weekend open thread – June 20-21, 2020

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett. Twin sisters run away together from their small town founded by and for light-skinned black people. One returns later with her daughter, while the other builds a new life passing for white, cutting off ties to her family to keep her secret. It’s about race and identity and home, and I loved it.

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

{ 1,438 comments… read them below }

  1. Union Alexander*

    Does anyone have any advice for improving your executive function? I’ve been living on my own (with roommates or actually alone) for the last two years and I feel like I’ve never gotten the hang of it. I know what I should be doing, and for the most part how to do it, I’m just…. not. As we speak I have a sinkload of dirty dishes and a basket of clean laundry to put away and I know my life will be easier and I’ll be happier if I take care of them, but there’s just something blocking my actual drive to get up and do it.

    I’d particularly like advice on changing mindsets and the way I think about things, because tricks and gimmicks tend to peter out pretty quickly.

    1. Vic Venti*

      I’ve had some success with the pomodoro technique – telling myself I’ll do x hated job/jobs for 20 or 30 minutes and setting a timer. Often by the time the timer goes off, I’ve Kickstarted some motivation to keep going until all the tasks are complete and I reset the timer. Other times, the task actually takes less time than I thought. Either way, I’ve found a return to my phone during the task (to check a message or do something on the internet) is death to productivity!

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Seconding pomodoro, although time management is my big EF problem. It’s also good for breaking down bigger tasks; maybe I can’t clean everything, but I’ll clean for five minutes, and if I’m not exhausted I’ll do another five, and so on.

    2. Job Carousel*

      I can totally empathize! I’ve been living on my own for 13 years now but still sometimes struggle to put away my clean laundry or wash and put away my dishes. I agree with Vic Venti’s suggestion of the pomodoro technique — it’s a lifehack I do to kickstart a dreaded task, and like Vic Venti says, I often just finish the task after the timer goes off since I’ve already built up some positive momentum. In terms of changing mindset, there’s a lot of great psychology books out there about how to approach creating positive habits or eliminating negative ones. A few easily-accessible books on this topic are Chip and Dan Heath’s book Switch (they borrow Jonathan Haidt’s concept of the elephant — our emotional, instinctive selves, and the rider — our logical brain, and talk about ways we can use our rider to motivate our elephant) and Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit. A few denser, more theoretical books are written by Nobel Prize winners — Richard Thaler and Case Sunstein’s book Nudge (Thaler won the 2017 economics prize for his work in incorporating psychological assumptions into decision making), and Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow (a very comprehensive, very long book that I only made it about 2/3rds into).

      1. the Viking Diva*

        A book I have found useful is ‘Finding Flow,’ by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It’s about the productive state of being in the zone – so absorbed in a task that you lose track of time. In general this is when the goals are clear and meaningful, the feedback is immediate, and you are doing something that is challenging but you also have a level of skill or expertise to do it well. Spending time in a flow state is very satisfying, so it’s good to find ways to

        It’s relevant here because of some of the ways he describes that people find flow in a task they don’t enjoy. One way is to increase the level of challenge – such as trying to work fast or efficiently in a non-ideal setting, e.g. how much can I get done while waiting to board my flight. Pomodoro and Unf*ck your Habitat, mentioned down-thread, play on this same idea. Can I get this done in the 10 minutes before my work meeting? etc. Another way is to shift your thinking about the goal – I can find greater reward in folding if I think of it as a gift to my family or my future self to have clean clothes for the week.

        Good luck, Union Alexander!

    3. Detective Rosa Diaz*

      Oof, I’ve been there – and partly still am!
      I find focusing on Future Me is often helpful. Like, I am going to do the dishes now because Future Me is gonna be so pleased to see an empty sink after work. It’s a bit hit and miss, but works best when i really try to conjure that feeling of satisfaction – make it feel just as real as my present ugh-ness.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I definitely find the “do it for Future Me” mindset works for me as my self-worth isn’t great and I’m more motivated to do things for other people.

        For hated chores I tend to do something else at the same time so it isn’t so dull, ir promise myself a reward afterwards. So maybe I’ll prop up my phone near the sink (carefully, so it doesn’t go swimming) and watch something while I go, or tell myself I can make lunch with the nice new things when I’ve put the groceries away. On that second point, it helps if the cause and effect is direct, because otherwise brain says “I mean, we could just have (reward) now”.

        1. TechWorker*

          +1

          I have a string of old detective dramas (currently, silent witness) that I watch primarily whilst doing chores (Washing up/laundry, etc). It makes it way less dull & means I almost look forwards to it :p

          Needs to be really be something where you can get the gist of what’s going on without needing to watch the screen, if that’s going to bug you a podcast might be better :)

          1. Koala dreams*

            Yes, I like to watch Poirot or Miss Marple when doing chores, or a game show. Folding laundry is especially good to do in front of the tv. For the dishes I like listening to music.

          2. Nervous Nellie*

            Oh, yeah – laundry movies! I actually keep a list of funny, happy movies, and only ‘get’ to watch them when I am folding laundry. I do this really early on Sunday mornings, and it has actually become something I look forward to.

    4. Caroline Bowman*

      Not sure if this is a gimmick or a way to help with procrastination generally, but I have found that by committing to doing 1 thing or to doing something I’ve been putting off for a set time, even really short, like 10 minutes, gradually motivation improves.

      Work out when you are at your most energetic and motivated (I do appreciate that this is all relative) and then decide on a time to start your timer / do a specific task, ideally quite a small one and really lean into it hard for only that time / till that 1 task is done. If you do that a couple of times each day, ideally ticking whatever the things are off a list you can see, you might find it snowballs and becomes less of A Thing.

      Best of luck

      1. Washi*

        Yep! I do something similar, except I pick a super super small task that I know will only take like 1 minute. For example if I need to go running, I’ll tell myself I just need to put my shoes on, and then I can decide. Or for cleaning the bathroom, I just need to take out the sponge and wipe the sink.

        For me, the biggest challenge is going from couch -> task, not in completing the task, because I actually hate leaving stuff unfinished. So I just need to trick myself into starting!

    5. Dancing Otter*

      I swear by To Do lists and Reminders on my phone. Otherwise, I procrastinate. For example, I get a reminder once a week to water the plants. I set a reminder to take out trash & empty paper baskets every Monday and Thursday, to do laundry every Tuesday (with a separate reminder for putting away), to hand wash lingerie Wednesday evening, etc. That’s for the recurring stuff that really ought not to be missed. I used to laugh at my mother for her “Monday is laundry day; Tuesday is ironing; Wednesday is …” and so forth. But it works a lot better than, “Oh God, I have company coming tomorrow and the living room is a disaster area.”

      I also have reminder lists for bigger projects such as tidying and cleaning the master bedroom, broken into bite-size pieces and assigned due dates. The point is to just have a few things for each day, not a huge list of everything due at once that would overwhelm me. Sort out the expired spices or get rid of old leftovers, not deep-clean the whole kitchen. If I get on a roll and finish something not yet due, it just gets marked complete and something else is moved into its scheduled spot. This is also where I put the quarterly tax payments, the annual license renewal, monthly bill payments (those that aren’t on autopay), making doctor and vet appointments, buying birthday cards and presents, and so forth.
      Now, I still just close the reminder sometimes, which is my bad, but they keep coming back until I mark them complete. As you say, gimmicks don’t fix everything, but the only way to form good habits is by actually doing stuff until it becomes habit.

      1. Ranon*

        I probably could not person if I did not have set days of the week for chores. It takes a certain amount of prep (e.g. having enough clothes to only do laundry once a week) but replacing deciding and willpower with routine really works for me.

      2. Ranon*

        I probably could not person if I did not have set days of the week for chores. It takes a certain amount of prep (e.g. having enough clothes to only do laundry once a week) but replacing deciding and willpower with routine really works for me.

        1. Caroline Bowman*

          I have 3 kids and so laundry once per week wouldn’t work BUT the principle remains the same; if it’s a Monday or a Tuesday, a load of washing gets done, then another on Thursday, (kids, ours, bedding / towels), then if there is overflow for whatever reason, I might do another load over the weekend.

          Otherwise… it’s a laundry mountain that exponentially grows and grows until there’s no point to living at all because gaaaahhhhh… etcetera!

    6. matcha123*

      It took me close to 10 years of living alone to figure myself out and get things done. I still slip up and have dishes in the sink or unwashed clothes in the basket for longer than I’d like, but I’ve made improvements.
      First step is to start small. Make it a routine to NOT go to bed with dishes in the sink. If you go to bed, pull yourself right out and do the dishes. Once you find yourself getting to the dishes quickly, then you can add in other steps to your routine.
      I don’t have a drier and have to hang my clothes outside, or inside on rainy days. First thing I do when they are dry is to fold them. Even if I get too lazy to put them away, they will be folded and in front of my drawers.
      With cleaning, the same thing. Doing a huge clean is so tiring, so I pick up little things throughout the day and dedicate like 5 – 10 minutes a day to ‘heavier’ cleaning. Other places will still need time, but I feel happier when I can see the floor. And that happiness helps to drive my motivation to clean.

      1. MistOrMister*

        Yes to folding the laundry as soon as it’s dry! I just started doing that this year and it makes such a difference. I don’t know why I hate putting away laundry so much. But, once it’s been folded, it seems stupid to me to not take the 3 extra minutes and actually put it away. I tried the, put the clean laundry on the bed and it will force you to put it away before you go to sleep thing. And no, no it won’t, not for everyone. I found i was getting creative with my sleeping positions to not disturb the laundry. Folding directly out the dryer has worked so much better for me.

        1. Mary*

          Hahaha yeah my husband will just dump it all on the floor. Once he’s ready for bed then he’s not about to start one last task first. The only thing that works for us for putting away laundry is immediately after getting up the day after laundry day is a rule that we “aren’t allowed” to eat or get dressed until the laundry is away. Find something that works and then do it until it doesn’t work anymore. Then try something else.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I try to follow a rule that I’m not allowed to start a new load of laundry until the current load is done all the way to completion: washed, dried, folded, and put away. This doesn’t include Saturday mornings when I will do two or three loads one right after another. But someone on FlyLady suggested a guideline of “one load a day, every day, all the way to completion and then quit” (as in, after the one load is done, don’t start another one that will just sit there in an incomplete state; just quit while you’re ahead). I try to follow this guideline, although I’ve had imperfect adherence: sometimes I let myself think that if I start another load, I’ll surely finish it all the way to completion, but then I don’t.

    7. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I’ve started to wonder in recent years if I actually have some form of ADHD (half my family does so why not me?). My ability to procrastinate and ignore reminders has been a constant problem for me. I’ve successfully used pomodoros or the un-f**k your habitat method of just cleaning for a short period of time. I also realize that part of my problem with putting things away is that there is too much stuff to start with so it’s hard to put things away. Choosing which items to get rid of is another problem for me, but if you’re avoiding putting the laundry away maybe it’s a sign you have too many socks?

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        The socks are so tedious to pair up and fold — I hate that part of the laundry. Whose sock is it? Which sock matches up with which other sock? Ugh! I end up folding every single other piece of laundry and just having a perpetual basket of socks that if anyone wants a pair, they’re welcome to go digging in there.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          That’s why I stopped wearing matching socks. I only buy one style, and I have a bin full of socks in the same style and different patterns and I just grab two socks. (In fact, if I happen to grab matching ones I put one back and try again out of principle :) )

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            +100

            I refuse to fold socks and I refuse to wear matching socks. Luckily, Hubs wears a completely different style, so we don’t end up mixing up socks. Unluckily, Hubs wants his socks folded. We have compromised in that if he doesn’t turn them right side out and not in a little scrunched ball, I will fold them, but any that come out scrunched I will not. Bonus is that he also has started to remember to take crap out of his pockets and separate the t-shirts from the sweatshirts that he takes off all in one go. Second bonus is that he also has stopped hoarding socks under the couch, though that took a couple rounds of “but why do I have no socks” washes.

            IIRC, my grandmother sent me an article in high school about how gangs were apparently signaling something or other by wearing mismatching socks. She did not like my mismatchy socks. Grandma on the other side heard about this, about peed herself laughing, and from then on refused to wear matching socks.

        2. Ellen Ripley*

          Use a safety pin to pin each pair of socks together when you take them off to put them in the dirty laundry.

      2. Kuododi*

        Personally, I use the “2 year” rule of thumb. I think it was originally coined to help get rid of clothes that were never going to be worn again. I expanded it for pretty much everything in our house. (IOW, I’d not used stuff in 2+years, donate or scrap the problem). Best wishes, Kuododi

    8. Anonymous because reasons*

      Hi! I found that my executive functioning issues were depression-related. Once I started therapy (counselling and meds) it became easier, although I have my moments still.

      I’m also autistic. Having that diagnosed was a biggie in terms of understanding the difficulties I have.

      Re: chores, I use the Unf*ck Your Habitat method which is similar to the Pomodoro technique, I just find it much more sensitive to and suitable for disabled people. I’m now in a routine where I get to ‘sink zero’ every night before bed and it’s wonderful to wake up to no dishes.

      My counsellor told me that procrastinators are stuck, not lazy. That’s always resonated with me. Maybe you could try looking up some talks on it by people you like?
      Above all be kind to yourself.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Emphatically seconding Unf*ck Your Habitat! They have a great section in their site called, “Life Happens,” with articles and inspiration for keeping home organized/clean while dealing with chronic illness, anxiety, depression, and anything else that might make house care an ongoing challenge (find the Life Happens tab on the left side of the home page). That link has brought me around to tackling dirty dish mountain more than once.

        So many of the cleaning/tidying sites come with a lot of ‘shoulds’ but this one has compassion and kindness written all over it.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I follow Unf*ck on Twitter and typically their daily tweet will be something like “let’s get to Sink Zero today” or something equally manageable. It helps me to feel like there are other people reading who also need a bit of a nudge, and if by some miracle I’ve already done what Unf*ck is suggesting, I feel on top of the world!

    9. Kate*

      I used to do things like “now come on, you should do either this or that – your own choice”. Of course the problem was that the most unpopular Thing was left not done for months.

    10. duckduckrabbit*

      I schedule tasks in my calendar and I spread them out so I’m not doing heaps of chores all at once.

    11. Steak salad*

      I find bullet journaling very effective! You can read the book or find the official site (or browse tutorials on Pinterest or YouTube but many of those are focused on unnecessary artistic elements). Also, Gretchen Rubin has written a ton of books and articles on habits which are interesting and helpful.

      1. Phlox*

        I read the book that the Bullet Journal guy wrote and it was surprisingly helpful and a lot more grounded and yet meta than I was expecting.
        I was a fan of Gretchen Reuben until I saw an interview of hers on The Financial Diet where she was super dismissive of wealth disparities and the interviewer – it was a bummer to watch!

    12. Laure001*

      Hello Union Alexander! What an interesting discussion.
      It’s funny because you asked us for ways of changing mindsets and not gimmicks, and we have been giving you a lot of gimmicks… But the reason is: gimmicks are how you change your mindset. There is no secret big way of changing the way your mind works, but there are a thousand small ones… The gimmicks.

      And each time a gimmick works for six months, for instance, you programmed your brain to do things and to have little successes for six months. And your brain changes… a little. It gets used to successes… A little. Then the method stop working, you use another one, etc. That is how you reprogram your brain to do stuff. By successfully doing stuff.

      I’m 53 and at 20 I was such a procrastinator. Unable to do things. So bad at life. Now I am… Not the greatest, but fine. Happy with the progress I made. Thanks to a lifetime of reprogramming myself through little things. :) :)

      1. RagingADHD*

        I love this comment – it’s very important to remember that any kind of routine, system, hack, or gimmick is goint to stop working at some point, either through familiarity or because life got disrupted.

        They were still useful! And knowing you were successful with it for a while builds your inner expectation of being successful again.

    13. Treebeardette*

      One part about changing mindset is making it easier on yourself. If you don’t have a home for your stuff, it’ll go anywhere. For example, I have a small bookcase by my door where I stick my shoes. Daily ones on the bottom, rarely worn ones at the top. I also have a mail basket, a key holder, and a place to put my bag/purse. I use to drop those things on the couch or on the table.
      Make a home for everything. Then set up systems to deal with the stuff. Some never go to bed with dishes. I personally would rather do them when I wake up because I’m tired by the time I get home.
      Some people have certain days to clean certain rooms or a whole day set aside to clean everything.
      Figure out what works for you. If you aren’t a morning person, then save those brainy tasks for after work. If you’re a morning person maybe cleaning before work is ideal. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. Give yourself permission to experiment and try new things.
      Remember no one has a clean house all the time. Stresses hit. People get sick. Tell yourself it’s okay if your house gets messy. It’s not the end of the world if you have a messy house. It doesn’t mean you’re bad or can’t function. Talk to yourself as if you are your best friend. You wouldn’t out yourself down, you would be kind and encouraging.
      Lastly, be okay with doing a little. Half assed everything is still better than nothing. Let go of the need for perfection.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        <>
        My mother came close. Never anything left out, no dust or fingerprints, empty sink and clean counters except when actively cooking. She even ironed sheets.
        I thought she was one of those dull women with immaculate homes until years later, long after I had moved out, she explained.
        She was afraid if she once let it get out of control, she would never get it all clean again. Shed a new light on her whole personality, hearing that.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Fear is a great motivator. All I have to do is picture a mouse running about or ants on the counter and I am up and running. When it comes to laundry or food, I worry about running out of prepared stuff during the work week. Mowing the lawn can get done by worry over letting the grass get to high and running up a big bill for a broken belt. (Someone has to come to the house or the tractor needs to be trailered somewhere. This is BUCKS.)

          Over the years, it became more natural to find satisfaction as a motivator and have less reliance on fear.

          I do suggest to anyone who is struggling here that you may get some reprieve by getting a bit more rest, proper hydration and a solid meal. We can’t eat partial meals on the fly for days/weeks on end and still expect to function, likewise with rest and hydration. One really good question to ask yourself is, “I am gone from the house x hours per week. I spend y hours preparing and eating meals, dressing, sleeping etc. Is it even reasonable to expect my body to be able to run around the house and do all these chores?”
          I am concerned where people are saying they can’t get their brains in gear here. If thinking about doing Thing was the key, then that Thing would be done by now, probably. There’s more to it:

          –Physical stamina
          (I worked 70 hours this week. I just want some SLEEP but nooooo I need to do five loads of laundry.)
          –Tools that work properly
          (My washer leaks all over the floor at random times. I never know when it will do it.)
          –Work areas laid out in a reasonable manner
          (I have to run up and down three flights of stairs for each load of wash I do. There’s no place to hang things up to dry, so I have to use the dryer. Peach, more stairs.)
          –Getting desired results
          (I don’t like how my clothes come out when I am done. Sometimes i just throw stuff away because I gave up.)

          Just in this laundry example alone, having two or more problem areas can make a person feel defeated before they even start. So why start.
          I started breaking tasks down it to steps and identifying problems along the way. I kept tweaking what I was doing until the task felt less like punishment and felt more like just one of life’s responsibilities. I don’t think it gets “great” but I do think it got better. I also found that redesigning the task even helped motivate me some what.

      2. Anne Kaffeekanne*

        I’ve heard the ‘have a place for everything’ thing so many times and while it does make sense to me, I can never implement it, because I just can’t figure out how to assign homes to everything. It sounds so easy and should be easy but it absolutely stumps me.

        1. Alexandra Lynch*

          That’s where having a professional organizer come in and work with you would be helpful.
          It’s not so much them telling you where to put things, as it is them supporting you and showing you how to figure out where to put things.

          Me, I ADORE organizing things and putting them in order. I wish I could come help you.

        2. Catherine*

          My trick for determining where an item should live is by thinking about where I need/use it most.

          Scissors live in the kitchen, with a second pair in my stationery box, which lives near my work table. Barbecue lighter lives under the ancestral altar (i only ever need it for incense and candles). Measuring tape lives draped over my clothes rack because I only need it when I’m fitting myself for something.

          If I’m having trouble breaking down where something “belongs” I make a running tally over the course of the week or so for where I used it and use that to inform my decision. If something like scissors has multiple frequent use sites, it makes more sense for me to get a second pair instead of walking one pair back and forth and probably losing it.

    14. Nicole76*

      I turn them into enjoyable activities by using that time to catch up on podcasts or YouTube videos. I actually look forward to cleaning and other tasks because of this. It makes a world of difference listening or watching something enjoyable while tackling chores vs doing them in silence.

    15. Blarg*

      Also … be kind to yourself. When you have roommates, some things have to get done (dishes) in a “do unto others” kind of way. But hey, you did the laundry! The clothes are clean. Some of this stuff isn’t actually important, we’ve just decided it is. My rule for myself is if I’m done with the task, do I feel better? Like when I vacuum, I enjoy the carpet looking brighter. So I try to do it. But I don’t give a crap about a made bed, so I don’t.

    16. CopperPenny*

      I think it comes down to changing habits. Once you have gotten on a habit of doing things it becomes a must, instead of optional that it is when it just builds up. I used an app Tody that suggests chores and let’s you add more and how often they need to be done. So I have decided that each day I will do 3 chores and I can look and see what is most urgent. I schedule the time into my day. And every evening before bed I tidy for 10 minutes. When I first start that 10 minutes is just about putting things in obviously places, but as you build the habit, there is less to do and it can also be quick organizing as well.

    17. Person from the Resume*

      I think you have to build the habit through repetition. For example when I was 38, I tried to sell my house during the recession. I started making my bed everyday because there might be a showing for many months. 7-8 years later I’m still making my bed every morning and I’m long out of that house. I have the habit and now to me my bed looks messy unmade. It’s one of things I do every morning along with brushing teeth, putting in contacts. It’s just one of my morning tasks before my day begins.

      I am usually good about folding laundry right away especially the stuff that gets wrinkled. But if I don’t I still dump the basket on my bed meaning I must do it before going to bed that night. There’s been a few nights when I go to bed tired only to have to fold a basket of clothes but it’s just one basket so only 5 minutes. Some times I see it later and decide to do it now do I don’t end up doing it right before bed. I guess someone could dump the cleans clothes back in the basket but that’s never even an option in my mind.

      With dishes I do okay and I definitely come into a clean kitchen and think it’s so nice great the counter is clean if dirty dishes.

      Seriously habit. Figure out when the best time is for you. Build the habit through something like Pomadoro method (I only have to do 20/40 minutes of this.) And consciously thinking after “I’m so glad I did x.” Admire the clean/tidy whatever and think “I’m happy clothes are put away. I’m glad I did it earlier.”

      Also small chunks. Folding and putting away a batch of clothes is only 5-10 minutes. And is easy to squeeze in and is less than a pomodoro session. Folding 5 Batches is so much longer. The same with a few dishes instead of a week’s worth. As one person my days worth of dishes can be less than 10 minutes of work.

      Finally distraction. I listen to podcasts Or audiobooks while doing chores. I’m always focused on the story and not the chores.

    18. Usually calm*

      Our brains fool us into thinking we will have more motivation for a task later. I tell myself that it won’t be any easier later. Sometimes that works. As others said, depression doesn’t help. I do better on medication for that.

