Coffee Break: Kenley Cashmere Scarf

Kenley Cashmere ScarfI got my MIL a Kenley cashmere scarf for some holiday last year, and have been eyeing them ever since — I was really impressed with the softness of the cashmere, and the brightness of the colors. I also like that it’s a bold, DVF pattern, but one that fits you no matter what size, and doesn’t need to be laundered as frequently as a dress or blouse. In other words: a great gift. The Kenley is a perennial style from DvF; this navy/orchid/light blue one is lovely. It’s $250 at Nordstrom. Kenley Cashmere Scarf

(L-3)

Comments

  1. Stressed over gift ideas :

    This scarf is beautiful! On a related note, does anyone get stressed out about what gift to get her SO’s parents? I’ve been with my BF for a little over 6 months and am spending Christmas Eve with his family. I have met his parents several times but don’t know them very well. Does anyone have any suggestions for an appropriate gift that does not include chocolate, wine, and fruit basket? I know BF’s parents are health-conscious and don’t eat sweets. I would like to keep it under $100. Thanks!

    • Houston Attny :

      Some random ideas – I hope one clicks!:
      - tickets or vouchers for tickets to a local sporting event/symphony/theatre company
      - personally, I love the Saks Fifth Avenue snow globes for various cities. Maybe if they are in one or love one of those cities?
      - magazine subscription along with something related (for example, Houston magazine along with a book on day trips from Houston, museum passes, Houston Symphony CD, etc)
      - unique coffee table/large picture books
      - really pretty picture frame or Waterford Christmas ornament with a nice note about how happy you are to get to celebrate Christmas with them

    • I agree that the SCARF is beautiful, but it had BETTER be for $250!!!! One time I bought mom a scarf from a street VENDOR, which the guy told me was Cashemere, but it crumbled up about a month after MOM started weareing it. Of course, I could NOT find the guy on the street that SOLD it to me (to be HONEST, I can’t realy tell one guy from the next — they seem to all come from somewhere like Jamaca or Afganistan), so I would have a VERY hard time PROOFING that the junk I bought came from one schmoe or the next. FOOEY! The good new’s is I onley paid $10 for it, so it was NOT a big loss. The thing is, like DAD say’s, “YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!”

      Dad is so smart. And I bought mom a new scarf in L&T for $50 she is still weareing! YAY!

      Anyway, I wanted to tell the HIVE I saw Bertha S when I was shoppeing for a new coat in Bloomingdale’s. She was also lookeing for a winter coat b/c her husband (a nasty man) would NOT let her wear her MINK outside b/c of PEETA bothering him and her — he has an OLD RACCOON coat from his dad.

      So Bertha says Ellen you need to marry Alan, he is pineing all day over you! I said no, I saw him with other women and she said no, he alway’s call’s out your name at nite. I do NOT know how she knows this unless he is liveing back there still. I thought he onley moved back until he got a job, and I had thought he worked at the Target uptown. She said he had a job there but was fired for bieng LATE to often. I kind of wanted to slink away, b/c that mean’s he is probbely home drinkeing again and do NOT want to marry such a looser! DOUBEL FOOEY!

      I left it w/her that I might see Alan after the new year’s but now that I would be a PARTNER, I would NOT be able to date him or bring him to firm function’s if he was a drunk. She said she would see if she could strayten him out. (Good luck, I thought!) YAY!!!!

    • Make sure you’re not being too hard on yourself to come up with some *amazing* gift. I definitely do that to myself, and spend all this time and money and totally stress myself out. Then when it comes down to it, the point of the holidays is the giving and sharing and spending time together, and it’s usually not about having some incredible over-the-top perfect “thing”.

      In the last relationship where I was getting gifts for in-laws, they were happiest when we gave them something that would remind them of us and our lives. For example, the year we went to Hawaii we bought them a beautiful coffee table book of Hawaii and then we could show them some of the places we’d been. If they do cook their own food, just some simple food item that comes from your home region or state? Or even just a collection of flavored olive oils or flavored salts or spices? If they drink at all, even just a nice bottle of wine that you pick out would probably be just fine for your first holiday with them. Don’t make it too complicated!

      Now, if they are super picky about gifts, then ignore all of the above and i hope you find something good! ;o) good luck!

    • Baconpancakes :

      I am relieved of this problem by my SO’s parents barely giving him a gift for the holidays, let alone giving one to me. But his sweetheart great auntie always sends me homemade shortbread, so I’ll be sending her some baked goods as well, but that won’t work for you if they don’t eat sweets. If you know their taste, maybe something innocuous like a gorgeous wreath for the door, warm and fuzzy slippers (LL Bean has them on sale right now if you hurry), Christmas music collections, or one of the suggestions above. I second the ornament tradition – you can get a fairly impressive ornament for $100, and start a family tradition.

    • In addition to what has been mentioned, I did a magnet of us through walgreens.com once. Don’t know if you have enough time for that but you could buy a magnet picture and insert a photo maybe. It was well-received and from what I understand, it’s still on the fridge despite the fact we broke up in May.

  2. I was surprised with a bonus that was significantly larger than last year’s (by my standards, anyway), even though I didn’t make billable hours. SUCH a nice feeling to know that they appreciated my hard work in all the strange circumstances we had this year!

  3. I love the colors in this! I have kind of an odd question for the hive. My husband and I are starting IVF after unexplained infertility for 3 years. I jumped into it without giving it much thought, of course we should do everything we can because we really want to be parents! But now that it’s real, I worry about the ethical implications – what if ivf has some adverse medical effects that just haven’t been revealed yet, what if we are just not “meant” to have biological children, etc. I guess I’m just wondering if anyone has had similar feelings about the process and how you resolved them.

    • Anonymous :

      I have had similar thoughts from a slightly different direction – my SO has pretty severe MS; there is family history of mental illness. Is it ethical to have kids under these situations? Haven’t resolved this per se. Haven’t had kids either. Curious what others think.

      • Just because you have a family history of mental illness, MS, etc. doesn’t mean you will pass it on, and conversely, if you did not have those things it doesn’t mean you would have a 100% healthy child. It’s just not in your control. I don’t think it would be unethical to have children under those circumstances, but you do need to weigh your desire to have them with how you would feel if your child developed MS/mental illness. Would it make it not worth it? You may not even know until you have the child, like all of the parents of kids with downs who could not imagine their lives without those children. It’s a personal decision that only you can make, but it’s not unethical if you decide that kids are right for you regardless.

        FWIW, my mother and grandmother are both bi-polar and my sisters and I are all mentally ok in that department. However, one of my sisters developed rheumatoid arthritis during high school, and there was no family history of it. I’m not sure if is helpful at all or just scary, but there you go.

        And on another FWIW, I am a big believer in using IVF. So much so, that I donated my eggs a while back (for a variety of reasons). It was an anonymous donation, but I did receive a thank you card after the couple had become pregnant, and it was the most touching card I had ever received. I could just feel how deeply grateful these people were. I think if you want kids that much, you should go for it. God knows we need people in this world who actually WANT to be parents and how will raise their children right.

      • A Nonny Moose :
    • Anonymous :

      In my opinion infertility absolutely does not make it unethical to have children. There could be so many reasons behind it and your future children will most likely be as healthy as anyone else.

      It would only be unethical, to me, if you have some type of genetic or hereditary disease (serious one) that is very likely to be passed on. In that case I think the best thing to do would be to adopt.

      I have thought about this too in passing because everyone in my family suffers from depression and anxiety, including myself. However, rather than let the fear that my child may have depression keep me from having a child, I just recognize I may need to be more vigilant in watching for the signs and symptoms of various mental illnesses in my child.

    • Is IVF really that different from other medical procedures? It’s not unethical to have our tonsils out or take antibiotics if you’re sick, so it’s not unethical to do IVF.

      • To me it’s definitely different. I don’t “need” to have children in the same way that I “need” antibiotics when I have strep throat. And it’s not just affecting my health, but a whole line of potential descendants. I think it’s just difficult for me to reconcile the miracle of human reproduction with the fact that our child will be conceived in a lab.

        • I’m not a very spiritual person so maybe this isn’t what you’re looking for, but we all do tons of things that we don’t need. Does anyone need the beautiful, expensive scarf Kat posted? No, but that doesn’t mean it’s unethical to buy one. I don’t see a downside to IVF, as it’s not like you’re using to get a baby to sell or abuse.

