Coffee Break – Michelle Black Patent Pump

A while back a reader wrote in wondering how to walk quietly in heels — and while a number of readers noted that they loved the sound their clicking heels made on hard floors, I still think there are some places that a quiet shoe is best, such as when walking the otherwise quiet halls of a courtroom, a school, or other situations. Fortunately, a new company has started offering shoes designed to be quiet (and super comfortable). I like the plain black patent Michelle pump, but there are a ton of more adventurous booties and sandals as well. The Michelle is $129 at Ssh-oes. Michelle in Black Patent



  1. Equity's Darling :

    1- I love the idea of quiet shoes. I really like my Cole Haan Air Talias, but the squeaking of the rubber part of the sole on our firms floors drives me bananas, so I never wear them even though they’re super comfortable.

    2- Has anyone done a cleanse or detox of some sort? One involving food preferably, just limiting processed food, sugar, upping vegetables, etc? Has anyone enjoy the liquid only cleanses/detox? Any recommendations for good ones that involve actual food? A friend and I are considering doing one.

    • 2 – no, I just try to eat healthy. The idea of cleanse/detox is pretty unscientific, and I find those types of diets to be basically a marketing ploy. I’m sure people do them and “feel” better and cleaner and fresher and thinner, but that doesn’t mean they are chemically or compositionally much different at all.

      • I’ve tried the Whole30, a 30-day strict “paleo” diet in which you basically just eat “clean” – no dairy, grains, sugars, alcohol. The first couple of weeks were a little rough, hard to wean myself off the afternoon sugar fix, but I felt really good by the end, so I think it was a helpful exercise in mindful eating. I did miss my glass or two of wine on the weekends though!

        • Equity's Darling :

          I know so many people love paleo, but as a vegetarian who avoids eggs, paleo would be terrible for me. I’m 90% sure that I’d miss out on so many nutrients if I couldn’t have whole grains, lentils, beans. I would eat exclusively vegetables, some fruit, and some seeds/nuts. :(

      • I once tried a liquid-only juice cleanse but only lasted about 6 hours at work. I was so light-headed and out of it, that I couldn’t get any work done. I have blood sugar issues so, in retrospect, this probably wasn’t the best idea, and I’m lucky I didn’t faint.

    • 2 – I’ve never strictly followed South Beach, but I like it as a cookbook/guide to healthier eating when I’m in need of some healthy food time. My parents have strictly followed it in the past with good results.

      • PharmaGirl :

        I have strictly followed South Beach with decent results (though I didn’t lose nearly as much as my husband). I had very severe withdrawal symptoms the first week thanks to my sugar addiction and had to add back a few carbs to fix my tummy issues and headaches. Once I got through that it was easy enough. It was also plenty easy to fall off that wagon!

    • Check out CoolerCleanse if you are in NYC. They have food/juice combo ones. I love their pick your own cooler because I cannot handle the syrupy-sweet “spicy lemonade” of the BluePrint and Master Cleanse variety. (side note though, they make an excellent martini.)

      I’d also look into Kris Carr’s website/blog, she has an Adventure Cleanse with various levels depending on your commitment and current eating habits.

    • 2. From late January 2009 to late January 2010, I did the following:

      * no caffeine
      * no dairy
      * no grains
      * no starches (potatoes, yams)
      * moderate amount of legumes
      * as much fruit as I wanted
      * as many vegetables as I wanted
      * as much lean protein as I wanted (I am a vegetarian, so this was eggs, fish and seafood. If I ate meat, I would add chicken.)
      * limited amounts of “good” fats (almond butter, avocado, olive oil).
      * no processed food (only exception: small amounts of plain dark chocolate or meringue cookies).
      ** for the first two weeks only, no alcohol

      I lost two entire dress sizes (from a 6 to a 2). My skin became gorgeous. I was freakishly “regular.” I had so much energy and felt so “clean.”

      Since then, I have kept with the no caffeine (it doesn’t agree with me and keeps me awake for days) and have mostly kept with the rest of the program as well (when I fall off, it is usually because I eat cheese and/or bread or pasta). I am still a large 2/small 4 and my skin is still clear and I still have as much energy.

      I did it by writing down every single thing that went into my mouth in a “note” on my PDA and emailing it to myself at the end of each week, printing out the email and keeping it in a file. I still have the file. I believe the only cheat was latkes and sour cream at Hanukkah.

      It will not be easy, but it will be good.

    • I’m doing the Standard Process cleanse right now. It’s awesome. I tell myself that I’m doing it to detox from four years of law school, but really, it’s more to cut out my cookies, chips, and crackers habit. It’s 21 days and a very similar diet to what the Basics poster listed below. No nuts, though. There are smoothies that you make (powder protein) and some supplements (to help move your bowels), but you can eat as much in fruits and vegetables as you want provided you have 2x the number of veggies as fruits per day. Limited amount of brown rice and lentils are allowed. On day 11, you can add back fish or chicken. I’m vegetarian, so I won’t be adding in animal protein, but overall, this hasn’t been that hard for me. I do feel great, though I had a pretty rough day today and craved some comfort foods. I tend to grab crackers when I’m hungry (or bars) and this cleanse is helping me plan food to carry with me better than what I’ve been doing so that I have healthy choices when I need a snack. I think a lot of the cleanses out there are total BS, though. If you do one, please choose something that is based on whole food, improves your food habits long term and isn’t something where you end up drinking all of your calories in smoothies!

      • Anon makes a great point that I should have mentioned: you MUST plan your food intake for each day the way Caesar planned his attack on Gaul. You must be militant about preparing food and bringing it with you. Never leave the house without knowing what you are going to eat until you return and where you are going to get it (or bringing it with you). Eventually that becomes second nature. But in the beginning you can easily get caught short and either become cranky from not eating or break down and eat something you don’t want to eat.

        • Did you go cold turkey on everything? I haven’t given up my morning coffee, but I did manage to give up my morning chai (I usually follow it with a coffee chaser – ah … law school, what you’ve turned me into!). How did you deal with cravings? You’ve kind of inspired me to go a lot longer than 21 days. :)

    • There is a great food detox at I enjoyed every recipe!

    • I didn’t call it a cleanse, but I started an initiative to Be Healthier about a year and a half ago.

      I cut out white sugar and white flour. I tried to reduce processed foods (but sometimes cheat with Amy’s frozen entrees). I limited alcohol to one drink only per occasion, including evenings at home.

      I lost 20 lbs in the last year.

      I think it’s important to actually want to change your habits, not just find a quick fix. Quick fixes mean you’ll go back to being unhealthy when you’re done.

      I also made a resolution to treat myself better in the relationship/men department. I started dating a sweet man a few months in, and we’re getting ready to move in together.

  2. Negotiating 911 :

    I, rather unexpectedly, have made it to the final round of interviews for a position at another company. The position would be a lateral move for me, but it’s in another industry that I’m interested in gaining experience in. Despite the fact that I have no experience in this new industry, the company seems very impressed by me and has made it very clear that I am their top candidate for this position.

    Possible new company called today to talk salary/benefits with me, and asked if I would accept an offer that’s exactly what I’m making now, as my current salary is already on the high end of what they normally offer for this position. While New Company does pay premiums for medical & dental benefits, which is nice, they pay less for retirement/401k contributions & I’d get less than half as much in paid vacation/time off than I have now.

    I told the HR manager I’d think about it and would get back to her tomorrow. Any thoughts on how to negotiate this? I feel like I’d be essentially worse-off in terms of benefits than I am at my current company, and joining this New Company in a new industry is a big risk for me already (I’d be leaving a relatively easy position that I’m good at, within a company where I’m well-liked & respected). However, I’m also pretty junior in terms of my career (only 2.5 years of full-time work experience & zero experience in this new industry), so part of me feels like it’s unreasonable of me to ask for additional compensation/benefits/etc.

    Help? Thoughts please?

    • I would definitely try to negotiate vacation – that is generally one of the easiest things for another company to compromise on!

    • Less vacation + less retirement contributions = less total compensation. Definitely renegotiate the time off, which shouldn’t be so bad. As for retirement contributions, if they won’t match, then you should calculate what percentage your salary needs to increase by so that you are getting at least the same compensation, although I’d shoot for higher. Do not feel like you’re being unreasonable – they value you and your expertise, you need to find a way to value yourself as well. The worst they’re going to say is no.

    • Under ERISA, they cannot generally offer better 401(k) contributions to a single employee. So, you probably cannot negotiate better ERISA benefits (i.e. qualified health care and qualified retirement plans).

      Vacation generally can be negotiated, but some companies are fairly married to their employee handbooks, which provide such policies. However, there is nothing legal or illegal about offering additional vacation- unless a union is involved.

      Sometimes, you can negotiate a signing bonus, but you need to remember that this is a one-time deal, whereas at the other company you would continue to get the better retirement and vacation benefits.

      Finally, I think you can ask for a higher base salary.