    19. Katefish*

      As someone who shares your pain (and currently has a sinkful of dishes to do today after a busy week), a few things that helped:
      a) Gamify daily tasks with the Habitica app;
      b) Everything on Unf*ck Your Habitat (blog/book);
      c) I’ll often do cleaning in 5 minute chunks between other tasks – just short enough it tricks my brain into getting the tasks done/variation on Pomodoro;
      d) Pay for help if you can swing it, both financially and safety wise. People immediately think of housekeepers, but I also had people on Taskrabbit come over and help with organization in the Before times.

    20. MissDisplaced*

      I’ve found that doing unpleasant things “chores” are best done sort of immediately and in the moment. Like, a “tidy as you go” mentality because I hate them!

      For example, when cooking, you clean or put dishes into dishwasher as you’re cooking and before you sit and eat. That way, you will only have a few things, not all those pans and bowls. When you finish eating, finish rest immediately. Do not sit, turn TV on or anything. If you have guests, chat in kitchen while you wash/stack dishwasher.

      Shower: Clean it before or during your shower. Scrub the walls, etc., while you’re in it. When you exit, spray whole thing down with bleach.

      Of course, it doesn’t work for everything though!
      Vacuuming and mopping floors is one of those best done en masse separately.

    21. Koala dreams*

      Your question is interesting, because I find that focus on having the “wrong” mindset and change it doesn’t work for me, it just delays success because in the end, I have to work with the mind I have, not the mind I wish I had. It also helps to think about what is necessary, and what is just a nice extra. For example, it’s necessary to do the dishes, but it’s not necessary to do the dishes in one go, or to have a clean sink in the evening. So I’ve accepted that I will continue to do the dishes in small bursts of time, with pause in between, and the clean sink might appear in the morning, midday, in the evening or never.

      I do think executive functions can also be improved. After all, we can improve memory, language skills, and learn to do complicated things like driving a car or ride a bicycle. I hope you find a way to do what you want. Good luck!

    22. Potatoes gonna potate*

      So, I just read up on this and oh my GOD that fits me to a T! 

      I like to plan and plan but actually executing those plans doesn’t always pan out. 

      So many years of just thinking I was a lazy pos. 

      Bookmarking this post to read up on and looking int o this more. 

    23. Solar Moose*

      For me, executive function works best when I’m able to quiet and organize my mind. Meditation and mindfulness exercises help with that. I fell off the bandwagon for a while, but recently started using Headspace (app/website) to do short guided 5min meditations per day. They have a free trial.

      Taking time out of your day to let your mind do what it’s going to do, and to practice watching thoughts go by without engaging, might help you redirect your time better.

      1. cleo*

        Same. There are certain things that I know if I do them regularly (daily / weekly), it’s easier for me to focus and stay on task during the rest of my day / week. Meditating and/or yoga and getting enough sleep are the most important, followed by time in nature and quality time with my loved ones.

    24. doing it never*

      I don’t have any diagnoses executive dysfunction conditions, but I do have a big problem with procrastination. I’ve been slowly reading a book about procrastination by Burke and Yuen, and I am finding it helpful. The first half is all about mindset changes, and there are also ADHD-specific advice in the second half. I found the book by researching how procrastination is a reaction to emotional states. For example, I procrastinate as a (maladaptive) way to assert control over my time. I also have perfectionist tendencies. (Which is not “Oh, I’m so perfect. I must do everything right!” But rather, “If I don’t get this 100% right on the first try then that is bad, and I am bad, and I will just avoid this, so I don’t have to face my obvious flaws.”)

    25. Beth*

      Seconding UFYH. I also found Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before to be really helpful for this. It helps explain why it’s hard to start tasks and what techniques are most likely to help you specifically. She divides people into four rough categories based on what motivates them (internal or external accountability/expectations). People who are really good at setting themselves goals and then following through on those goals, those people are motivated by internal expectations. If you’re more successful when you know that someone else is relying on you to complete a task, you’re motivated by external expectations. You can also be motivated by both, or neither.

      You can also be *demotivated* by expectations. For me, setting a strict goal means I’m way less likely to do something. I just won’t. It’s very annoying but here we are.

      So, knowing that about myself means I don’t waste time feeling guilty over failed habit trackers or chore charts. Instead I’ve figured out that I have to reason myself into doing things, and be really easy on myself if I don’t do them. Things are never done to perfection, but they’re not wildly out of control either: right now there are about two days of dishes on my counter, but there are also clean dishes in the cupboards, and I don’t feel shame or dread when I contemplate washing the dishes. That’s success for me.

      It also helped to figure out that some mental and physical health stuff were legitimately affecting my ability to do things, and tasks that were easy some days would be really hard on others. So you can’t enforce adherence to the same standard every day. On harder days, my most important tasks were to take care of myself and not berate myself for not doing things I couldn’t do (bc that buildup of guilt makes it harder to approach the tasks on good days). Therapy was helpful with that, too, especially if you struggle with identifying your needs or with having unreasonable outside expectations in your head (voices of strict parents or overbearing former partners, eg). If you want a cute and free introduction to CBT therapy, I recommend the app Woebot. It’s a chatbot app with guided CBT lessons, developed by folks at Stanford.

      1. Beth*

        Oh! Would also recommend the book Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD by Susan Pinsky. Really helped for things like “why do I never clean the toilet?” and “why do I never put away laundry?” Answers: because the toilet cleaner is in the other bathroom, and going to get it is too many steps. Keep toilet cleaner in both bathrooms, and now I can clean the toilet whenever I think of it, problem solved. And: folding clothes takes too long and sometimes they get folded wrong and crease aaa. So, hang up what’s important and toss the rest in open bins, voila, laundry goes faster and is easier to tackle.

    26. Artemesia*

      what works for me is lists and then
      1. doing very short jobs like folding clothes and putting them away while I am doing something else like making my cafe latte — I have to do several steps that take time like heating milk then water in microwave, then letting the pour coffee drip etc etc and I do it because I want my coffee — and during the minutes or two waits, I rush on the simple other job. (this week I moved the heavy coats and scarves and such out of the front hall closet and made sure all the summer sun hates were moved to this closet — this is an easy nothing job — but I hadn’t managed until I blitzed while making coffee.

      2..Use BF Skinner’s old trick that helped him get his writing done. You do the thing you don’t want to do and immediately reward yourself with something you want to do. He listened to music — you could read, have a tasty snack, watch a film — but you don’t get to until the job is done. When you do this a few times, it begins to induce more energy for the odious task.

      3. Have a list of different small things that must be done. If you cannot bring yourselves to tackle the biggest ones, do a small one and cross it off. Then do a second small one and cross it off. You get into a rhythm of accomplishment.

      And yeah it is hard. I too am lazy and it is hard to get these things done.

      1. Oldbiddy*

        I also use the short waiting times to clean up whatever is nearby where I’m waiting. I’ve tried to convince my husband to do this as well, but unfortunately he tends to go sit down at the table and gets sucked in to Facebook. Aaaghhh.

      2. allathian*

        I usually load or empty the dishwasher while waiting for my coffee to percolate, or wipe the counter.
        My husband and I have an 11-year-old son, but because we like to host family dinners, we have a big dining room table that seats 8 people but can be extended to seat 10 or 12. Even at its smallest it’s big for three people, so the end we don’t use for eating is usually full of all kinds of stuff that doesn’t really have a home and just gets left there after use. It’s usually properly cleared only when we’re due to host a dinner party, and the last one we hosted was Christmas dinner, so six months ago. My parents and in-laws are all high-risk for COVID, so we’re not hosting family dinners indoors for the time being. We have invited family members for coffee on the deck with social distancing now that the weather’s nice. The other day, our son got sick of our messy table and just started clearing it. He just said, “Mom, I’m gonna clear the dining-room table, I can’t take the mess anymore.” And he did. By himself. For some things he asked if it was going in recycling or on our magazine shelf, but he did it all by himself. He’s also pretty good at keeping his own room tidy, it’s certainly no worse than the rest of the house. I’m proud of him.

    27. C Average*

      When I get stuck like you describe, I challenge myself to put 50 things where they actually go. Clothes, dishes, clutter, trash, recycle, contents of the cat’s litter box, whatever. I count as I go, often out loud, sometimes with colorful narration (“is a pair of socks two things or one??”).

      It’s weirdly satisfying. You can put away 50 things pretty fast, but it’s enough to make an actual dent in the pile of undones.

    28. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      What works for me is identifying the reason for the barrier in my brain and then trying to prevent it from happening. So, as an example, I hate putting away my laundry. I will literally take my clothes off the drying rack for weeks. After a while I realised what I hated was a) folding in general and b) turning clothes right side out. A) I somewhat solved by buying a metric ton of clothes hangers so less folding, b) I’ve been tackling by making sure that when I hang up my laundry to dry, I turn it to the right side, so future me has it easier. So really thinking about what was causing the hang up and then trying to circumvent it has helped me a lot.

      I also do the ‘ah I will just put away five things, I can pick up and put away 5 things’ way of tricking myself, because it’s always 20 things once I start. 5 minutes doesn’t work for me, but 5 things? That I can do.

    29. Cedrus Libani*

      I struggle with task initiation. I’m one of those people who looks at a task, and it expands into All The Things – everything that I’ll have to do after I’ve done it, everything that could go wrong or interfere with my eventual goal, everything else that I’m not doing right this minute, etc. And that’s sufficiently unpleasant that I just avoid doing anything useful at all.

      But I’ve figured out a loophole. My brain is paralyzed by choosing what to do Right Now, but is mostly fine with choosing a thing to do in ten minutes. It’s weird to me too, but there it is.

      Therefore, it is absolutely non-negotiable that I have a buffer between “deciding what to do” and “doing”. I use a Kanban board. Only one thing is allowed to live in the “In progress” column. At the end of each work session (sometimes I do Pomodoros, sometimes not) I review my progress and set next actions, and THEN take a break. I have a wrap-up session at the end of the day where I decide my priorities for the next day, do some rough time blocking, and also set up the first work session. The next day, all I have to do is park my butt in the chair and go. I do as little as possible in the moment; I take orders from past-self, and give orders to future-self.

      For small, annoying tasks, I’ll do a thing I call Task Roulette. I’ll make a list of tasks, grab a six-sided dice, and roll to determine what I do next. If I roll a 6, I will get a small reward (a short video game, part of a show, etc). If not, I go down the list and do undone task N, where N is whatever I rolled. This is useful for the end of the day, when you’re a bit too tired for hard focus but not completely spent. Again, the reason this works is because my current self has no control, I’m at the mercy of the dice and whatever past-self decided that future-self ought to make time for.

      I’ve also become a fan of David Allen’s “two minute rule”. If there’s a minor task that catches my attention, I can let it take up mental real estate – or I can just do it. I may not enjoy it, but I won’t enjoy it any more later, and I can at least spare myself umpteen rounds of “ugh I still haven’t done that”. If I’m actively on-task somewhere else, then I just add it to the Task Roulette list, knowing that it will be dealt with in the near-ish future.

      I find that being judicious about what I put into my body helps. Sugar makes it worse – I get hangry a few hours later. Alcohol makes it worse – I find that more than one drink makes me fuzzy and unfocused the next day. Caffeine makes it worse – it does pep me up, but it also makes me twitchy and anxious, which is exactly what I don’t want.

      I will also admit that I’m self-medicating. I take adrafinil – that’s a US-legal variant of modafinil – 4-5 days a week. I don’t take it on Sundays or on meeting-heavy work days, and I take a fairly low dose. It doesn’t feel any stronger than a mug of tea, yet it makes the negative force field around my to-do list go away. I only started this recently – working from home was ROUGH and I was kind of desperate. But it’s helped significantly.

    30. RagingADHD*

      Rewards.
      Not afterwards, but during – add things to the experience that make it more pleasant, like a music playlist, watching a video, a cup of tea, aromatherapy, whatever.

      The more smiles you have while doing the chores, the less you dread them or put them off. “Spoonful of sugar” is a real thing.

    31. Chaordic1*

      I hope this doesn’t take the original post too off topic but I really think that, in some situations, many people who have this kind of a problem are suffering from some sort of depression that makes it hard for them to take care of themselves. Like maybe they go to work and are fine there, but don’t have any energy left for anything else. Maybe they are “high-functioning” and the depression is “low-level.” Sometimes some counseling (CBT) might help or, if necessary, an antidepressant is needed.

      1. allathian*

        I admit that when I read the post, my mind went there as well. It’s possible to be depressed without feeling particularly sad. Sometimes it’s just being listless to the point of lethargia.
        When I was single in my 20s I slept in the same sheets for six months because I just couldn’t force myself to change them, although I did wash my clothes and showered as often as I do normally.

    32. Alexandra Lynch*

      I have ADHD, which is pretty much all about not having good executive function. Here’s how I handle the problem.
      I have days of the week that I handle household work. For example, I do laundry on Wednesday and Sunday, and on those days I get up, take a basket down to the washer, set an alarm on my phone, and go have my tea and breakfast. I have the alarms because otherwise I will not remember that I have laundry in the washer. My partners and I have made a commitment to understand that when the alarm goes off I have to go do the thing. (I haven’t quite got through to the cats, but cats be cats.)
      I have regular alarms set for taking my meds, to go start lunch, to go start making dinner, and one set at 8 pm every evening. That is the time for me to go in, clean up the kitchen, and set up the coffee pot and make tea in my thermos for tomorrow morning. It’s easier when I do it every day, because then it bears the force of habit, and I keep telling myself that it’s so. much. easier. on myself this way tomorrow morning, come on, do myself a favor, and it gets done. I also have alarms to make myself go to bed at night, or I’ll read til two am and then get myself all off schedule. (I also do menus five weeks at a time, and I’m going to write a book on how to do that, but that’s separate.)

      It’s easier when I’m on my meds, but I still have to use the alarms and habitual “place I put my purse” and “place I put my phone” or it will all go to hell pretty quickly. Indeed, scheduling’s more important on my meds, because they suppress appetite, and I wind up having a meltdown because I forgot to eat for eight hours. (Not good.)
      Oddly enough, I get a lot of peace out of knowing I just have to do this. I can’t just set things down anywhere or handle things whenever. You may not have ADHD, but if you just say, Okay, this is a boundary that I set for myself and my own self-care, then some of the strategies we with ADHD use can perhaps help you.

    33. Courageous cat*

      Are you in your early 20s? If so, first of all, it’s going to come with time. I really really really struggled with this in my early 20s. I just don’t think my brain had matured enough to see the bigger picture.

      As I started to go into my mid-to-late 20s, a couple things changed:
      -I moved in to an apartment with a friend in the city and her apartment was… amazing. Beautiful. Perfect. It wasn’t just a cookie cutter apartment, it was pre-war with beautiful features and uniquely decorated. She was very good at keeping it clean and, because the space was so lovely and I was living in *her* place, I learned to do it too.
      -After that, I moved into my own place a number of times. Having your own space (again, I think having it be a unique space and not like a cookie cutter apt complex like I had in my early 20s really helped) was a big difference. I was PROUD of it and wanted to keep it clean.
      -I began to realize how much my mental state seemed to disintegrate when everything else around me was crazy. It began to feel more natural just going ahead and putting stuff up/back/etc because I came to found I couldn’t do good work or relax with shit everywhere. It stopped being a mental load and burden, and started becoming something I automatically did as a part of life.

      And if none of that helps…
      -Move into somewhere that doesn’t have a dishwasher or laundromat for a while. Like years. When you finally move back to somewhere that does have a dishwasher and in-house laundry, your life will be so changed, you will be so happy to do laundry and dishes again.

    34. Problem solved*

      There are only two things that helped me, and they have nothing to do with changing my mindset.

      1) I love to learn new things, so I found some podcasts I like to listen to and use a bluetooth headphone to listen to episodes in my queue while I clean. I made a rule that some of my favorites I can only listen to while cleaning, so now when I see a new episode show up, my brain immediately goes to “time to wash the dishes or fold clothes!”. It’s surprinsing how well it works.

      2) Only works outside a pandemic, but when I fell I need to do some deep cleaning, I like to invite friends to come over a week from now. Then I find the energy I need to get more serious with cleaning (always listening to podcasts). I wouldn’t want a friend to have to deal with dusty coffee tables or messy bathrooms, so for me it works wonders.

      Maybe your incentives will be different than mine, but associating the tasks with a clear reward (listening to great stories, offering a welcoming space to my friends) worked wonders for me.

    35. 00ff00Claire*

      Obviously, from the number of comments here, you are not alone in your struggles. EF/self regulation has also been a challenge for me in certain areas. This is probably a bad analogy, but EF could be compared to any other skill, so we could take running as an example. Runners get better by running, but those that want to really excel also do other exercises that will benefit them when they run. So, like many people have pointed out, one way to improve EF is by just Doing The Things. The tricky part of that is, EF challenges to start with makes Doing The Things, well, difficult.

      My first suggestion is to start small – no one starts out running by participating in a marathon the first day they take it up. Can you pick one thing that you know would make a difference as far as “chores” go and just work on doing that one thing? Like doing your dishes daily or right after you use them? Gif yourself permission to focus on just that one thing and not stress about the others. Practice that one thing consistently for at least a week, and then add a second thing. Practice doing both until you are capable of doing them both pretty consistently, then add a third, etc. You probably don’t want more than four regular / daily chores.

      I also recommend a good planner / journal that has goal planning and goal implementation strategies. I have tried the Best Self Journal, but there are others like it. A key component of the journal needs to be that it helps you to break goals down somehow into more manageable parts. A big part of using the journal for me, though, was allowing myself to be less than perfect with it. As long as I used it in some way each day, that was a success. If you struggle with getting things done because you always want to do them the very best way, giving yourself permission to do things imperfectly can make a difference.

      Those are my two best recommendations for how make baby steps towards Doing The Things even with EF challenges. There are also other resources you could tap into that might help you make progress with your mindset.

      Someone else has mentioned Gretchen Rubin, and I will add that I have also found her Four Tendencies and Better Than Before books helpful. Are the Four Tendencies scientific? Nah. But for me, it has still been helpful for reframing certain things, especially how to motivate myself.

      I also recommend googling “how to adopt a growth mindset”. There are also some books on the topic of growth mindset, but I don’t know much about them. The idea behind approaching life with a “growth mindset” is basically that we don’t ever stop learning and developing. You might find some practical advice for utilizing growth mindset just on the articles and blog posts that pop up with the google search.

      Look into SuperBetter and see if you think it would be for you. It’s a game designed to build resilience but if you are looking for ways to change your mindset, it could potentially be helpful.

      You could also research Functional Imagery Training. Going back to the running analogy, plenty of athletes utilize imagery to improve their skills. FIT itself seems to have grown out of sports training and physical fitness, from what I can tell – though I may be way off base… Thus, a lot of the information you will find on the topic may be about athletes and losing weight. However, I would imagine that you could apply the principals to other areas of your life – chores, managing money or time, etc. There are youtube videos and even a TED talk on the topic.

      Finally, and this one might sound counter-intuitive, but taking up a game that requires thinking ahead and thinking through scenarios as a hobby could be helpful. Chess is the best example that I can think of off the top of my head, but there should be others like it – checkers also comes to mind. Of course, you would have to play regularly and learn strategy. But games, particularly those like chess, can give the executive functioning “muscle” some practice and help develop it.

    36. Dancing Otter*

      Another thought:
      Is there something about the words “chore” or “task” that trigger the resistance, like when chores were things parents imposed on unwilling offspring? Can you reframe it somehow?
      I once had a “to do” list pad that said “Dumb Stuff I Gotta Do” instead.

  2. Storie*

    I haven’t been to the open thread in a while so this may have been discussed.

    Curious if anyone has used this bizarre time to take stock and move to a different place?

    Two of my friends have moved their families out of the city and to other more quiet places. One couple’s jobs were basically eliminated with no hope of coming back. The other can work remotely.

    I guess I’m envious but also just interested in how this big thing affecting us all will send people on different trajectories.

    Hope you’re all doing well.

    1. Anonymous because reasons*

      I’d be interested in the replies to this post!
      I have taken stock but I wouldn’t say that’s been a deliberate or even conscious thing. I’ve found being at home and having my routine disrupted very hard to manage, not to mention studying an MA online instead of face-to-face on a primarily practical course has been a nightmare.
      My mood and outlook have both suffered for it.
      But there have been other things which have coincided with the lockdown, such as the fact that I got an autism diagnosis and am waiting for reasonable accommodations and the report to come through.

      In some ways, maybe in superficial ways, it’s made me feel quite stuck. In other, more profound ways, it’s changed me, and I don’t know where that will lead me in the future.

      1. Anonymous because reasons*

        Oh LOL I thought you also meant metaphorically moving to a different place.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          I thought the same thing about Storie’s question, Anon BR! I have not moved house, but the pandemic has definitely stripped away all the things that don’t matter. I am more relaxed about my new terrible job, and am socking away money so that every day, work matters less & less. I have reconnected with some good family, dumped a toxic friend, decluttered, and am feeling ready for anything.

          And to loop back to the question, Storie, while I have not moved, all the things I have listed here have for the first time actually made me open to moving away from this very expensive and crowded place. I didn’t see that coming. So to answer your question – no, but maybe soon! :)

          1. Anonymous because reasons*

            Oooo I like this! I too have decluttered, saved a bit, started to get physically better after a loooong illness, and reconnected with what makes my family good! Thanks for the reminder :-)

    2. MistOrMister*

      I’ve never really considered moving. There are some downsides to where I am, but on the whole I’m happy with it. I’ve only ever really thought about possibly moving to the beach. But given rising sea levels and hurricanes, I continue to opt to stay put and go to the beach on vacation. It woukd be great to live somewhere with a lower cost of living, but I can’t see moving.

    3. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I’m in the process of doing this right now. For a few years we’ve rented a small flat in London because my husband (and sometimes me) was working here. We have owned a house elsewhere for several years, but because the property prices there are so low it wasn’t worth selling or renting it out. However, with the virus situation most of the projects I would have been working on have been cancelled or postponed for a year and he is working from home until next year at least so there is no point paying for an empty flat. It’s kind of sad because we liked this neighborhood but maybe next year we will come back.

      1. Jessi*

        I came here to say something similar. Loads of people moved out of London pre- “lock down” and many people that I personally know have chosen not to return

    4. Treebeardette*

      I’ll hopeful be moving if my job search pans out the way I am hoping too. It’s interesting because it’s been a stressful year, but I am been able to handle it really well to the point I’m looking at new adventures with little fear. I think the uncertainty of everything right now (not only worldly news but my company just sold my factory) has taught me to be okay with not knowing. I’m finding a lot of growth and accomplishment at this time.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      My mom, to live with a relative. We figured she had a few years of independent living left after my dad died last year, but she’d had a rough go physically last fall followed by a tumble that shook her up just before shutdown. She needed to be around people, and have more help with practical everyday stuff.

      I also know a couple who moved from the US to Europe; that was a job offer here being frozen while two jobs opened up over there, and they could buy a house there.

    6. CopperPenny*

      Not moving. We plan to move in a few years, but currently are very happy where we are. We did take stock of the rest of our lives though and made some changes. We have been talking vaguely about finding a church since we moved here, so we found a church that we have been attending virtually and really liked the vibe so we have now officially joined a church without going to an in person service. We also realized our social life is lacking so we have put major effort into reaching out a building local connections. Especially as our local restictions are easing we have been getting together with one other couple at a time to build friendships. It’s been working out well for us. So not quite what you asked, but we have taken stock and made changes.

