weekend free-for-all – January 11-12, 2020

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school.)

Book recommendation of the week: Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid. The story is told from the alternating perspectives of a mom and her baby-sitter and is all about how race and class and privilege mess us up. It’s really, really good.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,456 comments… read them below }

  1. Loopy*

    I’m having a weekend that is more work than play so the week ahead will feel long (not at my actual job, but in terms of tasks I’m dreading) . How do others offset not having a relaxing weekend? I feel childish and sulky about it, mainly knowing it’ll impact my energy levels next week. Which isn’t helping inspire motivation for the dreaded task. Tips appreciated.

    Also, thanks to everyone who commented on both my threads last weekend- didn’t get back to comment on the cough drop one at all but read up on everyone’s responses!

    1. WellRed*

      Is it a task like taxes or organizing paperwork? Then I try to do it while watching Law&Order is similar that doesn’t require my attention. If physical, like cleaning out the garage, good tunes and trying to feel good about a little exercise. In both cases, remind yourself how accomplished you’ll feel, and carry that feeling into the work week.

      1. Loopy*

        Alas, it’s working on my resume so I need to fully focus and think hard. I think I’ll just try and knock it out sooner rather than later so I can reward myself with a few hours to myself tonight. I volunteered all morning so I couldn’t start earlier, sadly!

    2. Blue wall*

      I have the same- a full day of work tomorrow and a few hours today. Commiseration.

      If possible, I’ll try to take half a day off next week, or a few long lunches that are real treats—I mean outings to the botanical gardens or something.

      For today and tomorrow, I have a few things planned so that I’ll feel like I’ve “weekended”. A surprise party this evening, dinner w friends tomorrow. Hell maybe I’ll even get in a nap today. I’m writing out everything I want to do now, and then I’ll see what is actually feasible and possible with a holistic view.

      1. Loopy*

        I was hoping for a nap- that’s a favorite weekend treat- alas it didn’t happen. I almost wish it was job-work so I could take some time out of my workweek- alas, it was personal work :(

    3. Cinnamon*

      I’m doing the same thing. I’m going to take a half day during next week to counter the time tomorrow I’ll be at work.

      1. Loopy*

        I actually dont mind job-work because I can do the same to balance things out (and console myself), but alas, this is/was personal work :( Currently locked in a bitter battle with a resume I’ve hated for years.

    4. Mimosa Jones*

      Build in treats wherever you can. For me, I’d show up somewhere with a Starbucks hot cocoa, I’d take a leisurely morning walk with my favorite podcast (as in speed and purpose vs time spent), I’d make the meals as easy as possible, play energetic music as I work, and I’d reserve little pockets of time for something relaxing. Maybe take a short nap too. You want many, little pleasant things that you can remember after the weekend. Do the same for the week ahead.

      You could also reframe things to be about the accomplishments instead of the work and time lost. Be proud of what you’re able to get done.

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks, I am a big fan of treats…. I think I’ll treat myself to an early bedtime after a week of not so great sleep!

    5. Tris Prior*

      I hate weekends like that and I have a lot of them, I totally sympathize!

      I have no way to make myself feel better about it, but I just sort of accept that I’ll be exhausted in the week ahead and I try to prepare for it in advance. Like, lay out an entire week’s worth of clothing, make sure I’ve made all my breakfasts and lunches ahead so I can just throw stuff in a bag every morning, if I can I throw a large batch of something easy in the Instant Pot so that I don’t have to come home exhausted from work and force myself to cook.

      1. Loopy*

        I’m resorting to lazy lunch (hummus and veggies) and tomorrow will be on the lookout for lazy dinners at Costco. The thought of not doing meal prep on top of resume work IS some comfort (I hate cooking in all forms).

    6. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      I’m in kind of the same boat! Combination of mildly annoying tasks and social engagements with people I like, but don’t always find super relaxing. I agree that treating yourself when possible is helpful. I’m going to the store to try and get one of my devices fixed today, which I don’t love, so I’m chilling on the internet with a cup of coffee first and bringing a book to read while I wait.

      1. Assistant Alpaca Attendant*

        Back when I was at miserable place-we-don’t-talk-about, I had a long commute and often had to bring things home in the evening. I used to stop when I got home, even if just for half an hour and have dinner and not think about the place. Sometimes it’s playing a short cellphone game, listening to a podcast, catching up on personal social media/email, whatever. You could modify this for the weekend version.

        If applicable, try being grateful for less traffic, and wear the most comfy clothes possible if compatible with your dress code. I would also change into PJ’s for evening tasks and sit on the couch, which is more comfy than the usual office.

      2. Loopy*

        I totally get the social engagements thing- I can do something totally enjoyable, but still feel put out because I needed relaxing time instead.

    7. Database Developer Dude*

      I can definitely speak to this, as I’m in the Army Reserve, so once a month, my weekend is filled with work tasks. It is a difficult job to balance a military Reserve career with a civilian one.

      Offsetting it on Monday morning means a few things for me. First and foremost, I walk in the door with a cup of coffee. I then work my emails until they’re done, and just catch up on reading blogs for work (I’m a SQL Server Database Administrator/Engineer/Developer). I try not to interact with anyone unless there’s something going on, and I take a lunch break where I get the heck out of the office.

      I also use headphones at my desk, and have music going. When I’m in the office it’s usually classical music, and it’s piano pieces, but that’s -my- favorite and relaxes me. Your mileage may vary.

      I also, if I don’t have any evening commitments, make sure I pick up slugs on the way home (ride-sharing, it’s a thing), so that I can ride the HOT lanes home for free. Most of the time, my riders are chatty, which is good.

      I then don’t do much in the evening, other than reading and watching TV. I get to bed early and I’m good and ready for battle on Tuesday morning.

      1. Loopy*

        This is great Monday advice! Also, I work with a lot of folks in the reserves and have so much respect for the time you all give up on weekends. I often have thought to myself that I don’t know how I could give up so much of my necessary downtime!

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          It’s because I feel I’m doing some good and making a difference. When it’s not fun anymore, you move to another unit or retire when you’re eligible.

    8. Ain’t Miss Behavin’*

      Ugh, commiseration! I get so grumpy and petulant if my weekend is booked with stuff I have to do as opposed to “want” to do. I even get grumpy if I book too much stuff I want to do, “it sounded fun at the time” stuff, and I don’t feel like I have enough down time as a result.

      What I usually do is absolve myself of feeling like I need to accomplish anything after work all week. I’m lucky because we’re empty-nesters and I don’t have a lot of extra responsibilities to begin with, but just knowing I’ll be able to come home and drop my stuff and relax til bedtime helps tremendously. Good luck with your resume!

    9. Kay*

      I can relate. Yesterday I was on-call with the dispatch phone and we had 8 calls between 5 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday. I also did some tax bookwork and necessary housework. I did get a date with my Farmer last night but we were so tired from the week, it felt almost like another chore. Bed was best.
      Today was church and some errands, showing my mom’s house to a potential buyer (stress!) and then our dil’s bday party. So run-run-run all weekend with just a few social obligations that were nice but when you are worn out from the past week, they are almost not fun.
      I didn’t get a nap or much down-time, so I’ll get a little tonight yet and then I’ll try to take a little longer lunch a couple of days to read my book. It’ll be super busy all week and more tax work in the evenings and babysitting on Saturday. And sometime I MUST get my Christmas tree put away!!
      Hope today ended up feeling a little relaxing.

    10. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      I don’t know how applicable this is to the present discussion, but I remember almost 40 years ago, I had a part-time typing job on Saturdays. While working, I’d listen to the radio.

      Every so often, the station would run an ID/jingle that went something like this: “The weekend’s here, hip hip hooray! No work now, it’s time to play!”

      I didn’t care about the “it’s time to play” line one way or the other, but the “no work now” line that preceded it really bothered me, having to hear it while I was at work.

  2. Advice please*

    My MIL wants to buy me clothes before comes to my country from her home in another country. It’s very sweet of her but

    1) I’m not at all sure I’ll like them
    2) I don’t like having redundant clothes in my closet
    3) I have money to buy what I want so not m

    Additionally, she has only told my husband this is her plan. I’d be happier with direct discussion but it’s harder when she’s not suggesting it to me.

    I think she just wants to buy me something to show she cares, so maybe I’d be better off suggesting an alternative but I don’t know what!

    Any suggestions on how to deal with this?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Ask your husband to explain to her that you are not much of a clothes horse, you’re not into it. If true, you could suggest that you would enjoy spending time together. Or, you could suggest an activity that the three of you could do together that would create fond memories for all of you.

      1. valentine*

        Can hubs not say, “Advice please doesn’t want clothes. Whatever you do, don’t give them clothes”? (And save money on luggage and spare whoever is carrying her luggage? What does she care about that you can leverage here?)

    2. Marion Q*

      from her home in another country

      Maybe you could suggest her to bring something traditional? Like if she’s from Scotland, you could ask for tartan, or something like that?

    3. BRR*

      I’d send the message back that it’s very kind but you’re all set with clothes and it’s not necessary. You’d rather see MIL spend the money on treating herself.

    4. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Could you maybe say that you’d rather have an accessory? Like a scarf, piece of jewelery, etc.? Smaller, don’t have to worry about fit, etc. As long as you don’t get earrings when you don’t have your ears pierced or something like that.

      1. willow19*

        ooh, I love the scarf idea. Sometimes they can be a very traditional pattern or weave that you can actually wear, not a full-on dress that you might find too … much

    5. Thankful for AAM*

      Id find a way for you and/or your husband to very warmly say, and repeat, that her presence is what you value and appreciate the most. I do think it is helpful to redirect her to a different gift, “we love those ____ husband had as a child (or simple gift from hime country), but add on, we are so grateful you are coming so far, we just want to see you. Shift the focus away from gift giving rather than just redirecting it to a different gift.

    6. Venus*

      Why would she tell your husband? Presumably to get an honest response about how happy you are to get clothes (if she asks you directly then you might just politely agree). I would encourage you to respond (via your husband) with your preference. Would you prefer food, a unique dish, or scarf? Or maybe suggest that she buys tickets for a local event or museum that you can go together (the gift of time and memories, not ‘things’). Whatever you decide, I think her comment to your husband was meant to check in so you should take advantage.

    7. 2e*

      My MIL does this. I’m particular about clothes and prefer to choose my own (and don’t want to own things I won’t wear). I have tried to redirect her focus from gift-giving entirely, but that has not worked. The current compromise is redirecting her focus to a different gift about which I am not as particular – often a small household good. For example, she would have liked to buy me a coat this holiday season. My partner let her know that I am good in the coat department, but would love to refresh our bed linens (which is true). So I got a set of sheets that I wouldn’t have chosen myself, but are perfectly fine. Importantly for me, they won’t go to waste – I wouldn’t have worn the coat, but we will actually use the sheets.

      For her, the clothes-giving instinct is about wanting to take care of us. She’s thinking “2e and Son don’t have time to shop, they’re so busy, I’ll help by handling it for them!” I try to view this in the kind way in which it’s intended, but also redirect her energy to things a bit less personal to me than my clothing.

      1. Assistant Alpaca Attendant*

        Sending empathy. If my relatives tired this it’d be super embarrassing as clothes in my size are not easily available in their country…

        If it’s more about the clothes maybe you could take her shopping when she arrives and redirect to other kinds of stores. If it’s about a particular kind of clothes from the other country, that is trickier. For example, my friend gets Irish wool sweaters, because every Irish person is “supposed” to have one. They are beautiful but they didn’t fit her either so she gave them to friends.

      2. Quinalla*

        My Mom is a huge gift giver, it’s one of the big ways she shows love. I always let her know she doesn’t have to, but when I know she is going to, I do let her know things I would prefer as I too hate having things go to waste. So have your husband say it isn’t necessary, but if she really wants to get something, how about X, Y or Z? Whatever makes sense for you :)

      3. Greta*

        Oh, gosh, my MIL used to do the same thing. Finally, after much coaxing from both me and my husband, she got the message that I preferred to pick out my own clothes.

    8. coffee cup*

      Why not wait and see if and what she brings and, if you don’t like the clothes, you could donate them to charity shop or something? Presumably once she leaves she won’t know whether you’re wearing them or not?

    9. Pony tailed wonder*

      You could ask her to bring something for the guest room instead? A lot of folks just do the basics for that room if they have one. Maybe you could ask her to bring something from her own country to give it that nice touch of home from that country?

    10. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Accept the gifts of clothing with delight, wear one or a few of them and send her pictures of you wearing them (or post to social media if you do social media), and then donate some or all to a charity shop.

    11. anon for this*

      I think some of the commenters are viewing this from a point of view on gift-giving that sees it as something you can end with a warm, “Oh, what we truly care about is your presence!/having wonderful experiences!” Depending on the country/culture your MIL is coming from, that argument truly misses the point. Gift-giving in many cultures is a ritual that must involve expense — it is a ritualized transfer of goods that symbolizes both respect, sure, but also the status of the gift-giver. Asking someone not to give gifts can come off as an insult (“What, you think I’m too poor to give you something?” “What, you don’t appreciate what we have here?” “Why are you disrespecting what I’m offering?”

      As such, there are a few options. 1) Grin & bear it, and make sure you have some gifts to go the other way. 2) Redirect: if you truly don’t like clothes but would probably make use of a table cloth or throw pillow cover or whatever, you could ask your husband to direct that way. Or maybe kitchen implements if you’re from a different culinary background & a spice grinder or fancy pastry-making tin or special kind of pot would be culturally relevant.

      I guess I wouldn’t suggest bringing something for the guest room, as it implies you don’t want anything for yourself and making the MIL essentially furnish her own room subverts the purpose of the gift (the gift is to show her position of abundance and her desire to pass some of it to you).

      Only you know your situation — I don’t know the countries involved or anything — but in my tri-continental family only an American would ask for no gifts, and it would cause some hard feelings among some parts of the family. We’re still figuring out how to navigate it because of other family dynamics & the personalities involved. The material goods are actually easier to deal with than the food, which is why I have had a freezer full of lima beans for four months… I hate lima beans….

      1. Reliquary*

        Thanks for this terrific answer, anon for this. It’s precisely reflective of my point of view on this issue. Intercultural communication and creating long-term respectful relationships is sometimes almost entirely predicated upon successful gift exchange and graceful gift receiving. In some cultures, a mother-in-law providing gifts of culturally-specific clothing is absolutely mandatory, and rejection of those gifts would be a serious issue that could seriously compromise the daughter-in-law’s reputation and/or status in the family.

        So, Advice Please, please consider the possibility that these gifts might be all about creating and preserving a respectful relationship with your spouse’s side of the family, and not really about your desire (or lack thereof) for a particular kind of gift.

      2. Ariaflame*

        Did you know you can use lima beans/butter beans as the basis for cakes? They do not taste at all like the beans once they’re part of the cake and can be good for making cakes if you have friends or family members who are gluten intolerant.

    12. Advice please*

      Thank you all so much for the advice. A lot of useful suggestions and perspectives that I hadn’t thought about. To clarify, both countries are western culture (uk and Australia) so not cultural mismatch. I have decided to try and direct her towards something that I will actually use as I think (as some of you suggested) this is a way for her to demonstrate her love and care, and I don’t want her to feel rebuffed.

    13. Kay*

      Maybe there is one nicer, upscale thing she could buy instead of many things. A cashmere cardigan or nice leather bag?

  3. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    I’ve mostly been working on a slice of life fanfic because sometimes you just want to relax and write about people being big doofuses (doofusi?)

    1. nep*

      (Love doofusi.)
      I’ve got so many things that come through me and must be written about…but I have hated 99 percent of whatever I’ve ever put on paper. But I know I’ve got to write to capture that 1 percent. (And I know that writing crap is an essential part of the process, as Anne Lamott reminds us.)

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I have been wrestling with this short story I’ve been writing for two months now. It’s like drawing blood from a stone but I’m trying to finish it this weekend because I know that it’s important to persevere and finish things, but it’s so hard.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Update, I’ve written four hundred words on my short story to get me through the particularly knotty part but only because I had friends around for dinner, had three glasses of white wine and figured, why not? I hope this isn’t the top of the slippery Hemingway slope.

    3. AnonEMoose*

      I’m working on an adventure for an RPG that I’ll be running at a gaming convention next month. Trying to get the basics done this weekend, so I have time to make refinements and get all the characters built.

          1. Liane*

            M&M is a lot of fun. I wish you luck on the builds. Those take forever for me. Which con are you attending?

    4. C Average*

      I’m about 30 pages into the second draft of my novel. It’s something I wrote several years ago and decided to revisit, rather than doing anything with the more recent one I’ve written, which I’ve come to hate. It’s a fun story and it’s really flowing at this point. I’ve been slogging for a while, so it’s nice to have some forward momentum for a change.

      I’m also editing a friend’s second draft of her novel, which is fun because she’s a terrific writer and the book (which was already good) is noticeably better.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Oh just publishing Tunerville on Amazon. (I posted way below and it may still be in moderation). :)

      I did the right thing, I think. Now that I can’t really edit it anymore, the sequel and the new book are starting to take over my headspace. That is, if I can just get the song from The Witcher out of there…

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I clicked on the link below to have a look and the more I read the blurb the more I fell in love with the concept. I’ve got the weekend to myself coming up so I’m going to curl up with my cats and your book this weekend, so thanks!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          It’s Kindle Direct Publishing now, but yes.

          I worked damn hard on the layout for the paperback and for the ebook but no matter what you do, even if you use their software, everything looks like poo on a Kindle. It kills formatting, eats fonts, and fuggedabout pagination.

    6. Troutwaxer*

      I realized that the methods I was using to tell the backstory weren’t working very well, so I’m in the process of cutting those scenes and have written a new character into the story who’s success is more directly related to the backstory, and she and her friends will tell the backstory as they admit the mistakes they have made.

    7. Liane*

      I impulsively agreed to write up unofficial Star Wars RPG Mandolorian Armorer NPC stats for the game blog. And just realized I don’t know where to start. fortunately, I don’t have a deadline

    8. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I’ve had awful writers block recently, so when the muse visited and stipulated something new, I obviously abandoned the WIP and have been researching the cost of dried foods on the west coast in 1850 and churning out thousands of words nobody will ever see.

    9. KristinaL*

      I didn’t do any actual writing/drawing, but I read more of “Self Publishing You can do this”.

      I also got up my courage and asked a librarian at my local library if they accept donations of self-published books for their collection. She said they do accept them sometimes, especially from local authors!

      I’ve been meaning to publish under my first and last name, but apparently there was a film icon (who I’ve never heard of) in the 70’s with that same name. Maybe if I add my middle initial. I want to write children’s books, so I’d like my author’s name to not be confused with this film icon, since what I’ve found of her reputation so far doesn’t seem like it would mesh well with children’s books.

  4. nep*

    Wild weather here and there. Hope everyone’s safe. Spare a thought for someone who might need a little extra help. Peace, all.

    1. nep*

      (Weather statement referring to the US, by the way. Granted people in other parts of the world, particularly Australia, facing unfathomable situations. Hearts go out to you.)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am in the NE corner of the US. Echoing, everyone here is very concerned about you in Australia. It weighs heavy on on minds and people mention it often. What we can do seems too modest compared to what is needed. We are crying with you.

    2. Retail not Retail*

      I can’t believe we’ll hit the freezing mark tonight after it was 70 yesterday!

      This is my first january in tornado alley in eight years. I forgot the joys of the siren at night.

      I don’t think my job has power but I’m headed in – tornadoes have passed, heavy rain and flooding.

    3. Fulana del Tal*

      Please also spare a thought or prayer for Puerto Rico. They were just hit with another 6.0 quake this morning. People who were finally recovered from Maria just lost everything again.

    4. Merci Dee*

      We’re dealing with severe weather here in Alabama. A tornado came through part of the state earlier today and killed three people in Pickens County and injured a number of others. My area in central Alabama has about another hour of severe weather ahead of us, but the people farther east of us still have the storm fronts heading their way.

  5. Advice please*

    Sorry, not sure why that posted before I finished!
    3) I have money to buy what I want so not many gaps in my wardrobe
    4) I’m newly pregnant so things bought now may soon not fit (we’re going to tell them when they get here as it’s still very early)

    1. TimeTravelR*

      I posted on the original thread too, but I still vote for her being encouraged to keep it simple to an accessory, such as a scarf. What country? That might help us to help you figure something out for him to suggest.
      Like you, I don’t need other people buying me clothes. The fact that you are pregnant is the perfect out for your husband to use as a “reason” for his mom.

      1. WellRed*

        I actually disagree the pregnancy offers an out. It might make MIL think, well she’ll really need some clothes now.

          1. Assistant Alpaca Attendant*

            OTOH, if you tell them now they might be redirected to get baby clothes instead, which could be more useful but maybe awkward to tell them now.

            Your family may vary, but this would probably work in my family.

      2. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

        What if you suggest the two of you go shopping for some maternity clothes together? This could be really fun for both of you. (Or awful… You know her well enough to evaluate this idea I imagine.)

  6. Crazy Broke Asian*

    Next month, I’ll finally have the chance to see a live ballet performance for the first time!!! I’ve only ever watched youtube clips, so to say I’m very excited is an understatement really.

    I have a very basic problem though: I don’t know what to wear. I know that you’re supposed to dress up, and the dress code is formal/evening wear. I’ve done some googling, and I think I have a general idea, but I’m still not sure.

    I originally planned to wear this violet dress I usually wear for semi-formal occasions. But … when I took a closer look at the dress, I realised that the fabric is pretty stretchy and has a t-shirt/jersey-like feel. I don’t know what kind of fabric it is (the label doesn’t say), but it’s very similar to the kind of fabric that’s often used for workout clothes.

    Also, the dress is knee-length, which means that I have to wear leggings underneath (I’m a hijabi and need to cover my legs). Is this outfit sufficient, or is my gut right and I’m gonna have to do some shopping?

    And if I have to buy a new dress, any tips? Especially regarding fitting and materials.

    1. Just a PM*

      Your dress should be fine. The fabric shouldn’t matter, it’s usually more what’s “on” the fabric, like any logos or insignia are usually a no-no, but something plain or with a bit of decoration (like sparkles) would be okay. If you’re still concerned about it, maybe dress up the outfit with your shoes — choose a pair that are dressier — or a coat (like wear a pea coat instead of a ski parka) if you have the options.

      1. Crazy Broke Asian*

        Thanks! No logos or patterns on the fabric, just plain violet. Dressier shoes = heels, right? I do have a pair of heels, but they’re simple black with short heels, so I’m not sure either…

        1. Queer Earthling*

          Some nice, dressy flats would probably be fine as well. Those heels would probably be fine, though, if you don’t want to shop!

          1. valentine*

            I can only safely wear sneakers and I’m sure I’ve worn dark-rinse jeans to the ballet. Your dress/leggings are fine. There will probably be a man in khaki-colored trousers or obvious jeans. Don’t overthink it. Sit as close as you can.

            1. valentine*

              Also consider whether the venue will be broiling or freezing (one of mine is airless and I was nearly ill with long sleeves, though they were thin) and check their website FAQ for a dress code. If there isn’t one, I doubt they’d turn you away unless you show up topless or shoeless.

              1. Crazy Broke Asian*

                Ooh that’s a very important point! I’ve never been to the venue before, so I’ll try finding info on the air condition

    2. Agnodike*

      When you say you know the dress code is formal, do you mean that’s what you’ve found in your research about attending performances in general, or that’s a specific instruction you’ve received? I go to the ballet and other live performances semi-frequently and I am definitely not going in evening wear, but it’s really venue-dependent. If I were going to a performance at the Metropolitan Opera, I would dress more formally, but here in the performing arts centre of my medium-sized city, I would feel very comfortable in the outfit you describe.

      I’m also not a huge believer in dress codes for recreation. The mega-rich have always felt empowered to wear whatever they want whenever they want, and I think the rest of us should, too. I think it’s one thing if you’re attending a performance as part of an event with other people (like if you’re going with work colleagues, or as part of a celebration for someone you know), where there might be sort of a dress code for the event, if you see what I’m saying. But if you just want to see some ballet (and it sounds like you’re really excited!!) then go and see some ballet, and wear what you have. The dancers won’t see what you wear, and neither will anyone else once the house lights are down.

      1. Crazy Broke Asian*

        It’s what I found in my research. It’s very complicated to gauge the formality level, because the performance is at the capital, but we don’t have anything resembling Metropolitan Opera/Royal Opera House/Sydney Opera. The building is our premier performing arts centre, but it’s not the most fancy venue. In addition, the performance is hosted by the embassy of the ballet company’s country of origin, so I assume there’d be embassy officials and such people. What do you think?

        1. SunnySideUp*

          I think you should wear the dress you have, feel confident and enjoy yourself! I understand being uncertain about these things, but really, no one will be judging you!

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Unless it’s a special event with a fundraising component, the embassy people will probably be in suits for the men, maaaaybe cocktail or business formal for the women. And if you’re not attending a party connected to the performance, formalwear is not required– or expected, frankly.

        3. Agnodike*

          For an embassy do I’d want to signal that I was taking it seriously and pleased to be invited, so I would probably add jewellery or increase the formality of my accessories (sparkly bag, heels or dressy flats, a very glam headscarf if you have one, etc.). If you don’t have or use those things, though, you could convey the same thing by effusively expressing your appreciation for the event to anyone you meet, and you would probably be fine. (If it helps, I also live in the capital of my country and attend the ballet at a top-tier arts venue, but I live in a generally pretty informal culture.)

    3. BRR*

      Not knowing where you’re attending, I personally think most things are fine as long as it’s not jeans (unless it’s a gala or something).

      1. Crazy Broke Asian*

        It’s not a gala, but it is hosted by the embassy.

        Actually, I did see a play in jeans once. But I was a freshman, and the performance was geared towards students anyway. Didn’t make it less awkward, though, when I ran into my lecturers in their formal attire lol.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I once attended the opera in faded leggings and an oversized T-shirt. It just hadn’t occurred to me that the opera was a dress-up thing, somehow. I realized the mistake after I got there, but it’s not like I could fix it at that point.

          (To be fair, I was 12, so perhaps some adult in my life should have been telling me these things. I was the one who’d gotten the tickets and then had to find an adult to be my ride, though, so it’s not like it’s something the adults in my life were particularly into.)

    4. Asenath*

      It depends on the event. If you’ve got a dress code of formal/evening wear, I’d go for my best long glitzy dress or skirt plus fancy blouse. If it were a ballet performance in our local theatre, I’ve seen everything from jeans to the long dresses, with most people choosing informal clothing, but our local live ballet performances don’t come with dress codes. If you put leggings with your violet dress, and fancy it up if needed (depending on the style of the dress) with jewelry and other accessories, you should get by. If you feel like buying something, a full-length skirt in black can be dressed up easily with a nice blouse and look either formal or informal depending on the blouse and the accessories.

    5. Grits McGee*

      I’ve been to the Kennedy Center to see the ballet a couple times, and even in the same venue the level of formality seems to differ from production to production. (When a Russian company is in town, folks turn.it.out.) What you have sounds like it should work fine, but I would recommend maybe dressing it up a little with accessories. If you have a nice statement necklace or fancy wrap/shawl, plus formal-looking shoes, I bet that would get you in the nebulous dress code sweet spot.

    6. Meh*

      Wear whatever you want. I’ve gone to musicals, ballet, and operas in a t-shirt and jeans and nobody cared. Unless there is an official dress code, just go with what you like. If you want to dress up, do so! If not, don’t worry about it. But you don’t need to buy a new outfit for it (unless you want to of course). Have fun!

    7. Wandering*

      My approach to formal is that it’s based on classic (with time & culture variations). It sounds like you have a pretty dress with clean lines that you love; wear it! You could look for a nice pair of tights or dark pantyhose to wear instead of leggings. Comfortable, simple heels will be fine.

      If, instead, you are looking for a reason to get new fancy dress clothes then do that. You could call the embassy office & ask about “dress code” and see what guidelines they offer & take those shopping.

      Have a wonderful time at the ballet!

    8. Mimosa Jones*

      In the US, I’d say we’re getting more and more casual for these sorts of events, and while you won’t be the best dressed in the dress you own, you won’t be the worst either. But I get the impression you’re not in the US, so I don’t event want to speculate about what would be appropriate. Call the box office to get an inside opinion as to what people wear. Ask them what the worst-dressed people wear and what the average person about your age wears. But you want to blend. You can dress up any outfit with nicer jewelry, fancier hair/head covering, nicer shoes, well cared for shoes, dressier make-up, etc. The more your look appears intentional, the better. Getting the skirt length right will go a long way. Do you have a dressy top that you could dress-up even further with a long dressy skirt? Is the top part of your dress nice enough, or simple enough, that you could get a flowy skirt to cover the dress’s skirt? I think it would be cool if it were slightly transparent so the underskirt showed a little, maybe even split in front to really show the skirt, but that may not be your style or culture. Is fabric cheap enough that you could buy a few yards for cheaper than you could buy a dress? Do you have a friend who sews?

      No matter what you wear, stand tall. Don’t slouch every time you see someone dressed how you’d like to be dressed. You are getting a long wished for treat and you can enjoy it no matter what you’re wearing. Also, what you’ll be wearing will likely be far more comfortable than what the fanciest dressed people will be wearing and that will help you enjoy the performance more. Have a great time!

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        This, in the US. I am more a symphony than a ballet person. For the symphony, business casual is fine. A gala is the major exception.

        1. londonedit*

          Same in the UK. No one dresses up for the theatre these days, you can happily go anywhere in the West End in jeans really. Opera and ballet are slightly more formal but unless it’s a gala performance anyone would be fine in business casual.

      2. Crazy Broke Asian*

        Nope, not in the US! Probably should’ve made that clearer. Thanks a lot, I hadn’t realised that there are many other ways to dress up (my everyday style is very casual, jeans+button-up shirt type).

        No matter what you wear, stand tall
        I’ll definitely keep this in mind!

    9. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Another perspective: Wear something that makes you feel gorgeous and fancy. Part of the fun of formal events is the chance to play dress up as adults.

      Do you want a new formal dress, or would you rather avoid clothes shopping? If you aren’t sure, I’d recommend checking out some thrift stores (presuming you are as broke as your name suggests) and getting something if they have it. It’s a good idea to have a really nice dress in your closet for when the occasion calls for it. A little black dress would be perfect, presuming you can find such a thing that works for hijabi.

