{ 575 comments… read them below }

  1. fhqwhgads*

    I own a house built in the 70s and in several rooms there are random hooks in the ceiling. I would think they’re for hanging plants, but they’re too close to the corner for that to make sense. Any idea why these are there?

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Interesting. Thanks. I’d thought about using them for that at one point but assumed that couldn’t have been the intended purpose since they’re at least 5 horizontal feet from any outlet.

      1. Anima*

        What *are* swag lamps?
        (Too afraid to Google because swag.)
        I do have a stray hook outside my flat at the ceiling of the staircase. I put a little fake plant there.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Nothing to be afraid to google. It just means they plug into an outlet and the cord “swags” as you hang it on the hook.

        2. Colette*

          Basically, a lamp on a chain that wouldn’t stand up on its own. You’d hang the chain from the hook and plug it into an outlet.

        3. Person from the Resume*

          Lamps hung on a chain from the ceiling. Takes up less space; doesn’t take up floor space or require a table. You can google; “swag lamps” brings up shopping and photos first. Nothing dirty. The cord is usually threaded through the chain.

          Why would “swag” not be safe for work?

          1. Unkempt Flatware*

            Perhaps thinking of Shwag which is ditch weed but somehow has replaced swag which means bonus gifts and mementos?

          2. Lirael*

            Not who you’re replying to, but could it be because swag can mean ill-gotten gains such as from burglary?

        4. londonedit*

          They were quite trendy again a few years ago with the whole industrial chic thing – you can get ceiling versions where the main middle bit is wired into the ceiling fixture like a normal light, and then you have lamps/bulbs on long cords that you can hang from ceiling hooks radiating out from the central piece. If that makes any sense at all!

        5. Maggie*

          I googled it and it’s literally all furniture…. I’m not aware of any meanings of the word swag that would produce anything crazy in the search bar

        6. RagingADHD*

          If you already know the alternate meanings of “swag”, why would you be scared to Google it? It’s not going put you on a watch list.

      2. Russian in Texas*

        Is that’s what they are called? I have one over the booth in my kitchen.
        I have couple more hooks in places too, and I thought they were for plants! But the location makes much for sense for a lamp.

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          My dad had one which started swinging all by itself the Sunday morning when Mt. St. Helens blew (he lived in The Dalles).

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        My mother insisted that her beautiful shell swag lamp would be the best thing for hanging over my baby niece’s crib back in the ’90s. (It had been banned from my brother’s living room by his wife.) The thin shells made a tinkling sound that put her to sleep, and every military family had one in the ’70s. They were very popular.
        Not every room had a ceiling light, either. Usually, a living room and the master were lit by decorative lamps.
        Really. There were sometimes swag hooks on the ceiling for a lamp or a ceiling fan- those were really dangerous when they fell.

    1. Helen Edwards*

      My family’s vacation home from the 1920s has a mysterious hook that is directly above the newel post at the bottom of the stairs, at the corner of the opening for the staircase. We don’t know what it was used for, though I don’t know if it has anything in common with the hooks in your house.

    2. Phryne*

      I have hooks in my ceiling in the corner that I only use in December for Christmas deco.

      1. saf*

        Us too. Also hooks on top of door frames to hold black lights for Halloween parties!

    3. gsa*

      Hanging lamps. We have newly purchased outdoor lights string, think Christmas lights, and I will be installing hooks so we can suspend them over our patio. Once they’re up, I’ll post in a non-work week-end thread.

    4. Willow Pillow*

      I have a slightly-older house with those hooks – I found a Talavera parrot (colourful Mexican ceramic) that hangs from one and it’s a nice pop of colour.

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        Those hooks above the newel post were for gas lamps back in the day. They hung there for safety as you went upstairs and down. The hooks weren’t there, but that’s one place that was piped for gaslight. After gas went away, they’d have an electric light on a swag. Bare bulbs were exotic and modern, and those retro Edison bulbs are what they looked like. Poor people had nothing, and middle-class on up had electric.
        Electricity was ritzy; old outlets were bright chrome to show off.
        My friend has a 1930’s house, and all the basement outlets are still chrome even though the wiring is updated.

    5. Ana Gram*

      I have them too and we have felt banners from them! There’s a pair over the tv that’s perfect for it. I have little pom pom banners for all year- lemons for summer, stars for 4th of July, penguins for winter. It’s really fun.

    6. Savannah*

      I’m a new F grad moving to a big metropolis alone. What’s one thing you wish you would have known just starting out? Especially if you didn’t have much to go around!

    7. no ducking on the dance floor*

      I’ve always lived in pre-1940 houses and ceiling hooks/holes are a fun way to study the house’s history. My current 102 yr old farmstead cabin was built before electricity was available in that area, so outlets are in odd spaces making hanging lamps a great hack.
      I like to ponder who sat under them and what they did tucked next to the giant wood/cookstove in the living room (conveniently ceiling-tiled with asbestos, like many old houses).

  2. Teach*

    Any AAM readers out there who are also Dungeons and Dragons players? I’m DMing for the first time, which is kind of like its own job lol. Well, first time for adults. I also co-sponsored a middle school D&D club this past school year. Very different game with a party of 12-year-olds, but frequently hilarious.

    1. Pool Lounger*

      My partner has been in the sane dnd game for about 7 years now, and we just started a second game with a mix of adults and middle school kids. It’s great playing with kids—they’re wildly funny and creative.

      1. Teach*

        Seven years is so impressive! And yeah, I feel like kids are more likely to really play their characters, and be less concerned with the optimal outcome for every little move.

    2. Al who is that Al*

      I DM for my sons and their friends from when they were 11 and we are still playing with them being 17 (with a COVID break). Fantastic opportunity to develop social skills and work as a party. Sadly it’s breaking up as they start to go to college\Uni.
      So as a new DM, don’t forget pre-done scenarios are your friend, saves so much work and a number are free online.

    3. Amber Rose*

      I haven’t been able to play in a few years, but I’ve been in a bunch of different TRPG systems since university because my social circle is entirely nerds. I started with Exalted, then D&D, skipped the weird wrestling/luchador thing and now everyone’s really into this weird battle high school game.

      I’ve never DM’d myself but I have a perfect score on messing with them, since my number one goal in every game is to accomplish my tasks in a way that interrupts game play while the DM tries to stop laughing. And I corrupt all the players around me. Mwahaha.

    4. Heckofabecca*

      Yes!!! I have been DMing for some friends for about a year, and we’re switching campaigns to a different one I’ve been working on.

    5. AOTiger*

      I DM my own game on Fridays, and play in several others during the week, thanks to Fantasy Grounds and Roll20. I didn’t start playing until I was an adult, though I did try to play as a teen, but no one else wanted to :(

    6. Ariaflame*

      I’ve been DMing since just before the panini, though I took a year’s break because our group shifts who is GM/DM to spread the load. We alternate weeks though so we’re currently playing Traveller in the other week and before that, we were playing GURPS and Runequest. I get to play in those though.

      I heard of one youth club whose reaction to finding a guard monster was to conduct a group therapy session for it.

    7. two snakes*

      I love D&D (and other TTRPGs!) and I am running a couple of campaigns for my friends online. I keep intending to run a game for my niece and nephews but haven’t gotten around to it yet – I think GMing for kids would be an interesting challenge.

      My main challenge is not starting and joining five thousand campaigns at once… I get too many ideas.

    8. Minccino*

      I play! Well, I did until scheduling conflicts got in the way. My group did pretty well despite being an international party that lived across four time zones. I hope we can resume playing together again one day. :)

    9. curly sue*

      Absolutely! I started in high school with AD&D 2nd ed, gamed all through uni with my school’s Gamers’ Guild, met my now-husband through nerd-related activities, and we’ve been gaming together ever since. He still games with the same group he did in high school, though the weekly game moved online when folks moved apart and it’s not always weekly anymore. I worked in the industry as a line editor for a while, before moving on to other things. I’m a huge fan of horror and horror-adjacent games, and cut my LARPing teeth on Vampire: The Masquerade way back in the day.

      Having kids threw a wrench into gaming for a while, but as soon as they got old enough we got them started as well. My better half has run games for them specifically, including a great Greek mythology game (based on AD&D 2nd ed with his own worldbuilding in it – he’s a Classicist) where I played a grumpy centaur healer whose sole job was to keep the kids’ characters alive. Now we play in an Al Qadim setting with good friends who have kids around the same ages as ours, so it’s a great excuse to hang out once a month or so.

      (He also ran a 5th ed game for the Jr high D&D club for a while when he wasn’t working, and from all accounts they had an absolute blast.)

    10. Jackalope*

      I met my now-husband in 2017 and he’s all lifelong D&D player. I’d heard of it before then of course but hadn’t ever played. We started playing in a game with some friends of his and then when 2020 hit I talked him into DM-ing a newbie game for me and some of my friends. We’ve been playing ever since, and it’s great. Right now I’m the DM for our primary campaign and he’s running a side campaign; we switch off based on availability to run.

    11. Liane*

      I play D&D, have since a latest 1970s ear high school gifted ed class*. I mostly GM Star Wars RPGs but recently became a GM & Moderator in a Discord Cyberpunk RED campaign. I also have a PC when I am not GMing, which is most of the time. It’s either great fun or a nightmare, depending on whether or not we have a problem player to deal with

      *now everyone knows when US education truly went insane. Ha ha

    12. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      I play Pathfinder 2e with my husband as DM and a group of his coworkers as the rest of the party. Our game is nearing a close, been going on for years now. We’ve gone digital since the pandemic and we moved away, and none of us likes that as much as in person, but at least it’s let us continue playing.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Husband, housemate and I met at GenCon 2004 running a Vampire larp :) now we do Pathfinder, and I’m always trying to talk someone into running Starfinder (which is basically Pathfinder in space).

    14. E. Chauvelin*

      I play Pathfinder 1E. I’m in a couple of campaigns and tonight we’re having the traditional everybody-who-works-or-contracts-for-federal-or-state-government-is-off-work get together for a self contained scenario.

    15. Old Woman in Purple*

      I met my main circle of friends in my college ‘Games Club’ back in the autumn of 1980, playing 2nd Edition. We’re all now in our early-60s or late-50s and still get together to play fairly regularly (as work & family schedules allow)…. with our kids and (soon) grandkids, of course!

    16. Nicki Name*

      I play and GM Pathfinder. I’ve never had a whole table of 12-year-olds, that does sound hilarious!

    17. Seeking second childhood*

      Aah to be in Faerun now that summer’s here.
      (That translates as “me too!”)

    18. Dont be a dork*

      Not doing the current iteration of D&D, but our group has had a Friday night game since, oh, the mid to late ’90s. ATM we’re using Savage Worlds rules for a steampunk/Space 1889 game.

      If you play with middle schoolers, you know that the party will do its level best to go in exactly the opposite direction you want them to go, so figure out what can be misinterpreted and prepare an encounter to deal with that and try to nudge them back to the actual story. Adults are every bit as determined to go off the rails as kids, and can be even better at it.

    19. KoiFeeder*

      My parents taught my siblings and I to play AD&D 2e, which was cherished by me from 4 to now, so I can imagine those middle schoolers are having an absolute blast.

      (And yes, it’s very different with a party of children versus a party of adults, but presumably there’s less player on player biting in the adult party?)

    20. Quinalla*

      Yes, long running group that sometimes switches players for at least 6 years now, we’re on break at the moment as folks aren’t quite ready for in person and we’re all sick of playing online though Fantasy Grounds does make it pretty good.

      Just started a campaign this year with some folks at work, we are playing every week Wed at lunch – all online as most of us are remote and using Roll20. Been going well!

      I haven’t DM’d in ages and glad of it as yeah, it can be a lot of work. Not as bad if you use a stock campaign, but still a lot more prep than the players. Good luck with your campaign!

  3. Poffertjies!*

    I’ve recently started fostering cats! The fella I have now needs to be socialized and has been in his carrier since I picked him up yesterday. Today is July 4th so there will be fireworks so it’s going to be an interesting night. Between making sure he’s ok and making sure my own pets are going to be ok it’s going to be a long night.

    1. Trixie*

      Enjoy your foster!

      I brought home a new foster on Saturday afternoon, and she is still hunkered down under the bed. I’m giving her lots of space, and also keeping original foster (pretty much a fail/mine at this point) out of the room. He doesn’t seem to have much interest in closed off room, and she isn’t trying to get out. Neither are alpha personalities, and skittish in general so it could work out for short term.

    2. JSPA*

      If you have stairs or a closet, putting the carrier under the stairs or in a propped open closet may be more calming.

      1. Poffertjies!*

        The carrier is under a desk. The foster room is the little used game room/spare bedroom.

    3. cat socks*

      Yay for fostering! Kitten Lady’s videos on YouTube are helpful. She has some about fostering shy kittens.

    4. TransmascJourno*

      My partner and I have been fostering two adorable kittens since Friday! Sending my best to you with the hope that things end up being more uneventful that not, re: fireworks.

      (Our MAGA next door neighbors, who do not like the fact that we’re trans (well, me) and queer (both of us) tend to use July 4th to make their attitude known, will be chilling with some cute pets with some good food and a few episodes of Fleabag queued up, so here’s hoping everything goes smoothly!)

      1. Middle Aged Lady*

        Fleabg is awesome. I hope the fosters like it, ha ha. The Kitten Academy is a fun place to learn about kittens, and very soothing. They take pregnant momcats from their loval shelter, help with the birth, then socialize and adopt out the cat and her kittens. They are on youtube.

  4. Falling Diphthong*

    Any suggestions for a fourth of July movie? Thinking good-ish vibes and some nostalgia. Spouse has a cold and so we will be grilling burgers and going early to bed.

    By our usual pattern we would be up for the latest episode of The Boys, which is on the one hand quintessentially American, but on the other hand likely to be depressing. After watching Stranger Things finale I thought it might be nice to revisit Super 8? Anyone have any recs?

    1. Teach*

      I’m partial to the Ralph Bakshi movie American Pop: intergenerational story of an immigrant family done in rotoscoped animation. It’s weird like all his movies, but I think The Boys fans might dig it.

    2. AptNickname*

      Legally Blonde 2, if just for the line “You look like the Fourth of July! Makes me want a hotdog real bad.” perfectly delivered by Jennifer Coolidge.

    3. Lizzy May*

      I mean, the obvious answer is Independence Day. But only the first one. Other nostalgic classics like ET, Stand By Me or Jaws feel like they’re in the middle of a July 4th and Stranger Things Venn diagram.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Independence Day with Will Smith is always a solid contender. Stand By Me is also a great call, I LOVE that movie.

      1. pancakes*

        I know that’s on Hulu right now because I just spotted it and added it to my queue yesterday.

    4. Fellow Traveller*

      1776 the musical. Or Hamilton. But very different from Stranger Things or Super 8.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        High-fives the other musicals fan! I recommended 1776 too. Hamilton was our 2020 movie when it came out. We actually had a quasi-party, inviting over the one other family in our pandemic bubble.

      2. Piano Girl*

        I’ve already watched “Hamilton”. We will probably watch “The Patriot” later on today.

      3. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        Another 1776 annual viewer. It gets more relevant every year. If you want pleasant Americana, the Civil War era “Friendly Persuasion” with Gary Cooper, Dorothy Maguire, and Anthony Perkins is charming, with a good balance of comedy and drama. And as others have said, it’s hard to beat the fun of the original Independence Day.

      4. Purple Cat*

        For all the “1776” fans – the musical is now in Boston for it’s pre-Broadway run. For now, the cast is all female, non-binary and trans.
        Link in following comment.

    5. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

      The Music Man for a straight-up Fourth of July movie! And usually, if we’re home and have time, Mr. Devore and I watch a string of scenes. (Any of the following could also be watched in their entirety. And I second Jaws, the original Top Gun, and the first hour of 1776.)

      * Superman (1978): Supes’ first night of glory, starting with saving Lois from the crashed helicopter and ending with getting a cat out of a tree.

      *Gettysburg: Colonel Chamberlain’s speech to his men before the battle.

      *West Side Story: America. (Yes, we know it’s not 100% pro-America.)

      *Dr. Strangelove: Major Kong’s speech to his crew.

      *The Muppet Movie (1979): Fozzie sings America the Beautiful. (“This is the patriotic part.” “Should we stand up?” “No.”)

      *Independence Day: President Whitmore’s speech.

      *Full Metal Jacket: The recruits reciting the rifle credo. “Peace, amen.”

      1. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

        Uh, on second thought, don’t watch Full Metal Jacket in its entirety, at least not today.

    6. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Yankee Doodle Dandy, a musical about George M. Cohen. It was our 4th of July standard when I was growing up, played on VHS. Lots of great songs, many of them patriotic, plenty of good vibes, plus an interesting story about an interesting man.

      My only warning is that some of the songs are delightfully catchy, and you’ll probably find yourself humming them afterwards.

    7. Nitpicker*

      1776 and Yankee Doodle Dandy -the biopic of George M Cohan starring James Cagney. Usually on TCM sometime during the day.

    8. Kittee*

      For good vibes and nostalgia you can’t beat Dave or The American President. Or heck, The West Wing.

    9. Chaordic One*

      Take these with a grain of salt because I have slightly weird tastes. Lately I’ve been on a 1970s binge and I would recommend “American Graffiti” and also, “Car Wash.” Not too heavy, a bit corny and dated, but also a bit of fun.

    10. Working Hypothesis*

      My usual movie for the occasion is the musical 1776. Not precisely accurate, but hilarious and a lot of fun — and accurate in many fascinating ways, especially the inclusion of a lot of the characters from the Continental Congress that most of us haven’t heard of.

    11. Middle Aged Lady*

      Not a movie but I do love Netflix’s Turn: Washington’s spies. Based on a true story—it’s a book—about patriots on Long Island during the Revolution.

  5. Falling Diphthong*

    Requesting fiction recommendations, book or other, that had a strong sense of team building.

    I am rereading The Scholomance for the umpteenth time, and one of the things that really appeals to me is the way it conveys building a team–a disparate group choosing to come together and it’s like group projects are supposed to be, where five people with diverse skills working together are able to do what one alone could not. It’s something I really liked in Nikita–it started as her alone, then she added Alex, then Michael, then Nerd, and so on. The Thursday Murder Club perhaps has a bit of it as well–it’s a collective that is stronger for its diversity.

    1. Cynthia*

      Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr has a bit of this, except that it’s characters across time, each doing their part where and when they are (they don’t meet). I don’t want to say too much, because a lot of the joy of the story is figuring out how everything and everyone pieces together, but I highly recommend! Especially in these times, when it feels like everything is falling apart, it’s a truly exceptional read (or listen – the audiobook narration is also really well done).

    2. Phryne*

      Firstly, I LOVE the Scolomance, (and everything else from Naomi Novik, Uprooted is probably my favorite book ever)

      AS to books, do you know ‘The once and future witches’ by Alix E Harrow? It is about sisters (and other women) coming together after enstragement in an alternative nineteenth century US where Salem was a witches enclave that was burned down by the inquisition, and the women of that world still live with that legacy. I really liked that one.

    3. Jackalope*

      The 12 Houses series by Sharon Shinn is my favorite for that. It starts with a group of 6 people, some of whom know each other already but with the group at large being thrown together for reasons. Over the course of the first book they gradually become a tight-knit circle of friends who will do anything for each other. I love their friendships, and I love the dynamic they have as a group. It’s a fantasy series with a fair bit of romance, just for genre type.

    4. H*

      Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo! It’s a heist story set in a fantasy world, and the cast of characters/“ragtag team” at the core is delightful. It is YA but I personally had a lot of fun reading it as an adult. :)

    5. dogmom*

      Well the “team” is a PI and his dog, so maybe not exactly what you’re looking for, but I can highly recommend the Bernie and Chet series from Spencer Quinn. The books are told from the dog’s point of view!

    6. Girasol*

      A sleeper that I’ve loved for years, even if it was written before I was born: Star Rangers, AKA The Last Planet, sold on Kindle/Audible in the omnibus Star Soldiers, by Andre Norton. It’s sci fin on the theme of diversity vs racism, where a team of various minority characters use their respect for one another and their unusual mix of skills to overcome the threat of a racist majority and then …okay, no spoilers but it has a great ending. I confess that when I was in junior high I had such a crush on a saurian alien.

    7. Vio*

      the Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (first book of the Mistborn series) is a great team building story. Vin, the protagonist, is an experienced loner with serious trust issues (with good reason) who gets recruited into a team… she’s genuinely baffled at first about how they can be so open with each other and not be expecting betrayal to be inevitable. it’s an amazing and emotional story about overcoming trauma, making friends and plotting against an immortal tyrant

    8. just another queer reader*

      “The long way to a small, angry planet,” perhaps?

      Features an interspecies crew (humans and several alien species) working together on a long-haul spaceship. A delight to read. Adult or young adult, probably.

      1. Leslie*

        Ooh I was thinking Becky Chambers too. The plots of the books are the main thing, it’s the very diverse people and how they grow to trust each other that are the best part, IMO

      2. whynot*

        Yes yes yes. Becky Chambers’ books are a delight. I’d say this theme also pops up in the fourth book of her Wayfarers series, The Galaxy and the Ground Within.

    9. Kittee*

      The View from Saturday is completely about team building! It’s fiction about diverse young teenagers working towards a goal together. Supposedly for kids but I as a 60-something reread it every year and adore it. My only quibble is there’s a part about nooses. It’s in the context of that colloquial saying about giving oneself enough rope to hang oneself with, but it resonates very badly. Other than that, one of the most inspiring and wonderful books I’ve ever read.

    10. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series, maybe? It’s not the most visible theme right away, but definitely grows over the course of the series (or the odd-numbered books anyway – that series has a format where every odd book advances the overall school timeline, and every even book is a spotlight on one specific character before they came to the school). It’s a 7 book series at this point (with another on the way in January), but they’re novellas so it’s a much less of a time commitment than you’d think from just hearing 7 book ongoing series.

