weekend free-for-all – May 16-17, 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: The Other Bennet Sister, by Janice Hadlow. The story of Mary Bennet, the plain, seemingly stick-in-the-mud sister from Pride and Prejudice. I usually don’t like retellings but I loved this one, and you will never look at any of the Bennet sisters the same way again. (In fact, even Mr. Collins becomes sympathetic here, which is quite an achievement.)

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

{ 1,648 comments… read them below }

  1. LDN Layabout*

    It’s 7am on a Saturday and I’m VERY EXCITED about defrosting the fridge today.

    Lockdown is strange.

    1. StellaBella*

      This is a good plan. I will be out of frozen goods by next weekend so will add this to task of cleaning the fridge! I planned to do a major clean, as in move the fridge and oven and all moveable table/cat food trays/stuff in kitchen and scrub top to bottom next weekend.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        I’ve been doing little chunks of work like that around the house and it really seems to help with my mental equilibrium.

    2. leapingLemur*

      I noticed lately how much stuff (much of it probably expired) I have in the bathroom (hair dye that I never got around to using, etc.) and am kind of looking forward to going through and tossing the expired stuff and maybe being able to actually find stuff.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        I did this with my kitchen food cupboards in anticipation of getting a few more staples in stock and it was /so/ satisfying.

      2. Dancing Otter*

        Uggh! When my folks died and we cleaned out their house, we found so much expired pantry goods! Mostly *behind* more recent containers of the same products. Put the new stuff to the back of the shelf, folks.

    3. PX*

      Eh, I always get excited about defrosting the freezer to be honest. Its just so satisfying when its done :D

      1. LDN Layabout*

        EVERYTHING IS CLEAN, NEATLY ORGANISED AND THE ENTIRE KITCHEN (AND MYSELF) SMELL MILDLY OF DISINFECTANT :D

    4. Rebecca*

      I’m excited that I was able to snag a grocery pickup time at 9 AM today (need to get dressed!!) yesterday! I had forgotten, thought, ugh, I’ll get one reserved for next week and go into the store, but I was shocked that slots were open today! Woot!!

      1. Oxford Comma*

        At least where I am, they appear to have hired a bunch of people because it’s gone from 2 weeks to a day very quickly.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Excellent, must feel great to get that done! I don’t have to defrost my freezer but I’m planning to deep clean my fridge/freezer and pull it out to clean underneath and vacuum the coils. I am oddly excited by it!

    6. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I ordered some fabric bins to organize the bottom of my chest freezer so it’s more usable instead of a pile of miscellaneous items. Plus just tossing stuff in there inevitably means the oldest stuff is on the bottom so I’m trying to fix my rotation at the same time…

    7. WellRed*

      I got excited about buying a squeegee and washing a my numerous and large windows.

    8. Bluebell*

      I’ve been trying to do a bookshelf or drawer a day. Earlier this week I ended up giving away some games and also board books to our neighbors who have a 4 month old baby.

    9. Nervous Nellie*

      I hear ya. I woke up this morning and said to myself, “Yay! I am going to VACUUM today!” Woohoo.

    10. Overeducated*

      I know what you mean. I was excited to spend time outdoors today but I couldn’t deal with the clutter indoors any longer, so I’ve spent a lot of my day organizing. (Still not done, but the space does feel less claustrophobic already.)

    11. Tris Prior*

      My downstairs neighbor (who got cranky if we even dared walk softly above her) moved out, so I have done SO much vacuuming. SO much. It was oddly cathartic. Lockdown is indeed strange.

    12. allathian*

      Last weekend, I cleaned and oiled our wooden garden furniture, yay! Of course, we had a mild winter and now we’re having a cold spring with daytime highs around 10 C/50 F, so it’ll be a while.

    13. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I’ve been excited about nearly all my household tasks since I’ve been working from home. I use the Cozi calendar app, and I had them update me to the Clean Mama version, so I get the Clean Mama reminders of little household tasks to do each day, and I’ve been getting them all done during the time when I would have been commuting, and in little 10-minute breaks throughout the day — so satisfying!

  2. LG*

    You seem to have interrupted your cats communing with something via a bowl of light! (They are so cute, I love the photo every week.)

    1. 653-CXK*

      Hallo hummun…thiz iz a rowntabul diskushun, but wi r aveylabul fur kweshtyuns latur…kom bak then!

    2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      They were waiting for Alison to join them…this is an intervention.

      1. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

        Or a feline board of directors asking Alison to step into their conference room for a little meow.

        1. nonegiven*

          I thought they look like they have finished their meeting and are ready to announce their decision.

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      Alison, I see you have binoculars. I’m wondering if you’re a fellow birder. Unless the binoculars are for the cats. :)

        1. allathian*

          Good for you! We have a grove of trees next door, with squirrels in the trees.

        2. Scarlet Magnolias*

          I had 3 fox cubs out in my back yard last year, Of course I named them, Reynard, Loxy and Todd. They were so incredibly cute and I loved to watch them out of my back window. I didn’t love them quite so much when I saw them playing hacky-sack with a dead chipmunk. Oh well, our neighbors put mothballs by their den and they found a new hang out

  3. Neyla*

    That book sounds interesting! Unlike Alison, I usually like books that are retellings of an earlier story. This makes me wonder what other books like that people would recommend? For example I loved Wicked (retelling of the Wizard of Oz from the witch’s perspective) and The Mists of Avalon (Camelot told by the women).

    1. Jen*

      I really, really love the Mythago series by Robert Holdstock. Most of the series deals with the same events, but from the points of view of different characters. The most direct connection is between Mythago Wood and Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn, which retell the same(ish) story as seen by two brothers.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I read Longbourne, by Jo Baker, which is about the servant in the Bennet household, and also Death comes to Pemberley, in which one of the characters from Pride and Prejudice gets murdered.

        1. Day owl*

          Seconding Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James. I love her mystery novels. I also recommend March by Geraldine Brooks, a retelling of Little Women from the POV of Mr. March. It’s quite dark though

          1. Pomona Sprout*

            Thirding Death Comes to Pemberley! I loved that book. I’m going to take a look at Lonbourne and The Other Bennet Stster, too.

    2. NeverNicky*

      Longbourne, by Jo Baker is excellent. As are The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood and March by Geraldine Brooks.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Thank you for mentioning March! All I could think of was “that book about the father of the girls in Little Women.

    3. MistOrMister*

      I heard of The Mists of Avalon but never realized what it was. I might give that a look!!

      I’ve mentioned Till We Have Faces on here a time or two. It’s by C.S. Lewis and is a re-telling of the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche. Only told from the point of view of one of Psyche’s half sisters and set in a fictional country called Glome. I read it again recently and still really enjoy it.

      1. 'Tis Me*

        I think I saw your recommendation last time and found it online :-) Both tragic and fascinating.

        1. MistOrMister*

          I had forgotten so much of the story that it was like reading it for the first time. I really enjoyed the changes in the main character’s understanding. Took her a little while, but she got there in the end!

    4. GGfluffypants*

      American Gods is kinda of a retelling of old myths. Good Omens is definitely a retelling of The End Days in the bible.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’d say Good Omens is less a retelling and more an adaptation/what if but it’s a great book.

      2. AnonEMoose*

        I adore “American Gods.” That said, I would recommend reading something else by Neil Gaiman (maybe “Neverwhere”) before tackling “American Gods.” Not because it’s a difficult book, but because the standard warning I give people I know are about to read it for the first time is “whatever you expect it to be…it’s not.”

        1. Argye*

          American Gods is second on my list of books that freaked me out. First is Geek Love.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            American Gods is a head trip, for sure. I’ve read it several times, and every time I do, I spot something new.

    5. Blue Eagle*

      I enjoyed The Wind Done Gone, a retelling of Gone With the Wind from the viewpoint of the slaves.

      1. Monty and Millie's Mom*

        Oooo, I think I’d love that, thanks for the recommendation! I’ve never heard of it!

    6. AY*

      Circe by Madeline Miller is a retelling of, you guessed it, Circe from the Odyssey. I really enjoyed that one. The author has also written a retelling of the Achilles story, but I haven’t read it. Like some others in this thread, I also liked Longbourne quite a bit.

      1. Tears of the mushroom*

        The Song of Achilles. The story is from the perspective of Patroclus, the best friend/lover of Achilles. Just brilliant.

      2. TL -*

        In that same vein, The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker is brilliant, set during the events of the Iliad.

    7. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Not a book, but I recently enjoyed Ophelia (women’s recentering of Hamlet) on Netflix, and would recommend.

      1. BetsCounts*

        that was an adaptation of Ophelia by Lisa Klein! I thought it was more of a YA novel, but still enjoyed it.

    8. Alex*

      I really liked “When She Woke” which is a retelling of the Scarlet Letter set in a dystopian American future.

    9. alex b*

      I usually like these, whether they switch the perspective or switch the setting/context. If the author really, really understands the original, they can work well IMO. I also loved Wicked and Mists of Avalon!

      Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys is a beautiful, haunting retelling of Jane Eyre from the perspective of the madwoman in the attic. I always teach it when I teach Jane Eyre.

      I enjoyed On Beauty by Zadie Smith, which is loosely a modern Howards End that’s about academia and race among other things.

      Margaret Atwood has one called Hag-Seed that is a retelling of The Tempest; it’s on my list.

      Also if you love Wicked, that author has another one that’s Cinderella from the perspective of the ugly stepsisters. I read it a long time ago, but I recall liking it, just not as much as Wicked.

      1. with a comma after dearest*

        Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire. It’s good, though pretty dark.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister — that’s the one that was on the tip of my brain to recommend and I couldn’t think who wrote it or the title. I enjoyed that one.

      3. BetsCounts*

        Hogarth Shakespeare has a whole series of adaptations- I really liked Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl but found the rest of them slow going.

    10. Jules the 3rd*

      Patricia McKillip takes the old tropes and sculpts them into new, challenging shapes:
      Forests of Serre = Firebird
      Shadows of Ombria = Cinderella, sorta

      Robin McKinley’s got several that are really well done:
      Beauty: Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
      Deerskin (warning – sexual violence; true to the original)
      Rose Daughter
      Spindle’s End (Sleeping Beauty)
      (and if you like Spindle’s End, find _Hero and the Crown_ and _The Blue Sword_)
      Outlaws of Sherwood (Robin Hood retelling; warning – violence.) (Probably my fave, but I always liked Robin Hood more than Grimm)
      Door In The Hedge has a couple, short stories

      I don’t remember for sure if Beauty / Rose Daughter / Spindle’s End also have sexual violence, I think they do not. Spindle’s End does not go pre-Grimm, where Sleeping wakes up when her children are born, not with a ‘kiss’.

      On the lighter side, Mercedes Lackey’s got a long string of retellings in her “Elemental Masters” series. For the most part, only the bad guys get hurt, though there’s some collateral damage to likeable secondary characters iirc. Also iirc, most of the books end up with a romance, which can sometimes feel kinda shoe horned in.

      1. Reba*

        Other fantasy/YA titles based on folktales and fairy tales that I have really enjoyed are Uprooted and Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, and the Bear and the Nightingale series by Katherine Arden.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        YA variants abound… some better than others. One that I loved is ‘Princess of the Midnight Ball’ by Jessica Day George. (There are 2 more books in the ’12 Dancing Princesses’ series, but the first stands alone too.)
        The Disney ‘Twisted Tale’ series bend or add plot points. My daughter specifically mentions the one for Beauty & the Beast: “What if Belle’s mother was the witch?”
        Back to standard lit, my husband contributes “Grendel” by John Gardner.
        And I loved ” Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.”

      3. Bewildered lately*

        I loved Robin McKinley’s Beauty! I don’t recall any violence of any kind.

    11. Lost in the Woods*

      I’m so sad about Mists of Avalon. I loved it when I was a kid, but the revelations regarding the author’s abuse of her children really taints the work for me, even though the publisher now donates all the sale profits.

      1. retirement is all it's cracked up to be*

        I know the feeling. Maybe it shouldn’t taint the good storytelling, but it does. I no longer recommend it to anyone. And I have icky feelings about Anne Perry’s books now that I know her past–the books entertained me, but I no longer want anything to do with them. It’s hard to separate the art from real life.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          This is how I felt when I found out J.K. Rowling posted that horrible TERF tweet. I still like Harry Potter, but that really put me off reading any more of her books.

            1. allathian*

              To add to that, I used to enjoy the Cormoran Strike books she wrote under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to read them again. I probably won’t give up re-reading HP, though…

          1. Fikly*

            I read Harry Potter the books exactly once, enough to know I was horrified by many of her views, and then I knew enough to read all the fic I wanted that has a much healthier take on what is a fascinating potential universe.

      2. Generic Name*

        It totally taints all of her works. I’m glad to know profits go to charity now. It also explains her odd characterization of Morgaine as a mother. I thought it was so, so strange that Morgaine could be so….indifferent….toward her son, even though she didn’t raise him.

      3. Former Neighbor*

        I don’t typically read books in the genre but loved Mists of Avalon. Years before I read the book, I had heard of its author because she lived half a block from me in the early 80s. My housemates and I thought it strange that an author of a pagan book seemed so disconnected from basic connections with nature. In a friendly neighborhood, she and her husband had the shades down on their windows with no natural daylight coming in, and had a rundown yard they didn’t use. At first we thought they were trying to preserve their privacy, but after a while it felt creepy and we wondered about what their lives were like. Years later I learned about the horrible abuse of children that happened in that house. So tragic that none of us knew at the time.

      4. Willow*

        I also loved it as a kid, but upon rereading all that gross stuff is right on the page. Avalon is very rapey.

    12. Bluebell*

      Re Jane by Patricia Park is a very enjoyable retelling of Jane Eyre as a half Korean orphan in Flushing, Queens. I liked it a lot.

    13. Combinatorialist*

      I enjoyed the trilogy by Pamela Aiden of Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s point of view. I think the first one is titled These Three Remain. The second of the trilogy has a somewhat odd plot, but I think the characters remain fairly true throughout and they are enjoyable reads.

    14. fposte*

      Grandmommy of them all: Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, the story of the first Mrs. Rochester.

    15. Nicki Name*

      Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin is about the life of the future wife of the hero of the Aeneid.

      A Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart has as its backstory a version of the Chinese folktale of the shepherd and the celestial maiden.

      Red As Blood by Tanith Lee is another collection of alternate takes on Western folktales.

      1. Jane*

        I second the recommendation of Lavinia, and will need to check out your other two recommendations.

    16. Kate*

      Ooh, I like retellings, too! And I also like when the author themselves have written the same story with different endings, like Agatha Christie has some short story/novel or story/play versions. But retelling as “the same story but from a different point of view”, not “the same story but in a different setup”. I’m going to put this book recommendation on my list!

    17. 00ff00Claire*

      I enjoyed Lady Vernon and Her Daughter, a novel based on Jane Austen’s Lady Susan. It falls under what I would call light reading, but I appreciated Lady Susan more after reading it. It’s been a while since I read it, so I can’t remember if sure if it was meant to “reimagine” Lady Susan or just transform it into a novel form a la Sense and Sensibility.

    18. Elizabeth West*

      I really liked Mary Reilly, a retelling of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from the point of view of Jekyll’s housekeeper.

      1. Blueberry*

        Seconding this one, which was the first title I thought of when I swa the question.

    19. Short Time Lurker Komo*

      If you like the Robin Hood mythos, some recommendations are:

      Scarlet Series by A. C. Gaughen, which centers on Marion as ‘Will Scarlet’.

      King Raven series by Stephen R. Lawhead moves the story to a different time than traditional as I recall but felt very well researched and was a fun read.

      Seconding the suggestion of Robin McKinley – a lot of her books are interesting retellings of fairytales – on the theme of Robin Hood, I believe hers had Robin as not the master archer, which was a lot of fun!

    20. Ted Mosby*

      It’s not of a fictional story but I really loved The Other Boleyn Girl. It’s a little lowbrow but excellent at the same time.

    21. Nessun*

      If you like mysteries, Good Night Mr. Holmes is the story from Irene Adler’s POV (and begins a series about her as detective). Sherlock pops up occasionally, and it’s by Carole Nelson Douglas.

    22. GrumpyGnome*

      This series is not exactly a retelling, but uses women characters from other books and does tell their story from their point of view. Theodora Goss; The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman and The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl.

      I also am a big fan of the Chronicles of Saint Mary’s series by Jodi Taylor. It’s a retelling of history, or perhaps more a speculation of historical events, as told from a time traveler’s point of view. As a history nerd, these books make me so happy.

    23. Cleo*

      I love retellings and I’m especially enjoying them now, when I really crave the comfort of reading something familiar.

      Terri Windling edited a series of fairytale retellings in the 80s that’s quite good. Jack the giant killer by Charles deLint is my favorite – a retelling of the Jack and the beanstalk and other British stories, set in Ottawa, featuring a woman named Jackie. Early urban fantasy.

      KJ Charles writes marvelous queer historical genre fiction that’s often a reimagining (rather than retelling) of familiar story types. Band Sinester is a Georgette Heyer type regency romance without the classism, antisemetism etc and with gay protagonists. Proper English is a British house party murder mystery with a lesbian solving the mystery and getting the girl.

    24. Buni*

      “Rebecca’s Tale” by Sally Beauman, both a sequel and a retelling of Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’. The book’s in 4 chunks: the first two are set 20 years after the event, one from the point of view of the magistrate who originally investigated and one from a new character, a scholar helping him. The 3rd is Rebecca’s own journal and the final the magistrate’s daughter kinda summing up the whole investigation.

    25. Mephyle*

      Jane Fairfax by Joan Aiken is, obviously, Emma from Jane Fairfax’s point of view. I read it before I had read Emma, in fact before I had read Jane Austen at all, so I didn’t even know about Emma when I read Jane Fairfax. It certainly gave me a different slant on Emma when I eventually came to it.

    26. BetsCounts*

      When i read the summary of the other bennet sister, I was super confused because I had (somewhat) recently read a novella with that exact POV. Turns out, it was Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel, in which Victor Frankenstein meets up with Kitty and Mary. It was an exceptionally moving story, not done for laughs like Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter or Pride + Prejudice + Zombies or Android Karennina.

    27. Intermittent Introvert*

      A variation on the theme. I really enjoyed Love is Eternal by Irving Stone. It’s historical fiction about Mary Todd Lincoln. I read it after Gone with the Wind. They were both women’s points of view from both sides of the civil war.

  4. How Soon To Have Sex In Dating*

    How soon in dating someone do you have sex with them?

    How has that changed/not changed as you’ve gotten older?

    When I was in my early 20s, I would wait until the 6th or 7th date because I felt like sex was a Really Big Deal so I wanted to save it. Now in my early 30s I’ll have sex on the 3rd date because I’ve learned I really value a strong sexual chemistry and I don’t like getting really far down the dating road and then finding out we’re not compatible.

    1. LegallyRed*

      When I was dating after divorce in my mid-30s, I had sex on dates 1-3. If we didn’t have sex by the 3rd date, there was not another one. Like you, I value chemistry and the “spark.” (I also wasn’t dating to find a long-term relationship, though that is what ended up happening.)

      My sexual experiences before that were in my teens (I started dating my first husband at 19) and all over the map in terms of timing.

    2. Not A Manager*

      I have sex when I want to. This isn’t snarky, it’s true. I’ve had sex on the first date and had an excellent time, and I’ve waited for months. Of course, all of this is predicated on the other person wanting sex on that same timetable…

      1. Copenhagen*

        Me too. It’s more of a “go with the flow” kind of thing. But totally a case of personal preference – people should do what feels right for them.

      2. Greasy turtle burger*

        Yep,this.Before I was married,it was when everyone felt ready.Sometimes one is ready before the other(s),sometimes it all flows together at the right time, sometimes it never happens and folks move on.I think those were the hardest to get over for me.I had the tendancy that when I’d give my heart, I’d want to wait to give away the rest,and vice versa.

      3. Melody Pond*

        This resonates. In my relationship before Mr. Pond, we waited four months before having sex. With Mr. Pond, we had sex right away – though that was partly because I already knew him and knew that there was chemistry there.

    3. Lady Farquaad*

      I’m married so this is hypothetical. But I would rather wait until I know the person well and the relationship is secure. The emotional connection for me is part of the enjoyment of sex. Also I’m paranoid about STIs and don’t want to sleep with someone until I’m comfortable enough to have that “I’ve been checked, are you clear?” discussion. Also I’m terrified of being murdered so the idea of a one night stand with a stranger or third date sex with a near stranger isn’t appealing to me.

      So basically, a lot of people would find me weird and it’s a good thing I’m off the market. Heh.

      1. Class99*

        @ Lady Farquaad, I don’t find you weird at all because as a woman I have all of these sentiments you do too.

      2. MistOrMister*

        I also have the, nope nope noooooope reaction to going home with someone early on for fear of the murder event. Someone invited me up to his place when I was picking him up for a 2nd date (to look at this art, he said) and I nixed that one. All I could think was, if he has a murder dungeon in there I sure am going to look stupid. I am not comfortable bringing someone to my place casually because if they end up being a stalkerish weirdo, now they know where I live.

        1. Misty*

          I never bring people back to my place either! I dated a man for three months who casually told me that his mom drove by my house multiple times to “check me out”! I thought that was extremely strange because why would he tell me that, his mom lived 45 minutes away, and my house is behind a lot of other houses and not near a main road or near anything so you REALLY have to go out of your way/put it in the GPS to find me. Ever since that (which was two years ago) I’ve dated people long term who literally never saw where I lived because I was so freaked out by that.

          I’m always blown away when friends say they brought him/her home right away because you can change your phone number, you can block emails, but it’s really hard to change your address/your house. I may be paranoid though because of that experience.

          1. MistOrMister*

            What in the world?! Who does that kind of thing? My goodness!!!

            I don’t always jump to give someone my number because you can usually find their address that way. I’ll do kik or google voice if necessary. Kind of makes me miss the days of being unlisted in the phonebook and therefor hard to track down.

            1. Misty*

              Same. Apparently you can also find people’s addresses if you know their name, state, and if they are registered to vote because that’s how his mom supposedly found mine.

        2. Clisby*

          To be fair, a first date isn’t necessarily with a recent acquaintance. You could have known someone for months or years, are now having a first date, and have good reason to doubt this person would be a murderer.

        3. Clisby*

          To be fair, a first date isn’t necessarily with a recent acquaintance. You could have known someone for months or years, are now having a first date, and have good reason to doubt this person would be a murderer.

      3. LegallyRed*

        I don’t think it’s weird at all! When I was still safely nestled in the cocoon of my first marriage, I felt the same way. It was such a hypothetical concept that I had a hard time wrapping my head around being comfortable with moving so quickly. However, my fears dissipated quickly once I was actually in that situation. I figured out what I needed to feel safe and then had fun from there. :-)

        At one point I had decided that I would add the following line to my Tinder profile when I was ready for a long-term relationship: “I’m ready for my last first date. Unless it’s because you murder me.” But I met my now-husband before I reached that point on my own.

    4. Galapagos tortoise*

      When I was dating, I only didn’t have sex on the first date if it was a bad date. I like sex and it always seemed to me to be a very good way to get to know someone. Now I’m married so dates and sex are less correlated.

    5. nonny non*

      Female cis heterosexual here, currently married 20+ years, so my experience is from the 90s. My 1st serious boyfriend, we had non p-i-v sex at about 6mo, p-i-v sex around 2 years. After that, p-i-v was 2nd date (if we were friends before dating) or 3rd.

      For some guys, that was a signal that I was only short-term dating material. I was advised to ‘wait’ and ‘let them chase me’, but I decided that I wanted a partner who thought that sex did not devalue a woman, and started using that as one of my ‘long term?’ criteria. I thought, if they didn’t buy into that social rule, then they’d probably not buy into a lot of the gender social rules, and… well, I don’t fit a lot of the gender social rules. Found him (sex, 2nd date), and he has been a great partner through some frustrating times. He does not buy into most gender social rules. I hear the rules have changed some for younger people, who are getting more pressure to have sex early and then figure out if it’s a relationship later.

      For me, it was about knowing myself, what I wanted, and then finding a partner who matched that. I think ‘knowing what you want’ is always the place to start, and then thinking about whether that’s best, if there’s a reason to change or to stick with it, etc. I thought about the ‘wait’ advice for months…

      I will say: there is some fun to the sexual tension before first p-i-v, which seems to disappear after. Before, kissing is the goal, after, kissing is the path, and that is a little bit of a loss.

      1. LegallyRed*

        Yes, this. I like sex. I don’t want to be in a relationship with someone who thinks I shouldn’t have sex when I want to because of some unspoken social expectation that women are supposed to be chaste and play hard to get in order to merit a long-term relationship.

        Also had sex with my current husband on the 2nd date, would recommend 10/10.

        1. MistOrMister*

          I probably come off as the chaste type b/c the odds of sex on a first date or even by the 3rd are pretty nonexistent for me. I just can’t relax enough to be comfortable if I don’t know the person. For me it’s not a morals thing, just a personal comfort thing. If i’m going to accidentally fall out the bed and hit my head on the wall while naked (I can be coordinatedly challenged at times…) I like the person there to be one I’m already comfortable with.

          1. LegallyRed*

            I think this is different though. You are operating within your own comfort zone, which is how sex should work! It’s when women feel like they *have* to behave that way in order to catch a quality man, or that men expect women to behave that way in order to deem them worthy of a relationship, that I start to have objections.

          2. matcha123*

            I’m the same. I’m also not someone who has a need for sex. If I have it, I want it to be with someone that I’ve chosen.
            I feel like that puts me at odds with popular culture where not always wanting sex is a sign that I’m obviously repressed or that there’s something wrong with me…which is something I wish we could move away from.
            Especially when it comes to dating, it is easy to say that waiting for someone that matches your pace is best, but when most people seem to be in a rush to bed each other before getting to know each other, it can make dating kinda suck.

          3. Julia*

            I totally get that! In theory, casual sex sounds fun, but would I really go to someone’s house despite barely knowing them, take off my clothes, and still somehow enjoy it? Doubtful…

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Definitely the part about not thinking sex devalues women. In fact, that’s one of the things that drove me away from church, the idea that I would have to be with one person for life and I wouldn’t even get to test drive him first. That used to freak me out, like “What if he’s really bad at it!?!”

    6. Anonnington*

      It depends on the kind of connection we have. But my stance on it has changed over time.

      When I was younger, I was on birth control, and I enjoyed some care-free recreational sex (obviously being safe about it). Sex is fun, and it’s ok for it to exist outside of a serious relationship as long as both/all partners are ok with that. And I had fun exploring the world of sex, finding out what different things felt like and what my preferences were. I also had been a nerd with very strict parents; the idea of getting to have sex with different people was really exciting. It felt like a long-awaited luxury.

      That said, I didn’t sew as many wild oats as some people. I was always more focused on long-term relationships. And in relationships, sex often happened pretty early. I just wanted to know I liked the person.

      Now, I have a really different approach to it. I no longer enjoy casual sex. And where relationships are concerned, I want to take more time to get to know each other before going there. At 40+, people have more life history and also (often) have the social skills to present themselves in a more polished way. It can take more time to find out who the whole person is – what they’re like when they let their guard down, and other relevant info. At this age, there is (often) more relationship-relevant stuff that would be too personal to discuss on the first date. I know that could apply to younger people too. But not so much for me. For me, that’s something that’s changed over time. For example, in my 20’s, I hardly knew anyone who had been married before or who had kids or other interesting Life Stuff that could come up. It was just college kids and then twenty-somethings enjoying an extended youth.

      I know that for some people, it goes the opposite way. I know some people get more comfortable with casual or early sex as they get older. And I can see that happening. But it’s just not for me. Another side of it is that, having seen what sex is like, I no longer feel the need to explore it and I’d rather just not take on the associated risks unless it’s with someone really unique and I feel that it’s worth it.

    7. nnn*

      I find it has been moving in the opposite direction for me. I have to know a person really well before the desire for sex emerges, and sometimes it doesn’t ever emerge.

      But also, when I was younger, it was more important to me to be dating someone and to be having sex. I felt like a failure if I was single or celibate. Somehow that importance has faded, and I’m now perfectly comfortable with the idea of never having sex again and with never having a relationship again, so there’s just no point when I’m not feeling it.

    8. MoopySwarpet*

      After a couple of sexually incompatible people, I try to get the chemistry sorted out as early in the relationship as possible. I don’t care how nice you are, if there aren’t sparks, I’m out. I don’t want to have incompatibility throw a bucket of cold water on an otherwise pleasant relationship.

      I can usually tell if we are at least reasonably compatible in personality within a short period of time. Although, I do prefer to have a couple of phone calls (or equivalent interactions) before an in person meeting so the date is more about chemistry.

    9. Canuck girl*

      I like that you asked this. Still seeking my one and only guy atm (insert lovelorn eyes and a deep sigh haha), so not an issue, but I’ve wondered that myself before. The last guy that I was seeing, I surprised myself a bit…or perhaps not, that I was ready sooner than he was…but it was good in that sense that he had no expectations wrt when we would be intimate. So for me that was date 4. And I realized that I have to be exclusive before getting down with the guy, which we were by that point. There were other issues and it ultimately didn’t work out, but it goes in line with what others said…do it when you want to and feel comfortable. And I wanted it at date 4, that’s that. I’ll add that we knew each other as acquaintances before date 1 ever happened, so that’s definitely a part of having felt comfortable. I’ve had sex on date 1 before and that was pretty darn good too, and that relationship lasted a while, but we also had know each other and each other’s friends previously. I get the fear of someone murdering me lol, I’d totally have that feae if it was a stranger/someone I had met online. Gotta get to know them first, feel out who they are.

      1. No Name*

        Another happily married for a long time so this is based on when I last dated. I need an emotional connection before my libido kicks in. It is only after I get to know them as a person that I start feeling sexual interest, and even then, it usually didn’t happen. It is not a “morals” thing, it just seems to be how I am wired. I get along easily with people on a shallow level but a genuine connection is rare. I dated my poor husband for six months before we slept together (we started dating almost immediately after meeting for the first time). I lucked out that my first love is still awesome at making me happy and our chemistry remains strong. If I had to go back to dating, I just can’t see sex happening quickly unless I was already close friends with them.

        1. allathian*

          This definitely.
          I started late, I was socially awkward and shy when I was a teenager, so I was 18 when I had my first kiss, but that didn’t lead any further, and 23 when I had sex for the first time with another person (plenty of self-pleasuring, though), although that was a casual encounter with a guy I never met again. Shortly after that I met a guy that I dated for a couple years even if I regret not leaving him earlier than that. We were never sexually compatible and for the last six months or so we were basically celibate.
          For about eight years between leaving my ex and meeting my husband, I had a few FWB. That was fun for as long as it lasted, and with all of them I had to be comfortable with them as friends first before any benefits could happen.
          When I met my husband through mutual friends (my bestie’s husband was coworkers with one of my husband’s friends) the chemistry was instant. If I hadn’t been on my period, we would probably have ended up having sex after the first date. As it was, we waited until the second.

    10. Marion Ravenwood*

      When I first started dating my ex-husband, I think we waited about four months before we had sex, but we were in our early 20s when we got together. After we split up, I had a wild couple of months that involved a few one-night stands (in a bid to ‘get it out of my system’ and feel a bit more experienced, which in hindsight wasn’t the great idea although I should add I was always safe), and then when I started dating again it was usually between dates three and five. But I’m of the view that, as long as you’re being safe, then you should do it whenever it feels right for you and the other person involved.

    11. Anon for this*

      First date or never (after leaving school). My relationships lasted 4 years, 7 years and 8 years and counting (now married). So in my experience it doesn’t lead to short term things necessarily.

  5. Nessun*

    Thank you so much everyone who commented last week when I was so Done With Everything. I was in a bad place in my head, and I have now managed to climb out a bit; I continue to push forward and look for more coping mechanisms. I know I’m hardly the only one feeling Alone and just Completely Over It All – I hope anyone else in that boat can see me in there too, trying to keep paddling. Good luck to us all.

    1. Misty*

      I’m glad you’ve managed to climb out of it a little! I see you in the boat too and I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts this upcoming week. Stay well.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Paddle on! I have to believe it will get better. Notice I did not say “great”, but better than it has been. I am trying to be careful not to get ideas about what “better” looks like, as there will be less disappointment for me later on.

  6. Editor*

    My fantasies these days are all about home improvements. About having someone come in and repaint my front room, for instance. I even went back and read an old favorite romance novel to savor the hero’s gorgeous year-round residence on the coast of Maine. But I actually have no desire to have anyone come into my house because I want to avoid getting sick until more is known about Covid-19.

    I keep hoping there will be a time this summer when the virus retreats a bit and I can get an electrician and plumber into the basement so I can add outlets and connections for a spare no-frills refrigerator and a backup washer. Now that I am buying groceries every two weeks via pickup and had a scare with my regular washer appearing to be leaking, I am seriously contemplating adding all this stuff even though I live alone. I have no clue if my retirement savings should be dipped into for this project. Plus, I have a couple of home maintenance wiring and carpentry issues to deal with.

    What I really want is for — well, other than Covid-19 to disappear — is for businesses to say what they’re doing about distancing and so on. I want to be able to trust an electrical estimator and then the electrician to not crowd me in my awkward basement. I want to know the person who does the air conditioner maintenance will wear a mask when they’re running around the bedroom floor (not going to make them wear one in the attic where I never go).

    All of this desire to turn the house into a prettier, safer siege-withstanding fortress is probably about anxiety, but I still want to look at paint chips. Sigh.

    1. Pennyworth*

      Would you be able to repaint the room yourself ? The only time a painted a room I found it very satisfying. I read up on how to do it properly, and I took way longer than a professional, but I was very proud of the result. My only caveat is that if you are going up a ladder you need to set up a system for getting help fast if you fall.

      1. Editor*

        I might be able to repaint, but the last time I did the job looked amateur. Very amateur.

        I don’t particularly like painting, and the last time I had work done on the house, the painter was just so great. He removed the radiator covers (I had no idea they came off), painted the radiator covers, repaired all the dings and smoothed out the walls and ceiling, and the paint job looked fantastic. The front room has some water damage aftereffects to deal with, (the previous owner’s) fake plastic crown molding to be removed, radiators, lots of woodwork, a fireplace with fussy molding, plus random holes and dents. And the painting crew shifted all the furniture, which I could not have done.

        So yeah, stuff I might have done myself when I was younger is just not stuff I want to do now. I am not good at patching walls, and I don’t really like going up and down ladders these days.

        1. old curmudgeon*

          You are very, very wise. I decided to paint the kitchen over Thanksgiving weekend last fall, and it was Very Very Very Not Fun. My legs, back, shoulders and arms complained for days, and frankly the result looks lousy to boot. Gonna pay a professional to tackle the rest of the house, and possibly to redo the horrible job I did in the kitchen.

