weekend open thread – June 13-14, 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 Improbability of Love, by Hannah Rothschild. A famous lost painting is found and spurs drama, mystery, romance, and dirty dealing.

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

{ 1,693 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    The last two weekends, I’ve experimented with new rules for the weekend open threads. I thought it worked well, and those will be our permanent rules going forward.

    To recap: Comments here should ask questions and/or seek to discuss ideas. Recommendations or updates on things you received advice about in the past are also fine.

    What does that leave out? Mostly: venting without a desire for advice, and “here’s an update on my life” personal-blog-style posts.

    The new weekend rules page:
    https://www.askamanager.org/weekend-open-thread-rules

    * * * * *

    I want to acknowledge that some people feel they are losing something with this change, and I’m sorry that’s the case.

    I’ve assessed this from the perspective of what works best for the health of the site as a whole: What do I want the weekend threads to feel like and contain? How insular or welcoming do they feel to new or casual readers, versus more regular readers? How do I want these posts to fit in with the rest of the site, given its primary mission? What moderation work am I willing to do to make that happen?

    I appreciate all the thoughtful input people have given in the last few weeks. I read and thought about all of it, and I’m grateful people cared enough to weigh in!

    1. It’s all good*

      Thank you Alison. I like the new rules and agree they will contribute to a healthier site. Appreciate all you do!

    2. The Other Dawn*

      Thank you! And really, these aren’t “new” rules–it’s a return to what the open thread was years ago.

    3. Blue Eagle*

      Just a quick “thank you” to Alison for replying to my input last week (about the decluttering updates). Don’t have time today to write a post but will definitely post one next week.

    4. Temporarily Anonymous*

      Thank you Alison! I appreciate how much thought you put into your decisions regarding this blog. Can I just say that the way you communicate (both in respecting the input of commenters and in being very clear and open about why you make your decisions) is in itself a great example of good manager behaviour! :)

    5. WoodswomanWrites*

      Alison, thank you for your thoughtfulness and the resulting change. I’m struck once again by your generosity and kindness in how you operate this site.

    6. Ducksgoquack*

      I support this.

      I know some people will be disappointed. It’s not possible to make everyone happy with the way websites are run. It makes sense to make rules to encourage more discussions and less personal update stuff. There are other avenues for people to share their personal lives that may be of interest to others. I don’t think this is the right forum for it.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Still looks pretty bad, but the constant pain is gone, which is a huge relief after two months of it being round the clock. I’m doing hand therapy (via video from home), which is helping me regain movement but it still feels very weird to touch things; I’m told the nerves will be messed up for another few months. (Background for those who missed it: I mangled my index finger in an immersion blender in March!)

        1. Sir Lena Clare*

          I am glad to hear that the pain has gone, that must be a big relief. It sounds like it is a long recovery though, which is frustrating for you! All the best.

        2. Artemesia*

          Yikes — one of my fears as I use those blenders a lot and clean them immediately — I always unplug them before cleaning now — it would be so easy to do major damage. Glad yours is coming along.

        3. Kimmybear*

          Yikes. My husband did exactly this a few years ago. Doctor said he was very lucky as he only needed a few stitches. Occupational therapy is a must. He refuses to get an immersion blender now. Good luck.

        4. Dana Setting*

          I had a really bad dog bite. Afew years ago now that mangled my finger. With rehabbing and time it’s pretty good now! It did ache and was very weak for 2-3 years where the stitches were :( pretty damn good now though, 6 years later :)

    7. Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

      I’m one of those who dislike the new format. It takes away a lot of the human feel to it, and I don’t plan to visit on the weekend anymore. I will continue to read the employment advice.

      However, I respect that this is your site, your time and your money. So you get to decide the rules.

      1. sswj*

        Can you expand on how it takes away the human feel? From my perspective it enhances it, because there’s give and take.

        I also don’t see why someone who is interested in personal updates can’t ask the question. Do something along the lines of:
        “How is everyone doing? What’s good in your world, what’s been a problem? I’d love to hear updates!”
        That invites those who need to write it out, and invites those who like to keep in touch with those writers. It also fosters discussion.
        But, YMMV.

        1. Gatomon*

          I personally enjoyed the more “slice of life” comments, even if I didn’t respond. To me the change feels exhausting, like being presented with a page of a hundred diverse questions, none of which I may be able to contribute to. I find that a post that opens with a question I can’t answer or am not immediately interested in is one I skip past quickly. And not finding anything of interest, I leave.

          I suppose you could bury all personal updates in one master thread, but since it’s been decided these aren’t really welcome without a question book, it feels very “why bother?” to me. Either that content is wanted or it isn’t, but relegating it to one thread feels like trying to hide something shameful.

          1. Ramona Q*

            People are still allowed to make personal updates! They’re just being asked to do it within the context of a conversation with others rather than as an ongoing monologue.

    8. PhyllisB*

      Alison, I understand and respect your new rules, but you said updates on issues you’ve received advice about in the past were fine. However, when I posted an update about my son last week you deleted it. Why is that? I am not asking to start an argument, I just want to be sure I understand.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Ah, the framing read to me as an “update on my life” type post (and you’d written, “I’m not asking for input,” something I’d specifically asked people not to do). I’m enforcing the new rules pretty closely while people get used to them.

      2. Avasarala*

        Also, as nice as it is to hear updates about your son, you’ve been updating about him regularly and not really requiring more advice. So it becomes update #34 and is hard for new/casual readers, or even readers who skipped an update, to keep up with.

        I hope your son is doing OK though.

  2. Vic tower*

    What do you do with books that have racist content? I’m a huge bibliophile, I especially love children’s books, including old children’s series (for example the Chalet School series by Elinor Brent Dyer). I have books that are from 100 years ago (approx) that are a pretty impressive snapshot of Australia at that time and cover pre, during and post first world war life for a portion of Australian society. Unfortunately, they also in some cases have racist language (such as p***aninny) and varying degrees of racist depictions of indigenous Australians (from the lovely but not very bright stockman to an attack by an indigenous group on a small rural outpost, “heroically” defended by a young Caucasian boy). Some of these books contain an explanatory note in a recent edition stating that of course these depictions and words are unacceptable today and reflect attitudes of the time. Others I feel will never be republished.

    Normally if I don’t want to keep a book, I donate it. But in this case I don’t want to pass it on. Is the best place for such books the rubbish bin? Should books with “explanations” be treated differently? I don’t think removing certain books falls into the category of censorship as it’s my own collection, but I’d welcome the thoughts of others, particularly POC. How do you feel about huckleberry Finn for example?

    1. MistOrMister*

      I think these books, and all works,of art, really, have their place. These items are a byproduct of their time and I think it’s good for us to see what was acceptable then as it helps us see how things have changed. I might be in the minority, but I don’t think it’s a big deal if an old book doesn’t have an “explanation” about race and all that.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I tend to lean the same way, with a few exceptions. If a book is being read as a part of academic study (and that includes required reading at school) a discussion of context is important and appropriate. And if a book is being re-released for the children’s market, I fully support substituting the more problematic racist terms with more acceptable equivalents.

        I’m also an old children’s series fan, including Brent-Dyer, so I’m quite familiar with the sort of thing you’re talking about.

      2. nep*

        Agree.
        Such literature has value if used in a mindful, educational way.
        (Just recently read Burmese Days…Hell of a book to be reading in these times.)

      3. Foreign Octopus*

        Let me preface by saying that I’m white so my answer will be coloured by that, I’m sure.

        However, I agree with MistorMister. I believe that books, films, et al., are a product of their time and shouldn’t be censored* or throw away. I do believe though that it’s important to be aware of the context of the book and the understanding that it’s no longer acceptable to use the language within, this is where I believe a warning – like the sort we see at the beginning of old Disney films these days – is appropriate to put it in the proper context. For books, that would take the form of a preface or something similar.

        So no, I don’t think you should throw them away but I do think you should check with local charities, book shops, and the like to see if they have any ideas as well. Maybe universities might find them useful so that literature students don’t have to buy their own copies, I don’t know.

        *The Birth of a Nation is one film that I’m happy to see put behind locked doors.

        1. Koala dreams*

          Yes, it’s fine if you want to throw them out, but just changing some words just hides the racism a little better. If you are reading them yourself, then throw them out if you dislike them and keep them if you like them. If it’s for your own children, you can explain things before you give it to them. For other people’s children I would take a more careful view and give books that can stand alone. There are a lot of interesting children’s books being written in the last few years, you don’t need to give the “classics”.

      4. Star*

        but I don’t think it’s a big deal if an old book doesn’t have an “explanation” about race and all that.

        However, I think we should supply that explanation now, rather than uncritically accepting the past worldviews.

        1. MistOrMister*

          I definitely agree that adding an explanation now is a good idea, and is the socially responsible thing to do. I just don’t see not having one as a reason to throw out an old copy of something.

    2. Jackalope*

      I agree with what the others have responded, and would also add that if I were to share them with children, I feel that it would be a good way to talk about where things were decades ago and how that connects to where things now, and otherwise give them more background to understand why the world as we know it developed like this.

      (I will also confess that when I read books like this that are old favorites I tend to skip the problematic parts and just reread the parts I like.)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Same; it’s why I hung onto Gone with the Wind so long. I read it first at twelve and at that age, I focused much more on the Scarlett-Rhett romance and the fancy dresses. As I got older, it started to rankle me until I just couldn’t read it anymore. I took advantage of moving to chuck a ton of old books.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I used to love Babar the Elephant because, hey, anthropomorphized animals!, but now . . . whoa. Will not be passing those along to my nephew, at least not until he’s much, much, older and possibly studying that kind of thing.

          1. D.W.*

            I was just reading Babar to my daughter a few weeks ago and I had to put it down….will be sitting on that for awhile. I , too, loved the books and TV show as a child.

          2. A*

            Oh no. I have not been exposed to Babar since I was a toddler, used to love him – I’m so glad you made this comment because I’ll be sure to look into it and refrain from making any recommendations to my friends with young kids.

    3. LDN Layabout*

      I’m a big fan of earlier era children’s (in particular girl’s schools) and light romance/women’s college stories from the late 1800s up to and occasionally including WWI.

      It’s rare for these not to have some racist elements in them. In fact, until I started reading books from this era I did not realise exactly how popular and widespread eugenics was as an accepted scientific concept vs. how it’s societally presented today (e.g. “only a few bad racists were into it” which is…not true).

      How I handle this for my own collection: Books from previous eras always send me down google/wikipedia holes, so anything I read I try and educate myself about. If I lend any of these books out, they come with explicit warnings regarding their content.

      For getting rid of them, I’d say those types of books belong in an academic setting if possible, if not feel free to get rid of them with a clear conscience. For example, Newcastle University in the UK has a very good reputation for history of children’s literature, so I’d contact them before anyone else probably if I was looking to donate.

      1. pancakes*

        I read mysteries from the 1920s, 30s and 40s and this is my approach as well. If you’d like to get rid of books that are out of print, consider donating them to a place where they’ll be useful to scholars.

      2. Cedrus Libani*

        Old sci-fi is the same way. I almost enjoy it, as a lesson in humility – these people were trying to predict the future, and yet they missed…well, THAT. Who knows what I’m missing? I’m not any smarter, I’m just from a civilization with a few extra decades of moral development behind it.

    4. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Not a POC, but a literature student perspective here. If you have a local college/university nearby with a literature or history department or someone conducting studies into this material you could try contacting them and seeing if they want them – if anything, they can be used as illustrations of how pervasive these attitudes were (and, unfortunately, still are). It’s one thing to be told “people back then were very racist” and another thing to actually see how racist it was. Ultimately, however, it is your property, and what you do with it is up to you.

      As to Huckleberry Finn, yes, that book is racist. Seriously, how often can you use the n-word on half a page, not to mention Jim who, while a good and moral person, is portrayed like a minstrel show character. However, Huck also very explicitly goes against what he’s been taught and even decides to place his friendship with Jim above being what he’s been taught to believe is a good Christian. Admittedly, the last 12 chapters sit extremely uneasy with this.

      I think ultimately a lot depends on presentation here. In the hands of the right people who have the sensitivity and the knowledge to see this for what it is these books can be quite useful, so in that sense I’d say to treat the annotated books differently. At the same time, nothing prevents you from adding your own annotations to the ones that aren’t annotated. But again, ultimately this is up to you, they’re your property.

    5. Retail not Retail*

      One question to ask yourself when it comes to racist children’s books is what are you wanting children to take away from the book? Are there values or a casual educational purpose found only in these books?

      I say casual because I’m thinking of reading it at home vs in high school or college.

      As for what to do with em? Don’t donate to your equivalent of goodwill. It is so creepy to go in and see bill cosby’s books.

      1. Jackalope*

        Part of it for me is sharing books that were important or meaningful for me as a kid growing up with a young person that I know and love. Part of it would be sharing what life was like in an earlier time and place; there’s nothing we can write today that captures life as a homesteader the way the Little House on the Prairie books do, even though they have some awful stuff in them. And there’s a tendency in every place and time to feel like we’re the ones who finally GET it, and to snub the ideas of people who came before us. Deciding that only books written in the last 30 years are acceptable and throwing out older literature impoverishes our view of the world and makes us more blind to the errors of our own place and time. I wrote earlier that I got a lot of character development out of A Little Princess even though the ways the author writes about Indians is not good. I don’t see some of those specific character traits highlighted in current children’s lit as much. This is something I want for the young people in my life.

        I will add that I totally understand if someone can’t deal with a specific work. Especially if you are a member of the group being treated so negatively in the book, it may not be worth it to you, and I support that. But individual people choosing to opt out of specific works of literature doesn’t mean they should be thrown out entirely.

        1. Star*

          I think this is a false dichotomy — especially with the modern world and modern internet, there’s no authority who could expunge all copies of an older book from public access. And as someone who has been accused of wanting to “throw out” a book because I personally didn’t want to read it, and have seen others so accused, I don’t think your caveat actually gets put into practice very much.

          What I’ve been doing with older books and the children in my life is talking about them, talking about my own experiences reading them, talking about what I object to, about what the children object to (they aren’t just unquestioning sponges, after all) and what I approve of. But I’ve also found quite a few ‘modern’ books worth reading — my bookworm niece is currently working her way through Rick Riordan’s opus — so there is that as well.

    6. Femme d'Afrique*

      Personally, I hold on to them. I have a few Enid Blyton books (popular in former British colonies; as an Australian I’m sure you’re familiar with them). I never passed them along to my young cousins or nieces and nephews because their racist content is truly horrific, but I think it’s important to see how the world saw us not that long ago. Actually, how much of the world STILL sees us. Now that those young cousins etc are in their 20s and over, I’d be happy to lend them the books so they can read them now. When they were young and impressionable though? Absolutely not.

      Also, speaking as a Black African, if I got rid of books that portrayed us in a negative light I’d have to get rid of a significant portion of my library. Reading what the world has said about us, and then possibly “writing back” can be a powerful thing I think.

      1. Book Lover*

        The reprints have been cleaned up a bit. There are still things that make me pause and adjust while reading to my kids but we can still enjoy them with some discussion about how things have changed over time (if I recall there were some specific words removed but there are still mentions of spanking kids, being wrapped like an Indian in a blanket, obviously different roles for girls and boys, etc).

    7. Randomity*

      I found an old Topsy and Tim book at my parents house in which they are dressing up for a fancy dress party and the mum makes blackface for them with cocoa powder and water. I threw it away and I don’t regret it. I’m absolutely certain that other copies will still exist and I didn’t want it to be in either my parents house or mine.

    8. Daily reader, rare commenter*

      I’m a PoC who went to school in Australia. I grew up on Enid Blyton books and absolutely loved them. Discovered the Chalet School series later and liked those too. So, personally I think they are a reflection of how things were at that time. And rereading them in current times really brings home how things have changed. The way I see it, it’s a reflection of progress. To be sure, there’s a long way to go still, but still, we have been progressing. So to me, it’s weird to wipe out the history of one point in time. But I’d keep these books in my own library or donate them some place that archives history if I don’t want them.

    9. Valancy Snaith*

      From a slightly different perspective, when I was writing my Master’s thesis, books like this were hugely important. They aren’t reflective of a truth, but rather they’re a mirror of attitudes at the time, and studying the way things are presented in fiction can be incredibly valuable. If you’re not comfortable there’s no point in keeping them, of course, but some libraries would be happy to have that kind of collection.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      On a similar note, I inherited my grandparents Christmas tree ornaments, which included a truly appalling racist item from the 1920s. I find it somewhat reassuring that all the animals in the set were used and broken, and this other one obviously stayed in storage. I intend to donate it to a museum, because it’s never going on my tree!

      1. Natalie*

        There is a museum at Ferris State University that collects those kinds of items and creates fantastic programming. I’m not sure if they’re accepting material donations at the moment but they would be worth contacting, I’ll link in a reply.

        1. Black Horse Dancing*

          Ferris was accepting them for the Jim Crow Museum. It’s an incredible, educational museum. My spouse worked at Ferris.

    11. HannahS*

      Like you, I have an interest in children’s literature, and I’ve hung on to a some number of problematic texts from my own childhood. Some, I think, simply removed a single explicitly racist line (looking at you, Anne of Green Gables) from later publications. Others, well, it’s kind of baked in. I hang on to them and enjoy them as a part of my own past, but I don’t think every “classic” needs to be shared with young, uncritical minds, and I don’t think I’d read them to my children.

      1. Washi*

        Which line is that? I know the n word was used in at least two of her books, one in the Anne series and one in A Tangled Web (which I only read as an adult) but I don’t remember anything like that in Anne of Green Gables.

        The one in Rainbow Valley was obviously not ok, but seemed sort of appropriate for the time period, since it was used by Mary Vance, who was supposed to be uncouth and poorly behaved, to describe her own childhood exploitation. That kind of language was common, and in that book, I can see it as a product of its time.

        The one in A Tangled Web…it completely soured me on LM Montgomery for a long time, and I still don’t look at her the same way. It’s so incredibly racist, and is not an aside but the culmination of the whole book. I got a lot of joy out of her books as a kid but I would not encourage my children to read them now.

        1. Valancy Snaith*

          Possibly the reference to Italian peddlers? That’s the only thing I can think of, and again, it’s not specific to LMM. Or the references to the French? But again, those are hugely significant in understanding the cultural context of the Canadian Maritimes around the turn of the century. Divides between francos and anglos, Protestants and Catholics, and varying ethnicities were a pretty major part of the cultural landscape of Canada as a whole, both during and after Confederation, and actually points to a lot of the difficulties the country had in creating confederation.

          1. Washi*

            Love having my question answered by Valancy :) Yes, definitely there is an anti-Catholic/anti-French bias that comes through the books, which is fascinating as an American, since the dynamics of that are a little different here.

            Have you read The Gift of Wings? It’s such a fascinating and pretty unvarnished look at Montgomery, her life and views, and her historical context.

            1. Valancy Snaith*

              Yes, I thought it was very good. Rubio is one of the foremost scholars on LMM, but the book came out a few years before it was truly put to rest that she died of suicide, which is some interesting context to read the rest of the book in, for sure. I’d love to see an addendum issued with the information that’s come to the fore in the last few years.

        2. Batgirl*

          LMM’s racism is so upsetting to me as a fan, but it’s kind of important to see someone who gives off kind and gentle vibes also be racist to show how endemic it was/is. When it’s Margaret Mitchell, both she and her heroine are pretty unabashedly cynical and cutthroat; it sends up the standards of their society and themselves in a pretty obvious way. Racism in LMM is more shocking for some reason.

    12. Book Lover*

      I have probably sixty chalet school books. I won’t stop my kids from reading them if they want to but we would need to discuss the lack of diversity, the role of women in them, etc. Being Jewish, I have mixed feelings about the way they talk about religion also – I have the chalet school in exile (I believe that is the right one, I didn’t pull it out to check) and it is better than it might have been, though that may be faint praise. Mainly it is that book after book after book it reinforces a certain way of being a girl and being white and being Christian.

      1. honoria*

        Ah–you put your finger on it for me, the message even in the absence of overt racism: “Mainly it is that book after book after book it reinforces a certain way of being a girl and being white and being Christian.”
        I read Blyton in my youth, and whoever wrote the St. Claire’s boarding school books, plus all the original (30s 40s I think) Nancy Drew and Dana Girls.
        Even when you luck out and can get though a story without a sudden jab of racism, there’s a certain kind of world painted by those books.

        1. Femme d'Afrique*

          This is it exactly for me too. I know that Enid Blyton and her ilk were writing in a very specific time and place, but – even if the racist words are deleted or replaced – I STILL wouldn’t and don’t share them with my young family members because of the world they portray. We have plenty of books written by Africans to choose from now; that other world view simply isn’t necessary for young kids on the continent. It hasn’t gone away either; most stuff online and on TV is still based on it, so there’s no need to reinforce it.

        2. Batgirl*

          I can’t remember which series, but I remember being very tickled when a boarder character was revealed as being secretly working class and her friends were all “But why didn’t you tell us you were a gardener’s daughter; we would have judged you less and taught you to wash your neck!” It was too ridiculous and I remember feeling glad that I was working class myself if it saved me from gaffes like that. I think it also served as a bit of advance warning; I have heard cleanliness class jokes directed at me in the 21st century.

    13. Not A Manager*

      Some reprints remove or replace racist language, but with a lot of children’s literature you can’t replace an entire world-view of patriarchy and Eurocentrism without destroying the entire book. I used to read those books to my children, and discuss with them in an age-appropriate way the things that were most problematic. I don’t think that those conversations spoiled the pleasure in what can be, in a lot of cases, really lovely classic literature.

      It can be useful to remind children – and ourselves – that people of goodwill are still a product of their historical context. Usually the sympathetic characters (at least in books that I liked to read as a child and still enjoy as an adult) are liberal and broadminded *for their time and place.* As are we. It’s good to be reminded that we also have blind spots.

      And I also think that helping kids grapple with the ambiguity of good, likable characters who *also* have some abhorrent attitudes can be useful in helping them navigate the present. Many of us have friends and relatives and neighbors with different politics or worldviews from us. In some cases we might conclude that they are evil, racist people, but not in all cases. I think literature can help children understand some of this.

    14. SP*

      My 5 year old brought home Cupid by Babette Cole from our local little free library the other day. I looked it over after they had gone to bed and the Cupid character steals and wears a “red indian” costume. I threw it in the recycling, then retrieved it so I could talk to the kid about it. She wanted to read it the next day. We read it, and when the costume showed up we had a conversation about how it is not good and mean to wear cultural outfits to be silly. Kid decided that the mean book needed to go – and back into the recycling it went.

    15. lazy intellectual*

      If I genuinely like the book, I just keep it? I’m a South Asian descent person who is kind of an Anglophile. I love Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Charles Dickens, etc etc. This is kind of awkward because all of these books definitely have passing racist comments about people in colonies in India and the Caribbean region, as well as gypsies. I just ignore those parts? One of my favorite books, The Secret Garden, repeatedly refers to Indian people as “blacks” and describe them in a very derogatory manner.

      If racism is a HUGE part of story, I probably won’t like it, but tbh I’m not super consistent with what media I choose to consume/not consume due to content. I read a lot of classics, so it’s inevitable that there will be some with problematic content. I don’t like Huckleberry Finn because, well, I just don’t like the story to begin with.

      I do read a lot of non-white authors as well. I’ve actually been compiling a list of my favorite Black American, Middle Eastern, and South Asian authors to post on my Facebook.

      1. Jackalope*

        The Secret Garden (and one of her other books, A Little Princess) are two of the very examples I thought of when writing my response. I don’t know how I would have responded to them had I come across them for the first time as an adult, but they were beloved in my childhood and have remained that way. Nowadays I find the attitude towards and treatment of Indians (people from India) horrible, but it does help me understand where people were coming from at that point in history. And the story of two kids that have really been treated wrongly by the adults in their lives helping each other heal was a good story in TSG. Reading ALP helped me figure out what it means to be a person of character; Sara goes from a life of amazing luxury to a life of drudgery and back again while doing her best the whole time to be loving, kind, compassionate, and generous the whole time. When I’ve been in difficult situations I try to remember that and try to be the best person I can despite the people around me. So for me the good things from the books outweigh the bad. I totally and 100% understand someone else not being able to move past the problematic aspects, but for me they have been overall helpful.

    16. I'm A Little Teapot*

      When I’m re-reading old children’s books, I tend to place them in a “they are reflective of their time, but that time wasn’t necessarily great” bucket. These books all reflect the times in which they were created. From a historical point of view, that’s fascinating. Racism, sexism, classism, prejudice all make appearances in various ways.

      I also don’t think that books should be erased from history. They existed, they were read and loved by people, and you can’t just pretend they never existed. Certainly anything written pre-1980s is going to have issues in some way, and many, many more recently then that do as well. I think it’s more reasonable to accept that they are flawed just as we are flawed, and while these books are frozen in time we can do better.

      In terms of giving them to children – I don’t have children, and I’m not generally giving books to kids. No clue.

    17. NapkinThief*

      As a BIPOC that consumes my fair share of problematic literature growing up –

      I think erasing those works is just as dangerous as consuming them uncritically. And not just from a “look how far we’ve come!” perspective – because honestly, look outside. We haven’t come all THAT far. And I think being able to read these works and say, yes this story was fun to read, I bonded with the characters, I resonate with a lot of the principles – and oh yeah, it’s secretly (or not so secretly) undergirded by racism! It’s an important lesson historically, but also sociologically – to understand how racism is baked into so many institutions, that it can’t be boiled down just to hatred, that someone could be nice and friendly and also motivated by prejudices that are not so simple to extricate. It affords us opportunities to have these conversations at age appropriate levels as we go along.

      I was probably no more than five when my parents first talked to me about racism and what it meant to be black. (At least the first time I can remember). And those conversations kept coming as I grew older and was able to handle greater nuance. Let’s share that burden. Let your kids read the questionable books – and talk about it.

      1. Budgie Buddy*

        I also feel more uncomfortable with erasing unsavory parts of literature. You hit the nail on the head here. How can you see how racism is baked into systems if it’s strategically scrubbed from literature and history? Especially when it’s so easy for people of privilege to promote racism without being intentionally malicious.

        I don’t have your experience, but I read a lot of classically “Western” philosophy and religion text in their original versions for the first time in college and I remember being shocked how they switched between innovative ideas and total nonsense. I felt lied to because no one told me that “great thinkers” could also have some terrible beliefs.

        Your point about having those discussions at appropriate ages is also very important.

        1. Washi*

          It blew my mind the first time I took a class that approached classic political science texts in this way. All my life I had been told to just ignore the bits where philosophers were clearly only talking about white men and that their social views were not relevant. Until this one amazing class, these things were presented as off-limits for criticism because that was just their historical context or whatever. It was so cool and liberating to discuss the erasure of so many people in these works and that many of these philosophers’ theories don’t actually hold up that well to describe how women and/or people from other cultures move through the world.

          1. Jackalope*

            And ignoring those bits also makes it harder to consider how well the ideas work as an actual practice. My standard example of this is the Greek philosophers who thought you should sit around philosophizing all the time and didn’t recognize that in a practical way you can’t do that unless there are people (in this case women and slaves) doing the daily drudge work. So it’s not a widely applicable idea at all and CAN’T be accepted as universal. You get a much better debate of their ideas (which doesn’t have to mean throwing them all out, but does involve a certain amount of critical consideration) if you look at them with the perspective of whether they work for all people or just the elite.

      2. Notthemomma*

        I could not agree more! We need to shed light on what is wrong, as well as how it is wrong, and the impact. Removing the racist, as well as misogynistic, religious and culturally bigoted items sanitizes our history in a way that does not allow for us to reckon with and grow from it.

      3. knead me seymour*

        Totally agreed. I think this kind of book can be a useful educational experience for white kids, and white adults, because it’s much easier to see the deeply ingrained racism with the benefit of a little social distance. Even more so when the racism appears as a pervasive undercurrent to an outwardly kind and serene story. To file off the sharpest edges and otherwise present the story uncritically seems like yet another attempt at wilful ignorance.

    18. Smol Book Wizard*

      I personally (I am white, fwiw) would say that it’s a matter of needing to present multiple viewpoints to a kid in their literature. I was raised sheltered and reading a lot of old books – there were certain tropes and concepts that just went past me as “that’s how it is” because they were uncritically reproduced in book after book (having to do with race, but also ways of treating women, understandings of mental illness, etc.). Reading books that challenge those assumptions or just don’t make them a part of the landscape at all, I think, would have added a lot to my experience and made some things a lot less “other”-ed in my mind.
      That being said, if I were recommending books to a child of a different racial background than mine, I might feel differently about my suggestions. It’s a complicated topic and my opinions on it are still in flux.

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

      One of my school mandatory books was all male author torpes together. Manic pixy girl, toxic masculinity, racism, rape, slut shaming… All written in the eighties. I still can’t believe it was printed and made it to a school approved books for tennagers list (which speaks volumes of my school). Right now it’s stored in the depths of my library and will be burnt with the rest of my school stuff whenever I have the chance.

    20. Pennyworth*

      I regard them as a window to the past and a learning opportuntiy, but I’m interested in history so I respond to literary racist or sexist expressions from that perspective. If I knew a child was going to read them I would want to have a conversation about the content before they started. Children have a strong sense of justice and will pick up on stuff that jars with what they think is right and fair.

    21. Amorette Allison*

      I have an early copy of the first Dr. Doolittle book, which is INCREDIBLY racist. That’s why you never see it republished. Will I throw out mine? No. It is history. I wouldn’t throw out Huckleberry Finn, nor will I pitch Dr. Doolittle. Is “Birth of a Nation” appalling? Oh, hell yes. But copies should still exist in order to tell us about how people thought at that time and for its historic film-making qualities. Destroying history will not change history.

      1. fposte*

        Dr. Doolittle is still in print in several editions. I suspect some have changed the worst of the racism, but some likely have it verbatim.

    22. Elizabeth West*

      If it’s mine, and I don’t want to read it anymore and it has racist/sexist crap, I toss it. It’s usually exceedingly hard for me to throw away a book unless it’s literally in pieces. But for some, I just didn’t want to pass them on, so into the bin they went.

      This included both Gone with the Wind books and a bunch of older children’s books with objectionable content. I was saving all my kids’ books in case I had a kid, but there are better ones now if I need to buy children’s literature.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Forgot to add, a friend in high school who is now deceased gave me a 1970s reprint of the first Wonder Woman comics. It got destroyed in storage long ago, so I bought it again, and Oh. My. God. It. Is. SO. Racist. I didn’t even remember how bad it was. I kept it though, because it reminds me of my friend (who was a very kind and cool person).

        On the good side, Etta Candy in the comic is pretty amazing. She’s fat, loves candy and hot men, and was meant to be comic relief. But she also does whatever she wants and gives no f*cks at ALL.

      2. Early career engineer*

        I have finally started doing this recently – there is a series of books that I loved intensely as an early teen, which I got from my mother (and she had read herself as a younger woman – it’s the Xanth series by Piers Anthony, for those who’ve read it). I re-read some of them as an adult and… hoo-boy, I had not realized how sexist and downright creepy those books are toward very young women (and suspect my mother hadn’t recalled it at the time herself). I asked her if she wanted them back, told her why I didn’t want them anymore and that I wouldn’t want to pass them along to my future kids, and she agreed and told me to toss them. It felt very uncomfortable – usually I would *never* throw away a book, but sometimes they really are garbage. I think I will personally find it a lot harder when it comes to more seminal works of children’s literature; as an example, I think I’ll need to do a fair bit of soul-searching about whether (and, if so, how) to introduce my kids to the Chronicles of Narnia, which I truly loved as a child.

        1. No Name*

          As a white, mother, I don’t think racist books should be given to young children as they don’t have the understanding or social history knowledge to understand it and have discussions about it. I think it is okay for older children as you can have a discussion first. Australia has a long and brutal history of racism. There is nothing our current generation of racists love more than to downplay or deny racism has and still does happen. Our moronic prime minister has recently said slavery didn’t happen in Australia which is a rewrite of our history. I think erasing these books only helps the denial. There is value in seeing and acknowledging the casual prejudices towards poc with appropriate context.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I agree with this, which is why I did get rid of them. I have many more choices when buying books for young children I know.

            I also got rid of the Little House books. I had them all but I’ve read them so many times, I really don’t need to anymore, plus they were falling apart. And because of the minstrel show and the Native American stuff, I don’t intend to introduce them without that discussion, should I ever get the chance to do that.

            I did keep my copy of Barbara Walker’s Little House Cookbook because it’s awesome and there’s a lot of historical info in it that goes beyond Laura’s family experience. And a biography that came out in the 1970s about the Ingalls family that has a photo section.

    23. Mx*

      I agree with some commenters that these books could be read as part of academic studies, with explanations of the context.
      I just wanted to add the same should be done with books that use sexist terms for women, and generally portray them as weak, stupid or evil. If we just get rid of these books, there will be nearly nothing left to read, including masterpieces.

    24. Caroline Bowman*

      If the book is well-written, simply reflecting the mores and norms of the time, then I don’t see the problem? I mean, it’s not required school reading and I’m assuming, but surely the racism and outdated views around race / class / society are by-the-by within the greater story itself in most cases, i.e. it’s not a white supremacist manifesto as such?

      Losing classic works such as Huckleberry Finn seems a shame, though of course your books mean you have final say. It would be extremely sad to see great classic works summarily removed in thought-police-style purges.

      1. Natalie*

        It would be extremely sad to see great classic works summarily removed in thought-police-style purges.

        Brave stance, since no one has suggested anything remotely close to that.

      2. Star*

        It would be extremely sad to see great classic works summarily removed in thought-police-style purges.

        And this is the problem with these discussions, because when Teacher A suggests replacing Huck Finn with a book by Nnedi Okorafor, you and Teachers B-Z accuse Teacher A of a thought-police-style purge and the students don’t get the chance to read anything by Nnedi Okorafor.

        I realized, not least as a Black woman who has some favorites which are really problematic in many ways (Lord of the Rings, anyone?) that there was something I wasn’t seeing in this discussion. When I read LOTR and all the stuff about “swarthy southerners” and bloodlines, I recognized what I was reading even though I didn’t have the vocabulary. I knew that if I was in the book it was as an orc. I LOVE LOTR and reread it every few years, but I still recognized this from my first reading.

        I actually love Huckleberry Finn AND remember being really uncomfortable with it — on the one hand Huck does what’s right even though he’s been told it’s wrong, on the other all my [not Black] classmates looked at me every time we read a bit aloud and the n-word came up — but I still appreciate what my teacher did. He warned us before we started reading it about the racism of the milieu and the use of the n-word, and talked about how this book could teach us about life in those times. My classmates may have looked at me every time the n-word came up, but they didn’t feel emboldened to use it by the book, they understood that Jim was a human being despite what everyone in the book said, and I knew the teacher had my back.

        That’s what I’d recommend people do with problematic content in books. Talk about it. Not least as a kid who benefited from such discussions, and as someone raising children now.

        1. allathian*

          I would hope that children of all backgrounds would get the chance to read books by authors from diverse backgrounds. Sadly there are so many parents these days who don’t read at all themselves, so the only contact with literature that these children get is at school.
          That said, as another LOTR enthusiast, I do hope you don’t identify with the orcs (ruined and mutilated elves) anymore. The Swarthy men were the Haradrim (elephant riders), who admittedly fought on the side of evil. Even as a white woman, that part has always dismayed me about LOTR, even before I saw the movies. There’s other problematic stuff there too, such as the reduction of almost all women to mere ciphers, especially with their patronymics (Frodo, son of Drogo) with no mention of the mother.

          1. Altair*

            The sexism of LOTR could have, and has had, essays written about it. One thing I really enjoyed about fanfic fandom, especially for the Hobbit movies, was what various authors did with concepts of gender in the world of Arda. And I love how Eowyn and Galadriel kind of kicked in Tolkien’s door and demanded to be written.

            Anyway, realizing that the people who were most like me were the orcs and Southrons made me think about how we designate heroes, so it wasn’t all bad, but it was still disconcerting. I’ve had a lifetime of reading things not “meant” for “someone like me” and that feeling of dislocation really should be addressed when giving kids older books, especially girls and kids of color. It didn’t drive me out of reading but I know people who it did.

  3. MistOrMister*

    Suggestions for helping cats reacclimate to each other when one comes back from the vet? Mine are fine for shortish visits. But when one is gone all day there van be a lot of hissing, growling, etc from the cat that stayed home, when the other one returns. I am hoping to be able to ease the transitions to make it less stressful for all of us.

    1. Sir Lena Clare*

      Could you use a plug-in, such as Feliway before the cat goes to the vets and leave it in for after.

      Also maybe have some items that smell like each cat with thher other cat so they’re used to it (although perhaps the problem is that the cat returning from the vet smells differently).

      And keep am eye on them, perhaps give the returning cat a room on their own for a couple of hours.

      You could also try feeding them together in the same room but with their bowls at opposite ends of the room, then gradually over the course of the day move their bowls back together.

      1. MistOrMister*

        I’ve tried Feliway. My cats act like it doesn’t exist. :(

        I kept the returning cat in the room with me overnight and thought all the rolling around he did on the bed would help, but no dice! Same with feeding and giving them treats together.

        I did wake up in the wee hours and they were both in bedroom sleeping in usual spots, so maybe they won’t kill each other after all!!!

        1. Four-legged fosterer*

          Maybe the opposite? Limit the one who stays to a room just before the other one leaves, so they never know they were gone?

    2. Jackalope*

      Scent can help a lot. Take the cat that was at the vet’s and rub it with a blanket or towel that has the scent of the cat who stayed at home. Not necessarily its own scent, mind you; you want the cat who stayed home to smell him- or herself on the returning cat.

      1. MistOrMister*

        I will try that next time. I think that’s the only thing I haven’t attempted at this point. This doesn’t happen often but I hate having to be kn,the esge of my seat waiting to see if an attack will happen.

    3. Freelance Everything*

      I want to second both the idea for a temporary room; this will help Vet cat regain its house smell and the House cat to get used to Vet smell.