          • Buying a scarf is not like having a child, but yes. It’s a basic human desire to want to reproduce (not universal, but pretty basic), and society is very reluctant to deny that right. When you come right down to it, when you have a child you know you will be subjecting it to a fair amount of difficulty – illness, emotional distress, finding the means to survive for the next 80 years or so. (And a lot of happiness also, hopefully, but that’s not guaranteed). If a person thinks they’ll be a decent parent, the bad luck of infertility should not stop him or her from pursuing parenthood, especially since treatment is available. (Unless, of course, one belongs to a religious sect that frowns on assisted reproduction).

        • Frou Frou :

          We did IVF and I kind of remember having similar initial feelings. Keep in mind, IVF is not giving you a child. The embryo that is created in a lab still needs to implant itself into your uterus and from that point, continue to thrive. There’s no lab procedure that can force an embryo to implant or thrive. Sure, progesterone shots will help support a viable pregnancy, but IVF does not = child.

          Having been through the process, which produced ONE egg (not the dozens that most women experience), in which we watched the day-by-day process of the egg+sperm change from a simple cell structure into a five day blastocyst, that was acceptable to proceed with a transfer (with the hope that it would implant all on its own), I would say, and my RE agrees (as he’s the one that made this point to me before I came upon it), there are plenty of opportunities to witness miracles in a pregnancy initiated by IVF.

          With that in mind, infertility is a medical issue, but if we’re going to invoke God and give a greater existential meaning to pregnancy and parenthood, then I’d submit to you that it is God’s plan for women to bear children.

          The beauty for me in our pregnancy experience is that I see every child as that one egg that my body managed to produce after an extended stim cycle. I do see our child, (and every child), as being entrusted to me (or their parents) by God or through the love of this universe. I didn’t really think in those terms before IVF. Our experience with infertility and our journey to parenthood has shaped our (mine and DH’s) parenting in a way that I would not have imagined. It was the best decision I’ve made (OK, second-best after marrying my DH!).

          Good luck with your journey!

    • IVF has been around for a long time, and I don’t think there are significant medical downsides (aside from prematurity due to multiple births, which can be controlled by limiting the number of embryos transferred).

      In terms of whether you’re “meant” to have children, only you and your spiritual advisers can answer that. I don’t really understand the concept that some things are “meant to be” and cannot be tampered with.

      • This is not exactly the same, but is quite similar. Just an FYI that there can be major medical side effects from the fertility drugs. When I was in college, a classmate signed up to donate eggs, and, as a result of the fertility drugs, got a blood clot, had a stroke, was in a medically induced coma, and almost died. So while it’s “relatively safe”, it can be not safe for some, and, well, I’m just throwing that out there. It was heartbreaking to think that a really lovely, lively classmate almost died. She’s fine now. Scary then….fine now.

        • Right, I know that there can be acute complications from the drugs, but pregnancy itself also carries risk of death or permanent injury to the mother.

    • Silvercurls :

      I’m sorry you are facing this, but you are not alone. The organization Resolve exists to help people navigate the experience of infertility. See www (d0t) resolve (dot) org

      There must be material that addresses medical or reproductive ethics from the perspective of various religious, spiritual, or secular sources of wisdom. Feel free to accept the helpful and discard the unhelpful resources that you find.

      At the risk of being annoyingly cheerful, I want to encourage you to have faith in your own decisions and the sources of wisdom you consult. (Nobody else has the right to pass judgment on your choices!) Also, your life (self & DH) will have meaning regardless of whether you have bio kids, non-bio kids, or a life without being parents. There are many ways to contribute to this world. I wish you peace along your journey.

      • Thank you for the kind words! It’s refreshing to hear reassurance that’s more than just, don’t worry you can always adopt.

        • BTW you cannot always adopt. I may smack the next person who tells me that. Adoption is complicated, heartbreaking, and expensive.

          • This +1000. Adoption is heartbreaking and expensive and doesn’t always work out despite best efforts.

          • Well, and the other thing is that adopting and physically giving birth to a child are fundamentally different experiences and choices. When I was getting divorced, one of my great sources of angst was that I had essentially wasted years of my fertile life with my ex-husband, and his response was that I could “always just adopt.” It infuriated me. Sure, many people end up as adoptive parents because they’re unable to have children through other means, but these things aren’t simply interchangeable substitutes for one another. Not to say that one is inferior to the other, but simply that they’re *different.*

        • saltylady :

          I would be so annoyed if I were going through infertility and people were telling me that. It’s far from simple. I know one family who adopted a baby and then the mom took him back, and I know another family who just returned from two months in a foreign country after a failed attempt to adopt a toddler there. Both have other kids, adopted or otherwise, and all has ended well, but man what a journey.

    • I haven’t personally grappled with it, but I’ve wondered casually about the byproducts of infertility treatments. I don’t know much about it, but I understand that there are leftover embryos from some processes that can trigger some complicated ethical quandaries.

      • Leftover embryos are a problem in a religious context that holds that life begins at conception. But in a non-religious context, I’m not sure what the problem is. I realize religion has colored political and ethical discourse in this country, but bottom line, there is no state religion.

        If a person has an individual problem with creating excess embryos, that person should not do so, but that’s no reason to stop anyone else.

        • I reread what I wrote and I realize no one here is objecting to other people creating excess embryos. But most of what passes for “ethical” discussion of the topic is religion-based.

    • I got married fairly late and have a sibling who is militantly anti-IVF. Here are things I thought of re the ethics:

      I did not like the idea of selective reduction, so I only would have wanted 1 or 2 embryos to be transferred at a time. That can mean more attempts, so more $, but having a PG with >2 babies would also have been not without its significant downsides.

      I would have donated any unused embryos to couples who would adopt them (use them for their own IVF — it seems that that is a thing).

      I was really worried about m/c risk and did not want any amnios or CVS done for Downs screenings (the non-invasive ones were OK though).

      Lots of things to think about, but you never know how your journey will go. FWIW, 100 years ago, all of my children probably would have died b/c my I lost my first child and I’m RH negative and my husband is RH positive. Or I would have died in childbirth. Or of some epidemic.

      • While it’s fine to donate embryos, I think there is very little demand for donor embryos, certainly not enough to “adopt” all the embryos that people wish to donate.

        • There is a lot of demand for donor embryos.

          • I did not know that. I guess that is a good thing. So I’m surprised there are any ethical issues at all, if loving uteri can be found for donor embryos.

        • Anonymous :

          Actually, it’s quite the opposite. The demand for embryos is higher than supply. Embryo adoption is not the norm. Most couples donate to science, thaw, or indefinitely freeze left over embryos (which can cause all sorts of ethical issues).

          As to OP, yes, I struggled with the decision to do IVF. In the end, I felt that medical assistance to get an egg and sperm to unite was not really all that different from any other medical intervention I might require. And now, as a patent, I can honestly say making a decision about the potential health risks of medical treatment is the norm, not the exception. Very few medical decisions you make as a patent are black and white . IVF just forces you take that plunge from day 1.

          Good luck.

    • So this isn’t really a “feel good” answer, but honestly, there are some TERRIBLE parents out there and their children really suffer for it. I’m not just talking about people who beat their kids or abandon them. I see so many kids where I live who have a roof over their heads, but their life is totally chaotic because of their parents and the kids really suffer because of it. (Spend a day in juvenile and domestic relations court if you’d like to witness it firsthand). The only thing that I think is really unethical about bringing a child into this world (naturally, in a lab, by adoption, etc.) is doing so knowing that you cannot provide a safe, stable, and loving home. If you didn’t have fertility issues, there would still be a chance that your child would be born with physical or mental difficulties or that you’d have a miscarriage, etc. I agree with Silvercurls that your life will be meaningful no matter what you decide but my personal opinion is that the ethics of IVF are no different from the ethics of deciding to reproduce in the first place.

    • Anonymous :

      I can understand how you find the ethical implications of IVF to be a gray area. I had a very long discussion about this with my sister (hypothetical). I’ve read some information that implies that the reason we have more children with autism/developmental disabilities is because people who perhaps shouldn’t be having children (genetically not a good match) are having children due to modern medicine. But this is a really insensitive approach to infertility which is an intensely emotional experience. But you can do everything right and have no fertility problems and still have something “wrong” with your child. So I think reproducing is a crapshoot. I would feel more of an ethical struggle over the un-used embryos. I personally have an issue with people who are anti-abortion, like intense pro-lifers, but then use IVF to get pregnant and dispose of their un-used embryos.