          I have immense, huge, incredible respect for tradespeople. They get a bum rap from many sources nowadays (“go to college so you can work in an office, trades are old-fashioned”), but boy, howdy, would we all be in a world of hurt without painters, plumbers, electricians and carpenters.

          1. Editor*

            When I had the bathrooms redone a few years ago because of various leaks and tile problems, I found every single worker — the painter, various laborers, the carpenter, the drywaller (balancing on stilts!), the plumber, the electricians, and the contractor himself — to be knowledgeable and professional. It was impressive. I don’t know why people think that understanding plumbing means parts of the brain have been flushed of intelligence. And why do people who wring their hands about not understanding math put down electricians, who know more about electricity than the average high school science teacher and more about the politics of building codes than the average political science major?

            Of course, I was not so impressed with the contractor who came to do an estimate and pitched a fit because my husband wasn’t there to discuss the job. I had to tell him that unless he could raise the dead, he was out of luck, and I escorted him out. But I try not to generalize about the trades based on a few jerks.

        2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          It’s funny, all the painters (all 2 of them) my family ever hired, we went back and touched up the mistakes afterwards. Which is why we only hired 2 painters, because we just did it ourselves after that. It’s also why I am good and fast at painting.

    2. Quest*

      Would it be possible to have the electrician in without any contact? If the outlets you want are in your basement, and your circuit breaker is there too, and (this is the big one) you have a basement door of some kind (bulkhead etc) or even a VERY straight shot from a main door in and downstairs, you could have the work done and then just avoid the area for a few days.

      I have a medium level risk tolerance and this, to me, seems Low (not “no”) risk.

    3. Quest*

      Oh- and if your question is do you need. Spare refrigerator and back-up washer…no. It will be cheaper to buy a new no-frills washer when it fails then to add electrical and buy a second one.

      I wouldn’t think a second fridge is necessary For one person. I have a family of 5 and we shop every 10 days or so now. I have a chest freezer but all that is in it right now is pie crusts, popsicles, and a turkey from thanksgiving (oops). I do leave some not perishables in my garage on a shelf to save space.

      If you do need one though, could it go in a garage or even somewhere on the second floor where you already have power (dining room, sun porch?). I don’t think we will be living like this forever. I’d think a cheapie fridge is ~$500. For that money you could just order groceries a bit more frequently and save the hassle.

      1. Editor*

        I am only doing groceries by pickup, and those appointments have been hard to schedule less than ten days out. Things are beginning to loosen up, so maybe the second refrigerator might not be as necessary. But at first, even getting a pickup slot was a challenge.

        My current refrigerator is not as big as others I have had — the location requires a fridge that is shallower and not as tall as the larger ones available now. I buy a lot of produce, and cramming in a whole new order while trying to keep air circulating to prevent having frozen cauliflower or bell peppers in the back has been a challenge. Buying two weeks of dairy products, eggs, juice, and produce has maxed out the capacity.

      1. Wired Wolf*

        I have an active 401K and another from an old job that is just sitting quietly..been wondering if I should pull some $$$ out of the idle one to chew down some smaller “why do I even have this” debt (student loans are explainable to anyone, credit cards not so much) and roll the rest into my current account. The active 401K account has a bit less than 2x the value of the old one…at my old job I wasn’t paid enough to make meaningful contributions and they didn’t do 401K matching.

        1. Nynaeve*

          You can contact the people who run your 401Ks and ask if you can roll over the smaller account into the larger one. They do this all the time and it shouldn’t be a big deal. If you take the $ out, there are tax penalties. So definitely do it for anything other than an “I’m about to be bankrupt or homeless” emergency.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Look at the investment types too. For example, if you bought into a money market when stocks were high, it has quite likely lost some value, and you would be better off waiting until the stock market rebounds.

          1. tangerineRose*

            Yeah, this isn’t a great time to take investments out of the stock market.

    4. Chaordic One*

      I’ve been trying to hire a handyman to do some minor repairs to my parents’ house. I contacted one whom I had used before and he’s booked solid through the summer and said maybe in the fall. It’s hard trying to find someone good.

    5. Bluebell*

      In the last month we had two service people in the house. One was fantastic, came in when we were upstairs, and we left a check for him. He’s done work for us before, and we know he’s terrific about cleaning up even in noncovid times. Company 2 had info about masks and cleaning all over their FB pages, but the two people who came didn’t wear masks. We stayed in another room and then talked to the managers afterwards. They told us they are trying to communicate more with customers so that they do a better job. It’s been 2+ weeks now, but I don’t think I’d use them again.

    6. Anonymouse for this*

      Could you post the name of the book? Maine is on my bucket list of places to visit – thinking road trip looking at lighthouses, kayaking and visit to the Duck of Justice in Bangor police dept – love their Facebook posts

      1. Editor*

        The book is out of print and not out in an ebook edition, but the title is Again the Magic by Lee Damon (Jane H. Look). It came out in 1982 and is a Richard Gallen contemporary from Pocket Books. Trigger warning: this book deals with a heroine who is a survivor of domestic violence, and there are several scenes where her experiences are described explicitly. Heroine owns a bookstore, so there’s some defending-romance-genre stuff, too, along with all the retro stuff that comes with contemporaries written thirty or forty years ago. But the house is great.

    7. MissDisplaced*

      So, my state didn’t have a full “lockdown,” in fact many stores have been open the entire time, such as hardware stores, grocery, and big retail like Target and Walmart. You’d think that in three months they would have solved the social distancing and safety thing. But they didn’t.

      My hubs went to Home Depot yesterday to get a fuse and electrical part for the basement. He said the line stretched all the way outside into the garden area, packed with people standing close in line and many with no masks on even (even though masks are required to enter the store–many people refuse to wear–because “FREEDOM” right). He didn’t feel comfortable waiting at least an hour in line with people like that to buy two things. The thing is, the stores and states can TRY but unless government actively enforces safety rules, people will refute, refuse and ignore them. I live in a place where many people still refuse to wear their auto seat belt, even though it has been law for years–completely disregarding all factual evidence that it saves lives.

      I find it pretty selfish and sad that America has sunk so low.

    8. Sunset Maple*

      I’ve had a clogged toilet for over a month. All the usual homeowner attempts to fix have failed. We need a plumber, which is not feasible right now.

      My spendthrift husband bought a pack of those over-the-bowl clip-on air fresheners, because why clean something properly when you can waste money on fruity chemical crap instead? Then he broke the clip by slamming the lid down and accidentally flushed the air freshener. And here we are.

      As you can tell, I have Feelings about this whole situation.

      1. Quest*

        OMG that’s the worst. I’m not sure your situation but even here in MA where we are pretty closed up, a plumber and clogged toilet would be pretty essential!!!

    9. RagingADHD*

      The only time you should dip into retirement savings for work on your house is if the condition presents an imminent danger to you or to the structural integrity of the building. (Fire hazard in wiring, flooding/risk of sinkhole in the basement, carbon monoxide/radon hazard, etc).

      Don’t do it for upgrades. Upgrades you save for.

    10. Dream Jobbed*

      Painting is easy. Super Duper Easy.

      It’s the prep work that kills you, including the cutting in! For me painting takes a long time. When everything is prepped, and filled, and sanded, the cutting in takes forever – I have no artistic talent and a straight line between trim and wall is very slow and takes a lot of concentration. But finally you get to roll! And it all comes together.

      I paint myself because the professional don’t do it as well as I do, and they charge too much. (And yes, I will be touching up with a tiny brush for months.) But it’s about the only home repair I can do by myself and it looks so good when done! But you really have to put in the work to prep it.

  7. Hstrylvr*

    Posted awhile ago about my health issues and trying to find out what was wrong, alongside with my parents telling me that God had made me sick and if I returned to the Fundie religion I had left, I would be cured :(.
    The Doctor finally found out what was wrong with me, and I have been diagnosed with Lupus and Arthritis, with my kidneys not doing so hot. The Covid-19 crisis, weirdly, has been a blessing in disguise for me. I was furloughed, but I was able to get unemployment the same day I applied!!! and the time off alone in my house has allowed me adjust to the side effects from the medication I am now on. I am also pretty lucky in that I am an introvert and if I have Wi-Fi, I am good to go for any social interaction that I need while quarantining. The only bad thing that I really have to deal with, is dealing with the shortage of Plaquenil. My state decided to open early but so many of my coworkers were concerned about coming back to work that the boss decided to stay closed till June.
    Little bit of an Evil Cackle. The Pastor in the news alot, Tony Spell, is a LIBERAL offshoot of the religion that I left, so it has been kinda nice to see the deserved slamming that they are getting from the general public. It is nice to get reassurance that I was not crazy to have left

    1. Blue Eagle*

      Sending positive thoughts and energies your way. So sorry to hear of your parents gaslighting you but glad to hear that medical professionals have diagnosed your health issue and you are on the way to getting proper treatment.

    2. KoiFeeder*

      I’m glad you’re getting the medication you need!

      Also, for what it’s worth, your parents are awful and you are allowed to worship who, how, and if you want to.

    3. fposte*

      I’m so glad you finally got a diagnosis and some medical support. Good luck on the Plaquenil.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      If X religion cured lupus there would be millions of members of that faith.

      Seriously, I am very glad you found some proper help and that you feel supported now. Congrats on climbing your own personal Mt. Everest.

    5. Can’t Sit Still*

      Plaquenil is wonderful! I didn’t realize how much of a difference it made until I had to start rationing it. I was allowed to get a refill a couple of weeks ago and what a relief! The pharmacist grilled me to make I wasn’t going to sell it or something, though. I literally limped into the pharmacy, my hands were stiff and I explained I’d been rationing and they were still suspicious. I hope it continues to work for you and you’re able to get the appropriate amount.

      Also, there is a sizable exvie (ex-evangelical) community online, if you’re not already familiar.

    6. Frankie Bergstein*

      Congratulations on finding your way to a path that’s authentic and supports your wellbeing! There are lots of good stories from others leaving faiths that challenged their wellbeing (I am mentioning that in case you feel alone). I really enjoyed the books by Carolyn Jessop — Triumph and Escape — because she’s so strong and created a better life for herself and her kids. Those books made me realize what a difficult, courageous thing you did!

  8. Word Prefect*

    Feeling oddly at peace with the world at the moment despite everything that is going on out there. I’ve been busy with work this week and now I’m looking forward to a morning tidying the garden, potting up various plants, then sowing some seeds. The weather is bright and warm, with breeze enough to dry the laundry I’m about to start running. I feel mildly guilty for enjoying myself in a crisis but given how stressful things have been in recent weeks I’m also grateful for this tiny respite.

    1. MistOrMister*

      I had a not very good week last week. Nothing bad really, I just lost all motivation to do anything besides work. I had been trying to do at least one productive thing around my house each day as I try to get things in order. Yesterday was my first day back at it, and like you, today I plan to do garden tidying and planting and look forward to it! And I also feel more peaceful today. I think if we can feel good in these times, it behooves us to do so and not feel guilty! There is enough suffering. Let’s be mellow and hope we give off mellow vibes that spread the peace!!!

      Are you about to take up running as a new thing? I keep trying and it keeps not happening. But we’ve been told we’re home most likely until July now, so I’ve got time to try again. Getting into running is more difficult for me because I only like to run in the morning. I can do other exercises at any time of day or night. But running has to be early morning, preferably while it’s still dark, which I find soothing. I know it’s a mental thing, but if I try to run during the day or evening, I end up with a horrible stitch in my side.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        That may not be totally mental, think of how little food is in your system at the beginning of the day as opposed to the end of the day. My mom always claimed that stitches in my side or because of something digestive in progress.

        1. Katia*

          Hi! I used to do a short run in the mornings, but I at least,eat half yoghurt before going out, and more after I come back. For me it was a “shame” thing, in the morning there is a lot less of people, and it’s usually so nice. The air is crisp, and all that. Plus, I tend to skip the workout if I try to do it in the afternoon, something almost always comes up.
          About the pain in your side, its probably because you are breathing wrong, or going too fast. I try to keep a rhytm im breathing, going in and out nice and slow. If i get pain in the side, I try to go slower or just walk, it depends

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      No need to feel guilty! I suspect that a lot of people are enjoying these simple pleasures.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      When I was growing up, most places closed on Sundays. While I am not a fan of blue laws, I do actually see value in one day of rest. The world is moving crazy fast and we have no rest any more. Then along comes Covid-19. I think about the shut down period and I wonder if we (society) will decide to stop doing life at 90 mph and chose a saner pace.

      1. Dramamethis*

        No need to feel guilty! I feel compassion and hate that people are sick & dying and that businesses are suffering but I’m choosing to see positive as well.

        I’m getting a lot more sleep due to adjusted hours and a vastly shorter commute time. I’m essential so still working, part of the time from home.
        I feel so much better physically and being somewhat introverted I’m ok with being alone with just my husband.

        We’ve rearranged our bedroom, purged a bunch of unnecessary clutter, enjoy zoom calls with friends & family and get out for walks.

        I feel like the universe has forced us all to slow down.

        Have a happy weekend everyone!

      2. Floof*

        Seconding the return of a day of rest. When most businesses were closed on Sundays, time seemed more …mellow.

  9. StellaBella*

    Good weekend all! I have just read a couple of news articles on HuffPost, NYTimes, NatGeo about the strange dreams a lot of my friends and family are having with the virus making us isolate. Fascinating how your brain processes stuff. This week I dreamt that my emotionally stunted ex bf walked in on me making my own funeral preps-I was using my parents’ long mahogany coffee table as a Viking ship prep for the pyre- he asked what I was doing, then said, oh… And went off to meet a professor friend of his for a beer like it was no biggie. This dream helped me process some things that clearly were lingering for past couple of years. And last night I dreamt a friend had a baby girl and named it Satan and even as a brand new baby, Satan was laughing and cooing like a toddler while my friends and I toasted her with champagne and shared a Dunkin Donuts bag with the construction workers at the house next door.

    1. Fikly*

      I had a dream the other day that I forgot I was flying cross country when I was meant to be sleeping before my next shift at the thing we do not mention on weekends, and was all worried I was going to be too exhausted to do that thing.

      My sister, meanwhile, had a dream I was living in Brooklyn and dating a drug dealer, and then texted me to thank me for not doing that. I guess she wins the dream sweepstakes?

      1. StellaBella*

        Good for you and your sister for sharing dreams and yay on not dating a Brooklyn drug dealer in her dream or reality!

      2. Misty*

        Your sister thanking you for not doing something that you were doing in her dreams is the opposite of when people get upset that someone did something or said something to them in their dreams!

    2. KoiFeeder*

      Current stress dream winner for me is getting rabies and then shot by an anti-vaxxer, but having to pry open my ribs with a crowbar to feed little chestburster babies (yes, like from alien) comes in a close second.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I really do think there is an energy out there and we somehow absorb it. The night the Titanic went down many people dreamed of other people in a large body of water calling for help. Oddly, a family member of mine had this dream. What was interesting is the doctor had ordered her to avoid news because of her health. She had no reference points from anywhere to have triggered this dream. Odd.

      There have been a couple nights where I just could not sleep. The only way I can describe it is that the world felt restless. I am not sure why those nights were worse than other nights.

      1. StellaBella*

        yes, this is something I have had too, and a few friends as well, a general malaise anxiety.

    4. Jaid*

      I dreamt that my parents were being gossiped about for job corruption but it turned out that they were just hiding that they were into massages by a dominatrix. And I was saying well, they’re not corrupt, so who cares?

      Yeah, I have no idea where that one came from.

    5. lazy intellectual*

      I’ve always been someone that has vivid dreams, and I’m continuing to have vivid dreams, but somehow they are more normal/pleasant than usual? A lot of them involve having conversations with various people in my life – clearly about topics that I want to talk about with them, but either don’t want to do in real life or are not well-suited to weekly Skype chats. (For example, I have a friend I generally get along with, but has this One Annoying Habit. In my dream, I was telling her about it. It was very calm – not a fight or anything.)

      I’ve been having A LOT of pretty pleasant dreams of hanging out in my favorite places around town or foreign cities I have visited in the past. I obviously miss going out.

    6. Blueberry*

      Ugh, I keep having unrestful dreams that make me wake up out of breath and exhausted. A recent one was that I went to an old job of mine by accident rather than my current job, and because of construction I couldn’t get to a bus stop to get to my actual job, and I ended up flying through the air but not in an enjoyable way but a frantic careening way.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      My dreams have been as dull as my life lately. Although last night, I dreamed I was sitting on a sofa in a coffee shop with some Buddhist friends from my old group. It was nice and comfy; I didn’t want to wake up.

  10. Subscription boxes UK*

    I’m looking for a subscription box for my friend in the UK. It’ll be a birthday gift for her (for 1-3 month, depending on the price. I’m thinking beauty or maybe self-care although she’s not into scented candles, tea/coffee, and doesn’t have a bath tub.
    She likes experimenting with quality beauty products, likes fashion jewellery, would enjoy a glass of wine with a book (not an avid reader though). I’ve tried googling but most boxes I found seemed to contain plenty of coupons, and I don’t want to gift something that says 20% off on your monthly home gym subscription.
    Is there a product you love or avoid?

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      The “This Morning” channel on YouTube had Alice Beer presenting some gift boxes a couple of days ago, so it should be easy to find. There was jewellery, cocktails and a decorate your own doughnuts as I recall.

    2. Regular Reader*

      This is more food related than you were perhaps looking for but there is a well known UK firm in Yorkshire called Bettys. They mail order cakes of all kinds including birthday cakes. I’ve used it and the communications about delivery are excellent. Prices are reasonable too for the service.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        I love Betty’s. I grew up in North Yorkshire and went to university in York, and it was always such a treat even just to go for a browse there, much less buy anything. I actually celebrated handing in my final university essay with a Fat Rascal (hybrid of a teacake and a fruit scone) and a pot of their house tea blend, and it felt so utterly decadent on my student budget!

      2. Cambridge Comma*

        An unexpected Betty‘s gift tin is the best thing I have ever received in the post.

    3. Copenhagen*

      The Youtube-channel “SortedFood” has gone through different UK-based boxes during the last couple of weeks. Mainly food and drink focused, but maybe it’s worth checking out? I think they had one with cocktails that wasn’t that expensive.

    4. NeverNicky*

      Not entirely in the areas you mentioned, but I like Veronica Dearly’s stationery subscription boxes (but you have to like her style and the odd f-word), Bloom and Wild Flowers, and The Courtyard Dairy cheese boxes (pricey but OMG! visited the shop last year, lovely people and had a cheese toastie I still daydream about)

      1. Now I'm hungry*

        I couldn’t resist checking out The Courtyard Dairy’s website. Did you know they offer cheese towers to use as wedding cakes?!? Sounds delicious.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Cheese “cakes” are quite the thing! We went to a wedding where the evening buffet food was that plus crackers/chutney/fruit/celery etc and it was brilliant for mingling and also for controlling the worst excesses of drink.

        2. NeverNicky*

          When Mr Never and I get civilly partnered (which had been tentatively mooted for September this year probably 2022 because there will be a backlog for register office timings) our party to celebrate will feature one of those “cakes”. Nothing else is agreed, except this and surname use!

    5. Subscription boxes UK*

      So many great suggestions, thank you so much! I’m going to check out all of these. I didn’t realize there are so many food options out there as well. Thanks again!

      1. Jules the First*

        This is my go to – gifted a lovely olive oil subscription a few years ago and more recently a book box, but my go-to is the Spicery. They post you recipe cards and all the spices to cook a three-course date night dinner for two. I’ve gifted these several times and always had rave reviews.

    6. Kathenus*

      I’ve become a really big fan of giving nature sound machines for relaxation related gifts, and for when someone is in the hospital. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback that some people really enjoy them. They come in basic to high tech, but might be an option to consider.

    7. Jaid*

      Just make sure it’s shipping to her area! I’ve had deliveries from Germany and Japan canceled or put on hold for months…

    8. Marion Ravenwood*

      Have you had a look at Birchbox? It’s a beauty subscription box that sounds like it could be just the thing you’re after (I haven’t used it for a couple of years but when I did it was things like fancy shower gel, nice body lotion, makeup products etc).

    1. NeverNicky*

      It’s doing well.

      My first tomatoes have set, my lettuce hasn’t been attacked by pigeons and my fennel seedlings are thriving. My dill seedlings didn’t like being potted on though.

      I’ve taken cuttings of sage, lavender and rosemary so fingers crossed they root. The idea of something for nothing is exciting, after what I spent on perennials this spring, although it was worth it.

      My lovely Gertrude Jekyll rose is blooming and the scent is amazing!

      I hope that those who have gardens are able to enjoy them this weekend and that those who don’t are able to visit (responsibly) some green space.

    2. PX*

      I got some seedlings for “salad leaves” a few weeks ago from a neighbour who had a lot going spare but…I’m not actually sure what to do with them? I dont have a garden so everything is in pots for me, and I have some large pots and compost. I’m just not sure how big they are meant to get or when I know they are ready to eat, so I’m just procrastinating about repotting them really.

      Are they meant to get big? How big? When can I eat them? So many questions that I’ve been too lazy to Google.

      None of my plants seem to be doing well at the moment and its getting me a bit down weirdly. They all seem to be alive, but…not really growing or getting bigger. I have a pepper plant from last year that looks like it wants to die but continues to cling on which in some ways is worse. It flowered last week but then the flower rotted and fell off rather than turn into fruit which was just sad. I feel very *Igiveup.gif* at the moment.

      1. AY*

        I have also gotten way more emotionally attached to my plants’ growth this year. I feel like I should be able to control at least that during all this! But we had that vicious cold snap last weekend, and I think it really damaged a couple things. We’ll see if they can recover, but I do need to take plant death less personally.

      2. RagingADHD*

        If it’s lettuce or mesclun mix, they only get about 6-8 inches tall (until they bolt – but you don’t want to eat them by then anyway).

        You can start harvesting leaves as soon as

        a) the individual leaves are big enough to be worth eating, and

        b) they have more than 4 leaves, so you can always leave at least 2 to keep growing.

        1. kt*

          Or you can just rip out the whole thing (at any time you want to eat it) and then plant something new there! :)

          I planted some lettuce and flowers in a pot. The lettuce is good for cool weather and the flowers like warmer weather, so the lettuce is already 4 inches high and adding some greenery to the pot while the flowers are 1 inch high and adding little but possibility. So I’m just eating my way through the lettuce, with the idea that by the time the flowers are filling out, I’ll have eaten all the lettuce and the flowers will get that space.

      3. Nita*

        My (indoor) pepper drops most of its flowers. It only grows one pepper at a time – I wasn’t expecting any, so even the random peppers are a nice bonus. It seems to do better with more water and sunlight. I put a few pepper seeds in a pot with a tiny little bit less light – they sprouted and then just sat there with two leaves on them. Put more seeds in a pot smack next to the window – they’re growing like mad, will see if they also grow a better crop.

    3. Admin of Sys*

      The lockdown is useful for one thing – I can haul my poor tomato plants around to get them the 4+ hours of sunlight they need! My yard is terminally shade and the vast majority of the time I don’t bother with vegetables. But I figured I was going to be home anyway, so I planted tomatoes and squash in lined milk crates and every hour or two I drag them then next foot along the narrow migrating patch of sun. We’ll see if it works. :).
      (Oh, and my irises bloomed for the frist time in a few years! Yay!)

    4. Lizabeth*

      Looks like the temps at night have started staying warmer than freezing. Time to put the plants out! We’re getting rain for the next couple of days.

    5. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      It got wierdly cold here for a few weeks, so everything I had intended to harden off stayed inside getting leggier and leggier. I finally put everything out into the plastic greenhouse today and I’m going to start a new round of seeds when I get the time. I had someone come around to look at a tree I want to remove and I’m hoping that once that’s gone I will have some better places to put things. The last few weeks I have been working on a research project and so I haven’t done much outside, but I need to get back to my project of clearing out all the overgrown weeds and shrubs. My hedge is also insane but my city is going to be picking up green waste again starting this week so I will be able to cut it back bit by bit (after each shrub flowers — I have four different kinds of shrub in the hedge and they mostly flower at different times).

    6. Analyst Editor*

      Not at all…. or with weeds. I inherited a once-lovely, ambitious garden from a previous resident of my current home, and — never having had a garden or lawn to contend with before — have no idea where to start. Pruning the various hedges? Weeding all the weeds? Spraying everything with weed-killer? (Don’t want to, because I have young kids who will play in the grass.) Wait through the summer to see what grows? At a loss.

      1. JobHunter*

        Look up your local Master Gardener group. They’ll be able to advise you on getting started gardening. Many will struggle to get their required community service hours in this year (our state waived the requirements for this year). Email and phone contact will still count as service time for them, though.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The master Gardener ideas a good one. You can also try to see if the state has an agricultural extension in your area, or online even. Yes they do ornamental too.
        If you’re new to the house, keep track of what comes up and blooms when & where. Identify everything so you can be confident deciding to keep, transplant, or remove plants. That first year, pull weeds you know our weeds, and prune lightly. If you have to use pesticide, do it when the bees are not out, and avoid anything flowering.
        And by the way you have reminded me how far the garden has come from the un-tended mulch & garden rocks that I found my first spring here. Off to find my string trimmer to get the awkward corners!

        1. kt*

          Yes — and beyond just “identify what you can”, take pictures every month or so that all the stuff that you can’t recognize, you can get back to later if needed!

    7. Bluebell*

      Husband and I spent some time in the garden yesterday doing clean up. We also planted some old flower seeds- cosmos, four o clocks, and marigolds. It will be interesting to see if any germinate. The native geraniums are having a good year, and the dwarf lilacs are running behind.

    8. Parenthetically*

      Oh it’s GLORIOUS. Peas are climbing and starting to bloom. Beans and cukes are FINALLY up and thriving, chard is pumping, radishes have already been harvested, herbs are doing well (rosemary and mint especially), carrots and onions are looking good, spinach and lettuces looking better every day. Now we just need a couple weeks of heat for the tomatoes and peppers!

      We’re trying to decide what to put in the radish spot when they’re done. We have plenty of lettuce and spinach seeds but I’m thinking about something fun for winter — the raised beds are going to get the polytunnel treatment once we start getting autumn frosts so we can keep harvesting into the later parts of the season. We’ve kicked around the idea of brussels sprouts so we can have them straight from the garden for Thanksgiving!

    9. LQ*

      Not a grown-up garden, but the tiny little aero and click gardens are sprouting nicely, only 1 failed. The lettuces are almost edible sized. I’ve never had a tomato in these so we’ll see how they do, but just that they LOOK like tomato leaves at this point has me delighted.

      (And my sister sent over a very long snapchat with all of her garden stuff and promises to share every week, it’s all looking amazing. I mean, mostly tiny little nothing and patches of wet dirt, but it’s really well laid out above ground beds that they’ve spent a few weeks working on construting.)

    10. KoiFeeder*

      After 50 days of having a pot of wet dirt in the refrigerator, something is starting to get thirsty and require watering. I hope it’s what I actually planted in there. 130 days to go…

      1. Tarantula Spinner*

        Dying to know what you’ve planted!

        I put out my tomato seedlings and the leafy greens today – the first week without a frost warning so I’m tentatively hopeful. Planted some carrots and reseeded the butterfly garden, too.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Autumn Crocus! I, uh, kinda forgot that it needs 180 days in the refrigerator after you planted it when I planted it, so I’m not sure it’s alive. But something’s been drinking, so I’m quasi-hopeful.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Often the refrigerator thing is to give it a “winter” so the plant knows it’s time to grow & bloom. I’m told fridge time can trick tulips into blooming out of season, or to bloom at all in areas where the weather doesn’t get cold enough. I’m in New England…too many squirrels to attempt tulips in the first place.

            1. KoiFeeder*

              Well, it’s going to be an indoor plant, so it was just sitting in balmy 72º dirt for a week or so before I shoved it in the fridge. Here’s hoping I didn’t kill the poor thing.

            2. allathian*

              European brown squirrels don’t eat tulips, but we have to grow them in raised beds so they aren’t eaten by rabbits. Hares don’t seem to care for them, but our city rabbits, descendants of tame rabbits that have gone feral and manage to survive in the wild, love them.

    11. Ali G*

      Hey Plant People I have a question:
      Do I need to do something special to make my milkweed bloom? I got seedlings 3 years ago and planted them. This is the third growing season and they have yet to bloom. They grow like crazy and every year I get more, but they don’t bloom! Any suggestions? Do they need fertilizer or something? Help!

      1. KoiFeeder*

        I am not a plant person, and milkweed is a mystery to me, but the milkweed in the front yard steadfastly refused to bloom for five whole years until some milkweed tussock moths found it. Then it bloomed.

        So, maybe you need caterpillars?

      2. Venus*

        My smaller ones don’t bloom. They seem to bloom as they age, but I don’t know how long it takes. I think mine are in 2-3 seasons, but I haven’t kept good track. I do nothing and they grow well.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Where are you and what kind of milkweed? The northern US variety and tropical milkweed are very different.

        1. Ali G*

          I’m in VA (Zone 7). I admit I forget what species, but it was from a local gardener so I know it’s OK for this area.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have had a hard time getting re-motivated after a freeze. I have seeds that need to go in I have seedlings that need to go in I have plants that are ready to be moved outside… And I just want to sit and eat homemade bread.
      But on the more positive side… the miniature irises somebody gave me last year took off and spread in a shady area of the yard. It looks like a few late-purchase lilies did successfully overwinter. And my husband suggested that we replace a flowering cherry with two apple trees. It’s an unimpressive variety, and its location next to the house means we might actually be able to keep the deer away. It also gives me an easy birthday present later in the spring.

    13. RagingADHD*

      We harvested and ate our first batch of green beans this week, along with continuing harvests of salad and cooking greens.

      My tomatoes are struggling a bit – we had a completely unseasonable cold snap last week. One spot I planted didn’t sprout at all, but I was able to transplant from another spot to fill it.

      Squash, cucumbers, and carrots seem to be coming along fine. Asparagus is over.

      Our sweet potato slips came in the mail this week. I should plant them today.

    14. Anonymath*

      Picked our first peppers and okra for the season. I’m trying two new (to me) types of okra, both advertised as tender even when larger. I just couldn’t keep up with daily okra picking last year and ended up growing huge inedible ones. Hopefully these two will come out better. Small volunteer cherry tomato seedlings are sprouting up on the side and I fully expect to be overrun later this summer. I’ve got some papaya seeds sprouting there too, so we’ll see what happens.

    15. Venus*

      I had asparagus for supper tonight, the tulips and daffodils and flox(? small light purple flowers) are blooming, and the rhubarb transplanted last fall is alive. My tomato and pepper seedlings are growing better this year than ever.

      I’m envious of anyone who has planted their tomatoes. I had hoped to put them in today but we will be close to freezing Tuesday night. So I wait. I should start the bean seeds and plant them next week. I know they don’t like transplanting but that’s different from just starting, hopefully.

    16. Garand not Andrews*

      I planted a wildflower mix last weekend and I already have seedlings up. I’m really late getting them in, but the heat is helping them sprout.

    17. Nita*

      I feel like I’m so behind. I’ve finally found time to garden, but it took me weeks to figure out logistics (I don’t live near the garden, needed to start new planters from scratch, needed to find time to drop by at least once a week…) And the nursery I used years ago is apparently overwhelmed, because they kept moving the date of my seed order up. If they’d just been honest up front that they don’t have the seeds in stock, I would have looked elsewhere… now I’ll get some seeds in June, and all I can do is put them in the fridge and hope they keep till next spring. I have got a few things to plant from around the house, so will see if they do ok. I just got them into the ground after starting them indoors, and it’s supposed to rain most of next week, so yay.

      Also all my lemon seeds sprouted indoors, after a month sitting in the pot. Now I have to read up on how to care for those finicky things. And I’m running out of places to put flower pots because the people that built this place didn’t believe in windowsills. It’s too bad none of us know how to hang shelves… that would probably solve the problem.

    18. StellaBella*

      It is growing well, my balcony garden has zucchini, melons, gladiolus, lavender, basil, aloe, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, radishes, poppies and sunflowers – in pots, on a pallet, and my balcony is about. 3ft x 4 ft. :)

  11. Pennyworth*

    Your Viking ship pyre dream just reminded me of the Billy Connolly movie, ‘What We Did On Our Holiday’. David Tennant was also in it, and Rosamund Pike. I loved it.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, I liked that one too. Written by the same people as the show Outnumbered, and with a not dissimilar vibe.

    2. Paradiddler*

      That was a great movie! Saw it a few months ago, keep telling people to watch it.

  12. Not Australian*

    I’ve recently reconnected with a distant cousin [‘Sally’], whom I contacted with the intention of exchanging family history information. Unfortunately it turns out she can’t help, but I still sent her some of the more interesting stuff I’d uncovered.

    A few days ago she contacted me again, and among other things she sent her love to my sister [‘Claire’].

    To be blunt, Claire and I hate each other and have had no contact for over twenty years. I won’t go into details, but apparently she’s made up her mind that I’m some kind of devious criminal and has done her best to poison my few remaining relatives against me. I’m honestly quite happy for them to believe whatever they like because I know the truth – and so do, for example, the relevant authorities – and if they’re prepared to think ill of me without more evidence than Claire’s say-so they’re not the sort of people I want to deal with anyway.

    Claire and Sally, however, have had no contact for many years; as Claire is the youngest of us she may not even remember Sally’s existence, and would have no way of contacting her if she did.

    So, what do I tell Sally? I want to say that I can’t give her any news about Claire because we haven’t spoken to each other for a couple of decades, and will probably add that I’m quite happy with the situation. (In fact, it was a huge weight off my mind.) I don’t want to drag out a lot of old family business and blame-throwing, but at the same time I want to be clear that as far as I’m concerned this separation is not an occasion for regret; in fact as time has gone on I’ve been more and more certain it was the right decision. Just because we’re related to people doesn’t mean we automatically like, respect or understand each other, and it’s sometimes better to face that reality and deal with it than to pretend everything in the garden’s lovely.

    Given the diversity of AAM’s commentariat I’m sure some people here have encountered similar situations. What did/will you do?

    1. Lady Farquaad*

      I don’t think details are necessary, however gratifying it would be to share them. “Claire and I are unfortunately not in contact” is fine. Every family has its drama and if Sally is a reasonable person she would understand and not pry further.

      1. kt*

        I guess I’d only tweak this to say, “We’re no longer in contact, which is better for me” or something like that, in case this is a person who’d take “unfortunate” to mean “I can be a hero by reconnecting them!”

