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Dear Captain Awkward,

My husband and I are newlyweds. He is currently unemployed and job searching. We are living on my income and it isn’t much. However, I place my health at a high priority because I’ve had high healthcare costs in the past. We eat well, but we make up for it by almost never dining out. We budget carefully for when we do dine out and for our discretionary funds and we’re financially responsible.

We’re not exactly poor, but we do watch our budget. However, many of our friends don’t seem to understand this. When we arrange hangouts, we try actively to schedule something that doesn’t cost money or costs little. We even prefer having a single person over to going out to dinner with that person, because it is literally cheaper to cook for 3 than to pay for 2 at a sit down place in our area.

Our friends don’t seem to understand that we’re not poor, and that we don’t want to be treated to dinner. Everyone wants to go out, and when we ask about how much the place they want to go is, they offer to pay. This is not what we want. We just want to pay for our food or ask to hang out somewhere a little more affordable. We are hoping to have a family in the next 5 years so I’m saving very carefully.

We would say something like:

“I’d love to hang out, but we’re on a tight budget and we’re trying to eat home more. Would you like to come over for brunch instead of going out? I can make an amazing gingerbread waffle and some bacon and eggs, and Husband makes amazing pour-over coffee.”

And get this:

“No don’t worry, my treat!”

I know some of these friends are in financial difficulty too and their money is tight. I can’t tell if it’s cultural, because many of them are from my culture (Chinese) and we really love to treat others to food. That’s how we show love! I think it’s great, but how can I tell them that we can’t keep going out on their treat and enforce it lovingly but firmly?

Regards,
Trying to Adult

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London organizer Kate has sent the monthly reminder:

Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX near Waterloo station, 21st March, 11am onwards.

This month will be for knitting and other crafts.  I can teach knitting to intermediate level, but there’s only one of me, so if you can help teach please come along, bring stashes etc.  Also if you are a beginner come and learn.  If you are into crochet or macrame or anything else crafty, I can’t teach those but I would be interested to see them!  (I can also teach sewing & garment alteration to intermediate if anyone wants to learn?  Let me know if there’s interest.)

If yarn isn’t your thing, one of our members, M., also suggested this cool method for turning an old t-shirt into a bag:

http://www.mommypotamus.com/no-sew-t-shirt-tote-bag-tutorial/

I haven’t tried it myself, but it looks like it could be fun to do as a group project, so bring the stuff if you want to try.

This venue is working out really well.

They sell food in a cafe (standard sandwiches etc.), but they also don’t mind people bringing food in from outside. There are several other local places where you can buy stuff as well. The excellent food market outside has loads of different food options, which can fit most food requirements, or you can also bring a packed lunch.
Meet on the fourth floor, outside the Blue Bar (go up in the JCB lift, lift 7, which is bright yellow and quite musical).

Here is the internal map of the Royal Festival Hall: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/sites/default/files/documents/RFH_map.pdf

I will have my Cthulhu with me, which looks like this: http://forbiddenplanet.com/3950-cthulhu-baby-plush/  One time I forgot it but I will do my best this time, however if I forget again I will put up a sign. I have long brown hair and glasses.

The venue is accessible via a lift, and has accessible toilets.  Waterloo tube station has step free access on the Jubilee line but not on the Northern line.

The London Awkward group has a Facebook page, which is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/549571375087294/.  There is also a thread in the new forums for saying hello.

My email is Kate DOT Towner AT Gmail DOT com

(April meetup will be on the 25th.)

Cheers,
Kate

Crafts! So cool!

Chicago, I will maybe see some of you tomorrow, yes?

From Vicki:

Hi, Captain,

We’re having a meetup next Saturday afternoon in Seattle; can you please announce it on the main blog?

This is what I just posted on the FOCA forums:

We will have a meetup next Saturday, March 14, from 2:30 until 4:30 or so, later if people want. Bauhaus Cafe, 414 E Pine St, Seattle (that’s on Capitol Hill). This is a two-level location, without an elevator; I will try to find a table on the ground floor.

I will aim to be there by 2:30, and plan to hang out until at least 3:30 even if I’m alone with my cup of tea and my kindle. (If you see me sitting alone reading and I don’t look up, please do say “Vicki?” or “Awkwardeers?” or similar to get my attention.)