      • Usually infertility is caused by physical or hormonal factors, not some kind of cosmic genetic incompatibility. Recurrent miscarriage may be another story though.

        • Also not true. My husband and I are genetically incompatible. I was able to get pregnant but not stay pregnant. We used donor embryos.

        • Genetic incompatibility is not the usual reason though.

          • I was taking issue with the “cosmic genetic incompatibility” as it is real. There’s nothing cosmic about it. My genetic counselor and fertility doctor told us that approximately 40% of infertility issues are female issues caused by any number of reasons and same percentage are male issues, leaving 20% for combined infertility.

          • I did mention recurrent miscarriage as being caused by genetic incompatibility, and I’m sorry I used the word “cosmic”.

        • Declarative statements :

          You keep making declarative statements about things you clearly don’t know anything about

    • Oh man, yes. Not before we did IVF. We were both totally on board with that. But we didn’t do a lot of research on twins before agreeing to transfer two embryos. Our doctor was excellent and he did talk about some of the risks, but I think none of it really sunk in. Given my age and other factors, the general medical recommendation was to transfer two, which is what we did, and got twins on our first cycle. (Very lucky!) When the complications started a few weeks ago, however, I went into a deep spiral worrying about how selfish and thoughtless I’d been to create these two beings who might now have severe lifetime disabilities because of a choice we’d made. I had two whole nights when I didn’t sleep and just cried all night about that. Maybe it’s that we’re now moving along and the complications have sort of stabilized and so it’s starting to feel more and more likely that we’ll wind up with two healthy little ones, but I’m now back to viewing this just like any other pregnancy.

      Look, I respect people who take the position that, if God wants them to have children, God will grant them children. But I think for many of us, no matter what our religious beliefs, we feel that simply always letting nature take its course means living in a world with pain, death, and disease and using medical technology to improve our lives is entirely ethical. No, you don’t “need” a child to live like you need an operation to remove a cancerous tumor. But I know that I felt that not having a child would leave an enormous hole in my life, and who’s to say that emotional health isn’t as important as physical health? If you wouldn’t live the rest of your life in physical pain if there were a medical intervention to fix it, why face emotional pain that can also be cured?

      As for increased risks, no pregnancy, delivery, or life is free from risk. You can do everything exactly right and something can go wrong during labor and your child can have severe disabilities. You can also smoke, drink, do drugs, and live recklessly while pregnant and have a perfectly healthy baby (sure, the risk for bad things goes up, but you’re not guaranteed to have a baby with problems). I know plenty of happy, healthy IVF kids. I also know plenty of kids conceived the old fashioned way who are not happy or healthy. Do the research and find a good doctor, but ultimately I think IVF is a beautiful thing that helps so many good, loving people bring wonderful children into the world.

      • OCAssociate :

        TBK – I’ve been wondering how you’re holding up. I hope you’ve been able to get visits from your dog, and no “pop-ins” when you don’t want them.

        And for anecdata – my close friend did IVF, absolutely did not want twins and only transferred one embryo, which promptly split into identical twins. So even when you’re doing your best to avoid multiples, sometimes nature interferes.

        Good luck to you and the OP!

      • Well said, TBK, and thanks for sharing your personal perspective as well.

    • I know where you are coming from. I had 3 m/c due to an actual medical reason before I had my 3 boys. I always, always had wanted to be a mom and those losses were really hard. When I was pg with my boys I had to take heparin injections to maintain the pregnancies. My boys, while awesome boys, have some unique gifts and challenges. All have very high IQs. All have fine motor and written expression disabilities/deficiencies. #2 is borderline PPD-NOS (highest diagnosis on the autistic spectrum). Younger 2 both are ADHD (although different types). We do have our hands full, but like I said, they are overall great kids.

      A couple years ago my wonderful mil, who is a former teacher and now is an education professor at her local university, mentioned an article she had read. We always discuss learning issues our boys are having because she is a wealth of knowledge. Anyway, the article she read linked heparin taken during pregnancy with an increase in ADHD. It kind of shook me, almost making me feel like these challenges my boys have were somehow my fault, because of my very strong desire to be a mom. I think it affected me more than she had intended. She meant it in an ‘oh, isn’t this interesting?’ way, and I internalized it in a ‘oh no, it’s all my fault’ way.

      I thought for a while about this whole thing, and decided that, first, there is no proof that the heparin caused the ADHD – there just seemed to be a link between the two, and one of the things I remember most from my university psych classes is “correlation does not equal causation”. Second, even had I known that this was a possible risk, I would still have had all 3 boys, no question (maybe I’m selfish?). Do I wish that they didn’t have to deal with the ADHD? Of course. However, it doesn’t mean that they can’t learn coping skills and ways to deal with it that just might make them stronger people in the long run. Perhaps they will be more compassionate because they know what it’s like to struggle. It does make our job as parents somewhat more difficult, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. I definitely have a different perspective on parenting and challenges now than I did before having kids, and have developed more compassion myself. I believe trials & overcoming difficulties help develop our character and make us better people in the long run.

      And as for your ‘are we meant to have children’ thoughts. Well, I am quite religious. I believe that we have medical advances because God loves us and wants to help us. That is an very simplified summary of this belief, but hopefully you understand my point.

      So, I guess the point of this long winded response is that only you can make the decision based on your own desires, faith, experiences, etc. And, often the people who have that huge desire to have children, whatever the price, turn out to be great parents. Good luck!

  4. Update on my conversation with my suddenly-critical boyfriend, as discussed on Monday’s coffee break.

    I took two days away from him unilaterally. That freaked him a bit, because it is unlike me to declare I don’t want to see him on an evening when we’re both free. But, it was well worth it. I needed both days to calm down enough and analyze all the feely feelings I was feeling. Also put him on notice that I was upset and that a Serious Talk would be happening.

    I wound up creating a full page of typed notes for the conversation. I didn’t end up referring to them during it, but I was glad I took the time to organize all my thoughts.

    I covered all my points (and many of the good points brought up by in comments here) and he was fully attentive until I was done. And he admitted wrongdoing and apologized. A good apology too, not one of your “sorry if” ones.

    He is not in fact worried that I’m not arm candy enough. More about being in a relationship with someone with health problems down the road. When I pointed out he’d put it exactly in terms of me not being good enough for him, his face fell and he said “Parfait, I’m so sorry. You’re right, I did do that and I was wrong to.”

    And the idleness thing was more about a relationship with someone else he’d dated before, who got pissed at him when he worked on his own projects and didn’t cater to her every minute because she was sooooooo boooooored, and why is he ignoring her?? I pointed out I was not, in fact, seething with resentment that he had his own stuff to do, that if I need my needs catered to I can bloody well cater to them myself, that I can and do go off to do other things when he gets his power tools out to build things, and that it’s FINE.

    And I listed all the reasons why I was down and needed down time, and he was glad to hear them. He hadn’t been cognizant of them all. And I said that I could have done better at articulating “Shut up, I *am* doing something. I’m NAPPING here, this is an important self-care activity, so shush.”

    So. We had a good talk, I emphasized that I want him to feel like he can bring up concerns but in a better way, and then we had a really fierce and passionate lady garden session. I feel so much better – heard, understood, validated, and yes, still desired.

    I’m so keeping him. If this is the worst issue we’ve had in two years, and this is how we go about discussing our issues and resolving them, then I feel really quite good about the solidity of our foundation.

    • Oh, wow!! That is some amazing communication there, Parfait! I am so impressed and jealous of your awesome guy and strong relationship. He is definitely a keeper! Take care of yourself and hope you feel better soon. Hugs!

      • My perspective is a little different. I’m more impressed with how Parfait handled it than with anything her boyfriend did. I also think it matters more. The guy may have redeemed himself and forever be done with whatever yucky impulse took over in that moment, or he may be far behind Parfait in maturity/empathy when it really comes down to it–time will tell. What she has regardless is her own boundaries and healthy responses when they are crossed. That makes it likely that she can recognize and maintain a good relationship, or instead recognize and get out of a bad one.

        I’m speaking partly from experience here. I’ve dated guys who I thought were much better than they were because, as I realize in retrospect, they were able to rise to the occasion as long as I did a bunch of work to facilitate it (somewhat similar to the story above). This is not quite the same as having an equal partner. I’m not saying I have a bad feeling about this particular relationship, just that I think Parfait should be more pleased with herself than with her catch at the moment.