    7. NeonFireworks*

      Moving within a city, and excited about it. I am one of those people who graduated from college in the U.S. in 2009 and still have outstanding student loans. As a result, this year I decided to make some real sacrifices in terms of my living situation in order to pay off the rest of the debt. Normally this would have been fine – I spend a lot of time at the office, or at parks – but I didn’t count on a pandemic confining me to the house for months, and by this point I’ve spent enough time indoors to get tired of the suboptimal parts of my current place. I have a nice new apartment that I’m about to move into and I am about to pay off my last bit of student debt, finally, at the age of thirty three. My undergrad degree was worth it, but this got prolonged.

    8. Ranon*

      We are doing the opposite- we had planned a big move this year and now are delaying it. Staying put where we have a network and community and hand me downs and baked goods magically appearing on our porch (even if we’re maintaining physical distance) seems like a better call right now.

      We’re still quite excited to make our move happen but as it’s entirely voluntary waiting until it’s a bit easier to move around in the world works for us.

    9. Ali G*

      For me it solidified our decision to buy a single family home. I just could not fathom going through this in multifamily housing. I probably would have cracked a long time ago. We live in an expensive area so house-buying is a big deal.
      It also has me reconsidering where we will live in retirement (~20 years). We likely won’t be able to downsize here without having a mortgage, which we don’t want (current house will be paid off), or living in a condo, which I definitely don’t want. So we will likely have to relocate.

    10. Aurora Leigh*

      We luckily both kept our jobs, but we are hoping to move to a rural property. The extra time we’ve spent together definitely helped solidify what kind of life we want to build together. And we want to have the ability to be more self sufficient.

    11. Jessi*

      Personally while we haven’t decided to move in the near future, the lack of outdoor space in our tiny inner city flat for 8 weeks of furlough/lockdown has shown me that I DO actually want a garden. So when this chapter of our lives close I will be looking for property that is more rural than I ever would have considered in order to have the green space that I now want

    12. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I have a strong desire to move to a new place and start fresh but I’m not sure I’d attribute it to these times right now. But it’s definitely been a year of huge changes more than I ever expected. At the beginning of the year the only change I was expecting was a new baby (and that’s a huge change!) but I’ve also lost my job, had health issues, and lost a lot of my independence due to COVID as well as planning to move (which is a very much desired change). 

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

      I’m checking my finances to see if at last I have saved enough to finally move out. Pandemic restrictions aside, I’m interested to see if rent is going to be cheaper or at least less expensive. I’m not hopeful though.

    14. AVP*

      We haven’t moved but have definitely reconsidered what we need from our next living space. I think we’ll end up spending more on the next place than we want to because now we really, really feel like we need an extra bedroom and an outdoor space, even if it’s tiny. Happy to be in a giant city, though, and if others want to move out I suppose we can take their outdoor spaces!

    15. Nita*

      Definitely. I’ve planned for a long time to leave the city, in large part because the idea of being trapped here in any kind of disaster scares me. But if before, I was comfortable putting off the move to “someday” for family reasons, I now feel I was a fool and should not have waited. “Someday” happened sooner than I thought, and I’m not prepared. I’ve now set a hard deadline, and I’ll stick to it if I have to sell the clothes off my back to pay for a new place.

    16. Washi*

      We’re moving! But less than 2 miles away. When we rented our high rise apartment, we were super active social people who were rarely even in it during the day. It didn’t bother us too much that our neighbor played lots of loud music and that there was very little natural light. Now our lifestyles are different (particularly for me, I’m in grad school and home a lot with online classes) and there’s just not much of a point to paying for amenities like a pool, gym, and proximity to the metro.

      We found a townhouse still within walking distance of our suburb’s downtown core, for a similar price to our high rise apartment. I’m so excited not to have to put a mask on and wash my hands 5 times just to do laundry! And to step out of our front door and be outside! And no more fire alarms forcing us to leave the building with hundreds of other people! We still love our urban area but the pandemic has definitely changed our priorities for housing.

    17. ww*

      I just moved the first week of June! I went ten minutes down the road so not a huge move distance-wise but I’m in Brooklyn, aka Epicenter (although not so much any more…?) Bizarrely it was the easiest move of my life. Anyone who’s ever moved in NYC knows what a nightmare the process is, but I had no trouble finding a place and no trouble finding movers (we did run up against the then-curfew which was unsettling and I tipped more as a result). The sense I get here is that rents aren’t really falling BUT places are lingering a bit longer, as opposed to last time I moved 7 years ago when places would vanish off the market literally as you were on your way to go look at them.

      The most uneasy part of the whole process was that there’s no way to not go outside in a move – looking at places (I wasn’t comfortable doing only video tours, but realtors all had various social-distance schemes going), going to the bank for certified checks, lease signings, interacting with movers, the million and one errands you always end up having to run around moving, etc. Luckily by the start of June NY’s numbers were already diving, but it was an added twist.

    18. Tris Prior*

      Before the pandemic hit, we were planning to use 2020 to scout out potential cities we might want to move to, decide by the end of the year which was our choice, and ideally move by next spring. Since travel is unwise, that plan has now gone out the window – which in a way is a blessing, because we’ve crossed 2 cities off our list due to the completely APPALLING way their governors have handled Covid. (I live in a state and city that has been extremely cautious about reopening, and right now, that is a strong factor in where I want to live.) If we had moved to one of those places and THEN the pandemic hit, we’d be among those people being forced back to work before it’s safe, and among others who refuse to wear masks.

      I don’t know what is going to happen now. My partner was laid off because Covid and has little opportunity to find new work here, and my company is evaluating all roles as to whether they can become permanently remote. I can do my job just fine from home, and we have employees in all states so in theory I could keep my job and still move. On one hand, Covid has made me more resolved to move; the only thing that’s helping me cope these days is our good weather, which we get for maybe 3 months out of the year here and is the main reason we want to move. I can’t imagine coping with isolation plus negative 1 million degree temps and snowmageddons. On the other hand…. I am watching VERY closely how other cities and states are handling all of this because that is largely going to drive my decision of what we do here. I’m not moving anywhere that the prevailing belief is that Covid is a hoax, masks aren’t needed, and we should reopen the economy no matter whom it hurts or kills.

      I do worry about trying to build a social support circle in a new city if everyone’s on lockdown and no in-person activities that I’d usually use to meet others are available (as I’d be moving someplace that takes quarantine seriously).

    19. Misty*

      Yes, I currently live in a tourist town on the east coast where the closest city is about an hour away. Cost of living is very high here and I have multiple roommates.

      I am moving with one of my roommates to the middle of the country on Aug 1st. Cost of living is cheaper, school is same price, I’ve already found an apartment, part time gig, school, church, and made a few potential friends thanks to the power of the internet and a visit to the area.

    20. Elizabeth West*

      YES.
      I’m using the remote-work-during-worldwide-pandemic thing to apply out of state again. My sibling flat out said, if I get to move to my Oh-Please location, he will 100% bring my stuff out there for me. Buuuuuuut since the only reply I’ve had is from a dead-end nothing job here, when that can happen is anybody’s guess.

      Bottom line, I do NOT want to live in this state anymore, and I’ve been on the outskirts of NewCity so long I’ve stopped caring about it (and also see that it’s just a bigger version of OldCity). I don’t want to waste the little money I have moving into a (more expensive) place here and then getting stuck the way I was in OldCity. At least if I get stuck in Oh-Please, it’ll be a place I actually want to be in.

      Points in my favor:
      1. I can start right now.
      2. I’m still packed.

    21. WoodswomanWrites*

      A couple I know just did this. He already had a remote job and she was furloughed. They took the opportunity to leave their expensive city and move to a rural location a three-hour drive away. Her job was high-stress and although they’re reaching out now about a possible return, she’s looking to do freelance work at her new location where the cost of living is much lower. They are both really happy about the change.

    22. zora*

      I’m in the middle of this thought process, so I’m going to read the other comments with interest.

      My parents are older (70s/80s) and my sister has little children, and I’ve been feeling stressed for a little while about living on the opposite coast as my whole family, and they live close to each other.

      Im on furlough right now, so I technically will have a job again in a few months, but I’ve been thinking about getting a new job for a while, because I’m just not super happy with my job or company.

      So, this week, I”ve been seriously considering moving back East to where my family is. It’s something I thought I would do someday, but the fact that this weird time has everything in limbo anyway, is making me think this might be a good time to pack up, move back in with my parents, and have plenty of time to both search for a new job and a new apartment. And in the meanwhile have lots of time with family at this crucial time.

      I keep worrying I’m being crazy to think of such a big change right now, but it kind of seems like it makes sense right now given everything going on.

    23. Alexandra Lynch*

      Well, we really were going to move houses before all this went down. So we’re still doing it (move is now scheduled for 7/6) just later in the year than we thought it would happen.

      The three of us have been working/doing school from home during this, and it’s sort of an acid test of relationships. More so because Girlfriend started on hormones and so is going through puberty, complete with emotional swings, and Boyfriend is having flashbacks from his own violent encounter with the police and the attendant emotions. But despite all that, the three of us are good, and we’re committed, and while only Boyfriend and I can make a legal marriage, when things reopen there’s an engagement ring in my future and all the paperwork we can do to protect Girlfriend. We were sure before, now we’re solid.
      I’ve been working on serious weight loss, and while I’m running into issues of my body plateauing due to stress, I’m still down 35 pounds from where I was in January, and four sizes in jeans, and I call that pretty good. And I’ve worked through a lot of the reasons that I emotionally eat, faced them down, and gotten it to where I can decide not to eat, and that’s a good thing too.
      So we’re confirmed and happy, and once we get this move done, I suspect we will all feel better.

    24. allathian*

      For me, it’s more a matter of this bizarre time making me even more grateful for the good things I have. Apart from my family, the thing I value most is our house. We’ll be paying off our mortgage until retirement some 20-25 years from now, but I’m just so glad to have our own yard and deck, and enough rooms so that when my son was in remote school (he’s on summer vacation now) and my husband and I were WFH, we each had our own rooms to work in.

    25. Medium Grande*

      We are moving in less than a week. We currently live in Colorado, which we love and will miss dearly. However, it’s very far from our families. Pre- COVID, I visited my home state every other month and it worked out well.

      COVID really showed my husband and I that we needed to be physically closer to our families. It also showed us that we need to reduce our expenses even further. We are already pretty frugal but the cost of living/rent in Colorado is expensive compared to where we are moving. Even though we are both still employed, I’ve been concerned about layoffs at my work all year (major reorg was announced at the beginning of the year – keeps getting pushed back but will 100% will happen).

      Someone else mentioned this in an earlier comment, but we decided it also didn’t make sense to pay for amenities in our complex that we haven’t been able to use for months. (Side note: our complex hasn’t offered any kind of discount or compensation to residents for the lack of amenities and people are moving out in droves.) Also, there is still a lot of stuff in CO that’s closed. It doesn’t make sense to keep living here if we can’t take advantage of a lot of the “lifestyle stuff” that drew us to Colorado in the first place. I know it’s a small thing in the grand scheme of things but bears mentioning.

    26. Meepmeep*

      We are planning to. We live in San Francisco, which is hideously expensive. My parents are getting old and living far away, and I’ve successfully used this uncertain time to convince them to move closer to us, but we can’t afford for them to move to SF. So we are all moving to a cheaper city. Our jobs are self-employed and somewhat portable, our kid is doing great in homeschool and we don’t plan to stop homeschooling, and whatever urban amenities existed in SF before the pandemic aren’t going to be accessible for a while anyway, so there’s no point in paying exorbitant rent.

    27. Windchime*

      I haven’t moved yet but am planning to. I live in a suburb of Seattle and it’s horribly expensive here. I am planning to move to a more rural area about 2 hours away, now that I am working from home pretty much full time. There is a chance that we will need to come into the office twice a month; I think I can manage that drive twice a month. The cost of living is a lot lower in the town where I am thinking of moving and there is less traffic. My plans will need to wait, though, since my chosen town is unfortunately a COVID hotspot right now.

    28. mgguy*

      So, I am preparing to move to a different city and it all “happened” during the pandemic. The fundamental reason is that my fiancé lives in the city where I’m moving, and obviously one of us was going to need to move, preferably sooner rather than later. Without talking about work as per the rules :) , I ended up being the one for it to be logical to move because, after a year of job applications, I finally got a real bite on something that’s a short-term pay cut but a long term serious professional advance(with far more salary potential also) so it was kind of a no brainer for me to be the one. It’s been tough to take care of everything that needs to be done, and I can’t yet since I’m technically still employed by my old job(even though I’m on furlough) but am excited about the August move.

      The biggest issue is that my fiancé and I have been house shopping and it’s a strange market now. She has a house that’s a great size-for her-but is a bit cramped for both of us. We did some serious hunting, and stuff we liked was quite literally selling out from under us for more than asking price often before we could even schedule a formal showing. There were multiple places we really liked from online listings and drive-bys that were listed in some cases for 48 hours or less-I remember one particular one that seemed perfect, was listed on a Friday, and when we contacted the realtor on Monday morning we were told that there were already 8 offers in and they weren’t going to show it anymore.

      Something that I suspect is driving the market in her area is that she’s basically in a suburban/semi-rural area outside a largeish midwestern city(St. Louis specifically), and a lot of the places we’ve looked have been full on out in the country, on 2-10 acre lots houses. I suspect that people really are moving out of more dense areas.

      We decided to hold off house hunting until after the wedding so we could both build some more equity in her current house and hopefully save up a decent down payment with the hope that the market will cool off next spring/summer. Hopefully by then if we see something we really like, we can make it happen quickly.

      That’s just been my experience with relocating in all of this.

    29. Daisy Avalin*

      Not due to the virus/lockdown, but with any luck we’ll be moving within a year or so, into FIL’s house about 10 mins walk away. Because of the lockdown, the plans I was tentatively making re room use/furniture placement have solidified a bit, as I’d quite like to get a remote job if possible so would need a permanent office space.

      Plus that house is closer to Child’s friends, and the school she’s be attending in September, so will make life a lot easier for us. And we’ll be able to have dogs – we’ve already chosen two of FIL’s dogs we want, especially since he’s planning on cutting down the number he has.

    30. voluptuousfire*

      I decided to stay. I’m living in the house I shared with my dad and he passed in May. There’s still the legal stuff of getting the house in my name but it’s mine free and clear.

      I thought about selling the house and moving elsewhere but it makes sense longer-term to stay. The house is in ok shape but I’d love to renovate it in a few years go update everything. For what I’d pay in taxes and a loan and utilities, it would be equivalent to rent and utilities in an apartment. Why not? If I change my mind, I can sell.

  3. duckduckrabbit*

    Is anyone trying to lose weight while having body positive friends?

    One of my friends is hardcore into body positivity, feminism angle of society makes us about our looks, women pride and so on.

    The thing is, I want to lose weight! My health is poor and I do a physical job I find tough at this weight. I also don’t mind looking good from time to time, while also aware of the feminist angle of what society imposes on women. I am a feminist, I just want to be a healthier one who occasionally wears lipstick and looks nice. Is that so bad?

    How do you deal with friends who just want you to accept your body, when you really probably shouldn’t and should get healthier? I just can’t get on board with the idea that this bad shape is good for me. I don’t even want to be skinny, even if I lost weight I’d still be barely qualifying as in the ideal weight range. I’m basically aim for ‘still plump, but less so.’

    1. Two Cents*

      My two cent:
      Don’t talk to your friend about dieting and don’t include her in the process. Don’t expect your friends to be your diet cheerleader or supervise/police what you eat. A lot of people have their own baggage around food, and it’s better if you use a doctor, reputable reciepe/exercise blog rather than your friends as source of accountability. Or make like-minded friends.

      Whether your friend just tells you ‘honey, you’re fine’ to put an end to your body/diet talk or actively berates you for wanting to change (that’s obnoxious), they’ve made it clear they’re not willing to engage about it. Respect that. They should nevertheless be able to hear ‘i want to lose weight, so please don’t make an issue of me eating less in your presence’ (which is way different then ‘listen to me talk of my diet and health and self image’).

      Now, if your socializing revolves around food, that you see each other often and that your friend gets offended if you cut portions, stop accepting snacks, or want to change venue, that’s another problem to work with. Don’t let ‘body positivity’ be used as an excuse to shame you, but don’t be the person who expects everyone to cater to your diet. If they’re good friends it shouldn’t be a problem to find a good compromise.

      1. Two Cents*

        Last point : you can both like yourself *and* want to improve some aspect of your life.
        You don’t need to talk yourself or your current body down to justify losing weight. Just like you don’t need to feel stupid to justify learning a new language or skill.

        If your body positive friend is pushing back against what they perceive as self-loathing of sorts, then they’re not wrong to encourage you not to tie up your self esteem to scales.
        But if they’re the kind to say ‘wanting to lose weight is antifeminist’ it’s better you just stick to other subjects with them.

        1. Kiwi with laser beams*

          Yeah, it’s possible for someone to be losing weight for 100% healthy reasons in a 100% healthy way AND say self-hating/body-hating things, and I absolutely still push back on that talk in those cases. So if you’ve been saying negative things about your body around your friend, try leaving that out of the conversation.

      2. Auntie Social*

        I talk about my joints hurting less, and that my orthopedist says a 30 lb. weight loss will make them feel like new knees. So that’s something everyone can get behind—it’s not about looks (except it kind of is to me), it’s doctor’s orders and less pain.

          1. university minion*

            Fair warning – that can and does happen at any weight (I am what the medical profession would term a ‘normal’ weight)! I frightened my extremely young, naive staff member by getting up from sitting on the floor shortly before COVID happened. He never heard joints protest loudly before. Fortunately it’s not painful for me, but it’s loud… and crunchy.

        1. Jenny*

          My Dad needs to lose weight so he can even have his knee surgery. Quarantine has actually been good for him, as he’s not out mindlessly buying fast food.

        2. blackcat*

          So I’m a small person who bought into body positivity stuff a lot (easy for a naturally petite person), and I thought joint problems attributed to weight were kind of BS.
          But then I got pregnant and OMG just 25lbs of extra weight at the end was really, really tough on my knee with an old cartilage injury! Pregnancy also does weird stuff to joints, but it really felt like it was mostly the weight. And that was the difference between 110 and 135lbs, so like… not heavy at all.
          I beat the crap out of my joints doing gymnastics as a kid, and I really think the fact that I’m not in more chronic pain from the damage is that I’m really lightweight. So I now 100% get when people say they want to lose weight for the sake of their joints.

          1. Alexandra Lynch*

            I’ve lost 35 pounds, and while I still have about 85 to lose, I am truly amazed at how just this much has eased my chronic joint pain. I’m not thin by any means, but my ability to climb stairs has pretty much tripled, for example, and I have more energy.

            It scares me a bit. If I’m getting this much better now, what will I be at goal weight?!

    2. Taniwha Girl*

      I think body positivity can help us remember that there can be more to getting healthier than getting lighter or thinner. What are some other parts of “getting healthy” that have more meaning to you? Getting stronger, faster, more flexible? Learning to make healthier food choices, or new foods, or more delicious ones?

      1. zora*

        This. I would try to figure out what other goals are for you, as opposed to weight or clothing size. Getting strong? Being able to do specific activities/exercise? There is some really great writing out there about loving our bodies and what they do for us, that means you love your body AND want to change some habits to nurture your body in return.

      2. RagingADHD*

        I find this a really strange response.

        OP isn’t having issues with shame or confusion about her own goals.

        She knows what she wants. She’s asking how to deal with a friend who is unsupportive, telling her what to think and how to feel.

        And here you & zora are, offering the solution of…telling her what to think and how to feel.

        1. zora*

          I’m saying those are the things she can then talk about with her friend, instead of talking about a lower weight or that she thinks she has a ‘bad shape’. I’m suggesting reframing this whole concept as taking care of her body instead of hating her current body.

    3. matcha123*

      I don’t really have friends like that, and if I do, they don’t talk to me about exercise and I also don’t talk with them about it.
      With that said, I do have some scripts prepared for anyone that would have to make comments on my body or weight…
      I exercise because I like to and it makes me feel good. This is true!
      I’ve found that exercise has also helped my cycle improve for the better. Not being in pain for the majority of the day is a huge plus. Especially because I prefer not to be taking a bunch of pain meds.
      Finally, exercise helps me concentrate on work and other activities.
      While I do want to look nice for myself, I keep that to myself. The first reasons are very legit and I’ve yet to have someone try to argue that finding a natural way to reduce the intense pain my cycle brings about is somehow ‘bad.’

    4. Drtheliz*

      A lot of studies have shown that it’s actually *harder* to lose weight if your primary motivation is self-dislike. How about saying to your friend “of course I love myself, that’s exactly why I’m eating vegetables and exercising! Not aiming to be Twiggy 2.0 here!” because that’s difficult to argue withas a positive.

    5. gsa*

      Separate the two.

      Be positive about your body image, AND do things that will help/make easier your physical job. If that includes losing weight, so be it. If that includes the ability to lift boxes of llamas while doing cartwheels, do that.

      Best wishes,

      gsa

    6. Traffic_Spiral*

      1. Don’t talk about it with her. Not everyone wants to hear about everything you’re into. Some people don’t wanna hear about exercise and diet, some aren’t interested in your views on why Aang/Katara was a terrible pairing and she clearly should have ended up with Zuko (even if you have a really good powerpoint presentation on the matter).

      2. Focus on performance/capability. “I lifted more weight today.” “I ran a new best today.” etc. What your body looks like is separate from what your body can do, and your friend is probably more amenable to discussing the latter.

      3. Focus on future ability. We all get old, and we all break down, but (excluding illness and injury) our fitness levels will drastically effect that process. If you friend just has to say “but you’re beautiful as you are,” just reply “so is a park, and I’d like to be able to take a long walk in one when i’m 60 without having to give up after 15 minutes.” Once your friend is old enough to notice the reduced mobility in her own parents, she’ll understand this.

    7. Kiwi with laser beams*

      I’m a feminist on medically ordered weight loss and if it was me I’d just vent about toxic stuff I’ve seen and heard about during my weight loss process, or I’d talk about how I consciously keep diet culture out of my weight loss. It’s OK if you don’t want to turn your weight loss into feminist discourse (for me that’s just stuff that happens to be on my mind), but at the same time, as Two Cents said, it’s also OK for your friend to not want to talk about weight loss.

    8. Treebeardette*

      This is what I say to people who think I’m crazy for trying to lose weight because I’m overweight but not obese. “This has nothing to do with me liking or not liking my body, I physically don’t feel good at this weight and losing some will help me feel better. I’m doing this for health.”
      It takes the emotions out of it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Bingo. I tried losing weight for 15 years. Finally my health just fell apart. It stopped being about the weight and it started being about feeling better.
        So I got into foods and nutrition and sure enough the weight came off.
        For people’s running commentary I simply said, “If I had to weigh 500 lbs in order for my body to work correctly and for me to be able to participate in life then that is what I would do. I would weigh 500 pounds. This has absolutely nothing to do with what I weigh or how I look and everything to do with quality of life.”

