I had the same attitude and I paid my way when I met my husband. And that did nothing, I still heard the term “golddigger”.
        Then I realized. The term was NOT about ME. It was more a reflection on my husband meaning he could not have possibly found a woman who loved him for who he is THEREFORE I must be a golddigger.
        The real slap in the face was directed at my husband, not me.

        IF you ever hear that term, look at the person who is using the term and ask yourself, what would motivate this particular person to use the term golddigger? Then go from there.

        1. matcha123*

          This is a perspective I’ve never looked at. When I did start doing online dating, I decided to meet the men who seemed compatible and then go from there. Some of them were not the kind of guys who’d be cast as the stereotypical ‘hero’ in a movie…some were chubby, one guy was about my height (5’2)…but I wanted to get to know them better because I’ve found that most of the guys I’ve fallen for were ones I wasn’t all that interested in initially.
          However, these online dates all seemed to act like I was trying to push something or that I was going to jump out and say I wanted a man to pay for my vacations. They acted like they were going to cut me off before I played them, when I wasn’t aiming to play them.
          Will be keeping your comment in mind.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I don’t think people are looking to find a partner from a similar background necessarily, but who are now in a similar place. You say “based on where I went to university and now where I work” and it strikes me that that gives you a huge amount of common ground with your dating pool. You are not fundamentally different from these people, although obviously your different backgrounds will inform your social and political opinions, financial habits, etc.

      In the twenty-first century a relationship really ought to be based on where you both are now, not how you got there. And everybody ought to be expecting to go halves on early dates / treat a partner when they feel inspired to do so / be open about their financial position when reaching any kind of pooling resources phase!

      1. matcha123*

        The similar place also worries me. I am definitely not in the same place as the guys I meet…they are more settled in at work and the majority seem to want kids (another issue). Generally they have done their traveling, bought the things they want, lived their life as they like…all due to their backgrounds.
        I have felt an annoyance from the guys that reads like I’m wasting their time. I’m in my mid-30s, and I think that men with a similar educational background assume that by this age I should have found my suitable job, have a good amount of savings, have done my travel and and now in a place where I know what I want because I am financially stable.

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          I’m not sure if you’re usimg an online profile of some kind or not, but I would put it all out there. You’re not interested in having kids. You’re at a place in your life now where you can travel and do the things and you’re looking for someone to do them with you. You’d like to go on dates that are interesting, inexpensive activities amd not just formal dinners. Frame it as what you ARE looking for, instead of NOT looking for. You might consider looking for slightly younger people, too, if you find your own age group is mostly in the ready to settle down mindset.

          1. matcha123*

            A friend said something along those lines: frame it in terms of what you are looking for. I’ve been reluctant to do that so obviously because for some reason the guys I meet tend to be very black and white in their thinking.
            “You said that you don’t know if you want to stay in this city, so that means we aren’t compatible.” Well, I would stay for the right person! No one wants to spend the rest of their life in an area where they have no chance at love if they can help it. This seems obvious to me, but maybe I need to think about how to spell it out differently…

        2. Dan*

          Annoyance might not be the right word, but I’ve read OLD profiles from people who made me wonder why they were even bothering. As in, “I’m not sure what I want to do with my life… I think I want to get a PhD in Europe or something.” I suppose they could be looking for a similar wanderlust, but as someone with a job I like and not a whole of geographic options from where to do it, I’m honestly looking for someone content with where they’re at. And the older I get, the less interest I am in partnering with someone getting through a PhD program or something like that.

          All that’s to say that I can understand a desire in one’s mid thirties to find a “mostly settled” partner or something along those lines. I think, though, from my perspective, that’s more of a state of mind than the state of one’s bank account. I live in an expensive area, so not having a big bank account and done lots of travel isn’t that big of a deal. But “financially stable” in general does matter. I married (and divorced) a financial wreck, I’m not doing it again.

          So, I think some of your concerns are real, but maybe not to quite the extent you might be thinking.

          1. Roja*

            I think there’s a difference too between “financial wreck” and someone who is stable but just lower income. Like, my husband and I are very financially stable, but we don’t have a lot of money to spend on fancy dates. I know very few people–most of whom I’d call comfortably middle class–who can afford to splash out on multiple fancy dinners a month. That doesn’t make someone a financial disaster; it makes them normal.

            Matcha, if someone you’re dating only cares about the number you’re earning and not what you do with it or anything else about you, they reeeeeally don’t deserve you.

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*


              In fact, it sounds like a healthy filter for you, even if it may leave you with frustratingly few fish still in the pool.

              Also, other people’s “should” can get in the sea.

          2. Avasarala*

            This. I think many people in their 30s are looking for someone “stable” in the sense that they know who they are, they know what they want, and they have spent their 20s figuring that out.

            I was forgiving in my 20s if someone didn’t know how to cook well, or manage money, or know what they wanted to do for their career. In their 30s, I’d expect them to have a pretty good handle on 2 out of 3. And I’m much more confident to say “no thanks, have a nice life” if I find a fundamental incompatibility early on.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Matcha, the Right Guy won’t carry these assumptions. He just won’t.
          Use it as a people filter- guy has assumptions = “nope, not for me.”

          I have to be vague, sorry: My friend was comfy in life. He waited until he was much older than most to marry. He met a woman who wowed him. I mean really wowed him. She grew up with nothing, total poverty. Somehow her mother paid for her schooling. This woman in return bought her mother a house.
          I have to guess that she wowed my friend by her ability to take nothing and whip it up into something. And by her commitment to her family.

          My point is that LTRs are not a business deal. There is more to it. It’s about the quality of the person, their character, their ethics, what they do when no one is watching them. These are things money cannot buy, the person either has these qualities or they don’t. Back to my friend and his wife, she works at things and she commits to the people she loves. Now they work together taking care of both their families because they have the same values and the same priorities.

          If you boil relationships down to money and income you will have difficulty. I promise. Why would a partner want someone who makes less than they do? Why would any thinking human being allow themselves to be restricted by their partners’ smaller income??

          The flaw in these questions is that the questions assume money/income is the determining factor for any LTR and that is just not true.

    5. hazy days*

      Is there something about the story you tell yourself and your dates about your background that maybe isn’t helping? You’ve said you see her as a problem, but she doesn’t sound like one from the little you’ve said.

      From your description, it sounds like your mum is a hardworking, intelligent woman who values education, got her Masters from a good university, but who as a single mother of two with no family support, struggled financially. But she shared her values with her children and the result is that you are now where she might have been if there was more support for single parents. In Scandinavia, for example, your mum might have been able to have much more career success.

      Would it help you to see things in that way?

      1. matcha123*

        That might be it. I try to be very upfront and explain that certain activities are not in my budget (most vacations in general/travel, tons of eating out, etc.). I don’t go into much detail, just that paying off university loans and living alone means that I try to budget carefully.
        Which might be fine, but conversations about family vacations leave me with nothing to say. I try to ask about the guy’s experience and thoughts about those family vacations, but they ask me and I explain that my family did not go on vacations.
        After being on this site for a while, I have gone back and really reevaluated a lot of the thoughts my younger self had. Seeing other intelligent people struggle has really opened my eyes.

        1. Asenath*

          I’ve found over time that periodically something has caused me to re-evaluate the opinions of my younger self – the process can be a little disturbing (there’s usually a good reason I came up with my original reasons/explanations), but overall, I think it’s helped me understand myself and others better.

          My remaining two siblings had a fascinating and very frank email exchange a while back. I swear no two people experience and remember the same events the same way.

        2. Dan*

          Hm. I grew up broke in small towns, now live in a big city, and make a decent chunk of change. So I certainly get bits and pieces of various dynamics. Plus, I live a lifestyle that has to be very confusing to people who don’t know me very well. As in… I’ve mastered the miles an points game, and my job gives me a ton of leave every years, so I take 3-4 weeks off at a time, fly overseas (Europe, Asia, whatever) in business or first class, stay in decent hotels… yada yada. And at least from my sheltered view of the world growing up, stuff like that has to look like I’m rolling in it. I’m not. But when I date, it’s a topic that will inevitably come up.

          How soon are you getting into the “very upfront about finances” conversation? At least from my American view of the world, I’d find it offputting if someone was that direct with me within the first three dates. If things seem like they’re on a roll after the first few dates, *then* I’d want to have that conversation.

          That said, I dated someone casually for several months, and I couldn’t get a good read on this person’s financial expectations from a relationship, so I stopped seeing her. She had a job that didn’t pay well (plus had roommates) and would say stuff like *I* could find a job paying more money.

          1. NoLongerYoung*

            Similar a bit to Dan, except no longer have the FF miles. I no longer have the friend who looked at me and said “You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear” about my background. That was the beginning of the (quick) end to that friendship…You can dish about the dysfunction in my family, but my humble beginnings (if you want to get petty) go back to Joan of Arc. Big deal. What matters is how far I have come from where I was emotionally/mentally, and where I am “now.” Do not criticize me based upon where I came from socio-economically. I don’t judge on where you came from, you can be purple from Mars… I judge on what your heart is, what you do.
            On the dating, in last week’s thread, there was a bit about dating for “finding someone” vs. making friends and becoming the person you want to be. (a mother looking to help her son a bit). It was helpful to me to be reminded that I’m interested in being a better, happier me, not in being someone’s partner. (You sometimes have to let go of the peer / family pressure…). Partnered is not as important as emotionally healthy, well-rounded, and happy. This sounds like you feel pressure from friends to “be” a certain way or “date” a certain group, but I don’t think you feel happier?

            On the flip side, if you are – every time – dating a certain type that is completely not compatible with you, you may need to look at your life patterns. I had to, I still am. I choose the wrong person consistently. It’s not about demographics, or finances. It’s about me picking bad partners (the way I clearly picked a bad friend, see above, who also was critical and mean-spirited beneath the charm).

            If what your friends are pointing out is a pattern of dating unavailable men, or that you are somehow driving them away with the (perhaps unfounded) fears, then it’s good to take a step back and look at the whole picture.

            Just saying my experience – I wasted a lot of time before I even started to get any insight. Sometimes there’s a grain of truth, sometimes not.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Nice catch here.
              It’s only been in more recent times that I learned it’s through our friendships that we learn what we want in a partner.
              Matcha, is it possible that your friends are giving you a jaded view of dating by telling you all these fake rules? How often do you look at your friends and find admirable qualities that you want to copy or your want to see more of in your life?

            2. matcha123*

              I have gone on a number of dates using online dating, but it is pretty hard to screen guys here. I’m in a place where scant profiles are the norm and detailed ones seem to be seen as oversharing.
              Definitely would like to be with someone who makes me want to be a better me and vice versa.

        3. Tea and Sympathy*

          I don’t think anyone in my adult life has ever asked me about my childhood family vacations. And I realize that I have no idea if my friends took family vacations or not, not even those I’ve known for decades. Is this really something people ask you about, or is it something you bring up because you’re focusing on it? Could you change the conversation to other, more current, topics? Also, I wonder if listing the things that you cannot do comes off as negative, as opposed to talking about things you like to do, and talking about positive things in your life. For me, family background and how much money a person has saved is not important, but similar values are. I would be fine with someone not having much money because they were taking care of their family, but not fine with someone being broke because they went out drinking every night. I agree with hazy days that it sounds like you have a lot to be proud of, and that maybe reframing it that way would help.

        4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Could you try to find something else to share about yourself when they ask about things like family vacations? That sounds like a “tell me about something interesting you’ve done with your family” opening if you interpret it broadly enough. So, you could say something like “my family didn’t really travel much, but I remember one summer my sister and I invented an elaborate code and spent most of the summer writing and hiding coded messages for each other all over the neighborhood” or whatever.

          Try to aim for sharing something equally personal (in the case of swapping vacation stories, keep it a “fun” story if possible so you’re not returning their story about how nice the beaches in Italy are with the time you had no power for a week or something) and in the same general genre of “family stuff” or “childhood stuff” rather than trying to exactly match what they were talking about. This gives them a chance to learn more about you, which is presumably the point.

          I’ve dated people with a lot more money than me and a lot less money than me, and for me, what I care about the very most in terms of a potential partner’s finances is that they have whatever their situation is under control. I don’t mind if they rarely go out and want to have a lot of “cook at someone’s house and watch a DVD from the library” dates, but I do mind if they’re constantly having to change previously-made plans at the last minute when they suddenly realize they can’t afford something (as opposed to suggest something within their means when we’re actually making plans, which is fine), or are on a pay-cycle boom-bust swing where they spend too much on optional things early in the month/fortnight/whatever and then have no money later on.

          I think the more you’re clearly living within your means and living a life where it doesn’t look like you’re always scrambling for more money, the less you’ll look like a gold digger. Obviously, it is harder to live within your means if you have less money, and it may not really be possible to do so in a low-stress and non-precarious way depending on how much money you have coming in and where you live, but I get the sense in your cases that you’re able to make your expenses work but just don’t have the Fun Stories About Times In The Past Where You Did Fancy-Money Things.

          However, if the actual problem is that the people you are meeting are in a different life stage where they want to do different things with their money than you want to do with yours (settle down versus travel, for example), then that’s a different problem. It can certainly be related to how much money you have or had, so you’re not wrong that it’s a related issue, but it’s not a problem that would be solved if you suddenly had a lot more money now either. It’s hard to be in a long term relationship with someone who wants to do different things next, so that’s something it’s normal to filter for before you get too attached. (I want to stay right here in the town I live in now, live in the house I’m gradually paying off the mortgage on, and keep working at my current job. If someone I’m on a first date with wants to sell their stuff, buy an RV, and travel across the country for the next few years, they are not potential serious relationship material for me, but they are welcome to send me postcards about their adventures if we click as friends. I also hate to fly and would probably suggest separate vacations to someone who wanted to take multiple trips a year to fly-in locations, although vacationing separately as part of a long-term relationship would actually not be a deal breaker for me if the other person also was in favor of it.)

    6. Asenath*

      It is true that people tend to pair off with those from similar backgrounds – but similar values are also important, and that’s far less dependent on background. By all means, offer to pay your own half initially, as a signal that you are financially responsible and independent (ie NOT a gold-digger, and who cares if someone thinks you are in spite of the evidence? Take it as a warning about the speaker, and put no importance on that person’s opinion in the future.) I wouldn’t worry if a man assumes once that your background is the same as his. Not everyone knows people from a wide range of backgrounds. Some do; I can’t say I know “upper-class” people, but in my life, it’s not unusual to know people ranging from social assistance recipients to professionals who earn far more than I do, and some of whom might have inherited money (I don’t ask). Sometimes, these people are members of the same family – not all families have all members neatly fitting in the same socioeconomic slot. I learned very early that you should be polite to everyone, whichever slot they are in – and if some man you meet can’t get over his initial surprise that you don’t fit his socioeconomic view of the world, it’s probably not worth your time to try to teach him. So, in short, it’s not that unusual to shift from one social setting to another, and really, having come from a somewhat different background than a potential partner isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. Look at the similarities in your values and interests, and if that’s not there, move on.

    7. MatKnifeNinja*

      Your friends are gross.

      I dated a person who basically didn’t have to work the rest of their lives. Their family could by and sell me, my immediate family and my extended family an hundred times over.

      My partner and I had no issues about our backgrounds not being the same. The parents did. My dad ran a punch press in factory. My house growing up was as big as 1/3 of their garbage.

      The father made a snide comment about me “winning the lotto” once. In shot back, I didn’t win anything. That’s what prenups are for. He roared. We got along better after that.

      I broke up because my partner had a pretty severe coke habit, and refused getting help.

    8. gecko*

      I agree with the other folks here that if you’re going to online date, it makes sense to put some additional “looking for X” stuff on your profile to allow jerks to self-select out. And I disagree with your friends that no one will ever want to be with you because you don’t have a substantial 401k.

      But honestly dating doesn’t sound enjoyable to you right now, not the meeting people, not the going on dates, not the process of online dating. Can you change any parts of how you’re trying to meet people so you actually have an OK time? What dates would you actually find enjoyable–walks, free museum days, park afternoons with thermos & cookies, eventually movies or cooking at home? Can you meet people in a different way–ie through volunteering, meetups, mutual friends etc? Do you want to stop having to put effort into not looking like a golddigger and order average-priced stuff off the menu and not argue if a guy wants to pay?

      Basically, it sounds like you have a complicated mass of feelings about your background and how you currently live, and “just have fun!!” isn’t going to cut through that. But I think one of the keys of dating in general is to actually try to enjoy it and not just hope for the end product of a LTR that never ends. It has a few benefits: you can, well, have fun; it’s also a lot more fun to date someone who’s having fun than someone who’s experiencing a ton of anxiety about the date; and most importantly, it gives you some mental space to figure out how you want to handle the complicated stuff as it comes up.

      1. matcha123*

        This is true. I would really like to enjoy being with someone, rather than feeling rushed into something. A lot of people where I am pair up with old classmates or people they met in university. Sometimes at work. I don’t feel comfortable asking friends to send me any available men they know. Either way, like you said, it would be more enjoyable to be with someone who is having fun, rather than worried about every little thing!

    9. Parenthetically*

      “I find putting energy into showing that I’m not a gold-digger stressful”

      Stop doing things you find stressful. Paying your own way and suggesting reasonably-priced or free activities is plenty of evidence for any decent person.

      “men assume that I’m lying about my background…perhaps because they expect low-income people to be inherently trashy”

      Don’t date classist assholes or people who call you a liar.

      “of course a guy from a stable background wouldn’t be interested in someone like me, and I’m dumb for even asking”

      Someone like you? You mean someone who, despite a difficult upbringing, graduated from a good university, is intelligent, generous, stable, and hard-working, provides for their family, and is conscientious about their own finances? Any friend who says you’re stupid for considering dating WITHIN your own obvious peer group because you grew up in a different financial context than some of your dates is some kind of bigot.

    10. The Rat-Catcher*

      I’m from upper-middle, and my husband definitely came from poverty. He had a learning curve on things like kid’s birthday parties, organizational dinners, and other things he didn’t experience growing up. I respect the hell out of him for how hard we worked to get where he is. If you’re not getting the same treatment… I don’t want to say “you’re dating the wrong people” because I don’t know you, but I will say you could be dating people who don’t do that. It’s by no means a given.

      1. ket*

        I wish there was a place where I could read these rules, because I still make faux pas that I don’t even know to think about beforehand (didn’t know an event at this time of day in this place requires a floral dress! i look so out of place in my casual clothes….). Yeah, birthday parties etc — I have no idea what the ‘rules’ are in my current social class, so it’s hard to fit in, but I don’t know how to go back to what I grew up with either….

    11. xxx9*

      Stop trying to show you aren’t a gold-digger because you clearly are not. Constantly making money an issue – consciously or not – is a sure-fire way of making everyone focus on money as an issue. They clearly agreed to date you without asking your salary history. You’re overthinking this – allow yourself to have fun and if it’s not fun, then you need to back off from dating until you get this sorted because you won’t have the results you want until it is. If the men you date are discounting you because of your background, then you probably don’t want to date them anyways. Also be honest about where you came from – BE PROUD! A single parent with two college educated kids – the chips were stacked against your household, esp if you are in the US, and you are now in the same field and “social setting” as these people you find “upper crust.”

      Also: major point. Your “friends” are assholes – stop listening to them & phase these people out of your life. A big ole yikes to them and I can see why you are so fixated on this when you have friends who say asinine things like that.

    12. jDC*

      I for sure think you’re overthinking this. A man buying you dinner does not make you a gold digger and it’s kind of insulting to anyone who has ever had someone buy them dinner.

    13. Paris- Berlin -Seoul Express*

      I think that you need to address your attitudes about money being tied to the worth of a person in general and yourself specifically. Being poor is nothing to be ashamed of. Most people are poor due to circumstances beyond their control and people who have never been poor vastly underestimate the energy and wherewithal it takes to get yourself out of being poor. I know because I grew up in a working poor household, managed to graduate to non-working poor and after many years of some bad and some good choices, some hard work and a lot of luck managed to work myself into the top ten percent of earners. I’m still the same person.. I’ve dated across all social classes and found that most men don’t care about your background. When I dated men with more money they paid for my part when it came to the things they wanted to do. I paid for the things that I could afford. He could pay for dinner out, I made special dinners at home. I never discussed in detail my financial background and no one ever asked. When I met my husband he earned more than double what I made. Almost twenty years later I make way more than him.
      Bottom line is that money is not a bad thing and it doesn’t determine the value of a person to include yourself. You might also find better friends.

    14. Nita*

      I don’t know, I think I’d just get it out there on the first date so it’s not hanging over me how the man will respond when he finds out. Something like “just so you know, I’m from a poor family. I only mention this because it affects how I’m used to spending my time and money. I’m not a big spender, don’t do expensive hobbies, and won’t have much to say if you ask about my favorite vacation. Just wanted you to know that right off the bat.” It might at least save you the stress of waiting for the other shoe to drop. At least, that’s what I wish I had done. I come from a very pathetic background (not financially), and I wish I’d told my husband very early on. I thought I’d left my background behind, but found out with time that wasn’t quite the case… I’ll never be fully free of it. Thankfully he accepts me the way I am, but the difference in our upbringing does cause miscommunication and various problems. The worst bit is that to him, marriage means a merging of families. Since I didn’t tell him early on how uncomfortable I am around my family of origin, he’s gotten all buddy with them, and now I’ll always be seeing a lot more of them than I’d like.

    15. Anon Librarian*

      The, “Are you a good digger?” thing is basically a trust issue. In the absence of evidence, people who suspect you of being a good digger are irrationally not trusting you. Trust is essential to relationships. I suspect that a lot of these people have issues with trust and if it wasn’t, “Are you a gold digger?” it would be something else. Other trust issues would arise eventually. So don’t worry about these people – they aren’t ready to have a stable relationship.

      Dating is easy (in theory). You want someone who recognizes and appreciates the good in you, the things that you like about yourself. Finding those people can be hard. I’m still figuring it out myself. But I think it’s mostly a matter of being yourself and making it obvious that there’s stuff to like about you, and getting out and meeting people, and walking away from all the ones who, for whatever reason, aren’t quite right.

    16. Alexandra Lynch*

      I went through something like this recently. I was raised middle-class, but married a working class man and due to various life happenings and a recession in the middle of it (A baby or a major surgery for one of us or four months out of work every year for ten years straight) we were desperately poor. When I began dating (we were polyamorous) to find a secondary, I focused more on emotional and lifestyle compatibility, and less on financial issues, beyond wanting him to be gainfully employed. He and I became friends around our shared interests, and the money wasn’t a huge issue for us.

      So I would focus on finding someone who you like because you like the same sorts of things, and just make sure that he’s gainfully employed, and otherwise ignore his financials. There’s time enough for that as you get to know him.

  8. Paranoid in NYC*

    Hi everyone – hoping to ask everyone’s advice on a situation I’ve found myself in re: renting an apartment in NYC. Here’s the situation:

    I’m currently living alone on a lease that ends 10/31. I’m trying to move out with my partner — and for Reasons, we felt we needed to start the apartment search early — and accidentally started TOO early… and just got approved for an apartment with a mandatory lease start date of 8/9. The issue is — this new apartment is owned by the same management company as my current one. So in processing my application, they are now aware of course that I have another current lease with them ending 10/31. They also obviously have all me and my partner’s financial information, etc.

    Is it possible to negotiate with my management company to end my current lease early? Or something? Anything to just avoid paying 2 full rents for 3 months? For the 10 months I’ve been a tenant, I’ve been in good standing, always paid on time, never had any issues, and have very good credit. But I feel somehow like I have less negotiating power because they have all our information and know that we could technically afford to eat 2 months of dual leases.

    By the way — my current lease is rent-stabilized; the new lease is just market rate. I have no idea if that makes a difference or not (have been confused by what’s come up in Google).

    Thank you everyone in advance for any help!

    1. Agent J*

      I’m not shre about the rent-stabilized to market rate part, but I have heard of management companies being able to transfer leases between their own properties. Can you ask if that is an option?

      1. Paranoid in NYC*

        How does transferring leases work exactly? And how should I approach the conversation / what if they say no (do I have no other choice except to just eat the money or walk away)?

        Sorry — my current apartment was my first one, so I’m really new to all this and have always been bad at negotiating / knowing when it’s okay to ask for things.

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          Wether or not you have to pay would depend I. Your contract and any state laws that apply.

          You can ask them and see what they say, they might be willing to do something to help you, like transfer your current lease or let you start the other lease later.

          One last thing good tenants are hard to find so they’re likely to work with you if they can.

    2. Sue*

      Can only speak to my state law (not NY) but here a landlord is required to mitigate the damages, that is, must attempt to relet the apartment and can only charge you the actual lost rent.
      If there is high demand for apartments, your loss could be far less than 2 months.
      Look up your landlord tenant laws (readily available) and be familiar with your rights so you negotiate with full information. Unfortunately, many landlords will take full advantage of the uninformed.

    3. Lcsa99*

      I think you should talk to them and I think you have a very very good chance of getting out of your old lease early. You’re a good tenant! They know this already so they don’t have to worry about getting money. If they deny you and get someone unknown in the new apartment that will be an unknown factor for them. And if you leave they can raise the rent on your old place. They have every incentive to play nice here so just talk to them!

    4. Caterpie*

      There’s no harm in asking! The earlier the better too, I think since there’s still time before the school/college year the management company might be willing to work with you if they’ll have an easier time of filling your old unit with people looking to settle before the school year.

    5. Overeducated*

      So I rent from a very letter of the law management company that tries to get every last dollar they are technically legally entitled to. If I asked to get out of a lease early, they’d point to my lease and say “sure, the early lease breaking fee is 2 months rent.” (They even tried to pull this when I asked to go from “month to month” back to a full year lease on the same apartment, saying that ending “month to month” with less than 60 days notice was the same as breaking a lease! There would have been NO gap in payment or vacancy, but I have to pay the higher rate for 2 extra months to give “notice.”)

      If yours is like that, a second strategy would be trying to get a subletter to finish out and perhaps take over your lease (may require management permission) to minimize time the unit sits empty, rather than hope for a lease transfer. Better luck to you!

      1. Paranoid in NYC*

        This is my worst fear! That my management company will turn out to be like this, in which case I’m honestly not sure if I still want to rent from them… which makes it more imperative that I have this conversation before signing the lease. But I’ve been getting pressure from the broker to sign quickly so I’m also worried about pissing them off on that front. :/

        Good luck with your management company! I’m sorry you have to deal with that.

    6. Jane*

      They’d probably be happy to have you leave for a more expensive apartment! If the apartment you’re living in now is low priced, they can probably get someone in there very easily. I’d definitely ask.

    7. gecko*

      I would say, look at your current lease and find the consequences it lists for breaking the lease early.

      Then call the person you usually talk with at your property management company, and lay out: “I see that normally the consequences for breaking a lease early are x, y, and z. I’ll be going from my rent-stabilized apartment to a place also rented from you guys. Considering that, could I get x, y, and z waived?”

      I think you have an OK chance but only a chance. It’s worth asking. Also if they say yes, it’s worth asking for a written waiver or an email repeating that they’re waiving x, y, and z.

    8. WellRed*

      They are not looking at your financials and saying “ah hah, Paranoid can afford two leases, let’s soak her for all she’s worth!” So put that fear out of your and see if they’ll transfer the lease. I imagine it’s easy to find new tenants in NYC.

    9. Lilysparrow*

      They don’t want an apartment standing vacant, even if it’s paid for. Vacant apartments carry risk of break-ins, damage from undetected leaks or other issues, raise insurance costs, and lower the property value.

      I assume the new apartment is more expensive than the old one, and once you’re out of the rent-stabilized place, they can hike the rent on the next tenant – either to the next tier of stabilization, or all the way up to market rate. That gives them an incentive to end your lease and get a new person in ASAP.

      Also, if they have already approved you, then re-starting that process is going to add to their administrative costs and waste time. They don’t want that. So they don’t really want you to walk away from the more expensive apartment deal. It’s easy money for them.

      Just call them up, explain the situation, and ask them the best way of handling it. They could
      A) Release you from the old lease immediately, or with a minimal penalty like partial security deposit.
      B) Allow you to sublet the old apartment (in fact, unless this is forbidden in your lease, you don’t even need permission).

      Having a good tenant lined up for a more expensive unit is a desirable situation for them, and worth more in the long-run than dickering over 2 month’s RS rent on a smaller stabilized unit. There’s a human being on the other end of the phone, not an ogre. Just approach it in a collaborative spirit and see what they can do.

    10. jDC*

      I know many management companies allow you to transfer so you aren’t breaking your lease but usually the new rent has to be higher. I’d just ask.

    11. Bye Academia*

      I also live in a rent stabilized apartment in NYC. Definitely ask if you can be let out of the lease early. Vacancy is one of the few ways they can hike the rent, and even that is going away soon with the new state law. They will probably be happy to end your stabilized lease early and turn the apartment over for higher rent.

    12. Anon Librarian*

      Hi! I’m apartment hunting in NYC right now. I’m available to sublet one of your apartments or take over the lease.

      Advice part: They don’t really know what you can afford because they don’t know your future expenses. Even if you gave them bank statements, they don’t know what you’ll have to spend money on during the upcoming months. So don’t worry about that too much. And expenses aside, everyone knows that people don’t want to spend money on things they don’t need, such as two apartments in the same city.

      You can get out of a lease early. One method is to find a replacement tenant. It needs to be someone with similar qualifications (income, etc). That’s a legal loophole that I got from a lawyer friend. It might vary by state, but it’s worth asking about.

      You could also sublet one of the apartments.

      I would call the company, tell them what happened, and ask which option they’d prefer. Maybe read up on how to get out of an NYC lease early, offer one of the legally non-negotiable options (ie replacing yourself) and then offer other options as alternatives. Be friendly yet firm and prepared with all the info you’ll need to negotiate.

      1. Paranoid in NYC*

        Hello! I would totally be open to that. Do you have an email address I could contact you at to tell you more about the apartment?

        1. Anon Librarian*

          Yes! I’ll try linking it through my signature. I just set up a temporary one for this so I can stay anon here. I’ll send you my info once we get in touch.

    13. Paranoid in NYC*

      Thank you everyone for the replies! Sorry I wasn’t able to check in more over the weekend. But this is really helpful – your responses have helped me a lot more to feel like what I’m asking for isn’t abnormal, and that they really do have incentives to negotiate with me like I thought. I’m just nervous because I’ve never negotiated before (I wish there was an AAM for apartment hunting!). But I’ve also done a ton of research and reading on my own – including on the new NY bill passed last month, which is super interesting – so feel way more prepared now. I guess we’ll see what happens!

      1. Paranoid in NYC*

        Update in case anyone is interested — I called the property manager this morning and she was pretty rude to me. She said that they don’t do early terminations for first term leases (which mine is). I then mentioned that I did in my current lease there’s an Early Termination clause that says I’m liable for the rest of the lease term, or until the apartment is rerented, whichever is sooner — and she cut me off and said “Well then we won’t rent the new apartment to you then.”

        That was pretty much it. She seemed pretty annoyed at talking to me, or at being up early in the morning. No actual conversation whatsoever. I’m pretty irked that I was cut off simply for referencing the terms of my lease and showing that I read it… I still have to think about what to do, but at this point I’m strongly considering walking away since we do have another option. Thanks everyone for all your help!

        1. Anon Librarian*

          Ugh. I’m sorry to hear that. Could you go up the chain and talk to whomever the property manager reports to? Anyway, sending good wishes for apartment hunting! I hope it all works out!

  9. Kate*

    We’re suit shopping tomorrow for the wedding tomorrow! Here’s a question: if we invest in a 3 piece suit (blue or gray) would it be cool to dress it down (nix the vest) and repurpose it for things like interviews? Or are wedding suits and business suits somehow different beasts entirely?
    To be clear it def won’t be a tux.
    (Hope that’s not too work adjacent).