I have flowing white-and-gray hair (which tends to get loose even when I braid it back), and plan to bring my stuffed tarantula to put on the table as a signal unless someone comments in the next few days that they are arachnophobic, in which case I will look around for something else that is both distinctive and portable.

Thanks,

Vicki

Have a great time, Seattle! Thanks for organizing this, Vicki.

Info and RSVP for the next Awkward Meet & Geek for singles (and “available” poly folks) is here. I hope I will see some of your smiling faces.

The “is there one true right way to do things” discussion reminded me of a story from my childhood:

When I was very little, my parents taught me that if you have to fart, you should try to get away from other people, especially if it happened at the table during a meal. You should also say “excuse me” after you do it. We also called farting “pooping” in our house. Poop was “Number 2″ or, and I say this with a visible cringe, “dumpies.”

What this meant, in practice, is that three little kids…and my dad, to set a good example (and possibly because he was the chief offender)…would frequently rise from the table, walk over to the doorway into the back room where Muffin the Great Dane was gated during meals, fart in the dog’s general direction, cheerfully say “excuse me!,” and then sit back down. Hilarious, right? It is possible that my brothers and I made this a competition, of sorts. I dunno, my mom was part of a hippie food co-op, we ate a lot of brown rice and carob and grew our own vegetables. We were gassy people.

So, imagine me starting school. Imagine me feeling the urge, getting up from my seat, marching to the door of the classroom, pointing my rear out into the corridor, firing one off, loudly exclaiming “excuse me!” and then sitting back down in my seat. I didn’t understand why everyone laughed. I mean, I thought I did…I thought they were laughing because it was awesome and they were jealous of how stinky & loud it was. That turned out to be not why they were laughing.

I did this a few times before my teacher took me aside at recess one day to say “Hey, about that…why…maybe…don’t” We agreed that if I felt like I had to fart (once the distinction between “poop” and “fart” were made clear), I should just ask to be excused to the rest room, and if I didn’t catch it in time and it was loud/stinky/obvious to others I could say “excuse me.” How she did all of it with a straight face, I will never know.

Lots of us are taught truths and manners and practices that hold up only in one specific context. So, I’m curious to know, what’s a thing that you were taught at home that did not hold up in the outside world?

 

 

 

Organizer Kate has sent the news:

February London meetup as follows:

Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX near Waterloo station, 21st February, 11am onwards.

Time for another colouring in meetup. Please bring stuff to colour in, or colouring pens and pencils, if you can. Or come anyway, we’re not fussy!

This venue is working out really well.

They sell food in a cafe (standard sandwiches etc.), but they also don’t mind people bringing food in from outside. There are several other local places where you can buy stuff as well. The excellent food market outside has loads of different food options, which can fit most food requirements, or you can also bring a packed lunch.
Meet on the fourth floor, outside the Blue Bar (go up in the JCB lift, lift 7, which is bright yellow and quite musical).

Here is the internal map of the Royal Festival Hall: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/sites/default/files/documents/RFH_map.pdf

I will have my Cthulhu with me, which looks like this: http://forbiddenplanet.com/3950-cthulhu-baby-plush/ One time I forgot it but I will do my best this time, however if I forget again I will put up a sign. I have long brown hair and glasses.

The venue is accessible via a lift, and has accessible toilets.

The London Awkward group has a Facebook page, which is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/549571375087294/. There is also a thread in the new forums for saying hello.

My email is Kate DOT Towner AT Gmail DOT com

(March meetup will be on the 21st.)

Cheers,
Kate

Have fun, London! If you are interested in planning a meeting of Awkward Army folks where you are, there’s guidance here.

The Emperor from Star Wars saying "Be My Pal-Patine." There’s an Awkward Meet & Geek this Thursday at Geek Bar Beta in Chicago. Games! New people!

This guy who wrote into Carolyn Hax sounds FUN and definitely does not remind me at all of someone reading a consumer report trying to find the best smartphone. “What if I find something with great battery life and an intuitive interface, but the color I want is not available?” :flashes Bad Advisor signal in the sky:

And now a question:

Hi Captain!

Any thoughts about surviving St. Valentine’s for a single-and-never-ever-been-on-a-date-much-less-had-a-SO student?

Many thanks! And thank you for the whole site.

all the best,
OortCloud

Hi Oort Cloud!