      And the idea to have a House blanket to rub the Vet cat in prior to returning home.

      1. MistOrMister*

        I’m goinng to try the blanket thing. Separate rooms didn’t seem to help any. And that dang drugged up kitty kept jumping on the bed and rubbing his face on me all night so I got zero sleep! That was rough…

    4. Aurora Leigh*

      My friend has this problem and what finally worked was rubbing tuna water (like you would drain off a can of tuna) on the cat who had been to the vet. Covered up the vet smell and encouraged his brother to groom him!

    5. Tegan*

      We solved this problem from a bit of a different angle, although it wasn’t only this problem we were solving – we switched to using a “mobile vet” who comes to our house. My primary motivation was avoiding car rides with my cats – we have three and all of them get so incredibly worked up riding in the car, but it has also gotten rid of the post-vet shunning from whoever isn’t getting treated/seen. Our vet in particular comes into our house and sets up camp in our downstairs powder room, although she drives a big truck that she can take animals out to if she needs to use any of her less-mobile tools. If you’re open to switching vets, I can’t recommend this enough – it has turned vet visits into a complete non-issue for us.

      1. MistOrMister*

        I’ve considered this. But I really like my vet and they’re not even a mile away. I’m also concerned about how a mobile vet handles things like dentals requiring anesthesia and other surgeries. But maybe I’ll look into it more. I already have someone come to my house for feedings if I’m away so the cats don’t have the stress of being boarded. A mobile vet seems like the next step for pet pampering. Hehe.

    6. Black Horse Dancing*

      This is incredibly common. I second the idea of rubbing cat who was at vet with other cat’s blanket. Or–if you can handle it, the cats can handle it, and the vet can handle it–take both cats to vet. One may simply stay in his/her carrier but they are together.

      1. MistOrMister*

        I used to do this and put both cats in one big carrier together and we had no issues. Alas, this was for a dental, so only the one cat could go and was gone all day. Double alas, my girl is getting crotchety and will no longer allow the boy in the same carrier as her. Also, they have cottoned on and once the first one gets caught, the other will not let me get hands on them. So now for our regular visits one goes one day and the other goes the next day. They’re pretty good about not fighting after just an hour or so of one being away.

  4. GiftHorse?*

    Help! I don’t know if this is wrong or not, but here goes:

    My parents used a tax preparer to file their taxes, and asked for the kids’ W-2s. However, the tax preparer used that information to do the kids’ taxes without our consent. In one sibling’s case, they had already filed online long before this.

    Any input would be appreciated! Thanks in advance!

    1. Sir Lena Clare*

      It might make a difference according to which country you’re in.
      IANAL, but I think that might be against GDPR regs in Europe.
      Morally, I think it absolutely sucks that they did that!

      1. Sir Lena Clare*

        Oh I’ve just googled W-2s and you’re in the States. I don’t know the answer but feel annoyed that this happened to you!

    2. Jackalope*

      I did a bit of research online and it sounds like you should report it as fraud. (Rumor has it you would use form 14039 but I’m not an IRS expert so take that with a grain of salt.) You might feel like a fraud report is overly harsh, but if they submitted a signed tax return on your behalf without your consent then that is in fact fraud. If they had false information on the 1040 (say you had another source of income they didn’t know about) and you don’t report it as fraud then the IRS could hold you liable and that could have serious consequences. And if there’s a refund due you that they took, they need to be required to return those funds.

    3. Mimosa Jones*

      This feels like it could be a bigger issue and I think you should consult your own tax professional. Your parents requested your children’s w-2s? I’m not sure why they would need them unless maybe your kids qualify as your parent’s dependents. Do they live together or do your parents provide financial support? Are the kids in college and your parents pay tuition? There are some income qualifications for dependents on the federal level. And some states want income information for all household residents for determining things like renter rebates. The first return is the one the IRS considers valid until proven otherwise. People who have other people’s social security numbers often rush to file a return, then when the actual person files, the return is rejected and that person must file a paper return. I see it a lot in cases with messy family situations. I’m a volunteer tax preparer so while I’m certified by the IRS to do taxes, my experience and off-hand knowledge is limited by the type and number of clients I see. But enough of this seems weird that I think you should talk to your own tax professional.

      1. Mimosa Jones*

        Oh, and the tax preparer needs the tax payer present or signed permission in order to prepare and file the taxes. And the w-2s are not considered acceptable proof of identity. Only social security cards or statements from the SSA can be used as tax ID. This is a big deal. My volunteer office had to jump through tons of hoops to get a plan approved for remote tax prep during this period of reduced contact. We’re one of the few operating in our state.

        1. Dancing Otter*

          +1000
          There’s a website / blog called “Tax Mama” that might be of interest. Q&A forum, especially.
          There are some good stories, if you’re just looking for entertainment, too. Okay, not everyone’s cup of tea, but there are some real doozies. “Is the IRS going to come after me for all the years I didn’t file, if I file a return this year? It’s been about ten years.” OR, “I was married to two different people in the same ye

          1. Dancing Otter*

            Oops, hit Submit too soon. The last example was about someone who had two wives in one year and wanted to know if he could file jointly with both of them. Fun stuff.

      2. Feathers*

        I took “the kids” to mean GiftHorse and siblings, the kids of the parents whose taxes were being done, not the grandchildren. Hence the reference to “sibling”.

        1. Mimosa Jones*

          You’re probably right. Now that I’m more awake, that seems like the best interpretation. I’d check to make sure the tax returns filed are correct. Maybe GiftHorse and siblings would prefer to just let it go if everything is accurate and be watchful next year. If the returns are not correct, the easiest thing to do is to file an amended return. That causes the least fuss. For the sibling who had already filed, if they filed electronically, or if their paper return has been processed, the second return will be rejected and that will hopefully be the end of it, but the IRS will probably have questions. If the sibling filed on paper and that return hasn’t been processed yet, then the electronic return will be considered the first and the paper return will be rejected and probably lead to questions.

          But why did the preparer file those returns and what information was included? Did the parents request this? Did the parents already have the social security cards for everyone being claimed? Are the children minors? If there were refunds due, are they being directly deposited into the right bank account? Some sketchy sounding things happened here…maybe innocent, maybe not. It’s up to GiftHorse and siblings to determine what happened and what they want to do about it. Unless the parents can and did authorize a tax return for their minor child, the tax preparer violated tax rules by preparing those returns and could be reported for that. If the tax preparer is blameless, then they likely acted as an agent for all the returns they filed and can help straighten out any messes resulting from the confusion.

      3. Laura H.*

        Yeah. I’m my parents’ adult dependent and yes, that’s the only reason someone would need a child’s W-2. I filed my taxes with a preparer this year because I wanted a second pair of eyes and it was worth the price. I got em done pre COVID and I still need to get the papers back from them… sorry pardon the derail.

        What happened to y’all isn’t at all normal and I would urge your folks to go over that tax prepper’s head and let the boss know.

    4. Asenath*

      I’m not in the US, but in Canada this couldn’t happen unless the person whose tax information it was authorized the tax preparer to do so. If it happened anyway, I’d be filing complaints, starting with the tax preparer and going on to Revenue Canada. I’d DEFINITELY report it to the federal officials if, when I checked online, this tax prepared who I didn’t authorize was listed as being authorized. But I wouldn’t have been giving my tax form to my parents, much less their preparers, unless I was still a student and they needed my tuition form for their taxes, or something like that.

      1. Catherine from Canada*

        We are currently in the midst of solving an absolutely head-smacking mistake made by our accountant/ tax preparers.
        For background, I am in Canada, and my husband and I own a documentations services company. We “pay” ourselves through dividends because it is provides the least tax impact for all three legal entities (the company, myself and my husband.) The form sent to the government reporting that income is called a T5.
        My son works as a farm labourer several hours away. (Wear your helmets people, brain injuries are for life!)

        He called us in a panic three days ago, because his tax preparer told him that there was a T5 on record showing that our company had paid him $48,300 last year! He can’t pay the income tax on that. He’d lose his house and his job (because – head injuries – he can’t drive and needs to live walking distance from his job) He’d probably lose access to his kid because he wouldn’t be able to pay the increased child support, the consequences go on and on.

        Long story short, it was discovered late Friday afternoon that, SOMEHOW, the person who generated our T5s used our son’s SIN on my T5. We have no idea how he got our son’s SIN, it’s not in our records anywhere. Worse, SOMEHOW, no one in the whole process of completing our taxes noticed that the wrong SIN was on the form!

        I am waiting to hear the apologies and see the proof that this has been corrected tomorrow. I want grovelling and consequences.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          what?!? I’m in the US, but I assuming your tax preparers use some sort of software. Which would likely pull the SIN number from some other part of the software. Honestly, depending on the response, I’d consider finding a new accountant.

    5. Vina*

      Are you under 24 and a student? If so, it’s likely your parents wanted this to claim you as a dependent. So it’s on them. The poor tax preparer was following their orders. (I have seen this a lot. Some parents really dont’ think their kids should make this choice and make it for them).

      If not, then yes, clearly fraud.

      You can file a paper return on your own and claim that the previous filing was fraudulent.

      If you can afford to hire your own tax preparer – a real one not a corporate fill-in-the-blank type – it’s worth it.

      1. Natalie*

        Gotta disagree with that advice. Particularly in the wake of TCJA, the vast majority of filers do not need a paid preparer of any kind, and can do their taxes in about 10 minutes using the free filing options. TCJA may have overcomplicated the paper forms (pointlessly, since so few people use those) but they did simplify deductions significantly.

        1. Vina*

          That’s fine for a regular tax situation. This is one where there is potential fraud and dealing with the IRS repeatedly . For that, it’s good to have someone who has represented people before the IRS, knows how to talk to their auditors, and knows the things to say/not say.

          You are talking about a normal situation. I’m not.

          In this case, she should talk to someone who is a professional.

          1. Natalie*

            Ah, it sounded like a more general suggestion. (And is frequently a general suggestion from some corners of the financeverse)

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        But it still means the tax preparer filed the younger generation’s taxes without their consent or signature, which was completely unnecessary regardless of the dependent situation. And the preparer should have known better.

    6. MistOrMister*

      I don’t understand how the parents received access to the kids’ W-2s in the first place. If one sibling had already filed their taxes, that assumes they had their W-2, so how did the parents get it?

      What are the ages of the kids who’s taxes were filed? Were they claimed as dependents? At least in the case of the one who had already filed their taxes, the filing by the preparer seems like it would be fraudulent. For the others, I’m not quite sure how that works if you’re being claimed as dependents. I don’t remember having to sign anything when my parents claimed me, but that was 20ish years ago so I might have just forgotten. It doesn’t sound like this preparer is quite on the up and up though – not if the kids don’t,count as dependents.

      1. BethDH*

        There are often cases where the kids can be counted as dependents OR on their own and the people involved decide what makes sense given their situation.
        The parent may have told the preparer that the kids had agreed and used the W2 as evidence of that; I don’t see that the preparer would have knowingly done anything wrong.
        When I received paper w2s, there were always multiple copies joined together on the same sheet so that you could submit them as needed and keep one for your records. The kid could have sent one copy to the parents easily. If they’re PDFs, as all of mine have been for years now, it’s even easier. Companies are careful to get them to the right person initially, but there’s no file protection that I’ve seen.

        1. Lifelong student*

          While it may be true that people do make the choice, the law does not actually allow that. Generally speaking, if you can be claimed as a dependent under the law you may not claim yourself on a return. There are age, residency, support, relationship and other issues in addition to income which affect if one is a dependent for tax purposes.

        2. Natalie*

          The preparer filed taxes for the sibling without getting them to sign the return, that’s wrong on its face.

          (You don’t send in paper copies of W2s anymore, even if you file on paper. The IRS already has that information anyway.)

          1. Black Horse Dancing*

            IANAL–If the parents claimed the adult kids as dependents, the tax preparer did what was expected. It’s not necessarily fraud. Think about it. Tax preparer is doing taxes, X states we have three kids, here are their W2s, they are all dependents. Tax preparer files the tax return showing the dependents’ incomes. If Mom and Dad claimed the kids s dependents and the kids agreed. then that’s an issue between the kids and parents. If the tax preparer filed the adult kids taxes for that adult, filed that fr that person only (not as a dependent), and didn’t tell them, that’s fraud.

            1. Natalie*

              Claiming someone as a dependent doesn’t automatically mean claiming their income – dependents can and sometimes have to file their own return. (Hence the box that says “someone can claim me as a dependent”.) In this case it’s definitely improper because you never claim a dependent’s earned income, only unearned. Since the kids in question have W2s, they have earned income.

              1. Natalie*

                I should add, if the OP just meant they used the one sibling’s social to claim them as a dependent when they filed the return, you may be correct, but that’s extremely unlikely since the sibling had already filed. The parents’ return would have been rejected for the duplicate social. Paid preparers always file electronically so it would have been immediate.

          2. GiftHorse?*

            One of my siblings and I signed because we looked at them, and they were in order. I am just upset they did the service without our consent in the first place.

      2. Thankful for AAM*

        MistOrMister,
        you get multiple copies of your w-2s. And when we file electronically, we still have all the copies.

    7. Lifelong student*

      Too confusing- need to clarify ages, relationships, and living arrangements. There are a few actual reasons why it might be wise to review the income of one person in preparing the return of another- establishing eligibility for head of household status comes to mind. However, a previously efiled return would result in a subsequent efiled return being rejected so no harm, no foul. Except that the subsequent return could not legally be filed without the signature of the tax payer. Preparing the subsequent return is not illegal.

    8. Aza*

      In the US, a tax preparer would prepare the taxes, but your parents would have to sign them before filing.

      So if they submitted it after signing, that would be on your parents.

      The IRS probably has advice for what to do if someone claims you as a dependent and you’ve already filed. I’d Google and look for irs.gov results.

    9. Impska*

      I’m confused. Did the tax preparer actually file anything? In the case of the person who had already efiled, the preparer would have gotten an efile rejection from the IRS and been unable to.

      In the case of the person who did not file yet, are they a dependent of your parents? Did your parents sign for them because they are a minor? Parents are allowed to sign the efile authorization for children under 18. Did the return even get filed or is this something that came up when they asked for signature before filing?

      To be clear, if nothing got filed, the preparer didn’t do anything wrong. Your parents provided W2s and it’s not uncommon for parents to have their preparer do their kids’ returns. They also did nothing wrong if the kids are under 18 and dependents. The only wrong thing the preparer could do is file the return without an Efile authorization signed by the appropriate person (assuming the return contains truthful information wasn’t outright fraudulent).

      Note that the punishment from the IRS for this is a $50 fine. But a complaint could get the preparer audited and if they missing a lot of authorizations, those fines add up.

      If the preparer is licensed (like a CPA), the state board could respond to the complaint with a fine or maybe a warning.

      But the preparer literally broke no rules if they didn’t actually file a return.

    10. D3*

      Oh that would make me SO angry.
      As a parent of young adults, I cannot imagine that I would give my kids’ W-2 to the person doing my taxes. Even though I usually have access to them as the college kids use our home as their permanent address so they come to the house. I just stick it in their inbox and leave it until they next come home or ask me to mail it to them at school.
      If I were one of the people he filed taxes for without authorization, I would for sure be filing a complaint with the IRS. Did he take a fee out of any refund due? I’d be wanting that back as well.

      1. Black Horse Dancing*

        Many parents claim their over 18 year olds as dependents. It’s common.

    11. fposte*

      Whoa. Is it possible they just wrongly declared you as dependents? That’s easier–you all just file claiming yourselves, and your parents will owe the difference on the taxes. That’s not a big deal, just annoying.

      But if the preparer genuinely prepared your tax returns, that means somebody had to forge your signature along the way. If the preparer submitted the taxes, that’s likely to be them, and I’d file a complaint, which would likely be the state regulatory body. If your parents submitted it and signed your names–oy.

    12. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Assuming you’re in the US. Two parties here. The tax preparer, and your parents. I’m assuming the “kids” here are adult children, if they’re minors it changes the situation.

      If the tax preparer did this without your parents’ authorization, then they screwed up majorly and feel free to report them to the professional licensing board/IRS/both. Then adult children need to work with their tax preparers to fix things. Amended returns, reporting fraudulent returns, etc are possibilities.

      If your parents told the tax preparer to do this without permission of adult children, then you’ve got a parent issue and now no one in the family should ever trust them again. Parents won’t like this, but parents brought it upon themselves. The adult children should work with their own tax preparers to fix the situation, and if that results in the IRS going after the parents, I think that’s appropriate. Additionally, the tax preparer who filed returns without signed authorization from the adult children should be reported for that.

    13. pandq*

      I am an enrolled agent, licensed by the IRS to prepare taxes (but I don’t do individual returns, if that matters to you.) Your tax preparer could not have e-filed the return without a signature on the efile form. If they did, or if they obtained it through a misrepresentation of some kind here is the IRS advice. You can use this even if they are not an enrolled agent, but I am assuming they are licensed in some way. Report them even if they are not licensed by the feds or the state. From the IRS website: ” Report abusive tax preparers to the IRS. You can report abusive tax preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS. Use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If you suspect a return preparer filed or changed the return without your consent, you should also file Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit. You can get these forms at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).” Include copies of these forms in any correspondence about your kid’s returns with the IRS if you need to straighten out the problem. Good luck!

    14. Not My Department, But This is What I Know*

      It is not clear if the parents were intentionally attempting to commit fraud. Obviously they should have discussed this with their children before they did it to see how the children wanted to handle it and how the children wanted to file their taxes, but in attempting to pay the least tax possible, they obviously made a mistake.

      I’m sure the IRS will cross-reference the Social Security Numbers and if one of the children already filed a return where they said they were NOT a dependent on someone else’s return, then that child would not be able to be considered as a deduction on the parents’ return and the parents would not receive the tax credit for the child and would have to pay more tax or get a smaller refund.

      If they haven’t been contacted by the IRS and want to make things right, they should fill out (or have their tax preparer fill out) a Form 1040-X (Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return) which would not list the child who filed their taxes separately. If the parents receive an undeserved refund before the amended return gets processed, they should not spend it and be prepared to return the money. If it came in the form of a check they should write “Void” on it and return it. If they will owe more taxes then they need to pay them on or before the extended July 15, deadline (which was pushed back from April 15).

      My understanding is that the IRS has an enormous backlog of work because of the COVID-19 situation. They are currently still ramping up to get all of their employees back to work (or working from home). They had started closing offices in late March and were pretty much shut down for the entire month of April. They have been slowly ramping back up since May, but they’re not quite there yet. I don’t think they ever got caught up after the 2018/2019 furloughs because of the federal budget standoff, and with the COVID-19 situation it is now worse. There’s a good chance that the IRS hasn’t yet caught the mistake or fraud that the parents made.

    15. GiftHorse?*

      As most people thought and want to know, we all live in the same house, and this is the same tax preparer they’ve used for years and years. Usually, we give them our W-2s because we’re dependents, and our parents helped pay for our educational expenses. At this point, I don’t think about it that much, and this has never happened before.

      I may complain, and luckily, my sibling and I, who kept putting off filing this year, looked and saw that they did it right. Part of me wants to say, “Hey, they did this, and my sibling and I may not have done our taxes otherwise.” But the other part of me is upset because we never said they could.

      1. GiftHorse?*

        I should have said “prepared without our permission.” Filing and preparing are two different things, and my rage and not being that awake when I wrote this. I bet this changes a lot, but it still feels wrong because I never asked them to do anything for my siblings and me.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Oh, wait, the preparer didn’t FILE? Yeah, that’s completely different. They might have needed information from your forms to complete your parents’ form.

      2. julie julie july*

        This changes a lot. Your original post sounded like you weren’t dependents and probably lived on your own, which would make their actions scandalous. If you all live together and you’re dependents of theirs and they didn’t even submit them just had them prepared, this isn’t nearly as big of a deal. And you’re saying you might not have even done your taxes otherwise? This doesn’t seem like something to be upset over.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Yeah, the details make this seem less like fraud and more like a misunderstanding between you and your parents– not the tax preparer. Because I cannot imagine anyone going ahead and doing work like that without a request, it sounds like your parents asked the preparer to take care of your taxes. I imagine your parents paid the preparer? This is between you and them.

          They likely thought they were doing you a favor. That doesn’t make it right, but when you discuss it, remember that angle. You appreciate the thought but don’t want the help, that type of thing.

          1. fposte*

            It also sounds like this is the way they did it last year and it was fine, so while it would have been nice if they’d asked it wasn’t unreasonable of them to assume.

      3. blackcat*

        So, my parent’s accountant did my taxes until I was 21 and financially independent. BUT this was explicitly discussed. My parents taxes were/are pretty complex for a variety of reasons, and their accountant would do mine and my brothers (and I think he still does my brothers) for free as an add-on to my parent’s taxes.

        I think you should have a conversation about taxes going forward, and also discuss if you are truly still a dependent or not. I know folks who’ve had to have fights with their parents over being counted as a dependent, even when they meet the legal threshold.

        If your parents have done this every year, I can see it being an honest mistake on their part. As long as it wasn’t filed without your authorization, there’s no fraud here.

  5. curiousLemur*

    Are trifocal glasses easier/more comfortable than progressive lenses? I’ve been using progressive for a while, and I think my eyes felt more comfortable when I used regular reading glasses while working with the computer.

    1. Asenath*

      I found progressives more annoying than regular glasses, especially for computer work and other reading, so I never tried trifocals. Instead, I have lots of glasses – reading, distance and computer glasses. That works for me.

      1. Windchime*

        I have to have different glasses, too. I’m very fortunate that, even though I’m in my late 50’s, I don’t need reading glasses. I wear progressives only when I drive; I can see long distance and my dash with them but I can’t read any thing else. I have computer glasses for when I’m working at the computer or doing anything at a similar distance. But for reading and knitting, etc,……I don’t need any glasses.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      I love my progressives, but sometimes find myself impersonating a bobblehead in front of the computer screen. I have a separate pair of glasses that I can switch to for the computer if I can’t find the right angle.

    3. Lost in the Woods*

      Some people do well with a traditional progressive for regular use but a separate single vision intermediate lens and/or bifocal (for if you’re referencing documents along with the computer). You can just keep that separate pair at your computer. In my experience, most people who dislike progressives don’t find trifocals that much better, and people who want the flexibility of a trifocal prefer to go all the way to a progressive. There are a few patients I remember who are really passionate about their trifocals, though! (Admittedly, I don’t do optical, I only hear about this on the back end when I read people’s current glasses ad ask what they’re looking for!)

    4. Cinderella Sparklepants*

      I think Lost in the Woods has the right idea here. Most people I worked with (my mom is an optometrist and I worked for her for a while) liked progressives for most activities, but lots of people who do heavy computer work have a specific pair just for that. I even have glasses for the computer, though I don’t actually need progressives yet. I’d check into supplementing what you already have, if that’s an option.

    5. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I went from bifocals to progressives to trifocals then back to progressives. I will stay with the progressives. Having the bifocals and trifocals was like looking through edges of beveled glass. I couldn’t stand it. I still have to do the bobble head thing every now and then, but I find the progressives to be much easier to see through.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I was NOT happy with my progressive lenses–they were too narrow and I couldn’t read anything. When I had an eye exam right before the pandemic, the doctor told me I’d need bifocals. I had bifocals at eight and hated them. But the new ones don’t have lines, nor are they sharply demarcated. I just put them on and go. With contacts, I can see the computer. I need reading glasses for a book, but I’m fine with that.

    7. Computer Glasses*

      I had my optometrist write a separate prescription specifically for computer glasses which are NOT the same as reading glasses. My company used to provide employees with prescription computer glasses at no cost, just like they did for prescription safety glasses. When they discontinued the computer glasses program, I had my prescription safety glasses made to my computer glasses prescription since I was often on the computer in the lab.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I also have two prescriptions – one for reading/computer and one for knitting. I find this works by far the best for me as well.

        I don’t need glasses to drive or prescription safety glasses, but I do need a slight bump up to read without headaches, and I sometimes need a titch more for lacework.

    8. WoodswomanWrites*

      I can’t speak to trifocals, but I do have two pairs of progressive lenses, meaning I have glasses for general everyday use and a second set of prescription glasses just for the computer. My job involves a lot of screen time, and getting the second prescription just for that purpose has been really helpful and eliminated the eye strain I was getting previously.

      If you can afford it, I also recommend getting a second pair of computer glasses. This has allowed me to keep one pair at work and one at home. Not having to take them back and forth has eliminated the inevitable incidents of leaving them behind at one place or the other by mistake. I’ve found there are often discounts on a second set to make that more affordable.

      1. allathian*

        My employer paid for my computer glasses. I also have a pair of glasses (progressives or seamless bifocals, I don’t rally know the difference) for general everyday use. I suspect that I should also get a pair of reading glasses, because if I spend a lot of time reading, I’d rather take my glasses off than use my general glasses.

  6. Anónima*

    Thanks to those who commented on the nightmares and sleeping tips last week.
    I got blood tests results back and I’m anaemic, which makes a lot of sense!

    No need to comment, unless you’d like to share tips on anaemia; causes, symptoms, and results after treatment :)

    1. Grace*

      I saw drastic results after only a few days of ferrous fumerate. My anaemia wasn’t the worst (I was still capable of going to university) but I found it incredibly difficult to concentrate and all I did when I came home was lay in bed exhausted. The worst of the symptoms were gone after a week or so.

    2. HannahS*

      I’ve had less success, having been anemic for years. In my case, it’s thought to be due to having heavy, very long periods. The solution for me is to get an IUD, but it’s not the best choice for me right now, so I just kind of take iron and struggle along. For reference, my iron tends to hover around 112-114 and stubbornly refuses to rise.

      HOWEVER! I recently had a TWELVE DAY period and was completely exhausted and unable to study, so I spoke with my doc and am now taking two iron supplements and a multivitamin daily, and it seems to be clearing the dizzying fatigue I had.

      1. Observer*

        Your periods are TOTALLY not normal. Please get to a doctor who can actually look for the reason(s) for this. Most of the time doctors shrug it off as just “complaining”. But in your case, you have some concrete evidence that this is causing a medical problem so hopefully they will look into it.

        1. only acting normal*

          My doctor told me anaemia can actually make periods heavier – a vicious cycle (pardon the pun).
          Treating the low iron certainly helped the heavy periods for me.

          1. Observer*

            Sure, if treating the anemia actually helps, that great. But that is totally not what HannahS is describing – she’s treating the anemia and she is still having crazy periods. It’s time to do something about it.

            Shame on the doctor(s) who just waved it away as “normal women stuff”. It is NOT.

        2. Windchime*

          Yeah, I had terrible periods like then when I was a teenager and I eventually ended up being hospitalized and needing blood transfusions. It’s not normal at all. The doctor wanted to put me on hormonal birth control, but of course it was the 70’s so my mom freaked out and said no. So I took iron and struggled with horrible periods for 20 years until I finally said “Enough” and got a hysterectomy. Now I know there are other options, but at that time I was just done with the fainting, the anemia, etc.

      2. Dancing Otter*

        Observer is right. I was mildly anemic for decades before getting effective treatment for fibroids. Endometriosis can also cause excessive bleeding. And there are worse things it could be.
        Get to a competent gynecologist pronto.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          Another concurring opinion. I know two women who were anemic from heavy periods related to fibroids. A gynecology exam is a good idea.

          1. Observer*

            Start with that. But if they gynecologist doesn’t find a problem, go elsewhere. A good reproductive endocrinologist is often a good place to go with stuff like this.

    3. Swift*

      Fellow anemic person here! Just want to say that getting it treated is so awesome. 2-4 weeks in, I noticed my moods lifted a lot, and I haven’t been truly exhausted in a long time (I’ve been taking iron for about a year and a half now). Hopefully it helps with your nightmares!

    4. Koala dreams*

      I commiserate! I was anaemic once and had to take some weird pills to boost my iron (I think), and it was awful. I never found out the cause, but I think it might have been related to menstruation. I hope you get better soon!

      1. Koala dreams*

        Addition: I’d recommend you to take stories online with a grain of salt, when I googled anaemia back then all the results was about serious illnesses, like cancer, that causes anaemia, but that turned out not to be the case for me. It made me scared all for nothing. So be careful when googling!

        1. Anonymous*

          Yes! Many women are anemic (not sure if OP is a woman or man)—so I think for women it often comes with the territory of losing a bunch of blood every month for years on end.

          I’m also anemic and this reminded me to take my iron! Thankfully anemia is often a quick and easy problem to solve and not indicative of a more serious issue. It’s really startling how much better you feel once your iron is up to a proper level.

        2. Nothing*

          I was anaemic a couple of years ago, but with abnormal symptoms that looked more like arthritis. That was a terrifying wait to get results back.

    5. Bluebell*

      I took Floradix as an iron supplement many years ago, and it was pretty gentle. Also, cook in a cast iron pan. Good luck!

      1. Ethyl*

        Seconding Floradix! Good luck, OP, anemia can be a real slog, especially if you’re a person who menstruates — kind of two steps forward, one step back sometimes.

      2. Anónima*

        Thanks, I have got ferrous fumarate for this month and am waiting for a delivery of Floradix – I have also heard good things about it from family and friends. Thanks, Bluebell, for the tip about cooking in a cast iron pan – I’m on it ;) Any excuse for online shopping and I am happy!

    6. Houda*

      Lifelong anemic here, I am one of those people who need high doses of iron and other supplements daily despite a balanced diet. The thing is that you can be anemic for many reasons, in my case it’s mostly genetics. But keep in mind that if for instance you get heavy menstruation, you are bound to have anemia at some point.
      Every now and then when my anemia gets much worse, a strong course of ferrous fumarate does wonders. And TMI but don’t worry about the state of your stools, it will pass (ha).
      You will feel so much better once you finish your treatment. I personally turn to high quality OTC iron when I finish the FF but always keep an eye on my symptoms: fast heart rate shortness of breath, my sister telling me I look like a ghost… and when I feel my levels have dipped again, I schedule a blood test.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Many different deficiencies can really mess up sleep time.

      Please let us know if this eases your nightmare situation. (Fingers crossed for you!)

      1. SofiaDeo*

        I tried going meatless & became so anemic I had heart palpitations. The pills, even ferrous fumarate, my body doesn’t like. I find if I eat high quality (organic, grassfed) beef 2-3 times a week, I am fine. Small portion size, (3-4 oz) not 8-12 oz. You may have to try it from several places before you find a taste you like; some I have hated, some loved. Grass fed beef is so very very different from grain fed/feedlot cattle.

        1. Anónima*

          I just went vegan over a year ago. I am enjoying being vegan and don’t want to go back to eating meat, dairy, or fish, so I am a bit concerned that I am anaemic. I know that iron is harder to absorb from plant sources. I’ll have to see how I get on with it.

          1. Bluebell*

            Anonima- I also had a hard time during my anemic phase. I had been vegetarian for over 10 years, and I actually succumbed and had some turkey and roast beef. The roast beef was a big mistake for my stomach. :) Spinach, tofu, and chickpeas are your friends and so is tomato paste. I think I see vegan lasagna in your future?

          2. Emma*

            I have often been somewhat anaemic, but have actually had less issues with this while eating a largely vegan diet (was previously vegetarian) – I have no idea why that is the case as logically it shouldn’t be. I am pretty careful with my diet to make sure I am getting everything I need, and have probably become more aware of it since moving to a more plant-based diet, which may explain why anaemia has not been so much of an issue. If you have not already read it, Messina’s book “Vegan for Her” is a pretty good resource on healthy vegan diets for women. I also periodically track what I am eating on cronometer to re-confirm that I am ticking all the right boxes, and make sure I take appropriate supplements (B3, DHA, D, or sometimes a vegan multi).

      2. Anónima*

        Thanks!
        I don’t want to bore anyone, because I know how dreams are really personal and very boring to others :) but since I found out I was anaemic (which has honestly made SO much sense for the other stuff going on with me physically that I am also feeling angry that my GP didn’t pick it up earlier) I have been having dreams where I am sort of “finding myself”.

        Very vivid and weird, but kind of nice! Makes a change from the nightmares definitely; and so interesting that I obviously haven’t got my iron levels up to normal yet but the fact that I am taking action has obviously changed the content of my dreams from “do something!” to “well done, you did something!”

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This may sound kind of woo-wooish but I have seen and I believe that there are early, early signs when something is going to work. These are signs that are really not verifiable by scientific tests, because it is just way too early in the process. So the shift in dreams may actually be indicating that you are on a better road.
          I am very optimistic for you.

    8. Dancing Otter*

      If you’re taking iron supplements, be sure to eat lots of fiber and stay hydrated. The pills can cause constipation. (Voice of experience.)

    9. WoodswomanWrites*

      A note on iron supplements is that I have always been able to find pills/capsules that specifically were formulated to avoid constipation and never had that problem. I got them from natural food stores so they were likely more pricey than you’d find at a mainstream drug store but they never upset my digestive system at all even though I was taking the high dose recommended by my doctor.

    10. Just Graduated*

      Not advise, but just a heads up that I noticed it took a couple of weeks for the Iron to take effect, but once it did I felt so much better!
      Also, I noticed that because the day to day difference between taking iron/not is so subtle that its really easy to accidentally forgot / decide to stop since your feeling better and end up in the same cycle

  7. Arya Parya*

    When we decided on having children, my SO and I both agreed on two. Three was too many for us and we wanted to give our future kids a sibling. However after the first I changed my mind. I found having a baby really hard and it was costing me my mental health. I also was diagnosed with ASD (autism)

    Our daughter just turned two. She’s great. She’s a very happy, cheerfull kid and loves to help out. So things have gotten better. I think about half a year ago she started talking well enough to have some proper communication, which is a great help. I finally feel like I’m getting myself back a bit. It’s still very hard, but I can manage.

    My SO still really wants to have a second child. He loves being a dad. And just in case people wonder, he does his share of the household and childcare. We’ve got it pretty evenly devided between the two of us. We’re both 36 now, so we’ve got some time, but not a lot. I still feel like I won’t be able to handle going to the baby stages again without losing my sanity, because now there will also be another kid needing attention. I also don’t want my daughter seeing me like that.

    My SO and I both want each other to be happy, but there’s no compromise here. I don’t think I can have another child just to make my SO happy, but I also can’t ignore his wish for a second. We just go around in circles discussing this.

    Does anyone here have any experience with this? Did you and you SO want a different number of children? Did you find a way out of that without resenting each other?

    1. One and unwillingly*

      I think the right number of children to have in a family is the smallest number that both parents feel enthusiastic about parenting.

      In my family, things are reversed: I desperately want another child, my partner feels they are at their limit with one for a variety of reasons. I’m very sad about it. Our daughter is three. I’m going to therapy to help cope with my feelings of loss, and I’m focusing on all the wonderful things about our family.

      It’s very tough, but I think probably not as tough as coparenting with someone who feels overwhelmed by more kids than they feel up to raising, or parenting a kid who struggles to connect with an overwhelmed parent.

      1. Not by choice but by circumstance*

        Yep, this is exactly. My philosophy has always been that the answer to “should we have a kid” must be two enthusiastic yeses, whether it’s your first kid or your tenth.

        And I was in the same boat -as One and unwillingly – I wanted a second kid when I was 41 and after our first try ended in miscarriage, my husband decided he didn’t want to take any more chances with my ancient eggs. It took me therapy and a lot of time and effort to grieve the loss of the family I thought I wanted.

        now, 5 years later, I am so grateful for the child that I have and while I would have loved a second, I know a lot of things would have been a lot harder and our life would look a lot different. I don’t resent my husband – but that’s because I have chosen to be happy for what I have rather than miss what I don’t have. If your husband can make the same journey, you can all, hopefully, be a happy triangle family.

    2. Freelance Everything*

      Have you considered adoption?

      I’m not sure if your concern was regarding the labour or raising a baby, or both. But this would be a way to avoid both, and still have a second child.

      1. Vina*

        Adoption is often expensive and difficult in the US. It’s much more labor-intensive than having a biological child.

        Also, as an adoptee and attorney who works with kids in foster care, I really, really wish people would stop trotting this out as an alternative. First, I’m sure OP’s thought of this. Second, it’s often expensive and difficult. Third, adoption should be chosen b/c parents want to proactively adopt. It’s not a consolation prize for not being able to have “real” children nor is it easier or a solution to other issues. It’s just not.

        I realize you didn’t mean your post to imply any of that. But it does. There’s a lot of cultural b.s. about adoption int he US and Europe. Most people have very, very unrealistic expectations about it and also don’t stop to think one second about what a parent’s motivations (e.g., less work, can’t hav my own) mean for the child in the long run.

        1. Freelance Everything*

          I disagree that I implied any of that in my post. Though I take responsibility for not clarifying.

          I do have a good understanding of adoption and fostering in my country, and I also don’t think it’s less work or a ‘consolation prize’.

          There’s no indication of which country LW is in or if they’ve considered it or if they feel it’s something they’d be comfortable with. Which is why my questions was so open.

          She suggested that the only reasons she was uncomfortable with having a second child was because there was something around labour or early years that she found challenging. While adopting an older child is replete with its own challenges, if it’s something they’re open to seriously considering then I see no reason not to consider it.

        1. Freelance Everything*

          I don’t see an issue with checking on a possibility that hasn’t been explicitly mentioned.

          1. Aza*

            Adoption is a suggestion often made when people have difficulty conceiving for whatever reason. I personally find it shitty because adoption is an obvious solution that most people consider on their own. They don’t need an outsider to remind them of it. It’s basically telling someone an obvious thing. Usually not helpful and often hurtful. In my case, I’ve struggled with infertility and there are legal reasons I can’t adopt (detailed in my reply below). But I don’t want to get into that with people every time. Most people struggling to have a kid have already evaluated whether or not adoption is an option they want to consider. It’s not like it’s some secret thing that people aren’t aware of. So honestly when people suggest it, it often comes across as tone deaf and pushy.