    1. TPS Cover Sheet*

      Now from the UK point of view I am just trying to think what would the formality difference be… dinner suit with jetted pockets? Well, if it isn’t some pink zoot suit, you should be able to wear your ”Sunday best” to any occasion. Now the thing is, if its black those you wear only to weddings and funerals (your own) or if you are a MIB. So a navy blue or dark anthracite… pinstripes if you go for insurance or banking I suppose. Browns and greens are a bit of a hazard… I remember in the 90’s ”the color” was dark liver purple. And grey Eccos… Yerrgghh… Yeah, shoes, black derby/oxfords. Theres more than a few websites dedicated to this, but for a quickie look up ”gentleman’s gazette”, they explain suits and ties and levels of formality and have good short videos. The thing with a three-piece is that you can play around with the waistcoats. Have a colorful one for weddings and parties, use the original one when you go to the bank for a mortgage or court… not like that poor chav that went to court in a paisley tuxedo, you really don’t impress the jury in a lemonade suit. But also take in consideration the climate as you’re supposed to feel comfortable in a suit and not look miserable. I use the trousers and vest of a suit and then wear a tweed jacket in the winter, looks a tad more formal and I don’t shiver me timbers. Good luck, and buy 2 pairs of trousers.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My husband rarely needs one for work so has just the one suit. Previous one was black, this one is charcoal gray.
      You set the tone for your wedding, so you can make a work suit work for your wedding. Maybe splurge on a flashy tie, pocket handkerchief, or some other suit accessory to make it feel flashier ? Congratulations by the way!

      1. Emma*

        This. My husband wore a normal blue suit to our wedding. It’s definitely appropriate for other occassions (work – esp in the summer, but also other people’s weddings and other formal occasions). For our wedding, he had a pastel color bow tie and pocket hankerchief, which he honestly hasn’t reused since (that’s fine! They weren’t that expensive anyway). But paired with more conservative accessories his suit looks very normal.

        1. Wishing You Well*

          My husband also wore a “normal blue suit” (but no vest) for our wedding. He wore it for many occasions, including work events. The men’s store can advise you on current looks: cuffs or not, lapel width, current trends, etc.
          I’d avoid vests in a wedding if there’s any chance the guy(s) could overheat.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband just has the one suit (he’s a warehouse guy, so he doesn’t even wear it for interviews at this point), but there’s not really a difference between business and wedding suits, it’s all in how it’s accessorized. These days mostly he wears it when he gets tired of jeans and wants to go out to a nice dinner :)

    4. CoffeeforLife*

      Are you in the US? The men I worked with rarely wore a vest with their suit, if they did it seemed really overdone. Congrats and best wishes!

    5. BRR*

      There’s not really a difference between a wedding suit and a business suit. I’d probably only spend the extra money on the vest if there’s a chance he’ll wear it. To me it was an extra layer and I always run hot. But my husband wore a three piece suit for our wedding with a bow tie and it looked great.

    6. Parenthetically*

      (Bit of a suit nerd raised by a dad who wore a suit every day to work and had numerous gorgeous custom suits made over the years.)

      Absolutely, no question about it, and it’s something you should have a conversation about with the shop owner/tailor! Not every fabric/color will work well in both wedding and work contexts, and not every cut of suit, but you should be able to find/make something that will work as separate pieces or all together — and there are plenty of experts out there who would be able to guide you toward something that would be a flexible, life-long wear rather than a single-occasion outfit.

      1. TPS Cover Sheet*

        My dad was a garage manager in the 60’s… theres pictures of him in a boiler suit, but white collar and tie and a borsalino… Mad Men era all through and through.

    7. Aurora Leigh*

      Glad to see all the yeses here — we are thinking of doing something similiar for my fiance. Although we will probably just do nice navy suit pants and the vest. We’re getting married in warmer weather, and he’s not likely to have many occasions for the jacket.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        Aurora, maybe consider going ahead and getting the jacket – hubby had the nice black suit with jacket and pants for 10 years, and that jacket came out once a year or so (even if carried over his arm or tossed over the back of the chair, it was there so he “had” a suit).

        I don’t think he’d have bought it if we hadn’t had the special occasion the first time, but I was very glad to have the suit (even if he wore the jacket with chinos) in the subsequent years, so we didn’t ever have to go back out shopping at the men’s store again (except for the random “buy a new tie and shirt” to go with the suit periodically).

        It served us well for all the church events (weddings, funerals) in all kinds of weather (the right wool gaberdine will do that in our area). That and comfy but very classic black shoes… were kind of like my little black dress. Keep it clean, keep it in the closet, and you never have to stress about what to wear for those unexpected special events.

        YMMV, but I think hubby never wore the vest again. The jacket – yes.

    8. Lilysparrow*

      My husband wore a charcoal gray suit for our wedding (no vest) and it is his interview/formal event/funeral/other people’s weddings suit.

      My dad bought a new suit for his second wedding, and wears it in regular rotation now.

      If it’s not some form of a tux, then a suit is a suit.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      To me a wedding suit is whatever you want.
      We did what you mention here, we got a suit for my husband that he could use for other events. I bought an after-wedding outfit that I could reuse also. This allowed me to get out of the gown quicker.

    10. ..Kat..*

      If you are in the USA, very few men need the vest – so this could save you money. If you are investing in one suit, navy blue or dark gray is the most versatile.
      Suits are perfectly fine for a groom.


    11. Bluesbog*

      I wanted to buy a suit that I could use for work, but my wife wanted me to look more ‘weddingy’.

      So I chose a suit with peak lapels, a cravats, a waistcoat and a pocket square. I also had unusual buttons, the kind of cloth covered ones that you see on more ‘ weddingy’ suits.

      Got the tailor to change the buttons for normal ones, swapped the cravat out for a tie and I use it for work. Peaked lapels make it an elegant suit, not for every day. But it’s perfect for events and conferences etc. I would have been happy with normal notched lapels though.

      But the buttons made the big difference, it looked like I was wearing a wedding suit without having one I could never use again. And getting the buttons changed after the wedding cost very little!

  10. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    So I am looking for someone, Internet hive mind. I mean, how do you go about looking for someone with very little information?

    When I was a kid (2005-2006 school year I think) there was an exchange student in my school from Kurdish Iraq. She would now be about 30- if-? I haven’t heard from her since 2007 and have not found any current information on her in my online travails. I have a first and maiden name but if she married that will make her hard to find now.

    She was my friend. I don’t want anything and I’m not creepy about her. She is (was?) just very pro-Kurdish independence, strong minded, smart, and brave. Just the type to fight back against ISIS etc., and I know there were/are female resistance fighters.

    I worry she did something dangerous or got on someone’s bad side, so I just want to figure out if she is alive and where she now lives. She doesn’t even need to talk to me.

    How would you all go about sleuthing down such a person? I have had zero luck so far via Google, and I can’t share the personal info I know of her so that others might help, because of anti doxxing rules.

    1. Quandong*

      I’m curious whether you’d try and track down another person you knew as a child, nearly 15 years ago, because you’re concerned for their welfare.

      Is there something else going on for you that you have this worry? Why would you want to know where your former friend lives? If she wanted to be in contact with you since 2007, would she have been able to readily find some way to get in touch?

      1. Jen RO*

        I think that’s a very weird question. Of course people want to know if their friends are ok! I regularly google childhood friends I’ve lost touch with, just to see if something comes up and I can see what they havd been up to.

        overcaiffeinated, I don’t have advice, but your question reminded me of a documentary I saw recently called Finding Fukue, about a Canadian woman who goes searching for her childhood Japanese friend. It’s a lovely story with a happy ending.

        1. valentine*

          I agree with Quandong. If you wanted to be friends again, that might be okay, but you’ve created a negative narrative for no good reason and just want to settle your thoughts, which you can do without investigating this person.

          And if she’s a resistance fighter, won’t you be exposing her?

        2. The Other Dawn*

          I agree with Jen RO. I don’t see anything weird about this. I think it’s natural to wonder about friends we’ve touch with throughout the years, even if we’re not looking to start up the friendship again.

      2. Parenthetically*

        “Why would you want to know where your former friend lives?”

        Um? Why… wouldn’t you? This seems like such an aggressive response to such an ordinary request. Overcaffeinated is saying, “I lost touch with someone (as happens sometimes without animosity on either side) and would love to know how to get in touch with her again for friendship reasons, plus she had some additional life circumstances that make me wonder if she’s been okay over the years, any advice on how to find folks you haven’t seen in a long time?” Absolutely nothing about that is weird AT ALL.

    2. YetAnotherUsername*

      I don’t think youre being weird at all. If I iad a friend in that area I’d be worried about them too and want to know they’re OK.

      I don’t know if there’s anyway to find out though. The only think I can think of is to learn whatever language she speaks éigh family and friends and try Internet searching in that language.

    3. JediSquirrel*

      Not weird at all. Ignore the people who think it is.

      Have you tried contacting the United Nation refugee bureau? Or the Iraqi embassy in DC? Or possibly, there is an Kurdish attaché either at the UN or in DC? Just throwing out what came to my mind.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        Those are definitely avenues I hadn’t considered, thanks! I don’t want to waste anyone’s time, what with all the people who have more serious reasons to contact those offices, but perhaps an attaché from her region might be able to point me to some resources.

        1. YetAnotherUsername*

          Not sure the iraqi embassy would help if she is a supporter of kurdish independence and you are right in your belief that she may be a fighter. But if she is not active in the kurdish independence movement then they would probably help. Just don’t mention to them that she is kurdish!

          1. Pippa*

            It will likely be obvious from her name and possibly hometown that she’s Kurdish. (She’s also likely to have the same family name as when you knew her, married or not, as women inthat society mostly don’t change their family names upon marriage, fwiw.). But I don’t think you should contact the embassy – either the US in Iraq or Iraqi in US – because this is fairly far outside their consular duties. If you were dealing with something like a death or marriage that made it necessary to locate someone for a legal matter, maybe, but government personnel really don’t have the scope to do this kind of thing, and they arguably shouldn’t (for all they know it could be stalking or some other kind of unwelcome contact – not accusing you of this, of course, but it’s a reason for them not to help locate people’s friends).
            But that said, I hope you’re able to find your friend, and perhaps an NGO or other resource might be able to advise you.

    4. Anono-me*

      Could you ask your high school alumni group, whatever organization sponsored her foreign exchange student program, or the host family to forward an open letter to your friend’s parents last known address?

      Yes I realize they may have moved, but maybe they haven’t.

      1. Roja*

        Even if they have moved, if their village is stable then someone there may know how to contact them.

    5. xxx9*

      I would contact the group that facilitated the exchange as a start – they might keep in contact with their alumni.

      Hopefully she is doing well – I can get why some think this is weird but I can understand why you want to know she is ok. It’s always jarring to think someone you met, who was kind & decent, might have ended up in a bad situation.

    6. ..Kat..*

      Do you think you could put her in danger (or maybe just make her life more difficult) by being a westerner (are you American – that is worse) trying to get in touch with her? I worked with an Iraqi woman a couple of years ago and she was given a hard time about working with me (I am an American woman). She kept getting admonished about how I was contaminating her and leading her astray. She returned to Iraq after a few months. I hope she is okay.

    7. Autumnheart*

      I have been in a marginally similar situation—college roommate from Cairo, Egypt, and I was thinking about her a lot during the Arab Spring and the uprisings. I actually found her on LinkedIn. If you think she might have gone on to college and a professional vocation, it couldn’t hurt to look there.

  11. Aphrodite*


    I think that’s how you spell it. I’ve never eaten there because I do not care for fast food. But a Friday post on the food ordered into an office prompted me to go online and look at their menu. Given how much people (who will eat there) like their food I was very surprised to see that it is basically nothing but a deep fried piece of chicken on a hamburger bun. In other words, nothing worth spending a meal on. I am now puzzled. What is it that makes it good?

    1. Agent J*

      Eh, maybe it’s the peanut oil? The breading is different from other fast food joints. Close second would be the waffle fries and customer service.

      Tbh, if you don’t like fast food, I’m not sure any given reason will satisfy your question.

    2. Homo neanderthalensis*

      They’re all terrible people at Chik-fil-a but the secret to their chicken is super easy to replicate at home. Pickle brine. That’s it! Pickle brine in the marinade and the dredge. And some good pickle chips on the sandwiches. That’s it! SO easy to make at home and you wont be supporting regressive politics!

      1. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

        Aaahhh that explains why I always hated Chik-Fil-A even when I picked the actual pickles off. Thanks for solving a mystery 10 years on!

      2. Homo neanderthalensis*

        Yup! A company that thinks I’m sub-human for being queer and wants to convert me because I’m not Christian is bad and it’s bad to work for them!

        1. W*

          No one at Chick Fil A or anywhere else thinks you’re sub-human for being homosexual. If anything, it’s because you’re the kind of intolerant bigot that would make the comment above.

      3. Alexandra Lynch*

        I vote with my pocketbook. I live in an area that is not exactly a good place to be different in, and so I don’t support businesses that would like to see me and my kind dead.

        Chick-Fil-A… eh. Ate there once before their management opened their mouth about their religious beliefs. I can get just as good a sandwich anywhere else, and do one better at home. The pickle juice explains why I thought it was sour. I am, however, a supertaster.

    3. Reliquary*

      They’re nothing special at all, and frankly, I am shocked that folks even consider spending money there, in light of the fact that their charitable donations (millions! of! dollars!) go to actively anti-LGBTQ organizations. For goodness’s sake, even airports are refusing to house Chik-fil-a stores.

      If folks love boring chicken sandwiches so much they can’t stand going without, they should make their own, using the pickle brine marinade as Homo neanderthalensis described.

      1. Overeducated*

        Eh, I’m not a Chik-fil-a fan myself (didn’t grow up with it, no nostalgia), but my general rule is that I’d rather buy anything deep fried than actually make it at home. Nobody does fries like a chain restaurant.

      2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        Airports shouldn’t allow Chik-fil-a restaurants a slot. They’re closed on Sundays, which are normally busy travel days, and that means the airport has one fewer restaurant on a day when it has a higher than normal occupancy? That’s stupid, especially considering you’re basically trapped in the airport.

      3. Dan*

        If I want chicken (especially fried chicken) I go to Chik-Fil-A. Very, very few fast food restaurants do it better.

        1. Book Lover*

          I like Raising Cane’s and I haven’t heard anything negative about their politics. I am not sure how many locations they have.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I think Popeye’s is also on the okay list politically, plus they have biscuits. Mmm.
            Now I want some.

        2. Le Sigh*

          Bojangles and Popeyes have actual fried chicken on the menu (bone-in, I mean), plus better chicken biscuits.

          I like CFA’s waffle fries and nuggets, but nothing there gets my goat enough to actually bother going. The sandwiches are usually soggy by the time I get them anyway.

      4. smoke tree*

        I don’t live in the US so I’ve never been to a Chik-Fil-A, but I do think it’s interesting that this one chain has attracted so much political ire. For what it’s worth, I’m part of the LGBT community and try not to patronize any businesses that I know are hateful, but there are so many organizations out there with awful policies of one kind or another and few of them receive as much attention as this one. I have to wonder what it is that sets it apart–maybe that it feels particularly frivolous? Maybe because it seems odd for a chicken sandwich place to have an ideological position?

        1. Le Sigh*

          the ceo is pretty public about the donations and the company’s anti-lgbtq views. they don’t just donate to awful groups, he came out publicly against same-sex marriage in 2012 and has been interviewed more than once defending the donations.

          so it’s the donations, but it’s also the public stance. not to say the other companies aren’t bad on this — but he does generates attention every time he says something about it.

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

      The waffle fries are different from other fast food places and are yummy. And although it’s an ordinary chicken sandwich, it’s at least a better quality one, IMO. But I haven’t had Chick-fil-A since I was a teenager, because as food as the food is, their politics gives me massive heartburn.

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

        As *good as the food is! Oy. That’s what I get for trying to write at 6:30 am.

    5. Christy*

      It’s really good compared to other fast food. The pickle brine makes the chicken really yummy. The pickles on the sandwich add a nice, subtle bite as you eat. The fries are (1) different from other fries and (2) pretty good. They have a lot of sauces, too, that really add to the taste. And their lemonade is solid. And they almost always have really good customer service.

      Oh, and as fast food goes, it’s not as bad for you as, say, a Whopper (it has 2/3 the calories and 1/2 the fat).

      I (a lesbian) gave up chick fil a for years because of their marriage stance. Now I’ve decided that, listen, allies can boycott but I have to deal with the challenges of being gay, let me at least have this chicken. So I eat it maybe 4 times a year and savor it.

      1. YetAnotherUsername*

        I’m not even American, never been to chick fil a. But I have seen it discussed on the Internet loads and you seem to be one of many lgbtqa+ people who have decided “I hate their politics but that chicken is so tasty I’m gonna keep buying it!”

        I kind of want to try it myself next time I’m in the states, but I actually hate pickles so it doesn’t seem like I’d like it.

        1. Roja*

          Try it! I too hate pickles, but I just ask for no pickles on the sandwich and it doesn’t taste pickle-y at all.

        2. KoiFeeder*

          You will not like it. To /me/ it just tastes like pickles with the texture of fried chicken, which is so very very bad.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve never eaten there so I can’t comment on the food. They opened one up the road from me earlier this year and it was amazing how long the lines were. They had cones set up outside, people directing the drive-thru lanes, taking orders outside and lines of cars snaking around the parking lot. I just don’t get it. I’ve been tempted to try it, but I’m very torn since I have two gay nieces and a gay acquaintance, plus I don’t support their anti-LGBTQ views at all. But at the same time I’m very curious about all the hype around a piece of chicken on a bun.

      1. Dan*

        Americans have this really weird (IMHO) attraction to crowds and new things. The last thing I want to do is wait in line at a fast food restaurant, it sort of defeats the purpose. I usually wait until the newness of a place wears off, and *then* I go patronize it.

        1. YetAnotherUsername*

          That’s not just an American thing. I think that’s just a human thing. Novelty and crowds are big attractions.

        2. The Other Dawn*

          It was absolutely crazy when it opened in March and it finally died down somewhere around the beginning of June.

          I ended up trying it today. I was torn about it, but I found out today that one of my nieces, who is gay, loves it and goes once in awhile so I gave myself permission to try it. (She said she hates giving them money since they’re anti-LGBTQ, but it’s the best chicken sandwich she’s found.) It’s across the street from the fitness store so I gave it a try. I have to say, it’s a really good chicken sandwich. The main selling point for me is that it’s real chicken and it’s a pretty thick piece, too. I wouldn’t go out to get this specific sandwich, but if I’m out and have the choice between other fast food chicken and Chik-Fil-A, I’d take Chik. And the waffles fries were delicious with their signature sauce.

        3. WS*

          Not just Americans! A Krispy Kreme store opened in my country and they had 2000 people lined up on opening day! Two THOUSAND people!

          1. Bluesboy*

            Yes, I live in Italy, and the queues when we finally got KFC and Starbucks were ridiculous. It took a good 6 months before i felt it was worth going.

            (That said, the Starbucks near my office is absolutely beautiful in a historic building and is worth going in just to look. Plus the coffee is better than in any other Starbucks I’ve ever been in).

          2. The Other Dawn*

            Yes, when Krispy Kreme opened in my town in the US it was amazing how many people were there. There weren’t 2,000 (!!), but the line of cars was far down the street and it remained that way for months. I didn’t bother going there until maybe a year later since I’m not into doughnuts, but I found nothing special about them. And now a lot of their stores have closed in my state.

    7. PrettyMuchALurker*

      I have celiac, and this is the only fast food restaurant in the region where I can eat. (They have a dedicated fryer for fries and a gluten free bun for sandwiches plus their grilled chicken is gf along with some salads and etc). It makes travelling so much easier; I don’t have to pack my lunch and eat in the car while everyone else eats in a restaurant, and we don’t have to always stop at sit-down places. We can grab something quick and keep going. Experience may vary, but I’ve never been accidentally glutened there.

    8. MatKnifeNinja*

      Where I live…YMMV

      The place is CLEAN. Like I can’t believe this is a fast place clean.

      The manager immediately steps in if any shenanigans starts in the order line. Be it the customer or register worker. During lunch rush the line moves fast.

      The workers they hire are top tier. I don’t know what the starting pay is, or how they screen, but I never had a “I hate my fawking life, and I fawking working here.” worker attitude.

      The chicken is tasty. The place uses peanut oil and pickle brine for seasoning. The waffle fries are the best.

      Parents love it because it’s not McD, and if your kid is GF, you have a shot of finding something for your kid to eat. It’s a default if my non eating beef friends want fast food.

      I rarely eat there. It’s always, always packed. The company could probably open up two more stores and it would still be busy.

      The Chik-Fil-A is right in office tower central where I live. There are a zillion vegan/vegetarian/better food not outrageously priced options in that immediate area. The places do not have hellacious wait times. Chik-a-fil is always freaking packed with office workers.

      My niece and her friends want to eat there yesterday. Carry out is never an issue, but finding a place to sit is impossible during lunch rush. We ate at another place.

      Their politics are awful, but that doesn’t slow anyone down in my blue leaning area from eating their product.

    9. Stitch*

      So I hate their views, but the food is tasty (particularly the chicken biscuit breakfast) and they have expediting down to a start so even during lunch rush you get your food fast. I had friends who worked there in high school and they do treat their workers better than most fast food places.

      In 2012 I had to wait 4 hours to vote early in Maryland and hadn’t had breakfast, and the polling place was right next to a chikfila so I followed up my vote for gay marriage with a Chik fila run. I also had a friend from the south in college who was LGBT but also literally did a roadtrip to get chik fila.

      It’s a hard line. The food is good, they treat their employees well, but you have to reconcile it with their views. I don’t go there often, maybe a couple times a year.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      Eh! Politics aside, it’s just tasty.
      And compared to other types of fast food, their food quality is better.

      I don’t make a habit of eating there, but if I’ve little other choice on the road, I’d choose them over other places.

    11. Christmas*

      This!! Thank you, Aphrodite!! I’m in my mid-thirties and have eaten at Chik-fil-A (sp) exactly once. I remember thinking, “This is a very basic chicken sandwich that I could easily make at home.” Nothing I ate there was so delicious that I would drive out of my way and pay somebody to serve it to me. It wasn’t bad, just not great either.
      (My apologies, lovers of Chik-fil-A!)

      1. Lora*

        Word. I don’t understand the attraction at all. It’s just okay food, in fact the Wendy’s across the street does better fries (IMO fry quality is more about the temperature the fryer is set to, how well the fryer thermostat controls). There’s no good fried chicken in my entire region, sadly, and if I’m in the South I get diner fried chicken which is done properly with mashed potatoes and gravy. But at home I can do a passable oven fried chicken that’s much better than Chick-fil-A. Plus their politics are a hard No.

    12. ImJustHereForThePoetry*

      Most fast food chicken is frozen and pre-breaded. Chick-fil-a chicken is fresh and breaded in house before it’s cooked. It really does taste much better than any other chicken you can get from a fast food or chain restaurant.

    13. WellRed*

      Ha! I have no idea why people love Popeyes or Five Guys ( soggy fries!). Never tried Chik Fil A. Probably because I irrationally hate the spelling.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        The spelling bothered me long before I knew about their anti-LGBT stance. Add in those super obnoxious cow billboards and I’ve got three good reasons to never eat there.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        The fries at my Five Guys aren’t soggy. I like that they put a ton of salt on them. If I’m going to eat crap, I want it to be the crappiest crap I can get, LOL. The burgers are pretty tasty.

        Plus, they will grill a hot dog and put grilled onions on it, which is the next best thing to charring it over a campfire. *drooooooool* I know hot dogs are horrible for you and I try to eat them very infrequently, but damn I love them.

    14. OhBehave*

      We love it and support them. The grilled chicken is tasty as well as the salads. A fried chicken sandwich once in awhile is fine you know! Waffle fries are yummy too. They do tons for our community too.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          *for the straight people who hate the LGBTQ community and like actively hurting them*

          Also all fast food and soda companies bring jobs, money and sponsorships to the community.

    15. Lilysparrow*

      They have a lot of grilled options (including grilled kids’ nuggets) and salads, including things like kale salad, and whole-grain buns as an option. The pickle marinade does make it tasty.

      And, as others pointed out, the customer service is great, especially for families with young kids or people with mobility issues. As is the design/planning:
      Most freestanding locations have a kids’s climbing/soft playplace, with hand sanitizer and cubbies for their shoes.
      They provide sanitizing wipes and plastic placemats that you can stick to the table to make eating with anyone who drops food easier and more sanitary.
      The counter person will carry your tray(s) to your table and offer to get you drink refills if you have little kids or mobility issues.
      The bathroom door opens OUT, so you don’t have to touch the handle after you wash your hands. I don’t see that a lot.
      If the drive-thru is backed up at lunch or dinner rush, they send workers out to walk down the line and take your order on handheld units. You can even pay in line. They can expedite a line like nobody I’ve ever seen before.

      Politics is one thing. But they keep their customers by doing a really good job at what they do.

    16. Courageous cat*

      It is just… not like any other chicken. You’d have to taste it. It’s not the world’s best chicken, but it’s unusually good for fast food imo.

      Politically: I’m queer and still sometimes eat there, and also know plenty of queer people who eat there. It’s fine to boycott whoever you want and I don’t blame anyone for it, but I can guarantee you there are way more problematic organizations than just CFA that the same people almost undoubtedly support. I fully back “doing what you can”, I just hate when people get Really Self-Righteous about anyone eating at CFA (esp given it’s one of the only comparatively healthy fast food chains) but then go on to buy shirts from Urban Outfitters or Target etc etc. There are more places that fight against LGBT rights and fund conservative politicians than just CFA.

      1. Le Sigh*

        Oh you are 100% correct re: boycott CFA on your way to Target (which has been known to union bust!).

        CFA’s food has never really sent me over the moon and I have other good sources of fried chicken and sandwiches (see: Bojangles). So it was pretty easy for me to just drop them when I found out how truly awful they are. But I won’t pretend for a minute that I deserve an award for that. I’d just prefer not to go.

    17. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Rolling my eyes so hard over the love this place gets. Yeah there are self hating queers who still go there. Lots of people choose “tasty” food or “fun” products or whatever over values, even when it’s detrimental to their own, it’s true.

      It’s just fast food. Everyone has preferences and that’s always the key. My mom taught me to fry chicken, I’ll take prebreaded all day long with jaded workers over deep fried bigotry.

      1. whoa*

        “there are self hating queers who still go there,” can we just… not? i’m (unavoidably, visibly) queer, most definitely not self-loathing, and i occasionally eat there. don’t ascribe that shit to me.

    18. Elizabeth West*

      I won’t eat there because of their CEO’s donations to anti-LGBTQ organizations. But really, politics aside, it’s nothing special — just another greasy fast food chicken patty. You are not missing anything. A rotisserie chicken you get at the grocery store is tastier.

    19. noahwynn*

      Like others, I’m bi and hate them politically but their chicken is delicious so I eat there. Their food is super fresh for fast food and they treat customers well. I’m not a “self hating queer,” I just realize boycotting things I enjoy doesn’t make my life better.

    20. What the What*

      I love their food. I like that I can get a good quality side salad instead of fries and their dressings are good. Their spicy chicken sandwich is the bomb. We have very limited fast food choices where I live and because it’s a small town, our fast food places have a hard time finding quality staff. ChickFilA tends to have very polite staff and great customer service. I generally don’t boycott or purposefully shop based on a company’s politics/social causes (random examples: Starbucks, ChickFilA, P&G, Chipotle, etc.) If a company delivers a quality product and treats their customers right then that means a lot in my book. ChickFilA is a privately held company (I think) and the owners have the right to have their own beliefs and express their beliefs even if it conflicts with the beliefs/worldview of it others. Just as, say Starbucks (public company) via its leadership has a right to champion their causes. I think if we strive to perhaps be more emotionally resilient and had more compassion for people we disagree with, them maybe we’d all get along better and not see every situation through the lens of politics and Us vs Them. My opinion.

  12. CatCat*

    I welcome any Disneyland advice! I’m going this week and I haven’t been there since the mid 90s.

    1. greenthumb*

      Fast passes! And download the app. Also, insulated water bottles, and if it’s hot, get to the park at opening, take a break for a late lunch to recharge, and go back in the afternoon and stay late when the crowds thin. Despite rising ticket prices, attendance seems to keep climbing, so it may feel more crowded than you expect.

      Some rides are more interesting at night, and not nearly as crowded, so you can do them multiple times if you have a fave (Haunted Mansion, jungle cruise etc lend themselves to this).

      Collapsible backpack. There are bag checks at entry now, but you can bring snacks and such.

      Oh. Hidden Mickeys. You should be able to find some pretty readily and there are lists if you want some help.

      Depending on your budget, the meal options have gotten nice. You said Disneyland so I take it you will be in California? I’m more familiar with D World — Epcot and resort restaurants— but I think the newer park-adjacent hotel has good F&B unless I’m mixing up my parks again. Also the park’s own hotels and friendly neighbors offer some good perks that are worth looking into prior to arrival. Parking is pricey too, so depending on how many days you want to be at the park, whether you plan to eat onsite, and whether you want to shop, it might make sense for at least one person in your party to buy an annual pass.

      We did the math after our last visit and we would have saved a fair amount on parking, shopping, and a couple nice dinners if one of us had gotten the pass. (We don’t stay onsite or at friendly neighbors so your math may vary.)

      1. CatCat*

        I downloaded the app. Not really sure how it works, but hopefully I’ll figure it out!

        Love the idea of checking out some rides at night! It did not occur to me how the experience would be different.

        Thanks for backpack tip! Didn’t know about bag searches. Hidden Mickeys sounds like a lot of fun to me and my group could make a game of it.

        We are going to California Disneyland. We want to see the Star Wars stuff! We’re also hitting California Adventure, which none of us have ever been to.

        Thanks for all the great tips!

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          It’s worth paying the extra fee to get fast passes added to the app. Usually, to get a fast pass, you have to walk to the ride you want and scan your ticket. But last time my family went, we entered the park and started walking toward the first ride we wanted while I opened the app and got the entire family a fast pass for the next ride on our list. It’s a massive time saver and we felt that it was worth the extra cost (about $10 per person if I’m remembering correctly).

    2. Daisy*

      Pay the 15$ for the fancy fast pass if you can swing it – it made my trip so much nicer since I could plan my next ride while in line for a current one.
      Downtown Disney is within the area of the bag search so it’s much easier to pop out of the park for food there. It’s marginally less expensive but much less crowded!

      Have fun!

    3. Nicki Name*

      Fastpass, Fastpass, Fastpass.

      Make sure you leave your Swiss Army knives and anything else remotely metallic and pointy in your car or room, because yeah, the bag checks.

      Arrive 9am or earlier– you can ride way more rides in the first couple hours the parks are open than any other time. Then plan to leave for a while and rest in the early or mid-afternoon. You’ll miss the worst weather and lines and be able to come back refreshed in the evening.

      Do some pre-planning. Figure out in advance what you absolutely have to see/ride, what’s interesting but not essential, and what you don’t care about. If that list is significantly different for members of your party, can you split up to accomodate everyone better?

      Most of all, be prepared to know when you’ve hit your limit. Regardless of what your schedule says, regardless of what you think your “money’s worth” is, regardless of your checklist for the Ideal Disney Vacation… if you’re getting tired and stressed and overheated, TAKE A BREAK.

    4. ArtK*

      I agree with others. As soon as you’re in the park, use the app to purchase the MaxPass. You can get FastPasses online easily that way.
      It’s going to be very different than you remember. Be prepared to be a little sad for the things that are gone. But then be very happy for all the new stuff.
      If you want to eat at any of the sit-down restaurants (Carnation Plaza, Plaza Inn, Blue Bayou, Cafe Orleans) in the park, make reservations through the web site now. It may even be too late to get reservations at some places. If you’re also going to be in DCA, the same applies to Carthay Circle, Lamplight Lounge and the Wine Country Trattoria. You can get walk-ins, sometimes, but reservations are a better idea.

      Some questions so that I can give better advice: How long will you have? Solo, with a group of adults or with kids as well?

      My wife and I are annual passholders and go at least once per month.

    5. Pam*

      I always like to do one planned sit down meal with reservations. Currently, the French Market is my favorite.

    6. KR*

      Do the boat jungle ride thing! The jokes are hilarious. Also the Lincoln presentation. There is one of the little main Street shops with all of these old Disney cartoons and that’s great too.

    7. ..Kat..*

      You will use your phone a lot, especially if you get the recommended app. I recommend a portable charger.

  13. Emmie*

    How did you meet your significant other? Your best friends? I’m looking to grow my life in those ways, and I’d love to hear your stories / tips.