    • You should definitely try to negotiate both vacation time and/or higher base. However, do your homework and make sure what you’re asking for aligns with the industry. It may just be that the industry you are moving into has a generally lower average salary than the industry you were in. If this is the case, you might have to ask the larger question of if the move is something you actually want (if salary is important to you).

    • I would look at this in terms of how much you want to get into new industry. You’re starting from scratch so in some ways, making the same (or only slightly lower) salary is a good thing. Often, industry switches include salary decreases.

      How is new industry different from old industry? Like someone else asked, are there salary differences between the two? What is your long-term trajectory in new industry? How happy are you in old industry/old job?

  3. Boston Lurker :

    Atlanta Questions:

    I have the opportunity to attend a conference in Atlanta, and I’m debating extending my trip an extra day to explore the city since I have never been before. Unfortunately my SO can’t join me for the weekend, so I think I will be on my own. Would it be worth it to stay for an extra night? Is Atlanta easy to explore without a car? Does anyone have recommendations of restaurants to check out or things to do?

    Thanks for the help!

    • I don’t have any specific tips, but my fiancé and I went to Atlanta for a weekend and had a blast. Don’t miss the aquarium! We didn’t have a car and got around fine– our hotel had a complimentary shuttle that would drop us at points downtown and pick us up when we called. We stayed in Holiday Inn Select Atlanta Capital Conference Center, through Expedia.

    • Where are you staying? If you are near a MARTA train stop — you can easily make it to the Coke Museum and the Aquarium (both worth seeing).

      • Boston Lurker :

        I am staying at the Intercontinental Buckhead, based on google maps it looks like there is a train stop right there? The Aquarium does sound awesome!

        • Baby weight :

          Yes, the MARTA station is directly across the street. Really nice hotel. Buckhead has great shopping!

      • I once stayed with Alan at the BIG Mariot hotel downtown (I think it was Peechtree Bolevard), and they had a great BRUNCH on Sunday. I recomend the Coca Cola exhibit nearby, and there is a nice Martin Luther King exhibit a short cab ride away. Do NOT go in August, b/c it is VERY humid. FOOEY! I got all sweated up trying to walk around. Have FUN!!!!

    • Rose in Bloom :

      Hi, I live in Atlanta. Are you staying downtown or in Midtown? If in either one, you should be able to get around without a car on the MARTA rail lines. Otherwise, it can be difficult to get around.

      As for suggestions, what types of things or food interest you?

      • Boston Lurker :

        I’m staying at the Intercontinental Buckhead, so I’m not sure if that is downtown or midtown. I am a total foodie so would love some great restaurant recommendations, possibly food that I wouldn’t be able to get in New England! Although I’ve never really traveled alone before and don’t know if it would be awkward to eat out by myself…

        I don’t have much time to spend in the city so any must-sees or cultural type things (museums, exhibits), or good shopping areas would be great too. Thank you!

        • Rose in Bloom :

          Yes it looks like you are near a MARTA stop. Just for reference, you are will be in Buckhead, which is in the northern part of the city.

          I second ATLien’s recommendation of the GA Aquarium and the World of Coke. They are right next to each other and are both neat. I haven’t been to the CNN Center, but I understand that it is worth visiting. If you like art museums, the High is great.

          As for restaurants that are close to you, I’ve been to several of the restaurants run by the Buckhead Life Restaurants group and they have all been good (Bistro Niko for French is really good and should be very close to you). The list is at buckheadrestaurants dot com. If you are looking for southern food, I like JCT Kitchen. Empire State South is another one that gets a lot of good reviews.

          • You are within very short walking distance of MARTA, and it will take you close to (although not right to) the Aquarium and World of Coke. Those two are next to each other, and you could certainly visit both in one trip.

            You are also within walking(ish) distance of Lenox Square and Phipp’s Plaza, which both have decent shopping.

            Other good food in Buckhead in addition to the ones suggested by Rose in Bloom: Eclipse di Luna, Nava, Southern Art & Bourbon Bar, and Woodfire Grill.

            JCT Kitchen and Empire State South will be more difficult to get to but absolutely worth the trip! You can get to ESS via MARTA but not JCT. You would need to take a cab.

        • Your hotel will provide a van to Buckhead Diner. Love that place. Also, within walking distance of the World of Coke and Aquarium is the Westin Peachtree. At a minimum, take the elevator up. And I love eating at the Sundial. Beautiful at sunset. For a fun tour that will also tell a lot of Atlanta’s history, consider doing the downtown ghost tour. It’s not at all scary, but it is fun. And finally, I love love love the CNN center (the 5 points MARTA stop is closest).

  4. Hi guys! I’m stuck at the Newark airport for 4 hours (fooey!) and have plenty of time to tap this out on my phone. There is no purpose to this comment but to say yo, I’m reading!

    • Ugh. I hope you’re at least in Terminal C, where the food choices are somewhat better.

      • Seriously. There may be a worse terminal in the world than Newark’s terminal A, but I have not found it yet…

        • El Paso. I arrived just after 7 p.m. the only non vending machine food in the airport was a taco stand, that was closed.

          • Algiers Houari Boumediene airport: They don’t have food, no internet, no phone booth is working and if you want to buy a drink either they don’t accept foreign currency or they give you change in local currency.

        • The last time this happened, it was indeed terminal A. This time I guess I earned my pizza stand. I was actually not too angsty about it until I got, er, company in my row of waiting area seats.

        • Terminal C at Reagan… ugh.

        • I am a banana. :

          Try being stuck in Moline, Iowa during a blizzard. The cafe/bar closed at 5. I was there until 11. Never again.

        • Equity's Darling :

          Winnipeg. It’s the worst airport I’ve ever flown through. There is no food available inside security, so you need to leave the secured area in order to get food. And then go back through security. This especially is bad if you happen to have purchased liquid items (e.g. duty free) on your way in, and this is a layover to your final destination. Boooo.

          • Winnipeg has a new airport! There is definitely food past security now: Salisbury House (a Winnipeg classic!); also a pub-type place that has food and booze. Plus, of course, Tim Horton’s.

          • Equity's Darling :

            Ah, a little googling shows that Winnipeg is indeed now a much nicer airport! As of oct. 2011!

            I’m glad they upgraded, now I won’t be so adamant against avoiding a layover there.

    • Fooey indeed! Safe travels!

    • FOOEY!~

    • My sympathies – I hate Newark airport with a passion. I hope you are going somewhere really nice to make the time spent there worth it.

      I also hope someone comes up with a really juicy t/jack about something uber controversial so there’s loads of comments. I tried to come up with something but, sadly, drew a blank. Am in the middle of a super boring motion and I fear it has affected my imagination.

      • <3 AIMS

      • AIMS – not controversial (I think), but Jessica Simpson finally had her baby. I don’t follow a lot of celeb stuff, but it seemed like she was pregnant for a really long time! 9 pounds, 13 ounces and was 21- 3/4 inches.

        • Beach Bar :

          Suri’s Burn Book made the crack that Simpson was pregnant for 19 months, and that despite the “middle-aged man” name given to the baby, at least she (the baby) doesn’t have to suffer being inside Jessica Simpson anymore.

          I’m still waiting for “Suri” to comment on the news that Harper Beckham has been asked to model :)

  5. NE Attorney :

    After years at my biglaw shop, I just gave notice yesterday!! It felt fantastic. I can’t wait to reclaim my life (I used to have interests, hobbies and be able to hold a conversation without also holding my iphone)! Less than two weeks now….

    • Congrats!

      Wish there was a way you could give your job to the commenter who got laid off in the earlier thread…

  6. Dating threadjack: I was out with friends over the weekend, and met a friend of theirs who friended me on facebook and asked me out yesterday via facebook message (jeez, talk about dating in the modern world). It’s happened several times in the last year that I’ve gone out with guys in whom I wasn’t really interested, but with whom I would actually like to be friends (I moved to this city within the last year, so I have a limited circle of friends and am trying to make more). When I don’t want to go out with a guy any more, he disappears, naturally enough.

    Do you think there is any way I can parlay this into a friendship, now that this guy has asked me out already? Like, a response message that I’d rather get to know him without anything romantic, or something like that? Or should I just figure that if a guy asks you out, he’s not interested in just friendship? For the most part getting older has been good so far, but this is one thing I hate: it was so easy in college and law school to make friends with guys, but now it seems like it’s romance or nothing at all. Anyway, please let me know if I’m crazy. Thank you in advance!

    • I’d like to have your problem, seriously. Grumble grumble.

      But more seriously, it really depends on the guy as to whether you can turn this into a friendship or not. Some guys are going to be interested in you even if you look and/or act like a troll and other guys will read some of your behavior as encouragement. See: being “too nice”, very responsive and paying focused attention on someone, even if that’s just your personality. I’m just basing this off of what you said but maybe you’re sending out some dating pheromones?

      • Haha, I guess it did kind of sound like I’m saying my life is all roses, but it definitely is not (see above re: lack of friends in my city and no guy I’m interested in).

        I do think I tend to be kind of smiley and attentive, which may give off “I’m interested” vibes. I usually only intend it in a friendly way, but maybe I should try to tone it down.