    2. Lemonwhirl*

      Do you think you’re going to be in regular contact with Sally? Do you think you’ll develop any kind of relationship?
      If so, then it might be worth saying something like “Claire and I are no longer in contact, but it’s kind of you to think of her kindly.” Just so that you don’t get into a relationship and then have to say “oh, this is maybe awkward, but Claire and I are estranged.”

      But if you think this is ever going to be a superficial, email/social media-driven transaction of a fleeting nature, you can just ignore the sentiment and say nothing. Saying something is probably going to raise all kinds questions you’d rather not get into and to what end? Chalk it up as one of those polite things people say, like when they ask how you are or make small talk about the weather.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        This. You two aren’t really at the ‘discuss family drama’ level yet, so just ignore the comment. If she brings it up again, maybe say something like “Claire and I don’t have much to do with each other nowadays.”

    3. Lcsa99*

      I have a feeling the “love” was just a perfunctory, polite thing to say. Respond to the other things in the email you mentioned and ignore the mention of your sister. If in further communications she asks how your sister is or wants to contact her you can tell her that you aren’t in touch with your sister but until then, pretend it isn’t even there.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is what I would do. Just pretend she asked you how the weather is by you. We don’t always answer that question. This is more of the same.

    4. Water Bug*

      You don’t need to say anything now. If she brings up Claire again, just say “oh, we’re actually not in touch” and change the subject.

    5. Misty*

      I’m not in contact with my older sister. When people say things like “say hi to sister for me” or “hows sister?” I literally straight out ignore it. Like maybe I should say I’m not in contact with sister or something, but I find that people have been nosier about it then I thought they would be so I will skip over the comment even if it’s a face to face conversation. But my situation may be different because this only comes up once or twice every few years and I find it to painful to discuss with people who clearly don’t know me well or else they would know that we’re not in contact with each other and haven’t been for ten years.

    6. Koala dreams*

      Just tell her that it’s better to send her love to Claire directly, since you don’t live together / hang out / talk. (Depending on how detailed you want to be.) Usually it’s quite easy to get in touch through social media, and in some places the old fashioned phone book has moved online to you can call too. It’s really not your problem if Sally hasn’t stayed in touch with Claire. It is a bit weird to deliver greetings for a sibling you don’t live with anyway, isn’t it? I mean, I have a sibling I’m staying in touch with, but I would be confused if someone asked me to deliver any greetings to them.

      I’m sorry about your tangled family history.

      1. Koala dreams*

        Oh, and you don’t need to explain anything if you don’t want to. Just stick with: “It’s better if you send your live/greet to Claire directly.” You can add a short explanation if you want to.

    7. MoopySwarpet*

      My youngest sister is estranged from the entire family. If a cousin (especially a “new” distant cousin) said this to me, it would depend partly on the method of communication. Verbally, I would say “I’m not in contact with Claire.” Or “I think you’ve talked to Claire since I have.” If the communication was written, I would just ignore it until pressed and then say one of the two previously mentioned things.

      I don’t see the value of bringing up the drama that caused our loss of contact even though it wasn’t in our control. I might give a short version if asked directly, though.

    8. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I’m on team ignore. Or just say “OK”. If you become closer in the future you might want to discuss it but for now I’m sure it was just a polite thing to say and it would be weird if she asked you if you had said anything to your sister yet. I think any other explanation or remarks about how you aren’t in touch will inevitably lead to questions.

    9. allathian*

      In this situation, I think I’d ignore it for now. If this was just a casual contact, there’s no need to say anything. If you keep in touch and she brings it up again, you can still ignore her. If she insists, you can say that you’re not in contact with Claire and are happy with that.

  13. Lady Farquaad*

    Can anyone else identify with being super responsible and organised and the world rewarding you by making you do more and more until you buckle?

    I feel like my whole life I’ve been the person who gets sh*t done. Even when I was a kid. As a woman I now bear a disproportionate amount of emotional labour within our household. My parents have over relied on me to look after them. Even my aunt contacts me to ask about car repairs, etc because she doesn’t want to ask her teenage kids to Google this stuff.

    My parents-in-law are currently stuck in another country due to covid cancelling most flights. During their absence they asked me to check on their home and do basic maintenance. I’m fine with doing this but irritated that BIL hasn’t been expected to do anything. Even if he helped out once every five times, that’s fine. But he does *nothing* when it comes to family stuff because he is a lazy potato head. So PIL automatically come to me. I don’t know who irritates me more – my clueless BIL or his parents who think it’s fine for one child to do all the work.

    I’ve had major breakdowns for issues relating to this as well as therapy. So while I’m much better now at putting up boundaries it’s difficult to just stop being the go-to person altogether. Not that I want to stop everything – just in moderation. It’s hard to get the perfect balance.

    Not looking for advice on “how to stop being so useful” but reaching out to others who’ve experienced similar issues.

    1. Pennyworth*

      I think you are living proof of the adage “If you want someting to get done, ask a busy person to do it.’ I’m sorry potato head is so lazy and unreliable that all the work is falling on you.

    2. Alex*

      I can totally relate to being the “Person who is the person who does the things.” Although for me it has mostly shook out at work and in friend groups, as I’m single and far from my family (both figuratively and literally).

      For me, the frustrating thing isn’t that I’m asked to help people, but just that everyone just expects me to just do everything all the time. Even just small things, like being the one in charge of all the bills and communications with a landlord in a roommate situation….just like, for once, it would be nice if someone ELSE told the landlord that the garbage disposal is broken. Why is everything always my job? I encounter this trap at work, too. And again, I don’t mind being a competent high-performer! But having everything always default to me gets really old.

    3. Koala dreams*

      I am not in the same situation, but I’ve noticed some people act like if a person does some of task A, then they are also obligated to do more of task A, while the people who didn’t do anything about A aren’t. It isn’t just in social situations, but also when it comes to work. It seems like a moral rule, but nobody has ever spelled it out to me. It just is. I can say as a bystander, that it’s just as perplexing from the outside.

    4. Kathenus*

      Yes, yes, yes. Even as the youngest in my family, as an adult, I’ve always been kind of in the center of communication, been told that I was the ‘oldest’ in many ways in spite of being the youngest. My parents had split and tried to speak through me, my brothers didn’t get along and tried to speak through me. There were literally a few years where I was the only person who spoke with every other person in my immediate family. The kicker for me, when I tried to extricate myself from this role, was getting a phone call from a friend of my father’s who I had never met, when my father was in the hospital 1500 miles away, telling me he didn’t trust what the doctor was telling them and had been told that I was ‘the person in the family he should talk to’ about it. Such a draining position to be in at times. I guess it might be empowering in some instances, but in mine it felt more like having energy sucked out of me.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’m glad you’ve done the therapy and have learned how to set boundaries. You need to set some more boundaries. Tell your aunt that you’re busy, and suggest she get her kids to help research. As for your in-laws, communicate that you’re happy to help but you’re stretched pretty thin, so can only go over every 2 weeks or whatever, so they’ll need to get someone else to help as well. They can deal with the lazy potato head, they created it. You can still be helpful without getting stuck with everything.

      And I do understand, I’m a get-sh*t-done person too. However, I fundamentally don’t care if I say no and someone gets upset. As a result, things have played out very differently for me. People who care about you, and are decent people, will not be angry because you set and enforced a boundary. The people who are trying to take advantage of you will be upset, and that’s perfectly fine.

    6. Jack Russell Terrier*

      I’ll put you onto / forward your email to my husband / your son so he can check the mail etc. saying you can do ABC for them but you’re full up for the rest and perhaps their son can do it. When they complain it hasn’t happened send them back to him, report on what you’ve done resend them to your husband. You might be some flack from them but only by making it unpleasant for your husband will he do anything.

    7. Pennalynn Lott*

      I, too, am The Responsible One in my family. And it just about killed me when I leaned into the role. Lots of therapy taught me to say, “You’ll find the answer with a quick Google search,” and “You’ll need to ask so-and-so because I’ve got a lot on my plate right now.” And also just, “Sorry, I can’t help you with that.” With people in my inner circle, I’ll look at them like they have three heads and say, “You honestly think you need my help with THAT???”

      So I know you said you don’t want advice on how to stop being so useful, but that’s really the only long-term solution. If I were in your shoes, I’d be pushing back *hard* on my spouse and tell them that they need to take care of their parents, not me. BIL is Spouse’s problem, not yours. As in, I’d be more pissed off at my spouse than I ever would be at BIL.

      As for the other requests, do what you can/want to and no more. Think of it as someone asking to borrow $1000 from you but you only have $500 in the bank. Do you give them all $500 and not pay your bills or buy food, while secretly seething about how they keep taking advantage of you and how they’re too lazy to do anything to come up with money on their own? Or do you look at that $500 and say, “Sorry, I can’t help you on that,” and then pay your bills and not starve?

      When you get to the point that you’ve got $2000 in the bank (by not automatically giving money away just because someone asked), then you can decide — on your own, ahead of time — how much of that you can spare the next time someone asks you for money. Always, *always* put your own oxygen mask on first.

    8. Not A Manager*

      People do what works best for them at the least cost to them. If your relatives have learned that asking you to do things gets good results with no drama or pushback, they’ll continue to ask you instead of asking more difficult people, or doing it themselves. That’s not necessarily because they have a Theory Of Assistance where you’re the designated person and your BIL is not. It’s just because they want their repairs handled.

      My best strategy has been practicing a bland refusal. It’s super-hard the first couple of times, because you’re not used to it and your audience isn’t used to it either. “Sorry, Auntie, I don’t know anything about car repairs.” (I started to put in something about how she or your cousin could google it, but I think even that is going too far into the project and invites more pushback.) Whatever the response is, your response needs to be, “Oh no, I can’t advise you about car stuff.” Don’t fall into the trap of adding more words. Why you can’t do it, or who could do it instead, or anything else turns it into a negotiation that you don’t want.

      I’d do the same with your PIL. If you’re truly happy to supervise some of the repairs, then do that. For the ones you don’t want to do, be blandly regretful that you won’t be able to get to it. Suggest that they find someone else to look into it, but don’t bother to suggest who. The point isn’t to get your BIL to do his share, the point is for you to stop being the point-person all the time.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I hope you chuckle knowingly.

      So I was pulled in all different directions. I learned how to give out fishing poles, not fish, etc.

      But one person still makes me shake my head decades later. Let’s call this person Family Member (FM). This person had difficulty winding the clock. After a year or so of winding the clock for them, we got this person a battery operated clock for Christmas.
      I thought FM was going to fall apart at the seams. “What do you mean a battery clock?” It will be much easier for you to take care of. “What do you mean *I* have to take care of it????” omg. It was well over an hour of explaining why we bought this. “Being self-sufficient is important!” We were informed that is what you have children for so they do all your work for you.

      And so it went. We bought a little gadget that you touch and the light comes on, no need to twist the knob. “OHHH! Well. Don’t PLAY with it, it’s not a TOY!”, FM said. Then when FM thought they were alone in the room they touched the gadget repeatedly to watch the light go on and off.

      We bought an adaptive equipment type item, it was a special knob for a water spigot. “There! See! Now you can turn the water on and off yourself!” Response: “Why do I need to do that? You always do it for me.”

      It was all I could do not to run away. We tried to explain that we had other things and people we were helping. My parents were both in the hospital, of course, not the SAME hospital. That would have been easier. “I don’t care if your parents are in the hospital, *I* come FIRST! ALWAYS!”
      Okay, now I really am running away.

      I do not miss those days.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I probably went through 10 years of this, finally the person passed away.
          Fortunately, I was naive (stupid) enough to keep thinking it would turn around and get better. I did end up drawing boundary lines.
          For example, we’d go to visit because we were ordered to visit THEN when we got there we were told “shhhh” because the tv was on. We got up and left, but not before saying that “It is really rude and hurtful to shush people in favor of a tv program ESPECIALLY since YOU DEMANDED that we come over. We are here. Now we have to be quiet because your show is on? No. That is not how this works. We are gone from the house over 10 hours per day just for our jobs. We do not have time for this. Good bye.”
          So we never had to compete with the tv again. But there was always something else coming up. Always.

          Conversations actually got quite candid because of all these issues that non-stop showed up. I felt like such a nasty person, but someone had to rope in all that was going on. I decided if I was going to stay in the situation I was going to call things as I saw them. And I did. Gosh, that was a lot of work.

          Where I landed with all this is that some people have just decided to be UNhappy. And no matter what we do they will remain unhappy because that is their goal. BUT, it also telegraphs how they are doing healthwise. A person like this is probably having early symptoms of something HUGE. And our person did have something huge. He had lived a very sheltered life and there was really no way to change a lot of that. He passed away in his own home from his illness. I doubt he will ever be thought of as a happy or grateful person.

          I still call things as I see them if I get pulled into a difficult situation with difficult people. That’s a lasting side-effect going on there.

    10. Lora*

      Heh, I WAS this person. After finally getting my mother into assisted living, I noped out from the role permanently. In life, at work, everywhere.

      At work, the Cool New High Profile Project would be given to Golden Boy (there was always a Golden Boy, fresh out of school or very nearly, and Boss always reckoned him Brilliant). Golden Boy would proceed to fk the project up seven ways to Sunday, and it was “fine, it was a really big project and he deserved a chance.” I would be called in to clean up the mess and make something of it. I would fix this big wonderful project…and Golden Boy would get the credit. Over and over again, I was the maid who cleaned up other people’s messes and got taken for granted.

      Same with family. Someone’s going to the nursing home or getting divorced or died and nobody else can be arsed to help them pack up and go through their stuff and try to find which earrings went to which auntie and which set of china went to which cousin? Lora will help since everyone else is too busy. I sewed a lot of baby quilts for people who couldn’t do so much as fix me a casserole when I was in the hospital.

      Same with friends: need help with moving, cleaning, walking the dog they didn’t play with, babysitting the kids and making sure they do their homework? Call Lora, she’ll have the dishes done and floor vacuumed and laundry sorted and dinner on the table in a couple of hours AND go over the Common Core math with Junior! Need a couch to crash on through your own ridiculous foolishness? Call Lora, with a sob story and a remark about her living all aloooooone in a big looooonely house. Now I don’t do any of that. someone invites me over and I bring a bottle of wine and sit on my butt and chat. Someone needs a place to stay, here’s a list of debt restructuring assistance places, homeless shelters, social services.

      It’s unbelievably liberating to be able to say, “I’m really sorry to hear that… here’s the Somewhere Else that can help you with this problem.” Un. believably. Liberating.

    11. Anon attorney*

      Yeah, I’m in that position too. It’s difficult because I actually am a person who gets things done and I don’t want that to change, but what yanks my crank is being taken for granted. People, remember your low maintenance, competent friends and family also sometimes need to be asked how they are and given hugs!

    12. tiasp*

      That’s me with volunteering. SOMEONE has to do it, and if no one else volunteers (which is A LOT of the time), it falls to me and a couple other core volunteers. We had one position open up that is quite a big commitment. We put it out that it didn’t have to be one person – if a group of people wanted to cover it, that would be great. Two people (who each said they had two or three people interested in taking it on as a group) asked for the list of duties that the previous person had left. One of them never got back to me and one of them replied that it was way too much to ask of a volunteer (and it is a lot to ask, but it’s not more than what I or a couple other people do). So it ended up being me and another person (who are both in multiple executive positions of both that group and numerous other organizations) covering it. On the bright side, usually there are at least a couple complaints a year about how it was run, and this year, not one word. I suspect because it was pretty clear that if anyone said anything, they were going to be invited to take it over.

      That’s just one example of many I could give of things ending up on my plate because they need to be one and no one else wants to do it.

      Thankfully, I am not the go to person with family issues.

    13. Observer*

      From the other side of this – if it helps at all I thank you for the reminder not to lean to heavily on the family members who just step up to the plate, and to both task the others who have an obligation as well as finding other options.

      I try to do that, but this is a key reminder that I NEED to *continue*.

    14. Avasarala*

      I have done this too. Ultimately I had to look at myself in the mirror and ask, did I enjoy the martyrdom of being so trusted and responsible? Or did I actually find it pressuring and exhausting? Because I couldn’t have both.

      I realized I was also pre-emptively taking away tasks from others because I didn’t trust them to do it, and I got a kind of sick satisfaction out of having slaved away at something because I was such a diligent, good person.

      I decided to step back, to trust others more, to let people figure things out for themselves or flounder a bit, and prioritize what things need me to do them and what just needs a push.

  14. Anon and alone*

    ******************
    Happy Birthday
    ******************

    To all those who celebrate a birthday the week of May 17 to May 23, may you have a nice day, with those you love and who love you, both human and non-human, virtually or in person. May you enjoy the foods and drinks you like (and dance a little, if you’re so inclined). No matter how you’re celebrating, know that there are those out here who also wish you a Happy Birthday.

    Until next week.

    1. PX*

      Happy Birthday to anyone celebrating this week!

      @Anon and alone: I always see these and think its so great that you do this every week. It makes me smile, and send out some good vibes to anyone who isnt getting to celebrate the way they would wish to.

      1. NightOwl*

        +1
        And I now have the song from Alice in Wonderland in my head…anyone else? “…But there are 364 UN-birthdays…” :)

    2. KR*

      Thank you for this. I’m turning 26 today and am really bummed because I want to be at the beach!

    3. Arya Parya*

      I’ve seen these a few times and this time it applies to me. My birthday is May 19th. So thank you! I really appreciate this.

    4. SydneyGerald*

      I’ve seen you do this week and after week and it’s really lovely :) My birthday is Monday, so thank you so much! And happy birthday to any other folks!

    5. Canuck girl*

      Thank you! It applies to me this week, my birthday’s on May 17th :) . I love that you do this every week :)

      And a Happy Birthday to all those celebrating this week!

  15. Vic tower*

    Pregnancy/trying/considering thread

    How is your pandemic pregnancy or plan going? Are health services changed much where you are? Did you have plans that are now on hold?

    1. Vic tower*

      I’m in Australia, 25 weeks, first pregnancy. Just started doing some planning – looking at cot/pram/car seat and all the many bits and bobs. My sister is living with us in the future nursery but moving out soon!

      COVID 19 has meant my hubby couldn’t come to some appointments and at the moment would be the only visitor allowed in hospital but otherwise health system here is going back to normal.

      IVF services here were suspended for two months but just starting up again, one of my friends is in the early stages of this for her second child.

      I’m feeling good. Reflux ++ but otherwise no complaints. It’s hard to have limited contact with friends and family, and I feel nervous about patient contact at work, but overall, things are improving.

      How are you guys doing?

    2. Copenhagen*

      It feels a bit odd to be stuck at home while I slowly get bigger and bigger. And to the people around me, it’ll seem like I went from tiny baby bump to MASSIV in the span of minutes, when they see me again.

      But besides this, things are fine. Health care here in Danmark is doing a-okay and the only real change is my partner not being allowed to go with me to my appointments at the hospital. I’m just puttering around and enjoying feeling the baby kicking.

      1. Vic tower*

        I love the baby kicking feeling! Glad to hear healthcare there is not too altered

    3. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I’m 28 weeks now, and in NYC. I haven’t yet been to a hospital but my obgyn office stays open, but they only limit it to patients and everyone must wear a mask.

      I had plans to have a baby shower and just to do general shopping, the baby shower is definitely cancelled and general shopping I am waiting until things improve in July, otherwise online shopping it is.

      Physically it’s been OK, mentally it’s been tough.

      1. Vic tower*

        I wasn’t sure if I wanted a baby shower, but am sorry that the option is no longer there.
        Where are you online shopping (which sites)? Have you got the big stuff, like cot etc yet?

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Well, I don’t know about the baby shower, it’s still up in the air but keeping my expectations low I guess? A friend offered to host it and we planned it and set a date and a guest list but then COVID literally happened a few days later. I brought it up 2 months later, and her answer wasn’t definitive. I feel awful for bringing it up, and I don’t intend to ever again.

          I created my registry on Babylist but that’s more of a list for myself. And I have a spreadsheet to check off everything. We probably wont’ begin to make all hte purchases until July hopefully.

          1. Vic tower*

            I’m just gearing up really. My sister should be moving out of the future nursery by next weekend and then we can focus a bit more on furnishing, painting etc. I almost don’t want to think about it too much because there’s quite a lot of stuff to get once you start!

    4. BeeBoop*

      We just started our first IVF cycle after trying for 18 months. Our state is opening up but the quiet is really helpful for me getting to the many appointments and being home

    5. kz*

      I’m 33 weeks, due at the endof June. I’ve been getting prenatal care from midwives in a birth center (not necessarily the norm in the US) and I’m so grateful – they’ve been very proactive about communicating and knowing I most likely won’t need to go a hospital is a relief. I’ve had a couple telemedicine appointments but will be going back to in person appointments starting in a few weeks. I had plans for two baby showers, but we cancelled those and I did a bunch of small zoom showers instead. I’m also very grateful that my family and friends have been so supportive and sent lots of gifts to my house.

      The biggest stressor has been talking to family about restrictions on visiting after baby arrives :(

      1. Vic tower*

        Yeah, it’s hard not knowing when you’re favourite people will get to cuddle your baby for the first time. Have you got pretty much everything you wanted for nursery etc now? Are you still working?

        1. kz*

          We are actually moving about four hours away shortly after baby is born (hopefully 4-6 weeks depending on when baby decides to arrive). So we dont need a full nursery in this house, but in a few weeks we will probably start setting up the bassinet and a corner of our room to be baby’s space. We have almost everything we need at this point, just waiting on a few things we are borrowing or getting secondhand from relatives.

          My mom is planning to start self isolating two weeks before my due date so that she can come and help out once baby arrives (two members of her household are still working out of the home in a relatively hard hit area so that’s part of what makes it tricky). I’m so so so grateful shes willing to do that, so she at least will get to meet baby and keep us company in the first few weeks. Having to tell people they cant come visit right away really sucks, and it takes them time to process, which is fair but of course makes me feel sad.

    6. Carlottamousse*

      Took us a while to get here, but I’m due end of June and fortunately, feeling great and seeing my OB/Gyn relatively on schedule (slightly protracted visits) where we all wear masks and they limit the number of people in the waiting room (in southern CA). So for me, care hasn’t changed, but my OB is flexible and announced telemedicine availability for those who prefer that. She’s also available by email in normal circumstances, so that’s been nice to have continued. Instead of meeting with our PCP (who’s going to be our pediatrician) ahead of time, we had a phone call to go over basic questions. We had a baby party planned (for today, actually) that we had cancelled — we sent out a baby registry way earlier than we would have normally, and we’ve been accumulating stuff slowly but surely over the past two months and getting into the last few things we think we need now. A bunch of things have been in and out of stock online or have had shipping delays, so I’m glad we’ve been able to get stuff a bit earlier than we’d previously planned. The hospital we’ve selected recently loosened its post-partum rules, so here’s hoping by the time I deliver that my husband is still allowed to stay post-partum and not kicked out within 2 hours of the birth, which is what they were previously doing. Still tentatively planning on having my parents come help post-arrival, but that’s still up in the air.

      1. Vic tower*

        You sound very organised! So glad all is going well and I hope the restrictions are eased by the time you deliver.

        Have you stopped working? What are your plans for maternity leave?

        1. Carlottamousse*

          Thank you! I’m working full time from home (real estate attorney) and plan on working until the baby arrives assuming my health keeps up. Back in January, I asked for four months of maternity leave, which the partners were ok with and potentially some kind of part-time return to full-time in the fall. It’s a bit unknown, honestly, and they were very understanding about it (there’s no set policy). Pre-COVID-19, the understanding was that I’d be paid during that leave beyond the CA short-term disability leave and paid family leave. I haven’t brought it back up yet, so that feels like an unknown right now. Also fortunately, my husband gets three months of paid paternity leave, which we are trying mostly to stack after mine (he’ll take a couple weeks after the birth), so we can figure out the childcare situation later. And that search for daycares/nannies/who-knows-what is on pause with the pandemic…

          1. Vic tower*

            I’m probably going to start mat leave at 36 or 37 weeks, depending on covid numbers and general pregnancy symptoms. I had negotiated to work from home for 0.5 but now our numbers are so low the health dept want us back at work.
            I can take three months mat leave at full pay or six months half pay and think I’ll do six months. I also have long service leave due, so could extend half pay to nearly a whole year but not sure whether I’ll want to. Unfortunately, my skills will deteriorate the longer I’m non clinical, so I need to decide how long is sensible.
            Will you go back full time when you return? I was thinking of starting at 0.5 but not sure

            1. Carlottamousse*

              I’m not sure about what the return will look like either, to be honest. I’ve had friends who were really happy to go back to full-time work once the leave ended and others who were miserable. Knowing I have the choice but not knowing where I’ll end up on the spectrum creates some uncertainty, but I’m thinking I’ll probably do a couple weeks part-time back to gearing up full-time. From what I’ve heard, going part-time as a lawyer is not typically that great a deal since the work builds up (& hours) but the pay stays part-time. I think knowing my husband will take over the care after I go back may make it easier to transition, but I just have no idea. I don’t like the uncertainty, but I do appreciate the flexibility my office is giving me. They said they’d work with me however I wanted to do things for my return and that we’d figure it out. Also I saw up above that you were starting to look into all the baby gear, and I have found Lucie’s List to be really informative without being overwhelming.

  16. Lena Clare*

    Can anyone recommend some good pet hair clippers that aren’t noisy and won’t scare my cat? Thanks!

    Btw, that picture of your cats Alison…looks like they’re plotting something or they’ve just had a seance!

    1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

      Oh, man, my cat got the choppiest scissor-haircut at the beginning of lockdown. She was due for her spring grooming, and we didn’t get her in before we couldn’t. It was a pretty hilarious (but necessary) haircut, and she’s about due again, since she didn’t actually get fully groomed the way she normally would.

      Quarantine hair — not just for humans!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My mobile groomers are still running! They text you to let you know they’re here and stand a ways back, you put your pet outside the front door in a carrier or on-leash (I held onto the loop of my dog’s leash, but was inside the storm door that was open just a crack), and then once you’re back inside they come up and grab the pet (at which point I let go of the leash, so my dog was never out of a person’s handling) and take them out to the truck and do their thing, then repeat the process at the end, and payment is electronic. They have masks and gloves and sterilize their trucks in between each house they visit. Might be an option in a pinch?

    2. Sunset Maple*

      We bought a regular Wahl clipper kit; that brand is really quiet.

      Anyone attempting DIY using scissors: PLEASE lie a comb lengthwise against the skin first, as a guard to prevent nicks. Cat skin is incredibly thin and fragile.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Thanks, this is excellent advice. Think I’ll try the comb and scissors first, then the official groomer!

  17. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

    I live in the downtown core of my city, and despite residential growth exploding in my neighbourhood over the past decade, there hasn’t been a decent-sized grocery store there in decades. There are a few on the other end of downtown, a couple of corner stores, and a pricier, organic store nearby, but nothing that was really a one-stop supermarket within walking distance of my part of the city.

    A big store just opened up today, and going to get groceries was the highlight of my week. We did our big biweekly shop, masked up, 2 blocks away from home, and it was wonderful. (We are not car-free, so it’s not the hugest problem for us to go further away to get groceries, but this is certainly more convenient.) We’ve lived here for 4 years and this has been on the radar or under construction that whole time, so this is very highly anticipated.

    They’ve built in some of the features that all stores have right now — directed traffic, shields at the tills, etc — right from the start, and it’s a nice little bit of normalcy that even in the midst of everything, this store still opened on schedule.

    1. Geomancer*

      That sounds great! I actually love to grocery shop in normal times, and even now it feels good to stock up. I also love a good urban revitalization story.

    2. Moocow Cat*

      Urban grocery stores are great! We just had a grocery store open in a core location that drastically needed it. Apparently the place is so well planned and snazzy. (Perhaps we know of the same store?). It’s such a relief to start to get a bit of normal life back this week. While washing our hands and staying two meters apart.

    3. Zephy*

      We just had an Aldi open up nearby – I’m thinking of going to check it out today, rather than hitting up my usual grocery store.

      1. Stephanie*

        Oh, I love Aldi!
        Just keep in mind that they’re different than a typical grocery store in some key ways: you “rent” a shopping cart for 25 cents. You get your quarter back when you return the cart (this may not be happening due to the pandemic). They generally don’t carry national brands, with some exceptions. They do not take coupons. But their prices are great, and I LOVE their cheese selection. I prefer to shop there for my basics (dairy, boxed goods, coffee, etc) because their stuff is good, and less expensive than anywhere else.
        I highly recommend checking them out.

          1. DistantAudacity*

            Ooh – I’m curious: I assume you (Brain and Stephanie) are in the US?

            Both of those things – the cart (anti-theft) and the shopping bags – are the norm on the other side of the pond; probably all of (most of?) Europe.

            Not so in the US?

            (Interesting details!)

            1. Stephanie*

              I am in the US, and both are true here (the carts and the bags). Both may be different right now due to Covid, though.

            2. Worked in IT forever*

              In Canada, you also have to use a coin to release a cart at some grocery store chains, though you get it back. The last time I ran into this, I needed a loonie (a dollar coin) for the cart. Given that I hardly ever use cash, of course I didn’t have a loonie. The stores are discouraging the use of cash these days, though, so maybe they no longer charge for carts.

              It’s also common up here to have to pay for bags or bring your own. My usual chain is now waiving the bag fee because they won’t let you bring in your own bags.

              1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

                Yeah, cart deposits are super normal here (Canada). I remember a (conspiracy-theory-prone) aunt in the States complaining that her grocery store was “charging” for carts. Um, no they’re not. No one is taking your money away.

                You can purchase a loonie-shaped token for about $2 that goes on your keychain. I recently lost mine so have to get a new one.

                1. Worked in IT forever*

                  Thanks, I’ll have to go look for one of those. It was either Metro or No Frills where I didn’t have a loonie.

            3. RagingADHD*

              Everywhere in the US I’ve lived, the norms were that the store provides bags, and there’s no deposit on carts.

              Except warehouse stores like Costco or Sams Club, that don’t use bags at all.

            4. Seeking Second Childhood*

              US here. I prefer Aldi’s cart deposit to bollards preventing you from taking them out of the store. Those blew my mind when visiting a friend in NYC’s outer buroughs…they mean people load up and buy a lot but then a lot create a logjam at the door because one person holds the cart and another person goes to bring the car back and they transfer everything there.
              Of course I’m also not fond of what I see in some stores near where I live now… Grocery carts piling up at nearby bus stops. Or worse yet in the river.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              That’s not universal. The store where I shop in DC allows bags, but we are required to bag ourselves. It varies by store here.

        1. Jaid*

          The Aldi’s around me aren’t bothering with the quarters these days. They do have a clerk outside, wiping down the carts…

          They have interesting selections of odd flavored chips, candy, and cookies, which are fun to find!

        2. Alexandra Lynch*

          I shop at Aldi’s and have done through the pandemic.
          Right now they give you a cart at the door that has been cleaned, and you take your cart back to an attendant (masked and gloved) when you’ve unloaded into your trunk. Usually it does take a quarter.

          This is why I shop there:
          At the local big chain store, bulk bags of sucralose are $8.00 for the national brand, and $4.00 for the store brand. Aldi’s sells their brand for $2.00. Thanks to my boyfriend’s consumption of sweet tea, we go through a bag a week. This saves us quite a bit of money.

      2. My Brain Is Exploding*

        Also Aldi only takes cash and debit cards. Right now they have an employee disinfecting carts so you do not need the quarter for your cart.

      3. Sunset Maple*

        I got spoiled frozen fish at Aldi on both occasions I shopped there. That was enough chances, I’m done.

  18. Chocolate Teapot*

    This week’s broken washing machine update.

    Off I went to the shop selling electrical goods and it appears I was not the only person in lockdown whose washing machine had broken down. Since there wasn’t a massive selection, and it isn’t an emergency since I found the laundrette, I will go back next week, when there should be a full range of washing machines to choose from.

    Also, whilst doing research into makes and models, I discovered that front loading washing machines are not common in the US. Is this a general thing, or are people now abandoning top loading machines for front loading?

    1. Pennyworth*

      I adore my front loader- it is so quiet and it spins so much faster than my old toploader that the washing has far less water in it at the end of the cycle and dries much more quickly.

    2. Choggy*

      I’ve used front loaders but prefer top loaders. Our machine went kaput in the beginning of the shut-down and we were fortunate enough to be able to get a replacement pretty quickly. The delivery guys removed the old and installed the new in about 15 mins. It’s just a basic model but yikes, the price!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I like top loaders better too; they don’t have that mold problem around the rubber seal. The last one I had was really efficient. I’m kinda bummed that I had to leave it with the house.

        1. hermit crab*

          When our front-loader (that came with our house) died, we were SO excited to get a new efficient top-loader! No gross seal, the ability to add things to the load once you start it, and (most importantly) never having your laundry held hostage by a finicky door lock!!! If your washer is having trouble draining (this was a big problem with our old one) you can still get your clothes out! We got our new washer right before covid and I’m so glad we didn’t wait.

    3. Geomancer*

      Agree that front loafers are becoming more common because they are more efficient. Also agree that they are expensive!

      1. Observer*

        The efficiency differential is just not really there any more. And if you need a larger capacity you are going to pay A LOT more for the front loader, if you can even get it.

    4. Admin of Sys*

      Front loading are becoming more common, but they’re still considered the luxory option. They’re way better for efficiancy and wear on clothing, but make sure you’re willing to commit to the cleaning – if you don’t wipe down the seal every time it can quickly grow mold, which will both a) result in mold and b) weaken the seal. (Also, I am fond of things that can’t as easily leak, but that’s because my laundry room is upstairs. If it was in the garage or somehting, I’d be way more inclined to get a front loader once my current machine dies.)

    5. Anagram*

      Interesting, where I’m from front loaders have always been way more common. I prefer a top loader myself, since I can add stuff even if the water’s already there.

    6. Enough*

      The biggest problem with front loaders is they don’t always fit in the space. If I got one I would have difficulty getting to my downstairs bathroom. In fact when I get new machines I will have to special order a slightly small ones so they will fit. Even new top loaders are too big and I have no desire to move everything to the basement.

    7. Stephanie*

      I loved my front loader! We moved last fall, and left the appliances at the old house. New house came with a relatively new washer and dryer, but the washer is a top loader. It’s high-efficiency, and doesn’t have the center agitator, but I don’t like it much. The front loader got things so much cleaner. We want to get a new front loader, but we’ll wait a while–it just feels wasteful to get rid of a decent machine that still works. Plus, the cost, too.