      Is your violet dress more of a cotton knit or a nylon-spandex? I’ve seen a lot of dresses lately in that nylon-spandex, which is a bit puzzling since the material feels cheap, but it does drape beautifully. But you can probably get away with your current dress, if that’s what you want.

      1. Jack Russell Terrier*

        I love live ballet! What are you seeing?

        As everyone else says – you’ll be fine in that lovely sounding dress. A velvet look is lush and violet is a rich color. Some nice accessories perhaps and shoes that add to the effect as others have suggested. Do you have different hijabs to make your hijab part of the look, that would be so fun? If not, black always works well with violet. Little details can often help your look be polished – eg, something with long sleeves underneath and push up the dress sleeves to show the contrast (can be done with neckline, collar too). My experience with ballet / opera at a ‘nice’ place as opposed to a community center is that there’s a wide array of how dressy people are. Most will be where you hit – elevated / cocktail but not more or less formal. You’re going to hit the right note.

        Have a wonderful time.

      2. Crazy Broke Asian*

        I’m still building my wardrobe, so if a new dress is really a must, I don’t mind shopping. My budget will need some tinkering, but I can afford the stuff at the lower range of price.

        I think it’s nylon-spandex? The material feels slightly cheap, which is why I’m really hesitant. Thanks!

    10. Rick Tq*

      Local expections matter, but here in southern California semi-formal would be more than formal enough for a ballet performance. We are long-term subscribers to the local symphony and see a wide range of dress. Opening Night we will see tuxedos and formal gowns but most nights a business suit or a nice dress is as formal it gets for the under 50 crowd. Some of the older (richer) attendees will be up a notch but no one takes another look at street or casual attire. Hijabis in the audience (thank you for a new term) don’t seem to do anything more formal than other attendees.

      The musicians are in white tie cutaway coats or dark long dresses as tradition but they would gladly change to business suits and ties if allowed.

      The hall hosting the performance should have a FAQ on attire, and they will have the best information on dress.

      +1 for all the other suggestions above.

      Enjoy the performance, and come back soon!

    11. HQB*

      I’m excited for you! To be honest, your dress does not sound like formal/evening wear. In the US, people adhere to these conditions rather loosely, and you would likely be okay in what you describe, although likely on the underdressed end of the spectrum. In your country, I can’t say, although my experience with Asian countries (going off your name here) is that expectations are more formal. If your gut is telling you that a jersey dress + leggings is not good enough, and the dress code is formal, and it is hosted by an embassy, I am guessing that something dressier will not only be more appropriate, but will help you feel more comfortable.

      Plain black low heels sound good, and for the outfit itself, a floor-length skirt or ankle-length skirt paired with a dressy blouse, or a floor-length or ankle-length dress, or wide-legged drapey pants and a blouse, or your country’s traditional dress (so, in Vietnam, a dress ao dai would be good). For fabrics you want something smooth and drapey. No knits or stretchy fabrics. Satin and chiffon and things in those categories (even if they are made with polyester). Some inspiration links in a separate response.

      1. HQB*

        I am guessing the dress you have is along the lines of these:




        and I think you should be looking for something more like these:







        Pants and skirts:



        https://www.whitehouseblackmarket.com/store/product/soft+jumpsuit+with+overlay/570282868?color=1225&catId=cat90006 (if it had long sleeves, as you’re hijabi)



      2. Crazy Broke Asian*

        Thanks for the ideas! My dress is similar in shape with the modcloth one, except shorter and different fabric, of course. It drapes rather well to my body actually, despite the stretch.

        Traditional dress is out of the question because the skirt is very narrow and I’d end up walking like Gwyneth Paltrow at the Emmys, lol.

        1. HQB*

          That’s more formal than I was envisioning, and sounds lovely. I think it will be great, especially with some fancy accessories. I would still opt for something like cigarette pants in a dressy fabric over leggings, but that’s just personal preference. Do you have a hijab you like to wear with it? I feel like this is the perfect time to wear something embroidered!

    12. Jack Russell Terrier*

      Whoops – nesting error!

      I love live ballet! What are you seeing?

      As everyone else says – you’ll be fine in that lovely sounding dress. A velvet look is lush and violet is a rich color. Some nice accessories perhaps and shoes that add to the effect as others have suggested. Do you have different hijabs to make your hijab part of the look, that would be so fun? If not, black always works well with violet. Little details can often help your look be polished – eg, something with long sleeves underneath and push up the dress sleeves to show the contrast (can be done with neckline, collar too). My experience with ballet / opera at a ‘nice’ place as opposed to a community center is that there’s a wide array of how dressy people are. Most will be where you hit – elevated / cocktail but not more or less formal. You’re going to hit the right note.

      Have a wonderful time.

      1. Crazy Broke Asian*

        It’s a Balanchine! One of the shorter works. Thank you for the comment. It seems that my best bet is to enhance the accessories.

        1. Jack Russell Terrier*

          Ohh lovely – you’ll enjoy I’m sure! Yes, I do think that’s probably your best bets. Your other choice could be to, say, add / buy a dressy top to complement black trousers / skirt. I really understand your concern about the cheap material – my mum was in the antique business and I see so much cheap material and cut. I think that often velvet looks expensive.

    13. Koala dreams*

      I think the dress sounds great. Dressing up in a proper foot length evening dress in a delicate material is impractical if you need to walk any distance from the parking lot or the metro stop, and it’s too expensive for just one event. You have the right idea about covered legs, stockings or leggings will be needed since it’s a knee length dress. I’d suggest adding a jacket or a nice cardigan, and some jewellery you like.

      If you do want to get something new, don’t limit yourself to dresses, also look at shirts and skirts that can be combined. Maybe you already own half of the new “dress”?

    14. PhyllisB*

      Haven’t read all the comments yet so someone may have beat me to it. Dress sounds fine. If you want to swank it up a bit, some sparkly jewelry, a festive scarf, or shawl/jacket that’s a bit dressy. Now that’s only if you want to/don’t have to do more shopping than you want. Or you could just do a fancier hairstyle (I’m not sure if you cover your head?) And perhaps go a bit fancier with make-up if you wear it. I have a purple dress that I kind of treat like a LBD (little black dress) and accessorize according to the occasion.

    15. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      TL,DR: You’ll be fine.

      It really depends on the venue. Opera houses originally were a place where you go to see and be seen. This, combined with heavily structured ticket price tiers, now means that the more expensive the ticket is, the stricter the dress code. For example, people at the last floor (here you can barely see the stage) usually wear casual clothes, those in the middle choose business casual, and the ones at ground level wear business formal. For gala performances it’s usually one notch higher.

    16. Windchime*

      I think it depends on your geographical location. I lived in a small, rural town when the Moscow Ballet came to our town (!!??). We were thrilled, of course, and I went. I wore black pants, a nice sweater and a scarf. I saw everything from sparkly evening dresses to nice jeans.

      Have a wonderful time. I bought the best tickets I could afford, and I was mesmerized. I was close enough that I could hear the whisper of the dancers’ slippers across the floor, and it was amazing. The dancers, even the men, land as light as a feather from amazing leaps in the air. It was awesome.

    17. Ra94*

      As someone who grew up in a family of classical musicians, and has been to countless ballets/operas/symphonies around the world, I’d honestly say that formal or semi-formal wear would stand out at most ballet theatres more than a nice business casual type of outfit. I’d avoid jeans, denim, and athletic wear, but most people dress the way they would to a nice work event: a skirt or trousers with an elegant sweater or top, and low heels or nice flats. I like dressing up, so I’ll often wear a knit or silk dress, but never anything approaching ‘gown’ territory. And most importantly, wear what you feel comfortable in!

    18. kt*

      I am usually a jeans kind of gal… but I would say for the ballet to find a sparkly maxi dress! and match your scarf, and use some pins with rhinestones for a bit more sparkle! But that’s because the most fun part of going to the opera in Los Angeles was watching all the amazing rhinestone (or Swarovski) gowns….

      Or you could go New York serious and maybe do the violet dress with black leggings and a black long coat — very artistic-hipster.

      I think if you can, find a long dress with some nice decorations (sparkles or a striking geometric print), or go the leggings & tunic route with a matching set. Part of the fun can be dressing up a bit and being, well, a bit theatrical.

    19. Elizabeth West*

      It should be fine. I would wear your most elegant accessories (not too many) and maybe a hijab with pretty sparkly fabric; let the dress be the backdrop. Very good shoes and your best bag.

      And enjoy the ballet–live, it’s absolutely wonderful!

    20. Arts Akimbo*

      I live in a performance arts venue city and have been to tons of ballets, operas, and symphony performances (just ’cause that’s what there is to do in this town on a Saturday night!) and what I can tell you from my experience is that your outfit will be absolutely fine! No one will really pay attention to the fabric, but if you really feel like dressing it up a bit, I recommend accessories. A beautiful silk scarf in a contrasting color and/or some jewelry can make the simplest attire look calculatedly fabulous! :)

    21. Crazy Broke Asian*

      Thank you so much, everyone! You’ve been very helpful!

      I’ve decided to play it safe and ask the embassy first. I tried checking the venue’s website, but it hasn’t been updated in a year :/

      If the embassy says no problem, then I’ll stick with the dress and shop for a fancy hijab (Possibly one with subtle print? Or is plain better?) and sparkly brooch instead. They’d be more affordable. Definitely will wear more make-up than usual. My best bag is grey, so maybe not the best match for the dress, but it’ll have to do. I do have a blue clutch purse, but it’s too small and won’t hold the stuff I need. It’s a special occasion for me, so I do want to dress up a bit!

    22. Dancing Otter*

      At the Lyric opera, it depends where you’re sitting, and the performance. The expensive seats on the main floor are dress-up territory, especially on opening night. The cheap seats in the upper balcony, where the music students sit, are more along the lines of making sure your jeans are clean, though some people do dress better.
      Hope that helps.

  7. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    I got started on Steins;Gate and…Well, the main character is a weird mix of hilarious and incredibly annoying. Also never thought I’d be learning about physics in my spare time, but here we are.
    Also got started on Ys 1 (the Chronicles version) on my Vita and that bump system is taking some getting used to. Admittedly things became a bit easier once I switched from 360 degrees movement to the 8 directional movement. 360 degrees has Adol running around like a drunken ice skater.

    1. Beancat*

      I bought a few games for vacation and have torn through Dream Daddy, the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, and Pokémon Sword. I’ve also really enjoyed this independent little game called Koral where you play as a current reviving the coral reefs.

      I’m so bad at games with 360 direction. It drives my husband batty.

    2. Yashlara*

      Just started a 5e dnd campaign last week. Tonight will be session 2. I’m a moon elf druid.

      Video game wise? Replaying Witcher 3 and thinking about starting a deus ex: mankind divided.

      Board games? Most recently was unstable unicorns, exploding kittens, and the donner dinner party.

    3. Purt’s Peas*

      I’m finishing up Disco Elysium and what a game!!! It’s a clicky and dialog-heavy game about solving a mystery. It’s really funny and really intensely sad and smart (and also needs a lot of trigger warnings). The graphics are beautiful, subtly painterly. What a game!

    4. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      I’ve been playing Control on the PS4, and really liking it! I hadn’t heard anything about it beforehand but I like the 3d person perspective and darkly funny, slightly campy plot.

      1. Quake Johnson*

        I like it, but I find she just doesn’t have enough health/one hit causes SO much damage.

        Or maybe I just suck. *shrug*

    5. Clodagh*

      Started The Witcher 3 and I’m finding it SO boring. Admittedly, I’ve not played the first two games but even then I don’t think I’d be enthralled by the plot OR by the action. I’m not too far so tell me, does it get better??

      1. A Tired Queer*

        Mechanics-wise, I think the Witcher 3 is the best of the series! I’ve watched it more than played it, but it does seem to get more interesting later on in the game. I hope you enjoy it if you decide to stick with it!

    6. LDN Layabout*

      I’m gaming for the first time in weeks and diving back into Dragon Age Inquisition because at this point I’ve forgotten enough that it’s fun again.

    7. Gatomon*

      Playing Red Dead Redemption 2. Never played the first, but I’m still enjoying it quite a bit. I almost put it down at first though because I was struggling so much with the horse controls. Now that I’ve got a better-handling horse and figured out the scheme, I’m doing much better.

    8. Catsaber*

      I’ve been playing Destiny 2. I started on Destiny 1 around the time my first daughter was born (about 4 years ago), and it’s pretty much the only game I can handle at the moment (I now have a second daughter). I only get the play on the weekends, but it’s what I look forward to, as my husband plays it as well, so it’s one of our hobbies we enjoy together.

      I’ve been wanting to watch Steins;Gate…we own the series, but for some reason have never bothered to actually watch it. (I think we picked it up an at anime con.)

      1. corporate engineering layoff woo*

        Ey, Destiny 2! I got my clan raiding in last night and have the rest of the event quest to grind out materials for. And perhaps more raids.

    9. Arts Akimbo*

      This vent is about the game I am *not* playing! I started reading through the enormous 3-ring binder that I keep my longest running Vampire: the Masquerade character in, and I am absolutely dying to play again!! My spouse was running a solo adventure for me and we took a break right on the brink of a huge mission that has huge global AND personal consequences for this character, and reading through my campaign notes, I feel plottus interruptus! LOL! He needed to make some more notes before said mission, but then some life happened and now it has been a few years and AGH!

      My plan is to roll Manipulation + Puppy Dog Eyes vs. Spouse’s Willpower. :D

    10. Bilateralrope*

      I’ve finally got sick of screen tearing so it’s time to get a new monitor. The first time I’ve replaced a working monitor. So I’ve got some questions:
      – will getting a G-sync monitor lock me into Nvidia graphics cards ?
      A g-sync compatible monitor (freesync) is an option.
      – is there much point going above 1080p ?
      I’m currently using a geforce 1060 graphics card on a 1080p monitor, which is sufficient for what I’m playing today. But I also use this computer for watching tv, so I’m thinking of going to 1440p if there is the content to justify it, but that comes with a framerate cost in games and I’m not aware how much tv is streamed above 1080p.
      Either way, I’ll probably keep the new monitor for ages.

    11. Emily*

      Not quite this week, but I recently played The Haunted Island, A Frog Detective Game. You are literally a frog who is a detective! It’s very silly and only about an hour long, which is appropriate for the type of game it is.

      I’ve been in and out of Stardew Valley recently, as well, and plan to eventually start Life Is Strange 2 (which I’ve heard is good). I’m more of a fair-weather gamer than someone who’s always playing something, though, so it could take months before I get around to it!

  8. Venus*

    What was your best success last year (indoors or outdoors)?

    Is there one thing you’re keen to do differently this year? Try something new?

    I have indoor succulents that a friend gave me, and they are thriving. Usually I kill them, but these ones like me.

    I saved pepper seeds from my local farmer’s fruit. I am hoping a plant grown from a local one will have a better chance as mine never grow.

    1. nep*

      Love this question. I want to have more plants around me, but I generally kill plants. I’m going to get a couple to get started.
      I’m currently house-sitting for a friend who’s got many, many plants; heaven help me, I want them to survive her time away.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Just don’t water them too much. I have several houseplants that only get watered about once a month, because I’m away the rest of the time, and they are fine. Sometimes they get a little dried out but if this happens I stand them in a bowl or sink of water for a few hours or overnight and let them really soak it up, then drain the excess. They might lose some leaves or even die back altogether but they generally grow back.

        1. nep*

          Thanks for this. The direction she gave me is to water them once/week, which was odd because she has a variety, including some succulents. We’ll see. I’ll watch them closely.

          1. Venus*

            Apparently many people overwater because they drown the plant, so the roots die off, then the plant can’t absorb water as well, so they water it more because it looks droopy and thirsty, and then they kill it. Judge more by the soil than the plant

    2. university minion*

      Best: I have some parsley that reseeded itself and is volunteering. My attempt at starting new tomato plants from cuttings of last year’s appears to be successful thus far. Divided my walking onions last spring, and this year I’ll have enough to eat some and keep some in the ground. After 3 years, one of my orchids finally rebloomed. The staghorn fern I bought as a baby seedling two years ago has 3 crowns now, so we’re heading in the right direction.
      Worst: I’m fighting fire ants in one of my potted plants. Some sort of critter ravaged my pineapple (for what, I don’t know… There are much better water sources all around, so all they got is poked. There’s nothing edible there).
      Learning experience: I initially mixed too much compost into a new bed and burnt the hell out of the seedlings I transplanted. Some survived and some didn’t. The ones that did are doing really well now that the soil composition has calmed down.

        1. university minion*

          This was much more traumatic damage than mice could have inflicted. My best guess is that an opossum (they get BIG here) got inquisitive, received a sharp poke, freaked out and the damage happened as a result of a freakout.
          If it had been my dogs, there would have been a puncture or scratch somewhere on them, as they’re very sparsely coated. They’re unscathed. This is a large (will probably fruit soon) pineapple plant with lots of sharp pointy ends.

      1. TexasRose*

        Best response I’ve ever seen to fire ants was from a farmer / neighbor. He had an old tractor, and took a 12×8 cake pan, cut a hole in it, and hooked it up with a hose to the tractor exhaust. Cover the mound with the cake pan and leave the tractor engine running for about 10 minutes. Lots fewer fire ants…
        I’m not sure how to apply that to a potted plant, though.

      2. Bootstrap Paradox*

        Interesting that you are getting plants from tomato cuttings. Can you tell us more about your process and the results to date?

    3. WellRed*

      One thing about peppers: they thrive on sunlight and heat. Like 8 hours full on blazing sunlight and watered once or twice a week.

      1. Venus*

        I don’t understand my peppers. Great soil, full sunlight, well watered. The tomatoes next to them do really well. But the pepper plants never even double their size, and I never get flowers or fruit. Yet the plants don’t die either.

        1. university minion*

          If you’re planting from saved seeds, do you know that they come from an open pollinated variety? If you’re planting seeds from hybrids, they don’t breed true. You may well have ended up with seeds that have genetics for lush foliage and minimal flowers. That would make for a pretty plant but would be of no help in a vegetable garden.

          1. Venus*

            Good to know! I have used seeds from a company, and seedlings from the farmer, and plants from stores. So I have tried all the other options, and at this point I’m not really expecting anything. I’m only doing saved seeds this time because I grow other seedlings, so this is an almost free option. I have essentially given up on peppers rationally, although not completely.

        2. pancakes*

          It may be a variety of pepper that local pollinators don’t like, in which case you’ll need to hand-pollinate the flowers. I had to do that when I grew rocoto peppers on my NYC fire escape. Do a search for “hand pollinate peppers” and you’ll find lots of good advice. A cheap watercolor brush works fine, and in my experience works best if you dampen it with water first.

          1. Venus*

            I have tried quite a few varieties, and a local farmer grows peppers successfully so I don’t think it’s the pollination. I do wonder if maybe there is a weird problem with the soil, or a quirk of the temperature or sunlight, although I was told that tomatoes and peppers like similar conditions so it’s weird that one is so successful and the other… disastrous!

            1. lasslisa*

              In my experience, peppers like WAY more water than tomatoes. As in, the year we had thunderstorms and rain for over a month and they declared it a “hundred year flood”, I thought all my plants would be dead… and it turned out my bell peppers had put on 30% more leaves and 3x the fruit.

    4. Grits McGee*

      I’m going to try sowing my summer flower seeds and spring vegetables in February this year. I had a bunch of self-sown flowers last year that performed way better than the seeds I planted at the “appropriate” time, so I figured I’d experiment since 2019’s spring garden was pretty disappointing.

      1. Bootstrap Paradox*

        Rock on with your experimenting! I’ll be starting the peppers in Feb. I may try them in cups this year, rather than in my regular seed starting setup since they don’t like to be transplanted.

    5. GoryDetails*

      I didn’t plant a lot last summer, mainly the self-watering containers for tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers – and of those, only the peppers did very well. But the seed catalogs have been tempting me to try harder this year, and I’ve been making wildly ambitious lists that will only work if I manage to get my larger garden bed cleared – and I can’t do that until after the snow and ice melt, by which time I may have lost motivation again {rueful grin}. Of the new plants that I really do want to try, there’s an ivory sweet pepper that looks lovely… I may try salsify again, too, though the last time I did that I only got a few very skinny roots, not enough to really taste.

      As of now, I’m pleased with my Aerogarden, in which I’ve started another set of the heirloom salad greens – a mix of lettuce varieties. The lights alone add a cheery note on these grey, cold days, and from previous experience I know it’ll be lovely to have clean, fresh lettuce to enjoy.

      1. Bootstrap Paradox*

        Seed catalogs! I have a stack of over a dozen, and even tho I already have a plan I will huddle with them on a cold, snow day, dream of summer, & pick some fun things.

    6. PX*

      I’m all indoor and last year was super excited that the random seeds I had thrown into pots actually grew into plants and flowered (tomatoes and peppers). However both the tomato plants died spectacularly once it got a bit colder (even indoors), and the pepper plants that I thought were doing okay also seem to be on the same path, so I’m bummed about that.

      The rest of my plants seem to be doing alright, but they are all hardy types meant to cope with the lack of sunlight and cold this time of year.

      For this summer I’m really torn on whether to try tomatoes again (a neighbour along the street managed to get loads out of a tiny little plant on their windowsill, must be some kind of fast growing variety) or whether its not worth it.

      I have some plants that seem to be outgrowing their pots, so might do some repotting come spring. Otherwise I feel like I might not bother this year :/

    7. Myrin*

      Best success: my physalis (in a pot) survived not only the winter but our horrible move as well. We thought it had died completely, seeing how there was literally nothing to see anymore in that pot except for one vaguely stem-looking husk but it grew absolutely beautifully!

      And because of said move, I had other things to do than tend to a (new) garden (which I love! I’m a passionate gardener) but I’m ready and willing to get to work on it this year.
      (My landlord is also very excited about this development. He is one of the most clueless people I know, but he is so in a very passionate and enthusiastic manner. I like him a lot. Except for when he tells me about how he used to live three doors down from a literal axe murderer while taking apart our fireplace. I do not need to hear the details about that, sir!! /tangent)
      I’ll be trying my hand on cabbages this year. I’ve done broccoli before but they were only so-so, so I’m looking forward to how this new experiment will turn out. Can’t wait to find out what the soil is like in this new garden, too. I really like how gardening is something where your knowledge necessarily expands over time, it’s exciting and soothing at the same time.

    8. pancakes*

      I’m not growing anything edible at the moment but am very pleased with my indoor windowsill Abutilon, which has been producing big red flowers since I got it this summer. It has another one now though it’s very much winter here!

      1. PX*

        Oooh. Tell me about how this grows indoors? I saw an absolutely beautiful variety while on holiday and actually meant to google them when I got back. Does it need a lot of light? What size of container do you have it in? *chinhands*

    9. fposte*

      I haven’t decided if I’ll commit yet, but I have a stubborn sunny area that I’ve never been able to give a good shape to, and I’m thinking about packing it with pollinators and natives and making the mess a feature rather than a bug. (Or, I guess, giving the mess to the bugs?) Anybody done a pollinator patch? I have a lot of pollinators around just because I like lots of them but this would be my first dedicated area.

      1. 40 Years in the Hole*

        Hi fposte.
        Tl;DR: Avid gardener here and I have laid out several pollinator areas in my gardens (3.5 acres of mixed woods, open/lawn, cultivated/landscaped and natural wetland areas), ranging from moderate shade to full sun areas; Zone 5a (E. Ontario).
        I plant for the seasons and light requirements. Colour, variety, proximity to water (even just a small dish filled daily), continuous seasonal bloom, nearby sheltering cover – and no pesticide (!) is important, as different pollinators need different food at different times of the year. Leave some areas covered with leaves for overwintering insects.
        Depending where you are:
        Late spring/early summer: spigelia, sedums, salvia, pink weigela, pink lilac, abelia, alstroemerias
        Mid-summer: Veronica, Asiatic lilies, coneflowers, lavender, columbine, yarrow, butterfly bush, bee balm, allium, hollyhocks, crocosmia, some flowering hosta (light to deep shade)
        Late summer/fall: catmint, phlox, coreopsis, Joe Pye weed. Not everyone’s fave, but a patch of milkweed will do wonders for gestation and feeding of monarchs.
        Most of the above are good for part or full sun areas. The majority run in the pink-red- purple spectrum, which is most attractive to pollinators. If just a small area – think a dry patch or over a septic tank (no Erma Bombeck, the grass is not greener…) – I have had some success with pre-packaged wildflower seed mixes, geared for pollinators. You’ll have to either start those inside and transplant out or try to sort the flowers from the weeds. (And the deer/rabbits/wild turkeys and turtles that like to “help.”). Thank you for doing this.

        1. fposte*

          Heh. The rare Erma Bombeck shoutout. I appreciate that. I’m also a 5a (technically) so you’ve got some good thoughts there for me to pick from. Thanks!

      2. Not So NewReader*

        So I am looking at pollinator patches online annnndd… this is looking like something that could go out of control really fast.The problem with perennials is when they go by they just are not pretty. They can be pretty high maintenance as they age because they grow into each other. And weeds get mixed in.. sigh.

        Draw it on paper so you know where you are going and don’t end up with randoms.
        Consider a focal point for the garden. I guess I don’t need to explain that I would consider a dog statue (lol) . But a small ornamental tree or shrub might be nice. We have artists here who work in metals, I bet you could find a lovely metal horse sculpture.

        Sit with a calendar beside you so you can lay out the bloom times and have something blooming there most of the year.

        Limit the number of types of flowers. Having a variety looks great the first year or two but by five years out it looks chaotic and lacking planning. And that bed becomes the same drudgery it has always been.

        Last thought, it might be practical to customize a soaker hose for the area. You can use quick connects to a regular hose so it is easier to detach for mowing. I suspect lack of water is a real problem in your sunny spot and a good contributor the fact that stuff just isn’t working out.

        You could always go an entirely different way and get the metal horse, surrounded with colorful pea stone and call it a day.

        1. fposte*

          I actually do have a couple of metal horses :-).

          One reason I’m considering the pollinator bed is to have an excuse for things to take over; I’ve tried to design this spot and it just won’t take. The other 90% of my garden beds behave as expected (the usual some fatalities, some outgrowing of space, some hit or miss), but not this one. So I’m thinking that letting it be a bit Darwinian with some pollinator natives or near-natives with invasive tendencies might be a way out and confer some benefit. It’s a pretty containable spot so I’m not too worried about things spreading. I mean, if it turns out to be a mess that’s pretty much what it’s been, so at least it’ll be a mess that the bugs will enjoy.

          1. fposte*

            And now spring fever has seized me and I’ve got a plant order open; I’ve also emailed the city about planting something new in the right of way (lost a gorgeous old maple a few years back and rules prevent planting anything that big again, but I’m hoping they’ll let me have a redbud). Whee!

    10. JobHunter*

      I transplanted celery seedlings and tied them to grow in compact bunches. I got 22 out of 24 plants to grow to harvest size. An expected frost turned into an unexpected killing freeze. I cut the frozen stalks and put them in the freezer for use in cooking.

      I also had good luck with salad greens in an Aerogarden.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Not last year but the year before, it would be the heirloom tomatoes I grew in pots. Cherokee Purple and Golden Jubilee. I had some wonderful tomato soup from them. :)

    12. Crazy Chicken Lady*

      I started some greens in the basement last winter. Dh likes to throw some baby greens in his scrambled eggs each morning. The arugula out in the garden usually gives up in December or so, thus the basement greens.

      All was great but then I decided to get a dozen day old chicks in early February. Cute things, but of course I raised them in the basement because that was the warmest place that wasn’t my house. Baby chicks are adorable but messy as hell. Fluff, sander, bits of poo – a fine layer everywhere around them.

      By March it was clear that basement greens and basement chicks were not meant to be, so I evicted the greens to the outside beds and told Dh to stop eating them while they grew.

      And boy did the baby mustard grow. And grow. We ate a bunch of mature leaves. Once they started flowering, I tied them up and let them set seeds. I collected some and let the rest drop.

      Now I have baby mustard greens growing again in my basement, thanks to the saved seeds.

      But no more baby chicks. 11 chickens is plenty.

    13. Bootstrap Paradox*

      My big success last year was summer squash. I planted all the kinds I wanted to try and had SOOOO much squash. I tried a few in the small tomato cages to see what would happen, and the smaller ones & patty pans did really well growing up. So I’ve gotten some sturdier square tomato cages and will be maximizing my squash space, which means I’ll once again have too much squash… But the taste testing revealed some winners, so fewer varieties & at least a couple less plants.

      I have a plan and will be sitting with my seed catalogs soon, but am SURE I’ll have some Oh! Pretty! Shiny! moments with the catalogs…

    14. Kay*

      I didn’t do a full garden last year, but had great success with herb: thyme, basil, sage, rosemary. I put them in pots and leave on the patio in full morning & partial noon sun, afternoon shade. I water depending on rainfall, but at most, once a week.
      This year we (DS2 & I) will be making a full garden again. They need/want the fresh produce. We’ll grow potatoes, onions, green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash and the above herbs.
      I usually do the planting, he waters and helps weed until we mulch it all. Then we both harvest. I usually can the excess but he wants to learn to do it this year. We’ll see. :)

  9. Anon woman with breast cancer*

    Good news to share? How is your 2020 so far? I am struggling. with the sad news out of Oz, and the sad news of Neil Peart’s passing (of Rush, the band – from a 3+ year struggle with glioblastoma), but am trying to focus on the good.

    My good news is that I have discovered L Glutamine for the neuro toxic effects of taxol – an acquaintance. suggested it, as she has a similar breast cancer profile, and I am so thankful. There is a good amount of scientific research and a few good papers on its ability to counter the taxol side effects, if you look online and my onco was supportive too. Because wow, the first 2 days with the spiky nerve tingling effect in my scalp, neck, upper body was not fun. So am drinking a ton of water, tea, exercising, and taking advil and L Glutamine supplements. I have 11% of this round of treatment done, only 8 more treatments to do over 11 weeks. Yay! Also yay is that the tumour has shrunk and I hope next week to get a measurement/scan or mammogram to see by how much. Final yay is that I got some bentonite clay and have been making with water twice-weekly clay masks for my torso, head/face and arms to have mini-spa days to relax a bit.

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        And back to you too, nep. :) Hope you don’t have too much snow where you are based.

    1. 653-CXK*

      I’ve been following Rush for 30+ years – I last saw them in Manchester, NH in 2012 and it was one of the best concerts I ever attended – and saw them in 1991 and 1994 in Providence, RI.