        People like this can be irritating. In fairness, it wasn’t until my own quality of life tanked that I actually understood this stuff. So probably I was that irritating person at one time, also.

    9. Hotdog not dog*

      If I didn’t only have brothers I’d swear you were my sister! Been there and am still doing that. The way I see it, my body is an amazing, high quality machine. It’s perfect for me and I want it to run well forever. Just as you wouldn’t put crap gasoline in a luxury sports car, this machine deserves only the best. Admittedly sometimes the best includes ice cream, but as long as most of my food choices are healthy it works out. It took a lot of work to reframe my thinking. I was never in the habit of respecting myself as much as others, so it was slow progress. I’ll never be on the cover of Vogue, but I’m healthy and can physically do most of the things I want to. To me, that’s body positivity. Your friend probably means well, but as a fellow feminist, it’s your body and your choice.

      1. Jenny*

        I mean if your diet doesn’t involve the occasional indulgence it’s never going to work out. I’d say one of the big keys is not eating things you don’t even enjoy that much. That’s why things like “low cal chips” aren’t necessarily a good choice because if you don’t enjoy it, you’ll either snack on more or eat something else, because it’s not satisfying. Also eliminating common calorie bomb drinks really helps because those don’t really satisfy you.

        1. Kiwi with laser beams*

          My dietitian, who has worked with Olympic athletes, says exactly this. This stuff is lifelong and unless you have an allergy or something, no reasonable expert expects you to go the rest of your life without ever eating ice cream.

        2. Gaia*

          Sooooooo true on not eating things you don’t like. I am very particular about the vegetables I eat. Day to day, there are probably 5 that I eat regularly. I’ve tried to eat others because it is “healthy” and “I should.” Never works. I end up eating no veggies and eating something that doesn’t make me feel as good.

          1. Amity*

            I’m glad I’m not the only one! I love some vegetables….key word there is some. Green beans, corn, carrots, peas, and asparagus? Delicious. I’m focusing on eating more of those with my meals and adding fresh fruit. Best of luck to you all!

            1. Gaia*

              Honestly? I’d be happy to eat only asparagus, spinach, and green beans (french cut ONLY) as my veg. I occasionally add cauliflower rice and zucchini. But everything else is at best meh, at worst blech.

              Now fruit? I’ll take it ALL. But that’s because I love sweet and tart flavors.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ll come at this from another direction… losing weight while trying to raise a girl in a world where she’s already starting to say she’s fat when she is objectively lean.
      I talk about being healthier–to keep up when we’re playing, to help my joints, to be able to hike for a couple of hours without my feet hurting, to live long enough to be a spry old lady, to avoid some family-history illness that has a high correlation with weight.
      I guess what I’m saying is a complicated way of agreeing with the others who have said talking about it in terms of health gain, performance goals, and behavioral goals might keep conversations from going where you don’t want to go.

    11. Venus*

      There is a lot of good advice, and I will add:
      Feminism isn’t only about the body-positivity of not losing weight, it is about choice. There are feminists who get stressed about women who quit their job to look after the kids because ‘that’s what we’re fighting against’, yet we should accept all choices provided they are made honestly. I would avoid diet talk with your friends, but if they ask then explain it is about your physical health.

    12. Jenny*

      I’d argue that eating healthy and exercising is body positive. I honestly feel like my brain is less foggy after I have exercised and when I’ve had plenty of water.

      It’s never wrong to do what is best for your own body. What you do or don’t weigh doesn’t say anything about anyone else.

      1. hermit crab*

        Yes! I think a lot of body positivity talk gets framed around acceptance (which is a static thing) when it should really be about love (which isn’t). You deserve to love your body as it is now and ALSO want to improve how it looks, feels and works! Those two things are not in conflict – rather, I think the former gives me extra motivation for the latter.

        1. lazy intellectual*

          This is such a great way to frame it. It can be applied to self-improvement in general. Just because you want to gain or get better at X or Y doesn’t mean you hate yourself before you learn or gain those things. You are loving and investing in yourself when you try to improve.

    13. I'm A Little Teapot*

      If you are trying to improve your health and you’ve got a friend who’s telling you that you need to “accept your body”, look them straight in the eye and respond with “Why are you telling me to accept poor health/being in pain daily/feeling sick/having no energy/etc when I can change it?” Or similar. The goal, frankly, is to make your friend feel bad for being a sucky friend, because they are. If they change their behavior, great! If they don’t, they’re not really your friend. Stop spending energy on them and find other friends.

      I don’t like the “body positivity” movement as it’s turned into. Not hating your body = good. Accepting that you’ve got whatever physical traits you don’t much like and being ok with them (not including things that indicate you’re not taking care of your body) = good. Encouraging people to improve their health in reasonable ways = good. Trying to make people who are fat and really need to get their acts together to address it think that it’s ok to be morbidly obese or whatever = bad. Shaming others who are trying to improve their health = bad. And body positivity has, as far as I have observed, gotten all of that backwards.

      1. Jenny*

        The so called “body positivity”, at least, as coopted by some people, is anything but. I’ve seen people told they weren’t body positive because they’d lost weight and that’s just utterly toxic.

      2. lazy intellectual*

        All of this.

        I think the body positivity movement has been appropriated by people who, unfortunately, haven’t really succeeded in becoming body positive themselves. You are not in a good place if you are shaming other people for their choices.

      3. Altair*

        Trying to make people who are fat and really need to get their acts together to address it think that it’s ok to be morbidly obese or whatever = bad.

        A person’s worth as a human is not actually related to what they weigh. But that’s another discussion.

      4. Grapey*

        “The goal, frankly, is to make your friend feel bad”

        I don’t think this should ever be a goal for friends. OP just saying how losing weight will help her feel physically better doesn’t have to be a dunk.

      5. Parenthetically*

        “people who are fat and really need to get their acts together to address it”

        Yeah this really ain’t it, chief.

      6. Observer*

        Trying to make people who are fat and really need to get their acts together to address it think that it’s ok to be morbidly obese or whatever = bad.

        I don’t know what world you live it. But in this world, people who are morbidly obese are well aware of it and are also well aware of the many, many downsides. Also, losing that weight is NOT simply about “getting their act together.” Some people could do a lot more than they are to lose some of that weight, true. But even for those people it’s rarely all that simple.

        This is exactly the kind of fact free fat shaming that body positivity at its best is intended to counter.

      7. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Since some of you seem to be missing the point – I was addressing a very specific and toxic type of “body positivity”, where being fat is celebrated even when the person is basically dying from their weight. If you haven’t seen that type, I’m sure you can find it online. It’s quite sad.

        Even outside that niche, I’m not going to tell someone who’s obese that their weight is healthy, because it’s not. Doesn’t mean they’re a bad person, it means they have some stuff to work on to hopefully improve their health. Whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional, it doesn’t matter. And I will support them in their efforts to improve their health.

        As for the it’s not nice to be make your friend feel bad, no it’s not. That’s the point. A “friend” who is acting like this isn’t acting like a friend. And OP has presumably asked politely. It is nicer to just dump the friend without warning? Hopefully, getting a shock will wake up the person and get them to stop the behavior.

        1. Altair*

          Are you a doctor? And are you *their* doctor? For any given person I don’t really think you can know the entirety of their health situation just by looking at them and judging them ‘obese’ or not. I could give you examples but I think you would just litigate their details, so instead I will say: if a particular person whose story you know wants your support as they lose weight, that’s one thing. But you cannot know whether or not someone needs to “get their act together” or even what that act *is* just from looking at them. Everyone has a different story — overweight people are no more ‘one size fits all’ than any other group.

          And you still cannot accurately judge someone’s worth by their size.

        2. Claire*

          Thank you for your service! Morbidly obese people have no idea that they’re not healthy, and no one has ever said anything to them to suggest that their bodies aren’t perfect!

          I’m also curious about where in OP’s post you got the impression that her friend is actively harassing her and that she has asked politely that she stop, or if your immediate reaction to an ideological disagreement with a friend is to make them feel bad on purpose.

    14. Remote HealthWorker*

      Loving your body will help you lose weight. As someone who is 30lbs down, I love my body now and I loved my body then. Feeling good about yourself makes it easier to make healthy choices.

      Whenever I was in self loathing mode my weight went up not down.
      Try mediating each day in a physical aspect you love about yourself.

    15. Nervous Nellie*

      A friend who is so into body positivity that they would stand in the way of your desire to improve your health is not being kind to you. And your efforts are none of their business – you did not appoint them as judges. They insist that you accept your body as is, but you have the veto vote – THEY have to accept what YOU want for you.

      I am with Two Cents below – don’t involve these friends in your process. And use Two Cents’ script for deflecting their judgemental comments in situations where you are eating, exercising, whatever. You’ve got this! :)

    16. another Hero*

      Your friend is probably as frustrated with you as you are with her. Conflating weight and health is usually wrong, and virtually everyone who has ever been thought to be a woman in this society (along with plenty of others) has experienced pressure about their body weight that they’ve found a way to deal with. If your way of dealing with it is by trying to get smaller and your friend’s way of dealing with it is fat acceptance, you’ve subscribed to vastly different frameworks. Please recognize that the approach you have chosen reinforces those pressures your friend is reacting against for good reason and that diet talk may be uncomfortable for her or for anyone else who has not agreed to enter into it, and talk about it with specific friends who share that interest rather than treating it as a neutral topic.

      1. Observer*

        Firstly, we tent to believe posters when they tell us stuff (absent specific reasons to question). Thus, it’s reasonable to accept that the OP actually DOES have good reason for believing that her health will improve with the loss of weight.

        The rest is stuff that I cannot politely respond to, except to say that at best it’s fact free and in parts actually counter factual.

    17. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I can see where the friend is coming from but also see your perspective OP and identify with it as well. Like others have said, don’t engage – I have a few friends that I talk to and some topics don’t broach. But if you were to engage, I would definitely focus more on the feeling better and improving health and completely ignore the aesthetics aspect of it. At the end of the day it’s about quality of life — someone heavier can be in perfect health but you’re living in your own body. My back still hurts and I can’t walk more htan a block or so at a time, it’s about a quality of life so I’ll do what I can do within my means to improve it. 

    18. KeinName*

      I am a body positive feminist, plus-size and would never dream of telling my friends they should not be skinny, fit, exercise or whatever. I aim to support my friends in their choices (thankfully they mostly make good ones, or bad ones which are learning opportunities). If they came to me though wanting me to try diets or participate in them shaming themselves for their size or eating habits I would be very unhappy. So I suggest asking your friend to be supportive since this is something you want to do and just ask how much you can share with her about your goals and strategies and experiences with exercise and change of eating habits.

    19. lazy intellectual*

      I don’t necessarily have close friends who are “body positive”, but being a liberal feminist, I’m part of some online communities that are. So my advice isn’t too helpful, but I just want to validate your concerns and say do what you want to do and ignore them. I’m very big on maintaining a certain physique and I don’t care to be accused of being “body negative” or “brainwashed by diet culture” or whatever. I don’t think we should discriminate against people who are larger, but what you do with your body is YOUR choice.

    20. Sunset Maple*

      Feminism needs to acknowledge that women are relentlessly conditioned to care about other people’s opinions at the expense of our own mental and physical health. If your feminism isn’t doing that, find a version that does.

      1. Washi*

        I am that body positive friend (kind of) but I would never try to convince someone to not lose weight if that’s what they wanted to do. I will say that if a friend is feeling free to talk to me about dieting, I will also feel free to share some of my thinking about dieting and sometimes ask them questions about where they’re coming from. Not to convince them that they’re wrong, but just…that’s how conversations work! Each of us sharing our thoughts, and I am genuinely open and curious about what they’re feeling.

        I can’t tell if your friend is telling you that you are wrong about how you are handling your body (not cool) or is more expressing opinions that diverge from your own when you try to talk about weight loss (part of friendship IMO). I am never going to be the kind of friend who cheers for every 1 pound loss or laments an extra serving of cake, and I’m wondering if maybe you are looking for the kind of approval/support that she honestly can’t give you. If you know losing weight is the right choice for you, then go for it! If you truly feel secure in your decision, it will be easier to draw boundaries and disregard extraneous opinions.

        1. Kiwi with laser beams*

          “I am never going to be the kind of friend who cheers for every 1 pound loss or laments an extra serving of cake, and I’m wondering if maybe you are looking for the kind of approval/support that she honestly can’t give you.”

          Yeah, I’m losing weight for health reasons and I’d love to know more about what these conversations consist of. Part of my rejection of diet culture is that I just *do* the healthy stuff my dietitian recommends, without making a big thing of it. And that actually fits well with the health aspect of what I’m doing, because these are things that I’ll have to do for the rest of my life, so it’s not bad to get used to them just being ordinary parts of my life. I get that someone people like being able to talk about every kilo or every time they went for something healthy rather than something unhealthy, but I can see why someone who doesn’t like diet culture wouldn’t be able to provide that kind of support.

        2. Oldbiddy*

          This. Hopefully OP will just not talk about their diet to those friends and all will be well. I’ve lost 20-40 lbs a few times in my adult life and used to be one of those people who talked about it all the time, but I just can’t and won’t anymore. The flip side of all the compliments is the fact that all those ‘you look so great now’ compliments made me feel extra bad about how I looked when I was heavier. I’m a feminist and a strong believer in body positivity, and these beliefs have gotten a lot stronger in the last 10 years. I lost weight a few years ago after my blood sugar was high at my annual physical, but this time around I didn’t make my friends hear much detail about it other than that I was doing it for health reasons and was seeing a nutritionist.
          My best friend lost a bunch of weight this year using Noom, and I supported her 100% of the way without much discussion of the specifics.
          There are a lot of online forums and people who like to talk about diet and weight and these can be very helpful if OP wants a sounding board and encouragment.

    21. Mx*

      I am body positive, I am anti-sexist, and I am still working on losing weight. It’s not incompatible. You can love your body and also want to make it as healthy as possible with proper food and exercise.
      Healthy food and exercise have a positive impact on our physical and mental health. It’s not just about weight.

    22. Alex*

      Hmmm…”Body positivity” does not mean “don’t try to improve your health.”

      Wanting to lose weight doesn’t mean you don’t accept your body! Body positivity is a rejection of the idea that the numbers on the scale or the sizes of our clothes should dictate our self worth, not that our body’s health isn’t important or that we should NOT do things that would make us feel good (like eat well and exercise).

      If I were trying to lose weight and a “friend” told me I wasn’t accepting my body as is, I’d say, actually, I’m honoring my body by trying to do well by it. And if that wasn’t enough I’d just tell her to STFU.

    23. Not So NewReader*

      Not everyone can be supportive of weight loss. In my own journey I can count on one hand the number of people who actually said something positive…. and my doc and his staff were three of those people. sigh.

      We don’t get to pick who encourages us and who doesn’t. We should be able to do that, what’s up there?!
      The only solution I found was to not discuss food/health/weight with these people.

      The highest compliment and most understanding I saw was when an aunt said to me, “Seeing how you look NOW, makes me understand that you were dying the whole time you were growing up and none of us understood.”
      Tears. Tears of joy. This woman got it.

      1. Laure001*

        Wow, Notsonewreader, this is fascinating. If you’d like to elaborate I’d love to read it! Kudos to your aunt, too.

    24. RagingADHD*

      I have learned that the “body positivity” movement has an awful lot of unexamined ageism and ableism lurking inside it.

      There are a lot of health conditions that are well-proven to be worse when you have higher body fat, and better when you don’t. Many of them are also correlated with age.

      It’s one thing to tell teens and twentysomethings not to worry about the number on the scale because they can be healthy at any size.

      But if you’re in midlife and/or have chronic medical conditions, it’s just blowing smoke up your ass to say your weight doesn’t matter.

      I have had plenty of supposed “body positive” people tell me my body’s needs don’t “count”, because it doesn’t fit the narrative.

      I’m against fat-shaming. I believe people can beautiful at any size. I know a lot of doctors do their patients a disservice by overly focusing on the scale and undertreating other issues.

      But negging, shaming, invalidating, or denying the real life experience of people whose bodies need to lose fat to be healthy isn’t “body-positivity.” It’s magical thinking.

      1. Kiwi with laser beams*

        Yeah, I’m someone who has one of those diseases and Health At All Sizes leaves behind those of us who don’t have that luxury. I’d like to see the body positive movement continue to fight against anti-fat bias in stuff like hiring, and behaviour like the altercation that led to the infamous “printout of Alison’s response on the coworker’s chair” incident, but shift from Health At All Sizes to analysing and solving the reasons why the success rate of weight loss is so low, especially the reasons that aren’t about the individuals. There are plenty of soapboxes to get on about stuff like the amount of unhealthy weight loss advice out there (and it’s not always stuff that can be easily identified as a fad diet) and the way it harms the body and keeps people trapped in the cycle of yo-yo dieting. I go to a top dietitian who has exactly that soapbox and it was eye-opening. So I applaud the fact that OP’s friends are so anti diet culture and anti fat shaming, but yeah, not everyone gets to be healthy at all sizes.

    25. Gaia*

      I am very big into body positivity. I believe we can and should love our bodies exactly as they are. But I’m also on a weight loss journey because of health concerns (I don’t believe weight and health are inherently tied together, but in my case they are somewhat connected).

      People who claim body positivity but don’t support what you want of your body (as long as you aren’t harming yourself) are not body positive. They are “bodies as I prefer them to be” positive.

    26. Alexandra Lynch*

      I’m doing something like that. I had to get to body positivity in order to view losing weight as an act of love for myself. I have arthritis in my feet. The less I weigh, the less I’ll hurt. That’s just physics.

      I think with friends it’s hard because at first you want them to celebrate with you, and if they view losing weight as being something you’re doing to fit society’s image of women, that’s really problematic. I would share the non-scale victories; I can stand longer, I went up a flight of stairs without being out of breath, I fit in the cute top I bought and couldn’t wear, I fold up tighter in yoga, I’m down a size in my bra and my back doesn’t hurt so badly, etc.

    27. Observer*

      Your outlook sounds quite reasonable to me. While it’s true that there is a lot of hype over the dangers of excess weight, there is also some fairly solid evidence that too much weight is genuinely bad for us, nothing to do with societal norms or the patriarchy. And it is certainly true that if you are finding your weight actually interferes with your health or ability to do your job (eg you get tired etc.) then losing weight is certainly a reasonable thing to attempt!

      There are two types of people who push back on this, generally.

      Type one pushes back if you talk about dieting too much or make a big issue of what you can and can’t eat etc. With there people it’s pretty straightforward. Keep diet talk to a minimum and don’t talk about “good” or “bad” foods at all. When you talk about your diet at all, it should be “good for me” or “bad for me”.

      Type two is doctrinaire and unreasonable. This may be CALLED body postivity, but it really is not in most cases. These people are harder to deal with. Cut off all diet talk. Don’t engage and don’t let the lecture you. If discussing where to get together leads to this kind of rant, then let them know that you are not going to ever get together with them in a food related way. Your health decisions are NOT up for their critiques and if going for a coffee is going to trigger this, that’s off the table. If that blows up the relationship. that will tell you all you need to know.

    28. Beeeeee*

      If you feel like you have to defend the dieting, make it not about losing weight. “I am trying this couch to 5k thing” or “I’m doing keto (example) because it helps with hormonal issues and I’ve been struggling”. Focus it not on the diet and more on…other benefits. Then it’s not about your body, it’s about your health. No one can say jack about you trying to improve your health.

  4. JobHunter*

    I was wondering if someone here might be able to answer this…how much does air pollution affect plants? I know ground level ozone can affect photosynthesis, but what about carbon monoxide, particulates, etc? Could a forest fire impact plants miles away? I would even appreciate some keywords to do a little reading. Thanks!

    1. StellaBella*

      Hi, here are some resources:
      Websites:
      Reference (dot) com, Title of page is ‘How Does Air Pollution Affect Plants?’
      Encyclopedie-environnement (dot) org (French but articles in English): ‘What is the impact of air pollutants on vegetation?’
      Ontario Ministry Of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs: ‘Effects of Air Pollution on Agricultural Crops’
      Sciencing (dot) com: ‘How Does Pollution Affect Photosynthesis?’
      ScienceDaily (dot) com: ‘Pollutants from wildfires affect crop and vegetation growth hundreds of kilometers from impact zone’

      Search in ScienceMag (dot) org too – over 900 results when searching on the topic. Key words include air pollution and plants, air quality and plants, effects of poor air quality on plants, effects of pollution on plants, air pollution and agriculture…. hope this is a good start. Terms ‘fire particulates and plant health’ yield a few results, as do SO2 Emissions, and ‘forest health and global change’ may help too.

      In terms of agricultural practices look up topics like ‘crop residue burning’ and pollution effect on plants. Good. research topic for sure.

      1. JobHunter*

        Thanks StellaBella. The Science Daily article talks about photosynthetic capacity and stomatal conductance too. I didn’t really clarify what I was looking for very well. I think not knowing what to look for is what is keeping me stuck in this search loop.

        Most of what I have read talked about photosynthetic capacity, but I am interested in more visible physiological effects. I noticed that several of my flowering plants aborted buds and newly expanding leaves very suddenly after a fire started some miles away. They are in a climate-controlled building. I’m trying to understand what could have happened here (I am a master gardener intern).

        1. pancakes*

          It might be worth taking a close look at the Gardeners’ World site / magazine / show for this sort of thing. It’s a good resource in general. I did a quick search of YouTube & Google and it looks like there’s some interesting content from the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, too. I’ll link to an article from the Colorado Sun in a separate comment.

    2. Dancing Otter*

      You might be interested in the “year without a summer” in 1816. That was caused by volcanic eruptions throwing a lot of particulates into the atmosphere. The effects were pretty much global. Interesting stuff.
      You probably already know some plants are grown expressly to counteract pollution. I think I once heard about Russian Olive trees in this regard, but it’s been long enough I don’t remember details.

  5. Vic Venti*

    What do you like about where you live? (City, state or country)

    I live in Western Australia and I know that we are somewhat parochial and this has been enhanced in the COVID era as it has been well controlled here. I don’t want to embrace the parochialism per se, but I love my home state and think it’s an awesome place to live. Weather here is fantastic, natural landscape has some wonderful and diverse sights and the culture is laidback.

    What would you say are the best aspects of where you live?

    No negatives if possible and try to avoid politics

    1. Scc@rlettNZ*

      I’m from Dunedin, New Zealand and moved back here years ago after living overseas for a long time (mainly in the UK and Australia, interspersed with lots of travelling). If anyone had told me that I’d end up happily living back here I would have told them they were mad. I was leaving and never coming back.

      But I really enjoy the town now. My commute to work is about a 7 minute drive, housing is affordable here (although less so than it used to be). We have gorgeous beaches and amazing wildlife right on our doorstep. Central Otago with its wineries and fantastic scenery is only a 3.5 hour drive away (plus their ski fields if you are into that).

      Dunedin has great bars, restaurants and theatres. It has gorgeous architecture and a great sense of history. It’s an easy place to live – a great compact wee city.