    • So you’re saying you’re not romantically interested in this guy, but want him as a friend? If so, you could try something like:
      “Hey Guy,
      It was really great meeting you last weekend with Friends. Truthfully, I’m not really looking to date right now, but you seem like a pretty cool guy and I’d love to hang out again sometime. Want to get together again next weekend with [insert names of mutual friends] for drinks?”

      Here’s another thought – assuming you are actually interested in dating generally, why not go out with the guy once? If there’s a romantic vibe there, then awesome – if not, there’s no reason one date means you can’t be friends. I met a guy a while back through a group of friends that I was interested in, so I suggested that he and go out for drinks together just the two of us. We had a great time together and there were zero sparks. No big deal and we still hang out together in our group of friends.

      • #2 would actually be my ideal strategy, except that it seems difficult for some guys to transition to “friends” after the one date. What if one person thinks there were sparks and the other person doesn’t? I wouldn’t have thought this possible (isn’t it easy to tell if there are sparks?), but it happens.

        Maybe I’ll go with #1, but leave out the part about not looking to date right now (because I am, I just don’t think with this guy).

        • I think that’s a great idea. If you propose hanging out again but with other friends there too, it’s obvious to him you don’t want a date but you do want to be friends, without the awkwardness of saying so.

    • springtime :

      I have the same dilemma! It is a “good” problem to have I guess.This weekend I met a cool guy that I’m just not that into romantically. He asked if I wanted to go for coffee or dinner. I said this week I was swamped (which is very true), but so far I haven’t tried to turn it into a friends thing.

      I was thinking of somehow slipping in there that I’m not interested in dating anyone right now without it coming off as pretentious.

      • Gosh, I’ve got a number of guy friends I met because they asked me out or that we went out once and it just was clearly not going to be a romantic thing after awhile on the date. (that sounds like, oh, this happens to me all the time, lol, I don’t mean it that way, I’m 35, so over the years, I’ve just amassed a number of ’em!) Anyhow, guys generally don’t get nearly as bumhurt over this sort of thing as women do. I’ve found guys are pretty easy to get along with if you’re just up front, something like JessC suggested above. If you try the one date and it’s not sparking, just again be clear and upfront (BEFORE any end of night kiss or no kiss awkwardness) Something like the following has worked for me : “so i’m having a blast hanging out with you, you’re super fun, but I think we can both see this is going to be a friend situation, I just wanted you to know I can feel that vibe too, so lets just enjoy the hanging out and not worry about that” or something like that. That way, if they weren’t actually feeling the no-spark, they now know that a) you do, and b) you think they feel the same,s o they don’t need to try to ‘save face’.
        I say this even if I can tell they are into me as more than a friend.

        I’ve only ever had one guy get all worked up and NOT actually end up as my friend, and I think he was a little unbalanced generally.

  7. At what point do you think you should stop renting and look into buying? I’ve been in my rented condo for almost 4 years, and I really love it (the rent is great too), but I realized today I’ve paid somewhere between $50-60k in rent over the years, and that would make for a nice down payment for a condo. Part of me thinks though… well, what is the point of owning a condo when I can keep renting and just keep that nice chunk of savings?

    I’m in DC if it makes any difference and I am a fed so I will probably be in the area for some time.

    • Always a NYer :

      If you don’t see yourself moving in the near to distant future, look into buying. It’s a good investment and better in the long run.

    • Another Renter :

      Do you see your needs for space changing much in the next 5-8 years?

      One reason I haven’t bought yet because I’m still in limbo in terms of how much space I’ll want/need in the next 5 years or so.

    • If you’re going to stay in the area, you’d probably be better off buying a place than renting.

    • I mean, yeah that would make a downpayment for a condo, but you couldn’t have got it then because you needed to live somewhere while you saved that money. That’s kind of a false comparison to make. It’d be like if I realized I spent 50k on food the last 4 years. That also would make a great down payment. But I needed it to live.

      I’m guessing you are paying 1250? For a one bedroom? That is a really good price. If you are in DC proper, I think you are looking at least 250k for a one bedroom. Let’s say (and these are really estimated numbers) you get a place for 250k, and you get a 200k loan and put 50 down, your property tax is 1.25 and your mortgage rate is 4% You’d be paying about the same a month, and if you spread it out over 30 years, youd pay about 90k in tax and about 143 in interest. So theres always going to be money that is “going to waste.”

      I think the things to think about are 1) can you pay it off as fast as possible? The faster you pay the less interest you pay, the less money goes to waste. and 2) are you going to be there a long time, and want the same situation (a one bedroom) for that amount of time.

      • However, you could decrease your taxable income by that tax and interest rate.

      • Question for cfm – what do you mean when you say “your property tax is 1.25”?

        • I meant percent- just throwing out a number

          Bonnie has a very good point about the taxable income rate as well

          • Thanks. I never think of my property taxes in those terms – I just think of them as $X – but it makes sense to frame them as a percent of the home’s value. Incidentally, I just calculated and mine are 3% on a townhouse that cost me just over $250K (though not in DC).

    • Check out the rent vs. buy calculator at the NY Times. The question is pretty complicated. For example, even if you feel like you’re “throwing away” money on rent right now, you would be “throwing away” money on mortgage interest if you owned. The transaction costs of buying and selling are also quite high (real estate commission to sell a house/condo is often 5-6% of the sale price, and both buying and selling come with $10-$15K in closing costs that you don’t recoup). Plus you’re exactly right that you could sink your savings into a down payment, but your real estate might not increase in value as much as stocks or other investments would over the same time frame.

      If you’re in a rental that you love right now, and the rent is good and you don’t have any other reasons that you’d want to move, I would just stay there and keep saving.

      • This is right in line with my thinking. I do like my apartment and its location quite a bit, and the cheap rent allows me to save quite a bit and put more into my retirement/investments than I could probably afford if I bought.

        There’s definitely no rush on my part to buy… was just wondering what others thoughts on the topic were. I do like the freedom of renting (though I realize some may feel the opposite of freedom) – I am pretty well taken care of in my building and should I feel fed up with DC, so be it!

      • “Check out the rent vs. buy calculator at the NY Times.” This. Buying is *not* always better for everyone.

    • Anonymous :

      I think it’s up to you whether you are more temperamentally suited to renting or buying. (Although condo ownership should take away a few of the stresses of owning and maintaining a stand-alone house.) If you decide that ownership is not worth the hassles and risks to you, that’s a valid lifestyle choice. In terms of pure economics, though, I think buying in the DC market would be a good investment right now. Not only is all that money that you put toward your mortgage going to build equity, as opposed to just disappearing like your rent money, but I think there is a good chance that your investment will grow at a good clip in this market. Particularly if you are willing to buy in an up-and-coming neighborhood as opposed to an established one, you could get a nice return. I live in DC and would buy if I had the money for a down payment and the plans to stay here.

    • A couple of other things to think about: What would the condo fees be? Out in the suburbs, they can range from under $100 to over $400 a month. Having a doorman or elevator might raise the fees considerably. Do you currently pay for your utilities? I don’t, not heat, water, electric, nothing, so I would need to figure in how much those would run me when comparing renting to owning.

    • We’re renting for a myriad of reasons, but a big one is that for our house in our (great) neighbourhood a mortgage payment would be more than 50% more than what we’re currently paying for rent – not counting property taxes and all the other costs that come with owning. We got a really good deal on the rent for our house. So we keep renting, trying to save (it would be easier if dh had steady work) and maybe I’ll get an overseas position for a couple of years so we can buy when we move back to Canada.

    • I have never been some one who thought I was throwing away money on rent — I needed a place to live, rent served that purpose — but I bought a condo because I knew I would be in my current location and living situation (job wise, location wise) for years. It is by far my greatest regret of my adult life, and I bought at the bottom of the market in a relatively stable neighborhood with decent options to rent my place. I wish I had continued to rent. Unless I had a partner and child and absolutely no flexibility to move for years, I cannot imagine making this choice again. Being able to deduct my mortgage payments is the only upside to this choice. The lack of flexibility, the loss of a hefty nest egg, and the real potential for economic instability (even with my lengthy, well-reasoned research) makes this whole choice a loser.

      If I could switch places with a renter, I would do it in a heartbeat.

      • I’m so sorry to hear this.

        My experience has been exactly the opposite, but I don’t live in a city of any size or kind, so the real estate/rental market is very different out here. We made the decision because, honestly, the rentals in our area were absolutely horrifying and about $600-$700 more than our current mortgage payment, including our escrow for insurance and property taxes.

        But then again, we adore our house, and were able to buy a 200 sq ft brick cape cod (and the furniture inside it – long story) for less than the price of a condo in many cities. I’m the first to admit we got the best deal on wheels, and that we’re lucky that we bought at the bottom of our price range and were able to replenish our nest egg quickly. If our income were less, or our purchase price higher, we probably wouldn’t have done it.

      • You sound like me, and this is exactly my fear. I’m so sorry to hear this, but thanks for sharing.