    8. fposte*

      Rough history of washing machines in U.S.:

      All top loaders (except in laundromats)
      Fancy high-efficiency front loaders come in
      High-efficiency front loaders get less fancy and take over most of the market
      High efficiency top loaders, some without an agitator, gain market share

      A quick look of the big online home improvement store reveals about half and half on top load and front load but 80% high efficiency, so even in the top loads most are newfangled rather than the more inexpensive old-school models.

      And of course in the US washing machines are usually not in the kitchen, so counter space is not a driving concern, even with dryers being a separate appliance.

    9. Washerwoman*

      I had to replace my machine just before the pandemic. I got a top load, and found that most top loaders now do not have agitators in them, much to my surprise. They are high efficiency, like the front loaders, and they also are much better at conserving water than the old top loaders. They have a sensor that weighs the load, and fills the drum with water only to the level needed. Reviews I read said that people worried that there was not enough water and that some of their clothes were coming out “dry” but what I suspect is that the spin cycle was working particularly well. My clothes etc. have all come out damp and clean! It’s about four inches higher than my old machine, which is difficult as I am short, but a front load would have been just as difficult if it had been stacked with a dryer (I forget which goes on top, but either way it would be hard to get things out of.) Plus, like someone else mentioned, you have to be very careful about cleaning the seal on the front loads and I know I would eventually fail at that. This top load does have a “clean” cycle that needs to be run every approx. 45 times, (I haven’t had it that long) and the detergent I bought does about 48 loads, so that works for me to remember!

      1. Chaordic One*

        I think that what is happening to the clothes that are coming out dry or “crusty” is that they are placed on the top of the laundry in the tub. When the tub fills up with water they float on the surface of the water and all through the wash cycle they continue to float on top of the surface of the water. Whatever is going on during the wash cycle doesn’t cause enough movement that the clothes ever get wet. Sometimes this might be caused by the machine being overfilled with laundry.

        In any event, on my machine I never use the default automatic setting and make sure that I manually set the water level on either “Medium” or “High” depending on the size of the load. Most of the time I manually set the temperature to either “Hot” or “Medium” because it will otherwise manually default to “Cold.” It’s a pain and an extra step that I shouldn’t have to do but there you go.

    10. tab*

      Front loaders were initially very popular in the US, but many of them have a problem with mold build up. A recent edition of Consumers Reports had a good write up on the issue.

    11. IAmOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I’ve had a front load for over 15 years. They do a much superior job cleaning clothes and take a lot less time to dry.

      There are no mold or smell issues as long as you keep the door on the washer open when not in use. You can also add things during the wash – it just takes a couple seconds to stop the machine and unlock the door.

      1. Observer*

        Keeping the door of your unit open is highly impractical for a lot of people. Also, you are comparing 15 yo machines to current ones – that’s just not accurate.

        Also, it’s not true that you can add things during the wash as a general statement. I’m sure that on your machine you can, but many models don’t let you unlock the door even once you have stopped the machine once there is a certain amount of water in there, and even if the machine allows it, it’s generally very messy to the point of being impossible on a practical level.

    12. Not A Manager*

      I like my front loaders because they are easier on my clothes than the top loader with a spindle that I used to have. I guess now there are top loaders without spindles but I’ve never tried one. I also like front loaders because they can stack if necessary, or you can use the top for storage.

    13. Long Time Fed*

      My washer bit the dust a few weeks ago. To add insult to injury, I have to stack my washer and dryer due to a small laundry room and couldn’t find anything that matched the dimensions of the old washer so we ended up getting a new pair. I like the silence and energy efficiency of front loaders, but the mildew issue drives me nuts. I keep everything as dry as possible and run the cleaning cycles appropriately but always end up with that smell in my washer. If I had the space, I’d probably choose a really good top loader.

      What is with how long the wash cycles are on newer washers? My old one was about 11 years old and a cycle was about 40 minutes. The new one is at least 70.

      1. Bob*

        As others have commented, unfortunately the only way to get around the mildew issue is to leave the door slightly open when not using it. Not sure if you’ve tried this, but I live in Europe where front loaders are the norm, and I’ve never had issues with mildew if you do this.

        The long cycles are an efficiency thing typically but it also drives me nuts sometimes. Basically longer wash time but less water = more efficient.

      2. Observer*

        It’s too late for you, but for anyone who has limited space there ARE some models that stack with a top loader washer on the bottom and a front loader dryer on the top. Some of them are pretty decent units.

        The reasons that most of the new machines have longer cycles seems to be related to how they operate – most of the newer models are high efficiency units that don’t have an agitator so the process tend to take longer. But also, check you settings. My machine (which is pretty big and does a REALLY good spin cycle if spin is on High) take 55 minutes. It says 53 but that’s from the point that it finishes all of it’s calculations. However, if I change some of the settings it can take significantly longer.

      3. Reba*

        Re: cycle length, we can’t have everything… less water and colder water for energy savings and short wash times, something’s gotta give there! I have an “express” cycle on my front loading machine that takes about 30 minutes, but I don’t trust it, lol.

    14. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      We had to replace our washer a few years back (in the space of a month it was my husbands car, the refrigerator AND the washing machine – yikes!).
      We researched the heck out of it. Only to find out, after we had bought it and been using it for some months, that it does not allow hot water. It has hot, warm & cold on the selector – but hot is just warm. I discovered this when I had to add something to a load. And when I called, because my washer was not working correctly? I was told that this model had an inner gauge that stopped it from using hot water. I asked why hot was a selection? Umm.
      I asked WHY was this not on ANY of the paperwork? Umm.
      I asked if I could return the washer – no, too much time had gone by.
      I was PISSED. My husband builds bridges. On freeways. I friggen need hot water.
      Before the discovery of no hot water I actually bragged about how awesome my new washer was – guys, I can wash a SLEEPING BAG in it!
      Now? I will NEVER buy another LG appliance again.
      So, as you do your research, check for the weird things.
      Sheesh.

      1. allathian*

        Our old washing machine was an LG front loader, but it could do hot water (100 C/194 F). Then one day after about five years of use it just stopped working. So we got a Bosch front loader with the i-DOS intelligent dosing system. Very handy, although it’s not the cheapest front loader on the market. I just pour in a bottle of liquid detergent when necessary. Although to be fair, it helps a lot that we’ve made a conscious decision to avoid white clothes and sheets, so we never need to use the detergent for whites with bleach. I only wear black underwear. The front loader works well because we have a separate laundry room and can leave the door open when it’s not in use, so it doesn’t go moldy. The laundry room is very handy because we don’t have a spin drier, and there’s enough space to hang two or three loads of laundry to dry.

      2. AnotherRedHeadedOne*

        Hello nice people….some help needed on the laundry issue. Context: I am at extreme high risk regarding COVID19 due to health history, live alone in rental condo in a county with escalating case numbers considered a hot spot. Doctor allows one trip out my condo a week to the lobby to get mail and packages. My anxiety has seized upon laundry…and I can’t make any decisions. Every floor of my high rise building has a tiny laundry room with two washers and two dryers open 9am to 9pm. I have an enormous mountain of laundry at this point. What to do about sheets and towels etc that must go in hot dryer? Things that can air dry I can do in my condo. What would be less risk…to have a laundry service take stuff away and deliver back again or have one known person take stuff to laundromat (do have someone I pay to do errands for me) or do many loads on-site? Help my anxious brain please.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          (waving) Hi–another multi-unit rental dweller here with a high-risk spouse and consequent reluctance to set foot in our poorly ventilated one-room-for-the-entire-building laundry area. After about six weeks of dread + valiant efforts at hand-washing everything in the bathroom I tried out the first of two nearby wash-dry-fold services. (Both are based in commercial public laundromats: one as a high-volume user, the other one as the owner-operator.) Since I’m not especially high-risk I delivered the dirty laundry myself and retrieved it several days later. My laundry was clean, folded, and wrapped in multiple layers of (recyclable) plastic. It’s more than one dollar per pound but for sheets, towels, jeans, T-shirts, socks, and underwear it was well worth it to me to have peace of mind.

          Long story short: I would think the risk would be mitigated if you could have one or two trusted people handle pickup and delivery. The virus would not survive a washer and dryer. Anything hand-transmitted en route would die off after the required waiting times for a virus on fabric or plastic.

          Disclaimer: I’m neither a medical doctor nor any kind of expert on infectious diseases, viral transmission, etc. I recommend that you run my suggestion past your doctor.

          1. AnotherRedHeadedOne*

            thanks so for understanding and for suggestions. Going to see what I can get set up for this week.

        2. tiasp*

          No kind of expertise, but if you can afford it, get your errand person or the laundry service to do it, and if I could afford both options, I’d offer it to my errand person first in case they want the job (that is would they be glad to have the job so they can earn some money or would they rather not but they do it because I need it). I think a laundry service would be great, especially if they do contactless drop off and delivery.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          My reply to you about the hot dryer and sheets got split up from your question. It’s way down below, alas.

    15. Resting easier now*

      I have mixed, but mostly positive, feelings about front loaders.
      Front loaders are more pricy in the US, so haven’t been the norm for most of us. And they are larger, so for those of us in older homes who don’t have the space they might not fit well.
      I was looking forward to being more environmentally friendly with a front loader. I guess it is, as far as water usage goes. However, a regular load takes 70 minutes. 2 hours for grubby gardening clothes (the regular cycle will NOT get the dirt out of gardening jeans).
      I’ve always kept the door open after a load gets washed, so no mildew smell yet (5 yrs). I also do the clean cycle once a month as directed and wipe the door seals at that time.
      It is a quieter machine than my old front loader, which I appreciate.

    16. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A very few of us like top-loaders because we do occasionally dye fabric.
      I can’t leave appliance doors open because clumsy family members will walk right into the doors couch. My friend can’t because her cats investigate and sleeping everything.
      Front loaders are better for washing down comforters and pillows. No agitator top-load claimed to be able to do them but that’s probably polyfill. The feathers all shifted inside my comforter’s baffled areas.
      Most frustrating thing for me is that an our top loader has a mildew stench problem! It took me awhile to figure out that the soap reservoir collects water. I need want to check the level again, but for now I pull the cup out each time and empty it.

    17. Observer*

      I won’t get a front loader if I can help it. At this point one of the major advantages is no longer as relevant. It used to be that front loaders were generally more efficient than top loaders, but the newer HE rated machines are in the same range as the front loaders. The main thing is that you need to use HE rated detergent. Which is totally not a problem anymore. The only annoyance is that the wash times are a bit longer.

    18. Ermintrude*

      This has blown my mind! I’m in the UK but the last time I saw a top loading washing machine was in the early 1980s! I didn’t know they still existed! :o

  19. PX*

    What are you all (comfort) watching at the moment? My current favourite find is Bon Appetit Test Kitchen on Youtube. I’d seen some clips floating around Tumblr and was bored at some point so decided to check it you.

    You guys, I love Claire Saffitz. Gourmet Makes is just so fun to watch, it has that lovely element of watching someone competent do (slightly challenging) things, all the interactions with other Test Kitchen staff/contributors are great (I especially love how when she says she is having a hard time with something, they are immediately supportive before giving any advice), and also the fact that it also shows how much science and chemistry goes into food on a regular basis. I think she should be a STEM role model in all honesty :D

    Plus it appears that most of the Gourmet Makes videos have that rarest of rare unicorns on the internet: a generally positive and supportive Youtube comment section. Truly amazing.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I just started a rewatch of Babylon-5, which has been my favorite tv show of all time since it first aired in 1993 (!!!), and am really pleased with it. Without delving into politics, a lot of the themes are currently relevant, but different enough from actual real life events to give some breathing room.

      1. PX*

        Aah I’ve always heard so many good things about Babylon 5 but it’s just not my kind of show. Glad you’re enjoying the rewatch!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I own it on DVD, but I feel like I recently noticed it on one of them … Prime maybe?

      2. allathian*

        I love Babylon 5! We have the box set on DVD, including the 13 episodes of Crusade and the TV movies.

    2. IrishEm*

      I am LOVING the 2017-to-now series of DuckTales. I mean, David Tennant as SCrooge is just *chef’s kiss* perfect, and brings so much emotional depth to what could have been a caricature of a Boomer. (Didn’t love the Town Called Gumption episode title but OMG Allison Janney as Goldie? Um, yes!)

      And I did a big rewatch of She-Ra & the Princesses of Power in advance of s5 dropping today. It’s So Good you guys.

      On YouTube I’ve subscribed to a channel called How To Switzerland, a vlog from an American girl who married a Swiss guy and is now living in Zurich and talks about the differences in life in Switzerland compared to the USA and other places she’s lived in. I love Switzerland and I want to live there eventually, so it’s a lot of fun to watch.

      1. PX*

        I got really excited about DuckTales for a minute then realised I was confusing it for Count Duckula which I very much enjoyed as a child. But I am intruiged by David Tennant in anything related to animated ducks, so I may have to investigate this

    3. Fikly*

      The latest season of Worst Cooks just started, which got me sucked into the black hole of rewatching from the first season.

      I don’t know why I find Anne’s horror at being presented peanut butter encrusted fish so comforting, but somehow it works. I can’t wait for the season where one woman keeps ernestly trying to convince Anne that chicken really does go with vanilla. (Spoiler: it doesn’t.)

      If you have never watched, I highly recommend the last season that aired, which was Anne and Alton Brown, and should really be called “Alton’s existential angst and horror.”

      1. PX*

        Ahahaha. This sounds amazing.

        Although what’s the overall tone of the show? I generally don’t do well with things which are overly….I guess mean is the best word? I’m all about general niceness even if it’s a competitive/elimination show (ala the Great British (insert whatever here) Show)

        1. Fikly*

          It’s not mean.

          So the first episode, everyone makes a dish of their choosing to demonstrate their current skill level, essentially, and the two mentor chefs have to taste them. There’s a lot of horror and comments about how terrible things taste, but it’s never from the perspective of “you are a terrible person for cooking this way.”

          Then they get broken into teams, and the entire point is to teach them how to be better cooks. The final episode is always the last two cooks (one per mentor chef) serving a three course meal to three outside food judges, and the mentor chefs are competing for who can be the best teacher, essentially.

          Every challenge (two per episode) starts with a lesson from the chefs, and almost all the time when they’re cooking, they’re being mentored at the same time to help get better. Yeah, there’s tough love sometimes, but it’s never personal, it’s always to try to help them get better, and mostly the toughest stuff comes out when things like food safety becomes an issue. For example, if someone is not washing their hands after handling chicken.

          And then there is tons of praise for what does go well. Like on one episode I recently watched from an early season, the challenge is to make two appetizers, and one person runs out of time with the second appetizer and has a total meltdown and is convinced she’s going home. Turns out, even though she only got 6 portions of the 35 needed of appetizer two, they tasted super good, and they were quick to say, hey, we know that sucked, and that happens sometimes, but the important thing is that you kept going, and what you did get done tasted awesome. And then they kept her over the guy who topped his toast with something premade from a jar.

          There are two versions of the show – some seasons are regular people, and other sesasons (including the one that just started airing) are celebrities of various levels of celebrity. For the regular people one, it’s often people who genuinely want to learn how to cook something nice for their partners, or their kids, or to get in with the PTA moms, that kind of thing, which is really sweet. The celebrity one can be a bit more mocking, I guess, but the celebrities are usually playing a bit more of a role. How much I like a given season of the celebrity one depends a lot more on who is on it than the regular seasons.

          1. PX*

            Ooh this does sound fun. Will definitely add it to the list! Thanks for the rec and the breakdown :)

        1. Fikly*

          It’s on Hulu (though I have the live tv version of Hulu, so I’m not sure if regular Hulu has all the back seasons).

      2. Jaid*

        Which is a shame because Mango Vanilla curry with chicken (hat tip to Bing search engine) sounds amazing.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I will have to check that out! I like making recipes from Bon Appetit but I haven’t watched their videos. Not food related, but for soothing tv I’m rewatching The National Parks, a Ken Burns documentary (available on Amazon, free with Prime). Beautiful visuals and the narrator (Peter Coyote) is so pleasant to listen to.

      1. PX*

        Ooh, I love a good narrator. There’s a podcast I recently started listening to (Roads and Kingdoms: The Trip) and the host Nathan Thornburgh has such a lovely voice. Its worth it just for him.

        And yes, the Bon Appetit videos range from some basic food guides to more fun stuff, but the team they chose are all a lot of fun, so thats half the joy for me :D

    5. Geomancer*

      I love food shows but rarely watch YouTube. Starting to more now so maybe I’ll check that out. My comfort show right now is Maine Cabin Masters on DIY. It’s got beautiful scenery and it just makes me feel cozy.

      1. PX*

        Oooh I love a good scenery show. I’ll have to check that out!

        And yes, I wouldnt typically turn to Youtube as a first source for entertainment in this sense, but I’m very glad I found the BA channel as it is providing a lot more fun than I ever expected!

    6. GoryDetails*

      Just now it’s MST3K, which has been airing on the IFC cable channel. I’ve also been binging on Netflix food shows, from Nailed It (goofy, emphasis on catastrophic failures) to Sugar Rush (timed elaborate-desserts competition somewhat like Cupcake Wars) to Zumbo’s Just Desserts (VERY elaborate desserts, with an unusual format: one round where everybody competes in creating their own designs to a specific theme, and then a Zumbo Challenge elimination round between the two lowest-ranked competitors, where they have to try to recreate one of chef Zumbo’s own highly-detailed and finicky desserts.

      Yeah, that adds up to a lot of desserts – but cooking shows of almost any kind do soothe me. [I like the Worst Cooks series too, though I prefer the earlier seasons; more recent ones tend to be a bit less wacky in the beginning, and the tendency to dump the chefs into recipes that I’d consider challenging as a moderately experienced cook strikes me as less interesting than if they were working on fundamentals.]

      1. PX*

        Oh my god, those sound like so many fun food shows! I will have to investigate them.

        And your comment about Worst Cooks is interesting – I totally know what you mean about when people are given challenges that are way beyond their level. I hate that too – its like, yes producers – we know you want drama, but I’m pretty sure you could get that too even with something a bit simpler!

    7. Zephy*

      I love the BA test kitchen crew – their From Home videos lately have been delightful. I highly recommend It’s Alive! as well.

      1. PX*

        They seem like so much fun! And yes, I think Its Alive! is next on the watch list after I get done with the fun looking Test Kitchen Talks :D

    8. Parenthetically*

      YES WE ARE OBSESSED WITH BA FINALLY I CAN TALK ABOUT THIS HERE

      My brother-in-law and I did a ranking a few days ago of our top five favorite BA test kitchen staff and we couldn’t narrow it down to five. They’re all so wonderful. We also enjoy Enneagramming and Hogwarts-house sorting them.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Also, PX, if you’re on insta, it’s so fun to follow your favorite Test Kitchen chefs — AND absolutely go follow Meme Appetit! Nonstop meme antics with the crew.

        1. PX*

          Ahaha yes! I started following Chris Morroco (obviously, he’s my #2 after Claire) and Andy a few days ago, and I just checked out Meme Appetit and it is hilarious. Absolute follow, thanks for the rec.

          But I legitimately was like, I cant follow them all because they post about food and I will have too much food envy. Like seriously, I love food but I’m too lazy to put a lot of effort into cooking, and if I have to see them posting pretty pictures of food too often it will make me sad.

          But anyway, I just got done with watching all of the Gourmet Makes episodoes, now I’m watching a bunch of the Test Kitchen Talks, and after that I’m thinking maybe Its Alive? Its weird because I’m not into the purely cooking segments (see above, I will have food envy and be sad) but now I just love watching them interact with each other! The Blind Tastings are probably my favourite thing after Gourmet Makes :D

          I was also going to suggest Alison do a post reviewing one episode from a managerial perspective which I think would be fascinating :’D

          1. Parenthetically*

            Honestly because they’re all in quarantine, the stuff they’re posting is SUPER relatable. Like last night Priya posted her mom making cocktails and using up leftovers. It’s definitely NOT just pretty food pics! And def watch It’s Alive, and Making Perfect. They’re awesome. You could also follow Basically, which is like BA for Lazy People — it’s all the BA chefs but just really simple recipes.

            And I have had the same thought about Alison reviewing the managerial/workplace aspects of the test kitchen! What kind of boss is Adam Rapoport?

            1. PX*

              I watched Season 1 of Making Perfect last night and it was so fun! Molly + Carla energy is hilarious, they should be together more often. Andy + Brad = hilarious. It was thoroughly entertaining and I still have the 1 hour bonus episode to watch before getting into Season 2 :D

              Also, I feel like Adam Rapoport is…I cant decide if hes a great boss or not. I know there was one episode of Gourmet Makes where he came in and gave some feedback that I remember thinking was distinctly unhelpful. But I also loved how when he came in to talk about ‘nduja for pizza, Molly felt free to tell him to —- off :D

              Its interesting because in their environment which ulitmately is incredibly subjective (everyone likes different food!), being able to disagree vehemently with your boss on something and tell them so is obviously…fine! And I love it. And again, going back to the weirdness of a positive youtube comment section, thats one of the things everyone talks about is how it demonstrates how to give/take feedback weirdly well because so much of their work is collaborative.

              And Basically sounds like my kind of place, I will have to check it out! #lazyfoodieforever

      2. Reba*

        I am utterly devoted to Sohla. SOHLA! She’s so… extremely competent and yet like, “do whatever, dude, it’ll work out!”

        I also crave more Gaby content always. I know it’s not really her job but I wish she would have a regular show!

        I dislike Molly’s show because I am No Fun. But I enjoy watching Chris Morocco go off track in his challenges because he is too fancy. I also very much appreciate the way the video team will always gently roast the cooks in post. :D

        1. Parenthetically*

          100% agreement on all of this (+ actual snort laugh at being No Fun re: Molly and enjoying Fancy Morocco Being Fancy). My husband and I equally have crushes on Sohla. We adore her.

    9. cat socks*

      I’ve been watching Star Trek TNG. A while back we watched the new series, Picard, so I had a hankering to go back and watch the series.

      Recently finished Ozark too. Enjoyed the show but would not consider it comfort watching.

      1. PX*

        Hah. Yes, I have heard things about Ozark. Probably a good show, possibly comforting to some, but definitely not me :’D

        And Star Trek TNG sounds very comforting.

    10. Arya Parya*

      I’ve been watching Community. Have seen the first three seasons a few times back in the day, but only seen the fifth and sixth season when they aired.

      1. PX*

        Oh nice! Community is one of those shows that lots of people love but somehow I could never quite get into, despite the fact that John Oliver is in it and I love him lots.

    11. anonymouse for this*

      I’m watching a lot of History/Discovery/NatGeo shows. Salvage Dawgs is always great fun. I’ve just discovered Forged in Fire – it’s quite relaxing watching something being built.

      And I have The Mandalorian queued up to binge watch – the lure of the possible baby Yoda is too much to resist.

      1. PX*

        Watching things being built or made is definitely one of my defining criteria for soothing TV I think! Forged in Fire sounds vaguely familiar so I may have to check it out.

        1. anonymouse for this*

          It’s a blacksmith competition – 4 blacksmiths have to forge a specific knife/sword and then it gets tested. It focuses on the craftsmanship and some backstory of each smith.

          1. PX*

            Oooh. I definitely feel like I may have caught bits of this and as niche “create things” shows go, sounds perfect :D

      2. NightOwl*

        I also enjoy Forged in Fire. I don’t know if I’d binge watch it, but I end up glued to the TV from time to time when it’s on. What a cool skill set to possess!

      3. Fikly*

        There is also the Forged in Fire spinoff, Forged in Fire: Knife or Death, where bladesmiths compete in an obstacle? course where they have to chop increasingly ridiculous things.

        1. GoryDetails*

          Thanks for mentioning Knife or Death – I hadn’t caught any of those, and am now happily binging them from On Demand!

    12. NightOwl*

      I’m almost done with Haven, which is on Netflix. My parents told me about this one.

      On Amazon Prime, I found Dark Shadows (soap opera that started in the ’60s, I believe). Prime has the first few seasons (still in black and white) and this has been fun to watch while on the treadmill.

      A few weeks ago, some posters talked about The Wire. I tried to get into it, but it’s not holding my interest. My husband loved that show, though, and is happy to re-watch. We just finished binge watching Breaking Bad, so I think I needed something not drug/crime themed, while hubby loves those shows. I’m more the sci-fi/weirdness one…

      1. PX*

        Oh my god Haven! I got into it a few years ago but never finished as I remember hearing the last season (? 2 seasons?) werent great. It was such a great premise for a show, and I was recently thinking about it actually. Maybe I should go back and finish it.

        And yes, I am not really into drug/crime theme shows like The Wire or Breaking Bad. The closest I got was Justified which was amazing, and while the backdrop was indeed drugs/crime, the show was really about the relationships between the various characters, and it was amazing. I would recommend that if you want a bit of a middle ground.

    13. Tortally HareBrained*

      We’ve been watching Extinct or Alive as comfort tv. We also started the new series about Catherine the Great on Hulu last night. One episode we think we like it but don’t find it bingeable just because the emperor is so unlikable (even if he’s funny).

    14. All monkeys are French*

      The BA videos are big favorites in my household. I love Claire so much and relate to her perfectionism, and Brad is good for a laugh.
      The main thing my partner and I watch together is Taskmaster, a British show of comedians doing ridiculous things. We frequently laugh to the point of gasping which is such a joy right now.
      I am also watching The Good Wife, which I had heard of but never watched and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I am not usually a huge fan of procedurals, but I love a strong female lead and complicated characters.

        1. All monkeys are French*

          I’m almost out of episodes to watch, although there’s one series I abandoned because the contestants were too annoying. I could return to it if I get desperate. Have you seen Hometasking on youtube? Cute videos of fans doing assigned tasks.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Oh man I loved The Good Wife, or as I affectionately used to call it, “Eli Gold Reacts To Stuff.”

      2. PX*

        For me Brad is just like…such a giant enthusiastic puppy. Friendly, excitable, can be a touch annoying at times, but always means well!

        And yes, Taskmaster is hilarious! I think I got into it via recommendation here from fposte. I only watched the season with Katherine Ryan because I love her, but I can definitely see it making a return when I run out of BA videos :D

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

      * Figure skating routines and competitions (my newest obsession since I watched Yuri on Ice) on Youtube
      * The King: Eternal Monarch on Netflix (I love all the characters!!! And their dynamics!!! Even the suave baddie!!)
      * Korean cat channels on Youtube.

      1. PX*

        Ahh figure skating. I’m kind of bummed the last winter Olympics seem to have just passed me by because I usually love watching all the weird and wonderful sports I never get to see otherwise.

        Also Korean cat channels sound fantastic :D

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

        I think the Olympic channel has the 2018 and 2014 FS highlights, and I know someone uploaded the short program last group on Youtube (for…. ahem… “reasons” *wink, wink*).
        Korean cat channels are the best, I love the felines are the stars and not their adorable owners.

    16. RagingADHD*

      Gourmet Makes is awesome!

      I’ve been watching Jeeves and Wooster with the kids – they love it, along with the old David Suchet versions of Poirot.

      I’ve also become addicted to business makeover shows like Hotel Inspector and Kitchen Nightmares, because seeing people flounder and then get put right is very reassuring.

      1. allathian*

        Jeeves and Wooster sounds great. I’ve seen a few episodes here and there over the years, but I haven’t seen the entire series.
        Suchet’s Poirot is the best. I have a really hard time seeing anyone else in the role. David Suchet is Poirot to me in the same way as Jeremy Brett is the one and only Sherlock Holmes.
        There’s this gardening show I’ve seen a few episodes of where the presenter and his team fix up dilapidated gardens for people. I really enjoy it.
        Currently, I’m enjoying the most recent season of Endeavour, it’s a shame it’s only three episodes, even if they’re about 90 minutes each. I enjoy it, but it’s not really comfort viewing.

      2. PX*

        It is so awesome!

        And yes, business makeover shows are also another one of my favourites. I dont do so much of Kitchen Nightmares because Gordon Ramsey can be a bit much, but I will need to check out the others. I once got into one which was about hairdressers which I remember being interesting! Also because the lady who did it would sometimes need to get into things like making sure all the hairdressers skills and techniques were up to date which was just something interesting I’d not thought about before that.

    17. WoodswomanWrites*

      I don’t watch TV but I’ve found a YouTube channel that makes me happy. The channel is Friesian Horses, and the videos are filmed by a woman who works at at a horse farm for the Friesian breed in the Netherlands. The horses are well cared for and it’s so relaxing to see the mares and foals in their pastures, watch the foals grow up, etc.

      1. Alexandra Lynch*

        I have been enjoying a lot of historical reenacting and research videos. Townsend’s, Bernadette Banner, and Morgan Donner.

    18. Parenthetically*

      Hahaha okay now that I have my BA fangirling out of my system, other comforting stuff:

      Mr. Parenthetically and I are perpetually rewatching 30 Rock. We HOWLED our way through Derry Girls, seriously I have never laughed that hard at any show in my life. On YouTube: we adore Binging with Babish and Alex French Guy (you’ll like these too if you like BA), but we also love Frank Howarth’s woodworking channel, Homemade Home’s cheap house renovations, Autoshine Cars’ detailing (soooooooo satisfying and he’s so endearing), and Les Feux de Guedelon which is a subtitled French mini-show following the progress of a 13th-century-style castle being built in real time using only technology available at the time. There’s a British miniseries called “Secrets of the Castle” that’s also AMAZING, but Les Feux is such a cute little show, and there are 3 or 4 seasons.

      1. PX*

        I have never watched 30 Rock and its always one of those things where I feel like I should get into it at some point, but there’s always something more shiny ahead of it.

        And I loved Derry Girls, although for me S1 was much better than S2! Curious to see what will come next. Also if you’re not watching Sex Education, I feel like you might enjoy that too :)

        And thank you for all those recs! I will bookmark them all to check out once I’m done with my BA binge :D

    19. Elizabeth West*

      I finished Buffy the Vampire Slayer and am still working my way through Dark Shadows—having fun with screenshots from that, since it’s so cheesy, haha. I also just started watching the sitcom Mom on Hulu. Enjoying it so far.

      1. PX*

        Oooh Buffy is probably excellent comfort TV. I still remember watching the first season or two and how much I loved them and how new and exciting it was.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’d forgotten most of it, since I only watched it once. I forgot the details—like I remembered Buffy was resurrected, but not that she had to claw herself out of her own grave, gah. And I forgot almost all of season 7 so it was like watching it new.

    20. The Other Nigel*

      I’ve been bingeing on a YouTube channel called “Cruising The Cut”. It’s kind-of a vlog, but with good production standards, about a guy who now lives on a narrow-boat and cruises the British canal system.
      There’s no drama, just a lot of slow-paced journeys across the canal system. I also love the host’s slightly dry humor and turns-of-phrase.
      The series is a wonderful escape from the high-stress/high-drama/everything up to 11 world that is modern tv.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Oh man, great rec. We are for sure going to start watching this TODAY. Absolutely in our wheelhouse (WOCKA WOCKA)

    21. allathian*

      I’m really enjoying Expedition Unknown on the dPlayer. I’m a bit of a history buff and the treasure hunts are fun.
      We’re also watching MacGyver with my son. I love the optimism of that show.

      1. PX*

        Oooh. Expedition Unknown sounds intruiging.

        And wow, MacGyver. I just had a flashback to watching that as a kid!

    22. Marion Ravenwood*

      I may have mentioned this before here but my comfort TV is The Musketeers, Merlin and Doctor Who. It’s nice to have something fantastical/historical to escape into, with a bit of humour as well. Also The Great British Sewing Bee which is very soothing (and has been massively inspiring my own sewing!) and RuPaul’s Drag Race.

      Otherwise, I’ve been watching The Last Dance, the documentary about the 1997/98 Chicago Bulls. It’s a bit uneven, and I think certain figures do come off in a particularly flattering light, but I do like how in-depth it is and as someone who was a basketball fan in the 90s it’s a very interesting watch.

      1. PX*

        Aaahh are you watching the latest season of Sewing Bee?! I am very intruiged by the fact that there seems to be no clear frontrunner as yet, although we’re only a few episodes in.

    23. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My 8th grader has us watching Chinese TV shows online. The current one is “Guardian”, a detective show set in a world with magic. (It’s unclear to me whether average people are aware of the magic.) My daughter went to a regional Magnet School that teaches Mandarin from kindergarten. This year we had decided that if she wanted extra TV time, it was school-related if it was in Chinese. It paid off… We are in the spectacular situation of having our thirteen-year-old stop the show to point out translator errors and explain cultural references.
      We also finally got around to watching A Night at the Museum and that was a total hoot. Thanks to whoever here suggested it last week!

      1. Jaid*

        That’s a pretty good show!

        “The Untamed” is on Netflix and YouTube and the anime《Mo Dao Zu Shi》is on YouTube.

    24. Chaordic One*

      I’ve be binge watching old TV sitcoms. Right now I’m binging on “Keeping Up Appearances” with Patricia Routledge and “Bewitched” with Elizabeth Montgomery.

  20. MistOrMister*

    #1 – my one cat is the alarmiest alarm clock and dear lord I just want to remember what it’s like to sleep in on a saturday again!!! Between 5 and 5:20ish every morning are stares, headbutts, standing all over chests and heads and finger nibbles. How the heck can he tell the time dang it???

    #2 – what sorcery is going on in that picture?! The only time I can manage to get a picture of my cats together if they’re both awake is if they see something out the window, and then I can only get a picture from the rear!

    1. cat socks*

      I have five cats and one of them likes to practice his vocal skills starting around 5:30. He also jumps up on the bed and smears his wet nose on my cheek.

      My bladder usually requires me to get up anyway so I’ll just feed the crew and go back to bed.

      I read that cats are crepuscular so they are most active at dawn and twilight. I think it has something to do with it being the best time to hunt their prey.

      1. MistOrMister*

        Mine used to let me sleep in until 7 when I started work later. I made the mistake of starting to get up early for exercise some days and now we MUST get up for food before the sun rises or the world will end. Some days i can manage to go back to sleep, but most times my brain insists that I stay awake. I do love when I get back in bed and the cats come back for cuddles after they eat.

    2. Amity*

      I think the cats would like to have a word with Alison! Or maybe she interrupted one of their meetings?

    3. All Hail Queen Sally*

      My cat woke me the other morning by licking my lips. First time (and let’s hope the last time) she has done that. I about hit the ceiling! What a shock to get sandpapered from a heavy sleep.

      1. anonymouse for this*

        Yikes – thought mine was bad enough when she occasionally wakes me up by chewing and pulling my hair :0)

    4. Gatomon*

      Does your cat eat dry kibble? You can get feeders that automatically dispense at a set time so you can enjoy your sleep. It’s made a world of difference for me with my hangry cat.

      Just make sure you don’t get any internet-connected versions. There’s two different companies who have gone belly up in recent years and left pet owners in the lurch.