      Neil Peart was the more private members of the band (he would do interviews here and there after he retired from touring in 2015). When I saw the news yesterday that he died (from glioblastoma) it was still a huge shock.

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        I started to listen to them in 86, high school boyfriend was a huge fan. I have always enjoyed how intelligent the lyrics were that Neil wrote. His passing is a huge loss. If you have not read his books – start with Ghost Rider, while sad, it is a great book.

        1. 653-CXK*

          I read Ghost Rider quite a few years ago and it was excellent. Neil certainly knew how to tell a story, and telling his tale of healing from both losses while on a 55,000 mile motorcycle tour was enthralling.

      2. Paulina*

        I first saw Rush live in 1989 and was hooked immediately by the complex music and intelligent, thoughtful lyrics. Being a Rush fan has brought me longtime friends and seen me through some very dark days. Gutted by Neil’s passing, especially since after all the bad he’d been through, and all the good he’d brought to so many, he and his family deserved so much better.

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        You too – and thanks! So far, four days post taxol am feeling much much better.

    2. Mimmy*

      Huge congrats on the progress you’re making on treatments and that you were able to find some relief for the taxol side effects. Wishing you continued good progress!

      I’m familiar with a couple of Rush songs but don’t know much about them beyond that. So I was really surprised at how much people were grieving over Neil Peart’s passing. Not in a bad way – I just had no idea how much of a fan following they still had. One of my coworkers is a big Rush fan–if his FB posts are any indication, he’s probably going to be all gloomy on Monday. I get it…I’d be the same way if it were one of my favorite artists.

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        Thank you Mimmy and please pass on my condolences to your coworker, the community of Rush fans are indeed very sad with this news. It was not unexpected but it is still a deep sadness combined with all the other things going on in the world. I am playing Rush on youtube stream just to remind me of how great their songs are and to have good memories, focus on the positives.

    3. Kuododi*

      I saw my radiologist last Tuesday. As far as he’s concerned…I am discharged from his service with his blessings. Happy Happy Snoopy Dance . Still have a laundry list of meds and Drs to continue to see however DC from Radiology was a definite morale boost!!!

      Wednesday January 8th was the 26th wedding anniversary for DH and myself. We splurged on 2 tickets to a local dinner theater production of “Boeing Boeing.”. Food was decent but the play itself was hysterical. I highly recommend attending for anyone who finds a production in their area. Blessings to you all and Best wishes for a peaceful New Year.

      1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

        OMG Kuododi – this is GREAT News! I have not heard of Boeing Boeing theatre – will look it up. I am SO glad you splurged and celebrated and are off to a good start to 2020. :) Happy anniversary, as well. Blessings for a continued good year and more fun dinner theatre, too. Cheers!

        1. Kuododi*

          I hadn’t heard about the play either…looked up the title and it dates back to the days of Tony Curtis. He played the lead in the movie version with Jerry Lewis playing the best buddy. Essentially the plot is about a man who lives in Paris trying to juggle 3 fiancees at once. (All three ladies are flight attendants on International flights.). The problem starts when one of the ladies shows up at the same time as the other. Then all three are at the apartment at the same time as the male lead. (A big snowball of chaos and hijinks). I hope you get to see the production in theatre. (Great mindless fun!). Blessings Kuododi

  10. Elle*

    As a non-British person living in the U.K. I am already so tired about hearing about Harry and Meghan.

    Not really annoyed at them (I have no interest in the royal family one way or the other) but the endless coverage on the news (surely there are more important things for the front page?) and the people arguing over them. People on both the ‘support’ and ‘oppose’ camps can be equally obnoxious and it just NEVER ENDS.


    1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I KNOW. UGH.

      I really don’t care about their lives at all except in the very vaguest sense of wishing them well. I don’t understand why there has to be so damn much coverage about them, and every trivial little gesture. But I feel that way about all celebrity gossip. It is beyond boring to me so I just cannot fathom why there have to be so many articles about their decision to do something else with their lives.

          1. nep*

            Of course I can’t know anything about what they’re like, but I do get a good vibe from both of them. It would be horrible to have one’s every move dissected and reported on. I say, go Meghan and Harry. Do you.

          2. I Heart JavaScript*

            I went to the same high school and had several teachers in common with Meghan, though we never overlapped. The teachers with whom I’m still in touch universally say what a nice, smart, caring, and passionate young woman she was. They talk about how much time she spent volunteering, helping her fellow classmates, and how she consistently acted like a model for the school’s motto (“women of great heart and right conscience”).

            So, yeah, I tend to think they’re probably very nice, caring people.

            1. tangerineRose*

              That’s good to hear.

              After her father trashed her in the media and then complained that she was distant to him, I figured he was the one with the problem. Who does that?

    2. Daphne*

      As a British person in the UK, I am also sick of it! The papers obviously needed to run with something else other than Brexit.

    3. AnonyNurse*

      I am fascinated by it. Not by the couple. But that “royalty” is actually A THING.

      It seems absurd to me that people are still born into families expected to act as figureheads of their nation and church. It’s … just so weird.

      All the coverage does seem to prove their point. It’s my second worst nightmare to be in the spotlight like that (after bees — the most scary thing).

      1. Erykah Badu*

        I feel the same way. I kept reading the articles to understand what the scandal was about and just didn’t get it.

        1. Anon question*

          I read a couple articles and kept thinking, Isn’t this what Princes Charles and William wanted? To reduce the numbers of the official royal family? So why are they upset they’re getting what they want?

          Or is it similar to “You can’t quit, you’re fired,” and they’re upset about that?

          1. Miss Is Not My First Name*

            I doubt they are actually upset with the quitting aspect… That will just be the media stirring the pot.

            They’ll probably be a bit hacked off at the lack of a heads up about the announcement. Which I think is understandable- wouldn’t you want advance notice of a media circus?

            1. No Name Left*

              Apparently the Queen shot down all prior meeting attempts to discuss possible new roles for them so they took the matter in their own hands with their one-sided announcement.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I suspect by “reduce the numbers” he meant his aunts & uncles &their children — not his own.

        2. university minion*

          Pure conjecture here, but I think that perhaps Harry and Meghan were expected to stay working/senior until the Cambridge kids grew up. There’s a bit of an age gap now between the Cambridges and the next grandchild (excluding the York sisters), Lady Louise. If Princess Anne or Prince Charles aren’t blessed with their mother’s health/longevity genes, they’ll have a tough time handling all the engagements with the current group minus the Sussexes. Lady Louise is joining her mother for some engagements, but it’ll be several more years before she can solo, if that’s in the cards for her. I don’t see the York sisters being asked to take a more senior role.

      2. EinJungerLudendorff*

        They’re basically still around through sheer societal momentum.
        While the royal houses were still quite powerful ~100 years ago, most of them got gradually curtailed or thrown out through revolutions or foreign powers.

        The ones still around are mostly in countries without major societal breakdowns that were both powerless and popular enough to not be worth the conflict of removing.
        That, and humans generally like stability and people they are familiar with.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Meghxit is a nice break from Brexit? This might trail off once the novelty wears off. At least I hope so!

    5. londonedit*

      As a British person living in the UK I am also sick of hearing about it. They can do what they want with their lives, and I cannot believe the irony of the press being in utter fury and outrage about it when their behaviour is the main reason Harry and Meghan have taken this decision. The tabloid press is appalling.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is how I feel about it. I’m in full support of their decision after seeing all the nastiness directed at Meghan.

    6. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      The government quietly did away with several valuable rights this week (including our membership of Erasmus, and reuniting refugee children with their parents). Reported bottom of page 12 if that.

      “Millennial gives notice at job he isn’t needed for, never wanted, and attracts abuse for, in favour of supporting multiple NPOs and protecting the mental health and wellbeing of his wife and child (and himself)” shouldn’t even be news. But it turns out Britain as a nation is far more racist than even Brexit showed us.

      Or at least our press is. And they are PISSED about the upcoming court cases.

      1. PX*

        Thanks for reminding me to set up my donation for helprefugees.org ; when I saw the election result I was like, welp – guess I’ll need to increase where I donate… :/

    7. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m only finding it interesting by looking at how the Firm is responding to Harry and Meghan making the most sensible decision two people can in that situation to how they responded to the situation with Prince Andrew. If the last year has shown anything it’s how the monarchy isn’t fit for purpose and I would love to no longer have to hear about any of them but there is such a deep-rooted general fascination with the Royal Family that, unfortunately, the coverage is going to continue for a while longer.

      I mean, it’s 23 years this year since Diana died and she’s been in the tabloids on a frequent basis over the years.

      1. I Heart JavaScript*

        To me, the continuing Princess Diana coverage proves that no matter what they do to live private lives, they’re still going to be hounded by the press and need security for years to come. I really feel for them. And it makes me a lot more sympathetic to their financial situation (continuing to keep income from Prince Charles, for example), given that they’re going to need intense security to keep the tabloids and crazies away, even if they’re no longer senior royals.

    8. Dan*

      I never actually cared enough to try and understand the obsession with the royal family. What actually got me to click a link was the subheading about Meghan and Harry becoming “financially independent” because I had no idea what that meant or what its ramifications were.

      But the “stories” about “Britain being divided” over the couple’s choice? Oh hell no. If they want to become private citizens and live a life outside of the spotlight, they ought to have that choice. The idea that a person should be “forced” to be a subject of public scrutiny against their will is a bit asinine if you ask me.

      1. londonedit*

        Rest assured that Britain is not ‘divided’ over this – that’s a tabloid fantasy. People are talking about it, sure, but it’s not the subject of mass pearl-clutching unless you’re the actual Daily Mail. In general we in Britain are far less interested in the Royal Family than our press makes out.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I was in London the day Charlotte was born (I spent most of the day buried in tchotchkes and cabinet cards in Portobello Road). There were two distinct reactions: first, I over heard people on the tube moaning “Great, another royal,” and second, the young women at the candy counter in Fortnum & Mason were squealing, “WE HAVE A PRINCESS!!!” So I guess a few people were excited, lol.

          I’m not a Royal aficionado, but I do enjoy the pictures the family themselves share of the kids. Archie and Charlotte especially look like they’re full of sass.

      2. Jem One*

        As I Brit, I don’t think any reasonable person is bothered about them wanting to quit (the Daily Mail and their ilk are a whole different class who we won’t get into!) However, quite a few people are annoyed about the statements on their new website, specifically the bit about “working towards financial independence”. On their website they say they are giving up the sovereign grant, which only accounts for about 5% of their income. They still plan to keep the Duchy of Cornwall funds from Charles, which is the other 95%, plus the mansion they get from the Queen (for free) plus the state-paid-for security. All while saying they’re going to step back from being Royal.

        If they don’t want to be Royal any more, then I have no problem with that. In fact, I completely understand. But to say that they don’t want to be royal, yet simultaneously say that they’re keeping the mansion, the security, and the income from Duchy, all of which they only get BECAUSE they are royal, was never going to go over well. And to expect all of those perks without properly consulting the people who pay for them – the Queen, Charles, and ultimately Britain as a whole – makes them seem very rude and entitled.

        Harry and Meghan have approximately £20 million through Harry’s inheritance and Meghan’s acting work – they could be financially independent today, if they wanted to be, and live a far, far more comfortable life than the vast majority of us could ever dream of achieving. To pretend otherwise is insulting to every British citizen who is currently terrified of losing the NHS and is relying on food banks to feed themselves and their family (both of which are HUGE issues in the UK right now). What Harry and Meghan mean is that they don’t have enough money to live the lifestyle that they want, and they seem to expect everyone else to continue subsidising it until they can sufficiently monetize the royal status that they’re rejecting.

        I, like a lot of Brits, am very conflicted about them. The way the media has treated Meghan is abominable and, as a Brit, I’m ashamed of it. But equally, I feel that the way they’ve have handled their step down is incredibly entitled and alienating. Do I think they deserve the racist abuse? Never. Do I think they are a pair of arrogant twerps? Very much so.

        1. Dan*

          Thanks for the cliff notes, much appreciated and very understandable. Reddit’s AITA (Am I the Asshole) would declare this an “ESH” (Everyone sucks here.)

          I totally get what you’re saying about the “financially independent” bit. Geeze.

    9. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      A friend of mine helped by putting this in terms of “[she doesn’t] like to criticize other people’s fandoms.” With that in mind, I can file it with all the stories about the local football team and go on to read the something else, or click through to the crossword puzzle.

    10. LDN Layabout*

      I’m sick of it, especially since the two extremes are ‘NASTY LADY WHO WE DEFINITELY HAVEN’T BEEN HORRIFICALLY RACIST TO (we have) DARES LEAVE’ and ‘YAAASSSS GET IT ESCAPE YOU TWO CRAZY DIAMONDS’ instead of ‘we shouldn’t even have a royal family, but if you want to leave, then give up all the fun stuff as well as the duties.’

    11. Overeducated*

      As a USian I’ve been enjoying it as what seems like a relatively insignificant and yet dramatic distraction from the world literally being on fire.

    12. Emily San*

      The royal family could have avoided this whole thing. Meghan is Wallace Simpson 2.0:

      Both are/were previously married American actresses who were with other people when they met their royal husbands. Both have husbands who are head over heels for them while their feelings are more muted (it was well known that Wallace was unhappy in her marriage and only married Edwards out of obligation after he abdicated and Harry appears to be way more into Meghan than she is into him).

      If Harry had been removed from the line of succession like Edward was, none of this would have happened.

      I am sick of hearing about it too and as a Canadian I really hope my taxes do not go towards funding them in any way. It is bad enough the rest of the royals cost us.

        1. Emily San*

          If they remained members of the royal family, the RCMP (Canada’s national police force) would be required to provide a 24/7/365 security detail for them. The funding for that security would be paid for with our tax dollars and cost millions. Whereas if they were private citizens, which they are not now under their current plan, they would have to pay for it themselves. I have no objection to them living here at all. But I don’t want my tax dollars to pay for it and everyone I know feels the same way.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I really liked “Megxit” too.

        I am not really a royalist, however it is funny to see that all the tabloids who were furious at the “Sussexit” (no, it isn’t as good is it?) were the ones full of stories about the rift between William and Harry and why Kate and Meghan aren’t the best of friends.

      2. I Heart JavaScript*

        Can we not call Meghan Wallace Simpson 2.0?

        For one, Wallace was a fascist and a Nazi sympathizer and Meghan is a bi-racial woman of African descent. That alone is offensive enough to avoid the comparison.

        For anther, Wallace’s marriage to the Queen’s uncle was her third marriage in a time when a single divorce was considered a scandal. Meghan has been divorced once in a society where divorce is commonplace.

        For a third, Wallace was widely considered by her contemporaries as a nasty social climber who never did a real day’s work in her life. Meghan had a successful career that she gave up for Harry and was also an active campaigner for women’s rights and social justice.

        I went to the same High School as Meghan (6 years apart — we never overlapped) and the teachers I respect the most (the ones who were passionately committed to social justice, volunteering, and bettering the community) have all told me personally just how wonderful of a pupil and young woman she was. One of these teachers was the kind of ex-nun who would chain herself to nuclear power plants and wouldn’t say it if she didn’t believe it with her whole heart.

        So this is to say, I think the comparison between Meghan and Wallace is offensive on multiple levels and that a lot of the negative feeling toward her is caused by the toxic press coverage and not by her character.

    13. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

      As a Canadian living in the province they’re visiting (I think they’re in BC?) I definitely sympathize.

  11. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

    OK so a wierd thing happened to me this week.

    Tiny bit of geographical background: I live in a sort of apartment complex which has a series of two-story buildings connected to each other, with a small parking lot. It is separated from the main road by a hedge, and there is a little cut-through path from the parking lot to the road on one end. It is a little bit secluded but only runs for about 10 feet.

    The other day I walked out the door on the way to work and could see the top of a man’s head, and it looked like he was urinating into the hedge. I exclaimed out loud (but not yelling at all, he probably couldn’t hear me) something like “man, do you have to do that in front of my house?” My assumption was that he was a commuter who couldn’t hold it until he got to the station up the road. The guy saw me and took off toward the main road, so I just carried on toward the cut-through. Then he turned around and came back, then ran right past me and into the apartment complex behind me.

    As he ran past I realized he was completely naked from the waist down.

    No idea what that was all about.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Uf sounds like a flasher. Are you sure he didn’t know you were there? Keep an eye out and if he shows again doing anything indecent I’d call the police.
      Keep safe :)

    2. Anon Here*

      He probably thought it was funny to flash you as “revenge” for your comment. Maybe someone dared him to do it. Someone else in the car or a friend he was texting. That’s the most logical explanation I can think of.

      Explanations aside, I would consider warning other people at the complex. “Someone urinated on the hedge and then ran towards the building half naked. Stay safe!”

      I’d be concerned about any kids who live there, and also what else he might do. You all should keep an eye out for him.

      1. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

        The most logical explanation I can think of is he was on drugs and his mind was divorced from reality.
        I once saw a guy who was high as **** taste a dead bird. As in a bird run over in the road.

    3. pcake*

      Not quite as icky as yours, but it reminded me.

      I was living in the Hollywood Hills about twenty years ago in a nice, fairly upscale house neighborhood – the area they shot parts of The Closer, I believe. I lived in one of the very few apartment for blocks. I was out running with my dog at 3 am when I noticed a man running the other way – totally naked except for his running shoes and socks, his junk bouncing jauntily. He gave me a friendly, neighborly wave, yelled “Hi!”, and ran by. I smiled and waved, but felt jumbled up. I’ve seen naked men before, at nude beaches among other places, but not on a public street.

      Turned out he owned a home in the area, which meant he made good money, he apparently ran naked several times a week around that time, and we simply hadn’t coincided before. But that first time seemed absolutely surreal! At least he wasn’t urinating…

  12. Staci*

    I just want to say that after reading this column for years I’ve JUST discovered how awesome AAM’s book recommendations can be. After having emergency hernia surgery on Christmas day, I’ve finished “Severance”, The Banker’s Wife”, “My Year of Rest and Relaxation”, and “The Leftovers”, and just started “Do not Become Alarmed”. Thank you so much Alison for this awesome public service. In other news, does anyone have experience on when it’s truly safe to start doing abdominal and weight exercises at the gym again after a hernia? I am walking a lot but I don’t want to screw it up by pushing too hard too soon!! (Obvs I am following my doctor’s advice but would like some ideas from readers who’ve been through it for getting back into shape.)

    1. copier queen*

      No advice re: exercise, but the Alison’s book recommendation on today’s post (“Such a Fun Age”) is a good one, too! I couldn’t put it down.

  13. Beancat*

    I got married on Monday!! It went off without a hitch at all and so many people on the ship have been recognizing us and wishing us well all week. We’ve loved our week off and though I’m trying not to think about it I don’t want to go home. I’m just trying to focus on taking time with my husband. :)

    The ship has been a bit rocky though. And I can’t take dramamine or anything with my current medications, so it’s been a bit of a rough trip. Otherwise though we’ve been very happily enjoying everything!

    1. TimeTravelR*

      Best wishes for a wonderful life together!
      I have heard that applying pressure at the inside of the wrists can help. Worth a try, I suppose!!

      1. Beancat*

        Thank you so much!

        I’ve actually been using my seabands with mixed luck. Sometimes the movement is just a bit too much!

        1. JKP*

          I don’t know if they have these on the ship or any ports you’re stopping at, but what worked really really well for me was the estim pressure point bands (Reliefband was the brand). It provides a constant electrical current to those same pressure points on your wrists which work better than only the pressure of the seabands. It just feels like a small tingle you barely notice, and you can adjust the intensity. One battery worked for me for the whole 1 week cruise. When I had to take it off to take a shower, I could feel a huge difference in how I felt with the band off vs on.

    2. fposte*

      Congratulations! Do the staff have any recommendations on the seasickness? I would think they’d be well stocked with stuff like ginger tea.

      1. Beancat*

        Thank you!!

        They’ve mostly recommended the medicine which I unfortunately can’t take. I did snag some crackers from the buffet though :)

    3. AnonEMoose*

      Congratulations! Mint also helps an upset stomach…if you can find mints in a gift shop or something, those might also help keep things a bit more settled.

    4. Jackalope*

      So happy for you! I’m also a newlywed so appreciate hearing from someone else who also still has that giddy sparkle about their marriage. I hope you have many long happy years together!

      1. Beancat*

        I can’t stop smiling giddily when I get to call him my husband :)

        Thank you, and same to you as well!!

        1. Jackalope*

          I will confess that I still sometimes make up sentences only tangentially related to the conversation just so I can refer to “my husband”. So yay for giddiness!

    5. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious*

      Congrats on the wedding. Curious what you totally spent as my son plans to get married and do a cruise as well.

      1. Beancat*

        Thank you!

        Overall for the cruise we spent about 2000, and the wedding package was about the same. The big thing was with our cruise line, the license that makes the marriage legal as opposed to just ceremonial is about 900 dollars. We went with the smallest package as it was just the two of us (though that package does cover up to 10 guests and includes quite a bit like a cake, an hour of photography, and dinner at a specialty restaurant) and we had to pay 800 dollars to get an extra hour of photography plus a flash drive with all of our photos (as opposed to picking and choosing photos we liked and paying extra; this way we got all 180).

        I highly recommend it. People were so wonderful and treated us so well – staff as well as other cruisers! We were randomly stopped all week and wished well because people recognized us.

        I hope that helps! :)

    6. CupcakeCounter*

      Probably too late now but stay towards the center of the ship as much as possible. When outside, less motion towards the rear (stern) of the ship.
      And congratulations!

  14. TimeTravelR*

    I recently got a new sewing machine… YAY ME! Nothing super fancy but light years beyond what I had. Last night, I re-learned the lesson I have to keep re-learning… don’t sew when you’re tired. This morning I have to tear out the front yoke of a skirt.
    Anyone else like to sew? What you have made lately that was fun, challenging, unique?
    My favorite stitch on my machine is the overcast so I can finish all my raw edges (I don’t have a serger).

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’m procrastinating starting the quilting on a quilt for my aunt at this moment. Sewing machine on … but reading AAM instead.
      Been doing a lot of sashiko inspired hand sewing lately, but also finding myself making a lot of bags and other “vessels” (e.g. mason jar cozies and little cloth baskets.)
      Will be doing a rocking chair slipcover soon. That’s going to take concentration. I hope it turns out ok.

      1. TimeTravelR*

        I am also procrastinating with AAM! But really about to go up and sew. Also want to make Joey pouches to send to Australia.

    2. Queer Earthling*

      I sew a little bit and I break every machine I try to use (true story) so I just hand-sew. This is fine because my favorite thing to make is doll clothes–I collect Asian ball-jointed dolls and the clothing for them can cost as much as clothing for [i]me[/i]. I’ve been working on a Viking-inspired tunic dress + apron dress outfit for mine, because I wanted to go in a more fantasy direction with most of my collection (and because then if I screw up I can just be like “IT’S RUSTIC.”). I have the underdress done and I’m pretty pleased with it, but need to find time to do the overdress.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        YAY for bjds! I hope your Viking outfit turns out great! Maybe I’ll see it on Den of Angels (dot com).

        1. Queer Earthling*

          Thanks! I don’t do DoA (I have some off-topic dolls and stuff) but I appreciate it anyway :D

    3. Ugh.*

      I do. The past few months, I’ve been focused on simple mending. For various reasons (I’m looking at you, anxiety and depression), I haven’t had the emotional bandwidth to take on a new project.

      I’m slowly getting better. I’m thinking of starting on a denim jacket. I ought to be done with that by spring.

    4. Dr. Anonymous*

      Today, so help me, I’m finishing a Sapporo coat (from Papercut Patterns). I had to wait just a little because they released a correction after I cut out the fashion fabric but before I cut out the lining. Just lining insertion and final pressing to do today.

    5. teacup handles inc*

      I make a lot of clothes, but I’m currently procrastinating on a cover for the couch. it’ll be removeable for washing purposes – so not a true upholster job – but I have no pattern and I do want it to look nice. Maybe I’ll start next weekend ….

    6. Fikly*

      I am a lapsed quilter. Some day I am sure I will pick it up again! It’s been taken over completely by cross stitching.

    7. Please Don't*

      Made a t-shirt quilt for my daughter to give to her brother. (Her t-shirts from his college). This is not meant to be done by non-quilters on a regular machine. But that’s what I did and with a minor breaking of the machine. Came out pretty good but was a lot of work to keep even. Makes the $250-300 I’ve seen charged to make one from your shirts very reasonable. I need to buy a new machine as mine is 40 years old.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I …. actually hate sewing.

      But I did make all my skating clothes except for two outfits, one I bought and one that was given to me. Figuring out what I wanted it to look like was fun! I just didn’t enjoy the actual sewing part. But that may have been because I was working with stuff like stretch velvet and sparkly costume crap that had to be hand-sewn because my machine hated it.

      I don’t have the machine anymore — I donated it when I moved. I might get another one someday, so I can make basic home stuff like placemats, etc. So I saved all my thread and some trim and stuff. And a few patterns, in case I take up skating again. There are a couple of dresses I could make over.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I think it was mostly the fabric, which is difficult to work with. But it was fun picking it out at the fabric store along with trim. Plus it’s hard for me to sew in a straight line, and I get frustrated when the machine doesn’t work right and I don’t know what to do. It likes to eat velvet and there’s a lot of lint, and then you have to clean it.

          One thing that really helped was using Kwik-Sew patterns. They’re very easy with excellent directions. You can also mix and match different bodices and skirts to make new dresses. And the patterns are on very robust paper so I could use them repeatedly without worrying about tearing.

    9. IT Squirrel*

      I sew on a 1943 (approx.) Singer that I inherited from my Grandmother – it does a straight stitch that I can make a-bit-shorter or a-bit-longer and that’s all the variety I get, so having overcast stitch sounds very exciting to me!
      It gets used to make a lot of costumes, I did a version of Valkyrie (from the MCU) which involved lots of pieces all layered to make the armour effect, and most recently a Faun outfit with a full pair of furry trousers . On the simpler side of things I’ve made a messenger bag for a friend and many a cushion cover over the years…

      I want to try making more clothes, so I think I might try a coat next. I saw the cutest fox duffle coat I NEEDED IMMEDIATELY but it was for a toddler so I need to scale it up to adult size! Or I have one that’s a copy of an Assasins Creed coat which I need to tailor to fit me and put a nice lining in. So those are going to be my challenges this year…

    10. Kay*

      I’ve sewn clothing in the past. I made myself a shirtdress that I wore out completely and made my sons pajamas and shorts. About 25 years ago I taught myself to piece and quilt and now, other than the occasional mending, I only make quilts.
      I have 3 quilts to make/finish for my youngest granddaughters and will be working on those after I get tax bookwork for the farm done.
      Have fun with your new hobby.

  15. Daphne*

    Tips on interacting with in-laws you don’t really gel with?

    My boyfriend lives at home with his dad to save money and recover from an operation, don’t have grounds to complain here because I also live with my parents to save money and move out. However when I go round to see boyfriend, his dad is ALWAYS around, I don’t get his humour, he’s going deaf so I always have to really simplify my conversation with him but most of the time it’s responded with “WHAT DID YOU SAY DEAR?”

    I’m lucky where at mine, the boyfriend gets a polite “nice to see you” then we all retreat to our own corners of the house.

    1. Washi*

      I’m a little confused – do you and your boyfriend only hang out in common areas of his house? Does his dad follow you to boyfriend’s bedroom? Why is his dad around for the entire visit?

      1. Daphne*

        He has limited mobility so tends to hang out in the living room, where the main entrance to the house leads into, so whenever boyf and I say “ok we’re heading upstairs now” we get a comment like “oh so you’re leaving me all alone then etc etc”. He won’t come into the bedroom or anything like that. With boyfriend’s recovery he can’t move around a lot either so when we’re all in the living room it’s like we have to camp out there for a while.

        1. Washi*

          Another question – how does your boyfriend feel about this? It sounds like going straight up to his room is an option, so when you stay down in the living room is it because your boyfriend feels guilty leaving his dad? Or because the three of you hanging out is fun for him?

          It sounds like right now the dynamic is that when Dad is around, you’re kind of trying to have your typical conversations with your boyfriend, and he’s spoiling it. I think everyone would be better served if you came to an agreement with your boyfriend about what percentage of visits are spent in the living room, and then for those visits, think of them not as dates with your boyfriend, but as socializing with Dad time. Tips for speaking to hard of hearing people apply here, if you haven’t already been doing this: make sure you’re facing him when you speak, don’t cover your mouth/mumble, speak at a louder volume, and repeat as necessary. I wonder if some of the humor mismatch is that he’s not totally following the conversation and his jokes then seem weird/out of place?

          I think the key is that you should only agree to whatever amount of living room visits will not leave you grumpy and resentful. I made the mistake early in my marriage of going alone with way too much in-law stuff while being secretly annoyed about it all. Visits went much better when I had been clear with my husband about what I could handle (one thing per month) and then really giving it my all for that one visit, instead of counting the minutes until it was over.

          1. Not A Manager*

            Completely agree with all of this. Dad obviously isn’t going to let you use the common spaces as private spaces (which some people would do, but he’s not, so that’s okay too). Since that’s the case, you need to use the common spaces as common spaces, and include him in your conversation and attention.

            When it’s time for just the two of you, cheerfully excuse yourselves. The best response to “so you’re leaving me all alone here” is “yep! we sure are. See you in a few hours.” It would be kind if you would go out of your way to say goodbye/spend a moment before you leave, as well. He wants to be treated as a host and not as a roommate.

          2. fposte*

            Yeah, sounds like Boyfriend’s dad is just reasonably living his life in his own house. Another possibility would be to find a deliberate activity, like a board game or something, that you three can do together and that can provide some focus.

          3. Jackalope*

            This may or may not help but I have a high-pitched voice which is harder for most people with hearing issues to make out. I find that taking time to enunciate helps (not like the obnoxiously slow and exaggerated version but I tend to talk quickly and slur my words so slowing down a few beats per minute makes a big difference). I also try to pitch my voice a bit lower, which may or may not work but I’ve found it helps.

            1. valentine*

              I also try to pitch my voice a bit lower, which may or may not work but I’ve found it helps.
              I’ve read that lower, not louder, helps.

            2. Jack Russell Terrier*

              Yes slow … down … and … speak … clearly … in … low … pitched … voice. It will take his brain that bit longer to process what you’re saying – that makes a difference with my mum. Is he open to hearing aids or an amplifier?