    1. Marion Ravenwood*

      I met my best friends via a Meetup group – we were involved with it for about six months, then the original organiser left and a bunch of us formed a breakaway group. There’s now about 10 of us that regularly get together (in various groupings) to hang out, go for drinks, watch movies etc. It did take me a few goes until I found one that stuck, but I’m really glad because they’re an absolutely brilliant bunch of people.

      1. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

        I met my husband at the kissing booth at the Original Renaissance Faire in Agoura, Ca.

    2. YetAnotherUsername*

      I met my husband in a pub on St Patricks day. I met my best friend through a volunteer organisation.

      A lot of people meet onlibe now.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        “A lot of people meet online now”

        Spouse and I met online (ish – mutuals introduced us through a shared-hobby web forum) in 2002. This is very much not a new phenomenon. I would recommend the shared hobby forum version as you will keep that shared interest and mutual friends. Indeed Emmie might find that kind of forum useful to make platonic friends as well.

        Do you follow a sport, or a fiction fandom, or a musician, etc etc? Communities build up around that kind of enthusiasm, and they meet up in person sometimes.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          VERY much not a new phenomenon…I met my partner on Bitnet back in 1989! (Although we were on the same campus, so we probably would have met within a few days anyway.)

      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        We also met on a music forum specific to one band. Fifteen years ago. The band is still around and making new music, by the way.

      3. The Grammarian*

        I met my husband online through a dating/friendship site. We’ve been married for a few years now!

    3. Agnodike*

      I met my spouse at a house party when we were 19. My closest friends I’ve just sort of accumulated as I’ve rolled around like a growing snowball – at school, at work, at kid playgroups, through other friends, through volunteer work, around the neighbourhood.

    4. Emma*

      I met my husband through mutual friends – a friend of mine was dating his best friend and I was invited to a party he also attended. I met my best friend in nursery school, but recently made two really close friends through work, which I previously didn’t think was possible.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Husband: in 2003, I started dating a dude who was a friend of a friend. Dude invited me to join him at a convention across the country. I went, met a bunch of people, including W. In 2006, dude (who I was still dating) attended W’s wedding while we were at the convention (which we attended yearly) and in 2007 got married ourselves. In 2010 dude and I divorced and W’s wife moved overseas to work and decided she never wanted to live in the US again, because it’s terrible*. In 2012 I moved to where the large group of friends was and adopted W’s dog because he was going to try joining his wife overseas. That did not work, he returned (and they had decided to divorce), and I told him he couldn’t have my dog back. We started dating officially after his divorce was final and got married in 2017. The dog is now 11.

      *(her residences since then have been in Saudi Arabia and China. I’m not sure what drives her definition of terrible.)

      Best friend: one of them I met at a Fourth of July party thrown by mutual friends eighteen years ago. The other is part of the group of friends I met the same time/convention as my husband.

      1. ElephantJuice*

        Met my best friend when she was my room mate at college during my year abroad over 10 years ago – we live half a world apart but still talk every day.

        Waiting on a significant other.

    6. The curator*

      Oh this is my favorite story ever. I was working in a bookstore. I was at the front register. A man walked in and said. I am the Viking Penguin rep. And I said wow, just last night I read a Puffin book about the Cattle Raid of Cooley, that was so amazing (because I thought the Penguin rep read all the Penguin books) I babbled a bit.

      He looked at his watch and said he had a 1:00 appointment with the buyer. I said do you know the way? He said yes and started up a short fight of stairs to the next level of the store.
      Here is the weird part. As I looked up at his back, I thought, I’m never going to see him again, and felt sad.

      I picked up the store phone and called the buyer (who was a good friend) and said the Penguin rep is here and going up to the office. She said something nice about him. I said tell everyone that we are hanging at my apt. tonight and invite the Penguin rep. About 4 people.

      By 7, everyone had cancelled , this one had a migraine , that one’s boyfriend came in from out of town. I called the Penguin rep at his Holiday Inn and said he couldn’t come over because I didn’t know him well enough. Him “ have you had dinner yet?” I said no. Him “ Do you want to?” I said yes. That was our first date.

      He woo’d me with free- and-review copies and galleys.

      I found out on our wedding day two years later that he expensed our first date.

      Have been married 32 years. He still makes me laugh.

      Hmm tips. I was extremely shy 25 year old who could count the number of guys that I had dated on one hand. This was extremely out- of-character for me. We didn’t have a lot in common except loving books and book people . He’s adventurous, I’m not. He likes to see where the road goes, I want to have a plan. He likes surprises, I dread them. He wants an anything- can -happen day, I want to stay home and read. I love speculative fiction, children’s books, young adult books, and the occasional Michael Connelly and he reads poets and independent presses. I watch Freeform, if he had his way the tv would be on all the time on MSNBC.
      We make each other laugh.

        1. The Curator*

          Thanks, I always want to send it to the N.Y. times for their Modern love column.

            1. The Curator*

              I’m on a few deadlines for work now. August 15 is the magic number. Maybe I will try to write something and check in on the Sat. writing thread to keep it in my sights.

    7. HannahS*

      Good friends: High school, mostly, which is not very helpful to you. But I’ve recently made some good friends through “Jewish young adult” activities in my new-to-me city, which is awesome. Many of my newer friends, I’ve actually met through other people–I’ve become good friends with some people in my sibling’s social group, which is really nice.

    8. Parenthetically*

      Met my husband at a bar with a group of mutual friends. Unbeknownst to me it was a setup!

      Met one dear friend at a grad school orientation — she was a student ambassador and I was desperate for a Target to find some dressy clothes because I had failed to notice that in our schedule of activities was a fancy dinner and I’d only brought jeans. Most of my other dear friends I’ve met through church.

    9. Aurora Leigh*

      I met my fiance on Match. :)

      My best friends actually have all come from my 1st job, where a hellish boss caused us to bond in the way people do when they go through intense difficulties together.

      Other than pets — the dog we found on petfinder and the cats just showed up lol.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Met my husband on Match! He was the last first date I went on before I was going to put my account on hiatus for a while. He was also not matched with me at all, my friend found him through her account and sent his profile to me.

    10. Square Root Of Minus One*

      Met my boyfriend through an Internet-based general knowledge game.
      The first time we met in real life, among a group of other players, he insisted I eat my share of this pizza with goat cheese, and I was too shy to decline. The thing is, I really, really despise goat cheese. One bite can make me sick.
      I only confessed when we got together the next year. A decade later he still talks about it.

    11. AnotherPersonHere*

      I met my bestie in preschool, so that’s super unhelpful.
      But! I met my spouse (married for 8 years) on Plenty of Fish, the dating website my bestie calls “bottom of the barrel”. I wasn’t looking for a partner. I’d just gotten divorced and had a half-baked idea about writing a book about online dating. (The book was going to be called 80 Dates; I went on 80 dates in one summer.) The book never got written but we hit it off and have been together since.

    12. Glomarization, Esq.*

      My core group of closest friends is a dozen or so people who drifted together in some overlapping circles of friends and classmates at university. This group is also where I met my first spouse. My BFF pre-dates them, though; we met on the schoolbus when I was 10.

      Meeting new friends is challenging now that I’m pushing 50 (and, dare I say, a little less necessary since we can keep up with our old friends so easily over the internet even though they’re thousands of miles away). Getting involved in hobby groups, attending meetups, volunteering at arts events, becoming a regular at a local bar or coffeeshop, these are the kinds of things that have worked for me.

      My current spouse and I were introduced by a mutual friend. Mr. Glomarization had dated her briefly, and she wanted to do him a favor after having to “it’s not you, it’s me” with him some months before.

    13. OyHiOh*

      I met my husband on line through a niche dating website. I was hurting (trying to figure out how to end an abusive relationship), put up a very stupid ad, and he was a good enough LEO to realize something was pretty seriously wrong. Initially, his efforts were directed towards helping me get out and safe.

      My closest friends right now. One comes from the community theater I’m involved with. Another from serving on the board of a local non profit. A third from a coffee shop/community space I work part time at. My approach is generally to start doing something that is important to me, and once there, find people I want to get to know better. The non profit best friend was one of those people where you walk into a room and you know this is someone you have to know better. It took us more than a year to get from serious board business colleagues to meet for coffee friends but once over that hurdle we’ve become very close.

      1. Shiny Swampert*

        Oh what a lovely story about your husband. I’m crying now. I’m glad he was a decent guy and so very sorry for your loss (again) (under a different username)

    14. Not Me*

      I met my boyfriend on Yelp. I’ve actually made some really good friends on yelp, at official events and unofficial events. Depending on the city you live in there are tons of events and ways to meet people.

      I met my best friend in high school.

    15. ArtK*

      My ex and I met while riding horses. I was a student assistant at the stable where she took lessons.

      My wife and I met singing in a Welsh choir — although neither of us is Welsh.

      My friends are a mixed bag. Some I met through a love of trains and Disney, while others I know from music. Some of those connections go back 50 years!

      1. ArtK*

        A follow-up with a tip: Note that all of the significant people in my life were met through shared activities. I didn’t enter any of them looking to make friends or find an SO, but the interactions and shared interests led to friendships and more.

    16. ThatGirl*

      My husband and I met first in Quiz Bowl in college. He was 2 years behind me and briefly dated one of my best friends, but they broke up and i consoled him. We didn’t start dating till after I’d graduated and I had to reassure him it didn’t mean we were gonna get married (hahahaha).

      One of my bffs, it was the first night of freshman year, I was at this comedian performance for first years, arguing with a guy in my first year seminar I’d just met. She was in the row behind us listening and then broke in with “she’s right, you know!” I turned and said “I like you” and we’ve been friends ever since.

    17. Felicia*

      A lot of my best friends I met through a book club but we were just aquaintances for a solid year before we became friends. I’m visiting a close friend later this afternoon who I met in line to get a picture with Hailey Atwell at a comic convention five years ago. Surprising how much one can bond over an hour in line.

    18. NoLongerYoung*

      Two BFFs. One I met indirectly, through a shared therapy group – one of the women in the therapy group, became a good friend and roommate, and this was HER friend. We hit it off more.

      The other, through a book study group at my church. It’s taken several years to get to the BFF stage. But all of us through that group are close – outside of the group I socialize about once a week (walk with/ exercise with) two of them.

      Significant other I’d met through work, didn’t start dating until I left that job.

    19. Lucette Kensack*

      I met my husband through family. My sister worked with his mother. His mom wanted to set him up with my sister, but she had just started dating someone when they first connected. His mother, who had never met me, figured I was a decent enough second choice. She invited herself to a concert of mine that my sister was attending, and brought my husband along for a secret set-up. We thought it was all a coincidence until she ‘fessed up a few years into our marriage.

      I’ve met most of my friends in two ways: work and book clubs.

    20. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I met my partner on a dating app.

      I met my best friends in high school. My other close friends I met on online groups (message boards, livejournal and twitter tbh.) We found each other through various fandoms.

    21. quirkypants*

      I started playing sports as an adult and have met most of close friends and my partner through a queer sports league.

      I’m out of sports for a while though and am wondering the same thing… Looking to meet new pals.

    22. Super (Awkward) Kitten*

      I tend to pick up one friend in every place/school/office. So: friend from high school, friend from college, friend from my first really proper job, and so on. My last office was a goldmine – I got 4 friends out of that one. I made a friend from one of the Meet-up groups too when I moved to a new city.

      I’ve had three memorable relationships: one I met through an acquaintance throwing a house party, another through a college social club, and finally I met my wife on OK Cupid. We bonded over languages (I speak only one but I’ve tried to learn about eight!). On our first date, from sheer nerves, I introduced myself to the first woman I saw at the bar; she looked NOTHING like my wife’s profile pic but weirdly enough had the same name. Awkward.

    23. Acornia*

      Depends on which of us you ask. The time HE remembers is a few months and several meetings before the one I remember. Sadly, I do remember some of the parties and get togethers during that time, but I don’t remember HIM, even though he remembers talking to me and trying in vain to get the nerve to ask me out.
      I feel a wee bit guilty that he was trying to strike up conversations and get to know me and he made no impression, but eventually I did notice him and it all worked out nicely in the end.

    24. Jemima Bond*

      Internet dating. He was (in that iteration of internet dating) the seventeenth person I met irl. OkCupid.

    25. Elephant in the room*

      I met my husband at an annual costume party, I thought he was kinda creepy and declined to hang out with him (he was in character). A year later he was at the annual party (even more creepy costume) and again intent on getting to know me. Mutual friends assured me he was a stand up guy, and I found out he was also smart, funny, kind, and handsome without the costume hiding his face. 2 years later we were married!

    26. Arya Parya*

      I met a bunch of my friends in a scifi themed chat room. This is way back in the day, like 1999. I was young, shy, didn’t really know how to connect to people. Online that was easier.

      My SO and soms more recent friends I met through my volunteer work at a local arthouse theatre. I had just moved to a new town and hadn’t really met anyone here. Since I love movies, I figured a small film theatre would be a good place to meet people. And also free movies. I quickly met some nice people there and even when I go to see a movie alone, there’s always people I know there.

      My SO and I had met a few times already, and I likes him but we bever really hung out. That changed on the annual volunteer outing. We got talking and it turned out we had a lot in common. Then we had a boat tour through the city. It rained and we shared an umbrella. Later that night we found out neither of us danced and we both happily stood next to the dance floor with a drink.

      We’ve been together ever since. Have a house, a kid and a couple of cats now

    27. Cedrus Libani*

      I met my fiance through a gaming-related meetup. We’re both quiet, awkward nerds; we both fancied one another, but we’d both convinced ourselves that the other wasn’t interested. The rest of the group was about to stage an intervention. We did figure it out, eventually, and we’ve been together since.

      I’ve had good luck meeting people through activities. It’s a chance to get to know people in a low-pressure setting. You see these people regularly, you have a built-in common interest, and you have reasons to talk to each other. It’s an ideal setup for making friends. Even if you don’t make friends, you’re still getting out of the house and spending time doing something you enjoy, so it’s not a waste.

    28. Batgirl*

      I met my fiance online, which is when I abandoned my dating plan. I was nervous about dating for the first time in over a decade; so I decided I would try to date one guy a week and I would turn the experiences (which I expected to be mostly disastrous) into an amusing blog. On my first date, a coffee date I met on Plenty of Fish, I mentally cursed when I laid eyes on him; far too cute for a funny anecdote! Hot enough to cause nerves. So our hands are shaking as we drink coffee. I discover he’s intelligent, kind and funny. When coffee turns into drinks I discover he also hates football (we live in a football obsessed city) and his stock goes up. By the second date he asks me to be his girlfriend and I say that I really want to write this blog. It could become a book! He asks if I see us more as friends and I look wistfully at all the hotness. Can you be friends with a truly hot guy? By the end of the third date, an activity we simultaneously suggested to each other, we were exclusive. That was seven years ago and we are currently musing over eloping or the town hall for the ceremony. It almost never began. He hated the dating website experience – he said all the dates he’d went on and all the messages he’d received had been so creepy and weird that he’d been two weeks away from deleting his profile. We lived ten minutes from each other and would go to all the same places but probably would never have met without the internet.

    29. jDC*

      He was my neighbor. I actually met his then wife and son first as he was still deployed, well, in Texas, she just decided she was done and moved. I met him the day that he moved there. I gave him a ride to the truck rental place to pick up his car. I remember thinking “omg why did i just offer a stranger this ride, he could kill me”.

      Their marriage ended up falling apart (uh she left him because she just didn’t feel like living there anymore so it stands to reason) and over time we got together. Of course now she tells people that her best friend stole her husband. How my neighbor I randomly chatted with was my best friend I don’t know nor agree with and they didn’t even live in the same state by the time we started even talking in a slightly flirty way. Makes her feel better to blame someone I guess.

    30. Jaid*

      I met my best friend at work. She was my instructor when I on-boarded. We became friends when we met outside of work at a supermarket parking lot, she gave me a lift home and we just started hanging out and talking from then on.

    31. Clever Name*

      I met my best friends through my son’s school. Meaning our kids all went to the same elementary school. I met my SO online. Bumble, to be specific.

    32. Alexandra Lynch*

      I met my boyfriend and girlfriend both through a terrible website that is now defunct that catered to kinky people who want to meet each other. In both cases the line from my bio that got them to write to me was when I said that I am learning Spanish just because I want to.

      It’s not been an entirely smooth ride for all of us; I had a 24 year marriage end this year (he was a hoarder, and finally there was no room for me) and my boyfriend has dealt with a lot of mental health issues, and Girlfriend is finally getting some important transitioning stuff worked out. But the three of us help support each other, which is the important thing.

  14. Phoenix from the ashes*

    Book recommendations! I normally read sff, but I’ve just finished Barbara Hambly’s Homeland: A Novel, the fictional correspondence between 2 women on opposite sides during the US Civil War, and it’s incredible! Has anyone else here read it? What are you reading now?

    1. Jen RO*

      The best SFF I’ve read in the past years has been NK Jemisin’s Broken Earth series. The problem is that, since I finished it a few months ago, nothing else has lived up to it… So, if I may hijack your thread: does anyone has SFF recs? I am not a fan of space opera and hard SF, but I’m open to pretty much anything.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My car audiobook right now is ‘Ready Player One’. Much better book than movie, and Wil Wheaton must have had fun with the Star Trek references.
        My insomnia has me thinking about digging up the original “Beggars in Spain” by Nancy Kress. (I didn’t like the expanded novel she made of it after the initial success.)
        I was just telling someone about David Brin”s “The Postman” which was a good book but had a terrible movie made from it.

        1. Jen RO*

          I didn’t like Ready Player One in neither incarnation, even though I was definitely its target group. I felt like the author tried to cram the book with 80s references and forgot the plot.

          I read Beggars in Spain many many years ago, in one of the few sci-fi magazines that existed in Romania in the 90s – I don’t remember much, but I do remember it made an impact!

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I just finished, and loved, N.K. Jemisin’s How Long Until Black Future Month? Short stories; really great at evoking a multidimensional world in a short space. I think some of them are set in her other fictional universes.

        Some are responses to other classic sci fi–The People Who Walk Out of Ormolu, Puppetmasters, and I think Harrison Bergeron.

        1. Jen RO*

          I recently listened to an audio version of one of the stories in this book and it was great. This recommendation seals it – I’m adding it to my reading list.

      3. Stitch*

        I was meh on the Inheritance books, so I was a bit slow to read more by Jemisin. Is Broken Earth better?

        1. Jen RO*

          I tried to read the first Inheritance book and didn’t even finish the Kindle sample… but I don’t know if this means anything or not!

        2. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

          I’m reading book 3 of the inheritance series at the moment and while I like this series, the Broken Earth Trilogy is far superior.

          (I did it backwards, I got to know Jemisin with her later work;-) )

        3. Nye*

          I raced through the first Broken Earth book, slowed during the second, and really lost interest in the third. It just felt like the author got so caught up in her world-building that she forgot to write a clear, compelling narrative. It was a bummer, since I’d enjoyed the first one so much. Haven’t tried Inheritance since I’ve been a bit concerned it will peter out as well.

      4. Foila*

        I had just the same experience. Besides the broken earth trilogy, the books that have recently made me feel like nothing else lived up to them are :
        Ancillary Justice by Anne leckie
        The Chalion series by Lois McMaster Bujold
        Zero History by William Gibson
        Uprooted by Naomi novik

        Those are all pretty well known, so you may already have read them – but I’d love suggestions on the same vein!

        I also loved n k jemison’s Hundred Thousand Kingdoms series, if you haven’t already devoured it.

        1. Jen RO*

          I hated, hated Ancillary Justice, lol, and I was sure it was gonna come up since most people loved it! I don’t know why I disliked it so much… I even finished it, hoping it would click… but nope.

          I haven’t read any of the others (though I’ve read other things from the authors) – I’ll look them up, thanks!

          1. SpellingBee*

            I couldn’t get into it either – I’ve tried 3 times, thinking it was just the mood I was in at the time, but have never been able to force myself more than halfway through. I’ve given up!

      5. MMB*

        I read The Inheritance Trilogy and the first Book in the Broken Earth series. I wound up enjoying them but …….I did feel like I had to work for it when I first started!
        I lean more toward Fantasy but if you’re open to it….
        Some of the Leigh Bardugo books are good
        The Bear and the Nightingale series by Katherine Arden is AMAZING. (Someone else mentioned this series a week or so ago and they may have gone into more detail.)
        Tad William’s follow-up trilogy to Memory, Sorrow and Thorn starts off rocky but redeems itself in the second book.
        Lately though, I’ve been devouring Jacob Pepper’s books. He’s new but developing and his characters really hook you.

        1. Jen RO*

          I generally also lean towards fantasy (just not high fantasy) and I’ve read many of the classic stuff, but not a lot of the more modern authors.

          However, your comment made me realize that, even though I’ve been hearing about Memory, Sorrow and Thorn for many years, I’ve never actually read it, so I got a Kindle sample to see how it goes!

          I will definitely give other NK Jemisin series a shot based on the comments here – but after my memories of The Broken Earth fade. I think I am still too much in that world to really be able to shift to another.

          1. MCL*

            One of my favorite fantasy works is Catherynne M Valente’s Orphan’s Tales duo. I rarely see them recommended, but they’re stunning books.

      6. Lost in the Woods*

        I just finished “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet,” and I loved it. It has a very richly developed universe but the plot is very focused on a group of normal people and how they move through the universe. I found it to be delightful.

        1. Grace*

          I love those books! If you haven’t read the two sequels, you totally should – my favourite is the second, A Closed and Common Orbit, but the third is also pretty damn good. I say sequels. Kind of. Some of the characters overlap, and the stories are somewhat related to each other, but they’re more about exploring different stories in corners of the universe than about continuing the story from the first book.

          They all work as stand-alones, so if anyone sees one of the three Becky Chambers Wayfarers books, pick it up and read it without worrying about the fact that it’s the second or third in the trilogy.

        2. Jen RO*

          I read it a month or so ago, mostly because I thought the title and cover were brilliant! The book itself was enjoyable, but it didn’t make me want to read the sequels as well.

          1. Grace*

            I think your interest in the sequels might depend on what it was that made the original a little less enjoyable. The first and third are fairly similar in that they both have a larger cast of POV characters and less of a firm target in terms of plot until maybe the last third or so. More slice-of-life. The second is more focused, with only two main POV characters (on two seperate timelines) and with more of a major goal that’s set up earlier on. That’s why I prefer that one, personally – I tend to get a bit lost if there are too many POVs going on at once.

      7. gecko*

        The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie was a really interesting one. It’s a gradually unfolding story about an an ancient society. It’s fantasy, and the prose is interesting, but it’s not at all like Ancillary Justice (I read below you didn’t like).

        Sabriel, by Garth Nix, is older and you may have read it but it’s still worth recommending.

        The Curse of Chalion, by Lois McMaster Bujold, is an awesome novel about a fantasy Iberian peninsula. One of the most interesting things about it for me is that all the magic is related to the in-world religion, which feels like a real religion people could believe in. It’s hard to explain, but it gives you the sense of how religion may have worked in the ancient world, with miracles and gods just a fact of life & culture. The follow up books in the series weren’t as good, imo, and are not necessary.

        The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden. Enjoyed enormously.

        1. Jen RO*

          Ohh now that you said Iberian peninsula I do remember The Curse of Chalion! I read it 10 years or so ago and I enjoyed it, though I’m not a huge fan of fantasy versions of real world history.

          I ordered a sample of The Bear and the Nightingale, sounds right up my alley!

      8. DataGirl*

        Just have to say I second NK Jeminsin’s work. After I read (audiobooked) the Broken Earth series I read everything else by her. The other series are different but also very good. Another good series by a similar author the Binti

      9. DataGirl*

        Just have to say I second NK Jeminsin’s work. After I read (audiobooked) the Broken Earth series I read everything else by her. The other series are different but also very good. Another good series by a similar author are the Binti books by Nnedi Okorafor. Only downside is they are very short.

        1. Jen RO*

          I haven’t read Binti, but I loved Who Fears Death and The Book of Phoenix by the same author. I also read Lagoon, which just didn’t click with me, unfortunately.

      10. Lost in the Woods*

        Oh, another thought: I never tire of recommending the Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. The first book (The Thief) was written for a middle grade audience and is cute and very well written, but remains middle grade fiction, but the rest of the books are smart YA trending towards adult. They are the most satisfying fantasy political intrigue I’ve ever read. The third book especially is the gift that keeps on giving; I’ve read it probably 5 or 6 times and I find new things every time.

      11. smoke tree*

        I would say it’s closer to magical realism than typical fantasy, but I loved both of Natasha Pulley’s books (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and The Bedlam Stacks). One of them features a clockwork octopus, both include a kind of unusual approach to time travel, and they’re both extremely charming and very cleverly written.

      12. Avasarala*

        I guess it would count as a space opera, but I’m a big big fan of the Expanse. It does the best thing SFF can do: explore fundamental questions about our world and society in a different, removed context. Super diverse cast (not just gender/sexuality/race but also in personality and skills and goals), exciting plot where actions have consequences but not too random or dark, and all-around just a delight to read. The show (now on Amazon Prime) is very good too.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I felt the need for some beauty, so I’m reading a Charles De Lint YA (or middle reader?) book illustrated by Charles Vess: ‘The Cats of Tanglewood Forest.”
      I’m NOT introducing my daughter to Zelazny’s Amber series because it’s not in our library system…which boggles me enough that I’m buying it. If my husband finds his set in storage, our daughter can loan this set out. Or I’ll give it to the library to put it in with the teen paperbacks.

      1. Jen RO*

        Zelazny is my absolute favorite author and I am so sad that I read everything he has written, so there is nothing new to discover… I envy your daughter!

    3. Jenny F. Scientist*

      Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation! The premise sounds over the top (enslaved African-Americans fight zombies) but ignore that and read it anyways, it was SO GOOD.

      1. Just a Guy in a Cube*

        Yes! I just finished rereading this for a review, and it stands up well on a second read. There’s a lot of interesting sociology buried in it if that’s appealing, but it doesn’t intrude on just being a good YA adventure.
        I’m also rereading Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow, which I last read a decade ago and have forgotten other than that it’s very good (still holds up), and recently finished a short book of poems by Eve Ewing: 1919, inspired by the Red Summer of Chicago in 1919. I hadn’t considered myself a poetry person, but these were lovely and incisive, and I highly recommend it.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I recently reread Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls, by Bujold, which are some of my favorite high fantasy novels. What I really love is that great stories grow out of constraints, and even though there are gods there are also strict rules on what they can do. Really tight plotting, laying out threads that later pull together.

      Illuminae is a YA space opera trilogy in which things just go spectacularly, horribly wrong at fast pace. The first book is especially strong, and does some neat things with the format. (Told in the collected interviews style.)

    5. Stitch*

      I am working my way through the Expanse books. They are a quick read, despite being long and the world building is great.

      I just read Number One Chinese Restaurant and thought it was just okay.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Hello fellow Expanse fan!

        I’m currently reading number seven in the series: Persepolis Rising.

      2. gecko*

        Yes! I got a bit stalled after Nemesis Games (book 5) and haven’t picked the series back up yet, but I love em. Those books have a crazy amount of nuance and subtle character for an exciting space opera.

      3. Mephyle*

        Expanse fan here, currently rereading the first three books to prepare for what comes next, since I snagged books 4 to 7 in the recent Prime Day sales! And rewatching the show, too, at the same time.

    6. we used to be friends, a long time ago*

      This is one of my favorite books! I also highly recommend her PATRIOT HEARTS, which is a novelization of the founding mothers (more or less). I was sad when I couldn’t get into her other books; she’ s quite prolific.

    7. Penguin*

      You might look up Mary Robinette Kowal; she writes books that are often categorized as “romance” but are probably better described as alternate history fiction, sometimes with fantastical elements, involving characters with actual personalities. Two of her more recent books take place during the US Space Race (but decades early). Others are set in semi-Victorian England (if I remember right) and at least one happens during World War I. Ghosts and magic may or may not make an appearance!

    8. I hate coming up with usernames*

      Coincidentally enough, I just read Mrs. Anything. Usually I really like her books, but not as much with this one. It was interesting that it takes place in some of the areas I work/grew up, but overall I found it to be a bit too much of a downer for me.

    9. Clisby*

      I haven’t, although I’ve read all of her Benjamin January novels, which are really interesting.

    10. Grace*

      I’ve just finished Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. It’s not new, but I picked it up cheap in Oxfam Books, as I did with most books I’ve read recently. A 1000 page brick is just the book I need for a flight followed by a delayed coach followed by a three-hour coach journey. It saved my sanity, honestly.

      My love for it is perhaps slightly tinted by the fact that so much of it takes place in my homeland (a book set in rural Yorkshire that doesn’t depict us all as racist farmers! it’s a miracle!) but I really did enjoy it. I’ve only just re-read Pride and Prejudice, so the Regency-style writing fit my current desired aesthetic very well. It reminded me quite a lot of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series in terms of a well-written alternate history from around that period.

      (The downside of books set in my homeland of Yorkshire – boy oh boy is the fanfiction for this book filled with abysmal attempts at written accents and dialect. I don’t mean to put people down but. Please. Don’t phonetically write accents. Especially if you’re clearly not from the area and have no idea what the accents actually sound like. Select and correctly-used dialect, yes. Phonetic spelling of accents, no. Clarke did it well.)

      1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

        You probably already know of it, but if you love stories set in Yorkshire, the James Herriot books are classics. Alternately hilarious and touching adventures and misadventures of a real WW2 era vet.

    11. DataGirl*

      Currently speeding through the October Days series. They are about a changling detective in San Francisco: incredibly derivative of the Dresden Files books and simple plots but idk something about them is very enjoyable. I’m on the third book and just started them a few days ago.

    12. Pam*

      My latest is This is How You Lose the Time War. Authors are Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. I love epistolary books.

  15. Lena Clare*

    Alison, that picture of Wallace is a real hoot! He looks like a gentleman cat reclining in the study.

    The physio fixed my leg yesterday – I cannot believe how wonderful it is to be almost pain-free after about 3 years of limping. I slept last night, and I can walk again.

    It happened, she thinks, after a car accident I had. I basically got all out of shape and my posture was crooked.

    The side effects from the antidepressants I’m on have finally calmed down, I feel good.

    I got a date next weekend with someone I met online, who seems reasonable.

    I met with my work HR and my boss last week to discuss some reasonable accommodations for my illnesses/ disability, and they were really supportive.

    And I got my finance through for my university course this October. I’m looking at books to buy…it’s sooo seductive!

    So stuff is really good right now, after being so really horrible for a long time.

    I know this isn’t really the purpose of this discussion forum, sorry, but I wanted to share this and ask what good things have happened to you this week, or are ypu looking forward to?

    1. The Grammarian*

      Great news, Lena Clare! I’m going to physio/PT this week and I hope that I get swift relief as well. The weather is beautiful where I am this weekend, and I hope to go outside to enjoy it. I also like the picture of the cat–very serious, very gentlemanly.

    2. NewNameTemporarily4This*

      Just wanted to say – I am so glad that things are turning around for you. Frankly, nothing brings me down as much as the one-two punch of pain and lack of sleep. And yes, good news on the anti-depressants – I have finally gotten my dose right, and now that I’m past the headache, I’m less anxious, and keeping the dishes (and myself) in better shape.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Thank you, that’s so kind of you:) Yes, pain and no sleep are horrible partners.
        Very glad to hear that the meds are working for you too!

  16. Lena Clare*

    Removed because the weekend thread is no work, no school. But you can post it on the Friday thread next week!

  17. Bummed out but trying not to be*

    I’m so sorry. I thought this was the work related discussion… I’m so sorry. I should not post online at almost 3am. Please just delete my original comment. I’m going to go back to bed now :/

  18. Shiny Swampert*

    TLDR: My house is a tip and my life is also a bit of a tip and I don’t know how to make it ok. Help??

    Long version: Since I got kittens last month my “keeping on top of things… just barely” has slipped to “…in no way keeping on top of things”. When I went away for a few days last weekend I ended up packing by quite literally panic-throwing clothes into my suitcase and ended up with far more than I needed (I often panic-pack but usually not this bad). A package arrived from work with equipment I need in MAY and I haven’t opened it yet. My kitchen hob is disgusting. My bathroom is ok but that’s about it.

    I keep telling myself I’m not turning into my mother but I am, I think she could be clinically diagnosed as a hoarder and I find going to my parents’ house really stressful and I was there last weekend.