    11. Weeble*

      Best. Thread. Today.
      I’m waiting anxiously for the 3rd Scholomance book! Much more interesting than dry instructional business team-building books.

    12. AcademiaNut*

      There’s a trilogy called Rogues of the Republic by Patrick Weelkes which is basically a set of fun fantasy caper movies in book form – gathering the team, plotting the heist, etc. They come on sale periodically in Kindle format.

    13. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I would definitely say Stephen King’s IT meets this bill – the team building and camaraderie among the kids is the reason I keep reading it over and over.

    14. Gracely*

      “The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t With Her Mind” has some great team building. Veronica Roth’s “The Chosen Ones” is about a superhero team a few years post-saving the world. And while it’s not explicitly team building, “The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires” by Grady Hendrix has a group of women who get together to fight a vampire who’s moved to their town.

      Oh! And N.K. Jemisin’s “The City We Became” is entirely about team building. It’s literally about a small group of people across NYC teaming up to save the city. And it is really, really good.

  6. ThatGirl*

    Tl;dr: I can’t smell things very well, but I’m pretty sure it’s not covid. Any suggestions or similar experiences?

    So a few weeks ago I was exposed to covid at work. Several of my coworkers got the classic symptoms – chills, fever, serious head cold, super fatigued etc. I developed minor cold symptoms like congestion, some cough (post nasal drip) and runny nose. I tested myself twice, five days apart and was negative, and never had a fever, so I chalked it up to some other kind of virus. (Don’t worry, I did stay home in that period just in case.)

    Now it’s three weeks later. I tested again yesterday after learning of another possible exposure last week, still negative. But I’m realizing even after my congestion is mostly gone, I still can’t smell things very well. Nearly burned dinner the other night. I can get a whiff of strong smells but nuance is lost.

    The question is, do I just need to be patient? Is there anything I can do that will help? Does a neti pot help in this case?

    1. Jenna Webster*

      I had a friend who tested negative multiple times with home tests and once with a PCR test before finally testing positive after 2 weeks of symptoms. If you haven’t had a PCR test, please do! Losing your sense of smell is the most common symptom of Covid. I’d definitely suggest continuing to stay away from others, especially those with high risk.

      1. londonedit*

        With Omicron there’s far less instance of people losing their sense of taste/smell, but of course it can still happen.

        I’ve heard about people ‘retraining’ their sense of smell by spending a few minutes smelling three or four different strong-smelling things like coffee, lemon, essential oils etc, a couple of times a day – apparently it can help to reawaken things.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I did start sniffing vanilla, cloves, an essential oil blend last night. I can get an initial whiff of them, so it’s a start.

      2. ThatGirl*

        Lot fewer people are losing smell/taste with omicron though of course it can still be a symptom. I guess I should have gotten a pcr test two weeks ago, but with the negative home test and not feeling truly sick, I didn’t think I had good reason to.

      3. SG*

        Losing taste and smell is still common with Omicron, it’s just not a given like it was with earlier variants. Recent figures are that it’s about 20%. I certainly lost my sense of smell with Omicron, which came back gradually over the course of a month or two.
        Given that you had cold symptoms after a known exposure and now have no sense of smell, I would assume you had COVID. You can get a PCR test if you want, but that would most likely be negative since your symptoms are 3 weeks past.

    2. Anima*

      Sorry to be annoying, but that was almost exactly how my (recent and first) COVID case was symptomwise. The timing does not exactly line up, but you might have been as positive in the three weeks between I was. I tested positive looong after the first symptoms and was positive for about two weeks.
      The new variant was rampant in Europe at that time.
      Good news are that my sense of smell fully came back shortly after.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I do think it’s possible that I had it, but I also think at this point it’s unlikely a pcr test would pick it up. I have been cautious, did not go to work for over a week, masking with kn95, but right now I feel totally normal except for my sense of smell. Which was never totally gone, just diminished.

        1. bratschegirl*

          If you’ve had Covid, you may test positive with PCR for up to 90 days, so unless it’s been longer than that it’s worth doing, in my opinion.

          1. Neptune*

            Apologies if I am being very ignorant here, but given that ThatGirl says this all happened over three weeks ago then is there much point in a PCR test? My understanding is that you remain infectious for about 10 days, which has obviously passed, and it sounds like she stayed home and was cautious during that period anyway. Certainly where I am it’s really difficult to get a PCR test these days, and if she is feeling otherwise healthy other than this one thing then I don’t really see the point in so many people badgering her about this. It’s not like you need an official diagnosis to sniff coffee beans every day.

            (ThatGirl: Agreeing with everyone else that ‘smell training’ is what helped me. I actually avoided smelling things like favourite perfumes because I found it oddly disturbing/upsetting to not be able to smell them, but things like lemons and garlic and coffee helped. It was a very gradual return and there was a period where I wasn’t sure if I was really smelling them or if I was just remembering what they ought to smell like, so after that point I tried smelling new/unfamiliar things to confirm that it was really back. I hope it comes back soon!)

            1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

              Yeah, it be nice to assuage one’s curiosity (and I personally would kind of like to be able to say I’d gotten Covid during the epidemic, since I’d know I got through it safely), but I don’t think it actually MATTERS. If there was some particular treatment for Covid smell loss that didn’t apply to other smell loss, sure, but I’m pretty sure there isn’t.

              It’s not like ThatGirl is contagious at this point, whatever the sickness was.

            2. bratschegirl*

              My impression was that @ThatGirl wanted to know whether or not she’d had Covid, and I was only pointing out that 3 weeks on it was still very reasonable to get a PCR test to find that out, since those tests can pick up remaining traces of virus for several months. I’m not a doctor, but I imagine that there are some other, possibly more scary, causes for sudden loss of smell, and having a positive Covid test might enable ruling those out. PCR tests are quite easy to come by where I am. Not quite sure how “worth doing in my opinion” qualifies as badgering.

              1. amoeba*

                It’s possible, sure, but not very likely – certain jobs here in Europe have required a negative PCR test before returning to work after being out with COVID and the majority of people do indeed test negative once the infection is over. It’s certainly a hassls for those who do test positive for weeks and months, but it’s definitely not the rule. So I would also see very little point in getting a PCR test now…

                I believe there are antibody tests that can differentiate between antibodies from infection and those from vaccination? Might be worth asking your doctor about that in case you’d really like to know. But honestly, with known exposure plus symptoms plus now loss of sense of smell, I’d be, like, 99% sure you’ve had it. Rapid tests are notoriously unreliable, I know loads of people who were infected and never had a positive result from them.

              2. ThatGirl*

                No…you misread my comment. I was asking about my sense of smell. The other stuff was context. I don’t actually care that much if I had covid, except as a note in my health history, and I don’t know if there’s a way to definitively figure that out. Also my sense of smell was never totally gone and is improving.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      You need a PCR test. If the rapids were pos, you’d know for sure it’s COVID, but the rapids being neg could still mean you have COVID but need a PCR to detect it.

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        Are they readily available in the US though? Here in the UK it seems that PCRs are no longer being given to the general public at all unless you buy one for travel purposes or fall into a few very specific groups. I didn’t find anywhere that I could get a PCR test to verify whether I actually have covid. LFTs are easy to find to buy, though.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          They’re pretty much readily available, yes. Might take a day to get an appointment, but if you’re symptomatic with a known exposure, they’re very gettable.
          Rapid tests are much more readily available in the US now, but for a very long time were almost impossible to get, while I understand the UK has had them readily available for 2 years?

    4. Generic Name*

      I read online that some folks with Covid loss of smell were able to help get it back through “smell training” you smell something familiar and strong a few times a day, like coffee or mint, and you tell yourself what the smell is, and you bring up a memory of what mint/coffee/whatever smells like. There are a few articles out there about it.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      At this point, I think you should assume you had it.
      As others have said, smell training can help. I’ve seen several articles from reputable sources that say the same thing.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I guess. It’s annoying because it wasn’t definitive, like… if I’d had a fever or totally lost my sense of smell/taste I would assume I had, but I never had that one defining symptom. Just this lingering minor annoyance. I was careful about not spreading whatever I had, though :P

        1. pancakes*

          Not everyone does have every symptom. That’s been the case all along. That’s why we’re meant to get tested rather than rely on the presence or absence of symptoms.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Yes thank you I know. I was making my best judgment based on how I felt, my symptoms and the home test, I’m not saying it was perfect but I am not naive either.

              1. ThatGirl*

                Look, I know you mean well, but your comments are not terribly helpful three weeks after the fact and are coming off as a bit condescending.

                1. pancakes*

                  Similarly, I don’t find it terribly helpful when people profess not to see something that’s right under their nose!

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  ThatGirl, it’s info you can keep in reserve for the future. Or possibly helpful for someone you know.

                  I know it sucks to think you may have gotten it after all this time, especially if you’ve been scrupulous about avoiding it. A lot of us are in the same boat. I’m quadruple vaxxed and still masking, but by this time, I figure I’ve either had it and not known or I’ll get it.

                  Regardless, I’m glad you weren’t miserably ill.

                3. ThatGirl*

                  @Elizabeth West I’m not dismissing the idea that I may have had covid, it’s the “here’s what you should have done” three weeks ago harping that’s unhelpful. I’m a fully grown intelligent adult; the guidance is all over the place and I made the best decisions I could at the time with the info I had.

    6. sb51*

      I had this happen, possibly alongside a cold, several years pre-COVID. It was unnerving and I did got to the doctor, but they never found anything. My sense of smell recovered slowly—mostly back within a year but some bits took longer, so do give retraining time to work without getting discouraged.

      Smoke was one of the hardest hit, although not the slowest to recover, so you might have to watch your cooking for a while. (I know what year this happened to me because we traveled to see the eclipse just after and we were close enough to some wildfires that it evidently smelled strongly of smoke everywhere; there was a light floral note in the air to me and zero smoke.)

      1. ThatGirl*

        Thank you for actually answering my question :)

        I’m definitely paying more attention to my baking/cooking for now – I realized I was waiting to smell my empanadas in the oven and when I checked they were getting pretty dark.

        I have been sniffing strong scents, and I coincidentally have a dr appointment on Friday so we’ll see what she says if nothing changes.

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        I haven’t thought about this in a long time, but that happened to my MIL after she had a series of bad sinus infections. Her sense of smell disappeared for a few years. It did eventually recover.

    7. Aww, coffee, no*

      I lost my sense of smell about halfway through my attack of Covid, oddly enough after the worst of the runny nose had cleared up.
      It came back partially after about a week, and then fully about two weeks after that. I didn’t do anything specific to get it back other other than wait, but most days I’d try smelling my jar of coffee, just because I couldn’t quite believe that my nose wasn’t working properly. My brain kept trying to tell me that ‘it was just that there was no scent of coffee, nothing wrong with my nose, honestly don’t be silly’. Very weird from that point of view.
      If it’d lasted more than about a month I think I’d have tried the scent training that Generic Name mentions.
      Good luck!

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’m sure I just need to be patient. It’s just weird that my congestion and runny nose are gone but my smell is still wonky. Bodies are weird.

        1. Glitter*

          Hey there. I just got over covid and lost my sense of smell too. So annoying isn’t it! You don’t realise how much you value it until you don’t have it. Mine is gradually returning. Our olfactory nerves have been damaged by the virus, usually pretty early on in the illness. I don’t see why another virus couldn’t do something similar but personally I’ve only experienced it with covid. All the best in your smell recovery!

        2. amoeba*

          Yeah, it doesn’t really come from the congestion with COVID (unlike for cold etc.) – it’s actually the nerves that are affected.
          For most people it comes back quite quickly though and as it’s not completely gone for you, I wouldn’t be too worried, just give it some time! (I know it’s annoying anyway, for sure…)

    8. Hereandnow*

      I’m in medical research and I’ve read so much on what might be happening and what seems to help or hinder people… One theory about post-Covid symptoms is that the Central Nervous System is put out of joint by Covid sometimes and that this can result in almost any symptom you can think of (since the central nervous system affects every part of the body). The trick to get your nervous system back on track is do all the usual health-improving things – take a look at your sleep, your diet, etc and especially your levels of stress. And the other big one is not to get back quickly to your pre Covid levels of activity- don’t go deliberately exercising for a few weeks or months. It’s a drag and people do not want to hear it, but that’s what we’re learning. Most symptoms do seem to improve, it can take a while but with good health management it is likely to happen. Good luck with your ‘recovery’!

      1. ThatGirl*

        Thanks, my stress levels are decent (given the state of the world), I’m getting plenty of sleep (long weekend) and will take physical activity easy. I
        But I really do feel normal beyond the smell -which, again, is not totally gone.

        1. Hereandnow*

          That sounds good! Also, allow me to express my sympathy- I have read that losing one’s sense of smell is more difficult than the rest of us (who haven’t experienced it) understand.

    9. El*

      My husband had covid 1.5 years ago, and his smell still isn’t the same. He’s had both smell distortions and his sense of smell isn’t as strong as it used to be.

      Smelling essential oils and simultaneously thinking about what they should smell like has helped some. We found some research article about the specific types – apparently clove, Ross, lemon, and a fourth that I can’t remember (maybe mint?) are from the 4 smell families, and are often what’s recommended for this kind of thing.

      And rapid tests are notoriously inaccurate. If you want to know if you had covid, maybe look into an antibody test?

      I’d assume you likely had it, since I’ve never heard of a cold affecting someone’s sense of smell, but obviously a doctor could provide the most insight. Good luck!

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’m going to take exception with the idea that home tests are “notoriously inaccurate”. They’re not perfect, but false positives are extremely rare. False negatives certainly can happen, but they’re less likely as time goes on, especially as symptoms develop, and I did test at the peak of my cold-like symptoms. Again – it’s possible I had it, but I have no hard evidence of that. Other viruses can absolutely affect smell, esp other coronaviruses. I do have a dr appt on Friday so I will talk to her.

        1. El*

          Eh, I just say that because my husband (who had covid, and has a messed up sense of smell) never tested positive on a rapid, but did on a PCR. It doesn’t seem like there there’s a ton of research on test efficacy, particularly with the newer omicron variants.

          But your doctor is your best resource! And I do recommend the smell therapy I mentioned.

      2. Nancy*

        Other respiratory viruses absolutely can cause loss of smell. It is not a new covid-only symptom and people are still getting sick from all sorts of bacteria and viruses.

        1. bluephone*

          Recurring sinus infections can really mess with your sense of smell too (ask me how I know). I’m glad you’re feeling better!

      3. JSPA*

        About a decade ago, i had one heck of a “normal” coronavirus that knocked out my smell for two weeks, and gave me a severe cough for several months (until going on a steroid inhaler). Another Coronavirus laid me and my sense of smell flat for 10 days, and I coughed up what looked like a little rubber casting of delicate soft coral (i.e. a casting of some tracheoles). So if it’s non-covid coronavirus, I’d imagine 2 weeks?

      4. Shakti*

        I’ve lost my sense of smell from colds and allergies not completely, but the amount that is being described it’s annoying, but not uncommon with colds/sinus infections/allergies

    10. sp*

      How many days ago was the second potential exposure last week? I don’t want to join in on pedantry here, but that one does concern me a little depending on how long ago it was. It is of course possible that you had something that wasn’t covid and then also picked up covid last week.

      1. ThatGirl*

        It was last Tuesday that I saw the people in question, outside; they tested positive yesterday. We were negative.

      2. ThatGirl*

        Actually it was Monday, I misremembered. And the loss of smell isn’t new, I just was surprised it’s persisted.

    11. Syzygy*

      I had a mild case of COVID last year, pre-vaccine, and lost my sense of smell entirely for about a month. It came back gradually on one side, but is still almost nonexistent on the other. I did smell training, but I don’t think it had any effect. It’s been 18 months.

  7. Natalie*

    Just wanted to send out a huge THANK YOU to the poster last week who mentioned the podcast, Double Love, about Sweet Valley High.
    I’ve been in such a funk about all of the stuff in the news lately, it’s been wonderful to have this wonderfully frivolous and funny podcast as a retreat.

    1. Trixie*

      In the realm of wonderfully frivolous and funny, I broke down and purchased Scarecrow and Mrs.King on YouTube. I started with first season, and made my way through the final fourth season which I barely remember watching when it was live. The plots, the wardrobe, the stunt doubles, it’s been quite the escape.

      Next might The Paper Chase. Or China Beach if it was available.

    2. Monday*

      For another fun and frivolous podcast, check out Wonderful. It’s by a husband and wife (Griffin and Rachel McElroy) who talk about things they like. It’s fun and sweet and informative.

  8. Amber Rose*

    I got angry at a person who was biking circles in the middle of an intersection and they followed me to work to report me to my manager for flipping them off.

    My coworkers now think this is the funniest thing, and it is pretty funny but I am also really embarrassed. :(

    1. WellRed*

      The bicyclist should be embarrassed for following you to work and thinking this is something that needed reporting. WTF? Would they have followed you home in hopes of telling your mom?

        1. Amber Rose*

          He wasn’t in the office that day, which is why my coworkers know about it since they were nearby when she showed up to yell. They told her she was mistaken, shooed her off and made sure she didn’t do anything to my car before reporting to me.

          It’s a little funny that they didn’t believe her, because I am “too nice.” But I do have occasional bouts of minor road rage that I am not proud of.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I mean, she was spinning slow, dizzy circles in the middle of the intersection. I think she was on something.

        1. Jay*

          It’s something that your more annoying cyclists will do from time to time as a form of “Protest”. Apparently it is grossly unfair that America will, on occasion allows cars to exist on “Their” roads.

          1. TechWorker*

            This is sort of a hilarious take because unless America is VERY different to where I live (which I’m kinda doubtful of given general attitudes to car driving), road rage (or just, indifference to danger) from car drivers towards cyclists is a huge problem. A lot of cyclists get killed by motorists… maybe a few protests aren’t that surprising… obviously I have no idea of whether this person was ‘protesting’ or just being incredibly annoying, but the *idea* of cyclists protesting is not inherently ridiculous or unreasonable.

            1. pancakes*

              That’s very much the case in the US as well. Have a look at Streetsblog dot org for news about the frequency of fatalities and analysis about the way media tends to cover them. The idea that cyclists are a threat to drivers is absurd. Likewise the idea that seeing someone riding a bike improperly is a good reason to become enraged. In parts of the US there are drivers who target cyclists with blasts of exhaust from engines modified for that purpose (“rolling coal”). In a recent-ish Texas incident the driver doing this struck six cyclists. Four of the six were hospitalized.

              1. Amber Rose*

                Cyclists are a threat to themselves. They insist on being treated like vehicles and allowed on the roads, and then don’t obey any of the laws. I’ve seen far, far more bikers run stop signs and red lights than anyone else, and I live in a city somewhat infamously known for some of the worst drivers in the country.

                I have been in a LOT of car accidents, a couple where I was badly hurt. The idea that I might hit a cyclist and seriously injure them is extremely stressful to me. That’s why I become so angry when I see them effing around in the road like morons. No sense of self preservation at all. I am in a 3000 lb CAR. In a fight, I WIN and I don’t want to.

                Obviously there’s zero excuse for targeting cyclists, that’s awful. But I feel fairly justified in my anger at the ones who screw around. Of course, my anger is only expressed with my middle finger, sometimes my horn, and ragey texts to my husband after.

                1. JSPA*


                  1. A cyclist slowing for an intersection from 14 mph to 3 mph spends just as much time “in view” (before entering the intersection) as a car braking from 35 to zero, then accelerating again.

                  2. A cyclist sits higher than most drivers, and has an essentially unrestricted field of vision.

                  3. A cyclist and bike have perhaps 1/20 the mass of a car and driver. The (momentum-based) risk to any 3rd party is correspondingly lower.

                  4. In countries where the driver is by default considered “at fault” in any accident involving pedestrians or cyclists (unless proven otherwise), the rate of such accidents (and of cyclist & pedestrian injuries and deaths) is far lower. Hard to explain how that could be, if the carelessness of cyclists and pedestrians were the primary causal factor.

                2. pancakes*

                  It’s not fair or at all reasonable to compare the damages caused by a cyclist who runs a red light with the damages caused by someone doing the same in a vehicle that weighs 4000 lbs or so.

                  It also isn’t reasonable to think of sharing the road with bicycles as a fight. You don’t in fact have to feel antagonized by their presence. It sounds like you are letting anxiety make the choice to do so for you.

                  I’m not sure I follow as to why exactly you feel justified in giving this particular cyclist the finger. Earlier on you sounded embarrassed about it. Then you said you thought maybe the cyclist was on something. If you believe that I’m not sure why you made a point of engaging with her at all, let alone doing something that seems to have escalated the incident.

                  I hope you will take a step back and reconsider trying to justify what appears to be road rage on your part. Not liking the behavior of some cyclists is a pretty poor reason to give them the finger, and in some circumstances may lead you into a conflict you’d rather not be in.

                3. pancakes*

                  I should add, many cyclists would prefer protected bike lanes to sharing the road with your vehicle. They are legally prohibited from riding on the sidewalks where I live. I’m not clear on exactly where you want them to be, or what the law requires in your area, if not the road.

                4. pancakes*

                  JSPA, 2 is not correct, in the US at least. SUVs and trucks get bigger and bigger every year and bicycles have pretty much remained the same size. An excerpt from an article in Outside magazine on this topic:

                  “SUVs and trucks have also grown considerably in the past two decades, with trucks being the worst offenders. Take the Ford F-150, America’s best-selling vehicle of all time: when I measured models from the 1980s and 1990s, most trim lines were about three feet four inches at the hood’s leading edge. Modern versions came in at around three feet ten inches. Then there’s the midsize Toyota Tacoma, a durably popular favorite for its combination of just-right size and off-road capability: its second-generation version, made from 2004 to 2015, featured a front end that’s around three feet five inches tall. The current generation’s hood is a whopping four feet one inch from the ground—a full eight inches higher than the version it replaced.