            3. willow19*

              And let him see your mouth so he can lip-read a bit. All these things (slow, low, lip-read) help with my ancient dad.

    2. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious*

      I recommend moving out immediately before you trash your relationship with your in laws. All takes is one misunderstood comment and then boom you’re done for.
      Ask me how I know.

    3. Pony tailed wonder*

      I am living that right now. My guy lives with his mom. She is handicapped and medically fragile and he needs to be there for her. She refuses to go into care and she has declared bankruptcy so options are limited. I love her so it isn’t awful but I do think it is getting to the point where it would be a healthier choice to be in a specialized care facility. I just have to remember that I am sometimes the only person other than her son that she sees all week and she is a very sociable woman and she wants social interaction. Balancing that with couple time is rough.

      1. valentine*

        she is a very sociable woman and she wants social interaction.
        Point her to adult services, a seniors’ center, and the library for activities where she can meet people, as well as any accessible transport. Consider hiring a carer so she can go on outings and become active again.

  16. matcha123*

    Can you guys help me to understand a certain personality type?
    The personality type is the one that thinks someone is, let’s say, a puppy kicker because the person in question hasn’t specifically stated that puppy kicking is wrong. The type of person that needs to hear you say something out loud to believe you.
    I have a terrible time with those types. To continue with the puppy example, let’s say there’s a news report on a puppy kicker and an acquaintance says “Kicking puppies is terrible,” and you reply saying “I wonder what leads someone to do that?” and the acquaintance reads that as you being more interested in the puppy kicker than the puppies and this means you must agree with kicking puppies and are therefore a terrible person.

    Why should I have to explicitly state that puppy kicking is wrong if I don’t engage in puppy kicking or support it?
    Does my example make sense.

    Because of the types of people I’ve described above, I can tell that I’ve left more than a few people with a bad impression, at the same time I don’t lead a puppy kicking life, so why should I have to state the obvious?

    1. Lena Clare*

      Well, if you don’t have much to do with those people who cares what they think, as long as you’re not doing anything illegal and are happy with your own moral values?

      1. matcha123*

        I would be able to if that were the case, but I prefer that people not think I am a puppy kicker. I also despise the whole idea that someone should have to repeatedly and explicitly state they are for or against something.

          1. Lena Clare*

            Hit post too soon. Sorry. My point is that you can let it go or not, but you can’t really change what they think, so you have to weigh having them think one thing against you versus the annoyance of having to tell them that’s not the case, and which one you’d prefer less.
            Or find a way to mind it less.

    2. Asenath*

      Life’s too short to worry about the opinions of people who mis-judge you based on their own personal (and unreasonable) criteria. If they are actually in your presence and accuse you of being a puppy-kicker, you might correct them once “I didn’t say I approved of kicking puppies; I said I wondered why people kicked puppies” but in general you can just dismiss them as being obviously unable to understand simple sentences and therefore holding invalid opinions and not worry about them. You also don’t really need to correct them even once if you’re tired of stating the obvious; just stare at them in disbelief and move on.

    3. Lehigh*

      To me it sounds like you’re talking to someone who is feeling distressed about puppies being kicked, and you’re coming off as cold and cerebral about it, which is off-putting. I doubt they (most of them) actually think you kick puppies.

      If someone’s injured or killed a dog I know and love, or if I’ve just read about a similar incident, I’m probably not going to be thrilled that you’re *so intellectual and above emotion,* which is in my experience how it often comes across. Like, sure it’s an interesting thought problem, but in that moment I don’t really care what makes bad people tick, I just want them to stop kicking the animals I love.

      If you do want to connect to these people, it may be largely a matter of 1) acknowledgement and 2) tone. Like, “Isn’t it horrible? What could make someone do that?” can be very different from, “Fascinating, isn’t it? I wonder what makes someone want to do that?”

      1. matcha123*

        I’ll try to keep this in mind. I guess I feel like kicking puppies is such a bad thing that I shouldn’t need to vocalize my anger at a puppy kicker. Then I feel frustrated when the other party thinks I don’t care or that I don’t understand the severity of puppy kicking, especially since I am also angry.
        Maybe I don’t like it when people want me to feel the same as them when they are feeling something, I don’t know. Now I have something more to ponder…

        1. valentine*

          coming off as cold and cerebral about it […] you’re *so intellectual and above emotion,* which is in my experience how it often comes across.
          What matcha123 describes is a common exchange. If you think you’re on the same page with people, where puppy kicking is an extreme wrong we will never engage in, there’s no need to state it. If someone breaks dishes when angry, I’m not going to bother saying it’s over-the-top, dangerous, and expensive. I’m not going to be visibly upset about either, either, because that would leave me uselessly depleted.

          I prefer that people not think I am a puppy kicker.
          You’re playing the game. Leave them to it. It’s like when antiabortionists say, “Why do you hate babies?!” and supporters of reproductive rush to bang on about how much they actually love babies. You’re letting them set the goalposts. New year, new friends/fam?

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Sometimes a “yeah, that sucks” or “whatta jerk” will cover more ground than a thousand words.

          Here’s something my wise friend pointed out to me. People like to find points in common with other people. When relationships are new, they tend to especially look for common values and common interests.

          Let’s say you don’t like kitten droppers either. (who does, I mean, really…) To under score your concern about animals, you might say, “I find puppy kickers very upsetting along with kitten droppers.” You have basically said “I don’t like animal abuse” twice and some people need to hear certain things several times before it sinks in. Redundancy is helpful.

          OTH, try not to dive to deep into initial conversations (the analytical side, possibly). Let the person you are talking with lead the conversation to the depth that they wish to have.

          Deeper conversation:
          Them: I hate puppy kickers.
          You: Ditto for me and kitten droppers also.
          Them: I read an interesting article about animal abusers the other day..
          You: [ears perk up, you are engaged in the conversation now as this person has moved to your level of interest/understanding in this topic] Oh, I read a lot of stuff like that, what did the article say? [This signals to the other person that you are willing to engage in a deeper conversation.]

          Introductory conversation probably searching for common ground:
          Them: I hate puppy kickers.
          You: Yes, these stories are very upsetting to me also.
          Them: I really hate puppy kickers.
          You: Yep, I agree.

          At this point the person is just repeating themselves and may or may not talk about the subject at length.

          One thing I watch for is some people just have to have something to be upset over. If it’s not puppy kicking, it’s gorilla bashing. They have to find something in the news or in our society that stirs them up.
          Why. Well sometimes it is because this is how they get energy to go through their day. If they are not ticked off about something then they can’t move about and do life. This is probably not your type of person, it really isn’t my type either. I don’t need more outrage, I am good here, thanks. I am more interested in talking about solutions and other practical aspects. And this could be where you are at. It’s okay to keep people at “acquaintance level” and not move them to “friend level”.

          1. matcha123*

            Good points. I love digging into the reasons for “why” and some people don’t like that. Will do my best to hold back my inclination to dig until I’ve gotten to know someone better.

      2. pancakes*

        Point taken about tone, but being performatively irritated with someone who doesn’t kick puppies for not denouncing puppy-kicking has nothing whatsoever to do with trying to get people who *do* kick puppies to stop. It’s simply not an effective way to do that. The only effect it can have is to give someone who isn’t confronting an actual puppy-kicker a misplaced sense of having done something about it. To be clear I’m not saying that person ought to go out and find a puppy-kicker to confront — I’m just saying they’re being unrealistic about what self-reassurance can and cannot accomplish.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I also think it’s a cheap rhetorical move sometimes, especially on the internet. It happens in AAM threads, even–“I think it could be hard to be co-worker A.” “You don’t care about co-worker B!”

          I also have found it to come out of a very divisive impulse sometimes, and I really dislike that approach, so I generally am not going to worry about changing the mind of somebody who demonizes at the drop of a hat.

    4. Disco Janet*

      This made me think of a quote I was recently discussing with some students. “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” There are many people who agree with this – perhaps you’re talking to people who fee this way, and your responses are coming across as neutral?

      1. matcha123*

        I have heard that quote before. In my case, I think some people are expecting an even highly level of performative outrage than I am comfortable with. So if I say that the most recent new about puppy kicking was terrible, they might reply that it’s horrible and get angry at me for not expressing outrage or protesting in the streets. In those situations, how extreme my outrage at the puppy kickers is is also questioned.

    5. Anon Here*

      I know what you mean. When people say, “I’m vegan!” and you reply, “That’s great!” and they assume that means you’re not vegan and proceed to lecture you. Using a recent example from my own life. These were situations where just walking away was not an option. Friday-ish situations, which was why I didn’t feel like talking about my own food preferences.

      I also tend to be that person who raises intellectual questions that people interpret as supportive of something when I really just want to explore the topic. “I read that puppy kicking can be related to certain neuroanatomical abnormalities, but the research is inconclusive. What do you think? Should we be probing the neurobiology of criminal behavior or just leave it at face value as morally wrong?” “What! You just said that puppy kicking is ok if you have a brain disease! Puppy kicking is NOT ok! I’ll never speak to you again!”

      Different people think differently. That’s all I can say. I think you just have to be careful about how you phrase things if you’re not sure how the person will take it. Also, some people find thoughtful questions to be intimidating and will react defensively.

      Also, I get that this is not about caring about what people think about you in the abstract. This is about getting along with the people in your life, which has obvious consequences.

      You might need to just smile and nod and then write about your real thoughts and publish that writing. There just isn’t always an audience for more cerebral topics of conversation.

    6. Not A Manager*

      CW: Tongue-in-cheek hypotheticals about stereotypical harm to animals. (Seriously, I know some people have a personal response to that.)

      I wonder if some of this has to do with the history of why OTHER PEOPLE have, in the past, tended to comment about the puppy kicker and not the puppy. Since I know this is a hypothetical example.

      In your example, it’s odd to jump to the conclusion that you are a secret puppy kicking excuser, or that you tend to blame the puppy, or that you don’t believe in puppy kicking culture. Or perhaps that you believe that #allkickersmatter, or that reports of rampant puppy kicking are grossly overblown. But in the case of lots of other times that one person could behave badly toward another person, comments about the motivations of the bad actor do TEND to go hand-in-hand with a lot of these other beliefs and mindsets. So in those cases, talking about the motivations of the perpetrator before you condemn the action really could be a signal that you don’t think the action is so bad.

      1. Meepmeep*

        Yup. I’ve seen that happen with regards to an issue I have personal involvement in. Generally, on that issue, when someone does not clearly signal their disapproval of kicking puppies, but rather starts dissecting just why someone may be kicking puppies, it means that they are in sympathy with the puppy kickers. That’s the way this has played out 100% of the time in my experience discussing this issue. I no longer engage in these discussions for that reason.

        This also goes for token expressions of “Oh, I know puppy kicking is bad, but let’s talk about and sympathize with the puppy kickers some more, because they’re totally justified in kicking some of those puppies”. Been there debated that, and it always turns out they don’t think puppy kicking is as bad as all that.

        And even the puppy-kicking restatement of this is enough to get me angry. For a sufficiently emotional issue, you may not be able to get people to engage in a calm intellectual discussion of the motivations of horrible people if they have any personal stake in the matter.

      2. Patty Mayonnaise*

        Seconding/thirding this – I suspect this is what is happening if multiple people have this reaction to LW’s talking about the motivations of the puppy kickers.

      3. matcha123*

        Hmm…I haven’t thought of that angle. But if someone has known me for some time, I assume it would be reasonable for them to know that I’m not an advocate of kicking puppies. Especially if I didn’t have a history of justifying puppy kickers. I guess that’s what gets to me, too.

        1. lasslisa*

          I think sometimes it’s really scary to discover who in your life doesn’t share your core values, and sometimes those people are really surprising. So people who have had that experience really want to confirm who in their life they weren’t mistaken about. I think a lot of people feel like the floor has been kind of pulled out from under them with respect to values we believed were common, and now aren’t sure they really do know who thinks what.

          Learning that, say, 40% of the population believe puppy kicking is a normal reaction to barking, seeing a lot of respected and reasonable-sounding people explain on national TV that it wasn’t a REAL kick because the puppy only had minor injuries, even the people who raised you and taught you “all creatures deserve love” may have exceptions in their own minds that you didn’t know about until you started to talk about it. It’s an understandable sort of paranoia and reassurance seeking, it comes from fear, and maybe you just have a more optimistic idea than them of how universal this value is.

    7. Ugh.*

      I used to be acquainted with someone just like this, only the animal in question was cats. She once made the mistake if starting with me when I had a raging case of PMS. I said, “What the Hell is wrong with you? Because I said that I’m a dog person, you think that I’d eviscerate cats with my stilettos? How bad was your reading comprehension when you took your SAT?!?!?”

    8. Managing to Get By*

      Are you sure explicitly stating you are against puppy kicking and would never kick a puppy yourself would placate this person?

      I used to date someone who had similar conversational “rules”. And once I figured it out and started explicitly stating I was against puppy kicking, he would find something else to take offense at, such as “you don’t have to say that, of course you’re against puppy kicking”. And if I pointed out that previously he had taken a lack of explicit statement to mean puppy kicking support, then I was being argumentative. Or if I was correct on a point of fact that he was repeatedly incorrect about, I “just have to be right all the time”. And if I got tired of arguing points with him, then I was too sensitive and couldn’t handle a robust conversation.

      Over time, his need to so many conversations be a bizarre competition eclipsed any good qualities he had to the point that I eventually couldn’t remember his good qualities and broke up with him. It took a while for him to believe I was serious about that too…

      1. Just Another Manic Millie*

        You took the words right out of my mouth! Except that if I got tired of arguing points with him, it did not mean that I was too sensitive. It meant that I conceded that he was right and I was wrong.

      2. matcha123*

        This sounds familiar…The people I have in mind seem determined to play around with my words and misinterpret them to fit their own personal agendas.

    9. matcha123*

      Thank you for all of the replies. Don’t know if people are still looking here or not, but I’ve got some more data points and will try to keep these in mind when I’m speaking with people.
      This is something I’ve experienced over the years from time to time online, in real life, and at work. In the moment, it’s very hard for me to reply “Of course that’s terrible,” or “Of course I respect Tiffany,” because it seems like such a weird thing to seek my agreement over. Will continue to rehearse some phrases to use in the future.

      1. lasslisa*

        Could also try just opening with a shocked expression like “oh my gosh, wow” or whatever would be plausible for you. “This guy kicked fifteen puppies!” “Jeez! How could someone do that? The heck was going through his mind?”

  17. WellRed*

    Oh crap. I woke this morning and immediately realized: I’m coming down with a cold. Aside from no energy for my big to do list, any new ideas for maybe treating or shortening duration?

    1. nep*

      I’ve gotten some relief when I take elderberry & zinc lozenges right when I feel the slightest symptom.
      Dotting peppermint oil on the forehead and cheeks always helps things drain if the head feels stuffed. (That might be more applicable later. In any case, I’m never without peppermint oil.)
      Hope you’ll be able to nip it in the bud.

    2. PX*

      Sleep. Eat well. And I have some Zicam which theoretically says it shortens colds but no idea if it actually works or not (I tend to start taking them too late).

      1. Merci Dee*

        I always keep a box of the Zicam nasal swabs on hand, and they’re fabulous. I do feel like they help to significantly shorten my symptoms, and the menthol really helps to clear and cool my sinuses.

        Actually, I don’t keep =a= box of the swabs on hand – I keep =two= on hand — one at home and one at work. I love this stuff that much.

        1. Anono-me*

          If you haven’t read the articles, please consider googleing about zinc nasal spray and its impact on some people’s sense of smell. I found the possibility link between the two to be concerning enough that I switched to zinc tablets.

    3. Claire (Scotland)*

      I use ColdZyme throat spray as soon as I feel a cold starting, and it’s been pretty effective in stopping them from coming to much. I usually feel a cold in my throat first so the throat spray is best for me – there are nasal equivalents but I didn’t find them as helpful for me.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Agreed – kill it before it takes hold. Salt water gargle, or use an antiseptic mouthwash, as often as you can bear, then plenty of preemptive fluids and rest. Be absolutely diligent about hand hygiene (including sanitizing door handles, faucets, etc) and don’t touch your face, particularly your eyes.

        Hope it passes soon and gently.

    4. aarti*

      My MIL always recommended boiling lots of ginger and garlic and drinking the broth. She swears it works!

      1. nep*

        I know people who swear by garlic. I already have enough of a foul breath problem, so I don’t want to eat garlic. (Or perhaps garlic smell would be an improvement on my normal halitosis.)
        But fresh garlic is said to have many health benefits, including nipping illness in the bud.
        Does anyone take garlic supplements? Do they make your breath or sweat stink?

      2. Nita*

        Same here! We go heavy on the onion and garlic (fresh, just cut it up and put it in soup or main course), and up the fluid intake as much as possible. It doesn’t always stop the cold in its tracks, but it works more often than not. The flavor is pretty intense but I haven’t really noticed a problem with garlic breath after meals.

    5. Misty*

      Have you ever seen those packets of vitamin C that you can mix in water?

      I swear they work. My coworkers and I start drinking them in water whenever we feel like one of us is coming down with a cold. It seems to really help. I’ve had times where I was 100% that I was getting sick and then I drank vitamin C packets once or twice a day until the symptoms went away and it did not develop into a full cold.

      1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

        Those things (if you mean things like Airborne) often work for me – while I’ve found Zicam to be completely useless. I don’t think they stop the cold dead in its tracks, but they seem to either shorten the cold’s duration or lessen the severity of the symptoms compared to when I took nothing at all.

        1. TexasRose*

          (IANA medical professional; this is simply my layperson understanding.)
          Zicam and ColdEeze are not a cure: they don’t get rid of the virus causing the cold. (Many antibiotics actively kill bacteria.)

          The zinc in ColdEeze and Zicam interrupts the virus’ ability to reproduce. Thus, the cold doesn’t get worse, and eventually your body’s immune system (or simple viral senescence) gets rid of the nasty critters already in your body.

          I have found ColdEeze to be very helpful in shortening colds from 7-10 days to about 4. I have also found that if I take ColdEeze when I first get a tickle in my ears, I seem to be less likely to get sick. (Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part; no way to know for sure.)

          My favorite symptom relief is Greek lemon chicken soup: the soup for hydration, and the lemon because I can actually taste and smell it even suffering from a cold.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Elderberry. I like Sambucol lozenges, which are elderberry and zinc. I have had a few terrible colds recently and I’m convinced they’ve helped me get over the worst more quickly than usual.

    7. Corporate Cynic*

      Tea with fresh ginger and a little powdered turmeric. Rest as much as possible to prevent it from getting too much worse. Saline solution with aloe if you’re getting stuffy. Hope that helps :-)

      1. Koala dreams*

        Ginger, lemon and honey tea is my favourite drink for colds. The ginger for feeling better in general, the lemon and honey for making a sore throat feel better.

    8. KMnO4, PhD*

      I had a good experience with the Cold-Eeze lozenges. Aside from that, rest and lots of fluids generally help.

    9. Nessun*

      Depending where you are, I recommend tea. Which is to say, tea is my go to for all things, and I’d recommend it no matter what, but specifically if you can find it, DavidsTea makes a Cold 911 tea which is excellent for colds. It has eucalyptus and juniper and orange and it tastes pretty good – I find it makes me pretty chill, helps my throat, and won’t interact if I have to add a medication.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One comment on the zinc that people are recommending. For a few of us, zinc makes our mouths hurt. Unfortunately, I tried my first one in the office, so I became the day’s topic of conversation when I had to go wash my mouth out.

    11. Elizabeth West*


      If you can’t get real chicken soup with real chicken and real chicken broth, Lipton noodle soup is my go-to when I’m sick.

      1. LPUK*

        Another vote for chicken soup – homemade by boiling chicken carcass. I make a huge pot and have it for lunch and dinner for a couple of days. Also sleep as much as I can.

    12. willow19*

      Zinc does nothing for me, but I swear by Cold Snap – Walgreens and Whole Foods generally have it, Walgreens may be in the actual pharmacy. You take it to repel the unwanted visitor before it moves in and invites its friends. (I swear, this is what the label used to say. Also that it restores your righteous chi.) I still get a little bit of the cold but it does not grab me with its claws and hang on forever.

  18. Kitkat*

    I have a mild annoyance that I think would not annoy me if I could understand where it’s coming from, and the AAM commentariat is great at explaining confusing behavior.

    I have a dear friend who I usually see about once a week. She had a baby about 6 months ago, and we’ve continued to see each other about once a week, but now I always come to her. (that part is fine.) The thing that has been slightly rubbing me the wrong way is that now she phrases ALL invitations as “if you want to see Baby, you could come over on X day.” It kind of feels like I’m being granted an audience with her baby. Who is great! But I love seeing my friend just as much as seeing her baby. She’s also very apologetic if he’s sleeping when I’m over, which I don’t really get – since I see them so regularly, it’s not a big deal to me if I miss him being awake one week.

    I’m pretty sure I don’t come off as being obsessed with the baby and not caring about her – I don’t like, brush past her to coo over the baby when I visit. In case it’s relevant, I also usually do 30-45 minutes of chores while I’m over, usually washing dishes or folding laundry, and I always bring a little bit of food for us to snack on.

    So help me – what’s up with this?

    1. university minion*

      You aren’t doing it, but I bet a lot of people are. I’m not sure if it’s uniquely American, but the way society more or less erases new moms while putting baby on a pedestal has always made me really uncomfortable. It’s all baby all the time for a lot of folks. That’s never sat well with me. Perhaps she’s simply leaning into what’s unfortunately a societal expectation.
      I would gently tell her that you’re here to see her the next time she tries to apologize or mentions “seeing the baby”.

      1. Myrin*

        I actually have the opposite problem (or, well, it’s not really a problem, but it’s a somewhat strange experience which keeps repeating itself) in that my good friend who has a one-year-old (and whom I’ll be seeing on Monday, coincidentally!) basically erased herself, to use your wording, since giving birth. “All baby all the time” is really an apt descriptor. I’ll ask her how she’s doing and she’ll answer “oh, we’re totally fine” or “we’re doing this and that!” or “[daughter] had [thing] happend this week”. And, I mean, I get that a big part of her life revolves around her child right now and I’m not bothered by learning more about her daughter, who is an absolute sweetheart, but sometimes I just sigh “ugh, gimme a break” to myself when I’m texting her.
        (I’m also, by the way, completely sure this isn’t just her giving in to society’s expectation, it fits with her personality and how she talked in other situations, but it can get really aggravating from time to time.)

        1. university minion*

          Oh my, that would get old quickly. One of my job interview pet peeves is when we ask a person, “Tell me about yourself” and they launch into a monologue about their baby/child and tell us nothing about themself. Kids are awesome, our office is super-flexible for everyone, so we have lots of parents who work here, but your kid won’t be coming to the office. Tell us about who we’d be working with!

          1. WellRed*

            This drove me crazy when I tried dating apps. What is your biggest accomplishment? What can’t you live without? “My kids” tells me nothing about you except and also, it’s kind of duh.

        2. Cat*

          Is she a stay at home mom? I’m not but I’m on maternity leave with my baby and we are kind of a unit. I could tell you about the tv I watched after she went to bed but that’s about it!

        3. Not So NewReader*

          I see this with people taking care of a very ill spouse. They erase themselves and become a “we”. But basically all I learn is how the sick spouse is doing. It can be concerning to see them lose that distinction of being a separate person. They might or might reclaim that distinction after there own hospital stay or two.

    2. PX*

      My very first thought is either that other people have phrased it that way, so thats what she’s picking up on. Or right now she feels (what I hear is a very common thing) that she is purely just a feeding machine for the baby/doesnt quite feel like an individual/has some loss of identity/everything is about the baby and she isnt as important.

      Personally I would either bring it up gently once or twice and then let it go; something like: “While its nice to see Baby, you know I’m here for you really/as well right?! ” or even explicitly ask to come over/see her when baby is not around (with Dad or asleep): “I know Baby is asleep right now, but that leaves more time for us to talk!”

      1. Kitkat*

        I feel like I’ve gotten kind of mixed vibes from her on this. On the one hand, she’s expressed how isolating it is to stay at home with the baby all day, and how she feels like other parts of her brain are kind of atrophying and her whole day revolves around feedings and naps.

        On the other hand, she’s also complained about her mom offering to watch the baby so she and her husband can do errands or go out together because “doesn’t she understand I want to spend time with my child.” So I would really hesitate to ever suggest I’d rather see her alone (and I really actually don’t mind the baby always being with us – at this age, he mainly gurgles and drools on my lap while we talk.) But I feel like part of her likes her identity being Mom now and I’m afraid of seeming like I’m criticizing that.

        1. LibbyG*

          Maybe she’s worried that she’s lousy company because she suspects that the kind of stuff that she experiences (“Baby is really into peekaboo! Object permanence!”) isn’t all that interesting to any of her friends (even other parents). So her kid is like her wingbaby, helping the visit along.

          When I was still in babyland and I wasn’t really reading anything, watching anything, working on anything, I had worries like this. Just a guess.

          1. Nita*

            I think that might be it. I’m my experience, when you have a young child, having people over nearly always involves interacting with the kid(s), and trying to have adult conversation is a fool’s errand. Just today, I was trying to talk about really intense stuff with a friend and had to interrupt the conversation several times to handle potty breaks, food spills and an incident with a bedsheet snagged in a kitchen drawer. I’m afraid that it will be a long time before people who come to see me will be able to see just me, without spending most of the visit “seeing the baby.”

    3. Anon for baby things*

      I agree with university minion and PX that this is probably the attitude she’s getting from a lot of other people and she’s transferring it to you.

      When I got pregnant and had that “baby bump” that people coo over, my mom said, “It’ll always be the baby now. No one will ever look at you again.” She said it in a very kind, commiserating way, which to me made it a bit heartbreaking.

      I bet your friend would really appreciate hearing that you’re still mostly *her* friend, rather than another person that sees her as only/primarily a mother.

      1. Disco Janet*

        Another mom told me this when I was pregnant too, and sadly it has been pretty true. For example, I’ve always been super close to my grandma, but last time I saw her, her initial response instead of greeting me was disappointment that my kids weren’t with me.

        1. Erykah Badu*

          Is there an appropriate way to address this without coming across as rude? I’m not a mom myself but trying to imagine as a thought exercise what I would do in those situations. I get that everything changes when you have kids and this might be one of those things you just accept. But being erased as a mom would set off some triggers for me based on my mental health history.

    4. AnonyNurse*

      I think it is likely that virtually everyone she sees wants to see the baby and every conversation she has is about the baby.

      Saying “I’m glad we can have a few minutes to just chat while baby sleeps” may be nice for her to hear.

      There’s a small chance “sorry you can’t see the baby, she’s napping” is code for “and if you weren’t here, I would also be napping.” So you might ask, “oh, do you want to take the opportunity to nap also while you can? I can come back tomorrow/later” or “why don’t you go lie down and I’ll start a load of laundry.”

      It’s so very kind that you’re helping her out with chores and being such a reliable presence.

    5. mreasy*

      I would suggest asking “would you prefer I come over then, or is another day better?” That way if she does want her non-baby time to herself, she can let you know. You’re clearly very close, so you could just say – Baby is great, but not as good a conversationalist as you, so I’m happy to see you anytime! I say this as a person who loves my friends’ adorable funny kids, but who would 99% of the time rather see them without. As another commenter has indicated, she’s probably so used to people being disappointed not to see Baby that she’s heading this off at the pass for everyone. People get weird when babies are involved sometimes!

    6. Not A Manager*

      It’s possible that she is getting vibes from other people that she has been erased and that only the baby is important. But it’s also possible that she is wildly, over-the-moon in love with her child and thinks everyone else is as interested as she is.

      You don’t mind missing the kid one week, because you saw him last week and you’ll see him next week. But to her, he has grown and made impossible strides in that one week. He’s practically A DIFFERENT BABY. You must be crushed not to be able to observe and participate in that! (And she might feel this way AND also feel reinforcement from other people who are all-baby-all-the-time when they visit.)

      I’d just treat it as an endearing foible, like if she’d just fallen in love and was full of NRE. A mild response could be, “As much as I love the baby, I love you more. I’ll look forward to seeing him next week, but for now I’m happy to have some time with you.”

    7. Filosofickle*

      I had a friend who would say something similar. “If you want to see Kiddo, come over by 7. Then it’s bedtime.” And my response was, cool, I’ll come over after bedtime! I wanted to see her, not the kids, and I always felt like a jerk when she gave me explicit instructions on how to see them and then I’d deliberately choose something else. I hope she wasn’t too offended during those years. (So I sound like slightly less jerky, the problem was that bedtime for her oldest was very drawn out. If I came over earlier, she’d disappear for at least 45 minutes and I’d just be sitting alone in her living room. So it really was better to come after.)

      1. twinkle nose*

        it’s funny how mis-aligned different points of view are: 45 min doesn’t seem especially drawn out for the bed time routine of a young’un. It’s hard to cram it in so quickly!

        1. Filosofickle*

          True, even as I was typing it it occurred to me that might be normal for bedtime! But since I was there to spend time with her, it was an awkward gap.

      2. Not a cat*

        Bedtime for my baby sister was a good hour-and-a-half. It was insane. Interestingly, when I put her to bed, it was a half-hour, tops. I think my mother enjoyed dragging out the ritual.

    8. Fikly*

      So it’s a thing where people who are new parents suddenly find that everyone wants to visit – but not to see them, but to see Baby. So she’s probably trying to preempt this or prevent disappointment based on her experiences.

      Have you told her directly that while it’s nice to see baby, you’re really coming to visit her?

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      That baby is still young enough that your friend may still be scheduling naps and showers for when baby is asleep. Maybe try asking how she is doing with the work-life balance… Because a baby really is a lot of work, whether she’s a SAHM or has an outside job.

    10. Blue Eagle*

      Oh man, this reminds me of my friend who said of her little daughter “oh, the babysitters should pay me to be able to sit little Fabulous as she is the most fabulous child ever”.

    11. twinkle nose*

      I was this person. On the one hand the baby was the most exciting thing that was going on in my life, on the other hand my brain was complete mush. I remembered being a more exciting person with opinions and thoughts and analysis of things …. and I wasn’t that person anymore. I didn’t have the mental energy to read books, even. I mostly eventually got over it, but it took way longer (years) than you might have guessed. So, mostly I felt like the most interesting thing about me *was* the baby -it’s certainly what took up most of my headspace.