    • If you can communicate that well, you can handle anything, especially if both of you can admit when you’re wrong. I’m always trying to be better (or as good as my bf) at saying sorry and not being stubborn/trying to have the last word/ trying to have it my way and I think my relationship wouldn’t be half as good without that.

    • prof on a bike :

      Glad to hear a happy update to the story!

    • Seattle Freeze :

      Yay! Good for you :)

    • Baconpancakes :

      Yay! I’ve watched my friends fall in love, get married, get divorced, or stay married, and overwhelmingly, the thing that actually makes a relationship stick is communication. It’s hard, but you did well! I’m very proud of you! Don’t take all the communication onus off your BF, though; he needs to communicate clearly when he’s freaked out by past associations and recognize when he’s being unfair to you, and stop, and apologize the minute he realizes it.

    • This is wonderful news! Props to you both for the good communication and maturity. I hope you two continue to have a great, lasting relationship. :-)

  5. Paging Zora :

    Hi Zora, I may be interested in adopting one of your foster kitties. Can I reach out to you? Thanks!

  6. Maybe I’m just bitter but in line with the recent conversation about weddings (and that Huff Post article), does anyone else feel completely inundated with other people’s weddings/babies? Maybe it’s a social media thing but I feel like it starts with the engagement and then wedding planning posts and actual wedding and then months later when they get their actual wedding pictures and in my mind, I’m just thinking enough already. We get it, you found the love of your life and now you’re married.

    Maybe it’s a societal thing – I would celebrate a promotion or something with friends, maybe with a dinner but I don’t think it would be appropriate to continually post about it on facebook (or probably not appropriate to post about it at all). Thoughts?

    • espresso bean :

      I do think that social media has something to do with it. Without social media, people wouldn’t have the same means to get into your daily life and as a result, your thoughts. Can you hide these people or block them from your newsfeed? Are they real friends or acquaintances?

      I know this is not for everyone, but I left Facebook a year ago, and I’m so much happier. Not always, but many times, people who I know for a fact are not really happy in their real lives would post ridiculous braggy things in an attempt to get attention or validation, and I would start to think that the social media posts were what was real and drive myself crazy trying to live up to them (if that makes any sense at all).

      • saltylady :

        I should really do a facebook hiatus. Or just quit. I like being able to keep up with some friends I don’t see too often, and post the occasional funny observation or article. But I have to admit, it does feel like there is this invisible audience for your life. And yet I only see posts from the same handful of people all the time, so it all feels really empty.

    • Yes I feel the same way! Some friends post so many pictures of their babies that I swear they had them just to generate the most likes on their photos. I think the issue is not so much the weddings/babies themselves but that a certain percentage of the population is posting constantly that it gets to be nauseating. I’ve actually considered a Facebook hiatus for this reason because it seems like I only get updates from the same people over and over again.

      • Lady Tetra :

        Yes — posting everything is the problem, I think. I have a very cute cat, and I have about 500 pictures of her, but I don’t post them on facebook because I know everyone else will get tired of seeing them.

        • anon-oh-no :

          but everyone doesnt get tired of them. most people have lots and lots of friends on facebook and their friends and family enjoy seeing photos of their kids (and pets, and weddings, etc). sure, some people post stuff i dont care at all about. and i just dont read those posts. or i read them and roll my eyes and move on. but to get all bent out of shape about what other people post on social media is just silly.

    • Anonymous :

      Thanks to facebook I’ve noticed a clear pattern that makes the back half of the year worse: nothing but weddings for August-October and then engagements from October-Christmas (usually people who were at those earlier weddings, yay society!) and then of course December is every baby in the world pics in the snow, with Santa, and eating tinsel.

    • Isn’t the answer to get off FB or limit it as much as possible?

      • Yes. I am a parent, as are many of my friends. Social media is a great way for us to see pictures and hear news about what is going on in each others personal lives. Our families are big part of that and feature prominently. If that means that other people hide my posts, I’m okay with that.

        • Agreed. I have a lot of out-of-town family and friends with children the same age and Facebook is a great way to keep in touch and share photos, etc. If that annoys people who are not my family/friends and they want to hide my posts, oh well.

    • Weddings, definitely annoying. (And I’m recently married to boot). Post that you got engaged and that you got married – is it really that interesting what happens in between?? I think not. I think it’s fine to post pics from the event itself, but no one needs a play-by-play.

      Babies I think are a little different – while I don’t care that your little darling pooped on the couch today, I appreciate getting to see photos of my friends’ little ones who I don’t get to see often. But I do hate the trend of posting ultrasound pics – I would rather not see the inside of your uterus, thnx.

      In general though, I’m not sure it’s the life events themselves that make people post more. I think the people over-posting are the same ones who over-post about the “fantastic” dinner they made, or the ridiculous cost of fixing their bumper, how much they spent on their designer shoes, etc. Be annoyed with the person, not the event.

      • This is true – I have an acquaintance who posts about her baby almost constantly, but before she was doing that, she was posting about dinner, home renovation projects, things she and her husband did that day, etc.

    • Step away from Facebook. Seriously, comparison is the theft of joy.

      I am so much happier now that I’ve deleted my profile.

    • Olivia Pope :

      From the other perspective:

      I am not the type or even look at FB all that often. And I really was not a bridezilla when I was engaged. (My friends: I can’t wait to dress shop with you now that you’re engaged!!! Me: Oh, I already bought a used dress on craigslist for $250. Sorry.)

      But the number of people DEMANDING that I give them updates and photos related to my wedding was mind blowing. Friends, relatives, classmates, everyone. Putting stuff on FB was the easiest way to get all that stuff out so I didn’t have to talk about it as much.

      When I’m bored with people’s updates, I hide them from my news feed. Maybe try that?

    • I get what you guys are saying, but I would ask that you keep in mind that, for a lot of people, other things, such as promotions or whatever else that are really important to you, just aren’t as important to some people – a job is just something that they have to do, etc. I’m not really that person (I am very career-minded), but still, my marriage* and my child are by far more important to me than my job. Plus, most people don’t really get my job – even other attorneys don’t really know or get what my role as an attorney in my specific area is like. Kids and weddings are more universal, and, quite frankly, more important to many people.

      At this point, I use social media almost exclusively for postings about my baby. But the fact is, that’s what I’m using it for – to keep in touch with people who care about me and my family (and I theirs). If someone really doesn’t like that, then I guess you could say that that person doesn’t really fit into my life right now. Not that there’s something wrong with them or that they’re bad people, just that we have different values that might not be compatible.

      * I know that a wedding isn’t a marriage, but they do kind of get conflated when you’re knee deep in wedding planning.

      • I agree with you Anon. I feel like my life in engulfed with engagements, weddings, “my husband is amazing” and “love of my life”. (I’m leaving the babies out of this, I can’t get enough of those pictures) After seeing all the attention and bragging it makes me want to elope someday, I don’t want to be “that person”.

        I also agree with Bette, comparison is the theft of joy. I’m TRYING to take a step back and enjoy my life and many blessings and not compare myself to the randoms from my hometown, college and life in general. What’s the point? Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.

        On the complete flip side I’m a total hypocrite and came on the comments several weeks ago after finding an email on my boyfriend’s gmail that said “beautiful ring”.

        DON’T JUDGE ME HIVE.

    • Maybe I should clarify – some of my best friends share updates about their weddings and babies and I am very happy for them BUT there is a difference between a few posts about your engagement/wedding/baby and an entire album of pictures of someone in a white dress.

      I guess my point was more over-saturation. I am so happy for my married friends and went to all the weddings and dress fittings when I was a bridesmaid and happily looked at pictures. But I feel like multiple posts about the engagement and lots of ring pictures followed by an engagement photo shoot and wedding updates and then hundreds of wedding pictures months after your wedding is a bit unreasonable.

      • My post above got stuck in moderation, but I just wanted to say that while I agree with you, I think it’s a small portion of those that suddenly turned into over-posters when they got engaged or had a baby. It’s just that before, their posts were about going to starbucks or have a cold or are mad at so and so, and you barely even read them because they were so boring. Now that they are posting about something that everyone else is posting about, your eye is just more likely to catch it.

      • I feel you. Or the person I know who tags her fiance in Every. Single. Update. “Checking out sweaters with [fiance].” “Eating Thai food with [fiance].” “Watching the basketball game with the love of my life, [fiance].” At a certain point you kind of wonder what that person is trying to prove.