          2. Valancy Snaith*

            The reason people are reacting strongly to this is because when people express difficulty conceiving, almost invariably the response will be “have you thought about adoption?” about 85% of the time. It’s problematic for tons of reasons. Adoption is difficult, expensive, and time-consuming, and depending on where you live, particularly ethically thorny or requires would-be adoptive parents to go through years and years of emotional limbo. More to the point, adoption should be a choice considered by anyone looking to have children. It isn’t the responsibility of the childless to adopt, and many many people are barred from adopting for a huge variety of reasons. So not only is adoption a huge topic, but if a couple is to the point where they’re telling others about their difficulty bringing children into the world, almost certainly they’ve considered adoption. It’s a common thing, people are aware of it as a concept, and it almost always comes off as a flippant suggestion.

      2. Arya Parya*

        Thanks for the suggestion. I appreciate it. And yes, we’ve talked about it, but it’s not something we want to do. I’m not in the US, but adoption is hard here too. And there are some other personal reasons.

        1. Freelance Everything*

          Fair enough.

          Then I would definitely add my voice to your conclusion, and the other commenters, saying that this isn’t really a situation where compromise works or rather the compromise is one-sided. If one of you doesn’t want to, then the answer is no.

          It sounds like you’ve discussed the practicalities and your personal feelings. I don’t think you putting your foot down is the same as ‘ignoring’. You’ve acknowledged his feelings and you’ve talked through them.

          There are people in the thread with more lived experience on this so I defer to them on the specifics of these kinds of conversation.

    3. Mimosa Jones*

      My family had a similar situation. My husband and I had agreed on 2, maybe 3, and we have an only child…soon to be an adult. After the first, my husband wanted a second, and I sort of did, but ultimately decided I didn’t for lots of reasons. Unlike you, it wasn’t something we discussed and decided. The toddler years were an insanely busy time for us and once we could take a breath we were pretty happy with our family of 3. “Three is a magic number” is one of my favorite sayings and songs. I believe that since you, the mother, the person who gets pregnant and unavoidably has a more intense first few months with an infant, is the one saying no, that needs to be respected. It doesn’t make saying it any easier. Nor is it any help to your husband in accepting it. But this is one of those things you really shouldn’t do just to make another person happy.

      1. Millicent*

        Agreed. This is not a situation where you try to find a solution that everyone can live with – this is a situation where if one person can’t or doesn’t want to do it, the team doesn’t do it.

    4. allathian*

      My husband would have liked for our son to have a sibling. We met when I was 33 and for the first three years, he lived in another city and we only saw each other on the weekends. I had been lukewarm on the idea of kids as long as I can remember and I only changed my mind when I met my husband and realized that he’d be a great father. He also made it very clear as soon as our relationship became serious that he wanted kids. I doubt that we’d have married if I had been completely set against that idea. We’d been living together for a few months when we started trying and I got pregnant immediately, which I definitely didn’t expect given my age at the time, 36. My pregnancy was high-risk due to my age and weight, but everything went well in the end, I had a healthy baby. My husband’s always done his share of parenting, but I was exhausted. I have almost no memories of my son’s first year, although luckily we took a lot of photos. I’m also very lucky in that my MIL had already retired when my son was born and she was more than willing to babysit so that I could take a shower, do some chores and eat in peace. For the first two weeks, my husband took paternity leave and after that, my MIL visited us almost every day to give me some time to rest (I’m in Scandinavia so we have 11 months maternity leave and a very generous parental leave policy, I returned to work when our son had just turned two). I’m luckier still in that my in-laws and parents are happy to help when they can, but they don’t interfere in the way we’re raising our son.

      Still, my husband would have wanted another child and when our son was three, we stopped birth control and decided to let nature take its course. I was willing but not enthusiastic, because I felt that I was too old at 40. During the next two years I had two first-trimester miscarriages and when I noticed after the second that I was more relieved at not having to go through another pregnancy, birth and infancy than dismayed at losing my pregnancy, while my husband was grieving for a while, we agreed to stop trying. He didn’t want to put me through that again, as I was lucky not to need curettage.

      I think that every child has the basic right to be born truly wanted, although far too many are not, and that the opinion of the person who does not want another child overrides that of the one who does. If this is a dealbreaker for your SO, he can end the relationship with you, continue as a coparent of your daughter and try and find someone else to have a second child with. Although I do hope he can accept that your mental health is more important than his desire for another child with you.

      Sibling relationships are valuable, sure, but not all siblings like or even tolerate each other when they are either kids or grown. My younger sister and I (we’re 2 years apart) are very different people with very different values. She’s a childfree career-oriented woman and a wonderful aunt to my son. I like my job, but it’s not my passion and I’m definitely a work to live rather than live to work person. As adults, we love and respect each other, but I can’t remember much from our childhood other than the constant fighting. There was no escape from that, because we lived in small apartments for most of my childhood and teenage years and we had to share a room until I moved out. I need a lot of me-time so I’m very happy that I don’t have to act as a referee in fights between siblings. Now that my son’s 11, he can entertain himself for a lot of the time, although our home’s always open to his friends, at least when there’s no pandemic.

      1. Analyst Editor*

        I really like the approach in letting nature take its course. I think it really helps come to terms with how things shake out – because it’s not all on you for “making the wrong decision” and you don’t feel as cheated if your expectations don’t pan out, and feel more thankful if they do.

    5. Aza*

      My husband and I are in the middle of this, with very similar stats to you (daughter almost 2, I’m turning 37 very soon). We’ve just been talking about it a lot, explaining why we feel the way we feel. I had deep, scary, suicidal depression due to fertility meds when conceiving our first. He’s rightfully worried about if that may happen again.
      We’re talking a lot now, but may seek a couples counselor if needed.
      One of the things I told him at the beginning of our discussions was that I felt so trapped. I deeply wanted a second kid and if he didn’t, I knew I couldn’t make him. And to divorce at this age, honestly there’s no point- it would be devastating for all of us and there’s no guarantee I’d get a second kid. I talked about how if we don’t try for a second kid, I will deeply regret it for the rest of my life.
      He talked about his fear for my health, how he’s worried if we try again with the meds, I may commit suicide and leave him with our kid. He talked about how having a kid is such a huge time commitment, and two would only be more. He talked about finances, about not wanting to cripple us with second daycare.
      We talked and talked, and I cried a lot.
      As we talked, he felt like his desire to not have a kid was a little less strong than my desire to have a kid. And I became more open to just having one kid. Our current plan is to start trying in January, when our finances will be slightly stronger. We don’t plan to do expensive things like ivf. We plan to set a limit on how long we try, likely 1 year. If I go on the fertility meds again, I plan to go on an antidepressant beforehand. We’re going to keep talking.
      It’s so hard. The only way through is communication.
      And in case anyone asks, adoption isn’t an option for us. My husband had a drug related felony in college 10 years ago, and in our state you can’t foster or adopt with this. There are no exceptions, it’s state code.

      1. Arya Parya*

        Thanks for your perspective. We’re talking too and are looking into therapy.
        I hope everything works out for your family.

      2. Overeducated*

        This sounds so hard and it is also really beautiful to hear about you both trying so hard to be so real with each other and make it work somehow. Wherever the journey takes you, I hope you wind up closer and at peace with each other and whatever happens.

    6. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      It’s tough, but ultimately I think it’s better to regret not having a child, than regret having one. I really think this is a “two yeses, otherwise no” situation. Every child must be a wanted child.

      I always wanted three, and Mr Klink was cool with that idea. Then we actually had a baby, and got a major reality check. Baby. Did. Not. Sleep. I didn’t get more than three or four hours of uninterrupted sleep until he was 18 months old – no joke, for a whole I was getting more sleep on my (train) commute each day than in my actual bed. I wasn’t done, but for what felt like forever Mr Klink pointed out that it would be madness to go again, and we agreed not to discuss until a particular date. By then there was light at the end of the tunnel, but that waiting time was very emotionally difficult for me and I could practically hear the clock ticking.

      Baby 2 did sleep, but only on me. I did not go back to my job after maternity leave, we replaced the master bed and mattress, and baby and I co-slept for two years.

      We had very, very in-depth discussions before trying for #3. We knew by this point that trying for a baby meant risking another physically and emotionally traumatic miscarriage, and that even a successful pregnancy might lead to months/years of sleep deprivation and mental health issues. We looked at timing – a new baby would prevent my full return to the workplace for another how many years? If the baby arrived in this school year rather than that school year, that would add another year to the calculation. When would we stop trying?

      Baby three has been our biggest challenge, both in terms of his behaviour and my health. But at every stage we knew we were done. I get no pangs ever, and never regret any of the children.

      Having a baby isn’t about having a baby, but about adding a human to your family and to the world. Sometimes the practicalities of the having a baby bit overwhelm all other considerations; sometimes vice versa.

    7. BethDH*

      I am currently typing while bouncing a fussy 5- month old, with the “help” of a toddler. I love having two kids and I’m glad we did it, but if you had a hard time with the infant stage with the first one, the second one will likely be harder. Babies are different and this one is easier in some ways and harder in others (he sleeps better!), but with an older kid around I feel like I have less time to enjoy the good parts of an infant. It’s hard to take time to watch him smile in his sleep, or add play time to bath time, and so on.
      I think you can only decide based on how you feel now. If age weren’t an issue, would you wait? You may find that more time with an older kid makes the baby stuff seem not as bad, or it may make it easier for both of you to feel your family is complete as is. You’re not guaranteed to have a kid now if you did try, and you’re not guaranteed NOT to if you wait.

    8. D3*

      Have you explored the idea that you may have been suffering from postpartum depression? It’s very treatable and if it recurs (it might not!) you could be feeling more like yourself again sooner with treatment.

      1. Arya Parya*

        Yes, I’ve been to a psychologist when my daughter was about two months old. It wasn’t PPD. They said they suspected I have autism, which could explain the anxiety and panic I was feeling. So I went for a diagnosis and I indeed am on the spectrum.

        1. Ampersand*

          I was diagnosed with ADHD after having my daughter—being a parent felt harder than it should have. I looked at other moms and couldn’t understand how they were functioning while I couldn’t, and that was even after I was sleeping all night again. I don’t know what autism is like exactly (there are some similarities to ADHD) but I do know what getting a diagnosis of this type is like after having a baby.

          My husband and I decided not to have a second child because of how difficult it’s been…and we have a pretty easy going kid. I truly don’t understand how people have two (or more) kids. It would break me.

          If you already know that one is your max, don’t have another. It’s sad, disappointing, and I understand why you feel guilty—you’ll both need to find a way to manage and work through those feelings. I don’t think having a second child is the answer! Overall, I wanted to say that you’re not alone in feeling anxious and overwhelmed by being a parent, or in not wanting a second child after having your first.

          1. Arya Parya*

            Thanks for this. Yes, it’s so overwhelming. And it’s comforting to hear from someone who had s similar experience.

            We have an easy child and I already find this really hard. What if the second is harder? I also feel that would break me.

    9. Not A Manager*

      It sounds like you’re most concerned about the very early years. If you feel that you would enthusiastically enjoy having two children once they are a bit older (and I can’t tell from your post if that’s true or not), then maybe one thing to think about is how you could REALLY prioritize having help and support during the first three or four years. Again, that’s only if you feel that you would truly want to have two children, but for the real cost to your mental health when they are very young.

      I hesitate to make suggestions that you might have already considered. All I would say is that, if you decide that a completely necessary condition of having more children would be a lot of help for a few years, maybe you could make life decisions and budgets in the same way that you would for anything else super important – like career decisions or buying a house. Could you move closer to extended family? Could you budget for an au pair for at least three years? Could you be the primary breadwinner for a few years, and your partner would be the primary at-home parent?

    10. Sunset Maple*

      My husband has an autistic sibling who did not receive proper diagnosis, treatment, or care. He is now in his mid-forties and is unemployed, socially dysfunctional, and prone to violent tantrums. He will become our problem once my ILs are gone, because they ignored his issues and pretended everything was fine. My husband resents his entire family and often expresses envy at my only-child status.

      This is obviously incredibly specific and very extreme, but I bring it up to remind people that a sibling is not an automatic best friend. There is no guarantee that a second child will be happy, healthy, and functional enough to stand on their own two feet. It’s entirely possible that you are burdening your first child instead of creating them a companion.

      People often make this decision based on the best-case scenario, but your post indicates that you feel overwhelmed even given a relatively easy-going first child. Your perspective sounds honest and realistic. I don’t see a way to compromise here.

    11. Courageous cat*

      No but I’d recommend counseling. Babies are hard. But can you see yourself with a 7 year old and a 5 year old? Babies aren’t babies forever, so if you would be fine with them when they’re older, maybe it’s worth addressing in counseling how to get through that stage.

      If you truly don’t want a second child at ANY point, then agree with the other person: two yeses, one no.

    12. Black Horse Dancing*

      If another point may be made–please, people, stop thinking every child needs or even wants a sibling or that siblings get along and are wonderful. Many, many people are estranged from their siblings, dislike/hate their sibs, were abused by their sibling, etc. I can’t tell you the number of people I know who don’t speak to any of their siblings at all as adults. Many people love their brothers and sisters and just as many do not.

      1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        My daughter is a 3rd generation only child – meaning that she, I and my father were/are all only children. None of us ever had the desire for a sibling, in fact, we all grew up feeling very lucky that our only child status allowed for the parents in the situation to focus all their financial and emotional energy on us.

        My daughter just graduated with from a 4-year private college with no student loan debt, and there is no way we could have made that happen if we had more than one to send. She has never expressed feeling lonely or wishing she had a sister or brother to play with, and she is not one to hide any feelings from us.

        Only children are not destined to grow up to be lonely, anxious weirdos. I’m happy I had my parent’s example so that I felt very comfortable saying HELL NO when the subject of having a second kid come up. I had my tubes tied 1.5 years after my daughter was born at 27 years old, and we’ve never regretted it.

        1. One and unwillingly*

          Can I ask you about the three generations bit? As mentioned upthread, my kid is an only, and I come from a huge family. My siblings and I are extremely close, and I grew up playing with first and second and third cousins, having huge family gatherings, etc. One of the things that’s hard for me about having an only child is thinking of my potential grandchildren not having aunts and uncles on my side of the family, because having that large extended family was a huge part of my identity formation as a kid. (I realize I’m kind of borrowing trouble there, since who knows if my kid will even want to reproduce? But it gives my mind something to be sad about other than that she’ll never have the same sibling relationships I do.)

          What was it like not having aunts and uncles on your dad’s side? Did your mum have a large extended family? Did you feel closer to one side vs the other? I guess I’m just trying to imagine a family landscape that’s very different from the one I grew up with.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I’m not Gigless, who posted above.
            But I am an only child and I had very limited family around me when I was growing up.

            I think that other things fill in the blank spots. Because there wasn’t a ton of relatives constantly calling or visiting there was more available time to read or take tennis lessons etc. It’s not the same, nor should it be. But going the other way different is not “less than”, it’s just different.

            I listen to my friend talk about Sunday breakfast growing up. Thirty people, yes, 3-0 people would show up every Sunday morning for breakfast.
            Ya know what? Honestly that does not sound like fun to me and I don’t feel like I missed something because my family did not have that. We go with that which is familiar to us, my friend misses those times and I say, “Phew, thank goodness we did not have to go through THAT!”

            In my own life I grieved not having siblings for several reasons. But as I aged I also saw that just because you have siblings does not mean you automatically have a life time companion and ally. Some people have been greatly harmed by their siblings and that is reality. I took off my rose colored glasses and decided to think more about what I had than what I lacked. One of the first things that jumped out at me, was the fact that I never looked around to see who would come help me with something. I watched friends struggle when no one came to help them. I was already used to doing things on my own and I could quickly come up with a plan on how to handle something if someone broke their promise to show up and help me. I saw people reeeally struggle with this and I realized that I needed to have an appreciation for this hidden strength I suddenly recognized.

            I don’t think anyone is handed everything they “should” have in life. I do think that there are opportunities in almost every situation though and it is a matter of looking around for those opportunties.

            1. One and unwillingly*

              Thanks for that perspective – the last paragraph especially is helpful. There definitely were moments when I felt a bit swallowed up by my family as a kid, even though overall I enjoyed my environment.

              I also try to remind myself that many people with siblings don’t have the positive relationship I have with mine. My spouse has a sibling they barely tolerate. You’re so right that although it’s natural for me to want my daughter to have what I had, there’s no way I could guarantee that for her even if she had a dozen siblings. She will live her life, not mine.

          2. Natalie*

            Just a general comment – remember that whatever kind of family a kid experiences is what’s normal to them. You might be thinking that you would have missed your big family, but for your kid it won’t be like they have a big family who then disappears. They’ll just always have a small one, and that will always feel normal to them.

            Your friends and your kid’s friend’s parents can also fill the role of non-parent caring adults. I am closer to a bunch of my stepmom’s friends than I am to most of my aunts and uncles.

            1. matcha123*

              This is very on-point. I come from a very small family. Family gatherings or outings were just never done. I don’t miss that experience because I never had that experience.
              What I do not like, however, are the people that assume that I’m sad because of it. Having a ton of people making commentary about my life or coming in and out of my house doesn’t sound very fun to me!

              1. Sunset Maple*

                Agreed! I’m an only as well, and everything I’ve observed about big families makes them seem intrusive, nosy, and tiring.

          3. allathian*

            My father was an only child, which was much less common in the 40s and 50s when he was growing up than it is today. His mother was 32 when he was born, practically ancient at a time when a woman had to be married by 25 or she’d be judged too old to marry at all. His father was 11 years older and didn’t want any more kids under his feet, according to my grandmother. So I had no cousins on my dad’s side growing up. My mom was the oldest of 10 children, so I have nearly 20 cousins, some of them young enough to be my kids. My youngest uncle is only 6 years older than I am, so he felt more like an older cousin than an uncle when I was growing up.
            Like I posted above, I have one childfree sister. My husband also has a sister who is in her mid-30s and who has never dated seriously. She’s also a conservative person who would not consider dating casually just to get pregnant, so at this point it’s unlikely that she will have a child. So my son won’t have any cousins, but he’s never said he feels that he’s missing out.

          4. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

            Honestly, it just seemed normal to me. My mom did have a large family (she was one of 7 kids) and so I had plenty of aunts, uncles and cousins on that side. It was actually nice to see both sides – a loud, boisterous involved extended family on my mom’s side, and a quiet, introverted small one on the other. It’s a lot like the My Big Fat Greek Wedding dynamic if you’ve seen that movie.

            As I became an adult, I definitely leaned towards being more like my dad’s side. I moved 700 miles away when I was 30 and have very little to do with any of my extended family on my Mom’s side (everyone on my Dad’s side, including my dad passed several years ago). I really don’t miss them at all – they are always up in each other’s business and I’m very happy to be living far away from them making my own life without having to hear their thoughts about it (of which I am sure they have many, it’s just how they are).

            To be fair, I’m spectacularly introverted and can count on both hands the number of people I would consider essential to my life and have fingers left over. I love having a small close family of three and don’t long for additional familial ties.

            1. allathian*

              Like I said, my mom was the eldest of 10. So as a child, I got to experience big family dinners, especially at Christmas at my maternal grandmother’s house. That said, the family was pretty much all introverts, so we could be 30 people sitting at a big table and you could hear nothing except cutlery hitting crockery and the occasional “pass the salt, please” and some murmuring chat with the person sitting next to you, maybe. It was also an environment where kids were expected to be seen and not heard (late 70s and early 80s), at least during mealtimes.

      2. Arya Parya*

        I know, which is why I try to keep this out of the discussions with my SO. This cannot be the reason for having a second, at least for us.

    13. Laura H.*

      I’m the oldest of two adult kids. I live with my folks, and while eventually I still want to get married and have kids of my own, for now I volunteer for kiddos at my church through middle school ministry and vacation bible school, and they kinda become “my” kids. (It’s the best way I can put it)

      It’s not the same but maybe when your kiddo gets older, y’all could volunteer in some way as a family to help and bond with kids in your community.

    14. Analyst Editor*

      Here’s a perspective from a blog I read a lot about wanting an additional child and husband not.
      https://www.drpsychmom.com/2016/12/18/want-third-kid-husband-doesnt/

      My own opinion: if it is an option for you financially, consider having a second child and taking time out of the work-force for a year or two. Two data points on which I base this advice:
      One (1): I left my job recently after having my 2nd child, and – while it’s a struggle in many ways – I feel a real sense of freedom. (And subversiveness, honestly, hehe.) I can pick up and drive to visit my mom; I don’t have to use anodyne corporate-speak; no more power-points. I plan to eventually re-enter the workforce, and have plans to make that possible, but there is nothing appealing about the corporate ladder right now.
      Two (2): My mom stayed at home with me and my siblings for years, even after we were in school, and it has benefited us in lots of subtle ways – from preservation of our original native language, to absorbing her favorite movies and books, to preserved common values….

    15. Ducksgoquack*

      I think the person who doesn’t want kids would “win” by default. You’re absolutely right that raising kids is hard, and you shouldn’t have more if that’s not what you want to do.

      I agree it’s not healthy to go around in circles discussing this. It would be well worth the money/time to talk to a marriage counsellor about it. If I were in your SO’s position, personally, I would feel resentful as hell. Not saying this to guilt you because you not wanting to have more kids is valid and understandable. But giving up plans of having baby #2 is also a big deal…for me it would take a lot of effort to recover emotionally.

    16. Alexandra Lynch*

      As an autistic woman who is also a mother, I had a much easier time in some ways putting 4 1/2 years spacing between my kids.

      By that point, Eldest is toilet-trained, he can get himself dressed in basic clothes, and can pretty much eat regular food. He can communicate his needs in clear language, and is at a point in his life where he’s starting nursery school and can sort of move out of the point where he is “the baby”, and let someone else take the baby role. The elder kid is also able cognitively to understand things like, “Let me get the baby fed and sleeping and then I’ll read you a story.” They also will not be in the same school at the same time, which helps with personal individuation, and you will only have one in college at once.

      The downside is you JUST get used to a kid who can handle their basic toileting and then you start over from the beginning again. (wry laugh)

    17. blackcat*

      So my perspective is that, if you would be the one to bear the kid, your vote counts a lot more than his.

      I also have a good number of friends who have 4-6 years between their kids, because that’s when it felt doable to them. In four of those cases, the child-bearing partner was over 40 when the second was born.

      So… my vote is to keep waiting.

      My one kid may be an only, or we may end up with a large age gap. I’m presently having some health stuff that may mean there’s no option for a second kid, and I’m younger than you (by just a bit). There’s no guarantee on the age front with fertility–plenty of 37 year olds can’t conceive, and plenty of 42 year olds can.

    18. SoFar*

      I remember when my husband, ten years in u-turned and told me he didn’t want ANY children, putting me in a position of having to choose.
      I read something online that has resonated with me ever since. ‘People do not owe us a baby’ and ‘It is not possible to enjoy even a dream decision with an unenthused partner’.
      People are not baby-tickets. That’s not why we marry people. Situations change and people must be free to change their minds. You will not be a strong parental unit if you put a hypothetical child ahead of your own or your partner’s happiness.
      Ultimately my marriage didn’t survive; but it had nothing to do with not having a baby. Foregoing something you want causes resentment, but there is at least a space left for other options, so it’s not the same as resentment caused by foisting an unwanted decision without enthusiastic consent.
      I was happy to fill the gap, to discuss the ‘what else’s’ we could do with our time on this earth and the only thing that kept resentment alive was he persisted in a pattern of hiding his feelings, making it impossible to reach enthusiastic decisions or discuss options.
      I say; be honest, be open, brainstorm and don’t settle.

  8. Sir Lena Clare*

    Anyone here do 16/8 intermittent fasting (or any variation thereof)?

    I’ve heard good things about it; but that it can also lead to problems with fertility in women. I’m not planning a pregnancy and I’m in menopause anyway, but I don’t want to bugger up my cycle.

    So, advantages? Disadvantages?

    1. Potatoes gonna potate*

      That’s interesting, I’ve heard the opposite that it helps those with fertility issues.

      I do an unofficial version of it, but when I first started, I had to be careful I didn’t just condense my meals so I was eating the same amount of calories in a 8-hour period as I would have in a 12-hour period. I never got dedicated enough to notice much difference

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        It depends. If you’re otherwise completely healthy and are restricting calories too much (it’s important that IF isn’t used as a tool to restrict calories below your BMR, aka starve yourself) then it can add stress to your body and hurt your reproductive hormones – just like any starvation diet would.
        But if you have insulin resistance related hormonal concerns, like insulin resistant PCOS, then it can actually help regulate hormones by reversing the insulin resistance, therefore making it easier to conceive. And bonus reduce risk of pregnancy complication.

        Personally as someone prone to hypoglycemia (hanger) I have a really hard time doing IF if I’m not solidly in ketosis. But if I’m being good about staying keto, I love adding IF on top just for the convenience factor.
        IMO keto is more effective at helping with weight loss (and reversed my insulin resistance and PCOS) so I’d rather do that than IF.
        But if IF seems easier for you than keto, give it a try. You can always stop. My only advice is to work up slowly. It can take a long time for your body to learn to keep blood sugar slowly. So start with a 12 hour eating window and slowly reduce. My current favorite plan is that I just do a 36 hour fast once a week. That leaves me free to do heavy weight training without worrying about a calorie deficit the rest of the week. But when I started 2 years ago I could barely make it 14.
        My

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          But if you have insulin resistance related hormonal concerns, like insulin resistant PCOS, then it can actually help regulate hormones by reversing the insulin resistance, therefore making it easier to conceive. And bonus reduce risk of pregnancy complication.

          That goes in line with what I’ve heard and read about IF/keto. I had joined a few keto/IF groups a while back and a lot mentioned having surprise pregnancies. I wasn’t doing it when I got pregnant (still no clue how that happened). I plan to return to low carb/keto/IF after the baby’s here, not sure how feasible that’ll be. So far I’ve been good about not gaining too much weight but I was really overweight pp as well.

          1. Not A Girl Boss*

            I always recommend people interesting in this aspect follow doctorfitandfabulous on Instagram. She’s an obgyn who specializes in low carb for at risk pregnancies and infertility. Forever hoping she comes out with a book one day. But she’s had some really helpful podcast interviews.

    2. MistOrMister*

      I tried it shortly, but it wasn’t for me. I didn’t like the time restraints when I was working in the office. I couldn’t manage to get my meals right. Although, working at home, the kitchen and all the food is right there, so it might be easier. I didn’t see any pluses or minuses to it while I did it, other than I was constantly having to watch the clock, which I found annoying.

    3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I tried it for a while and I was surprised at how quickly I got used to it. I wasn’t that hungry until right before time to eat. However, it was impossible to sustain when I wasn’t on my own, because my spouse and I have drastically different work schedules and part of what made it work was my own rigid work day and the fact that when I was trying to follow it I was living alone, having dinner and going to bed much earlier than when I am with my spouse.

      I don’t know if I just wasn’t able to do it for long enough or if I was making up for the lost calories more than I realized or what, but I didn’t lose any noticeable weight. I tried it for about 3 months, and at the time I was also making an effort to avoid too much sugar and carbs.

    4. Kate*

      I inadvertently started doing it during coronavirus WFH. It just so happened that I wasn’t really hungry before 11 if I wasn’t waking up at 0530 for my abysmal commute and long work day.

      I have really liked it, and based on ho shaggy my clothes are right now, I suspect I have lost some weight doing it, too.

    5. Got Cats?*

      I kind of did it by accident. I work at a college and also am taking art classes there. The studio classes are three hours long and are scheduled at lunch time. I am not a breakfast eater, so I would have an iced coffee in the morning, and not wanting to eat lunch before 11 am, nor after 2 pm, as then I’d end up not being hungry until 8 or 9(too late for dinner on a work night), I just started skipping lunch. Then I would have dinner around 6 or 6:30, so I was basically fasting 12 hours during the day and 12 hours over night. I lost about 10 pounds and can maintain it as long as I don’t go crazy eating desserts every night. Birthday cake…ahem. I also run a few times a week, and drink water all day long.

      1. Got Cats?*

        Also, I have been at home since early March and sometimes fasting all day is a little more difficult because the fridge is so near. On days when I really can’t take it, I’ll have a handful of nuts or something.

    6. NotAFitnessNut*

      I love it.

      I find that I still get hungry around 10:30-11:30, but if I can distract myself through that and just be busy, then I’m good until 1. I usually eat between 1pm-7pm.

      Here’s what I like most about it: it saves so much time! And it saves mental space thinking about food.

      Diets that require me to think about food/keep track of calories/prepare multiple small meals don’t work for me because while I’m trying to eat “less”, I’m having to think about it all the time. Which makes me even more hungry. Also I find that kind of time commitment unsustainable.

      It takes no thinking and no prep time to not eat.

      Added advantage- as long as I keep quality food ready, I eat better. By the time I do eat, I’m hungry enough that healthy food looks just as delicious or moreso than highly processed foods. So it helps me make good food choices.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Yup, I find it a godsend to just think about 2 meals a day instead of 3-6 (meals plus small snacks that’s commonly recommended).

    7. moql*

      I found that it really helped me reset my eating habits for a month or two, but I’ve stopped being strict about jt. It took me several months to get used to it, and i did struggle a lot the first month. My husband took to OMAD really quickly though, so I do think part of it is just finding something that works for your body. Mostly I am now just way more aware of only eating when I am actually hungry. I used to east breakfast as a matter of routine before leaving the house and now I have some dried fruit at 10 am instead. My portions weren’t huge before, but now I very small breakfast and lunch with a normal dinner. I lost 10 lbs in two months which I am very happy with. I did platue for a few weeks so don’t get discouraged.

    8. fposte*

      I did it until the pandemic sent me home. I really liked it. Honestly, I think it’s overstating to consider it intermittent fasting–it’s just not making eating an all-day thing, and it breaks the notion that having a hunger pang is necessarily a bad thing. I’ve never heard of 16/8 as causing any problems with the reproductive system. It didn’t do anything for my weight, but it improved my Crohn’s and dropped my already good blood pressure another 10 points. I liked being more in touch with my body’s hunger cycle–it was useful to be able to note that that system worked, and I really enjoyed that first meal of the day.

      1. Sir Lena Clare*

        /blockquote/I think it’s overstating to consider it intermittent fasting–it’s just not making eating an all-day thing, and it breaks the notion that having a hunger pang is necessarily a bad thing.
        Huh, I never thought of it that way before. This is interesting food for thought.

        1. fposte*

          I know it does get discussed as intermittent fasting and it wasn’t just you saying it. But I think to consider it fasting really makes it seem like a norm that we eat 16 hours a day, and I think that’s a very contemporary and Western phenomenon.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            Definitely. Sometimes people rave about their new “IF” diet and it turns out they’re … skipping breakfast.

            1. Potatoes gonna potate*

              Yessssss. For the longest time when I first learned about IF I wondered what the difference was between that and just skipping a meal.

    9. Sunset Maple*

      Yes, I do it to help control my severe reflux. I love it. I feel lighter, more awake, and my bile is firmly under control. (It’s also easier during quarantine, since I can get up two hours later than when I have to commute.)

      No idea about fertility, I have a Mirena and am childfree.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        I also do it to control my reflux and it work great. I took a break during my pregnancy (didn’t impact my fertility, apparently) and the first few months of child-rearing.

    10. Pucci*

      I find left to my own devices I eat between 8:00 am and about 3:00 pm, and that’s been my coronavirus WFH schedule. I eat three breakfasts (cereal, toast/coffee, and fruit/yogurt) over the morning, then one large meal about mid afternoon. This has had no effect on my weight, but may be helping me sleep better. Since I am postmenopausal I cannot comment on any effect on my cycle.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        I am 100% with you on team “early in the day eating window” I’ve always found that I really need my calories earlier in the day. So when I was stuck on the social norm of eating a big dinner, all of those big dinner calories were effectively extra because I’d already been hungry for all of my calories earlier in the day. Dropping out dinner and swapping to a big snack right after work has been amazing, I haven’t missed the calories at all.
        But so help me God if you stand between me and food in the morning…

    11. ...*

      I basically do it on accident anyway because I sleep super late so if I don’t snack at night im essentially doing it. Though im on BC so cycle is regular through that. I don’t think it would harm you.

    12. BLT*

      I do 14/10 and my eating window is 10 am – 8 pm.

      For the last several years I’ve had trouble eating early in the morning, so this “schedule” fit naturally with how I wanted to eat anyway.

      Advantages: I eat what I want. I don’t think about any food being “bad”. I also really like vegetables and don’t drink alcohol, so that helps. I know others need more structure, but as is I’ve lost weight.
      I also like the flexibility of it. If there is a evening birthday party, I just shift my eating window or do 12/12 that day instead and go back to 14/10 the next day.

      Disadvantages: It can be difficult if your partner/friends/relatives aren’t on board. It seems like my husband likes to eat throughout 16 hours and it makes it difficult to argue with your significant other or parent about why you aren’t stuffing your face at 7 am.

      I recommend using the Zero app or similar. I do not recommend joining the IF for Women FB group. I see a lot of “my LO made me a cupcake for my birthday and I ate it before my eating window :(“ posts; overall lots of “guilt” posts. It wasn’t for me and I seemed like a place that fostered disordered eating IMO.

      1. Kt*

        14/10 is recommended by a number of folks for women, in terms of hormonal balance. It’s pretty reasonable. I’ve done it — it was cool — with a toddler I am not, because she’s a little eating machine and we try to eat together.

    13. Disco Janet*

      I’ve tried it for a six month stretch before, and if anything my periods were more regular during that time. Could’ve been a coincidence, of course, but it certainly didn’t seem to have a negative effect on my cycle.

    14. allathian*

      On workdays I get up between 6 and 7 AM and go to bed at 10 PM. I eat my breakfast first thing, and usually stop eating about two hours before I go to bed. So normally I don’t eat anything between about 8 PM and 6.30 AM. That’s not enough to count as intermittent fasting, but it’s completely natural for me. That said, when I’m awake I must eat something every 3 hours or so. If I go without for more than 5 hours, I get hangry and usually a headache and I lose my focus. I don’t know if it’s psychosomatic or what, but I have incredibly good glucose levels considering I’m obese. So it’s not diabetes or pre-diabetes, just the way my metabolism works.

      1. Chance of thunderstorm*

        It’s not psychosomatic, it’s a real thing. I currently weigh more than I should, but this has had no effect on my blood sugar – when it crashes it crashes! My doctor checked for diabetes/ pre diabetic and concluded I’m likely hyper glycemic, where my body natural produces plenty of insulin. If there is nothing for that insulin to grab onto, I feel awful. I tend to eat at regular intervals, meals spaced 4-6 hrs apart and maybe a snack to help over longer stretches. I try to make sure I consume healthy fats and protein that needs time to break down and doesn’t result in spikes in blood sugar that happens when I eat too many carbs or unhealthy food. Almonds are my go to emergency food. They keep well and a handful or so will keep my sugars in check until I can get to a proper meal.

        1. allathian*

          Thanks. I’ll talk to my doctor next time I need blood work done if hyperglycemia could be my issue. It’s not urgent, though, because I can keep things in check by eating regular, small meals and snacks. I do know that I won’t try keto unless that’s the only option left, I like my carbs far too much. I do try to stick to wholemeal rye or oat bread, but I wouldn’t want to do without fruit. If I leave too long between meals, I tend to eat too much and feel awful afterwards.

      2. Not A Girl Boss*

        I’m naturally super insulin sensitive so my blood sugar crashes frequently. My mom is like that too. It uses to be a running joke that we need to be fed every 2 hours or else everyone needs to run and hide.
        I actually ended up going keto to help with it, first time in my life I don’t feel like I’m going to pass out if I dont eat RIGHT NOW. Which is a wonderfully freeing feeling. I used to think people who claimed they “forgot” to eat breakfast were total liars, but now I’m one of them.
        But even after going keto it took a solid year before my blood sugar stabilized enough that I could pull off IF. And even now that I can, I mostly don’t.
        It’s just not one go those one size fits all things.

    15. WoodswomanWrites*

      I tried this for a bit but found that for me when I was commuting, on workdays it required a lot of planning for my version of 14/10. It was stressful for me trying to cram in dinner in a timeframe that wasn’t practical with my driving 40 minutes each way.

      I also tend toward getting low blood sugar if I go too long without eating. And if I’m doing a lot of exercise with hiking, that’s an additional factor. When I found myself getting light-headed in the evenings a couple times, that was it for me and I haven’t done it since.

    16. Ducksgoquack*

      I did it for awhile before the lockdown gave a convenient reason to gorge all day at home. I’m a woman, it didn’t affect my cycles in any way. It’s hard at first but after awhile my body got used to it. I skipped breakfast and ate an early lunch at 11am, dinner at 5-6pm, and usually had a snack of some sort as well. Another poster mentioned work schedule made it difficult to do intermittent fasting. Definitely would be a challenge if you had rigid meal break times at work.

      The advantage for me was that IF reduced my caloric intake. It also made me more mindful of what I ate – since I was eating two meals a day I wanted to make sure they were both healthy and tasty.

    17. Anónima*

      Thanks for all your points of view. I find it interesting to read different experiences with it.
      I have always preferred big meals to snacking, and hate having to plan for 3 meals throughout the day so keeping the time frame for eating a bit smaller and only having 2 meals in that time would probably work our for me, so I will give it a go.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        One thing to help you get started – many people don’t consider pure fat to break a fast because it doesn’t impact insulin. So you can start your day with a coffee with coconut cream, MCT oil, heavy cream, butter, etc. That can help you feel fuller and have more energy to finish out the fast.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            From what I have read, it doesn’t have to be, but lots of people do Keto & IF simultaneously. I think the main thing to be conscious of with IF is to make sure you’re reducing your calories… aka, the 400-500 calories you “saved” on breakfast don’t end up being eaten later on in the forms of snacks or larger meals. That was the major mistake I made when I started IF.

          2. Not A Girl Boss*

            No – it’s just that keto makes IF easier because keto helps keep blood sugar more stable between meals. But you can do just one or the other or both. And if you’re metabolically healthy and don’t eat high glycemic foods, you might not have trouble with low blood sugar at all and be able to do IF effortlessly.