      Good on you for doing housework – that’s very very kind. Can you arrange a small adults-only activity? I’m thinking along the lines of bringing 3 or 4 chocolate bars with different percentages chocolate and do a tasting? So that you bring something that you both can do while baby is there, but that gives you something to talk about that isn’t baby.

  19. PX*

    Read the article on BBC below this week and thought it was interesting considering how many people here have consciously mentioned how they feel like nothing good is happening in the world anymore and everything is all a bit depressing. Essentially it asks the question of whether journalism as a whole needs to consider how and what it reports, and makes an interesting distinction between trends vs. events


    bbc. co. uk/news/entertainment-arts-51038695

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately as well. I use news articles for my conversation classes with students and I don’t always want to use the bad news stuff – Australian fires, Brexit, Iran, etc. – and sometimes I just want something positive to read – new technology for solar panels, young people achieving things, food etc. I do think journalism does need to consider how and what it reports. For example, I don’t think it’s necessary to report about what people are tweeting, but that’s simply because I don’t have any social media and think that conducting international relations on a platform limited to 140 characters (280?) is a recipe for disaster.

      What I think is the main problem is the 24-hour news cycle: in an effort to fill the hours, we’re seeing more repetitions of the bad stuff and the good stuff can be drowned out by it.

      I’d be happy with an hour of news in the morning followed by an hour of news in the evening along with traditional print media.

      1. PX*

        Agree completely about the problems with having a 24h news cycle (and news channels indeed). I remember reading an article which said a similar thing, once 24h news channels became a thing, the focus for journalists shifted to just needing to have something to report and fill the time – vs whether it was a story that needed to be told/was sufficiently in depth etc.

        Like you, I think less news would be a good thing for the world today.

      2. Mimmy*

        I don’t read traditional print media but I generally stick with the half-hour network evening news plus the first 20 minutes of the morning news before heading to work. It all still irks me, but not subjecting myself to the major news channels definitely keeps my sanity in check.

    2. Jackalope*

      This is part of why I love my local newspaper. They talk about the good stuff too and give a lot of coverage to positive local stuff. Some days I ignore the negatives and just read about what good things happened in my city/state/geographic area of relevance.

    3. PossiblyEnoughDetailToBeIdentified*

      The first thing that crossed my mind as I (admittedly skim) read this was this bit:
      And it is just a fact of journalism that throughout the history of the trade, bad, dramatic and recent events get much more coverage than good or less dramatic event” has also been summarised as “if it bleeds, it leads”.
      So, I’m curious if it’s a variation on the supply/demand thing – if there is a market for bad news, media will supply bad news. Back before 24 hour news cycles there would always be an “and finally a kitten was rescued from a tree and looked at the camera in a cute way” story, but those slowly seemed to fade away – which makes me wonder if people turning the news off before that story, giving the impression that there wasn’t a demand for “fluffy” news pieces, and the supply went down.

      Sorry, that’s a little rambling – I’m… not doing well today and have actually avoided the news in an attempt not to make things worse.

      1. Avasarala*

        This is what I think as well. Journalism has had those dramatic/depressing stories rewarded with more interest and more people buying newspapers/tuning into the TV/more clicks. Now everyone wants a piece of that pie and that’s all the news there is. I’m excited to see what the landscape will look like in 5-10 years when it either balances out or implodes in a black hole of darkness.

    4. Tennie*

      Sorry, late to the party again. But this site has saved my sanity a many times: goodnewsnetwork (dot) org

  20. Hamster*

    Is there a such thing as a prescription anti itch cream that’s also safe in pregnancy? I got an itch on my arm about 10 days ago that’s a rash now. I have a few rx ones from before but google says they’re not recommended during pregnancy. I see a dermatologist this week but I don’t want to have to go, get billed, pay my copay etc if all they’re going to tell me is take otc cream. Google hasn’t been much help in this instance.

    1. AnonyNurse*

      You shouldn’t need to see a derm for a new rash unless you have a history of significant skin issues. And a lot of non-OB/GYNs are super skittish around pregnant people and will defer to prenatal providers for all things.

      I’d be more curious about the cause of the itchiness and rash, as the body can act very oddly during pregnancy and the same stuff may be of more or less concern than in a non-pregnant person. In all likelihood it’s nothing of concern just your immune system overreacting as it tries to protect you and the baby, but I’d check in with your prenatal provider first, before using any OTC or Rx stuff you have lying around. (Also on the off chance you’ve gotten something contagious, some creams may facilitate it spreading to other parts of your body).

      Congrats on your pregnancy and may you be itch free soon. Itching is *awful.*

      1. Hamster*

        Oh true, I do see my MFM on Tuesday so I can ask him. I was going to a derm off and on the last 2 years for various issues (skin allergy, eczema bald spots on scalp etc)

    2. TimeTravelR*

      My friend works at a dermatology practice and she said OTC hydrocortisone. Have you tried it? (Of course, read the label just to be sure but she said it’s fine for pregnant women.)

    3. Parenthetically*

      I always just called my midwife’s office when I had questions about medications and things — they have a questions line that I can text, even. Does your GP or OB have a nurse line?

      1. Lilo*

        You might want to call them anyway. A severe rash could be the indication of some things or just a hormone related issue.

        1. Hamster*

          I may call them if the obgyn doesn’t have much to add or just end up going to the appt. it’s weird, I was at a hotel 2 weeks ago and I thought maybe it was from that. But no one else was affected.

    4. Dr. Anonymous*

      If you have an ongoing relationship with your dermatologist and you’ve had this rash before, call and tell them you have this rash like the one in March of last year and you are x weeks pregnant and is it okey to try your leftover such and such cream? If they don’t need to see you they can answer your question and somebody else can have your appointment slot. If they do need to see you at least you’ll feel better about going.

      Dermatologists are never lonely—they’re often booking out for weeks, so if they feel comfortable advising you over the phone they may do it. But sometimes with rashes they really do have to see you.

      1. Hamster*

        I did have this but on a different body part. The cream I had was great but a google search said it wasn’t safe at all for pregnancy. Which is why I’m asking if there’s a such thing as Rx cream safe for pregnancy.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It totally depends on what the itch is from. Is it a fungal infection, flea bites, an allergic reaction to poison ivy, a bad reaction to a medication … All of those would be treated differently. And there is a rare pregnancy related condition where itching is a sign of something that gets serious if untreated. So call your OB and tell them–if the itch is all over your body with no reason they may move you up a day. If it’s localized and you just want some relief to sleep easier or concentrate, try sunburn spray or calamine lotion. Benadryl gel if you’re ok’d for antihistamines.
          I’m no doctor, just a formerly pregnant person who follows medical news.

    5. Old Biddy*

      can you get a skin test if you haven’t had one already? This will let you avoid problem ingredients. I took one when I started having weird eczema on my hands and feet. Among other things, it revealed that I am allergic to many scented products and gold.
      FWIW hormone changes can wreck havoc with skin. I’m in perimenopause and went through a phase when almost everything seemed to make my neck itch.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Gold?! Holy smokes and I thought my family had it bad with our nickel allergy. (Which is commonly alloyed with gold — less in higher karat gold, more in white gold. I can’t wear my 10k college ring for as long as a football game.)

    6. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I was just reading an article about cholestasis, a disorder in pregnancy that is caused by your liver shutting down. It’s quite dangerous, and often misdiagnosed. Mayo Clinic’s website has a whole info page about it.

      I very much hope this isn’t the case, but it is definitely worth ruling out for safety’s sake, especially since your doctor may not recognize it without you asking. Good luck!

    7. Jenny F. Scientist*

      For you! This is mainly for your future reference, about other/OTC drugs.


      “Although potent topical corticosteroids may have increased risks in pregnancy, the mild OTC forms are considered safe.” (Antihistamines and antihistamine creams are also GRAS in pregnancy.)

    8. Jenny F. Scientist*

      The answer to ‘are there prescription derm creams that are safe in pregnancy’ is ‘yes, but it really, really depends on what it is.’ Good luck.

    9. CopperPenny*

      I have a prescription ointment for dermititis (a type of rash) that I have permission to use while pregnant. My OB looked at it, said oh that’s pretty much the strongest option available, but yes it’s safe don’t worry about using it. So there are safe options while pregnant.

      1. Assistant Alpaca Attendant*

        I have not been pregnant, but have had good luck with questions like this by calling my pharmacy. Most chain store ones have at least one 24 hour store, and I have found that pharmacists answer questions like this better because they know more about meds than my Drs do. Obviously, your Dr would still have to prescribe, but get could tell you if it exists. Now that I think of it, urgent care might be an option if it’s bugging you enough without waiting for a regular Dr. visit. Good luck and hope you are feeling better soon.

    10. Greywacke Jones*

      When I was pregnant I developed PUPPs, a miserable pregnancy related rash on my belly, arms and legs. My ob gave me a short term prednisone prescription and my dermatologist gave me a prescription steroid cream- don’t recall the name and honestly didn’t find it that helpful but it did exist.

  21. Hazy days*

    Artists in all forms – how confident and proactive are you in putting your work out there?

    I realise that I probably have some hang-ups about publishing my work, or rather submitting it for publication, admitting I want recognition, want responses, want praise etc.

    How often and how pushily do you try to get your works out there, and how much will you compromise to do so?

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I am 0% confident in putting my work out there, and about 50% proactive because of the lack of confidence. I definitely want the recognition and praise but I also don’t want the rejection. If I don’t put it out there then I can keep daydreaming about my extravagant success.

      As for compromise, as a writer I will take on board feedback but unless I honestly believe in changing a plot point or deleting a scene then I’ll more or less keep it as is.

    2. Anon Here*

      I’m a full time artist and I have friends who are very established and well known, as well as friends who are doing amazing work but are not as well known. What you do to promote your work is everything. The higher profile people are doing more to promote and are more confident. They have other people helping them, but only because they did the work to get the ball rolling.

      I recommend deciding where you want to be and promoting accordingly. Note that promoting takes effort and time, which can mean less of that for the creative part. Or not. It’s up to you. You can innovate and strategize.

      The more you get your work out there, the more confident you’ll become. Confidence can be learned. Just keep improving.

      It’s a 24/7 kind of thing. I don’t have a social life. I only do creative work and promote it. My posts on the Sat thread here are the only social thing in my life. But I enjoy what I do, so I’m happy to be living this kind of life.

      1. Hazy days*

        Wow, thank you! That is really the kind of thing I need to hear. I know it intellectually, but I need to hear real artists saying it.

        1. Anon Here*

          The arts has a great tradition of giving bad advice, words of discouragement, and the cold shoulder to newer and/or lower profile artists who really care about their work. I prefer to just tell it like it is. We have to break through the boys’ club hazing culture to welcome new voices into the picture.

        1. Hazy days*

          It was the Captain Awkward piece that gave me the kick in the arse I needed – so I wanted to hear more people talking about what they actually do, now comments are off :-)

    3. CoffeeforLife*

      Same. Except that my art is my income so…working past that is my 2020 goal. I get great feedback but I only see my flaws. My fear of failure keeps me failing instead of thriving in my art/business. Stupid huh? :/

      OP, set goals and hold yourself accountable! Calendar you stuff and keep it visible. Schedule social medial promotions, time to network, time to create, time to research. Treat it like it’s worth it (it is!) and you will come out a better promoter for your passion.

    4. Sparkly Lady*

      I’m a semi-pro performance artist (theater/dance), so it’s a bit different from being a fine artist. If I don’t get booked, I can’t do my art.

      So I’m reasonably comfortable trying to get booked, and I have no problems admitting that I want recognition and praise. But I do struggle with the self-promo/build a fan base aspect of indy performance art. I see some people who are really good at it, but I’m just not good at it.

      I used to struggle with jealousy about this a lot, but for the most part, I’m now at a place of acceptance. The “semi-pro” part means that I don’t have to be more successful to get my bills paid. I’d like to be more successful so that I could put more time and money into my art and produce better art, but I don’t want to be more successful enough to put the time into understanding effective self-promo.

  22. OLD*

    Dating thread for anyone who wants to talk/commiserate!

    I downloaded Hinge because why not. I like that it lets you see who has liked you without necessarily matching with them. And I like being able to respond to specific things to hopefully kickstart a conversation. But alas, not that many people where I am. And it also seems to be pretty bad about showing people within the actual age/distance range I’ve set.

    Otherwise I’m waiting to see how long I’ll last on it. I’m not in the best headspace to be dating right now, but its a distraction to try and get over someone who I really really like, and would love to date long term, but unfortunately is not an option :/

    (Yes I know I should probably work on getting over them first but this is how my brain works. I’ll probably be on it for a few weeks before deleting everything and taking time off to focus on myself…)

    1. Misty*

      Sometimes when you want to date a specific person, online dating or trying to get over them by focusing on dating others just feels worse. This is just my experience though. I was really into a friend about four years ago, we tried to make a go of it and it didn’t work.

      I’ve found I get over someone faster when I take a break from dating and focus on things that make me happy. But to be honest, I find online dating/apps in general can be tiring. I just find it to be a lot of work. Mainly trying to screen people if that makes sense.

      If you want to commiserate about dating here’s my story for the New Year: (I posted some of this on last weeks thread) On NYE I went to my friend’s party, a man got my email from the invite list and asked me out the next morning. When I said yes, he took five days to reply and it didn’t end up going anywhere. It was strange to me because he was so direct about wanting to go on a date during the party and in the original email but then when I replied positively and asked what he would like to do, he changed the subject. I’m guessing he changed his mind or something. But I mentioned it to my friend and she said that I likely dodged a bullet as he’s not quite in a place where I would likely want to date him. (Not that I wouldn’t have gone on a date or two with him, but my friend told me some things about his life right now that I wouldn’t have liked so we never would have started exclusively dating once he told me about them – if that makes sense)

      1. OLD*

        Yeah. Like I said, I know this is purely a momentary distraction, and to be honest once the rest of my life picks up – I’ll be off the apps. But this is an easy way right now to force myself to think of other things so *shrug*

        But yeah, I am very tired of the apps. I’ve been on and off them for years and at this point feel like I’ve seen every single person in my area on them at least twice and there is no hope of ever meeting someone decent (not true but thats what it feels like after so much mindless swiping and years of casual dating).

        And your NYE story! I read some of it last week – so odd that he just took the approach of ‘pretend this never happened!’ But as you say, probably a good bullet dodged..

        1. Misty*

          I feel you, if it’s helping and not hurting (swiping) I would say keep doing you. Sometimes a momentary distraction really is what helps for a while! I wish you the best of luck in meeting someone and also in getting over the person you were hoping to date.

          I’ve only been online dating for one period in my life (December 2018 thru Jan 2019) and it was exhausting! I met about 8 people before I met someone who I ended up dating for three months. I didn’t feel like the amount of effort I had to put into screening people was worth what I got out of it. But I think some of it may have to do with where I live and how far I’m willing to travel. I live on an island and am not willing to date someone who doesn’t live on the island. Unfortunately that limits who I can date online as I kept getting matched to people who were willing to travel to meet me but I wasn’t willing to travel to them. So it was kinda my fault I wasn’t meeting more people based on my location requirements.

          I’ve had better luck meeting people through my friends. Usually it’s easier because I don’t feel like I’m putting effort in searching if that makes sense so it’s more like a pleasant surprise. But the thing with that is that you never know when you’ll meet someone that way.

    2. Cinnamon*

      I signed up for eHarmony. It’s been about 2months and so far it’s just meh. I’m also working on some stuff and my mental health so I think I need to devote more serious time to it and growing a better social life/network than casually messaging on apps.

      1. OLD*

        I’ve always seemed to have the best luck with them when, as you say, I go into it with no expectations. To be fair, I do think a lot of it is just a numbers game – lots of swipes/interactions/messages to maybe get one or two decent dates. So in that sense, 2 months is not that long.

        But I will also never disagree with anyone wanting to grow their social life and work on their mental health. Anything which helps you work on yourself is always a good thing!

    3. Erykah Badu*

      I’ve recently decided (again but more seriously this time) to stop trying dating apps and find meaning in my life outside of finding a relationship. Dating apps just never sit right with me, I just don’t think they fit me and how I want to date. They also keep dating at the forefront of my mind (endless swiping left and right) when I want to step back from it.

      I do worry about how I‘ll meet someone in my area that’s known to be challenging to date in. And I have an irrational fear of being alone forever (working that out in therapy). But essentially I want to answer these questions: If I never had another serious long-term relationship, could I be happy? And if so, what would my life look like?

      1. OLD*

        Hah, I’m coming from a slightly different place. For so long I was very happily single, not interested in anything serious and ready to live my entire life alone (with possibly a dog along the way).

        Then slowly, (but suddenly in my head) I started realising that maybe it would be nice to have someone to be with and not have to go through life dealing with everything myself. Met aforementioned lovely person who is alas, not an option for said settling down, and now I’m having to deal with the idea of having at some point to go back actively dating with the aim of finding someone who I would actually want to be in a serious relationship with and…that just seems like it will be a thoroughly impossible task.

        So like you, I’ll probably be spending a lot of time this year trying to make sure the other parts of my life are fulfilled and hope the universe eventually throws someone good my way!

        1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

          Are you me?? I downloaded Hinge recently also as an effort to get over somebody who’s not an option, and also because I’ve been happily single until recently.

          Have you tried expanding your preferences on the people you’re seeing? I personally had mine very tight at first because I think I was too in my head about what I want, but at least where I am right now, I don’t think I need to be looking for “the one” right off the bat.

          At the very least, one thing that is slowly helping me get over the previous person is having conversations with new people. Not even people that I am 100% sold on or see myself asking out (but might agree to meet if they asked). But having new people express interest in me so far has been a good way to remind myself that there are options out there.

          Good luck!!

      2. Windchime*

        It’s been ages since I’ve tried a dating app and I think they’re just not for me. I realize that I need to know someone as a friend for a long time before I know whether or not I want something more than friendship with them. Like….years. I’m slow to warm up to deep friendships with people and the idea of dating casually doesn’t click with my mind. Not saying it’s a bad thing, just not for me.

        I spent many years after my divorce being sad that I was alone and I finally realized that I needed to accept and come to terms with the possibility that I might always be alone. Not because that’s what I necessarily want, but because that might the the reality of my situation. Once I accepted that, I was able to get on with the business of creating a happy, solo life for myself. This is NOT the point where I say, “And then –voila!–I found Mr Wonderful!” Nope. Still alone, and still happily crafting my solo life. But I will say that there is a person at work that I am suddenly aware of and……he is single. Hmmmmm.

    4. Anonosaurus*

      I like Hinge best of the apps I’ve tried but I just don’t want to do online dating at all… But I don’t see the alternative at the moment. I’ve been on my own for four years since my partner passed, and although I’m very content with where I’ve got to in my life, I am now at a point where I’d like to connect with someone else.

      I recently met through work someone I really like but he’s not available (and probably doesn’t feel the same way about me) and most of the things I enjoy doing outside work are either solitary or are only done by straight women :) so dating sites it has to be. It sucks sooooooo much…

  23. puffle*

    Hi all, I’m having an odd dietary issue, wondering if anyone else has experience of something similar.

    I’m trying to gradually reduce how much meat/ fish I eat, and I know pulses are a great vegetarian source of protein… buuut my digestive system Does Not Like. As in (sorry for any TMI), it… ahem, expels them with vigour. This happens whether I’m having stew, curry, chilli, anything with pulses.

    I had allergy testing last year for other health reasons, and it came back clear- no allergies at all

    I’m struggling to come up with protein-rich vegetarian meals that don’t lean on pulses (I can only eat eggs so many times a week!)

    Any thoughts would be appreciated

    1. Approval is optional*

      How do you go with tofu? It’s soy bean curd but doesn’t usually have the same impact as the more intact pulses.
      Other alternatives are :nuts ( soaked to soften, then they can be pulsed into patties and so on, or tossed into stir fried vegetables) or seeds such as quinoa, flaxseed and chia.
      With the pulses – have you tried ‘kinder’ ones like lentils? And do you make sure they’re washed properly – the soaking water is often responsible for much of the digestive effect.

      1. Approval is optional*

        Sorry lacked a bit of clarity- the nuts don’t need soaking to go into the stir fry. :)

    2. Ranon*

      Do you otherwise eat a lot of fiber? Pulses are also very high in fiber and if your gut biome isn’t used to gnawing through high fiber meals you’ll definitely notice some effects. And not all that fiber is digestible so you will have more erm, outcome, than you would with a lower fiber meal even after your gut biome is up and running on a high fiber diet.

      If you can do gluten seitan is another protein option that isn’t as high fiber as pulses. Nuts and nut butters can fill in some gaps too, and things like oatmeal and other whole grains generally can fill a decent amount of your protein needs if you’re not, say, body building it something.

      You might also try pulses mashed/ processed like hummus, bean dip, that sort of thing- sometimes the hard outer shell + not chewing enough will also make digestion more interesting so starting with the skin broken down might help. Red lentils already have the skin removed so that’s another option.

    3. WellRed*

      Others have good suggestions. My only thought echoed the one about fiber. Have you tried introducing pulses slowly into your diet to see what you can tolerate? If you suddenly went to 25 g of fiber a day, that could cause problems on its own.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes, absolutely. I can eat mass quantities of legumes but we’re well used to it!

        It’s certainly possible to have a sensitivity/intolerance to legumes, but I’d look first at fiber quantities.

      2. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Bingo. Your gut has to “learn” how to deal with legumes/pulses/beans. You can avoid or at least reduce indigestion problems by starting with very, very small quantities of them at a time, and ramping up your portion sizes bit by bit.

    4. mreasy*

      Here to recommend tempeh – since it’s fermented, it’s often much easier to digest than whole soy or other beans. But I will say, echoing another commenter: if you haven’t tried working with lentils/beans from dry and soaking for 24 hours before cooking them (toss the soaking water and rinse well first), it can make an enormous difference in digestibility (I can be similarly sensitive and it’s helped a lot for me.)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I was thinking of fermented foods also. Here I can get fermented beets, carrots and other interesting things. My doc has me just eating one good size tablespoon full a day. So you don’t need a cereal bowl full of the stuff.

    5. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      Green peas are a decent source of protein and may not give you the same issues. You could also work some of the peanut butter alternatives, like sunflower seed butter, into your breakfasts and snacks to make up for a protein light dinner.I

      If you’re okay with increasing your dairy intake, there’s obviously lots of protein in yogurt and cheese. Snacking on some Greek yogurt or string cheese and having halloumi tacos for dinner is quite a bit of protein.

    6. Not A Manager*

      How are you when they have been processed or pureed? Does hummus give you the same effect, or split pea soup that is very mushy? If those don’t give you trouble, you might look for recipes that mash or process the beans in some way, like white bean puree served with greens, etc.

        1. londonedit*

          You really do learn something new every day – I had no idea pulses was a UK term. To me, ‘legumes’ just means ‘vegetables’ in French!

          1. Jack Russell Terrier*

            Crying with laughter here. Yes – part of what can be difficult is between over the atlantic communication is that you never do know when it’s different. Impossible to prepare for that.

    7. Wishing You Well*

      Food allergies are only one type of food intolerance. I don’t have any food allergies, but, Holy Cow, do I have intolerances. You might have better luck, but I can’t slowly build up tolerance to some foods. I just can’t eat them. Maybe a fecal transplant would help but that’s for really sick folks.
      I’d reexamine your diet goals and remind yourself that gut health is key to a good quality of life – more so than we ever knew in the past. I recommend seeing a dietician to discuss your particular situation.

    8. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Beans may be ok, but if you have started introducing a lot of lentils into your diet – oh yeah, that is FIBER. Try and either reduce the quantities of lentils eaten in the day or switch in something else like quinoa or seitan or tempeh, etc. I love lentils but they can definitely do a clear out of the old pipes!

    9. Johanna*

      I have a similar issue and it is caused by a Histamine intolerance. For protein I have pumkin seeds (toasted, so easier to chew) and fresh cheeses and dairy.
      Hemp seeds also have protein.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Fish if you’re not vegan.
      TVP* is soy based and a little gassy, but oh the convenience of something in a bag that can be soaked in a jar in the fridge so it’s ready to add to veggies you’re cooking.
      (*Texturized vegetable protein.)
      If you have access to an Asian market, look for canned “mock duck”. This one might be gluten-based so check ingredients if that’s an issue.

    11. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Last year I experimented with a bean-heavy diet and was taking some probiotics at the same time. I’d have to look at the specific formula, but after a few weeks of eating tons of beans I realized that I was not having the kind of digestive issues that I might have expected from eating some kind of pulse at literally every meal. Perhaps that could be something to investigate?

    12. kt*

      A few more thoughts to add the good comments above: Traditional cultures do a lot of things that just happen to help with bean-digestion. For instance, serving beans with a yogurt (think middle eastern foods, Greek, Indian cuisines) helps bring good bugs to bear in digestion. Serving beans with a pickled side dish or condiment is similar — both probiotic pickles and acidic pickles can help with digestion. Cooking beans with carminative (flatulence-relieving) herbs is common, from epazote in Mexican cuisine to cumin in Indian (and then anise, fennel, ginger, coriander, fenugreek, and more — for instance, there’s a Kenyan red beans recipe that uses cumin, cardamom, coriander, and coconut milk!). Fermenting the beans themselves is yet another way to deal with it (natto, miso, Chinese black bean seasoning, tempeh). Tofu’s good if you learn how to cook it right. So one idea is to look at traditional cuisines and not just the bean recipes, but what goes around the bean recipes!

      Personally, I need to keep the bean volume low anyway…. I just have trouble with certain kinds of starch. Oh well.

      On the non-bean front, definitely explore nuts and seeds and other protein sources as well. Last, this may not apply to your situation, but you could think about morphing some of your meat/fish consumption to underused parts of the animal, trying to make the animal consumption you have more ecologically holistic. This is often nutritionally advantageous as well for those who do it, as meat-eating humans did not evolve while eating only steak.

  24. Blarg*

    You guys. Watch Cheer on Netflix. It is amazing. I binge watched the whole series last night because it was so compelling.

    It got me thinking about docs like this, where they seemingly pick a tiny group of people to follow and there are so many remarkable stories of resilience. And I think it is because for some people, working on a skill/art/sport, striving to be the very best is a form of healing, and a coach who doubles as parent figure will draw those kids in.

    The kids are survivors, still finding their way. I had no idea I’d ever be so invested in the outcome of a cheer competition, and the lives of some kids from small town Texas.

    Anyone else watch it?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I binged it, which I never do. I had a slow day at work and I work from home. Couldn’t turn it off, cried at the end. I love documentaries and this one was excellent.

      I will not post any spoilers, but I will say: #savegabi.

    2. CTT*

      I’ve watched the first two episodes, and I’m loving it so much I’ve limited myself to one episode a night because I don’t want it to end!! I know the creator did multiple seasons of Last Chance U, so I’m hoping we’ll get more out of this.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I watched ep1 and was spellbound, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to continue because I have a weird thing (almost phobia level) about people falling and breaking their necks, and I watched every single tumble anticipating a life-changing injury.

      1. Parenthetically*

        I’m the same — absolutely love the idea of the show and would love to watch it, but I absolutely CANNOT watch injuries (which is unfortunate given my love of watching sports generally!).

        1. CTT*

          FWIW, they’ve been good about not showing the moment of injury or getting too in-the-face of the injured cheerleader.

        2. Blarg*

          Yea I was really impressed that there was NO people-being-severely-injured shown. There is one fall that they sort of caught on camera but not the hitting the ground. The worst injury any of them has is from that, which is a dislocated elbow but it isn’t shown. No slo-mo disasters or anything.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Is it nonfiction? I glanced over the summary the other day, but I interpreted it as a fiction show and it didn’t grab me. If it’s non-fiction, I’m more interested. :)

    5. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious*

      Does anybody get horrifically injured? I’m trying to keep to feel good stories at the moment due to the negative nature of the daily news coming out of the world and I don’t need more grief.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        There are some moments, but nothing that I found to be terrifying or devastating. There were some moments where I scrunched up my face and went, “Oooooh!”, but it wasn’t unexpected. The feel-good moments absolutely outweighed the downers for me.

    6. Please Don't*

      My daughter is watching this. Telling me all about the people but also about the various cheer organizations across the country.

  25. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Reading thread! I finally finished Dracula.
    What a letdown. The writing was ponderous, the dialect distracting, and the ending too abrupt.
    It’s not the time period… I’ve read & enjoyed other fiction from the time. Bram Stoker was a contemporary of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
    Already reread “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” as an antidote. Forgot its sorrow, so now for some Jerome K. Jerome as an antidote to my antidote.

    1. HappySnoopy*

      Ugh, yes. The concept and adaptations are so much better than the original. If you haven’t read Frankenstein yet, that is exactly the opposite. Original much more nuanced than (most) adaptations.

      1. MissGirl*

        That’s funny. I loathed Frankenstein but loved Dracula. I will say Dracula isn’t one I can reread. It’s a good story once.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Do you know if you read an edited version or the full original text? The story is there, but there’s so much wordiness hiding it. And that’s before the casual sexism, racism, classism, and nationalism. I know, 1897…. maybe I should reread Doyle and see how much I missed reading Sherlock in high school.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I loved Frankenstein when I read it in college. I have it on my mental reread list. I love that Mary Shelley wrote it as sort of an 1840s nanowrimo among friends!

      3. Bluebell*

        I recently started Jeanette Winterson’s Frankenkiss, but couldn’t get into it. Have you read it?

    2. Marion Q*

      I’m reading The Turn of the Screw and Other Ghost Stories by Henry James. I’ve read a few of his ghost stories before, and I found that I really enjoy his writing style.

      I made a pledge to read more books in my native language (to support local authors), but so far I haven’t made any progress.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Oh please share authors & books that you like on your language! There are people on this list who read more than English … or at least are trying to lesrn like I am. (And who knows, maybe there is a publisher reading askamanager who works with translations of non-english fiction.)

        1. Marion Q*

          Some of the works in our canon are available in English, iirc. I assume that you’re looking for non-English authors whose works are available in English, instead of actually reading books not written in English?

    3. Teacher Lady*

      I just finished Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore, and I have Madeline Miller’s Circe waiting for me next, along with a couple of middle grades books to peruse.