                  That’s before the aftermarket treatment that’s so common on today’s bro dozers: body or suspension lift kits that jack them up even higher and menacing bull bars—burly grille guards—designed to transfer crash forces to whatever the vehicle hits rather than absorb it via its crumple zones. The tallest vehicle I measured was a third-generation Dodge Ram 3500, made around 2005 and equipped with a lift kit and oversize wheels and tires. The hood’s leading edge stood at a full five feet three inches. The full-size Chevy Tahoe parked next to it looked positively Lilliputian in comparison.”

                5. TechWorker*

                  Not to be like ‘not all men’ but that is not even a good comparison because cyclists are soooo not in the position of power here… but when you say ‘cyclists are a threat to themselves… they don’t obey any of the laws’ you obviously mean SOME cyclists do not obey laws. Plenty of them do!! (Also / again in my country / there are things motorists get up in arms about that are actually allowed and even in some circumstances recommended by the Highway Code – Eg cycling in the middle of the lane, or cycling 2 abrest). I get it’s annoying, I get you have to slow down a bit. But everyone is allowed to be on the road, and you are driving a huge metal box, the cyclist is not.

                6. Cyclist who also drives, walks, and takes transit*

                  You’ve been in a lot of car accidents recently, with other drivers of cars. You admit to having road rage. Drivers of vehicles killed 43,ooo people in the U.S. last year and the rate of pedestrians and cyclists getting killed by drivers is skyrocketing, per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Up until recently (guns are now #1), traffic crashes were the leading cause of death of children in the U.S. Cyclists and pedestrians are not the problem; drivers are. While someone following you to work is a little extra, I hope you can see this as a wakeup call to reexamine your sense of road entitlement and how your driving impacts other people. Everyone deserves to get home safely.

                7. tessa*

                  Agree, Amber Rose. I’m waiting for the day when cyclists have to be licensed, registered, and insured like motorists.

                8. pancakes*

                  Tessa, what do you make of the fact that US car accident deaths hit a 5-year high in 2021? There’s quite a bit of analysis written about why these keep increasing even as the cars themselves get safer and safer over the years. Your tit-for-tat reasoning doesn’t seem to even touch on safety.

                  From a CNBC article: “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a division of the Department of Transportation, estimates 42,915 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2021, a 10.5% increase from the 38,824 fatalities in 2020. The deaths include pedestrians, cyclists and others who may have died during a crash.

                  Fatalities from multivehicle crashes and those on urban roadways both rose 16%, according to the agency, the largest year-over-year increases for incident-specific data. Other notable increases included: fatalities of those 65 years or older, up 14%; pedestrian deaths, up 13%; and fatalities in crashes involving at least one large truck, up 13%.”

    2. Gnome*

      I have had a cyclist flip me off for… using the lane next to them on a four lane road. After that I decided they are all loons. Mind, the speed limit was 45 and they were doing about 4 in the left lane, and I had the temerity to use the right lane… Because I was going to turn right.

      1. pancakes*

        You truly don’t see a problem with relying on a minor moment of irritation to justify being biased and bitter towards a huge group of people? Yikes.

        1. TechWorker*

          Yeah like when did ‘this one person annoyed me so everyone who travels in the same way as them is a loon (?!!)’ become an acceptable thing to say!

          Have you ever when driving encountered an unreasonable driver? Maybe someone cut you off or swerved into your lane? Did you conclude all car drivers are awful people?

          1. Cyclist who also drives, walks, and takes transit*

            Seconding that. Driving a car doesn’t make you more important than everyone else.

        2. Gnome*

          Sorry, I realize that what I wrote didn’t really convey my thoughts well. It’s not that I really think they are all loons. I just kinda decided that I’m not going to worry about loony behavior that might happen from cyclists in my current locale since a disproportionate number act looney. And this one (totally ridiculous) incident was the last of many, many, many incidents in my area (and I was not anywhere near this guy, as I made sure to give him a lot of space since he… wasn’t going very straight). I was in a rush, so I summarized, but… let’s just say the guy was struggling with the idea that the left lane of a major road wasn’t the best place for a cyclist.

          The cyclists in southern CA were WONDERFUL when I was there. But since I haven’t driven but locally in ages, my language reflected my default and locally speaking, they are pretty bad. Sorry for the confusion.

          Drivers are worse though. :)

          1. JSPA*

            Thanks for correcting the record; it’s important to see how certain ways of categorizing and then speaking about people become ingrained, then default, then “us vs them.”

            I imagine in areas where few adults bike unless they are unable to keep a license or drive or get a friends to drive (setting aside those who can’t afford a car or paid rideshare or taxi or jitney, as that exists everywhere) there’s a higher proportion of people who are…not particularly functional. But, just as we don’t have “waking licences,” we don’t need “biking licenses” to deal with dangerous behavior, public nuisance, antisocial behavior (etc) that happens to occur while in motion. There already are a multitude of such laws.

            1. pancakes*

              “I imagine in areas where few adults bike unless they are unable to keep a license or drive or get a friends to drive . . .”

              You don’t think hostility from drivers likely has something to do with that as well? We have a lot of bikers in my city, the CitiBike program is hugely successful, and “rolling coal” is not a thing here. Probably not a coincidence! There is still a lot to be done in terms of making the roads safer for everyone to share but hopefully we’re on the right path. Depicting cycling that only something people with DUIs do is not helpful to getting there. Neither is the outlandish framing that some here have normalized, such as assuming that someone riding in meandering circles must be doing some sort of infuriating form of civil disobedience. It isn’t ok and it isn’t proportionate for people who only get around by car to be this wound up by the presence of people who use other forms of transportation. Aspects of it are unhinged.

          2. pancakes*

            “ I was in a rush, so I summarized . . .”

            In a rush to leave an angry comment. I want to point out that that isn’t comparable to feeling stressed about making the turn safely in the moment, because the sense of urgency is an illusion in the former and very much isn’t in the latter. Part of the reason we seem to have such a problem with road rage in the US is that people are unwilling to untangle their own thoughts about what is and isn’t an imminent threat. Yesterday a man in Georgia reportedly shot 14 rounds at a car that was trying to pass him on the highway.

            1. Gnome*

              Um, no. I was in a rush because of other things going on in my life at the moment so I didn’t write out all the details behind my thoughts, but summarized them, which is a thing a lot of people do, I just happened to do it badly. It has nothing to do with stress, road rage, or the situation I described.

              Was I angry, no. Am I frustrated with much of my local biking population? Yes. Did I explain myself well to start? no.

              As I mentioned in my follow-up, I’ve been in places with cyclists who were really great. But locally recently, it’s been a nightmare and they are super aggressive (also on sidewalks).

      2. thebeanmoveson*

        i cant begin to tell you the number of times ive had cars pass me so closely that i could reach out and touch them. the sheer number of insults ive had thrown my way, the absolute cursing ive experienced for making a right hand turn at a stoplight. people seem ridiculously threatened by my presence and just cant seem to wait 20 seconds for any reason whatsoever. being a cyclist is nearly impossible in the us.

        1. Gnome*

          I’m sorry you’ve had that happen. I always try to be extremely careful with cyclists on the road near me. Part of what drives me batty is, where I am, most seem to try and be as dangerous as possible (swerving in and out of traffic, blowing through 4-way stops when going downhill, blowing through stop lights without looking for oncoming traffic, etc.).

  9. Exhausted*

    A former coworker, Lois, asked me to read over her resume and cover letter when I gave my two weeks notice at that job. I said I’d be happy to, and asked her to send them to me that weekend.

    6 months later, after many promises to send the resume and cover letter to me, Lois still hadn’t sent them. I like to be able to just get things done, so having this favor hanging over me for so long was giving me anxiety. To finally get it over with, I told Lois that if she wanted me to review them, she needed to send them by x date (a few days later), otherwise I wouldn’t be able to look at them for a few months because I was going to be busy with something (which was true). Lois finally sent them, and I spent a lot of time trying to write detailed but kind feedback (they were kinda bad).

    Now, many months later, she’s asking me to read over them again. I don’t want to do it because I started my own job search recently and am putting at least few hours each weekend into that, which feels like a lot since I have sleeping issues and am exhausted all the time. And, I mean, after the last time, I’m not feeling super generous toward Lois.

    But I feel like I’m obligated to incase I need to ask her to be a coworker reference for me. (She keeps asking to confirm that she can use me as a reference, so maybe we’re even?)

    What would you guys do in this situation? Is there something I can say to get out of doing it? Or should I agree to do it and give her a very short deadline and minimal feedback?

    1. JSPA*

      “I covered everything I could think of the first time around! I’m still swamped, but even if I had the time, I’d suggest you pass it in front of a different set of eyes.”

    2. CatCat*

      “Sorry, I’m totally swamped and won’t be able to read and provide feedback! Here are some links to resources that are really helpful for resume writing though! “

    3. Ins mom*

      I’d try to beg off based on your exhaustion, and recommend she ask someone else because getting a second opinion/ another set of eyes is rarely a bad idea. You have done your share and more. You practically had to beg the first time

    4. WFH with Cat*

      Unless you’re worried about Lois reading anything you might post here, I’d recommend AAM and/or Alison’s book and call it a day. You absolutely don’t need to expend any more energy on helping her … I thought you were being very generous the first time around.

      As for Lois being a reference for you, considered her long delays in responding when you agreed to do her a favor (!) and the poor quality of her resume and cover letter, do you still want her to be a reference for you or to provide a reference for her?

      1. Exhausted*

        Lois mentioned that writing is hard for her and that she’s never been good at it. So I guess she just kept procrastinating because of that? (There are things I’m not good at that I hate doing so I can understand procrastinating, but I don’t know if procrastinating over this was excusable since since she’s the one that asked for the favor and then kept bringing it up.)

        The manager at that job told me I was the best hire she ever made and only ever had positive feedback, but she’s a very toxic person (the reason I left that job and why Lois wants to leave), so I figured I should be able to provide Lois as a reference as a backup. (Hopefully she would respond with urgency to a reference request, like how she responded with urgency when she suddenly had a quick deadline?) And I want to help Lois escape, so I’m willing to be a reference for her if necessary. (This dragging-out-a-favor thing obviously reflects badly on her, but I could still say nice things about how she’s a friendly coworker and got all her work done while at work.)

    5. Managing to get by*

      I’m not sure why you let this hang over your head. I would have just forgotten it after she didn’t send it that first weekend.

      It’s perfectly okay to tell her that you gave her your best feedback the first time and don’t have time to review it again. You really don’t “owe” her anything.

      1. Exhausted*

        I did follow up a few times in the beginning incase she mistyped my e-mail address or was having e-mail troubles since I was under the impression she wanted me to review them right away. But after that she was the one that kept texting about it occasionally.

      2. amoeba*

        Yeah, I’d just…. basically ignore it completely until I actually receive the document, then take maybe half an hour writing any comments that I could think of and send it back. Would be no biggie to do that again a couple of months later if she wants.
        Don’t really understand why you feel like it’s your responsibility? And honestly, if she takes months to send it in the first place, I might also take my time with the corrections without feeling bad in the slightest…

    6. Not So NewReader*

      So you feel roped in because of wanting a coworker reference from her.

      Then limit the agreement to that. Tell her that you have gone as far as you can with helping on the resume, but you are still willing to be a reference if she is willing to do the same for you.

      If she pushes on the resume, tell her that she will have to find someone who has more knowledge about resume writing. Tell her that hers is now about as good as yours and that is as much as you can do.

    7. River*

      You shouldn’t have had to worry about Lois. 6 months later is waaayyy overdue and it sounds like she didn’t make it a priority. It’s also a little inconsiderate of your own time. Honestly, I would just tell her that you can’t do it, you’re too busy, she can reach out to someone else, good luck, and move on. Then again, I am mindful of my own time these days. This was one more thing on your plate that had you worried and in my opinion isn’t fair or all that acceptable. I would feel guilty if this ever happened to me.

  10. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Not medical advice but pointers/tips on managing this at home, with a little one?

    I posted the other day that I tested + Friday night (symptoms on Thursday). I woke up yesterday with really sharp chest pains and short of breath so I went to the ER. Went home after 8 hours. Check-in was fairly quick and nurse & dr saw me quickly – got an IV med and had to stay for a few hours afterwards for observation and to be discharged. They did a chest X ray and found pneumonia consistent with the virus. But aside from the IV, no other medication and just at-home treatment of symptoms.

    Kid’s negative but has a fever off and on all weekend. Her on-call dr office said to just manage the fever and other symptoms no need to take her in at this point. I’m trying my best to distance from her but it’s hard – her dad watches her but he still has to work (from home) and sleep and eat too. How do you all manage chores and cooking/feeding etc?

    1. pancakes*

      Get a pulse oximeter delivered. The finger tip ones are not expensive and might save you additional trips to the ER. A quick search for “best pulse oximeter under 50” brings up several lists comparing various features. You want a reading between 95-97%, and if it’s under 90 you need to go back to hospital.

      You should not be worrying about managing chores if you have Covid and pneumonia! They can wait.

      I hope you feel better soon!

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        So sorry you’re suffering like this. I agree with pancakes — no chores or cooking for you two right now. You need to rest, and your husband needs to preserve his strength so he can take care of you and the kids. Food delivery (prepared and groceries that require no cooking) only for now, and if your husband can take a little time off, that might be a good idea.

        Rest up, and I hope you heal well and soon. I’m glad you sought medical attention when you needed it; that was absolutely the right thing to do.

        1. Squirrel Nutkin*

          P.S. This might be a good time to experiment with ordering groceries that are mostly pre-cooked and just need to be heated in a microwave — pre-cooked rice, pre-cooked chicken fingers, etc. They even have pre-cooked and shelled hard-boiled eggs. Use the microwave on a timer (or a toaster oven with a timer that shuts it off) instead of the stove or the regular oven so that you don’t have to pay attention to cooking food potentially burning or starting a fire if you have no bandwidth to concentrate.

          Also, if your older kid(s) who aren’t sick are able to help even with little things and are willing to do so, let them help out! The first time my dad realized that I understood what he was saying was when he absentmindedly asked me for a kleenex, and I proudly brought him the box with a big smile on my face. I was one and a half.

      2. Aww, coffee, no*

        Sorry, I don’t have any tips specific to coping with a child and Covid, but as a general thing I would second the pulse oximeter.
        In the UK the NHS is recommending that for a reading of 93-94% repeat an hour later and call your GP if it’s still at that level. For readings of 92% or lower go straight to A&E (ER) or call an ambulance.
        I had covid last month and it felt like my chest was really tight and I couldn’t take a deep breath, but the pulse-ox readings held at 97-98% which I found very reassuring; it was a very clear way to know if things were going badly wrong (thankfully, they weren’t) without me realising.
        Hope you can rest up and recover.

        1. BubbleTea*

          Hm, I thought it was if it goes under 90. Perhaps call 111 rather than going straight to A&E (unless you’re feeling worryingly unwell of course). The last few times I’ve been in A&E it’s been a six hour wait on average.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Pulse ox under 95 requires medical attention. Under 90 requires immediate medical attention unless you have existing medical conditions that keep yours that low all the time – like emphysema for example.

          2. Aww, coffee, no*

            The page I was looking at was called “How to look after yourself at home if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) or symptoms of COVID-19” on the NHS UK website – it recommended 111 for 93-94% and 999 for 92% or less. Apparently one of the problems with Covid is that people don’t necessarily feel worse, but their health is tanking. The pulse-ox % is one of the more reliable indicators of how well someone really is… or isn’t.
            Excellent point about the waiting times at A&E, though!

      3. Canuck Gal*

        We did 5 days quarantine with a toddler and it was really hard!

        My partner and I took turns based on immediate needs during work hours (e.g. time sensitive tasks and meetings), and then we spent a lot of time playing “catch-up” after bedtime or early in the morning. I did end up using a few sick days too.

        Set a routine with your LO. We did some painting every morning which is a rare treat in our house. We would try to do something active like hide and seek or wheeling around on some toy cars…and then promptly put the TV on so I could get some work done. After the second day, it was well established so not such a fight for my attention all morning. You’re not going to be able to be fully effective at work, but try to be serious about what you can de-prioritize for a few days and just do what you reasonably can.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          That can help. TV doesn’t do much – we have it on as background noise but she rarely pays attention to it. I’d like to take her out for a walk and I know fresh air is supposed to be good but I still get coughing fits and it feels awkward to be out in public like that — even though tbf I’m in an area that’s 50/50 on masking so idk.

          1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

            If you have a tablet and don’t mind spending a few dollars we found the Sago Mini games were good for toddler entertainment while traveling. My older one used to love the airplane one in particular, you don’t need any kind of skill beyond just poking the screen and interesting stuff happens.

    2. Juneybug*

      Your first priority is taking care of you. Then family. The house can wait.
      Do the bare minimum for chores. When you feel better, you and your partner can clean.
      Order food and/or groceries. Make meals that are super easy – cereal, frozen pizza, etc. Allow snacks for you and little one.
      Allow little to watch TV and play with electronics. This is not the time to limit those distractions.
      Hope you and your family get better soon!

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      All of the chores can wait. The family can live on chicken fingers and Kraft mac-n-cheese. This is not the time to set any personal bests.

      On taking her in: When my son was that age he fell and cracked his head on a sharp corner on a Saturday, and after calling the doc I took him to the ER for X-rays (which were negative for skull damage; they glued the skin back together) and boy was he not even a little patient about sitting around the ER waiting for test results. Try to picture occupying a grouchy toddler for hours in a waiting room full of sick people, to get “Well it seems like a cold or covid; manage her symptoms” from someone. I would only take a toddler into urgent care/ER on a holiday weekend if I thought it might be dangerous to wait, and your pediatrician says that’s not the case here.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Tbh I’m loath to take her in even on a non-holiday. I’ve read all the guidance on what to watch out for with fevers so we’re just monitoring her. Thankfully it’s being managed with ibuprofen

        On a side note, do they keep you in the waiting room? Everytime I’ve gone to the ER (myself or with the kid), we go inside pretty quickly. The nurse takes our information, and we settle in while waiting to be seen by the Dr/nurse/test results etc. Maybe it’s the time of day (motn each time for the kid and sunday afternoon yesterday for me).

    4. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Thanks all, I hear you on the waiting on chores/house stuff. Unfortunately this is horrible timing. I start a new job next week and I know from experience that anytime one of us is out of commission for even a day things snowball really fast. It gets really stressful.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        To be honest, I’m not looking to do big chores, like laundry or vacuuming etc, but just basic decluttering. I tidy up like 4x a day (why I have to do it so often and why there’s so much is another issue for another day). My table is full of misc items, I try to tidy it up everyday b/c too many things out of their place give me anxiety. Cooking relaxes me as well to a point. My husband doesn’t want me touching ANYTHING. Kid’s “play room”, the dining room/my work station/my temporary bedroom are all one single room.

        My mom tested positive last weekend and she’s been quarantined in her room – it was easier for her because she doesn’t watch my kid and isn’t responsible for chores. We would order and hand the food to her. Just the whole idea of sanitizing every few seconds, wipes, masking etc inside the house is giving me anxiety.

    5. Dancing Otter*

      You have PNEUMONIA. People DIE from pneumonia. Your husband needs to be taking care of you, not expecting you to take care of the kid when it’s not convenient for him to do so. If you push yourself instead of resting, you’re going to get worse instead of better, and be out of commission even longer. If you keep writing IOUs to your body, they eventually come due. (BTDT: I used to have pneumonia every year by the end of busy season, for exactly that reason.)
      What would he be doing about kid if you had been admitted to the hospital? That’s what he should be doing now.
      I’ll bet if he were the one with pneumonia, he would expect you to take care of him.
      Let them eat TV dinners, peanut butter and jelly, and delivery, off paper plates, if he’s incapable of cooking and washing dishes. Is kid old enough to understand Mommy’s sick? To help with a few easy chores, like picking up after themself and maybe emptying paper baskets?

  11. Monty & Millie's Mom*

    I’d refer her to AAM for resume and cover letter tips and say I didn’t really have the time to take a look myself. If you are okay with it, confirm that you’ll be a reference, though. You’ve already gone above and beyond – it’s okay to step back now.

  12. Arya Parya*

    My manager is a terrible communicator and it’s getting very annoying. I get no feedback on my work other than at my yearly review. He doesn’t announce his holiday plans until a week before he goes. Meetings he has on his calender for weeks, don’t get forwarded to me until the day of that meeting.

    But what is most annoying to me is that he is trying to get me to come to the office more. Right now I go 2 days a week and to me that is more than enough. I love working from home. I have expressed how much I love it. I have expressed I am unhappy with the location of my desk and would to change to a different location, but nothing has happened so far. And yet he tries to get me to come more. Not by telling me directly, but by asking me to meet someone on my WFH day or by asking me to look at a document that is at my desk. I have pushed back on this and told him I will not be in the office those day. And refuse to pick up on the subtext. If he wants me to come more often he can tell me.

    Just looking for some commiseration. I know he will not change. I like the company I work for and the salary, location and benefits are good, but I am starting to look around for a new job.

    1. pancakes*

      This doesn’t actually sound terrible? He seems to be too cowardly to communicate directly with you. That’s a problem for him. It doesn’t have to be one for you as well. Just let him continue to spin his wheels ineffectually and move on when you can.

    2. Juneybug*

      Can you meet with him every week to discuss upcoming meetings, deadlines, project status, etc ? (I mean you ask the questions cause he has the communication skills of a brick wall).
      Can you see his calendar and figure out what meetings he will want you to attend? Then add them to your calendar so you are prepared.

      1. Arya Parya*

        Yes I do all this. It helps, but it’s starting to wear on me that I have to do this.

        Also I’m not neurotypical, so I’m always afraid I miss certain nonverbal things. I prefer direct communication. So this is a real mismatch with my manager

    3. TechWorker*

      So obviously the lack of feedback is a huge problem… the other things sound irritating but… tbh maybe not that surprising! Do you have a lot of prep to do if your manager goes on holiday? If a weeks notice is genuinely not long enough perhaps you can push for a shared calendar, but in many jobs a weeks notice for a holiday is plenty.