    My latest course of therapy is nearly finished (it was to process long-standing trauma and has been amazing for that). I had to come off my anti depressants as they were absolutely knackering my sleep and causing weird-ass dreams that were exhausting. I feel much better off them in myself… but clearly things are still Not Good.

    I don’t even know how to unpick this right now. I keep looking round and thinking that it’s “only” X that needs doing, if I do that it will be a start… but even when I make myself do X all that’s done is X. I don’t use that as a starting board for everything else.

    How can I even start?

    1. Lena Clare*

      UnF*ck Your Habitat – Google it! It changed my life, seriously.
      Good luck. You can do this!

      1. Shiny Swampert*

        I’ve looked at that before and it hasn’t suited me but I’m haven’t *actually tried it*. Will give it a go.

        1. Lena Clare*

          Ah if it didn’t suit you then don’t make yourself fret otherwise it’ll become another thing you have to do that you don’t want to!

          How about just setting aside 5 minutes right now and clear one portion of a workspace/counter/ surface next to you, then go get a cup of tea?

          1. Shiny Swampert*

            Well tbf I decided it didn’t suit me without actually trying it out haha. Whereas I know I can’t stand flylady because I properly tried that for months.

            I do need a cup of tea. Maybe I’ll try cleaning one thing before I make it. Thank you.

            1. Parenthetically*

              I HATED Flylady with a passion — felt like I was cleaning nonstop. UFYH is 180 degrees different than Flylady IMO. No need for structured cleans, just a few basic principles that you implement on your own schedule/to your own preferences.

              1. Clisby*

                Yeah, and when I looked at Flylady she was badgering people with “Is your sink shining?” (Lady, I have a vintage ceramic-over-cast-iron sink, and it doesn’t shine.) And something like, “Are you wearing shoes?” (Lady, I telecommute full-time and one of the perks of this job is I don’t have to wear shoes.) She was SO annoying.

                1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

                  Yeah Flylady is definitely not for me! I signed up once years ago and the emails were so overwhelming I abandoned the email address altogether.

                  The main thing I like about UFYH if the thing of just setting a timer and cleaning for 10 or 20 minutes at a time.

                2. Beatrice*

                  The part that annoyed me was the website. It was just so cluttered. Some of her stuff did work for me, but the persistent peppy cheerfulness, hordes of devout followers and the cluttered, out of date website did not.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Dan K. White “Decluttering at the Speed of Light” (website amASlobComesClean).
      AND if you are able to tolerate her extreme cheer & mutual marketing with other self help sites, Flylady’s got some great advice about habits & not letting yourself get stopped by lack of perfection.

      1. Lena Clare*

        I hadn’t heard of either of those before. The A Slob Comes Clean website is good!
        (Oh goodness, the Flylady though!…just, no >.<)

        1. Dr. Anonymous*

          Look for the older Sidetracked Home Executives books. The Flylady based her system on theirs, but they’re kinder and gentler and they tell stories about being in the same mess you’re in.

    3. Villanelle*

      Can you afford a one off cleaner to come round that will do a deep clean as it might help you get started when you have a level base to start from.


      You pick one of those things (the equipment, the hob etc) each day to focus on. Wack up the music on loud and go for it.

      1. Shiny Swampert*

        I mean, I can’t really afford it, but at this stage maybe I need to make it happen, because the longer this goes on the higher my levels of despair get. I’ve had a cleaner do my bathroom before, might get in touch with her to see what she can offer.

        1. Venus*

          I have decided (for myself) that a cleaner to do the washroom and kitchen is something that I can do occasionally when I need help. I convinced a hoarder family member to do the same. They worked hard recently and cleared away some stuff, so they decided to get someone in to clean so that they are more likely to maintain it as well as use that energy for getting rid of stuff.

          It’s not the right choice for everyone, but works for some. I kinda view it as an investment in mental health, because we only have so much energy and if we can afford to have someone do parts of our chores (even if it’s only occasionally) then we have more time for ourselves.

      2. Asta*

        I would say do not do this if you have anything resembling hoarding tendencies. If someone else moves and cleans everything it might just make things worse. The way to start is very slowly, with very small steps.

        I’ve heard good things about a book called Buried In Treasures.

        1. Ethyl*

          I agree with this! Shiny, rather than a cleaner, what about a professional organizer? Someone to help you develop the skills and habits rather than just clean for you? I bet you can find someone who will work within whatever budget (financial AND emotional) you have available if you explain what’s going on.

        2. fposte*

          To contrast, though, I have some hoarding tendencies and I found a cleaner really helpful. I had to get a little used to it, but the actual touching of my stuff isn’t that big a deal, and it was a lot easier for me to self-motivate to pick stuff up if somebody else was doing the cleaning of the surfaces afterwards.

          I also have semi-periodic no-go areas for the cleaner; for a while one room is off limits and I put “can’t deal with it” stuff in there. That works fine and keeps the perfect (having all objects sorted enough to put them away) from being the enemy of the good (cleaning kitchen surfaces and floors).

    4. Marzipan*

      Oh, I can relate to this SO HARD.

      (Honestly, the way I dragged myself out of depressed housekeeping into getting my home life into some sort of order was through realising there were rats getting in under the floorboards. It turns out they’re remarkable teachers of domestic skills but I don’t really recommend this as a method!)

      You said “even when I make myself do X all that’s done is X”, and I think maybe that sums up where you’re getting bogged down. The reality is that literally everything anyone has ever accomplished – from the most mundane thing to the most enchanting – was achieved by breaking it down into lots of little X tasks and then gradually doing all of them.

      It’s also easy to see the task of ‘getting my house and life under control’ as one gargantuan push that when you’re out the other side of it will never need to be done again, rather than as an ongoing maintenance matter. Like, it should be possible to just DO IT but it never actually seems to be done. I was trying to describe this to my friend, and he said ‘so basically, you’re saying you have acute cleaning when you need to have chronic cleaning’, which was a bit of a lightbulb moment.

      If your haven’t already checked out Marie Kondo, maybe do – I ignored big chunks of her method but I also took a lot from it and have substantially reduced the amount of stuff in the house. Many people also find Unfuck Your Habitat to be helpful.

      In my main sorting-shit-out phase, the main thing I did was to set myself a goal of doing a bit every day. It didn’t have to be anything massive, just a little bit of forward momentum. If I’d had a knackering day, I could scale it right back and make it something teeny; just that it was something. One X. And eventually, looking back, I could see I’d done XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (only in, you know, a less porny way than that sounds). And, alongside that, I also really tried to achieve chronic cleaning and… I basically have!

      Latterly, I have been able to have people round to fix stuff in my house that has needed fixing for ages but it was too embarrassingly messy to schedule them! If a friend turned up unexpectedly on my doorstep, I would let them in! I promise it can be done and you can do it, one X at a time. Good luck!

      1. Shiny Swampert*

        ‘so basically, you’re saying you have acute cleaning when you need to have chronic cleaning’
        Please tell your friend that this has made me laugh on a day that is pretty much utter sh!te. Amazing way of putting it.

        I did find Marie Kondo very helpful actually. Dammit, I lent her book to a friend. I’ll have to see if I can get it back. I’d forgotten how helpful I found that actually. Thanking things for their service and letting them go worked well for me.

        I think part of the problem is that I have an extremely strong need to move house, because I’m currently still living where I was married to my abusive ex, but Kid has just as strong a need to stay here because this is where his family was together, which utterly breaks my heart. Put that together with no real savings and inertia and I’m still here, I guess. Maybe what I need to deal with both of these problems is a master plan broken down into teeny tiny steps. Hmm. I’ll have a think about this.

        Thank you so much. This comment has a lot for me to think about.

        1. Marzipan*

          Oh goodness, I can completely understand why you’re feeling so much inertia in that situation!

          Would it help to reframe your moving/staying problem as, both you and Kid need to be living in a space that works for you and allows you to feel safe and comfortable? I don’t in any way want to diminish your feelings about the abuse you experienced – I’m so glad you aren’t in that situation anymore, even if you haven’t physically been able to move elsewhere yet. But, it sounds like you’re almost perceiving your needs as opposites to one another, whereas I think they’re actually the same thing. And if moving right now isn’t an option, then anything you can do to reclaim the space you’re in – be it rearranging or having a jolly good sort out or adding a few new cheap accessories that are completely in your own taste and not something your ex would ever have picked – well, actually, every little bit of that is a moving on step. It lets Kid get used to change gradually, so when you’re ready to move it’s not such a shock to the system. It makes moving more achievable and possible (I know when I’ve felt out of control at home, the very idea of moving just seemed unattainable because of All The Stuff). And, for right now it just makes life a bit nicer and more comfortable and pleasant for you, which you absolutely deserve. Any mileage in that?

          1. Shiny Swampert*

            Thank you. Yeah. Everything is still all beige. I’ve tinkered round the edges but not changed anything substantive. That’s really helpful!

        2. Pippa*

          Lots of people have made smart and helpful comments in this thread, but can I just add a ‘well done, you!’ You got out of an abusive relationship, you’ve done effective work taking care of your mental health, you’re an attentive and caring parent raising a child, you’ve identified your current practical challenges and started finding tactics for them, and you have kittens! Well done on all of it. Sometimes the next things that need doing are all we can see, but if you glance back you can see the amazing to-do list you’ve already trounced. I’m impressed.

          And if I knew you irl, I’d clean your kitchen for you. It’s so much easier to tackle someone else’s stuff.

        3. Una*

          Just speaking as someone who moved multiple times as a child, including through a divorce – I’m sure I was an emotional wreck about it at the time, but in the end, it was fine. I’ve known adults who have a hard time when their parents move from the family home, even if they haven’t been living in it for years! It’s just in our nature to get attached. There might be tears and maybe even grief, but that’s life—learning to cope with change even though it hurts. Frankly, moving always sucks no matter your age or attachments, but there’s definitely parts that kids will get excited about too. Getting a new room. Getting to pick out a color for the walls in the new room! Or just getting new posters or decorations. Moving closer to friends. Moving to a neighborhood where the ice cream truck stops by (I would be excited about this as an adult). Obviously none of those might apply, but there’s usually something.

          Anyway, it sounds like it’s not an option for you to move now for other reasons, but I just think you are being really hard on yourself in defining the reasons your kid ‘needs’ to stay. It sounds a lot like you might be finding a way to blame yourself for getting out of an abusive relationship, as though that was a decision that you made for yourself and hurt your kid. However much a child might idealize their parents/caregivers, there’s no way it was good for your kid to be living under the same roof as someone abusive.

          1. Shiny Swampert*

            Oh. Wow. The stuff about blaming myself… yeah. I think I might need to explore that on my own.

        4. Alexandra Lynch*

          I have fibromyalgia, chronic migraines, and arthritis in my feet subsequent to a car accident in my 20’s.

          First off, it’s okay to clean in little bits and snippets of time. It’s okay if you can’t do much on the day a storm rolls in or you get triggered or you had a bad night last night. Not every day is going to be like that.

          My ex was a hoarder. He hoarded me right out of the house, in the end. I now live with Clean People. And a kitten.

          The less stuff you have, the easier it is to keep it clean and in order. While I like to have the dishes done every night, if I don’t do them tomorrow, we won’t have anything to eat on, and that’s a bit of a motivating factor! You may have to deal with emotion on some of this stuff. That’s also okay.

          Can you consider repainting and doing other potential remodeling things to make the house more yours + Kid’s rather than Ex’s?

    5. Koala dreams*

      There are apps that you can use to create good habits, for example Habitica. Start small, for example with cleaning the counter or taking out a bag of trash. Then you can add things as you get used to the previous ones. Music and podcasts helps me get things done. Also, be kind to yourself. It’s great that your bathroom is okay! It’s great that you already have identified where you want to start. You will have better days and worse days, remember tomorrow is a new day and a new chance.

      As for hoarding, I feel it’s a sign of the problems with current consumer culture. It’s so hard to keep up with things when you are supposed to buy this and that and everything. I don’t have a solution, I just want you to know that you are not alone.

      1. Koala dreams*

        Oh, and congratulations to the kittens! I wish them and you a happy life together!

    6. Just a Guy in a Cube*

      I got started with evening chores by turning them into podcast time. After putting kids to bed, I get to go downstairs to do the dishes and listen to some of my favorite podcasts, so that turned into a nice routine. At one point, I’d gotten to dishes + surfaces + sweep kitchen as a single routine (before we added the sheep, which disrupt timing in various ways). This is really “develop a habit by pairing with a reward” advice, but it’s the only concrete way I’ve ever gotten a foundation like this established.

      1. Overeducated*

        Are you my husband…? No, he does that while I handle kid bath time, not afger bed…but it’s been working for a couple years!

      2. Christmas*

        I’m going to follow that podcast advice *today*! Although I’m pretty organized and productive in every other aspect of my life, I struggle with motivation to work on keeping my home clean/tidy. There’s a few TED-talks I’ve been meaning to listen to also; I wonder if that will help me get in the zone. Thanks for sharing this!

      3. Beatrice*

        Oh, I do this! Instead of podcasts, I use my tablet and Netflix, but I can carry it anywhere in the house. I tend to pick shows/movies I don’t need to watch intently to follow (nothing with subtitles, for example.) I’m best with either things I’ve seen before (The Office!) or things with lots of dialogue. The chores take a little longer because I’m distracted, but I get more done overall because I don’t feel like I’m drudging away at them.

    7. Clisby*

      Can you afford a cleaning service? It doesn’t have to be weekly, and it doesn’t have to include the entire house. Even having someone come in and clean the kitchen and bathrooms twice a month would be a help. We currently have a service clean our house twice a month (and have done this for years, in different cities.) The main thing we realized was that this forced us to rise to a certain level of neatness, if not cleanliness. The cleaning service can’t really work if the floor is strewn with clothes or toys, for example.

    8. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      When I’m having a hard time with life, and the house, or a room falls to the wayside, I use a timer. I set it for 5 minutes. I know that no matter how depressed I am, or how tired, I can work for 5 minutes. Don’t let the thought that 5 minutes won’t do anything stop you, because that is NOT true. And when that timer goes off, give yourself permission to stop OR to re-set it. After a few days or a week (whenever!) do 10 minutes…then 15. This is how I dealt with years of accumulated clutter due to health issues and depression.
      I also write a weekly, not a daily list. I started with writing only 3 things. And if I did something else (because that happens!) I add it to the list and check it off. Dealing with the clutter is hard enough, so making sure that I don’t beat myself up for it is important. Our minds, for whatever reason, want us to feel bad, I guess, so self-care is important!

    9. KR*

      For me lists help. I write a list of the most minute tasks (declutter table, take stuff off stairs, take laundry upstairs, put load of towels in, put load of clothes in, unload dishwasher, reload dishwasher, ect). It makes the list longer and almost more overwhelming but because I’ve spelled out every task I get to cross things off faster!! I also write down little things I’ve done that aren’t on the list just so I can cross them off. I’ll make a big list and decide to tackle it either over the week or weekend, with a separate list of “would be nice if I did this but I probably won’t and that’s ok!” that are big chores like vaccuming out the car or similar.

      1. KR*

        Also – the list isn’t something I do to say oh I must do this – rather a tool to focus me when I get overwhelmed about my house getting messy.

    10. Pharmgirl*

      I recently discovered the “Tody” app and found it super useful. It comes preloaded with a lot of chores, and you can of course add in your own. All you need to do is set how often you want to clean something, and if you happen to go overdue, it just resets from the day you actually completed the task (vs. for example having a weekly task due every Sunday, even if you just completed it on Saturday). Essentially, the app shows you which tasks need the most attention, so you know where to start. It also lets you set an effort level for each task (1, 2, or 3), so on days you’re not feeling it but want to do something, you can filter by effort needed instead.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Just my guess but you don’t think of your house as your home anymore. It is more like “the place I am stuck at right now.” I would not want to clean that either.

      Unfortunately, it may not be a coincidence that kiddo is stuck also. Us humans tend to follow our parents and later tend to follow our leadership. (Not everyone and not all the time, clearly.)

      So how to get unstuck. Can you think of a task that you are looking forward to OR would provide relief to you if the task were done?
      You show here that X does get done. You are doing stuff. So do you reward yourself for doing X or do you nag yourself about A through P that are not done yet? Self-talk is super important. I can see X being unsatisfying when what you really want to do is just move.
      Can a friend come help you for an hour or two?

      More big picture, can you and kiddo look for a new place together, where he gets to say what he likes? Changes are easier when we know we are going TOWARD something. New place will be better because [fill in the blank with something, trees to climb, larger yard, whatever].

      It’s been a while now that he has been refusing to move, right? I have forgotten but do you go to counseling together at all? I think at some point because you are the parent and he is the dependent you get to make the bigger decisions. I am not sure where that point kicks in but it seems to me if your quality of life is deteriorating then that point probably kicks in soon. A happier you may result in a happier kiddo.

      1. Shiny Swampert*

        but you don’t think of your house as your home anymore. It is more like “the place I am stuck at right now.” I would not want to clean that either.

        I missed this on my first reading. Then I caught it on my second and it almost winded me. Yes. Exactly. It’s never really felt like my home, but even less so now, and I’ve been here over 15 years.

        I know you’re right about making the decision for us both. I think going and looking at houses might help. At the minute he says that he will move as long as I keep this house too so he can live in it when he’s older. It’s progress but not really enough. I’ve been trying to get him a referral to the relevant mental health services but it’s hard.

        I feel like I post similar stuff without ever moving on or changing anything. I’m trying. It’s so very hard. On the bright side the EMDR has helped like magic for resolving trauma. So maybe now I can move onto resolving all the hoarding tendencies? I hope so. I’d love to be able to report back soon that I’ve moved and everything is lovely.

        Thank you as ever NSNR. I always appreciate your perspective <3

        1. Not So NewReader*

          FWIW, I told my parents I wanted them to keep the houses because I wanted them when I was older.

          Reality: Twenty year old me told a super-shocked parent, “Sell the darn thing and pocket the money, and go live life!”
          I did tell my father I would rather see him happy than inherit the house. I ended up with one of the houses which I quickly sold. Because thirty year old me could not handle the financial or physical obligations of a second house on a huge piece of real estate.

          Stories have twists and turns.

    12. Paris- Berlin -Seoul Express*

      This is what helped me on days when I could barely leave the bed due to health related issues. Make a list of everything that needs to be done breaking it into the smallest units you can think (think 10 minutes or so). Laundry for instance would be: 1. Find everything that needs to be washed and put it into pile. 2. Sort pile into categories. 3. Wash a load. 4. Dry and fold. 5. Put away. Repeat 3, 4, and 5. Then cross off whatever you got done. I also put time estimates next to the task. Between every task I got done, I would give myself a little treat, like a chapter of a book, a cup of coffee or ten minutes of a movie. If at the end of the day it was even just one or two things that got done I felt like I accomplished something or at least I didn’t fall further behind.

    13. ket*

      I’ll add a few other ideas: I do like the 5 minute timer and I also found Marie Kondo useful, but to supercharge your effectiveness, do these things:

      Identify an 80/20 area. It’s that idea that 20% of your space gets 80% of your attention or impact. So pick on hot spot — the dining room table, or the area right where you come in where you put your keys — and do that first. That visible impact can be really encouraging. If you think, oh, my 80/20 area is my whole living room! — NO! That’s too big. Narrow it down. The table. The dresser. Where the shoes go by the door.

      Add beauty instead of just subtracting clutter. So say you pick your dining room table as your 80/20. Then pick some flowers or get them from the grocery store, or set out a decorative candle or something right as you finish that little clean-up. Add a bit of beauty that is yours. Especially reading about your house & feelings about it, putting that finishing touch, that personal claim on that cleaned-up space… it might be useful. “Even though I am not thrilled with living in this house, I claim this table as a spot for calm and beauty for me right now.” If it’s the place where you put your keys, a pretty mirror or a motivational poster. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Just a touch of something that delights you.

    14. Shiny Swampert*

      Realised why this has got worse since the kittens!!
      I moved a load of stuff out of the main rooms so they don’t destroy it. And I’m keeping the bedroom doors shut as I know I’m allergic to them (only mildly but don’t want to exacerbate it) and the kid maybe isn’t but he has hay fever so I want to keep them out of his sleep space. And I have a complicated airlock system so they don’t get out as they’ll probably be indoor cats anyway but they are not yet either neutered or microchipped (Friday!!)

      But the main room is still full of kitten chaos, and now my room is even more chaos, but the place also now feels. Like. Separate. Zones. And not one place to live in.
      Any suggestions for this one?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Kittens and puppies ARE chaos. It’s a stage and it will pass. Meanwhile, allow their antics to make you laugh.
        Laughter is just as important as tears.
        If they start to feel too intense ask a good friend to come over and help you play with them. Yes, a kitten-sitter but very short term. Maybe the friend plays for 15 minutes. But that 15 can be a real relief and help break the intensity.

      2. Tris Prior*

        This too shall pass! My apartment went to absolute hell when we adopted our kittens. Airlock systems, yes. Stuff stored in places I didn’t want it stored in, so that the kittens didn’t destroy/eat/etc, it, yes. SO much catproofing. SO much getting rid of stuff I liked because the kittens wouldn’t stop attacking it (goodbye, tablecloth and curtains! All the curtains had to go because Girl Kitten would climb up to the ceiling and then just hang there with back legs flailing; I have no idea how she didn’t hurt herself).

        The good news is, it DOES get better. Mine are just over a year and noticeably calming down; they also require less attention. Which is a thing I don’t think anyone’s mentioned yet; when ours were tiny (we got them at 10 weeks) I was spending SO much energy and brain space on making sure they got enough playtime and exercise, getting them on a routine, just keeping them alive, that I had none left for, like, basic house maintenance.

        What sucks is that some of the catproofing is permanent. As dumb as it sounds, I get crabby about unloading the dishwasher because I have to undo all the child locks on the cabinets and then redo them immediately or else as soon as I turn my back there will be a cat in there. And we have to keep the sponge in a cabinet because if it’s in the sink or on the counter or even in a holder, we will come home from work and find the sponge in a different room because Boy Cat likes to fish it out of the sink and then carry it through our apartment in his little kitty mouth. Not much advice here other than trying to have a better attitude about it and reminding myself that it doesn’t actually take THAT long to retrieve the sponge or unlock a cabinet, it’s just a pain in the ass that I can deal with.

        1. Shiny Swampert*

          Cats in kitchen cupboards! Sponges! Are you me from the future? although it’s Girl Kitten here that loves the sponge in the kitchen sink. Boy cat prefers his mice, although once his sister has thoroughly chewed the sponges he’ll join in on those too. My son’s pokemon poster in the kitchen has already been sacrificed to the cat gods, he hasn’t noticed yet but he will.

          It’s mainly good to know it’s not just me, it’s just hard work having kittens!

    15. Shiny Swampert*

      It’s 11am here. I let myself have a lie in because I’ve been utterly exhausted this week – ridiculous heatwave, travelling, family stressfulness, a night out which was good but I had to look after an extremely drunk person which then meant a terrible night’s sleep, living in chaos….
      Anyway so yes I did that. Since getting up I have:
      -washed up
      -cleaned the cats’ bowls and fed them
      -played with said kittens (I mean it’s fun but it’s also a task, amirite?!)
      -cleaned the washing machine – drawer, filter, inside of door which had got a bit skanky
      -put a load of washing on
      -put away some towels and tea towels
      -changed the bath mats

      About to bring in last night’s washing (should be dry now haha) and the cats just used the litter trays so will spot clean (and fully clean later).

      I have some paperwork stuff to do that will be A Major Issue if I don’t do in the next few days so that will be next. Then I’m going into town to play Pokémon Go, I mean buy some kitten food ;)

      I will also try out the 80/20 thing someone suggested when I get home, I think that will help.

      Thank you all so much. I felt utterly bereft and useless yesterday. I’m feeling much more human today.

      1. Shiny Swampert*

        Washing in.
        Litter tray spot cleaned.
        Hob sprayed so that the burned on stuff comes off easier later.

        The cats are now asleep on my knee so paperwork will have to wait a short while.

        1. Shiny Swampert*

          Hob pretty much clean.
          First load of washing on line and next load in the machine.
          Shopping list started.
          Going to town now. Remembered I also have to sort out the kid’s clothes later (long story) but at least then they’ll be done.
          Time to get dressed!! Not stressed as autocorrect tried to tell me haha.

          1. Shiny Swampert*

            Chores and a bit of shopping done in town, along with some playing pokemon go.
            Got together all the kid’s clothes for sorting out.
            Cleaned the litter trays (and then had to spot clean them immediately, because of course I did!)
            Stressful urgent paperwork sorted.
            Stripped the bed earlier too. Unfortunately that means I need to make it before I can go to sleep, but it will be nice to have clean sheets.
            It’s well bedtime now but i’m still going to watch one episode of something with a nice chamomile tea before bed. I need to wind down a bit and I don’t have my usual early Monday start (yay summer hols).

            THank you all so much for your help and support. it’s made a real difference to me this weekend.

              1. Venus*

                I love this list. I feel like whatever lack of energy you had yesterday was completely offset by a very productive Sunday! Well done you.

                P.S. Playing with kittens is also known as ‘socialisation’ and it’s definitely a critical part of development. Add it to your list of accomplishments!

            1. Alexandra Lynch*

              I have had a cat waiting, all but tapping its foot impatiently, as I got the litter bag open, poured it in, replaced the cover, and then put the box back into place, because she had to be the FIRST one.

    16. Dancing Otter*

      This method is based on a book I received as a newly-wed many years ago. The book was aimed at routine maintenance, not backlog, but it works this way, too.

      1. Make a list of the backlogged chores, broken down into half-hour (or less) tasks. If you think it will take four hours to clear all the stuff off the bedroom floor, make that into eight 1/2-hour tasks. Highlight anything that’s an actual health & safety issue.
      2. Consider dependencies: do you have to clear off the table before you can dust &/or polish it?
      3. Make a card for each task, including information about dependencies, i.e. “must do X before this” or “must do this before Y”. Transfer the highlights, if any.
      4. Whenever you have a half-hour to work on cleaning, pick a card. Go for the highlighted ones first. Maybe you will have time and energy to do more than one, but just pick one at a time. If the card lists a predecessor that isn’t done yet, pick a different card (maybe look for the predecessor). Do the task you picked from the deck.
      5. When you finish a task, you’re going to move its card to a “Finished” pile, not throw it away. Life happens; maybe you’ll have to clear off the table again, so you move the card back into the main deck. Besides, looking at all the Finished cards will feel good. Before you put the card away, though, write the date you did it. If it has a dependent task, find that task and mark that X was done on this date. Then, when you draw the dependent task card, you will see that its predecessor has been done.
      6. Don’t make things worse in the meantime, and try really hard not to mess up what you’ve already tidied. If you spill something, wipe it up right away, even if the rest of the floor is still dirty. If you can’t find a place to put something away properly, can you put it somewhere that hasn’t been de-cluttered yet? When you bring something new into the apartment, try to find a place for it right away.

      I consider the half-hour breakdown the strength of this system, whether you use index cards or an electronic reminders list or a full-blown project management program. Maybe you can’t face four hours of task W, but half an hour doesn’t seem so impossible. Then another half-hour, maybe doing something else so you don’t burn out on W, or maybe choosing another card for W if you’re on a roll.
      The half-hours add up, even if you don’t see a dramatic difference with each one.

    17. smoke tree*

      What works best for me is podcast cleaning. Choose a podcast (or show, or album) that you particularly like and save it for cleaning only. For the duration of the episode (or a segment if that works better for you) focus on one thing that needs to be cleaned. When the episode is done or the thing is cleaned, you can take a break to play with kittens :) or have a cup of tea. It works well for me, because I find both cleaning and listening to podcasts not quite engaging enough to do on their own, but I really like podcasts so it motivates me to get started. Once I get started I usually build some momentum to keep going.

      1. Shiny Swampert*

        Ooooh. That might work actually and I’ve heard of that before but never thought of trying it for this. There are a couple of podcasts I could really save for this. Thank you!

  19. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread: how’s everyone’s writing going?
    Between melting due to the heat wave I got some small things done on my side project, but nothing major.

    1. Christmas*

      I started a writing project recently, but I’ve been struggling to pick the threads back up. Your post is nudging me to revisit it! I just got overwhelmed with everything I’m trying to write out, and the last chunk I wanted to develop turned out about five times longer in length than I intended…

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        *insert obligatory “you should be writing” meme*
        Glad to be of service! And yeah, for me things never have their intended length, they’re either shorter or longer.

    2. poetry writing*

      I submitted a poem to a journal and am having more and and more trouble not checking every 5 minutes if it has been accepted, especially since they say they usually respond within a deadline that ends this weekend. I know – know! – I need to just move on and much like job searching, just assume it won’t get in until I hear otherwise but dang it’s hard!

      I also wrote a really hard poem that I didn’t really want to write but it seemed it would not go away about my early abuse and sent it to my teacher for revisions and both the writing and the sharing felt brave so that makes me feel good.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Oh yeah, definitely feel you on that one!
        Yeah, sometimes you just need to get things out of your head (a Belgian group called Absynthe Minded actually has a song about that, which is in turn an adaptation of a poem by Hugo Claus. The song (and poem) is “Envoi”, if you’re curious).
        Also, congratulations on having the courage to share! That is definitely not an easy thing to do *awkward look at the pile of stuff she’s written and doesn’t dare share*

    3. Claire*

      I had a wonderful epiphany this week that solves *all kinds* of problems. Chapter from hell is now done, and I’m galloping through the next.

      Oh, and in the department of squees, I have a book coming out this Tuesday, and Publishers Weekly included it as a Pick of the Week. Editor and I got all excited.

    4. Alexandra Lynch*

      I’m giving myself the year off. This year I broke up a 24 year marriage, got divorced, moved out of the town I’d lived in for nearly fifty years, and am now living somewhere else with my other two partners. And a new kitten. And one partner is changing jobs and is freaking out about it. So next year, or maybe late this fall, I’ll consider it. But right now I’m doing life and grieving.

  20. Kuododi*

    I’m currently in hospital following the lung biopsy. Still have the chest tube in place…grrrrr! Supposed to see the surgeon later this am. Hopefully he will have results of testing and will pull the tube. I’m pretty loopy right now so more details later.

    1. AnonyNurse*

      If they tell you to sing (as opposed to talk) while they pull the tube, insist everyone sing along with you. Hope it comes out today!

    2. Mimmy*

      Crossing fingers and toes for good results and chest tube removal today. Please let us know later if you feel up to it.

    3. Quandong*

      I hope the tube comes out sooner rather than later, and that you feel more comfortable soon. Sending good wishes your way, and hoping you get news on the better end of the spectrum.

      1. Kuododi*

        Well I am home;). They discharged me yesterday around 2:30pm. I’m actually feeling better than I expected and for the most part, I have regained my wits!!! Biopsy should come back toward the end of the week. Actually the tube came out without pain or any other type of distress. The Dr came in, started chatting with me about nothing in particular while pulling off dressings.. He then started to gather the gauze package wrappers and told me he was done with pulling out the chest tube. I was quite stunned as I felt nothing but the sensation of adhesive bandages being pulled. My sister and if the Dr had given me a kitten to play with while pulling the tube he would have been able to remove limbs without trouble!!! Thanks so much for all the care and support.

          1. NoLongerYoung*

            Great!!!! So glad, its all pulling together for you. Don’t make ANY commitments or plans (oh, I want to paint the living room/ remodel/ order new furniture) while on pain meds, fyi.

        1. Mimmy*

          I wouldn’t know if removing a chest tube is normally painful (or at least uncomfortable) but if it is, that is one amazing doctor you have there.

          So glad you are home and doing well. Here’s to good results later this week.

  21. greenthumb*

    Pokémon friends, what’s been your experience with the bad guys at the pokestops this week? So far I’m battling rattatae (sp?) and sekans (If that is the plural of ekans lol.). Would like to be catching bad guys with better IVs … and maybe power one up and park it at the nearby gym. People who frequent it have a sense of humor and try to park Pokémon there in a theme — colors, babies, shinies, and so forth. Weirdly, I’ve never seen anyone obviously visiting it, not even when there are tempting raids, but there are battle takedowns twice a day so people must be within range.

    Continued thanks for the cool post cards!! It’s fun to see them, especially during marathon weeks like this one snowballed into being. Also, is anyone up for the virtual battling in hopes of accumulating dust and other goodies?