        1. Sc@rlettNZ*

          KeinName – Dunedin is a very different city to Auckland. In my opinion Wellington is much closer in feel – it’s just a larger version. Glad you enjoyed your time here :-)

    2. Job Carousel*

      I’m a native (US) Midwesterner but am currently living in the Western US for work (a landlocked state several states away from a coast or a border). I’m hoping to move back to the Midwest next year as it will always be home to me…but where I currently live I do appreciate a lot more natural beauty. There are half a dozen national parks within a 6-hour drive, perfect for weekend trips, and within that radius there are so many climate/landscape changes, ranging from alpine forest to high desert to marshland. There’s a lot of natural history in this region that includes dinosaurs (and some fantastic museums featuring dinosaur exhibits that I used to go regularly pre-COVID closures). Also with the elevation and aridity of where I live, the weather is most commonly blue skies and sunshine, which is great for my mood; we seldom get more than a day or two in a row of overcast skies.

      1. mwut*

        I am also a midwesterner living in a landlocked western state. I have really grown to love the high-desert landscapes and find it very beautiful here. I also love that I can sit outside on summer evenings without worrying about mosquitos!

    3. Hazy Days*

      I’ve really come to appreciate my neighbourhood during lockdown. I live on the edge of a small, famous, historic city – I’m very much in the unexciting Victorian suburbs (and these are English suburbs, not American – lots of Victorian terraces and semis). BUT in 15 mins cycle I can be out in the countryside, walking on an archaeological site, in the woods or meadows, etc. The local shopkeepers have been lovely during this time, neighbours have been friendly – it’s great. It helps there’s much reduced traffic of course. And there are all sorts of fascinating old houses and trees that is never appreciated before.
      So I’ve really changed my opinion of the place I live, and I hope it will last once the heavy traffic begins to flow again!

    4. StellaBella*

      I live in a ‘diplomat-populated’ city in the geographic centre of Europe. I love our parks, nature – bats, birds, trees, lakes, rivers, cool bugs, walkable neighbourhoods, interesting history, the old town, the public transport, how quiet it is on Sundays (no real traffic noise), and how in a short. train or bus ride I can be hiking in a forest or on a mountain. I love the local people from here that I am friends with, the sense of community and history of the small country. I also love the security and general sense of being in a place that is orderly and things just sort of work most of the time.

      1. Kate*

        Pretty sure we live in the same city!

        As a North American transplant, there is a lot about my “diplomat-populated” city in the geographic centre of Europe that drives me crazy, particularly around rules and bureaucracy, but the flip of side of those is that I don’t really have to work that hard to make better choices. Taking public transit is way easier than driving here, bio/organic items are as readily available and many are as competitively priced as their non-organic counterparts, the babysitter and the woman who comes to clean our home got paid 70%, not by me, during the lockdown, the parks and roundabouts have ample poo bags and garbage cans available for when I take the dog for a walk…

    5. duckduckrabbit*

      I live in Victoria, Australia so Australia as well as OP.

      I love it here. Melbourne is an amazing city with heaps of culture and things to do. There’s always something great to do. Great restaurants, the arts, shopping, sport, museums and lifestyle.

      We have some great beaches out the city and lovey nature areas. Australia overall is fairly good. Plenty to work on of course, like any country. But overall I’m pretty happy in Australia compared to other choices.

    6. Asenath*

      I love the city I currently live in, and have done so since I first visited it as a child. I’ve lived in other places ranging from very small towns to much larger cities, but this one is, well, just right. Big enough to support the kinds of activities I like, small enough to get around easily – in my neighbourhood I can even walk to many places I need to go. There’s a nice balance of housing and parks, with walking trails all over the place, and a picturesque harbour surrounded by rocky hills. OK, maybe the climate is a bit rough at times – we do have long winters and lots of precipitation (rain, snow, freezing rain etc all in season), but when we have good weather, it’s really spectacular. There’s even something nice about sitting cosily inside with a book when it’s storm. I’m so glad I decided years ago to move here, and even managed to stay in or near my favourite neighbourhood all these years!

    7. Jaid*

      I live in Philly which is pretty known for its history. It’s also got two rivers, lots of park system and it’s fairly easy to get out to the country/mountains. I think I have the best of everything here…except the ocean. ;-)

      1. Not a cat*

        The Jersey Shore is only an hour and a half away! I was born and raised in Philadelphia :)

      2. ThatGirl*

        I live near Chicago now and really like it, but I lived near Philly as a kid and it will always have a place in my heart. (And yes, I’ve been back as an adult.)

      3. Ryan Howard’s White Suit*

        I live in the deep, Deep South, but make my husband apply for just about every employment opportunity in the Philadelphia area that comes up (out of area applicants are the norm in his field, but outliers in mine) because it seems like such a great place to live for all the reasons you state!

      4. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

        Also in Philly! Good public transportation, extensive park system as you said, I can drive to see my family in a different part of the state and take the bus or train to NYC if I want to. I’m hoping to move to a part of the city with more trees/some outdoor space once our current lease is up, but I like that I’m within walking distance of some really good food right now.

        1. Jaid*

          I’d say come to the Far Northeast, but we really don’t have a lot of fancy dining places. We do have some awesome Asian supermarkets, though and a dim sum restaurant that Craig Leban of the Inquirer loves.

    8. GoryDetails*

      I live in New England, though I spent some years in Louisiana and Wyoming in my youth. I found things to love in all those places, though the southern heat and humidity puts it at the bottom of my “favorite places I’ve ever lived” list. Where I am now gives me a mix of big-city culture, woodland trails and nature preserves, and lots of orchards and farms. I’m within an hour’s drive of several major cities and cultural centers, as well as the seacoast, and a slightly longer drive would pull in some scenic mountains. There’s a really varied foodie culture and a lot of tantalizing microbreweries – though now I’m getting a bit melancholy, as I don’t know when I’ll be able to visit those places the way I used to…

      1. Altair*

        I’m also in New England, and you’ve hit most of the points I was going to. Also, where I am, in the suburbs of a major city, is pleasantly diverse — I like living someplace where there are many people of different skintones and cultures. It makes me feel safer than when I’ve been The Only POC.

    9. Liane*

      Arkansas is rightly The Natural State. So many beautiful features — mountains, rivers and tiny creeks, wooded areas, parks, hiking trails. Lots of wild animals even in the capital where we live. Deer, grackles, red wing blackbirds, black squirrels*, raptors, buzzards, coyotes. My son and I once saw a litter of baby rabbits outside their hole, by a sidewalk and a litter of foxes in a tiny garden at church, both in the city.

      *due to melanism, a genetic trait that is the opposite of albinism.

      @Scc@rlettNZ: I grew up in Dunedin, Florida!

      1. Sc@rlettNZ*

        Liane – Apparently the two Dunedins are frequently mixed up. Our local newspaper did an article about it a few years ago and there were several funny stories from folk who thought that they were dealing with a business in Dunedin, Florida, and vice versa.

        On a cruise a couple of years ago, my partner and I ended up joining some other guests to make up a quiz team. They had all grown up in Dunedin, Florida! (And our team ended up winning – go Dunedin lol).

        1. Liane*

          Sc@rlettNZ– the mix-up is so funny. Hope I can find the article online, after I virtual-tour your Dunedin. And yes “Go Dunedin!” I have many fond memories of mine.

          Dunedin, Florida has Scottish heritage. Annual Highland Games, both Dunedin Middle and High Schools had a pipe and drum corps in the marching bands and Scottish dancers instead of flag and/or baton units.

    10. Long Time Fed*

      I live in the Washington, DC suburbs. It’s not perfect, but I love our multiculturalism, access to the arts, proximity to everything (3 airports within 30 minutes of my home, the beach is a 2.5 hour drive away, and we can be in NYC in a few hours). Professionally, we are as “recession proof” as we can be because of the government influence. There is a lot of opportunity here.

      1. Dan*

        I’m curious how you manage to be 30 minutes from all three airports :D

        The thing I like about DC on top of what you mention is there are four pro sports teams plus a lot of history and the fact we live somewhere where they like to shoot movie sets from time to time.

        I grew up in the middle of nowhere, and it’s kind of weird to live in a place that I grew up reading about in both history and civics classes.

        1. Christy*

          Hah! You got me curious—Forest Glen Metro is 30, 30, and 31 minutes from each on google maps. So it is possible!!

        2. Deanna Troi*

          Dan, I’m not Long Time Fed (well, I am, but not the one to whom you’re responding), and if you don’t go during heavy traffic: Silver Spring.

          1. Washi*

            <3 <3 Same!!

            One thing that's always been weird to me – why do the suburbs have such a reputation for being homogeneous rich places? My experience living in the DMV is that the suburbs are often just as if not more diverse than DC proper. I always thought I wouldn't like living in the suburbs and pictured it as endless developments that all look the same, but Silver Spring feels super diverse and lively and many parts (like where I live) are just as walkable as DC.

    11. Practicalities*

      *waves to OP*
      I lived in Western Australia for a year a long time ago and loved it there too. I miss the weather (but not the lack of central heating), the forests and the downtown pedestrian streets in Perth.

      The thing I’ve loved about all the places I’ve lived (Calgary, Whitehorse and Barrie, Canada too) are the green spaces in the cities — sometimes wee little, sometimes several km’s in size. Being able to see and hear some birds, see a coyote or beaver, breathe in the fresher air but be a short distance away from everything civilization has is awesome.

      1. Vic Venti*

        Haha, my hubby is from the UK and our lack of central heating is a frequent rant of his! As I sit with my feet in the sun on a glorious 19degrees Celsius winter day, I think central heating is overrated!

        1. Practicalities*

          LOL, I arrived in WA in your winter/my summer (so say 27deg C) so that might have something to do with it. It got down to about 10degC in the house where I was living and I remember waking up in the same position I fell asleep in because the rest of the bed was too cold to warm up!

    12. LDN Layabout*

      I love London. I’ve lived in a lot of places and it’s the one where I feel at home.

      I love how easy it is to travel places, since it’s a hub for trains and planes. I love the ease of going to the theatre/opera/museums etc. without having to do much advance planning. I love playing tourist when friends come to visit. The range of restaurants is amazing. I am a city person but I love how many parks there are and how easy public transport is to explore bits of the city that aren’t mine.

      I love the mix of new and old everywhere (protip: if anyone ever tells you there’s nothing to explore in the City because it’s a ‘business district’, they’re missing out on a ton of interesting history). There’s a number of local sports grounds for the sports I follow and even more just a short day trip away.

      It’s just my place, even with all the drawbacks.

      1. pancakes*

        London is one of my favorite cities and I hope to live there someday rather than just visiting now & then. There are two London-centric twitter accounts I’ve been particularly enjoying lately – @VanishedLondon and @FlickeringLamps. The Spitalfields Life site is great too.

      2. lazy intellectual*

        I’ve visited London a couple of times and loved it. I want to go back at some point, obviously post-pandemic.

      3. Erika22*

        *waves* Also love living in London for all of these reasons! And funnily enough, though lockdown has been really difficult in some ways (social distancing is hard in such a populated area, small flat, hard to go many places when not using public transport, etc) it’s also made me appreciate the city all the more. I ventured downtown yesterday and it hit me anew – you forget how beautiful the city can be when you aren’t in it all the time!

        That being said, lockdown has really highlighted it would be nice to live in a (slightly) less populated area, or closer to a more significant outdoor space, or at least have a larger flat/house – so I’m currently researching commuter towns or boroughs further from central London for fun. I really couldn’t go too rural and want to keep all the positives of living close to London, so I’m trying to find the best of both worlds!

    13. Anonymous Educator*

      I live in Los Angeles, and I’ve got to say this town gets an undeserved bad rap. Granted, neither I nor my spouse is involved in the entertainment industry, but I find people here to be genuinely (i.e, not fake) nice.

      There were also a couple of misconceptions I had about LA before moving here:
      1. I thought of LA as just flat. A lot of it is flat, but there are areas that are also quite hilly/mountainous and pretty.
      2. I thought the LA public transportation system would be garbage. While it can’t compete with London, NY, HK, Tokyo, etc.; it’s a lot better than SF’s (where I used to live) public transit.

      There are beautiful gardens to visit around here (Descanso, Arboretum, Huntington), and, of course, we have Disneyland nearby (though, I’m a bit scared about it re-opening next month—too soon!).

      1. Chaordic1*

        I lived in the Los Angeles area (including several years in Pasadena) for 16 years. I found the public transportation to be “meh,” and the traffic awful, but I loved it. I’m one of those people who ended up being priced out. I was paying more than half my take-home pay for rent and couldn’t find myself a better-paying job. There were always lots of fun things going on (concerts and stuff), but I couldn’t afford to go to most of them which made living there frustrating.

    14. Katefish*

      I live in NYC and love the vibrant, diverse, resilient culture and the beautiful, not TOO hot summer. I like that NY is a direct culture, and it’s also proactively helpful, which is nice. Summer on Long Island at the beach is gorgeous. Not a fan of the cold but the four distinct seasons are pretty.

      1. Altair*

        I was born and raised in one of NYC’s many immigrant communities. NYC is one of the great cities of civiilization, like Babylon and Rome and London, and I loved it as a kid (when I could take advantage of its amenities, anyway).

      2. Mimmy*

        I’ve lived in NJ my entire life. You’re going to think I’m absolutely nuts, but I’m getting tired of the distinct seasons; for me, it’s a reminder of the passage of time, which is going too fast!

        But I will definitely agree regarding the vibrant diversity of NYC.

    15. Potatoes gonna potate*

      What I like about living here – Hmmm. I’m in NYC and at one point in my life I could never imagine leaving. I loved living here. When I loved it, I loved the idea of possibility, finding anything at any time. I’m still in this city but in the boroughs and…I like in my neighborhood that there are major highways near by and lots of access to public transit?

    16. Smol Book Wizard*

      I am temporarily (but hopefully more permanently soon!) living in the Pacific Northwest and am over the moon about the weather here. Sometimes the rain does get to me, especially when I have to walk the dog – but I come from the south and just the sensation of *not being in physical discomfort due to the heat* is such a wonderful treat.
      I also love being able to see the mountains on the horizon. I don’t know how many years it would take for me to get used to the sight – I’ve visited here often, but it still feels like something out of a fairy tale rather.

      1. Windchime*

        I live in a place where I can sometimes see Mt. Baker and Mt Rainier at the same time and that’s such a beautiful treat. But it has been so overcast and rainy for months now that I’m starting to get a little depressed or something. I love those mornings, though, when I’m driving to Seattle and I come around the corner and –BAM!!!!– there is Mt. Rainier in all her glory. So gorgeous.

    17. lazy intellectual*

      It’s very comfortable. I live conveniently close to everything. Back when I used to go places, because I live equidistant from the city and the more naturesque, rural part of the state, I’d have my pick of where to go for fun. Some weekends I would go hiking or exploring small, local towns. Other weekends, I would go to a bar and party it up in the city. I’m pretty happy here. The only downside is the weather – I grew up in a very warm climate and decided that I don’t care for winters, and would rather skip them.

    18. HannahS*

      In Toronto, there’s a fair amount of greenspace. How accessible it is to you depends on where you are–some of the condos aren’t close to parks, and there are suburbs that are more car-oriented–but all along the lake, and along many rivers there are public parks. It’s wonderful; along Lakeshore Blvd it’s been largely developed for the public to enjoy.

    19. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I live in Oklahoma, actually.

      It is, literally, one of the last places I would ever have considered living, but it was also the only state that gave me a job offer where I could live off the salary without having to work 3 other jobs haha.

      I planned to leave after 3 years, I just hit 4, and am engaged to a local whose family is here, so we will be here for many years yet.

      I love the people, they’re generally good and friendly people.

      The cost of living is obscenely low, especially compared to my home state.

      Tons of space, so you’re rarely crammed up on top of your neighbors.

      My city is very easy to get around as well.

      Also, good food!

    20. 2QS*

      I live in Toronto, a vibrant city that I adore. There is so, so much going on here, always. Incredible amount of arts and culture and even humour. You have your pick of things to do, including some that are niche or nonexistent elsewhere. (Can the city interest you in a giant adult-sized indoor obstacle course for fun or exercise or both? Skydiving, except in a stationary wind tube? Want to visit a blacksmith workshop with a partner and help make your own wedding rings?) Same goes for food. If you want Tibetan food, absolutely – and you have your pick of restaurants. If you need geek-hangouts-with-food-and/or-drink, same. How about coffee so strong it would almost satisfy Australians? Heck, if you just need a giant American cinnamon bun, likewise. You can go for a walk in just about any direction and find something at least moderately interesting that you never knew about before. Even if you’re just wandering around the main streets, you might see something intriguing. A guy dressed as Spider-Man hanging from a fencepost. A woman with two parrots on her shoulders (accepting selfie requests for charity donation). Why is Yonge Street closed today? Wait, is that…a whole cavalcade of people on skateboards? It is! I’m going to sit here for 20 minutes and watch them all go by.

      The parks are lovely and everywhere. The city is flat enough that most of it is easy to cycle around and walk in, but it also has enough little hills and bends and corners (especially the deep, dramatic, very woodsy ravines) that it doesn’t feel like a monotonous landscape. A whole string of beaches lie along the Lake Ontario shore, and most of them are remarkably clean (even for swimming!) considering that they sit at the foot of a very large city. There is a large network of streetcars (mostly physically accessible!), and they’re great fun to either ride on or to watch go by. My coworkers are from about 15 different countries and we get along well. Marriage equality has been a thing on the national level for fifteen years, and the white mainstream is getting better at listening to Indigenous, Black, and other POC viewpoints. (My ethnic and religious background are both a bit of a mix, and in some of the places I have lived other than this, I was clearly Not Quite Like Everyone Else. Here, absolutely everyone takes it in stride to begin with, knowledge of perspectives that overlap with mine is good – sometimes excellent – even through much of the WASP-y settler core, and on top of that, recently I’ve seen a lot more active work to be inclusive and not presumptuous.)

    21. Elizabeth West*

      I live in Missouri and the weather is interesting. If you’ve seen those memes that show six kinds of weather in a day, I can tell you they’re accurate, lol. In late autumn through winter and spring, we can go from warm enough to go without a jacket in the morning to snow in the afternoon. In spring and summer, it can turn on a dime. You can have a blue sky and then be running for the tornado shelter. Spring here is usually really pretty — lots of people plant redbud trees and dogwoods (the state tree), so there are flowers everywhere — but it’s volatile.

      We sometimes get leftovers from Gulf Shore hurricanes. By the time they make it up here, they’re tropical depressions, but they can be rainmakers. The last one, Tropical Storm Cristobal, barreled right up into southwest Missouri and had a tantrum all over OldCity.

      And in May 2009, we got hit with a super derecho that was so intense it has its own Wikipedia page. (Google “May 2009 Southern Midwest Derecho” to read about it.) That was so freaky. I drove to work under a sky that was midnight black (I am not exaggerating) with all the streetlights on, and then around 8:30, my work got hit by a tornado, followed by gale-force straight-line winds. D:

      You said it had to be something nice, and that’s all I have, lol.

  6. Pineapples*

    I have a question about a term I’m seeing more often online: BIPOC. My understanding is it stands for “black, indigenous, and people of color.”

    I’m a little confused why two are separated out from POC. Don’t black and indigenous count as POC? Is it for emphasis? Why is everyone else “other POC” rather than giving them their own letters?

    I’m especially curious to hear from people who embrace the term for themselves as an alternative to POC.

    1. StellaBella*

      Check out The BIPOC Project (dot) org – and also look at the HerCampus (dot) com website for the article What Is BIPOC and Why You Should Use It By Mahreen Ansari

      Language evolves (as noted in the Ansari article) as do cultural norms and societal values and ways of interacting. I am white, so I cannot speak to embracing the term for myself, but I can say that new terms to help us generate inclusion are good.

    2. matcha123*

      When I first began hearing and seeing POC used in media, I thought it was a great way to be inclusive of racial minority groups in North America. But POC seems to have evolved into a stand-in for “black” for a lot of media outlets.
      I get the feeling that by putting the BI in front, it’s drawing attention to the fact that you can’t just toss out “POC” as a “kinder” way of saying “black,” and that the needs of, say, East and Southeast Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders are going to be different from those of black or Native American populations.

      As a brown person myself, I suggest being specific about the groups you are talking about. If you are talking about black people, just say black people. If you’re talking about Asian Indians, then say that. If you have minority friends, just refer to them in the terms they prefer. Not everyone voted on certain phrases that have become popular recently.

    3. LGC*

      My understanding is that it’s partly that Black and Indigenous people in the US have been especially singled out for systematic racism and oppression (and in the case of Indigenous people, genocide), so that’s why they’re specified.

      (Which is not to say that Latinx and AAPI people have been treated much better historically! Like, we did put George Takei in a literal concentration camp IIRC. And we put Central American children in cages today.)

      Also…to be honest, some people do use “POC” as a byword for “Black.” I think it’s the mirror of the UK’S BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic if I have that right).

      1. Pineapples*

        Ohh I didn’t realize that’s what BAME stood for! I have similar questions about that term as well then. I definitely agree people use POC to mean Black, but I don’t see how that will change with BIPOC as long as we have literal black-and-white thinking about race and ethnicity.

        I do like that BIPOC highlights indigenous in a way that’s rare in discussions of systemic oppression. But I do worry that the term further marginalizes groups like Asians and Latinos, who also have faced historical injustices and are often seen as “other” or “foreign”.

        1. LGC*

          Yeah, it’s not a perfect term (and I’ll admit I’m a bit biased because I’m Black and included at the head of the acronym). And I can’t speak to the injustices that Asians (whether from East Asia or South Asia), Latinx people, and Middle Eastern people face.

          Ultimately though, I think the main issue is that we’re forced into talking about Black issues, Indigenous issues, Latinx issues, AAPI issues, and Middle Eastern issues (am I missing anyone?) as if they’re all part of one collective…which they are in a sense (White supremacy), but it’s just such a wide-ranging topic. matcha123 really got it right, I think – “BIPOC” is a start, but then you need to address specific issues.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Also because some indigenous people are not dark-skinned, like the Sámi in Northern Scandinavia.

    5. Llellayena*

      I’m glad to see this thread because I had to look up the term myself. When I looked it up there was no “and” in the description, so it was just black, indigenous people of color. I took this to mean that it was referring to a subset of POC (which would also include Latino, Asian, etc) for black non-immigrants. Adding the “and” opens the term back up and isn’t any more descriptive than just POC. (I am paper white, so I don’t mind being corrected if I’m interpreting wrong)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yes, it is more descriptive, some indigenous people who’ve been subject to discrimination, eugenics, etc. are white.

    6. Disco Janet*

      Interesting question! This reminds me of something we discussed back in one of my favorite college courses – it was regarding the term LGBTQ+, and questioning whether by giving some groups their own letter and others just having to fall under the plus sign, are we privileging some groups over others? That isn’t most people’s intent, it’s just the way the acronym and language evolved – but it does seem to marginalize someone who is already a part of a marginalized group.

      1. Pineapples*

        I definitely see the parallels to LGBT+, and in my experience people add more or fewer letters and let the acronym stand for everyone, lettered or not. But BIPOC is extra confusing to me because it’s already a subset, like if we had LG&Sexual/Gender Minorities or something.