      • I am sorry this happened to you. I know a fair number of people who are underwater as a result of the housing bust. I bought a condo two years ago, and am very happy with the purchase. I live in NYC, where both buying and renting are very expensive. I felt that long term, an investment in real estate in Manhattan would be a good idea. There is only so much land. I also realized that for the long term, I would be in NYC and did not want to face the whims of the tight rental market. There have been times I’ve faced rent increases in the 10-15% range. Finally, I liked the idea of having my own home. I gut renovated my condo, and I love coming home to it. I did the rent/buy calculation and realized that with the tax deduction on the mortgage, I was not really going to spend more on my condo. The real issue financially was whether I wanted to tie up a substantial amount of money in the down payment. It seemed to me that with the volatility in the stock market and bank interest rates being so low, I was better off putting it into the condo.

  8. The Defining Decade :

    On the word of a lot of fellow ‘rettes I bought and read The Defining Decade over the weekend. I must say, I found it equal parts enlightening, inspiring, and completely frightening in the OMG-I-Must-Start-All-This-Now way. I don’t feel like I have been wasting my 20s thus far, at least in terms of career. I’ve been in grad school for the past year and a half, and before that, had a good job post college. I felt a lot of pressure from my family to go down the traditional path, and it seems, per this book, that I will really appreciate it in 10-20 years even though I was not happy about it then. I do recall feeling adrift in an ocean at the end of my job, as one of her patients recounts, and I don’t miss that feeling AT ALL. It was paralyzing. Grad school was one of my 6 jars of jam; I felt like it was the path of least resistance due to job issues, but now I do believe that it was the right choice given the other 5 options were essentially just pushing off graduate school for another 2-4 years.

    Reading this book made me want to move forward on the career goals I have in mind, rather than just dealing with school day to day. I have 2 years left of grad school and have been trying to find internships and volunteer work in the niche area I am most interested in. I feel a little hemmed in by school because I would much rather be out there working in the field than paying my educational dues. This makes me sort of bitter towards school, but I know I have to do it. Outside of pro bono volunteer work and relevant internships, what are some suggestions to help me feel a little less restricted and a part of my desired field in the next 2 years? Unfortunately, my current summer position is not in my ideal field, but is a highly competitive position and still relevant.

    And the relationship aspect. I got out of a <1 year relationship about 7 months ago that started out great and ended poorly and in flames. Some therapy and lots of reflection have really helped me understand what I want out of a relationship and partner. Reading this book really helped me see some of the pitfalls and positives I see in other relationships, as do the relationship questions others ask on this website. I feel like if I am going to look for a relationship, rather than continue the “typical” mid-20 “it’s good enough for now and it’s fun” mindset, I get to be and should be slightly picky. I’ve tried some of the online dating thing, but I haven’t found something that works for me. I live in an area that is not bursting with young single people and haven’t really found people that I am interested in that I feel like I can grow with in the necessary ways. I get the same 20 results over and over again and it’s just not working. That all being said, since I think you ladies are all amazing, does anyone have an awesome brother/cousin/friend from school/son/nephew in LA/OC/maybe San Diego who is interested in a date?

    Lastly, I know a few of you have read this book. What did you all think and what parts stood out most?

    • momentsofabsurdity :

      I haven’t read the book but your review just made me stick it in my Amazon cart. Hopefully it’s not too late for this 24 year old!

    • Equity's Darling :

      I just got the book yesterday!
      My 25th birthday is on Monday.

      I’ve been feeling a little aimless (though my career is doing fine, I’ll be a lawyer in a couple months, but broadly speaking, I don’t have any specific goals). I’m hoping this book will give me some perspective, or push me to make active goals in areas other than my career.

    • Thanks for the review! I’m 28 and was one of the ones wondering if this book would make me feel bad about myself (I’m single and don’t date much, and a law clerk, without a clear idea of what I’m going to do next… AND I HAVE TO GET ALL OF THIS SORTED OUT BEFORE I’M 30???). “Feeling adrift in an ocean” pretty much sums up how I feel about my life these days, though, so maybe I’ll give it a shot.

    • I bought and read it this weekend too!
      I’m 29.5, and I still found it really useful, so for those of you wondering if it’s too late, I say go for it.
      The part that really resonated with me was where she’s talking about how our generation feels this pressure to “keep all the options open” and live it up while we can. But what that turns out to be in reality for most people is just refusing to commit to anything long enough to turn it into something worthwhile.
      The other part that resonated was when she talks about how your 20s are for building identity capital, which she defines as investments in yourself that your can take with you. Obviously, i’m nearly out of my 20s, but i thought that was really good advice going forward- to evaluate every option and choice as whether it will help me build my identity capital.
      I felt like i was not he receiving end of so much advice to wait on marriage, wait on kids, etc. from the age of 16 onward- and I won’t lie, I now feel that that advice is pretty flawed- so her chapter on relationships is refreshing.

      It’s a quick read and definitely worthwhile for those of you considering buying it. (should we have a corporate library? I’d totally lend mine out!)

      • Yes please! I just checked my local library and they don’t carry it.

    • I haven’t read the book (and I’m just out of my 20s now), but I’ve read summaries about it. I have to say, I’m very glad that I was so focused and driven in my 20s. At the time I often felt like I was growing up too soon or moving too fast and not stopping to smell the roses, and it didn’t help that a lot of my friends were doing things like backpacking trips and “finding themselves” while I pursued two graduate degrees, took a prestigious fellowship, and settled into a full-time job by 26. But now, looking back, I’m already well above sea level at my job, have built up my professional reputation and credibility, and am making a nice paycheck, while many of my friends from college are still trying to decide what to do with their lives.

      Perhaps more importantly, I’ve seen how hard it is to balance work with the desire for a family. If I hadn’t gotten my career on track until my 30s, I don’t think I ever would have gotten it on track unless I didn’t get married and have kids. Now, at age 30, I am beginning to think more seriously about wanting to get into a relationship that will lead to marriage and kids. I know that if that happens in two or three years, I’ll be able to handle it without derailing my career or my life goals, because of the professional reputation I’ve built and all of the security – savings, 401K, good health insurance – that I have thanks to my education and career. People who are starting a career at the same time they want to start a family are going to really struggle at one or the other.

  9. DC Darling :

    Just read an article on some of Hollywoods famous leading ladies. Some numbers I couldn’t believe.

    Waist measurements
    Judy Garland 22″
    Marilyn Monroe 22″
    Audrey Hepburn 20″
    Liz Taylor 19.5″

    wth? I thought my goal of 27″ was pushing it….

    • SF Bay Associate :

      And don’t forget Vivian Leigh’s famous 16″.

      • DC Darling :

        Yet none of these ladies have that starved or “bones sticking out of odd places” look most people get when they are that skinny. I don’t get it.

        • The undergarments they wore weren’t quite corsets, but pretty durn near. And we think we have it bad with spanx!

        • What are their heights? For some reason I think Judy Garland was pretty tiny. I rode in an elevator with her daughter, Liza Minelli once, and she was very short, definitely under 5 feet tall. So these women might just be quite short and small-framed, but yeah, those waist sizes are pretty small.

          • DC Darling :

            I know Audrey was 5’7”. Google is telling me 4’11” for Judy Garland, 5’5” for Marilyn and 5’3” for Liz Taylor. So they were rather short but Audrey’s measurements were always astonishing to me. 103 lbs, 20 inch waist, and 5’7” crazy. But traditionally not petite since she was taller.

          • It must be that extra inch in height that is causing those extra 40 pounds.

          • On me, I mean. :)

          • Audrey Hepburn suffered from malnutrition as a result of the harsh WWII conditions she lived in. Germany punished Holland severely for their resistance, and I recall reading something about how Audrey and her mother were once so hungry that they tried eating tulip bulbs in their desperation.

            When Holland was liberated, she was suffering from malnutrition-related illnesses and I think she never fully regained her health. In one of her biographies (I think Barry Paris’ book), it said that this sometimes affected her career. Sometimes, the intensity of filming schedules would overwhelm her and she’d be near physical collapse, because she just wasn’t that robust.

            I love her style and how she lived her life, and yet I cringe when so many women idolize her “look.” It was not one of health, but one of illness, and that certainly gives me mixed feelings about her look.

          • Thank you for saying that, Susan. I had read the same about her and always have the same reaction when I hear people praising her figure and look.

        • Probably because those measurement are with all their foundation garments on.

          • this. Stop comparing yourself ladies! they were wearing almost-corsets back then. ;o)

    • FML

    • Were corsets still a thing when they were growing up? I think girdles (which I imagine to not be as rigid as corsets) were still considered proper foundation garments into the 50s and 60s. And growing up wearing those sort of constricting garments (at least in corset days) actually changed the placement of the lowers ribs, which allowed for smaller waist sizes than would otherwise be possible today.