      I read Guernsey Literary etc. last year and didn’t love it, which was extra disappointing because I feel like I should’ve – there’s a lot about the plot and setting that is very much up my alley. I think the biggest thing was the format; the letters just didn’t work for me. I actually wonder if I might like the movie more?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Have you read other epistolary novels? It would let you know if it’s the letter/diary format that wasn’t your taste.
        -84 Charing Cross Road.
        -Griffin & Sabine.
        -Catherine, Called Birdy (YA fiction in diary format)
        -Dracula (but I’ve already given my opinion of that )
        -The Color Purple (just found my next book!)
        -World War Z (book very different from movie)

        1. Teacher Lady*

          I read Catherine, Called Birdy back in middle school (so, 20ish years ago), and I genuinely don’t remember what I thought of it. The only other epistolary novel I can think of that I’ve read was Kelly Jones’ Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer (which is a middle grades book), and I do think my under-enthusiasm for that book was because of the format. So you are probably on to something here; I think letters don’t do it for me, narrative-wise.

    4. Myrin*

      There are so many inconsistencies and annoying little writing tics in Dracula! I remember my English Literature prof saying something like “Bram Stoker wasn’t a very good writer, you guys” in a somewhat defeated voice when we went over it in our “food in literature” class (he managed to make it a very interesting lesson regardless, btw!).

    5. Ruffingit*

      I’m currently reading How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry. I’m loving it so far!

    6. Foreign Octopus*

      I had the exact same reaction to Dracula. I can’t read it again because of my disappointment.

      Right now I’m reading Small Island by Andrea Levy. I’ve only read the prologue, but I’m already interested.

    7. Lives in a Shoe*

      I only vaguely remember reading Bram’s Dracula which means I must have found it pretty meh myself. Just started re-reading Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. It’s as engrossing as the first time – even though I know I’ll be infuriated all over again when I read the Final book by Sanderson.

    8. Lady Jay*

      Started Serpent’s Reach, by C.J. Cherryh. Found it for $1.25 at our local used book store, so how could I not? It’s . . . very 70s/80s sci-fi but the alien creatures are intriguing, so I’m going to keep reading for now.

    9. fposte*

      Non-reading tangent–I really love the Three Men in a Boat travel show with Dara O Briain, Griff Rhys Jones, and Rory McGrath, where they retrace the route. It looks like it’s floating around YouTube in pieces if you’re interested.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        THANK YOU! I shall have to look for this.
        In return, I offer up Connie Willis’s time-travel Victoriana farce “To Say Nothing of the Dog”, in which a hapless time-lagged historian ends up on the Thames circa 1900. Jerome is useful background to get the humor.

    10. Lilo*

      I got The Immortalists from the library and… the first paragraph describes a 13 year old’s body. Just…. ugh? That’s a big hurdle for me to get over.

    11. Purt’s Peas*

      Thanks to Parenthetically for mentioning Lord Peter Wimsey! I read the first two and had a really good time; I’m waiting for my library hold on the third :)

      1. Lilo*

        My favorites are Have His Carcase and Murder Must Advertise. But those generally should be read in order.

        You might like the Brother Cadfael mysteries if you like Dorothy Sayers.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Oh that’s terrific! I’m forever obsessed with Gaudy Night and have teased my husband that if I’d read it a dozen more times before I’d met him, I’d have gotten a Ph.D. instead of marrying him.

  26. bassclefchick*

    Thanks to BRR for recommending the America’s Test Kitchen dutch oven cookbook! I can’t decide which one I want to do first. Also, thanks to LisaWorks for the bread recipe. It’s currently rising and I should have a nice, fresh loaf this afternoon! I only have a 4 quart pot, so I’ll have to adjust most recipes, but I can’t wait to start trying new things.

  27. HappySnoopy*

    Any recommendations for a good android podcast app? Have a new phone and looking at some new and different apps on things.

    Love a lot of people’s recommendations on here for podcasts, so figured you’d be a good resource for app as well!

    1. Ranon*

      I use Pocketcasts- it’s paid, but worth it, I think, although they recently changed their payment structure and I don’t exactly remember how they revised it. It’s not terribly feature heavy but I use almost all the ones it has (love the sleep timer for the Sleep With Me podcast) and it’s fairly robust.

      1. bassclefchick*

        I love Pocketcasts. The app itself is now free. They have a premium subscription level. I have so many podcasts to listen to, I have no desire to pay for premium.

    2. PX*

      Using Stitcher at the moment. Its alright, I like that I can save specific episodes without needing to subscribe to an entire show. Seems to use up a lot of memory/storage though (matters for me as my phone is ooooold with limited space).

    3. LisaWorks*

      Radiopublic is a good free app. ‘Stuff You Should Know,’ ‘Science VS,’ Wondery’s ‘Generation Why,’ ‘Serial,’ and ‘Dr. Death’s are some of my favorite podcasts.

    4. Suzie Q*

      I am in LOVE with PodcastAddict !!!! OMG I love it so much that when I switched to an Iphone, I kept my Android phone just to listen to podcasts on when using wifi. There is an iOS app that looks similar to PodcastAddict called PocketCasts, but IMO PodcastAddict is so much better. I just love the way your podcasts are arranged in a tile format. I am subscribed to over 200 podcasts and the visual layout makes it so easy to choose which one I want to listen to. I could go on and on…. (and I don’t work for the company or anything… just a genuine fan). I am a visual thinker, so the tile format just really works for me.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I like Podcast Addict, too. It’s very easy to search for podcasts or episodes by keyword, download specific episodes, or subscribe to random ones you find while surfing. I do find that sometimes the database gets slightly corrupted or something and I will have the same podcast listed twice, but overall it’s great. Another one that I liked is Podcast Guru.

    5. Observer*

      I really like Pocket Casts. Its basic level is free and it works quite nicely. Their dark mode doesn’t make me want to scratch my eyes, either.

      I also like Google Podcasts. The main problem with it is that it doesn’t have the capacity to automatically download that podcasts, rather than streaming them. You can download podcasts, but you have to do it manually. For me that was a deal breaker. But, if you’re ok with streaming (or you tend to be on WiFi anyway), it might be worth looking at.

  28. Chronic pain*

    Had an EMG test C7. C8 and left arm. The residual pain. (internet says is norm) is on the pain scale 8/9. I have lost two days (yes am taking nsaid and icing) Bad night. Woke up in pain. Can’t use left arm at all due to pain.
    No advice except if this has happened to you, it will get better, right? This isn’t forever, right?
    Angry that I am losing my saturday.

    1. Misty*

      I don’t have any experience with this particular issue but I just wanted to say that I hope you feel better. Keeping you in my thoughts this weekend. Hoping it gets better.

    2. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious*

      My spouse has this and it completely resolved after 6 months, so hang in there!

    3. Arts Akimbo*

      Ugh, I am So. Sorry.

      I had a similar injury and it took me three months of PT to start to feel better. But feel better I did! It’s not forever, and 5 years later all the pain and numbness is completely gone, like it never existed. I hope yours resolves as thoroughly!! Hang in there, and do whatever PT they assign you faithfully, as best you can!

    4. lasslisa*

      EMG meaning the test where they stick the needles in your arm and check for electrical signals? I just did some googling on my own and it does not look like this kind of pain should be normal as a result of the test. When they talk about risks and side effects the only thing they mention is bruising where they stick the needle in you or maybe a little muscle soreness. Did you have this kind of pain before and that’s why you had the EMG? If it’s new I think you should call your doctor.

  29. Angwyshaunce*

    My beloved cat passed away yesterday. He was 10.5 years old.

    It was kind of sudden. He went from his usual crazy, funny self to slow and uncomfortable in a matter of weeks. On Thursday, he stopped eating.

    We took him to the ER. In the end, there was nothing we could do for him. The only humane choice was to let him go.

    The house is a sad, quiet place now. He had such presence and involvement in our daily lives. The loss is profound.

    If you have a pet, please try to give them a little extra love today.

    1. Ruffingit*

      I am so sorry!! I’ve been there and I know how hard it is. The silence after losing a pet is so loud. I am thinking of you!

    2. nep*

      So sorry. There is nothing quite like that deep, heavy void. You already know this, but you did right by your cat.
      Sending you love.

    3. Jackalope*

      So sorry to hear that. It’s really tough losing a beloved critter. Sending you my best Jedi hugs. One of my cats is on my lap snoozing, giving her some extra love on your behalf.

    4. RC Rascal*

      I lost my cat of 19 years in November. He had multiple conditions including diabetes and congestive heart failure. He went into renal failure & his body just wore out.

      Giant black cat. Best cat ever. I am totally torn up by the loss.

    5. StellaBella*

      Sending you my condolences, I am so sorry. Thank you for doing the humane thing tho, and not letting the kitty suffer. Be kind to yourselves during this difficult time.

    6. Windchime*

      I’m so sorry. When my old cat died a few years ago, I was heartbroken. Like you say, the house was so quiet without him. A few times, I thought I saw him from the corner of my eye (or maybe that was wishful thinking). It’s really hard. I will give my kitty some extra loves today in your cat’s honor.

    7. Angwyshaunce*

      Thank you all so very much. Your responses mean a lot. I’m glad to be a part of such a wonderful community.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My condolences. For small beings, they sure loom large in our lived. I stepped over my elderly dog’s favorite sunny spot for years after we lost her.

    9. Might be Spam*

      I’m sorry for your loss. I hope you feel comforted by the fact that you did what was best for your cat rather than keeping it for your own sake. May you have many happy memories of your time together.

    10. BuildMeUp*

      I’m so sorry. I went through this just before Christmas with my cat, and it was very hard. Just know that you did the right thing, and I’m sure he knew how loved he was.

      It helps to take things day by day. There will be a lot of little things that pop up that remind you of him. I’ve also been putting together a few of his favorite toys, favorite brush, etc. to put in a keepsake box – there are some really beautiful ones on Etsy that you can personalize. It has helped a little to feel like I’m keeping a part of him/his memory with me.


    11. SpellingBee*

      I am so very sorry – I’ve been in your situation, and I know how sad and empty the house feels to you right now. Even when you lose them at a ripe old age it’s incredibly difficult, but when it’s a sudden illness in their prime it’s even harder, as you haven’t had the time to prepare yourself. You did the right thing by your buddy.

    1. Tortally HareBrained*

      Worst: we unexpectedly lost one of our pet prairie dogs this week to a mystery illness.

      Best: we had purchased an electric blanket just over a week ago and it was so nice to be able to give warm cuddles to our little man for the two nights he was sick. And it helped me relax and get some rest so I could process and still be a functional adult.

      1. Washi*

        Would love to learn more about your prairie dogs in separate post! (Where did you get them, what are they like, etc)

        1. Tortally HareBrained*

          Got it! I added a thread further down. My husband and I love teaching people about them – they are so fun!

    2. Parenthetically*

      Best: we survived my husband’s first week back to work after his parental leave, and are having a lovely relaxing Saturday morning lazing around the house and listening to the classical station while our newborn sleeps and our toddler runs around naked.

      Worst: gosh, night feeds. EXHAUSTED.

    3. Bibliovore*

      Best: Left work at work and read two YA novels with the new Children of Virtue and Vengeance (sequel to children of Blood and Bone) on the to-be-read pile.
      Worst: I facing lots of housework and so far successfully avoiding.

    4. CoffeeforLife*

      Worst: getting 3 hours sleep before a 19 hour travel day across the ocean
      Best: Landing in Hawaii and having a comped hotel instead of crowding in with family!!!

    5. Nessun*

      Best: prepping for my trip to Madrid tomorrow seems to be going well (suddenly I see to be hearing about lots of people going to Spain!), and I’m keeping a lid on my anxiety over the trip

      Worst: have to call my mum and dad today, and last time we spoke was…not good. Kinda dreading it; things get passive aggressive fast (on both sides, though I fight myself not to).

    6. Elizabeth West*

      WORST: the weather, which was nice and now is not. Also still stuck in the basement. I’m slowly turning into a cave troll with no sense of time. >_<

      BEST: Putting out my book. Also, Mum got my dad a weighted blanket at Target for Christmas, but he wasn't into it, so she gave it to me. I wasn't sure if I would like it but I LOVE it. Slept under it last night and it actually felt rather nice. I put it on top of my comforter. I just wish it were bigger; it's throw-sized and not really for bed. Although, if it were, I might not be able to lift it!

      1. VlookupsAreMyLife*

        Best: Child had a fantastic HS basketball game last night & was featured in the post-game analysis.

        Worst: Holiday decor is still up & it’s driving me nuts. No energy to take it all down.

    7. KoiFeeder*

      Best: Starting grad school in two days!
      Worst: Just discovered that my cold-induced asthma is NOT gone, I just lived in a southern state my whole life and it lessened in severity.

    8. Lena Clare*

      WORST: I’m not getting enough sleep and my joints are knackered, which is causing me a lot of pain (menopausal).
      BEST: the menopause actually isn’t that bad! In fact, even though I’m tired and in pain, I’m enjoying this new version of me. I know that sounds weird but… I feel confident…or maybe more like I don’t give a sh1t? I dunno…I’ll take it, whatever it is. Also, started doing yoga daily – and I LOVE it! I’m planning on being one of those tall, strong, flexible old women who can still carry their shopping aged 90.

    9. Anon Siberian*

      Best: Had housewarming dinner/friends over, and dessert and mulled cider

      Worst: Aunt Flo cramps X////

    10. Kay*

      Best: Speaking/or seeing all 8 grandchildren today. Saw the youngest 3 and played, snuggled, giggled with them. Spoke to the oldest 5 on the phone and heard all about the best & worst parts of their new school semester.

      Worst: Freezing cold with freezing drizzle/mist and having to show my mom’s condemned house for a hopeful sale. She left it in a horrible state (had been unfit to live in for years, but they & then she wouldn’t leave it until she absolutely had to, 2 years ago) and it was embarrassing to show it. Plus we found a good Samaritan had gone in and barricaded the unlocked doors shut, nailed plastic over the broken windows and then locked the front door. We don’t have a key! It was a nice gesture but I”m sure the whole small village is wondering why we are leaving it to fall down. (Because none of us kids have the resources to fix it or tear it down. We are hoping someone will buy it “as is”, at a very cheap price.)

  30. Misty*

    How do you get over negative body image?

    I usually don’t think a lot about how I look. I mean it is what it is, you know? I have a haircut I like and I get my eyebrows done and that’s basically it. I like how I dress (simple, not super eye catching, but it looks pretty good I like to think and I get a compliment every once in a while). I exercise three times a week. I used to exercise more/better but in the last six months my schedule has gotten kind of crazy.

    But the last few days I feel like horrible about myself and I have no idea why. Does this ever happen to anyone else? Do you have any suggestions for combating negative thoughts/feelings about your body? Especially when they aren’t grounded in reality – as in nothing is actually wrong and I don’t need a life rehaul or anything drastic.

    1. nep*

      Can you think of anything that might have triggered that?
      Also is this new, or do you have phases like this? What has helped in the past?
      When I find myself deep in a hole of resenting/detesting parts of my body, I think about all the parts that function properly and how fortunate I am in that. It also helps me to think about how we all got our ideas of what is a ‘good’ or ‘ideal’ body. It’s some really damaging conditioning.

      1. Misty*

        Honestly, this may sound weird but I think it may be misplaced anxiety. I’m going back to college in two weeks for the first time in five years and ever since I signed up for classes it’s started. I think my brain may be nervous about the life change and is assigning the anxiety to just different aspects of my life in general.

        This is totally new for me. I usually don’t care at all about how I look as long as I’m clean and my clothes are clean.

        Thats a great idea! I’m going to try to focus on all the things my body does that I’m thankful for like the fact that I’m healthy, ect.

        1. nep*

          Interesting. Makes sense that this huge transition could trigger such things. Maybe when you were on campus you did a bit of looking around at people and comparing yourself, without even being hugely aware of it. We feel put on the spot when we start new ventures.
          Good for you starting back to college. Sounds like things could simmer down as you get into a groove there. All the best.

            1. nep*

              (I was thinking that you might have done a bit of that when signing up for classes recently, if you were in a campus setting with others around.)
              All the best to you.

              1. Misty*

                Ah no, I signed up online for classes. It’s an in-person campus but so far I haven’t spent any time on it so far.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  I went back to school at age 40 plus. The first day involved crying. I have no clue why, probably a dozen reasons. Leading up to that, I suddenly became super aware of my clothes and suddenly these clothes seemed inadequate. I ordinarily don’t think THAT hard about my clothes.

                  Can you do some more prep work for your classes? Can you make some simple adjustments around your home so that it is easier to manage things when you are super busy with class work? Here the idea is to take the extra energy and channel into something that will help you in the longer run.

                  And take a look at the emotional component. Maybe do a little journaling to spell out how you feel about this move forward in your life. Don’t turn this into torture for yourself. Perhaps just jot a couple things down once a day or every other day.

                  I did say to a family member, “I am crying because I am going to actually make myself go do this.” She grinned. She said she had the same thing going on, if she knew she was not going to let herself off the hook, the emotions would coming flooding out.
                  I only cried the first day on the way over. Each day after that got better. We do work into new settings and it becomes familiar.

        2. lasslisa*

          Sometimes it’s best to not “feed” anxiety. When you notice your brain is spinning looking for things to focus on and be worried about (or to “fix something (anything)” to use a slightly more sympathetic description), sometimes noticing that your anxiety has the wheel can be a cue to give yourself a quick mental hug and Tell yourself it’ll all be okay. Your brain is just trying to make sure you’ve got everything in order and given yourself a good ol spit-and-polish before you embark on this new endeavor, and it’s going to be fine.

    2. Erykah Badu*

      When this happens to me, I like to look at pictures of myself that I feel good in. It reminds me that I didn’t always feel this way about my body and that I’m happy with the way I look and feel. I also remind myself that diet culture and society are built to tell me I should look differently and spend a lot of time and money trying to do so, so it’s okay if I have some negative body image thoughts sometimes. Then I replace those thoughts with positive ones by focusing on what you do like about yourself (which doesn’t just have to be about your body).

      1. Misty*

        “I also remind myself that diet culture and society are built to tell me I should look differently and spend a lot of time and money trying to do so”

        That’s SO true. I’m a manager at a drugstore currently and I see a lot of that there. Like people buying things and making comments about the things they need to do/change esp now that it’s the new year. I always feel bad because sometimes the stuff is just like normal. Like wrinkles are normal and it makes me sad when people are spending so much trying to get rid of them. :(

        I’m def going to try to focus on the things I like about myself and that I’m healthy and thankful for that. Thank you so much :)

    3. Dr. KMnO4*

      I have found the book The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor to be very helpful in reframing negative thoughts about my body. I have never had a book affect me as profoundly as this one has.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I borrowed it from the library, but after reading went out and bought a few copies for me and friends! It’s a great read.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Also, if you can get your hands on a copy of Playing Big by Tara Mohr, her chapter on the Inner Critic is immensely helpful. Understanding what the IC is and what it thinks its job is flipped a switch for me! In brief, it’s what’s left of an evolutionary protective instinct. It’s no longer has to save you from tigers, so it goes after emotional or social threats in an effort to keep you “safe” and protect the status quo. That usually means saying terrible things to keep you from stretching beyond your comfort zone.

          My IC goes into overdrive when I make big changes, especially in career, and that’s when body image chatter gets bad. The closer I get to breakthroughs, the more my IC tries to stop me. For some reason, body image is the last line of defense for my brain.

          Lastly, what I call “mood tracing” helps me here. You’ve identified signing up for school, that could be it! Think back, day by day, when did this start? What was going on at that time or a day or two before? I write it all down. Usually if I trace back the mood, I can find the root and identify a few possible situations that destabilized me. It can be as simple as something someone said that triggered an old anxiety. Once I spot them, my voices usually shut up. (I’m an analytical type, so knowledge is soothing for me.)

    4. Jackalope*

      I’m in my early 40s and so people I love are starting to have health issues, some of them serious. My body is mostly working well so far; a few issues, like a mostly functioning car that has a couple of dings on it, but everything else is okay. Having walked together with some of my friends through the awfulness they are dealing with, i try to remind myself that things are mostly good with my body and that helps me be content even with things I dislike about it.

      1. Misty*

        You know, I think you hit a big thing on the head for me. I’m a manager at a drugstore and I have a hard time seeing some of our dear customers that are sick. It’s just rough seeing such lovely people that I see a lot at work slow down or be seriously ill. :( But I try to remind myself that just because it’s happening to them doesn’t mean that it’s going to 100% happen to me and right now I am fine so that’s important to focus on rather than worrying about something that may or may not happen and that I cannot completely predict or stop. (Obviously I can try to be healthy/smart but no one can stop life from happening and time from coming).

    5. Wishing You Well*

      When I start feeling yucky emotionally, I need to hit the gym. I need to go twice a week to keep an even keel. You might be craving exercise. Our lifestyles are getting way too motionless to be good for us. I hope you get moving and feel better soon.
      Let us know how you’re doing.

      1. Misty*

        Thanks! I am going to try to start exercising more too. I used to run with my dog five-ish times a week but things got really busy and I started exercising like three times a week over six months ago. So maybe that’s making a difference. I have a longer commute now so I spend a LOT of time driving where as before I used to have a 2min drive each way every day. Big difference all that sitting.

        What do you like doing at the gym? Anything in particular?

        1. Jackalope*

          I find it helpful at the gym to bring a good book. Today I spent 30 min on a cardio machine and barely even noticed (even went past my time) since I was so engrossed in the book. That helps me more than any specific thing. I also have a specific weight circuit I do (that one is harder with the book, alas), and it has a set number of machines which helps.

        2. Tris Prior*

          If your gym does group fitness classes that can be a great way to get out of your head. I pretty much exclusively do dance fitness-type things at mine and I have found I cannot ruminate and also follow the instructor’s choreography! Also, it helps to see all sorts of body types. My gym is very diverse though, not all are.

          1. Misty*

            I’ve never thought of bringing a book to the gym, that’s super smart. I’ll have to try it sometime.

            I don’t currently go to a gym that has classes but I should look into it. Everyone in my area is really into this chain gym that has really cheap rates but they don’t have any classes. Dance fitness sounds like fun.

      2. Arts Akimbo*

        Yes to this. Also, when exercise alone doesn’t seem to cut it, I up my vitamin D intake. I am really not sure why but this seems to positively affect my mood more than anything else. I’m not usually a big believer in vitamin supplements, and maybe I’m placebo-ing myself, but vitamin D, mannnn! :D

        1. Misty*

          I think you’re right about the vitamin D. A while back I got my blood tested to see if I was low on anything and I was low on D and B. It really helps me when I take them. Sometimes I forget and I realize it when I feel kinda blah like a week later.

  31. Victoria, Please*

    Does anyone have recs for good non-alcoholic beer? I love beer but feel soooooo much better not drinking alcohol.

    I like Clausthaler dry-hopped malted beverage but can’t find it often.

    1. Erin*

      In my recent pregnancy I tried several non-alcoholic beers. My favorite was Krombacher’s Hefeweizen, absolutely ice cold in a frosty pint glass with a slice of lemon.

    2. Lizabeth*

      Heineken has come out with a non-alcohol beer that I find pretty good and easy to find (most of the time).

    3. Grace*

      I know a lot of people who are fans of BrewDog’s Nanny State (0.5%) if you can get your hands on that.

    4. NMFTG*

      Easy Rider Bulldog IPA is great, if you have access to that, it’s Danish, I think.

      Like somebody mentioned, Scottish Brewdog’s Nanny State is fabulous. It’s very, very strongly hopped, so you might not, if you prefer the malted non-alcoholics.

      Clausthaler Pale Ale is also great.

      If you’ve not tried them yet, low-alcohol is also a good way to go. I don’t know the US, but in Europe you can often find very excellent beers at about 2.5 per cent alcohol (which is about half of a generic lager). I don’t know what they might be called in the US, they are “light”, but not light as in calorie light, light as in alcohol light. I’ve seen that as a trend in my local hipster artisan brew place – lower alcohol but full taste (as opposed to the high alcohol tripple hopped IPAs of five years ago).

  32. Myrin*

    So, I’m an avid and experienced gardener when it comes to… crops, I guess? Food, I mean. Growing food. It’s called “Nutzpflanzen” in German which literally translates to “use(ful) plants” but my dictionary tells me it should be “crops” which I thought were only things like wheat or rye but whatever. Not the point.

    The point is, I’m good with live plants, growing plants, even live flowers, but I don’t know a lot about cut flowers. I remember a few weeks ago I mentioned buying myself a bouquet from time to time and then people started to get very technical in the replies regarding lengthening the longevity of cut flowers and thelike and my eyes became really big because I learned that I have no idea about any of this!

    So please, are any of you particularly good with cut flowers? I didn’t even know that was a thing! I just put them in water and changed it when it started to become murky. What more is there to it? Please tell me all the things!

    1. Anon Here*

      I have no idea, but I can comment on the language thing. “Crops” are plants grown commercially on farms, orchards, etc. Produced on a large scale to be sold.

      In English, we differentiate between “vegetables gardens,” “flower gardens,” and “herb gardens.” There isn’t a word that lumps together edible plants grown for personal use. But our “vegetable gardens,” often include fruit. Also, there are probably regional variations and region-specific terms.

      1. Asenath*

        In Canada, at least, it would seem a bit odd to speak of the crops in your home garden, but normal to say “My zucchini crop was great this year. Would you like a dozen zucchini?” (um courgettes in some places).

        Cut flowers – cut the stems at an angle, as mentioned above. Check daily and replenish/change the water and remove any leaves or flowers that are beginning to die, and rearrange the best. You can get powders to add to the water; I never thought they made much difference. I was also told to hold them upside down when carrying them home (stems up in the air, presumably to stop the sap from running out or something) but I never found that made a difference either. Some cut flowers last a lot longer than others; I’ve always put that down to their basic nature – carnations will last for ages; roses, not so much. I learned this from observation.

        1. Myrin*

          I’m happy to say that I’m already doing all of that (don’t know what’s up with the “cut stem at angle” thing but it’s actually the one thing my mum’s always saying about cut flowers, too) and also that you, too, find that the powders don’t do much and that it’s also a matter of which plant we’re talking about, period. I had one bouquet last like two weeks whereas another one was basically completely wilted after a few days, and I hadn’t done anything different between the two.

          1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

            Larger surface area on a diagonally cut stem leads to better water absorption. Or at least that’s what I was told.

            1. Arts Akimbo*

              ^This. You’re essentially exposing more of the xylem and letting the water get in there and up into the stem.

              1. Arts Akimbo*

                Also, cut phloem immediately gums the stem up in order to prevent sugar loss. Cutting them under running water minimizes this response and enables the stems to draw up the contents of the vase as if from its own roots. This is why you always cut the stems fresh when you get them home, because the ends of the previous cut are already gummed up and won’t draw up much water.

                This is my hazy remembrance of my former life as a plant physiologist, LOL

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          In my northeast US usage, my default meaning for a person’s garden is growing things I like to eat, with a few flowers. The adjectives show up for specific versions: flower garden, herb garden, ornamental garden, cactus garden. Two variations that now strike me as odd are ‘rock garden’, neaning plants grown on, over, and tumbling down rocks. And the one you might like– ‘kitchen garden’, meaning a garden where you grow things to eat. If the property is a farm, the kitchen garden will be the plot closest to your house.
          All the other adjectives are about what is growing…but we’re not growing rocks and kitchens.
          The flower powder home version is sugar and cream of tartar, to mimic the nutrients that normally come up the stem.

      2. Myrin*

        Aha, that’s what I figured but I couldn’t explain it quite so well – thanks for the detailed explanation!

    2. Parenthetically*

      Simplest is to cut the stems at an angle and change the water daily. You can add a drop of bleach to the water as well — the idea is to keep the germs at bay. There are also commercially-available cut-flower foods — powders or liquids you add in small quantities to the vase along with the water.

    3. Grace*

      Some are just better than others, in my experience. Alstroemeria are fantastic – I’ve never had them last less than two weeks, and often longer, with no special care required. Just make sure to trim the stamens if you have cats, since they’re lilies.

  33. Myrin*

    Ugh, my sciatica is rearing its ugly head for basically the first time in ten years. I have a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday anyway so I’ll have him take a look at it. It’s not very bad yet and only ever temporary (it came back about a week or so ago?) but ugh if it doesn’t remind me of the worst pain I’ve ever had outside of my biliary colic last year. With two physically demanding jobs, fun times are lying ahead of me!

    1. Lena Clare*

      When I had sciatica I did the exercises on the NHS website and they relieved it immensely.
      Google NHS sciatica for them, and hope you have some relief soon.

    2. fposte*

      If you’ve got something tennis ball-y around, it wouldn’t hurt (well, it’ll hurt but it won’t harm you :-)) to sit on it and roll it around the affected side–a lot of times sciatica involves an overstressed piriformis (even if that’s not the original source, the p can tighten up and make it worse) and that can help loosen its grip.

  34. JDC*

    I read an article a while back about foreigners favorite American foods. The number one was biscuits and gravy. I was surprised by that answer but obviously it is delicious. Do NOT even get me started about the biscuits and gravy omelette the diner by my house makes. I am sure it is 10000 calories but it is so delicious. It made me wonder what people on here who aren’t from the US would say is there favorite American food.

    I will say my favorite non American food is German food. Mmmm..

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I don’t know if these foods originated in America but they’re what I think of as American food and they’re definitely my favourite:

      1. Fried chicken
      2. Pecan pie

      My favourite non-American food will always be fish and chips with curry sauce from my local chippe in the UK.

      1. StellaBella*

        Those two items, and Mexican food in Seattle, are my favourites. Damn I miss fried chicken and my mom’s pecan pie from the pecans off the trees at the house in Alabama.

    2. Myrin*

      Ha, I’ve never even heard of biscuits and gravy before (which is weird. I spend like all my online time on mainly American websites – how has this never come up before? Or it has and I just read “biscuits” and kinda went “yeah whatever” mentally without actually comprehending the content.) and reading up on it, it doesn’t sound particularly appealing to me but I feel like I’d have to eat it at a place like the diner you mention to properly comprehend and appreciat it.

      As for favourite American food, Salisbury Steak for sure. We have several meals where parts are similar but nothing that’s exactly this combination and it’s just so good. We mostly eat local food (German, coincidentally) with some Italian/French sprinkled in but this is the one American dish I’m obliged to make once a month because everyone in my family loves it to pieces.

      1. Dan*

        I don’t think it’s weird that you’ve never heard of them. They tend to be a regional delicacy, most prevalent in the US South, so not a national obsession. They also aren’t something people mess with too much, so you wouldn’t see too many references on a food blog or whatever where things tend to focus on “new” stuff or a modern twist on a traditional dish.