    7. hermit crab*

      My impression (though I could be wrong!) is that it has been more common in other English-speaking countries and is just now becoming a thing in the U.S.

      You’re also definitely not alone in having questions about it. I recently stumbled on a twitter conversation sparked by someone (a comedian type, maybe?) saying something like “I was today years old when I realized that BIPOC doesn’t stand for Bisexual People of Color. I was wondering why we were taking this moment to tackle bi erasure!” There were a lot of lighthearted responses from bi-BIPOC (? lol) that I found both very funny and very informative.

    8. kz*

      When I learned the term there was no “and.” So it’s intended to make the term “POC” (which as other folks noted, has been watered down) more specific.

      1. Pineapples*

        Oh that is interesting. I can actually see Black and Indigenous People of Color as a helpful specifier in certain circumstances…though why do you need OC there, couldn’t you just say Black and Indigenous People.

        Umbrella terms are complicated, it seems.

  7. MistOrMister*

    Does anyone have suggestions for cat teeth cleaning? I got some wipes from the pet store last weekend and have a cat toothbrush as well. When I’ve tried using the toothbrush in the past, it has not gone well. I’m not sure the wipes will do much good either. But my cats have genetically bad teeth so we need to get on the cleaning train. I love my cats, but I don’t love how they go bonless and turn into a hard to hold squirmy puddle when teeth are involved!

    1. Anonymous because reasons*

      I use my finger and rub the cat toothpaste directly on their teeth! They quite like it because it’s fishy. It’s not very effective I don’t think, they just end up licking it off, but it’s better than nothing. I imagine letting them ‘chew’ the brush with the paste on would be just as good.

      I always find taking one of them to the vets for their teeth clean very stressful, not to mention expensive.

    2. CoffeeforLife*

      Have you tried the finger brush that slips over like a condom? It might be easier. There are water additives but I didn’t find them to work.

      My vet said she gave up on daily cleaning and just does a big yearly cleaning because it stressed out her animals.

      To address the cost of a yearly pet dental: I found a clinic that only does surgery -you have everything lined up with your vet (diagnosis, etc) and then this place does the actual work. They do pet dental for around $200 It’s a lot less expensive than my vet! Maybe your area has something like that.

    3. Trixie*

      One Youtube video showed a helpful starting position. Kneeling on the floor with cat between knees and both facing forward in same direction. Leaning forward over cat to angle their mouth up but they are anchored from squirming backwards. I think I would start with getting them familiar with the placement first, grooming or petting or treats. Then same placement while scratching chin and starting to look at their teeth, basically step by step if possible. My cat LOVES the flavor of some chicken tooth paste but we haven’t gotten past taste test. I’m looking for a softer brush versus the massive one that came with tooth paste. I’m fine with regular cleanings but my guy is no spring chicken so slightly more risky.

      This is something I would absolutely start early on with a kitten so they become used to. I did that with current cat so he was comfortable both a carrier and car rides. Made all the difference 17 years later.

    4. Lizabeth*

      My cats didn’t like the finger toothbrush but they did tolerate a baby toothbrush. It was always a two person job, one to hold and one to brush.

    5. KoiFeeder*

      Virbac CET enzyme chews. I think they make them in cat, I know they make them for dogs. They’ve been helpful for Sir Fusspot, who will NOT let you touch his face.

    6. Kuododi*

      Back when I was maidservant to the feline overlords…I would have to get an old towel and make a cat burrito for health and safety. (Regardless of the situation….teeth cleaning, dosing with meds etc) Helped cut down on battle scars. Good luck!!!

  8. MistOrMister*

    Is anyone taking this time of staying home to foster a pet? I’ve considered it with a dog, but I don’t want to get a foster and then have to leave it at home all day alone if we go back to the office. That’s the whole reason I got cats instead of dogs in the first place.

    1. CoffeeforLife*

      Fostering is great! You could look into doing vacation/short term fosters. These are for when the foster “parents” need to go out of town. It could be a weekend, week, whatever. Check with your local organizations.

      If you have an especially long day away then your fosters would need supplemental help for potty/walking.

      1. MistOrMister*

        What a great idea! I can’t believe that didn’t occur to me. Thanks. I tried fostering and ended up with 2 permanent cats, and don’t think I’m good at long term fostering as I get too attached. But temporary help would be right up my alley.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I suggested it to my husband who wasn’t interested in “a surprise dog”. :( We both have to be on board for a pet, so I’m still sans canine.

    3. hermit crab*

      Me! We’re on our second foster since April and it’s SUPER fun. I am working from home for at least the whole summer, so there’s no issues with leaving the dog alone. It’s a great compromise for us because I have serious puppy fever (apparently when my biological clock ticks it says “dog” rather than “baby”), but my spouse isn’t really a dog person and our non-pandemic lifestyle isn’t a good fit for a dog anyway.

      CoffeeforLife’s suggestion of respite fostering could be really good, if you have a lot of flexibility right now. The rescue we work with also encourages short-term “dogventure” fostering, where you take a dog for the weekend to give them a break from the kennel.

      1. Anxious Cat Servant*

        My bio clock ticks for kittens rather than kids so I know what you mean! Fostering kittens has been great during the pandemic – all the fun of the little furballs without the lifelong commitment. We have two full-time cats and while I could handle up to four, if I got a new kitten (or pair) every time my bio clock said we need a kitten, we’d be a definite hoarder situation. So fostering helps that (and reminds me how much ENERGY those little ones have!) while also saving tiny lives. Win win!

    4. Not a cat*

      We took a three year-old Labradoodle for six weeks. I spend most of it potty and leash training him. Smart dog, but super hyper. He’s with his “forever” owner now, but to be honest, I don’t think the placement was a great choice. But, the head of the foster org didn’t ask my opinion. I really hope it works out.

    5. Natalie*

      I wouldn’t worry too much about the future possibility that you might not be home all day. First of all, most adult dogs are perfectly fine being left alone during the workday – dogs are crepuscular, meaning most active at dawn and dusk, and often sleep a lot during the day. In fact, part of fostering for many dogs is getting used to be left alone during the day, since their forever family will likely be doing that. (I’m actually worried that our younger dog will have a tough adjustment whenever I go back to the office.)

      Second, you’re kind of borrowing trouble. If you go back to the office when you have the foster and if there are issues with the dog being left at home, you can address then. Foster placements have to be changed all the time for various reasons, in the not super likely event that you were no longer able to foster the dog, the shelter/rescue would find it another home.

    6. Four-legged Fosterer*

      I foster all the time, both dogs and cats.

      I suggest that you be honest with a rescue about your schedule now and when you return to work, and see what they say. There are plenty of dogs that do well when you are away for the day. My situation isn’t ideal as I put puppies in a large crate when I am at work, and have a spot for them in there to ‘potty’. Ideally I wouldn’t have them potty at all indoors, and would properly house-train them, but the rescues are fine with it because it’s better than them being dead. The new adoptive homes can do the proper house-training. It’s also hard to coordinate moving a full litter of young puppies outdoors, so it makes more sense for the adopters to properly start the training at 8-9 weeks old. The adult dogs are fine if I’m at work 9 hours a day. If a rescue really needs help with fostering then they will find a way to make it work with you.

      Note that in the northern U.S. there are often a lot of foster homes and not a lot of dogs in rescue. So if you apply and don’t get a response, or if they respond saying that they have enough applicants, then it’s not personal. Right now our cat rescues have enough foster homes, and the dog rescues have almost no dogs in care (because many of them come from the South – chis from Texas are popular) so they aren’t accepting new applicants.

      Good luck! I highly recommend applying, as it’s rewarding to send them off to new homes.

    7. Sam I Am*

      When I looked into fostering dogs, (ended up not doing it for Reasons) I found a couple of orgs that do short term foster setups. One was fostering for military while they were deployed, the listings at the time were for 3 month overseas training deployments, so, hard end date.
      Another was fostering dogs for people who were undergoing surgery and couldn’t care for the animal while the human recovered. The end date was less defined, but still a capped commitment, not an open ended “once they’re adopted” scenario.
      Good luck!

  9. LGC*

    Okay, so…I promised that I’d come back with some resources about black runners last week (well, two weeks ago, actually), but things have been overwhelming to say the least. Not only with just life in general, but specifically because I’ve been going through a ton of podcasts.

    So I’ll start with a running pod that people should subscribe to: Keeping Track. Alysia Montano is one of the hosts, and she is AMAZING. (If the name rings a bell for anyone, she’s the professional runner who ran an 800 like 8 months pregnant a few years ago. And she’s continued to be an advocate for women’s rights and racial equality in the running world since.)

    1. Runner Nerd*

      I love Keeping Track!

      Another podcast that has had several Black runners as guests lately is the Allie on the Run Show.

      The Fast Women newsletter (and Twitter account and Facebook group) covers lots of women’s running.

    2. Lady Jay*

      Ooo, I have suggestions for Black runners, largely because I follow runners / professional (ultra)running.

      I recommend Aliphine Tuliamuk on Twitter –– she won the Olympic Trials for women’s marathon in Atlanta earlier this year. She’s a naturalized US citizen originally from Kenya and has a very positive, upbeat social media presence. I love following her.

      Eliud Kipchoge (the runner who set the sub-two hour marathon) has a strong Insta presence, usually of him running with his team.

      Also, right now ultrarunner Coree Woltering is trying to set a speed record on the thousand-mile Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin. He’s cutting it *very* close; we should know sometime on Monday whether he makes it. He’s obviously not posting much of anywhere right now, but he has a Twitter presence, and the FKT website will have info about his attempt.

  10. Drtheliz*

    I think I have quarrantine ennui. I’m increasingly tempted to just take some clippers and shave my head (I have hip-length hair). I would donate the offcuts to a local org, but… This would be very drastic and I have a huge red birthmark at the base of my skull which would then show. I don’t know if I want to be talked into it or out if it…

    1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Oooh, don’t do it! I get the frustration, especially if your hair is feeling too long, but I think shaving it off is too drastic. Maybe try a DIY trim first. Or some other radical change like getting rid of all of your books.

      1. Drtheliz*

        My book collection would take rather longer than six years to rebuild! (I’ve had it very short before, that’s about how long it’ll take to grow through).

      2. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Never mind shaving my head, I think I’d sooner shave my head and paint it pink than get rid of my books.

    2. TechWorker*

      If it’s hip length presumably you could go for a pretty significant trim and still have lots to donate! I cut my hair in quarantine (followed a YouTube video where you pull it into a ponytail at the front of your head and then snip to give layers, it’s still shoulder length) and have zero regrets (it was getting long enough to get tangled!) but shaving is a very different ball game… :)

      1. Drtheliz*

        I kinda want to donate all of it because the wig-making process loses a fair bit and it’s quite fine hair, and they don’t get much that’s really long so it would do more good, y’know? It’s not so much the care burden, which I am sufficiently used to by now, it’s that I’ve kind of gotten bored of it long (new styles only help so much) and I’ve sort of always wanted to be reckless and wild with short hair. I’ve only relatively recently come to terms with being “allowed” to, as my mother was super against it and I kind of internalised that, and then I was job hunting. Now I’m gainfully employed (and thirty) so…if not now, when?

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Looks like you’ve thought about it for a while, and you know what you want. Why *not* do it?

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          When I had butt-length hair I thought about selling it. There are websites, and untreated hair can sell for a lot of money. (And not just wigs — some people still do historic hair art.)
          I chickened out after reading a few creepy stories about buyers who were apparently into it for a hair-cutting kink. Eep.

        3. Katia*

          Totally understand this! I was in the same situation than you, and what I did was cutting it at shoulders length. It left my stylist with enough hair to work with in a super short and edgy style.
          It’s also a big change in terms of styling and what products to use, I loved it
          Hair grows back, if you want to do something with it, go ahead!

    3. nep*

      I’ve buzzed my head twice (female with long-ish hair), and all I can say is that each time, a moment came when the questions, worries, doubts were absent and it was just right. A moment comes when you can’t do it quickly enough because it’s The Thing To Do. Until that point, especially for something so drastic, breathe…hold off…let time pass and see whether that moment ever comes.
      All the best

    4. Mimosa Jones*

      Do you know if the place you’ll donate to is even accepting donations right now?

    5. Lcsa99*

      I wouldn’t go with anything too crazy until things are back to normal. It could just be a reaction to all the stress right now! But you can try something else with it. Maybe try crazy color you’d usually never use (something that washes out).

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Washes out is a relative term. I used a green semi-perm that was supposed to last a month to six weeks. I now have blond with a green cast, like I spent too much time in the swimming pool (chlorine), and a few stubborn green streaks.

    6. Still*

      One thing I would consider is how you’d go about growing it back out if you wanted to. It’s easy enough to keep your hair short if you shave it yourself and I definitely loved having a buzz cut. But if you decide to grow it back out, the in-between stages can be very awkward and tend to require frequent visits to a hairdresser to keep your hair from looking like a total mess. Would you be able to do it safely where you live?

      Another thing to consider: do you work out a lot? One thing that surprised me after shaving my head was how much sweat would suddenly have nowhere to go and just stream down my face and into my eyes. You can definitely wear a sweatband but it’s something to keep in mind.

    7. PX*

      Interesting. I know someone who basically does something similar. Every few years she just feels like its time and shaves her head. She usually keeps it for a few months-1 year and then starts growing it out again.

      So is it quarantine ennui specifically or is quarantine just the thing that made you realise its time for a change?

    8. Ranon*

      I’ve not buzzed my hair from hip length but I have donated from hip length (twice) and I say go for it! The first cut will probably be from a ponytail anyways- you could look up ponytail/ unicorn DIY haircuts first and do the ponytail cut in a way that can be modified into a slightly longer style so you have an interim stopping point if you lose your nerve.

      But it’s summer, it’s hot, hacking off all your hair is what summer is for!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        When I did a long-to-short haircut myself, I did four or five small braids and cut each individually…and got a nice bob out of the deal.

    9. Llellayena*

      I’ve cut my hair from hip-length to chin-length a couple of times and found that anything shorter than my shoulders looks awful on me. Do you know what the in between stages will look like and will you be able to keep them looking professional as it grows back out? If you’re ok with that, go ahead!

    10. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Give it a week or two to make sure you really want to do it and are not just bored. If you actually want to shave your head, you’ll still want to shave your head in 2 weeks.

    11. Red Light Specialist*

      I’ve done extreme hair cuts with significant life events (and donated the hip-length ponytail/braid) more than once and never regretted it. My hair doesn’t grow particularly fast, but I have been back to full length within 3-4 years with only trims. I’ve never gone shorter than a pixie cut or chin length, which gave me the opportunity to go even shorter if I chose. The nice thing about hair is that it generally grows back out if you’re changing it by choice, so changes can be temporary, if not at-will. The other side of the blade is that once you’ve started, you’re committed. My personal strategy was to do the cut myself, but have a stylist lined up the next day to get it tidied up to a planned cut. That might be more challenging right now, depending on your location and risk assessment.

      If you’re planning to donate, make sure you find a place that will accept color-treated hair if that’s what you have, and that you conform to their format.

      I’d suggest sitting with it for at least a week or two in which you imagine you’ve committed to it, and see how that makes you feel. Sad, relieved, excited, bad-scared, regretful, liberated? Are you concerned about how some other people will see you (or your birthmark), and are you seeing those people right away, before you get used to it yourself? It’s also an opportunity to assess how much you consider your hair a part of your identity or personality, and think about how you handle it – styled and down, or always in a braid or bun? Does it irritate you or please you? My sibling made the choice to cut as an acknowledgement of changing identity, and because they weren’t enjoying it at all, just finding it a time-sink. I did mine once as a statement of cathartic self-ownership.

      Last bits of advice: I suggest doing it when you’re in a calm or neutral mood rather than at an emotional extreme, but you do you. And I was less bothered by “can’t pull it back” then I had been warned. There are always clips and headbands, and the awkward lengths didn’t last long and didn’t kill me.

      Whatever you choose, good luck!

  11. CoffeeforLife*

    I’ve started going back to the gym (OTF) and the class instructor is so passive aggressive (she even calls it out, like, “you come for my passive aggressive comments”) and it’s a huge turn off. I feel like I can’t say anything because she’s the head coach.

    The first day back she was complaining about wearing a mask, saying things like, “I can’t breathe in this thing,” “I’m dying.” I just felt it was completely inappropriate given recent events.

    She makes comments about covid-19 and how soon things with go back to normal (our classes are shorter and smaller) soon and then inserts a snarky comment about corporate safety measures…

    As I type this, I know I should use my words and say something but ugh. I want to be able to go back and I think she’s the type to hold a grudge. I think my examples aren’t egregious enough…or I’m essentially asking her to not be.. sarcastic? Like it isn’t super specific.

    1. sswj*

      I think if you aren’t (yet) comfortable addressing it head on, doing the ignore/redirect route may be best.

      Don’t react at all to the snarky stuff, just keep doing what you were doing for exercises or whatever. You could pause a beat after her comment (if you’re one-on-one or in a very small group), stay expressionless, and then ask a pointed question about the movement of an exercise or something. Don’t engage the snark beyond maybe a look that implies you’re thinking “wow, I can’t believe she just said that”.

      If you want to be more direct, you could mention that it can take a bit to find a mask of a face shield that’s comfortable since they are as personal as good shoes – one size or style absolutely doesn’t fit everyone – and that you’ve gotten used to it and are happy to do anything that will help keep everyone safer.

      I’m guessing that telling her she’s being a selfish baby won’t go down well! (Kidding! [mostly :p ] )

    2. Just another opinion*

      Honestly, I would vote with my wallet and find another place to take fitness classes.

      1. Christy*

        Yeah, same here. (I also had a friend quit OTF immediately before the pandemic for a host of reasons and she LOVED it so like maybe OTF or this OTF isn’t the answer for you right now.)

        1. CoffeeforLife*

          Orange Theory Fitness. It’s group led HIIT. I need someone to tell me what to do or I just…won’t.

      2. un-pleased*

        Agreed. Part of why I work out is for the mental health benefits – those matter to me as much as the physical ones, and more some days. This person would stress me out so badly, I’d be tense before and irritated after. Her demeanor would prevent me from being able to attain what I need from the service I am paying for (and she is a service provider, don’t forget), so I’d have to go elsewhere.

      3. allathian*

        Yeah, me too. Or if it’s a bigger gym, switch to another class with another instructor, if possible. If you decide to take your business elsewhere, make sure to let the owner/manager know that you’re leaving because of the instructor’s attitude.

    3. nep*

      Could you go to her supervisor? If she’s getting paid and you’re paying for these classes, you shouldn’t have to put up with her inappropriate comments and lack of professionalism. I don’t know if you feel like going to her boss would be nasty, but if she’s being unprofessional in her job I think they should be aware.
      Or, yes, maybe take your money elsewhere as others have suggested.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        If her ‘brand’ is sarcasm, a supervisor won’t be effective. This instructor’s making money with her brand, one person’s feedback will not change anything.

        CoffeeForLife, you *might* get some traction if you can get other people to join you in saying this isn’t ok – maybe 3 people? (I’m assuming classes are maybe 10 people, so about 1/3 of a class)

        If you can’t get a group, I think it’s either walk away or tune her out.

        1. nep*

          I suppose…but that’s if she’s being really successful and has a big following because of that ‘brand.’
          Good point, and good suggestion to see whether others are not loving her approach.

        2. WellRed*

          There’s sarcasm and then there’s whining and complaining about the place you work. No customer wants to hear that.

    4. Pharmgirl*

      I think OTF is franchised? Is there another location you could go to? You’re still voting with your wallet but can keep the workouts you like.

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        My city only has 1 location, the other location is 20 min away and she’s the head coach there too.. :/

        1. Sam I Am*

          I live in the middle of nowhere and I totally get this, sometimes I suck it up and pay for services from someone whom I wish had a competitor, and sometimes I draw a line at their behavior and… go without. Good luck!

    5. Koala dreams*

      That sounds exhausting, especially the gallows humour. Those jokes could be very hurtful to people. Joking about dying to customers in the middle of a pandemic it not acceptable. Is there a manager or an owner you can complain to?

      I wouldn’t assume that other people appreciate the sarcastic comments, either. Often people ignore rather than speak up. If you have the chance to talk with other customers, maybe you’ll find other people who’ll support you in speaking to the instructor..

    6. exercising at home now*

      That would so turn me off in general, but also, to me, it shows such a lack of understanding of the health reasons we are wearing masks – indoors, in a small space, where people are breathing hard – (and of course the comments were even more inappropriate at this moment), that I would have trouble trusting in the skills as a trainer, and that she would have my best interest while training me.

    7. LGC*

      I’m seconding the call first made by Just another opinion: Don’t use your words. Use your wallet.

      Like, I know you say you want to go back (and once I figured out what you meant by OTF, it makes somewhat more sense), but also it sounds like this is just SUPER unpleasant. Like, you’re paying good money to go have a woman yell cutting remarks at you while you sweat. (And if you’re just really into paying someone to be passive aggressive at you while you frantically exercise, I can give you my Venmo information and meet you on Zoom.) Is there another gym/fitness class that might be slightly less of a hellhole?

    8. Kiwi with laser beams*

      Please do NOT feel like the anti-safety comments aren’t egregious enough. She is leading a group, and the things she says and does can influence people in the class. It’s OK to acknowledge that the pandemic is making things more difficult, but there is no need to be anti-safety when doing so.

      And the passive aggressiveness sounds horrible to me too. You mentioned that it’s not possible to go to another branch of this particular franchise and that you need the motivation of group classes; is there a different chain of gyms that do other group classes?

      And if this is the only place nearby that does group classes, DO your classmates “come for [her] passive aggressive comments”? Or are they just a captive audience like you? There might be other people in the class who hate the way she acts but think they’re the only one because no one says anything. If that’s the case, you could push back as a group.

    9. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      Fill out a comment card (or email, I haven’t been to Orangetheory myself.) I worked in fitness and they took the comment cards/complaint emails VERY seriously, and an instructor getting negative feedback would result in the instructor being talked to and monitored for a bit to assess the situation.

    10. Sam I Am*

      You’re paying for this. This person is working for you. Do you want to keep them on your team? Just like any other position, can you put up with everything that comes with them because you like their work? Unlike an actual employer, you can easily remove this person from “your staff” and if you choose to do that, I’d be clear about it. “I love the work you’re doing at it’s core, but it’s a bad fit for me with all the sarcasm about the pandemic. Good luck on your future endeavors!”

  12. Jaid*

    Just wanted folks to know that after switching my kittygirl’s food to minced/morsels from Petco instead of the usual Fancy Feast pate and going with an indie brand of dry food, she’s looking a lot better. Still fragile and too easy to push around, but yeah. A LOT better.

    Thanks y’all for your kind words. Pet parents are awesome.

  13. sswj*

    Any fishkeepers here? What have you got?

    I’ve fairly recently gotten the goldfish bug, and I’m kind of addicted. Eons ago I worked in a pet store and loved the fish section. I’ve always wanted a tank but the time/place was never right. Last year someone gave me their old 35 gal set-up, and that did it – I’m hooked! That tank was pretty quickly replaced by a 45, and I’ve just gotten a 10 gal that was supposed to be a hospital/quarantine tank, but I just put 2 more fantails in it yesterday. Actually, I think one is a teeny tiny oranda, but time will tell. In the big tank I have 3 small fantails and a tiny black ranchu.