      The meeting one – also annoying; i admit I probably do this too :( I get so many meeting requests that sometimes I don’t engage in what’s happening til that morning, which is the point at which I realise person x on my team was left off the invite. Again – unacceptable if you’re being expected to prepare beforehand, but it could be a mismatch in expectations vs malice.

      1. Arya Parya*

        I’m not saying any of this is malice. It’s not, it’s just how he is. I don’t take any of this personally.

        The feedback thing is the the worst. Also because I really have no feeling for how I’m doing, so I can’t correct anything.

        The other things I just find annoying. Every other place I worked we checked with our department if our holiday plans didn’t clash with anyone elses. Other departments in my current company also work that way. So it just baffles me that he doesn’t. I just kinda work around it now. Same with the meetings.

        These things are just adding up. If it was just the one thing, fine. But it is everything.

    4. Elli in Cali*

      Sympathies and good luck.

      Is it certain he knows you’re WFH on days he asks about in person stuff? He may genuinely have forgotten you’re not in. Managers can be remarkably unaware of what their direct reports get up to, especially if they have deliverables taking up valuable brain space. The terrible communication suggests he’s already got limited bandwidth – or aptitude – for tasks like “know where my team is today.”

      1. Arya Parya*

        He definitely knows. We agreed on Tuesday and Wednesday as our in office days, as those are the days all three of our department (which includes him) are working. And his desk is in the same office as I am, so there’s no way he doesn’t see me.

    5. Here we go again*

      I can commiserate by boss changed my days off this week 36 hours before the schedule took effect. I brought this up to him. He thought I was asking for time off. I was really telling him that short amount of notice is unacceptable, and to try finding last minute childcare on a holiday week. Especially since I made arrangements and now they’re no good. So I had to go to HR, fortunately they agreed with me, and they’re looking into the short notice period. It’s retail nothing is a life or death emergency that requires changes like this.
      So now my boss is pissed at me and now nitpicking at my work.

  13. Colette*

    So I had to move my home office from the bedroom it was in to the furnace room. That’s fine – there’s space, there was an existing workbench that I turned into a desk, and all is well.


    Now that I’m actually working there, the light is giving me a headache. There are two lights in the room, on the same switch. One is behind me, but the other one is about 3 feet in front of me. I’m not a fan.

    Any thoughts on how to solve this? Do I take the light bulb out? Get a floor/desk lamp? Is there anything else I haven’t thought of?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Is it too bright? Too direct? I might start by taking the bulb out of the one in front of you, see if that’s enough light and adjust from there.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Yeah, I would either remove the offending bulb or find something to block it from your line of sight.

    3. pancakes*

      Swap the bulb out for one with more suitable wattage and/or color balance. Or a frosted one.

    4. Cleaner*

      Are you sure it’s the light? If you’re in a room with a furnace and getting headaches, you might want to get it checked for leaks. Sometimes there’s such a small leak that it doesn’t trigger alarms or interfere with the system, but it’s enough to cause physical symptoms.

      1. Artemesia*

        Absolutley install a CO detector in this room. We should all have them anyway but it is easy to let it ride. But in a furnace room to work? Even a small leak can make you sick. The combo fire/CO detectors are really cheap. Just do it.

        For lights. Take out the bulb and get a lamp that is comfortable.

      2. Colette*

        Yes. I had the same headaches in the office, with the same cause. And the furnace isn’t actually on, so it’s not the furnace.

        1. Observer*

          Unless the hot water heater is in there, too. That’s common which means that there could be an active, if low level, leak

    5. Jay*

      It sounds like these are bare bulbs?
      I’ve seen a whole lot of different types of light bulbs over the years, some that have glass frosted in such a way as to create something like a built in lampshade.
      Or, could you put in a shade of your own that will diffuse the light more comfortably? Even if you just hang an old lamp shade from the ceiling with a couple of screws (or even double sided tape, if it’s one of the light weight fabric ones).
      Also, you might want to consider looking into different colors of bulb. Some people find different ones more comfortable than others. I have a friend who swears by these blue-tinged bulbs. Myself? I prefer a softer, yellower light, if I can get it.

    6. SofiaDeo*

      First, full spectrum or plant light, bulbs. Not getting any “real sunlight” is hard on your body, especially when sitting in front of a computer and that light/radiation for hours. Is this a bare bulb? There are shades that clip onto the bulb. If this is a long, fluorescent “shop light” type thing, then a long plant light sized for your fixture will give off better light. In addition to the CO meter down there plus a room air cleaner of some sort with a fan built in, so air is circulating. You need fresh air/oxygen getting in there as well as avoiding breathing the carbon monoxide plus other small amounts of potentially harmful gases in natural gas. If there’s a window, crack it. It may not be the light giving you a headache, it could be the air.

    7. JSPA*

      There are bulbs that are partly silvered (horizontal or vertical section) to block direct light.

      There are socket extenders.

      There are outlets that screw into sockets, allowing you to plug in an extention cord or swag lamp.

      There are sockets that plug directly into outlets (such as that on an extention cord).

      Make sure nothing can fall into water, or onto a hot furnace.

      Make sure you have a CO detector!!! Not expired, definitely functional.

      If you’re in a basement, check for radon levels in your area, and try for a cross breeze that gently brings air in from outside, if possible.

    8. Chauncy Gardener*

      I work in my storage room. ;)
      I painted, swapped out the bulbs in the overhead recessed light fixtures for some labeled “warm,” and put a floor lamp in the room with a warm graded bulb in it. It made a world of difference!

  14. Kowalski! Options!*

    Kinda work-related, kinda not:
    How far in advance do you have the discussion with your boss about taking a year’s leave without pay (permitted in our collective agreement)? This would be for the calendar year of 2024, so it’s not imminent. I’m thinking it doesn’t need to be more than six months in advance (most people who need mat/pat leave would be asking at that point), but would appreciate hearing other people’s experiences.

    1. Thea*

      In my experience, if it’s mentioned in a collective agreement then the conditions on when/how you need to talk to your boss should be there too.

      Where I am I have to let my boss know at least three months in advance. When I wanted to take time off to go back to university for a year I first mentioned it at work about five months before, then let them know that I applied three months before and then let them know I was accepted into the program I wanted about 1,5 months before.

      1. Kowalski! Options!*

        Yeah, oddly enough, the CA is a little fuzzy on those details (it basically details what we have the right to, but not the chain of command or time frame for getting it).

    2. Grits McGee*

      I think it would depend on your role and whether you are the primary person who does it, what would need to be done to cover your work (reassign parts to different people, hire a temp, detail a current staffer to your role), and what your boss’s reaction will be.

      I’ve had coworkers go on extended leaves before with minimal notice (planned trip + loooong jury duty immediately after), and their work was such that it was ok to put it completely on hold until they were back. However, if you are an important part of a critical process, the more notice the better, especially for your coworkers who will need to continue business without you.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      If you have a collective agreement, I assume that you’re in a union. If the agreement itself is unclear on the notice required, you can try asking your union rep for clarification. I know our union is pretty aware of who is taking extended leaves and would advocate for members if they had any trouble getting our employer to approve them. (They also help with navigating leave types of unpaid leave versus using up any banked sick days or short-term disability if applicable.)

  15. Mimmy*

    Employment application questions:

    1. When an application asks for your most recent employment history (the one I just filled out asked for the last 7 years), I assume they only want PAID employment, correct? Not unpaid internships or volunteer jobs?

    2. Can “Professional” references include classmates and instructors? What about the Chair of a student-run group I was recently in (as part of my recent grad degree)? Or would those be considered “personal” references? (The application asked for at least three *professional* references)


    1. Grits McGee*

      1. I would definitely count unpaid internships as part of your employment history- that’s why you did them., right? Volunteer jobs are a little more gray- if they’re related to your field and are an ongoing commitment vs an intermittent or one-time commitment (ex- volunteering with an after-school group 3x a week vs reading to kids for an hour once every couple months), then I think you could include it. If this is an application, rather than a resume, then I wold err on the side of including experience, especially if you are young/new to the workforce.

      2. I’ve used professors before, when I was fresh out of school, though I was also a research assistant, so they were familiar with me as an employee as well as a student. If you’ve done internships, then I would definitely recommend using your supervisors from those and maybe including 1 professor who is very familiar with your work.

    2. Artemesia*

      If you are a new grad and internships make up part of that 7 years then list the internships with the same attention to achievements you would use elsewhere.

      I would not use classmates as references except in unusual circumstances. If for example they partnered with you on a complex community base project or project at your internship, maybe — but make it clear who they are and why you are listing them. You would not ordinarily use co-workers — same deal — only under extraordinary circumstances. Instructors? Sure but ones who know your applied work rather than classroom work alone are a better choice.

    3. WellRed*

      Professional references means workplace references. I’d probably use the group chair if they are a professor but not a student. I’d list internships, paid or not.

    4. Juneybug*

      1. Yes and no. Employers are usually looking for paid employment history, however, unpaid internships should be included. They show work experience.
      If there is a spot for addt comments or volunteer work, make sure to list your volunteer jobs.

      2. For professional references, I would use only Instructors or Chairs, not classmates. Your Instructors or Chairs will have a different viewpoint of your skills than your lab partner, such as timeliness, attention to detail, communication skills, leadership abilities, etc. Your lab partner would talk about the assignment, how well you collaborate, etc. While these are important, employers would give more weight to a people in the position of authority.

      Good luck!

    5. Ana Gram*

      I would include relevant volunteering or internships. I hire public safety and I love seeing applicable unpaid work. It can definitely help make you more competitive.

    6. AcademiaNut*

      For employment history on an application, I’d include internships, but not volunteer work. Both could go on the resume, with relevant volunteer work in a separate section. For professional references – if you’re just finishing up school, former work supervisors would be best, professors can work, but are more useful if they’ve actually worked with you and can say something about your work beyond simply having been in your class. I definitely wouldn’t list classmates, even the chair of a student run group. Internship supervisors would be a better choice than a random professor.

      If you’re finishing a grad degree, the references I’d consider would be your thesis supervisor, internship supervisors, professors you’ve been an RA or TA for, followed by professors you’ve been in small classes with.

  16. Anon for this*

    Anyone ever get payouts from ancient life insurance policies? As in, they were taken out when you were a child and the companies don’t even exist anymore?

    My sibling and I were recently surprised by paperwork from our late father’s files. She said she will look into it, but I’m not sure what we would need to have or how long it would take. A death certificate and proof of identity, I assume.

    Obviously, I would rather have my dad. But money would be helpful right now.

    1. Veryanon*

      Are you working with an estate lawyer at all? If not, it might be worthwhile to pay for a quick consult with one, if you are able to do that. You might also want to check with your company’s EAP, if you have one, as EAPs often will offer discounts on legal services.

      1. Anon for this*

        No lawyers that I’m aware of. My sister might know of someone where she lives. Either way, we can’t do anything until the holiday is over.

      1. Anon for this*

        I think one was bought out, but I can’t find any information about the other. I assume it was too. Both policies were taken out in the early 1970s. I assume from that article that whatever entity is handling them now would still be able to pay out on the policies if Dad kept up the premiums.

        I wasn’t part of the conversation about this between my sister and my mother. I have no idea if she received more information than I did. Honestly, my family are some of the worst communicators ever.

    2. Ins mom*

      Probably worth putting some effort in to. You can ask your state insurance department for help tracking down the successor companies

    3. Juneybug*

      Try the National Association of Insurance Commissioners if the closed/old company was purchased by another company and those insurance policies carried forward.
      You can also try the insurance commissioner’s office of the state in which each insurance company was originally based.
      I am sorry about your dad.

      1. Anon for this*

        Oh yes, that might help. We know one might now be with MetLife, but not sure about the other. I will copy this comment and forward it to her.
        And thank you.

    4. Anon for this*

      Thank you, everyone. I’ll share this with my sibling. We’ll have to wait until the holiday is over to contact anyone.

    5. Pocket Mouse*

      NOLO’s book The Executor’s guide is a great resource overall. For finding life insurance policies, it advises:
      -Look through back records and canceled checks; even old ones may indicate an active policy
      -Use the life insurance policy locator service through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (free, can take up to 90 days)
      -Ask your state’s insurance department; as of a few years ago the following states will search for free: AL, IL, MI, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OR, PA, TN, TX
      -Pay a service: mib dot com/pls dot html
      -More tips from American Council of Life Insurers at acli dot com

      Good luck, and I’m sorry you’re in this situation.

    6. Weegie*

      Yes, I did, when my dad passed away – with the caveat that I’m not in the US, so things might be different. An insurance policy that his mother had taken out on his life in the 1950s turned up in my dad’s paperwork. I googled the name of the insurer, found out that it had been taken over by another company, contacted them, and after a bit of correspondence and sending relevant documents (the original policy, death cert, etc), they paid out. It wasn’t very much, though, which I suppose is to be expected after so many years.

    7. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      You can also check the state your father was in for uncollected money. If it’s a defunct insurance company, the funds may have been turned over to the state. Those state sites are worth checking for anyone – I found myself on one for a nice little windfall from a policy my parents had on me decades ago!

  17. Dreaming of daffodils*

    I’m interviewing for a part-time position with a new, small nonprofit (the director is the only employee right now, everything else is done by a team of volunteers). I’m super wary of the potential for issues after reading AAM for years and seeing how easily small workplaces can be dysfunctional, but I have been one of the volunteers for the last year and quite like the director, so am willing to give this a go! (And willing and able to leave if it isn’t working.)

    Any advice or success stories of working for small nonprofit to encourage me?

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      I worked for a small nonprofit (about 5 full-time and 10 part-time employees, so bigger than what you’re talking about but still quite small) for seven years. I went through some bad management times, but also some very good times that made me glad I stayed. Individual personalities have an outsize impact because there are so few of you–but if you like the director already, that’s promising.

      Other than personalities, a big feature of working at a small nonprofit is that everyone does a bit of everything, maybe more like working at a restaurant where people need to be ready to just pitch in with what needs to be done, and less of the “that’s not in my job description” or “stay in your lane” ethos of some modern offices. There are more opportunities to take on new projects or try out new skills, fewer opportunities to go really deep into one skill. This isn’t good or bad, it just suits some people better than others.

      My biggest piece of advice is to have good boundaries from the beginning with regards to your part-time status or it can start to feel more like full time. Don’t read or answer emails during your off hours, don’t let anyone schedule meetings on your off days. That would go for any job, not just a nonprofit.

      Good luck!

    2. Slothy*

      I did this a year ago and it has worked out really well. My new org has 4 full time staff. I previously volunteered with them, which gave me some insight into how the executive director and staff would be as manager and coworkers. It’s definitely a different environment – all hands on deck for some big projects, a lot of DIY in the office, etc. If you’ve worked with the director for a year in a volunteer capacity and haven’t seen any red flags, it seems safe to give it a go. My tiny NGO is way more functional than the larger ones I’ve worked for (and not toxic at all).

  18. Anonforthis*

    I’m casually looking for a new opportunity – I like the place where I work currently, but there are a lot of issues in my specific department that frustrate me daily, so I’ve been evaluating where I want my career to go. For context, I’m very experienced in my field and I know what my skills are worth in the job market. However, the last time I was in a serious job search was about 6 years ago.
    The search has been…interesting. I’ve been approached on multiple occasions about jobs that are well below my experience level and the pay range I want. I seem to be getting a lot of interest from start-ups for some reason. My most recent interview was with a hiring manager who told me that he’s “all about work-life balance” but in the next breath told me how he never leaves the office before 6pm most nights. Also, a lot of the companies I’ve met with don’t seem to be taking COVID seriously anymore – another recent interviewer (the VP of HR for that organization!) told me that COVID is something people will just have to “get over” and she could never anticipate having a mandatory vaccination policy. This was for a global company based in a large Northeast US city, so her attitude was pretty surprising. I’ve already decided that I’m not going to move forward with these two employers.
    Is anyone else experiencing this? Or am I hopelessly out of touch?

    1. Science KK*

      The start up thing isn’t too surprising, I’ve seen plenty of people on this site say they took a pay cut or title cut for a start up they really believed in. Not saying you should do that, but it’s a thing that happens.

      People thinking COVID is over is the general thinking most places these days, even though per Mayo Clinic 300 people are still dying a day from it. I don’t think that’ll be avoidable sadly, so stock up on masks, sanitizer, etc.

    2. fruit salad*

      honestly, a manager at a start-up leaving at 6 every night does sound like work-life balance. You are being told they don’t work till 10 or midnight. What time do they get in? Full disclosure: I work for a start-up. My manager stays till 6 or 7 every night. He doesn’t roll in till 10 or so in the mornings, so that seems reasonable to me.

      1. TechWorker*

        Ha, I thought the same. I nearly always work til 6/6.30, but I don’t start til 9.30/10 so it’s a v reasonable day.

      2. amoeba*

        Yeah, I’m not an early riser, so working roughly 9-6 with an hour’s lunch break sounds really normal to me. And at least in our company, it’s also flexible, so I’ll stay until 6 but other people come in early and leave at 4.30. So that alone really doesn’t sound too bad (without any context)…

    3. JSPA*

      The ones with bad covid policies don’t find people (or don’t keep them, or lose them to Covid?) so they remain on the hunt, cluttering our inboxes like floating garbage piling up above a weir.

  19. Science KK*

    Any suggestions for what to do if my supervisor shows up Tuesday knowing she has COVID? She sent a positive test yesterday, said she check again today and see if she’d be safe to come in tomorrow. Mind you this woman has a PhD in biology and had been a project scientist for 15 years.

    She is one of these people who hired and trained us, but thinks we’re all useless idiots who cannot function without her keeping tabs on us. Her boss knows about the COVID and that she wants to come in to work tomorrow, and expressly told her no via text. However her boss is in another state for a month on vacation, so won’t be here should this happen.

    There also will be no long term consequences for this scientist, period. Our HR has zero power to do anything.

    So aside from wearing a mask and being grateful that I haven’t had to move my desk near hers yet, any suggestions?

    1. Veryanon*

      Do you have the option of either taking the day off or working from home tomorrow? If so, that’s what I’d recommend.

        1. Artemesia*

          Enraged on your behalf. A close friend of ours now has COVID and has infected his entire family because a worker came into his office KNOWING he had COVID and coughed all over everyone. Now virtually everyone in the office has COVID. This is the third instance like this among acquaintances in the last month. Last month, two different friends in France got COVID at their offices, same deal. Very important person came in sick and infected all their peers.

          1. Science KK*

            I am thankful I live alone, at least I won’t infect anyone else since if she shows up I’m quarantining. I was thinking we could talk her off the ledge but one coworker is on vacation and not checking work correspondence (rightly!) so we can’t all meet Zoom or otherwise till tomorrow, which no doubt has her in a frenzy since a major part of our project is supposed to happen tomorrow.

        2. pancakes*

          You can’t take a sick day? What would you do if you were actually sick? If HR has “zero power” and there are no consequences for people coming to work knowing they’re positive for covid, I would think you’d be able to stay home “sick” tomorrow and also not experience consequences. It’s not clear what consequences you expect would apply to you in this situation, but I suppose you’ll have to weigh them vs. the likelihood of getting sick if you go in.

          1. Science KK*

            I use my sick time for therapy and other appointments, so I don’t have a lot.

            1. JSPA*

              Your priorities need to change! Boss putting your life and health at risk, in direct violation of an order, is an issue for HR; workplaces broadly (though not universally) protect workers who refuse to work in unsafe situations.

        3. JSPA*

          1. Complain in real time to her supervisor.

          2. Take an hour off, in hope of a response. Explain in your message that you will be doing so.

          3. If it’s (say) a time course that will require redoing a week or two of work? BLOW IT OFF. You being out for a week or two, very ill, would be at least as disruptive.

          If it’s (say) an experiment already in process that can’t be halted without losing decades of work or truly irreplacable samples, contact boss’s boss even earlier, to ask what you should do, if the boss comes in. Grandboss may be able to delegate someone with standing to send boss home.

          1. Science KK*

            We are already redoing thousands of dollars worth of work (not due to personnel mistakes, due to something just not working). We can’t afford to do it again. And none of that would be approved by our director, period. But I literally just a got text saying she won’t come in, but will have someone who literally quit so he wouldn’t have to work with her supervise!

            And he’s too nice to charge them. Oh lab life.

            1. JSPA*

              Thousands of dollars is peanuts, in science funding terms. And compared to the cost of Healthcare. And the actuarial (and personal) value of, “living life as a healthy person” vs as someone with long-term covid-related deficits.

              Further, “Lack of expected results” is, itself, often important data! Treating it like a cock-up is a way to promote and reward fabrication and scientific misconduct. Don’t let a bad boss warp your awareness that research is NOT about, “producing the expected / desired results.”

            2. pancakes*

              What do you mean “we,” did you kick in your own money towards this? You can’t effectively manage a budget from the bottom up and shouldn’t be trying to.

      1. Science KK*

        I can and plan to, but nothing will happen. Her boss will be mad and do nothing.

        1. TechWorker*

          Can you get advance approval from your boss to work from home for the day? (Or, agreement that if supervisor shows up, you can leave?)

        2. fhqwhgads*

          Based on what you’ve already established as not options, it sounds like your best bet is to wear a properly fitted N95 and hope for the best.

    2. StellaBella*

      Wear an N95 mask, keep 6 feet distance, do not eat lunch or ride elevator etc with her. Amd be clear, “I am a bit surprised you are coming to work with infectious covid and I am at risk, so I want to protect myself.”

  20. Squirrel Nutkin*

    I don’t think it’s “out of touch” to be worried about covid precautions in the workplace — just smart. It’s true that you’ll have a smaller set of workplaces to choose from, but when you DO find a workplace that takes covid precautions seriously, I imagine that it might be a huge green flag that that organization cares about its employees in other ways as well and takes good care of them. As with romantic partners, it pays to be choosy.