      2. CoffeeforLife*

        I always thought biscuits were mostly ho-hum filler.. until I started baking them myself. Sublime, buttery, flaky, fluffy pastry. So delicious and so easy to make.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        As far as i can tell, the most American drink out there is not Coca-Cola or Pepsi — those are populAR worldwide.
        It’s root beer. Our observation is if yiu didnt have it as a kid, you wont like it as an adult. I’ve only met two Europeans who like it–one had his first year of school in the US when a parent was here, and one grew up near a US military base and had access to US sweets. And the American who lived many of his early years in Italy does not like it.
        Do you match this pattern?

        1. Myrin*

          I’ve never had root beer! I also don’t think I’ve ever seen it anywhere and a quick googling session confirms that – apparently it tastes akin to “cough syrup” or “mouthwash” to Germans and as such isn’t sold much even in big cities.
          (I don’t like beer in general, though, even though I’m from the beer region and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone in my general vicinity who doesn’t like it even a little. Although I did taste a local beer at the inn I work at recently – a dark wheat beer with a surprisingly sweet aftertaste, brewed in the town I went to secondary school at – and I liked that, although I still probably wouldn’t get it on my own.)

          1. Anono-me*

            American style root beer is a sweet non-alcoholic soda pop. It is best served with ice cream,either as a float or as a brown cow.

        2. Akcipitrokulo*

          I think it’s still true… Scotland is the only country where cocacola is not the bestseller. Irn Bru is :)

      4. Thankful for AAM*

        I’m American and have heard of biscuits and gravy but just learned from this thread that it is a milk based gravy. I dont even know what that is!!

    3. Queer Earthling*

      I often watch those YouTube videos of people from various places trying American food. I’m often delighted by how many people end up liking Twinkies, given how much everyone rags on the *concept* of a Twinkie. But I mean. It’s a sponge cake with a creamy filling.

    4. londonedit*

      I’ve never had biscuits and gravy. Not sure I’d like it!

      We lived in the US for a few years when I was a child so my favourite American foods are mainly children’s food like Fruit Roll-Ups and Tootsie Rolls. I don’t eat meat, so a lot of what I’d think of classic American food isn’t for me (like hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs, BBQ stuff etc).

      If I’m thinking about my favourite ‘foreign’ food, it would be Thai or Italian.

      1. Parenthetically*

        I think biscuits and gravy is an acquired taste. I adore it, having grown up eating my dad’s perfect and glorious biscuits and gravy of a frosty Saturday morning throughout my life, but my Aussie husband is not a fan, milk-based gravy not being a thing, and scones being something one has with jam and cream!

        1. londonedit*

          I think I’d be with your husband on this one! Gravy to me is a brown sauce for a roast dinner, and scones are for jam and cream!

          1. Parenthetically*

            We certainly have brown gravy as well (and lighter gravy for poultry, and all kinds of other sauces), but milk-based gravy seems pretty uniquely American — though it is based on an ordinary white sauce!

            1. va*

              Its pretty common where Im from; its how you make gravy, if you have no meat juice to base the it on. Do americans make them very different?

              1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

                Google ‘sausage gravy recipe’ and see how it compares to your local milk based gravy. Now I’m curious if yours is the same!

                1. Clisby*

                  Yes, I’m from SC and if you say “biscuits and gravy” I assume you mean sausage gravy – not just a white cream sauce thing. It was the same when I lived in the Midwest.

              2. MysteryFan*

                Pork fat is the key to a rich taste in milk gravy. I prefer sausage (fry it out separate, use the grease to make the basic white sauce, add the sausage back, use lots of black pepper). If I don’t have any sausage, I use bacon grease… which us southern girls keep in a small jar in the fridge for cooking.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I’m not a huge fan of b&g myself – it’s a texture thing, I hate wet bread – but my husband will order a cup of sausage gravy any time we go out to breakfast and dump it over his whole plate :-P eggs, hash browns, biscuits, everything except the pancakes. (I’m not sure I could forgive gravy on the pancakes :) )

          1. Parenthetically*

            We have a Waffle House just a couple blocks up the street from us, and I have been known to order hashbrowns, over-medium eggs, and gravy. And a defibrillator. ;)

        3. CoffeeforLife*

          I think scones are subtly different than biscuits. Scones are usually dryer and more dense with a touch of sweetness. Biscuits (the ones I make) are buttery, flakey, and pair equally with savory and sweet toppings.

          1. Parenthetically*

            The scones all my Aussie friends make are virtually indistinguishable from biscuits! Butter, self-rising flour, milk.

    5. Dan*

      I asked a similar question of an Indian classmate back in grad school. Something along the lines of what restaurant she’d take a visiting friend or relative out for “American food.” She said “IHOP”. Couldn’t argue with that. Another classmate told me that her Taiwanese boyfriend “he cook too much like American.” How so, I asked? “Too much cook in microwave.”

      Given how much of a melting pot America and its food is, I’m always curious what foreigners consider to be “American food.” Steak and hamburgers top the list.

    6. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I tried Triskets (probably spelt that wrong) once and devoured the lot. So wonderful and unlike anything in the UK. Also the notion of chewy cookies instead of rock hard ones!

      Husband unit adores the American pop tarts flavours. :)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’ve wondered, after watching the British Baking Show, do y’all just not *do* soft cookies? Everything is always crisp and snappy, haha.

        1. londonedit*

          We do have soft cookies, but they’re very much seen as an American import. British biscuits are smaller and hard and snappy, so they can be dunked in a cup of tea!

        2. Jack Russell Terrier*

          Jaffa cakes are nice and soft! You can get the French equivalent – Pimms – in the US.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Aldi sells Jaffa Cakes now and then, but they’re under the German brand. They’re indistinguishable from the British kind, however, and they come in orange and raspberry. :)

                1. londonedit*

                  Yep, Jaffa Cakes aren’t biscuits, and while they’re soft, they’re not soft in the way an American cookie would be.

        1. Woman of a Certain Age*

          This definitely dates me, but the first time I heard of “Triscuits” was on a TV commercial when I was a teen back in the 1970s. This is a link to the actual commercial . These three singers are “The Trio” (also referred to as “The Girls” from “The Lawrence Welk Show.”


          1. Filosofickle*

            I remember the song!

            My grandfather LOVED the Lawrence Welk Show. He’d watch the same episode back to back, one that broadcast out of Toledo Ohio and one out of Windsor Ontario. As kids when we visited I always found that super annoying — not only one hour of LW, but two! And the same two! And in those days, of course, there was only one TV so it was that or nothing.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I used to watch that and Hee Haw while waiting for The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights.

              Aaaaand now I’ve dated myself horribly. Haha.

      2. Llama Face!*

        They now have multiple flavours of Triscuits but I think the originals are still the best. Basically just salty wheat but mmmmmm!

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I go through a lot of Triscuits! They’re one of the relatively few mainstream, easy-to-find packaged foods that have no ingredients that I’m trying to avoid and which have some nutritional value. (I try to avoid soy, which is in a lot of baked goods, because it upsets my digestion if I eat too much of it. I also need to avoid paprika, which can be in anything that just lists “spices”. My other choice for easily-available-at-a-convenience-store starch is some, but not all, brands of plain potato chips.)

        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I’m now really bummed that rye Triscuits are not readily available here. They used to be one of my staple foods and I almost always get a box when I go home.

      3. Alex*

        I’ve never been to the UK and this answer is just slaying me. Triscuits! Lol. I didn’t realize they were so American. I mean, they’re great and I buy them but I never thought twice about it.

        1. londonedit*

          I don’t even know what a Triscuit is. They’re not a thing in the UK so I guess people would think of them as particularly American.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Have you ever eaten Shredded Wheat, the breakfast cereal? Think of that texture, but flat and the size and shape of a cracker, and salted like a cracker. That’s a Triscuit.

    7. Jackalope*

      I’m American but lived outside the US for awhile. This isn’t really answering your question but I have to vote for peanut butter. And things with peanut butter in them. Also, i love cheeses from all over the world but I have a certain fondness for cheddar.

    8. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious*

      My favorite is Mexican cuisine. Even married a Mexican and learned to cook Mexican way better than my Mexican spouse.

    9. NMFTG*

      For drinks: pre-prohibition cocktails!

      For food: Of the flavours I think of as uniquely American, I think Key Lime Pie and the combination of bacon with maple syrup are my favourites (although not together!).

      In terms of regional cuisines in the US, it would probably be Tex-Mex or South-Western flavours. I love both Mexican and Tex-Mex flavours, but Tex-Mex has the nostalgia factor since that’s was my introduction.

      While I like fancy macaroni and cheese, e.g., that’s not “American” in my mind – pasta gratin is very European.

      In how I actually eat, though, I would guess that the food has more similarities with “California hipster food” than any other American style. :D

    10. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      When Swedish friends and family came to visit it was IMPERATIVE that we shovel large quantities of meat into them. Beef, particularly fine steak cuts, is not cheap in Sweden, and for them to have huge wads of grilled steak was a big deal. Oh, and grilled corn on the cob.

      I have a South African friend who is obsessed with US BBQ styles.

      As an American overseas if I could get cheese that is stretchy and gooey like at home I would. You cant make decent Tex Mex without it!

    11. Lilo*

      I’d say NY style pizza (chewy, foldable pizza). Very much an American creation, one of my favorites.

      My favorite “non-American” food is pho.

    12. LDN Layabout*

      I had biscuits for the first time the last time I was in America. I’d never really been that drawn to them and then I tried them for the first time AND I WAS OBSESSED. THESE ARE GREAT.

      Also chicago hot dogs from Portillos. I was only meant to go once while I was in Chicago and…I did not.

    13. Not My Money*

      Not foreign but we live in California and have driven cross country for work many, many times. We love when we’ve finally driven far enough east and south for the hotel breakfast to include biscuits and gravy.

    14. Paris-Berlin-Seoul Express*

      My favorite American food is Maryland crab cakes. Nothing beats crab cakes made with fresh bluecrabs. My favorite foreign food is Thai. My favorite go to comfort food overall is German, especially roasted duck or goose in the wintertime. Now that we don’t live there anymore that’s hard to come by. German restaurants in South Korea are almost non-existent and the one we did find bore little resemblance to the original.

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My favorite food from trips outside of the US? It’s a tossup between France’s croissants and Denmark’s ondagsnegler. Literally “Wednesday snails”, they’re a Danish cinnamon pastry made of something so flaky and buttery, and with SO MUCH cinnamon my mouth is watering just thinking about them.
      And they’re made with Danish butter which is itself heavenly.

      1. Embarassed Dane*

        Just googled it and apparently it is a Copenhagen thing that is bigger then the ordinary cinnamon snails and originally made for football matches which took place Wednesdays. The more you know :)

    16. Definitely a Real Cat*

      When my German friends visit they always want the 3 B’s: biscuits, brownies, bacon. Nothing over there is quite the same as ours.

  35. Foreign Octopus*

    Thank you to everyone who helped me figure out my buttermilk situation last week. I made my chocolate cake for my mum’s birthday and it was the best cake I have ever made. I was so doubtful of the recipe as there was a lot of sugar and a lot of liquid but it was absolutely perfect! It was so good that I think I became my dad’s favourite child for a couple of days, so win-win.

    For anyone interested, the recipe came from Foodess but I had to translate it into British measurements (seriously, I do not understand cups. What is a cup?!). The UK version is below:

    350g cups all purpose flour
    400g granulated white sugar
    150 unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    2 large eggs
    235ml buttermilk or substitute by putting 1 tbsp white vinegar in a cup then filling the rest up with milk; let stand 5 minutes until thickened
    110g cup butter melted
    1 tbsp vanilla extract
    235 ml hot coffee or 2 tsp instant coffee in 1 cup boiling water
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch baking pans (or line with parchment paper circles) and set aside.

    In the large bowl of a standing mixer, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla extract and beat until smooth (about 3 minutes). Remove bowl from mixer and stir in hot coffee with a rubber spatula. Batter will be very runny.

    Pour batter evenly between the two pans and bake on middle rack of oven for about 35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs attached.

    Allow to cool 15 minutes in pans, then run a butter knife around the edges of each cake. Place a wire cooling rack over top of each pan. Wearing oven mitts, use both hands to hold the racks in place while flipping the cakes over onto the racks. Set the racks down and gently thump on the bottom of the pans until the cakes release. Cool completely before handling or frosting.

    1. londonedit*

      A cup is a volume measurement rather than a weight. You can buy sets of measuring cups that are ‘a cup’ (and half a cup, etc) in size. It’s really hard to translate it all yourself! Cups are necessarily slightly less accurate than weighing ingredients, so I much prefer the UK way of doing everything by weight, rather than US cup measurements.

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        What’s even worse is that there is a difference between cups for dry ingredients (flour, sugar, etc.) and cups for liquid ingredients (water, oil, etc.). I wish more American recipes included weight measurements and not just volume measurements.

        1. Alex*

          Totally agree. I’m in the US and use weight measurements whenever possible. So much more accurate! If I’m using something that comes in a package I often use that as a guide for how much to use, since serving sizes are often given in both cups and weight.

      2. Dan*

        I don’t bake, but when I’m working with food where measurements are important, and especially when I have to multiply or divide, it’s so much easier to set the scale in metric and work that way. Having to multiply or divide US volume measurements is a pain, and I’m good at math.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I find that US measurements are easier for “informal” calculations, whereas metric are easier for formal calculations. So, for example, if I’m halving a US recipe that has 1 ⅔ cup flour, I can just grab the ½ and ⅓ cup measures instead of the 1 and ⅔ measures to measure the flour, rather than actually calculate out how much flour I’m going to be using. If I wanted an exact number, it would be easier to work in an easily decimilized system like metric rather than conclude that I need ⅚ cups of flour.

          1. Dan*

            So… I’m struggling just a tad with your post because 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup is equivalent to 5/6 cup.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              The measuring scoops come in a set with these standard sizes: 1 cup, 1/2, 1/3, and 1/4. Below that we measure by spoons…of two sizes of course. A teaspoon is, well, about the volume of one sugar cube. I *think* US & UK cubes are the same size. A tablespoon is 3 teaspoons.
              Bakers who compete in country fairs very carefully sift flour before measuring to even out the amount in a volume measure.
              It’s as confusing to learn as the old British money, before it went decimal!

              1. Dan*

                I mean… I’m American and I cook at home a bit, so this is stuff I know well. Seven Hobbits was trying to say (I think anyway) that rounding off is good enough for most purposes, and she’s right (unless you’re baking). It’s just that her example of rounding with the standard measurements is an exact equivalent of the precise thing that we don’t have a standard measurement for. IOW, “my way is a close enough approximation”. Well no, your way in that example was an exact match.

            2. Sarah*

              I assume that each of these cup measures gets filled twice. That’s what I do at least, along with spooning a dry ingredients in after sifting, in order to avoid said dry ingredients getting packed down too much.

              1. Sarah*

                Annnnnd I should read more carefully, bc of course Seven Hobbits is dividing the recipe in half! Haha, whoops!

            3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

              Yes, both the process of simply grabbing the ½ cup and the ⅓ cup of flour and the process of figuring out what number is half of 1 ⅔ will land you at the same place: ⅚, which is how much flour you would need if you were making a half-recipe. However, the person grabbing the half-size cups may never “know” that they’re working in 6ths and will probably think of the recipe as being ½ cup plus ⅓ cup of flour (which is how both people are likely to actually measure it out) whereas the person who Did The Math will then have to figure out how to measure ⅚ cups without a ⅙ cup measure, and either use the same measuring tools as the other person or measure a full cup and then scoop the right number of teaspoons out of it to get there.

              However, for most people, remembering which measuring cups are half as big as which other measuring cups is much easier than doing math that involves dividing fractions, so the “informal” method of grabbing the cups that are just half as big to halve the recipe rather than the “formal” method of Doing Some Math is more likely to result in people getting the correct amounts pretty quickly.

              On the other hand, if I’m measuring by weight and I know the recipe usually calls for 240 grams, I’m doing a division process on the entire number at once to conclude that I need 120 grams in half of it, which may involve having slightly better formal number sense than grabbing the smaller set of cups, but which is an easier calculation for most people to do since most people are better doing math with decimals than fractions.

      1. Christina*

        A cup measure is 8 fluid ounces, but that doesn’t translate to weight. For instance, 1 cup of flour is about 4 ounces, 1 cup of sugar is about 7 ounces.

    2. Jackalope*

      A cup is also 240 mL. If you are comfortable with math, that makes figuring out other measurements simple: 1/2 a cup is 120 mL, 1/3 is 80 mL, 1/4 is 60 mL, etc. A teaspoon (abbreviated tsp) is 5 mL and a tablespoon (T) is 15 mL. I use that particularly to convert recipes with annoying numbers of tablespoons in my head (4 T is 1/4 cup which is easier to use, and seriously why do some recipes call for 10 T of something? So unwieldy) but it can also be helpful for someone not used to using the US measuring system.

    3. Fikly*

      Wonderful to hear the cake came out so well!

      Cups, as explained, are volume measures. They’re usually fine for liquids, but bad for solids, because the total amount will change based on humidity and how much you pack the ingredient down. So even in the US, anyone who bakes seriously will use weight rather than cups. (The exception is people who have been baking for 40+ years and can judge when something is right by eye.)

    4. PhyllisB*

      Glad your cake recipe turned out well. I’m American, so would have loved to see the US version. Maybe I’ll get motivated and look them up.

  36. Erin*

    Hi all. Hoping for some advice on a very stressful situation. I have a 9 week old daughter, and in the haze of newborn sleep deprivation, both my wife and I dropped the ball on enrolling her on our health insurance plan. We missed the 60-day eligibility window by 2 days. We tried to enroll her on day 62, we’re denied, and have sent in information to appeal the decision. I am not very hopeful about the outcome of the appeal because in my experience insurance companies do not willingly take on costs that they have any way of avoiding, and here they can simply point to our missing the eligibility window to enroll. We are now likely in the hook for all hospital charges for her (not for me though, as the person who delivered, since I do have coverage), and for all of the pediatrician visits since birth. Luckily she is healthy so it is only routine stuff, nothing complicated.

    Anyone have advice on the best way to move forward, both with 1) addressing these charges that we are now likely responsible for and 2) getting her some kind of health insurance coverage for between now and open enrollment, when we can add her? I am seriously stressed out. Thanks.

    1. Texan In Exile*

      Get the highest-level person in HR at your company and your boss involved. Ask them to advocate for you. This affects your productivity and employee morale. How can you possibly be expected to get any work done until open enrollment if you are worried about this?

      Good luck. Honestly, they should just default enroll babies. This is ridiculous that you should be going through this.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Also – check at the state level to see if there is a children’s heath insurance program. In Wisconsin, children can be on BadgerCare. (I don’t know what the rules are, though.)

        And what about Medicaid? Can a baby be on medicaid?

        Ask the hospital financial services department for advice. My HR person told me that hospitals have been known to pay the cobra premiums for people going through chemo. I know that’s not your situation, but my point is that they – the finance departments – can get creative.

        Oh man I hope this works out quickly for you. What a mess. What a bunch of jerks your insurance company is.

        1. Turtlewings*

          My nephew was on Medicaid as a newborn; his mom was still on our parents’ insurance (under age 26) but the baby could not be, and his dad was unemployed at the time (I’m not sure if he just had no insurance or what, maybe through the VA). So babies can absolutely be on Medicaid, including retroactively (they didn’t get him on until he was several days old but they still covered the birth).

      2. The New Wanderer*

        Seconded, if your appeal gets denied (it shouldn’t because obviously this is your dependent, but things happen) escalate to HR or whoever at your company manages the health care stuff. I had a similar problem where my first-born was either denied or not added because of some missing paperwork. It was only missing on their end because I made damn sure I followed every instruction to the letter. I think I just had to complete all the paperwork over again and fax it instead of snail-mail or something like that. Suffice to say you could have done everything correctly and still run into issues with insurance.

        Good luck!

    2. Nom de Plume*

      Ugh. That really sucks. I would keep appealing. My small company gets our insurance through the company that does our payroll, and I found out that they will help you deal with insurance coverage issues you may encounter. So maybe talk to your HR and see if they can point you in the direction of resources.

    3. Hazelnut Bunny*

      That happened with first kiddo. Ex’s father passed away about a month after little one was born. He was grieving hard and we missed the deadline by 1 day. I vaguely remember what happened. Kiddo never was able to get on during the first year but did after. Part of the first year was split between Medicaid and private insurance (not through either employer). We only had to pay out of pocket for first two months of life medical bills and then he was insured. All the best!

    4. Courageous cat*

      Obamacare? It’s not cheap, but I’ve done it for a few months between insurances, and it’s certainly better than nothing.

      1. Natalie*

        ACA plans have the same qualifying event window (60 days) and it’s not currently open enrollment, so they would be in the same situation as with the work insurance.

    5. Jack Russell Terrier*

      If still denied, go through your HR first and if that’s still denied see if a health insurance advocate can help. That’s a long shot as it’s probably not their bailiwick but you never know.

    6. Erin*

      Sincere thanks to all who replied. We are supposed to hear the decision in the appeal on Monday. If that is not successful we will head to HR and simultaneously take a look at what plans are available on the marketplace.

    7. Mimosa Jones*

      Yikes! You’ve also missed the window for enrolling in the ACA (Obamacare). That’s also 60 days from a qualifying event. I think you can try and enroll her in Medicaid or your state’s children’s insurance program at any time, so that’s a good place to start. And depending on the state, Medicaid/Children’s insurance is very good and has a high income threshold, so lots of kids qualify. States tend to have a long window to accept or deny so it’s best to get that application in ASAP. I think they respond pretty quickly and the coverage is back-dated to the application date. There’s also gap coverage that I think is only good for a couple months, but could help cover all the well-check appointments while you figure things out. My first call on Monday would be to a local insurance agent that works with health insurance. You can also try a health insurance advisor. I’ll put a couple links in the comments.

      Agents/Brokers are going to be somewhat trained in how to use the ACA site and well versed in the insurance their companies represent. Advisors are likely to have more experience with the marketplace and medicaid. Your state should also have a few Medicaid offices and the people there are often very helpful if you have one nearby. You many have to make several calls to different departments get all the information you need.

      My second call on Monday would be to the hospital billing department. They can either advise you on how to get your baby covered from birth, or you can negotiate a payment plan on what you owe. If the bills are yours, be sure to look at every line item and make sure you got the service being billed. Also ask about providers who bill separately and try and get a handle on what bills will be coming and when.

      Oh, and congratulations! I’m sorry such a happy event is being marred by bureauocracy and red tape.

      1. Mimosa Jones*

        Just thought of this…it’s possible that your insurance company’s refusal to cover your daughter can in its self be considered a qualifying event. So then the clock resets and you have 60 days to find coverage and you have the ACA as an option. It’s a slim chance, but it’s something to ask about. The ACA is funded by the federal government and Medicaid is funded by the state. So if there’s a chance that your daughter will qualify for Medicaid, the Feds will kick the ball to the state to see if you qualify and you’ll have to wait for that decision before you can shop on the marketplace. Like I said before, any insurance is backdated to start the day you applied. Doctor’s billing departments probably have a process for people who are waiting on coverage decisions. If you don’t qualify for Medicaid or your State’s children’s plan, then you’ll have the marketplace and possibly subsidies. If you refuse the medicaid (which is tough to do), you can still shop on the ACA marketplace, but you won’t get any subsidies.

        You can go to the healthcare marketplace and pre-shop so you know what you might qualify for. The levels are confusing. People tend to push you towards the Silver plans because they come with help with both the monthly premiums and the deductible, but when I looked at the site and put in my information to be able to see anticipated annual costs, the Silver plans didn’t end up being the cheapest. We never got much further in the process, so I don’t know why they’re so popular if they’re not cheaper. I was told that all plans on the marketplace have to cover the same things, so you’re essentially choosing between different varieties of apples.

    8. Melody Pond*

      Having worked for a health insurance company, in the department that would’ve handled exactly this situation…

      I don’t think I’ve seen this said, but just to be clear, is your insurance coverage through your employer? What is your enrollment process normally like, such that you’ve been operating thus far (attempting to enroll your newborn on day 62, submitting an appeal) without the involvement of your HR folks to begin with? Do you know if your employer is self-funded versus fully insured?

      1. Erin*

        Hi Melody, the insurance is through my wife’s employer, which is the state. The process for enrolling our daughter was literally to go online and enter her name and date of birth. Like a 10 second process. I’m so mad at myself that this slipped through the cracks. Why didn’t it occur to us to do it on our phones in the waiting room at one of her checkups??? AAAAARRGGGHHH.

        Since you have worked in this department, do you have any sense of how often appeals like this are granted/denied? My wife has had pretty debilitating PPD/PPA since the birth and that is part of the reason we’ve just been trying to keep our heads above water and haven’t gotten administrative stuff like this done. So we included documentation of her PPA/PPD and treatment efforts from her therapist and psychiatrist (the person at the insurance company who instructed us on how to file the appeal said to include any documentation explaining what happened) but I don’t know if that will have any effect at all. Any insight you can share based on your experience would be really welcome. Thanks.

        1. Melody Pond*

          Hi there – I’m so sorry it took me a while to respond.

          Ask your HR staff whether the state is self-funded (they pay for everyone’s claims, and only pay the insurance company an administrative fee to manage the paperwork and to comply with HIPAA) or fully insured (they pay premiums and the insurance company actually pays the claims).

          If your wife’s employer is self-funded, your employer likely can decide to make the exception. If they are fully insured, they still probably have a lot of weight to throw around at the insurance company, because I’m guessing if it’s the entire state government, they are probably a “large” employer (100+ subscribers). So I would go to your HR benefits people immediately and ask them to ask the billing & eligibility department (the department that does this work) for an exception for a retro enrollment for your newborn. When I worked in this department, we tended not to grant exceptions that were a result of the member’s error (e.g., just missing the deadline for enrollment). But, if your wife’s employer is a large employer, like I said, they will have more weight to throw around at the insurance company, so ask your HR benefits people to push hard for an exception. If they can, it would help if they could hint that they might choose to go with a different insurance company in the future, over this.

          Good luck!

  37. Retail not Retail*

    I refuse to make resolutions or goals because my life has been very unpredictable.

    It is good that my new physical therapists can feel the tension and knots so they don’t think Imm making it up. No progress on pain but being believed matters!

    The warm weather is dicey but it does mean I can walk my dog.

    At work I learned all our farm animals get fluffy winter coats.

  38. Wm*

    Somebody’s baby had rsv on a recent free for all.
    Just wondering how baby is doing.
    My dh is sick and we have a 2 month old so I hope baby doesn’t catch it

  39. Nicki Name*

    Favorite large-batch, hearty soup recipes?

    I’ve got my grandma’s minestrone and a clam chowder recipe, but I’d like to expand my list.

    1. Alex*

      Creamy Turkey/Chicken with wild rice
      Curried red lentil with butternut squash, coconut milk, and lime
      Broccoli, Cheese, and Potato (I use the recipe from Skinnytaste)

    2. Parenthetically*

      Chili is a favorite — no specific recipe but I always use beer, smoked paprika, and cocoa powder.

      I also think a dal tarka is one of the simplest and most flavorful things a person can make on a cold night, and it’s infinitely scalable. Link to one such in reply.

        1. lasslisa*

          Yes! Dal is the best quick warm healthy comfort food. You can make a basic yellow dal in so many ways, I always keep a thing of split red lentils in my pantry for this.

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      My favourite is creamy chicken soup where I roast a chicken, strip it apart, and then soup it with a mixture of milk and double cream. It never fails to make me feel better.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        This is today’s bulk recipe plan, that’s one of my favorites too!

        Also, shredded pork and potato chowder with veggies. Hearty soups are the best, mmm.

    4. Not A Manager*

      Oh my gosh, I love soup. My favorite hearty soup is basically a bunch of canned beans, a bunch of fresh veggies, and one turkey or pork kielbasa. If you’re interested I can post the recipe.

      Another fave is vegan black bean chili.

    5. fposte*

      Soup is my favorite thing. There are so many excellent soups!

      Some of my favorites:
      Beef chili with beans
      White chicken chili with fresh anaheim, poblano, and jalapeno chiles
      Coconut/peanut chicken soup with rice or rice noodles
      Sweet potato soup with bacon bits or pancetta
      White bean soup with whatever–kale and canned diced tomatoes are usual

    6. Jackalope*

      Someone last week recommended a smoky pumpkin chili recipe last week when I was asking for ideas on cooking pumpkin. I found one online that I really enjoyed. I also love corn chowder since it’s easy to make and very forgiving (I often use it as a catch-all where I add the basics like corn and white sauce with broth and then throw in whatever other veggies need using up).

    7. LDN Layabout*

      I love kitchen cupboard tex-mex soup, because there’s no set recipe. It’s whatever canned beans/sweetcorn I have in the cupboard, seasonings, canned tomatoes and sometimes some form of meat (chorizo/beef/chicken). Shove it all in the slow cooker and done.

    8. Pony tailed wonder*

      I was reading an old Betty Neels book one day and two main characters had a bowl of snert. I had never heard of it before so I looked it up. It is a muscled up version of split pea soup. The recipes looked easy.

    9. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      – Black eyed peas with ham and greens

      – Vegetable soup (loosely based on an old Weight Watchers “cabbage soup diet” recipe, but basically fresh or frozen vegetables of various kinds – broccoli, the “mixed vegetable” stuff that has little cubes of carrots with corn and lima beans, zucchini, onions, green beans, mushrooms, etc; chopped white cabbage, broth of choice, and tomato juice. The idea in the diet was that you have a bowl whenever you are hungry and add different seasonings or extras like cooked ground beef and salsa for “taco” style, but that means that you can easily change the basic stuff to add whatever seasonings you like.)

      – Potato and leek

    10. Lena Clare*

      Nigella Lawson’s yellow split pea soup with mace, with or without hotdogs (I use vegan) is delicious.
      I love it with sourdough bread.

      I also make a very nice lentil soup – just fry some onion and carrot (and sometimes celery too) chopped finely till soft (I blitz these in the blender usually, till not-quite-mush), then add red lentils, stock, potatoes, and a bay leaf and boil for about 20 minutes, or till the tatties are cooked. Sometimes I’ll also add a tin of tomatoes. Take the bayleaf out before serving with lots of black pepper. This is nice with rye and another grain like spelt bread.