    What I need are better plants though. I have watersprite that is kind of taking over the world, and I keep needing to trim it. I’d like to get a sword plant or a nice anubias (things greedy goldfish won’t eat!) but I’m having trouble finding a good source. The nearest good live fish stores are at least an hour away, and Petsmart/Petco are hopeless for good plants.

    Does anyone have any reliable internet sources for healthy aquarium plants that won’t bring nasty things into my tanks?

    1. CatCat*

      I only have one fish, a betta. He lives in a 5 gallon heated fish palace. He sometimes has a snail with him. The snails died though and I don’t know why. They were great qt keeping down algae. Any suggestions for fighting algae?

    2. pancakes*

      There are lots of plant sellers on Etsy. Marcus Fish Tanks looks like they get good ratings. I don’t keep fish but I like aquatic plants and think about getting into them now & then.

    3. KoiFeeder*

      How often are you doing water changes? I’ve got koi, not goldfish, but carp need at least two friends and a lot of gallonage because their evolutionary niche is “produce more waste than any other fish can tolerate.” Even the fancies can reach a foot in a pond setting (if they live long enough, which…), so I’d be looking into large tanks or digging up the backyard.

      As for plants, I’ve got a bit of a different approach. The koi love love love duckweed, but it’s fast-growing enough that they can’t easily decimate it. I don’t know how this works in a tank rather than a pond, but it’s an option.

      1. sswj*

        My fancies are little for now, 2” or less. Water gets changed about every 3 weeks, or when the water parameters test anything less than perfect. I don’t feed a ton and the tank isn’t heated so they are growing slowly, and I’ve got a a big canister filter plus live plants to help with nitrates. A bigger tank and/or pond is definitely on my plans for the future though!

        1. Kodamasa*

          I kept goldfish for 15 years or so. They’re great; can’t beat a 25¢ fish with personality that grows to a foot long and lives for a decade or three!

          I never had luck with live plants with my goldfish as they’d rip them up whether they wanted to eat them or not. Mine always liked to “landscape” so I’d wake up in the morning and half the gravel would be on the other side of the tank. Nothing can take root in those conditions. However yours are small and if they grow up with plants, and the plants have time to take proper root, you’ll probably have better luck than me.

          I have no real help for you, just wanted to shout out to a fellow goldfish lover!

          1. KoiFeeder*

            I’ve had better success with curbing landscaping in a pond setting, as long as I permit tadpoles and stuff to live in the pond as well. They’re less likely to tear up the whole pond looking for free snacks if there’s more easily accessible snacks already there.

  14. Jaid*

    On another topic, the Sugarloaf Craft Festival has announced bankruptcy. With having no shows since March and no way of knowing when they could have shows, they ran out of funds. One of the artists tweeted me saying that he paid for a March show which was cancelled and was still asked for more money. He’s irate that it’s not likely he’ll get his money back.

    I’m gonna miss the show in Oaks, PA. I have so much jewelry, wall art, even my glasses frames came from there. Fortunately, the website is still available so I could save the names and websites of the artists I like and find out where they will show in the future.

    Anyone else going to miss Sugarloaf? They were a juried craft show on the East Coast that had been in operation since ’75.

    1. Claire Ritterhoff*

      Sorry to hear this. I have many wonderful purchases from the Maryland shows. Craft buying has changed a lot since the shows began.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      Awww no! I didn’t know they’d been around for so long — only went once but really enjoyed it. Maybe they’ll be able to start back up after Covid.

    3. WellRed*

      One thing I’ve been a bit surprised by is how close to the edge so many orgs are. Like, a few months of cancelled events and it’s game over. No reserves. Don’t even get me started on our local tourism industry which won’t be satisfied with anything less then full and immediate reopening. Diversify, people.

    4. fposte*

      Not specifically Sugarloaf, but I’m a huge fan of juried art fairs and it’s like my whole summer’s rhythm is gone. I’m trying to sort through my browser bookmarks and old programs online to browse artists that I like so that I can still support them if they’ve got something that appeals.

    5. Dancing Otter*

      Your friend should reread his contract. If they’re bankrupt, it’s unlikely he will get a refund, deserved or not.
      IANAL, but if they canceled the March show, rather than him backing out, I don’t see how they would have a valid claim against him for more money.

      1. Jaid*

        Ah, his tweet reads:

        “They also took our show money, wouldn’t refund it, moved the shows back, kept taking money, and then declared bankruptcy on us. Then they sent us an email blaming us artists for not sending them more money!”

        :-(

    6. Tris Prior*

      I am an art show vendor, though I also have a day job and no longer depend on show sales for anything other than extra spending money. Good thing, because all shows have been cancelled here and my heart breaks for my friends who rely on summer festival income to make ends meet.

      I’m also hearing that a lot of shows aren’t refunding artists’ fees. If the company is declaring bankruptcy, then the artists will just be added to a list of the business’s creditors and likely will not get their money back, which really sucks. Fees for big festivals can be MANY hundreds of dollars, most artists cannot just eat that. I vend much less than I used to (due to day job) and I’m grateful that the one big summer festival that I still do never even put out their application or collected any fees.

      It sucks all around, for everyone.

    7. Not trying to be rude, just good at it*

      We have a food vending business in your area. Every single event has been cancelled until the fall with no promise of restarting in 2020. A few show organizations have continued to contact me for payments even though they do not guarantee the event will happen or a refund will be provided. Not trying to one up your friend, but I have over $2000 in as yet not refunded fees from events that have been cancelled. It’s going to be a cataclysmic for vendors, especially for full-timers, and only the strong with savings will make it to 2021.

    8. Quinalla*

      I always look forward to the Columbus (OH) Art Festival which was supposed to be two weeks ago but was of course canceled to online-only, not exactly the same, but yeah I hear you! They will be back when they can I’m sure whether that is next year or in two years, but I was very bummed and worried for the artists that have all their events canceled this summer. I need to make sure to buy a few things in the next few weeks to help support them!

  15. The Other Dawn*

    Last weekend I asked about mattress toppers and I’m happy to report my new one arrived yesterday. I got it from Sam’s Club and it’s three inches of memory foam with a one inch pillow top cover. I used it last night and felt NO pressure points at all! My back felt good and my hips didn’t bother me. As far as it “sleeping hot” as some people mentioned, I’m not sure yet. I woke up at 2:30 am and was sweating, but my bedroom AC doesn’t do the greatest job so it might just be a coincidence. The temp in the room was 71 (a few degrees higher than usual) and we had the door cracked open for the cats. I closed the door and was fine the rest of the night. It felt so good to not wake up in pain before the day even starts! And to be able to lay in bed for more than five minutes after waking up because I wasn’t in pain. So thank you to those who gave me input. :)

    1. Oxford Comma*

      This is possibly a very stupid question, but did you have to get extra deep sheets for this?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I believe the sheets I have already are deep pocket. The topper adds four inches and I have Sleep Number bed with a pillow top, so my guess is that’s what I have.

  16. Teapot seller*

    I have an ethical dilemma: what do you think is okay to ask of a nanny in the age of covid?

    We love our nanny and her son so much, and when covid hit we all felt safest paying her to stay home. My husband is potentially higher risk and we’ve been taking the virus very seriously.

    We recently decided ok, time to figure out what it looks like to bring her back. And we’re hoping she’d be willing to keep her socializing socially distant unless she’s someone who is also operating in quarantine. Is that ethical, or is that too much to ask of someone?

    1. sswj*

      It can’t hurt to at least have a conversation about her comfort level with the idea. Talk to her and see what she’s thinking, what her life looks like currently. If she’s as concerned and as diligent as you are then it’s probably fine to have her back. But I don’t see how a nanny can be also distancing since by definition it’s a pretty hands-on occupation. You know her well, it seems. Is she detail-oriented enough to be vigilant about masks, hand washing, sanitizing, and not congregating any more than is absolutely necessary?

    2. Ducksgoquack*

      It’s perfectly reasonable to want your nanny to be practicing social distancing. But also unreasonable and impossible to enforce it in her personal life. I would explain it as a requirement for looking after your kid and ask if that fits in with what she’s doing. If she doesn’t see the need for social distancing, that’s her choice and you can’t dictate otherwise. Yet you’re also within your rights to then say this isn’t something you’re comfortable with and look for another nanny.

      This is a difficult situation all around. Hope it works out for you.

      1. Teapot seller*

        I guess that’s part of my question—if we ask her to come back under these conditions, and she’s not able to/comfortable with being as strict as we are, do we continue to pay her to be out? Do we pay her until she finds something else? It doesn’t seem fair to just say, well, you’re on your own now. Agh.

        1. Ducksgoquack*

          I mean…ultimately this is a business relationship. So if you cannot agree on terms and conditions it’s reasonable to give her notice and stop paying her afterwards. It would be generous and kind for you to pay her some extra but certainly not necessary to support her until she finds another nannying gig.

          1. WellRed*

            Yes, this is business and the job requirements have changed. It’s her choice whether she wants to accept them or not.

            1. Cat*

              Yes but there are gradations. I don’t think you say “if you can’t commit to having zero personal life, you’re fired.” Yes, it’s your right, but it is also cruel. Decide what you’re ok with. Is it six feet apart meet ups? Is it seeing only her parents and immediate family? Is it seeing only a boyfriend? Then talk it through with her. If she says “I don’t believe in coronavirus so I’m not doing any social distancing,” sure, that’s egregious, fire her immediately. If she’s reasonable but her life is incompatible with what you need, agree on severance and a good reference.

        2. Green Mug*

          Did you talk to her already about social distancing? She might be on the same page as you. If you decide that she is no longer a good fit for your family, then I think 2 weeks ‘severance’ is reasonable. You don’t have to pay her indefinitely. Good luck!

    3. Amateur everything*

      It could be, in time, that taking Covid and Social Distancing seriously becomes just another thing that people might have reason to make requirements about. For example, you might require your nanny to be a non-smoker because your kid has asthma, or you might want a nanny who doesn’t have pets in their own house because someone in your house is severely allergic. As long as you are clear and have a conversation about your expectations/requirements and why you have them, I’m not sure how it’s unethical. (It would be unethical to spring it on someone after they’ve been hired. but if you give someone all the information they need upfront to make a decision about whether these are requirements they are willing to abide by, it seems okay to me.)

      1. RagingADHD*

        I agree.

        If you can’t find a level that you’re both content with, just give her a generous severance payment.

        Or she may want to try it for a while and move on later if she’s not happy with it.

        The most important thing is to be transparent & clear, and that you’re able to trust her to be honest about her situation.

    4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I don’t think it’s unethical to ask, but note that it is asking more of her than last year, in terms of how the job affects the rest of her life. She might reasonably ask for a pay raise for the duration.

      Also, don’t ask of her anything you aren’t expecting of yourselves. Be clear about your definitions of “someone else who is also operating in quarantine” and of physically distant socializing. In particular, don’t ask her to restrict her son’s activities or social contact more than you’re restricting your own child’s.

    5. Jessi*

      I am a nanny and I think its okay to have a discussion about it! I would start by explaining where your family is at, and what you would like from her. I would cover what you are doing, and what steps you are taking to make her work place a safe place for her to be. If she is happy to be back and agrees to your current conditions I would also put down a time frame for when you plan to revisit/ review the levels of distancing you are doing.

      There was lots of discussions going on here in the UK as we are going down a level (and schools are opening back up). A lot of the chatter in my nanny group this month has come from the nanny and the employers not being on the same level so I think best to talk it over. There are so many different levels of comfort; for example I am going to work (started a new job last week), washing my hands, and keeping an eye out for symptoms, but Dad (who is a teacher) went back to work this week so I’m more likely to get it from them. Other nannies and families are doing a daily temperature check, and using gloves and masks, and some nannies are still using public transport to get to work.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      Why is it time to bring your nanny back? Is Covid gone in your area?
      I wouldn’t trust anyone’s statements about how much they socialize when their job and livelihood depend on their answers. If you’re willing to risk contact with your nanny, assume she’s willing to risk contact with other people herself. Again, her job is at stake and she’s better off telling whatever you want to hear. I wouldn’t bring a nanny back at this time but I’m not you.
      Stay safe and healthy.

      1. Natalie*

        ? Most people are not going to be able to go without childcare for the years that this pandemic will likely last. Not to shock you or anything, but lots of people still have kids in daycare.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I am not sure how one would verify that anyone has maintained social distancing throughout their day.

      I do think that it is fair to remind her that your house is a vulnerable setting and does she feel she can keep herself safe in order to return to work?

      I am thinking of it this way: I got into an argument with a good friend. I refused to enter her house because her husband is vulnerable. She said it was okay. My hill to die on was, “If anything happens to your hubby, everyone will say it came from me. And even if it didn’t I would not be able to live with myself.” So, clearly, I did not enter the house.
      Other friends DID and hubby got super upset. I mean super-super upset. Phew! At least I knew. But I felt I had that moral obligation to draw that hard line. It could be that you call her and she says, “Nope. I am not willing to walk into your house, knowing about your husband.”

    8. waffles*

      I think it isn’t ethical. It is a little different, but elder care facilities don’t require their staff to be socially distanced in their personal time. Obviously it would be amazing if they are willing or already doing that, but not reasonable for you to make that expectation the basis for their employment. Like the person who is a nanny suggested, have a conversation and see where they are at. If it doesn’t end up working out, consider a generous notice period because this is a totally crazy situation. You know this person well, but COVID has also changed people’s lives a lot. It is worth being open, transparent, and kind.

  17. Loopy*

    I haven’t been reading lately so I hope this hasn’t already come up- but I am having summer sleeping troubles!

    I really really like the weight of a comforter and really struggle sleeping with just a sheet. Lately, the heat has been bothering me more and I wake up overheated and then cant fall back asleep with just the sheet.

    We do have a bedside fan going and have central air but I dont want to adjust it down more due to $$ and other people concerns.

    Does anyone have a suggestion for solving the need for the weight of a comforter with being too hot?

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Yes, I use a lap quilt or small throw. As long as my feet stick out, I can tolerate a quilt even in a warm room.
        It helps, too, that they are me-made with cotton batting and heavy quilting, so not particularly puffy and warm.

    1. Lcsa99*

      You mentioned using a comforter vs sheet, but would a blanket – just something slightly heavier than a sheet – give enough weight for you? We use a woven blanket so it breaths nicely.

      1. LQ*

        A very loosely woven cotton blanket has been great for me. Heavy enough to feel real, but breaths because mostly holes.

    2. Lych*

      I have the same issue, where I can’t sleep without a comforter. I’ve been using a frozen bottle of water rolled up in a tea towel and just kind of hugging it while sleeping… Sounds really sad when I write it out but it really does help me sleep better. When it gets even hotter I might prop one up against my back and hold one to my chest.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I sometimes use a duvet cover without the duvet, or a cotton bedspread. And I’ve thought about making a weighted sheet instead of a weighted blanket.

    4. Recent Grad*

      Open weave cotton blankets! I grew up in a farm house with no AC and they were the only thing that was comfortable on really hot summer nights. They have the weight of a regular blanket or quilt but they don’t hold in heat.

    5. CatPerson*

      We started using a flannel sheet on top of the summer cotton sheet. Love it, it’s just the right amount when the AC is on.

    6. Altair*

      I bought a loosely woven crocheted blanket. The a/c goes right through it but it’s heavy enough to give me that snuggly weighted down feeling.

    7. Aphrodite*

      I’m with you. Using just a sheet or light, loose-weave blanket feels weird so even in hot summers I like a somewhat weighty comforter. While I use a fan too, the best thing by far I have found is the bed fan. This one–https://www.bfan.world/–is made in the US and is just super! It works so well in fact that I keep it only on the lowest setting otherwise I’d have to wear socks. I’ve had mine for about two or three years and it is still working perfectly. (And I have no connection whatsoever with the company; I am just a very satisfied customer.)

    8. Loopy*

      Thanks everyone for the great suggestions! Last night I tried having my feet stick out so I mixed a bit of the advice to keep the blanket weight higher and the advice to have my feet stick out.

      I slept AMAZINGLY. If I woke up with my feet tucked under the blanket, even if I wasn’t overheated, I stuck them back out and it seems to have made a difference in keeping me cooler without losing the weight.

      If it was just a weird coincidence though I will definitely be looking into the blankets suggested here, which I hadn’t thought of. Thanks! Feeling much better having some options.

  18. Ducksgoquack*

    Has anyone visited North Korea?

    I would love to go but too paranoid of the what if. NK has always been a place of fascination for me though. I must have watched dozens of NK travel vlogs and countless more documentaries. If you have any travel stories personally or through someone you know who’s visited, please share!

    1. Don't post frequently*

      I will say upfront it is your choice unless you are American as it is not legal right now for us. I understand the lure of the country very much. Your money will directly be supporting a very totalitarian regime and everything that goes along with it. You will not benefit average North Koreans. If you do decide to go please follow the rules and don’t do anything stupid.

        1. Jenny*

          Google Sophie Schmidt’s account.

          Warner Herzog’s documentary Into the Inferno also has a section on North Korea.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah, being willing to give that government any money is morally dubious at best. It’s not like you’re getting to see the “real” NK either, so just go to one of the hundreds of other countries out there.

    2. aarti*

      You should read Suki Kim’s book–Without You There is No Us. Absolutely fascinating and heartbreaking look at life in North Korea.

      1. Natalie*

        Nothing to Envy is another fascinating look at ordinary life, although important caveat that it’s over 10 years old so doesn’t reflect recent changes.

    3. Pamela Adams*

      I am a ‘stick your feet out from under’ person- it seems to keep the temperature balanced.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        There was a short film I found on YouTube from Galileo (German TV programme) in which somebody had a 2-3 day escorted visit.

    4. Phoenix from the ashes*

      A friend of my husband works for Young Pioneers, who do guided tours to all sorts of interesting places including NK. I had a fascinating chat with him when I met him and I’m very keen to give them my money in a couple of years when I’m no longer a student and have time and money for such things. Cuba, Chernobyl and Iran are highest on my personal list, I think North Korea is probably 4th.

      1. pancakes*

        That’s the organization Otto Warmbier was traveling with. You might want to have a look at articles about them. From the Chicago Tribune, June 2017:

        “Although many details of Warmbier’s fateful trip remain unknown, interviews with past Young Pioneer customers or those who have crossed paths with the tour operator describe a company with occasional lapses in organization, a gung-ho drinking culture and a cavalier attitude that has long raised red flags among industry peers and North Korea watchers.”

        There’s a Guardian article and a Consumer Affairs article that are worth a look as well. I’m not sure about Chernobyl but there are many far more reputable companies that lead tours of Cuba and Iran, if a package tour is a must.

    5. YesImTheAskewPolice*

      Haven’t been there myself, but it’s quite easy for many nationalities to organize pre-planned trips through travel agencies. A couple of years ago the regime in North Korea actually tried to increase the number of visits by international tourists.

      A friend once recommended me Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle, although I haven’t read it so far. It’s also quite dated by now.

      Then there’s of course the thorn tree forum on Lonely Planet, which has its own North Korea sub-forum. Many posts seem to be about insurance questions, but going through the archive probably still should yield some insight or trip reports:
      https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/asia-north-east-asia/north-korea

      Last but not least, here’s a short trip report from 2013, with quite some interesting pictures:
      https://www.dominik-schwarz.net/reisen/nordkorea2013/

  19. Foreign Octopus*

    Last week I had to bite the bullet and buy a new laptop as mine was literally falling apart. I opened it up one day and the edging around the screen just came away. It was really annoying. I decided to properly upgrade and now I’m the very careful owner of a MacBook Air 2020. It’s my first piece of real, serious tech and I’m terrified to use it for fear of breaking it, but it seems to be good so far. I’m having a little trouble with the keyboard as I got the 13in screen (cheaper) and the keyboard is condensed, but I’m kind of a little in love with it.

    Has anyone else bought anything they’re excited about this week?

    1. nep*

      Not this week but recently–bought a laptop also.
      Mine was 10 years old. I gotta say, though, that old thing saw me through a lot and it was still fighting.
      Super happy with my new one, though–the speed and efficiency that would be no big deal to anyone, but huge to me after so long with the old model.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I’m a little sad at having to say goodbye to my old laptop as it’s the one where I started taking my writing seriously, so I’m a touch attached to it.

    2. RosenGilMom*

      I didn’t buy anything, but i made popsicles with my leftover coffee….. They sure put a smile on my face

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We bought an air fryer! The husband looked for a big one that could let him keep making bread over the summer and got a 12-in-1 Cosori. “Pizza, Roast, Airfry, Toast, Bagel, Bake, Broil, Cookies, Rotisserie, Dehydrate, Ferment and Keep Warm settings” WOOT! “Ferment” is 90° so bread rises on a cold night. The baking seems very even — bread, bread pudding, roasted potatoes, and next we try the rotisserie.
      We set it up on the porch, and will move it onto the patio for ultra-hot days. We are quite happy with our summer kitchen – grill over there, and over here under the eaves, a table for plug-in appliances. Coffeepot, InstantPot, rice cooker, slow-cooker, air-fryer… all where they don’t warm up the house.
      Next on my list is repairs to the pop-up tent canopy…or a new one, if it’s beyond help.

    4. CatCat*

      I have a 2013 Macbook Air that works just as well as the day I got it. So I think you’ll get a lot of life out of your Macbook!

      I recently bought an iPhone after 10 years of using Android and I love it. I only miss being able to turn on the flashlight by shaking the phone.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        That gives me a lot of hope! It was just under £1000, and it’s the single biggest purchase I’ve ever made but everyone I spoke to about it said that it was the best, so I took the plunge. I’m still getting used to it but it’s just so pretty! I’m glad I went with the gold colour :)

      2. Sparrow*

        I have a 2012 macbook air, and I am so happy with how it has held up. It’s not quite good as new, but my parents and siblings have gone through several laptops and mine just keeps going strong. I’m hoping to finally retire it and buy the 2020 macbook air as a present for myself when I graduate grad school next spring.

      3. Lemon Meringue Pie*

        You can also trade them in for a surprisingly long time. I got £100 credit for an 8-year-old macbook recently.

    5. CTT*

      I’m going to have to get a new laptop soon-ish and I am not looking forward to it, so kudos to you for getting it done!

      I just got myself a Rothys tote bag as a belated birthday/back to work present and I really love it! I actually loathe the one pair of shoes I got from them, but that was because I found them way too rigid/unforgiving, but those are qualities I want in a bag.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Honestly, I’d been putting it off for ages because of the expense but then I had to. Ordered it through Amazon and it came exactly a week later, no problem. Good luck with your laptop hunting!

    6. Pamela Adams*

      Not a big thing, but I love stone fruit season, I came home the other day with peaches, apricots, and the black velvet apriums. Nom nom nom

    7. Potatoes gonna potate*

      My stroller and car seat set came in finally after waiting months for it to come back in stock! and baby bottles! lol. 

      For non-baby stuff, I also bought a hard drive, 5TB for $110 so I can back up the items from my laptop which is about 5.5 years old now. I have a laptop on loan from my last company but my IT husband was doing research and said that it’s better if I just keep it (pay the company of course) than to get a new one because the specs are really great. 