    1. Shiny Swampert*

      I’ve only been out one day for it. Caught 6/6 but I believe I’ve been lucky there! Want to get out today and try to get some more. I’ve purified all mine straight away because although I know they are NOT ACTUALLY REAL the idea of a Pokémon being in pain is traumatic!!

      1. greenthumb*

        Oh noes, they’re in pain?! Yikes. Pardon me while I go boot up my phone and tend to the one rattata I was leaving unpurified.

        1. Shiny Swampert*

          Apparently!! Haha, I’m glad it’s not me that worries about creatures that don’t actually exist in the real world ;)

          1. Julia*

            I do, too! I can never reset and start my cartridge games over either. ^^;

            So far, I’ve caught like three Zubat and a few starters (maybe 12 Pokémon in total) and have yet to find a Snorlax or Dragonite (Dragonair?)

    2. Curly sue*

      I did alright on the zubats and starters, but the Snorlax-Dragonite-Crobat team kicked my butt eight times in a row. No joy. I’m going shadow- dratini hunting with my kid today, so fingers crossed!

      1. Cruciatus*

        Oh yeah, the Snorlax kicked my butt. I finally got to the 2nd Pokemon and one hit and I was dead. I truly wasn’t expecting the challenges to be *that* hard! And it’s a bummer you have to replenish your Pokemon at the end, unlike other battles. But for now I mostly just have a bunch of rattata and a raticate. Even the bulbasaur/ivysaur kicked my butt. I just needed to hit it one more time! But it got me first.

        It looks like something else is coming soon. The Pokemon Go Facebook page posted a black page with an R and 7/28 posted. I never followed Pokemon stuff so I have no idea what it means!

        1. Curly sue*

          There was a major Team Rocket live invasion event yesterday in NYC – the consensus on thesilphroad subreddit is that it’s something more global + Team Rocket launching tomorrow morning / at midnight EST (there’s a YouTube live stream with a countdown). Some folks are hoping that Rocket will become a team option, others are guessing global Team Rocket takeover hours, but no-one really knows.

          I’m hoping it’s be at least a 24-hour or 48-hour thing, whatever it is, because I’m on the road to visit Older Kid at sleep away camp visiting day tomorrow. :(

        2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

          Team Rocket is batlling at pokestops. They are kicking my butt and I, sensibly, hate them.
          I love it though. The battling is cool, and it feels more like the original game than the plain gym battles.

          1. Cruciatus*

            No, I know, but that’s already happening. The Facebook page said R 7/28. So what is going to happen on 7/28? They’ll be at every pokestop? A lot of people commented something about “double the trouble” so another Team Rocket character or something? An evil twin? I never played the original games so I guess I’ll find out what’s happening tomorrow!

        1. greenthumb*

          Thanks for the tip! I’m hoping to see more interesting things than bats and rats lol.

          1. curly sue*

            I finally beat the Snorlax / Snorlax / Dragonite combo with Bite / Crunch Tyranitar, Meteor Mash Metagross, and Body Slam Slaking. It was rough, and I’m pretty sure I only won because the Snorlax didn’t have Lick as a fast move.

            1. greenthumb*

              Congrats!! How do you and others keep track of which mon have which moves? Change their names? Build teams? I guess I can get away from things like Dr151514 now that the appraise button finally gives more specific IV data.

    3. Lynn Whitehat*

      A lot of people cheat at Pokémon with GPS spoofers. :-( There are two gyms in my neighborhood where I would be able to see anyone else in range. I have fought in those gyms multiple times and been joined even though I can see no one else is in range.

      I have been enjoying the team go battles, but haven’t gotten anything good. The Pokémon I battle against her all the really easy ones like Squirtle.

    4. Julia*

      It’s past 4 pm here (in Tokyo) now and the entire game froze. I don’t understand why Niantic never plans for these times when everyone plays (like Community Days which also tend to have issues) and who thought just one hour of allocated time was a good idea?!

      1. greenthumb*

        Thanks. I had thought it was just “snake” and another S would need to go somewhere.

        1. Southern Metalsmith*

          Ekans probably is it’s own plural, but I like the thinking that came up with Sekans! Would that mean they evolve into multiple Sarbok?
          Also, I’d be up for pvp battling, but how would you schedule it with no in game communication?

          1. greenthumb*


            As for challenges, it seems that players who are online have a blue ring around their avatars. (Well maybe the rings are red or yellow for those in other guilds? But I’m in blue and the rings I see are blue.) Another AAM friend challenged me last week — cool to see — and of course my app locked up.

            Oh also we can only battle remotely with friends whose turf displays as green rather than black. So, erm, Ultra Friends or Best Friends, but sadly not Great Friends.

            1. Southern Metalsmith*

              I see! I wondered what that weird blue aura was. (And, yes, it’s blue for me, too, though I play as red.) (And I forgot to say, I play as Zeomom.)

              Well, once our friendship levels up, we can battle. I’ll look forward to it.

  22. frustrated and just want to relax for free*

    Sorry, if this turns into a long rant.

    TLDR: My boyfriend is mad that I won’t blow my budget on an end of summer trip I don’t have time for.

    My boyfriend (M25) and I (F24) have been living in different states (16 hours apart) all summer due to a summer job/internship I had a couple states away from where I go to medical school and we both live. We talked about going on a trip together some time in the 10 days between when I finish work and start school again. I was all for it and we seriously looked into it and started trying to plan but then I realized… I just can’t do it. It’s too much money. Our estimates for the place we wanted to go, including flying there (which we’d have to do in the time frame we have), things we wanted to do, etc. is way too much for me right now. We could cut down considerably on activities and not splurge on food and maybe make it work, but honestly the cost of the flights are expensive enough that it hardly seems worth it to me, especially if we can’t afford to do anything when we get there. The nature of my program is such that I will be virtually unable to work at all to make money for the next two years due to time commitments in clinical rotations, so I hesitate to drop roughly 20% of my spending money for the next two years on this (my room and board during school is covered by a complicated/unusual situation, so we’re just talking about spending money here).

    On top of that, I have to drive 16 hours home with all of my stuff and then move houses in CollegeTown before my classes start up again. I suggested having a little vacation in MediumCity which is half way between where I am now and CollegeTown, and also happens to be where my parents live. It wouldn’t require flights and we could stay in my parents house for free, or even splurge on a hotel for a night or two since we wouldn’t have the flights to battle. My boyfriend isn’t happy with this plan and says “money is for spending” and doesn’t seem to understand my desire to pace myself with my spending money since it’ll be a while until I can make more and to add to my savings account (for a down payment on a house some day, or an emergency) that I’ve been slowly building since I started working as a teenager, even though I am not making much money right now. I just want a few days to relax with him and enjoy each others company before the craziness of school starts again but he wants to go on a big crazy adventure.

    I’m disappointed that we can’t go on the trip too, but my boyfriend is really upset with me. I know this summer apart has been a lot harder on him than it has been for me, he graduated from college in the spring and has had no luck finding a job in his field (hasn’t even had an interview after months of searching), and found himself without many friends as all of his college friends have moved away. I’m conflicted because I feel like I want to make it up to him in some way but I also feel like he’s being immature and irresponsible and that being upset by the situation would be one thing but being mad at me for making a decision that (I think) is reasonable and wise considering my current financial situation is another thing entirely.

    1. Agnodike*

      Either you guys have a real disconnect about money management, or he’s upset about something else. It’s not uncommon for people who come from different financial backgrounds to have different orientations to money (“money is for spending” because there will always be more vs “save for a rainy day” because money is scarce), and some people are just spenders while others are savers. That’s something you can work out and compromise on, but you both have to be willing to see the validity of the other’s perspective and talk it through. It’s reasonable not to want to be deprived of stuff you enjoy if you have the means to get to it, and it’s also reasonable to want the security of having money in the bank.

      It’s also possible that money isn’t really the issue here and your boyfriend is feeling really sad and lonely. If he was looking forward to the vacation as a kind of bright spot to work toward during a difficult time, it’s understandable that he would be really upset if it’s not going to happen. The only way to find out is to talk about it, so you guys can figure out how to find a solution that respects both of your needs and feelings.

      1. SciDiver*

        This is spot on, and consider that it might be both. The job hunt is probably very isolating and he’d been looking forward to this, but if he’s unemployed he might also be wondering “why wait to go, it’s not like finances will be easier in the foreseeable future”. I definitely had those impulses during my job hunt–go see the sights, buy the things, live it up a bit! Until he gets a job, the next few years are pretty unpredictable at this point. For you, there’s a clear path through moving and clinical rotations and not working, and it makes perfect sense you don’t want to drop this much money right now. Talk to him about how all of this is making you both feel (frustrated, lonely, neglected, misunderstood), and don’t get sucked into the fight of who is right about how you spend your money.

      2. gecko*

        I think this is hugely good advice.

        I’ll also add that distinguishing between “upset at the situation”=ok and “mad at me for my good choices”=bad will be, I think, not helpful. Both because it’s ok for him to be upset at you even though you’re making the right choice, and because it’s probably limiting your ability to communicate about this in a loving and fair way.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’m a bit a jerk about Vacations … the kind where it’s more important to Do The Things and Have The Photographs than to have an experience with someone (or yourself) where you’re getting out of your routine and thinking new thoughts to get refreshed and revived.
      E.g. Disney is sort of my hell.

      So if I were someone who is anticipating 2 years of restrictive budgeting so that my cranky and unemployed partner can acquire a specific vacation, i would be strongly considering whether I would even have that partner much longer… (and would be really pissed if I spent my savings on that trip!)

      But, as I say, I’m a bit of a jerk.

      Strongly consider that this is the sort of mismatch that will not magically resolve itself. Either the two of you can talk through the short and long term consequences of spending and come to decisions together, or you won’t… and that doesn’t bode well for later.

      Sometimes grownups just have to learn how to delay gratification… or that not getting Everything I Want And Therefore Deserve is actually not the end of the world.

    3. YetAnotherUsername*

      Has he been mad for a while or is this his initial reaction to disappointment? He’s clearly in the wrong if he’s been annoyed about this for a long time. But if you just got off the phone after telling him you can’t go on a vacation he’d been really excited about, then I Would suggest to give him time. Disappointment can make people act more annoyed in the short term.

    4. Llellayena*

      Yes, money is for spending (says the person planning a $7-10,000 Japan vacation) but your BF is missing the step where you PLAN for the spending so you don’t get stuck with NO money afterwards. I’d say to him “Vacationing to this location is not currently in my budget. I might be able to do this in *3 years (pick a reasonable time frame based on your rotations) but for right now what I can afford is X. Let’s pick something that fits within that budget.” It sounds like time is tight too so you might add a bit about picking a long weekend. I would probably compromise on location and pick some where that is NOT your parent’s house, that location kind of negates the privacy/intimacy part of the vacation that might be part of what he’s looking for. Can you do a city/area that’s a little outside your usual haunts (like visit Philadelphia if you’re coming from NYC or DC) so it feels special but isn’t a big spend?

      1. Dan*

        Side note: I travel all over the world, usually by myself. I live in one of the cities you listed in your last sentence, and the thing I’m looking forward to most this year is a trip a long weekend trip to another city in that list with an, ahem friend of mine.

      2. KR*

        Yeah I agree on not going to OPs parents house as a primary spot to crash. Unless boyfriend is very familiar and comfortable with her parents that sounds like less of a vacation and more like work. I’m sure there’s some sort of compromise you could do – can you do a staycation where you take a bunch of road trips and spend large amounts of time on dates and just enjoying each other’s company? It sounds like your boyfriend is less upset about not going on this big expensive thing and more feeling anxiety about the fact that he misses you and wants to spend time with you.

    5. Jane*

      Well, he’ll just have to be upset then, won’t he?

      Definitely don’t spend that much money on something you’re not feeling 100% and that would cause you stress.

      Your boyfriend is allowed to be mad at you. You are allowed to feel bad about making him mad and disappointing him. But these are just feelings, and they’ll pass. They aren’t good reasons to blow your savings when you know that is an unwise thing to do (and I agree it is very unwise).

      Acknowledge his feelings, but let him know your decision is final. Maybe he’ll come around to the less fancy trip once he really is sure the big adventure is off the table, or maybe he won’t and you can go have a relaxing solo trip with your parents.

    6. HannahS*

      I think he was really looking forward to this trip. It sounds like he’s been having a hard time, and I wonder if he’s sort of pinned his hopes on this trip–like, used it as a tool to comfort himself, “Well, I’m lonely and unemployed, but at least I have this trip to look forward to!” And then you’re (heavy air quotes) “taking it away from him.”

      HOWEVER I’m a fellow medical student and I think you’re 100% making the right decision, and offered him a reasonable compromise. He’s not wrong to feel upset and disappointed, but he shouldn’t take it out on you. I think this is going to be an exercise in talking through conflict, you know? Or it’s also possible that he has a differen’t understanding of the financial situation of doctors, and you need to have a big-picture conversation about money. Yes, there’s a lot of wealth and stability, but not when you’re in your 20s and early 30s!

    7. Stitch*

      Could you try a compromise vacation? Like a few days somewhere closer?

      Money may be for spending but don’t underestimate having a pad. When something bad happens having the ability to pay for the best option is HUGE. Like if your tire punctured or your cat gets sick or so on. I take a lot of vacations now I am out of school, but back in school I was very frugal.

    8. Christmas*

      “Frustrated”: It sounds like you are thinking very clearly, not only about short term goals and funding a compromise, but also long-term goals regarding financial stability and affording necessities.
      On the flip, it sounds like he’s got tunnel vision on one thing: “I want that summer trip I’ve been looking forward to!”
      What is (supposed to be) important is that you guys have time to spend together since you’ve been apart so much. Yes it sucks to realize that Big Summer Trip is not feasible, but you’re clearly trying to make something happen.
      Unless he’s typically insensitive or pushy or unreasonable, perhaps this is a side effect of being upset due to his job situation, as others have suggested. He may have been struggling even more than you know, or even more than HE knows; it’s possible that the big summer trip became a Huge Star on the Horizon that he’s been looking forward to to keep him afloat, and now is wigging out that he doesn’t have that. Hopefully you can discuss and resolve this together with some much-needed quality time. (Sorry if some of this is scatterbrained; it’s hard to type on my phone.)

    9. MissGirl*

      I 100% agree with your decision not to spend so much money on the trip with your situation. However, your compromise is not a good one. Let’s cancel our amazing trip and stay with my parents sounds absolutely miserable for him when he wanted a trip with his love. Keep trying to find an in-between where you don’t spend as much money but you do spend some and you both have a nice time.

      1. Frustrated*

        I should have mentioned – my parents will be on their own vacation so we’d have the house to ourselves. It wouldn’t be “let’s visit my parents”, it would be “let’s stay in my parents’ city for free”. I’d also be more than happy to stay in a hotel or Airbnb in that city if he’d rather since we’d have cut out the flight. Unfortunately there really isn’t another reasonably big city within easy driving distance and he’s a big city kind of guy.

        1. Llellayena*

          That’s a little different though I can still see the “not really a vacation” side of it. I’m not sure what budget you have but you can get a good “away” vacation by checking where Southwest (or similar cheap airline if you’re not in the US) is having cheap flight deals. You might not have as much choice in which city, but you might be able to get flights within your budget.

          It is also valid to say your budget only lets me use your parent’s house as a vacation base, being a vacationer in a familiar city can be fun too!

          1. Llellayena*

            Hmm, I was changing “me” to “you” so I could avoid quotes and I seem to have missed one…no I do not intend for me to stay at your parent’s house…

    10. Not A Manager*

      “I know this summer apart has been a lot harder on him than it has been for me, he graduated from college in the spring and has had no luck finding a job in his field (hasn’t even had an interview after months of searching), and found himself without many friends as all of his college friends have moved away.”

      This is a really good time for both of you to think about what you want from the relationship and where it’s heading. If your bf can’t self-sooth now, and can’t separate his own life situation from his desire for a vacation, and thinks the solution for his precarious financial/emotional troubles is to place YOU in financial and emotional danger… then he’s not going to get better in the future, when time and money are tighter and you’re on an upward path and maybe he’s not.

      “I’m conflicted because I feel like I want to make it up to him.”

      Resist this urge. He’s testing you to see if you Love Him more than you care about your own financial and emotional safety. This isn’t about the vacation – that’s not what would make it up to him – it’s about YOU being willing to sacrifice yourself for him. Don’t do it.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        Yes, please listen to this excellent advice.

        You don’t have to “make anything up to” him, because you are not doing anything wrong. Y’all HOPED and DISCUSSED going on a trip, but when it got to the specific planning stage, it turned out to not be feasible.

        You didn’t break a promise. You moved an idea from a wish to a plan. This is the stuff of life, and the stuff of long-term relationships. Most of life is figuring out how to make the best of limited time, energy, space, and money. And figuring out how to balance short-term enjoyment with long-term needs.

        It’s one thing for him to have some feelings about this. He’s entitled. But his feelings are not your problem to fix, and he needs to rapidly get over acting “mad” at you for taking care of yourself and your future.

        You didn’t ask for Old Auntie advice, but I’m going to throw it out there anyhow. If he were LTR/marriage “material”, he’d be the one making an effort to take good care of you and your future. Not getting mad at you for prioritizing it. And he wouldn’t be sitting around unemployed expecting you to drop large sums of cash you don’t have so he can have fun while you are exhausted and stressed-out. *SMH*

      2. Dan*

        This is more tactful than I would have written.

        While this may not *quite* be reason enough to break up with him, it definitely goes on the scoreboard, so to speak.

        OP needs a conversation with her BF, and depending on how *that* goes, it’s time for the breakup talk. There’s too much “big picture” stuff going on here to just slide under the rug and how it goes away with time. The stuff at play here won’t just go away. It’ll simmer on the back burner and really boil over at some point if the pot is not tended to carefully.

        1. Quandong*

          I agree with the other posters here. You have the right to determine your level of comfort with spending your money, knowing what’s coming up in the next two years. You also have the right to decide how much energy, time, and effort to spend in your limited vacation during an incredibly taxing training period.

          When your priorities don’t line up with those of your bf, he doesn’t have the right to overrule your wishes even though he has feelings of disappointment. You aren’t doing anything wrong at all. Trust yourself, you know what you can and can’t afford in relation to money and energy.

          The way your bf responds to you setting this very understandable limit on your spending, and the need to change plans, will tell you a lot about him. In my relationships, money and each person’s approach to spending it, and taking risks with it, was a huge factor in whether things worked out or not.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Agreeing hard here.
        This is “We have no money so let’s blow the little we have and make the world go away at least for ten days.”

        The hard reality here is part of caring about him and caring about your relationship requires an eye on the future. And the same rule holds for him. Putting all the eggs in one basket is not a good plan.

        Money decisions based on emotions is a whole huge topic. Advertisers tug at our emotions all. the. time. Hey, if you can’t use logic what is next? Emotions! I have used this to help myself with spending decisions, yes, the puppy is cute and I adore it, (emotion) but I already have a dog at home. I am no position to take on a second dog (logic). Emotions vs. Logic.

        Keep looking at the logic behind your spending, this will save you so much hassle in the long run.

    11. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      He’s the one who thinks it’s reasonable to spend that much money on a vacation–is he willing to pay for your expenses as well as his own? Or would that question lead him to recognize that the total expense of the proposed vacation is too much?

      “Money is for spending” may sometimes be valid, but watch out for “Your money is for spending [on my priorities].”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “Money is for spending”
        “I agree. I would like to have some left TO spend over the next couple years.”

    12. MindOverMoneyChick*

      “Money is for spending.” AHHHHH! Arg! sputter sputter. NO! I’m mean yes, of course, but it’s not just for spending right now because you happen to have it. If my clients were of your mind set in their 20s they would be so much happier and secure in their 30s and 40s. Money is actually for a balance of 4 different things:
      1. Present Security: control over day-to-day, month-to-month finances
      2. Future Security: the capacity to absorb a financial shock (which WILL happen to everyone at some point)
      3. Present Freedom of Choice: the financial freedom to make choices to enjoy life (this is where your boyfriend is and it’s legit, it’s just not the whole story)
      4. Future Freedom of Choice: being on track to meet financial goals so you have choices to enjoy life in the future. This is the one most people don’t think about enough. Planning to the future isn’t about doing a boring adulting tasks. It’s giving your future self the gift of fun with money!

      And I do sympathize with your boyfriend, I work with a lot of people who have been through that mindset, they are great people and I love working with them. Interestingly after working with me lving with a budget that includes saving for the future they often and tell me they are much happier and more fulfilled then they were when they were spending everything they had)

      I just hate to see people use those kids of lines to undermine someone who is keeping the big picture in mind. You’ve got this! Your future will be happier and more satisfying for it.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah, that right there would have me riding the nopetupus out of that relationship. I mean, yeah, maybe one talk of “no, money only gets spent on non-necessities when there’s lots of money to spend, I need to know you’re on the same page here,” but other than that, an inability to live within one’s means is a huge dealbreaker for me.

        Also a general “I need you to fix my problems or I’m mad at you” doesn’t bode well. He doesn’t have money and instead of finding some sort of cheap vacation or even going himself on his own dime, his solution is “get partner to go over-budget or demand s/he find a substitute vacation and sulk about it.”


        1. Alexandra Lynch*

          This has some uncomfortable overtones for me. Do not be in a relationship with someone who blames his problems on you and who cannot handle money and delaying gratification. It will only end miserably.

          Don’t be with someone who isn’t going to be able to plan things in an adult way. What happens down the line when plans have to be changed because you’re on call that weekend after all, or when you have kids? I know what happens. It’s not fun. I was married to that, and I hung on longer than I should trying to fix what wasn’t mine to fix.

    13. Paris- Berlin -Seoul Express*

      So wait, if he’s unemployed how is he paying for this trip? Frankly, if I were in your shoes, I would probably have to rethink this relationship. He’s willing to put you into financial peril so that he can do something that he wants to do and is not willing to entertain a compromise for your sake. Nope, nope, just no. He’s selfish and immature.

      1. Dan*

        I think she needs to have “the talk” first (and I fully agree with her BTW, and this is definitely breakup territory) but if I were in his shoes, and she dumped me without a conversation, I’d be like WTF, dodged a bullet for sure. But I’m not suggesting an ultimatum, either — just a really frank “where do things really stand”. It’s one thing if he’s just at a bad time in his life and handled it poorly (we all have ’em, and I certainly wouldn’t want to be judged based on my worst moments) but if this is who he “really” is, then peace out.

    14. ..Kat..*

      Stick to your guns. And, let him soothe himself. He can also go on vacation by himself or with friends.

    15. Sparrow*

      I’m also a medical student who tends to stress about money, so I empathize with your problem. I think the other commenters have covered the financial piece well. But I think this part of your question is telling: “I just want a few days to relax with him and enjoy each others company before the craziness of school starts again but he wants to go on a big crazy adventure.” There’s so little time for true rest and joy in medical school, so you should make it count when you have it. If that means spending some money, so be it, but definitely don’t spend your precious 10 days doing something you won’t fully enjoy. I’ve taken some lovely trips that were worth every penny, but it sounds like this one is not right for you now, and I hope your boyfriend can hear you out. He should work with you to find a compromise trip that lowers your stress, not increases it. If he refuses or pouts or guilts you into something you don’t want, that is telling.

  23. EmbarrassedEquestrian*

    I had no idea G***y was considered a slur until someone here mentioned it in the comments of one of this week’s AAM posts and then I googled it.
    G***y is a fairly common name for horses. It is one of my horses’ names (didn’t change it when I bought her four years ago) and I refer to her by name all the time. It had never even occurred to me that that word is used negatively (heck, it’s the name of a Gilmore Girls character!). Now I think I maybe should change her name.
    Anyone else genuinely not know something they said or did routinely was offensive? #mortified

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Slur for those of Roma extraction or travellers, although when used in an equestrian setting, I’ve always seen it spelled with a i instead of a y.

        1. EmbarrassedEquestrian*

          I’ve never noticed the name spelled with an i at any horse shows or anything. There are two horses at my stable with this name (one mine) and both are spelled with a y.

          1. Villanelle*

            Isn’t it bad luck to change a horses name though?
            I am sure your horses name is fine in the context that it’s a horses name rather than a slur.

            1. EmbarrassedEquestrian*

              I would probably just call her something else as a nickname. I can’t formally change her name since she’s registered with her breed’s association and they won’t do it for horses with a showing record.
              I am not sure if it’s really fine even in this context where it’s currently a normal thing.

            1. fposte*

              It may have been changing to the y there too more recently (and the i may be persisting longer in the dominions), but dictionary dot com still lists the spelling as “esp. British” and that would jibe with my experience.

              1. Bagpuss*

                It’s normally spelled with a ‘y’ in British English and that isn’t a modern thing. It’s been spelled that way in British English since around 1600, it came from ‘Egyptian’ as Roma were assumed to come from Egypt.
                (I would say that the spelling with an i is unusual but not wholly unknown)

                1. fposte*

                  That’s not how national orthography has worked, though.

                  Checking the OED: in the 16th c., Cromwell with an i, Spenser with an i
                  17th c: Shakespeare and Milton used an i

                  Some used a y, too, because orthography has been pretty fluid–Borrow, who was one of the most notable early chroniclers of the group, used a y. But there’s no historical dominance of the y. OED says: “From the quotations collected for the dictionary, the prevalent spelling of late years appears to have been gipsy.” (I’m not sure what they mean by “late years” there as I agree that there’s been more regularization of the y globally recently.)

                2. fposte*

                  FWIW, I definitely was wrong in stating that it was a simple each-country-does-a-different-vowel situation; it sounds like the y has really become dominant in the UK recently as well.

                3. Asta*

                  Do you live in the UK fposte ? Because I have to tell you in my experience it’s never been common to spell it with anything other than a y here in my experience.

                4. fposte*

                  @Asta–I did for a bit, but I forgot that 1) it was a long time ago and 2) I’m basing this on a lot of historical and not contemporary reading. So it was a bit foolish of me to make a claim about contemporary usage!

              2. Shiny Swampert*

                When I look it up (in the UK)I see the I spelling listed as an alternative but everywhere has the y spelling as primary and as I say, I don’t remember seeing the I spelling, well, ever. I don’t think I even knew it was an alternative until just now.

                Now abandoning this as it’s totally off topic :) (although interesting!)

                1. fposte*

                  Yeah, as I said I was wrong in my initial “i in the UK statement,” but the rabbit hole did get very intriguing!

        2. Clisby*

          Not necessarily. My husband’s family is from Hungary, including some Roma. They have no problem with “gypsy.” Using the word “gyp” or “gypped” is definitey a slur.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I can’t even think of what word this is unless it’s short for Gabrielle. Which might mean gossipy as a slur? I dunno.

    2. Marion Q*

      The word in my native language for people of African descent/from Africa is ‘n***o’, so…

      Fwiw, we have so little exposure/contact with the aforementioned group, and neither the official dictionary nor the daily usage (which is very rare – I think I can count in two hands the number of times I’ve heard the word, which just shows how little exposure we get) indicate that the word is meant offensively.

      1. ThatGirl*

        As I’m sure you know, “negro” is Spanish for the color black as well, it’s not offensive in that context.

    3. Christmas*

      I had a manager a few years ago named Gypsy Rose [Surname]. Everyone always remarked that it was a lovely name.
      Other than that, I’ve never had an instance to use that word so I don’t know, but I think context makes a difference, so naming horse is probably okay (at least not egregious enough to warrant changing.) The bigger issue has been that many people still use the term “G***ed” to refer to get cheated or scammed out of something, which attributes negative and shady characteristics to the Roma.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        Gypsy Rose Lee was a famous burlesque entertainer. The musical “Gypsy” is about her.

        It’s an odd choice to name one’s daughter, but given that it is a real person’s name (who apparently also has namesakes) I don’t see how you could banish it from the language entirely.

        I suppose it’s somewhat like “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Calling someone “an Uncle Tom” is very offensive. But it’s also a book, and a character, and you know – people do have uncles named Tom.

        1. Clisby*

          What’s also strange is that what’s I’ve usually seen referred to as “Uncle Tom” behavior has nothing to do with the character Uncle Tom in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” After all, Uncle Tom (in the novel) died because he refused to say where two slaves were hiding, which meant they escaped.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Gypsy Rose is also the name of the girl who had her boyfriend kill her mom a few years ago.

    4. fposte*

      In answer to the last question, yes, all the time. That’s just an uncomfortable part of life and growth.

      The disapprobation of the term has hit a bit of a tipping point recently, I think. It’s also complicated in that it’s not universally derided by the people to whom it applies (and I don’t mean like the n-word stuff), and most of the people deriding the use aren’t in the group.

      However: I think there’s something to be said for letting go of the practice of using ethnic group terms, especially oppressed groups, as picturesque adjectives; it’s been a long tradition and people only seem to grasp it term by term (all the turn of the century British stuff using terms for black people as animal names is really shocking to modern eyes) rather than letting go of the whole practice. At this point yeah, I probably would change up her barn name; she’s not going to care and you will be able to enjoy her name without guilt.

      1. Christmas*

        I think there’s something to be said for letting go of the practice of using ethnic group terms, especially oppressed groups, as picturesque adjectives…

        Well-said and a good point.

      2. Arjay*

        I ran out of nesting replies above, but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how Cromwell, Spenser, or Shakespeare spelled their names with an i. :-)

    5. OhBehave*

      I never thought of it in negative terms. Though in thinking about it, TV, etc. tend to portray them negatively.
      We recently had a new bistro announce their name/opening date on a local restaurant page. Gy#@# was in the name. A new councilperson commented quite negatively on this post with threats to boycott unless they change the name. The bistro is in her ward! Instead of contacting the owners personally she chose to handle via this third party. Ugh. The owners were horrified to learn the term was offensive. They promised a name change and they did a week later.

    6. Lucette Kensack*

      I actually hadn’t realized it was itself a slur, although I vividly remembering using “g***ed” in college (in the 90s!) and learning that that use was a slur.

      There’s a breed of horse that includes that word. I wonder if we’ll see that breed name evolve.

      I think I probably would start using a different nickname for her (but probably wouldn’t bother changing her registration, unless her registered name is used frequently). Maybe a nonsense word that rhymes, or just ends with the “see” sound?

    7. xxx9*

      To be fair, people still use is wildly, esp in the US where the presence of that group is pretty low-key and there isn’t a lot of education of that ethnic group. I think there was a TLC show with it in the title.

      I didn’t realize how offensive it was until I came across an article written by a Romani woman. I was mortified as well since ‘gyp’ (as in to swindle) was also a part of my vocabulary – I don’t need to say it at all. The noun usually a synonym for ‘free-spirited’ (if you must be fanciful, bohemian will also work) and the verb, there are loads of words for that (hat’s off to ‘bamboozle’).

      1. Pippa*

        Language is a funny thing. ‘Bohemian’ has exactly some of the same characteristics as the word it would replace – it refers to a group of people and their attributed social characteristics (and place of origin). Of course it doesn’t carry the baggage of a slur (except that I think it’s a literal synonym for ‘gypsy’ in French, so maybe it has that connotation too? Maybe a French speaker could clarify.) But ‘bohemian’ became associated with unconventional artists, rather than ethnicity, so unless there’s a sudden rise in discrimination against people from a certain part of the Czech Republic, it does make a good substitute for some uses.

    8. Fellow Traveler*

      To that matter- what about if a term is offensive to one culture and affectionate to another? I was lately made aware that I shouldn’t use the term “monkey” anymore (I feel weird even just writing it here). But it is also widely used as a term of affection especially used in reference to little children in my culture. So now I’m not sure if I should discourage my family from using it or if I should just let it go.

      1. fposte*

        I think you avoid it in the region where it’s offensive; it’s code-switching same as asking for the lift in the UK and the elevator in the US. BTW, if we’re talking the US, you can say the word “monkey” (like “we went to the zoo and saw the monkeys” is fine)–it’s just that using it for people has some really bad history that you don’t want to evoke when you’re trying to be affectionate.

        (Is this about the Danny Baker thing, by any chance?)

        1. Fellow Traveler*

          That’s a useful way to think of it. It wasn’t brought up by the Danny Baker thing, but rather it happened at work where a visiting guest called a bunch of children “little monkeys” in an affectionate/ joking way and there was a complaint brought against her. (The children were of all different races; the person who brought the complaint was African American) Of course the visitor was horrified because she didn’t realize. Now at work we’ve been told that it’s not ok to say- which is probably safest and totally doable. It just made me wonder how to be sensitive about it in my personal life when it is a word quite frequently used and also it is in a lot of songs and stories for kids.