  21. FakeEleanor*

    I’m moving in with my partner next month and I’m so excited! Does anyone have advice, tips, lessons learned, etc. from moving in with a significant other for the first time? We’ll both be working from home at least some of the time, and we managed to find an apartment big enough to accommodate that, but any and all cohabitation tips are welcome.
    On a side note, coordinating a move while studying for the bar exam is…stressful. Would not recommend, but leases end when they end.

    1. Typing All The Time*

      You’ll see each other warts and all. Talk about your co-habiting responsibilities and what’s okay and what’s not for both of you (chores, bills, shopping, maintenance, storage, entertaining, pets, etc.). Also you have to see about your stuff, in you have to decide on what to keep or toss or donate.

    2. Artemesia*

      I moved in 51 years ago to the guy I have been married to now for 50 years. I had a previous short marriage where I put him through law school while working full time and getting my masters. I did all the housework and cooking.

      When my husband2 and I moved in together we sat down together and talked about how we would run the household. He is neat, I am not. So we agreed that the living/dining space and bathroom would be kept neat and clean — I got a room that was my office that could be as messy as I liked.

      We agreed that we would do our own laundry and that we would trade weeks cooking. The non-cook would clean up the kitchen. We are both considerate cooks so that worked (if one cook is a slob and doesn’t clean as they go etc, then the cook cleans up their own turns cooking). These were the big things. But we laid down this ‘partnership’ from the beginning — no ‘helping me with my work.’

      It has gone beautifully all these years. Over time with job changes, unemployment for each, retirements, raising kids etc we have kept the spirit of sharing the load but changed the particulars. Working, I got home earlier and so did dinner during the week and he cooked weekends, often preparing stews and such we could use during the week. When he retired first, he took over cooking until I retired. When we moved to a small condo at retirement, I started doing laundry as we didn’t have room for as many laundry baskets. When we had babies and I was nursing he did all of the baby baths — it didn’t matter how late he worked, babies don’t care and baths are fun. And when either of us was unemployed, we picked up much more of the housework.

      By being very clear about who does what and being responsible jointly this has gone really smoothly. I think there is always a bit of a bias against women in the household and easy to slide into being the maid. Being very explicit and also clear that the work is the responsibility of each makes it so much smoother. And you don’t want to have this conversation two months in where it becomes you frustrated and naggy about him not pulling his oar. It is a partnership. Start with clear partnership agreement and understanding that you are not the housewife. If it would help make a list of who has which chores and whose week it is to cook etc and put it on the refrigerator. Really explicit plans early on make naturally just adjusting later so much easier. And you make clear that the assumption that you will do all the planning and even all the work is not happening.

      1. FakeEleanor*

        This was wonderfully thorough, thank you! Neither of us are the neatest people, so I am a bit worried about letting the mess get out of hand, but being clear on responsibilities should help.

        1. Artemesia*

          You can decide how to manage the mess e.g. designate the living room a mess free zone where everything out has to be put away before bed. One of our things was making the bed. I just don’t care. He wants the bed made. So we make the bed; the last person up makes it and usually that is him — but if it is me, then I make it. I also do the laundry but he pulls the sheets off the bed and makes the bed up with clean sheets which hurts my wrists.

          But the main thing is to agree and the person whose job it is does the planning etc.

          My first husband would expect a medal if he put out cereal for breakfast in the morning ‘helping me’. It never occurred to him to do dishes. I once let every dish in the house get dirty and he ignored it. I am astounded that I put up with this crap but I did learn, left him and have been happy ever since.

        2. Clisby*

          If you can afford it, I think it’s well worth the money to hire a cleaning service once or twice a month.

        3. Cedrus Libani*

          My husband and I are also not-so-neat people, and what’s worked for us is having a clear division of labor. The person who cares most (or objects the least) is in charge. He’s in charge of vacuuming and dusting; he has allergies, I don’t. I’m in charge of laundry; I need it done regularly, as I can go maybe 1.5 weeks without running out of clothes, while he owns at least two months’ worth. We both hate doing the dishes; at first we tried taking turns, but then we had the nightly debate over whose turn it was, so now I’m the loader and he’s the un-loader.

          It helps that we are both adults who understand that housework is not done by magical elves, and we both try to do our fair share.

          1. BubbleTea*

            Check out the Fair Play system (a book and cards) which helps with explicit division of labour and setting expectations.

      2. Jay*

        This. Unstated assumptions are the landmines of relationships. Open communication and especially the ability to listen without personalizing is gold.

        We’ve been married 37 years and had much the same conversation along with the various renegotiations over the years. We were not as successful with the messy/neat divide – that took a long time to sort out. I’m the neater one, and I still don’t put everything away as soon as I’m done with it. After years of frustration (mine) and defensiveness (his) I was finally able to articulate what I needed, which is the ability to make the space comfortably tidy in ten or fifteen minutes. Right now I can see two glasses, a pen, and yesterday’s crossword on the table, a book on the chair, and my sandals under the coffee table. I could get all of that cleared away in one trip because I know where it all belongs. Once I was able to clearly state that, we agreed that when I wanted the common space tidy, I would take his stuff and put it on his desk chair. Problem solved.

      3. Anono-me*

        I want to to second the advice to ‘be explicit’. Everyone has different definitions of a little and a lot. If you don’t know what ‘a little’ or ‘a lot’ is when it refers to messy/late/money for each other, you are risk being unhappy with each due to definitions, not real concerns.


    3. Juneybug*

      Take your time determining what items should stay or go. For example, when I moved in with my then boyfriend (now dear hubby), we had three microwaves. Deciding which one stays involve a surprising detailed discussion. I would have picked the the newer model and as a bonus, it matched the kitchen. So for me, the other two microwaves can go.
      However, DH had a microwave downstairs in his office/TV lounge at his previous house to heat up his coffee or popcorn. So in his eyes, we need two. But our new basement wasn’t even close to be finished, and it would be our bedroom, not playroom or office. I rather not have cooking appliances in our master suite. It was eye opener to see how different we were.
      Sometimes emotions are involved that is also surprising. Other microwave that DH brought into the relationship was from a sweet family member as a hand-me-down. He was struggling to let it go due to the emotional connection. I would have gladly kept it if it was less than 15 year old, didn’t smell, and wasn’t so loud.
      So take your time, understand there are emotions or expectations involved. Good luck!

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Especially with working from home, each of you might really yearn for some time alone in the apartment. Be able to talk about that (it can land as “you are pushing me out of my space!” or “ooh, I’ll go to the coffee shop for a while, you have the house, win-win”).

      1. Artemesia*

        That is really smart. Plan for private space if you can at home, and if that is hard work out strategies for getting that space e.g. one person works at the coffee shop today.

    5. TransmascJourno*

      First off: Mazel tov!

      I’d say it’s best to have some conversations about the practical stuff up front—chores, habits, preferences, etc.—and be honest and realistic about it all, but with the willingness to listen to one another and with a shared goal of working out a baseline you’re both comfortable with. When I moved in with my current partner a little over two years ago, we did this, and it really helped us figure out what she needed and I needed to make things comfortable for us both. Creating a budget for shared expenses is also something I’d strongly advise (i.e. groceries, bills, etc.).

    6. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      Practical regarding emotions rather than chores or money, a tip my grandmother once gave me:
      if one of you is angry about something the other did/did not do/said/you think they meant/… talk about it before sleeping (not necessarily before going to bed , because sometimes it’s easier to talk about something in the quiet and dark than in the light of day), so that you do not fall asleep angry or hurt. And don’t bring it up at a later date (unless it is a recurring thing) because you had your chance to talk about it without it becoming muddled by the passage of time.
      (Obviously, there are exceptions to this but I find it a very good general rule)
      Also: always understand that the emotions of both partners are valid and none trumps the other.
      Lastly: find things to do together, and things to do apart , so that you both have a chance to grow as a couple and as individual people.
      Good luck, and enjoy eachother’s company!

      1. BubbleTea*

        As an addendum to the talk before sleeping point, however, don’t wait until bedtime to raise an important conversation. My ex would always do this after stewing on it all evening, and then be angry when I had to go to sleep so that I could function the next day. Conversations go better when people aren’t exhausted.

    7. PollyQ*

      Captain Awkward just had a post full of general advice for roommates (#1379). One of her big takeaways is to put as much as possible in writing. Not that things can’t be renegotiated down the road, but to help both parties be clear on what they want.

    8. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Have at least one “extra” sleeping space. This can be a guest bed, a reasonably comfortable couch/futon, whatever. This will be helpful if you two ever need a short break from each other, if one of you gets sick, if you end up on opposite schedules for a bit, and is invaluable if you decide it’s not going to work out as a couple after all at a time when you can’t immediately move out into separate places. When I moved in with one of my SOs, we moved my bed into the bedroom because it was bigger than his, but set up his old twin bed in a corner of the living room as a daybed/extra seating. It both came in handy for company AND made it much easier a year later when we realized after living together that we weren’t as compatible as we thought and needed to disentangle our stuff and go our separate ways.

      1. allathian*

        I’m a very restless sleeper, and I’m firmly convinced that switching to separate beds and bedrooms saved our marriage. Obviously not everyone has that option if they’re living in a tiny apartment, but don’t get hung up on the idea that a couple has to sleep in the same bed or there’s something wrong with the relationship. Making sure that both partners can get a good night’s sleep is far more important.

    9. mreasy*

      Get ready to have more arguments than you ever have during the transition period! This will settle down but as mentioned below, you’ll be learning a lot about ways your living styles clash & will have to work out compromises. But this stage will pass!

    10. Sage*

      One thing we did ahead of moving in together was schedule regular ‘relationship chat’ slots – think it started weekly, then moved to monthly. So if something is bothering you, there’s an allocated moment to bring it up so it doesn’t fester but also doesn’t feel like a big deal. I’d really recommend!

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Plan how entangled you want your finances to be (or not be) and how you plan to split bills and such. If you’re sharing finances at all, plan for how unexpected windfalls (bonus from work, inheritance, hundred bucks on a scratch off, whatever) will figure into the mix. (I assumed my bonus was mine, ex was FURIOUS that I wasn’t putting it into communal funds, it got ugly.)

    12. Pocket Mouse*

      Practice a neutral/collaborative way to bring things up. Differences don’t become issues until you’ve headed down a negative, destructive path with them. Definitely bring things up when you want to talk about them—don’t stew—but also be sure to foster a positive outcome if you can. For example:
      -“I’ve noticed we might have different approaches to X. Can we talk about what we’d do if left to our own devices, and how we want to approach it together?”
      -“Can we check in about Y? I tend to do it this way for these reasons, how about you?”

    13. Gracely*

      Don’t complain about the way someone else does a chore if it’s being done in good faith. Example: my husband sucks at putting dishes into the dishwasher in an efficient manner–but he also does most of the dishwashing as well as the putting away of the dishes. Sometimes I’ll rearrange the dishes when it feels particularly egregious, but overall, the dishes are getting done, so it’s not a big deal.
      Relatedly, I do most of the cooking, so as long as husband doesn’t actively hate the food I want to make (there are a few meals I love that he hates; I usually make them when he’s out of town or has leftovers of something else he can eat), he’s happy to eat whatever I make, because he didn’t have to make it. Also, don’t always expect the other person to always do the thing they usually do–sometimes I don’t feel like cooking, and we get take out instead. Sometimes husband doesn’t want to empty the dishwasher by himself (or doesn’t know where a new dish goes), and I’ll help.

      Also! Thank your partner/each other, even for the stuff that you expect any decent person living on their own to do for themselves, because now you’re doing it not just for yourself but for the other person, too. I’m always thankful when I don’t have to do the dishes or clean the cat boxes, and he’s always thankful when he doesn’t have to figure out food, go grocery shopping, etc. etc.

  22. Financial planning*

    We have a mortgage at a low-ish fixed rate with about 8 years left on it. We’d like to buy a different house in about 2 years and then sell this one. We are working to build up our savings for the down-payment on the next house, waiting for a couple of life things to resolve, etc. With our current savings, we could pay off our current mortgage and still have some left for emergencies (approximately a 6 month cushion). Paying off early would save us some money, but I don’t think we’ll re-save the same amount of cash in the next 2 years, even though we won’t be making mortgage payments anymore. So, as tempting (very tempting) as it is to pay off our current mortgage, I think we shouldn’t do it. I think we should just keep going in our current pattern of regular payments and additions to our savings. Then we can make a bigger down-payment on the next house, hopefully saving ourselves more money by doing so. What would you do? What factors am I not thinking about here? I really want someone to tell me that paying it off *is* a good idea after all! :)

    1. ThatGirl*

      When you sell your house you’ll get some money back, right? Isn’t that how people usually finance the next down payment? (After various commissions etc) We’re in kinda similar shoes (11 years into a 25 year mortgage) and if we sold our house today we’d have about $80k in equity which would go a long way to the next down payment….

      Either way I wouldn’t pay it off early.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        While it’s typical, in the current housing market an offer that is contingent on selling your current house may not be very appealing compared to people offering a simpler deal.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Fair, but that’s a separate equation, and who knows what the market will look like in two years.

      2. Financial planning*

        We’d ideally like to buy first and then sell, because we have too much junk and need to move it somewhere (new house) on our own timeline before putting current house on the market. So, yes we will hopefully get some cash from the sale but won’t be able to turn it into a down-payment. (We could turn it into a large single payment if we chose, or “pay ourselves back” for part of the down-payment. But we will probably turn it into improvements for the new house.)

        1. ThatGirl*

          Fair! I’m still on my first house so I only know these things in theory. But with low interest rate loans, it may or may not be worth paying off early – though in this case it would just be more equity for the house.

    2. Aww, coffee, no*

      At least in the UK interest rates are climbing. If they’re still high in two years then a bigger down-payment will serve you well, as there’s less capital to pay interest on.
      Also, how do interest rates on your savings compare with what you’re paying on your current mortgage?
      I think I’d want to sit down with a spreadsheet and ‘role-play’ different scenarios with different interest rates, and see which one works best for you.

    3. Colette*

      Mathematically, you’re better off paying off your mortgage, assuming there are no penalties for doing so, because you’d save the interest you’d otherwise pay.

      BUT … that only works if you continue making your mortgage payments to an account you don’t touch under any circumstances.

      1. So Much To Think About*

        When I had about four years left on my 2% mortgage, I asked my financial advisor what she thought about me paying off the rest of the loan out of my savings. Her reply: “If I’m not earning you more than 2% on what you have invested with me, you should totally fire me.” Think of the remainder of your mortgage as a loan from the bank at x% interest, and you’ll see it makes sense to keep as much of it as you can for as long as you can, I think.

        1. Financial planning*

          Yeah, the mortgage rate is higher than our savings interest rate, which is an issue I should devote more attention to!

    4. Isben Takes Tea*

      I agree an important calculation is whether the money you save by paying off the mortgage early will equal the cash you’ll have in hand if you continue saving; however, an equally important question is: If you were to pay off your house now and be unable to buy a new one in 2 years due to a highly competitive market, would you be okay staying in this one for a while?

      There can also be a huge mental security in having a fully paid-off house; that in itself can improve your quality of life in a way future extra cash can’t. But if your mental happiness is set on the expectation of moving in 2 years, then I’d do what makes you the most able buyer in the future.

      1. Financial planning*

        We could stay, but important-to-us things can’t take place in our current house, so we’d really like to stick to the 2-year goal. Thank you for framing it this way!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          If you were thinking of staying put, I’d go for paying off the mortgage–I love that ours is gone and I never have to explain escrow accounts to whatever clueless discount house o’ mortgages most recently bought ours.

          We will probably move in the next couple of years for those “can’t take place in current house” reasons, and I don’t look forward to the process.

    5. Ginger Pet Lady*

      One thing to think about is that when you pay off your house, it can actually tank your credit rating! Happened to us when we paid off our old house and a few years later moved. Had a hard time qualifying because we didn’t have recent proof of regularly paying a mortgage or rent.
      We also have the awful habit of paying off our cc every month and buying used cars for cash.
      Turns out credit companies think you’re a better risk if you are still paying back what you owe that if you have a proven history of paying off debt.
      Which is utterly ridiculous, but whatever.

      1. Financial planning*

        Ooh, thanks for the heads up! Our credit score is currently north of 810 and we do what you do: pay all our cards in full every month. The mortgage and a car loan that will be paid off next year are our only installment payments. I’d hate for that score to drop so much that it hurt us!

    6. Anono-me*

      What is the likelihood that you will have over 20% for a downpayment on you next house? For me that would be a big consideration as mortgage insurance is typically a significant expense if you put down less than 20% , and refinance is no fun either.

      But I would probably pay off the whole thing then make mortgage payments to myself ( put the current mortgage amount in savings each month). That way you have both the principal and the interest. But this is something that experience tells me that our family could do. You need to consider your family’s financial patterns.

      1. Financial planning*

        I am strongly committed to 20% down and would set the budget accordingly. My husband is in the “we could pay PMI for a few years if we had to” camp. So for the right property we might buy it even if we couldn’t do 20% down, but I’d very much prefer to! And keeping our money in savings right now gives us more options for that, versus the peace of mind of paying off the current loan.

    7. Observer*

      I’d probably split the difference. I wouldn’t pay off the whole mortgage, but I would start making extra payments towards the principal. Given that you have only about 8 years left on the mortgage, it won’t make as much of a difference as if you did it in the beginning, but could still be helpful.

      Ideally, I’d increase the the amount I’m paying back to be enough to finish off with the mortgage in two years, when you start looking for a new house. There are two reasons. One is that it’s just going to be easier for you not having the mortgage payment to be thinking about and factoring into your financial calculations. More importantly, if you don’t have an existing mortgage, you are likely to find a better mortgage on your new house. And that could have long term implications. Especially since mortgage rates have gone up, and it’s unlikely that they are going to come back down to the level that they were even a year ago, within the next 2 years.

      But, the less you have on the existing house, the better it’s likely to be for getting a new mortgage. So, do try to do what you can to lower your principal debt on the house, without gutting your savings plan.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I was thinking a long the same lines. Pay enough so that the loan will be paid off in 2 years with regular payments.

        Here’s what I did. I got an amortization schedule from my lender. This laid out all the payments and the balance due after each payment for the time period left on the loan. From the schedule I was clearly able to see how much I needed to put down on the principle if I wanted the house paid off before I reached age 65.

        I made a good size payment out of some extra money I had and I knocked 14 years off the 30 year loan. The house will be paid in full this time next year and before my 64th birthday. (happy birthday to me! is what I tell myself.)

        FWIW. I am a financially conservative, I do not take medium or large risks. However with the way things are now, I almost feel obliged to say, “Pay down the house you have.”. I think there is a reason (or a gut feeling) that you want someone to say this and I am happy to be that person.
        From my own life- with all the noise going on out there, knowing the house is almost paid off gives me some peace. It’s one less worry in the worry basket.

      2. Financial planning*

        I am liking this thought. Thank you both! It might help avoid the credit-score decrease mentioned above, too.

    8. Gnome*

      My parents paid off the house and then did a HELOC or something like that – basically took cash out against the home value – to fund their next home a few years later. In their case, they were downsizing and to the sellers, it looked like they were paying cash (since they had the funds in the bank already, it was a no-mortgage offer), which was helpful in that particular market. They obviously had to make payments on and pay back whatever they took out, but presumably you could do something similar if you wanted. I don’t know the details, but I mention it in case it’s useful

      1. Financial planning*

        An interesting option, especially since we may want to have more cash around to make improvements to the new house! What happened to the HELOC when the old property was sold?

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          A HELOC is a Home Equity Line Of Credit, so it’s kind of like a credit card that’s secured against your house as a second mortgage. Usually this kind of loan is used for funding home improvements, and the reason you’d do that rather than a regular credit card would be a lower interest rate and a higher borrowing limit. (I think they also can convert into a “regular” installment loan second mortgage once you’re “done” borrowing more money through them?) Because it’s secured by the house, it has to be paid off when the property is sold, just like any other mortgage.

          For a lump sum, you can also look into a cash-out refinance of your existing mortgage or taking out a second mortgage to access additional home equity before selling your home. Each of these has the drawbacks of any other mortgage, and some of them may have adjustable interest rates so all of the additional drawbacks of that type of mortgage. If you’re particularly willing to roll the dice that you’ll sell the existing home within 5 years, this might also be the unicorn scenario when a balloon mortgage is an option to consider (these are pretty much universally a terrible idea, because you’re trading low payments for a fixed period such as 5 years for having to pay the entire balance at the end of the loan, but if you are going to sell the home before that 5 years is up and pay off the loan with the house sale, that’s the situation they were actually designed for).

          I seem to remember a loan product category called “bridge loans” as well that were intended for the situation in which someone needed to buy a new house before selling their old one, but honestly my memory of of all of these things is a little fuzzy since I mostly was just saying “doesn’t apply to my situation” and skipping on to the next thing.

          Any of these loans would have impacts on your credit score and debt-to-income ratio when applying for the mortgage on the new home. I don’t know what specific impacts, but you should research that and take it into account when figuring out a plan.

          You might go talk to the mortgage person at your bank or credit union to find out what financing options they’d offer for someone who wanted to buy a house and not sell their other one until after they were done buying the other one and moving in. That might narrow the field a bit.

    9. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      You’re into the back end of your mortgage payments, where a larger proportion of each payment is going toward principal rather than interest anyway. I’d get the amortization schedule out and make sure you understand just how much you’d save over the next two years by paying off the whole thing now rather than paying the combined principal and interest payments over the next two years. (You would presumably be paying off the rest of the mortgage at the time of sale, so you really only “save” the money you’d be paying in interest between now and when you’d otherwise be paying off the mortgage.) Then, compare that with how much money you could make by putting that payoff money into a CD or similar time deposit for the next two years instead, and subtract that from the amount you’d save in interest by paying off the mortgage. The amount left is the amount you’d “really” save by paying off your mortgage now rather than later. Is it a large enough amount of money to be worth losing the flexibility you’d gain?