      Also, how tall were any of these women? What were their hip and bust measurements? The proportions are at least as important as the absolute number, IMO, so don’t let someone else’s number get you down :)

    • Eh, people are just getting bigger. Have you looked at vintage furniture? It’s nuts.
      If you want really sad, there’s an article in today’s paper about how hospitals have to replace toilet seats with standalone models because the ones attached to the walls are not strong enough to hold some of today’s patients.

      • People are taller and healthier too. It’s not just fatter. The average height is up significantly for people born in the last 30 years compared to people born 100 years ago.

        • DC Darling :

          Agreed. Having done some more research (can you tell it’s a slow work day?) it looks like fashion, general health and weight were all contributing factors.

          Well, I may not have a waist measurement in the teens but I could probably bench most of these ladies. Picking my battles.

        • yeah, that’s true, too. I always forget about that. I also read something once about how increased carbon in the atmosphere causes children to grow taller. That is one reason why people who grow up in developed nations now are often taller than the people who come from small, remote countries (i.e. South America). Interesting.

          • hmmm…I dunno. I would attribute better nutrition in developed countries. Increased carbon dioxide in the atmo helps plants grow faster (usually weeds), but I don’t know that it has the same effect on people.

          • yeah, that’s why I said ‘one reason’ because they did talk about carbon dioxide as one contributing factor, not ruling out nutrition, and other things. But I’m pretty sure it was an article in the NY Times science section about a study that came up with some pretty compelling evidence.. just one study of course, but still, not a completely disreputable source.

    • There must have been a vicious corset in the picture…

  10. Question: What is your favorite personal finance book? I’m looking for something without a religious argument attached, and I need advice more sophisticated than to add up my latte purchases or whatever. We have decent income but the kids’ expenses (dr visits, clothes, schooling) seem to eat up our financial gains. I know there’s a better way to do things, just don’t know where to start. Hence: grabbing some financial books from the library. Thanks for sharing your favorites!

    • While I don’t agree with all of their advice, I think Michelle Singletary and Suze Orman offer pretty easy to digest useful advice.

      • HippieEsq :

        Look out about Suze Orman’s student loan advice. She really isn’t “up” on the latest student loan assistance programs!

    • This isn’t a book, but I like the Wall Street Journal’s How-to guide (on their website, in the Personal Finance section) for basic investing know-how and a bit of personal finance stuff. Actually, following the WSJ Personal Finance section for a while might be good, and easy.

    • If you’re looking for specific investment or personal finance advice, the “for Dummies” books are actually quite good, although my copy of Investing for Dummies dates to before the recession and some of the advice isn’t so helpful today but maybe there’s a new edition. I also like Suze Orman’s 9 Steps to Financial Freedom; you can check out the first chapter or two on Amazon to see if you like it.

      I also like the blog Get Rich Slowly. It has several different writers, so the type of advice given varies, but it won’t be about not buying lattes. :)

      • Oh, also, the NYT Bucks Blog is pretty good. Not sure if you need a subscription to see it or not but I think you can put it on your RSS feeder.

  11. New TJ here – anyone have tips for dealing with anxiety? I am usually confident in my work and confident in expressing my opinions and ideas to my colleagues and bosses, but when it comes to communicating externally to large groups of people (i work in governmental relations, so i am often communicating with members of our state legislature, Members of Congress and their staff, and high ranking officials in the local business community), I get unnecessarily anxious, even if it is just sending out an email invitation to a large group of folks. It is so uncomfortable for me that I often put off my work. I am so paranoid that I am accidentally going to send the wrong email to a large group of people, include a typo, give the wrong date for an event, or mistakenly forward something that needs to remain private. Any tips for dealing with this would be appreciated.

    • If your anxiety level is interfering with your life (work, social, whatever), it is probably worth it to consult a professional. He or she can evaluate you and decide whether you would benefit from therapy, relaxation techniques, medication, or some combination thereof.

    • I can get this way at times. When sending emails to higher ups or large groups I have started leaving to To: field blank until I have double-checked that 1) there is a subject line (!!) 2) there are no typos/double words/etc. and 3) I didn’t forget to say anything I wanted to say. I totally hate sending out a second email correcting myself. Finally I enter the recipients in the To: field. Learning to slow down has really helped me. And hey – everyone makes mistakes, just breathe.

      • Beach Bar :

        Leaving the To: field blank until the last second is a lifesaver, especially if you’ve trained yourself on the Alt-S shortcut in Word for the Section symbol–try that in Outlook, and it sends your e-mail. Because unifying shortcuts across all Office programs would just be SO hard, right Microsoft?

        • OP here – I was wondering how that happened!!!! Probably contributes to my paranoia. Thanks, all, for the great advice. Its nice just to get it out there sometimes so I know I’m not the only one.

        • another anon :

          I’m glad I’m not the only one who has done this! This is exactly the scenario that prompted me to start deleting all of the addresses from the To and CC fields when replying to an email, and only filling them in again once I’m sure the email is ready to go.

      • Jenna Rink :

        Oh gosh, seeing this got me super paranoid about whether I had included a subject line in the email I just sent to my VP! So know that you aren’t alone. I don’t have any great advice. I frequently have to force myself to stop rehashing work in my head – what’s done is done. That’s a lot easier to say than it is convince myself of!

    • I suffer from anxiety and it’s most prevalent at work. I take something for it.. I take a very low dose usually (not right now because of the ptsd) and it makes it easier to interact with my peers at work.

    • You are not alone and when you are dealing with issues like the ones you deal with, it’s good. I am so incredibly paranoid and don’t apologize for it. If it’s a new email, I leave the addresses blank until I am 100% ready to send. Then I methodically add the recipients to the to and cc lines. I add them all and then literally go one by one and say their names to my self “bob” okay, “sandra” okay. Even if I am just sending it to one person I make sure. Then, before I hit “send” run a quick check yet again: Recipients – good. Subject – good. Salutation – there. Body – good. Signature – good. Send. Also, I do not use the reply all function unless I am absolutely present in what I’m doing.

      I thought this was all overkill until one day, I was with the president of our very large company and learned that he does the very same thing. We both agreed that taking the time to do the above literally “wastes” 10 seconds. It’s totally worth it.

    • I put a * in the to line, and then all of the other intended recipients. Outlook won’t send until you remove *

      I started doing this as I found that it was good to be able to check over not only the subject and body of email, but also to thoroughly check recipients before sending!

    • Lost&Dazed :

      I saw a therapist of some sort two weeks ago. Best decision of my life. The lawyers assistance program where I practice covered it.

    • I get someone (usually my intern, but sometimes my boss, whoever’s available) to proofread every important thing I send out to an external audience, even if it’s just an email. There’s nothing more embarrassing than a stupid typo and having someone proofread will help prevent that.

      Also, remind yourself that emails are easily corrected. It’s not like you’re sending an hand-lettered invitation on Crane’s stationery. Worst comes to worst, you have to reply all and say sorry, but it’s actually in room 203, not 202. No one will mind unless this happens every single time you send an email.

      Also agree with those who suggested not to fill out the To field until you’re ready to send. I’ve accidentally hit send more than a few times.

    • I highly recommend seeing a counselour about this issue. Cognitive behavior therapy is a great thing.

      I practice meditation, which has helped me tremendously with stress and anxiety. 15 minutes a day of just sitting and breathing has helped me to live in the “now” instead of the terrible anxious “what if” state. It is a lifesaver.

  12. TJ: I know we’ve covered professional hair before, but it’s a whole new style season! There’s a lot of adorable braided hairstyles showing up for summer, and it IS practical for the miasmic humidity and heat here in DC, but I’m worried the braided styles might come off as too young. I’m looking at less traditional styles, like instead of side french braids, and planning on pairing it with decidedly conservative, well-tailored clothing -a la Yulia Tymoshenko. I’m in an NGO with a fairly relaxed dress code, but I don’t want to give the wrong vibe. Thoughts?

    • I had to google Yulia Tyomshenko because I was not familiar. One of the results was the following:

      Maybe the looks featured are atypical for her, but I would not describe them as “decidedly conservative.”

      Also, and this may be just me, but the braids are giving me a little Kirsten, the American Girl doll.

      • The wrap around braid was/is her signature look, not sure that would work in all offices.

        But if we’re going to be talking about her hair, I feel obligated to mention that she is currently in jail, on a hunger strike, and recently claims to have been beaten by her guards. It’s a shame how little coverage that gets and how much is still available about her hair.

        • I was going to write something similar. Also, she has a 32 yr old daughter. She looks great.

          • errr – i meant she looks great (before prison). Gah. Typing fail.

          • To be fair, much of European politics is largely ignored in the U.S., unless it involves someone’s hair or marriage, but yes, it IS terrible. I disagree with some/most of her politics, but Yulia Tymoshenko is a dynamo of a woman, and I can’t help but think she’s being imprisoned more for that than for gas deals with Russia.

          • Agreed that it’s always mostly ignored, but when someone cares enough to do a how-to hair tutorial you’d think they’d care just a little to maybe follow up? Like if she wasn’t in prison but dyed her hair black and got a Joan Jett haircut, it’d be front page of Huff Post Style, but this? Pshaw.