      • Anonymous :

        I disagree. Albums are totally appropriate. Lots of people like clicking through all the photos. Now a post every hour for days on end is not.

        My general philosophy on FB is:

        1. If a person always irritates me, I hide posts.
        2. If the person is someone I usually enjoy following, I let it go.
        3. If lots of posts are annoying me, I realize the issue is probably me and I take a little FB vacation.

    • I definitely feel that way about other people’s babies. Most of my friends are done getting married, so I am not dealing with anything related to others’ marriages. But ALL of my friends are either pregnant, have a children, or are working on having a baby. We have been married for eight years and I don’t know if we’re going to have kids. Seeing everyone’s kids on Facebook (and elsewhere) just makes me feel so conflicted about whether we’re ruining our lives by not having a child, and it also makes me feel left behind. AND, since we’re talking about it, it makes me worry that we’re going to lose all our friends because we don’t have children. Bleh.

    • I think it’s definitely a social media thing. I’m not on FB and I hardly see any of this. For engagements & nuptials, I mostly get news of engagement, invite to a party, maybe a text photo of the ring, wedding invite, wedding announcement photo (maybe), wedding. Shower/Bachelorette party invites as applicable. But spread over a typical 1-2 yrs. it’s not so bad. For babies, more or less the same. Sometimes a few more pics. Sometimes I get people’s pet pictures, too. That’s it. The only time I see a status update of “Greatest Hubby Ever!!!!” or whatever is when one of my friends tells me about it in a little bit of, “oh my god, can you believe this person?!” And frankly I hear more from people mocking each other’s status updates than anything else. Why anyone wants to have that kind of “sharing” is beyond me.

      Of course, I know everyone’s on FB and it does make staying in touch easier, but honestly I don’t feel like you’re really “in touch” with anyone that way anyway. You just know facts and visuals about their life. But that’s it. I think being off FB & the like actually forces you to connect with people more because you’re not just posting a “like” or comment on someone’s wall, you’re talking on the phone, or at least emailing/texting. I know I’m in the minority on this but I think social media just creates a false sense of community and you can go years without a single actual conversation with any of your “friends.” For the OP, try a hiatus. You may like it.

      • Agree 100% with everything AIMS said. I have never been on FB (or any other social media site), and I have never once regretted that decision.

    • AnonPostdoc :

      Don’t care about the pictures. I actually like seeing updates and an informative caption that doesn’t rub in just how blessed they are.

      I care about the smug captions. Seriously, you don’t need to broadcast to everyone you’ve ever met…
      “This thanksgiving, I’m so thankful for the best hubby ever!”
      “One year ago today, I married my true love, my best friend, and my truest companion. Happy anniversary sweetheart! I feel so blessed!”

      The ones who post a picture from every date are the worst.
      “Thursday night wine tasting with my sweetie!”

      • saltylady :

        I think some people just have no FB personality or humor. Plus they never grew out of the teenage girl sappy phase.

  7. The earlier thread about cleaning services got me thinking. Who does NOT use a cleaning service? And if you don’t use a service, how often do you clean your place (I mean deep clean, not just surface stuff or handling clutter)?

    I’ll start. I do not use a cleaning service, although I’ve been thinking about using one for awhile. I live alone in Chicago in a 950ish square foot 1 BR/1BA. I organize something small every day, clean the kitchen daily, clean the bathroom once a week, and deep clean once a month. I’m rarely home, so the place doesn’t get too bad.

    I don’t mind doing dishes or sweeping or organizing the mail, but I absolutely loathe cleaning the shower and folding sheets. I wish I could pay someone to do those specific tasks. Has anyone ever used TaskRabbit for something like that?

    • I don’t use a cleaning service, but a lot depends on what your tolerance for dirt is. FWIW, my kids go to friends’ houses and they say our house does not compare badly in the cleanliness department. True, I am sure they are not comparing the dust bunnies on the floor behind the bathroom sink, but the point is our house is not seriously dirtier than others.

      I clean when things need to be cleaned. If one of the bathrooms gets little use and doesn’t look dirty after a week, I’ll let it go another week. Again, dirt tolerance is key, but don’t wear yourself out sticking to a cleaning schedule and cleaning things that don’t need to be cleaned.

      • One of the reasons I stopped having cleaning help is that you really have to supervise the cleaners in order for them to do a good job. If you leave them alone in your house, assuming that you find someone recommended as trustworthy or bonded and insured, they tend to do a half-baked job, just as you might be tempted to slack off if your boss was never around when you worked. IF you are an assertive person who feels comfortable giving strong directions about how someone else should clean your home, they might do a decent job… for a while. After a certain point, six months or up to a year or two, even the best cleaners seem to lose their motivation.

        I would find myself cleaning a whole missed spot and just getting more and more annoyed, but I am not that assertive person re domestic help. (I’m fine at work, somehow). I would be muttering to myself “I paid you $60? For what?” It wasn’t worth the aggravation.

      • “I clean when things need to be cleaned.”. This is just so sane.

        +1000.

    • Anonymous :

      I *should* have a cleaning service because I don’t even know what a “deep clean” is. Its just easier to not have houseguests. Also, the wash and fold folds my sheets.

    • The solution to never folding sheets again?

      Own one set per bed :) wash, dry, remake bed!

      (Obviously this is not a workable solution if there are young children involved).

      • I may need to do this… seriously.

      • That’s what we do, too! (We own a couple of other sets, but they literally haven’t been used in years. We’re long past due for new ones, I’m sure.)

        Re: The deep clean – we’re pretty messy, I’ll admit. We did some major cleaning before Thanksgiving, and did several things that really hadn’t been done since we moved in (Feb, 2012). Generally, we vacuum the main area (the dog hair part of the house) a few times a week (the upstairs, where dog doesn’t go, is more like every few months), wash dishes and clean the kitchen and declutter, of course, but most other things sort of get done when they are needed – i.e., the bathrooms get cleaned when they look gross, things get dusted when they get dusty, etc. Or, things get cleaned when company’s coming – we always joke that we should have people come over more often, since it at least gets us to clean the house a little. Sometimes I wish things were cleaner, but it seems to work out OK.

        • saltylady :

          This is why I have a cleaning lady. I know we would not do a good job with the deep clean. I’m not even sure my husband is convinced it’s a real thing– he always had a cleaning lady growing up and is only dimly aware of products like clorox spray, toilet bowl cleaners, etc.

    • Anonymous :

      To be totally honest (under the cloak of anonymity!) , my house just isn’t that clean. I routinely clean and organize the very visible parts of the house (vacuum the hard woods, put away clutter, dust the living room, make sure kitchen is clean) but the private parts of the house are …. not that clean. I don’t clean my shower nearly enough. The floor of my closet gets awful. Toilets sometimes don’t get cleaned for a couple weeks. I only have so much time to clean and so I prioritize the areas that others will see when they stop by.

      • prof on a bike :

        Mine’s not either, if I’m also honest about it. I would love to use a cleaning service, but my SO is strongly against it because he’s uncomfortable about having strangers in our apartment. House cleanliness is one of the only things we really fight about. I’m not sure what the solution is, because I’m unwilling to devote more of my limited free time to cleaning and he hasn’t yet warmed up to the idea of a cleaning service. And OP, I also loathe cleaning the shower!

        • Can your SO do some of the cleaning, if he wants it cleaner than you have time for? He lives there, too. Or is it fully your responsibility to find the time?

      • My house is definitely dirty. I sweep and vacuum, but nothing else gets done on a remotely regular basis, especially the “private” parts of the house like anonymous said. I would kill for a cleaning person but my husband thinks we can’t afford it.

        • saltylady :

          My husband knows we can’t afford not to have one. We would be divorced in a nanosecond, and two households is expensive.

          • This is how my parents were/are :) When my parents were pinched financially we still had a cleaning service once per month. When they were doing well, the cleaning service came every other week.

          • +1. we have weekly cleaning. not as good as doing it yourself but mentally uplifting…better a cheap cleaner than an expensive divorce HA

      • My SO and I need to do a better job cleaning. I don’t want to pay for a cleaning service but then I don’t want spend my spare time cleaning either! I think I need to do one small chore (other than dishes and dinner) a night so it’s more mangeable.