    11. Filosofickle*

      Today I’m making caldo verde, aka portugese kale soup. The recipe I use is basically a leek and potato base + kale, ham hock, and linguiça. I love how comforting it feels.

    12. Apt Nickname*

      Last night we had a ridiculously easy soup that’s a lot like Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana: Italian sausage, spinach and gnocchi in a creamy, garlicky broth. Both my kids approved and it’d be easy to double. I also did a sweet potato, sausage and kale soup kit but since it was for someone else I never got to taste it.

  40. MOAS*

    A new local business left an advertising sticker on my windshield. The paper part of it is now stuck and won’t come off. Is there anything I can do? They’re local so I was thinking of going there in person, showing it and telling them to stop putting it on my car. It’s going to leave a nasty residue and mark

    1. BRR*

      I would try the edge of a razor blade and would send them a picture of it (seriously, who uses a sticker?).

    2. Forrest Rhodes*

      WD-40 worked great when roofers dripped some tar on my windows (and I didn’t notice it for a month or so). Sprayed WD-40 on the hardened tar, let it sit for a while, scraped it off with a spatula (plastic), then Windex-cleaned the glass. Surprisingly easy and effective—and probably a lot easier with a paper-stick than roofing tar.

    3. OperaArt*

      Hair dryer, if you can park in a garage. Works great for removing my expired California vehicle registration stickers.

    4. anon24*

      Former auto detailer here. Soak it with a good automotive glass cleaner (not windex) and use a razor blade edge to scrape it off. It shouldn’t leave any residue.

      Alternatively, you can try rubbing alcohol and the edge of an old credit card/gift card but it may not work as well.

    5. Professional Merchandiser*

      Baby oil works great for that. When I used to do resets that’s what I would use to clean shelves from paper things sticking to them (Detergent boxes were the worst!!) Works better than Goo Gone and smells better.
      If you don’t have any baby oil and don’t wish to purchase any, mineral oil or just plain cooking oil works fine. Saturate, let sit for a bit and use something to lightly scrub. A steel wool pad (Use light pressure so you don’t scratch) or a Scotch-Brite pad. I don’t know if you are in US so if not whatever scrubbing pads you have available. I just had to do this on my dining room table. One of my grandchildren left a paperback book on the table and had set in a damp spot. By the time I discovered it, cover came off and was soldered on!! Used cooking oil and light scrub; came right up.

      1. corporate engineering layoff woo*

        Yikes! I would not use an abrasive scrubber at all on a window or other intentionally-clear glass!

        + to Goo Gone, rubbing/isopropyl alcohol, razor, and/or plastic card

        1. Professional Merchandiser*

          Corporate, I know that sounds odd advising a scrubber, but the trick is to use a LIGHT TOUCH!! Soft circles if you will. However, a razor or credit card would probably do well on glass.

    6. MOAS*

      Thanks guys for the cleaning tips. Weathers unseasonably warm so hoping that might help it lift off. Also due for a car wash as well.

      Is it even worth bringing up to the business? When I wrote this I was just so frustrated. I’m tired of living in an area (NYC) where people have no respect for others’ property esp cars. There’s always something or other happening to our vehicles. And I’m in a safe neighborhood. It’s so frustrating.

      1. Pony tailed wonder*

        I would call and go to their place of business and demand that they get it off instead of doing the work myself. However, I am a mirror personality, if you are an ass to me, then I will tend to be an ass right back.

        1. MOAS*

          I like that idea. I’ve physical limitations right now and I feel it’s unfair I have to put in the physical effort for their screw up.

      2. Jack Russell Terrier*

        It depends on your energy. I would go there myself and talk to the owner / manager only. I’d approach it from a place of ‘I’m sure you didn’t realize and certainly wouldn’t want to be upsetting potential customers’ as the most likely tone to be heard.

        A while back the Church across the street was having an addition built. The builders we often starting earlier and ending later than DC quiet laws. It was severely aggravating. I called the Pastor and pretty much said that ‘you probably don’t know but this is what the contractors are doing’. I could tell from her tone that she didn’t know and was mortified that her church was doing this to their neighbors. She told firmly that it wouldn’t happen again – and it didn’t.

      3. Observer*

        This may not even be legal.

        Definitely bring it up. Also, call 311 and ask if there is someplace you can report this. If they tell you who / where to call, definitely lodge the complaint if it happens again.

        1. Pony tailed wonder*

          In my town, you also have to have a permit from the city to post flyers, go door to door, or put things on windshields. You can also call your local library to find out if your town has that code or see if you can Google it yourself and take the matter farther if you don’t like their response.

        2. Arts Akimbo*

          Right? I feel like it’s vandalism if it actually damages your property/ leaves something behind that you have to physically scrub off.

  41. Really very anon*

    Question for others who have worked with a therapist… I was seeing one for a bit but have stopped because I felt like it wasn’t going anywhere … what am I supposed to think when a therapist says they had an idea or thought after the previous session that might be useful but forgot what it was for the next one? That wasn’t full reason I stopped going but it was part of it…

    1. fposte*

      I’d try somebody else. I think I’d by put off by that comment as well–why tell me if you can’t remember what your suggestion is? I wouldn’t necessarily change just because of that but if it was emblematic of reasons why we weren’t clicking I’d let that push me to moving elsewhere.

      1. Erin*

        I am a therapist and I agree with fposte. By itself I don’t think this is insurmountable/unforgivable, but taken together with the fact that you’ve also been feeling that the work has been unproductive thus far, I’d try someone else.

        1. Wishing You Well*

          Yes. You need a therapist you can work with. I wasn’t compatible with a couple of my first tries, but the right one can make a big difference!

    2. Alex*

      I don’t have any super advice, just some commiseration that I’ve found my attempts at therapy didn’t really go anywhere either, and in one case I felt like my therapist made some weird comments to me.

      Therapists are people, and people sometimes aren’t great. It’s OK to decide “Hm, this really doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere for me” and stop. Especially when it is money you could be spending or saving elsewhere.

    3. Anon for this one*

      It sounds like you might need to try someone else. I worked with 2 or 3 therapists before I found my current one, who is just FANTASTIC.

      One of the reasons I left my last therapist – besides the fact that I wasn’t making any long-term progress and never felt like I could 100% open up and be myself with her – was that she would forget things. Not small details, but things that were pretty important about me. For example, I was trying to get over social anxiety and meet new people. She suggested multiple times that I try church, despite knowing I was bullied at Catholic school, the teachers did nothing, and I don’t have a great relationship with Christianity as a result.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        I think I just had a full-body cringe reading that last sentence. I am so sorry that you had to deal with that, and I’m glad you finally found a therapist you gel with!

        1. Anon for this one*

          Thanks, so am I!

          The last therapist was recommended to me by someone else. She was a kind person and her intentions were good, but just not the right fit for me. Church or another religious group might be what some people need and can be a great place to meet others and form connects. Again, just not for me.

          I did my research after that and started by looking only at therapists who were LGBT+ friendly, which made a huge difference.

  42. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Yesterday morning, after about 10 hours of torrential rain, my sump pump backed up into my basement. It’s a finished basement with a tile floor, and my housemate’s home office is right there, so we caught it quick (though not quite as quick as we would’ve done had he put batteries in the water alarm next to the sump pump when he put it down, but that has been remedied). He picked stuff up and swept water back into the sump pit while I ran out and grabbed a couple bags of absorbent stuff and a shopvac, and it seemed to be doing okay after that. Meanwhile, I called the home warranty company to have someone out to look at the thing in case there’s an issue, it needs adjusting, whatever. The guy they assigned the ticket to is, shocker, up to his ears in sump pumps until Monday and told me that if they had actually talked to him, he would have told them that right away (three hours before) and they could’ve assigned me someone else. So I called them back and they called someone else, said they talked to Wakeen at thus-and-such plumbing, and Wakeen would call me to set up the arrangements. Nobody called me, and when I called thus-and-such plumbing at 5:15, the business office was already closed, not to open again until Monday morning.

    Pump backed up twice more last night. Poor housemate has probably been awake minding it most of the night, since the basement is sort of his apartment (by his request!). So I called the warranty company again to ask if they had another way to contact Wakeen or thus-and-such, and they’re just getting voicemail on the emergency phone number too. So now they’re working on getting me a THIRD contractor. Except that while I was typing this, Wakeen from thus-and-such plumbing just called me and should be here in an hour. So. Fingers crossed.

    1. Parenthetically*

      OOF. Have been there, constantly minding a shop-vac in the small hours because the sump pump can’t keep up. Crossing my fingers with you!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        They apparently canceled Wakeen’s service request, but I called them back and they called him and confirmed that they re-opened it, so we should be back on. :P I’m *hoping* it’s just that the thing needs to be adjusted, the floater switch is set too high or something something, I dunno. But I also have no idea how old the current pump is. I know the seller put in a brand new battery backup for it when I bought the house four years ago, but …

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Oh, Jiminy Christmas. So, the person I bought my house from was a full-time stripper. (Literally. She incorporated. About two weeks after I moved in, I got an envelope in my mail from the state department of revenue addressed to My Tits, LLC. I stood in the driveway staring at it for a solid two minutes, then came in the house and went “what is my LIFE.”) So far, all of the problems that we have had in my house, and a few of the things we’ve caught before they became problems, are due to the fact that the stripper seems to have done all her own home repairs DIY, and been utterly MISERABLE at it. My kitchen cupboards were screwed together side-to-side with 4” wood screws, leaving 3” of screw point sticking out into the cupboard. They were also hung to the wall without any concern for where STUDS might be found, under the apparent theory that “more screws will make up for it.” The shelves in my garage are two heavy old hutches, think like a dining room sideboard with an upper shelf on top, that were balanced on a little lip of concrete that’s 6” up from the floor and 2” out from the wall (yes, both of those are INCHES), then nail-gunned to the wall until they stayed. My housemate’s dad had to come out with a sawzall to get the old microwave off the wall because god even knows how they had it put up.

          And apparently, when she told us she had a battery backup put in, she meant that she put in an entire second pump, attached to a battery system. Herself. And didn’t secure it in place. Or plumb it correctly. So it shifted. The backups, in the last 24 hours, have been caused by the float trigger on the main pump getting caught up on the battery pump and not rising with the water level the way it’s supposed to do. (The controller on the battery pump system is also apparently not working, and the one she picked is an all-or-nothing, not one where we can just replace the controller, so I have to figure out what to do about that too.) The plumber shifted the battery pump back to where it’s not in the way for now, but I need to plan to have the plumbing in the sump pit redone soon so it’s, you know, RIGHT and not wobbling all over creation.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              This afternoon, I was relaying the saga to my bestie, and she was like “I don’t know whether to be annoyed or amused on your behalf that all your house issues ever relate back to the stripper’s DIY failures.” I said, I embrace the power of “and” :)

              Ooh, another one – when we replaced the master bathroom vanity, she had straight-up used tile cement to cement her vanity’s backsplash to the already-tiled wall, so now we have a couple of cracked tiles in the wall from where we had to pry the damn thing off.

              And I think Facebook might finally have stopped asking me if I want to check in at My Tits while I’m sitting in my living room. :P It’s been a minute. “Would you like to check in at — “ “NO, THANK YOU, NO I WOULD NOT.”

              1. Observer*

                Oh, my goodness! Yes, definitely “and”!

                I hope you got a good price on the house, for all the craziness you’ve endured, as well as the cost.

                I would also check ANYTHING she told you or might have touched. You don’t really want some more great surprises.

                1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                  I’ve been here for over four years now, so at this point, anything she did creatively that we haven’t found yet is at least sturdy, if wrong. Like, the furniture nail-gunned to the wall in the garage – the reason we haven’t done anything about that yet is that it’s up there so rock-solid that it’ll be a big production to figure out how to get it down. Like, every couple months we go out there and deliberately shake it and lean on it and such, to make sure it’s still okay, and it is. not. moving. Heh. My husband actually is planning to make a weekend of things with his brother this spring to get it down and put up more normal shelving, but I’m (jokingly) concerned that it just might be what’s holding the garage wall up, it’s in there so solid. :)

    2. Christy*

      What a pain! As I was growing up, our basement flooded semi-regularly. I have fond memories of bailing but my mother definitely does not. Good luck! I know what a struggle this issue is.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      You have my sympathy. My friend called at 3 AM, something is wrong with the pump. Oh boy. (She’s a good friend, and if she did NOT call we would have had words. She knew she should call.) But most of the day was about sump pumps.

      We are building a system. For the current sump pump she keeps the box and keeps the receipt in the box. (We have returned 3 so far and received her money back.) Now she is adding that she will keep a brand new pump on hand. Both the empty box and the new pump go on shelves high above the water level. We could have swapped pumps at 3 AM if we had one on hand.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, these little $100 pumps just don’t last in some settings. I have one here that has lasted close to five years. My friend’s pump lasted 4 months. wth. And this is the 5th or 6th pump she has had in 18 months. (Yeah, this an epic tale.) So we all agreed that she needed a heavier duty pump. This latest one is all cast iron. It’s a learning curve for sure. I read some reviews online to see where people where having problems so we could avoid problems with the next pump. I am hoping we made a good choice.

    4. Anono-me*

      Been and done with the middle of the night sump pump failure.

      If you need a replacement, please ask if you can pay to upgrade to a bigger horsepower one. (My warranty company let me upgrade if I paid the different and the contractor had the item on hand.) As several people have said, the standard ones are frequently underpowered and thus shortlived.

      Please ask if this is a silt problem? If it is, there are filter buckets that can help.

      Good luck .

    5. Bibliovore*

      Here’s one. Our old NYC coop apt had only 2 owners before us. An actress who had it for 2 years and the original owner who renovated it from an empty shell. He was a half-ass DIYer . Seriously awful. Many unpleasant surprises. Randomly contacted me to talk about the apt, 15 years after he had sold. Who does that? Explained many things from the weird wall to wall carpeting to the unsafe (not in his mind) electrical to the weird floating shelving to the tile on tile in kitchen. I just hmm hmmed and ahhhed on my end.

  43. Potty Training*

    What are your best potty training tips?

    6 days into to training my almost 3 yr old son. It’s going ok. I have him try to go every hour so he’s staying pretty dry, but he won’t poop on the potty. Even when I know he’s got to go and have him sit on the potty, he will wait until he’s back playing to go.

    How long did it take to potty train your kid?

    1. Mimosa Jones*

      Kids don’t always get trained in both poop and pee at the same time. They are different feelings and comfort levels. They also can day train before they night train. My daughter was poop trained long before she could recognize the feeling of needing to pee.

      The best measurement I’ve heard for determine if your child is ready is can they forms plan B. In other words, can they hold it when they need to go and then go when they’re able. If you don’t think he’s ready, you’re best off waiting a couple months rather than push g through.

      When I was training my daughter, we used a sticker chart and I rewarded effort as well as results. She got stickers for taking the initiative to sit on the potty and also for willingly sitting when I asked. And her final prize was a Dora shirt. We didn’t buy licensed clothing, or watch Dora, so this made it extra special. I also recommend cloth training pants. Extra laundry for you but pull-ups protect them from the wet feeling too much. The rest is just time and patience.

    2. Patty Mayonnaise*

      It sounds like you both are doing great so far! Six days is pretty early on so the pooping thing could click for him on its own. I personally didn’t do this (my son pooped on the potty before he used it to pee) but I’ve heard about this sort of graduated system for getting kids to poop on the potty, if they are having anxiety about it (I’ve heard that sometimes kids are more anxious about pooping for whatever reason). Start by having him poop in his diaper in the bathroom, then have him sit on the potty to poop (while still wearing the diaper), then eventually take off the diaper and use the potty normally.

      I second the rec for cloth training pants, or just going straight to underwear. It helps a lot for them to feel wetness and a little discomfort if they have an accident. Good luck!

    3. Elf*

      It may well go faster for you because our son was younger and some of the timing was clearly development, but it was about 4 months after he was pee trained before he pooped in the toilet, about 7 before he could tell he had to go and go without being told, and 2.5 years later he is now night trained with occasional accidents.

      We started when my son was a bit younger (just under 2.5), and it really came in stages. In some ways he was really unready when we started (I don’t think he could tell if he had to go at all), but we decided to give it a shot anyway because it was summer and we are teachers. However, my mother worked some voodoo magic a couple of days in, and got him on to a potty while he was peeing so some pee actually went in, and something clicked so if he was on the potty he would pee. At that point, as long as an adult made him use the toilet regularly he was fully capable of staying dry all day and did on most days, though he never asked/decided to go on his own. However, he did not poop on the potty until after Thanksgiving (we started in early July), and he finally started knowing when he had to go about when he turned 3 (6 months after we started), at which point it was very quickly solely his responsibility to manage that and he’s been an absolute champ about it (he interrupts himself during interesting activities to use the bathroom !!!). He stayed in diapers at night because he didn’t start having ANY dry nights until around when he turned four. A couple months later he successfully passed the 2 weeks straight dry nights challenge, so we took the diapers away, but it’s been a little inconsistent; he started off with about two straight months of dry nights, but then we went away and he had a few months of wetting a few times a week, and now he’s back to wetting very rarely.

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      I had a book and doll for my son that we read often before I got him his own potty. I waited till he was dry at night, then spent a mild afternoon with him outside with just a tshirt on. He got a surprise when he peed! Lol. When he had to poo I saw a little panic on his face, reminded him his potty was right here, he used it and that was about it for potty training. Learning to us etoilet paper, on the other hand, took the better part of a year.

      It is probably cold outside where you are but maybe there is a way to go without pants while you are watching him, at a time you think he is likely to poo?

      I’d also recommend a book on it from the library.

  44. Dr. KMnO4*

    Adventures with my sister-in-law…a rant

    Last year I posted about how my SIL thought I yelled at her when we were playing cards and delegated her husband to tell me that she was upset. (For the record, I did not raise my voice but I admit my tone was probably exasperated.) I was stunned that her husband brought the issue to my attention instead of my SIL talking to me directly, and I apologized. He referenced some mental health challenges of hers that I guess means that she didn’t feel she could discuss the issue with me. After the fact I wished I had told her husband that she needed to speak to me directly.

    This year we were visiting my parents-in-law’s house for Thanksgiving. My husband, his brother, myself, and my SIL were playing a game together. She raised her voice (in excitement) suddenly, and it kind of startled me, which always puts me on edge. I asked, calmly, for her to lower her voice. We finished the game and all went off to do different things. Around lunch, my BIL mentioned that she had a headache and was laying down in their room. I took that at face value until they left and my SIL did not say goodbye to me or my husband. She rushed out the door without saying a word to us. It turns out that my asking her to lower her voice was me criticizing her, and that caused her to cry for 2.5 hours (her “headache” was her staying in their room crying and avoiding me). When my husband later spoke to his brother, my BIL said that she has social anxiety and criticism is too much for her to handle (I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of what he said).

    I empathize with mental health challenges. I have multiple chronic mental and physical illnesses myself. I deal with my problems, however, and have adult conversations with people if I have an issue with how they act. I don’t make my husband deal with things for me. I don’t refuse to engage with people because they (in a reasonable manner) ask me to change what I’m doing. It’s frustrating that I am expected (by my BIL, SIL, and, to a lesser extent, my MIL and FIL) to make allowances for her, so that she doesn’t have to deal with any feelings that are remotely uncomfortable. She can act however she wants and everyone else has to tiptoe around her. I’m sure social anxiety is very stressful, but I’m not a stranger. We’ve known each other for the better part of a decade.

    My plan for the next time something like this happens is to not speak to anyone but my SIL about any issues she has with me or my behavior. If she won’t engage with me there’s nothing I can do about that, but I certainly won’t engage with my BIL about any of it.


    1. Not A Manager*

      Maybe you could stop playing competitive games together? It doesn’t have to be a punishment. Obviously, you value your relationship with your SIL more than playing these games, so if they get in the way, maybe find less stimulating things to do?

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Good suggestion!
        Even the British Royals have this problem. They banned playing Monopoly together; it gets way too vicious.
        I applaud the idea of refusing to discuss the problem with a third person (triangulation/flying monkeys).
        You might have a Captain Awkward missing stair problem. She has a lot to say on this subject.
        You have options in dealing with this. I hope you find one that works for you.

        1. Dr. KMnO4*

          If it wasn’t for Captain Awkward’s site I probably would be triangulating this situation. Reading her work has really helped me focus on behaviors and being direct with other people. I think that there are missing stair aspects to my SIL, but I try to just stay in my lane and only focus on the behaviors that affect me.

    2. MissGirl*

      I think you were a bit out of line on the voice thing. She wasn’t yelling but got excited. Telling her to keep her voice down would’ve put a damper on the game for everyone. I wouldn’t compare to before because you raised your voice in exasperation.

      She, of course, isn’t handling it well. Locking herself in a room isn’t mature but I don’t know her issues. I agree with asking her husband not to be an intermediary. I would just apologize and move on.

      1. Fikly*

        I don’t think the issue was the content, but the volume.

        It sounds like the Dr. KMnO4 got triggered by the volume, and then her response to ask for that trigger to not happen again triggered SIL.

        They might both benefit from discussing triggers before they are ocurring. Either everyone’s triggers should be respected, or no ones. It should not be one sided.

        1. Dr. KMnO4*

          My current strategy is minimizing the time we spend together, not playing games together, and polite but distant engagement. Ideally she and I would have a conversation about triggers so that we can figure out what adjustments we each need to make. I don’t think she would engage in that conversation with me, unfortunately. Perhaps my trigger (sudden loud noises) will have to be a general family announcement. IDK that it will solve the problem, but it probably can’t hurt.

        2. valentine*

          Either everyone’s triggers should be respected, or no ones.
          No. MIL is trying to train Dr. KMnO4 to walk eggshells like she has her men doing. If she cannot abide a simple request, or even a criticism, there’s no reasoning with her. She’s like the MIL Alice in the Captain Awkward letter.

      2. Dr. KMnO4*

        As Fikly suggested, it wasn’t the content, it was the volume. And in the previous year I didn’t actually raise my voice, I just had a different tone of voice. It’s true that some people interpret irritated/annoyed/exasperated tones of voice as “yelling”, though I don’t know if my SIL is one of those people.

    3. Goldbug*

      Aqua engineer on amazon makes inline shower filters which totally work. Like a brita for your shower. My dream is a whole house filtration system but these work in the interim.

  45. Parenthetically*

    Just an update for all of you who were praying/sending good thoughts/thinking of us on the New Year open thread — LB2 is fully recovered and doing great, LB1 has stayed well, my husband’s first week back to work went ridiculously smoothly, I’m tired but happy. Thank you all so much for thinking of us.

  46. Hello It’s Me*

    I recently started living somewhere that the water is really bad. I mean I can’t drink the tap water at al.

    Turns out, when I looked it up that there are all these articles about this city trying to convince people that the water isn’t that bad despite most people buying bottled water. And I’m just like, if they have to tell people it’s not bad then I mean, there must be something going on. So then I looked more into it and there are all of these charts showing that there is more lead in the water than in Flint, Michigan. And my friend who has lived here forever says that everyone just knows that the water is bad and he always buys bottled water.

    So I have been drinking bottled water, except at work when they have a industrial water filter. I feel really guilty about contributing to global waste by buying bottled water but I’m not really sure what else to do! I’m not in a position to spend a bunch of money on a fancy water filtration system and I don’t know if The Britta filters are that effective if the water is that bad. I can even tell when I shower! I of course have to put my health first but I still feel bad about throwing out bottles.

    1. Parenthetically*

      My suggestions: 1) Get a Brita filter. Even though it’s not a top-of-the-line system, it definitely WILL reduce lead and contaminants and make your water taste better. 2) Bring a big reusable bottle or two to work and fill them at the taps there, to drink at home.

      1. valentine*

        Brita can’t handle it. Don’t hurt yourself to save the planet when Nestle’s hoarding water.

        Also, move ASAP.

      2. Mary Connell*

        Recommend Berkey filters. They come in different sizes and you can buy a metal spigot to replace the one that comes in the unit.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      Don’t feel guilty about this! You need water to survive! This is a situation where plastic bottles is perfectly acceptable, and if the water is so bad that it’s worse than Flint then a Britta filter isn’t going to make a difference. Just make sure you recycle the bottles and remind yourself that it’s not you contributing to this but the city that hasn’t done its job and cleaned up the water supply.

      1. Parenthetically*

        “Britta filter isn’t going to make a difference.”

        Well, I mean, that’s just not accurate. It won’t make it perfect, but a 98 or 99% reduction in lead levels as Brita says it can effect? That’s a pretty big difference.

        1. fposte*

          The problem is “as Brita says.” Filtration in the wild apparently ends up working very differently than manufacturer testing.

            1. fposte*

              It can be like that, though; it can leave you with still unsafe levels of lead and the bill for the filters. It’s a bummer, because it seems like such a good way to solve the problem (and part of me is still like “but *I’d* use the filter *properly* so it wouldn’t happen to me,” which is almost certainly not true.

              I don’t know if there are reliable/inexpensive ways to DIY test for lead, but if I were in an area where the local water had lead problems, I wouldn’t use filtered water to deal with the problem unless I could do regular tests to make sure the result was what it was supposed to be. That goes quadruple if there are little kids in the house.

            2. Foreign Octopus*

              You want to drink lead-contaminated water, be my guest, but I would not be willing to risk my health because a commercial company out to make money has said that their filters that they sell reduce lead contamination. Zero lead is better than no lead, which is what OP can get through drinking bottled water.

    3. Not A Manager*

      I would absolutely not trust any OTC filter to remove dangerous levels of lead from water. Seriously, this is a real health threat and you need to protect yourself.

      There are OTC home testing kits for lead and contaminants. IDK how accurate they are, but you might want to test your workplace’s water, as well, before you trust their filtering system.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Yes! I worked somewhere that had a Brand Name water cooler in the hallway. Then one day I was in the kitchen, and I saw the housekeeping staff filling the Brand Name 5 gallon jug for the cooler, straight from the tap, using a hose. Not a sink hose, a garden hose.

    4. Dr. Anonymous*

      Brita discusses their lead filtration effectiveness on their Web site. So sorry you’re dealing with this.

      1. Dr. Anonymous*

        Ooh, following on fposte’s comment below, I may have been too optimistic. But look for National Sanitation Foundation certification for lead reduction if you decide to try filters. Now I’m wondering if I did a good enough job choosing filters when I lived in the land of radon-infiltrated water.

    5. fposte*

      Keep in mind also that you generally can’t taste lead in water, and there’s plenty of water that tastes not very good (hello, Iron Range) that’s still safe and healthy to drink. It’s pretty common in areas where water is strongly flavored that the water company will note it’s safe to drink anyway, so I wouldn’t immediately assume it’s a coverup for unsafe water.

      That being said, if it tastes gross you’re probably not drinking as much as you should. Filters can work but apparently are a little spotty on lead–I’m looking at a Consumer Reports article that notes high failures of filtering in Newark, where lead in the water meant the city distributed filters to residents, so if lead is the specific concern I’d investigate further and see if there’s a way to do a post-installation test. I’d also go with big jugs rather than individual bottles to minimize the plastic use, but I’d go ahead and do it.

    6. Anon Here*

      Look into ordering water in bulk – giant bottles, places to fill up, a water cooler type of thing for your home. I would do that and have a re-usable bottle for use outside the home.

      I assume you’re also avoiding all food prepared with local water. So start keeping some extra snacks with you in case of emergencies. Granola bars or whatever can easily fit in your car/purse/backpack.

      There are usually places to refill water bottles with commercially distributed water. Because even in cities with good drinking water, individual buildings can have bad water, people like to stock up in case of a disaster, and some people just prefer bottled water. The main thing is to research the brand you’re purchasing. It’s not all better than tap water. It can be just as polluted.

      1. Hello It’s Me*

        I appreciate everyone’s comments!

        The water tastes really bad and also there’s reports of lead even if I’m not tasting that specifically.

        I buy most of my food from the grocery store, but now I’m thinking like OK is there food that I eat that’s made with the water? Honestly I’m not sure. I don’t eat out that often but I guess I’m not eating things like pasta that are made with water. It’s mostly like salad or fries. Maybe I should think about that more.

        1. Anon Here*

          You could send a sample of your tap water to be tested, see what’s really in it, and proceed accordingly. If you really want to avoid it, follow the guidelines for travel to Mexico – foods not to eat when the local water can make you sick.

        2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          Yes, and you’ll need to use bottled water in pet bowls, fishtanks, and any edible items you’d be gardening (fruit, veggies, herbs.) And if you have a yard, you’d want to consider that if you or a previous owner/tenant has been using sprinklers to water the yard, your soil is likely contaminated, and you’ll need to be careful on that end too.

      2. IntoTheSarchasm*

        We lived in a place with perfectly good, but not-tasty water. We bought a cooler and several five gallon bottles to fill up at the grocery store or Culligan/similar. Easy and cheaper than small bottles. The water cooler supplied cold and hot water on demand, bonus! As noted above, it is an easier way to go.

    7. Fikly*

      If it helps, the planet is being destroyed because of pollution caused by manufacturers. Nothing individuals do on an individual level will make a difference.

    8. Wishing You Well*

      Do what you need to do for your health.
      My city’s water standards are so low, their testing lab told me I’d refuse to drink it before the water failed their quality tests. Tap water is also NOT bacteria-free – it put a fragile friend back in the hospital after one drink.
      Filter your water.

    9. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Assuming you’re a homeowner and have the money…. Get the water test results. By law, they’re required to do them and make them available at whatever frequency. If you don’t trust them for some reason, you can have your own testing done. Then, contact whichever of the water filtration companies is around. They can work with you to design a system to address whatever you’re dealing with, apply it to the whole house, and you don’t have to worry.

      That’s a lot. So, otherwise, get the water quality report and figure out what the problems are. Then do some research into the various filters (pitchers, etc) and see if any of them are adequate for the contamination. If so, use that kind.

      When buying bottled water however, there are things you can do to mitigate the waste. Buying in larger units (gallons, 5 gallons, etc) means less waste. Make sure you’re resusing or recycling containers. Don’t use water unnecessarily.

      And filing complaints, etc about the poor water quality. Seriously, the water treatment for the area should be in the spotlight. The bad stuff is getting in somehow or isn’t being removed. The most effective option is to fix it at the source. If the pipes are bad, then repipe. If the treatment plant is bad, then build a new one or fix the current one.