        • That hair is a very traditional Ukrainian/Belorussian/Russian style. I wore my requisite below-the-waist length hair like this as an elementary school girl in Russia in the 80s. My great-grandmother has her hair in this style in the only picture I have of her, from the village in Belarus in the 30s.

    • Check out the hair tutorials on Joanna Goddard’s blog. She has several posts of really cute styles that would be appropriate in the office.

      I think the braided look you posted is probably fine. I’d avoid a single French braid or any sort of multiple braids, because those tend to look young.

      • LOVE Cup of Jo. I’d forgotten about her hair tutorials.

        • DC Darling :

          My hair is either too short, too layered, or too thick for all of those really adorable tutorials. Annoyed.

    • Too young I think.

    • I have done a style similar tho that, with a twisting instead of braiding. For greater formality, I pulled hair more tightly in the model you showed, parted the hair to the side, and twisted around the head to meet diagonally across from the part on the nape of the neck. The remaining hair was put in a bun, pinned behind the other braid/twist, or wrapped around each other and pinned (think the interlocking C’s of Chanel, but with hair instead of a logo).

  13. I pay attention to how my shoes sound in the morning when I’m leaving the house and my next door neighbor (the other half of the house) is barely up yet. I think my heels with rubber or leather soles make less noise. My wedges yesterday sounded clompy. I hate the squeaky sound!

  14. Another dating question…

    I met a guy online who is one of the nicest people I have ever met. The first night we met we planned on happy hour, but ended up having dinner too. All in, it was probably about 5 hours. A week later we met up again for dinner. Again, we ended up sitting and talking for 4-5 hours. He is smart, funny, gainfully employed and good at his job, I know he likes me/finds me attractive, etc. But I’m a little put off after the last date and I’m not sure if there’s a good reason to be. I live about an hour from him, but do about 1/3 of my work in his city. As I was getting in the car and after the whole good bye, he said, “Let me know next time you’re in my city.” I kind of feel like he should be making some effort in this. I’m not sure if I expect or think that he should be driving out to see me when I’m there so much at this point, but I do feel like I should have gotten more. Is this just me over thinking this comment and it’s nothing and if I have time when I’m there in the next few times I should give him a call or is it time to move on because if he were into it he would suggest meeting up again?

    • My (possibly cynical) interpretation is that this probably isn’t going to go anywhere. I actually do think he should make the effort to come see you in your city, too, or at least express a willingness to do that. If you’d be comfortable seeing him because you enjoy his company and wouldn’t have any expectations, then sure, let him know the next time you’re up there. But I’d still say keep fishing elsewhere. Sorry :(

      • I agree, I met my current husband online, and our first date required a 3.5 hour drive from him, for dinner. He never made a peep about doing otherwise. He came this direction a couple times, then we started alternating until we finally moved in together in the same city. A little effort is not too much to ask, this is so cliche, but if he were interested enough, he’d be driving to your city the next time he wanted to see you, not waiting till you’re around again.

    • Ask him out to something on your turf. Either he bites or he doesn’t.

    • He could have just meant “let me know every time you come into my city because I would love to see you next time too” or he could have meant “let me know next time you’re in my city because I’m not driving to yours.” Do you email/talk regularly? If he mentions getting together, say it would be great if he could come to your city. If you aren’t really talking regularly, and he doesn’t contact you again, then I probably wouldn’t contact him either if I were in your shoes.

    • well, I wouldn’t end it over this, but I would drop a mention after another time – “next time can you come up my way?” and if he balks then I’d say he’s not that into it. If all your meetups have been in his city so far when you’ve been there anyway, it may just have been a cute way of saying he wants to see you again.

      • Thanks all for confirming my initial thoughts. When we talk again I’ll suggest something down here over the weekend and see if he bites. I initially thought it was his cute way of saying he wanted to see me again, but then as I thought about it I got annoyed. If he doesn’t want to, there’s someone else who would want to.

    • Could be read as “it’s convenient to catch up with you when you’re in town but I’m not really into making an effort to go see you.” I would not contact him. Let him make the effort and if he doesn’t want to then it’s not relationship material.

    • Did this – same scenario. I acutally work a town past his and he said to let me know when I am in town next. It was after 2 great dates and really easy conversation. I told him I am always at that office every week on the same day. The next week I said hey, I am in town today did not get any response. Now, I am “You want it? Come and get it.” No more making me do the work only to get my hopes up and be crushed. At least I tried I guess. I keep telling myself the long distance thing wouldn’t have worked. He’s not leaving there, and I am not moving there so. bye bye.

      • Definitely. Neither of us are leaving in the near future and that’s cool. I just am finally at the point where I want a relationship again, and my problem, especially with online dating, is that I get more interested in one person than the others and then let the other ones sort of drop. And then I’m sad when one doesn’t work out. And I know this is not the way to do it, but I can’t figure out how to keep pushing forward when there’s not much there. So if he wants it, he can come get it. Maybe I’ll give him one more shot, maybe not. Despite what it seems, there are plenty of people out there.

  15. I am an academic; my boyfriend is in finance. I have a tentative offer from a university in Norfolk, VA. I have lived many places but not in Virginia or the south. My boyfriend is a long-time Texan. Any advice on where to live? I’ve heard that Norfolk is rough and so is Portsmouth. I value being able to get where I need to go on foot–grocery store, restaurants, shopping, parks, etc. Does this exist there? When interviewing, I asked about the light-rail and was told that it is not convenient/useful. Is driving a necessary part of everyday life there? Would it be better to rent before buying?
    Thanks ladies!

    • I would not recommend buying in Norfolk unless you’re willing to stay there. It’s a pretty decent town, but it’s certainly not for everyone, and yes, it’s a driving-must place.

      1) Don’t think of Norfolk as a city. Think of it as part of Hampton Roads, which is Norfolk, Suffolk, Chesapeake, VA Beach, Portsmouth, Newport News, and sometimes Yorktown, depending on whom you ask. It’s like someone took a single city and stretched it out and broke it up with bridges, tunnels, and huge swaths of Navy base.

      2) Ghent and West Ghent addresses will let you walk to restaurants and little stationary shops and specialty food stores, and are the nicest (most expensive) neighborhoods in Norfolk, and really safe, but to get to a real grocery store, see above. Larchmont is also great, and there actual Wards Corner neighborhood to the west of Granby and south of Little Creek is surprisingly nice. Riverpoint and Belevedere area are really nice (that’s where the yacht club is, and some of the most expensive houses in town are right on Norway Place), and when I was last there, even parts of Colonial Place were starting to look nicer, depending on how close you go to Colley Avenue.

      3) If you don’t decide to live in Norfolk, there’s a lot of really nice, suburban type neighborhoods in Chesapeake that are about 30-40 minutes away. Would not suggest VA Beach if you don’t want to drive an hour to work. In general, if you see a tunnel-bridge combo on your potential commute, don’t live there.

      4) Places to check out in Norfolk that might surprise you: Harrison Opera House, Chrysler Museum, Doumar’s, Rowena’s, Baker’s Crust.

      5) Learn to say “Nawf*ck” the way real locals do. It’s the quickest way to get respect from real locals. Also, refer to the area as Hampton Roads. “Hampton Roads” doesn’t actually exist on any maps, but trust me, that’s what it’s called.

      Good luck!

      • This. “In general, if you see a tunnel-bridge combo on your potential commute, don’t live there.” Good luck!

      • Richmond Lawyer :

        I agree with all this, and am about to make the switch from Richmond Lawyer to Norfolk Lawyer myself!

        However, I wanted to point out that Hampton Road is the transplant/military term, but Tidewater is old school. Adjust accordingly depending on age/background of who you’re talking to :) (born in Tidewater/old school boyfriend)

      • 2L- Former Virginian :

        Great advice above! I own a condo in Chesapeake (moved to Philly for law school two years ago.) Husband and are renting out the condo right now, because the sales market is terrible (great for buyers though!) I strongly recommend Chesapeake. Yes, you will have to drive to work (actually, you’ll have to drive everywhere…it was 1.5 miles just to get out of our community onto the main road, and there is virtually no public transportation.) Living in Chesapeake (I’d check out Great Bridge/Riverwalk area) is great for getting into downtown Norfolk and avoiding the horrendous bridge and tunnel situation as much as possible (there’s still one bridge going that direction that raises a couple of times a day, but you can generally time yourself around it.) I lived in Chesapeake and commuted to Newport News for almost 2 years and I would not wish that commute on my worst enemy. One time it took me 3 hours to get home (normally 45 minutes.) I sat in my car and cried, lol.

    • Anon Hampton Roads :

      I may be a little late, but I live in Norfolk. My husband works in Virginia Beach and I am in a grad program on the peninsula. We lived in Hampton for a while, but his commute was terrible. Do not, under any circumstances, live somewhere that your commute invokes a tunnel. It will turn what looks like a 20 mile manageable commute, into an hour plus each way, two or more in the summer. If you will be in Norrolk, this means you can knock Newport News and Hampton right off your list.