          1. fposte*

            This is a discussion in youth lit right now as well. There’s definitely a history in literature, including picture books, as in the wider culture of using monkey imagery to depict African Americans as subhuman, and there are activists who see this as a widespread problem with monkey figures. No easy solution.

            1. Clisby*

              Yes, this. I called my (white) children monkeys plenty of times, and I’ve known plenty of other white people who did the same. To us, it’s just affectionate. I would never in a million years use that term to refer to black children.

              1. Lilysparrow*

                Indeed. Just like I might refer to a teenage/young adult white male as a boy. Especially in a sympathetic context, like a soldier who got killed – “that poor boy.”

                I try to be very careful to refer to young black men as “young men.” The word “boy” has all kinds of bad precedent around here.

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah, where I am now, “cheeky monkeys” is the name of a nursery near my apartment. Me, I’m like “ooooh, we do NOT use that word for kids,” …but when you think about it, kids *are* basically little monkeys, and it turns out that for lots of people “monkey” is basically used like “kiddo” when addressing small kids in the family.

        So… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I’m American. I’ve referred to children as monkeys, meaning that they are mischievous and busy getting into things. I would never in a million years have thought it was a racist term. Is it?

        1. Lora*

          When referring to people of color, yes, that would be definitely offensive. For centuries racists compared people of African heritage to monkeys and spread propaganda about “missing links” and crap. See also “golliwog”. It’s about dehumanizing people, in this case grown adult people not children.

          1. fposte*

            Yes. This is a frustrating one, because, as FT notes, there’s been a separate convention of referring to kids that way (and they’re little bouncy primates, so it’s kind of logical). But I’ve pretty much dropped it just to break the habit, because there are so many people for whom the bad associations are prominent. I also think this is a term that’s gotten more attention in the last few years. The first I even learned about the history was in 2006 with George Allen’s presidential campaign, and I’ve seen more attention subsequently. Maybe also there’s more racist use of the term these days, what with people wanting to get away with racism without getting into trouble.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            I never have, only my own (white) relatives. Obviously if someone is calling an adult POC a monkey or ape that’s clearly racist, but I never realized that affectionately calling my nephews little monkeys when they were running around acting crazy could be construed as racist.

      4. Jaid*

        The Asian American Rock group The Slants just won the Supreme Court case to trademark that name for their band. Previously, the trademark office rejected the name “deemed offensive or disparaging to others”.

        “The majority opinion stated, in part, that “[w]hatever our personal feelings about the mark at issue here, or other disparaging marks, the First Amendment forbids government regulators to deny registration because they find speech likely to offend others.”[9] The band’s frontman Simon Tam explained that while the First Amendment should protect the band’s right to use the name regardless of their reasons, they had chosen the name in order “to undercut slurs about Asian-Americans that band members heard in childhood, not to promote them.”

        Something to think about.

    9. Not Alison*

      You know there is a horse breed called a gypsy vanner, right? Are you thinking that the horse people need to change the name of the breed? I agree that one shouldn’t be using slurs, but feeling like you need to change your horse’s name seems a bit much.

      1. EmbarrassedEquestrian*

        Not sure why you have such a nasty tone. Yes, as one of the “horse people,” I have heard of the breed. As someone who knows how to google, I can see that the breeders have taken heat for the name.

    10. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      On a related note, does anyone have any good suggestions for how check words or concepts for unintended connotations? I’m mostly thinking less about slurs (although that’s certainly something I can screw up too – it’s just that dictionaries will often point out if a word is a slur so I have some existing ways to check those) and more about, say, alternate meanings of emojis and words that have taken on coded meanings in some contexts.

      I mean, I wouldn’t want to start a new band called the Llamatastic Teapots (not actual issue, obviously) just to learn that one or both of those words would be sending a message about a controversial stance on some issue that I wasn’t even aware of and now a bunch of people wouldn’t book my band and another bunch of people would make unhelpful assumptions. (Some of these coded word usages can get really specific to a subgroup, too. I’m thinking of how “puppies” has a certain connotation within Worldcon-adjacent fandom now here.)

    11. Traffic_Spiral*

      Well, it’s a pretty recent thing – people sorta just decided in the last few years they didn’t like the word – so I wouldn’t beat myself up over just having figured it out. But you know what? The older I get, the more I realize this is just a part of life. Every couple of years another word pops up that people are like “uh, you know… in context, isn’t that a little messed up?” Generally nowadays I just shrug and go “kay, guess we don’t use that now.”

      I mean, remember when people used to say “arguing online is like competing in the special olympics?” And then people were like “actually don’t use the mentally disabled as a punchline for things,” and we all had to switch back to “don’t mudwrestle a pig” (which in reality seems both dangerous to a human and annoying to the pig, therefore not that good an expression for the concept)? Them’s just the breaks. Words change, meanings change, slang changes, and some words fall out of favor. Just mentally file it and go about your day.

    1. Lcsa99*

      I thought he looked like he was about to host an episode of Masterpiece Theater – make that Meowsterpiece Theater.

  24. CoffeeforLife*

    Home Reno and Design questions:

    We have mostly completed painting our downstairs and it’s all the same color -SW Agreeable Grey. I have two fears- all the same and it looks blah _and_ it not being cohesive/consistent if we vary colors. Should I vary the colors in the upstairs or just make it all the same?

    I was all set to paint my interior doors black and change out the hardware to oil rubbed bronze. Bought everything but haven’t done it. Should I? Is it too dark?

    I get frozen by these little details because it’s really *just* paint! I don’t have anyone to ask here (my partner just says, go with what you want, I’ll love it, grrrr)

    1. Asenath*

      I’m an avid watcher of reno shows – and do nothing in that way in real life. Last time I moved into a place and had the option of having it painted, I had everything painted white, on the theory that I could add colour with pictures, furniture etc, and it would brighten up a darkish space. And I lived with it happily enough (I mean, I had other problems, with the place, but not ones due to the colour). When I moved to the new place, it had obviously been painted with colours someone who knew what she was doing chose. It’s mostly shades of a very pale sage green, with white trim and ceilings, and slightly different colours in the other rooms (most of it is one large living/dining/kitchen area). I like it a lot, even more than all white.

      So, do what you like – but I think I’d like other rooms in slightly different, but related colours. I would have no problem with all the main floor being one colour; you can brighten it up with accessories. I can’t really comment on the black doors since I don’t know how dark your space is! It would look great if there’s enough light.

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        The space is bright for most of the day, I was just worried about the doors looking like black holes. The house was all pea/mint/forest green and poorly painted (you could see the original beige peeking through) so I needed a fresh start.

    2. Ranon*

      Agreeable Grey is a really neutral color – whether it’s too neutral really depends on your tastes! Maybe it’s a great canvas for your art/ furnishings/ etc, maybe you do want more color in your house.

      If you want a really dark door with I would go with Black Fox rather than true black to go with oil rubbed bronze hardware, a true black is going to make the hardware look really brown and also make the agreeable gray look more brown, I think, where black Fox has some warm undertones so should keep the overall warm neutral look going.

    3. SpellingBee*

      Well, I can’t accuse you of being blah, because our entire house is painted SW Accessible Beige! It was that way when we bought it, and I actually find that I really like it. Artwork (which we have a lot of) shows beautifully against it and it’s very restful. I’ve always defaulted to using the same color, or a tone on either side, throughout a house, but you certainly don’t have to do that. I’d recommend, though, carrying the same color up the stairwell and into any upstairs hallway, then using a different color if you like inside the upstairs room(s).

      As far as the black doors go, would it be just the doors or were you planning to paint all the trim black as well? I personally wouldn’t do it all because it would be too dark *for me.* I love the look of crisp white woodwork against a neutral wall color, and think it makes both look fresher. If it’s just the doors and there aren’t very many of them it could look very sharp, but it will look darker of course, especially in an interior hallway for example. However, I’ve seen black French doors set into white woodwork and it’s absolutely stunning, but there’s lots of light to offset the dark color so it doesn’t look so monolithic.

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        I liked accessible beige too! I have painted all of the trim bright white so it would just be the doors themselves. I want it to look clean and put together – if that makes sense.

        1. SpellingBee*

          It makes total sense. I absolutely love the exterior color combination of grey or taupe house with white trim and black window/door accents, and doing the same thing inside could be very effective. If I were doing this I might try covering one of the doors with black craft paper or painted cardboard to see if I liked the general look before I went to the work of painting them all, but I’m kind of a cautious type! By the way, the watermelon pink filing cabinet sounds awesome, and so much fun.

    4. Llellayena*

      Like you said, it’s just paint. If you paint the doors and don’t like it, it’s not too difficult to repaint them (but it sounds awesome!). If the rooms bleed into each other it makes sense to keep the colors the same or only do a complimentary accent wall. However, in separated rooms you’re free to have fun with the rainbow! Experiment with different colors, once again if you don’t like it, one room is not too much to repaint. Good luck!

      1. Reba*

        Yes, I say try a color! Start with one room, or heck one wall! YOLO etc. etc.

        Although gray is a nice neutral backdrop for art and furniture, sometimes it’s actually a color that’s going to make your decorations really sing.

      2. CoffeeforLife*

        I’m starting a rainbow theme for my office so I should start with color in there! I spray painted a huge filing cabinet in watermelon pink and it looks gorgeous. So it has to be a color that works with that. Thanks for the push!

    5. Kathenus*

      I bought a house that was completely painted in a neutral gray – fine, but not really my favorite. But, all new paint throughout, so I couldn’t really see changing it. So then I started thinking about maybe some accent color walls upstairs and instead landed on wall murals on one wall in two different rooms – both nature themed. So now in two rooms there is a whole wall that is a beautiful nature scene. Just another idea to consider. Just google wall murals. There were two types when I did it – sticky or cling. The sticky were more like wallpaper – put them on once and get it right, or for a little more money the cling which could be removed and readjusted as needed – I highly recommend getting the cling styles. After waiting far too long waiting to get a contractor to put these up (thinking more like wallpapering-skill type person needed) I found I was able to do them myself.

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        I would really like a bold botanical in our powder room. The space is large and bright enough to carry it. Thanks for the cling film mural suggestion!

    6. fposte*

      I’m astonished at having a whole house painted the same color. To me part of the point of having different rooms is the ability to bring different colors into them. I think houses are cohesive enough by being one building.

      To be fair, if you haven’t put in all the decor stuff it may be too early to call it blah (though really, “Agreeable” is a paint name that suggests damning with faint praise to me. “What do you think of this color?” “It’s, um, agreeable”). But I vote for painting the upstairs something that pleases you more.

      1. Auntie Social*

        I agree. I think a blue-gray is a lot more liveable than just plain gray. To me, gray is hard to live with and is more a commercial color than a residential one. What colors do you like or have in your MBR comforter?

      2. Double A*

        I’d generally agree, but we have a lot of reddish wood in our house and a very, ummm, busy decorating style, and also a kind of open flow, so a warm white is really the only thing that looks good (I spent FORVER trying to pick an accent color for one of the bedrooms and finally gave up and just did the white because the wood really limits what colors work). But I’ve painted our bathrooms really bold colors, and I’m planning to paint our stairway a rich blue color so it’s like you’re going through an underwater tunnel when you go upstairs. But that’s what makes sense for our house and our aesthetic, it’s kind of hard to give decorating advice without seeing a place! And I personally am not into grey, so it’s hard to give tips about something that’s not your style.

        1. fposte*

          I can totally see houses where it would make sense to do it; I like a lot of the Scandinavian all-white-with-lots-of-big-art interiors myself. But it sounded like Coffee was thinking of the same color as a general rule and not just a style choice that she could be absolutely free to make differently, so I was demurring on that. (I love the idea of your stairway, BTW.)

      3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        My house is too small to look good with multiple colors, really, but I have toyed with the idea of accent walls. When we first bought the place it had two rooms in clashing, garish colors and it was so much better after I painted them! But I miscalculated and got too much paint so I still have an entire unopened can of it. I plan to repaint where I didn’t do a very good job the first time.

        I painted the interior doors bright white with black hardware, and I think it looks pretty good with the slightly beige walls and wood floors. I have a lot of miscellaneous art in black frames which I think helps tie everything together.

    7. Madge*

      We painted our previous house all in Brazil Nut, a warm beige, and I really liked to have everything one color. All my furnishings could work in any room, so I could move things around when I needed a change.

      The archives of the Manhattan Nest blog has a great example of how black doors look with light walls. I think you’ll have to go a few years back to find it. I think it looks really nice. And I remember a home blog years ago where they used two close colors throughout the house, like a light greige and a darker shade, and some rooms were solid in one of the two colors and one room had alternating stripes.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I am biased. I am not a fan of dark doors. My suggestion is try it on one door that is in a high use area so you pass by it regularly. This way you can get a feel for how you like it.

      I had a door in my house painted a dark green. All I could feel was a sense of foreboding. I did not want to open that door as time passed, I was not even keen on being in that room that had the door. The room was my kitchen, whoops.

      I can be a bit of a safety freak, so one thing I question is how easy is it to find a dark door in case of fire.

      Going in a totally different direction, I read that dark colors on/in houses make them feel smaller. Light colors make them feel bigger. From working on my house here, I see that most of the stuff is an illusion, we use paint and we use lighting to add an atmosphere or mood to our homes. It’s all an illusion. What type of atmosphere are you aiming for?

    9. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      I take your point that it’s ‘just paint’ but on the other hand painting or getting painters in is a lot of work! That’s the biggest reason I obsessed when DH and I moved into current house. We settled on a compromise that I still love which was to paint the downstairs, stairway, and upstairs hall all one colour and the upstairs rooms a different but complementary colour. 4 years later and I still love it! The hardest part was finding the perfect colour and shade that would work in the warm south-facing rooms and the cool north-facing rooms equally well.
      Best of luck! I’m sure it will be gorgeous.

    10. The New Wanderer*

      I pushed for different colors for most rooms (some rooms have 2 shades of the same color), because I was sick of absolutely everything being Builder’s White. I love it, but we have about 15 different cans of paint that have to be well labeled for any touchups and that drives my husband nuts. I do most of the painting though, so I won that debate. However, it caught up to me when I tried to use one of the existing colors to redo some of the hallway. Somehow the finishes didn’t match the existing paint, so I bought more of what I thought was the same original color and that didn’t match either. I repainted the entire hallway four times before it looks right. So… there’s maintenance to consider.

      1. SpellingBee*

        The color of paint on the wall changes over time, so touch-ups can be tricky (ask me how I know!). Also paint sitting in the can will lose moisture, although very slowly, so over the years it becomes more concentrated and could look darker than it did originally when applied to the wall. I’d bet the problem was that the wall color had faded ever so slightly over time, not enough so you’d notice it without prompting, but enough so that it was different from the original.

    11. Bagpuss*

      Can you use an app to get an idea? I know herwe (In the UK ) several of the big paint companies have apps which let you overlay paint colours on photos of you hom, to get an idea of howi may look in practice. Althoguh they are designed for seeing what the walls will look for you can use them to colour any area so could use it to ‘colour’ the doors and see how it makes the room look.

      When I was doing it (about 4 years ago now) they worked surprisingly well escept for the room where I had inherited very boldly striped wall paper (I think the lines confused it as to where the walls ended, so it would only colour in one stripe’s worth at a time)

      I don’t think there is anything wrong wioth having the same colour through the whol house if you want it, however I would cosdier how much light the different rooms get – you might want a paler shade in any areas like coridors or stairs where you don’t have (as much) natural light, for instnace.

    12. Alexandra Lynch*

      We have our house done in Sands of Time and Sand Dollar, which are warm tans/sand colors that are pretty near to each other on the color wheel but aren’t identical. So the downstairs main open area is Sands of Time, as are the bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs, but the upstairs open library area is Sand Dollar, my sewing room is Sand Dollar, and the stair hallway is also done in the Sand Dollar. Our trim is white, doors white, and it works for us because I can do pale linen curtains and a lot of greenery in the summer, and then bring in dark burgundy curtains and purple pillows and richer accessories in cold weather. (But I like to do that sort of thing.)

  25. coffee cup*

    What’s everyone’s weekend plans? It’s pouring rain here (typically, after a week of sunny weather!) so I’m staying in with some TV and coffee, and hoping to motivate myself to get some of my own work done and move on with that. I’d also like to do a short workout as I couldn’t get out for a run, and then maybe get some reading done later. Thrilling, huh?!

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Public market for veg and milk and a bit of beef. Gonna start a weird quilt thing while I’m waiting for my friend to pick me up. Then get my kid the shirt-belt-socks to go with his new suit (he’s off to a wedding I’m avoiding). Then do some valet parking for my friend who will be singing with her chorus tonight and tomorrow.- she gets stressed about parking at strange places and can’t walk far, so I do the parking bit.
      Not sure there’s room for a nap, but I’ll see what i can do about that.

    2. Just a Guy in a Cube*

      It’s the Town Fair, so we’re doing that. And then hopefully get the spare room in the barn cleaned out and/or make progress on the chicken coop

    3. Overeducated*

      Somewhat busy weekend over here! Coffee and a run sounds so good though. This morning while kid is at swim lessons I’ll hit the farmer’s market (I go mainly for peaches in summer!) and maybe scope out a yard sale or two. In the afternoon we’re going to hang out with my SIL’s family for a couple hours on the way to a pool party with husband’s work crowd, which should be fun apart from the awkwardness of being in a bathing suit around coworkers.

      Tomorrow I’m very excited to be going to a nice brunch with friends and no kids! This is the first time I’ve tried to organize something for my birthday since a failure five years ago. Four out of six people I invited can make it, so my fear that nobody wants to hang out with me is not becoming real this time, and I’m really looking forward to it.

      The afternoon will be the usual rush of home/life maintenance I should theoretically be doing throughout the week, plus making a meal for a couple in my church whose home was badly flooded a couple weeks ago.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      My husband is camping with his friends so I’m a bachelorette for the weekend! And what am I doing? Food shopping (done), Golden Girls binging (now), pizza delivery tonight and I’ll be going to the fitness store to order my gym equipment for my nearly-finished home gym. Oh, and I want to check out some Bluetooth speakers. Someone recommended the UE brand last weekend, but the model I want to test out is not on display, of course. There’s a spot for the floor model, but it’s empty. I’d order online, but I really need to hear the speaker before buying since it will be on high volume and many Bluetooth speakers don’t sound good at high volumes.

      1. coffee cup*

        Yeah, those kinds of purchases are often better done in person. I could do with a Bluetooth speaker, actually, but only because the music might sound a bit better. Really because it’s just me in a small flat I don’t technically need one.

    5. Llellayena*

      Apparently my weekend plans changed from ‘take car for an oil change then do some shopping’ to ‘hang out with the parents while my brakes are replaced.’ A bit less time efficient, but brakes are kinda important…

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Packing and sorting.
      Also I need to go get another coffee press. Unbreakable this time because guess what. -_-

        1. Elizabeth West*

          IT’S AN EPIDEMIC

          I was mad because it was the TARDIS one from now-defunct ThinkGeek website, but it’s okay I guess; it annoyed me that I couldn’t remove the filter completely to clean it.

          I’m going to buy an unbreakable one. This is the third press I’ve broken now. I’m outta control, lol.

            1. Chocolate Teapot*

              My coffee pot stopped working this morning as well!

              Thankfully, I have a cafetiere so my breakfast coffee was saved, but I need to buy something new.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              It’s too expensive at the non-sale price, knowing that it will just get broken again. I guess they just use regular glass, but coffee presses should have some sort of special beakers. I even broke the Bodum one and my coffee-geek friend said their glass is better than most. I can’t afford a Le Creuset ceramic press (and I’d probably just find a way to break that too).

              This morning I used my *PLASTIC* Teavana tea pour-over device to make my coffee and it worked, sorta. But I’d still rather have a dedicated coffee press. They need to be separate.

    7. Alpha Bravo*

      My weekends rarely vary; Saturday evenings I get takeout for my family of origin (parents, sister, her kids and grandkid) and my mom and I watch Keeping Up Appearances. My garden has started producing, so I’ll be taking them fresh veggies as well. Sunday is my day to do (or not do) whatever I want. I usually putter around in the garden and play with the chickens, and cook a nice dinner for my daughter and I. I hope to have more interesting activities to report when I get my horses. ;)

        1. Alpha Bravo*

          Mom chooses the restaurant, so this time it was Shari’s (local cafe chain that also specializes in pies). We had sour cream lemon for dessert. Yum!

    8. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Well, I was going to swing by the farmers market to pick up milk, but the dairy decided to skip today to sell at the fair instead. So that was an empty bottle I didn’t need to be carrying around while looking at veggies today.

      I’m very annoyed that they didn’t tell me this either of the last two times I bought milk from them. (They’re at markets within walking distance of my house two days a week, and I buy a half gallon of milk each of those times.) I am now out of milk until Tuesday unless I feel like driving somewhere, and I am not happy about it since I could have easily bought two half gallons instead of one last Tuesday if they’d warned me.

      In probably-better news, I met with someone I’m probably putting a convention bid together with this afternoon, and it sounds like we’re on the same general page in terms of priorities so that may work out. I’d rather that someone else run the con, but only for certain values of “someone else” and there don’t seem to be many takers right now who are genuinely excited about the prospect.

      In much less good news, it sounds like the next door neighbor now has an electric bass with a loud amp. If I am very lucky, it is instead the case that he has a friend with such a thing and they will be leaving soon. (It is also possible that it is a stereo system of some kind. There is definitely a lot of bass involved to the point that I find it highly stressful, I just can’t tell if it’s live or recorded.) If things do not improve in a day or two, I am buying a banjo in retaliation.

      Tomorrow I do laundry. Possibly after buying that banjo.

      1. coffee cup*

        Can you do without milk in the short term? Annoying, though!

        Oh, I find that kind of noise stressful too. Went through a period of a neighbour learning the guitar with an amp, and they always seemed to want to do this at 11pm on a Wednesday or something. Banjo sounds a good idea!

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Yeah, I ‘m torn between not having milk until Tuesday (which is do-able but annoying – I can substitute water in oatmeal and biscuits, but I also tend to drink a glass of milk a day as a snack, and water is not useful as a snack-replacement) and getting my entire milk consumption off-cycle by buying 2 gallons of milk at Costco since I also need goat cheese. (We do not seem to have anyone who sells cheese at the farmers market, so cheese and pantry staples are pretty much the things I buy in stores during the summer market season. I already did a non-Costco pantry staples trip this week, so my only remaining place-that-sells-milk errand between now and Tuesday is Costco.)

          I know I can drink two gallons of Costco milk before it goes bad, and two gallons of milk at Costco costs less than a single half gallon of fancy farmers market non-homogenized (but still pasteurized and from an inspected dairy) milk in returnable glass bottles, but dangit, this was my summer treat! (I may be living a pretty boring life if fancy milk is my summer treat.)

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Banjo ALWAYS sounds like a good idea! It’s fewer strings to keep in tune than a guitar, so it must be easier to play, right? (No.)

          I may have a bit of an instrument hoarding problem already (3 guitars, piano, keyboard, violin, assorted recorders/whistles – in my defense I didn’t buy any of these, they were all passed on to me by other family members since I have somehow been designated The Musical One of my Generation since I do know how to play most of those at least a little bit and I own a house with enough space to store instruments) so I should probably spend more time practicing at least some of those rather than buying a banjo and further dividing my attention. Or a ukulele. Or that pretty dulcimer in the window of the local music shop…(I’ll be passing on instruments out of the Family Instrument Hoard to assorted distantly-related familial tiny humans as they decide to take lessons in those instruments over the years as well. Many members of the extended hobbit-family have taken a year or two of lessons on that violin over the generations, and if any of them stick with it they buy a fancier one and return this one to the family instrument pool, for example.)

          I find bass so very stressful. It’s like it vibrates in exactly the part of my stomach that my anxiety lives in. I love music and spend a lot of time listening to things like folk music (last year, in my continual pursuit of additional recordings of an obscure sub-genre of Thing I Like, I bought music on CD, USB drive, vinyl, and cassette tape – yes, I found a vendor who still had cassette recordings of something that never came out on CD and I bought it), but I just can’t with heavy bass. It’s frustrating because I’m pretty sure there are a lot more kinds of music I would like if listening to them didn’t make me so anxious.

    9. Trixie*

      Completed a return to Ikea which is not local and requires a bit of drive. This task has been on my to-do list forever, and so nice to check it off. Also loading up donations in my car for super easy drop off this weekend. I also plan to look at last couple week’s finances and see how my spending/saving looks. Very close to paying off my car!

      1. coffee cup*

        Ikea is always a bit of a drive, no matter where you live, it seems! Same here. I’ve ruled out going this weekend, although I’d like a few new plants and a couple more storage boxes. I’d better wait till I get paid.

    10. Marion Ravenwood*

      So yesterday I volunteered at parkrun, did the last of my packing for my house move (eek!), and then went to a free country music festival in a park in London’s business district. It was great.

      Today I am writing up my review of said festival, have a driving lesson in a couple of hours, and then the moving van comes at 2. I also need to at some point wash my hair and buy new bedding. So no pressure then!

      1. coffee cup*

        You can do it!

        I forgot about parkrun for a few weeks there. I might go again next week. My closest one is a hill hell, so I have avoided that for a while…

    11. Jaid*

      I went out to dinner with the family at a nice expensive place and got to exchange birthday presents. Today, I’m running the dishwasher, tidying my my bedroom, and making my green smoothies for the week.

      Maybe I’ll run the vacuum, too, the kittygirl does shed.

  26. Puzzled shopper*

    Hi! I have a work adjacent question bc I’m curious how stores decide something but I’m not asking career advice.

    You know the joke about how as soon as you find a product or tv show you really like, they cancel it? I’ve noticed lately that the more popular “flavors” of certain products are no longer carried by my local store. They’re not discontinued bc I see them in other stores, and there’s no particular reason variety A would be more or less desirable than variety B (like being right next door to a school and getting tired of kids using variety A for pranks).

    So my question is, why would a store stop carrying a really popular product? Like so popular it sells out within a couple days of each delivery?

    I would have thought the manager would think, Hey, this neighborhood LOVES variety A and is meh on B and C. Let’s order more A and less C.

    But instead it looks like, Hey, we sell out of A every week and we’re tired of restocking the shelves. Let’s drop A and increase the meh products.

    Which would be odd bc surely they want to sell as much as they can?
    Can anyone shed any light on this?

    1. Asenath*

      I’d suspect (in the case of a chain) that the local store might not have as much control over what the central supply people send them as you might think. At least, I’ve been told that when complaining that I can’t find something that the used to carry and now don’t. I am also convinced that someone somewhere, either in the store or with the manufacturer, has decided, all evidence to the contrary, that no one now wants variety A so OF COURSE they won’t make/sell it any more and will ship B and C instead. Or something completely new, D, which some study claimed would sell like hotcakes, and they want new products to appear up-to-date. Or maybe D is a knock-off of one of their competitor’s products, which you personally hate, but the competitor did well with it.

      I do a lot of online shopping – not just for convenience, but because I can get things that aren’t easily available locally any more. Like the time a business (now out of business) stopped stocking any shoes that weren’t fashionable (I guess? Definitely not styles I like.) and in a limited range of sizes and told me I could get what I wanted from their online store, maybe, well, at least they did have more variety online, they claimed – but of course I looked a bit further online and have been buying exactly what I want from anther busines.

    2. ThatGirl*

      It’s possible it’s not popular and is disappearing because of low sales. People tend to assume things they like are popular (especially if it’s hard to find) but that’s not always true.

    3. OhBehave*

      Shelf space is very expensive. It’s also very limited. Companies will do anything to get their product placed in grocery stores. Sometimes it’s not up to the local managers.
      I’ve had good luck asking the manager to order xyz for me.

    4. LCL*

      This. It’s all about the distribution chain. Grocery supply is a world of its own. Besides the grocers’ warehouse, local and national brands do their own stocking of some products. If the store isn’t selling it, it means they can’t get it.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        This was the answer I got when the bread I like to buy started fading from the shelves and was entirely gone for a week. It was a store brand so I was really confused. Then it was back, and the cashier said it had most likely been a warehouse shortage issue, not a discontinuation.

        But it has happened with some specialty products. To me it looked like they couldn’t keep them in stock, but it’s more likely that they only ordered a few to begin with, then those took a while to sell out, and just didn’t reorder because it wasn’t worth the shelf space.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I can sympathize. If I like anything the store near me drops it like a hot potato.
      They got rid of Bon Ami. Really? Bon Ami? So now I have to go somewhere else to get it. And I buy other things while I am at SomeWhereElse. So there, take that Not So Clever Store. (They do not care! ha!)

    6. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      It could also be that they’re having general supply issues with A. If the A-shelves are bare half of the time because they can’t get more, that bare shelf space isn’t making any more sales for them and also makes them look disorganized or incompetent since they’re the ones with the empty shelves. (I’ve seen stores temporary re-arrange things so neighboring products take over the “blank spot” while they’re waiting for the next delivery, presumably for this reason.)

      So basically, if A is popular enough that they’d sell 200 units a week but they can only get 100 to sell and then it sits empty the other half of the week while waiting for more stock to come, but B would sell only 110 that week but they can actually get all 110 they need from their supplier, they’ll prioritize B over A since that’s actually making them better sales.

    7. chi chan*

      I think some stores may have deals with others to not carry all the same items. It may be a way to retain some customers. I have no knowledge of business though.

    8. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      That’s happened to me with mops more times I can count. I buy a mop, be able to get heads for them /maybe/ 4 -6 times and then they’d stop making or carrying that model. I’m 56 years old and I’ve been ‘running a household’ since I was 20 – do you have ANY idea how many dang mops I have? I finally cleared out a bunch last year (not gonna say how old some were!). Sheesh!

    9. nonegiven*

      The store in my town is part of a regional, privately owned company with well under 100 stores. My local store can’t go by what is popular in my town. They get what the warehouse sends. Larger stores get more variety than smaller stores.

      I’ve noticed a lot more companies using this model over the years.

  27. Sydney Ellen Wade*

    I’ve recently been reading about FIRE (Financially Independent and Retire Early). Has anyone changed their spending/saving habits to retire within 5-10 years?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      We’ve been saving like crazy for years, so I don’t know that we changed our habits, but now it is looking like we could probably retire quite well in our mid-50s, which is about 5 years out now. (I use the same user name at the Early Retirement Forum, if you’re there.) We still have some furniture that we had in our college dorm rooms, but over the last 5-10 years we’ve realized that we’ve been saving enough, so we allowed ourselves to spend a bit more, too.

      I keep joking that we could retire right now, we’d just be taking road trips instead of cruises and eating ramen instead of eating out weekly…which is not quite true, but at this point we are looking to retire comfortably and not have our kid worry about taking care of us, even if we have medical issues or require long-term care.

      By the way, that’s one of the biggest obstacles to retiring early, the “Medicare bridge” — covering the expense of health insurance from the time you retire until you are eligible for Medicare at age 65. (You might know this, but I figured other AAM readers might not.) At least with the ACA marketplace, it’s easy to price out health insurance, so we’ve added that to our retirement planner.

      1. Clisby*

        And also price out what Medicare will cost you once you hit 65. I’ve run across a lot of people who seem to think once you get a Medicare card, you don’t have to pay for your health care – when in fact you still will be paying premiums, coinsurance, deductibles. It’s still a good deal – especially since once you hit 65 you’re entitled to it – but it’s not free.

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      I’m fascinated by this as well — I love the Frugalwoods site!

      Neither my fiance or I have the high dollar salaries most FIRE people have, but we live in a low COL area. Ideally, we’d like to retire around 50-55, if we could pull it off. Or at least “retire” to working part-time.