            They both work on the same principles: getting your body to burn stored body fat for fuel, and increase insulin sensitivity which improves metabolic health.

            Even if you don’t reduce total calorie intake at all, IF and keto can still help you improve metabolic health because insulin is lower, increased leptin sensitivity, increased HGH, and a whole host of other things.

            The goal for IF and/or keto is a moderate calorie deficit (around 500 calories for people under 200lbs) coupled with increased hormone health to create lasting weight loss. Not just a tool to be able to starve yourself, which can lead to all kinds of other problems.

            I view it as a phased approach: first teach your body to keep your blood sugar stable (which can lead to weight loss on its own, because now your hunger will be “real” hunger and not just low blood sugar emergencies that give you snack attacks). Then, reduce calorie intake. That’s why I mentioned the fat in your coffee in the morning until your body adapts.

  9. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread!

    A bit of a politically charged question today, but in light of recent events I do feel it needs to be talked about: how do you deal with inequality and prejudice in your own writing (if applicable)? Personally I try to educate myself as much as I can and, if possible, even ask people of groups that are regularly discriminated against if they’re okay with what I’ve written, but I’m always scared I misunderstand something or accidentally fall into a stereotype. I don’t go around writing about experiences I know nothing about (for example, as a white person I’m not going to write about being black because no matter how much I educate myself I cannot do that) but I do try to incorporate diversity in my writing because…Well, the world is diverse.

    1. Sir Lena Clare*

      Good points.
      Yes I try to do the same.
      I’m having difficulty because I was writing a book set in Barrow, Alaska. The main protagonist was biracial (Iñupiat and white) so I was going to change that, but now I’m wondering if it should be set there at all. The problem I’m having is that the place is as important to the plot as the characters are.
      I may just have to shelve it and rethink.

      1. matcha123*

        I’m a multiracial person and I love seeing multiracial characters in fiction.
        HOWEVER, there is a tendency for writers to assume that biracial characters must: be struggling with their race, must act as a bridge between races, must hate one part of themselves, are looking to hide the minority part of their background from others, etc.

        So, as a mixed person, I want to see more mixed characters. But as a mixed person who is comfortable in her how skin and with her identity, this trope of the poor mixed girl or guy who is cast out by society gets old.
        Also monoracial authors tend to oversimplify their description of the characters. A black/white character is inevitably described as looking full black. The same with Asian/white characters.

        I’d suggest reading books or articles written by actual mixed people and looking at photos of actual mixed people.

        1. Star*

          Ugh, the “tragic mulatto” trope needs to DIE. And this is a good example of the “danger of the single story”, as Ms. Adichie pointed out — people create a character around a single characteristic and tell the same story about that characteristic, and then the pattern becomes glaring and exhausting.

    2. Freelance Everything*

      My dad has written several novels. All of them have female protagonists and some are queer or disabled in a way he isn’t, and/or a different race.

      He is white, bi- and abled and his 2 most popular series have an anglo-Indian and a Black British lead, both female, and the former has a disability and the latter is Ace.

      He researches extensively and has ‘Sensitivity Readers’, essentially a team of editors with experience of one or more of the above. They read his books and check for any harmful and/or inaccurate content.

      Do your research. Do your best. And be open to any criticism.

      1. Freelance Everything*

        As an extra:

        You will always be writing about experiences that aren’t your own. Unless it’s autobiographical.

        You’ll always be writing about people who aren’t you, who don’t think like you, who don’t believe the same things as you and who are doing things who would or will never do.

        Do your research. Do your best. And be open to any criticism.

        I acknowledge, though, that I say this as someone who is white.

      2. Avasarala*

        I agree with this advice. Many of my favorite characters are written by authors who are demographically different from them (my namecase in point).

        I would be very very sad if writers only wrote about races and genders they belonged to, because we would have a much less diverse fictional world. Including future and fantasy settings where people may have dark or light skin but not identify with any cultures on planet Earth, and so on.

    3. HannahS*

      I’m currently in a fb group with a bunch of other Jews answering questions from a new author who is writing a Jewish secondary character in a historical fiction. She’s later going to have someone go over her manuscript, once it’s fully done.

      One thing that stands out to me about what she’s doing is that she’s asking us AS she’s writing this person’s arc, not after. So it’s being constructed with sensitivity from the beginning. She’s not just asking about what we might see in this character’s home or what they might be named, she’s also asking about family and community dynamics, as well as detailed religious and cultural information. It feels a lot less “rubber stamped”–like, a lot less “I asked a Jew if the thing I wrote was ok and they said yes”

      1. Freelance Everything*

        ^ This is a great point.

        ‘Research’ should definitely include communicating with people directly and/or reading accounts of their experiences. There are so many resources available.

      2. Pay people for their work!*

        I think this is great, and I also hope you and your fellow group members are being paid for this work.

        If you’re asking someone to give you feedback on your work, more than a quick “hey, can I run this one thing by you?” you should pay them, especially if you’re asking them to leverage their lived experience and cultural knowledge for your benefit.

        I used to beta-read for free, and stopped when I started consulting as a subject-matter expert in a work context. I realized that as a beta-reader/”sensitivity reader” (a common term but one that I really don’t like) was really being engaged as a subject-matter expert, and that I should value that work appropriately. Not only because I deserve compensation for my time and skill, but also because it’s important to send the message more widely that the cultural knowledge of marginalized people is inherently valuable and not something that people in powerful social locations have a right to.

        Many, many venues connect authors with beta-readers with all kinds of expertise, at various price points. I encourage anyone who’s writing outside of their frame of reference to make use of them.

    4. Foreign Octopus*

      This is a question I’ve struggled with. I’m also white but the main characters I generally write about are black. I’m not sure why but they come into my head fully formed this way and it feels strange to change that about them. I do a lot of reading on issues of race, particularly in the UK where my character is from, and if there’s ever anything that I’m not sure about but can’t find information on, I’ll go to Reddit or Twitter for advice on where I can find more info.

      The way I look at it is this : literature needs more diverse characters (as well as diverse authors) and as long as we white writers don’t write about the black experience (as an example) as the sole focus of the book, then I think it’s okay. For example, it’s fine to write a black protagonist in a crime novel where the focus is on solving the crime and the twists and turns involved, but it’s not okay to write a black protagonist in a novel that explores growing up black.

      If our characters are different from us then obviously we have to inform their character arcs with situations that we would never have experienced – the casual racism, the discrimination, the bigotry, etc., – but I don’t believe that should stop us from writing diverse characters so long as we don’t claim the narrative.

      1. Star*

        I really like hwo you’ve put this. I face this from both sides — I’m Black, but I’m cis, for examples. I know that being Black affects everything in my life, but if I were a character in a story there would be stories that could be told about me that wouldn’t be primarily about my being Black vs stories that would be.

        (I also echo the need for sensitivity readers all the way from the first story idea onwards. It’d be pretty bad to base a major plot twist on something dreadful or utterly unrealistic!)

    5. Smol Book Wizard*

      related question – I try to incorporate diversity and racial/ethnic variety into my work, but I usually write fantasy that does not take place on current or obviously historical Earth. I love the idea of having fantasy cultures inspired by real-world cultures, but as a white person growing up in America, I am reluctant to look as if I am merely borrowing an “aesthetic” or to make careless mistakes / be appropriative. How have other writers of fantasy dealt with this?

      1. Star*

        Nisi Shawl’s “Writing the Other ” might be a good place to start.

        Also, think about your fantasy cultures on ‘deeper levels’ than their aesthetics. What are their philosophies? How did the environment they arose in shape their culture and thus their material culture? And so on.

        One example that I think did a great job was the show Avatar: The Last Airbender.

  10. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! As usual, this thread is not limited to video games, any games go.

    Is there a game (or, for video games, a console) that you’re looking forward to? Personally I don’t really know how to feel about the PS5 and Xbox Series X (which totally isn’t going to get confused with the Xbox One X or something…). We’ve had a PS4 since early launch days and honestly it hasn’t seen nearly as much use as our PS3. Most use it gets nowadays is Netflix, though I have been eyeing Persona 5 Royal and Ghost of Tsushima. On the other hand, the more RPGs I play the more I want them on something portable (such as a decent laptop) so I’m not limited to my living room to play them. So I’m probably gonna hold off on getting either console until we know more about exclusives.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Also, Holly, you brought up a game you were looking for last week and I don’t know if you saw my reply, but I think it was Spelling Jungle AKA Yobi’s Basic Spelling Tricks AKA Yobi’s Magic Spelling Tricks (why does that game have three names???)?

    2. LDN Layabout*

      Dragon Age 4 *crylaughing*

      I’m a PC gamer who got the Switch just before lockdown hit and it’s helped preserve my sanity. I was talking to a friend about the PS and she pointed out that once it was /the/ console for RPGs (particularly) JRPGs and had a ton of exclusive titles/series, which is no longer the case.

      The big shiny consoles do attract me as a tech geek in general but as someone who prefers PC (e.g. mouse and keyboard) controls for games such as SWTOR, Dragon Age, Witcher III (when I finally buy it), plus I now have a Switch for probably peak portability and quite a few really good RPGs (Still currently obsessed with FE3h), I’m pretty happy with what I have.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Same. My Windows PC is basically a console (I use it exclusively for gaming) and I’ve heard rumours about a lot of formerly Sony exclusives coming to PC (including Bloodborne and Persona 4 Golden) so…Not really sure where I stand. As a collector/hoarder I kinda want to get one, so I might hold off until the PS6/whatever weird name Microsoft is going to come up with next (seriously what are they thinking?) comes along so I can get them for cheaper? I don’t know. I rarely play games near their launch date anyway so…

        1. LDN Layabout*

          My laptop’s fairly old now, but it runs the games I want and my next computer purchase will likely be a laptop more geared towards gaming anyway.

          It feels like consoles really do depreciate in value quickly and then come out the other side more expensive when people realise they’re rare now and there are certain games you can’t play. I do get the feeling of being completionist in terms of owning them, since I’m a sidequest obsessive on any first playthrough XD

        2. CorruptedbyCoffee*

          We have a PS4, but we also ended up building a windows machine that functions primarily as a steam box. We run it using the TV as our monitor with a wireless controller, since we often play games together. Because of the better graphics card and being able to run most of what we play in 2k, we’ve mainly ended up using the PC. I don’t know that we’ll buy the next gen console.

    3. Sorcha*

      I got a Switch yesterday, as prices had opfinally come back down to reasonable after skyrocketing during lockdown. So I bought Animal Crossing: New Horizons (because I have a bunch of Twitter friends who play it and I’m missing out) and got started. I haven’t owned a console or played games other than on my iPad in a long time, so this is a big change for me.

      Reccs for other games gratefully received!

      1. LDN Layabout*

        There’s a big sale on right now (definitely in the UK and I know it’s on in the US) which you may want to take advantage of. What kind of games do you enjoy?

        I like turn-based combat/strategy/RPG games so I’m obsessed with Fire Emblem: Three Houses right now. I’ve also bought a few rhythm games and I’m planning on getting some LEGO games and others while they’re on sale.

        1. fort hiss*

          Seconding Fire Emblem 3H! Such a fun game to play for *checks play time* 200 hours……..

        2. Sorcha*

          Oh, cool, I’m in the UK so I’ll see what I can find out about a sale.

          I’m not really sure what type of games I like, which is party of my problem ;) – I play a variety of things on the iPad: basic wooden puzzle games, Sims FreePlay, Plants Vs Zombies, Merge Dragons, I used to play DragonVale but not so much these days. I loved Monument Valley! Played some of the Professor Layton mystery puzzle games for a while. Oh, and I used to play MarioKart (a LONG time ago, and not on iPad obvs).

          I’m intrigued by the idea of “rhythm games” and must find out more.

          1. LDN Layabout*

            So the UK sale finishes tomorrow (but they tend to be fairly frequent). It’s on the Nintendo e-shop, so you’ll want to set up a Nintendo account if you haven’t already (Not the Nintendo Online subscription, just a generic account so you can access the e-shop)

            A fair amount of games offer demos, including the ones for rhythm games such as Deemo, Voez and Cytus (These are all phone games ported to the Switch, I believe).

            I’m not a big puzzle person, so I can’t guide you in that direction, but have a look around the shop, download some demos and see what you like :)

          2. A.N. O'Nyme*

            I don’t actually have a Switch, but I know that Layton’s Mystery Journey (featuring the professor’s daughter Katrielle) has come out on the Switch. If you like puzzle games, you might also want to look at the Ace Attorney Trilogy.

      2. fort hiss*

        It depends what kind of games you like, but for some indie Switch titles, I can’t recommend enough…

        Gorogoa – Completely hand animated by one guy, so it’s short, but it’s one of the most interesting puzzle games I’ve ever played. You have four panels, and you shift and overlay the four panels to move the story forward.
        Bastion – The game that introduced the concept of “dynamic narrator” as a big thing, this game still holds up with some incredible moments and music. A huge influence on the much more ambitious Undertale, though with more traditional gameplay. (For people who bounce off Undertale because bullet hell is too hard, try Bastion!)
        Undertale – I hope I don’t need to tell people to play Undertale at this point.
        Untitled Goose Game – BE! A! GOOSE! F! SH*T! UP! The most satisfying disaster simulator.
        Night in the Woods – If you like reading, exploring, and workers rising up, this is an incredible game. A very deep dive into the death of small town life and how the poor people stuck in those towns deal with their lives. Then, a ghost story happens too, and there are surprisingly frightening parts. It’s a dark game about poverty and mental health without easy solutions, but the love and humor shine through even in the dark parts. Be aware the gameplay is basically a walking sim with light platforming. Oh did I mention everyone is cute little furries??

        For non-indie games, if you are prepared to play a monster JRPG, Tales of Vesperia rules. They completely bungled the Switch release and added new parts with new English voice actors while keeping the old actors so it jarringly jumps from one to another, so the price has already dropped really cheap. Change the language to Japanese and set the subtitles and avoid that whole debacle. (If you do buy Persona 5 Royal, do the same thing!!! Some of the best Japanese VAs in the game are in P5.)

        1. LDN Layabout*

          Thank you for the Tales of Vesperia rec! It’s on sale and I’ve been eyeing it and weighing up whether to go for it or not and this has pushed it over the edge for me.

          1. fort hiss*

            Have you ever played a Tales game before? The combat is really fun, especially if you have someone to play it with you! Vesperia is probably *the* best of the 3D gen for the initial story and characters, as well as the world depth. There’s a lot of intrigue and suspense in the early parts.

            Also, you have a dog in your party!!!

            1. LDN Layabout*

              I haven’t! There’s a weird gap in my gaming experience where for a long time I only played the games of my teens, a lot of old stuff on GOG and now I’m catching up on things such as Dragon Age, SWTOR in terms of PC and with the switch I’m getting to explore jumping back into RPGs etc.

              Dog is very much a plus

        2. Sorcha*

          Oooh, thank you! I’ve heard a lot about the Untitled Goose Game so that’s a definite possibility. Gorogoa sounds intriguing! Night in the Woods sounds great but probably too dark for me right now. I’ll investigate!

          1. fort hiss*

            Totally fair re: NITW. I played it during a pretty good time in my life and even then it hit like a ton of bricks. (That’s not to say it’s a joyless game, and it’s incredibly funny, but… Mae, the protag, is a trashfire girl.)

      3. Laura H.*

        If you like RPGs with like um board placement mechanics, combat, and different battle classes, I recommend Fire Emblem Three Houses. Can be played through a lot of times with several different endings- and the paid dlc is good but unnecessary for enjoyment of the game.

        Clubhouse Games is a nice selection of board game type games.

        I recommend you look at demos too. Try em and decide.

      4. Hi there*

        Similarly, I just bought a switch lite so the kiddo and I can plan Animal Crossing. He contributed towards the purchase of the game as a mother’s day gift and seems eager to play the game together.

        1. Jackalope*

          I am going to be a horrible bubble burster and let you know that you can’t. Animal Crossing has this horrible feature in which you can’t have two people play it unless you have two separate Switches. Not two accounts, not two copies of the game, but two entirely separate Switches. I HATE this game for this reason. It says you can do multiplayer gaming, but only one person can create an island and the other person is a guest on that island. Only the main player can participate in the quest lines, only the main player can decide where buildings go and move them around, and items don’t recharge for a new player, so if one person has gotten the stone/sticks/whatever for the day the other person can’t get them and can only access the randomly generated things like bugs and fish. If you play with both of you on the island at the same time (as opposed to separate gaming times) then only the main player can talk to other characters, donate to the museum, go into buildings, and so on. The secondary character is stuck with bugs and fish.

    4. DarthVelma*

      Watched the PS5 promo event earlier this week and am now REALLY looking forward to the Horizon Zero Dawn sequel, Horizon Forbidden West. I loved Aloy as a protagonist in the original and I’m excited to “be” her again. And while I know trailers always look amazing…it really did look amazing. :-)

      In other news, we’re still playing Magic most of the time right now. I’m almost done building a Commander Hate deck – just waiting on a couple more cards I ordered online. It’s my first real attempt to build entirely around mechanics with no tribal component at all. I’m dying for the new 2021 Core Set to drop later this month. They’ve been doing official spoilers every day since the 8th and I’m really exited by what I’m seeing of the set so far.

      1. Square Root of Minus One*

        Same expectation here. Horizon Zero Dawn may be my favorite video game – it’s a close contest with Lost Odyssey. I’m very curious about Forbidden West.

      2. Lych*

        I was really looking forward to the Horizon sequel, but I’m so sad it looks like it will be PS5 exclusive… I should have seen it coming, and it does make sense from their perspective. But being a college student I don’t think a PS5 is going to be in my budget for the coming years, as the game itself would have been a pretty big purchase already.

    5. gamersupporter*

      If anyone wants to expand their games library and donate to some organisations doing critical work Itchio is offering a Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality with all proceeds going to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Community Bail Fund split 50/50. The minimum donation is $5 but you can donate more beyond that. There’s over 1400 games last I checked, more and more creators keep joining which is very uplifting.

      Note it’s mostly computer games – a lot of very short indie or experimental style games, plus some table top manuals and game assets (for making games).

      1. fort hiss*

        Yesss the Itchi.io bundle is awesome! I recommend Us Lovely Corpses if you play are looking for a random game to play from there, it is an awesome little VN. Night in the Woods and Oxenfree are some of the bigger games in that bundle and even 1 is worth the price of it!

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m still looking for something that I have wanted since Crash Bandicoot on the PS2. I want a gaming interface that connects to my treadmill or my exercise bike so that my real-life exertion determines the speed of my character. Someone out there must be working on it, right? Especially since the success of Ready Player One… I just hope they make a version compatible with a flat screen, because I get so seasick from 3D & IMAX that I doubt I’ll be able to use VR goggles.

      1. LDF*

        Not a treadmill, but you might look into ring fit adventures for the switch (though it’s hard to find right now).

      2. CorruptedbyCoffee*

        I used to play crash team racing on my ddr pad. It wasn’t incredibly practical, but it was fun!

    7. Koala dreams*

      I’m looking forward to the next board game session in person so that I can try out my latest board game. It’s forest themed and the pictures are beautiful!

      Do you have any suggestions for easy games to play online together? I’m used to physical board games, but my online gaming is limited to Tetris, 2048 and similar. It’s getting a bit lonely lately.

    8. Laura H.*

      I’m looking forward to the expansion for Sword and Shield!!! Currently grinding and grabbing all the raid prizes and Mons that are abundant!

    9. Jackalope*

      I have a Skyrim question, actually. I only recently learned about Skyrim (I was always a Final Fantasy fan, myself), and have gotten into it, but am wondering about people’s playing styles. I’ve gone in for the sneak/archer style myself with two-handed combat when enemies are too close. What have others gone for and how do you find that the general styles work? I’m especially interested in how you might make a magic-only approach work since I haven’t figured out how to make that work in a practical way. Especially the illusion and alteration spells I can’t figure out how to use practically. (Although I learned that sleeping in my house with my spouse and children present so I had the related bonuses then going to the basement and casting Muffle on myself over and over again leveled me up very quickly in Illusion!)

      Also, has anyone done long term playing as a werewolf or vampire? Do you like it or not? Esp with the vampire, how tough is it to keep up with the eating requirement?

      1. Jackalope*

        Other question: do you have a favorite quest reward/difficult to find spell/etc. that is your favorite and if so, why? My example is that I love the Bloodskal blade that you get as a reward if you do the Raven Rock Mine quest (on Solstheim). It’s a two-handed sword with a magical attack that never needs recharging with soul gems, which makes it handy in all sorts of ways.

      2. CorruptedbyCoffee*

        I too played a lot of sneak Archer! My husband always played as heavy armor magic/shield. I have played with magic, but I tended to use one weapon with offhand magic, or the weapon spells (I forget what they’re called, but the magically made mace or bow). So, a weapon plus shield spell, healing spell, and sometimes some reanimation or elemental summon guy spells, etc. Basically, don’t think magic means pure robes and fireballs. The system is designed to be flexible.

  11. Retail not Retail*

    What are people’s opinions on statues coming down and places getting renamed?

    I’m a bonafide historian and I’m loving it. My training is historic preservation and cultural resource management, so in theory I should be like no, not the statue of Forrest*, think of the children.

    In reality it’s great! Leaving them up is covering up history. This is true interaction with your history. In my city, two came down a couple years ago and one of the black women in charge of the push said her niece would walk by forrest’s statue and think he was important, someone to be admired.

    *the only statue of that scumbag we need is the horrible one in nashville. I did like 4 presentations on statues coming down and always included a pic of him.

    1. LDN Layabout*

      The process of their removal has taught a wide swathe of people more history than they’ve ever known before.

      People concerning about erasing history seem more concerned about erasing propaganda and replacing it with history.

      1. Vina*

        Funny how all those people who don’t want the Nathan Bedford Forest statute to come down b/c of “history” get really twitchy when you start talking about the real history and who the man really was.

        It’s not about history, it’s about maintaining a version of the past that allows privileged people to sleep easily.

        I recently told a friend that (1) Robert E. Lee was not a good general. He wasn’t even the South’s top 5. And they had some mediocre white men leading them. (2) He was not simply a man who fought for his homeland, but someone who actively thought black people inferior. (3) He, himself, didn’t want statues of himself put up. HE stated so clearly.

        So not only is putting statues of him up b/c he was such a “great military mind” a total lie, it’s against what he wanted.

        And don’t get me started on Braxton Bragg of Ft. Bragg.

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Over here a lot of statues of Leopold II (that Belgian king who liked cutting of hands in Congo, among other things) are being removed, including from my university’s central library (didn’t even know we had a bust of him there). On the one hand it’s weird to tear down historical objects, on the other hand we have more than enough material of him to teach about what he did without seemingly glorifying him.

      1. Vina*

        I wonder how people would feel if they put a memorial to the Congolese victims of his reign of terror right next to him.

        I think that’s a little more history than people want.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I think I will be paying a visit to the Royal Museum of Central Africa the next time I am in Brussels.

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            From what I gather, they’re focussing even more on the colonialism aspect than they already were before the renovation. Frankly, I think that museum might be one of the very few places that could still have a bust of him as part of the colonialism story (showing how he was glorified).

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              I think that’s where the statue is going that was vandalized and removed from the plaza and Antwerp, isn’t it? I actually find myself hoping that they do not remove the paint when they put it on display.

              1. A.N. O'Nyme*

                Is it? I think I missed that. But I agree, kinda hoping they’ll leave the paint on.

          2. Vina*

            Hadn’t heard of this. Sounds like someone on the ball and trying to be honest about the history.

            1. A.N. O'Nyme*

              Yep! The building was originally built by Leopold II as part of a world exhibition (and included an “African Village”, basically a human zoo) but has been focussing more on the colonialism aspect since the early 2000’s. Recently the museum was closed for a few years for intensive renovations, but it reopened in 2018 and made several changes to texts accompanying exhibits in the process (mostly removing problematic, outdated language).

      2. Foreign Octopus*

        Hoo, boy, I hate Leopold. I did my undergraduate research on the effects of Belgian colonisation in the DRC and I’ve been fervently anti-Leopold ever since (never learnt about it before I came across an article during my studies at uni). I’m honestly amazed that there are still statues of him in Belgian as I thought there had been a reckoning a few years back about his legacy.

      3. Belgian*

        Oh hey, same uni here! I was so happy our rector decided to remove the statue from the university library. Next up, getting rid of the statue on city hall!

    3. roundroundduck*

      I am in favour or statues coming down, because they were not just benign monuments to history by clueless people. They were deliberate provocations in many instances.

      You can still read about these people in history books, history won’t be forgotten just not glorified.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes. The arguments against removal a) are almost always totally ignorant of the history of the installations of those monuments, and b) seem to ignore the fact that books, museums, and THE INTERNET will continue to exist. This isn’t damnatio memoriae, for fork’s sake.

    4. Scout Finch*

      Forrest had a statue in a park near my work. I was happy to see it go. I am not a POC, but my city is about 65% POC. There is no point to causing pain to people who have been struggling just to get an even playing field.

      The park is used for many activities (I work at a university, so students everywhere). It should be a place devoid of symbolic oppression.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        Argh I don’t want to get too detailed but my hometown did it with style AND it was briefly legal before the more conservative state legislature threw a fit.

    5. Asenath*

      I think that taking them down is covering up history. It seems to me to be a way of pretending that certain bits of history never happened, that these people were never honoured, that life is always simple and it is and always has been clearly obvious what ideas are right and what are wrong.

      1. Vina*

        But they were put up to cover up history. That’s the point. They aren’t history. They are propaganda. That was the intent.

        The daughters of the confederacy that sponsored most of them didn’t want them to be history. They wanted to rewrite the defeat of the South into a Lost Cause narrative.

        It was clearly wrong at the time. They knew it. White people didn’t care.

        Also, they can be “remembered” and preserved in places other than places of honor. Something like Memento Park in Budapest would be a good idea.

        Leaving them up is erasing the true history and buying into propaganda by racist Southern white folk who wanted to rewrite their traitor behavior, utter defeat, and, oh yeah, racism.

        1. Asenath*

          I was speaking more generally. I am not in the US at all, so I am more concerned with the idea as it is being applied in Canada rather than in the US. With the caveat that I do not know US history, I will say that history includes competing narratives – that’s why that old saying “history is written by the victors” is so important, especially when it is interpreted as a criticism of the idea that there’s only one “correct” version of what happened in the past. There are always multiple narratives of the same events, and I disagree with the idea that there is one “true history” of any country.

          1. Retail not Retail*

            Are there comparable movements in Canada? I guess they’d come from First Nations.

            As for confederate statues, they went up in 3 waves – end of reconstruction, around what is called the nadir (1919 red summer), and the civil rights movement of the 60s. They were never meant to be benign.

            1. Vina*

              Thank you. None of these are benign. Allowing them to stay up is allowing the purposeful harm to continue.

              This is also true of Canada. One example: Egerton Ryerson. There is absolutely no justification for a statute of a man who is directly (though not solely) responsible for residential schools/harm to First Nations to have a place of honor – and it is honor- in Toronto.

          2. Vina*

            Maybe, but there are certainly false ones.

            In the US, UK, and Canada that false narrative is one where white men were the heroes and always right.

            I’ve spent enough time in Canada to know that ya’ll have your own issues with false narratives.

            Statues are not history, they are, and always have been, a form of propaganda.

            Yes, there may be multiple versions of history, but there are objectively wrong ones. White settler male patriarchal colonialism as a good thing is one of them. Unfortunately, that’s the one that has driven most of the statuary in North America.

            If you still think I’m wrong, chose your nearest major metro area in Canada. Go and look at how many statutes are anything other than white and male. I’ll wait.

            If they are about history, then why is there an erasure of the First Nations? Other minorities? Women?

            Again, statutes are not history, they are propaganda. They always have been. Always.

            Statues are always propaganda or art.

            1. BethDH*

              And statues, as part of our current visual environment, are always at least as much part of the present as the past. It’s not like an archive or an archaeological excavation where the objects are clearly and primarily separated and presented as record.
              The same visual features that made the statues effective at glorifying these people when they were put up — powerful poses, literal high positions, central placement in a community, expensive materials — still convey the same thing in the present. And no “recontextualizing” plaque can overwrite that effect.
              Also, leaving them there is not a passive act or lack of action. They require maintenance, repair, landscaping money, etc., and they take away opportunities to have other people and events commemorated. If your goal is reminding people of history, we don’t need all these statues of the same half dozen men from the same moment in the past.
              I’m an art historian. I value the cultural production of the past as an important tool for teaching about the critical questions of human nature and human experience. But that can never be the only consideration. We have to think about what story we are writing in the present.

              1. Vina*

                I think there’s always a place. Someone mentioned Gettysburg below. Anyone in the US who wants to think about this seriously should go compare those statues to the ones put up in Reconstruction and the early 20th century elsewhere.

                I think he statute to the sons of Virginia and the Pickett statue there are proper and fitting.
                They are there to honor the dead. Very different from an imposing horse riding Confederate slave-owner being presented as a noble gentlemen and someone to emulate.

            2. Texan In Exile*

              Go and look at how many statutes are anything other than white and male.

              I was so surprised to see a statue of two women in Cadiz that I had to take a photo of it and post it on Facebook. And then I saw another statue of a woman in San Sebastian. Two statues of women! That I saw! In one country!

              1. Vina*

                I’m always shocked when I’m walking around and see female statues. I always look. I can’t recall ever seeing a statute of a non-white woman except for Sacajawea. And most of her statues are in the context of framing Lewis and Clark at the center of the narrative.

                Anyone know of any statues of non-white women in the US?

                1. Femme d'Afrique*

                  There’s the Alice Dunnigan statue at the Newseum (1st African American journalist to cover the White House), and Maggie L. Walker (founder of St. Luke Penny Savings Bank) in Richmond, VA.

                2. Star*

                  When you come to Boston to have coffee with me, I will take you to see the statue of Phyllis Wheatley . :)

                3. Phlox*

                  Mary McLeod Bethune is (the only I think?) woman of color statue in DC outside in public (Rosa Parks is in the Capitol building – along with a bunch of literal Confederates)

          3. LDN Layabout*

            There are not ‘two sides’ to racism and genocide. Many of these statues honour people who participated in those actions.

            1. Femme d'Afrique*

              “There are not ‘two sides’ to racism and genocide. Many of these statues honour people who participated in those actions.”

              Well, there kind of are: those who support racism and genocide, and those that don’t. I’m not saying this to be glib; I think it’s a useful way of reframing the issue. It needs to be made clear to those who oppose the dismantling of the Colston and Leopold statues that they are LITERALLY defending statues of a slave trader and murderous, genocidal maniac. It’s really not more nuanced than that.

              1. LDN Layabout*

                No, I understand what you’re saying. Like how the argument in the UK immediately went from ‘the statues should be removed officially’ to ‘WHY ARE YOU ERASING HISTORY’…when they started being removed officially.

                1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  Faneuil Hall in Boston Massachusetts has a similar history because one of the things sold at that market was people. The last time I had a chance to visit, they were starting plans for a memorial at the location of the auction block. The idea I heard was that it would be minimalist, outlining the actual locations on the ground … And those areas would be heated to melt the snow, which I think would be staggeringly effective for students visiting with their social studies classes in the winter.

                2. Vina*

                  I also love people who say “they didn’t think it was wrong back then.” Well, who is “they?” Because for the most part, only white rich men who had land and power had a voice 150 years ago. So, the public discourse didn’t in any way, shape or form represent what people actually thought.

                  In 1840 no one was going around asking slaves if they thought slavery was ok. And we also know that, from the start, their was opposition and plenty of people thought it was wrong.
                  WRT to the US South, it’s not like there were not plenty of abolitionists in and out of the South.

                  It’s not like anyone asked the Plains Indians what they thought of Manifest Destiny. We know what they thought by how they fought back.

                  So the whole “they didn’t know any better” narrative is hogwash.

                  It’s all historical tunnel vision used to justify where we are now. Because if we admit that the past was bad and our ancestors wrong, then maybe we have to admit where we are isn’t wholly earned.

                3. Paulina*

                  A Dominican missionary, Antonio de Montesino, denounced the enslavement of indigenous peoples in 1511. People knew it was wrong a long time ago.

                  Many who are now complaining that taking the statues down is “destroying history” were also opposed to contextualizing it previously. I find the full story of the Colston statue quite illustrative. We shouldn’t pretend these honours were never given, but we need to stop continuing the honour.

              2. knead me seymour*

                This is such a great reframing. If someone is going to make coy “two sides” statements, we might as well take the text at face value–yes, there are two sides. There’s the white supremacist side, and the anti-white supremacist side. There’s so much value in just making people say what they really mean.

          4. Star*

            How would you feel about replacing a statue of Egerton Ryerson or Vital-Justin Grandin with a monument to the Indigenous children stolen, abused, and even killed in the residential school system? Would that be ‘erasing history’?

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

          I was about to mention Memento Park. I think there’s one in Estonia if I’m not mistaken.

      2. Retail not Retail*

        Tearing them down is a continued dialogue with and about history.

        We know they were honored and we know why, we don’t need statues up unchanging to show us that.

        Also… in my town the people opposed to this were descendants and the KKK.

      3. Impska*

        No one keeps a statue of Hitler around to remind us about his place in history. Somehow we all know about it. No one erased him and his impact when they took down all his statues.

        1. The Time Being*

          Exactly.

          Tear down the statues of the racists and put up memorials to their victims instead. You don’t put up statues of Nazis to remember Nazism, you put up Holocaust memorials.

      4. Melody Pond*

        @Asenath:

        I think that taking them down is covering up history. It seems to me to be a way of pretending that certain bits of history never happened, that these people were never honoured, that life is always simple and it is and always has been clearly obvious what ideas are right and what are wrong.

        My favorite response to this idea, showed up on the internet somewhere (of course now I can’t find it). It went something like this:

        Taking down statues covers up history and makes people forget. That’s why nobody remembered Hitler or what he did after his statues were removed.

        Sorry, I should explain – Hitler was a guy in Germany who went crazy genocidal in the 30s and 40s and tried to kill millions of people, primarily of Jewish identity.

        We remember what happened in history just fine without the statues. Also, I believe that most of these aforementioned statues were erected WAY after their historic figures lived – e.g., statues of Confederate generals were not put up immediately after the Civil War. They were put up after black Americans finally started gaining rights much later in the 20th century, as a direct response to perceiving this increase in civil rights as a threat to white supremacy.

      5. Kt*

        I disagree in part because they were part of advertising. Sometimes people have an idea that they were put up “by the people” — but no, they were all paid for by someone! Occasionally by a committee of people who were thoughtful, but for King Leopold, he just paid for a bunch because he was egotistical. The Daughters of the Confederacy paid for a bunch to advance their narrative. I know it’s a silly analogy, but if Jimmy John’s paid for thousands of sandwich statues to be put up in bronze, world we argue we must preserve them ‘for history’? Are sandwiches less deserving than men who promulgated racist ideas and policies that killed hundreds of thousands? What about the good people of the time who didn’t have money to put up a statue? They’re the ultimate rich people ads: put up yourself on a horse and people will immediately think you’re worthy of respect!

    6. Freelance Everything*

      I certainly have no issue with the status coming down.

      Though I do think it’s a symptom of a wider issue (both in the UK and USA) and if that was addressed there may be less aggression directed to the statues – or not, depending on the statue obvs.

      Basically, our primary and secondary education teaches history in a very narrow, unnuanced way. Context is almost always entirely removed and the focus tends to be shifted towards the involvement of White British/American participants. Eg. in the newer British Primary school Curriculum, Tutankhamen is taught via Howard Carter and how it impacted British archaeology.

      If our history education was more complete, our relationship with (some of) these statues might be more ‘even’. But I feel they’ve become a symbol of our institutionalized ignorance and are being torn down in protest of that, as much as anything else.

      1. Vina*

        One of the first things that happened when the Berlin Wall fell was a massive uprising of people in the Soviet Bloc who went around and tore down all the Communist statutes. The people of the Soviet bloc knew those statues were propaganda and meant to show who was in charge. They didn’t stop to thing “but history.” It was an act of definable of a narrative that had been forced on them.

        When dictators fall, the first thing people do is tear down their statues. Over and over in every culture. It’s damn near universal.

        There’s a reason for this. People who want to say they are mere history should sit and watch a few hours of video of newly-freed people tearing down statues.

        1. Freelance Everything*

          I agree. They knew fully what those statues represented to them and chose to tear them down. Same with Colombus and Colston.

          I do think that they are also testaments to the systemic ignorance that’s been cultivated in our culture. We’re told statues are for heroes and then our official education never gives us any cause to think differently. Perhaps this a point too far from the discussion at hand or maybe I’m just not expressing the connection very well.

          Like I said, I don’t know that I have any personal or even academic investment in any statue.
          Someone on my timeline suggested adopting a culture of rotating public statues, with Memorial Parks or even reclamation for the finished ones.

          Ultimately, I don’t think removing statues is removing history.

          1. Wired Wolf*

            I’m of two minds about the Columbus statues. On one hand: yes it glorifies/memorializes colonialism and exploitation/slavery. On the other hand: every invading group on the planet engaged in said exploitation to cement their own society.

            I read that Columbus was originally given a statue to give Italian-Americans something to be proud about, so if we still want that how about Amerigo Vespucci who America was named for (and IMO he has a much cooler backstory). That would be a more interesting history lesson as well.

            1. Freelance Everything*

              In case you’re not aware, and I wasn’t fully aware when the statues started coming down:

              Columbus’s history isn’t limited to his role in ‘discovering’ America.
              He was also in charge of colonies on Hispaniola, where he was so brutal (and incompetent) that he was removed from the position by the Spanish Court.