      We have recently moved to Norfolk now as my grad program is dying down, in the nice part of ocean view (East Beach or nearby are your best bets). This is a great place to live for a short commute to Virginia Beach or Norfolk, and walking distance from the beach.

      If you want to buy, keep in mind the recession did not hit as hard here. There is a lot of military which helped keep things more stable than some areas. Housing is probably the most expensive in Virginia Beach. Prices in Virginia Beach are crazy ridiculous when you compare them to other parts of Hampton Roads. We are looking to buy there, and have been for a year, but have yet to get anything and are trying to increase our budget. Renting is also expensive in Virginia Beach, especially condos and single family homes.

      Renting is expensive in the safe areas of Norfolk as well. We pay $1200 a month for $
      500 square feet. We would like more space but waned to keep rent low while we are saving more for a house. I am not a fan of Ghent and the other areas the other poster mentioned because they are all very old. I cannot live in an older building for a number of personal preference reasons, and if that is a concern for you it is something to keep in mind.

      Chesapeake can also be expensive to buy but I have not looked at the rents. Most stuff there is very new, as lots of neighborhoods sprung up during the bubble.

      Do not under any circumstances live in Portsmouth. There is not much to do there, your commute will suck, and there is a lot of cime.

      • Anon Hampton Roads :

        I wanted to add, I would definitely rent for a while to get a feel for the area. I have lived in Hampton Roads my whole life and I am still sometimes not sure about different neighborhoods safety, etc., when thinking about buying.

        Also, a car is definitely a necessity. I can’t imagine how you would ever get anywhere without it. Also, I do not know of anyone who uses the Tide. Public transportation here is awful, and I do not think it is used by many professionals. I think it is pretty normal for people heter to have a 30-45 minute commute each way. Traffic is bad, even where there are tunnels. Everything is also really spread out, so again, this is where a car would be very helpful.

  16. Anon for this :

    How do you deal with really negative friends? I don’t want to give too many personal details, but I have a friend (and also co-worker) who seemed really great when I first got to know her, but has since shown that she has weird moments where she doesn’t seem to read people the right way (or reads too much into what someone is saying) and gets really angry about perceived slights, holds big grudges, makes inappropriate judgments about people, will try to undermine healthy steps that I’m taking because she’s unhappy with her body, etc. Basically, she seems to have A LOT of anger issues.

    Most of the time I just let it slide (because it’s not too frequent, but frequent enough that I’ve noticed a pattern), but sometimes I just want to shout at her! I’ve tried gentle suggestions (recommended a therapist to deal with a specific interpersonal issue that she was having), and her response was basically, “eh, maybe.” She is a friend, so I’d like to help her help herself, but because I also see her pretty much every day, I don’t want to go overboard.

    Any tips?

    • If she’s not a family member, cut yourself out (and some would advise the same for family). People like this are difficult to deal with and aren’t worth your time if they’re not making the effort to improve themselves. Have a nice, polite, superficial relationship – just enough so that she doesn’t turn the venom on you.

    • Shouting at her won’t change a thing and you can’t make her deal with her problems.

      If she was just a friend, I would agree with Godzilla. But since she’s also your co-worker, I wouldn’t cut her out completely. Just keep her as a casual friend and don’t enable her. If she tries to undermine your healthy choices, ignore her and be healthy. If she is inappropriately judging someone, say “I don’t think that’s fair. X isn’t doing anything wrong, but that’s my opinion.” If she is getting really anger about perceived slights, say “X definitely meant nothing by that comment” or “No, I don’t think that’s a big deal.”

      I do the same thing with a friend of mine, and now she mostly rants/judges/etc to other friends because I don’t enable her. And I get to enjoy all of the wonderful aspects of her personality, of which there are many.

    • I have a close friend who moved away that was like this. Her facebook posts are just miserable. I have known her long enough that I ignore her but I used to respond by saying things like “maybe she meant it a different way” and she would accuse me of taking their side.

      If she wouldn’t have moved, I would do what Godzilla says and distance myself. We have been friends a long time but constant negativity really brings me down.

  17. Jenna Rink :

    Does anyone have tips for how to get past a job application site that is clearly using keyword searches of resumes to select the first round of candidates? This is the first time I’ve been aware that I was up against one. Should I be using exact phrasing from their job posting in my resume where I can? Using these sites isn’t common in my field, so my resume really isn’t designed for this!

    • Inappropriate, but I’d be very put all the keywords I think they’ll search for in white font (on white paper).

      And yes, I would judiciously use *some* of the exact phrasing from their posting in the resume you use for that company.

    • Absolutely — use the exact phrases as high up in your resume (most recent work) as possible. And if you get an interview, be utterly matter-of-fact about having done so. It shows you really wanted the job and that your experience matches well, even if you wouldn’t have phrased it exactly that way yourself.

      Good luck!!

  18. Maybe not the controversial topic AIMS had in mind, but what about Facebook now publishing your organ donation status (obviously only if you provide it)? I just heard about this on NPR and a quick news search gave me this article:,2817,2403832,00.asp

    • karenpadi :

      I think it’s a great way to get people talking and hopefully allow them to make an informed decision about death. I think most people avoid the issue until it’s too late and then family members end up not donating organs out of fear that the person didn’t want to be an organ donor or won’t receive the best quality medical care.

      But I am biased–I had a friend who died while waiting for heart and lungs so organ donation is a big deal (and a no-brainer) for me.

    • This isn’t controversial either, but the new spammer, Carol, is bugging me so much.

    • Agree with karenpadi. I have a very close family member who is the recipient of a donation. Receiving the donated organ changed my family member’s life.

      Anything that makes people/families aware of all the good organ donation does is fine.

  19. I am leaving tomorrow for a four day conference in Phoenix. My husband hates the city so he’s staying home with the kidlet. I’m not renting a car, staying at the conference resort, and planning to learn a lot about the topic, get up early to work out and order room service in bed while I catch up on my programs. This sounds like a slice of heaven to me.

    • Have fun! It sounds amazing. My husband is traveling right now, and I get the bed to myself, don’t have to compromise on tv, and can generally act like my single/living alone self. It’s awesome.

  20. anonymous :

    Kat — this is at least the third time this advertising has shown up. I appreciate how you moderate this generally and would hate to start having to scroll through more comments like these.

  21. Lost&Dazed :

    Is it okay to invite people to a wedding but not have a reception? I don’t have much time off and we booked our honeymoon flight fairly close to our wedding. I also am shy and hate attention.

    At least 95% of the people coming to the wedding are the grooms family/friends and his side of the family has refused to contribute to the cost of the wedding (the groom is pretty broke, his family is well off).

    We don’t want gifts or anything, the groom is adament though that it is essential for the future of the world for people he played football with in high school ten years ago to see him get married and I don’t feel comfortable having my family pay for the entire wedding (we’re signfiicantly less well off) when even the flight to our wedding will be a huge expense for them. We simply cannot afford to feed everyone (yup I’ve looked into all the caterers in the town) that my future husband and his mother want to invite and I don’t want to go into debt just to listen to his mom complain about how there is no open bar and that we’re not paying for parking for our guests.

    • momentsofabsurdity :

      I think you need to tell your fiance – my family’s budget for this wedding is $X. It can accomodate Y guests, of which 5% are mine. That means, my family can afford to cover the cost of Z more guests. You are welcome to either invite only Z people and my family will cover the cost, or invite additional people and cover their costs per head.

      IMO it’s fine but a little odd not to have a reception of any kind – and will make it difficult for those flying in. Have you thought of perhaps having a morning wedding and a brunch reception? That would cut costs substantially and you wouldn’t even necessarily need alcohol.

      • Lost&Dazed :

        As hilarious as this sounds, in our city there is one church with a parking lot large enough for a wedding and the options for times were 3 PM and 5 PM. My parents contributed 4K (1K has gone for the photographer, 500 for the church donation (minimum suggested donation), 500 for the visiting priest donation (minimum suggested donation), 500 for marriage classes, 200 to rent a park for wedding pictures.. you get the picture, their money is gone). In addition they contributed family wedding/engagement rings so we are saving those expenses.

        I spent my money on the honeymoon (3000), the dress (200), invitaitons (300) and was planning to spend more on flowers and help my maid of honor with her flight and her dress since she is a broke grad student and I was so happy she would come. I always expected that his family would match what my family put in, so did the groom, he’s pretty embarassed about all this.

        And his family has been clear about the expectation of alcohol to the point they’ve made comments about us handing our cab vouchers and us holding the reception in a hotel so that his family can just get drunk and crash.

        • momentsofabsurdity :

          I think your fiance needs to face the economic realities that he’s got champagne tastes on a beer budget right now. You guys can’t afford to throw a major bash for all these guests if the money is basically gone now.

          So you need to sit down with him and say, “Look. There is no more money. We have no more money. I understand you want to invite these guests, but unless your family can pay for them, they will not be able to come.”