Use the day to:

  • Han Solo: "I'll be celebrating Valentine's Day Han's style...Solo." Do something nice for yourself.
  • Do something nice for a friend or family member. There are lots of kinds of love, and there are lots of people in your life who might like pancakes or a new book or a card or a mix tape.
  • If you’re feeling down, ask your friends to be nice to you. “I’m feeling a bit blue about Valentine’s Day. Anyone feel like having Palentine’s Day?
  • Do something nice for a stranger – paying for the coffee of the person behind you in line, volunteering somewhere, shoveling sidewalks in your neighborhood.
  • Do you have a crush on someone? Perform this outside their window.*

It’s a perfectly good Saturday, so:

  • Don’t beat yourself up for not following a certain script in your life. If you read the site, you know that the “haven’t had a date or a significant other yet” club is large and adorable.
  • Don’t buy the necklace made from 2 butts stuck together.

Sometimes it feels better to make cutting remarks about how it’s a stupid made-up holiday created by advertising executives and greeting card companies and nurse your fierce proud cynic’s heart. Do what you feel, but try to do it without pooping directly on someone else’s fun, ok?

 

*This is a joke. Do not play this, or any music, outside someone’s window.

Hello! Happy 2015! Perhaps you will enjoy reading how  multiple bloggers & writers discussing are giving up things we suck at this year.

Kate in London has planned this month’s London Awkward Gathering:

January London meetup as follows:

Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX near Waterloo station, 10th January, 11am onwards.

We are going to start the new year by being awesome, so if you would like to please bring something awesome (object or youtube link or anything else that you like), or talk about something awesome from 2014 or 2015.  No pressure, though, awesomeness is not compulsory.

This venue is working out really well.

They sell food in a cafe (standard sandwiches etc.), but they also don’t mind people bringing food in from outside. There are several other local places where you can buy stuff as well. The excellent food market outside has loads of different food options, which can fit most food requirements, or you can also bring a packed lunch.
Meet on the fourth floor, outside the Blue Bar (go up in the JCB lift, lift 7, which is bright yellow and quite musical).

Here is the internal map of the Royal Festival Hall: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/sites/default/files/documents/RFH_map.pdf

I will have my Cthulhu with me, which looks like this: http://forbiddenplanet.com/3950-cthulhu-baby-plush/  One time I forgot it but I will do my best this time, however if I forget again I will put up a sign. I have long brown hair and glasses.

The venue is accessible via a lift, and has accessible toilets.

The London Awkward group has a Facebook page, which is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/549571375087294/.  There is also a thread in the new forums for saying hello.

My email is Kate DOT Towner AT Gmail DOT com

(February meetup will be on the 21st.)

Cheers,
Kate

We’re having another Awkward Meet & Geek Singles Event at Geek Bar Beta on January 15. We’ve updated the FAQ slightly, with the following info:

Can I come to this event if I’m not single?

We aren’t checking relationship statuses at the door, but you will probably feel more comfortable coming to one of the many other great Chicago Game Lovers events that are for anyone and everyone (of which there are about 50 every month all around the Chicagoland area!). Check out the calendar page (http://www.meetup.com/chicagogames/events/) to find a great event that will probably be more up your alley!

I know lots of people want to make new friends, but we going to keep identifying this particular event as a space for single people to meet each other. As an alternative, the Women In Gaming MeetUp January 10th is the identical setup at the identical bar, and there are other events practically every day that have the same culture of “show up, grab a game, meet some new people.”

Finally, piny is coming to town, and has planned the following event on January 17 (inspired by the excellent past work of Chicagoan Digital Tart):

January 17, 2015
Time: 4:00pm
Location: The Chicago Cultural Center Lobby (1st floor), 78 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602.
Transportation: By CTA buses and trains. By Metra/Electric District/South Shore Line, Millennium Station. Parking is expensive, if you’re driving.I’m going to bring Scrabble and maybe Bananagrams; if people want to bring other board/card games, they should feel free.  I’ll have an Awkward Army sign and nametags.  (And like DigitalTart said, suggestions for activities or anything else would be very welcome.)

I’m also doing a (strictly optional!) book trade, since I have some good lit fic paperbacks.  If people would like to bring books to trade, I think that would be awesome.

I can field questions in comments to the MeetUp post.
Finally, if you’re interested in live storytelling performances in Chicago, the Fillet of Solo festival is getting underway. I’m reading at 8:00 pm on January 17 at Lifeline Theatre as part of the Story Sessions bill.

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