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Always Trust Your Gut

First of all, apologies for how vague this is going to be. I can’t give away many details without it being very identifying. It’s also going to be loooooonggggg.

Last year, myself, a friend and another friend who we both kind of know but not particularly well decided to book a trip. It’s a two week trip that’s centered around a particular activity. Think of it as like a camp, but for grown ups.

Now, I had been planning on just booking for myself and Friend one. Friend Two overhears us talking about it and wants in. Fine. I don’t know her very well, but just enough to think I can travel with her without problems. The camp is popular enough that it needs to be booked a year in advance, the camping spots for the year open at a particular time and you have roughly a five minute window to book before all the spots for the year are gone. It’s like buying concert tickets but infinitely more stressful.

We spend a few months before booking deciding on which dates we want so I can pounce on the website and make the booking for all three of us. Stressful, but the other two work full time and can’t sit on the internet at work waiting for this website to open. My work doesn’t mind so it falls on me to make the booking. Booking three spots is actually tricky because the website only lets you book two at a time. You have to go back in for the third and risk not being able to swing it.

Maybe two months after booking and paying for the trip, Friend Two pulls out citing parental duties. I’m annoyed, we discussed the dates in length and picked the ones that suited her best (because myself and Friend One had more free time) but I understand parent duties. I find out more details and the child I thought was school age is actually in college. Friend Two’s double booking is something that friend wants to do but not necessarily *has* to do, it’s something that she was aware of when we were booking but evidently had not made her mind up about before we had to book the camp.

One of my bug bears is people who say they will do something, commit to dates and then pull out. But this still isn’t a disaster. She’s paid me back so it’s her own money she’s wasting. Friend One’s sibling decides to join us instead so at least her spot isn’t being wasted.

Now, Friend Two lives in a city that’s a few hours away from camp. It’s close enough that we decide to go and visit her on our free weekend, but still far away enough that it can’t be a day trip and we will have to stay the night. All good. Festival that this city is famous for will be on at the same time. It’s a great time to visit and Friend Two is excited to see us. Friend Two offers to put all three of us up in her house. At this point, my instinct is saying “yeah but can we rely on this?”, but in the end, free accommodation in an expensive city is hard to pass up. Regular readers of this site have probably already worked out what’s about to happen.

Well… it’s a week before we are visiting Friend Two and she’s booked out her house on Airbnb, we can still spend time with her but now we can’t stay with her. This is the last straw for me, had we asked if we could stay I’d be less annoyed, but she offered the accommodation to us. Again, we don’t know her that well, I would have been ok with booking through Airbnb and paying to stay with her, had she asked us to. Popular festival means we are now scrambling to find an alternative and I can’t imagine it’s going to be very comfortable or affordable. I’m letting Friend One sort this out. I’m done.

I kinda wish I’d trusted my gut and said “no” to her offer of a place to stay. But on the bright side, next time Friend One suggests visiting Friend Two I can cite this fiasco as a reason that we should do our own thing. And I”m not booking her camping spot for her again! 0806-18


My uncle passed away some years ago from cancer. It was sudden and very quick — no indication that he’d been feeling ill, and then three months from his diagnosis to his passing.

After the funeral, a woman who had at that time been a neighbor of my aunt and uncle for two, maybe three, years and hadn’t known them prior to that, said to my aunt that she’d always known there was something wrong with my uncle, she could tell he was ill ever since she met him. Understandably, my poor aunt was dreadfully upset, thinking she’d failed my uncle in some way by not seeing he was ill.

Fortunately, one of my cousins pointed out to my aunt that my uncle had a cataract operation about a month before the cancer was diagnosed, in preparation for which he’d had a complete medical workup, including full blood tests, and that had there been any indications of cancer at that time, they would have shown during the blood tests. I don’t know if signs of cancer would have been tested for or if my cousin was making it up as he went along to reassure his mother, but either way, at least it stopped her feeling guilty for the rest of her life that she’d somehow killed her husband by careless inattention.

Who says something like that at a funeral? Even if the neighbor had been right, which I doubt given that she was no medic, what was the point in saying it? What would it have achieved at that point? Why would she have wanted my dear, sweet, loving aunt to live with the crippling guilt that would have caused? People, please, when approaching mourners, route your words via your brain before allowing them to fall out your mouth. Think twice before saying anything, and if you’re nervous and don’t know what to say, then say nothing more than you’re sorry for their loss, and move away. It’s better to say something formulaic — or even nothing at all — than to cause such pain. 0731-18


My partner (D) and I have been together for almost 5 years and have discussed and come to the conclusion that we’d like to get engaged. Perhaps not a “big romantic surprise”, but it works for us.

Together, we went looking at rings, and found a gorgeous one that I fell in love with…he went back a week later and “secretly” bought it. I’m a full-time, disabled college student, and we’re on a tight budget, so the gems are lab-created and set in silver, and the price was under $100. Not a problem for us, but perhaps for D’s family.

You see, the rest of his family is much more well-off than we are, and they seem to value big, fancy diamonds. His brother recently proposed to his own girlfriend, and at a holiday dinner she showed off the ring to the other women, who in turn passed around their own engagement/wedding rings, while talking about the costs and carats! I was shocked!

My question is, once D officially proposes, how can I politely deflect questions about my ring? I’m not ashamed in any way of it, but find discussing diamond values tacky in the extreme, and want no part of it. Particularly because I suspect the family will unfairly judge D over “his” choice. 0627-18

This is one of those situations when you have to calmly keep your mouth shut while basking in your own happiness with the ring.   The really good laugh you can enjoy with yourself and fiance is that diamonds are not the rarest gems, emeralds, sapphires and rubies are, but clever marketing has created a high priced demand for gems that are actually quite plentiful.   You dodged the bullet of falling victim to the hyped marketing about diamonds and paying thousands of dollars for a diamond ring that can never be resold for what it was purchased for (diamonds suck as investments).


An acquaintance of mine, “Jane”, has a daughter, “Susie”, in high school. Susie is into gymnastics, a really expensive sport where I live. For the past few years, I’ve noticed that Jane (with her husband”s blessing, I believe) has been setting up GoFundMe accounts and making social media posts asking for money to pay for her daughter’s uniforms, equipment, etc. I was raised to work for what I want, and if my parents didn’t have money for an activity, we didn’t do that activity. I was chatting with friends and I said that since Susie has a car, she could get a part time job to pay her own expenses, and that I don’t donate to those tyoe of requests. That opened up a whole discussion. Some of my friends don’t see anything wrong with what Jane is doing, and some of us are floored by it and won’t donate. Are we just out of touch for thinking Susie should pay her own way or drop the activity, or is begging now the newest way of life? 0409-18

You are not out of touch.   You understand that life (and people) do not owe you happiness and if you want something, you work for it.   Breaking a sweat creating a Go Fund Me account does not qualify as “work”.

People who are handed things have no appreciation for the value of what they have been given.   If you want something bad enough, you work for it and that builds character, a deep appreciation for everything you own, and a mature understanding that no one owes you.