    3. Asenath*

      I don’t know that plan, but I know a lot of people who retire around 50-60 – generally, I think it’s more a case of careful planning over years rather than a sudden decision to accumulate enough money in another 5-10 years. The people I know who retired recently don’t usually have enough of an income stream to free up that much extra money that fast. They often do have an employed spouse – I think it’s easier to build up resources with two incomes, but I wasn’t able to do that. The most impressive couple I know started BEFORE they were married, in their early 20s, putting a lot of sweat equity into what became a nice home in what was then the outskirts of the city, and carefully managing the incomes from blue collar and basic office work (“pink collar”? jobs while raising their children. They entered retirement with a paid-for home, and what must be a nice nest egg (important since one of them was in a job without a pension plan, although the government plans are still there). A lot of the decisions that lead to retirement do come early – choice (if possible) of a job with enough pay/benefits; spending patterns, choice of housing… In my case, one of the smartest things I ever did was buy a cheap little house which I sold for a better, but still not luxurious, condo – chosen with accessibility as I age in mind – well before retirement, so I could pay it down while I still had an income. This might not work in a high COL area where it’s hard to get into property ownership, but it’s important to think about your costs for housing after you retire. I wouldn’t recommend moving to a really cheap (and probably rural and highly inaccessible) place, myself. YMMV.

      Tuck as much money as you can manage away on a regular basis, and figure out what your retirement is going to look like – where you are going to live, how much income that is going to require, etc. And you can start late – I had a big change in mid-life and for a long time didn’t think I’d ever manage to retire. I decided to work a little longer than most of my friends, but that patient scrimping and persistence did pay off in the end.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Aurora Leigh and Asenath, there are people on the Early Retirement forum (I should have said, it’s at “Early-Retirement” dot org) who have both started very late and/or never made in the high five digits in salary who have retired early. Of course, it takes a lot more dedication and discipline then, and as you alluded to, they usually live in and retire to very low cost-of-living areas. But it’s possible, don’t be discouraged!

    5. Square Root Of Minus One*

      Count me in. The FIRE idea is the thing that decided me to be more thorough with my finances a few months ago. I was already reasonably good but took it up quite a notch, tightened up the budget and started investing.
      I’m still trying to balance present and future (i.e. not to save to harshly and be unhappy) and to optimize the process. I live in a country with very different rules and where FIRE is more a US curiosity than an actual thing.

    6. fposte*

      I’ll be retiring early in U.S. terms. I don’t know whether I’d technically come under the FIRE umbrella or not–it wasn’t originally a goal of mine, and I’m in a career where people hang on forever, but health stuff kicked in. However, I’ve always been a saver, I live in a LCOL area, and I’m very fortunate in having excellent tax-advantaged options through work.

      I’ve also found it very useful and empowering to have a better sense of my money and ways to optimize it. I just ran some RMD projections yesterday, in fact, to decide if it made more sense to take all my RMDs from a specific account. (Answer may change if the proposed legislation to move the RMD start to 72 kicks in.)

    7. Dan*

      I’m all about the FI, but the RE doesn’t do much for me. Granted, stuff can always happen forcing an early retirement, but as a *voluntary* choice? I like my job, I’m good at it, it pays reasonably well, it gives me a ton of vacation, and when we get closer to retirement age, they have an official “step down” program if you want it. E.g., you can switch to various levels of part time and/or telecommute. I work 40 hours per week (and usually a 9/80) with a flex schedule (I show up at whatever time I feel like and nobody says boo.) And my bosses are usually pretty cool. So outright quitting my job has ZERO appeal to me at the moment. So to me, “FI” means I work because I feel like it, not because I have to.

    8. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      A lot of the FIRE momentum has built up in the last ten years which… have been pretty good investment years. I am curious to see how this shakes out in the next few years if there is a downturn.

      I read some of the forums and am into the general idea, but I think for us it comes down to FI and the RE means we work where/how/when we want, not because we HAVE to. I don’t want to ever just sit around at home, but I do want to not ever have to take a job again just because we need the money.

      Our retirement plans are ok, although we don’t own any property right now due to living situation overseas. However, where we would want to buy for an actual real place eventually is in a lower cost of living area in the Midwest, so we are thinking of putting the cash down on a place in a year or two and renting it out while we are still over here. Im early 40s and partner is late 30s – you hate to say ‘oh we have a ton of time’ but I also recognize how fast time seems to go now! But we have similar approaches to money management and saving and invest some cash every month in personal savings, personal investments, and retirement vehicles so is not all that dire.

    9. Booksalot*

      My spouse and I follow FIRE in order to hopefully retire at all. We each have had 5+ years of unemployment/underemployment that devastated our finances, so tightening our belts to the extreme is our only chance.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’m over at MMM, and while I don’t plan to retire in 5-10 years, I do my best to not spend money on stuff I don’t care about. I use it as almost mindfulness, but applied to spending :)

      1. Dan*

        My own personal mantra is “conscious spending.” For me, that means knowing what I’m spending my money on and why. It’s also about the tradeoffs — if I spend my money on X, then I can’t spend it on Y. That mindset helps/allows me to spend money on things that are important to me, and things that aren’t, I don’t.

      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Oh for sure. After moving so much in my life and overseas a few times, we’ve now come to realize that any expenditure here for ‘stuff’ is just something we will probably have to move/sell anyway. Partner just had a birthday and explicitly requested no gifts because he doesn’t want to ‘have to move it’ or store it or anything. We have enough clothes/books/things – so now we are trying to work through the backlog and think before we buy anything else – do I really need this or am I just bored?

        I keep intending to sign up for an online bank that would let me transfer money into a retirement account or investment account for the purchase price of an item I am about to buy but put back on the shelf. I wonder how much THAT would add up to, especially if I include things like coffee and lunch out, etc! But if I could see the number increasing on a daily basis on an app, I think it would be positive reinforcement to eat the lunch I brought rather than go get something blah just to get out of the building, or to bring coffee rather than do a Sbux run. And at the end of the month sweep it all into a good cheap fund – I am buying my future rather than now, and can still see it grow over time.

    11. Gatomon*

      I looked into it, but decided it was a little too extreme for my situation to be feasible. I don’t make enough money to bank large chunks of income in my area due to the rising cost of living, and my job is exhausting enough that a side job isn’t possible. I also have 0 interest in “house hacking” or becoming a landlord, which seem to be common ways to make it work.

      I decided shooting for 55 makes sense for me. If I can/want to work longer, I will, but I’ll be prepared at that point. If I’m lucky maybe I can retire earlier than that! But I also want to enjoy my life today (who knows how long I’ll live and have good health?) and that means I want to spend some of my money on things/experiences now.

    12. Nickels, Dimes, and Quarters*

      When I rejoined the work force after divorce, I had no money, less than $1,000 in assets, ruined credit, and zero confidence in my ability to ever retire. I had read about the FIRE concept, but it didn’t seem achievable for me.

      What clicked for me was that I needed to round up cash to buy real estate and other passive assets. To do this, I opened an investment fund with $25. Then I started looking for ways to add to that account. I canceled satellite TV and added that $75 each month to the account. I made lunch to take to work, so $20 a week was added to the account, and so on. It became a game. Three years ago, I purchased a multi-unit property. I live in one apartment and tenants rent the others. I pay my investment account my “rent,” and the tents’ rent covers all the costs of the property.

      I’m looking to buy additional similar properties which will allow me to retire. I still work a full time job and half of what I earn gets invested. I don’t live paycheck to paycheck, so I sleep well and know that if an unexpected expense comes up, I’ll manage fine.

      I got a late start, so while I might not be retiring at age 30, at least I’ll have that option somewhere around age 60.


    13. Elephant in the room*

      I recommend life insurance for couples with children. Whole life, not term, and enough of it to last. It made all the difference in my ability to retire early (at 55) after my husband died. Without it I would probably have had to work 15 more years.

  28. Rebecca*

    Mom Update, or, It’s Going to Be A Long Afternoon

    Today is “move Mom from rehab facility to assisted living”. The assisted living facility is literally a 5-7 minute walk, depending on how fast I walk, from our front door. I know this, because it’s at my old elementary school and was my bus stop to Jr/Sr High 7 miles away…and it behooved me to be on time for said bus stop. Hoping to get her underway by 1 PM.

    They have 3 levels of care, the 3rd being the most intense…usually for dementia patients or very weak or frail people, but when they evaluated mom, she’s going to start on level 3. She literally cannot do anything for herself. The director called me yesterday to ask if I had any questions, and mentioned that mom seems to have a lot of anxiety and might be a little “challenging”. I’m going to talk to Mom on the way there and plead with her to be nice, not to make all sorts of sounds like she’s in mortal distress, i.e. not be a drama queen, and to try to make the best of it. Mom is so demanding and difficult, and everything has to be done one certain way (her way), she is right, everyone else is wrong, and for now, she’s just going to have to make do and be a little less rigid if possible.

    The director told me Mom told her that she has wanted to sell the house, wants to get out of there, etc. and I told the director that yes, that’s what she says, but not once – EVER – has she even told me where she might want to live, so we can get info, go on a tour, NOTHING. So she can tell everyone “I want to move” but she can’t even start to decide where, or when or anything. Now the decision has been made for her. In my gut, I’m fairly sure she will never come home to the level of independence she had 24 days ago.

    At least she’s starting to own up to what got her to this place: juggling health issues, putting things off, and making all sorts of life adjustments. The other evening she said “I’ll be glad to get out of this place, I can’t sleep here”. I said Mom, you haven’t slept well in 20 years, so just for once, be honest, and don’t blame it on this facility. I got a weak “I know”. I said, I know you know, had you had a job or any responsibility outside the house, you wouldn’t have been able to let this stuff go. No working person could deal with getting up 4-6x or more a night to pee, no sleep, a huge hole in your eardrum and balance issues, bowel issues, and to top it all off, well, maybe they could do the restrictive diet to avoid gall bladder surgery, but the rest of it would have ended badly for most people years ago. Now you’re 83 1/2 and unable to have surgeries to fix any of this, so here we are. I’m not her most favorite person, but I’m done listening to her whine and she really needs to take some responsibility here.

    I got up early to start laundry and get my thoughts together. So far, so good, starting a grocery list. Will have to do that later after she’s at the facility, I guess. I still have some time this AM to go, so maybe I should just bite the bullet and do it.

    The icing on my cake is the riding mower deck – the belt broke when I was mowing last night, so about 1/3 or so of the lawn is mowed. Grass is long, of course, because I didn’t adult well this week. Fortunately, small town, so there’s the “mower guy” who fixes things, so I’m going to stop in his shop today and see when he can put the belt on for me. I can do it, but it will take me 3x longer than it will him, and I don’t have that kind of time. Plus, I’m hoping he can sharpen the blades and change the oil as well. He’s not far away, so I’ll just drive the mower to his house.

    Anyway, wish me luck. All I can do at this point is sigh and plod forward.

    1. MatKnifeNinja*


      If the place is good, the place has seen it all before. My mom was a quadriplegic, and used to say how she couldn’t wait to go home to her own bed.

      She was a 4 person dead lift to move in bed. A Hoyer lift together out of bed. My mom wasn’t going anywhere. She never had dementia, but people hang onto hope.

      Sounds like your mom is a -I need to be in control-, and suddenly nothing is in her control. Her health, living situation…people regress to the coping skills they had as a 3 to 6 year old. She whines because that’s the only game she has left.

      You know your mom mostly like isn’t going home. My mom wasn’t going anywhere. I learned how to half listen during those rants.

      Rant rant rant when I get home rant rant rant.

      I know mom, I hear you. I said I hear you instead of agreeing. Sounding like agreeing sends you down a lose lose lose rat hole of discussion.

      I hope your mom settles down in a couple of months. My mom never did. She had some mental health issues which fueled the crap-tastic behaviors.

      Your mom is lucky to have you, especially since she doesn’t make it easy.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      You adulted at record levels this week, Rebecca. You made huge progress with your mom, that was much more important than any routine chore that won’t literally bring the house down, and even really long, jungle-like grass is easily fixed once you have the time.

      And I’ll bet you are still her favorite person even if she doesn’t like what you’re saying. I would say if she wanted someone to agree with her she would have hired home health aides and other people she can control, but we both know she would never be able to keep even the most agreeable of assistants.

      Speaking of which, just remember that the staff at the assisted living facility have probably seen plenty like her and worse. Sure, she should treat them well not only to get better service, but because it’s the right thing to do, but they certainly understand how difficult it is for some people to deal with a loss of autonomy, and some people are just jerks. It sounds like your mom is anxious and controlling more than just a jerk, and I think they’ll see that, and maybe she’ll work it out once she’s been there long enough to start to adjust.

      1. Rebecca*

        I was smiled upon today, though, Tractor Supply had 1 belt left in stock that would fit the mower, I snagged it, mower repair guy in town is going to put it on…all is good! And no ordinance against tall grass, so no worries there. It will get done when it gets done. Now I just need to cram some food in my mouth and get up to the rehab to spring her!

    3. Llellayena*

      Oh my. If you can arrange it I would recommend not using your car to transport your mom (does either facility offer transport options?). From family experience, no matter how often you’ve told her she’s going from rehab to assisted, as soon as she gets in your car in her mind she’s going home and she’ll be upset to end up elsewhere. I do hope the transition goes smoothly. Good luck!

    4. Anon phd*

      Sending you lots of virtual hugs and positive vibes this weekend, you’ll get through it.

    5. Jean (just Jean)*

      Oy vey…. sending you good vibes. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      Reserve some time each evening to decompress, regain your composure, and wind down before going to bed. In times like these you need all the good, restorative sleep that you can get.

    6. Lizabeth*

      Loads of luck!! And Mom’s attitude may change if she starts getting enough sleep in the assisted living place. And take care of yourself first, someone else will make sure Mom’s safe, fed and taken care of, be a daughter not the caretaker.

    7. Mimmy*

      Rebecca – I’ve been following your posts about your mom in the last few weeks. I wish you and her all the best for a smooth transition to the assisted living facility. It is going to take a lot of adjustment on her part but as others have said, the staff have seen and heard it all. This is what they are trained to address.

      Sending up positive vibes!

    8. OhBehave*

      Please understand that they have heard all of this before. Keep communicating with the staff. Thank them for the difficult work they do. It often takes a month for new residents to get used to their new reality.

      The elderly have a real fear of nursing homes. They know it’s their last home (not always) and that they will never get visitors. It makes me mad to hear people make their children/spouse promise to not put them ‘away’.

      You need to continue to hold her accountable for her comments. Sigh away. It’s a new normal for all of you. Give yourself some grace as well as mom.

      Let the facility transport her to the doc with you there to meet her.

      Visit her all the time so her fears can be tempered. It doesn’t have to be hours. Don’t let her stay cooped up in her room. Get her to the dining room for meals when able. Even wheeling her around outside will help.

      This is a difficult season and you are being a terrific daughter. Don’t forget to take care of yourself too, whatever that may mean to you,

    9. Wishing You Well*

      Wow, Rebecca! You got a lot done this week! It’s a big transition, but a positive one.
      The facility might put your mom on anti-anxiety meds. My grandmother was promptly put on them when she was moved into a nursing home but the meds didn’t make her any easier to cope with. My grandmother also wanted to go home and never quit talking about it. You might be hearing the same from your mom for a long time.
      I hope she gets treatment for the bladder issues. Disrupted sleep is very bad for body and brain. The assisted living place should be able to address your mom’s diet, too. She will have much better care in the facility, even if she doesn’t think so.
      Best of Luck! You’re moving in the right direction!

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes keeping them safe makes us their least favorite person. How often do we do this in life? Way too often. Our SOs, our kids, our pets and sometimes our good friends or family members get to hear the advice they hate hearing but it is the best advice.

      I am so glad to see others are looking at this situation with you. It’s been way out of hand for too long. Her judgement is not reliable and as with the rest of us, when judgement is no longer reliable our ability to move about is curtailed. And we end up protecting this shell of a person who used to be this or that, or could have been this or that. It’s a loss but there is no funeral involved. It is possible to grief a person’s illness and it is possible to grieve that harder than we do at some funerals.

    11. Rebecca*

      Quick update, waiting for pizza to come out of the oven, I’m exhausted and starving.

      I told Mom that she needs to give it time, it should be for the next 4-6 weeks, she’s signed up for a short term stay (for now, that I didn’t add), but so far she is complaining about everything. And I mean everything. Supper there is a light meal, more substantial lunch, and snacks are allowed, but she is not happy about egg salad sandwiches, sauteed asparagus, and cantaloupe. Too much fat, not enough vegetables, blah blah blah. And the sink is too high, and this is too that, and OMG just STOP. I told her Mom, if you can’t adjust, or won’t adjust, then you need to tell me where you want to go and I’ll take you there. I called her out on the “I hope I can sleep here” bullshit, as she can’t sleep ANYWHERE. Because she pees literally every 2 hours at best. She can’t sleep in that bed. What about the light coming in the window. I can’t read without 2 hands because I have to hold my glasses up off my nose with one hand (BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T GET THE BIFOCALS ADJUSTED CORRECTLY!!) and hold the book with the other. I don’t want visitors. I don’t want people to see me here. My head itches, I hate this wig, and you threw away all my catalogs.

      I’m going to take a few more things down to her tonight. But then I’m coming back to the house, and happily cell service is spotty in there, so if she wants to call me, someone will need to wheel her to the common area where the booster is. I’m going to chill out for a while, honestly, I feel like I need Ativan. She has a script and won’t take it, I probably should get one for just when I deal with her.

      And don’t get me started on the stupid medications list. By law, they have to have original unexpired bottles for everything, right down to Tylenol, so of course, a few of Mom’s things are expired, or she doesn’t take them but for some reason they are STILL on that med list from the doctor’s office, so it’s off to the store tomorrow to buy things she doesn’t even take, in case the state audits and doesn’t find Miralax, for instance. And we have some, but it’s out of date, and the facility can’t accept it. Oh, and thanks, ineffective and non responsive previous PCP. She told you over and over to take things off, and you didn’t.

      I’ve been on the run all day long, and I’m tired. I still need to get the mower down to the shop. My cousin’s husband mowed the rest of the yard, I am so grateful for that.

      I am going to sit down and collect myself. There are people there older than her, one person is paralyzed on one side, and many have other health issues, and honestly, she’s just gonna have to deal.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        sending you a giant hug. You did great. And, it’s got to be water off a duck’s back. The problem with being the responsible (adult) child is – that you feel responsible. You can’t fix the situation she put herself in. No one can. You can’t even – shouldn’t – take any of it to heart. She made this bed, she has to lay in it (not sure about the grammar there, but… you get it).

        It’s a good point above, about grieving. You are grieving not only the change in your mother, but still, to a certain extent, your father’s death. The end of your marriage. You have been so very strong. Hang in there. You embody resilience, but you have to take care of YOU first. You sleep, rest, take care of your health, your life, your space. Hang onto your job, your friends, your hiking. Just because she is only 7 minutes away does not mean you need to run at her beck and call (good news about the spotty cell service).

        Just know – breathe. You’ve got this … but cut yourself slack first. This has been a roller coaster. Stand on the exit platform and take a deep breath, okay?


      2. Anono-me*

        You are being a very very good human being.
        Your mother is lucky to have you.

        Please remember to be as good to yourself, as you are to others.

      3. WoodswomanWrites*

        I’m relieved to hear that your mother is getting the care that she needs, and that it’s coming from trained professionals, not you. I hope you can see that although it’s bumpy for now, the care your mother is getting is opening up space for you to care for yourself.

        You’ve been the target of so much unfair emotional negativity and demands for physical care, and I am amazed at your strength through all that. The thing now is that although managing all the change is understandably exhausting, you’re in a position to come home to a peaceful place.

        Your mother will continue to complain and be miserable. Can you find a way to not take that on anymore now that you don’t have to live with that dynamic 24-7? Let her caregivers deal with her attitude. They’re professionally trained for it. While she can share everything that she doesn’t like when she sees you, I hope you can release all that vitriol the minute you head home. Take your walks, visit with your friends, and see if you can clear her words from your mind when you’re not physically there.

        Your mother is enormously lucky to have such an amazing daughter. Now it’s time to care for you.


      4. Quandong*

        I really hope that you can get some refreshing sleep over the next week, even though you still have to sort out the medications for the facility.

        You’ve been working so hard to care for your mother! Now she’s at a place where you know she’s getting the care she needs, I hope you can start to put down some of the heavy burden you’ve been carrying and focus on your own wellbeing.

        Sending internet hugs your way if you’d like them.

    12. ..Kat..*

      I was worried that Mom would convince the inpatient rehab place that she was okay to go home because you could take care of everything. So, I actually consider this post good news.

      Don’t worry too much about your mom’s attitude. From what you said last week, she behaves much better for the staff (of course she does, she saves up the crap to dump on you! ). Also, there are always some staff who can bring out the best in people like your mom.

      Best wishes for a better week next week.

    13. chi chan*

      Lots of luck. Change is very hard and you have worked so hard. I hope your mom settles down soon.

    14. Tea and Sympathy*

      My mother’s doctor, who has a lot of geriatric patients, told us that in his experience it takes people about 3 months to settle down and adjust to and accept living in an assisted living facility.

    15. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Rebecca…all the sympathy, hugs, wine, chocolate, whatever you need. Can you give your mom a pad of paper and a pen and have her write down all of her complaints (rather than telling you)? Can you ask her for ideas on how to fix dinner of the things she doesn’t like (can’t fix the too-high sink, can get an eye mask if the light is too bright)? Is there anything she can have choices for (like laying out 2 to outfits for your three year old and saying “pick one”)? If you are visiting, can you allow her x number of complaints and then leave when she hits her limit? Can you read a book to her instead of having conversation? Just throwing stuff out there, maybe none of it is viable. Anyway, continue to take care of yourself, please!! Ooh, one more idea… What if you agree with everything she says? Ride the wave and see where it gets you.

    16. Observer*

      I suspect that the facility people called you not because they can’t handle Mom, but because they want YOU know that if she complains, it might not be all that reasonable.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        i’m with you on this one. You may want to reassure them that you “know” your mom is a complainer, you are grateful for them, and that if you see anything to be alarmed about, you will talk to them about it directly and not assume…. without proof to the contrary, you will assume that there is the same level of truth in her level of complaints there as it was when she was in her own care (IE, nothing real).
        And it took grandmom a year before she quit asking to come home. Her mind was sound but her body had betrayed her. It was not physically possible. So give yourself runway.

    17. Jaid*

      Hugs both to you and your Mom.

      My Mom’s fragility and early onset dementia is showing. I feel bad for my Dad, because she will ask things over and over again and I’m not sure if it’s because she couldn’t hear the answer or if she didn’t “hear” the answer.

    18. Bluebell*

      Wishing you luck and patience. It does sound like the staff there is good. Hopefully it will be a good thing for your mom. My sister and I are visiting my mother this weekend, and we are not sure what we’ll do when she takes a turn for the worse. She’s 84 and is very independent, except for needing our financial support.

  29. MatKnifeNinja*

    That kitteh judges all our human fail.

    Love it. It’s screaming to be a meme.

    1. Victoria, Please*

      I don’t always… But when I do… the coolest cat in the world says. :-)

  30. Anon phd*

    Folks thanks again for your superhelpful input last week re: girls’ weekend away with incompatible friend and parent drama. I gracefully canceled plans with her and felt amazing and relieved!!! I gave my folks a stern and assertive talking to and we are mostly ok now..sheesh.

    A question now of a different nature – has anyone sold jewelry before and how did you do it? I have a few gold items from my ex-husband that I’d like to cash in on, but I don’t know how to go about it. Not a fan of Kijiji for things like jewelry because in my mind it can get dodgy, esp. because it’s jewelry. I had the items appraised formally a few years ago, but then never got around to selling them. I am in Canada, don’t know how this differs around the world. Any tips would be appreciated.

    1. Marion Q*

      Can you find jewelry stores and see if they will buy it? I’m not talking about Tiffany’s or stores like that, I’m thinking small stores that sell gold and silver brand-less jewelry, if that’s a thing in Canada.

      Also, you should definitely check the current gold price. My family buys gold items when the price goes down, and sell when price goes up. If you don’t really need the cash, I suggest waiting until price is high enough.

      1. Asenath*

        There are places in Canada that buy and sell jewelry – in my small city, there’s at least one second-hand store that does, another business that advertises that they buy gold, and another gold-buyer who comes into town periodically, plus the usual range of jewelry stores, some of which might buy jewelry. There’s also a business that specializes in coins and collectibles – I sold some coins there some years back, and am satisfied with their service – and I think they also buy old jewelry for the gold. A bigger city would have more options; for a smaller one, look for a least a visiting company in the nearest regional centre. Check online listings for these types of business, get estimates from a couple, and check the reputation of the business you decide to deal with.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Pawn store will give you about 50% of value.

      Could also consider EBay.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      A consignment shop in the U.S. wanted a 35% commission to sell a fancy ring for me. eBay might be the way to go.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I went to two places that bought gold jewelry. They each weighed it. The second place offered me $5 less than the first place. I did not waste the gas driving 25 miles back to the first place.

      The one thing to know is that the weight value of the gold is a very different price from the craftsmanship value of the gold. The art/creativity that goes into a piece really increases the cost of the piece. So those $200 earrings weigh a very small fraction of an ounce. I just did a fast google and I see gold is at 1421 USD an ounce.

      I had two class rings, a wedding band and some broken pieces. Gold was at $900 per ounce then. I came away with about $500. I was happy. I felt I had gotten what I had paid for them decades ago when gold was $32 per ounce. Yes, all that and I had just over a half ounce.

      I started my process by asking people whose opinions I valued/trusted where they would go to sell their old jewelry. I got one name. The second place is well-known and has been around for a long time. I did not want to make this a huge project so I went to just those two places.

      The hidden surprise is that it was such a relief just to get rid of that stuff.

    5. Anon phd*

      Thanks everyone for the super helpful tips. Looks like I have a few solid options in how to move forward, though I’ll likely try the jewelry stores that buy gold first. Not So New Reader – you’re right, a friend also told me that gold is at an all time high (which I had no clue was happening), so my timing seems to be good in wanting to go ahead with this now. Thanks again!

  31. HannahS*

    Really specific book rec request! Has anyone read a good book (non-fiction preferred but fiction accepted haha) about:
    a) The Silk Road. I know very little, would like to learn.
    b) Textile production/trade in general, in any location or era.

    1. Femme d'Afrique*

      I read an interesting (to me!) book called “Indigo: In Search of the Color That Seduced the World,” by Catherine McKinley. Part memoir, part travelogue and part history of indigo, I found it quite fascinating.

      1. Reba*

        Great book! Interesting question!

        Other related recommendations — not strictly silk road, but similar
        Travel memoirs with history: In Xanadu by William Dalrymple; From Heaven Lake by Vikram Seth; In an Antique Land by Amitav Ghosh

        Ghosh’s novel The Circle of Reason is about a Weaver
        Orhan’s Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian is about cloth dyeing and mystery in Turkey

        Vermeer’s Hat by Timothy Brook — 17th century china through the lens of trade objects in Dutch golden age paintings
        Life Along the Silk Road by Susan Whitfield — there are a number of history books on the Silk Road, this is the one I’ve read, plus her other volume focused on material culture! A good-looking alternative could be The Silk Road by Valerie Hansen. This short article (https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/legacy-silk-road ) gives a sense of that book’s themes.

        Online resource
        Smithsonian Folklife Festival program on the Silk Road — several countries represented, might give you some ideas

      2. HannahS*

        Thank you! If you enjoyed the history of indigo, you may also enjoy “The Rarest Blue,” which is the history of the dye “tekhelet,” which is mentioned a number of times in the Torah, but the knowledge of what it was got lost (and found, and lost, and then found, etc.) It’s really good.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      The Silk Road: A New History of the World.

      I got it for my brother for Christmas and he says it’s great.

      1. HannahS*

        Thanks! It looks a bit intimidating, but if it’s good I can eat the proverbial elephant in small bites.

    3. Nicki Name*

      Excellent one I read recently: Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World.

      I’ve also read a great book about Marco Polo recently… will post the title if I can remember it.

    4. Foila*

      A really cool book about prehistoric textile production is Women’s Work by Elisabeth Wayland Barber.

    5. Lost in the Woods*

      Life Along the Silk Road by Susan Whitfield is a fascinating combination of exhaustive historical research (Whitfield is a historian) and fiction which brings to life the lived realities of different groups of people along the silk road. It’s organized through a series of “tales,” (the artist’s tale, the nun’s tale) and is heavily referenced, so it’s easy to use it to find more specific information.

      The Silk Road, A New History by Valerie Hansen is a more traditional introduction to the topic, and it’s also excellent.

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I can not remember the name of the book, but I read about the history of cochineal dye. I found it very interesting. Looks like there’s several options to choose from.

      You could also look into Tyrian purple – that’s the ancient red/purple dye from snails.

  32. strawberry*

    Trigger warning I guess about medical stuff and YES I AM SEEING A THERAPIST. Needed a place to organize my thoughts and talk out loud.

    – – –

    It’s been a rough week. My mom has health issues that started a while ago. First it was her uterus prolapsing. I called her pcp and told her. She said bring her in. I asked her if she will do an ultrasound she said yes. My husband took her to the dr and she got a referral for an Obgyn.

    I take the day off to take her to Obgyn. Ultrasound & exam and they find out it’s the bladder, not uterus. Got Referred to another specialist. 2 weeks later, Went to specialist. It Went ok. Focused more on overactive bladder. Tests were run, Medicine prescribed. Scheduled a follow up for a fitting.

    The next day she complained about swollen feet and pain in her feet. Which led to how were not taking care of her well, that I am too mean and rough and she did such a bad job of raising me and that all her health problems are my fault.

    Next day, my husband takes her to urgent care. Got a full work up. All #s good. Dr said it’s also heat but my mom won’t turn on her AC. She says it’s cz she gets too cold.

    When I come home from work that day, he is steaming mad about the things she says and does. I am upset. I know shes difficult to be with and he’s reached BEC mode w/ her. I blame myself. He took on the responsibility of taking her to her appts or groceries so that my job wouldn’t suffer. I know he did this out of love for me but it’s time to stop it. I told him I will handle the groceries and dr appointments going forward. Take time off from work if I need to Yet he still insists on doing it but then yells to me at how bad she is. I want to say “I want u to stop bc you complain so much.”

    I don’t think I am a horrible person but maybe I am. Each day I come home from work and get this sick pit in my stomach. 1. That she has problems again and 2. That he’s going to complain to me about her. Or if not then he’s in a bad mood and won’t talk to me or just withdraw altogether.

    Maybe I will never be a mother. Bc I don’t have that caring, compassionate side to me. I never wanted to take care of an old or sick person, esp my mother. If we talk about karma, well I never want to be dependent on anyone. I have had to fight so hard in my life just to have a small amount of independence.

    Honestly sometimes I wish I could just walk and fade away like they do on some TV shows. I am not suicidal and I won’t run away but I feel like just *poof*.

    1. fposte*

      I’m glad you’ve started going to therapy. Have you considered couples therapy with your husband? As you can see from many threads here, managing older relatives is a tough, tough chore; it might be helpful to have a third party assist in working out the patterns between you as you manage the load. It’s easy for your relationship to become a casualty of that kind of stress.

      BTW, “I did such a bad job raising you” can be kind of a gift–you can go for “Fortunately, I still turned out awesome!”

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Your mother is verbally and emotionally abusive, full stop. I hope hearing that makes you realize there’s nothing wrong with you, and wanting out of this situation with her is not just normal, but a healthy response to abuse.

      My belief is that you can help her if YOU feel it’s the right thing to do, but you (and your husband) are not under any obligation to voluntarily expose yourselves to her abuse day in and day out. If she has nowhere to go, contact an Area Agency on Aging, and try to get her a caseworker, because it sounds like this situation can’t go on much longer. You wouldn’t be any use to her or anyone else if you get burned out.

      You might find some emotional and practical support in the Raised By Narcissists subreddit, whether she meets the criteria or not. (I don’t want this comment to go into moderation, so just google the title.)

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Wow, I’m sorry you’re going through this.
      My take on this is your marriage comes first. There has to be a better way to work through this. Tell your husband “I want you to stop because you complain too much.” He is not helping you much if any when you get blow-back for his help.
      I hope your therapist will help you find ways to work this out. Jedi hugs!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Your mom is another mom that needs more help than you, as one person, can give her. Were you the one looking at moving her to your brother’s? It’s time, before you lose your mind, your husband and your house. We cannot help people who do not want help.

      No there is nothing wrong with you not feeling care or compassion for a mean, ungrateful person. You are actually pretty normal.

      I think you indicated you really love your hubby so that should be your top priority. And that does not mean pull the workload on to yourself. That means find a new plan.