          And have a reception in the church directly after with big hors d’oerves platters from Costco so people can mingle but the cost is minimal. Tell the family if they want alcohol and a big reception they are welcome to pay for it, but unless they plan on contributing, it’s not a possibility.

          • This!
            and Magnolia’s comment below
            and SFBA’s
            Don’t feel guilty, please! you “shouldn’t have” done anything. You are doing what you can with your resources, don’t let his family make you feel bad.

          • momentsofabsurdity :

            *hors d’oeuvres.

            Dammit. And I actually knew how to spell that one.

        • I know this isn’t what you asked about, but one great way to save money on a reception is NOT inviting his family (the ones that probably share the same disgusting attitude towards race that your in-laws do)…and, heck, not inviting the in-laws either! Then they can’t complain that your charming cake & prosecco brunch didn’t involve open bar or vouchers, because they won’t be there.

        • Aren’t these details resolved if you have already paid for invitations?

    • Lost&Dazed :

      In the interests of being fair I’ve paid entirely for our honeymoon which I spent 3K on. I suppose some would say I should have saved that for the purpose of feeding my future husband’s mother’s former next door neighbors but I felt I deserved a vacation.

      • Just have a cake and punch reception in the church’s reception area (if, of course, you’re getting married in a church) or at a local park. You can get the cake from Costco. Really. While you’re there, pick up some paper plates and forks, plastic cups, and the makings for a punch.

        It may not be the reception of your future mother-in-law’s dreams, but I’m willing to bet that a fair number of friends of her generation had cake and punch in the fellowship hall after their weddings. It’s kind of charming, totally affordable, and much warmer than simply disappearing after the ceremony.

    • SF Bay Associate :

      OF COURSE it’s ok. Your wedding is not an imposition. You don’t “owe” your guests anything. Go to the A Practical Wedding blog. And buy her book because it really sounds like it would help you. Seriously.

      Realize that you are going to get gifts, even if you tell people specifically not to get you a gift. You are also going to be the center of attention. It is your wedding and that is what happens. Also, your groom’s family has no obligation to contribute to the cost of your wedding, regardless of how well off they are (unless they are insisting on adding extraneous guests…).

      I may be reading too much into it, but it sounds like the two of you aren’t on the same page about the scope/cost of your wedding. Does the attendance of his football friends (important to him) mean you can’t offer a meal to your family (important to you?)? You also need to present a united front to his mother about the guest list. If she wants to invite people beyond the list of those you and your fiance want to invite, she is welcome to contribute. It is YOUR (your and your fiance’s, collectively) wedding. It needs to be about the two of you, not about stretching your budget to accomodate fifty extra people you don’t actually care about at your wedding.

      You don’t have to give everyone an actual meal – how about champagne (proseco, Zonin from Trader Joe’s is $8 a bottle and pretty good) and cake only? And maybe an iPod DJ. Your family is stretching their budgets to come celebrate with you, and they will want to spend time with you two as a couple before you jet off to your honeymoon. It’s your wedding, but it’s about them, too. They may also want to get to know their new in-laws. A dessert reception will be a lot less expensive, and it’s actually “traditional!” That’s how it was done as recently as our grandmothers’ weddings. Or rent a taco truck for an afternoon. Or do a pot luck. Be creative. Weddings don’t have to have seated three-course meals to “count” as “real” weddings.

      • Lost&Dazed :

        I honestly think they are not paying because I am not white. They’ve made comments over the past few years, long before we were even engaged, about how we should move to a larger city because our children will be weird looking and get made fun of in our smaller city.

        My partner was happy to invite everyone he knew because he hoenstly believes that they want to see him get married and he wants them all there. He has no interest in getting gifts and figures if people feel that strongly about not being fed then they can just not come.

        • momentsofabsurdity :

          Lost&Dazed if your suspicions are correct, I’m very, very sorry you have to go through this with your future in-laws, and hope you know you would not be any better matched to your fiance if you were white than now.

          Makes me sad there are still so many people like this out there.

          • Lost&Dazed :

            He’s a great guy. The one thing he’s insisted on (aside from inviting literally everyone he cares about) was the priest to come from his home town (which was sweet even though it meant an extra 500 in suggested donations we’re on the hook for).

          • This.

        • SF Bay Associate :

          Ugh, that SUCKS. All the more reason to have exactly the wedding you are comfortable with and can afford. There’s no pleasing them anyway, regardless of whether or not there is an open bar. Further, given their dubious opinions, I imagine the last thing you want on your wedding day are tongues and inhibitions loosened by alcohol. Goodness knows what toxic nastiness they’ll spew.

          Have the wedding you want, sweetie. The one that makes you feel good at the end of the day because you did what you were comfortable with, both in terms of activities and budget. So your fella wants to invite everyone he cares about to show off his beloved bride. Fabulous. Forget the meal, forget the open bar. Your man is darn right – people who are only coming for a meal and/or open bar don’t deserve to come to your wedding anyway! Costco cakes are really good (my second wedding reception had a Costco cake :) ), and some cases of proseco and you are set!

          If you are set on not getting gifts, at least suggest a charity of your choosing. Some people were raised in traditions where they simply cannot not give a wedding gift. Channel their energies in a direction you want lest you end up with ugly stuff you can’t return. True story :).

        • No way I would go into debt for that! Man it does not sound like there is anything you can do that would make them completely happy. Go reverse diva on their butts and bounce or do punch/cake. It sounds like they are going to talk smack even if you fly everyone to a second location in their own hot air balloons.

      • On further consideration, I endorse SF Bay Associate’s cake and prosecco approach. Perhaps not quite as inexpensive, but delicious.

        • I didn’t read the entire thread on this, but can’t go wrong w prosecco! Love it!

      • I agree, you can do cake, some wine, and *maybe* a tray of hors d’oeuvres from Costco, and keep it reeeeaaalllyyy short. It is nice to have some time for people to mingle a bit, but you don’t have to stay very long. You can take off early, so you dont have to spend too much time feeling uncomfortable and shy. And once you’re gone, the annoying people and the clean up aren’t your problem any more! That’s the beauty of it being your wedding!

    • Have a small reception with cake and soft drinks in the church hall (or equivalent if you’re not getting married at a church). Have you read Miss Manners’ Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding? She has great advice for situations just like yours.

    • If you and yours are paying, then you are the host(s), and it is not anyone else’s place to criticize or try to dictate the terms of your hospitality. Of course, some people will try to do so. They are rude. Stay polite, tell them that’s not part of your plan because you have a budget to meet, then ignore all future criticism. If you want to do a very inexpensive reception, consider the “tea” reception that I still see in the rural South. It is cake, nuts, mints and nonalcoholic punch, served in the church’s reception hall. Simple, pretty flowers on the one serving table. Good friends and family members help serve. Done with love and joy, this can be a very charming reception.

    • Lost, you’ve gotten good advice. The prettiest wedding I’ve ever been to was basically cake and cheap champagne event and the bride made her own bouquet. (Maybe I’m biased…it was my sister’s.) Friends brought hors d’oeuvres and the reception was in a free hall. This was before Costco but they have good cake and cheap proseco. My advice – decide what is important to you and don’t be talked into anything you can’t afford.

      Basics: 1) Cake and proseco 2) free hall 3) small bouquet for the bride, “posey” bouquets for the maids and boutinieres for the men 4) A toast by the best man and perhaps the maid of honor 5) Limit guests to X number and have fiance choose them 6) Fiance and you present your plans together to his family and take no objections (or tell them if they want to have their way, they can pay some/more/all). 7) Leave for your honeymoom directly after the toasts.

      The most important part is that you two present a united front to his family, whatever you decide. And enjoy the honeymoon – you deserve it!

    • LawyerAnon :

      I do think that if folks are flying in for the wedding, the least you could do is feed them something. Whether you expect or want gifts is immaterial – you will receive them from nearly every guest at the event.

      And because of this, you should give them some appetizers, cake and something to drink following the wedding. It is a sad fact of life that when we invite people to share in the joy of our wedding, we also end up suffering with a little debt for food, drink and other refreshments.

      While I didn’t WANT to feed my guests, I did because it is courteous. You are the host of your wedding, and as such, you have a responsibility to make sure your guests are fed, especially if they are flying into town. I didn’t get a honeymoon, because I had to pay for a meal, but I can’t imagine asking folks to spend hundreds of dollars to see me get married, and then leaving them high and dry afterward.

      Your future hubby also needs to get a backbone about telling his mother who will be invited, and to be mature enough to realize he also must cut down on his own part of the guestlist.

    • I think you’ve been given a ton of great advice. In your shoes everytime my future inlaws mentioned something expensive they expect providing I would thank them for such a generous, thoughtful offer. If they do it in public I’d gush about how generous they are to offer whatever for the wedding to a mutual aquaintance.

      But then I have a sledgehammer approach.

    • Just do a receiving line after the ceremony where everyone gives you a hug so you are not in a big crowd. Then get in the limo and drive off into the sunset. Old School style.

      If they are not going to pay, how can they complain?

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