              There is a 48 page report about Colombus’s conduct on Hispaniola that includes the following (cw: descriptions of graphic violence):
              – Once punished a man found guilty of stealing corn by having his ears and nose cut off and then selling him into slavery.
              – Congratulated his brother Bartolomeo on “defending the family” when the latter ordered a woman paraded naked through the streets and then had her tongue cut out for suggesting that Columbus was of lowly birth.
              – Put down native unrest and revolt: he first ordered a brutal crackdown in which many natives were killed, and then paraded their dismembered bodies through the streets in an attempt to discourage further rebellion

              That being said, I think his legacy of colonialism and slavery is enough to warrant his statue’s removal. It’s what that statue represents and, as a statue, what it celebrates. I don’t think ‘well everyone did it’ is a reason to keep a statue.

              1. Wired Wolf*

                I wasn’t quite arguing that point as keeping the statue…guess it didn’t come across as well as I thought. Yes, while colonization could be seen as ‘positive’ (my point in the above post), that only lasts as long as the generation that erected said monument.

                There are many more Italians to be heralded if in fact the reason for the statue was giving an immigrant community something to be proud of.

            2. Batgirl*

              I haven’t ever understood what achievements he was celebrated for. The man wasn’t the first European in the Americas to start with, nor was he interested in looking for a new continent; he was so uninterested in the concept that he never, ever admitted finding one. That’s how hopelessly lost and incompetent he was. He’s just a guy who was interested in money, and short on compunctions. He states very clearly how knew that the native peoples he encountered were good, clever, moral. There was no historical misunderstanding about right and wrong; he just decided that his chance to make a buck through greater firepower trumped all of that precisely because he was mediocre and knew no other way of succeeding.

    7. Grace*

      When I see people talking about this online, such as on Quora, all the people going “This is ruining our history!” are…not actually historians.

      As someone who is, at least by training – taking down the statues isn’t ruining history, it’s making history.

      History isn’t stagnant. The statue of Colston in Bristol isn’t, in and of itself, history. It’s a recognition that he was someone who gave a lot of money to various causes around the city, and let’s just gloss over what he did to get that money. The tearing down of the statue is history – it’s an actual reflection of social events happening at this moment in time, and an illustration of how years, decades, centuries, have led to the point where that statue became too distasteful to leave standing.

      They’re talking about moving it to a museum – still with the paint and the ropes. That’s of much greater historical significance than if they scrubbed it clean and put it in a museum going “Oh look, it’s that guy.”

      1. Vina*

        Are you familiar with Memento Park in Budapest?

        That’s precisely what we need to do here. Round up some of them, put them in a park. Give context.

        Keeping them in a place of honor and treating utter revisionist propaganda as history is dead wrong.

        This isn’t about remembering history, it’s about HONORING a propaganda version of it that intends to rewrite the narrative of the US South.

      2. Retail not Retail*

        Have you seen the state of Lee that was covered in graffiti? The caption I saw said “improved by public”. Keep that up!

      3. Cool Side of the Pillow*

        I’m wondering if a museum that articulates the context of their erection, meaning, and their removal would be a good starting place with statues of those oppressed or impacted by that public figure, commissioned from BIPOC artists or artists who identify as part of the group/individual being depicted. Moving through the exhibit requires visitors to see the timeline of fact and fiction without ignoring our best understanding of this moment in history nor the propagandistic portrayal of events and individuals.

        This is very much a half-realized passing thought, but it could have a two-fold benefit if 1) educating/re-educating the visiting public and 2) supporting and broadening the exposure of these artists. The key, though, would be implementation so it doesn’t appear as two sides of a story with a “you decide” narrative. And you don’t want peoples to feel as if their space in history is only possible if shared with the original narrative that was perpetrated. Rather, the museum could specifically center on the idea of how history and its perception are cultivated, distorted, and passively or actively rewritten.

      4. Wired Wolf*

        Last year there was a big hue and cry when it was discovered that one of our schools was named after a man who owned slaves. He was also the town’s first dogcatcher, which is the only notable thing on the plaque on his house (which is still on the school grounds) and probably the only thing most of the students knew him for. The school was renamed to something boring; the house is still there. People pointed out that if they were that sensitive about the issue nothing with the man’s name should be on the property (I believe the plaque on the house does say that the school is named for him, unless someone got a new plaque made).

    8. Vina*

      People don’t want Confederates remembered. They want them honored.

      True remembrance requires an honest assessment of the total person. These people opposed to this don’t want that. They want the glorious Lost Cause.

      1. fposte*

        And part of the retconning includes erasing the fact that these are people who fought to *destroy* the U.S. Why is the U.S. honoring them?

        1. Natalie*

          It blows my mind that the US armed forces needs (and apparently doesn’t have, outside of the Marines as of last week) an explicit rule against displaying the flags of what was an enemy army.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            It also blows my mind that there was such a backlash in the Facebook/Instagram comments *from Marines* saying the USMC had gone soft.

            Eh, buddy, even if you ignore the racism, oppression, actual goal of the Confederacy…. that’s the *enemy’s flag*. Why fight so hard to keep a losing enemy flag? Semper Fi is for your country, not the enemy.

            I believe that the Navy has also stated that there is now an explicit rule regarding Confederate symbols.

      2. Paulina*

        A while ago (last year maybe?) I read a twitter thread from someone who had been homeschooled somewhere in the U.S. South. The homeschooling material used treated the Confederate leaders as heroes, and seeing the statues in a place of honor made it clear to the kids that this was true. They’re ongoing propaganda, whatever may be claimed by those who are trying to keep the propaganda going covertly.

    9. Emma*

      I have been thinking about this issue – what it means when we take down historical objects. I think it is a good thing – taking down monuments is not a question of erasing history, it is about what we celebrate.
      I think it is partly a question of who determines how things are remembered. Last week people took down a statue of Colston in Bristol (UK) – this was someone who made his money transporting enslaved people and wanted to be remembered as a great philanthropist. The statue reflected his chosen narrative and I think people can say they no longer want Colston to determine how he is remembered. In the US, many monuments were put up by segregationists and I think being the first person to put up a monument in a particular place does not mean you have a right to determine what should stand in that place or what should be celebrated in those cities for the rest of time.
      I think we need a discussion about how we replace these monuments. In some cases, maybe we want to remember people who lived through the same era of history but opposed the wrongs that were taking place, people like Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, or memorials to those who were enslaved, or maybe we want to remember a different part of our history. Maybe in some places we also want plaques explaining the history of the monuments.

      1. Vina*

        I was so happy to see this. Honestly, sometimes my Brit friends seem to focus on all the US sins and want to ignore how intertwined our histories are. We wouldn’t have such religious extremism without what happened in the UK after Henry VIII. We wouldn’t have had the slave trade without the help of the British slavers.

        It’s high time the entire “western” world decolonize it’s view of itself. Statues are just one symptom of this.

        Someone complained about the purported removal of Jeff Davis from the KY statehouse. Stated “would you tear down a statue of MLK or Mohammed Ali?” My reply “You’d have to put them up to begin with.” Even in Lousiville – liberal home of Ali – there’s not a ton of statues fo him. One o them is of his boxing gloves.

        The fact the UK still had a statute to Colston and not, say Rev. John Newton, is shocking to me. Who we honor with statutes says a lot about who we think we are.

        Keeping these up signals we are still comfortable with overt racism, slavery, and debasement of our fellow man.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          In the UK the way Empire is taught is still incredibly problematic. At best it’s taught as neutral with acknowledgment of some atrocities. So a lot of people don’t understand the issues if they don’t research them.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            I live somewhere which was occupied during WWII. Not far from my house is the former Gestapo headquarters. The building is now an archive facility and has a plaque on the door saying “Every time you pass by, remember what happened to the people in this building”.

          2. Vina*

            I don’t know of any country other than Germany that teaches their past honestly. Maybe someone in another European country can chime in and tell us that it is done in their country.

            Both the US and UK want to completely ignore indentured servitude and oppression of peasants, colonialism, the genocide of First Nations, and the slave trade.

            When any of them are taught, it’s with a focus on “a few bad people did this” and not “this was the basis of our entire culture.”

            Even in Germany, many of my more critical friends say the Holocaust is taught, but there’s not nearly enough reflection on immigration, multiculturalism, or any of the current issues facing the country.

            I think we all want to believe the founding myths and sustaining myths of our people.

            1. A.N. O'Nyme*

              So I recently learned that colonialism was not a required part on the Flemish history curriculum (the curriculum states which time periods to cover but the rest is up to individual teachers apparently), but they’re going to make colonialism obligatory.
              My history teacher did not hold back with showing us the horrors that were inflicted, not only by Leopold II himself but also by the Belgian government when it took over. She did warn us about explicit pictures, but she showed them all the same. Also showed us that apparently we did a “certificate of civilization” type thing that Congolese people could get and if they did they’d get perks. Even included an interview with a man who still had his and actually thought that was a good system. Cue a room of horrified teenagers wondering how the hell we managed to brainwash someone that badly.

            2. Koala dreams*

              I don’t think there is any way to teach history “honestly”, in the sense of giving the whole picture, to school children. In twelwe years of primary and secondary school, our teachers had to cut out whole centuries just to cover the most important things in our national history, and the most important world events (mostly the French revolution, the World Wars and the Holocaust) and they still didn’t cover enough. At least I took German language and got some extra teaching on the Holocaust included. However, it’s possible to change what’s considered important to teach. Some things, like teaching more about life of the common people and not focus only on Important Historical Persons, were already underway when I went to school. In the future, society can decide other things to be the important focus points.

              1. Avasarala*

                I disagree–I think we can cut out a great deal of useless detail (making AP students learn about tax laws from 1800-1850? why?) and reframe important scenes to highlight what we should really take away from them. Many Americans think the Pilgrims were the first people to settle the US… what about the people they found when they got there?

        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I’ve had a number of British people try to shame me, as an American, by saying things like “well at least we didn’t have slavery here” or “we ended the slavery you started” etc. I’ll accept that it became something uniquely horrible in the US, but such people are conveniently forgetting that what is now the US was part of Britain when the trans-atlantic slave trade began, and that British traders were key in the whole thing.

          1. Vina*

            Well, actually, the US ended the slavery the British, French, Spanish, etc. started in the US. My ancestors paid that price in blood as slaves (on one side, quite distant so that I’m Lilly white), as Union soldiers, and as civilians in the cross fire.

            The entire western world is built on various forms of theft and oppression. But, honestly, I can’t think of a single great power in history that isn’t. It’s not just an American or British problem, it’s a human problem. Only the flavor varies.

            1. fposte*

              Right, which I think is an argument against statues, period.

              And the UK may have abolished slavery but they sure wanted the goods of slave labor; the northern mills were largely built on it, to say nothing of the sugar trade if you expand outside of the U.S. The country’s position during the US Civil War is a very complicated one.

          2. Batgirl*

            That position always requires ignoring a ton of stuff: colonialism, the slaving triangle, slaves imported into Britain, not to mention how the entire thing was inspired by feudalism.

          3. Bad Stuff*

            The British established the opium trade in China, in order to complete the triangle of mercantilism. So, they have no moralistic leg to stand on

      2. knead me seymour*

        I’m not a historian so this is a bit of a glib opinion, but I think there would be some value in putting up statues in honour of people who have been intentionally written out of history.

    10. Policy wonk*

      The statues should come down. While I don’t object to the idea of a park as in Budapest, some of these statues are enormous and the cost of maintenance is prohibitive. I’d suggest a museum with photos of the various statues with information including bio and history of the figure, info on the artist who created the statue, context of when/how it was funded and erected, and historical context of when/how it came down. Then melt the damned things down and repurpose the material for something better.

    11. Shell*

      History Ph.D. and professor of history here. Historians get to study everything, and rightly so. If I wanted to study Nathan Bedford Forrest (Confederate general and Klan leader) for my next major project, I could do that. Because studying someone and writing seriously about them isn’t about “glorifying” them. So my (hypothetical) book wouldn’t start with the question “How can we best praise Nathan Bedford Forrest?” It would start with something like, “How were Confederate generals remembered in the South during Reconstruction?” or “What happened to the families of those soldiers massacred at Fort Pillow?” or “How did leadership structures in the Klan develop and change over time?” Any of these would inevitably lead to questions of race, violence, memory, and power that would have wider applicability in American history.

      But statutes? People generally put up statues to say “We believe that this person is worthy of tremendous honor.” Is the first grand wizard of the KKK worthy of tremendous honor? No. It is historically interesting that so many Americans felt (and feel) such a strong need to glorify the Confederacy by putting up all those statues, but we are not obliged to maintain statues of people whom we do not regard as worthy of honor in the name of “history.”

      1. Vina*

        Unless you were doing a research project or book on the statutes directly, I doubt seriously you’d use them as a source for any “historical” research.

        No one learns history from statues. Unless they are studying the role of statues. Even then, they do a lot of looking beyond the statue to what was done, by whom, and what they said about it.

        Deification of statues “as history” is a moral dodge. I believe it allows the person purporting the stance to evade answering the tough questions about the historical worth of the subject.

        Personally, I’d be fine if we took down every single public statue and had a wholesale reevaluation of who to put back. The vast, vast majority of public statues honor people who either should not be honored or whose legacy needs. Serious reevaluation. Neither Churchill nor George Washington, for example, were saints. They were critically important to their countries, but their legacy isn’t pristine.

        1. Reba*

          Yes, the whole thing about statues and history is so specious! Like, how many schoolkids do we see tramping about studying statues?! Look me in the eye and try to tell me truthfully that you knew who the eff was in the middle of that traffic circle!

          (All that said, I am very fond of my local Joan of Arc statue — but even that is a gloss on history from a later perspective [obvi] and represents a political move as it was a diplomatic gift. But anyway she has a sword! :D )

          1. university minion*

            Back in the day (80’s for me) before they made it more interactive, that literally *WAS* the Gettysburg Battlefield class field trip. And no, I have no idea who made up the 3rd Slingshot Brigade of Kneeslap WV was, but if that statue was there, we damn sure got off the bus and heard all about it.

    12. Overeducated*

      I’m also in cultural resource management and I don’t think of statues as history, I think of them as part of modern cultural landscapes. They are usually located in prominent areas of cities and battlefield parks for a reason. They are there so people walking by TODAY, not in say 1865, will see that these figures are celebrated by the people who have power over our public space and public spending in the present. They are “active” in a way an archaeological artifact in situ, or even in a museum with a sign talking about what it meant 150 years ago, is not. I think spray painting them and trying to pull them down (safely! With precautions!) is an illegal but morally justifiable form of civic engagement with public space.

      I also don’t think these statues are “history.” They are heritage, but they represent a heritage of white supremacy that was literally built into our laws and our cities. We are not captive to heritage. All interpretations of heritage are shaped by the present, whether celebrating or dismantling. Leaving the statues up is a way of interpreting what they mean for us, too. There is no neutrality here.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        Exactly. History is a fact; heritage is a choice. We can’t change the past, but we can make better choices in the present, and shame on us if we refuse to.

    13. Ali G*

      Have you seen the thread about replacing all the statures with blow-up dancing people? It’s amazing. I’ll see if I can dig it up.

    14. Sled dog mama*

      I am completely in favor of monuments of any sort ( not just statues) that are offensive to so many people being removed. I worry though that we will loose part of our history, the part about why those things were offensive.

      1. tangerineRose*

        We have books and books about history, and the books are more likely to give useful content than a statue is. I don’t know how taking the statues down could erase history.

      2. Nita*

        Technically I think that if we follow the train of thought about “is it offensive” we will end up with no statues. I can’t think of a single person, famous or just someone I know personally, who has not done something questionable, thoughtless, or harmful to someone at some point in their life. OK, well, I guess that leaves statues of angels – those are always going to be OK!

        1. allathian*

          Angels can be offensive as religious symbols to people who would rather not see such symbols in a public space. Lots of atrocities have been committed in the name of one religion or another, even if the basic premise of the conflict was something else, such as financial gain.
          I’m not saying that I as a secular humanist find religious symbols in public offensive, but some may. Some of the most beautiful art in the world literally had a divine inspriation in the sense that it was made to celebrate faith.

          But I do think that it’s important to realize that people are complicated and that people who achieve great things can be horrible in their personal lives, or the achievement can come at a horrible cost. I don’t think dismantling all of Western civilization would be a good idea just because it was built on, and in some ways continues to be built on, morally reprehensible acts.

          1. honoria*

            Taking down statues of racist traitor slave owners is no more “dismantling all of Western civilization” than was the blowing up of Nazi monuments in Germany after they lost the war.

            1. allathian*

              I fully agree with taking down, say, the Colson statue.
              I just meant that it’s important to acknowledge that much of our Western civilization has been built on atrocities committed by our ancestors, and that we need to acknowledge the bad things that have happened before and try to make restitution where possible and resolve to do better in future.

          2. Star*

            Is it “dismantling Western civilization” to acknowledge that some acts that were previously lauded are not actually laudable?

            I STG, every time I read a discussion where someone points out that people other than straight White men are human beings too, someone else brings up the idea of “dismantling Western civilization”. As if we could, when we live in it, and if the idea that straight White Christian men are so much better than everyone else is so foundational, maybe the damn thing *should* go.

            1. allathian*

              That wasn’t what I meant. I’ve never said that straight, white, Christian men are better than anyone else.
              I’m just wondering, do you really think we should stop using medical treatments that were developed by German companies that got much of their early financing from the atrocities they committed during the Holocaust? I’m certainly not questioning the fact that the Holocaust was an awful event, but I’m also not refusing to acknowledge that our society today would probably look very different if it wasn’t for the two world wars in the 20th century. During the first world war, women became a part of the industrial workforce on a large scale for the very first time. After the war, they were pushed back to the home again to make sure the men who returned from the front had jobs. After the second world war, there were attempts to do the same, but it never really worked, at least not in Europe that had a lot more rebuilding to do than the US (the 50s aren’t idealized nearly as much in Europe as the last decade when the old order stood, as in the US).

              1. Star*

                I lost my temper, so I wasn’t clear. You certainly didn’t “I’ve never said that straight, white, Christian men are better than anyone else.” but this entire discussion, or at least the Keep The Confederate Statues side, presupposes that concept. It assumes that the people currently honored with statues are those who *should* be honored and the predominance of straight White Christian men among them is because such people tend to be more often worthy of honor. I got exasperated with that idea and brought it up clumsily because, as I said, I lost my temper.

                That said, your question to me “do you really think we should stop using medical treatments that were developed by German companies that got much of their early financing from the atrocities they committed during the Holocaust?” contains another assumption — that my goal, that anyone’s goal about getting rid of statues to slaveowners and traitors, is about ideological purity. Purity is, IMO, a pointless and asymptotic goal, and I don’t think it’s the motivation for getting rid of the statues. The reason I support getting rid of the statues is because of what in particular we are celebrating about these people — we’re celebrating them for owning slaves and trying to break a country in two in order to keep owning slaves. I don’t think these acts should be celebrated.

                To actually answer your question, though, my answer is not quite the simple “of course not” you were expecting. What I learned in my history of science classes was that much of the data acquired during human vivisections during the Holocaust was not actually well organized as scientific data — much of the science ended up being reinvestigated later on, and I think, perhaps over-hopefully, that much of that knowledge could have been acquired without so much bloodshed and cruelty.

                After all, to what degree do the ends justify the means? Women (especially but not only White women) made social gains because of joining the workforce in WWI and WWII. But does that mean that all the bloodshed of these wars justifies those social gains, or that we couldn’t’ve achieved those gains in other ways?

              2. honoria*

                “do you really think we should stop using medical treatments that were developed by German companies that got much of their early financing from the atrocities they committed during the Holocaust?”
                This is a straw man argument. Literally no one is advocating this, but starting a debate about this nonissue sure is a derail meant to distract from the real issue.

          3. Avasarala*

            “I don’t think dismantling all of Western civilization would be a good idea just because it was built on, and in some ways continues to be built on, morally reprehensible acts.”
            Honestly I’m having a really difficult time trusting your judgement since earlier this week you claimed that people who enjoy BDSM are mentally ill and morally reprehensible.

            I’m really not here for “people are complicated” in questions of glorifying slaveowners.

            I am here for tearing down everything that was built on the backs of enslaved people.

        2. Star*

          Not all sins are equal.

          I would rather see a statue to Harriet Tubman because, whatever terrible thing you can manage to dig up she did, she dedicated her life to freeing slaves, than a statue of Edward Colston, whom I realized when reading up on his statue coming down, is probably the man directly responsible for selling my personal ancestors in the Caribbean.

          Do you think you can tell me those two people have had the same effect on the world, or that I, a Black woman from the Caribbean, should have the same reaction to them and their statues?

        3. Cedrus Libani*

          For me, I think it comes down to *why* we’re celebrating this person. Every human has faults, but what’s their virtue? The statues of Confederate generals are there to celebrate their fault – they fought a war in defense of the right to own people. Those statues were put up as a reminder that these public squares were still controlled by people who thought of these generals as heroes, and so the formerly owned should keep their heads down, or else. Those statues need to be gone yesterday. Then there are “philanthropists” like Colston, who were trying to control the narrative in their own backyards, but…yeah, that money came from somewhere, and that somewhere was no good. I’m not sad to see them go either.

          Then there are the hard cases. I went to a high school named after Thomas Jefferson; in the district, several schools named after famous racists (mostly Confederate generals) have been renamed in the past decade or so, and in light of 2020, people are debating whether Jefferson needs to go as well. Yeah, I get it. Jefferson was a slave owner, and rather famously had a giant ethical blind spot over the entire issue. But that’s not what he’s known for. I think there’s room for celebrating people like the American founding fathers – who found themselves with a country to run, and actually reached for the Enlightenment-era claptrap about how to make a good government and tried to put it into practice – that was radical for the time, and something worth honoring as part of America’s heritage. That’s true even though they were all staggeringly racist and sexist by 2020 standards. (They left extensive records, so there’s no weaseling around it; they were within range for their time, but hoo boy, not anymore.)

          1. allathian*

            Thank you for your nuanced view. This is something that I thoroughly agree with, but I just couldn’t say it as well as you did.

    15. MissDisplaced*

      I’m for the statutes being removed from general everyday public spaces.

      However, I don’t necessarily feel they should all be destroyed either. Some (but not all) could possibly be moved to more appropriate places, possibly museums, archives, or, in the case of Confederate statutes, actual battlefield sites that present the history in context. To me, there is a big difference seeing these at Gettysburg versus a corner city park.

      1. Vina*

        Oh, absolutely. I have no issue with he statues at Gettysburg. They are there to honor the dead. Not to deify the Lost Cause.

        That’s a perfect example of where they belong and in what context a statue to a Confederate is not wholesale problematic.

        A statue of Pickett at Gettysburg is very different than one in a park in an all-black neighborhood in the South.

      2. Vina*

        PS I’m also opposed to naming buildings and events after people. Very few humans haven’t done something deeply problematic. MLK and Ghandi both had serious, major flaws.

        Now, if it comes out Tom Hanks beats his wife, I’m going to cry. And I think Fred Rogers was also probably a good dude. Other than that, most of us have major flaws and make huge mistakes.

        Part of the issue is we try to put people into the slots “hero” “villain” and “victim” instead of focusing on actions.

        There are some Confederates who did go on to do good in the world. Some racists reform (George Wallace mane?). That doesn’t mean they should get a statue. It just means we should say “this person did X bad thing, but here they did good.”

        1. fposte*

          Oh, George Wallace *fascinates* me. What did he actually believe? Did that change from his liberal (comparatively) youth or was he just going for victory by any means that worked and the same thing for repentance?

          1. Vina*

            Same. I’m never sure if he changed then changed back or was an opportunist.

            He’s somewhat like Regan for me. If you just go by what his supporters v. Detractors say about him, you can assume he’s all one thing, but if you look at the behavior, it becomes difficult to square some of what he says with what he does.

            Many powerful men are like this. Did Wallace reform? What did Regan really think of homosexuality (e.g.., his inaction on gays v. His personal friendships v. His actions wrt to supporting gay teachers)? What did Sherman really think of Native Americans? (He’s said a bunch of inconsistent things).

            I mean, Ronald Regan was the key factor in killing the Briggs initiative. I know a few people who worked on that campaign then (to defeat it). They all said he was key. Then he turns around and screws up the critical moment on gay rights int he 80s: AIDS. Why? Was it mere opportunism or was there some belief that made gay teachers ok but not treating AIDS?

            I find people who seem inconsistent or inexplicable fascinating. Not good or admirable, but fascinating.

        2. Star*

          I have been delighting in your comments in this thread and this one made me cheer aloud!

          1. Vina*

            Thanks. Tough subject.

            I’ve dealt with it more than most. One org that I’m on the board of had to remove a Confederate statute a few years back. I’ve heard all the arguments for and against.

            Another org I’m on the board of used to have a dinner named after two slave owning founding fathers. One of whom had a myriad of other sins. Getting the proponents to change it “but tradition…….but history” was like pulling teeth from a cat.

      3. Overeducated*

        This is a really interesting distinction about museums vs. battlefield parks because so, so much depends on when the statues are from. In the National Register of Historic Places, which a lot of state historic registers are based on, a memorial can’t be eligible for the period it commemorates, only for the period in which it was built. Basically, any memorial is a snapshot of how people at one point in time looked back at another. So for instance, a memorial built by veterans or their families in the years after the Civil War can be recognized as historically significant for the period of Reconstruction, not the Civil War itself. But a memorial built in 1964 could only to be significant in terms of how people in the Civil Rights era (and its backlash) were interpreting the heritage of the Civil War. Would that belong somewhere like Gettysburg? Debatable. And moving it somewhere LIKE Gettysburg where the battlefield is historically significant in its own right could have a negative impact on the existing historic landscape, which is also worth taking into consideration.
        That said, I’m very much interested in the idea of recording the history of the present as much as possible, even including the graffiti on these monuments as part of the heritage of BLM.

        TL;DR I know a boring amount about the bureaucratic rules of historic preservation, and context is everything!

    16. Stephen!*

      I like the statues of Oñate that have their foot cut off. It’s like an Asterix that indicates, yeah, some people may find him inspiring, but other people really, really don’t.

    17. RagingADHD*

      I have a number of Confederate officers in my family tree, and I think it’s long past time these things came down.

      I also have a number of abusive alcoholics & narcissists in my family tree, and I feel no need to put up statues to them or hang their pictures on the wall.

      I can remember & discuss the good & bad things people did without making monuments to glorify the ugliness or shove it in people’s faces.

      People who fuss about “where does it end” are just pretending to be confused so they don’t have to think about it. There will always be historical figures with good & bad actions to their name. Being deliberate about assessing those actions & thoughtful about how to weigh them is a good thing.

      If you want to remember history, remember the truth. If you can’t justify honoring someone without ignoring the truth, then you have your answer.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “where does it end”

        That is the point. It hasn’t ended yet, after all these years/centuries.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I meant the people who argue against removing confederate statues because it’s supposedly a “slippery slope.”

          They clutch their pearls and say “What’s next? The Washington Monument? The Lincoln Memorial?”

          It’s an excuse to avoid changing anything.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I so very much agree that it is an excuse. It’s also a failure to understand the depth and the width of how large this issue is and how we have allowed it to become deeply ingrained in our society.

    18. ...*

      hmm, I was against it because I felt it “messing with history” but I really like your phrasing as “true interaction with history”. I will have to think more about that.

      1. Star*

        Some important questions are, whose history? Who does history belong to? How closely does what actually happened correspond to what we tell nowadays about the events?

        As I asked above of another commenter, if we replaced statues of the founders of Canada’s Residential School System with monuments to the Indigenous children abducted, abused, stripped of their culture, and even killed in that system, would we be “messing with history” or would we be acknowledging a wider swath of it?

        1. Vina*

          I think we would be correcting it.

          There are a lot of statutes of slave owners in the South. But Nat Turner is American history as well. As is Osceola. As is Jean Lafitte.

          For non-Americans, Nat Turner led a slave rebellion that killed plenty of white people (kids included). Osceola was the “unconquered” leader of the Seminole when trying to fight for survival (who was interestingly not Seminole, but Creek, Black, Scottish and a little other mixed in). Jean Lafitte was a pirate, but he helped save New Orleans in the war of 1812.

          Plenty of people who are historically very important who don’t have statutes.

          I can go on, but if we have a statute of Nathan Bedford Forest b/c of “history” why not put one of Nat Turner beside it.

          Heck, there aren’t even that many statutes of abolitionist John Brown. He is one of the most important figures in US history, but most people would rather forget him.

          Sigh.

          1. Avasarala*

            Yes! The Nat Turner rebellion! Why haven’t we seen a movie about this yet (I know why….sigh)

    19. Pennyworth*

      I am a bit concerned that just removing the bad guy statues is hiding their deeds. I have been thinking about some statues of colonial figures where I grew up (not in the USA), and I’d quite like to see them become integrated into a public art response which sets them in context. It would be powerful to see a figure which had been high on a plinth literaly brought down to earth. This is such an important moment in history, I hope the statues are dealt with in a way that helps us learn from the past.

      1. Natalie*

        I can’t speak to your country, but the statues in the US are not displaying the subject’s bad deeds at all. They are memorials and monuments, so they’re designed to inspire reverence. There is rarely, if ever, any kind of plaque giving context, and even when there is most people won’t see it. Removing them can’t hide what isn’t there.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Indeed. Showing them as heroes is hiding their bad deeds.

          If the statue of RE Lee showed him beating the people he held in slavery, nobody would have wanted to put it up in the first place.

    20. Not So NewReader*

      My opinion of the statues coming down and renaming places is, “what took so long?”.

      I remember growing up in the 60s, I’d ask my father why there was a statue for Jefferson Davis, why do marching bands play “Dixie” in parades, why do people go around with confederate flags on their cars?

      That was in the 1960s. I have been waiting 50 years to see this. This should have happened long before now. Tears in my heart. That’s my thoughts on this.

    21. Elizabeth West*

      I’d love to see that ugly Forrest statue trashed but keep the golden horse. The horse didn’t do anything wrong (and it’s kind of epic).

    22. Belgian*

      I am all for removing the statues of King Leopold II in my country. He is not a man who should be honoured by having statues.

    23. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I agree with you. Also, I think it’s as reasonable for us to replace statues, and rename places, in 2020 as it was in past years. Those statues didn’t appear on their own like dandelions or mushrooms, and I didn’t grow up in “Nieuw Amsterdam.”

      I saw a call yesterday to replace some racist statues displayed by the US Congress. Those are selected by each state, and the post included a list of the statues, who the people are, and when the statues were put up. Michigan sent one of Gerald Ford six years ago. Was anyone outraged by them “erasing history” by removing another statue to put it there?

  12. A.L.*

    Has anyone else reached out to someone they shouldn’t have during these crazy times? I was bummed about a breakup that happened last weekend and feeling kind of isolated. I then proceeded to Facebook “friend” an ex I broke up with a couple years ago (even though I’m pretty sure he has a girlfriend). He rejected the friend request, which was for the best, but ugh- I cringe every time I think about it.

    1. Anonosaurus*

      I feel you. I was one twitch of the finger away from sending a friend request to office crush one day last week after a few beers. He is a decent guy and there probably wouldn’t be any repercussions even if he didn’t accept but… No. I don’t want to go there. But I understand. The isolation and uncertainty about when we’ll ever be able to date normally again messes with your head. Forgive yourself for the ex thing though – you didn’t do anything wrong!

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      If it makes you feel better, I have a friend (really, it was a friend, not me), who not only drunk texted an ex, she went to his house and crashed about outside breaking things and shouting drunkenly at him only to realize he was not home.

      She can laugh now.

      1. A.L.*

        Yeah, you can “remove” them from your list. I guess remove is a nicer word than reject. :-)

      2. D3*

        I do it almost daily! I get friend requests from men I don’t know who are almost always:
        Single
        Military
        Christian
        Looking for love
        On the computer, you deny the request and then you have the option to mark it as spam. Which I always do.
        Just playing whack-a-mole with the catfishers…

        1. Silly Janet*

          I have gotten so many requests from men mostly on Instagram but also recently on Facebook. Complete strangers. And I’m married! I’m sorry you are lonely guys, but geez…take it somewhere else.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            A lot of those are fake as hell, especially the ones with military pictures. I mean, the pictures are real; they steal them from other accounts.

            For a while there, I got a ton of friend requests on FB and Twitter from Prince Harry bots, lol.

    3. Star*

      Be gentle with yourself. You were reacing out for connection in a disconnected time and reached in the wrong direction.

      Here’s a hug from a ssmall soft woman if you want it. :)

    4. Anon the one who did a thing you did*

      Yep – yesterday I reached out to a guy who I had a sort-of thing with 2 years ago. We are “friends” in his mind but not in mine because we never talk, and I wish we had more of a close relationship like we did because I really miss talking to him (I want the guy too, but we’d kill each other in a relationship, better as friends). The conversation went nowhere. I super regret it, and understand your feeling like this. I cringe at myself every time I think about him, which is really often, and he probably never thinks about me.

      It sucks to be an adult – you’re not alone.

        1. Anon the one who did a thing you did*

          Oh absolutely, you’re not alone. What’s worse, I foresee myself probably doing this another time, despite knowing how it’ll probably end. I hope you’ve got better resolve/willpower/whatever I’m missing, lol

    5. ...*

      You’re human I don’t think that that’s a big deal, he prob rejected bc he has a gf and didn’t want her to see, not because he dislikes you or something.

  13. roundroundduck*

    How do people feel about donations both during covid and in general?

    I went to a bunch of prestigious educational institutions (not USA) and they are asking for money to help students during covid. Some of my family members donated.

    I feel really uncomfortable about this, both during covid and regular times. These institutions are wealthy and they hide away the secrets of the privileged taught to a small exclusive group of people. I really don’t want to give them any money, ever, even if it is going to low income students. I just don’t think the whole thing should exist and they often use low income students as a way to prop up the system – hey we help out a few poor kids so it’s all ok!

    I just feel like donating to food banks and homeless shelters is more important. What do other people think? How do you choose who you donate to?

    For context for UK and American readers would you be comfortable donating to Harvard, Yale or Cambridge? Or at the school level – Eton?

    1. Asenath*

      I choose my donations and don’t feel too bad that I can’t give to every worthy cause – there are far more worthy causes than I have money to support. So I don’t worry too much if some people, even family, choose causes I don’t choose. As for giving to rich institutions – sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. It depends on the circumstances. I might give to an elite school, particularly if I had a connection with it and they were using the money for a project I liked, such as a scholarship. But, in fact, I don’t have any such connections. I don’t usually give to one particular health institution, partly because I had heard that they in fact get lots of donations and another health institution in the city gets less. But I would send a small, one-time donation if, say, someone I know died there and the family requested donations to support it. So I don’t have really rigid rules about these things.

      1. Overeducated*

        This is my approach. There is more need than I have the ability to fulfill and I’m more opportunistic than calculated about it. My wealthy alma maters are definitely not at the top of my personal list right now though.

    2. Mimosa Jones*

      In my opinion, this is what endowments are for. I don’t know anything about how they work and what sort of spending restrictions the schools have. But in my mind it’s partly a rainy day fund and we’re in the middle of a hurricane. A college near me was about to push a small group of students into potential homelessness until the issue got some press. I was mentally trying to figure out how we could take one of the students in until the school came to their senses. I would have donated money to the students or to the school acting as an agent for the students for things the school normally doesn’t provide. I’d donate money to help people who’ve become stuck because of Covid, but I wouldn’t contribute to say a future student scholarship fund right now. And I’d want to see evidence the school is going the extra financial mile in this situation and not just asking for others to take on the expense for them.

      1. Bex*

        Endowments are really complicated, and are actually the opposite of a rainy day fund. If a donor gives to a traditional endowment, then that money is legally restricted and has to stay in the endowment in perpetuity. The school can only spend the profit made from investing the endowments and in downturns, that amount drops considerably. Some places have sent up “quasi-endowments” that generally function as an endowment but the principal can be tapped into in times of financial distress. But gifts need to be booked that way when they are first made, with the consent of the donor.

    3. Policy wonk*

      I give an annual donation to my alma mater, designated for scholarships, and that won’t change. During Covid I have made donations to organizations that are feeding people and runnung food banks. Harvard, Yale and many other elite schools have huge endowments and could draw on those funds if they wanted to.

    4. Doc in a Box*

      I agree with what you are saying that colleges often use donations to cover scholarships that they should be covering themselves. But I’ll also say that I work at one such university (not one of the ones you’ve named, but a private university with a large endowment), and we are really hurting, because of the added cost of getting everything online, refunding housing/meal plans for students, and projected loss of international student revenue for next year.

      At least at our university, the endowment is explicitly not a “rainy day fund,” (and yes, this is a hurricane anyway). Most of the endowment income is earmarked for specific things, and the unrestricted spending limit is on the order of a few percent. Because the market has tanked, it’s quite possible that there won’t even be any endowment income this year.

      I think they are handling it reasonably well — the president and deans are taking 15-20% pay cuts for at least the next academic year; no other cuts to faculty/staff salaries although no COLA this year and no retirement match; hiring freeze; construction freeze; travel freeze; event freeze.

      If you don’t want to donate to your alma mater, then direct your money elsewhere.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        Hi doc in a box,
        My friend works in a large, well-known univ (also not one of the ones listed) and she could have written your post word for word except they might have to cut more salaries than you mentioned.

        The endowment is not covering the expenses you listed.

        Donate where you want but if you think universities are in great financial shape and dont need the money you might find this info helpful.

      2. Texan In Exile*

        I went to Rice, which has a huge endowment. The president, David Leebron, had compensation of almost two million dollars in 2018. I am not sure what he has done with his own pay, but between what he is paid and the endowment (go to court if you need to break some of the terms – Rice has done it before), I am sure they can figure something out before asking me for money.

        No. 16 was Rice University President David Leebron, who earned total compensation of $1,730,998 and base compensation of $838,000. Leebron’s total compensation increased 65 percent compared to the year prior, while his base salary increased just 2 percent. Jul 16, 2018

        1. Bluebell*

          Yep – pretty much stopped donating to my alma mater (also Rice) The last time I visited campus a few years ago, the buildings were pretty over the top, and yet I heard from a friend that tuition has reached ridiculous levels. I’m glad to be supporting local organizations, as well as hunger relief, social services, and most recently, racial justice orgs.