      I also agree with the other posters to research how it would affect your credit score for the next mortgage if you pay off this one early and have no installment loans over the next two years. The credit reporting bureaus really like to see regular installment payments. They also look at debt-to-income ratio and want it to be under a certain amount, but I don’t know if they look at an existing mortgage differently than other kinds of installment debt (student loans, car payments) when doing those calculations since they’d presume you would be selling the other house and paying off the mortgage. (I have only bought one house, so did not have a mortgage in the mix when I did it. I ended up paying off my student loans early to get under the debt to income ratio, but they were still recent enough to be on my credit report since I only did it when I tried to qualify for the mortgage.)

      1. Financial planning*

        Thank you for laying this comparison out! And thanks to everyone for such helpful thoughts!

  23. Anon for This*

    Not a request for medical advice- has anyone had a tubal ligation before? What was the experience like? Did you get pushback from medical personnel? What was the recovery like.

    I’m in my mid-30s and childfree, and have never wanted kids, and now seemed like a good time to make the leap. I scheduled an appointment with my OBGYN, but I’m worried she’s going to give me a hard time because I’m not in a relationship and haven’t been for several years.

    1. Don Joe*

      If you get pushback from your OB, the Auntie Network on Facebook publishes a state by state list of no questions asked tubal ligation providers. If you don’t have access to Facebook or they don’t let you in the group, let me know what state you’re from and I will try and access it for you.

    2. StellaBella*

      I did, at age 37. Had 3 or 4 weeks of pain while healing, stitches needed to be cared for (when thru belly button), got to see the video they made while doing it and got to see the tubes in vials after. Best decision I made that year. :) I had some pushback too but was firm, also kept reiterating I am child free by choice, etc. Good luck!

      1. Mongoose*

        That sounds much worse than my recovery! I had no pain after the first 24 hours, and I didn’t have to do anything for my stitches (they were covered by some weird glue which fell off after 2 weeks). It very easy, easier than wisdom teeth removal. I had some itchiness and soreness that lasted about a week, but nothing I’d call pain after those first 24 hours.

    3. Blackcat*

      I had it done. 10/10, would do again. So easy. Easier than my first IUD, easier than wisdom teeth removal. No pain after 24 hours unless I got hit in the gut (I do have kids so that’s a somewhat frequent occurrence). Check the child free Reddit for docs who will do it.

    4. Bisalp done*

      I did, last year (at age 41) no kids, no husband. I called and specifically asked for appointment to discus permanent sterilization surgery. Doc was nice, no bingos, told me other options, usual warning about this being permanent (yup, I know, I managed not to get pregnant all these years I do like this option) … scheduled it 3 weeks later. Lap bisalp, my sis dropped me off at 6:30, I was home before 1 pm (she also waited for me in the waiting area).
      Healing was Ok, had to not lift anything over 10lbs for a week or so, gas pain from lap surgery was by far the worst.

      If you want to be sure, there is a reddit list on r/childfree of all the doctors who are childfree friendly (crowdsourced)

      1. allathian*

        Maybe you just struck lucky, but one reason why you didn’t get any pushback may have been your age. My sister who’s childfree by choice looked into it in her early 30s, but she couldn’t find a doctor who’d do it, and she tried 5 or 6 different ones. But she’s found some BC that’s worked for her, even if no method is 100%.

        The only person I know who got a sterilization in her 30s had her tubes tied when she had a planned c-section for her 4th baby. The 4th baby was unplanned, she got pregnant when her BC failed. She could’ve had an abortion but she felt that was a step too far for her. AFAIK her unplanned child is just as loved as the planned ones, but she didn’t get any pushback from her doctor when she said that she didn’t want to take the risk of her BC failing again.

        1. Bisalp done*

          I actually asked this doctor and it’s on the reddit list specifically: doc said she’d do a bisalp surgery on anyone over 21 who stated they wanted it and who signed the consent form acknowledging that some people regret it.
          I guess I have a great, open minded doctor who is not stuck in the 50s.

    5. Cheshire Cat*

      I had one years ago, the day after my second child was born. Best decision I ever made. :)

      I had pain that afternoon that wasn’t relieved by the standard painkillers and had to wait quite awhile while the nurses hunted down my doctor to get something stronger, and that was unexpected & annoying. But it was much better by the next morning.

      While I was healing, going over a speed bump or a rough road too quickly hurt.

      Other than that, I don’t remember any issues. Good luck to you!

    6. Gyne*

      It is completely reasonable to look for someone else to do your surgery if you get pushback from your current gynecologist. Hopefully you won’t, but if so – call other offices, and when scheduling your appointment tell the person on the phone that you want to discuss sterilization. In general, avoid doctors affiliated with Catholic hospitals (many prohibit sterilization, but not all – sometimes they will have a “non-Catholic” floor or room, or the doctor might do tubals at an outpatient surgery center). Ask if the doctor has any requirements to do tubals. The scheduler might not know, but it might trigger them to reach out to the office staff to ask. Also to generalize, look for young (ish), female Gynecologists. My group is all women aged 35-50 and our only requirement to tie someone’s tubes is “she told me she wants it and understands the procedure is permanent.”

  24. Typing All The Time*

    I write travel-related copy for various outlets and I’ll be starting a new job next week. The training day happens right after I return from a work-related trip. The trip’s organizers have suggested me extending the trip to see more of the destination; it will help more with an assignment. However, I don’t know how to explain this to my new hire. What should I do?

    1. WellRed*

      I think you have to say you have a prior commitment and can’t extend the trip.

    2. *daha**

      The trip is related to a different employer than the one you are starting at, right? It’s possible that the new employer will have some flexibility and allow you to postpone your starting/training date, but that’s a big ask on short notice. You could very tentatively ask if they would consider a postponement, but your trainer might have a narrow window of availability. And that would also mean that you’d have a gap in income during the wait, unless you are on the payroll with the first company during the extended trip.
      Your commitment to the new company begins on the scheduled training day. Your commitment to the old company ends on the agreed last date of the trip. So if new company says they reschedule, you have to tell old company that you can’t extend due to a firm commitment elsewhere.

  25. Newjobwhosthis*

    I started a new job last week. I got the job partly with a cover letter I built using templates from here, and advice for interview techniques. Thank you to everyone who posts updates when this has happened for them too. It gave me hope while I was job hunting

  26. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    Happy Fourth of July for those celebrating!

    I just thought I’d say that I recently took a vacation in Yosemite and was absolutely staggered by it. Probably one of my best vacations of all time. Your national parks are such an international treasure and I am in awe of the personal and cultural dedication required to keep them so. You all (USAians) should be incredibly proud.

    1. Not My Money*

      It’s one of the few things we’ve done right and I hope we can keep them pristine for the future.

  27. Not My Money*

    So, my credit card company allowed someone to call in and transfer my rewards to their own checking account. Apparently it was a male attempting a feminine sounding voice (very badly I’m told) but he was still successful in getting over $500 from them/me. The fraud department caught it and canceled my card and I’m waiting for the new one (taking a while because of course this happened right before a holiday weekend). I’m out of town for work until March so they’ve allowed the new card to come to my current location and I think the only reason they’ve agreed to that is because they royally screwed up. Besides the new card and getting the $ back, is there anything else they owe me? I’d really like to be compensated for this mess but I want to wait until I get my card to ask.

    1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      You could ask them to pay for credit monitoring, like Lifelock or whatever, for a year. But i think legally, you’re on your own.

    2. fposte*

      Do you want a year of credit checking service (I don’t, particularly, but it seems like something that gets handed out when breaches happen)? Do you need a late-fee waiver until this is sorted? Are you out anything else?

      It may be that this pretty much covers it, but I’d file an identity theft report at identitytheft dot gov anyway and make sure my credit reports are frozen.

    1. No Fireworks for You!*

      Well, there aren’t going to be any public Fourth of July fireworks displays in my neck of the woods this year. Supposedly, it is because of drought and unseasonably hot temperatures we are experiencing and they are worried about starting a fire from dry brush and trees nearby.

      However, as a backup contingency plan, they have tentatively planned some sort of lighted aerial drone show where a whole bunch of drones with colored lights on them will fly in formation and various configurations. They are computer operated and programmed to fly in patterns. It sounds interesting. The reason the show is tentative is because, in addition to drought and unusually hot temperatures we’ve been having unusual strong winds and the drones can’t fly in the strong winds.

      The wind is annoying because when it does cool down at night you’d like to turn off your air-conditioning and open the windows, but the wind is so strong you really can’t do it.

  28. North Wind*

    Freelancer commiserations and joys? I’m in a dry spell, but I still love it.

    I LOVE freelancing, have been doing it for several years and am honestly not sure I could function properly anymore in a regular job (though I was in regular employment for nearly 20 years).

    This weekend, I interviewed with someone who expressed intent to hire me – we talked about direct next steps for the first part of the project – but she was a bit delayed in sending the contract. Meanwhile, I looked her company up on LinkedIn (she’s the founder/principal) and found she supports some political viewpoints I just can’t stomach any more. I don’t want my time and energy even tangentially supporting what she supports. I diplomatically withdrew from the running.

    But I’m in a dry spell right now and going a little nuts. The first little ways of a dry spell I know it’s not good for my finances, but the break really does re-set and rejuvenate me. But now I’m past the first little bit and am just buzzing to dig into a project, and the financial part is becoming more stressful. I do keep busy in other ways – like I volunteer on a tech forum to answer questions/solve problems/provide direction for newbies using the software I use.

    The dry spell is really of my own doing. There were two potential projects I could have taken a month or so ago, that I turned down for frankly petty reasons (though I was diplomatic/vague/kind when turning them down). What was really happening is my very beloved pet had recently died and I had no physical or mental energy to even think about a new project, and I was busy with current projects. But I’ve been freelancing for awhile and I know that you can’t base whether or not to accept future work on the current day’s stress, mood, or sense of overwhelm. Because the stress, mood, and overwhelm will be gone by the time you start the new project.

    Sigh, up and down it goes.

    1. sagewhiz*

      Long, long, loooong-time indie here, so I know the break/angst well! What I learned was to use that break-time to relax some but absolutely ramp up marketing—lots of “Been a while! How ya doin’?” emails/texts/coffee catchups, touching base and putting out the word that I’m open to new projects if they hear of any. Usually brings in new biz, not always as rapidly as I’d like of course, and lets me reconnect with the network. And build new networks with folks who barely know me, because I contact them too. (Landed a book writing contract with one!) Also helps me stay busy … and keeps my mind off the dwindling finances (a bit :-)

      1. North Wind*

        :) :)

        I’ve never gone back to a previous client to ask if they had more work, it feels awkward, but that may very well just be me. I did recently ask a client if they would be comfortable being a reference, and they said “OF COURSE!” and also sent me a few hours worth of maintenance work they needed.

        1. BubbleTea*

          You can frame it as doing them a favour! “A space has opened up in my schedule and I wanted to reach out to you as one of the clients I’ve had successful working relationships with to offer you the chance to get any work done that you might need in the next X time period.”

    2. tab*

      I use my free time to review trade news and forward links of articles about my previous and possibly future clients. The emails were simple, “I hope you are well. I saw this article and thought of you. I hope you are doing well. Let me know if I can ever be of service.” I’m winding down my business now, so I don’t do that anymore, but it definitely paid off when I was doing it. Enjoy your free time!

  29. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

    This isn’t an issue for me, but both of my coworkers are facing this and I’d like to help/support them if this becomes more of an issue.

    We are all graphic designers so creative professionals probably have more experience with this. Neither of them have a bachelor’s degree…in anything. One has an associate’s degree, the other has…IDK a certificate?…from a graphic design/tech school (think the now defunct ITT but that’s not it). After working here just fine for 20 years and 10 years respectively, they are both now being asked constantly by management if they want to get their bachelor’s. I have one BTW so I’m not being bugged about it. It’s framed as a question, not a “requirement” but neither are interested at this point in their life and career to go back to school…and incur all that debt for “no reason”. We have SOME tuition reimbursement, but it’s not a full ride.

    1. Can an employer move the goal post on them like this? They didn’t need one to get hired and work here for over a decade, but I’m positive if the jobs were listed today, it would be required.

    2. Any resources to help them out if it does become required? Grants, scholarships…legal recourse…for late career people who are suddenly required to get a bachelor’s degree they didn’t need before?

    1. Girasol*

      My company suddenly demanded a degree in the applicable field for all exempts. They lost some brilliant self-taught engineers from the R&D lab. But the program did offer some flexible options that you might ask of your employer if worst comes to worst. The rule was that you had 1) a fairly generous period of time to 2) either get a whole degree or complete X number of work-related credits. The company offered 3) tuition reimbursement, though they’d also accept credits from the local community college that offered free courses. We didn’t have online course offerings like Coursera then but that might be an option for you. And then 4) a manager could make the case that an employee’s past hands-on experience in the field was the equivalent of a degree. I don’t know why the R&D manager didn’t do that for his geniuses while my manager managed to pull it off for rather average me with a degree in the wrong field. You might ask for any or all of those measures.

      1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

        Thank you. That was helpful. We already do non-degree training all the time (webinars, conferences, LinkedIn learning courses) so it isn’t like we aren’t keeping our technical skills up-to-date. It feels vaguely like age discrimination…a bogus reason to get rid of a few people over 40.

    2. Science KK*

      I’d be interested to know if in your state/country/whatever there’s some sort a tax incentive for businesses who do tuition reimbursement.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      I’ve never heard of an employer demanding someone go back to university for their existing job, but I’ve only ever worked in places where contracts would specify conditions; is this at will employment? I would expect employers to pay for any degrees they’ve decided they need. It’s kind of breathtaking they expect employees to get into debt for them. The main question is: What is the job market like for your colleagues outside this company? Do they need the degree in case they want to move on? If not, I would roll the dice on doing nothing or possibly job hunt. If they do need the degree, I would negotiate, so at least some costs would be paid for by the firm.

      1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

        They would very likely need a degree to find an equivalent job elsewhere. Which I think is BS. But graphic design employers are generally more interested in a portfolio of real work rather than education.

    4. Meow*

      An aunt of mine made her way up the ranks at a Fortune 50 company over the course of 30+ years of employment. She was due to be promoted to a V level position and they realized she didn’t have a bachelors. She had to agree to get one and fast tracked through an online school. I doubt it was on her to pay for it, given the situation. Would your employer help pay for a bachelors?

      1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

        They offer some reimbursement…I think it’s around 30%. No doubt that they would need advanced degrees to move up into a management level at my org — masters minimum or PhD preferred…although there isn’t really upward mobility for our graphic design team, other than pivot to an MBA and leave creative work behind.

        1. Meow*

          I have a hard time believing they would make them get a bachelors or be fired – especially with how you describe the value of getting one (also, 30% reimbursement is… not attractive). Can they just ask, “should I be concerned my position is in jeopardy if I don’t get a bachelors?”

          1. Meow*

            I should clarify ^^ I have a hard time believing that *if* they are a reasonable employer and not (as you suggested above) trying to push people out for bogus reasons.

    5. just another queer reader*

      This seems like a dumb move on your company’s part. I’m sorry your coworkers are dealing with it. Smart companies are finding ways to mandate LESS formal education, not more.

      If they *are* forced to get a degree, do you think they could negotiate to take the classes on company time? Or negotiate some sort of flexible schedule so that the extra workload doesn’t wreak havoc on their life?

      The public university in my state offers nearly-free classes to anyone over 55, I believe. (And as I’m sure you know, community colleges are way cheaper than universities, and the credits typically transfer.)

      Good luck.

      1. just another queer reader*

        *just checked, and my state’s senior education program applies to people 62 and older. Probably not viable for your colleagues. Darn.

    6. Observer*

      Can an employer move the goal post on them like this?

      Legally? 100%

      The real question is SHOULD they. And the answer to that really depends on why they are doing this. Is there *really* “no good reason”? Is this a matter of some new manager who is convinced that Degrees Matter, even more than years of experience? Or an attempt to move into new markets where the formal education of the relevant staff gets scrutinized? Or a situation where new situations are coming up and it’s possible that the lack of formal education is actually making them less good at the new stuff?

      Those are three different scenarios, and what ideally should happen in each one would be different.

      Any resources to help them out if it does become required? Grants, scholarships…legal recourse

      Unless these folks are over 40 and you have reason to believe that this is really about their age rather than their qualifications, no legal recourse at all. As for grants and scholarships, I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. But a few thoughts of where to look. 1. If there is a professional association, they might have information on what resources might be available. 2. If there is a government agency dedicated to employment in your area, they might know of resources. 3. Same if either of them is +50, look to the local agency on aging, whatever it may be called.

    7. WellRed*

      I’m 52 with a BA. You couldn’t pay me to go back to school at this point in my life though Cheers to those with the stamina, fortitude and brain cells who do.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      This sounds incredibly short sighted on the part of your employer.

      Some schools will help with advanced placement testing and offering credits for work experience. I got about 6 credit hours just from work experience which was amazing given my particulars. I would expect your cohorts could get more credit hours given their setting. It is a hunt to find these programs, though.

      I know there are towns in a different state- not my state, where town residents can get free tuition. That might be something they can leverage in your area.

      Is there any way you can have a one-on-one with your boss to find out why the company is doing this? Sometimes knowing the reason why might pull everyone together to look for cost effective remedies.

  30. Anonymous cat*

    I like reading advice columns. I like learning things and seeing what other people’s lives are like. (Mine is pretty quiet!)

    But I’ve been reading mainstream American columns and I wonder if there are advice columns in other countries or other cultures. Surely there are? Or something similar?

    Can anyone recommend some that have a version in English?
    I was thinking of columns addressing everyday lives. Like how to deal with in-laws and the latest work crisis. NOT political ones or hate-filled posts.

    Can anyone recommend columns like that? Or have an idea where to look?

    1. fposte*

      I know agony aunts are a long-established thing in the UK and Philippa Perry recently took over from Mariella Frostrup at the Guardian–you could start there.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      The Irish Times has an Ask the Expert column. There’s an example here: https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/health-family/ask-the-expert-i-worry-that-my-little-boy-will-hate-school-1.2312442 Googling “Irish Times Ask the Expert” will get you some stuff, though it seems to be largely parenting. Googling “Your Money. Irish Times” will also get some stuff on finance obviously.

      The Irish Independent also has advice, but I think it’s behind a paywall, so you probably aren’t THAT bothered.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      I like Annalisa Barbieri’s column in the Guardian, though it is only 1 question a week and is focused entirely on relationships.

    4. Forty Years in the Hole*

      “Ask Ellie” is written/hosted by Ellie Tesher, based out of Toronto, I believe, and syndicated nationally/internationally. Covers all the relationship/social stuff. Pulls no punches yet very sensitive to cultural context/perspectives.

    5. Anonymous cat*

      Very interesting! Thank you!

      I noticed these are UK or North America.
      Are advice columns a UK-American thing and other countries aren’t interested?

      1. Chevron*

        Since you posted this it’s been the middle of the night for quite a big portion of the world that might have English language advice columns other than North America / UK (though Ireland is very much NOT a part of the UK), so that might influence the replies you’re getting. I know places with large numbers of expats will often have an English language paper, it might be worth using those as a starting point?

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this. Although the advice columns in English language papers that are published in countries where English isn’t an official language are probably focused on giving advice that’s fairly specific to the expats living in the country.

          But I guess you could try a paper in Australia or New Zealand?

          I’m in Finland, and I read a few advice columnists here, but they’re all in Finnish.

      1. allathian*

        Le Journal de Montréal has one, at least. Google “courrier du cœur” for more examples.

  31. Anon Snail*

    I just quit my job of over 4 years. On my way out I reported my manager to HR as sexist – not openly so, but judging women’s soft skills harsher than men’s (we’re a technical team), trying to put us in less technical positions, showing surprise that we would want to work a tech job…

    Right before I left, my boss’s boss thanked me for the feedback and said they would urgently review it with my boss. I guess they said something to him too because he asked me to call him, but I didn’t reply.

    I guess I’d like to hear similar stories, and what was the aftermath if any? I think I did the right thing but I’m a bit upset about the whole thing for some reason.

    1. Science KK*

      I don’t have any experience, but I totally can see how that would be upsetting! Especially after he tried to get you to call him. Sorry you had to deal with this, it sucks.

    2. Alex*

      I would find that upsetting too. It is totally fine to ignore his calls/emails! He either wants to explain to you all the ways he is not sexist (barf) or berate you for having the audacity to report him (double barf). If an apology upon self reflection is something he is interested in, he can send you an email/letter/smoke signal. A true apology does not require any action from you.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      You’re upset because you were discriminated against daily and prejudged as lacking by someone with power over you. I think it’s pretty common to defer feeling upset until you feel safe. When you’re in the thick of things, you’re too focused on being wary and watchful.

    4. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      On thing you could consider doing, if you feel safe, is contact your former HR or grandboss again and let them know he tried to contact you directly “off the record”. I can’t imagine they would be happy about that because of the potential liability to the company. They should also be aware so that he can’t retaliate as a reference. He needs to be told, in no uncertain terms, he must refer all questions about you to HR or the grandboss if appropriate. Even if YOU don’t put his name down, a reference checker may go off-list to your former supervisor.

    5. Anon Snail*

      Thanks for the kind words everyone! It really helps to talk about it with people outside the company / the whole thing.

      Pay no attention – He contacted me through “official” channels, right before I left, so nothing reportable.

      I hope he (and some of his colleagues in management) gets some training, for his sake and that of the other women still in the company.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I think that one thing that would be upsetting is seeing all this concern so late in the game. Where was the concern when the situation could have been salvaged?

      I did a huge garbage dump when I left one place. I think what made me sick about it all is being able to see nothing would change. Over the years I have been able to find out that nothing changed.

      Change can be scary. If dysfunction is all they know then moving to proper functioning can be overwhelming and impossible for them.

      It sounds like your place might work on things. But why does an employee have to leave in order to finally be heard?