    5. It’s All Good*

      No. I’m a caregiver for my parents and I parents myself. One does not have to do with the other. Parenting your parents is HARD and intense and wrecks the best marriages.

      1. MOAS*

        That’s comforting to know, I guess that’s more internalized negative self talk “You can’t take care of me, how can you take care of a child” (even though that’s never actually been said).

    6. ..Kat..*

      Posting to recommend outsourcing anything you can.

      For example, can you get her to order groceries online? Then you or hubby can pick them up without her. Or better yet, have them delivered.

      What about outsourcing some medical appointment rides (or does someone need to be at the appointment with her to make sure concerns are addressed and to hear what the medical staff say?). I know in my city, there are volunteer agencies that take people to and from medical appointments. Don’t worry, they have to pass a criminal background check. Is there a relative who can take her to some of her appointments?

      Good luck.

    7. WS*

      Your husband is also being abused and put under stress, and he does need someone to vent to who isn’t you. Is he in therapy too? Does he have anyone else to help him discharge the negatives?

    8. chi chan*

      I am sorry things are so hard for you. Is there anyway you can take a holiday? Even a weekend? Might help you center yourself. I think people underestimate how hard it is living with someone who pushes all your buttons. Our homes are supposed to be our sanctuary.

    9. MOAS*

      Thank you everyone for the suggestions.
      Things were better this weekend. I took my mom out yesterday and we went to 2(!) places and no fighting. Husbnad is in a far better mood now.

  33. PhyllisB*

    This is going to be my last post on this topic. I got a call from my sister-in-law at 6:00 A.M. She saw my son staggering down the road. She stopped to check on him and he told her he was drunk and had had a wreck. By the time I got there, the sheriff was there and told me he was going to jail. (No kidding!!) We are just waiting for the call from the jail. Sheriff said he would be ready to go in twenty minutes. That was two hours ago. I’m glad he wasn’t injured or killed, (or someone else injured or killed.) But I am so angry. Not just at this incident, but the fact that my husband told me that Son had been drinking earlier in the week (and trying to cut the grass. Didn’t go well.) Son begged him not to tell me, so he didn’t until now. He’s blustering about not bringing his drunk ass home, but I know he will cave, and try to make me go take of it. I think I have found my hill.

    1. Stitch*

      Getting arrested may be a wakeup call. I have a cousin who struggled with addiction but and accident and subsequent court ordered rehab helped him get turned around.

      I know this is a pollyanna-ish but I hope maybe this will be a catalyst for him to take getting better seriously.

      1. PhyllisB*

        It won’t. This is the third time this has happened, but the first time in 8 years.

      2. Pennalynn Lott*

        I hope it is a wakeup call. But, for my brother, the first (and second and third and fourth and fifth) DWI arrests weren’t enough. He is now in prison for not doing any of his required probation activities from that fifth DWI.

        No one was ever hurt in his car accidents except himself, thank goodness. But I am truly stunned that it has taken so long to get him locked up. And, even at that, he’s only in prison for six months. He’ll be released in early October. And then the cycle will start again. My brother is 53 but looks like he’s 73; has no money; no place to live; and just a pair of large storage tubs that contain his only possessions. The tubs are stored in my mom’s bedroom (Mom lives with me). My mom has propped him up his whole life, which did him no favors. It just enabled him to continue drinking and drugging his life away, despite several mom-funded stints in rehab centers.

        Addiction is a b*tch. I can’t imagine the pain of being a parent and watching my child make horrible decision after horrible decision. And not knowing if stepping up and “rescuing” them is the right thing to do or not. I’ve seen it played both ways. Some people respond well to being rescued and it saves their life; others, like my brother, just use the support to continue in their addiction.

        1. Dan*

          My unsubstantiated theory on when to protect people from the consequences of their actions, and when not to: Usually, the younger they are, the less costly the “lesson”. As in, many cases, juvenile misbehavior tends to get dealt with a bit more lightly in the criminal justice system when people are under the age of 18, and over the age of 18, things can stick with you for the rest of your life. So if someone under the age of 18 needs to “learn a lesson” that involves the cops, it may be the right thing to do to let them. But if someone over the age of 18 needs that lesson, the cop thing and criminal record have much longer lasting consequences. I’d probably let a juvenile face the consequences, but might think harder about stepping in if an 18 or 19 year old is doing something stupid.

    2. fposte*

      Ah, Phyllis. The things we cannot save people from, no matter how much we love them.

      You don’t need to make your next-step decisions right now. But I think you’re right to predict that your husband will allow your son back home, and at some point you might want to think about how exactly you’re going to defend this hill. I suspect that merely saying “No” isn’t going to be enough.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yup. Get your arguments in place and some “no, if you want that done you need to do it yourself,” lines you can repeat to him without having to go down the “you always do this” route.

      2. tangerineRose*

        Has your husband been to Al-Anon? Seems like that might help to get him to understand that he’s not really helping his son.

    3. Not A Manager*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. It’s okay to keep posting about this stuff if you want to.

      If this is your hill, what are your thoughts about it? Do you have anyone to help you plan or to give you information?

    4. Not So NewReader*

      My friend’s son just got out after doing 8 years.
      It hurt my friend a lot. “Why did he allow us to become separated???”
      Yeah. Really. Why is that.

      So far so good with the homecoming. Sometimes we have to let people go through their own learning curve. The same can be said of husbands.
      Stand on your hill. Some people need to see others taking a stand before they will take a stand. Let hubby walk down his path and see how that goes for him, without you propping up hubby also. Enough is enough.

    5. NoLongerYoung*

      Supporting you on this hill.

      Addiction – in any form – is horrible. That doesn’t mean you have to enable it. You have done more than enough. I would be angry (now, but I was a pushover in my marriage and look where “that” got me!)…. that your husband hid the fact that son was drinking earlier in the week. You have two problems. Do make your stand, but stay firm. This will be tough, but you must be fair. Your hubby keeps doing the same thing, over and over and guess what? The same result (only worse) each time.

      Sending you a hug, if it means anything, from this corner of the internet.

    6. ..Kat..*

      Can you leave him in jail for a while? Or just not pick him up? Maybe block his calls on all the phones/devices your husband uses – so husband can’t cave? (Hmm, you would probably have to block all phone numbers from the jail. Might not be practical.

      I’m sorry you are dealing with this.

    7. Observer*

      Please get yourself into therapy – for yourself for sure, and with your husband if he agrees. You have a few different problems here, not just the fact that your son is an addict.

      A good therapist will help you figure out how to defend your hill. I think you’re going to need help with that, because it sounds like your husband has a habit of just steamrollering over you.

      Lots of luck with this!

    8. PhyllisB*

      Okay, here is the follow-up (such as it is.) After not hearing for four hours I just assumed he called his girlfriend to get him because he figured we didn’t want him home so I put it out of my mind and went about my day. Well, I was already going about my day, but I did have it in the back of my mind. We were having a birthday dinner for my oldest granddaughter and I wasn’t going to let anything ruin it. Well, about two in the afternoon I got a phone call from one county over, and had a feeling that would be him. (This is where all his trouble started years ago) sure enough, when they ran his record, they found an outstanding bench warrant from 2013 stemming from non-compliance with drug court. The problem is, they served that warrant, he went to jail, and the judge allowed his release when I brought proof that he was going into a rehab facility, He went on and completed terms and got a letter from the court showing he had completed all requirements, and all charges expunged. So, I went ahead and got him, and the lady at the jail admitted that he shouldn’t be there, so they released him. However, being the weekend and it being afternoon there was no way to access his belongings so he will have to come back Monday to get them. She also told me we need to go to the drug court office to get this cleared up. Otherwise, if they run his record for anything again, this same thing will happen. I have to work out of town so I told Hubs that he will have to take him to get this taken care of Monday, I can’t. (He’s a teacher and off for the summer.) Also I suppose they need to go by the sheriff’s office to see what’s what and go check on his car. At least this won’t all be on me this time.

  34. Stitch*

    I have two close friends undergoing fertility issues right now and it just makes me so sad for them. One just lost a fallopian tube to an ectopic pregnancy. I try to keep in touch and make sure they are okay, and try to be conscious of how much I talk about kiddo. Other than that, I don’t know what the best thing to do to support them is. They are very different about it, and I try to let them take the lead in how much they want to discuss and whether they want to spend time with my son.

    Both of these couples would be such great parents. Come on, universe. Make it happen for them.

    1. Christmas*

      It sounds like everything you’re doing is wonderful! All you can do is be there and continue to follow their lead. Sometimes just inviting a friend out to grab a cup of coffee is truly huge. It’s also really considerate that you are thoughtful about talking about your own child. The worst thing when going through something difficult like that is when your friends feel too awkward to be around you or talk about their own daily lives, or just don’t know what to do, so they start to disappear. Kudos to you for staying present, involved, and supportive!

    2. Valancy Snaith*

      Just by keeping in touch and not talking nonstop about your own kid puts you head and shoulders above most people. Because most people are too uncomfortable with it, and will either forget or ignore you. Keep doing what you’re doing, and let them have the lead.

    3. Marzipan*

      I think letting them take the lead is a good plan. Checking in with them and letting them know you care about them will, I’m sure, always also be welcome. Acknowledging that it sucks is also often refreshing and helpful for people to hear.

      Your sound like a really lovely and supportive friend!

  35. Catsaber*

    Hi everyone, thanks for your comments on my post yesterday. Overall I am just feeling very anxious about money and the future. I’ve always been a pretty anxious person, and my parents, while growing up in a comfortable middle-class home, were always worried about money. And now I’m repeating the same thing. It just feels like it’s taking over my thoughts. I’m 35, have two small children in daycare, married, in the US. My husband and I both have good jobs with decent pay, so that we are able to afford a good daycare and still have some money left over (in fact, we have a lot more money with both of us working and doing the daycare as opposed to one parent staying home). We’re paying down our debts, and will be debt free in about 2 years. And yet I am still completely freaking out about retirement savings, day to day stuff, just everything.

    I think part of it is that sometimes we cut it kind of close at the end of the month with our spending…we always get our bills/necessities paid and don’t put on debt, but we’re not saving a whole lot in just emergency savings either. And this year has hit our emergency savings hard…we had to get a new AC, new water heater, have spent a lot on car repairs, etc. It just feels like one thing after another. To top it off, we really want to buy a new home, but I feel like with the current housing market, we’d have to have at least $20-30k in cash apart from equity just to even contemplate buying something, because houses get snatched up so fast. Then there’s the fact that we don’t have savings accounts set up yet for our girls (they’re 1 and 4), and time for that will run out so fast. Then there is retirement….it’s like everything I read says if you don’t already have X amount of money saved up by the time you’re 30, then you’re screwed. The projection for a comfortable income used to be saving $1m, now it’s $4m. We didn’t make a lot of good financial choices in our 20s, so we didn’t save much. Now we’re 35 and 39, and I feel like we’re totally screwed over for retirement unless we completely stop spending all extra money and just eat PBJ sandwiches all the time and don’t do anything fun. On top of this, my husband has all these ideas for spending money….he wants to fix up the backyard, buy a small cabin, get a new car, take a vacation, etc etc. Which we could do if shit would stop breaking around here and we could focus on saving again. He’s very patient with me when I tell him we have to save, but I can feel him losing patience. And then there’s just family and friends constantly asking when we’re going to move, if we’re saving for our girls, etc etc etc.

    I am just really overwhelmed. How does anyone afford any of this stuff we’re supposed to afford? I don’t just mean extras like vacations, but retirement and college savings? How do we do that and still have a little money to just enjoy life, like go to a movie every now and then? We budget, and I know where our money goes, and where we could save some more, we don’t live extravagantly, but I don’t want to completely restrict us and be obsessed about money all the time. I feel like I can’t drown out the voices that are saying, “You totally screwed up, and you’re never going to catch up.”

    I appreciate everyone taking the time to listen.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      First of all, I think you’re reading the wrong things/listening to the wrong people. Most people at your age, in your situation (kids, etc) who had to pay for a water heater, AC, and car repairs would be up to their eyeballs in debt, and one paycheck away from being homeless! Your emergency savings positioned you to handle that setback (and everyone has setbacks) without it being a disaster! And if someone says you’re “supposed to afford” something, they’re probably in debt, or don’t have an emergency fund. Many of my friends are as well off as I am or better, and we still know people who are struggling artists and underpaid teachers, and we try to do more affordable or free activities when we hang out with them, because they are not “supposed to” be able to afford anything, they’re doing what makes them happy!

      As I said above in the early retirement thread, there are people who retire with very little money and are very comfortable, because they don’t travel or need new cars or want to go out to eat every week. And $4M???? That is what you would “need” if you want to spend $160,000 a year in retirement! We’re planning on traveling a lot and eating out a lot in retirement, and that’s our stretch goal! People still retire on way less than $1M, and still have more money than they need.

      Plenty of kids have their college choices restricted by finances, and you know what? Even if they don’t qualify for need-based scholarships, after a year or two or three at a community college or a state school, they may get an academic scholarship to a school with a big name. And you know what? You probably work with community college and state school graduates, and no one cares. Even for your first job, no one really cares that much about your college, they’re often looking for someone who is smart, reliable, and a fast learner.

      1. Catsaber*

        Thank you! I thought the 4m thing for retirement was pretty weird, but I need to consider the source when people tell me these things. I’ve done many retirement calculators and get wildly different results each time. I didn’t realize that would 160k/year, which is double what we would be comfortable on for retirement.

    2. Project manager*

      So there is a lot here, and I am not a financial expert by any means, but my first thought is to STOP giving two shits about other people and where you are compared to them. You had a different path, and most likely a lot of people are exaggerating/had family help/etc.

      I would work on comparing yourself to where you were last year, like last year we saved blank for retirement this year we want to increase by whatever percent. I don’t know your income, but on our income we have enough for everting we need, and some of what we want, we don’t have enough for all the things we want. I think it would be helpful to consider what is most import, because you don’t have the funds for all of your priorities. My personal opinion is to prioritize retirement, then emergency fund, and I would personally then chose vacations (because I like vacations, your kids are little and won’t always be), then a new house, then kids college. Some will probably disagree, but figure out your order. I also don’t know how urgent a move is for you. If you aren’t in a great school district or don’t have enough bedrooms or something, you should maybe prioritize it differently, but the order is up to you.

      The way I manage our money, is I figure out how much I want to save each month, I pay our fixed expenses, and I don’t track anything else. I think having envelopes or categories or grocery budgets is stressful. I know budgets helps people, so it really does depend, but this method helps me feel not restricted and I think it’s obnoxious categorizing things.

      1. Catsaber*

        Thank you! We’d like to move within the next couple of years, because our house is quite small and we’re feeling cramped. I also just want to make the transition as stress-free as possible for our girls…with my oldest entering kindergarten in a year, I don’t really want to move her midway through elementary school, but that may be unavoidable.

        I definitely need to care less what people think. It’s driving me crazy for my relatives (mostly moms) to keep asking me when we’re going to move, where, which schools, etc etc etc. I have told them to knock it off multiple times but they keep pestering me.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Some more thoughts:

      If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it might help you feel more in control to set out a budget using Mint or YNAB or whatever tool works for you. That way you can know that you have $X in your budget for movies a month, and you’re trying to save $Y per month, but hey, life happens. You will sometimes miss your projections, and sometimes overshoot them, but if you have a method to work towards your target, it might help.

      Also, we did not start saving seriously until our late 30s either. That’s not unusual at all. We had a cable spool for a coffee table and a lot of curb-rescued furniture up until then. We were fortunate that, after around that point, our salaries started outpacing our expectations, but we kept living as if they didn’t for a few years. Eventually we started spending like we are middle class, even though we make a lot more than that, and compared to how we used to live it feels like a luxury. But we didn’t buy into needing a new car every 5 or 10 years or needing to renovate the house, or needing actual furniture instead of junk we found in the trash. :D

      We prioritized our savings first, and I think you will find that not going into debt for those repairs this year will give you a huge leg up on your peers, but no one likes to talk about that. It sounds like your friends only like to talk about what new, expensive toy they’ve bought, even if they are mortgaging their future to do so. Don’t believe the hype.

      1. Overeducated*

        Hahaha, I’m really struggling with the junk we found in the trash right now! I really am tired of an apartment furnished with trash, I feel like it doesn’t look like adults live here, so I’m stalking Craigslist and FB marketplace daily for very specific *better* trash (e.g. our couch was left behind by the previous occupants 3 apartments ago, I never really liked it, but I can’t justify spending $700 on the couch I want NEW). It’s hard to know what is irresponsible and what is ok sometimes….

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Oh, don’t let my emphasis on frugality make you think that we never coveted nice things, we certainly did. That’s pretty normal! But like food, with finances you have to find a balance between what is good for yo and what is enjoyable. And oftentimes you have to just quiet the part of your mind that craves something that wouldn’t be in your long-term best interest, so that’s what we did. I know I glossed over that part and made it sound easy, but I know it’s not, it’s just that we made it through that stage, so of course it feels easier looking back on it.

          Don’t think of it as “it doesn’t look like adults live here”, think of it as “we’re doing the adult thing and putting our financial future ahead of X”. And if you really can’t stand it, spend a few weekends going to garage sales or checking clearance and scratch-and-ding departments in your nearby furniture stores. I emphasized the really frugal part of keeping college furniture, but we did replace some things when we could, here and there, when we found really good bargains.

    4. Overeducated*

      I’m in a similar place, mid 30s with two day care bills and not tons of retirement savings in our 20s (except we don’t even own a house). I have these same worries. I feel like I’m failing because we can’t afford to max out retirement accounts, or even come anywhere near. And college savings? Umm….

      Honestly I just put on blinders, do what I can, and try to stay off parts of the internet written for/by people with wealthier circumstances or lower fixed costs. We don’t have a more lavish lifestyle than when we were grad students, despite our income being much higher, we just spend SO MUCH MORE on non-negotiables like rent and childcare in a high COL area. We keep our eyes out for better jobs and/or work in a LCOL area, but we aren’t going to be able to double our incomes again and neither of us is willing to give up our career, so these limits are real. I think budgeting and doing your best to save is important, but not everyone gets to live to retirement age or enjoy it much, so I don’t think a discretionary budget of $0 to maximize savings is reasonable either. Making memories is important too.

    5. fposte*

      I’m echoing other people’s thoughts–what you’re saying seems wildly unlikely to be true. A 4m projection across the board is BS. Projections for retirement aren’t across the board–it’s based on your particular expenses and your particular expected duration–and there’s no way you can know 30 years in advance that you’ve somehow failed.

      As I said upthread, learning more about money has been terrifically empowering. While financial forums can be a double edged sword, it can be really interesting to see how psychologically different people are with money, and how some people panic at overspending on coffee when they have eight figures, and some people figure it’ll all work out to go seven figures into debt. I can’t tell from your information where you are in there, but I think if you learn more about long-term financial planning and can create some projections, you’ll find that really helpful.

      You don’t mention saving for retirement at all–are you feeling squeezed before you even get to retirement savings, or are you saving heavily for retirement and leaving very little for now, or something in between? And how does the new house work financially–are you looking at more expensive places? The house choice you make is huge in financial terms, so if you’re already feeling anxious and straitened, I would really recommend not moving for several years unless it’s to someplace cheaper, not more expensive. I would absolutely *not* get a more expensive house if you’re not saving for retirement right now.

      There are a lot of people who write about money, retirement, and finance; I think for you Jane Bryant Quinn might be a good place to look. (I’ll always recommend William Bernstein’s free pamphlet “If You Can” for a first retirement look, too.) What you’re talking about is juggling, but it’s juggling you can learn how to do.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, and an important part of the juggling/planning is knowing what “enough” looks like on the way as well as when you get there. So you can know that you’re saving “enough” for your future to be able to spend money on a car or a vacation or a dinner out today. That’s the benefit of a projection–you can say “Okay, buying the car means we’ll have $x less at retirement, but that’s actually okay.”

      2. Catsaber*

        Thank you, this is very helpful! We are saving for retirement via payroll deductions – I have a pension and a 403b, and my husband has a 401k. But we are not putting back any additional after payroll deductions, and I think we are saving like 7-8%? It’s hard for me to tell. So when I do these retirement calculators, it’s hard for me to understand exactly what’s going into them so I get wildly different results.

        Also I have a really hard time sifting through financial advice because most of it seems to be created by old rich dudes who already had a bunch of money by age 18 and never made a financial misstep ever. I need to hear from people who had real debt and didn’t save every single cent in their 20s.

        Re: houses, our current house is quite small. Like more of a large apartment. We’ve got two small girls, and we could live in the house for several more years, but we just don’t really want to. It’s also old and falling apart. But we do have good equity in it. The other thing is that it’s over an hour commute for my husband, so we want to move closer to his work.

    6. Summer Rain*

      Oh, I so relate to you! I have recently been having severe financial stress about my family’s situation, while my husband seems ok with things. (I am about 15 years older than you, with two kids – one about to start college – and my DH’s career is kind of on the downswing. ie. he is underemployed these days. I work FT but am out on disability now.)

      I was freaking out so much I started seeing a therapist (not just for this, but it was a big part of why I wanted to talk to someone). After I had been seeing her for a few months (and obsessing about money to her endlessly) she asked if my husband would come in too for a session. (She’s not a financial therapist – if that’s even a thing – just a regular therapist). Anyway, it was very helpful to have her be a neutral party in hearing about our financial situation. I think it helped both my husband and I, not really in a financial way, but in an emotional way by providing understanding to the other about how we each are feeling about money. We were each able to see the other’s perspective and meet more in the middle. Our financial situation is still not what I wish it was, but I am calmer about it and we are on the same page about ways to make changes and our future plans.

      I’d also advise you to set up 529s now for your kids and start contributing to them with automatic transfers, even if it’s only $10 or $25 a month. That will get that worry off your head, and once you have them set up, it will be easy to add in any birthday or holiday money they might receive. Set yourself a deadline and then it will be done!

      Good luck to you – I hope you find a way to feel better about it.

      1. Catsaber*

        Thank you! The 529 sounds like a good idea. I’d love for them to have a little something, even if they choose not to do college.

    7. Clisby*

      One thing to remember is that those day-care costs are short term. If one of your kids is 4 years old, then in another year(?) that child will be in kindergarten. Use public kindergarten, and whatever that day-care fee is can be saved or put toward retirement/college expenses. I know, depending on work schedules, you still might have to pay for some sort of after-school care – but in my experience, that’s not nearly as expensive as full-time day-care. In 4 more years, you’ll be free of day-care expense and can save more.

      If I were you, I’d prioritize saving for retirement over saving for your kids’ education. My husband and I were fortunate enough to be able to do both, but not everyone can. My parents told me (and my 5 siblings): We hope to be able to send all of you to college, but we’re not obligated to do that. Our obligation is not to be a burden to you in the future. (They did send us all to college, with the proviso: You can go to any public in-state college or university you want, and can get into. If you want to go to a private school or an out-of-state school, it’s on you to earn the scholarship money to make up the difference.)

      I second the folks saying $4M for retirement is crazy. There are plenty of people, all around us, who are making it in retirement with Social Security and either a 410k or one of those old-fashioned pensions (plus, of course, Medicare).

      1. Catsaber*

        Thank you! Yeah the daycare is short term, and will be cut in half by next summer when the oldest goes to school. It’s just been really hard this year. After writing my first comment, I went to the grocery store and my truck overheated and is now in the shop AGAIN. So it’s just been one thing after another and I’m feeling beaten down.

        We are doing retirement savings currently via payroll deductions, but I don’t know if it’s enough. I keep trying to make an appointment with the financial advisor available through work and I can never get a response!

    8. Dan*

      How to lower stress levels:

      1. $4m is nuts for retirement savings. I do think $1m is a bit low depending on where you live, but $2m+social security and medicare will put you in a good spot.
      2. Forget a new house for now.
      3. Kids’ college should be last on the list. If you don’t have it, you don’t have it. Side note: Society isn’t doing anybody any favors by suggesting everybody needs to go to college. As college expenses continue to increase, people are going to have to take a long, hard look at what makes financial sense.

      1. YetAnotherUsername*

        Good point about college funds. I know so many people with useless degrees who moan about the fact that they got a low paying job after college. Your kids might be better off going a non-college route. There aren’t many jobless plumbers or electricians!

        1. NewNameTemporarily4This*

          Just wanted to mention the financially savvy (Financial Peace/ Dave Ramsey) kid in our family figured out how to graduate from community college with a very useful degree and no school loans. The world will need lots of his/her in the future. Self employed, but after taxes, brings home more per hour than me (and I’m a “highly compensated” individual for IRA purposes).

          One acquaintance who knew said child had been in the gifted child program, thought child would regret not getting a four year degree. Truth is, child can pick up the additional education half time/ evenings/weekends – if wanted. (Already spends a lot of time learning how to run their small business. ).

          Yes, said child had a 529 plan. That helped. But it was not built at the cost of the retirement funds. It did have 1/3 of child’s earnings, birthday, Christmas, etc for their years up to college, and contributions by family members. It’s part of what helped pay for the community college specialized training and expenses to get through community college.

        2. Clisby*

          I don’t know how common this is, but one public college in my area has an Evening Undergraduate program where students can do their first two years at the local community college, and the last two at the 4-year college (I think 8 degrees are included in this, including 3 engineering degrees and computer science.
          The idea is that the associate’s degree can help get you a day job while you go to school at night for the 4-year degree.) It cuts a bundle off the total price.

      2. Catsaber*

        Thank you! We are doing retirement savings via payroll deduction, but I worry it’s not enough. However right now it seems like even a little bit is okay and we can increase it as we get older and don’t have as many child-related expenses.

        I agree that college is last on the list. I would like to set up some kind of interest-savings account for them just to have a bit of money for whatever they want to do, but if they want to go to college, they’re going to need to mostly fund it themselves. I think they should do it how I did it: community college + a bit of 4-year for the degree. I came out with very little school debt, and I’m glad I didn’t overextend myself in that way.

    9. Public Health Nerd*

      The only thing I would add to the many good suggestions here is to read The Simple Dollar blog. Trent’s articles were very helpful for me, and he writes about managing finances with a family.

    10. YetAnotherUsername*

      Once the kids no longer need daycare things will get a lot easier. I would postpone savings/retirement till then.

      Both my kids will be in school this September and we will still need afternoon daycare but we will be saving €150 a week in the school term. It makes a big difference. Since we had the kids we have been steadily reducing our savings because we wanted to pay foe good quality childcare. I think of it as an investment in my kids. I’m looking forward to breaking even again!

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I was pretty worried about our financials when I was in my 30s also.

      Well I guess it was not wasted worry. When I was in my 40s he died. He had maybe 1.5 years of pay in his life insurance. (should be 8 years?). It was the largest policy he ever had. I was grateful.

      I am still in the house and it’s been just over a decade.

      Here’s the parts we got right:
      We bought a house that was below our means. I was able to refi on my own and cut the mortgage payment by 55%.
      We put any inheritances or other “found” monies to one side as if we never got them. At that time it was the only way we would ever have a meaningful savings.
      We bought modest cars.
      We made an agreement not to buy anything over $100 without telling the other one. (This so the other one did not spend their $100 that month also. The agreement went, that the other person could do it the next month.)
      Instead of figuring out who got how much tax return we put the refund on our oil bill for the season.
      We did a lot of repair rather than replace. I think we did too much of that, just my opinion.

      Even after all this (plus other stuff not mentioned here) I can never retire. His medical bills cleaned house.

      And that is when I decided I needed to learn about gratitude. You know, gratitude is a very powerful thing. For one thing it helps us focus on NOW rather than YEARS FROM NOW. You know the expression, “don’t lose today worrying about tomorrow”? This right here is why. Tomorrow is what it is.

      Checking my gratitude has been keeping me afloat for years. Some how I have managed to be in the right place at the right time and I just keep going along. I can’t explain it except to say that the future brings what it brings, and all we can do is vow to stay sharp. Vow to grab opportunities when you see them. If you are worrying about tomorrow you will miss a good opportunity today.
      The best of plans can fall apart in a heartbeat. The thing that is of highest value is looking around at all times and being aware when opportunities arise. Make this your life habit to maximize on the opportunities in front of you right now. This ability will carry you through many things.

    12. Paris- Berlin -Seoul Express*

      Take a deep breath and relax a little. First of all $4M is crazy, not sure where you got that from. Secondly, start reading Michelle Singletary’s column. She has some really down to earth advice and her weekly chats provide some emotional support tackling debt. My husband and I didn’t start putting money away for retirement until we were in our late 40s. Nothing to emulate, some of that was just plain stupidity, some of it circumstances beyond our control, but once we buckled down we managed to build up several hundred thousand in assets within an eight year time frame. So bottom line is that it’s never too late. Secondly, don’t buy into a bunch of hype about over the top education. Do what you can afford. Community Colleges are excellent starting points to cover the the general subjects and cost very little. Thirdly, really, really stop listening to friends and family and just focus on what it is that you and your husband want. And maybe also why you think you want it. Good luck. It’s all doable.

    13. Lynn Whitehat*

      Daycare is so expensive. It is just so expensive. I really think it is fine to just tread water while you have two in full-time daycare. That is what we did. We really moved ahead with savings once they started being able to attend public school.

    14. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      I highly recommend you read “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey. It provides simple steps and procedures to get your financial life under control. It’s simple (but not easy), and it works. His advice is based on biblical principles, but it doesn’t matter if you’re not a religious person; it’s still sound advice that anyone can use. He has a daily radio show, and there are Youtube videos that are informative and entertaining.

    15. Nickels, Dimes, and Quarters*

      It helps when spouses share a vision of their future. When I was married there was a lot of stress because he wanted to buy expensive recreational toys to use now and I wanted investments to secure our future. It shouldn’t matter what others want, but if the two of you can agree on where you want to be at a certain point in time, that’s key. The rest is marketing noise.


    16. Catsaber*

      Thank you everyone so much for your comments! They were really helpful. Here’s a few things I wanted to add:

      – So grateful you all agree that 4m for retirement is nuts. I got that number from my boss, but also I’ve done some financial calculators, and some of them said this was what I would need. However my projections/calculators have been all over the place. We are saving for retirement now. I have a pension, a 403b, and my husband has a 401k.

      – I agree that college is not a top priority, and neither of us will demand our girls attend college. Even though I work at a college, I don’t think college is a necessity for everyone. I would just like to have some savings for them to do what they want – whether it’s college, or traveling, or buying a car. But it’s further down on the list.

      – I generally struggle with not worrying about the future and living in the now. Even if all our money worries were gone, I’d probably find something to stress about.

      – I am also just exhausted from having two small children. I breastfed my daughter this year and we’re finally weaning off night nursing, which really took a toll on me. My husband has been wonderful, but he’s also exhausted from a super long commute. I need to remind myself it’s okay to just “tread water” right now and stop punishing myself for not being fiscally perfect.

      – A major reason for moving to a new house is my husband’s long commute, which is a little over an hour on a good day, and sometimes almost 3 hours with traffic on a bad day. It’s really been wearing on him, so we’d like to cut it down. But we also want our next move to be pretty “permanent,” as in, we don’t want to move again in 10 years. We want something bigger, but we agree that we also want a nice older home in a gorgeous old neighborhood (with trees!). We bought our first house with the idea that we didn’t want to overextend ourselves, and that’s always been our philosophy regarding purchases.

      – I need to do whatever I can to set better boundaries with our moms, who are our main stressors. They are also worriers. They want us to either home school or private school our girls (they are terrified of public schools), and they keep sending me house listings for these giant brand new homes (which we do not want). I have had many many conversations with them about how this is not helpful, and how it just makes us more anxious, but they continue. So new strategies needed there.

      – I wrote this post during a panic moment. Thank you all for your supportive and helpful comments. It has helped me calm down and get some perspective!

  36. Loves Libraries*

    Sad news. My brother and I called in hospice care for our 89 year old father this week. He had passed out at church on father’s Day and has rapidly declined. Hospice will focus on keeping him comfortable. He already seems less tense. Grateful we won’t have to return to the hospital.

    1. Daisychain*

      I’m so sorry, that is incredibly sad. From my experience, hospice is a blessing, they kept my dad comfortable at the end which gave me some feeling of comfort as well. I am sending you good wishes and a gentle hug (if you want one).

    2. Clisby*

      I’m so sorry to hear that. My mother died in hospice, and it really was such a peaceful end.