    5. Tallulah*

      I’ve donated to student hardship funds for two universities, one a prestigious one of the type you mention, one less so but well-thought-of in particular academic fields. I have personal connection to both and it was one of various things I gave to as part of a general feeling I should be helping those who are struggling during the pandemic, as I’m doing ok. I was privileged enough to also be able to donate to a homeless charity and a food bank. I also donated to a fund for supporting university research into COVID-19 out of primarily selfish reasons – I mean, I want this virus to stop being a threat, I want this pandemic to be over! (Let’s not go into how likely, or not, that is…)

      I don’t donate to my alma mater’s scholarship fund generally, mainly because I feel I want my money to go to people in more immediate need, but I was feeling sorry and worried about people who might be facing unexpected financial difficulties because of the pandemic.

      I think if you don’t want to donate to a prestigious university at all, then don’t. There are lots of other ways to help people. In general, I think there are so many ways to give money, you kind of have to use some sort of way to decide – and if you’re uncomfortable with an entire institution’s existence, then that seems a very sensible way to remove them from consideration.

      I wouldn’t, and don’t, seek out prestigious institutions to give them money – so I wouldn’t donate to Harvard or Eton because… why would I? It’s not something that would occur to me to do.

    6. Ranon*

      We give to our local community college in lieu of donating to our (well endowed, although not Harvard level) alma maters. Neither of us has particularly strong sentimental ties to the places we got our degrees and our community college is doing awesome things like providing access to childcare, developing interesting programs for students, doing really interesting things around sustainability, and is really an institution that supports our community (whereas my undergrad institution is better described as in constant conflict with the community it is in).

      In this time of Covid we’ve increased our donations to the food bank, domestic violence shelter, and an organization with a focus on scientific oversight/ activism towards US government policies (including Covid response, climate change, etc)

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Suggestion for a compromise that would possibly make a difference in the future: ask that educational institution what scholarship programs exist 4 people coming in from different backgrounds. A how do you contribute to a scholarship fund for ‘diverse’ students? There can be scholarships for new immigrants, people exonerated after wrongful imprisonment, LGBTQ students whose family have rejected them, students coming in from a school in a predominantly minority neighborhood, etc.
      If they do not have such a program, tell them to call you when one is set up. That message WILL sink in and have an effect when enough alumni repeat it and withhold donations until then.

    8. Anono-me*

      We have charity dollars and those go to the issues we feel are most important. Food for the hungry and shelter for the homeless.

      We have entertainment dollars and those go to museums and parks and concerts.

      Personally I have a huge problem with donating to institutions of Higher Learning. I do not understand where all the money goes. (My last 4 credit class was $1200 plus $100 in fees. It was a community college lecture taught by a Adjunct professor in an off-site rented state training center in the evening. There were 30 students in the class. There were probably 20 similar classes each evening. Additionally, the college gets tax money. )

    9. Vina*

      The only donation I’ve made is to the Navajo and Hopi nations.

      If someone wants to make a real difference, they need this money now and badly.

      It’s shameful that most Americans don’t even know whats’ happening there and so few care.

      1. Avasarala*

        I also heard about this and donated.
        It has not occurred to me to donate to Harvard or similar schools and honestly if someone looked around at the world right now and said “this prestigious university needs my money” I would roll my eyes and severely question their judgment. I mean, do what you want, but… really?

    10. Vina*

      Before giving too much to schools for scholarships, I recommend reading “The Privileged Poor.”

      These schools fail their students in so many ways. The entire system needs reform.

      I’d rather donate to something I know directly helps the impoverished students. I’m not sure a generic donation woudl do so.

    11. Sunset Maple*

      I will never donate to either of my colleges, due to the nonsense they pulled while I was there (for the purpose of costing me extra time). One is Big Ten, so I’m especially not donating to a school raking in football cash while strangling academics.

      That said, I don’t lose sleep over supporting X cause over Y cause. We donate to research for an obscure disease that killed a family member. Though realistically few people get it, it dramatically affected our lives, and that’s what matters to me.

    12. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I like animals more than I like people. I generally donate to 3 orgs: my college (who I don’t think has the same issues that you’re describing), the local zoo (animals!), and the local nonprofit animal shelter. The animal shelter gets the most money. I will occasionally donate to other orgs that are doing good work, but that is more one-offs, not regular.

      I think it’s perfectly fair to not want to donate to an organization that you feel is problematic. You can just ignore them, or if they contact you directly say that you’re not able to. Don’t need to tell them why you’re not able to.

      1. Kiwi with laser beams*

        In fact, as someone who’s had to tell a couple of organisations “no” lately, don’t try to give reasons in general. Reasons, no matter how innocuous, are treated as the opening of a negotiation because being persistent is part of how they get money for their cause. The ONLY thing that works in my experience is a polite but firm “no, thank you”.

    13. Academic Fruitbat*

      I work for an element of an education institution similar to the above. We will be hit very hard by this, though I haven’t seen the full figures – increased grants to students, no income from external bookings over the summer, staff wages topped up while on furlough, no income from catering or rental, massive spending on IT equipment to enable working from home and remote teaching etc. Unfortunately we’d just made some big capital investments which looked very sensible, but are temporarily unable to cover their costs. If we spend our capital, we’ll have less income to spend on student grants, teaching and research in the future. We’ll come through, but it will mean that all spending needs to be carefully watched for some years to come.

    14. ...*

      Not donating right now because of the unstable economy, but if you think donating to food banks and shelters is more important that I say do that! You’re not a bad person if you can’t donate to every cause. I usually give to planned parenthood because I personally think its a helpful service and have used it myself when I was in need and I’d like to prop them up. I know the money goes to their lawyers bc they’re always having to defend themselves in court and Im ok with that. I’m more likely to do something for a friend than a stranger and I should maybe work on expanding. I’d like to give food or hygiene products to those struggling soon. I will also be donating when I can to seniors and low income people who are struggling to get food and medication due to so many businesses needing to close due to looting and/or fires. That will probably be my first donation when I feel comfortable.

    15. LGC*

      This had me thinking. At first I was like, “why is it an either/or?” Harvard has some value (as a higher education institution), even if it’s not the astronomical value it has.

      But on the other hand…we put a TON of value into Harvard as a society, and way too much for what you actually get. (Basically, you’re paying $50,000 a year to be around people who think they’re extremely smart. And a good education, but mostly being around Extremely Smart People.) You’re right in that you’re paying the price of admission to an exclusive club. So, while I personally don’t think it’s wrong to donate money to a “prestige” school…I also think that the problem is we give too much money as a society to them.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      My husband and I had decided long ago not to donate to our colleges. Of the many reasons, they constantly had their hands out asking for money. It was obnoxious. One college even went to the trouble to find the address of our new home that we had just bought. And they started calling on the phone then they started calling at work! (This is decades after graduation.)

      They never, ever once asked how well their service worked out for us. Did we think we landed in a better place because of their degree. What could they have done better, what did they get right- they never asked any of this.

      I could go on and on. OP, put your money where you think it will work the hardest and do the most good. And it’s okay to periodically re-evaluate what ever decision you make.

      1. Avasarala*

        Yep.
        Spent my 4 years in decrepit buildings with no support while they built new buildings for other departments.
        Then they have the nerve to turn around and call me begging for money. What did you do for me while I was there? How do I know it’s not going to fund sports teams and other departments?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think we went to the same school. (joking except for the part where my school did the exact same things.)

    17. Kiwi with laser beams*

      I don’t have a connection to the kind of schools that do that, so I ended up donating to the kind of causes you support by default. From what I’ve been hearing from my orgs, they need more support than ever because of the impact of covid, so I 1,000,000% support your choice to spend your Helping Others budget on them rather than what you happened to be asked for in this case. My Venn diagram between “orgs that have asked me to support them” and “orgs I support” doesn’t have that much overlap – most of my choices were based on general advertising and in one case me Googling to see whether New Zealand had an org that dealt with the thing in question. I’m usually not actively against the orgs I say “no” to; it’s just that, as someone else said, there are more orgs in need than one person can support.

    18. Activist and Professional Fundraiser*

      I’ve worked as a nonprofit fundraiser in the US for many years. In response to your question about wealthy universities, fundraising research shows that philanthropy is pretty lopsided in supporting wealthy institutions. Recent research documents that except for religious institutions, universities are the overall largest sector that receives contributions. The organization Candid, focused on philanthropy trends, identified Stanford University is the single biggest recipient of donations in the entire US. And they are rolling in money.

      The basic model is that you get wealthy students who get even wealthier as alumni, and then they donate back to the schools to create more wealth. There are many societal issues and people that don’t benefit from this system of privilege.

      Donations should come from the heart, to focus on the issues that matter to you most. Whether you give a larger contribution to a single cause or a bunch of small donations, it’s what means the most to you that counts. The groups I personally contribute to focus on civil rights, addressing inequity, and environmental issues. During the pandemic with so much urgency, I’m now supporting food banks.

    19. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I have donated to my university, which is on your list, but only to specific funds which improve access to underrepresented groups. It’s pretty straightforward to earmark donations in that way. My institution is proactive at setting up those projects (although plenty of room for improvement).

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Oh, and to answer your question more fully, we give to food bank / DA shelters etc as an ongoing priority, but yes I do feel an obligation to open up the advantage I was given to those who have historically been excluded.

    20. Alpha Bravo*

      I really don’t have extra money right now. My widow’s mite goes to the local food bank. I can donate at the grocery store when I buy my own food. Everyone needs to eat.

    21. Beatrice*

      I try to steer my donations toward a) causes I have personal ties to, and b) causes where I really feel that my donation can make a difference. Historically, mostly causes directly related to fighting hunger, poverty, and reproductive rights.

      I don’t give to my alma mater. Never will. I went to a small private college that is not prestigious. Most of the student body, at the time I attended, were affluent kids who didn’t have the grades to get into better private schools. Lots of lazy, clueless, privileged people (me, too). The school administration sucked…in my four years, there were serious student safety/mental health/physical health issues that were swept under the rug or blamed on the students themselves. Their efforts to actually prepare people to enter the workforce were appallingly lacking. I was literally nothing but a tuition check to them then, and I’m nothing but a potential donor now. Not happening in the best of times. In these uncertain times, their student body has resources to fall back on, for the most part, and my money would be better used elsewhere.

  14. The Other Dawn*

    I’m curious about people’s experience with mattress toppers. Not the covers that have a thin, soft layer on top. I’m talking about the ones with memory foam or a combo of memory foam and a pillow top. Reviews are mixed, with some people saying memory foam “sleeps hot.”

    Now that I’m three months out from back surgery (lumbar fusion), I’m finding my hips are now bothering me. It didn’t start until maybe a few weeks ago. They would bother me after sitting/reclining for awhile. Most annoying is they started bothering me in bed, usually somewhere around 3am, which means I’m always needing to get out of bed by 5am and get moving, even though I really need to sleep another couple hours; I never wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start the day. I’d always wake up feeling like my hips are painful pressure points. Considering I have a Sleep Number bed and it’s on a soft setting, it doesn’t make sense that I’d feel that much pressure on my hips. After researching on the internet a bit, I think a good mattress topper is needed so that I can make my side of the bed firmer, while eliminating the resulting pressure points.

    At my recent follow-up the doctor said it could be bursitis setting in; however, I really feel like it’s due to drastically reduced activity as a result of recovery from surgery; the pandemic, since I can’t just spend a few hours shopping at the mall or multiple stores; being unable to workout, though I do my physical therapy everyday; and not having my pre-surgery daily routine, such as going to the office, regular errands, etc. The doctor said to have the physical therapist add some hip strengthening exercises and we’ll see if that resolves the issue. If not, then I may need injections.

    1. Filosofickle*

      Fellow back sufferer here. I have a bad disc and had surgery. (Not a fusion, a microdiscectomy.) I have a lot of hip pain at night if I don’t exercise enough and/or sit too much.

      I do have a topper on my mattress, it’s about 2″ of memory foam. I am a very hot person and don’t find it to be too much of an issue. It does help with hip stuff, on a small scale. But for me nothing fixes it like targeted hip movement — I’ve discovered my hips need mobility exercises. 10 minutes on that solves it way better than the topper does. (I can tell you what I do if you are interested, just don’t want to take up space if you’re not.)

      At this very moment, I’m realizing my right hip is aching and I better do something about it…

      1. The Other Dawn*

        You’re welcome to post what you do!

        The therapist started me on clam shell exercises this week. He also has me using ankle bands and doing side steps and ice skaters with them. Hopefully I see some improvement soon.

        I truly believe it’s a combo of weak hip muscles and inactivity/sitting too much, which happens after surgery in general, but it’s exacerbated by the pandemic and having no daily routine anymore. And working at home doesn’t help!

        1. Filosofickle*

          My focus is dynamic movement, not static. Just trying to get the hips moving and loosen up glutes, hamstrings, and all the leg muscles. 5 for a half-ass effort, 15 if I do proper sets of everything.

          The core stuff:
          Squats. These are the very best thing for me. 2 sets of 10.
          Hip pivot/rotation. This is the other best thing. I don’t know if there is a name for this. While standing, bend your left knee and rotate at the hip to bring your left leg in front of you. Touch your left foot/heel with your right hand. Bring it as high as you comfortably can. Switch legs, bring right foot to left hand in front. Then do the same behind you, cross your left leg behind your butt and touch with right hand. Switch legs, right foot to left hand in back. Ideal for internal/external rotation and some balance. 2 sets of 10.
          Lunges. All of them (front/back/side) are useful but side is most useful. Even leaving feet planted and just pushing side to side is helpful, and low-impact. Front lunges can be modified similarly so you just stay planted and drop your knee instead of stepping out. Again, the goal is loosening up, not strength building, so I don’t worry about going really deep or anything. 2 sets of 10.
          Stretches. The only static things I do are figure 4 and hugging knee to chest. A few of each.

          When I feel like making this a proper short workout, I add some aerobics type bits, mostly at the beginning but also interspersed between others so I stay moving:
          Walk in place. 20-30 seconds at a time.
          High step. Do at least some marching / knees up.
          Grapevine. Or any kind of crossover step.

          I usually do it in a circuit, one set of everything then a second set of everything.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Thanks! I’m restricted at the moment on some movements, so I’ll have to see which ones I can safely do. They have me doing squats, but won’t let me add lunges yet.

            1. Filosofickle*

              Be safe for sure! The modified low-impact lunges were really helpful for me as a middle step to keep my back stable.

    2. Generic Name*

      I absolutely loved my memory foam topper. I only removed it because my fiancé had a hard time sleeping on it. I didn’t find it too hot, but I normally keep the bedroom pretty cold at night.

      1. Windchime*

        I used to have a 4″ memory foam topper for several years and I really liked it. I don’t remember it being particularly hot and for years I found it comfortable, until it wasn’t. I started having serious back pain so I bought a new mattress that was expensive (for me). It took a lot of physical therapy to fix my back but now that it’s better, the new mattress is GREAT. I do sometimes have hip pain, but I think that’s a function of being older and being overweight.

    3. KoiFeeder*

      I’m afraid I’m always freezing, so I can’t help with the running hot part, but my mattress topper has been a blessing for all my EDS pain. I don’t wake up with my joints trying to escape their sockets anymore (usually), and that’s been great.

    4. Dan*

      I bought a new bed back in January, and TBH, I find bedding to be so personal for a number of reasons, such that trying to do any meaningful internet research is just an exercise in frustration. I’ll be honest and say that I used to be a hot sleeper until I lost some weight, and now I don’t sleep nearly as hot anymore.

      As for your bed, since you have Sleep Number, have you tried a firmer setting? My bed was 10 years old when I replaced it, and a few years into it, I bought two inches of memory foam. I loved the foam. But in the last couple of years, I was still getting some soreness in my lower back a couple times of week, and waking up I was only feeling so-so. I hesitating buying a new bed in part for the cost, but also because I wasn’t waking up sore *every* night. I finally bit the bullet in January, and haven’t had a sore back at all since. I wished I would have replaced to the bed sooner.

      So, just to repeat: Have you tried a firmer setting with your bed? My new mattress is firmer than my old one, and offers *much* better support (I bought a Tempurpedic.)

      1. The Other Dawn*

        The firmer setting makes the hips feel worse. That’s what I originally thought, that I wasn’t getting enough support. It’s so frustrating. I had lumbar fusion to fix my back pain, and now I’m dealing with hip pain. I really think it’s lack of activity due to surgery/recovery, no “normal” daily routine, and not enough activity due to the pandemic.

    5. Zephy*

      I can confirm that memory foam definitely sleeps hot. I don’t have any advice about the rest of your post, though – I hope you’re able to figure it out, though, it sounds terrible to deal with.

      1. Squeakrad*

        We just bought a new memory foam mattress with ‘gel’ memory foam and it is perfect. Not too hot at all.

    6. abcdefg*

      This might not be helpful, but… have you tried sleeping with a pillow between your knees? It will shift the angle of your hips a bit and may provide you with enough relief to stay in bed a little longer. I’ve had the kind of pain I think you’re describing and was really surprised by how much the pillow helped.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, I’ve been using a knee pillow for about two years now and it’s helped with the hips and back. What I’m having now seems to be from inactivity after surgery, which is partly because of shelter-in-place. It just doesn’t as much as I need it to right now.

    7. Zooey*

      I have a feather topper rather than memory foam, but I love it. We chose a very firm mattress and then the topper adds softness, so we get a mix of support and give. No other bed is as comfy – if we’re ever away we always breathe a sigh of relief when getting home to our own bed!

  15. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Has anyone used a service like Sold today or we buy ugly/cheap houses? Also, anything you wish you had known before committing to working with an agenT?

    I had a consultation with one of the services above. They buy properties at a deep discount which would include all taxes & fees. Before they come over to view the property, they wanted us to sign some paperwork authorizing them to view it, which I thought was a bit different. When the paperwork came it looked like a full agreement for us to sign the house over to them sight unseen.

    Something about that felt really off to me, not sure if I’m off base about that. We sat on it for a few days and when they reached back out, I told them my reservation and we’re not comfortable signing anything until they take a look.

    Two other RE people came by this week. I had vetted both of them on the phone and told them exactly what our situation is and what we’re leaning towards. Well, the first one that came was really pushing us to go on market……aka, spend money on repairs/construction, make the house ready for professional photographs, staging the house etc. I had made it clear on the phone were not in a position to do all of that. He said based on some of the issues he saw, no one will touch the house wiht a 10 ft pole. :(

    The second one was much more receptive to our needs and assured us that we can sell it as-is for a lower price that were comfortable with. We’re strongly leaning towards going with them. Ive googled and emailed him some of our questions but not sure if I”m missing anything else to ask before committing to an engagement with that agent.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I wouldn’t go with one of those “we buy ugly houses” places unless you can afford to make up the difference between the mortgage and the amount they pay you, or you’re willing to take a big loss. The amount of money they give you isn’t worth it unless you need to sell very fast and don’t care about the loss.

      Definitely ditch that first agent. Any house can be sold for the right price.

      We sold our old house, the one we rented out when we moved, as-is in February and it was very easy and mostly stress-free. We decided how low we were willing to go and how much we were willing to spend on repairs. Even though you’re selling as-is, the buyer can still ask for repairs. It’s up to you to decide if you’re willing to spend the money in order for the deal to go through, or if you’re willing to let it die. We agreed to a few things and denied the rest–the woman was being ridiculous at that point and already got a massive discount on the price. She still bought it. Thankfully it sold before the pandemic, because we’d likely still be stuck with it and paying two mortgages we can’t afford since we had to evict the tenants.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Oh! I remember some of your posts about evicting tenants. That must have been so stressful, glad that it worked out for you!

        The amount they offered was decent for us. They buy the property on 35% discount and pay all the expenses etc. If it was 500 for the house, they’d pay 325 and we’d be left with 75 walking away. Our worry is that if they come over, they see the issues and decide it’s not really worth that much and reduce the value to, say, 400. That’d leave us with 15 which is not a whole lot. But at that point we’ll have signed a contract. He said “it’s flexible” but the language of the contract seemed pretty binding.

        Even though you’re selling as-is, the buyer can still ask for repairs. It’s up to you to decide if you’re willing to spend the money in order for the deal to go through, or if you’re willing to let it die.
        That is our concern, putting money in and then the deal dying or buyers backing out.

        1. Natalie*

          A real estate agent can walk you through this more thoroughly and with your local laws taken into account, but generally speaking you wouldn’t be making *requested* repairs until you had a signed sales contract.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Agreed. We told our RE agent before we put the house on the market that we weren’t willing to do any repairs, and really couldn’t afford them, unless we had a signed contract and it was something that would kill the deal, like something safety-related. We were very motivated to dump the house ASAP, so we made a few of the requested repairs.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Talk to the agent about that, because I flat out told mine I couldn’t afford to make any repairs and the buyer didn’t ask me to. They bought the house as-is. I got less than I wanted, but it was all above board (no foreclosures or abandonment issues), and it’s off my back now.

          I was going to go with one of those things, but I went with an agent and I did not regret it. And my crappy house sold to someone who actually wanted it; I think they intend to fix it up. That made me feel better (I got a little misty about leaving it even though I needed to).

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            Yeah, the more I think about it, the more annoyed I am at the first agent that came by and pretty much ignored what we had wanted. I wish we could go the “traditional route of selling a home for a huge gain, but our circumstances just can’t allow for it. We’re happy if we cover the mortgage with enough left over to eventually put a down payment down the road (we’ll be renting for at least a year or so).

            Trust me, I feel you on being misty. This is my childhood home. My dad spent a lot of time and energy on it. Leaving this is leaving the last piece of him. It’s an emotional process, but I’m ready to start fresh.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              You should talk to a bunch of agents anyway. I went back to the ones I worked with when I bought my house since I knew them. They’d been sending me little magnetic calendars for YEARS afterward, so I still had their numbers, and they were still available. But if they hadn’t been, I would have talked to several. It’s like finding a stylist–you want someone who will give you good advice but take your needs and situation into account.

              I think this has been such a hellscape for me not because I made a mistake leaving OldCity (I didn’t; there is nothing there for me anymore) but because making a new life has been put on hold. It feels a bit like Wile E. Coyote hovering in mid-air when he runs off a cliff. Am I going to crash and burn, or will a bridge stick out and let me run to the other side of the gorge? I have no idea. Once I find a job and a place of my own again, then I can proceed. But it’s exceedingly frustrating to have pried myself out of being stuck, only to be stuck again. I mean, what the hell!?

        3. Venus*

          Do you have estimates on repair costs? Can you say “House is worth 500 in good condition, but it needs 7 for a roof, 16 for foundation repair, etc to a total of 82, so it is reasonable to sell for less than 418. It will take time for someone to make those repairs, so let’s list at 399.”

          Where I live the buyer can’t reasonably ask the seller to pay for repairs that were disclosed prior to the sale. Some people are unreasonable, but if you can provide a list of problems and estimate costs then that should be better for you. The home inspection is to find surprise hidden problems.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            Formal estimates done by a professional? I don’t think so. we had an issue in the basement a few weeks ago and someone came by and quoted us $25k for it. Our would-be agent said that he’d market it and have buyers get renovation loans–the prospective buyer would view the property and make a decision based on what they see. We just spent $3k on fixing plumbing issues because our basement was getting flooded frequently. 

            1. Alexandra Lynch*

              We are buying a house, and had the home inspector come out and look it over. He flagged (older house) electrics not all the way up to code, and the crawl space had issues. Since his report did not make it clear what these “issues” were, we had professional foundation people inspect it (Well, the sellers did, but we asked them to do it via our agents) and said that the crawl space needed a vapor barrier to be up to code, and quoted a price. The sellers are having that work done, as well as the electrical work.

              As there are several mature trees on the lot, I wanted the sewer checked thoroughly. And so we asked for that and, surprise surprise, though there are currently no problems, the line needs replacement all the way up from the street due to tree roots, and they need to install some cleanouts. The sellers are also paying to have this done. It may not be totally done by the time we get possession, but the check will be in escrow for the job.

              (We think we’re closing on the 26th, and will take possession on the 1st. And they painted several rooms dark blue….(headdesk))

              1. Potatoes gonna potate*

                Is this going the traditional route or as is? Because we might have some of those issues, but 0 funds to pay for any huge repairs like that. Does this all end up in the contract prior to going into any deal? 

                That reminds me, I have an attic that I haven’t touched in 20 years. I don’t think I can even fit in the door at this point. oh boy. 

              2. Potatoes gonna potate*

                Also, dark blue, eek! I had my bedroom painted cobalt blue when I was a teenager (not sure why I chose that lol, pink was and always will be my favorite color) but before I moved back here I had it painted into a neutral vanilla ice cream white. Dark paint is giving me the heebie jeebies. 

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          biggest one is that the basement was flooding everytime it rained but we just spent $3k on repairs for it
          smaller stuff like cracked tiles in the kitchen adn front porch etc

    2. Not A Manager*

      I don’t have an opinion about the ugly homes people. If you decide to sell on the open market, even as-is with a steep discount, do take the time to stage your home as best you can. Even if you don’t spend a dime on new paint or throw pillows, be sure everything is absolutely as clean as can be, and REALLY pare down your furnishings. You can look online for ideas.

      Here are my suggestions, as someone who has sold homes and purchased them (i.e. not an expert or an agent). First, be sure the closets and cabinets don’t look crowded. Whatever is in the storage spaces should look super organized. Second, remove ALL personal items for showings. Clean, empty countertops and surfaces, except for one or two nice clean items for show. So for example, in the kitchen remove all the little spice jars and small appliances, etc. Choose one or two things (like a decorative holder with some nice utensils in it, or a pretty standing mixer) and leave only those. Third, remove 80% of your knickknacks. Finally, to the extent that you can, remove extraneous furniture from rooms. Basically, anything that you put in for your own convenience (extra bookcase, second dresser, another end table), look and see if it adds to the aesthetic of the room. If not, remove it if you can.

      Even if your home needs lots of work, you want buyers to see a calm, uncluttered space where they can imagine their own things in it. The more your own life is reflected in the space, the less they can imagine their own life in that space.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Yikes. I hear what you’re saying about making it look presentable and a nice space but that’s gonna be hard lol. We’re going to work on cleaning up this week but getting rid of personal items AND cleaning out the storage cabinets/closets…..I was planning to throw a lot of stuff away and start packing but stuffs gonna be there. 

        1. Not A Manager*

          It’s not as hard as you think! And you don’t have to do everything, but even a little bit helps.

          Everything your movers schlepp for you costs extra money. If you move yourself, everything you move costs your time, your labor, and your packing materials. If you’re really not going to pay your mover to move all of your plastic food containers with mis-matched lids, throw them out now. Same for those old tee shirt with the tiny holes where they rub on your jeans. Same for those paperback mystery stories. I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of faded herbs and half bottles of strange sauces in my kitchen. Really look at your stuff and decide if it’s worth the cost of taking it with you.

          Things that you want to keep but that make your space too cluttered, like knick-knacks or off-season clothing, will look better placed neatly into bins stacked in one closet than they will if you leave them out. I wish I could tell you to pack them for moving, but by the time you wrap things well enough to move them, they will fill a lot of boxes.

          I’m just saying that to the extent that you can, try to look at your home as if you were a buyer with different taste, and different mementoes, and more children or fewer children, and see if your space leaves room for them to imagine it being their space.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            oh, you’re absolutely right, and that’s a really excellent point about how much it’ll cost to move crap. I have the most stuff out of the 3 of us (thanks shopaholic potato! /s) so I was planning to really pare down a lot anyways before we go anywhere. Might as well do it now. 

        2. Alexandra Lynch*

          We boxed a lot of the personal stuff up and put it in the garage in orderly stacks. This was things like Christmas decorations, a LOT of my sewing supplies and boxes of patterns, and about half the books from the library. (Including all the books on kink and paganism and many of the comparative religion books.) We bought a lot of pretty little flower arrangements, which I rapidly discovered I can’t leave out because the half-grown cat likes to chew on them. (sigh)

          As to the cats, we bought an outdoor dog cage with a top and set it up in the garage. I put their carriers in there, the smaller of the two cat trees, food and water and a litter box, and the night before the showing, shut the cats in the cage, which let me clean out the other litter boxes and stick them in the garage, move the large cat tree into the garage, and generally erase the visible signs of having cats. That way we also didn’t have to drive them anywhere. And it was nice to do that last tidy on the morning of showing without Nyx chewing on the flowers on my desk.

          A lot of the picking up I did was last minute. I made sure in advance that there was room in a drawer, and just shuffled my bedside stuff like my glasses case into it. The little fan went into a drawer, and a flower arrangement took its place. I kept some dressy pillows for the bed so I could just stuff our used pillows into the cedar chest in their place, and similarly had some clean new towels to set out in the bathrooms, with strict orders to everyone not to use them til I’d had a chance to put them away afterwards.

          I have to do a little bit of this now because apparently there’s a final walk-through going to happen. Well, they’re going to see piles of boxes and broken-down furniture in pallet wrap and a couple of empty rooms. Cause we’re packing to move. And this time I am not moving the cat tree, or the phone charger. Or making the bed up pretty, not least because that pretty top quilt is currently wrapped around the big mirror in a box.

      2. Sweat equity*

        I helped my sister move recently, and she bought tons of moving boxes, all the same size, along with a smaller number of sturdy plastic storage bins, again, all the same size.
        Before her house was on the market she packed up everything that she absolutely didn’t need for several months, marked the contents on the boxes, numbered the boxes, and had a corresponding list (she’s super organized). All the boxes went into the basement, neatly stacked.
        With the clutter gone it was easy to clean the house, and keep it clean.
        Her house looked so neat and tidy it sold really quick. When it came time too move, the boxes were easy to stack on a hand truck, easy to carry, and easy to pack into the van. And when we got to her new place she just told us which room the boxes were to go in to.
        Easiest move I’ve ever been a part of. But she put a lot of labor and some money (boxes) into the pre home sale preparation. The labor of packing up all her stuff was the majority of the work.

    3. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      You don’t necessarily have to do requested repairs. You can instead get an estimate for the repairs and then negotiate a credit with the buyer to cover it. If I am buying a house, I would rather get a credit and arrange the repairs myself rather than risk the seller going with the absolute cheapest option.
      As others have indicated, de-cluttering is probably the most effective thing you can do to sell your house “as is”. We have used the same agent to sell 2 houses in 10 years, and she told us that you can take all your extra furniture and stuff and stack it in the garage. A full garage is not a problem compared to a full/cluttered house. You want it to look like you are ready to leave.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        That’s really good to know! I’ll make sure to mention this and other concerns to our agent. We’re 90% close to engaging with him. We were comfortable with him, and it seemed like he was working in our best interests. and he had a lot of great reviews. Just doing a bit more due diligence before we move forward. 

      2. Potatoes gonna potate*

        That’s really good to know! Our would-be agent did mention that the buyer would be getting a renovation loan.

        I’ll make sure to mention this and other concerns to our agent. We’re 90% close to engaging with him. We were comfortable with him, and it seemed like he was working in our best interests. and he had a lot of great reviews. We have one final person coming over this week before we make a final decision on who to go with. Just doing a bit more due diligence before we move forward. 

      3. Natalie*

        The people I bought my house from rented one of those moving pod things and filled it with their extra stuff before staging their house. Not sure how they compare price wise, but there was a definitive advantage in having a secure, weatherproof place to pack over weeks.

    4. RC Rascal*

      I have a strong opinion on the We Buy Ugly Houses people. They PREY on the elderly and grieving family members of the recently deceased. They bought my mother’s next door neighbor’s house in February for less than half of its value as a cleaned up, renovated home. Seller walked away from it and left all of her junk in the house. Seller didn’t have much money, but she was also the kind of person who didn’t want to deal with her own mess and clutter. WBUH cleaned it out, put in a “lipstick” renovation, and its getting ready to on the market. As this has been going on, my own mother passed away suddenly. Presently, I have a dumpster in the driveway so I can clean out the home. The other day I drove up to a letter on the door addressed To Whom It May Concern. Letter said they heard my mother had died and saw the dumpster in the driveway. They wanted to help me deal with my grief and the challenges of losing a loved one by purchasing the home As Is, so I wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore.

      Yeahhhhh…. Right. You want to help me deal with my grief by taking the house off my hands. A 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom house in a good school district that happens to be in the hottest zip code in my fair Midwestern City. I’m sure they are licking their chops over the property, and I fully expect them to knock on the door one day when I am over there are try to talk about it with me.

      Financial Predators. That’s all they are.

    5. Anon for this*

      We did and it went ok.

      My parents recently moved out of state to an assisted living home near one of their children. None of their children live near the house. Their house was long since paid off, but needed a lot of work to be sellable, especially to someone who would need a mortgage.

      I researched the area and spoke to a few real estate agents to get their thoughts on selling on the open market: what work would we need to do, how much could we list for, how long might it stay on the market.

      Then I called seven different “we buy ugly houses” and investment buyers, all of whom came to the house and gave offers to buy as is, no repairs needed, with contents that were there as of the closing. The offers had a $70,000 range. I ended up having the top two bid against each other and got a decent price, not nearly what it will sell for when fixed up but fairly reasonable for the amount of work that needs to be done. (It was in line with what the realtors thought.) The buyer also agreed to pay for our lawyer (we picked the lawyer, they paid) and other closing costs (all except the state transfer tax, which can only be paid by the seller).

      My siblings and I took out the things we wanted (heirlooms and photos, some furniture) and paperwork (most of which was taken to be shredded). We left everything else. I had an estate sale company come to see if they would run a sale, but there wasn’t enough stuff of value to make it worthwhile. It would have cost us a lot of time and money to clear things out ourselves.

      We were under contract when the Covid-19 lockdown started, and the buyer came back requesting a price reduction. We negotiated a bit, and ended up reducing the price a little. This was the only time I felt that they took advantage of the situation. I wish we had sold a month earlier! But at that point, no one knew if things would open up, if construction would be allowed, etc, and we just wanted to be done. (And the house is in a very hard hit area.)

      I had to read the contracts carefully because our lawyer included some boilerplate that did not apply to our sale. For example, we struck out a clause stating that the house had a certificate of occupancy (since the buyer agreed that we did not need to provide one since they wouldn’t be living there until it was fixed up) and that we’d leave the home “broom clean” since we were leaving it with contents. (Of course you’ll read the contracts carefully anyway!)

      Once I gave tours to the potential buyers and took the things I wanted from the house, we were able to complete the sale from out of state. The hardest part was having my parents sign the contracts with a notary, given the lockdown. Ended up with my parents and an assisted living staff member inside signing, while the notary witnessed through the window.

  16. chi chan*

    I was reflecting a little bit today on how other people shape us. Does anyone feel like they were a different person away from people like parents or certain friends? How does one go about getting people they admire and want to emulate around them? I think it is just luck that some people get good role models and supportive people around them. And that they also become more steady.

    1. Asenath*

      I’m mostly the same – except when I’m with people I don’t know well, or I only know professionally, I show only part of my persona, the “professional me”. I think over the years, I’ve used parts of people as role models, although I’ve also been fortunate enough to have a few very close friends I like and admire. What I mean is that I try not to put people on a pedestal as being perfect role models, but if I notice that, say, Sue seems to be particularly good at dealing with people, or Sam is so reliable as to be a delight to work with, I will try to learn some of their skills.

    2. Sir Lena Clare*

      I definitely have learnt to be a different person depending on who I am with.
      I have a best friend who’s taught me how to be secure.
      Being with my therapist and others like her helps me to see which behaviours are toxic and which toxic behaviours I have been accepting from others.
      It’s changed my interactions worth my family for sure.
      I think it could be luck that puts you in the path of others who are ‘good’ for you, but I do also think that everyone you meet cab teach you something, so they’re all good in their way.

      1. Disco Janet*

        I think it’s super normal to act a bit differently depending on who you’re with! Code switching is the technical term for it. Even as kids, this is taught to us – acting differently in class than on the playground, for example.

    3. lazy intellectual*

      Quite a few – I’m the type of person to emulate mannerisms or behaviors I think are appealing. I had a casual friend in high school who I no longer speak to (because we drifted apart). She would probably be surprised to know that she still influences me to this day. She had an approach to life in the world that I really admired and still aspire to. (She is very independent minded and not high strung. She tends to do things very intuitively. I feel like this is a nice contrast to me being overly self-conscious and people-pleasing.)

      Ironically, I had another casual friend in college who I actually didn’t like in a lot of ways, but like the other friend, had a very healthy approach to life. Sometimes, I use her behavior as a North Star for measuring whether I’m being too passive or people pleasing.

      Unfortunately, my parents are kind of the inverse of that – they taught me a lot of problematic things and I have spent a lot of my adult life replacing with other values.

      1. chi chan*

        Mine too. I am still working on unlearning bad behavior patterns. It has actually cost me in life. But live and learn.

    4. Foreign Octopus*

      I only feel like myself when I’m away from my family. I love them a lot but when I’m with them it’s like I fall into old routines and patterns of behaviour that I’ve worked hard to break free of. They have this idea of me and how I fit into the family and I just accept it automatically. I definitely like myself more away from my family.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Interesting questions.
      Most definitely, I let different aspects of my personality show around different people. I think I was into my 30s when I decided I wanted to close that gap or at least mostly close that gap. But to this day, there are some things I do not talk about with some people. For example, I go to church. I don’t mention church until the other person gives me some clue as to where they are at. If someone indicates it’s not their interest, I can find 10 other things to talk about.
      Here what started out as letting different aspects of my personality show, boiled down to sticking with subjects of shared interest. I was with a friend today who commented, “We chatted for two hours and never mentioned politics!” I said, “And it felt so good just to CHAT.” She agreed.

      Role models and supportive people can be different people. Not every role model is that supportive and not every supporter is an outstanding role model.

      Have you ever seen a thing called “crazy quilts”? People take all kinds of fabric, cut it in all kinds of shapes and sew it together. Some of the quilts are so. very. beautiful.