  21. Retail not Retail*

    Quarantine/WFH peeps – how goes the heat?

    My mom is home all day and runs cold – she stays in a small room with a fan and the window open when she’s relaxing. So she doesn’t want the AC yet.

    I of course am not home. I started doing gig delivery work (and discovered doing it after a full day of work in the heat is uncomfortable even with the AC blasting) so I’m not home even more!

    But oh man. I had to sleep downstairs last night. It’s time. It’s humid and sticky and we’re not getting many lows below 60 for a while… and that while is probably like October.

    Stuff started going crazy mid-march which is still kinda winter-ish (I was wearing pants) and now states are reopening and it’s summer.

    My poor pooch wants a walk when I get home at 2:30. Honey. You are so wrong. Your tongue is at your toes from running around harassing squirrels.

    1. LDN Layabout*

      I’m buying a big room fan the minute my next paycheck comes (I can afford it otherwise, but it’s the principle, it’s next month’s discretionary budget).

      Air con is not a big thing here unfortunately but I wouldn’t be able to get through the summer wfh without some form of circulating air.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        I was in Montana 3 summers ago and spent the hot half of the summer in essentially a concrete box. No shade, the windows don’t fully close, and there’s no HVAC of any kind so it’s closed in the winter.

        It was HARD and by august cooler outside in the morning. I apologized to my sister for rolling my eyes in 2014 when she had to wear makeup to work in the summer and it melted off. I don’t wear makeup but I had to wear pants at that job!

        1. CastIrony*

          I am so sorry you had to go through that in Montana. For me, it’s July and August where my family has window air conditioners, and I want one in my bedroom.

          I never look forward to waiting until nighttime to open and close certain windows and not forgetting to close them for some relief. Summer is my least favorite reason because of this, and I have heat exhaustion trauma on top of that.

    2. Misty*

      Last night it was really warm here and I had to open the windows to sleep. We don’t have AC or any fans. I guess maybe we should buy a fan now that I think of it.

    3. Ranon*

      We bought a portable dehumidifier- our place is well shaded so the AC doesn’t have to run a ton but the humidity gets out of control. Being able to keep things at 65% RH is already substantially more civilized (and lets us keep the thermostat a hair higher and still be comfy)

    4. Can’t Sit Still*

      I finally turned the AC on last week. I don’t do well once the indoor temperature gets over 75F, so I feel a little silly having it on when it’s not really that hot outside. But having all the fans on with windows open wasn’t cutting it anymore.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I’ve only recently stopped feeling guilty about that. I mean it’s silly, duh of course it’s nice outside, but I’m inside and inside is hot so we need to treat the indoor temp.

    5. Jaid*

      My A/C is on. Temps over 70 something trigger hot flashes or something and it’s like 80 here.

    6. Potatoes gonna potate*

      It’s a little tricky for me. I’ve been home since mid-March (I’m in NY). I typically run hot, so the temp since being home mid-March would not have bothered me except now I have an issue that causes pain in cooler temps. Our house is old and very bad insulation issues (we were planning on doing repairs/constructions this year but…COVID). My mother is old and runs cold now, one month of having the thermometer at 75 had our bill at $500+. After we got the bill, she set it to 60 and it’s still chilly in the house.

      It would be warm and nice out but still cold inside.

      It’s literally only yesterday that the temp reached high enough to warm up the inside of the house. It was 83 degrees inside and out and I was sweaty and uncomfortable. I also got a full 18 hours with no pain. As soon as I brought the fan out of storage and cleaned it up, it felt amazing but the pain returned. I went out side and I still wore my winter coat to head off my pain.

      In past years I would have the air conditioning on full blast in mid-May but I’m scared of the pain returning. But I also hate being hot. so….this will be a fun summer lol

    7. Generic Name*

      Heh. I live in a cold climate, so it’s not cold yet. My office is in the basement, which is always cold, and is unreasonably cold with the AC on, so I block the register in the summer and open the window. I’m really excited about the window fan I bought for my bedroom. I hope to extend the amount of time I dont use AC in the summer.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Thanks for reminding me, we have too much solar heating coming through the plate glass windows in the summer. I need to get online and track down exterior shades. Last year I got hung up trying to decide between a canvas “sail” and actual roll up blinds, for one window. This year I’m going to do four of them because we’re home all day.
      And I also need to figure out how to fit an AC into my daughter’s 1950s windows, because camping in the LR will not be an option when parents are working there.

    9. Chaordic One*

      I tend to run cold. So far I haven’t had to use the air-conditioning and I’ve been opening and closing windows. (I’m half a block away from a busy street and sometimes I have to close the street-facing windows because of traffic noise and less often because of low-flying airplanes.)

      In the past I’ve vented here about freezing during the day at work, in spite of the office room temperature being in the 70s. Now that I’m working from home I find myself in the same situation. Of course, I can remedy the situation at home with a space heater under my desk. (They’re not allowed at work.) What I’m noticing is that I seem to get cold every day at around 10:00 am after I’ve been sitting at my desk working and “on” goes the space heater.

      I’m starting to notice that this situation really doesn’t seem to have to do with room temperature, but with some sort of weird circadian body rhythm I have. I don’t have the problem in the afternoon.

    10. Observer*

      What about room units? So you sleep in one room with AC and you mother in the other room without the unit.

      If you can do that it makes like SOOOO much easier.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        Oh no she talks a big talk but she turned it on after spraying down the filter like a few hours after I posted this!

        Besides my room is a daytime oven with the central AC as it is.

        I was just interested in how corona has affected our normal heat prep. Interesting that living room camping is out when parents wfh!

  22. Self care in progress*

    Self care and I have our battles. I am good, at this point, with the things that don’t really have a cost. But if they have a cost, and that cost is less than I may die, not so much. And by cost I mean more than just money, but opportunity cost, or really, impose on other people in any way.

    As an example, I was at a group thing and noticed my sugar going down (fun with diabetes!), and realized I needed to grab a snack from my bag, which was in the next room. I knew if I got up, it would interrupt the people speaking, but also if I got up and said something quick to excuse myself, it would also be an interruption. So I sat there for far longer than I should, risking my health, for what my brain realized was really not a big thing for anyone else in the room – no one would have minded the interruption, and no one at all would have minded if they knew it was a health thing. But, yes, I struggle with this.

    I have an ongoing health problem, I have a long term treatment in place, but it’s going to be August at the earliest before it may help symptoms at all. And I do not like how I currently feel, but it’s not killing me. And I finally got myself to make an appointment with my doctor to ask if there’s anything I can do now for temporary symptom relief, rather than just suffer with it, and I am feeling proud of myself for making that step.

    1. KR*

      I completely understand where you’re coming from because I do the same thing. Dealing with appointments and referrals and scheduling is so so stressful to me, especially as a workaholic and anxious person. I feel like I can’t take any time off work for appointments because it will be a hassle for someone. I have had hand pain for years. I finally went to see a PT and they were asking me why this is the first time I’ve gone to see someone. I didn’t know how to explain to them that the fact that I booked a doctors appointment a month out, got a referral, and actually made an appointment with the physical therapist and kept up with the appointments was a small miracle.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I was married to a diabetic for over 20 years. Please, and I mean this with my heart in the best place, don’t do that again. Get up and go get your food. You are the ONLY person noticing, believe me.

      Speaking as his other half, I noticed every. single. time his blood sugar dipped a little bit. I could see tiny changes in his behavior and tiny changes on his face. If he let it go on, the changes got a bit bigger. It caused me a lot of worry.

      If I cannot encourage you to take care, please google insulin rooms. NO. Don’t. Please just eat something when you need it. It’s not worth incurring damage, perhaps lasting damage inside your body just so other people “aren’t disturbed”.

      1. Self care in progress*

        Thank you. I am very careful about keeping food on me, as a way of getting around the issue while I work on it.

        I just…yeah, struggle with believing that my needs are important enough. And when combined with my I shall not bother people thing, it’s not great.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Good for you for taking that step – you should be proud!

      May it be one of many, many more.

    4. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Oh, I know exactly what you’re feeling. I’ve had many days/nights where I felt low and just didn’t want to move. For me it was just being comfortable in bed, but of course sleep wasn’t going to happen unless I treated it. I know exactly how it feels when you’re in the middle of people who would notice. You know how dangerous it can be.

    5. misspiggy*

      If you’re female and under, say, 50, I’m wondering if thinking of it as partly physical could help. I say this because I’m at the age for perimenopause and I’ve been surprised how much I no longer care about the group versus myself. I just don’t have these internal battles any more. As nothing else has changed, I’m starting to think it’s from falling oestrogen levels.

      Self-fulfilling prophecy? Maybe, but I’m on long-term medication that suppresses periods, so I had no outward sign. And it came on quite suddenly (along with bouts of rage, ahem). I’d learned assertiveness strategies over the years, but now I’m not having to use them. I don’t find myself thinking of others’ needs unless I consciously choose to. I’m actually having to deploy consideration strategies so I don’t ride roughshod over people.

      I wish someone had told me that huge consideration for others could be hormonally linked. Not always and not only: socialisation plays a huge part, and I’m sure there are cis men with similar issues. But if I’d thought the drive to put myself last was partly down to internal ‘nurturing impulses’, I think I’d have been able to evaluate it better in relation to my actual needs.

      1. Self care in progress*

        Oh, it’s trauma related for me. I grew up with abusive parents who were particularly abusive when they were upset for reasons that had nothing to do with me, and they dealt with those negative emotions by taking them out on me.

        So I told myself, over and over, that I would never do that to other people. And yes, I know I have taken it to the extreme by attempting to never impose myself on other people in any way. Working on it.

    6. Anono-me*

      Please please please take care of yourself for yourself. You are worth it. You are a hundred million times worth it.

      That being said it might be helpful for you to know what would be going through my mind if I were in a group with you.

      Scenario 1: If you got up and quietly excused yourself for a few moments, here is what I would be thinking :”…so if I change to this new way I can save myself about 5 Steps-oh SCIP must need to go to the bathroom.Do I need to go? No. Good.- I can use the time that saves me to paint it purple. Did I remember to take the chicken out of the freezer? Purple and maybe some silvery accents. I guess we’re having pancakes for supper. Or maybe gold accents with…”

      Scenario 2: Here’s what would be going through my head if you waited too long and you collapsed.” … gold acc– Oh!!!!! What happened?!?!?! What’s wrong?!?! What do I do?!?! ” Then the entire time we were helping you get stabilized and maybe to the hospital, there would be a back up chorus in my brain of “Oh my G___, am I doing the right thing? Please let me be doing the right thing?”. After it was all over, there would be a lot of “I hope I did the right thing. I hope SCIP is okay.” Eventually it would change to “Why didn’t SCIP say something earlier? Did I do something to make SCIP think it was not safe to say anything to me?” Lots of me mentally reviewing of all of our previous interactions for something that may have upset you. And then you would probably have to endure an awkward conversation with me apologizing for having made you feel unsafe in some way and asking you to tell me how I can do better.

      I suspect that most people are more self-absorbed than you think, and also I think not taking care of yourself right away may actually be counterproductive for your desire to maintain a low profile.

      So again, please take care of yourself for yourself. But if you’re not at that point right now, please take care of yourself for whatever reason works to get you to take care of yourself.

  23. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    Has anyone else sharply culled down their social media since the pandemic started?

    On Facebook, I’ve unfollowed anyone who:
    (1) posts multiple virus-related things per day
    (2) posts political vitriol, even if it’s on the same side I am
    (3) posts nonstop things related to whatever the civil rights outrage of the day is
    (4) shames me for not being vegan.

    For better or worse, that actually eliminated almost everyone for me. I now see the posts of approximately 6 people daily and can finish going through Facebook in about three minutes each day. I’m not sure whether this is good or if it’s sad.

    1. PX*

      This is the best. In general I always advocate for making your social media (and really it should be your life in general ) a thing that gives you joy.

      So I go onto Facebook about once a quarter and instead spend most of my time on instagram where aside from ads, my feed is only made up of people I choose to follow which currently consists mainly of: reasonably entertaining celebrities, comedians, food/restaurants and pretty art/fashion/jewellery.

    2. 653-CXK*

      I terminated my Facebook account a year ago last week…I had joined eleven years ago because all of my brothers were on it, and back then it was a nascent program that seemed innocent enough – I used it to post pictures and catch up with my family and high school classmates.

      The reason I quit was there were more and more stories about Facebook being a privacy violator, a digital robber baron, and enjoying censorship way, way too much. That, and the hyper-militant “let’s bash someone because they are not thinking what I’m thinking” was the impetus of hitting the “delete your account?” button.

      I don’t miss Facebook at all.

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        This is kind of happening organically for me.

        It’s unfortunate, because although Facebook is indeed a disaster when it comes to privacy and censorship, it would still be great for me if people used it for its intended purpose. Many of the folks I blocked are people who genuinely are interesting and that I’d want to read legitimate updates from.

        1. 653-CXK*

          True. When people use FB for good purposes, it’s a good program. I just got tired of people in the comments sections going full-gong deranged after someone dared to say Y when the groupthink rigidly believe X.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Borrowing this thread here- For people without FB accounts what do you do when a local business has NO other webpage but FB?
        Just recently I contacted one business where I had to hunt all over for a non-FB method (email address) to use. It’s been weeks they have still not replied. Eh, my life goes on. But I did wonder what if I really, really wanted to do business with them and they only used FB, then what.

        1. Lcsa99*

          I don’t have a Facebook page and I’ve found that while individuals have their Facebook pages set as private, many companies have it open; so on the pop up you get asking you to sign in you can generally click “not now” and it’ll let you see most of the info on the page. It keeps asking you to log in periodically which is annoying but you can get the info you need.

    3. Sunset breeze*

      Not pandemic related, but I generally curate my online experience much more heavily than most people seem to, and unfollow/unfriend/mute/block as needed to make sure it’s a positive space for me. I find it really important to make sure that the spaces I use to socialise online are healthy and supportive for me. My Facebook is family I actually like, and friends, and organisations I support, plus some groups I enjoy (mostly author fangroups and work-related professional support groups). Twitter is friends and fandom people I enjoy. Instagram is pretty makeup, nature and space photography, plus actual friends posting say to day stuff. If anything on any of them starts bugging me when I see it, I block or mute or unfollow at will.

    4. Rebecca*

      I have “unfollowed” one person so far, because the long profanity laced violent rants about one side of the political aisle and endless conspiracy theories about COVID-19. I’ve talked to her on the phone, explained what I think, and it got to the point if I post anything, she would hijack the post with violent rhetoric. She also sends links to videos on messenger “watch this before they delete it” type things – good grief. More conspiracy theories than the entire run of The X-Files TV show. I’ve unfollowed her, and if I post anything about COVID-19, like an update from our state dept of health, I post to friends except her. I am truly worried about her mental health.

    5. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I’m doing a 30-day mute on anyone who posts things that make me feel worse than not reading them. I think this is pretty much the minimum self-care I deserve at the moment.

      So what if you have a very thin feed, if it all enriches you (whether emotionally or intellectually). If you want more to look at, you could seek out deliberately supportive or positive pages or groups. Immerse yourself in slow cooker fudge or “let’s pretend we’re all ants” or whatever amuses you.

      1. OperaArt*

        I’ve become a Big fan of the 30 day mute, although I’ll escalate if necessary. First unfollow, then unfriend, then block.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          It’s very useful.

          Often, your friend gets whatever it is out of their system, or you come out of your difficult days, and after thirty days you don’t mind what they’re posting.

      2. Kiwi with laser beams*

        This is a really good description of how I’m curating mine. I’ve definitely noticed that I have less online stuff to read, but every time I’ve culled stuff online, I was resenting the people in question before I stopped reading their stuff. By changing what I’m reading, I’m doing something to change the situation.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I find often it’s not their fault I’m sneering at their post – for a while my friend was posting nice things about her children that rubbed me up the wrong way, which was just weird because I like her and I like it when people post about their children so I don’t know exactly why I was getting so wound up … but a 30-day rest from reading them sorted whatever problem I had.

          And then there’s the wider OneGenerationOlder inlaws who I really don’t need to argue with. Permanent unfollow on several.

          If they ever ask if you saw their post on xyz, you just blame the algorithm. It seems to show you some “new” posts from last week and a bunch of ads and something you’ve already seen twice today and no huh weird I didn’t see your meme about how teachers are lazy (!)

    6. Four-legged Fosterer*

      My use has probably gone up, but only because I mostly use it for rescue work and kitten season has arrived so there is a lot more coordination and many photos of baby kittens.

      I limited who I friended from the start, and get personal updates as well as the occasional rational interesting article. It’s not perfect, but definitely manageable for me.

    7. LGC*

      I’d probably be on your cull list. (Mostly because for me, a lot of that stuff…directly intersects with who I am. Not the vegan part, though.)

      I’ve done some culls myself. I’m more of a fan of the snooze, just because a lot of times people just get histrionic (hi) and they need to work out their issues with Dr. Zuckerberg. So I don’t want to unfollow unless they’re being really obnoxious. One of my friends was constantly berating her friends and the entire state for not complying with social distancing (she’s a nurse), and I ended up pulling the trigger. So I don’t think it’s awful by any means – and if only six people’s posts means that your anxiety is a lot lower, that’s a win.

      I think, too, there’s a couple of problems with Facebook and other social media that surface posts based on engagement. Namely, the algorithms think that any attention is good attention. This works great when it’s a TikTok about some buff guy twerking on camera a Native American guy talking about braiding his hair or even limited posts about social justice issues. The problem is, I’ve found myself just looking at dramatic posts and then Facebook deciding I need to see everything from that person. Or putting people on snooze, and then getting a tsunami of their posts in the past week when it expires. Like, no, Mark, I don’t want to see Richard’s posts about how businesses need to reopen and wearing facemasks is tyranny, that’s why I ignored him for thirty days. Also, you don’t need to surface Karen’s constant rambling that makes her the center of the universe and also how she totally had the ‘rona back in January guys but she hasn’t gotten tested yet.

      …I have issues with Facebook, but I’m too old to go anywhere else.

      1. Fikly*

        I would be on their cull list too, probably. But I’d also be proud of it, because someone who uses the phrase “civil rights outrage of the day” makes me think that they don’t think it’s something that matters.

        1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

          A number of my friends’ posts make me feel like a monster for being white and being a man. Those are valid viewpoints that are justifiable now in many ways, but I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do about being either of those.

          1. TG*

            I would examine why you feel that way though. Are they actually calling all white men monsters? Or do the civil rights issues they post about make you uncomfortable?

          2. LGC*

            I’ll try to say this as compassionately as possible, but…I’d examine why their posts make you feel like a monster for being a white man. Maybe not the posts themselves, but your feelings around them.

            For what it’s worth…that said, it’s both true that 1) it’s not always about you as a person (hell, using my friend as an example, her points were valid and prescient) and 2) sometimes you don’t want to be Educated. Like, a month and a half ago, I was barely holding myself together and I was convinced that hundreds of thousands of people were going to die in my area alone by June and I was going to get sick myself and end up in the ICU of my local community hospital, so the last thing I needed was to open Facebook and see “LOOK WHAT YOU JERKS DID” with the latest COVID stats. But also, that’s my anxiety and tendency towards catastrophic thinking talking, and honestly it did look really bad until the beginning of this month. She needed to scream, I needed a hug, and neither of us could provide what the other needed.

            …this escalated very quickly.

          3. Blueberry*

            You can refrain from using your social power to make things worse for people who are not white and/or not men, and if you have a chance to, even use your social power to make things better for such people and/or amplify our voices. Among other benefits is that you can then tell yourself, “tthat’s not me” when someone posts angrily about structural racism and/or sexism. (it’s more complicated than that, of course, but even a small action can be a useful rebuttal to the brain weasels.)

          4. What happened to this place*

            Oh please. Of course you can. You can be an ally. Clearly even just “seeing” people’s outrage at the unjust systems is too much for you, though, how sad.

          5. Fikly*

            You can’t change being white and male, but as someone white and male, you are, by default, benefiting from a system that is set up for your benefit.

            White men are not inherently a problem. White men who do not acknowledge that the problem exists, or white men who simply go through life benefitting while doing nothing to try to make it better for people not like them, are a problem. White men have both the most power to change the system, and are at the least risk if they try to change the system.

            So the reason you feel bad when you read those posts? It’s because you’re telling yourself there’s nothing you can do, and deep down, you know that’s not true.

            1. lazy intellectual*

              This is all true, but slacktivists who just post a bunch of statuses insulting white men get annoying, and I don’t blame people from muting them. There is a difference between “this system unfairly benefits white men at the expense of marginalized people” and juvenile statements like “I hate white men @#$!”.

                1. lazy intellectual*

                  I’m not assuming anything. I don’t know what posts he is reading. I’m just saying that these kinds of posts can go both ways in terms of being constructive.

        2. Jackalope*

          I would add my perspective, which is a bit more sympathetic (and closer to what LGC said). I have a number of people who are passionate about various civil rights issues, and most of the time I’m happy that they post because it educates me about things I might otherwise miss. I have one friend on FB for example who is passionate about making sure that everyone gets the chance to hear about otherwise missed things, with a focus on people of color in particular but not exclusively. (I especially appreciate this because she doesn’t just post about the awful things, but also a lot of stuff about people of color really rocking it, making a difference in the world or doing brilliantly brainy things or what have you.) In normal life this is helpful and useful, and I do my best to use that information for good (knowing things to call my Congress reps on, for example, that might otherwise be sliding under the radar).

          I will say, though, that I’m having a hard time with this right now. Knowing that: black people are even more than usual being murdered for being black; that Native Americans are getting sick & dying in numbers far outweighing other people groups; victims of domestic violence & child abuse are stuck in the house 24/7 with their abusers; disabled people are on the do not resuscitate list if they get sick; that planeloads of people who came to the US desperately seeking asylum are being shipped back to their native countries sick with coronavirus and in some cases after their children have been forcibly removed from them; people who have lost their jobs are being evicted, starving, and losing health care; etc., etc…. It’s too much grimness to deal with constantly. I am doing my best to make a difference in the ways that I can – I’m donating to organizations that are helping mitigate COVID-19 concerns for as many of these groups as possible, calling my representatives, and so on. But at some point in time I just have to let it go and recognize that holed up in my house, I have limited ability to take action, and it kills me to hear about so much suffering that I can’t help with. I’m not burying my head in the sand, but I do need time just listening to funny quarantine parody songs and petting the critters.

          1. Fikly*

            This is totally valid!

            My objection is not to putting up boundaries on your media consumption (or whatever) so as to avoid making your own mental health worse.

            My objection is to the phrasing that implies these issues, of human and civil rights, and other things, are not important to begin with.

            1. LGC*

              Yeah, the phrasing was…not great! (I am pointedly avoiding the more direct terms I’d normally use because AAM is a classy site.) I think, to be charitable, I’m not sure if OP doesn’t think they’re important wholesale or if he just feels overwhelmed and is throwing up his hands. Both can look really similar!

              And I’m not excusing him because he’s a white guy. I’ve gone through the same thing where I’ve just read about yet another Tragic Thing and I know I should be outraged, but I can’t manage to be outraged because I’m just so exhausted from it all. The good thing about social media is that you hear about things that you wouldn’t hear about otherwise…but the flip side of that is that sometimes it feels like every day you’re logging in and being told to be angry about something new. It’s not like those things aren’t important – it’s just that it can be draining to be told that you need to care about everything with the implication that if you don’t have headspace to care about it right now you’re a horrible person. (Although…that might just be me.)

              1. Fikly*

                There is a difference between being unable to be outraged because you are just burned out, and going, well, this doesn’t matter, though.

                And by diminishing real issues, you are becoming part of the problem, because you are normalizing them not being important.

          2. lazy intellectual*

            As someone who is engaged in leftist politics, some leftist activists do annoy me and I have to block them (either on social media or from my life.) I truly believe some of them use leftist values as a veiled justification for just being nasty to people, and I’m not here for it. (I had someone berate me for dating a white man. I am a non-white female. Apparently dating a white man was “betraying my people”. Just Nope.)

        3. Analyst Editor*

          When the outage machine would nonstop, the signal gets lost in the noise. Not all “civil rights” causes Re created equal.

          1. Blueberry*

            So how do we decide who actually deserves to be oppressed vs who shouldn’t be?

            1. nonegiven*

              Nobody should be oppressed, except maybe assholes, but it’s not something I can deal with 24/7.

    8. Bluebell*

      Yup- I’ve done the 30 day snooze on some of the most active posters, even if I agree with them in theory. One acquaintance has a talent for finding the most upsetting news articles about new corona symptoms and complications- she’s next on the list. I wish there could be filters that let me look at the cute pet photos and fun updates, but skip the anarchist political rants.

    9. MatKnifeNinja*

      I nuked everyone who never took a science class (most of my extended family), and who crows about COVID-19 isn’t real, it’s a DNC conspiracy, people who wear masks are sheep etc etc etc.

      The people I have to deal with on holidays has already shrunk 50 percent. I have a couple more working their way onto the block list.

      People can have their opinions. I have one relative who was running around during a protest with a Confederate flag. We live in a Union state. None of our ancestors are from the South. This particular person has never lived anywhere else but here. We’ve lived in this area since the 1600s. So why they are acting like Jefferson Davis’s BFF is beyond me.

      I can’t with sloppy thinking anymore.

    10. Dr. Anonymous*

      It sounds good to me. I actually started blocking people who comment on OTHER people’s Facebook posts in a way that upsets me. It feels WONDERFUL. You have six wonderful Facebook friends and you have more free time to play Mumblety-Peg if you’d like.

    11. Piano Girl*

      Yes. I have a few friends that are so extreme that I can’t deal with them right now. I was so surprised how big of a relief it’s been. Most are snoozed for 30 days at this point, and I’ve resnoozed a few already.

    12. Dan*

      I never got into FB in the first place, and TBH, I’ve never felt I missed anything. I think my primary reasons were twofold: 1) Putting my life on display for the whole world didn’t make any sense, and more importantly, 2) I spend all day on the computer for work, the last thing I want to do is spend my non-work time on the computer. I’m an introvert and live by myself; I do need my social contact to be face-to-face.

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        I think that’s a 100 percent legitimate viewpoint. That’s why my spouse isn’t on social media. Honestly, I think she’s the smarter of the two of us.

    13. lazy intellectual*

      I’ve managed to curate my Facebook so that I get posts only from people or pages/groups that I enjoy seeing. I was one of those people who got a Facebook shortly after it was new. It started out fun – just my friends and high school classmates posting fun stuff on each other’s walls, writing flirty comments on crushes’ photos, taking quizzes, etc.
      Before Facebook, the same group of friends and I had a running e-mail thread with similar things, so it was basically an extension of that.

      It got bad when I got to college. Suddenly, my “Friends” exploded to include randos I met once at orientation or at someone’s party, and this was before the unsubscribe feature where you could unfollow posts. I noticed going on Facebook made me more stressed/burnt out then joyful and relaxed. I paused my account for a while, then logged back in and did a cleansweep where I unfriended anyone I didn’t care to stay connected with.

      Now, I only have 62 Facebook friends. I don’t follow the majority of them. I mostly engage with a couple of fandom groups and read articles from my favorite news sources and that’s it.

    14. kz*

      I deactivated my Facebook (really the only social media I was using) about a week after my state went into lockdown. It was an excellent decision, my anxiety and random anger and frustration at strangers have gone way down. I havent looked back and dont know when (if ever) I’ll reactivate.

    15. RagingADHD*

      Yes, but my criteria are different.

      On FB: anyone who is pointlessly argumentative, rude, passive-agressive, oversharing TMI, or spouting dangerous nonsense (especially if they come on someone else’s wall to do it.)

      On Twitter, I’m full on Marie Kondo – any post that even slightly annoys me, the person is unfollowed. I don’t really have IRL contacts on there, so easy come easy go.

    16. Quoth the Raven*

      I uninstalled Facebook and Twitter from my phone, and blocked them on my laptop, only allowing unblocking them for 10-15 minutes a day just to see what’s what. In my case, the constant negativity from many of my contacts and, at the same time, the blatant disregard from others (think toxic positivity kind of posts) were making my existing depression and anxiety worse. I actually do feel it has helped, and I might keep it up once shelter in place is over.

      I still use Instagram regularly, but that actually helps because I mostly follow accounts that focus on dogs (I’ve made friends with several fellow Australian Cattle Dog owners), animals, art, and cosplay. This often cheers me up.

    17. Analyst Editor*

      Facebook has gotten really bad at alerting me of people’s milestones, like weddings, babies, graduations. It also gives me lots of info on friends of friends I don’t know that well, so I end up muting people for that reason too.

      But in general, the ads have gotten really obnoxious, the medium is not conducive for nuanced debate – and a lot of what gets shared is so misleading and so grossly terrible, no amount of argument can help fix it. And on top of it the censorship aspect across all these platforms leave a sour taste in my mouth.

      Unfortunately some social groups I belong to do all their organizing through Facebook, and I keep contact with friends and family through it, so I can’t turn it off entirely…..

    18. Anonnington*

      Yeah, I’ve been taking this time to block people. It’s mostly based on their offline behavior, but their online behavior is a factor too. Not so much the news feed as the comments on my own posts, or private messages. I have zero tolerance for bigots. People think they can direct hate speech at me and that it’s all good. No. Not associating with that.

    19. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Honestly this is my biggest part of social media. Second is a housekeeping group where everyone is just talking about keeping things organized and developing better or easier cleaning habits. I probably should make some stomping off into the sunset statement on Facebook, because I’m finding out late about important events in people’s lives.

  24. Blue Eagle*

    Decluttering Update #5

    Well, after 30 days of staying at home pursuant to the coronavirus shelter-in-place order I was in somewhat of a funk and didn’t feel much like decluttering my 10 items every day. So DH suggested that because the springtime weather finally arrived, instead of spending an hour a day decluttering it would be better to spend that time working on the lawn, in the garden and in the flower beds.

    So I happily raked and overseeded the section of the lawn with bare spots, spread the pre-emergent crabgrass fertilizer on the rest of the lawn, planted seeds for spinach and two kinds of swiss chard (the seedlings are doing great and ready to be transplanted outdoors!), planted tomato seeds (didn’t do so well, I’ll be buying a 4-pack of Roma’s), pulled dandelions from the lawn, pulled over 1000 volunteer garlic that were overtaking the flower beds, pulled miscellaneous weeds from the flower beds and spread mulch by the trees and the flower beds. Whew! what a lot of work. But who minds being outside in the sunshine and fresh air and being rewarded with blooming bloodroot, forsythia, hyacinths, daffodils, trillium, and gorgeous pink columbine as well as watching the iris stems and the peony stems rise from the ground and get ever taller.

    Maybe the monthlong break is what I need to regain my enthusiasm for decluttering. Fingers crossed that next month’s decluttering update will actually be about decluttering.

    1. Dr. Anonymous*

      In the meantime, this month was still about making your home wonderful, so nothing sad about that. You go!

    2. MistOrMister*

      My goal has been to do one productive thing a day. My big aim is the declutter, but anything productive is allowed. Maybe we just get declutter burnout. I did really well for 2 to 3 weeks and last friday I hit a huge wall. I think I went this entire past week without doing ANYTHING beside the work for my job. Yesterday I started weeding and today was more garden work and an attempt to clean the kitchen will be made once I regain my meager strength. Like you, I hope some days of yard work will get me back into house clearing mode. I was maybe halfway or a bit more along, so I really need to buck up and finish!

      1. Dancing Otter*

        One productive thing a day. I can identify with that. Way too much time on the internet, but one productive thing per day.
        My issue is that I keep getting pushed to do productive things for others’ benefit, not the productive things I want to do. I am so SICK of making masks! And somehow the person who promised to iron all the ties (PITA plus) if I will make her more masks is never available when ties are the very thing holding up production.

  25. The Other Dawn*

    Given all that’s going on with COVID right now, and the fact that I’m still recovering from two back surgeries (March) and coming off the meds now, at what point do I get evaluated for possible depression? (Sorry, this may be long.)

    I had lumbar fusion in March–two surgeries, two weeks apart. I’m recovering well (no back pain anymore!) and I’ve been doing physical therapy for three weeks now. I’m tapering off the oxy and will be done with that in a couple days. I’m doing OK with it, though I feel like there’s nothing left for good pain relief if I get the leg aches (happens a few times a week still) since I can’t take NSAIDs and Tylenol is useless for that. I’ve been on gabapentin for about five weeks for the lingering sciatica (thankfully that’s gone now OMG!!). I was started at a low dose and then tapered up. About two weeks after tapering up I started randomly tearing up a lot, feeling very…blah. Then earlier this week I started crying a lot for what I thought was no reason. The next day I cried from 7 am until about 2 pm. stopping only long enough to get myself to PT and the grocery store. (I felt bad because it was my husband’s birthday and I could barely pull myself together to grill a steak for him.) I called the doctor the next day and found out that gabapentin can cause depression, so they had me taper off. I finished it yesterday.

    I’m working part time from home (desk job at a bank, the whole back office is WFH right now) and plan to go back to full time soon. Working from home has been a massive struggle for a few reasons: in the beginning I couldn’t sit for more than 10-15 minutes at my desk without leg pain; standing at my sit/stand desk was a no-go because leg pain would set in; and working from the recliner is annoying, though I’ve made it work by getting one of those rolling hospital bed tables so I can put my laptop on it (having a laptop sitting on my legs was painful in the beginning).

    Having been at home and isolated (husband and cats, no kids) since March 3 has been way more challenging that I thought it would be. Even though I’m an introvert, I do like and need some level of human interaction. Since March 3 that’s been limited to my two one-night hospital stays, PT twice a week, a couple doctor visits, trips to the pharmacy and grocery store, one visit from my sister the first weekend in March, a few short video conferences for work, and texting with a few family members and friends. My husband works outside the home since his company is deemed essential, so I’m home alone everyday, other than his two days off, with nothing to do other than work a few hours, watch TV and do some laundry. In the past, I would have gone into my gym to work out, but I’m very limited as to what I can do at the moment so I don’t even have that right now. Although I don’t *love* working out, it makes me feel good physically and mentally.

    If I had to describe my feelings, it would be: boredom, no sense of purpose, isolated, apathetic about most things, and very unmotivated. I feel very stuck right now. I’m eating, though it’s mostly takeout or crap I really don’t need to be eating. I’m taking showers and doing laundry. I have no history of depression or any other mental health issues, though there is depression and anxiety among younger family members (nieces). I don’t believe any of my siblings have or have had anything like that going on. Normally I’m someone who doesn’t dwell on things. Sure, I can get into a repetitive thought pattern, but it’s not along the lines of feeling worthless or anything like that. And I can typically stop myself. For the most part, I’m a “get over it and move on” type of person. I try to always keep in mind something a former boss once told me: “Only worry about the things you can change. If you can’t change it, don’t waste the time and energy worrying about it. Move on” That has always served me well.