  32. QueenRuby*

    Does anyone have any experience or advice for negotiating severance prior to accepting a job offer? My bf is being recruited for a job that is very interesting, but outside of his wheelhouse. His current position is very stable, he’s been with his company for 20 years, and hopes to retire in 5-6 years. Obviously, there’s quite a bit of risk accepting this new job, and because its a fairly new company, there’s not much info out there to give him an idea of what he might be getting himself into. He’s considering negotiating a severance package should the new job not work out, but is unsure how that should be structured. Both are high level management positions, fwiw.

    1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Severance is usually paid to someone being laid off or fired, in exchange for confidentiality or release for any legal claims like discrimination, so you might not have any leverage to ask for it since he’s quitting. He could ask them to make sure he would be eligible for rehire, and maybe keep his seniority, leave or benefits levels should he want to return.

      1. enough*

        Believe Queen ruby is talking about ‘severance’ from the new job. Basically a payout if the new job tanks/company goes belly up.

        If new company is open to payout a sliding scale over the next 5 years. You start with a number (probably no more than 1 year salary) and reduce it till it is zero after 5 years.

        1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

          Ah! That makes more sense but I’ve never really heard of pre-negotiating a severance on a new job; that would be more like creating an employment contract for it to be legally binding.

    2. fposte*

      Agreeing with Pay–an employer usually pays severance because it gets them something. What would he give his company in exchange for severance?

    3. PollyQ*

      One thing to consider is that if the new company goes under, as many new companies do, they may not have the cash available to pay any severance, regardless of whatever agreement they might have signed with your BF. I would say it makes more sense to ask for a bigger salary up front which would, to some degree, mitigate the risk of the job not working out one way or another.

    4. Maggie*

      I don’t think any company gives severance when someone quits and accepts another job… or am I reading this wrong?

    5. Recruiter*

      He’s looking to do an employment agreement with some kind of variation on a “golden parachute.”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. And even if they do create this agreement there is no certainty that money will be there to complete the agreement if the time comes.

    6. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I know it’s something that’s very commonly a part of things like college football head coach contracts, where they have to pay out a large severance payment if the school wants to end the contract early. However, that’s a situation where the overall entity is financially stable and just wants to go a different direction with the position. I think I’ve heard of similar things for CEO-level positions in industry, but I really don’t know how far down the org chart you can go and negotiate something like that.

  33. Can’t Sit Still*

    I’m buying a condo! I’m very excited; I never thought I’d be able to buy a home. I’ve been looking casually for the last year and finally got pre-approved two weeks ago and made an offer a week later. I didn’t get everything I wanted, but that wasn’t possible at my price point, which I already knew. The kitchen and bathroom were remodeled recently, there’s plenty of storage space, my windows overlook the trees, so I can leave my blinds open and still have privacy, and I’m still only 10 minutes from the office. Plus, my rent is going to increase a whopping 20% this year, so buying will keep my housing costs the same.

    I admit I’m not thrilled with buying, as I’d rather rent, but my rent has more than tripled in the past decade, so I’m grateful I’m able to buy. Plus, it will be my space. I can hang all the art I want, paint the walls whatever color I want and finally get an electric fireplace.

    1. Alex*

      Congrats! I’m hoping to do the exact same thing soon, for the same reasons. Being a renter is so stressful in HCOL areas, which is sounds like you are in (I am too).

    2. Asenath*

      Congratulations! It sounds lovely. One of my motivations for buying my first place, at a time when some people with my best interests in mind advised me not to (because my employment situation was beginning to get a bit wonky) was to avoid the uncertainties of the rental market. It turned out to be the best decision I ever made – my mortgage stayed essentially the same while I lived there, but rents went up, and I didn’t need to worry about the owner putting up the rent or selling to someone who would put up the rent or skimp on maintenance.

  34. Potatoes gonna potate*

    On something lighter….nostalgia!

    I’ve been seeing a lot of nostalgia about 90s & 2000s things….. my favorite account to follow is y2k magazines; today I found netflix had Goosebumps and the opening credits took me back instantly. I’ve been watching Golden Girls and something about it takes me back (even though I was a baby when it aired). I remember in the late 90s, the 70s were “coming back” (i.e. “That 70s show”). I know nostalgia always seems to be popular (Happy days, Strangers things coming to mind, parts of This is us etc)

    All that to say…..since things recycle what do you think would be the nostalgic items of this generation for the next generation?

    1. ecnaseener*

      It’s so hard to predict because there’s so much media these days, more than there was in any previous decade – I can’t think of anything that I expect most people to have seen/experienced! Idk…fidget spinners? TikTok? Both things I haven’t used but hear about a lot, so probably won’t forget about them.

    2. River*

      There is 90’s scented play-doh available. A description from online:

      “SMELLS LIKE THE 90’s: Bold colors and strong smells like yellow VHS Rental ‘n chill buttered popcorn scent, pink Dial Up Delight strawberry scent, and orange Mall Food Court mystery meat scent.
      MUSIC-THEMED SCENTS: Dust off your old CD collection with blue Eau de Boy Band pine cologne scent, gold Pump Up the Jamz hiphop sneaker scent, and rockin’ grunge sparkly black Flannel Fresh floral scent”

      It’s called Play-Doh Grown Up Scents 90’s Edition. Have fun!

  35. MadBearLady*

    Happy 4th of July! I’m exposing my British ignorance, but what do you guys do to celebrate?

    1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Eat too much, drink too much and then blow stuff up…the most ‘Merican of all American holidays.

    2. PollyQ*

      Cookout and fireworks. In some places, the fireworks are smaller and individually sourced, but I live in California, which has serious fire risks, so it’s mostly large municipal shows. (Bu don’t tell my neighbors that!)

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Get together with family or friends, food is usually cooked outside on the grill, beer. When I was a kid we lit fireworks in the driveway/street but a lot of urban/residential areas ban personal fireworks now. Cities have professional shows and often there are events at parks leading up to it, like concerts, lawn games, etc. Some places will have parades – lots of flags, brass bands, and people in military clothing.

    4. Chaordic One*

      In many towns there will be Fourth of July Parades with high school marching bands and parade floats, followed by picnic lunches (usually fairly low-cost things sponsored by local civic groups) with cheap food (hot dogs, hamburgers, maybe fried chicken) at public parks. At night there might be a public fireworks display, again usually at a public park.

    5. TPS reporter*

      Yesterday I saw a guy out on the water on a hover surfboard wearing an American flag speedo and a cape. So ridiculous outfits and displays of such are also a thing.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        The younger guys in my neighborhood (probably in their 20s or 30s, mostly with kids under the age of 10) all coordinated outfits for the neighborhood block party last year – they were these enormously tacky red-white-and-blue onesies? jumpers? rompers? not quite sure what to call them, but one piece shorts-and-tank-top things. Most years, they get a permit to close the street to car traffic (where I live, these permits are easy to get for a block of a small neighborhood street as long as the people living on the street all agree) and all of the neighbors hang out, grill food, drink beer, and let the kids run around and play games. Tacky outfits for all are encouraged. Last year I dressed up my dog in red-white-and-blue fairy wings and antennae from the dollar store and put big ribbons on my hat. There’s also a parade through downtown.

    6. Rara Avis*

      Watch a parade. Marching bands, corporate floats, kids on bikes decorated with streamers … my tiny hometown has a parade that might last 30 minutes in a good year, and they throw candy to the kids. My current location has a 2-hour parade; no candy allowed. Our favorite part is the high-stepping horses of the vaqueros.

      1. Rara Avis*

        (This year I’m spending the day driving home from a conference. We will be home in time to watch the fireworks displays, both official and illegal, from our hilltop home overlooking the city.)

    7. Nicki Name*

      Some people will display flags (many houses have a flag bracket out front for just this purpose).

      Food is eaten; a lot of people barbecue but there isn’t really a specific food that everyone eats.

      At the municipal level, parades and fireworks are de rigeur but a lot of cities have cancelled their fireworks displays this year due to either supply chain problems or (in the SW US) drought leading to extreme fire danger. There’s also a small but growing move toward “quiet fireworks”, which can be either actual less-loud fireworks or something completely non-pyrotechnic like drone-mouted LED displays.

    8. Unkempt Flatware*

      In my neck of the woods, there’s a rodeo and a parade. It’s the same place long time election officials resigned due to extreme abuse from the public for not agreeing the election was stolen. So, to answer your question, I’m watching Kath & Kim on and endless loop.

    9. The OG Sleepless*

      Cookouts, all kinds of outdoor activities, parades, and fireworks. Lots of people hit the beach, the lake, etc. My city has an enormous 10K (running) race, even though we have a famously hot and humid climate and you wouldn’t think 50,000 people would show up to run a race.

    10. Seeking second childhood*

      We came over to my father-in-law’s old place to do some yard work, and two neighbors are having cookouts with loud music. There’s hip hop coming from one direction, and mariachi music from the other. I drove into the gap with the radio playing a marching band version of “Sing Sing Sing.” Woo hoo!

    11. Salymander*

      We always have a barbecue, with Tri tip, grilled garden veggies and sourdough bread. Oh, and lemon pie. Yum. Afterward, we wander out into the street to talk to neighbors and listen to our neighbor’s son’s band play (they are really good!) and chat with some of our better neighbors about how many of them want to move to Canada because our Supreme Court sucks. Local wine will be consumed. One or more of the annoying jackasses down the street will set off illegal fireworks, resulting in a stern talking to by police because this is California and it is incredibly likely that we will all go up in flames. When it gets dark, we will mosey on down the street to where you can see the city fireworks display fairly well without having to go downtown among the masses. Before bed, we make sure the hoses are set up correctly in case the neighbors decide to try playing with fireworks again, and I spend much of the night running outside to check whether the roof is on fire every time I hear a loud boom. Oh, and I try to coax the cat out from under the dresser where she has been hiding for two days because some of my neighbors thing that 4th of July starts on July 2nd.

    12. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

      To be honest, I’m indigenous American, so I tend to spend my Fourths having very complicated feelings about all the white people patting themselves on the back for something that happened centuries ago and most of their own ancestors played no role in.

  36. Onward and Upward*

    I wrote in a Friday open thread in May that my toxic ex-employer had laid me off due to budget cuts and the office manager was so petty she “forgot” to endorse my final paycheck and left me a sarcastic voicemail admitting her mistake. Well, joke was on that piece of doodoo! I’ve got a few promising job interviews lined up (final round and second round) for employers that really care about their teams and I’ll be a manager making much more money. If it all works out I’m tempted to call my ex-employer and rub it right in! (I’ll resist that temptation but my petty fantasies are making me feel better about all the abuse I had to deal with).

    1. tangerineRose*

      There have been times where petty fantasies are very satisfying and with no real-world consequences.

    2. Science KK*

      If it works out for a dramatic writing here and we can all add in our own nonsense haha!

  37. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I always feel guilty for not living my life to the fullest. Got a left side headache on Friday, and slept for two days just waking today. Who else is wasting the weekend?

    1. PollyQ*

      Taking care of yourself when you’re not feeling well is the OPPOSITE of wasting a weekend! And even when you’re well, there’s nothing wrong with taking a weekend to decompress from the week. I hope you’re feeling better now and that you have a restful, relaxing day off today.

    2. Grilledcheeser*

      Staying inside, avoiding people & sun & noise & crowds & traffic – oh, and keeping my pets from freaking out too much. Not a waste! We are just using our time differently.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Even when I feel well the noise and people can get to me. I don’t have pets but I am scared of loud noises lol

    3. WellRed*

      I’ve totally wasted it. Done a lot of reading but house is a mess, plants need to finish being plants etc.

    4. Pam Adams*

      I’m post-Covid, so still doing a lot of resting. Our dogs really freak with fireworks, so I will be holding paws tonight,

    5. Sara without an H*

      Depends on what you mean by “waste.” Today I’ve done some cooking, listened to some music, and plan to relax with a book after dinner. When the sun goes down, I am going to mix a cocktail, then sit on my deck and watch fireworks.

      Oh, and btw–getting lots of sleep when you feel unwell is NOT wasting time. It’s an intelligent investment in your good health.

      Hope you feel better soon!

    6. 653-CXK*

      I spent Saturday morning getting a haircut, then having a birthday party for my niece. Yesterday and this morning, I binge-watched classic Hawaii Five-O (1968-1980) episodes. Today, a short walk to the local stores, and then home.

      In pre-COVID times, I would have gone to downtown Boston, wandered around, had lunch, and gone home, but now I don’t do that as often anymore. For right now, I’m perfectly content in vegging and relaxing before returning to work. I guess my definition of downtime has evolved.

    7. Ali + Nino*

      One of the few positive things I retained from my relationship with my POS ex-boyfriend was a handful of wise quotes (not original to him of course): “Time you enjoyed wasting isn’t wasted time.” Not sure that applies to this particular weekend for you, but good to keep in mind in general.

    8. allathian*

      I didn’t waste mine, but I went on a 7 k bike ride, looked for wild strawberries on our uncut lawn, which we aren’t mowing until the strawberries are eaten, and spent a lot of time reading and playing games on my phone. The only constructive thing I did all day was to vacuum our living room and kitchen…

      Giving yourself permission to rest without guilt when you’re sick is a great investment in your health.

    9. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

      A fantastic piece of advice I think about a lot when I start worrying that I’m not “doing enough” with my days:

      When you’re lying on your deathbed looking back on your life, do you really think your regret is going to be that you didn’t push yourself even harder, instead of just enjoying the existence of the world around you?

  38. cubone*

    any advice for first time freelancers? I have a one-off freelance project opportunity I’m really excited about and would love some tips (not looking to transition to this full-time, just dip my toes in the water).

    I left my last job for a combo of personal life stuff (eg family caregiving) and just not loving the fit anymore. The job had too much of what I didn’t like, and not enough of what I do. But I’ve kept in touch and they recently reached out with a specific project they can’t resource internally. Caregiving stuff is mostly over, and the project is something that is exclusively tasks I enjoy, on a subject I’m experience in and very passionate about. It sort of seems like a win-win – I get to do something I like, already have an understanding of the business and like (most of) the people quite well, and the subject matter is more relevant to future jobs I’m applying for.

    What I’m looking for is any advice on the details of freelancing. I don’t want to go in with rose colored glasses (which I feel I have a bit at the moment!) and would like to make sure I’m practicing good time management and not accidentally taking on more work (it sounds like it would be a project based fee). Any advice on how to manage a freelance project, tips you wished you’d had, how to coordinate my time well, etc would be appreciated!

    1. Ginger Pet Lady*

      CLEAR CONTRACT. What’s included in the project, what’s not, what happens if the project changes during the course of the project (and don’t be afraid to charge more when things change!!) and deadlines. Also how much you’re being paid and when you’ll be paid.
      Also know that with freelance work you’re responsible for all expenses, tools, supplies, and for “self employment taxes” which are the freelance equivalent of the payroll taxes employers pay for having employees. So charge double *or more* the hourly rate you earn as an employee.
      Work up an estimate for how long you think it will take, add 20-25% more hours, and charge that for the project. And yes, YOU set the price, not the customer.
      And if they want to set the price and it’s not even close, walk away. Freelance work has a different power dynamic than employment, and you need to show that you’re not a doormat, or companies WILL take advantage of you. Especially friends and family. They’re actually the worst to freelance for!

  39. Bagpuss*

    Well, I acquired some delightful JortsTheCat merch this weekend.
    10 weeks old, ginger with a white shirtfront:)

    1. Seeking second childhood*

      If I weren’t so horribly allergic to cats, I would be planning to acquire an orange boi and name him Merch.

  40. I just look tired*

    I feel well rested but still have dark circles under my eyes. I’m over 50 and wear minimal makeup. I haven’t worn foundation for years and don’t want to start. Does anyone have a solution for under eye circles that worked for them that doesn’t involve foundation? I appreciate any advice.

    1. Flash Packet*

      You could try an eye brightening cream or something like a BB cream (basically a tinted moisturizer). You’d apply either one in place of an eye cream.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      Do you have seasonal allergies? I was once at a medical appointment for nothing to do with my dark circles under my eyes, but the doc saw them and immediately suggested I start taking antihistemines. You might want to consult yours just in case. Apparently there’s a certain sinus cavity that when irritated the classic symptom is dark circles under your eyes.
      If it’s not that, making sure you’re well-hydrated.

    3. cubone*

      I worked at a beauty store for years and they told us sleep and hydration are the only ways to “get rid of” under eye circles. That or have different genetics. Everything else – makeup, brightening creams, etc. – are just to cover or minimize them, but their existence is a combo of sleep, water, and genetics unique to everyone. Sorry if this is not the answer you wanted :( I would add that while I don’t think it’s the natural alterative to botox some people claim, I find my skin overall looks “fresher” when I do some facial massage or use a cold roller, and I have many friends who swear by pink colour corrector on the under eyes for dark circles.

    4. Tib*

      Lately I’ve been applying concealer just after applying moisturizer and blend it in. I also use a setting powder, but that’s mostly to help absorb sweat from my hot flashes.

    5. pancakes*

      You definitely don’t need a whole face full of foundation for that. Try a few tiny dots of concealer. There are a number of good ones out there and lately I like Milk makeup’s Sunshine Under Eye Tint. It’s a roller ball applicator and feels nice and cool going on.

    6. mreasy*

      I have had these since my 20s (42 now), regardless of rest, hydration, etc. I use a light concealer (Glossier stretch concealer) under my eyes that doesn’t feel heavy – I also can’t stand the feeling of foundation all over my face and overall do very light makeup.

    7. AMC*

      Over 50 here as well with dark circles. I rotate two products that seem to help mitigate the issue. Tatcha the Pearl illuminating eye cream – it’s like a tinted moisturizer for the eye area – and Cosmedix Opti Crystal eye cream (use at night only).

    8. I just look tired*

      Thank you for the helpful suggestions. I’m going to look into them. I do put a bit of loose powder foundation on the dark circles. It helps to minimize somewhat. I’m intrigued by the season allergies as a cause. I’d never heard of that! I don’t think I have any, though. I do get enough sleep and stay well hydrated, so I don’t think those are the causes. Genetics is another interesting one. I will look closely at my parents’ eyes when I see them next. :)

    9. River*

      I have used hydration cream for under my eyes. You can buy it online. I’ve used the Loreal brand. I don’t need to use a lot but then again I don’t know how your dark circles are. Also, I read that drinking lots of water helps. I don’t think you’ll notice the results right away but over time, as long as you stay hydrated, it should help curb this. I also read that heavy drinking and/or smoking also contribute to dark circles. Not sure if you partake in either and for how long but just throwing some info out there.

  41. Maybe a Principal Engineer*

    Anyone here at AAM currently working at tech giants or unicorns?

    I’m a longtime freelancer interviewing for a fairly senior tech IC role (it’s leveled as Google/Amazon L8, Meta E8). I have been very narrowly specialised but because I’m a freelance I’ve been doing the work of a Principal Engineer / Technical Program Manager for several years (have to do bit of everything and a lot of a lot).

    Any advice? Anything you’d want to tell your younger self before you reached those levels? I’m not at the loop stage yet, this is the stage before that. I’m already aware of Exponent and will be hitting their TPM course hard.

    I normally thrive on interviews and find them invigorating… this is as close as I’ve ever been to jittery pre-interview. I’m aware I also have a lot of ego and identity bound up in being both a freelance consultant and probably now the best in the world in my tiny niche: this would be a profound change away from both of those things but is the foot in the door to L8 jobs at other unicorns and the giants…

  42. Grieving Sister*

    My brother died a week ago today. He was an active alcoholic and effectively homeless. He was being kicked out of the motel he was staying in for non-payment (despite collecting $2000/mo in Disability). Check-out time was 11:00 and his roommate tried to wake him to pack his things only to discover he was dead.

    He probably took his life vs accidental alcohol poisoning or heart failure or raging UTI (he was only urinating a few droplets at a time in the days before he died). He had a bottle of sodium nitrate in with his prescription meds, and he had called my mom the night before to thank her for taking him to lunch for his 57th birthday a few days prior and to tell her he loved her. Prior to that, he had never called her unless he wanted something (a ride, money, a place to stay, etc.).

    I have a couple of PSAs:

    (1) When someone’s alcoholic / addicted family member dies, please don’t just shrug your shoulders and say, “Welp, you knew this was going to happen.”

    (2) If someone you know dies suddenly (and without a prepaid plan for burial/cremation) and you have a part in making arrangements for the body, be prepared to shop around. I sat in the motel parking lot, surrounded by police cars, and Googled “cremation services” to get an idea of what it should cost, then called three different funeral homes. The prices were $1200, $2200, and $3600, all for the same thing: Collecting the body from the Medical Examiner’s office, cremation, and returning the ashes in a Ziploc baggie.

    I balked at all three prices and all three funeral homes said, “Well, what’s your budget?” I told them $900 and — tada — they all three could magically do it for that amount. I went with the one that had the initially-highest amount because they have been operating in my city since 1920 and have a reputation to protect. I can imagine, though, that there are families in my area who call that well-known funeral home and get gouged for the $3600. Buyer beware, even in death.

    I had a third PSA regarding offering prayers and other tokenisms of religious beliefs but deleted it. My feelings are raw and it showed. Just. . . maybe check that the person you’re trying to comfort with religion is of the same mind as you before going in that direction. It would be a kindness.

    1. PollyQ*

      I’m so very sorry for your loss. It must have been terrible to watch his life’s trajectory. I’m also sorry about the [epithets] in category #1. That kind of statement is inexcusable. I’m not religious, so I wouldn’t send those thoughts anyway, but I am wishing you peace and comfort.

    2. WellRed*

      I’m so sorry. My brother died at age 49 18 months ago of health problems related to years of sunstance abuse. I don’t know what the hell is wrong with the people who said that to you.

      1. Grieving Sister*

        Damn. I am sorry to hear that, WellRed.