    • I don’t use a cleaning service, but I would really like to and plan to if/when SO and I have kids, if not earlier (holding off while trying to save save save). 1 br/1 ba with a dog that SHEDS like crazy (and I, also, shed like crazy). I think in a small apartment it is harder to go a long time without cleaning because the dirt you track in, hair you shed, etc. is all concentrated in a much smaller space.

      I medium-deep clean (all shelves, bookcases, moldings, under the bed, plus kitchen and bathroom and tub) on average once every other week. The week in the middle, I clean the bathroom sink and kitchen sink/counters, and do the floors. And I deep-deep clean (i.e, cleaning the refrigerator, removing things from the closet and kitchen cupboards to clean) a few times a year.

      • anon-oh-no :

        i didnt get a cleaning service until we had kids and i went back to work. i always thought, why would i pay for this when i can do it myself. but now, i hope i never clean another toilet again. and our current cleaning ladies do laundry too — its seriously the best. thing. ever. i mean, seriously. and i never had an issue doing laundry, folding sheets, etc.

        • anon-oh-no :

          i guess i should also add that a lived in smaller apts when we did not have cleaning help. our place is big now (5000 sf) and even if i didnt have kids, i wouldnt want to clean it myself (though i would never have a place that big without kids)

    • We live in a large (about 3,000 sq. ft.) house. I don’t have a cleaning service. I am fanatical about keeping my kitchen clean, and have a strict laundry (including changing sheets) schedule, but other than that I clean on an “as needed” basis. My house is never cleaner than just before company comes over.

      It helps that both of us are fairly clean people and at the moment there are several rooms in the house that we rarely use, so I can get away with ignoring those most of the time. I vacuum every couple of weeks, dust when the mood takes me or the dust starts to annoy me, and clean the bathrooms every couple of weeks. Between vacuuming sessions I Swiff, which keeps the dust and cat hair down.

      Honestly, clutter is more of an issue for us than dirt. I have a paper problem – it seems to procreate in the night. If I could hire someone solely to deal with my paper, I would.

    • Anonymous :

      I don’t use a cleaning service. My cleaning routine varies on my spare time and how much I’m home. I’ve truly cleaned like once in the past month and a half because I’ve been away for the holidays and such. Normally I vacuum once a week, clean the bathrooms/mop kitchen floors once every two weeks, and “deep clean” (like this means wiping down baseboards, cleaning all the windows, and other insane tasks) once every 2 months. Vacuuming and wiping down dusty/dirty surfaces is the most important thing to me so I do that as needed. I straighten up every night. I think my house looks pretty clean. Plus its just me and a small dog so the biggest thing to tackle is the dog hair (which really isn’t that bad compared to other dogs I’ve had). Oh I change my sheets once a week though, that’s essential.

    • Baconpancakes :

      I grit my teeth through the copious advertisements and the mind-numbingly anti-feminist attitudes toward household responsibility and use the FlyLady system. It’s a pretty good system for getting everything clean on a regular basis.

    • Although I have a housekeeper every two weeks, I still clean and do laundry in between her visits. I guess I have a low tolerance for dirt, clutter and mess (thanks Mom and daily housekeeper growing up). Growing up in that environment usually goes one of two ways – super clean (me) or completely helpless (my brother). Between pet hair and what I call city dirt/dust/grime that sneaks in through windows, I vacuum daily and straighten up daily, doing dishes, dishwasher, laundry, litter box, etc. My housekeeper doesn’t arrive to a sink full of dirty dishes or 10 loads of laundry. Instead she focuses on the bathroom and kitchen and really deep cleaning. I love coming home after she’s finished. I feel like my house is sparkling and cleaner than I could ever get it.

    • Anonymous :

      I don’t. I live in a 3 bed, 2 bath in a big coastal city an have a husband and toddler. I clean once a week ( vacuum (including moving furniture), mop, dust, clean bathrooms, change sheets) once a week. I put stuff away every night. I have someone come and do a deep clean about 3x per year (windows, scrubbing floors on hands and knees, cleaning the oven, etc.). Cleaning helps me destress, and we are also saving trying to save a down payment in 2 years in an area where houses start at $1mm, so I can’t justify shelling out $80 a week for something I can do in 2 hours.

    • I live with four roommates in a 4BR/2BA and we don’t use a cleaning service. Our apartment is fine, but not stunningly clean. We do clean the kitchen every day. The girls’ bathroom gets fully cleaned every month or so, not sure how often the boys clean theirs. Every 3-4 weeks we do a thorough cleaning of the full apartment. Each person’s room is their own responsibility. I am a slob, and do a deep cleaning about once a semester, if that. My other roommates clean their rooms more frequently.

  8. Insecure co-worker :

    I am desperately in need some advice from the hive…How do you deal with a senior co-worker who is extremely insecure?

    I am an engineer working in a hardware/software company and we have an architect. An architect is a senior engineer who doesn’t do the actual day to day engineering work. He proposes new ideas, does some research and mostly works on the future projects. Engineers do the actual work but may not report to him. Engineers also approach him for advicewhen implementing his ideas or get the implemented product reviewed etc.

    I joined my current team 5 months back and I have an architect for a product on which I am working on. There are too many problems working with this person.
    I don’t think he is a bad person or he wants to harm me or be mean to me.

    First of all, he is very very insecure especially about his job. I work for a tech gaint and it is not doing very well compared to last few years. Many people have been asked to find other jobs within the company or leave. I understand this can be very scary when the person is a lone earner for the family with three kids + mortgage etc. He would come to me and start talking as if they would just lay us off, as if every one is conspiring against us and setting us up for failure so that they can just let us go. I didn’t know this person so much as I was new to the team and I got very scared too. But in reality there is no such a thing. Every conspiracy was his imagination and it is his nature to take things very negatively.

    As he is scared that he will lose his job, he wants to do anything and everything possible to safeguard his job. Everyday he comes up with something he wants me to do. He doesn’t allow me to work on it..he keeps mailing me or coming to the lab and asking me the status. He interferes so much that I cannot sit and work peacefully for a couple of hours. Next day he starts with something else..and same thing repeats. Most of the times we don’t even complete what we have taken up because he has some different idea. In addition to stressing me out..he keeps telling why doing this is important to keep our jobs.It is so stressful for me. I just want to run away somewhere to escape from him.

    From last week, our team is on a business trip to a different site. It is pure engineering work, there was absolutely no need for him to travel. Infact his travel was not approved. He somehow has travelled. He thinks if he can show that he does engineering work too, then will be more valuable to the organization and hence can keep his job. We had certain items we had worked on that we needed to verify that they are actually working. If things don’t work…it is not a surpirse. We just need to root cause the problem and fix it. But this person didn’t allow me to work. He started commanding me to do a thousand things. He got so anxious and excited. He was yelling and screaming at people. It was so bad..that I had to tell my manager and the architect’s manager that I cannot even work here and I walked out of the lab for sometime just to compose myself. At the end of it, when everything was resolved, he said..”debug is good right..it is exciting…”. I didn’t know what to say..

    He seems to be a depressed guy…He is obese and he has diabetes which is affecting his vision. Offcourse, there is no blaming on him for that, but he explicitly told one day that he is depressed due to that. But he doesn’t seem to take any responsibility to control the amount sugar that he eats. Our lab has an unending and free supply of sugary and salty snacks (fruit juice, chocolates, muffins, potato chips, granola bars etc etc). He gets stressed out and goes and eats huge amount of snacks.

    How do you deal with this person? I don’t want to hurt him as he is already depressed.I feel sorry for him when people ignore him and he gets so sad and starts pitying himself. So I try to be accomodative, but it drives me nuts. I want to protect myself and my career from his actions and words. I don’t want to get stressed day in and day out. .I have no idea what to do

    • The first thing I would do is speak with others on your team on how to manage him. The second thing I would do is to turn off your email when you need to be productive. I would let micro-manager know this in advance. Tell him that you need to focus on a project, and if he would like to discuss anything with you or give you a new task, you are available at X time, not before. If he gives you too many tasks, ask him how he would like to prioritize Tasks A-F which he has recently given you plus Tasks W-Z which are on your plate from another team/manager.

      If he starts whinging about getting laid off or discussing personal issues, smile and say, “this is a stressful time for all of us, but we must do our best,” and end the conversation.