    Whenever I think I should contact a doctor (what kind would I contact?), knowing that so many other people are going through this and maybe it’s just the pandemic combined with two major surgeries stops me. I feel like maybe I’m just being a baby and I need to “get over it.” I feel like I should give it more time to see if it resolves. On the other hand, crying randomly everyday and constantly being on the verge of tears is absolutely not normal for me.

    1. Indigo*

      You aren’t alone. Surgery is a big deal, coupled with a pandemic. It’s never to early to talk to your family doctor about depression. Maybe virtual counselling, medication or both are the answer for you. I’ve dealt with mild depression for years and this pandemic finally broke me enough to ask for antidepressants, my doctor was really good about it. Don’t feel bad about asking for help. *virtual hugs*

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks! I’ve talked to a couple people I know that have depression and they feel like it might be mild depression. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life. I didn’t even recognize what it might be until earlier this week when I just couldn’t stop crying; this isn’t normal for me at all. I also feel like I can’t focus on anything, which is frustrating.

    2. Misty*

      Surgery is a big deal and with everything going on in the world now too, I think a lot of people may be feeling bad also! It makes sense that you would be feeling bad with the isolation, surgeries, and not being able to exercise. You’re not alone (if that helps at all). I would contact your doctor who took you off the gabapentin and tell him or her how you are feeling.

      Maybe you could find a teletherapist if your insurance covers it? I’ve been seeing my therapist over video and while it’s not as helpful as in person, it’s still helpful to talk to someone imo. I personally would not give it more time to resolve, I would get right on this if you have the option to reach out for help. Better safe than sorry, you know? Like if you reach out for help now, maybe you can be feeling better sooner where as if you wait to see if it resolves on it’s own, then you may be feeling bad longer. This is just my opinion though based on my experiences.

      Let us know in the future how you are doing if you want to. I will be keeping you in my thoughts this upcoming week.

    3. Mimosa Jones*

      Best thing a therapist once told me: “Life doesn’t have to be this hard.” So maybe you could gumption your way through this, but you don’t have to; even with a pandemic raging. You are not alone with your struggles and that makes you just as deserving of help, not less so. Think of what you have as similar to walking pneumonia: you can function, but you’re still sick. The fact that you can function makes you no less deserving of treatment. Start with your regular doctor and work your way through the process. Maybe all you need is some compassion and helpful tips. Maybe you’ll need something more. But depression and anxiety can lie to you about your worth and what you need so talk to your doctor.

    4. Lockstep*

      Are you weening off the gabapentin? The negative mental health symptoms you report are classic signs of gabapentin withdrawal.
      Go very slow, but be aware that even a slow taper can be difficult.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I was only on it for about five weeks and I didn’t see these symptoms until about two weeks after they increased the dosage. When I finally figured it out and thought to ask about it, they said that gabapentin can cause these feelings. I started at 300mg/day (very low dose) and they increased it to 900mg/day, which is the “standard” dose they said.

        1. Lockstep*

          5 weeks is enough to cause issues with mental health and even once stopped, it can take the brain more time (months) to chemically normalize.

      2. Natalie*

        General anesthesia can also cause depression in large numbers of patients (like 50-65%). But that doesn’t mean you can’t talk to someone about treatment! Even short term or situational depression can benefit from intervention, especially when everything else is so fragile.

    5. PX*

      I’m just coming to the end of my therapy sessions and one thing I said to my therapist is literally “I feel much less stuck now than I did when I started”.

      Your post sounds very similar to what I posted here last year and everyone said basically the same thing which I paraphrase as: “if you can get some therapy, do it because there are no prizes for unnecessary suffering.” If you’re not feeling good, there are qualified people out there who can help you feel better, so why not make use of it.

      And I feel so much better for it. For me just having a neutral person I can talk to has been incredibly helpful. A few thoughtful questions from her and some resources (plus some well timed life changes) have basically solved 90% of what I was struggling with.

      So my advice is if you can, find an EAP from work or see if your insurance covers some amount of mental health support, and make use of it!

    6. Koala dreams*

      Hopefully you can get assessed for depression on the first visit, but some doctors don’t know a lot about mental health and if you need to be evaluated by a psychiatrist it can be a waiting time. (Not sure how it works where you live.) I’d recommend you to start with your GP, if you have access to one. You can also see if you can find a therapist or a counsellor. Maybe the hospital that did your surgery can help you find one? Often people need mental health support after surgeries. Yes, many people suffer from depression (and other mental health illnesses) at some point in their life, but I don’t see why that should stop you. Many people have surgeries too, yet that isn’t a reason to refuse surgery. It’s the same with treatment for mental health issues.

    7. Fikly*

      Here’s the thing – how you are feeling is affecting your life.

      Is it a long term depressive disorder? It is situational? Right now, that doesn’t really matter. You should get evaluated for how to feel better now. You deserve to feel better now.

    8. Dr. Anonymous*

      There are few things that make me sadder as a doctor than when people don’t seek care because they feel they should be suffering more first. Call your primary care doctor as a start. You deserve care!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        “they feel they should be suffering more first.”

        That’s exactly how I feel.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I’d consider a nutritionist. You have had a number of things that are helping to pull vitamins and minerals right out of your body. Any ONE of these things can do a real number and you have had SEVERAL. Yeah, no wonder you feel crappy.

      Barest minimum please consider getting a drink with electrolytes in it. Minerals can help the brain to function and it can help with muscle pains. (NOT cure it, but help lessen it.) You might be interested in some vitamin D and/or vitamin B to help with the crying. A tired heart can lead to crying for no apparent reason.

      This winter I went with 10k units of vitamin D. (Do not do this without a professional helping.) OMG, it made such a difference in my mind set. Nothing else had changed, it was still winter, I still had to run out and snowblow after every storm, etc. I felt lighter, it was not such a burden to get through the long winter days.

      Work some veggies into your daily intake. This could be putting veggies in a blender and drinking them or it could be a soup. Veggies will also help with leg pain and other pains. But the trick is to do it regularly. Personally, I feel better when I have fresh veggies even if I cook them, as opposed to frozen. Oddly, in doing home cooked for my dog, I notice that my old boy did better with the fresh (but cooked) veggies also.

    10. Lyra*

      I think most people suffering from depression would say they wished they had gotten help earlier, not later! Not just to spare the unnecessary suffering, or to prevent it from becoming more intractable (both good reasons on their own) but also because as depression gets more severe, it affects your motivation and ability to seek treatment, distorts your perception of yourself and what ‘normal’ is. I think you’re at the ideal time to talk to someone about it: you have concrete symptoms that are bothering you, you’re aware of how it differs from your baseline, and you can still relatively easily seek out help. It may also take longer than you expect (depending on waiting lists, insurance, etc), so best to get the ball rolling now. And no therapist is going to be surprised that you need some extra support with surgery + pandemic.

      As an aside, there’s evidence that inflammation (such as that related to surgery) can be a cause of depression (not the sole cause, but one of many potential causes). As can the medications you mentioned. There’s also a strong association with chronic pain, and chronic pain and depression can feed into each other. Anyway, even if you don’t meet the threshold of clinical depression, it’s better to start dealing with the symptoms you have and head it off than to wait for it to be making your life even harder.

    11. Door Paneling*

      Even if your low mood is caused by the one-two surgery/pandemic punch, therapy will still be effective! If you break your leg falling out of a tree, you need the same treatment as if you broke it in a car accident. In neither case would you expect to “get over it.” If your low mood is impacting your daily life, get it treated! Call your family doctor if you have one, or you can search for therapists in your area and call around. Psychology Today’s website has listings. Good luck!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks! I posted below, not having refreshed the page and seen your comment.

    12. The Other Dawn*

      One more question: what kind of doctor would I see? I’m looking up mental health providers on my insurance website, but all the different designations are confusing. My insurance does not require a referral from my primary care doctor, and I’d prefer to not go to her anyway; I’ve been thinking about changing to another PCP for a while, but haven’t done it yet.

      1. cleo*

        Psychiatrists can prescribe medication. Psychologists (and counselors and therapists) can’t. That’s the main difference. Then there are many, many different schools / approaches within psychology.

        I’d start with a psychologist or counselor with experience working with depression and recovery from medical procedures. If they think you need to see a psychiatrist or other type of mental health care professional instead, they’ll tell you.

        Psychology Today has extensive listings of mental health care professionals that you can search by country / city and also by specialty. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists

        I’ve found therapists several ways that might work for you:

        Try a health center or group practice – I really prefer going somewhere where I can do an intake interview and have them assign me someone who seems like a good fit.

        Get recommendations from friends who’ve had a lot of therapy (and seem to have their act mostly together)

        Call a hotline and ask for suggestions (I used one for my specific issues but for you, Id see if your community has a mental health hotline.)

        Also. The hospital you got your surgery at may have a social worker who can recommend a therapist.

        Good luck! Dealing with depression is never easy, but dealing with it for the first time is really hard.

    13. AnonLurker Appa*

      Sound like you could use some help.

      I say this as a person with mild chronic depression and anxiety. It took me years to decide to start going to therapy, a while to find a therapist that worked for me, and I’m now on meds for both. I struggled with, “Its really not **that** bad” for a long time. You don’t have to need a lot of help to still just need a little help here and there.

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Good things from everyone but I would also ask your doctor who prescribed the Oxycontin about withdrawal symptoms. Mood changes are right at the top of the list of withdrawal symptoms. And you were starting in on medical MJ weren’t you? I haven’t had reason to look at the side effects on that one myself.
      Because this has affected your eating habits, the nutritional check is a good idea, even if it’s not the reason it could be a side effect. Hopefully you’ve been able to get outside to see a little bit of this bit of spring we are finally having. Hang in there!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, I plan to ask this week. The physician’s assistants, which are the ones that deal with me for the most part, didn’t tell me what I could expect as far as withdrawals. Even though it’s a slow taper and they seem to think I won’t have any symptoms, it would have been nice if they’d told me. Yes, I could have asked, but I’ve never had to taper off any kind of medication before.

  26. Retail not Retail*

    Anybody take advantage of stuff reopening?

    We’ve been open since Wednesday and seen far lower numbers than normal (we’re only half open anyway). I’ve picked up holds at the city library and my town library is offering curbside hold pickup. I’ll take advantage of that to show it’s popular!

    Book due dates are real again!

    1. KD*

      Things are gradually starting to open up here, but I truly don’t know if whether it does more harm or good for me to begin patronizing restaurants for carry out for meals or the library.

      I know the owners want us to utilize curbside pickup or mobile carry out to help keep the business afloat, but I can’t help but think that many of the workers who are being forced to return even though the health risks are just as bad or worse than they were two months ago when they closed probably resent us for it. The higher ups who call the shots aren’t the ones handling the day-to-day fulfillment of orders or holds and coming into contact with the public. There is low risk for the customers or patrons who stay safely in their cars for curbside pickup, but a much higher risk for the employees who have to work in close proximity all day long with each other.

      I’m very curious about the thoughts of workers at places that are starting to open up, but that may veer too much into the work territory on this weekend thread.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        I could have kept my holds paused for a while, but they started it by e-mailing me so.

        When I saw the notice about curbside hold pickup for my town library (only linked to one another library), I figured taking advantage of that would be good for their numbers. They need the library to stay important for city officials.

        Maybe next Thursday we can do the “we’re opening and suffering” thread. Not the going back to work in an office, but open to the public.

        I can say I don’t have to deal with them. There are material changes but I don’t work directly with them.

      2. Retail not Retail*

        One work comment – just one! – and it’s advice for customers who by definition aren’t working.

        Resentment comes when you complain about xyz being different. Get over yourself.

      3. Dan*

        There’s no easy answers to this. My job is not at risk for the forseeable future, so I kind of feel like I have an obligation of sorts to get some money out in the economy, and I do need to eat and all of that.

        Unemployment doesn’t last forever, and the extra “stimulus” money doesn’t last forever either. So if these businesses ultimately fail, nobody has a job to go back to at all.

        Permanent lock down isn’t a solution either, so the virus either gets under control or we learn to live with it and accept those risks.

        My personal opinion is that “we” have accepted lock down for a bit because the virus is new and scary and nobody understands it. But once “people” (I mean the collection of humans in society, not any particular group) feels like they understand the risks, then lock down will be less acceptable by society.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Right now, one of the only big changes in Illinois are that groomers could reopen, so our dog has an appointment next week.

      I do want my salon to reopen, which might happen in June, but it’ll be weird. And I don’t know that I should rush right in. Being that close to anyone is going to feel weird for a long time.

      1. NightOwl*

        I agree with your salon comment. I had an appt before Covid and it’s gotten moved a few times until they open back up. It was scheduled for last week but I opted to postpone a bit mostly because it was for a color touchup. I don’t know how that would work with a mask, and I’d be in the salon a good amount of time. If it was a quick trim of ends of hair, maybe, but I’m ok to sit tight for awhile until the owners figure out their new cleaning practices and PPE situation. My roots can wait.

        1. nonegiven*

          I had a cousin post on Facebook that she used some kind of tape that is ok for skin to tape her mask on while she got her hair cut.

        1. Jdc*

          Ya although I’m not in the Chicago area so much less here. They talked about opening my the areas as the CDC defines them, so four areas of the state. Plus pointless when Iowa is opening and people can drive there in 15 mins.

    3. Zephy*

      I think I’m still going to resign myself to basically not going anywhere or doing anything as much as possible for the rest of the year. Still too risky – there will be a second wave, and probably a third wave, and I don’t want to be part of them. Maybe if they reopen the parks and beaches, I’ll go take walks there for some fresh air and a change of scenery, but I’m not sure about eating in restaurants and going to the movies and traveling for a while yet.

    4. Not A Manager*

      My doctor and my dentist both re-opened this week for non-emergency matters. I got in to see each of them on the first day they opened, which seems safest (for me personally) in terms of possible contamination of surfaces or encountering asymptomatic people.

      I also am concerned about a spike in infections within the next few weeks, so I want to take care of any business before things get wild again.

      1. NightOwl*

        I didn’t think of the first days of reopening being safer regarding contamination. Good point.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          The shops here reopened on Monday. I went into town today and it was almost as busy as a usual Saturday. What I noticed were more people queuing as the number of customers in shops were limited, and many shops had hand sanitiser by the entrance.

        2. Not A Manager*

          IMO this is also the safest time to generally encounter people. They are more likely to have been isolated for the past while. (People here have been generally pretty good about lockdown.) In a few weeks, who knows?

          1. Misty*

            That’s actually a really interesting point. I never thought of it that way. Good to keep in mind if there’s something you need to get done!

    5. RagingADHD*

      Our library is going to open the beginning of June. I put a few things on hold and can use the dropoffs to return things now. I know how our branch is laid out, and I’ve seen enough over the years that I believe the management is going to be very protective of the workers. Just the fact that they are taking almost a month longer than they could have opened, and still not opening fully, speaks volumes.

      I cancelled my dentist appointment for next week, because our state numbers are still going the wrong way and we’re starting to see hotspots form after restrictions were lifted. I had rescheduled a hair appointment for July, but I’m going to wait and see if that looks feasible when the time comes.

      Our church is going to resume very small services, with seating assigned by appointment, and they are going to run multiple smaller services in different rooms and outside to avoid too many people in one place at one time. It makes me sad, but I still think it’s a terrible idea and am not going.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Edit – the library is opening curbside service only in June. Book pickups by appointment, no patrons in the building.

        I thought that was in there the first time!

    6. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      There are a few things open again here but I don’t think I am going to go anywhere for a while yet. Though I would really like to go do the weekly shopping at a different supermarket for a change, and to get some items I can’t get from the neighbourhood place, it seems too risky.

    7. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I honestly say I have no idea what’s going on anymore. I’m limiting what I read on the news. Last I heard May 15th was the opening date for my state and in phases, now I’m hearing that it’s June 14th. My hair stylist messaged me on social media and told me that they were open for appointments only but I can’t color my hair right now.

      All I know is, the things I used to do regularly — going to the salon, going to the mall, going to a gym (whenever I did go lol) or out to restaurant — those will not be happening for me anytime soon.

      As it is, right now I just go for my doctor appointments and I go in to the pharmacy if it’s not crowded. I went to the grocery store (a large super center) yesterday after almost 20 months and only because it was their “special” hours for elderly/sick/pregnant people. There were maybe 5 customers in the whole store. I wore a mask and didn’t touch a single item. Target was out of the question because they allow 50-75 people in at a time.

      Whenever NY/NYC opens up 100%, I’ll probably be continuing with what I’ve been doing for another few months. I am just too scared to risk mine and my baby’s health by getting sick. It doesn’t help that literally teh second I step outside with a mask on, I have to cough/clear my throat which I’m sure doesn’t put anyone at ease.

    8. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Also, I am not sure how much truth there is to this, but there are reports that the new cases in my state/city are coming from people who were following quarantine orders. So….that’s terrifying!

      1. RagingADHD*

        Not sure I’m following what you mean? Because I think that might just be math.

        Every new case is someone who avoided infection up till that point. Someone who avoids infection in a hotspot for a long time is probably being careful, because the careless people got infected already.

        So the longer it goes on, naturally the new cases are going to be among careful people. But hopefully the rate of new cases is much slower.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          I’ll try to find the article and post it here.

          What you said makes sense. But it sucks — spend months in quarantine being super careful only to end up getting infected.

  27. Valancy Snaith*

    Today is my birthday, and while I traditionally have lousy birthdays, this is a new low as yesterday I dropped my husband off for a 7-month overseas deployment. And I have to go into work today. So I’m baking myself my own cake and having a Netflix movie viewing with a friend, and that’s going to have to do!

    1. Beancat*

      I’m so sorry to hear you’ve not had good birthdays. Wishing safe return for your husband, and sending you all of the happiest birthday vibes I can muster!

    2. Not A Manager*

      Wow, that’s really tough. I’m glad that you have a plan for later. Netflix and cake with a friend sounds like a good idea!

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Sorry.
      I hope this is the oddest birthday you have to go through.
      Internet hugs.

    4. Sunset Maple*

      Happy birthday!

      I empathize with bad birthdays. I stopped celebrating mine after my second grandparent died on the day. I’m not interested in doing that a third time.

    5. Katefish*

      Man, that first day of deployment as the left behind significant other is the WORST… Sending all my empathy. At least the rest of the days are usually better for me; hoping the same for you. And happy birthday!

    6. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I am so sorry, I can relate to what you are saying as I’ve gone through the same, covid or not..
      Wishing your husband a safe return, and for your safety and health and many happy years ahead.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I finally canceled all my birthdays. What is up with birthday downers?!

      Cake, movie and friend sound nice. Perhaps if possible take yourself shopping for a small treat. In the past, I have gotten a small kitchen gizmo or some other household gadget that I really wanted. In a surprise turn around, I got this insignificant item home and I was just WAY too pleased about the thing. Just a little thing but I got a decent lift from taking the time to get it and installing it.

    8. LGC*

      Oh man, that sucks! If it makes you feel better: I had to go in on my birthday as well. (It’s a hazard of having a birthday on the last day of the month and being in charge of the invoices for your department.)

      Hoping you at least enjoy your cake!

    9. Valancy Snaith*

      Thanks to all of you for the thoughtful wishes! I’m very glad to see I’m not the only one with traditionally lousy birthdays!

  28. Misty*

    Every single aspect of my life has changed in the last two months. My life is completely unrecognizable now. Does anyone else feel like this?

    1. Timekeeper*

      I feel the same. Tinnitus has destroyed my once joyous life to a point where waking up to discordant high pitch screeches, electronic crickets, three jumbled pure tones all mixed together as loud as a harley at full throttle, usually means I wish I didn’t wake up.
      Going on now for 5 years and yes, I can’t work. Can’t think or focus.

          1. Misty*

            I’m sorry that you’re experiencing this. I hope you both find relief from your symptoms in the near future. That sounds like a horrible thing to have to deal with.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      Yes. I posted above, but I basically feel like I might have mild depression for the first time in my life. Due to surgery and the pandemic happening at the same time, I have no more daily routine, other than maybe taking a shower and feeding the cats, that looks anything like it did before, if it even exists at all. I feel like I’d feel better both mentally and physically if being able to go to a department store and browse for awhile was a possibility. Or even just grocery shop the “normal” way.

      1. Misty*

        The lack of routine is really rough imo. (I also saw your post above and am wishing you well and good health!)

    3. Jedi Squirrel*

      Yep. Everything gives me tremendous anxiety. The thought of leaving my apartment, the thought of going to the grocery store, the thought of going into work‒it all gives me terrible anxiety. I’m sure my blood pressure, which had always been an issue, is probably through the roof.

      I really wish I lived on a deserted island with wifi and a food drop once a week.

      1. Misty*

        I literally feel that. I leave my place to walk the dog once a day and that’s it. But even when I pass people I feel myself tense up even though I wear a mask and stay on the opposite sides of the streets whenever possible. I’m wishing your blood pressure and health well.

    4. cat socks*

      Yes. I feel like I’m grieving what life used to be like. Things have completely changed and there is uncertainty about what the future will look like.

    5. Nessun*

      I feel like I’m…kinda the opposite? I still live where I lived, do what I did, talk to about as many folks as I did before. Sure there’s a free more “social” meetings on Skype, but it’s otherwise so samey it’s almost like limbo some days.

      This makes me think that between the two states of being (you and I), there’s a middle ground that might be nice – if we could figure out how to reach it. But it’s also weirdly reassuring to know that there are other ways to feel out there; I’ve been inside my own head so long that any change to the wallpaper is nice, even if the color’s still off.

      1. Misty*

        This is an interesting prespective!

        Yes, that makes sense. It sounds like we’re both having opposite experiences. My life has completely changed (except I still live in the same house and have the same dog) but not the same anything else. I lost a group of friends, turned 26 during the pandemic which meant I had to get new health insurance which meant I had to get a new doctor and dentist, my classes went online, I changed my major right before they went online, I gained another roommate, my relationship with my roommates changed, a lot less money now too, but also am spending less and not driving at all where as before I had to drive at least two hours a day to get to things.

        Somehow all the little things added up and now when I look around at my life, my brain is literally like ‘???!’

    6. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Yes, very much so.

      I was never a stay at home type. Work gave us an option to WFH? I rejected it. Weekends, days off I would go to work or I would go to visit friends, go to the salon, go to teh gym, go sit at a cafe and drink coffee, just spent a lot of time with myself outdoors.

      Any day spent at home felt like a waste.

      2ish months now and I”ve barely gone anywhere. A trip to a grocery store recently felt like Christmas.

      1. Misty*

        I think that’s kind of my problem too. Everything I did on a daily basis was near my school/work which was an hour away. So my doctors, acupuncture, etc. I’m not used to staying at home except to sleep and that’s been my last two months.

        Every aspect of my life has changed in the last two months: how many roommates I have, my relationships with them, the amount of money I have, I went back to my old therapist in the last two months and now it’s over video, how much time I spend at home, my doctor changed, my insurance changed, my dentist changed, I lost a group of friends, I changed my major right before school went online, my coffee shop closed, the library I spent hours in studying at near my house closed, I haven’t seen my three friends that I’m still friends with in over two months, my church is closed. It’s like I’m suffering from life whiplash. Everything feels strange.

        Now some of this wasn’t because of the virus obviously but literally the ONLY thing that hasn’t changed in the last two months is the house I live in, my dog is still the same, I still drive the same vehicle (except I went from driving two hours a day to no minutes a day).

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Wow, yes I didn’t even think of that — everything I did was based on proximity to work, including my prenatal appointments. So now every 2 weeks I go down to where my office was for my prenatal appointments. I used to talk to my coworkers every day and got along with them; it was crushing when I was let go and the conversations I could have ended. It does and doesn’t feel like everything has changed.

  29. Beancat*

    I got a lot of progress done on my manga this week! I’ve mostly finished the storyboard and I actually came in under the number of pages, which is exciting because now I can go back and add a few – maybe a two page spread here or there, or a few extra at the beginning. Pacing is hard!

    My husband also obtained some 11×17 paper to encourage me to do a second draft of the storyboard, only to add more details than I could in my tiny thumbnails. I think that’ll help me decide if the current panel layout I’m using is what I want.

    Thank you all for all the positive thoughts and wishes of good luck last week!! I’m really getting excited to work on this and I feel like I can really do it :)

  30. Pandemic emotional swings*

    Content warning: Covid 19 – I am at risk with compromised immunity, asthma, and underlying conditions. Thought I was doing fine. But super angry right now.
    A good friend died two weeks ago (it was sudden, she was at risk for Covid, no there was no testing) and her family “friended” me on face book. I am not starting a political argument here. Their posts have been on my feed. They think the pandemic is a “bad flu.” That it is a left wing hoax. And the latest. “people can wait in lines at walmart so they can wait in lines to vote. no mail in ballots!”
    I am beside myself angry.
    I am waiting after the Zoom memorial to block them.
    Help me calm down please.

    1. Misty*

      I’ve very sorry about your friend. Also I understand your anger, that sounds extremely frustrating to have to see on facebook from your friend’s family members.

      Is there any way you can not look at their posts on facebook until the zoom memorial? I don’t have a facebook but is there an option where you could hide the posts until the zoom memorial, and then block them after it’s over?

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Unfollow them. They won’t know. You won’t see their posts. Create a group “good friend’s relations” and set your privacy to “friends except good friend’s relations” so they can’t weigh in on anything you post either.

      (Also, here to validate your feelings: they are wrong, and your anger is justified. But you don’t have to take up the battle.)

    3. Pandemic emotional swings*

      Thanks you. Calmed down. Will hide. Started to pray that all the good things that I want for myself for them. May they have good mental and physical health. May they be surrounded by love. May their home be warm and secure. May they have abundant food and economic security. May their pets be healthy. These things I pray.

      1. Misty*

        Okay good, I’m glad you’re feeling a bit calmer! I will be keeping you in my thoughts this upcoming week. Let us know how you’re doing next week if you want to!

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Good for you! You are really working at things here!
        Ya know, my sense of things is that people who remain calm (or calmer) are the people who will make out better during this crisis. Presence of mind is critical for survival. You seem to do well with helping yourself to try to calm down. Please don’t take this for granted.
        Currently, I have a friend who WORRIES about storms. I mean hide under the bed level of worry. I started talking about, “how do you help yourself to try to calm down even a little bit?” This was a totally foreign question, no one had ever asked Friend this before. Friend is now test driving this idea.
        Be sure to congratulate yourself for progress on processing this upset (more positive self-talk). It’s a legit upset, I agree. But as you know, more upset doesn’t help us with processing the original upset.

      3. Blueberry*

        You are a very good person to pray these prayers. I totally hear you on how upsetting those possts of horrible opinions are.

    4. LGC*

      So, starters – I’m really sorry about the death of your friend, especially during this time. One of the hardest things about the COVID pandemic is that…we can’t grieve in the way we’re used to.

      Another thing is that your friend’s family has…very strong and very incorrect opinions, and yes, I’m intentionally understating this. And they’re going through a really tough time – you lost a good friend, and they lost a family member. They reached out, and then…either didn’t realize or didn’t care that they were showing ALL of themselves.

      That said: The News Feed is a SEWER. Just from a product perspective, that’s the thing that causes the most conflict. I’d unfollow first or flag anything that you don’t want to see pre-memorial. Post-memorial, feel free to block (I wouldn’t in your situation, but also I’m conflict-avoidant and I’m used to dealing with people’s terrible opinions), but you can still remain friends and not see their posts. If they’re communicating funeral plans between telling the world that masks activate the virus, then I’d just block off a time to look at their posts. I’m not sure if they had the service yet, so this might be a moot point anyway.

    5. Sam I Am*

      My condolences for your friend.

      Ride that emotional swing you’re on. You can have more than one emotion at one time and it doesn’t make either of them less. You can be angry and sad at the same time. You can find joy while experiencing grief.

      Make sure you do the little things you need to do to take care of yourself, for me it’s stretching and staying hydrated.

  31. UbiCaritas*

    Last week I was diagnosed with breast cancer and am having surgery in a few days, followed by chemo. I understand I will be immunocompromised during chemo (five months! Yikes!). Any suggestions of things we need to do during this time? Currently we are wearing masks when we go out, staying 6 feet apart, washing hands, quarantining mail and wiping down groceries (we use curbside pick up). Anything else? The CDC list doesn’t mention quarantining mail, but I feel better doing it. I’m more worried about COVID than I am about cancer, at this point. Thanks.

    1. sswj*

      I’m so sorry!

      My understanding is that masks, distancing, and vigilant handwashing and sanitizing is the way to go. Somewhere I read an article as the out break was ramping up that was really encouraging. It was written by a woman who had a severe autoimmune disorder, I think? and her life was spent being vigilant about cross-contamination. Hold please, let me look …

      Found it!
      https://medium.com/@amcarter/i-had-no-immune-system-for-months-after-my-bone-marrow-transplant-1b097f16040c

      Sending out all kinds of get well, stay well vibes! ~~~

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yes, I read that early on and it was so helpful because a) it’s truly road-tested advice from someone who couldn’t afford to catch anything at all, and

        b) her very practical focus on a few key elements made it far more sustainable.

        I have some borderline risk factors, and my husband has had to go into work from time to time, and I’m the designated grocery shopper because of his schedule.

        Working the plan from this article – so far, so good.

    2. Admin of Sys*

      Good luck on the surgery and chemo! Get a shower stool if you can, they’re a lifesaver.
      The virus lasts 1 day on cardboard / paper/ most cloth (but longer on shiny polyester), and up to 3 days on plastic and steal – for mail, easiest thing is to set up a bin for mail, drop it in there, wait a day to look at it, then repat. I do the same thing with food – stuff goes into a specific shelf in the fridge or pantry and then ‘graduates’ to the safe shelf as the surface ages out. If you do go out and are in enclosed spaces with other people (ie inside rooms) it might be worth it to strip and take a shower as soon as you get home. Same thing about decontaminating the clothes – a friend has a clothes bin right at the front door to dump clothes into, that then get washed the next day, when it’s safe to touch again.
      Also – watch for shoes. The virus in droplets will fall to the floor and basically collect there. If you put a bag down on the floor, assume the bottom of the bag is contaminated, ditto on soles of your shoes – not a big deal, but don’t, idk, put your shoes up on an ottoman or whatever. (This, like most things, is more a deal with inside space since sunlight helps destroy the virus. So outside walks it’s not as much an issue. Of course, outside there’s dirt and stuff).
      But the 2 biggest factors are close indoor spaces with other people (which is sounds like you’re mostly avoiding) and touching your face after you touch something that has the virus on it (ditto).

      1. UbiCaritas*

        Oh, my, I had not thought about floors! The only times I go out are visits to the doctors, but my husband gets groceries (curbside delivery). We have been quarantining mail. Thanks!

      1. Pluperfect Cetacean*

        I would love to see a citation for this authoritative-sounding statement.

    3. Breast Solidarity*

      The Breastcancer dot org site has specific info updated regularly about COVID for those of us in treatment. Also ask your oncology team!

      I am still getting “targeted chemo” so still going in to the hospital every 3 weeks. We all wear masks and they are taking a lot of extra precautions.

      I am so sorry you have joined this club.

        1. Breast Solidarity*

          Also, that site has chemo groups by month, and I do recommend you join or at least follow your chemo-cohort. There is lots of good info as well re managing side-effects, surgery, etc.

          When COVID first started exploding I looked at the stats, there is still so much unknown, but for cancer the people with leukemias and lymphomas are most at risk, and even going through chemo it looks like our risks are less than the risk to those with just hypertension. So higher risk, but not as high as we might have expected.

          Cancer isn’t fair, COVID-19 pandemic isn’t fair, and the combination of the two is exponentially more unfair! It is ok to be angry about how unfair and sucky it all is :( And if your cancer center is limiting visitors it is so unfair to have to start treatment without someone there (everyone is different, but after my first few chemo days I actually started to prefer having someone just drop me off and pick me up rather than have someone with me the whole time. And now my days are shorter and I have less Netflix time!)

        2. Breast Solidarity*

          Oh! And most cancer centers have therapists who specialize in cancer and all the emotions that come with it, and right now most are doing video sessions. Definitely take advantage!

  32. sswj*

    Thank dawg for AAM. I discovered it just as the Covid crisis was brewing and have spent many happy hours reading. I’m going to do my share of blowing off steam here because, as far as I know, no-one here knows me and anonymity (as far as possible on the interwebs) is a good thing. Long whine ahead, sorry …

    I am essentially an introvert and a loner. I enjoy time with friends, and I work in retail so I’m not a complete hermit, but near enough. The shutdown has not been hard on me at all in that respect, except for the fact that my husband is not working, cannot go to his workouts, and has been home. I love the man, but I dearly want some nobody-but-me-and-cats-in-the-house-for-many-hours time. That may happen soonish, as he’s working on getting some temp work out of state. The thought makes me giddy with relief. Or it did until I chatted with a family member yesterday.

    There may now be plans in the works for this family member and spouse to come and park their Winnebago here at our place for a while, and stay until they can do a major move overseas. They did a short stint of this a few months back, and it was fine because we hadn’t seen them in a while and we had mutual projects to work on. They insisted on cooking dinner every night, which was nice of them, but I don’t actually want a full dinner every night, nor do I want to socialize after a long day at work. I’m actually working more now than pre-Covid because they’ve severely limited staffing. There are 2 people per day, and as I’m the assistant manager I deal with customers plus all the back office and supervisory stuff when the manager isn’t in. ALL I want to do at the end of the day is be quiet and putter through my animal chores, sit and read, have a glass of wine, and go to bed.

    I don’t know how to navigate this. On the one hand the Family Pair really do need a break. One has some health stuff going on that’ll need surgery and some work to get back to functionality, and the other is struggling to find work because of their own past health issue. There’s not a lot of money so being able to come here would be a godsend, plus they offered to help with a bit of remodel work we intend to do. It really isn’t the end of the world, and I feel so guilty for feeling as I do, but OMG I so don’t want them parked on my property for months.

    My husband is all for it and thinks its a great idea, and says that they’ll all give me space when I need it. My problem (and I realize it is *my* issue) is that not talking to me isn’t enough, and being in separate spaces doesn’t really cut it because I’m still aware they are there. I really want to be utterly alone on my property to fully decompress. First World Problem for sure, I know that, but it’s how I’m wired.

    It’s not the end of the world, and I’ll manage, but … sigh …

    Thanks for letting me whine :)

    1. Garlic Knot*

      I don’t really see why this absolutely has to happen at the expense of your wellbeing.