      Surrounding yourself with supportive people and role models is kind of like making a crazy quilt. You take these random people of all types and all walks of life and figure out what you like best about them or how they help you the most. Then you make these people your informal go-tos for specific areas where you know they excel.

      Uncle C became my go-to for understanding family history and family dynamic. I chose him because of his sense of fair play. He could be pretty ticked off at what Bob did, but he could also see why Bob thought he should do X thing. He had a balanced way of thinking.

      Aunt L became my go to for candid conversations about current life. I liked her because she did not waste time, she did not mince words and she told me what I needed to know so I could move to my next step. She was an interesting one because you never knew what she would come up with to say.

      My wise friend, who I mention now and again. I used to hold my tough questions for my wise friend. What I liked about this person is I usually got a parallel story about a similar situation they had. This made me feel less stupid and leveled the playing field a bit. Usually the story was interesting and it had a surprise twist at the end. Their advice worked a good 95% of the time.

      To build my crazy quilt of supportive and/or role modeling people, I think that initially, I had to do the chasing. I had to keep showing up in these people’s lives in order to get time with them. But after a bit (not too long), that evened out and they would initiate contact as often as I did.
      I think part of what kept them interacting with me was that I kept moving, I kept trying to do new things, improve my life, etc. It’s much easier to stay interested in a person who, themselves, is interested in various things and doing a variety of activities.
      I think the “luck” part of my story came when I figured out- hey, I need this specific person around! I need to talk to them!
      I think my luck started changing a bit when I decided to deliberately watch for things that people were unusually good at. Now I point blank ask friends, “Hey how did you learn about X?” or “Where did you learn to do Y?” People are usually happy to share these stories. And they are flattered that we noticed/admired what they were doing.

      I’d recommend adding some deliberate actions to your day or week. Deliberately decide to notice when someone is unusually good at something. If appropriate, ask them how they honed that skill. If it’s not appropriate or you do not feel comfortable then decide to look for secondary sources for the same information.
      Keep in mind that “doers” attract other “doers”. So it’s good to have some current interest or project that you are currently working on. It’s a conversation starter but it also tells the listener something about you.

    6. J.B.*

      I’ve recently realized how I was impacted by my father’s alcoholism and some ways it comes out in the workplace. I dislike confrontation but will take it on at times, however I could go ice cold and speak quietly when a particular bully thought he could paint me as the emotional woman. I am usually good at reading people’s expectations for a work task but get really irritated when they aren’t willing to voice or commit to the expectations they clearly have.

    7. Nita*

      Definitely. I spent so much time trying to get away from my family, first physically and then mentally. It was a few years after I moved out that I realized I don’t “fit” in their house any more. It’s like I’d been living all bent over and scrunched up, and now I’ve straightened out and there’s no room for me in the tiny little space I’d made for myself back there. It took a while to adjust to that while still seeing them regularly.

      As for getting people you admire around you… I wish I had an answer! It’s so hard to find a new friend group as an adult. Everyone is busy. I try to stay in touch with the amazing people I met in college, but it’s not easy to find time even to write them, never mind time for actually meeting. I’ve tried reaching out to extended family members I really like, but they’re the older generation and the only time we get together is for big occasions, when my parents are also there. Which is not conducive to trying to form a relationship with them on my own, with my family of origin not intruding into it.

      1. chi chan*

        I am working on getting out now. And getting my career on track. I wish you luck in your journey.

    8. TL -*

      I think some of it is luck (we can’t choose our families) and some of it is being able to recognize and cultivate relationships with people we admire. The latter part can be hard if your normal is highly dysfunctional, if you’re uncomfortable challenging yourself, or if you’re prone to black and white thinking about people. When you get to know someone different from your norm, it can be really difficult because it’s uncomfortable, or it reveals things about yourself or them that are hard to swallow.

      One of my best friends is a very kind and empathetic person – much more so than I am. And sometimes her natural kindness uncomfortably highlights that I need to actively practice empathy – it’s not always my first response. Additionally, if I idolized her for her virtues, I think I would have a hard time dealing with her very human flaws. So being around someone I admire can be uncomfortable sometimes – you have to learn to be grateful you’re with someone who pushes/inspires you to be better, accept that they too are flawed, and then be willing to do the work. Which, depending on the dynamic you’re used to, can be pretty difficult at first. But it’s very rewarding later!

    9. allathian*

      A good question!
      I’m pretty good at compartmentalization and code switching, while still retaining the core part of my personality and individuality.
      I was lucky growing up, in that I’ve always had a good relationship with my parents. Sure, there were occasional disagreements and they always had the last word, but I don’t remember ever being disciplined in a way that I would have felt was unfair for longer than a moment. Sure, there were consequences, mainly for fighting with my sister, but I was never grounded or had my toys taken away or got sent to bed without dinner, things that frequently happened to my childhood friends. My parents were never afraid of acknowledging that I and and my sister were growing up, perhaps because they had no issues with growing older, at least not any that they let on. I think that some people are reluctant to accept that their kids are growing up or have grown up because they don’t want to acknowledge their own aging. Pretty much since my early 20s I’ve been able to interact with my parents without slipping back into the kid-parent dynamic and I’ve been astounded to see how unusual that is.

      I’m one way with my friends, a bit less frank about some things with my husband’s friends. We’ve been dating for 15 years and married for 11, and we still have largely separate friend groups.

      At work I’m both very open in some ways and very private in some other ways. I’ve never seen the need to hide that I’m a wife and a mother as well as a professional woman, but I don’t talk about what we do and our daily lives much, unless it directly affects the scheduling of my work. I never talk about (my lack of) religion at work, because it’s not anyone’s business. Politics is pretty much off limits, unless it directly affects my work. It may, particularly because I work for the government, but my job is not a political appointment so whoever is in power doesn’t affect my employment directly. Now that I’ve been WFH for about three months straight, I’m not really sure what we do talk about, except the weather, but our coffee breaks at the office are very chatty.

      I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin. This means that while I acknowledge that I have my faults just like all human beings do and that I’m far from perfect, it has literally never occurred to me that I might, or even should, try to surround myself with people I admire and might want to emulate. For me, it’s more a matter of as far as possible trying to avoid toxic people who bring out the worst in me or who make me feel bad about myself, up to going completely no contact with them.

      1. different username for this*

        I don’t understand how some parents send their kids to bed without dinner as a form of punishment. This is basically starving them, and nothing short of abuse. Like, depriving them of toys or playtime is normal punishment (though I doubt effective), but starving them?!?! WTF

        1. allathian*

          Indeed. Things were a bit different in the late 70s and early 80s. Many things that most people would consider abusive today were acceptable then.

    10. StellaBella*

      Absolutely. There are a number of positive attributes of my (now deceased) parents and my closest friends that I use/emulate/go to for work things and life things. My parents were decent people, hard workers, and had a lot of common sense and skills that they taught my brother and I. And my closest friends are a mix of passionate, creative, calm, level-headed, fierce, funny people. I try hard to reflect on my reactions to things (say a difficult work or personal interaction) and frame my reactions into ways that I have seen modelled. It has taken a lot of years but now, for sure – it is habit to analyse, and choose how to react or behave in certain situations.

  17. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Bit of a sad pet question. My Elder Statesdog (who is 12, a lab/bloodhound mix, about 65lbs) has had somewhat of a dramatic progression in the last couple months – she’s had known arthritis/muscle weakness in her hindquarters, depth perception/vision issues and some early symptoms of cognitive issues, and all of those (plus new hearing problems to boot) have worsened noticeably in the last 2-3 months. She sees her vet regularly, most recently about two weeks ago, and barring the arthritis and muscle weakness (which are both at a level that’s expected and reasonable for her age), she’s in excellent physical health – though, because of those things and the vision issues, we’ve had to ban her from going upstairs anymore after several near-falls down them. (Scared the hell out of me and her alike, but she still really wants to follow us up, poor thing.)

    Question one is – any suggestions on accommodations for an elder dog who’s basically developing rapid onset dementia? Her symptoms haven’t included any loss of toileting functions yet, thank heaven – but she does things like getting lost in the house and yelling for someone to come rescue her, or getting stuck in corners because she forgets she can back out, or forgetting that she was in the middle of eating and wandering away. (I supervise her mealtimes to make sure she eats it all and gets her meds.) We don’t rearrange furniture or such on her, and her space is pretty limited now, so she only has so far she can wander to.

    Second question – the Junior Ambassador, who’s almost six, has always been a bit high strung and sometimes gets really anxious when Elder Statesdog seems to forget how to dog. The vet is hesitant to move toward anxiety meds because in her experience there’s a chance of increased aggression, and if that’s the case I’d rather hold off too, plus the “really anxious” seems sporadic and very situational. We’re working on avoiding the problem situations. I guess I’m just looking for any reassurance from someone who might have been in a similar situation, where one pet was going quietly round the bed and the other acted a bit differently as a result, and everything worked out okay (or as okay as can be expected) in the end? I’ve had several elderly cats before, but this is my first experience with a geriatric dog.

    1. MistOrMister*

      I haven’t had to go through this, but I wonder, is ES generally more comfortable around you and/or other family members? If so, can you find a way to keep her near so she can’t get lost and scared as much? I assume carrying her upstairs with you and putting a baby gate to keep her from falling is a no-go b/c,of dog #2. But maybe there is a way you could section off part of your room for her upstairs?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        It doesn’t seem to make much difference who’s around. I mean, I spend literally all my waking hours in areas of the house she has access to, but she’ll get up off the pillow next to my desk where I’m sitting, wander into the living room and start yelling because she’s lost. She can mosey the whole main level – living room, kitchen, dining room and my office. It’s only the bedroom and my husband’s office she can’t access now (and could previously) and she never went into the bedroom except to sleep before. She did like to go visit the cats in husband’s office, but the one she spent the most time with there comes down to visit her on the main level all the time. :)

        We do have a gate at the bottom of the stairs – she does okay going up on her own power usually, it’s coming down where she has the problems – but carrying her isn’t an option except in an emergency because of her size and her joint pain, especially up (or more importantly back down) the stairs. I can’t carry her more than a step or two at all, and even my husband doesn’t want to try to carry her on the stairs because he doesn’t have a problem carrying her weight normally, but picking her up is uncomfortable for her and she either goes dead-weight or struggles, which is a concern for both of their safety on the stairs. And trying to get her to come back down on her own paws – she freezes up and won’t move but one paw at a time, and the last time I tried her legs gave out twice and I had to catch her, and she got super scared and even more trembly and it took me a solid twenty minutes to coax her the rest of the way down. So upstairs is definitely off the table, but somebody is in “her” part of the house from 6am to midnight pretty consistently. (I’m a morning person, husband is a night owl.)

        1. Ali G*

          I am interested in the comment about anti-anxiety meds causing aggressiveness. I’ve had the opposite experience. My dog was aggressive due to anxiety and the meds, along with behavior work, has completely transformed him. So much so, I still feel guilty for resisting the meds for so long. I guess, if you haven’t already, I would really probe why your vet thinks that.
          Also, with the wandering, my dog has pretty much lost his hearing. If he sits up a realizes he is alone, he frantically goes looking for us. It’s possible, since she also has sight loss, that when she wakes up and is disoriented, she doesn’t know you are right there and goes looking for you. I have gotten into the habit of making sure my dog sees me leave the room if he’s awake, just so he knows and he can choose to follow or not. It’s helped avoid him running all over looking for us (he’s also not great on stairs, but mostly because he’s a spaz).
          I’m sorry. This is hard! I hope you figure it out.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Part of it (at least from a people meds standpoint) is that brain chemistry is weird – most antidepressants, for example, will actually have listed in their side effects that some users may experience increased depression or suicidal ideation, because while it’s uncommon, it is a legitimate risk that users should be aware of and watch out for. In this particular case, it’s also compounded by the fact that three of the five staff members of my vet’s office who used anxiety meds for their dogs (including the vet herself) had dogs that experienced aggression after going on the meds, one to the point of straight up turning on someone’s kids (thank god no one was hurt, just scared, but still), which is normally not a super common side effect of anxiety meds (and the other two had the excellent response you describe), so her personal experience made her a little hesitant. I think if I’d pushed for it, she’d have prescribed anxiety meds at least as a trial, but between her known experiences and the fact that where we were seeing the anxiety-related behavior issues was very situational and not a consistent regular thing, I agreed with her that we’d start by trying to manage it by managing the situations, and so far that’s working pretty well.

            The one doggy hollering match we’ve had in the last two weeks, Elder Statesdog was trying to step over Junior Ambassador who was napping, as a shortcut to the empty pillow, and tripped and basically belly-flopped full onto her, which startled the heck out of Junior Ambassador and I think anyone would’ve had a “HEY WHAT THE HELL” reaction, but on the plus side, Elder Statesdog has not tried to shortcut over Junior Ambassador since. :P

        2. MistOrMister*

          This has me wishing that lift chair thing you can get added to stairs so people with mobility issues can ride up and down rather than walking was also made for pets :( I wonder if it would be better for her if she was more restricted, then. I guess it depends on how much she’s getting worked up when she wanders off and gets lost in a corner, but if it’s causing her a lot of distress, perhaps it would work better to keep her in whatever room is inhabited. I always feel like it seems cruel to put too many restrictions on their movements, but in the case, maybe she would welcome it?

          This must be such a difficult thing to go through, but your pets seem like they are very lucky to have you caring for them. Hopefully you can figure out something that works!

    2. WellRed*

      This is so interesting. How does a pet get diagnosed with dementia? Like, how do you know she is forgetting to eat, instead of thinking, maybe she’s not hungry?

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Well, if they’re losing weight that’s a sign. Generally though, you’re working based on changes in behavior. Do want to check for physical issues. Some things you can’t do much about, but treating illnesses can have a significant impact on quality of live.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Because when I redirect her back to her dinner, there’s a visible sort of “Oh hey, food, yay!” type of response, like she’s genuinely excited that there’s food in front of her, and she goes right back to scarfing it all down. Reasonable question though – we did a couple of checklists, and a lot of the things on the lists were things where individually, not a big deal, but by the time we got through the checklists and had like 70% of the boxes ticked, it was pretty hefty evidence. Like, we had chalked her inability to back out of things up to just, not being able to see where she’s going, but it’s also a sign of deficit in the cognitive process, like she’s forgetting how she got to where she is. And a lot of those things really could be benign causes, like it COULD be just a vision thing, but we don’t have any way to really know, and it’s not likely that they’re ALL benign causes.

    3. Black Horse Dancing*

      The aggression is interesting to read because I know of people who have had incidents of one dog attacking the other when victim dog had a seizure (epilepsy). Because it was so far from dog behavior, the attacking dog sees it as a threat. Maybe something like a calming collar? Also, maybe gate the wanderer in the room with you.

    4. pancakes*

      When my dog’s health seemed to be declining fast his vet advised us to keep a daily record of how he was doing on a 1-through-5 scale. It did really help us identify how many good days and bad days he was having. I’m sorry you’re going through this, it’s so hard.

    5. RC Rascal*

      You might want to try night lights. That helped my Elder Statescat, who was getting disoriented at night and crying. Vet had diagnosed him as Old and Crazy, and prescribed Cat Prozac. My personal theory was that maybe he couldn’t see so well and was getting disoriented and scared, so I plugged in a night light in the kitchen and another in my bedroom. Solved the problem.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        That’s what we did when she first started having vision problems and it worked for a while, but now she gets lost midday in a bright sunny room and even sometimes outside. There have been a few times where I had to go out and remind her that when she wants to come in, she has to go to the deck and the door, not the side wall of the backyard shed or the corner of the fence.

    6. allathian*

      I’m so sorry about your dog. I have no suggestions, I just hope that you can help your dog deal with her dementia with as little anxiety as possible for the dog.
      I’ve never had to deal with this myself, but my parents had two cats, originally kittens from the same litter, who were fine until they were about 14 years old, and then started a fairly rapid decline into old age. One had to be euthanized when he was 16 due to severe health issues. He just lost nearly 30% of his weight in about three months, even if he never stopped eating completely. It was like his intestines couldn’t digest food properly anymore so he wasn’t getting the nourishment he needed from it. The other had kidney disase and was on medication for it. After losing his brother, he went into a decline and I firmly believe that his grief eventually led to his death. He would walk around the house looking for his brother and crying in despair when he couldn’t find him, and then he’d curl up in his brother’s favorite spot and cry and cry. He just stopped eating, and with the kidney issues as well, my parents made the decision that his quality of life was such that it was better to let him go after two months.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        So far, she seems to be pretty comfortable with the idea that if she gets confused, she can just start hollering (in my head, it’s “HEY. HEY. HEY.” because it’s one single WUFF that she repeats every five or ten seconds until someone gets there, no increasing urgency or rapidity or anything, and she’s just standing there wagging her tail, not pacing or visibly nervous or anything) and someone will come help her out. The only indications of anxiety I’ve seen in Elder Statesdog have been in relation to unsteadiness on the stairs – it’s all Junior Ambassador who sometimes gets concerned about her.

        I described it as “I basically have a nice sedate 90 year old who’s going peacefully dotty and a high strung gen-Z who has no experience with it and can’t figure out why her favorite Granny is suddenly being so weird.”

        1. allathian*

          Glad to hear that she’s still doing so well and at least from here, still seems to have a pretty decent quality of life.

    7. 00ff00Claire*

      Sorry about your dogs. I can’t comment on the dementia, but have you asked your vet about supplements for the younger dog since they are recommending against anxiety meds? I’m not usually a fan of supplements, but we have tried two for our dog’s general anxiety / edgyness. She couldn’t tolerate meds, but we are now using a product called Calming Care, made by purina. It’s actually a probiotic but it does take the edge off for our dog. We had also used an herbal type supplement that our vet sells, called Solliquin, before we tried the Calming Care. We think it helped too because we could tell a difference when she was in between the two. There is another one called Composure that is supposed to be good as well and then there are diffusers / collars that are supposed to work via pheromones. We have not tried either of those but they are among the products recommended to us.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I haven’t – thank you! I’ll add these to my list of impending research, along with Bluebell’s suggestion of CBD treats.

    8. Bluebell*

      Just chiming in with sympathy, and a compliment that you write so well about these pups. One quick suggestion for Junior- have you thought about CBD dog treats. We’ve used them on our 6 year old terrier very occasionally. They maybe help a little during thunderstorms and fireworks.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        The idea of trying CBD has popped up in passing, but I’ve never really looked into it. Maybe it’s time to do that research – I hadn’t considered it when the current set of issues started popping up. Thank you (and for the compliment too :) ) !

        (One advantage to the Elder Statesdog going deaf: she used to be utterly terrified of thunderstorms and fireworks, like “sneaking” up onto my bed and trying to surreptitiously hide under my pillow levels of scared. Now they don’t faze her in the SLIGHTEST. So I guess that’s a small victory :) )

    9. Anono-me*

      Can you put something triangular in the corners that Elder Statesdog that gets stuck in the most? (Make the room more of an octagon.)

  18. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Is anyone going to the salon now that things are opening back up? I’m not 100% up to date on what my city is doing for reopening. If yes, what measures are being taken to stay safe? (I’m not judging anyone for going just curious how it is, I sure miss going!)

    1. CTT*

      I went Wednesday. My salon is really trying to space things out, won’t blow dry hair, and require everyone to be in masks. I was hesitant, but I’ve been with my stylist for 6 years, and she booked me before the salon opened, so it was just the two of us in there. I think if there has been more people I would have been uncomfortable; I’m lucky that she offered to open early for me and that I didn’t need anything extensive (I’m growing out a pixie, so it was just trimming the oncoming mullet).

      1. Laura H.*

        Haven’t been to mine yet but they are doing the same precautions of requiring masks and not blow drying. Sign in is outside and you wait in your car. (I use the same place as my mom most of the time and made her initial hair appt. so that’s how I know. )

        Hoping I get enough notice before my seasonal gig starts to take care of a trim, (or before my grandma’s birthday at the end of the month, whichever comes first) but I’m ok with being a little bit shaggy till then. Fortunately mom gave my bangs a needed trim about a month or 3 weeks ago.

    2. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      You definitely need to check your city and state phasing plans, because it’s widely varied. Masks are something you can do regardless, but what the salon does is pertinent to the rules set forth by city/state and any additional measures a salon wants to take. My salon is masks for all in the salon (even during hair coloring), only a certain # of stylists working per day (rotating staff schedule) and no one may wait for their appointment inside. I’ve seen YouTube videos of salons operating with masks required, masks optional, etc. Check your local re-opening/phasing and if still concerned, call your salon and ask directly what they’re doing as well.

    3. Fulana del tal*

      Westchester county just started phase 2. Salons are open and people can start getting haircuts/hair colored. Everyone has to wear a mask and the stylist also has to wear a face shield. I know people that have gone to their salons already and around my neighborhood you see people waiting outside the barbershop. I think NYC hopes to be in phase 2 by June 22 but Diblasio believes it won’t happen before July.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I would kill for a massage and pedicure right now haha but it doesn’t seem right to drive to Westchester or Long Island just for those (I’m in NYC). Everything else I can wait til after August.

    4. WellRed*

      I’ve been debating this. Need a haircut big time, but also, still mostly at home so who cares. However, if they aren’t doing blow dries, well, the best part of the salon is having awesome hair for a few days so that may decide it for me.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I went yesterday; however, my new stylist works out of his house and has only one chair. He’s not allowing anyone to wait in his foyer while another appointment is finishing up, though he’s spacing out appointments so that likely won’t happen anyway. He wore a face shield and a mask, and requires his clients to also wear a mask. Everything looked very clean. I had no qualms about going.

    6. JoBeth NotAmy*

      I went yesterday, and it was a good experience. I had the first appointment of the day, it was just the stylist, myself, and my daughter (also getting her hair done), and we all had masks the whole time. We stayed 6 feet apart whenever it was possible, such as when the color was processing.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      My state has reopened haircuts in response to falling covid indicators, rather than really wantin’ some haircuts. The rule is masks for both clipper and clippee. (So my husband will need to trade his usual tie-on mask, more comfortable for all-day wear, for one that loops over his ears and leaves his hair free.)

      Husband has an appointment this week, and son and I will probably go in the next few weeks. I live in an area that was a hotspot, where people wear masks and respect distancing, which makes me feel it’s pretty safe.

    8. fposte*

      Ours are open and I’m thinking about going back; I’m trying to get information about what protocols the salon is actually following from my stylist first.

      1. Not a cat*

        Went earlier this week. There was just me in the salon w/ my stylist who is the owner. I had to wait outside until the client before me was finished. Good thing it was only 95 degrees :)

        In my state, the salons have to go through online certification. My salon posted on their website what precautions they were taking and what was expected of the client. We both wore masks. She cut off a good three and a half inches and my roots now match the rest of my hair! Overall, it didn’t feel dangerous or risky at all.

    9. Wishing You Well*

      No, we are not going to the salon right now.
      Allowing businesses to reopen seems to be out of dire economic necessity, not an easing of corona risk. In fact, we have a statewide corona spike now with record-breaking daily new cases.
      We cut each other’s hair for the first time ever. It turned out fine but it’s not something we ever wanted to do before this.
      But you do you. If you need your hair done, do your best to be safe.
      Can’t wait for this pandemic to ease up.

    10. ThatGirl*

      Illinois’ numbers are continuing to improve and our salons reopened this month. I have an appointment next Friday, and they told me I’d need to wait outside or in my car, wear a mask, get my temperature taken and sign a waiver. I’m not sure if they’re using blow dryers but I know they are cleaning a ton and limiting appointments too. I’m excited to get a haircut but it’ll definitely be kinda weird.

    11. Anon for this*

      My stylist called before they lifted that part of the restrictions and what they are doing is actually more stringent than what my state (blue and pretty strict) is calling for. My plan is to go with wet hair. She will cut but not style. I will see how it goes from there. No color, though. If I go grey, I go grey.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That’s a good idea about coming in with wet hair. I don’t usually let them blow dry so that will definitely reduce my time in the enclosed space. I’ve been doing my own color, with professional grade stuff from Sally Beauty (just roots, no highlights; those can wait).

    12. A.L.*

      I have been to both a hair salon and nail salon in the last couple weeks. The hair salon just required everyone to wear a mask. The nail salon required a mask, but also took my temperature and had me sign a waiver. They had partitions up between each station- I was pretty impressed.

      1. Pharmgirl*

        Out of curiosity, how does wearing a mask work with getting a haircut? All the masks I’ve seen have bands go around the head – doesn’t it get in the way of cutting hair?

        1. ThatGirl*

          Many have ear loops, you can take one down at a time to cut around the ears. It will probably make my cut a bit trickier, but I’ll willingly hold the mask to my mouth while she gets those areas.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      Not yet. And I need a trim, so I definitely want to check the salon I visited right before lockdown. If they’re not being careful enough to suit me, I’ll have to find something else.

    14. allathian*

      I haven’t been to my hair salon yet, but that’s because I’m still WFH and not comfortable taking public transit and my salon is in my office building.
      I have, however, been to my beautician twice. They only allow one client at a time in their salon, so if you’re early or the previous appointment is running late, you have to wait outside while they wipe stuff down and change the seat coverings etc. Since I go for facial hair removal I can’t wear a mask, but we didn’t talk while she was doing the treatment and it only took about 15 minutes (sugaring my beard and shaping my eyebrows with wax). She was wearing a mask the whole time, like she always does. I washed my hands with plenty of soap and water before and after and dried with paper towels. They don’t take cash now at all, although I’ve always paid by credit/debit card. Being able to visit my salon again has done more good for my mental health than I thought possible, because I’m not particularly vain about my appearance in general.
      There was no spike in the number of cases following a return to school a month ago. Schools have been out for two weeks and restaurants have been open with limited seating arrangements and no buffets allowed for two weeks. We’ll see if there’s a spike next week, but so far nothing. We’ve had about 7,000 cases and 325 deaths in total, in a population of about 5.5 million. No deaths at all for a week now.

    15. blackcat*

      I have learned to cut hair with the aid of youtube, so the husband and kid look fine.
      My long and out of control hair is living in braids/updos since I don’t trust my husband to cut mine.

    16. Um, yeah, no*

      I’m not ready to go to my salon yet, but I’ve bought gift certificates twice since our area went on lock down (= the number of visits I’ve missed) so my stylist doesn’t lose money.
      I spoke with her recently, they are now booking appointments. The precautions: if I or my household has traveled 2 weeks before the appointment I need to reschedule. Same if I or my household is ill or symptomatic.
      Day of appointment I wash my hair at home and arrive with wet hair (to minimize time in the salon). I wear a mask with ear loops (the stylists working also wear masks). I call from the parking lot and she meets me at the door to take my temp and ask about symptoms.
      The stylists thoroughly clean their stations after each customer leaves, sterilizes tools. The salon is limiting # of stylists working at a time, # clients at a time, and has removed the coffee/snack area and extra seating.
      I have an appointment set for August, but depending on how things go I may be buying another gift certificate. People around here are traveling a lot more, and out of town folks are visiting like there’s no pandemic.

  19. Randomity*

    If anyone needs any amusing light TV shorts I can highly recommend Staged, starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen as fictionalised versions of themselves, reunited after Good Omens. I’ve watched the first 3 so far and cried laughing.

    It’s in iPlayer in the UK and apparently will be on BBC America. Also their wives are in it too and are also hilarious.

    1. GoryDetails*

      Re Staged: Thanks for that – hadn’t heard of it. I’ll be on the watch for it!

      1. Randomity*

        I might mean David McDonald and Michael Sheen ;D
        I have watched the entire thing twice and laughed just as much the second time through!

    2. PX*

      Ah saw this on iPlayer and wanted to check it out. Might do that tomorrow as the weather is meant to be pants

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      Don’t you mean Michael Sheen and f**king liar David Tennat?

      Honestly, it’s so well worth the watch. I caught it all earlier today and my face hurts from laughing so much.

    4. Lemon Meringue Pie*

      I loved this SO MUCH.

      Keep an eye out for the on-screen credits each episode. And the TARDIS in David’s garden!

  20. 2 person collaborative games*

    Do people have any suggestions on games for 2 that are not competitive. I don’t really games you play with others but my spouse does (I like solitaire). So thought maybe collaborative games are better for us than competitive. Card/ board games that aren’t too big or space monopolizing preferred. Something with quick game play, easy rules so it takes maybe an hour or so.

    Games I’ve played and did not enjoy:
    Pandemic – it took like 3+ hours for a group of 6. It was just too many rules, took too long
    Flux – feels like it never ends

    Thanks.

    1. MistOrMister*

      What about Sorry? Technically that is a competitive game, but when there’s only 2 people, you can’t really be cutthroat. My niece and I always have fun with it. I like the newer version of life too. It generally goes pretty quickly and the only time I’ve ever had an issue with it was when my sister took a card from the wrong pile and refused to pick a correct card. But usually we have no issues.

      1. Scout Finch*

        Cannot think of Sorry without a flashback of Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence & their Sorry game. I think either Dick van Dyke or Tim Conway was in on it as well.

    2. DarthVelma*

      My partner and I do a ton of cooperative gaming with just the two of us. Unfortunately I don’t think many of the games we play take an hour or so. Most are at least a bit longer. But I’ll make some recommendations anyway, just in case. (We loved Pandemic Legacy, so you might take my recs with a grain of salt. But we were playing with just 2 players and after watching larger groups play online, there is a pretty big difference in how looooooong everything takes with more people. So if you’re looking for something to play with just your spouse, it might make a difference.)

      If you like horror, any of the Arkham games from Fantasy Flight Games. There are cards games, board games, games that use an app, lots of variety. You and your partner(s) try to solve mysteries, kill monsters, and survive long enough to figure it all out/kill the big boss and win. Some of the games have a legacy component. Some don’t.

      We also really enjoyed Aeon’s End. (Both the original and the legacy version.) It’s a deck building game where you create a team of mage’s to defeat Nameless nemeses that try to barge into your world. How long it takes can really depend on which Nameless you play against. I found this one pretty easy to learn.

      Mechs and Minions is fun and silly. The design aesthetic is hilarious and I felt like it was pretty easy to learn as well. It’s a programming game where you’re part of a team of players in frankly ridiculous mech suits fighting a horde of marauding minions. It’s modular and the box is enormous. (Even bigger than the box for Gloomhaven, which is another good co-op game, but it takes WAY WAY longer than an hour to play.)

      For competitive games that are so silly you don’t end up fighting – I really like Clank! and Galaxy Truckers. Clank! is another deck builder. You sneak into a dungeon to get loot and try to get out firstest with the mostest before the dragon kills you. The base game is pretty funny and some of the expansions are hilarious.

      In Galaxy Truckers you build a space ship out of components (you’re on the clock for this part), then when time runs out, you fly it around for several turns. There are battles, space pirates, planets with loot. But mostly you just hope your ship doesn’t completely fall apart before you add things up at the end of the round. I highly endorse this game for drunk weekend hilarity.

      Both Clank! and Galaxy Truckers are more likely to fall into the hour or so timeframe. (Galaxy Truckers has multiple rounds and you can stop after any of them.)

      For pretty much all of these games, and any others you might be interested in, there are a couple of YouTube channels I would recommend. Watch It Played has quick tutorials on set up and game play for a lot of games. My partner and I head there every time we start a new game. It’s been an invaluable tool for us. The other channel is Shut Up & Sit Down. They do reviews and playthroughs, but I’m mostly recommending them for the reviews. They’re really honest about the upsides and downsides of the games they review. Plus they review a much wider variety of games than my partner and I play and you might find what you’re looking for there.

    3. fort hiss*

      Hanabi is a really simple to pick up collaborative card game! You basically are trying to figure out what the other person’s cards are not so you can work against them but so you can work together to put on a cool fireworks show. You state 1 truth at a time about what you have in an attempt to collaborate. It’s definitely more complicated with 3-4 people but you can play with 2!

      1. Anonymous*

        Hanabi is a good one! I also recommend Love Letter for a short and gentle experience. It’s a card game where you’re trying to end up “closest” to the princess. You only ever have two cards at once, so the rules are very simple.

      2. Nicki Name*

        Thirding Hanabi! It’s *the* game I think of when it comes to collaborative games.

    4. CoffeeforLife*

      The Mind is a 2+person game. It’s only a deck of cards 1-100 so doesn’t take up space. I can’t explain it well, but basically you have cards that you are trying to lay down in numerical order without communicating. There are no turns. You are supposed to connect as one mind.

    5. ThatGirl*

      Trogdor: the board game is coop but much more fun if you’re familiar with Homestar Runner.
      Fox in the Forest: Duet
      Pandemic is fun but it’s so much easier with three people
      Hmm, we have a lot of 2 player games but most aren’t coop.

    6. Neef*

      I love mancala for this type of game. It’s two player and you can’t really strategize your way to winning, though my step son seems to think he can. It’s a quick game and we play multiple rounds in one sitting.

    7. KoiFeeder*

      Olaf Hits The Dragon With His Sword! I’ll have to link in a reply, but it’s a good game.

    8. Reba*

      The only 2P coop game I have is a card game called Onirim.

      I think my taste is pretty similar to yours. Here are some suggestions for games that are good for two people and competitive, but only mildly or indirectly so. By that I mean the game has a winner, but you are not attacking the other player, just trying to end up with more of whatever it is. Carcassone, Spirits of the Wild (this one is solitaire-like, in a way), the Tea Dragon Society (a deck-building game with very sweet story/art), Tokaido (a collecting game), Azul (also kind of solitaire-like in that you are building up sets).

      And a plug for a collab game that is for more than 2p, we love the Visitor in Blackwood Grove!

    9. Lizzie Bennet*

      Marrying Mr. Darcy is technically a competitive game but I’ve found it doesn’t engender bad feelings the way some competitive board games can. Maybe because it’s hard to feel genuinely worked up about whether or not to accept Mr. Collins. I do find it very enjoyable, though, and I’m far from a die-hard Austen fan.

    10. Turquoisecow*

      My mom and I used to play Scrabble and not keep score. It was just fun to see what words we could make, and less stressful without the math. Maybe there are other games you can play like that where you leave out the competitive part of it?

      1. mentha spicata*

        Collaborative Scrabble – where you try to get the highest combined score – can be really fun, too! And in college, my friends and I would also play “anything goes” Scrabble where you play like normal, but you can use proper nouns and words from other languages or even completely made-up words as long as you give a convincing description of what they mean.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Expandable to add more players. It’s just dice…but the dice are little rubber pig statues.

    11. Koala dreams*

      I like Forbidden Desert, but it’s not the easiest game out there. It takes some space to lay out the sand bricks. You walk around in the desert and look for parts for your flying ship so you can fly away, with different abilities for the players. It’s easier and quicker than Pandemic, but harder to get into than Hanabi for example. Hanabi is very quick to start, but hard to play well. (When I played it the engineers had an advantage, don’t know if that’s just my circle or not.) I’ve also played The Lost Expedition. It’s about surviving in a scary jungle, a little bit like the Indiana Jones movies. The rules are not too difficult, it’s rather quick, but I didn’t like the theme as much personally.

      Gloom is not cooperative, but it’s a nice game for literature nerds. When I played it, it was more storytelling than competition.

    12. Laura H.*

      It’s a single player game but Sorcery- I think it’s available on Steam (possibly on sale- I just know that my brother picked it up recently on sale). It’s technically a one player PC game but my brother hooked it up to the TV and we did a collaborative run through. I watched and he chose. We had a few tenuous parts during our run (game wise, not personality-wise) but we came out pretty well on the finish.

    13. Aealias*

      Second the Arkham suggestion. We really enjoyed Arkham Horror basegame when we were looking for a 2-person game to play while camping.

      Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert (Gamewright) are also pretty good coop games that are 2-player-able, but hard to win.

      Castle Panic can be played purely cooperatively, and has been much enjoyed by my children and inexperienced players.

      Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle is not a perfect game (if you pull Bellatrix and Fenrir in your first round of villains, save yourselves 10 minutes of pre-death frustration and just give up) but highly enjoyable.

      We loved Flash Point: Fire Rescue, although consistently played it as 3-4 players.

      Cooperative games are my thing – I’m a terrible loser, and tend to be pissed at the people who beat me, (I’m not PROUD of this, but self-knowledge is important) so I generally avoid competitive games.

    14. Historic Hamlet Dweller*

      Galaxy truckers is brilliant.

      We have loads of games you essentially play by yourself but against people, and work well for two. Current favourites are:
      – Sagrada
      – Number 9
      – Hive
      – Azul

    15. Purt's Peas*

      I would try something like Unlock or Exit! These are little games that are like playing an escape room–lots of little puzzles to solve.

    16. J.B.*

      Gravity maze! It’s this really cool set of blocks of different shapes that you drop marbles through, with cards setting up a start and end puzzle. Usually we all get into solving a particular card.

    17. LegallyRed*

      Truly cooperative games we love:

      5 Minute Dungeon
      Hoopla
      Codenames (2 player version)

      All can be played in 30 min or less

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Friends & i used to play Gomoku with a twist, every time someone called atari, we’d backtrack and remove as many pieces as we could remember and play a different tangent. Still ‘winning’ but the goal was for each of us to figure out how to do it better.

  21. Anon as anon can be*

    Single folks – how are you keeping it together during covid-19?

    I’m ok with living alone, and in fact I’d rather do that than live with a partner or roommate where the relationship isn’t great. I have lots of friends and we’ve been zooming and meeting in socially distanced ways (I don’t live in the US, my country is still quite locked down, which I support and agree with).

    But … I struggle with the future. Bottom line, until there’s a vaccine, if I meet someone we either have to self isolate for two weeks before we can even kiss safely, or we take a significant risk. And that’s assuming I can even get to the stage of finding someone I want to meet when social life is basically canceled! I’m on the apps but I’m struggling to hold up conversation that consists of “hey how are you” etc. I’m also middle aged (divorced) and the pool just isn’t that large.