        The people who said it to me weren’t wrong in their facts, they were just wrong in only stating the facts and leaving out the feelings/humanity.

        It’s hard and it hurts and it sucks.

    3. BubbleTea*

      I’m really sorry. If you’d like to share, what are some of your favourite memories of your brother?

      1. Grieving Sister*

        Thank you for asking, BubbleTea, but the sad thing is that my favorite memories of him end when we were around 12 & 13 (he’s 1.5 years older than I am). We were both part of the “stoner” crowd in junior high and he never got very far away from that kind of a group.

        My mom was always rescuing him from himself. I had a big party my senior year in high school and even the really popular kids showed up. Toward the end of the party, my mom went around asking everyone if she could borrow money from them to bail my brother out of jail. I was mortified and the popular kids never gave me the time of day after that.

        I’m surprised he graduated high school and was able to hold steady employment for 10-15 years (at a job my mom got for him where she worked).

        His first stint in rehab was when he was 16 and then my mom paid, again, for him to go back in his 30’s. I think the only time he ever sustained sobriety was the combined 4 months in rehab and one year in prison (for not fulfilling any of his probation requirements for his 3rd DUI).

        I moved to live with my dad when I was 13, was back home with my mom and my brother (and a new step-dad and step-brother) for my senior year of high school and first year of college, then moved away again. By the time I came back, my brother was living in his own place.

        Which is to say that, after the summer when I was 13, I didn’t really spend much time with him until a couple of years ago when he came to stay with me (off and on, when he wasn’t on a bender in a motel). My mom also lives with me.

        He would leave to get drunk, disappear for several days (usually losing his phone and his wallet), then show up back on my front porch, bloodied and bruised. My mom would take him to the hospital, he’d get patched up, and then start all over again a few weeks later.

        I tried to keep emotional distance from him because I have a history of helping others to my own detriment, but one of the times he was on my front porch and I had to help him come into the house (he was a big guy and my mom is a petite little thing), he was crying and slurred quietly, “I’m not a bad person,” and my heart just broke.

        No, he wasn’t a bad person in the way most people would use that term. He didn’t steal from others, he wasn’t cruel, and, when he was sober, he was conscientious of others, almost to a fault.

        But when he had alcohol in his system, he became oppositional and sloppy. For instance, over this past Christmas he heated up some nacho cheese sauce in the middle of the night and it ended up literally all over the entire kitchen: inside the fridge, outside the fridge, on the floor, on the cabinets, on the counter, on the ceiling, in the microwave, on the microwave, and dripping down the outside of the oven and dishwasher. I was still finding and cleaning dried nacho cheese in March.

        We had different political views and very different senses of humor. In the end, he was prone to believing conspiracy theories about even the most minor, inconsequential things. He spent his awake hours watching TV and going down rabbit holes on the internet.

        But I loved him and I grieve not only his physical death but the death of any hope of him deciding to make so much as baby-step changes for the better. It’s just all so sad.

        1. Lirael*

          I read all this.
          I’m so sorry for your loss, and I’m so sorry that you’ve heard such un-empathetic responses. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts <3

          1. Grieving Sister*

            Thank you for reading all of it. I don’t think I expected that anyone would. And I didn’t think that it would mean so much to me when someone did. But it does. Thank you.

            1. Windchime*

              I read it all, too, and it’s all just so complicated and sad. I’m very sorry for your loss.

            2. Distracted Librarian*

              I also read it all, and I’m so sorry for your loss. My father struggled with addiction. When he died, my grief came with a lot of conflicted and complicated feelings. If that’s also the case for you, I hope you can give yourself the space and grace to work through it all. Take care.

        2. No Name Yet*

          I’m so sorry for your losses – the loss of both him, and of the hope that he might have made changes in his life in the future. (I’m also so sorry that people in your life haven’t been supportive.)

        3. allathian*

          I’m so sorry for your loss.

          I hope that you can get some understanding support somewhere. Maybe a support group like Al-anon where you could talk to other people who’ve experienced something similar with a friend or relative who’s an addict? Based on my googling, there are secular Al-anon chapters, at least online (I’m not religious, and wouldn’t be very receptive to any advice that was couched in religious terms). I got the idea from your 3rd unwritten PSA that comments like “I’ll keep you in my prayers” would make you uncomfortable.

        4. OtterB*

          I read it all also and I’m sorry for your loss.

          I think it can be harder to grieve the things you never had and now never will, instead of grieving the things you had but have lost.

        5. Tea and Symathy*

          I read it all too; it was so fair and even-handed that I got teary-eyed. I’m sorry for the loss of your brother and for the relationship that his alcoholism prevented you from having.

    4. Squidhead*

      I’m so sorry for your loss and for everything his illness stole from him, from your family, even while he lived.

    5. Squirrel Nutkin*

      So very sorry for your loss. Please take good care of yourself during such a stressful time.

    6. Not A Manager*

      I’m very sorry for your loss. I hope that your good memories will be a comfort to you and to your mother.

    7. Bagpuss*

      I am so sorry for your loss.
      Even though they were a long time ago, I hope that you are able to find some comfort in those happy memories, and in knowing that despite his illness he didn’t become cruel to others, or steal.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes we lose them twice: once in the course of living life then again in their actual passing.

      I had a tear in my heart for the both of you when I read the part about “I am not a bad person”. It sounds like for that moment you both actually connected to each other.

      I am glad you were there for him and your mother when he passed. It’s hard work to take care of final arrangements and in settings like yours it’s even harder. He had something going right in order to keep you and your mom in his life. My father was a drinker also, and somehow people remained active in his life until his last day. Us humans are complex, we can keep loving a person even when they seem not to let us. I have to believe that underneath whatever substances they use, they continued to love us in their own way.

      I wish you and your mom peace for your tired minds and tired hearts.

    9. Generic Name*

      Gosh, I’m so sorry to hear this. My father in law recently died, and I learned that embalming is actually optional. The family elected not to have him embalmed because it was an expense that nobody had the money for, so the funeral was on a Thursday rather than a Saturday. Also, you don’t have to buy a coffin from the funeral home. (A family friend made it- it was known that he was dying for a while…)

    10. Grieving Sister*

      Thank you to everyone who read this, and to everyone who replied.

      As you can imagine, with responses from people IRL like, “Well, we all knew it was only a matter of time,” I haven’t found a ton of support from my friends group who know, though I haven’t yet told everyone. It’s good to have a place to just write some of it out that isn’t a Word doc on my computer.

      Weirdly (for me anyway, based on my decades of work experience), my company has been the most supportive. My managers, both direct and the others in the department, have asked what they can take over for me, and are keeping me cc’d and in the loop while they do my work for me. My team sent a Door Dash gift card worth several hundred dollars, and my cube neighbor has promised to bake and bring my favorite cake to the office next week on the day when we’re both in.

      Anyway, thank you.

      1. Seeking second childhood*

        Hugs to you from an Internet stranger. I had some family with milder alcohol issues, and even those were hard. I’m so sorry for all you &yours have endured.

      2. allathian*

        I’m so sorry the people you know IRL have been so unsupportive.

        I’m very happy to hear that your company’s been so supportive. This is what I’d expect from my current employer, if an employee was going through anything remotely similar. When a teammate’s mom died after a long illness, we gave her a small care package. This was before Covid, when home deliveries weren’t as common as they are today. She especially liked the heart-shaped white candle that she could light at home in the evenings and remember her mom.

        When my close coworker’s adult stepson (my coworker always called him “my wife’s son” or “my stepson” because they’d never lived in the same household) died by suicide last fall, our manager and I did our best to ensure that his return from bereavement leave would go as smoothly as possible. For a few weeks he was assigned the easier tasks, while I took the more challenging ones, and we also outsourced some work to ensure that I wasn’t overloaded. I went to the office one day specifically to drop off a box of chocolates and a sympathy card, because I was still WFH most of the time although most restrictions had been lifted, so going to the office was okay.

    11. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’m sorry. It doesn’t matter if you expected him to pass or not, he’s your brother and it hurts. Take care of yourself as best you can, and try to remember the good times.

    12. The teapots are on fire*

      I’m so sorry. It must sometimes feel as if you’ve lost him twice or more–to the disease, to the burned bridges, and now to death. I hope as time goes on you can find a few precious good memories in with all the sorrow.

    13. AGD*

      This is heartbreaking and the thoughtless remarks are awful! I’m so sorry. Thinking of you and your family.

    14. tab*

      My sincere condolences. I lost my brother in 2019, just four months after our father died. It’s not easy. He suffered from mental illness, and life was very hard for him. My grief was both for his life being cut short, for all the struggles he had to deal with, and my failure to be a better sister when we were younger. I hope the love of your family and friends gives you comfort, and that you have happy memories from your early years together. Sending you virtual hugs.

    15. Very Social*

      I’m so sorry for your loss, and furious with the people who have been so dismissive.

    16. River*

      I am extremely sorry for the loss of your brother. May his memory be eternal. Wishing you peace, solace, and comfort in his memories for the times ahead.

  43. Dark Macadamia*

    I’d imagine some of you will be as amused/horrified as I am by this assessment I had to take for a job application. This is a general application for a school district, and I had to answer 99 (!!!) questions covering teaching skills (okay, makes sense), cognitive abilities (o…kay), and “attitudinal factors” (what).

    A lot of the cognitive questions were math questions, which feels weird since I’d be teaching English, but the general logic and problem-solving ones were fine. One of the vocab questions had a grammatical error that was so glaring I thought I was somehow misreading the question or falling for a trick. No, just a mistake. On a language assessment.

    Some of the attitudinal questions were so invasive! Likert scale responses to statements like “I have a lot to be grateful for” and “I am happier than most people who are in circumstances similar to my own”. The incredibly dramatic statement “I believe surrender is unacceptable” came up THREE SEPARATE TIMES, twice in a “which of the two statements do you most agree with” format where I didn’t necessarily agree with the other option but it wasn’t as intense as WE SHALL NEVER SURRENDER. I guess this school district REALLY wants to know how I feel about surrendering?

    1. Genie*

      I can’t stop laughing, but… yikes. What on earth is going on in that district? Is there some kind of faculty fight club in the basement?

    2. Former Hominid*

      Is this a school district that has had, or is concerned about having, a school shooting? That’s the only thing the constant talk of “never surrender” would make sense with to me…

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Honestly I just think it’s a weird assessment (it’s a separate company that sells their program as a way to “improve” your hiring, not designed by the district) and the randomizer didn’t do a good job! It cracked me up though, and I guess I’d rather answer that one again than “I am satisfied with my life” or whatever

    3. just a random teacher*

      I HOPE this is a glaring overreaction to a previous employee who took the NEVER SURRENDER approach to any and all new district/school initiatives and was a giant pain to manage as a result, and that they’re looking for someone who is more “sometimes I win and sometimes I don’t, and a lot of the time the important thing is that things keep moving forward smoothly in the same direction”, but that’s…not the way I’d want to test for that.

      I have worked with long-term-teachers near the end of their careers with NEVER SURRENDER attitudes. It is definitely an exhausting and ridiculous experience when they decide that something like “not actually taking attendance” or “homemade food at class parties” or “I dislike the new curriculum for [subject], so I am going to just keep on teaching [previous thing] instead” is the way it’s going to work for their classroom, policy/rules/laws be damned. As a student, my 6th grade teacher disliked the district-adopted cursive handwriting font so much that she devoted an hour a week to teaching us “real” cursive in her preferred writing system, which was also specifically required for all final drafts of papers (typed papers were not acceptable). This would supposedly prepare us for high school and college. (As a future computer science major who had been typing my papers and other writing-heavy homework assignments all through elementary school and learned to use word processing software as soon as I could read, I did not find this useful preparation for college.)

    4. fposte*

      There’s a reddit post about this from last year. It looks bonkers. Like one choice is either “I have a soft heart” or “I would never make a risky investment.” What if both or neither or true, and what on earth does that have to do with teaching aptitude?

    5. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Trying to come up with a reasonable explanation…could they be trying (poorly) to test for resilience; there are probably better questions to ask to determine that. Education in general has really latched on to that buzzword for students, and faculty…and multiple studies have indicated that resiliency is a better predictor of (student) success than IQ (or standardized tests). I know in higher ed admissions there is a trend to look for students who demonstrate resiliency, rather than perfect grades, as candidates most likely to graduate.

    6. Irish Teacher*

      As a teacher, I honestly find those questions downright concerning. It sounds like they are looking for people who are happy even despite bad circumstances and I worry that might have an impact on how they deal with students going through trauma. Do they expect them to still be able to concentrate at school and so on? They seem to be very far on the “our emotions are a choice” end of the spectrum and…I could see that having implications for how they deal with behavioural problems and so on.

  44. Genie*

    How do you go about apologizing for a thoughtless comment made a decade ago?

    I was probably 19 or 20, at the oldest, when I said something stupid to my sister… but it took years, and the experience of being a wife and mother myself, to understand why it must have been terribly hurtful. It hasn’t really changed our relationship (we’re cordial but not close) but I wish I knew how to let her know that I’m so sorry for what I said

    1. Sara without an H*

      Maybe write a letter? Sometimes it’s easier to write things than say them.

      And make it an actual letter, not a text or an email.

    2. MissCoco*

      Maybe the next time you hang out, just take ownership for it. In this type of situation I think it’s often easier to not frame it as a massive thing, because while it might have been devastating to her, she also may have shrugged it off as immature lack of empathy and already mentally forgiven you.

      “I don’t know if you remember the time [brief description of scenario], but it was a really thoughtless and hurtful thing to say, and I wanted to apologize for it.”

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Send her a card with the goal of expecting NOTHING back.

      You can write out something the effect of “Years ago, I said [stupid thing]. I was wrong, I should not have said that. I am sorry.” Keep it short and simple.

      Here’s the thing I have seen about this stuff- the recipient of the apology does not even remember the event.
      One event I witnessed the recipient just said “oh, okay” and that was it. The person apologizing was totally confused, why didn’t they remember?. why isn’t this a big deal in their minds? and so on. The giver of the apology expected the relationship to open up more. It did not [for many other reasons some of which had nothing to do with the giver].

      Make peace with yourself. Send the card but carry no expectations for change. And if things do change, then think of that as good fortune.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Should you? Yes, sometimes it’s fine, but sometimes you’re just bringing up an old source of pain and making things worse (probably not applicable in the case of an offhand comment a decade ago). So when you’re considering if you should apologize, you should consider if you’re apologizing to make yourself feel better, or the other person feel better. If it’s just for your benefit, don’t.

    5. No Exclamation Points*

      Just say I’m so stupid for making that rude comment years ago. I apologize.

    6. AGD*

      I did this once. I sent a lowkey but upfront email mentioning that I’d recently been thinking about a thing I’d said years before, realized it was messed up, and wanted to officially apologize. The other person claimed not to remember but it’s possible he was just being polite. Either way, I felt a lot better after.

    7. JSPA*

      Aaand…it’s possible she’s stuffed it down the memory hole, and will be re-injured if you pull it back up. “I want you to relive a traumatic moment so that I can apologize” is not a kindness.

      You have to do it in person, and you have to start with, “some stuff with my kids got me thinking back to our own teen years, and I wanted to tell you that I realize I said some pretty horrible things to you. I’d love to set that right, but of course I don’t want to dredge up the specifics if it’s not something you want to wade into right now. But know that I’m ready with a full apology, whenever you’re in a good place to hear it.”

      After all, you can make a full apology without ever referencing the specifics! Your learning is a thing you did, inside your head; you don’t need to show your work.

      As a caveat, if it involves something that has repercussions to the present day, and you can offer some form of concrete help–offer that. (I’m thinking here of examples like, she was harassed by a predatory authority figure, and that person is still in a position of authority over young people, and you could say, “if you ever want to take some sort of legal action for what happened to you, know that I stand ready to back you up in court.”)

  45. Indigo Five Alpha*

    I’ll be going to a wedding next month. I’ve always worn dresses for weddings, but over the last couple of years I’ve become more gender non conforming (not that I was terribly gender-conforming in the first place). I live in band t shirts and jeans – I’ve barely worn anything else since covid hit and the idea of wearing a dress feels wrong.

    I’m guessing the wedding is going to be formal-ish and I have zero idea what to wear. Can I wear black trousers and a nice top? (I feel like this is a question no one can answer haha, but any ideas welcome!)

    1. Sara without an H*

      A pair of nice dark trousers and a dressy top should be fine. You get to decide what “dressy” is.

      I quit wearing skirts a couple of decades before, mostly because I found them uncomfortable, so on the rare occasions when I have to dress up, that’s how I manage it. The combination doesn’t have to be expensive, and can be adapted to other occasions.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Well. No, I disagree that you get to decide what “dressy” is, particularly for someone’s wedding. But I do think the outfit sounds fine.

    2. Angstrom*

      I’ve been to a couple of weddings where some of the “groomsmen” were women— female friends of the groom — and were wearing matching tuxes. Looked good to me. I’d think dress trousers and a nice top would be fine.

    3. Pennyworth*

      I think people are far more relaxed about wedding guest attire than they used to be (black used to be frowned upon but now seems fashionable). The main thing is to look as though you put some thought and effort into looking nice, in your own terms, for the wedding. The bridal party is always the focus of attention, no-one notices the guests unless they are outrageous. Your trousers and top will be fine.

    4. Pocket Mouse*

      If suspenders are your thing, a nice pair can both step the outfit up and do a bit of queer/genderqueer signaling. Check out Kirrin Finch—even if their clothes aren’t what you’re looking for at the moment, the photos brighten my day.

    5. allathian*

      I wore black pants and a nice top to my own wedding! Granted, I was 8 months pregnant and our wedding guests only included our parents and siblings and my MIL’s husband. I identify as a cishet woman, but I’ve never liked wearing skirts or dresses, at least not after the year I spent in the UK when I was 12-13 years old, and the comprehensive school I went to had a uniform that required girls to wear skirts. After that, I didn’t wear a skirt or dress again until my high school prom, and I’ve only worn them a handful of times for formal occasions since then. When I do wear a skirt, it has to be ankle length, which is a problem for evening events that aren’t formal enough for a full-length dress. When I was younger, I simply didn’t feel comfortable wearing a skirt. These days, I wouldn’t want to force anyone to look at my varicose-veined and cellulite-ridden fat legs, except my husband and he doesn’t care. (Please note, I don’t want to body-shame anyone else, and I don’t care what anyone else wears whatever their body looks like, but not showing my legs in public at any time is a choice I’ve made for myself.) I do have an ankle-length skirt that I wear occasionally when we’re going through a heatwave, and I don’t have to walk around much. Chub rub is an issue I haven’t been able to solve.

      I just think it’s so cool that gender non-conforming dress is so much more common now than it was in the early 90s when I graduated high school. When my much younger AFAB cousin graduated 5 years ago, they wore a stylish suit with a masculine cut, as did my husband’s cousin’s AFAB child when they graduated this spring.

    6. JSPA*

      I’d favor sharp creased pants (black), tailored or “nice men’s” collared shirt (likely white or cream, but pale tones would also do), and a tailored vest (black with some tracery of color, with any shirt; cream, if the shirt is (say) a pale teal or a lavender. Not-too-feminine choker or broach, if you want to fancy up a bit.

  46. Just a Rant*

    I’m just having a rant about stupid processes. I’m enrolling to do my Masters, at a different university to where I did my undergraduate and other post grad degrees. I’m currently touring around the country, working and living from my motorhome. I have all my papers in one place in storage. I’m going through the enrolment process (all on line). I am asked to upload my academic transcripts. No problems, I can get them. Click on the “next” to see what other documents I need – and it won’t let me go further until I upload!! So I cannot find out what other documents I need – birth certificate, passport, anything else?? Nothing on the website. Phone the university. Wait for 40 minutes. Person I spoke with doesn’t know what I’m talking about. Keeps telling me I need to upload my transcripts and then it will tell me what I need to do next. Arrrggghhh!!! What about a list of all the documents I will need to complete application and enrolment?

    1. New Senior Mgr*

      Can you try uploading a blank page, as anything, to see if it works and allow for the transcripts to go through?

      1. JSPA*

        Or a page saying, “official transcript on order, will be submitted under separate cover.”

        Or start a separate application as Jane Doe with a burner email account…do your sandboxing that way…then go back to your actual application once you have the info.

        Or ask a friend to go most of the way through with their info, but not hit the final “submit” button.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I had one like this too, I had to input all of my references and it wouldn’t let me move to the next page until their contact info was complete. I couldn’t work ahead on the other pages while waiting for them to respond!

  47. New Senior Mgr*

    Does anyone know what to do when your old house maintains a lot of moisture?

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Figure out where the moisture is coming from. If you have a leak, fix it. If it’s more environmental, get a dehumidifier and run it. It’s very common to need a dehumidifier in the basement.

      1. OldandMoldyHomeowner*

        This- and also, look at how the land is graded around your house. If it is flat or slopes toward your house on any side, you may need to do some work to build up the soil around the sides of your house to have it go down away from the house (4″ height over 4 feet was what I was told) and that will improve things.

  48. No Exclamation Points*

    Physician here. New department manager (who is not my boss but facilitator) texts me on my day off “get your license renewed!” I found the exclamation rude. And I’d already renewed the license. Not a fan of the exclamation point.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Argh that is annoying. How did you respond? I would have been tempted to ask her if she meant to send that to someone else since yours is already renewed “and I wouldn’t want them to miss your message, it seemed urgent”

  49. Critical Rolls*

    I’m just here to grump about coming into work and finding our parking lot covered in firework trash.

    1. Windchime*

      Ugh, I hate this so much. Before I moved to Current Town, I lived in a place where illegal fireworks were rampant and went on for hours at night, usually for 3 or 4 days. The night of the 4th was always the worst, and I would wake up to a huge mess of spent fireworks garbage in my yard.

      Current Town is much, much better. I heard fireworks for an hour or two (even though they aren’t legal here ), but I didn’t hear any of the “bomb” type fireworks that shake the windows and frighten the cat.

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