    2. Koala dreams*

      How to navigate: Tell your husband and the guests that you can’t have any guests now during the pandemic. It won’t be possible.

      For your husband, you might need to spell out really clearly that you don’t have the mental bandwith for any guests, no matter how kind or helpful or self-sufficient they might be.

      Good luck!

    3. WellRed*

      I don’t understand why you can’t tell them no? Or, can you decide how long you are willing to let them stay? One month, not several? Or other ground rules?

    4. Mimosa Jones*

      I agree with the others. You can say no. And I’m wondering about why you phrased the plans as though you don’t have a say. So if that’s the case, can you set better boundaries for their stay? They might be thrilled to learn they don’t have to cook a full meal every night. Maybe you all live as normal neighbors most of the week and then come together at specific times. Maybe they do their best to disappear one day a week. Maybe they don’t come until after your husband has been gone a week so you get your emotional tank filled with some alone time first.

      1. sswj*

        It’s my guilt complex that won’t let me say no, because it’s my husband’s family and there really isn’t anything wrong with them coming other than I’m incredibly selfish about my alone time. It just seems so petty. They are very nice, try to be accommodating and helpful, and in general are not a problem. It’s just my hermit tendencies that get in the way.

        Bah. None of this happens tomorrow so I’ll have time to stew and see how everyone can be made happy. Thanks everyone for your input!

        1. Mimosa Jones*

          Ahhh, family but not your family…that makes sense. Ok, it’s totally not petty…it’s how you cope with the world and take care of yourself. It’s important and has value. As the saying goes, you don’t have to set yourself on fire to keep others warm. But if they had to come, and you had complete control over how it was set up, what would you do? It might help to think about that and see what comes up. Sometimes giving yourself permission to set the rules makes all the difference. Talk to your husband. Talk to them. I hope you can work something out.

          1. valentine*

            From a healthcare perspective: (1) If they have been traveling, they pose a greater risk to you. There is no sufficient reason here to break quarantine. Even if their RV were about to disintegrate, they should shelter locally. (2) Their health issues sound like your job puts them at greater risk and you are going to have to be their caregiver, with no respite. (Not that you should do it even if you were one of four people doing so, but doing it with no respite is going to deplete your health and everyone may as well do now whatever they would do if you were unavailable due to being hospitalized for exhaustion.) How quickly is “on the property” going to become “in your house”? Do they need to use your restroom and will they be going in and out at all hours of the day? I see no reason why they should use your kitchen or treat their RV as a wing of your home. Will recovery from surgery have to happen in your home? With both relatives there, for whatever reason, instead of one still staying in the RV?

            You’ll need a contingency plan for the nightmare scenario of your husband not leaving and the relatives descending.

            It sounds like your husband’s going to get away and leave you to handle these people. Karnythia/Mikki Kendall wrote that her husband and her are “the guardians of each other’s solitude.” That’s beautiful. What would that look like for you? Your husband should know you thrive on space and make that happen for you. He should be telling his relatives no way, no how, are you going to host anyone when he’s not there to rub your feet. (Or whatever. He can be inventive about how you come first and he’s the “selfish” one because he’s holding the line for you.) If you told him you want him to do that, would he, or would he just try to talk you into hosting? Because I don’t see where he’s taken point, except to say yes to them without prioritizing you; or where he’s set boundaries here, except the boundary that you don’t get to have (m)any.

            there really isn’t anything wrong with them coming other than I’m incredibly selfish about my alone time.
            This is plenty. Your needs matter. What if you make your needs your priority?

            They are very nice, try to be accommodating and helpful, and in general are not a problem.
            There’s a great saying about fish and house guests.

            It’s just my hermit tendencies that get in the way.
            You frame what everyone else wants as a given and yourself and your needs as obstacles to that. What if you flip that? What if you keep at it until you’ve centered yourself for six months?

            None of this happens tomorrow
            It doesn’t have to happen. What if you act instead of reacting? What if you start a “year of no” to others, a “year of yes” for yourself?

            I’ll have time to stew and see how everyone can be made happy.
            I wish everyone would work this hard to make you happy. The good news is you can do that for yourself. What if you make decisions that make you truly happy? What if you seize the opportunity of your husband’s job (and I hope he’s not going to be traveling back and forth, unless you’re somewhere that’s no big deal) to enjoy your space and see it as the self-care it is, and not selfishness? Because having guests move in and use your kitchen daily for a chunk of time is extremely generous and saying no to that doesn’t make you less generous. There’s just a real need here for you to apply the generosity inward.

            1. Mimosa Jones*

              This is awesome.

              On a personal level it highlights some of the things I’m struggling with right now. I’ll be mulling over this bit for a while: “You frame what everyone else wants as a given and yourself and your needs as obstacles to that. What if you flip that? What if you keep at it until you’ve centered yourself for six months?”

        2. Koala dreams*

          Actually, it seems very rude to invite family to stay a long time in these trying times without the buy-in from everybody who already lives in the household. You don’t sound petty at all. Please tell them that they can’t come as soon as possible. That’s the kindest way, then they can make up other plans.

          Take care!

        3. IAmOnlyHereForThePoetry*

          You are not selfish.

          These are trying times for all including you.

          It is already hard for you – working then not getting any alone time when you are home.

    5. Misty*

      I would tell them either no, or I would say they could stay but lay out ground rules. Maybe last time they cooked every night thinking they were being helpful, yet not realizing that you need space? I think if you let them stay be very clear on ground rules before they get there.

      This time is really hard for everyone so I totally understand not wanting some people to stay on your property for months! That sounds like a lot to deal with tbh.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yes, definitely put down some ground rules if they come. And stick to those rules.

        You can say things such as “Home cooked dinner is nice, but what I really value is quiet time. I’d like to see us switch to a plan of [dinners on Friday only; dinners every other day; shorter dinners; whatever].”

  33. sswj*

    I’m so sorry!

    My understanding is that masks, distancing, and vigilant handwashing and sanitizing is the way to go. Somewhere I read an article as the out break was ramping up that was really encouraging. It was written by a woman who had a severe autoimmune disorder, I think? and her life was spent being vigilant about cross-contamination. Hold please, let me look …

    Found it!
    https://medium.com/@amcarter/i-had-no-immune-system-for-months-after-my-bone-marrow-transplant-1b097f16040c

    Sending out all kinds of get well, stay well vibes! ~~~

  34. Kezi*

    People have been weird to me. I have one person who was convinced I am in financially dire straits (thankfully, no.) who keeps trying to give me money, and keeps dropping stuff off on my porch for me. The things she drops off are things like beef jerky and toddler shoes (I’m a child free vegetarian). I have no idea how to get her to stop. Asking and telling hasn’t worked.

    I have another person who has sent me multiple texts to take me to task for Reasons. I am acquainted with her husband through a game group and according to him she looked through his phone to get my number. Texts include a text informing me that she would not be texting me to make sure I’m okay during this quarantine. One taking me to task for still working (not from a safety pov. I work in child care and she thinks its “morally bankrupt” for me to be charging “hard working parents” during this trying time bc “parents need a break too, you know”. ) I blocked her number at this point so she started texting me from her son’s phone.

    Then I got yelled at because I lent my old ereader to a kid with dyslexia. While he still struggles, he has an easier time reading on the kindle (we think its bc he can modify font, font size, etc). So I asked the Dad if I could lend it to the son, stressed that if anything happened to it, not to worry about it. He said sure, so I put a wide variety of age appropriate books on it, told the dad to leave it off wifi so the son can’t download anything without adult help, and lent it to the son. Son read his first chapter book by himself! Son asked if he could have the next in the series. Dad (for some reason) got mad, put the kindle in my mailbox, and called me to yell at me for it.

    So long and short, I can’t wait for this quarantine to be over so I can go camping and get away from people.

    1. Koala dreams*

      I’m so sorry you meet so many rude people! For the first person, maybe you can read some advice on how to deal with stalkers. It sounds pretty stalkery to me, and maybe some of the advice is good for you too. Good on you to block the second person. So creepy that she uses her son’s phone to get around it, though. :(

      Glad to hear the kid liked the ereader and the book! You did a great thing for the kid. Sadly not all parents like books. I loved books as a kid (still does) so I’m very glad there are people like you out there helping kids access reading.

      Let’s hope there will be happy camping in the future!

    2. WellRed*

      The first person sounds like they have mental health issues. Actually, so does the second but you can and should block her texts. Love how you helped the kid!

      1. Koala dreams*

        Please don’t use “mental health issues” as a synonym for “rude”. It’s very hurtful. Thanks.

        1. WellRed*

          I think someone dropping off baby shoes to a child free home is a sign something is off with this person’s rational thinking, as is text stalking. I think criticizing someone for giving a kid an ereader is rude.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Person #1 – Use these words or similar. “I am not experiencing financial difficulties. I do not need, and do not want your money, food, clothing, or other items. You need to stop. If you do not stop, I will no longer be able to talk to you, and anything you drop off will be disposed of immediately.”

      Person #2 – Tell the husband, since you know him, that his wife is stalking you and if it doesn’t stop, you will be contacting the police. If she contacts you again, contact the police. And block the son’s phone.

      Person #3 – that is so incredibly sad. The kid was making progress, and the dad just put a massive roadblock up. Shame on him.

      For you, I recommend a trip to Reddit – specifically the r/aww subreddit or similar. People suck sometimes.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I wouldn’t even use that many words for #1.

        “Quit dumping random crap on my porch. I’m just throwing it all away.”

        OP already asked and told politely. This is just fair warning that they’re wasting their time and money.

    4. Kezi*

      Just as a quick update:

      Since I posted this I have received an apology from the Dad, as well as pretty heartfelt gratitude for my willingness to lend his son my kindle to begin with. That was nice :)

      1. Something Blue*

        That’s great! And maybe the kid will be allowed to read more.

        Did he give any explanation why he got mad? Bc that seems so odd.

        1. Kezi*

          He said that he has been having a lot of issues at work with NY starting phase one of reopening, he has a sick parent and they have been having a ton of behavior issues at home. When son asked for the next book, Dad was in the middle of 1000 things and said yes but that he couldn’t right at that moment. This prompted a series of nagging by the son. Dad finally said “one more word about it, and I’m giving the kindle back.” Son asked again. Dad brought it back. But at that point he was stressed out, frustrated and took it out on me and for that he was “incredibly embarrassed and sorry.”

          1. Something Blue*

            Ah, that makes more sense. The 1001th thing and camels back is broken.

            I’m glad he apologized to you.

          2. Blueberry*

            Ah. I’m really glad he apologized to you and that he decided promoting his son’s wellbeing was more importsant than a momentary punishment.

            Good luck with the others, and may no more awfulness cross your path!

          3. Sam I Am*

            Just want to add, in case you don’t already know, there are browser extensions that help dyslexic readers by using a font developed specifically for the task.

            Not trying to add another task to your day, just want to let you know that e-reading has a lot of improved options for people with this disability. You can pass that along as you see fit.

    5. Anonnington*

      Wow. Wow wow wow. Yeah. I have seen similar behavior from people. It’s unsettling, and yet it’s reassuring to know I’m not alone in this (people coming to bizarre conclusions about you and behaving strangely). However, I’m having the opposite experience in quarantine. I live alone and I’ve pretty much gone off of social media and blocked the phone numbers of anyone who was bothering me, so I’m enjoying peaceful solitude!

      I have different advice about the stalking. I would not necessarily tell the husband. I would, however, tell the stalker very clearly to stop contacting you. And if she persists, just report it. Don’t mess around. This stuff can escalate. And involving other people is risky because you don’t know what kind of effect that could have.

    6. Venus*

      I know someone like #1. A close family member. They want to be seen as helping, no matter how misguided their help. I told them for years I didn’t need those things and they kept going. So then I told them I would donate their gifts to me to a charity. That reduced the flow but then I suggested they donate to the food bank and that fixed it. They tell me of their kindness and I acknowledge happily and with many words to ensure things continue this way. It’s perfect as they feel acknowledged and are seen as a good person, I have no extra things that I can’t use, and food bank gets money!

      1. Sam I Am*

        It’s great you were able to redirect the giving from Close Family Member, and there’s nothing wrong with sharing a smile and a high 5 with them when they mention giving. Keep it rolling!

    7. Totally anonymous*

      People are getting extremely prickly. This week I’ve gotten so fed up with my husband’s leaving his clothes on the floor that I’ve started putting them in the hamper for him. Did he stop putting them on the floor? No. He threatened to move into the guest bedroom because he can’t live with that level of micromanagement. I apologized. But I’m still kind of disgusted.

  35. ALM2019*

    Question for anyone that lives in an apartment or home with shared walls – what do you consider to be too loud from a neighbor? I’ve been in the same apartment complex for 7 years. I have people below, next to, and above me. The only noise I’ve ever heard was the old neighbors above me yelling when their team scored (this was only occasional that I could hear it). Someone new moved in above me 3 months ago and it’s constant thumping of music. Sometimes I can hear the actual music and sometimes it’s just the bass. But this goes on all day long and sometimes until 10:30 at night. Right now I have on a tv and a fan and can still hear it. I’m very non-confrontational and a little concerned if I do say something it might get worse. Her boyfriend (who doesn’t live here) but is always around is pretty rude from what I’ve noticed. I know things are a little different right now since we’re always always home, but this is starting to drive me crazy. I can’t even watch TV in my own living room without hearing it.

    1. Oxford Comma*

      Can I hear footsteps above? Cost of living in an old building where there are hardwood floors. Muffled TV? Muffled music? Is it between 8am-9pm. I ignore.

      What you are describing sounds beyond what I would tolerate. I would say something.

    2. Jess*

      That’s definitely too loud- I would say something sooner rather than later. I’ve been in this situation several times. Once, I heard their bass all the time- when I went over to talk to them, I felt bad because their music actually wasn’t that loud, but the speaker was directly on the floor and close to my wall. Sometimes just repositioning can help. But my last apartment- oh boy, neighbor from hell. Same deal- hours on end, all hours of the day, going til after midnight, and sometimes they even STARTED at 5 am. I could clearly hear the words from what they were playing. We talked to them so many times, even almost got in a fist fight once. To their credit, a good amount of the times they would turn the music down but it took a lot of effort and every time we talked to them we were back at square one. I really regret not bringing it up to the apartment management sooner because they did help. Even when I moved, I started feeling almost like PTSD when I heard bass because they kept me up so many nights- my HR and BP would start going up. Say something! I’d also maybe take a video or recording of how you can hear their music in your unit.

    3. Asenath*

      I live in an oldish building that is much more solidly built than many newer ones, and I rarely hear anything much – footsteps or voices in the hallway (the entrance door is modern), but never very loud or late, and muffled TV or voices from the only apartment that connects to me horizontally – that is, on the same floor, although it’s in a separate corridor. I consider neither of those “too loud”, not even though I go to bed earlier than the horizontal neighbours, and my bedroom adjoins their living room. And then we got One of Those Neighbours. They played incredibly loud music, STARTING well after the 11 PM time at which loud noises are supposedly not allowed in residential areas in my city. They did in on more than one occasion. Once, to my shame, I got some perfectly inoffensive old man out of bed in the adjoining apartment at about 2 AM, only to discover the noise – which was much louder outside his door, wasn’t from him. It was from the apartment above his! I banged on their door, but they didn’t deign to answer. I seriously considered calling the police, but emailed the management company instead, in a rather frosty tone. They said they were aware of the situation and were dealing with it. The noise stopped after that. Now, that’s too much noise. Your situation is somewhere in the middle. I think it’s enough you might mention it to the upstairs tenants, but it probably isn’t enough to escalate to the management and/or police.

    4. Masquerade*

      We’ve spent the past three days transferring units to get away from one of those. They plan to evict them once COVID-19 passes (which was not my goal, but the people have blown through all their warnings and lease violations regarding noise and indoor smoking) but they let us transfer now since they don’t know when they can move forward with the eviction.

      Start documenting absolutely everything. Start and stop time of the noise, calls made to the manager/courtesy officer, everything. Check what the quiet hours are in your community and bold the entries where they violate it. If you can, take a recording on your phone of the music (we had to try this 5+ times before we could get a quality recording). And email your updated log to the leasing manager frequently. We found that the logs empower the leasing manager to deal with corporate (if you live in a property management community) and get changes made.

      Good luck, I feel like I’m still dealing with leftover anxiety over noises and a lot of sadness from losing my old unit (my fiancé proposed to me there and the views were 10/10 for my cats), but I hope you can find a solution! Keep us updated!

    5. Dan*

      I’ve lived in my building for ten years, and I’ve never experienced what you describe. (In my building, what you describe is certainly a complaint that management would act on.) Most I get is footsteps from the unit above. There are times/places where I can hear the vacuum run very faintly, and for that matter, the washing machine. But I’ve never heard voices/TV/music from the upstairs unit.

      The arrangement on my floor is a little different than most. There’s four units on every floor (four floors to the building, but there are twenty buildings or something like that). On my floor, two of the “units” are the building’s rentable storage lockers for all of the tenants. That’s the only thing I share a wall with. It can get kind of noisy during the day on the weekends, but oh well. When the guy across the hall uses his TV, I can hear that standing in the lobby, but when I close my door and play *any* background music or TV, I can’t hear him at all.

      In my complex, when building management is dealing with noise complaints, they have to choices. They can send you a personalized letter that goes in your file, or they can send a general notice to the entire building. The later drives me nuts, because it’s always vague and non specific. They’ll usually list times (like “between 1 and 3 am”) but never dates. Maybe it was me, maybe it wasn’t, you know? Maybe the stuff I usually do doesn’t cause an issue, but that one thing that one time did? Those vague notices don’t give enough to act one.

      A few months ago, building management sent out a general notice saying, “There’s been complaints of excessive noise from 8am to 1am.” (It was clearly written as an all-day kind of things, not a transposition of late night hours.) I was like WTF? People are complaining to management that people are awake and have to *live*?

    6. Jaid*

      It’s too loud if you can hear it over your TV.

      Since you’re an older resident, I think your landlord would side with you if you made a complaint. In the meantime, I’ve used a combination of earplugs and TV headphones in the past.

    7. ..Kat..*

      Bake some cookies and go introduce yourself to your neighbors. Talk with your neighbors . They may not realize how loud they are. You can even invite them to come to your apartment so they can hear for themselves. If they have the speakers on the floor (your ceiling), that could be a big part of the problem. If that is the case, Ask them to put something under the speakers. Even just a folded up towel can make a big difference.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Other than the barking dogs, I haven’t had this issue since I was in a house. But when I go looking for apartments, I’m definitely going to ask the landlord or property management company how they deal with loud tenants.

    9. Dancing Otter*

      Pretty much the only time I hear noise from upstairs is – I should say was, because I think they moved out – something that sounds for all the world like bouncing a basketball right over my head. Just about the time I got annoyed enough to go complain, it would stop.
      Occasionally, someone passing in the hall, if I’m near the door when they go past. A crying child coming from another apartment when I am the one walking down the hall.
      The sounds that bother me are not so much people being noisy as just people living. I live over the main entrance, and sometimes the sound comes in through my windows. (Car alarms, slamming doors, trucks sitting in reverse instead of being turned off for *%&$*#’s sake) We can hear water in the pipes when the people above us (two floors, so not so many) take showers or wash dishes or flush.
      However – – Whoever keeps setting off the fire alarm late at night should have to listen to it themselves on headphones for six or eight hours straight. I’m convinced it’s someone smoking in the trash room instead of going outside.

  36. LGC*

    Runners! How’re you doing? How’ve you been holding up? (Especially if you’re from Europe and yes I know Europe is a bunch of countries.) What new routes have you found? And if you haven’t been able to get out, how have you managed?

    I’m a little discouraged because I ran a 10k as a tempo run…and I’m a fair amount slower than I was last year. (Like, running what I used to consider an easy half marathon pace felt kind of hard.) On the other hand…I didn’t quite realize how much just being able to get out the door kept me sane and reassured, so I’m thankful for that.

    Most runners I’ve seen haven’t been wearing face coverings, which…okay, I’m guilty of this too. But surprisingly, it doesn’t seem like people have been making as big of a deal about this locally as they have in the cities. And outside of runners and cyclists, my area’s been pretty good with masks.

    1. Washi*

      I tried out the RunGo app you recommended and it seems to serve its purpose! I used it on a tempo run last week and it did give me turn by turn directions, although somehow I ended up in “virtual” mode so it kept announcing things as “virtual turn left” and “virtual straight ahead.” I assume this was user error and that this will be a good tool once I work the kinks out, so thank you :)

      I also do not wear a mask when I’m running, nor do most runners/bikers/walkers I see out in my suburb. I live right on the edge of the suburb’s downtown core, so I just avoid that area and stick to quiet roads where I can give other people a wide berth. I feel very glad that the norm is not to wear masks when exercising, since from what I’ve read it doesn’t do much if you’re already far apart outside, and my area is famously humid, so it would be super uncomfortable to attempt to run in one. I’ve been training for a pretend half marathon, and following the training plan has given me a nice structure to my week, in addition to the usual benefits of running.

      1. LGC*

        Ditto – from what it seems like, people in cities are…acting like the worst stereotypes of themselves, and people in more suburban areas are basically shrugging. It’s a bit weird, because I feel like I’m doing something WRONG because the media is like, “RUNNERS AND WALKERS ARE IN A BATTLE TO THE DEATH” and everyone around me is chill.

        I live in a similar situation, where I’m right outside my ‘burb’s downtown. I also happen to live in a suburb with two running shops on the same street and a cycling store a couple of blocks away, so that’s definitely part of why this area is chill. I’m a little more cautious in the local county park, just because it’s popular, but it’s been pretty easy to distance otherwise.

        1. Washi*

          Yeah, all the “runners are so rude!!!!” stuff online has made me nervous to run and have someone yell at me, and I have to keep reminding myself that my actual experience has been totally normal. I think in the suburbs we are not as tight on space, so emotions are not running (lol) as high.

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      A runner came up behind me suddenly as I was walking and scared the hell out of me so bad I almost jumped into the roadway.

      I wish you all would wear bells. Just saying.

      1. Lost in the Woods*

        I feel like I can’t win! When I call out a friendly “passing on your left!” (always 6+ feet apart!) half the time the person jumps six feet in the air, and the other half of the time they’re wearing headphones and don’t notice, and if I don’t say anything they jump anyway.

        1. Washi*

          Yes, when I bike I’ve noticed that people hear my bell, though it does startle them, but often do not hear my voice if I try to call out instead. You have to yell quite loudly to reliably get people’s attention, and then you sound angry/impatient. It would actually be kind of nice to have a gentle-yet-piercing bell for running.

          I actually have this problem less now that I consistently run 6-10 feet away from people, because there’s much less of a need to warn them I’m coming. Right now I think it’s a bigger problem if someone is getting physically close enough to startle you in the first place.

        2. fposte*

          I think it’s not realistic to have a goal of not surprising people, unfortunately. It’s kind of like the work threads where we discuss how not to surprise somebody wearing headphones. The reality is the way we get not surprised is by hearing an approach in the distance and realizing it’s coming closer–if we haven’t done that, any greeting is going to surprise us same as a sudden appearance will. So announce in advance if you can to be a conscientious person but don’t worry if you can’t keep people from being surprised.

        3. Out in the Wilderness*

          Here’s the thing. If I’m walking and you come running up behind me, it is YOUR JOB to go safely around me (+6 feet). It is not my job to leap off the sidewalk out of your way.

          And if that means you have to come to a DEAD STOP to wait for a car to pass so that you can go in the street, so be it. Your problem. I don’t care if it messes with your pace. Go run somewhere with no other people if that is an issue.

          I don’t get upset with runners for startling me — I know that the “on your left” thing or whatnot doesn’t work and I’d probably jump. I DO get upset with runners who pass too close, or act all huffy that I’m not leaping out of their way when I am WALKing on the sideWALK, you know, that strip of concrete intended for WALKING.

          As an added bit of context, I’m usually walking with 3 dogs, one of whom is half blind and one of whom is 13 years old and mostly blind. We literally cannot get up and down on the sidewalk quickly, since she can’t see the curb and will stumble.

          Your job to go around safely. You do that, we’re good, even if I jump a bit.

          (And yeah, just the other day we were navigating around parked cars and other walkers with dogs. Thought all was clear and then a runner popped out of nowhere and passed us within maybe a foot or so, no warning. THAT is the sort of asshole I’m talking about. Don’t do that.)

          1. another scientist*

            Sometimes people walk in groups that take up the whole trail, or they unpredictably meander just to the spot where I am trying to overtake them, so it’s helpful when they are aware of me and do their part so we can all distance. If there is a road available, I will (nowadays) use that to give pedestrians a wider berth. In normal times, we will of course share the sidewalk.

          2. Lost in the Woods*

            I’m a bit baffled by the … tension? In this response? Especially when I specified in my post that I am always going 6+ feet around. I have a dog (she’s to small to run with me), I know it’s hard to get a dog off the sidewalk. I always feel it’s my job to move since I’m more mobile.

      2. LGC*

        Yeah, I try to yell out if I’m coming up close behind someone, especially if there’s no way I can go around them safely. But sometimes it’s difficult – I’ll be able to do it better on a long run than I am if I’m going faster. I’m just speaking for myself, though. (I am not only a really tall guy, I’m a really tall black guy that happens to have a fairly quiet foot pattern. So yes, without going into politics, I’m well aware of making myself seen!)

        I’ve been startled from behind myself (by cyclists and – on Thursday – by one of my teammates who was ripping out some intense intervals), and…like, I’d rather have the warning, but also I appreciate that it’s difficult when you’re moving fast. I’ve also been the jerk with headphones, and…to be honest, I don’t think it’s on the person coming up from behind if the person in front is wearing headphones. (I mean, I still feel bad for startling people, but also it’s not my fault you weren’t paying attention or more often, it’s not your fault if I’m not paying attention).

        Bells might be a non-starter, though. Hell, I had to stash my keys on the fence Thursday because they were sitting in my pocket wrong! (Then again, I am a princess. As in, I am literally the princess in The Princess And The Pea.)

        1. Out in the Wilderness*

          Sure, it isn’t your fault if the person in front of you is startled by your presence due to headphones (or just daydreaming and not paying attention).

          It absolutely IS on YOU to go around that person though — at a safe distance — and not try to bully them off the sidewalk and out of your way. As noted in my post above.

          Even if you must come to a dead stop and wait for a passing car. I’m not going to try and navigate my blind dog off the sidewalk and out of your way so you can keep you pace. That is not reasonable.

          It is like driving, you go the speed of traffic and pass when it is safe. You don’t bully the car in front of you (well, some people do, those people are assholes)

          Sorry to harp on this, but runners in my neighborhood are often…not very polite, and I am tired of being passed closely by people panting their possibly virus-laden breath over my shoulder as they go.

          1. LGC*

            Well…I think there’s two separate arguments.

            It is on the person behind to pass safely, or as safely as possible, which is the point you’re making and which I agree with 100%.

            It is not on the person behind to manage the person in front’s reaction, above and beyond alerting said person to their presence. That’s what I meant – I’ve been startled too, but that’s because I was too busy listening to BTS and then I got yanked out of it by an “On your left!” If I jump or otherwise freak out…that’s not the person behind me’s problem.

            1. Out in the Wilderness*

              Yes — I actually agree with you 100% here, on both points. Not your job to manage other people’s reactions at all.

              I think my annoyance has stemmed in part from the fact that it actually shouldn’t be that hard to pass safely in our neighborhood — it is quiet, very little traffic. The guy who passed within a foot or two had no excuse — he could have veered into the street easily, there were no cars coming, he would barely have needed to slow down. And to be fair, some of the runners have been great on this as well…it is just the not-so-great ones that stick out in my mind (probably unfairly!)

              1. LGC*

                And to be fair, some of the runners have been great on this as well…it is just the not-so-great ones that stick out in my mind (probably unfairly!)

                …yeah, I’d say probably! (As the professional “HI GUYS I’M A HOT MESS TOO” guy around here: I’m also guilty of this!) I was a little thrown off because it seemed like you were addressing the first point, when my initial reply to Lost In The Woods was mostly about the second.

                Speaking for myself (and probably for most people I know), I think most people do try to be safe. If I’m going fast, it’s often easier for me to step off-path if there’s space. (If there’s no space, I’ll probably avoid that path.) But also, I think…I can call myself an experienced road runner at this point, but a lot of people aren’t! So I think a lot of people are learning proper road etiquette and how to be a good citizen. And the evidence has been…confusing, to say the least. This time last month, people were convinced that runners were plague machines who should hide their shameful bodies from polite society. Current science says that runners (and cyclists, love y’all too) passing by are probably one of the lowest risk exposures.

                That said, regardless of the actual risk, it’s still impolite to get close up on people. Especially now. So although it’s probably not like you’re going to catch COVID from the maskless runner that passed within two feet of you, it’s still a jerk move.

                1. LGC*

                  (And just to be clear, it’s a jerk move for the person behind to pass within two feet if they can give a wider amount of space. It’s still a bit uncomfortable if there’s nowhere else to safely go, but not as jerk, in my opinion.)

    3. Emily*

      I’m doing okay! For better or for worse, the pandemic came at a time when I had decided to become more serious about my running (“serious” being a relative term, obviously), so not having the distractions of some of my other hobbies has allowed me to go for it.

      Distancing while running was stressing me out for a while, but I’ve chilled out about it a little after reading multiple things that suggest that quickly passing someone outside is very, very low risk as far as transmission goes. I’ve also gotten a better handle on when and where to run so that I don’t have to feel like I’m constantly dodging people. I haven’t been wearing a mask generally, but I have been bringing along a face covering (first a bandana, and now a buff) to put on in case I need to pass close to people.

      I also think that people in general may have gotten a little better at distancing – when stay-at-home orders were first announced in my state, everyone was suddenly outside, sometimes in large groups or with poor path etiquette. Now, more of the people I see are making an effort to stay away from others, although I did struggle to go around two women recently who were doing an incredible job of distancing from each other…by walking on completely opposite edges of the path (which is not wide enough for someone to pass through the middle and still maintain the desired 2 meters). Sigh.

      1. LGC*

        I also think that people in general may have gotten a little better at distancing – when stay-at-home orders were first announced in my state, everyone was suddenly outside, sometimes in large groups or with poor path etiquette.

        That’s what I’ve noticed! I was really SHUT EVERYTHING TF DOWN earlier because there was such poor etiquette, but I think people have kind of learned how to human in the pandemic now. I think also, like…there was this interesting Twitter thread I read a day or so ago about how depth of field can be used to shame people for not social distancing properly (it was a photo in England where people were spread out over a kilometer of boardwalk and they were made to look like they were right next to each other), and that’s kind of the filter I was viewing the world through about a month or two ago. I hate to say it, but I’m just less able to be angry that people aren’t perfectly social distancing – even if I wanted to be angry, I don’t know if I could manage it. (And I don’t want to be angry because my head in March and April wasn’t a very pleasant place to be.)

        1. RagingADHD*

          Anger is useful when it gives you the energy to change things. Anger over things you can’t change (like other people distancing) just wears you out.

      2. Washi*

        I’ve continued to run only on quiet roads, because when I’ve ventured into parks, I still end up seeing some truly foolish behavior. My favorite was a family that decided to picnic IN THE MIDDLE of a busy paved multiuse path. With beautiful expanses of grass on either side. I didn’t even say anything because I just….there has to be a good reason to do that right? And just last week I ran on a trail I knew tended to be quiet, and there were two adult women sitting in the middle of the path picking up rocks, I think?

        On the plus side, I thought I knew my area well, but now I’m doing a lot of new routes and discovering all these neighborhoods I totally overlooked! It’s actually been kind of fun to plan quiet roads loops and go new places, and has really gotten me out of the rut of doing the same 5 runs over and over.

    4. A bit of a saga*

      My running has mostly been great – the fact it’s been one of the few activities left to do has motivated me. I’ve also done a number of virtual races to spur me on. Where I am we’re now slowly opening up and there are definitely a lot more people in the streets again. You have to wear masks in certain parts of the city and on public transport but no-one, myself included, runs with them

      1. LGC*

        It’s a similar situation here. You have to wear masks on public transportation (aside a lot of other things, which is its own thread) and to even go in a store, but I’ve seen very few runners with them. (Relatively few walkers as well.)

        I’ve found that it motivated me as well! Plus, not being able to run with my normal crew has been somewhat good for me since I tend to do what everyone else is doing rather than what’s the best thing for me. (I am the kind of guy who will try to do multiple long runs in a weekend if my friends need someone to run with.)

    5. Hi there*

      Thanks for checking! A couple of years ago things shifted in our schedules, and I couldn’t fit in the gym much. I also started heart rate training, which has been great, but lately I have had some nagging hamstring issues that indicate I need to do more strength. Since I don’t have any races on the calendar until possibly September I thought I’d spend the next little while trying to do strength more diligently. I’ll spell out my intentions here so I have more of a chance to do it. I am thinking a boxing workout on Mondays, the 4-minute strength that is part of my running plan most days, and a 15-minute strength for runners on Thursdays.

  37. nep*

    Eye pain. Ooh, man. After some acute stress last Sunday, headaches returned after no headaches for a couple of months. Yesterday left eye started hurting pretty bad–hurts when I look up, down, side to side…Emailed my eye doctor, who of course is not in. For now they are planning to reopen on 28 May. I certainly don’t want to go to any other medical facility right now, so I’m hoping this will calm down.
    Overnight, headache was quite bad, so I’m hoping the eye thing is part of that and not a serious eye issue. But no idea.
    Anyone else experience eye pain–hurts when looking around? Warm compresses ever help?
    Thanks for any tips, commiseration…(I know it could be serious…I don’t want to mess around with the eyes. It’s just crap timing for sure.)
    Thanks for listening.

    1. Admin of Sys*

      Might it be a stye? Generally, before they’re visible as bumps, they hurt as the tear gland starts swelling.

    2. Ranon*

      This is going to sound silly and is possibly too minor a cause for the pain you’re experiencing- but how much time are you giving your eyes to look at things at a long distance from you versus close up? The muscles in our eyes flex when we look at close things and gazing into the distance relaxes them- with everyone staying inside a whole lot more it’s possible you’re not getting enough long gaze time.

      1. nep*

        Thanks. I do go out to the grocery store occasionally…but yes, surely not out there as much as in the past.
        I do see online that eye strain can cause pain when looking side to side or up and down…but of course, I mustn’t base anything on Dr. Google. Not even looking online anymore because it will just raise my stress levels.
        I emailed my eye doctor again to ask for a video consult so he can advise on where to go.