    I am usually quite chilled about being single and am basically an optimist but just now I’m struggling. It feels insurmountable. I feel like I will be alone forever. And the perception that “we” are all spending time with our families (especially among my coworkers – I’m the only one in my team who lives alone) makes me feel invisible.

    1. firsttimecommentinganon*

      I don’t really have a good answer for you, but I wanted to express my sympathies and reassurance, this time will eventually end. I too am single and living alone but while I occasionally have wistful thoughts about dating I’m able to focus on other things alright. My cat is very helpful in that respect, its hard to feel lonely when I’m arguing with her about what time dinner time is (it’s not 1 pm!). Perhaps rather than dating apps are you able to connect and chat with people on forums around hobbies or interests? I’m sure there are others out there who are going through the same thing. Please do consider using mental health support services, I don’t know where you live but in my country there’s been a big emphasis on provision of mental health services in recognition that at the moment many people are naturally very stressed, cut off from normal social outing relief valves, lonely and concerned or afraid about the future. It’s normal to feel down, and I hope you are able to find support.

    2. Just us chickens*

      I can’t comment on the keeping it together part, but I do want to say that I’m also middle aged and separated, but I met my current partner by chance only 6 months prior to the pandemic. Hopefully your country will open up soon and you can get out more and perhaps meet someone IRL. In the meantime, I hope you’ll accept some sympathy and Jedi hugs from a random stranger.

    3. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      This was supposed to be the year I Got a Social Life. Possibly even a Dating Life. I just moved to the city, where there are museum and meet-ups and events and such other cool ways to meet people! Yeah, not happening. Instead, I lost the social stuff I already had.

      I am also quite happy being single, but not forever. And definitely not happy with no opportunity to make friends either.

      If you can find solutions, I’d love to hear them, but I don’t really think they exist. Just waiting it out isn’t a great solution, since I want kids someday. I’m young still, but I do have a clock ticking!

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Depending on where you live, your area could open up for reasons of sane and effective virus management, where the caseload is very low and people return to some version of normal life. It might not be until a vaccine, just until it’s pretty well controlled in your area.

    5. Nessun*

      I could be you, except for the divorce (I’ve never got far enough in a relationship for that). My work does have an online site for those living alone in the pandemic, and I’d thought it might be a nice place to chat with folks in similar circumstances but its sort of fizzled over the past few weeks. My team, which is full of non-singles like yours, sometimes seems to forget I’m alone in this, so I understand the loneliness in not being seen. I usually call them out for it (“Unfortunately I can’t go for a walk with my non-existent spouse, so your suggestion to unwind isn’t helpful, but thanks”), but it’s still demoralizing. I ultimately have no solutions right now, but you have my sympathy and my solidarity.

    6. Also anon for this one*

      I’m struggling with the future too, and this really resonated with me. My husband left three months ago, the day before Shelter-in-Place started here. We’re getting divorced, but the pandemic is making that so complicated. I’m sad, I’m lonely, I hate not being able to see my parents and my friends. It’s so daunting not knowing when I can even try to go out and be social again.

      I do have a good therapist, but he’s even struggling a bit because all the things he normally would recommend (see your friends! go on a trip! go to a museum!) are just not options right now. I keep telling myself that we’re in uncharted territory as a society, and the only way to get through this is to just take it one day at a time. But it’s really really hard.

    7. Emilitron*

      The stress of not interacting with people sneaks up on you. Even introverts often do appreciate having low-level companionship like a neighbor you know or the same coffee barista, and the absence of those small “meaningless” interactions adds stress. And then when there are real issues you care about, that stress leaks out. And people making insensitive comments (bringing families together awww!) then focuses all that stress. I’m so sorry. Sending you lots of caring thoughts.

      1. Laura H.*

        Same. I don’t live alone but my physical social life outside the home is nonexistent and that’s really hard. If you can, get some sunlight. Just getting out of the house, even if it’s just on your porch.

        My diocese’s parishes opened back up and are having public Mass with restrictions and for me, that helps immensely. While I can’t allow myself to be as social or as close as I’d like, just being in community and in reasonable physical proximity helps me. Also helps that the Mass time I prefer to attend if I go in person is normally lighter in attendance. Im limiting how often I attend due to capacity restrictions and that I want to make sure I do my part to let others who also need that same community have a chance to attend mass.

        Being alone 24/7 is not my idea of fun in normal circumstances. (But in normal circumstances, one can presumably go somewhere easier.)

        I hope it gets better.

        1. Might Be Spam*

          I’m not even welcome in my church. Anyone over 60 is asked to stay away from services. We can’t even volunteer during non-service times.

    8. Koala dreams*

      I feel you on the invisibility when the topic “family time” comes up. It just isn’t the same thing to skype. Some times you just want those small interactions, and not the work to keep a conversation alive, with family as well as friends, neighbours and random people.

    9. Sparrow*

      I see you and it’s hard. I’m lucky that I have roommates, and opportunities to volunteer for essential causes. But I’m in an online dating rut, I’m homesick and sad that my family is getting together without me (I live on the opposite coast from them) and I miss touch so much.
      I’m enjoying getting outside for a walk or sitting in the sunshine with a book after my workday, and spending time and energy on baking and cooking projects. Things that help me get out of my own head and focus on a task or goal

    10. Not So NewReader*

      It’s hard to make conversation if we feel our days are filled with nothing-ness.

      Even stupid little things can be material for conversation- grow some lettuces on your window sill.
      Take a free course online. I painted a closet but I had to sort out the crap in there first. Yeah that gave me a few things to talk about… ha!

      I think it’s wise to acknowledge our feelings, rather than pushing them to one side. So do acknowledge to yourself that you feel alone and it feels like it will go on forever. It’s important to do this step.

      Next divide time into sections. Let’s say you decide monthly sections. What can you do this month that will be advantageous to you when we resume full open status? So clearly, I felt that painting that closet would be to my advantage. Well, it actually is. I did not want to do that job, it was a time consuming, labor-intensive and a PITA. When we get busy again, I won’t have time to do it. (I admire my work daily! ;) )

      Perhaps you can volunteer for things in your community. That saved my butt here. I was able to find some small things I could do to help others.

      There are plenty of people who live on their own. Perhaps you have a nearby friend or neighbor who would be interested in doing something with you and the two of you will work out creative solutions to remain in compliance with health concerns. The people who live physically nearest to us can do more than people who are further away.

    11. matcha123*

      Single. Living alone in a foreign country for over a decade. I’ve been isolated from people even before I moved overseas. I am loving it.
      I grew up with the assumption that I would be Forever Alone, so I guess I am coming into this with a different mindset. I was also put squarely in the “unattractive female” box from a young age, so being ignored by men in my age group and society at large is just how it’s always been for me. If you are experiencing this for the first time, I guess that can make you feel bad…

      But, we can’t predict the future and we can only deal with what we can deal with. Is it so bad to wait two weeks to kiss someone? I don’t want to kiss anyone on a first date, so maybe I’m different.
      I would suggest that you keep working on the things that do give you joy and stay safe in your daily life.

    12. different username for this*

      I’m fine but this was finally the year I had time to start dating again and…well, this. I’m talking to someone (see thread below) and it’s hard to gauge chemistry without, well, the physical aspect of it. It also occurred to me recently that it’s been a long time since I cuddled (and other stuff) with a guy and I kind of miss that. Hard knowing when I’ll be able to do it again without it being lethal.

    13. tangerineRose*

      It’s been tough. Lately I’ve been trying to do more things in the house/yard (I’ve let things slip). Getting stuff done sometimes helps a bit.

  22. Cassandra A.P.C.F. Pentaghast*

    Would anyone be able to give me some recommendations for New Adult (or mature YA) books with female protagonists? I’m not terribly picky on the style (fantasy, historical, supernatural, etc.), just firm on the protagonist. As a sub-question, Sarah J Maas seems to be quite popular; if you’re a fan, is there a series you’d recommend a newbie start with?

    To not just taketh & not giveth, I have a book rec– if you were a fan of the CYOA books growing up & enjoy Regency-esque stories these days (or like dating sims/romance VNs), My Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran & Larissa Zageris is a treat. It’s fun, irreverent, & just a nice way to spend a few hours.

    1. MistOrMister*

      I’ve never heard of New Adult. One YA series I liked (read as an adult) is by Kim Harrison. Her Madison Avery books. The protagonist is a high school girl (17 years old, I think) who becomes a reaper. It’s a shortish 3 book series. I don’t remember the titles but believe one is Once Dead, Twice Shy. Something like that. She also has a Hollows series (I think it starts with Every Which Way But Dead) that’s 13 main books long where the protagonist is Rachel Morgan, who is a 25 year old witch in the first book, and there are all manner of supernatural creatures involved. The only issues with those books, if you’re looking for something completely clean, is the sexual activity. If that wouldn’t be an issue then I would suggest those. I really enjoyed the character growth.

      There’s a trilogy by Weiss and Hickman that I read in my early 20s and really liked – Dragons of a Fallen Sun, Dragons of a Lost Star, and Dragons of a Vanished Moon. They’re each fairly long, but not difficult reading at all. And they have other book sets as well, so there would be plenty to choose from there.

    2. Grace*

      Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers Chronicles – sci-fi, but not heavy on the sci. They’re all set in the same world with overlapping characters, and all of them have female protagonists or a combination of genders. Heavy found family focus and generally more of a slow-burn plot rather than a we need to save the world in three months type.

      I don’t know if you’ve read any Pratchett before, but the Tiffany Aching sub-series is one of the YA type that start off younger and grow more mature in line with the protagonist, but I still enjoy them as an adult.

      1. mentha spicata*

        Seconding the Becky Chambers recommendation! Those books are like watching Firefly, but better.

    3. GoryDetails*

      I enjoyed My Lady’s Choosing – some unexpected options there, diverse and very much appreciated. (Also very funny.)

      As for “New Adult” – not quite sure if this counts, but Jacqueline Koyanagi’s ASCENSION was very good; a young woman on a space station wearies of repairing starships and wants to get into space herself. It has the young-adult-facing-life aspect, and I enjoyed it. (It’s described as the first of a “Tangled Axon” series, though I don’t know if any other books are in the offing; a pity, as I’d read more about that character.)

    4. LDN Layabout*

      For Sarah J Maas, I was pushed into reading Throne of Glass by friends and then I voraciously read through the rest of the series.

      I’d put it in that category of supremely readable, you want to get to the end books, where the writing itself isn’t amazing, or particularly bad either. Also there are characters you will fall head over heels for and it’s different for everyone who you latch onto.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Tamora Pierce’s books (beginning with the Lioness Quartet, then there’s others) might be a skitch younger than you’re looking for – I first read them when I was probably 10 – but I still love them from spitting distance of 40 and reread them every year or two.

      1. Phlox*

        I started reading Tamora Pierce in middle school, kept reading in high school, brought Kel with me to college for when I needed a book-shaped hug and still reread at 30. Plus she’s currently running an amazing fundraiser for Black Vision Collective.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The simple way to look at Tamora Pierce’s content level is that they get more complicated & “adult” as they gain pages.
        All include references to sexual relationships, including same-sex relationships (but less explicit scenes than in Maas’s books). All include death of important characters (not necessarily favorite people, or main characters, but important enough that it affects the lead character). Sometimes the death is full-on horror, including crimes against children. Protector of the Small gave my husband a nightmare.

    6. fort hiss*

      Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer, if you have not read it, is an incredible book. It’s in the New Weird genre, so not exactly what you’re looking for, but you might like it!

      Basically, the Biologist goes on an expedition to explore a mysterious costal zone called Area X where… well, something is happening. Nobody knows what, exactly, but there are strange animals and scripture written in fungus along the walls of an endless tower that grows into the earth.

      The whole first book has an entirely female cast, other than a few incidental men in flashbacks. It’s a weird, suspenseful, horrifying book that can stand alone, but there’s also two excellent follow-ups if the story hooks you. (Annihilation the movie is vaguely inspired by the book, but they really only have a few concepts and general vibe in common. Characters, themes, and plot events are wildly different.)

      If you want something in the younger genre, Wilder Girls by Rory Power is a YA novel with similar themes. Girls in high school are trapped on an island but things are… changing about them.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Annihilation seems to be love it or hate it. I adored it, my dad kept losing the plot and couldn’t enjoy it at all.

        Although I actually didn’t like the second entry in the series as much as the other two. It felt a lot like the author had to bridge the first and third books, and tried to draw out a short story into a novel.

        1. fort hiss*

          Authority is definitely the one that loses the most people, it seems! I think having a fairly unlikable protag who constantly bumbles after the incredible Biologist, and the change to a spy novel format, alienates a lot of people. I quite like it, but it’s definitely the weakest one. I wanted to know more about the psychiatrist and the investigation, so it kept me riveted despite thinking Control was… not an interesting guy.

          Acceptance is just so damn good, I hope people are able to put up with Control long enough to make it there! I am nervous of the new one he’s making, but also looking forward to it.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            It’s silly, perhaps, but you know what I would have liked? The perspective from Control’s assistant director. I don’t know if she’d have been any more likeable than Control, but it might have made the change less jarring.

            1. fort hiss*

              Do you mean Grace? She was too good, Vandermeer kept her in his back pocket until Acceptance, LOL. Ghost Bird/Grace….. quality stuff.

    7. CatCat*

      I enjoyed “We Set the Dark on Fire” by Tehlor Kay Mejia and the sequel “We Unleash the Merciless Storm.” It’s set in a fictional Latin American country with an oppressive regime and a religious/cultural tradition where elite families have two wives with regimented roles. Both books are from the points of view of young women.

    8. Autumn leaves*

      As for sarah Maas, I really liked the Court of thorn and roses series. I never finished the others that she wrote

      The Mercy Thompson series has been a great series to read during lockdown

      Anne Bishop’s series that starts with written in red(I have only read the first book so far but really really enjoyed it). Its different

      These are all books that could be read multiple times

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Seconding Mercy Thompson, with a warning that there is a pretty explicit sexual assault in one of the later books. (It is one of the cases where I agree that it is completely plot important, and shake the character’s development, reactions, and interactions for following books..)

      2. Anonymous*

        I second Written in Red! It’s the first of The Others, where the world has humanity but we are not the dominate species. I adore it an re-read it like twice a year.

    9. Max Kitty*

      Gail Carriger has several Victorian-era steampunk series with female protagonists. The YA series is called The Finishing School and starts with Etiquette & Espionage. One adult series is The Parasol Protectorate; it starts with Soulless. And other adult series is The Custard Protocol, starting with Prudence. The Custard Protocol about the kids of The Parasol Protectorate characters.

      Colleen Gleason has a YA series about Mina Holmes (Sherlock’s niece) and Evaline Stoker (Bram’s sister) set in a steampunk Victorian London. Starts with The Clockwork Scarab. Honestly, though, I enjoyed the first couple of books more than the rest of the series.

      Y.S. Lee has YA The Agency series, starting with A Spy in the House.

      Jodi Taylor, The Chronicles of St. Mary’s adult series, starting with Just One Damned Thing After Another. Historians who get the chance to visit the times they’re studying (but have to avoid messing up time)

      Theodora Goss, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter and following books.

      For a good YA novel, I enjoyed Elizabeth Acevedo’s With the Fire on High.

    10. Llellayena*

      Tamora Pierce is an excellent starting point. Anne McCaffrey, Trudy Canavan, and Mercedes Lackey (Valdemar series) all also have excellent female protagonists. If you don’t mind a very heavy religious theme, Kathy Tyers has some excellent books, though they are definitely more mature. Most of these are fantasy, Tyers is sci-fi. (What is it about autocorrect that wants to change sci-fi to sci-go!)

      1. allathian*

        Seconding Anne McCaffrey and her Harper Hall trilogy (Dragonsinger, Dragonsong, Dragondrums) about Menolly’s adventures on Pern in particular, they are classified as YA. The rest of her Pern novels were written as bodice ripper romances with a sci-fi element. Because the dragons were genetically engineered, the author took offense if people classified her books as fantasy, but admittedly the sci-fi isn’t very hard in her books. They do include women in prominent roles, even if the majority are relegated to domestic drudgery and the society she describes is a strong patriarchy. The books that are intended for a more mature audience include a number of scenes where sexual abuse is at least strongly hinted at. Even the great romance between Lessa and F’lar that is a major part of the series started with F’lar repeatedly raping the inexperienced Lessa (with mating dragons involved, it’s more complicated than that, without them “…you might as well call it rape, but F’lar was in a position to persevere…”). While the books feature gays in a prominent role as dragonriders, I’ve always been a bit put off by the fact that there are no lesbians in her Pern books and that being a leader is pretty much for straight males only. The lack of lesbians may be explained in-universe by the fact that most women have little or no agency over their lives and even if they didn’t want to marry, saying no wasn’t an option if their fathers decided otherwise.

    11. fposte*

      Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation, a zombified historical fiction with a kickass Black zombie hunter protagonist. Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity, intense historical fiction about two women, a pilot and a translator, during World War II. Thanhha Lai’s Butterfly Yellow, set in the 1980s, about a young woman who’s fled Vietnam to reunite with her younger brother, all that’s left of her family, in the U.S.

    12. Rick Tq*

      All three books by Dorothy Grant: “Shattered Under Moonlight”, “Scaling the Rim”, “Going Ballistic”.

      All three meet your requirements and Dorothy is a writer who gives you *just* enough information to stay in the story without large blocks of text about the tech..

    13. Cwaeth*

      Vivian Shaw’s Dr. Greta Helsing series is fun. Barbara Hambly’s Darwath series is one of my favorites.

    14. Bex*

      Rachel Bach’s Paradox series might be one of my favorite female protagonists. Also, Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels books, and pretty much anything from Seanan McGuire (but especially the October Daye series).

    15. Free Meerkats*

      The Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett.

      And if graphic novels are allowed, Digger by Ursula Vernon. Note: there’s a subtext of DV. Not obvious, but it’s there.

    16. LDF*

      Recently I’ve enjoyed the Red Sister trilogy (I don’t remember the series name but that’s the first book), The Broken Earth trilogy, and Gideon the Ninth (will eventually be a trilogy).

    17. Seeking Second Childhood*

      “The Deed of Paksenarrion” by Elisabeth Moon. Sheepfarmer’s Daughter , the first book, stands alone well showing a poor peasant girl’s growth into a professional soldier. The second & third see her develop into a paladin.
      Speaking of paladins… “The Paladin” by C.J.Cherryh feels the same even if its world is non-magical and martial arts related.
      Garth Nix — Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen.
      If you’re willing to read through the first series — Ranger’s Apprentice — the SECOND series “Royal Ranger” has a female lead. (The apprentice of the first series becomes the master in the second series, and it’s his apprentice.)
      A younger book for you to consider — “Princess Academy” by Shannon Hale.
      One that might be harder to find because the author’s no longer writing : “Mirabile” by Janet Kagan. (Award winning science fiction short stories, collected. Try to get Tor’s paperback because each story gets an extra few key paragraphs that connect the stories into something more than you get in the kindle edition.) I also love her first novel “Hellspark” … and her second novel which was her first published — “Uhura’s Song”. (described by a friend in the early 90s as the only Star Trek novel worth reading.)
      Charles de Lint has a lot of good ones too. “Some place to be flying”, “The Little Country”, and more of the Newford stories have strong female leads.
      Then there’s one of my esoteric favorites — “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day”. The female lead *becomes* strong.
      Now I have to go see if my library hold is ready yet so I can do curbside pickup!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          (Which is about an orphaned girl escaping the streets of an alternate 19th c world, not the magician himself.)

      1. SpellingBee*

        Also by Elizabeth Moon, the Herris Serrano and Vatta’s War books. Not exactly YA, but strong female protagonists in both series. I re-read both regularly.

    18. Koala dreams*

      If you accept older books, I quite like the Agatha Christie mysteries such as The Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence, so might not fit your demands of female protagonist only), They Came To Baghdad, The Man in the Brown Suit. The Secret of Chimneys is fun, but alas, the protagonist is a man. Destination Unknown (depressed woman becomes spy) and Murder at the Vicarage (told from the view of the wife of the local priest) is perhaps more fun for people over thirty.

      For more mystery stories, I remember liking the Mary Russel series by Laurie R. King. Mary Russel is mentored by an aged Sherlock Holmes and solve mysteries. I don’t remember the details, sorry.

      I agree with the recommendation for the Parasol Protectorate series above (sadly, I haven’t read the others by the same author).

    19. Sir Lena Clare*

      Adele Geras’ retelling of Helen of Troy is fab. She’s a great NA/YA writer.

    20. J.B.*

      Robin McKinley. The Blue Sword is one of my favorites, although there is a little much white savior to it.

      1. Hey Anonny Nonny*

        Robin McKinley – Blue Sword esp, but anything from her except Pegasus.

        I was too old for Protector of the Small when it came out, but loved the Lioness Quartet so am getting back into Tamora Pierce and loving it!

        I tried to read Throne of Glass because of its popularity, but honestly, it was so bad I couldn’t finish it. IMHO great concepts, just executed so poorly that it was very distracting. Some of the negative reviews are so on the nose that they were more enjoyable to read. Mark Lawrence’s Red Sister trilogy has similar badassery but much better written (though also very very dark).

        N.K. Jemison’s Hundred Thousand Kingdoms/ inheritance trilogy. I’m wait listed for Broken Earth. Also great time to support a black woman author’s work.

      2. Jackalope*

        Definitely Robin McKinley. I was just coming here to suggest that! (And she swears she’s working on the sequel to Pegasus so some day it will be okay to read?) A couple of possible entry points: The Hero and the Crown is her classic (and the Newbery Award winner). Sunshine is an adult book but is teen friendly too, and is a vampire novel. I love Chalice and it is slightly different than her other stuff. Most of her earlier works are retellings of fairy tales.

    21. Forensic13*

      The Rook and Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley are both really fun women-centered books (The Rook, the first in the set, is in my opinion the superior book, so you may not like Stiletto.)
      Read this book called Red Sister by Mark Lawrence recently that felt like it was in the New Adult genre. It’s a little gory sometimes, but nothing too crazy if I remember correctly.
      Alison recommended this, but if you haven’t read Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson, and it was great.
      The Witches of New York by Ami McKay was an interesting book set in an alternate reality 19th century.
      The trilogy Brooklyn Brujas by Zoraida Córdova veers slightly more YA than not, but is still a more sophisticated take than some other YA books I’ve read.

    22. TL -*

      Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi is excellent – mature YA would best describe it. Fantasy, female lead (with some parts written from male POVs), set in a fantasy world loosely drawn from African mythology/cultures.

      The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang – female protagonist, grimdark fantasy, New Adult, based on China’s experiences before/during/after WWII, though in a fantasy/alternative world. First in a trilogy.

      1. HC*

        Agree with Children of Blood and Bone. The sequel came out at the beginning of the year but I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.

    23. HC*

      I really enjoyed Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. The gist is that there was a secret mining colony attacked by a mega-corporation and three escape ships were able to get away. The protagonist starts to realize something’s up when her mother is transferred to study and treat a mysterious illness on another ship. She uses her hacking abilities to really figure out what’s what and ultimately save the group when the ships’ AI system starts acting up. There is ultimately a mostly relevant romance plot to is as that’s the way with YA. What I really liked was the format since it’s written as a file from a private investigator trying to figure out what exactly happened from the attack all the way through to the end. It’s also a trilogy but I haven’t gotten around to the other books, mostly because the format doesn’t always work with the app I use to read ebooks.

  23. SpellingBee*

    Fighting the Japanese beetle onslaught! I’ve been deploying the Sudsy Jar of Death – my usual practice, as I won’t spray insecticides. It’s effective (and surprisingly satisfying) but time-consuming. This year I tried one of the traps that lure them with scent and they supposedly hit the plastic baffles and fall into a narrow-necked bag from which they can’t escape, but I haven’t caught many in it. The brand I tried was Spectracide. Has anyone used these successfully, and if so what brand did you have luck with?

    1. MistOrMister*

      Oh my gosh….I read this as you were fighting the Japanese! Somehow I missed the word beetle. I thought, dear god, what fresh hell has 2020 thrown at us that suddenly someone is openly at war with the Japanese? Never been so glad to realize I read something incorrectly!!! Phew!

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Oh, what a good laugh! Thanks for posting!
        …and, yeah, at this point, anything including a war with Japan is believable these days!

    2. A thought...*

      I’ve heard that the traps aren’t a good method because they actually attract more beetles to your yard. Not sure how accurate that is, but something to consider.

      1. Venus*

        A friend had this problem. They started with a few beetles and because of the trap ended up attracting the neighbourhood’s.

    3. Mouse*

      The best defense is to kill the grubs before they get to the beetle stage. We use Milky Spore. I have never never won a battle with the Japanese Beetle.

      1. SpellingBee*

        How long did it take before it started to have an effect? I’ve read differing accounts, with some saying it takes several years and that the entire neighborhood, more or less, needs to use it. I was planning to put some down this year in any event, because there seems to be more this year than previously. I’m interested to hear your experience with it!

        1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          We did Milky Spore at my parents when I was a teenager. We had horrible Japanese Beetles before. Now they see a handful in a year. It’s hard to say how long it took, because absence of a problem is much less noticeable than presence of a problem. We did maybe an acre or two of land around the house? I would get your immediate neighbors on board if you live in a neighborhood, but I don’t think you need everybody.

          Totally worth it if you will be living there long term, because it really did fix the problem.

          Plus, how often do you get to wage biological warfare? And on a very worthy foe.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I hesitate to use anything grub-killer because fireflies spend so much of the year underground as …..grubs.
        I haven’t read up on the particular spore Mouse mentions.

    4. fposte*

      I stick to the Sudsy Jar. Mostly it’s just a cosmetic problem in my garden, so I avoid looking at chomped leaves. (But I really hate seeing dark buzzing things in my rose blooms.)

    5. Invisible Fish*

      If you won’t spray an insecticide, what’s your stance on SevenDust? Our yard is a haven for squirrels and birds and possums and our idiot dogs, so my husband selected SevenDust since …. ok, honestly, he gave me detailed reasons, but I just smiled and nodded while my brain went elsewhere. I do know it keeps our plants bug free and our animals can be out the day after he uses it. (Also, I now need to look up Japanese beetles.)

      1. SpellingBee*

        Sevin is toxic to honeybees and other beneficial insects as well as the undesirable ones, and since I’d be spraying it on blossoms it’s a definite no for me.

        I *believe* milky spore bacteria only targets Japanese beetle grubs and thus wouldn’t affect firefly grubs, but I’m not positive – will have to do some more research on that.

    6. Notthemomma*

      No solutions, but a story. When I lived in a farm this %*#}%%^ things were everywhere! I would sweep a bunch up every day. They were on the window sills, tops of the curtains, in every nook and cranny, so I would have to deep vacuum them up.

      Did you know they have a very distinct smell? A smell which can penetrate the most nose-blind person? A smell that can not be removed? That, my friends, is how I ended up disposing of an almost new vacuum at the end of that year.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ugh.
        We had this problem one year with something similar to ladybugs. They were EVERYWHERE. And they bit you, and if you squished them they stunk and stained.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I read an interesting idea that I have not tried. The book said watering during high temps causes the beetle to thrive. We need the high heat to kill the beetle. If you are watering regularly maybe you can cut down or maybe you can narrow the area you are watering.

      Last I knew those lures were basically sex lures, so yeah, it pulls them in from all over.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Well, you should be watering in the early morning or dusk, anyway, to avoid damaging leaves when the sun hits the water droplets. Also, more efficient for getting the water to the plants instead of it all evaporating.

    8. Effie*

      I read in a book that you can leave a can of fruit cocktail out for a day or so, so it ferments, and leave it near the beetles. The beetles go in, get drunk, and drown. Have not tried it myself though!

  24. Tennie*

    Does anyone have recommendations for blogs that focus on life in retirement? I know most readers here are still working, but maybe a family member or friend has a recommendation? Most blogs seem to be just financial advice, and I’m looking for something more broad. Lifestyle choices like volunteering, travel, structuring your day, things like that. Any ideas?

    1. I hate the offseason*

      Have you looked at AARP? You don’t need to be a member to read some of the articles.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      I am not a big magazine reader but my library carries a couple of retirement magazines that are not AARP. They have some of them available electronically as well. You might find what you are looking for in those or info about retirement blogs.

    3. fposte*

      Not a blog, but the financial forum bogleheads dot org has a lot of threads about life in retirement that talk about that kind of thing. It skews higher end, financially, but I’ve still gotten a ton of useful information out of it and the retirement threads have really shaped my thinking.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Not necessarily ABOUT retirement, but BY a retired human who is consciously trying to lead a simpler life.
      Down To Earth , on blogspot, by Rhonda Hetzel.

    5. NoLongerYoung*

      not a blog, but a workbook. I did do some of the exercises and found them very helpful:

      Encore Living Your Life’s Legacy: A practical guide to retirement and beyond (A Strategy For All Seasons) Paperback – April 17, 2019
      by Ann Bundy (Author), Hildy DeFrisco (Author), Allie Marini (Editor)

    6. Dancing Otter*

      There’s a magazine called “Where to Retire” you might want to read. Not sure about online availability – I saw it in my dentist’s waiting room.

    7. Bluebell*

      Ournextlife.com. They’ve slowed down their blogging in the past few months, but have some very thoughtful stuff.

  25. Its My Party...*

    Today is my birthday.
    38, not super important, just a day.
    I’m planning some light housekeeping and a trip for curbside grocery pickup. The library has started offering curbside hold pickup and I’ll finally get the things I’d put on hold back in February, so that’ll be nice. I live alone with my cat so it’ll be a pretty quiet day, for the most part.
    My question is, how is everyone else handing these “milestone-type” events? How does anyone actually maintain distance if/when they do find themselves in the presence of their loved ones from other households? How do you not hug them? How do you decide whether to even be there? My soul wants to be with my family and friends, many of whom are choosing not to distance and would be happy to see me, but I am torn by the idea of becoming the vector that brings pain and illness. Even visiting my parents so they can light a cupcake candle and sing a song seems risky as Mom’s recovering from recent cataract surgery and I was at the dentist Thursday.
    I’m thinking of other important gathering occasions that are on the horizon and just feeling helpless because I know they’re unlikely to be The Same for a while, if they can happen at all. (Big Thanksgiving family reunion including dozens of people from multiple states, anyone?) How do you deal with knowing that we can’t know how long it’ll be like this?

    1. hibernatormodeactivated*

      I had a milestone birthday that I spent pretty quietly. I’m dealing alright as I know I’ll have a suitable celebration after things get better. But I also live far away from most of my family currently, so I’m used to family socialising not being a ready option.

      I’m fortunate to live in a place where I feel virus related restrictions are being handled well and there is a clear plan for easing them as time goes on. So even though we’re not there yet and won’t be for months, I can see a future ahead that’s more normal. I feel confident it won’t always be like this so I’m ok to go into hibernation mode for a while.

    2. Got Cats?*

      My birthday was last month. I made myself a cake, and had phone calls from my parents and children, and texts from siblings and friends. My family reunion was canceled, hopefully we’ll be able to get together next year. I think for me it helps that most of us are resigned to not seeing each other, as we don’t want to take a chance. I also think my resolve is firmer about this as my brother had covid and was hospitalized, and it was pretty scary. I don’t want anyone else in my family to get sick, so that helps.
      Happy birthday! :)

    3. Mimosa Jones*

      Happy Birthday!

      It’s really hard. I’m just taking it one event at a time and creating the best event I can under the restrictions. I think because of my age (early 50s) and my child’s age (nearly 18) these next few years were going to be full of changes and doing things differently anyway. So I was already in a mindset to figure things out and was already anticipating new ways of doing our traditions. There’s just a different, sadder, and scarier reason for it now.

      If I were you, I’d buy myself a fantastic cake and get/make some sort of decorative banner to make my living space festive. I’d spend the day/weekend doing things just for me. Maybe devote the day to crafting or lounging on the couch. Get outside if the weather is nice. I’d call and zoom with the people I want to talk to. If all that can’t happen today then I’d schedule a Birthday Observed and do it all then.

    4. Just us chickens*

      Happy birthday! I hope you do something nice for yourself and have a cake or something else decadent included in your grocery pickup.
      I am fortunate to be in a place where we’re slowly lifting restrictions, so we’re now allowed gatherings of 6 or less people. I like Ina Garten’s suggestion of Zoom dinners where everyone cooks the same thing to share on-line if you can’t have everyone coming together in one place.

    5. allathian*

      Happy birthday!
      My country’s started to open up and there are very few new cases and we’ve had a week with only one or two deaths all week. So I’m a bit more comfortable about seeing family and friends in person.
      For years, I haven’t hugged anyone except my husband and son, so that part is not a problem at all for me.
      Because I’m in the northern hemisphere and the weather’s nice, we’re sticking to seeing family and friends outdoors and keeping 5 ft/1.5 meters between us. We didn’t have a kiddie birthday for my son this year, but we’ve invited my parents and my in-laws separately. We drank coffee and ate ice cream cones.

    6. Anonymous*

      Happy Birthday! My sister in law had a milestone birthday in April, and her trip to New Zealand had to canceled. I got her a virtual wine tasting, so we could do something special. A winery shipped her, my parents, and me the same two bottles of wine, and we got on a Zoom call with the winery to taste them together.

      We are having my parents and my husbands’ parents over today for my birthday. We’re sitting outside and making brats. Sometimes I don’t know what the right thing to do is.

    7. WellRed*

      My friend group is turning 50 and this is not how any of them planned to mark that milestone. I turned 50 ahead of the pandemic. It is what it is.

    8. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Happy birthday! I turned 42 two weeks ago and it was certainly a bit strange, especially since protests were starting and the world was getting pretty tense. Per my original plans, I baked a cake and took the dog for a long walk. My partner bought dinner (takeout, of course!) and I just tried to enjoy the day.

      A friend turned 50 and did a big open-invitation Zoom. That was fun. He kept it open for about four hours and people could come and go at their leisure.

      1. It's My Party...*

        Thanks everyone! :)
        I’m grateful for the well wishes, the ideas, and the perspective.

    9. Thursday Next*

      Not knowing how long this will be is difficult. I do not handle small uncertainties easily, and this is an outsized helping of uncertainty!

      I am trying a combination of things (with varying degrees of success, admittedly): mindful attention to daily tasks and needs, and planning things to look forward to within the parameters allowed. Today, for instance, my task is to be creative with planning dinner with the ingredients I have on hand—Sunday morning is when my groceries are delivered, so Saturday dinner is a challenge. And my longer-term thing to look forward to is planning my daughter’s birthday celebration, which she won’t be able to have a party for. So I am already planning to make the most ridiculously colorful cake ever, and set up a zoom call with her friends (and sending them some party favors in advance; maybe part of the zoom party will be watercolor painting).

      What would feel like a treat to you? A specific food, sending something out to family, flowers? An afternoon spent reading celebrity gossip in bed? I think planning these things ahead can help get us through long periods of uncertainty. Put things to look forward to on your calendar, even (or especially) if they seem small or silly.

      Happy birthday!

    10. Koala dreams*

      Happy Birthday!

      When I couldn’t go there and I couldn’t participate in the zoom, I just sent a card and made a phone call on the actual birthday. I’ve seen wonderful news clips of people having coffee in the garden with a glass screen between the birthday person and the guests, delivering cake to a grandmother in an upstairs apartment with a crane, brothers drinking coffee on opposite sides of a bridge, and so on, but the logistics make me want to crawl under my bed and forget about everything.

      1. It's My Party...*

        I’m still figuring out how the nesting thing works.
        Thanks again, everyone!

    11. Alexandra Lynch*

      My family’s birthdays and holidays tend to fall in a spring clump (Mom, his dad, Younger Son, Easter dinner, Girlfriend, ), and a fall/winter clump (Boyfriend, my birthday, his mom, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Elder Son). I owe both my mother and my younger son a meal out or catered to order when things finish getting back to normal. He owes his dad a lunch out, but we had him sent a pound of fudge as a present, no contact. As Girlfriend would rather eat my cooking than anything else, I made her a carrot cake, made a meal she loved, and gave her presents and we were good. But my boys live with my mom and help her out, and so I know Younger Son had a nice cake and a good time, even if I couldn’t be there.

      By October, when our next clump starts, who knows?

  26. quarantine cooking*

    I’m trying to recreate a restaurant salad recipe that uses “Bag Mai Fun rice noodles.” Looking in Google, it seems like I could get the same effect using rice noodle sticks but broken up? The noodles in the salad definitely aren’t cooked; their consistency is more like air popped. Any ideas?

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Are they soft, or puffed up like Thai shrimp chips / prawn crackers / Quavers?

      If the latter, I know this!

      They are dried rice noodles very quickly deep fried. Literally just get your oil mega hot, then drop them in one at a time. They will sink, then immediately cook and curl up and rise to the surface, whereupon you sweep them up with a metal slotted spoon or wire spider. Serve at any temperature.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          They’ll be deep fried, then. Super easy and super fast, just get the oil dangerously hot.

  27. Washi*

    I posted a couple weeks ago about how someone was leaving garbage on the floor of my building’s trash room (there is one on each floor) instead of putting it down the trash chute. I got some good suggestions, but one that hadn’t occurred to me, but I dismissed immediately, was looking through it to see if there were any papers with the persons’s apartment number. Like who is going to poke through someone’s trash in a pandemic?!

    Well, the next time I took out the trash, there it was, an open paper bag just sitting on the floor and filled with food scraps and diapers and other gross things to be sitting out. And I just felt so mad that when I saw a little corner of paper in it, I HAD to know who it was. So I dug down, found an envelope with the apartment number, and lo and behold, it was my obnoxious neighbors with whom we’ve had many disputes about their loud music. If it had been anyone else, I might have knocked on the door and made sure they understood that trash goes in the trash chute, but since these people have threatened to physically fight us if we complained about their music again, I left the bag of trash on their doorstep with a note explaining that trash goes in the trash chute.

    I don’t know how ethical it was to look through someone’s trash…but there hasn’t been any more trash on the floor in the past couple weeks!!! And if there is, I know where to put it. So thank you AAM commenters!