      It sounds as though he is affecting YOUR productivity and ability to do a good job. This is a problem, and if it continues, I would not hesitate (after asking your colleagues for their tried-and-true methods for dealing with him) to explain to said architect that you must focus and be productive yourself, so while you are excited about his project, tell him that you are working on Y this afternoon and would be happy to discuss his project tomorrow. It’s OK to tell him that he’s interfering with your productivity, and that you’re happy to jump on board…in the future. [Once he's crystallized the idea a bit--but don't say that last part!].

      Also, you may want to consider moving to a new team, or a new firm…developers are in really high demand, so…you don’t necessarily have to put up with this, unless you’re tied by a work permit issue or something like that.

    • This sounds pretty awful. A couple of thoughts:
      You need to be the one clearly listing and prioritizing all the work he gives you. When you meet him and he gives you 10 things to do, tell him “I already have these other 5 things on my list. Do these take priority? Which ones need to be done first? By when?” Then, after you leave the meeting, send him an email that says “This is what we discussed for next steps…do you agree?” GET HIS APPROVAL IN WRITING. If things blow up because of his incompetence, you should have a paper trail.

      In the same vein, agree on an update schedule with him. “I will check in with you at 2PM on this.” He might still come by for the status, but he might not because he knows there is a set time when you will report the status to him.

      I hope other people saw his screaming performance, too, so that they have an idea of what it’s like to work with him.

      I respect that you feel bad for him, but pitying him and trying to accommodate him is not your job. You are not his therapist. You are there to engineer a product.

    • Coach Laura :

      I think that there is a two-pronged solution to this problem. First, you’re new on the team – are you new to the company or new to the field too? Second, you need to set boundaries or he will suck the life out of you and your job and may even make you look unproductive.

      This is something where you need direction from your boss, but present your concerns in a controlled, non-emotional way. Take what you wrote here and distill it down to four or five bullet points. 1) You need clear(er) instructions from your manager as to your goal and roles; 2) You need your manager’s support to set up boundaries; and 3) You need to give clear expectations to your architect as to your availability and the way that you want to interact based on your boss’s directions and requirements.

      This may be where you formally tell architect that your priorities are A, B and C and that you are going to be tied up for X days but that you will meet with him at X time daily to recap. Or you may say something to architect like “Now that I’ve been on the team for X months, I’ve realized that the way to be the most productive is to work on Y project from 9-1 and 2-5 each day and I will not be able to meet with you except outside of that time frame.” If you can’t block out big portions of time, then you’ll just have to be firm if he comes to you when you’re in the middle of a project/deep in thought. And then you put “busy” on your IM/email system or put on headphones or do something else to keep him out of your office/cubical during that time: Whatever this method is, it should be approved behavior in your office (e.g. know your office) or acceptable to your boss. Then if he does come in outside of these times, you can repeat – I think we should talk about this at Z time when I am done with my work on A/B/C project.

      What most managers don’t want, though, is for someone to make it personal and as a woman you may get more blowback from complaining than a man would so you want to make sure that your approach is more problem-oriented than personality-oriented.

      How you handle this will be dictated by the norms in your workplace. How do your coworkers deal with it?

      • Insecure co-worker :

        Thank you ladies for your advice..

        I want to leave the team because I don’t want to work in this environment. But I don’t want to leave just 5 months after joining a team because I feel it looks bad on my resume. I want to stay here for next 7 months.

        My manager doesn’t help because he doesn’t want to confront anything with anybody. I have spoken to him about this and his answer was this is how we should be working and it is called being agile… I have worked for 5 years in this company before..and we did have changing priorities. But nothing was just haphazard the way it is here…working with no clear idea of what the end product should be..and just dropping it before we get it to some conclusion.

        This team’s work is a bit different than what I used to do before but definitely not more difficult. It is not like I have start from scratch for doing the work..but tools and infrastructure and lower level details are different (concepts remain the same). But now I am almost independent and can do the work on my own.

        Other people just ignore him. He gets very sad and frustrated when people do that. But that is how he gets treated often.

        But I will definitely maintain some distance from this person so that his negative attitude doesn’t impact me. I will tell him that I need my space to work and will update him at regular intervals about the progress made or help that I may need.

        • AlsoADeveloper :

          You are the new one in this group and a female, this senior architect thinks he can boss you around because everyone else in the team just ignores him. You should try doing the same as long as you don’t visibly piss him or yell or scream. Yep I lost my cool once at someone who was similarly annoying and disruptive, that one incident was mentioned on my review, not good. Definitely handle him with sweet, polite talk but don’t let it impact your productivity, try not to let him get to you. I know it is hard, but that seems to be the only way given your manager’s attitude. No dear, this is not agile development, I have been writing code for almost 8 years, I know. Honestly, this looks like an extremely dysfunctional group, I would try my best to get out at the earliest. You have already been here for 5 years, I don’t think it will reflect badly if you switch jobs, 5 years is a very long time in the tech field. If you have work permit issues, then I understand you might have to put up with it. Good luck, and happy to discuss any software dev specific work issues, nice to meet another corp**ette engineer here !

  9. Mary Ann Singleton :

    Does any have a recommendation for an office drawer organizer? The drawers by my desk are such a mess (stationery, personal stuff, napkins, staplers, calculator…etc.) that when I open them I’m ashamed.

    • wildkitten :

      I’m sure the Container Store makes a dozen amazing solutions for this problem. (I love the Container Store – this is not snarky). I also like See Jane Work, and maybe even Levenger?

      • I love love love the Container Store. I could seriously spend way too much money there. Measure your drawers and then walk around the store. Don’t confine yourself to the office organization area. There may be a better option in the kitchen area.

    • Mary Ann Singleton :

      Thanks guys. I’ve always been afraid to step into the Container Store as I think I would love it too much and just go crazy in there. But I may have to try it, with some restraint.

  10. Q for fed gov r e t t es :

    So, I started a bit over a year ago as a GS-11. A few weeks ago, my supervisor asked for my bar info because she was recommending me for promotion to a GS-12, which from what I can tell has been fairly standard for new attorneys in our agency after they hit the one-year mark. However, I just got a notification of personnel action from HR saying I was promoted to s GS-11, step 2.

    Chances that this is a performance issue rather than a budget issue? My inclination is to tell my supervisor about the notification, to ensure that this is not in fact performance related. Thoughts? It’s less about the money (though I could use the money) and more about hoping I haven’t been totally underperforming without knowing it.

    • federette :

      The step increase to 11/2 happens automatically after a year at 11/1. This is not indicative of your performance in any way, nor does it prevent your supervisor from promoting you to GS-12.

      If it helps, the exact same thing happened to me. I was brought in as an 11/1, then made 11/2 and 12/1 at months 13 and 14, respectively. You’re not underperforming, and the step increase doesn’t affect the grade increase. Sit tight, and good luck!

      • OK, this is extremely helpful. I realized that the step increase happened automatically, but for some reason I assumed that if I was going to be promoted to GS-12, I would just be informed about that, and not have the automatic step increase. Your explanation makes a lot more sense. I’ll give it some more time (I think my supervisor put in the promotion recommendation early-mid-November, and things move slowly).

        • Ours was a two step process like federette. We got promoted to 11/2 automatically and received an email notification and then a few weeks later got a notification that we were promoted to 12/1. Other coworkers did encourage us to stay on top of our office director about the promotion to 12/1 though because she had a reputation for forgetting to put promotions through.

    • If your supervisor recommended you for promotion, I would doubt it’s a performance issue (how could HR be aware of a performance issue that your manager isn’t aware of?). While I don’t work in US gov’t, I would guess that it’s a budget or HR procedures thing. I know my manager has butted heads with HR many times about trying to get salary increases or other promotion-type changes for valuable staff… in many cases the manager wants to appropriately recognize good performance, but HR stands in their way for one reason or another. Definitely let your manager know, and I think their reaction will tell you a lot – if they respond with frustration at HR or disappointment, that’s a pretty clear indicator that it’s not performance.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      I’m not in gov’t but my husband is. He is not a lawyer. My understanding is steps are promotions and grades you have to apply for. You couldn’t just be promoted to a 12. I could be totally wrong but I think you got the standard promotion.

      • Killer Kitten Heels :

        It’s different for attorneys – my understanding from friends who work for the government is that the grade-level-promotion is basically automatic (or at least, entirely pro forma) with bar admission.