        1. Venus*

          Distance changes can be the far wall of the room, so no need to go out. The important thing is to look up from computer and phone screens, and to blink more often and take a bit of rest if strained by closing eyes and maybe using a warm or cool compress. Good luck!

    3. Natalie*

      Please contact a clinic (that’s open) and see if the triage staff thinks you should come in! Eye pain and headaches can be symptoms of serious medical conditions. And medical facilities in general have taken a lot of steps to minimize transmission opportunities.

      1. Lost in the Woods*

        Call your eye doctor’s office! There are eye-related emergencies, so there’s probably a triage line, and they almost certainly have someone who can see you if necessary. Eye pain is not something to mess with.

      2. nep*

        Thanks. I’m so afraid to go to any medical facility, but also I know this is certainly not something to mess with. I’m going to see what my eye doctor suggests.

          1. Natalie*

            I’m sorry, that really sucks and is stressful. But this could be an emergency. (Just as an example, I had a “hypertensive emergency” recently and the main symptoms they were concerned about were headaches, eye changes and confusion.) Deal with the bill issue when you come to it.

    4. Retired optometrist*

      Call a doctor. Pain with eye movement in the absence of anything external you notice and with no history of trauma (which would indicate something different) is a sign of retrobulbar optic neuritis.

    5. Dr. Anonymous*

      Call your regular doctor’s office for advice; they probably have an after-hours on-call advice line. You may not have to go anywhere but call.

    6. Courageous cat*

      Do not mess around with your eyes. Find someone else who’s open. There are clinics all over taking urgent cases.

    7. Wishing You Well*

      Yes, call and get a doctor’s appointment of any kind – maybe video conferencing. They might want photos of your eye. It’s impossible to diagnose your eye pain here.
      My eye pain was from a pinguecula – a yellowish spot on the white area of the eye. Over-the-counter “Refresh Plus” eye drops help a lot. Spouse had eye pain from a tiny piece of foreign material stuck on the inside of the eyelid. A medical person removed it. Problem solved.
      What helps depends on what’s wrong and you need a diagnosis first.
      Hoping you get help soon.

    8. nep*

      So great–my eye doctor just emailed me back, and we’re going to chat this evening. (I did a virtual visit with someone at an urgent care today; he thinks it’s stress-induced migraine. I’m not convinced. I did appreciate their quick service and his manner on the video chat though.)

      1. nep*

        My eye doctor was so great in the phone consult. He’s arranging for me to go into his office Monday morning for some tests. Immense relief just talking with him and getting the support.
        Very much appreciate all the input, insights.

        1. Lost in the Woods*

          Good to hear you got in with your eye doctor! I always get concerned when people go to urgent care for eye issues, because we have so, so many patients who come in with stuff that’s been mismanaged. I think they must not get a ton of training on eye issues, because the number of people who come in who’ve been proscribed proparacaine – which *causes corneal toxicity* when used frequently amounts – is astonishing.

    9. Pseudonomnomnom*

      Hope you are feeling better or on the way to it!
      I had some pretty severe eye pain on up-down movement coupled with headaches last month, got in for an exam right away (after calling their emergency consult line), and was diagnosed with iritis (inflammation of the iris). My eye doc said it can get bad if left untreated, and that it was very good I came in promptly.

      1. allathian*

        In my country the public health authorities are really worried about people not going to the doctor for anything other than respiratory illnesses, because some things become more urgent before people go to the doc. People are even scared to call for an ambulance if they suspect a heart attack or a stroke, and die or become more seriously ill as a result.
        Here, sheltering-in-place has been generally successful, the infection curve is going down and there’s enough room in ICUs that they’re thinking of restarting elective surgeries at some hospitals.

  38. nep*

    For anyone who likes this kind of thing, Mashable in its shop has some pretty interesting deals on courses, gadgets, WordPress bundles…

  39. Admin of Sys*

    I know my house is 20yo and that things breaking are therefore right on schedule, but can we stop now? Or at least give me more than 1 season between v. Expensive home repairs? But at least the garage had been cleaned before the hot water heater dumped water over everything. And the new one is much warmer, so that’s good. And I had managed to rebuild the savings since the AC went last year, but since the big appliances and roof are also all about 20yo, I’m expecting another hit sooner vs later. *sigh*
    (Home ownership is annoying)

    1. Stephanie*

      It’s no fun spending money on those kinds of things, and I sympathize. We came home from a fairly expensive vacation once, hit the button on the garage door opener, and watched the garage door literally fold inward at the top (the top panel, that is). I just laughed like a loon, and then I wanted to cry, because new garage doors are expensive. (It happened more than 10 years ago, and I still remember the horror of watching that top panel collapse inward.)
      At least once you replace things, you know it’ll be a long time before they’ll need fixing/replacing? I know, small comfort.

      1. Enough*

        Unless you live there long enough. 36 years (only owner) and everything has been replaced at least once, some twice. Almost time for 2nd roof replacement and just replaced heat pump for 2nd time. But strangely still have the original water heater.

        1. Wishing You Well*

          +1
          Everything will need replacing eventually. Many items cost thousands of dollars.

    2. filosofickle*

      Home ownership IS annoying. I used to own a unit in a small building that had serious structural problems…every time it rained for 5 years, I couldn’t sleep for fear of walls buckling and water seeping in. We scraped together a large sum of money to fix the biggest problem, and I promptly sold. Went back to renting because this is a tippy top HCOL area and I couldn’t afford anything else, plus I was burned out on owning. Years later, my partner and I are now looking at buying. We’re not thrilled about condo/townhouse HOA drama but like that it comes with less responsibility for things like roofs. All the single family homes in our area are 50-100 years old, and honestly we can’t imagine being responsible for the upkeep! Anything even remotely affordable will need wiring, plumbing, and extensive renovation. And it never stops.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I feel ya. A friend of mine asked me recently what kind of savings she should have before thinking about buying a house and I was like “Well, in the five years since I bought mine I’ve replaced the washer and dryer, the whole kitchen suite of appliances, the garage door and opener, the hot water heater, the heat pump, the sliding door, and all the windows, so… as much as you can.” Not all of that was strictly NECESSARY, but none of it was frivolous.

    4. Bounce*

      I feel you. We bought a 10 year old house. We spent the first couple of years updating it (new paint, ripped out a seriously fugly bathroom, put in dishwasher.) Then at about 15 years old, the house started needing repairs like deck replacement. Right before we sold it, now aged 20, we had to replace the roof, reseal driveway, HVAC. Ugh. We have bought new since.

    5. Anonymath*

      We’re at about 10 years on a new house here and it seems to be time for the minor appliances to die. So far we’ve replaced the garage door opener, the built in microwave, and my food processor, and we just ordered a new sink faucet this afternoon. I guess this is where my stimulus check is going.

      1. allathian*

        We moved in 8 years ago to a newly-built house. So far we’ve had to replace the dishwasher and washing machine and the water connector for the dishwasher. Our fridge/freezer seems to be on its last legs and because we also have a chest freezer, we’re thinking of replacing our fridge/freezer with a standing fridge, because ours is always full.
        Luckily my husband enjoys doing house maintenance and he’s also very good at it, so he does all installations himself that he can, including electrics (those have to be certified by an electrician before they can be used).

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I have been in this house for 28 years and at some point my give-a-damn broke. I buy used stuff as often as possible. Like you show here the money just flies out the door. I bought a decent stove for$50. I needed to replace an insulated exterior door and found a used one for $30 plus the price of two cans of spray paint. My wall-to-wall rugs were $99 each at an outlet clearance sale.

      Get familiar with the building supply outlets or clearance centers in your area. This way you will know where to go when you have to replace something in a hurry. If plants interest you, garden centers put a lot of stuff out super cheap in the late fall. You might be able to find a reuse store near you. When we get back to tag sales, you can find some unbelievable stuff for a few bucks.

      Oddly, organize the little stuff you do have. I am amazed at how a small project can involve 30- $1 items. wth! This particular type of screw, that certain kind of bracket, before I know it I have spent $50 bucks on miscellaneous stuff to do a small task. Even a weak attempt at organizing supplies/parts will help keep your costs down.

      Another good thing to do is organize your warranties for everything. A few years ago, money was tight and my hot water tank failed. Peach. I knew this was going to be $1000. I found the warranty. It was covered! I jumped for joy. I happily paid the $250 in labor for installation of my free tank.

      My husband and I had lived here for 14 years. We had done a few repairs but not a lot. By year 14, I was in TEARS because of all that was needed here. Looking back on it, I would have budgeted about $5k per year for household repairs and made sure we fixed something every year, even if we did not spend the full $5k. I think the part we got right is when we did buy something, we assumed that something else would fail shortly so we made our choices modest in anticipation of that next failure. One particular month I will always remember. The hot water heater went ($1000), the floor in our largest room caved in because of drainage issues ($2000) and a head gasket went on my car ($1000). It was just unreal. Yeah, the heavy bursts of breakage do stop even though it feels like it won’t.

      I see municipalities write out repair-replace schedules for their equipment. I am thinking it would probably be a good idea for home owners to do that also.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I hear you! I also I am looking at a new roof in the near future, and keep having other little things go wrong. Not the least of which is that my mother-in-law is trying to empty her basement, her basement has pest problems so I don’t want to bring any of it into my house. But I don’t have a detached garage.

  40. Oxford Comma*

    It was bad enough when everyone started talking about reopening. Without derailing into work, so far I’m safe on that score. I figured if people want to shop or eat in a restaurant or otherwise go out, as unwise as I think it, that’s on them. I plan on continuing to self-quarantine as much as I can.

    For a few days that was all fine.

    But now, now I have people in my life telling me that “you can’t live your life in a bubble.” “It’s a just a flu.” “We have to support the economy.” People are inviting me to restaurants for when everything opens in a few weeks and are getting upset when I decline. I was supposed to go on a vacation this summer and the people I am traveling with seem baffled that I am bailing.

    I am more than capable of telling people no and to respect my personal decisions, but I needed to vent.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      I am with you on that. We have had curbside takeout available all through this and I have availed myself of none of it. I have no idea what the health condition is of anyone working in those restaurants.

      There is a restaurant just in front of my apartment building that I used to love to go to, but sometimes on a walk, I will see the employees out back on a break, smoking, and not social distancing. That’s not something I’m comfortable with.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I’ve been sticking to curbside grocery pickup and occasionally a you-bake-it pizza (hoping the heat will kill any germs).

    2. Wired Wolf*

      I was talking with a friend the other day and after I had patiently explained to her why no, our state is not throwing the doors open on Monday…she says “So where do you want to go to eat on opening day?” ….whoa, slow your roll. People need to feel safe eating out. I compromised by suggesting a few rounds of takeout at my place first…but that gets into getting her to pay for her share which I’ve been covering too many times (I considered getting her to use Zelle or another money transfer app but even though she does everything on her phone that is way beyond her ken). It seems that she thinks whoever suggests something should pay for it.

      My mom and I were trying to plan a vacation to visit my dad in the fall…but if every state is requiring out of state visitors to self-quarantine for two weeks how does that work if I can only use one week vacation time at a time?

      1. Enough*

        Everyone wants to go out the first day they can which is the worst thing to do. I have a place I want to go to that closed completely. My plan is to wait 2 weeks and then go at an off time. During normal times they have a very long line to order your food during lunch and dinner.

        1. Ranon*

          I’ve been using the analogy of an ice storm with folks I know (we’re far enough south that we rarely get anything like weather but when we do people can’t handle it)- I’m going to wait a few weeks for people to drive into the (metaphorical) guardrails and then once they’ve gotten it out of their system and I can assess the risk better I’ll consider venturing forth. But I’m not going to be the first one out there and find the black ice myself.

        2. tangerineRose*

          ” My plan is to wait 2 weeks and then go at an off time. ” Smart. I’m going to wait a while too.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Every state isn’t requiring self-quarantine; it depends on where you go and where you’re coming from. Florida is requiring it for visitors from NY, NJ and one other state, I forget which. I don’t believe Indiana is requiring it at all?

    3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      You may not be able to entirely live in a bubble, but I doubt those other people will be hopelessly isolated for lack of one Oxford Comma.

      Other than that, maybe tell them that you don’t believe it’s just a flu, and that flu is hardly trivial, so you’re going to stay home and hope you’re wrong, while they go out and do whatever.

    4. Fikly*

      I’d simply remind them that the flu kills tens of thousands of people in the US every year.

    5. Not A Manager*

      Two thoughts. Are you giving them reasons? If you say that you’re staying in because of COVID, that opens up a whole can of worms. In my opinion, the reason people push back is because they actually want to know how scared to be, and they want the answer to be “not at all.” So when you say “I’m staying in because of COVID,” what they hear is “you are foolish to go out,” and then they argue with you. If they can get you to go out, that means they are right and there’s nothing to worry about.

      You might consider just declining without additional discussion. “Sorry, I can’t make it for dinner on Thursday.” “That vacation sounds great but it’s not for me this year.” If people ask why, I think it’s okay to say “it just won’t work this time” or something like that. People do have other reasons to decline something other than “self-quarantine.” You don’t have to explain.

      To the extent that you do share your reasons, or that people want to scold you because they assume you are avoiding exposure, I would try not to engage. “Yeah, I understand about [economy][flu][bubbles], but I still can’t join you on Thursday. Have a great time!” The less you give them to argue with, the less they can argue.

      1. Oxford Comma*

        I pushed back. I have been declining politely at first. If they push, I tell them why.

        My thinking is that they want affirmation that their plans to go out immediately are sound and when people say no, they resent it. I am tired and angry and scared and I do not need anyone gaslighting me with how there’s no danger. So over it.

        Posted here because I wanted a place to vent.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Sorry you’re having to deal with this. You’re right; they’re wrong. There is still danger.

          1. Kiwi with laser beams*

            And the reopening isn’t even set to happen for a few weeks! That’s a long time in pandemic time. Maybe OP’s area will flatten its curve enough to be SOMEWHAT safe in a few weeks, but NOBODY can guarantee that.

        2. Sam I Am*

          I think your steps in these interactions makes sense; polite decline, then discussion if they push.

          I’m very much in the “I’m doing what I need to do and that’s all I can really control,” phase. I gently steer conversations away from party planning right now. Plans for July? Nope, don’t have ’em, not makin ’em.
          Then I discuss how beautiful my daffodils are, because these flowers have hypnotized me this year.

          Stay your course.

    6. Blueberry*

      I hear you. I so hear you.

      The other day I saw an observation that just like those supposed ancient rituals in horror stories where people are sacrificed for the fertility of the land, our society wants to sacrifice people for ‘the economy’. I don’t suggest you say this to the people pressuring you because they’ve already metaphorically closed their ears, but I thought it might be a thought to invoke if too much questioning makes you question yourself.

    7. Anonnington*

      I would give them a non-COVID excuse or just not respond. You don’t owe them the complete and honest reasoning behind your decision. It would be fine to say, “I’m busy with work / family / home renovations / health / pets / religion / hobbies / volunteering,” whatever fits. Because you WILL be busy with something. You’ll be doing something instead of going out and “supporting the economy.”

      I’m also with you on this. New Yorkers are increasingly pushing back against social distancing. I’m still staying home. I say give it a few weeks. Give it a month or two. Then we’ll see what happens – whether infection rates start to rise again or if the curve stays flat.

      It could go either way. Here in the city, maybe most of us have been exposed and most of the people vulnerable to it have already gotten sick. Maybe the rest of us are basically immune. Or it could go the opposite way – maybe most of us have not been exposed and the worst is yet to come.

      And we don’t really know how fast it will spread in other areas and how effective the basic precautions are. We can guess based on data from other countries. But we don’t really know.

      I would rather be home for another month than risk death or a long-term hospitalization. I say that’s a good choice to make.

      Definitely don’t give in to the macho, “Are you SCARED???” thing. That’s the mentality that causes people to stay home during hurricanes (and wild fires), overdose on drugs, all kinds of things they later regret and then try to make excuses for. Just ignore them and see how things are in a month or two.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I totally lost my cool when someone told me I was being irrational*. Yes I am taking some extreme precautions. But they are logical, clearly thought out extreme precautions because I have immune-compromised family members to protect.
      *specifically because I set aside mail and shelf-stable groceries for 4 days.

      1. allathian*

        I don’t do either, but I don’t have immuno-compromised family members living in the same household. I haven’t seen my parents face to face since February and we live in the same city and in normal circumstances I’d see them at least once a month. My in-laws visited us two weeks ago, but we did the social distancing thing with a bit to spare, they were down in the yard, my husband and I stayed on our balcony. They really came to see our son, but at 10 he’s very good with social distancing, not least because he loves his grandparents and doesn’t want them to get sick.
        You do what you think is necessary to protect yourself and your family, including losing your cool when people question your choices.

  41. Feeling mildly anxious for my dog*

    My almost 18 year old toy poodle is going under anesthesia early next week for a dental cleaning (and any possible extractions) and a biopsy on a spot on her cheek (looks like a growth or a scab of some kind).

    Feeling nervous because she is so old. Hope she has no issues and everything goes well.
    Last time she had anesthesia was about 4 years ago but 14 seems so much younger than 18 for a dog.

    1. cat socks*

      Hope everything goes smoothly! I was a nervous wreck when one of my cats had dental surgery earlier this year. Sending good vibes!

    2. KR*

      My 14 year old good boy is due for a cleaning/extraction and I am D R E A D I N G it on his behalf. Good luck to your furry friend.

  42. Jedi Squirrel*

    I was finally able to find spreadable margarine at the grocery store, which is great, because I love toast.

    Whoever was the first person to look at a loaf of bread and say “Eff it, cook it again” was showing the kind of culinary bravado I need right now. I have no interest in food.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      Something about toast with butter is just delightful – simple and tasty, warm and a delightful mix of soft and crisp.
      Yeah toast!

    2. Fikly*

      The more I look at the lengths humans have gone to as a species to make things that start out poisonous edible, the more I think about just how freaking hungry we must have been for so very long.

      Glad to not be living then.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have always wondered what poor schlubs got tagged to find out what parts of the super poisonous fish might be okay to eat if you do what to them, and who thought this was a fun idea to try.

        1. Fikly*

          Yeah, there’s a reason human toddlers abruptly become super picky in what they eat. It’s because that’s when they (and our pre-human ancestors) became mobile enough to get access to things they can stick in their mouths, but were still too young to know what wouldn’t kill them.

          The ones who didn’t do this? Well, those genes did not get passed on.

    3. JDC*

      I finally did avocado toast. No idea what took me so long as I’ve long loved toast abs avocados.

    4. Dan*

      I’ve actually googled “who ate the first lobster”. Because let’s face it, one actually has to find them, and then decide that cracking open the hard shell is worth while.

      The same has to be true with oysters too… it take patience to open the thing, and then to decide that eating it raw is worth a dare?

    5. Red Sky*

      I feel you. I’ve already decided my last meal will be sourdough toast slathered in real butter despite my dairy and gluten intolerance.

      1. Fikly*

        Well, if it’s your last meal, you don’t have to worry about feeling bad after!

    6. Pam*

      My sister teaches 3 and 4 year olds. One day, one of her students had to tell her about an amazing discovery. “Teacher, did you know that inside toast, there is bread?!”

    7. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Oh man do I miss toast. Especially avocado toast. :-(
      It’s been about 2 & a half years since I found out that I was allergic to wheat, soy & egg whites and I have yet to find a really good bread. I found a pretty good sourdough, but it never toasted – just turned into a giant crouton, but still white. Very odd. It was good, but not worth the ten bucks for a tiny loaf.
      Every once in awhile I break down and just eat some. Then I pay for it two days later.
      I /really/ want some avocado toast.

  43. Fellow Traveler*

    Hello! Happy weekend! The weather is beautiful where we are- almost like summer, but still too early for mosquitoes.
    I always love everyone’s food suggestions, so I thought I’d ask for some ideas for two things:
    – What are the first meals you remember being able to cook/make? I would like to have my eight year old make lunch once a week for herself and her three year old brother since they are home all the time now. So far she can make box Mac n cheese, English muffin pizzas, and eggs and toast. Any other suggestions for simple lunch ideas an eight year old can handle?
    – Also- looking for suggestions for afternoon tea snacks. We have started instituting afternoon tea as a kind of pick me up since the afternoons tend to drag . for us, it means we sit down around 3/3:30p and have tea (grown ups) and juice or honey lemon water (kids), and eat cookies ( not sure how authentic that really is; perhaps we should call it happy hour?) But… the constant diet of cookies and baked goods is definitely not great for us. Suggestions for healthier alternatives for us to nibble on?

    1. Ranon*

      For snacks- we’re starting to get to the edge of the season for some fruit, maybe through the summer make a point of paying attention to what’s in season and make that your treat? I think it’s fine to fill in the edges with a carb, when I’m feeling like I want my carb to be more substantive I use oatmeal and or chickpeas in the base to up the fiber and vitamin quotient (fat and sugar still invited to the party). Hummus and veggies is nice too but maybe not enough of a treat?

      I did ramen with frozen peas at that age. If she can do box mac and cheese she can also do pasta with sauce from a jar, with a handful of canned chickpeas or something for more protein. I think I did tuna salad at that age too.

      1. another scientist*

        +1. I started by snazzing up convenience food, like adding extra toppings to that mac’n’cheeses, or on frozen pizza. BLTs and other sandwiches, bagels could also be nice.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Ramen plus egg & mushrooms can be a mock egg drop soup. It can also make a decent “faux pho” if you get your hands on some Hoisin sauce,
          basil and other fillings. Try deli roast beef for the protein portion.
          And I distinctly remember being in third or fourth grade and learning how to grow bean sprouts at a summer camp. I learned to the like bean sprouts the first time I tried them because of that!

    2. GoryDetails*

      She’s already way ahead of me at that age! I think I started with a very basic bologna sandwich – Wonder Bread, mayonnaise, a slice of Oscar Meyer bologna, and that was it. First actual-cooking thing… probably tuna casserole, something Mom served fairly often (and told me was her own first-dish when she got married {grin}). It was fairly basic too: a simple white sauce, flat noodles, canned tuna, some salt and pepper…

    3. Overeducated*

      Oh, I love the afternoon tea idea! My mom and i used to do that. I’ll be following for ideas.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      lunch ideas – canned soup and sandwiches? If she can cook eggs, she can probably learn how to do pancakes from a mix or grilled cheese. Frozen chicken nuggets can be done easily enough in either the oven or the microwave. Reheating leftovers. If you make extra taco meat on family taco night and put it aside, she can make tacos or nachos from the extra. Tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad (with either tinned or pre-prepped proteins). Also, you may have already done this but – ask her what she thinks she might want to learn to do next :) You might be surprised at her ideas!

    5. Wired Wolf*

      The first “real food” I can remember making on my own is a tuna noodle casserole that involved curry powder, and it wasn’t as “wet” as most (held together on a serving spoon, but wasn’t drippy). It was awesome and I’ve been trying to recreate the recipe for ~30 years with no real success.

    6. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      A proper English “cream tea” has a mixture of savoury and sweet things, and generally gets you so full you don’t want dinner (it’s the only time you’d ever get a doggy bag in the UK).

      So there would be tiny sandwiches – imagine making a sandwich on packaged sliced bread, then cutting it into six or eight. They might be:

      * roast beef and arugula
      * thinly sliced cucumber
      * egg salad
      * smoked salmon and cream cheese
      * cheese and chutney

      You might see sausage rolls or cheese straws (both puff pastry). You might see mini pork pies (chilled, hot water crust).

      Then the sweet things would be miniature or otherwise delicate and complicated but probably not frosted. And there would be a scone each, so fresh it’s still warm from the oven, with clotted cream (if you can get it, otherwise stiffly whipped) and very fruity jam (typically strawberry). Cakes might include:

      * macarons
      * Victoria sponge
      * lemon drizzle
      * carrot cake
      * custard tart
      * mocha slice
      * fruit cake
      * meringue

      Hungry now …

      1. Fellow Traveler*

        yummy! Maybe what I need to do is make smaller cookies…
        Smoked salmon is a great idea!

    7. Parenthetically*

      We do those packet rice mixes with added frozen veggies for lunches — just as simple as mac and cheese. Pasta and jarred sauce with some veggies? And maybe experimenting with different kinds of eggs? What about things like biscuits?

      As for afternoon tea, what about nice grainy crackers and cheese and fruit?

    8. Emily*

      Maybe for the tea, you could do charcuterie-style snacks – cheese, crackers, honey or jam if you want it, meat if you want it, maybe some other things (complementary fruits/veggies/spreads)?

      1. Sam I Am*

        Your suggestion drove me straight to the kitchen. I came out with a plate of hummus, strawberries and crackers.

    9. mlk*

      This is a tea suggestion that the kids might like–Bugs (or bumps!) on a log! Take a celery stick and add peanut butter or another nut butter. Dot with raisins or craisins.

    10. 00ff00Claire*

      For first meals, if she can make boxed mac & cheese, she can probably make spaghetti w/ just sauce. I remember making that when I first started cooking and raiding our family’s spice cabinet in order to jazz up the sauce (I really did believe I was making it sooo much better, ha!). Are there any canned vegetables or frozen vegetables your family likes? Those might be easy as a side dish. She can probably make quesadillas in whatever oven she is using to make the English muffin pizzas. One of the first things my younger sister learned to “cook” was quesadillas in the microwave by putting cheese between two tortillas and nuking them. Of course they come out nothing like the real deal, but they’re still edible.

      Ideas for afternoon tea, you could try pairing two food groups: fruit and cheese, crackers & cheese, fruit w/ fruit dip made from sour cream or yogurt, fruit w/ cottage cheese, crackers & nut or seed butter, rice cakes topped w/ something like cheese, nut or seed butter, guacamole, etc. Maybe you could also just try different kinds of “snacky” foods: nuts or seeds, dried fruit, popcorn, boiled eggs, veggies w/ dip, chips & salsa, etc.

    11. Nerdgal*

      The first things I learned were white sauce (creamed chicken, Tina, or chipped beef on toast) and Welsh rarebit with condensed tomato soup. I also made pizza, which would be really easy with the pouch crust mixes that they sell these days. Final suggestion is hobo stew: meat patty with sliced vegetables and canned soup, in a foil packet. I live that yiu are teaching your child this important skill!

      1. Parenthetically*

        Love the idea of doing a white sauce — so versatile for future cooking projects!

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          It was my first thing too, and yes so versatile. Within a year you’ll have a lovely fish pie…

    12. lazy intellectual*

      I come from a family that does ‘afternoon tea’ regularly on weekends/holidays. Honestly, it could be any snacks you want! I like savory, so crackers, cheese, and fruit. Veggies and hummus are also a great option.

    13. Fikly*

      Somehow I’ve never thought about this before, but now that I am, the two memories I have are both of things that I tried to make on my own and were epic failures – a stir fry that was super salty because I did not understand you needed to add things other than soy sauce, and an unfortunately crunchy potato because I was terrified it was going to explode in the microwave. Yes, I poked holes in it.

      Actually, wait, I’m wrong. I think one of the first things I made on my own was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which I fed to my mother when I was around 4? when she was flat on her back in the living room, unable to move because she’d thrown out her back. I’m guessing it was pretty terrible, but she was nice about it. But sandwiches in general are an easy concept, there are a lot of options that don’t require sharp knives, and it’s easy to customize so everyone can have a version they prefer.

    14. RagingADHD*

      My kids started making bean burritos around that age – we just heat up a can of beans, add salsa or maybe some frozen corn. Then grate some cheese (or buy pre- shredded), lettuce & a flour tortilla.

    15. Jaid*

      I have this book… LOL! The Essential Tea Companion has these ideas:

      Stilton, Pear and Watercress Savory toasts: Rye bread, pears, Stilton, watercress, some lemon juice, black pepper and red leaf lettuce. Bread topped with watercress/pear/cheese/pear drizzle with lemon juice and baked at 400F for about 10 minutes or the cheese bubbling. Sprinkle with pepper and garnish with lettuce.
      I’m sure you can come up with a variation.

      Tomato and Goat cheese spread on a sandwich.

      Scone split in two and made into a sandwich with smoked turkey and butter.

      Goat cheese toasts with pink peppercorns.

      Cucumber basil tea sandwiches

      Egg salad.

      Herbed Cream Cheese…

      Anyway, the sandwiches on white bread usually have the crusts trimmed off and are buttered and the slices smashed a little to make them thin. Then the filling is put in.

      Hope this helps (as I’m making myself hungry again…).

      1. Fellow Traveler*

        Stilton and pear is one of my favorite combinations. I’ll have to try that one.

    16. Blueberry*

      Oh man I remember cooking at that age. I was so delighted when I got scrambled eggs right.

      All sorts of sandwicvhes that don’t involve sharp knives (perhaps a parent could slice up cheese, veggies, and meat beforehand) are totally doable.

      You could also look up and order a couple of kids’ cookbooks, and/or subscribe to ChopChop magazine, a cooking magazine for children.

      1. Fellow Traveler*

        Oooh! Chop Chop looks wonderful. Would be a great gift too! I’m bookmarking that one.

      2. allathian*

        A cheese parer should work for children, too. Certainly my son’s been handling it since he was about 8.
        My son’s been cutting up cucumber for our salads since he was about 5. An ordinary table knife (not a steak knife!) is sharp enough for that, without being dangerous.

    17. kz*

      Maybe grilled cheese? Eggs are the first thing I remember learning to make and if she can handle the stovetop grilled cheese wouldnt be hard.

      1. E*

        Quesadilla and grilled cheese were my first thought, or even pizza toppings on a tortilla cooked in a toaster oven

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I married into a restaurant family. I was shocked the day I came in and my mother-in-law had my daughter cutting things with a real knife. She was 6. It was a real knife, but not a sharpened professional cook’s knife, and it was mushrooms because they are easy to deal with and don’t have to be cut in any special shape. I held my tongue and nobody got cut. She learned early, and she’s still taking cooking lessons.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah. I remember seeing a documentary about some native people living in Siberia. There, a child who looked about 3 or 4 years old was happily gutting fish with a sharp knife. Obviously they have different ideas than we do about appropriate chores for kids. I wonder how often their kids get injured? But it just goes to show that just because kids do something dangerous, doesn’t mean they’ll automatically get injured. Still, it’s a risk I’d prefer not to take.

    19. Ronda*

      I bought a mandolin and got the non-cut gloves. I use them with my chef knife too.

      Maybe dont need to avoid knifes if use those gloves….. not sure if they have child sized.

      On british soap opera, it seemed like tea was just that you ate it that time of day, often looked like a regular meal (soup and sandwich, etc)

  44. Amber Rose*

    Everyone is more invested in my weight loss than I am: a four part mini series. Sigh.

    I don’t care that much because I’m mostly happy but I still have a lot of old shame tied up in the actual numbers and husband really doesn’t need to be telling his family of tiny people how much I weigh with decimal places. My coworkers can chill out too srsly.

    I threw out my back yesterday. While I was going to the gym I stopped having back problems so I haven’t been stretching. I miss old reality. Current reality sucks.

    1. Fikly*

      Put your husband on an information diet – if he doesn’t know the numbers he can’t share them.

      1. Masquerade*

        I like this approach. If you still want to include him maybe you can switch to other metrics like # of laps, moving up to the next hand weight size, etc depending on your preferred workout. Even more general like “I can tell my stamina is increasing” might be enough. Sorry about your back though, wishing you a speedy recovery!

      2. ValaMalDoran*

        I’m pretty sure my father has no idea how much my mother weighs. None of us do, as she’s refused to tell people her weight for my entire life.

    2. Blue Eagle*

      So sorry to hear that your husband is not totally supporting your efforts by only sharing what you want shared or not sharing anything at all in accordance with what YOU want. There is no way my decluttering would be going so well if my DH wasn’t so supportive of me. Sending you positive thoughts and energy so that you will be successful on YOUR terms.

    3. Not A Manager*

      I assume your husband knows that you prefer him not to discuss your weight with other people. Have you asked him why he’s still doing it? That’s very weird.

      1. Observer*

        That’s the thing that jumped out at me. The others are rude, but unfortunately no big surprise.

  45. silly question*

    I can’t believe I’m even writing this, but I need to ask a question/ vent

    I like to bake for fun – cakes, cookies, desserts. I’m by no means professional but above average with my skills. I would love to open a home bakery for an order here and there, but the state I live in has such strict laws and a lot of hoops to jump through it’s not worth it. So I get my baking craving satisfied by baking for school meetings, just because to friends, thank yous to local businesses who have helped me (just to the owner and staff not to sell), neighbors taste my experiments.

    Here’s the thing the last year or two I’ve had a few people ask me to make something for one of their special occassion. I usually just round up having them pay for ingredients. I feel like my time is valuable so asking for $20, when ingredients are $17 is not unreasonable. In addition I don’t carry a lot of cash with me so its more for convenience. This is not a secret and is well known among friends.

    Recently someone was fuming that I “overcharged her ingredients”. I also use higher quality ingredients so they cost more. This person said ingredients should have only cost $10. In addition said I have a well stocked pantry and could of just used some ingredients from there. Am I wrong with this? I didn’t think I was. I always give a price before committing so it wasn’t like this person was not aware of what the ingredients cost. I really don’t make any money helping someone out.

    I have a fellow baker friend who has the most delicious cookie recipe. Trust me I’ve tried to recreate it but she is just the master. I know when I pay her for ingredients I’m paying a little extra.

    I’m at the point of telling my “customer” that I can no longer bake for them.

    1. WellRed*

      You are not wrong and I bet the person complaining is bitchy and grasping in other ways.

      1. Insurance mom*

        I agree-they can bake their own damn cake! Furthering are they complaining to you or to others? I recommend you fire this customer (and friend)

        1. Silly question*

          They are complaining to me and others. I just worry I’m being petty expecting the extra $10. $10 isn’t going to make or break the bank but helping someone out once or twice a month for a year it adds up. In addition if I forget an ingredient I do raid my pantry and not charge something additional. My pantry is just for my fun hobby cooking

          1. Traffic_Spiral*

            It’s cookies, not a cancer cure. You’re not exactly Immortan Joe holding the wretched masses under your iron grip via your control of a resource necessary for survival. She doesn’t like your price she can shlep her ass down to the store a buy a pack of store-brand imitation Nabisco.

            Just make the price clear up front and if she doesn’t want it, she doesn’t have to buy it,

          2. Blueberry*

            She is an ungrateful twit. Life is too short to retain ungrateful twits, you know?

          3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            Uh huh and your baking parchment costs nothing, or the butter you use to grease the tin, or the cupcake cases, or the dish soap to wash up afterwards, or the energy to heat up the oven? And you maybe deliver in a new card box?

            Rounding up from precise out-of-pocket expenses is the very minimum for a favour (as opposed to a gift, where different metrics may apply).