    • PinkKeyboard :

      I would definitely ask…. There’s a lot of paperwork involved. I know my boss has to write a PD that is submitted to his supervisor which is submitted to his supervisor who approves it. Then I believe it goes to another office for the admin types to approve that it matches what they have described as necessary for the next level (12 in my case). After that they create an SF50 which prompts the creation of the SF52 (Personell Action). If they told you they were recommending you they could be behind and the other was an automatic promotion or they could have put in for your promotion and only gotten the step increase. I would generally look into finding out the promotion where you work as it’s good info to have.

    • PinkKeyboard :

      Because i’m overly informative…. In the vein of Blonde Lawyer.. what is your target grade? In my organization you are promoted between grades without the need to apply until you hit your target. At that point you need to apply for any additional grade increases to a position in existence. The step increases come automatically at set intervals (unless negated by a grade increase) or your supervisor puts you in for a QSI (quality step increase).

      • I believe my target is a 13. I definitely don’t have to apply for a 12.

        I guess I just assumed that because I got the automatic step increase, and it wasn’t negated by a grade increase, that I somehow did not get the grade increase. But I suppose it may be the case, as federette pointed out, that I could still get a promotion to a 12, and that it is just taking a while to be processed…

        I think I will clarify things with my supervisor, but I’ll probably wait until after the holidays before doing so.

      • Reposting because in moderation…

        My target grade is 13. So I don’t need to apply for a 12; my supervisor just recommended it. I think I just assumed that getting my automatic step increase meant that I wouldn’t get the promotion to a 12–but feder e t t e’s comment (and your own) made me realize it may be just taking a while to process my promotion to a 12, and maybe I will in fact get it after all. I think perhaps I will check back with my supervisor after the holidays….

    • Can I hijack a question to the ladies who work fed – what was the interview process like? How long did the background check portion take? Any related insight on the hiring process would be wonderful.

      • I think the interview process varies from agency (and sub-agency) to agency (and sub-agency). For me personally (for an attorney position):

        - I applied on USA Jobs and was contacted regarding an interview roughly 2 weeks to a month later

        - I had two interviews; the first with Assistant Deputy Counsels and Deputy Counsels, the second with a more senior attorney and the General Counsel. I think of course the interviewers were looking to whether I would fit the specific need they had in the office, but also were really looking to whether I was interested in long-term government service (i.e., whether I would stick around). Also, read up on what has been going on with the agency in the news. It will be relevant. Bring it up

        - I was offered the job a couple of weeks after my second interview. The background check portion for a guy hired at the same time as me was only a couple of weeks. Mine took two months because I had made a mistake on my paperwork (in the employment section, I put that I was a “student” while in law school; really, I should have put “unemployed”). This meant that I had to re-do my background check paperwork, but of course they didn’t inform me of this until several weeks had passed. So, it’s variable. A good friend always has really long background checks because her mother was not born in the U.S. Another good friend always has really long background checks because she is missing a finger and no one can figure out why she is missing a fingerprint. It really depends

        - Just remember that the hiring process is kind of a crapshoot. There are a million applications for every position, and it is not always clear what, exactly, an agency is looking for in each position. I’m pretty sure I may have gotten my job because I talked about how I was looking into adopting a dog, and my interview panel was comprised of several dog-lovers. So keep applying, but remember that it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t get interviews 99% of the time. Unless there is a typo somewhere

        - If you are really interested in something, see if you have any connections with someone in the agency (even if not in the same sub-agency, or department, or whatever). Meet them to chat, to get a feel for what is going on in the agency, etc.

    • Why wouldn’t you ask your supervisor about it? She said she was suggesting you were being promoted to GS-12, so it’s not unreasonable to find out why it didn’t happen from her directly.

  11. Anonymous :

    I have question for anyone that has any insight! I am going back to school to get a degree; I dropped out several years ago due to financial reasons. I have had a great job making what a college graduate would make, which is why I haven’t gone back yet. My job situation is tenuous and I’m bored with it because it’s not challenging.

    I am looking at going into accounting. My accounting professor from this past semester has offered to answer any questions I may have about the field, but I really don’t even know where to begin. When you ladies talk about informational interviews, what questions do you ask during the interview? I don’t want to waste his time, but I really would like more information about the field. I’m asking here because I don’t know the ‘right’ answers to ask. As ridiculous as it sounds, I’ve never researched a career before.

    • Was/is your professor a practicing accountant? If so, a great opening question is “describe what your typical day at work was/is like.” The various tasks that he mentions in his response will likely trigger a lot more questions you may have.

      • Just as a heads up (and this may be lawyer-specific) – this question drives me completely crazy. In many, many jobs, there is no “typical” day. Instead, I once had a job applicant ask me “what did you do yesterday?” This was fun to answer and I think relays the gist of what this question is actually getting at.

  12. We recently got married and I am at a loss for what to gift my now in-laws. Would a beautiful frame with our wedding picture be tacky? I feel weird gifting “us” but I wouldn’t if it was let’s say a picture of just DH or if it was a child, so maybe I am overthinking this?

    • Senior Attorney :

      You are totally overthinking it. I would love a framed wedding photo from my (hypothetical) daughter in law!

    • anon-oh-no :

      totally appropriate.

      the chirstmas after my husband and i got married, basically all of the important people in our lives (i.e., parents, grandparents, others who would actually want a photo of us) got some version of this. A nice framed photo of us, or of us with them; a photo album with pictures of the wedding (and this is so, so much easier to do now with shutterfly, walgreens, and other photo book sites). everyone expressed their love of the photos and still has them up, 8 years later.

    • Do you have a group shot that includes you, your SO, and his side of the family? That could work too if you feel weird, but I’m inclined to say just go for it. They’ll probably love it!

      • This is what we did and my MIL loved it and has it prominently displayed in her house. Going with a family picture with your in-laws helps send a “we are all family” message which is helpful when you’re establishing an in-law family dynamic.

  13. PSA to check your accounts after the Target hacking. I did today and found fraud on the card that I always use at Target. ROAR!

  14. so anon for this :

    If MJ and Anonymous are still around, I have some follow up questions re: my original post about the timing for asking to transfer offices.

    I posted in the other thread but just in case:

    MJ – What you describe is my worst case scenario and exactly what I am concerned about. Does your friend thinks they should have done long distance? Or how does she wish she had resolved that situation? It sounds eerily similar to the situation I find myself in.

    Anonymous – Did the move impact your advancement? Have your hours suffered? Do people “forget”about you?

    • Anonymous :

      Anonymous here. The move hasn’t impacted my advancement at all. I’m a fifth year now (and I moved as a third year). I’ve brought in a few clients, which will obviously be helpful when I am up for partner in a few years. My reviews have continued to be stellar and I will likely be the highest billing associate in my (small) practice group this year. I will bill over 500 more hours than the other associate in my practice group in the office where I used to work.

      My practice group is very small, and almost all of the attorneys are on the opposite side of the country from both my current and former offices. So my move had no impact on them– they’ve always had to pick up the phone to work with me. I had some serious concerns about how well I would be able to continue working with the people in my former office because the partner is an old school, walk into your office an sit down to chat about a case kind of guy. But my concerns turned out to be unfounded.

      I also picked up work from the people in my new office. I am a specialized type of litigator but never worked with the general litigators in my old office because they were afraid of stepping on the partner’s toes by using me. The general litigators up here don’t worry about it and give me a fair amount of work.

      • so anon for this :

        Thanks. Everyone I work with is in my current office, but only one person does in-person meetings. Everyone else I pretty much talk to over the phone. My main concerns revolve around the old school partner (who I do about 50% of my work with). One last follow up question if you’re still reading–how did you present it to the partner?

        • Anonymous :

          Basically, I said I really like working here and working with you, but as you know, my husband and I both have absurdly long commutes and it has put a significant strain on my family. So, as much as I like working here, I simply can’t keep commuting any longer, so I want to transfer to new office. After that he said he didn’t want to lose me and agreed to the transfer (subject to practice group chair approval) and said he was shocked I’d done the commute for as long as I had and had expected me to ask to transfer a long time ago. At that point I brought up my concerns related to his work style, and I proposed some solutions (standing weekly telephone conferences to check in, regular visits by me to old office), and he basically said not to worry about it, and we would work it out. I was very nervous about the conversation but it was fine. A savvier person probably would have pitched the transfer as being beneficial to the firm.

  15. I’m a CPA at a regional midsize CPA firm…we get $100. Please be grateful for partners who don’t hoard all the profits for themselves when their employees do the majority of the work! FWIW, I am looking to leave for a firm that actually values its employees!

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