    8. Olive*

      Not this week, but really recently I bought a Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) and have been really enjoying myself! I had rented from a place for a while but figured a) I’d save money in the long run and b) feel safer if it was my personal board than if it was a communal/rented one since I could control the contact more.

    9. Anxious Cat Servant*

      Congratulations!

      I’m typing on my new-to-me MacBook Air (2014). A friend’s business is upgrading and sold this one cheap so while it’s not new, it’s enough of a step up from my older MacBook Pro that it should buy me a few years to decide what I really need. I have a computer at the office so this laptop is mostly for things I can’t do on my iPad or iPhone like writing.

      In my experience, Mac products are pretty sturdy little things (right up until you drop your iPhone juuuuust right on the tile floor) so it’s unlikely to break. The laptop this one replaced is a 2011 and I carted that thing EVERYWHERE when I was in grad school and it’s fallen off coffee tables and chairs more times than I’d like to admit (always onto carpet or rugs, fortunately) and if it weren’t for how slow it’s gotten in it’s old age I’d still be using it. This current one was formerly an office computer and it’s got some scratches and bumps from people who weren’t so careful with it but my husband’s lower-end PC laptop looks worse and he’s both more careful and it’s newer.

      You can find nice cases and keyboard covers (if you like those) on Amazon or other places and it’s a good way to avoid scraps and protecting against spills. I always feel like my computer’s a little more sturdy with a little armor.

      Congrats on the new laptop and enjoy!

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        My fear of breaking it is overwhelming. I’ve just turned 30 and I’m hoping that it’s going to last me throughout my thirties, but I have a dog and two cats, the latter of whom loves sitting on keyboards and laptops so I’m living in fear at the moment. TBH, I’ve been hearing such good things about Macs that I feel like they’re almost too good to be true, so I really hope it does last. This is definitely the prettiest laptop I’ve had and I feel like a proper professional now i.e. like I’m taking my work from home as a permanent thing and not a temporary, between job thing.

        I hope you find a permanent laptop you enjoy soon!!

    10. Sparrow*

      I bought an inflatable kayak. I’m sad that I can’t go visit my family and travel to the lake cabin with them on the other side of the country. So I’m excited to be able to get out on the water and stay safe (both on the water itself, I have experience with kayaks, and from the virus).

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have sent my laptop to be repaired this week. I also made it to the hairdresser.

    11. Lady Alys*

      I got two giant shelf units – one for the home-office closet and one for the laundry-room closet – and feel SO ORGANIZED! No more file boxes on the floor! No more cleaning supplies stacked precariously on top of the cupboards! It’s as though I have two whole new rooms in my house.

    12. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      Oooh enjoy your new laptop! Also: my old macbook pro is 9 years old and still going (slowly… but going) after being dragged around to several different countries, I’ve always found them to be quite sturdy.

      I moved recently so my purchases this week were:
      – a bed, my first non-IKEA bed, I am veeeery excited
      – a dinner table
      – and a gorgeous set of pots and pans which I got for a very good price and can’t wait to use!

    13. Sir Lena Clare*

      Yes! I’ve been buying items to support my joints: a mini rebounder trampoline and a neck massager which are both excellent and very helpful. The neck massager is so amazing, I’m going to get the back massager too as soon as it is back in stock.
      And I needed a new mattress topper so I’ve just ordered one which is supposed to help relieve pressure points pain. I’m looking forward to that arriving this week.

    14. Liane*

      We were excited to NOT have to replace Husband’s 1.5 year old laptop, which didn’t want to boot up one day. He eventually got it working again, he is a tech.

      I am excited I bought/am buying today:
      1. Some Roleplaying Game Stuff. I picked up Hero Lab character creation software with a Mutants & Masterminds (superhero RPG) license included. Today I head out to get a another Star Wars RPG book, if the store still has it, not sure how up-to-date their webpage is.
      2. A few new models for 3d render art. The company I get most of my models from is having a monthlong sale where each day a different set of some very nice models (normally $15-30) are on sale for $2 each. I have been very good and have only bought 1-2 each week.

    15. Green Mug*

      I just treated myself to the first book in The Witcher series. It should arrive today, and I’m pretty excited about it.

    16. Quinalla*

      We got our first co-op veggies this week – we’d been meaning to sign up for one for ages and finally made it happen for this year. Very nice no-contact pick-up of everything and it is all so delicious. We don’t have a good spot in our yard for a garden (we do herbs sometimes, but that’s it), so this is the next best thing.

      Enjoy your MacBook, my husband loves his!

  20. Ladder question*

    Are there any tips to be safer on the top of a ladder? My kitchen light bulbs have gone out and I’m in a pickle. It’s pretty high and I am pretty short (4ft11) and live alone. Typically I would have ask a building worker to come and replace them for me but they are not currently allowed to work in apartments (which I totally support). I can get to the light bulb on top landing of the 4 stepper I have but I feel so incredibly unsafe at that height; there is no way to position it so I could be say flush to a kitchen counter/cabinet. And I have to remove the fixture first, so both hands in the air. I’ve been making do with a task lamp but my kitchen does not get a lot of natural light so it’s not ideal.

        1. valentine*

          Holding your arms above your head for a protracted time is literal torture and even a longer ladder isn’t going to help with that.

          It’s worth asking if a worker can do it. I would think their concerns are about length of time and interaction. Especially if you go to another room or stay away, is it a big risk for someone to walk in, change the bulbs, and walk out?

          If they agree, have them change all your high bulbs, even if they’re still good.

    1. Blarg*

      The landing isn’t a step. Don’t use it for this task. See if your prop managers or neighbors have a taller one you can borrow?

      The best occupational safety training I ever took was for a volunteer gig. It was online with videos and then a quiz. The quiz consisted of selecting which things were ladders and which were not. That chair? Not a ladder. Your desk, not a ladder. Really stuck with me and still makes me giggle.

    2. Morning reader*

      If at all possible, find someone taller to do it for you, even if you have to pay. I’m similar (2 whole inches taller!) but I also know at least 3 people who have fallen from ladders and had significant injuries. One of the most common household accidents.
      The other thing is that once you get up there, you probably need both hands to remove the cover. Looking up, both hands over your head, trying to balance and focus… it’s a recipe for trouble. Even if the other person does nothing to help and is only there to call 911 when you fall, it will be best to have someone else there.
      In the meantime, put a lamp in your kitchen.
      Oh and there are light bulb thingies* on a pole. If removing the cover is not an issue, that might work.
      *clearly I’ve never been employed at a hardware store.

    3. 00ff00Claire*

      Even though the building workers can’t come in, can they lend you a ladder that is higher? I could see how they might not be able to due to liability, but it might be worth asking. Or maybe there is a friend of acquaintance who could lend you one. You could check out renting one from a home improvement store as another option. I’m pretty sure the big box stores do that.

    4. Venus*

      If you do it by yourself then maybe have a friend on speakerphone while you are on the ladder, so they can get you help quickly if something happens. It isn’t likely that you will need help, but if you fall then someone will know. Or maybe call before and after to confirm that it went well.

    5. it happens*

      You need a longer ladder. The top step is not safe. Even if building staff cannot enter the apartment, can they give you a taller ladder to use and return?

      1. Christmas Carol*

        The top landing is not a step and is not safe. The last real step before the landing is not safe either. If you go buy a new ladder, it will have stickers all over it that say things like NOT A STEP, and DO NOT STAND ON THIS STEP. IANAL, or a handyman, but in my understanding, in order to be safe, according to the PTB, and the lawyers of the world, you must have at least one step plus the top landing to support you while on the ladder. My big question is then, what use are the little mini two step jobs.

    6. Colette*

      Generally, the top of the ladder is not where you want to be. I second getting a taller ladder and/or someone to help you (or at least be there if you fall). In the meantime, lamps are a portable solution.

    7. RosenGilMom*

      They sell gadgets for that. I googled ‘high lightbulb changer’. Basically a grippy contraption on a long stick.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This! “Bulb changer kit” will get you there too. Although I realized you don’t say if it’s a regular round lightbulb. This doesn’t help for florescent tubes.

      2. OtterB*

        I was thinking of those too. We have one that my husband uses for changing the bulbs in the lights over our basement stairs. But Ladder question said she had to remove the fixture, which that won’t help with.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      A chair and such might not be a ladder, but I would still feel more comfortable dragging my dining room table over and standing in the middle of it than on the tiny tippy top of a too-short ladder, absent any other convenient options, to be honest. (Luckily for my 5’4” self, my husband and housemate are both 6’4” and I have a six foot ladder in my garage.)

      But your maintenance folks probably have an eight footer, so if they’ll let you borrow it that’s probably your safest bet. (And the idea about having a friend on speaker in case of emergency, also not bad.)

      1. Squidhead*

        It’s not a *good* idea, but the current too-short ladder on top of a sturdy dining room table is probably better (marginally) than standing on top of the ladder. At least then LW can have some stability from the apex of the ladder.

        LW, for bad reasons (laziness, foolhardiness) I used to stand on top of ladders a lot. It’s really hard to keep your balance, even on a short ladder, if there’s nothing next to you for stability. Maybe bring in another lamp in the meantime? Or see if it can hold a brighter bulb? Or be pointed up at the ceiling to diffuse more light?

    9. Llellayena*

      Similar issue here. Lights are just out of reach for me at the top of my stepladder. My solution is either my neighbor or my dad. Most recently it was dad because my parents are about the only people I’ll see without worrying about social distancing right now. If you’ve got someone (tall!) like that, ask them.

    10. Mel*

      Don’t do it. This is a thing that can result in disaster and is not worth the risk. I know this to be true from family experience.

    11. Ladder question*

      Thank you for comments and not making me feel I am wuss for not doing something that is in fact dangerous.

      1. gaa*

        I work in construction and have taken a ladder safety course. You want to be two steps down from the top. This allows you lean against the top step with your legs. Practice walking up and down the ladder with no hands, before you go up to remove the lense and replace the bulbs.

        Be safe!!!

    12. Quinalla*

      If you can, get a taller ladder. If you can’t afford to buy/rent, use the home depot/lowes rental policy – ie buy it and bring it back when you are done. There are definitely taller ladders available.

      We do have one of those light bulb extender pole things, but if you have to remove the fixture to get to the bulb, that won’t help you.

      I too would see if the maintenance folks would be able to come out if you open windows and vacate the apartment or stay in a room while they are there.

      Definitely do NOT try to do it yourself with your current ladder.

  21. Lily*

    This might be a weird question but how do you discover new music? Because I’ve talked to some of my friends and apparently I have a weird method: if there is some movie or TV show I like I search for fanvideos on youtube and that’s how I discover new music. Not very organised but it gets me a wide range of genres and I am happy with it.
    How about you guys?

    1. nep*

      I like the Guardian (UK) culture section for learning about new artists. Also, when I’m buying a song online, I listen to snippets of similar artists that randomly come up. (I used to find a lot of great songs for my fitness classes playlist from looking at fitness gurus on Instagram, but IG doesn’t let me browse anymore (which really sucks).)

    2. kiwiapple*

      Shazam* an app on my phone that you can record music snippets, then it tries to find the song in its catalogue is a way I’ve discovered a lot of new music. *other apps are probably available
      Or spotifiy.

    3. NeonFireworks*

      This is a neat question, and that sounds like as good a method as any, especially if you like a whole range of stuff. My tastes are in very narrow genres and styles, and I’m especially interested in indie music, so I use sites like Bandcamp and eMusic and browse by keywords. There are also a few blogs I follow by people with very similar taste in music as me, and I have a Pandora account that’s been finding music I like (because I can tell it to find music that sounds similar to favorite songs of mine) since I started using it in 2006.

    4. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I listen to BBC 6 Music as my radio station of choice and I hear a lot of things that are new to me there. I also sometimes listen to random stuff on Spotify or surf Bandcamp for keywords that are of interest, like local artists or different styles.

      1. pancakes*

        BBC 6 is great. You might like The Quietus too, which is a review site, or started out as one. The have a regular feature called Baker’s Dozen where they ask interesting musicians to talk about 13 favorite records.

    5. PX*

      Radio. BBC 1 or 1xtra, I have a few shows I specifically listen to and many of them are specifically dedicated to promoting new music and not just the same playlist that is on during daytime. I have to actively limit how often I listen to them because otherwise I get overwhelmed by how much new music is available!

      I also use Soundcloud and if you let it you can just listen to a “station” based on artists/songs that you like, so you find similar (or not so similar) music based on things you theoretically already like.

      But I’ve definitely also done something similar to you/kiwiapple where I just shazam things from TV shows I’m watching and have found some artists I like that way.

      Ooh. I also sometimes see what artists I like are listening to (either on Instagram or some have Spotify playlists) and it can be fascinating to see what they like.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This! I’m a huge soundtrack nerd. That’s mostly what I listen to. They sometimes have songs in addition to score music, if they were featured in the film.

        That’s how I discovered James Vincent McMorrow; his song “Follow You Down to the Red Oak Tree” played over the credits of the film Third Star (literally the saddest movie I have ever seen). I loved it, so I looked him up and have been a huge fan ever since.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      I have a weird method: if there is some movie or TV show I like I search for fanvideos on youtube and that’s how I discover new music

      This is weird? I totally do this, too. I’ve found so much good new music by just randomly hearing it in a movie or on a TV show. Similarly, if I’m in a store, and they’re playing music, and it’s good, I’ll Shazam that to find out what’s playing.

      One time I even discovered a group I liked that was randomly playing in an airport terminal!

    7. Nervous Nellie*

      To explore new music I go to Jango online, and put the name of a performer/composer/artist that I really like into their search field, and hit ‘play’. The first track is always that performer, but then they start randomly playing performers that some oblique algorithm tells them I might also like. I have discovered many new performers that way.

    8. ARTIFACTS. ART. LIFE-FORMS. AND. MISC.*

      Lily: I do the same thing with songs in television shows. It’s been going on for years, but of late it seems to be called “syncing”: if you’re a musician/band/agent, you try to get someone from Netflix etc to consider using your song(s) on their shows.

      Of late I’ve noticed that subtitles will display the artist and song name. There is also a website called tunefind.com that uses a semi-crowdsourcing approach to IDing songs on shows and in movies. They try to steer you to Amazon or iTunes etc in hopes that you’ll buy the song, but a lot of people go straight to YouTube, which typically has a lowlife 128kbps MP3 version.

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

      Spotify! They have a suggested playlists and albums section. Sometimes I peek there and listen.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      College radio stations and public radio stations that have music shows. A lot are streaming online now.

    11. Felicia Hannigan*

      I have to second the recommendation for Spotify. It’s amazing in a few ways.

      01. You get personalised playlists based on what you’re already listening to. Release Radar highlights new music from artists you like, while Discover Weekly suggests music from similar artists & genres. Daily Mixes are playlists specifically inspired by the genres of music you like.
      02. And since you mention that you get music from fanvids, my friend, there are so many playlists available for so many fandoms. I’ve been turned onto a bunch of new music just by listening to a shipping or character-based playlist.
      02a. I’ve also been inspired to make my own playlists & that opens a whole nother avenue: when you make a playlist, Spotify will recommend songs based either on the title of the playlist or on the songs you’ve added to it. It has a pretty robust selection for you to choose from and refreshes/refines itself as you add/remove songs.

      1. Courageous cat*

        YUP. I live and die by Discover Weekly (out every Monday) and Release Radar (out every Friday). The more you listen to Spotify and make your own playlist(s) the better those algorithms will get. I prefer RR because it’s based off artists I’ve already liked but they’re both really useful.

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

        My only complain with the Daliy Mix is that they didn’t consider that Original Soundtracks, Classical Music and Opera are three (very) different things. I guess they’re under a “orchestra” label or something similar, but jumping from #feels #angst Chopin to The Magic Flute is NOT the best of transitions… XDDDDD

    12. Bluebell*

      At the beginning of the year I decided to try and listen to NPR’s All Songs Considered podcast. They have a show each Friday featuring new releases, and they cover a super wide range of genres- country, rap, classical, ambient, jazz, folk, you name it.

    13. Skeeder Jones*

      You might enjoy TuneFind.com. You can look up a tv show or movie to see what song was played or look up an artist to see what songs they have had on tv. It’s great when I hear a song on a tv show that I love because I can just look up that episode and get the information I need.

    14. NforKnowledge*

      I like watching covers on youtube, by people like Post-Modern Jukebox, Walk Off The Earth, Lauren Babic (very different genres there!) which are often of songs I’d never heard. I also watch music analysis videos like Rick Beato’s “what makes this song great” which has introduced me to many awesome rock songs and bands. And of course browsing spotify, especially the suggestions it makes for additions to my playlists.

    15. Sam I Am*

      Lately, I’ve been listening to podcasts by artists I admire, and when they mention a name, or have a guest on that I’m unfamiliar with, I go chek out that person. Most reliable for this lately has been the QuestloveSupreme podcast.

    16. voluptuousfire*

      The radio function of bands I like on Spotify, usually.

      Also I would look at shows on the website of my local metal bar and check out the bands. If I liked what I heard on Youtube or Spotify, I’d go to the bar and see the bands. I found a lot of great local and national stuff that way.

  22. Ruth*

    I have a question about kitchen appliances.

    I live in a condo with a very small kitchen. There are four appliances: a dishwasher, a fridge, an oven and a microwave above the oven. The color of all is black.

    I need a new dishwasher and soon will need a new fridge and microwave. I will probably never need a new oven. Will it look unattractive to potential future buyers if the new appliances are stainless steel and the oven black? Or should I buy the new appliances in black so all are uniform?

    Another question re dishwasher. Does anyone have an opinion on best brand for quality especially Bosch or Whirlpool? Thank you.

    1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      Don’t get GE appliances. Our GE dishwasher and refrigerator were terrible.

      We are super happy with our Bosch dishwasher. It was a little more expensive than the other brands but it works well and is incredibly quiet. We have a Samsung refrigerator now and it has been flawless. We still have our GE oven, and that has been fine. I don’t blame you for not wanting to replace the oven; that is a huge pain. As a prospective buyer I don’t think I’d care about the difference in colors, but definitely can’t speak for everyone.

      1. Windchime*

        I had a Bosch dishwasher in my old house and I absolutely loved it. It was whisper-quiet; you literally could stand right next to it and not know whether or not it was running. I have a GE now and it’s called “[something] Quiet” and…it’s not. It’s pretty loud.

        I personally wouldn’t mind if everything were stainless except for a black oven; others might feel differently.

    2. Anonymath*

      Our kitchen came in all black, and that’s what we decided to stay with as our appliances have needed replacement. It also makes the choice easier for us that I’m not a huge fan of stainless steel and that we have a small child that leaves fingerprints that are more on stainless but not on black. I’ve heard there are “fingerprint-free” stainless steel versions, but we were not personally motivated to explore those.

      When we replaced our old dishwasher, which was a GE, the best choice from consumer reports was a Bosch. We’ve had it for two years now and it’s great and so quiet! We can run it just before bed, and even though the kitchen is right near the master bedroom, we can hardly hear it. If we had to replace again, we’d probably look at consumer reports again, but all things being equal would go back to a Bosch.

    3. CoffeeforLife*

      For me…it could look noticeably different. But if the setup is such that the oven is not a feature/focal point then it could be a non-issue. If you aren’t planning on selling any time soon then I wouldn’t place a lot of weight on things matching.

      I currently have all black and can’t wait until we remodel and chuck them all. The black is so dark and heavy. I’m not being wasteful, the oven isn’t accurate, wasps live in my exhaust hood/microwave, the dishwasher broke, fridge icemaker/ water doesn’t work.

    4. Blarg*

      I think it would look weird and also stainless is such a pain!! It looks like weird smudgy crap except for the 12 min after you clean it. See also: glass top stoves. My apartment is all GE appliances and a year in, they are fine. No issues. Except for the challenge of keeping them looking nice.

      1. Anxious Cat Servant*

        We have both a glass top stove and a stainless steel fridge and I cannot agree more. We’re renters and it wasn’t our choice and I’m glad that the appliances chosen were as nice as they are (it’s a REALLY nice fridge) but cleaning is a constant pain and I can’t even cover the fridge with magnets to hide the spots. The owners also decided that white tile with white grout in our kitchen was a great idea so now we have white tile with grimy dark grout in the areas of heavy traffic and white grout around the edges and it’s not a good look.

      2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I bought Weiman Stainless Steel wipes in my last apartment, because the stainless steel appliances were constantly getting splattered in the tiny kitchen. They are a godsend! They get rid of all of the streaks, fingerprints, smears, splatters, even rust. Plus they’re slightly oily, so they leave a protective coating. I love them.

    5. Jules the 3rd*

      A stainless / black mix will look fine. Most stainless comes with black accents, and you pay a premium for all black. Stainless is still the default, and so the cheapest.

      The ‘smudgeless’ stainless steel is real. I resisted stainless, but caved on a smudgeless fridge with the *strict* understanding that my husband would be the one cleaning it. Two years later, and we’ve only needed to wipe it down a few times. Regular ‘smudgy’ stainless is still a nightmare, but I can throw out that trashcan anytime husband gets tired of cleaning it.

      We have:
      Miele dishwasher (smudge free stainless)
      GE stove (black)
      Frigidaire fridge (smudge free stainless)
      LG Microwave (smudge free stainless with lots of black accents)

      The microwave is above the stove, the other two are two steps away; I figure the microwave visually ‘transitions’ the black -> stainless. The finish on the stainless match really well. The fridge and dishwasher are a smidge less shiny than the microwave, but are far enough away that I had to think about it to notice.

      We bought for ourselves rather than for resale, so we hunted the displays / returns / scratch n dent for higher quality brands for the items that fit in the counter (all but fridge). We got a $3K stove for $800 due to good timing on sales and a small dent on the side. The Miele’s a floor model. We did have to return the washing machine, turned out the dent on the first one destroyed the support and it wouldn’t sit straight. It took a lot of time – there’s always a trade-off between time and cost.

      My understanding is that reliability varies within brands a lot, but that the higher end of each brand is more reliable. So we wouldn’t get a cheap GE, but we’re pretty comfortable with the expensive stove we ended up with.

      1. Ali G*

        I agree. I forget the brand I bought in my former condo, but I swapped the appliances gradually, all black stainless (and the stainless was that smudgeless). It looked great when I was done with it!

      2. Oldbiddy*

        My dishwasher died shortly before the COVID shutdown. I did manage to get a repairman to look at it before everything shut down and he said it would cost more to repair than get a new one. He recommended I get a Bosch from the local high-rated appliance place.
        I finally got it in late last week, and I like it so far. The Bosch dishwashers don’t have a food grinder or in-line water heater, so that is two fewer things to break. It is very quiet and gets stuff clean. I’m not crazy about the arrangment of the racks (not great for lots of tupperware containers) but am still figuring out the optimal configuration to load it.

    6. Doctor is In*

      We remodeled our kitchen 2 years ago and bought a Bosch dishwasher, which is wonderful! Very quiet and has well designed shelves. Our kitchen has stainless fridge and stove; stove has black glass top; dishwasher is black and it looks fine.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have a black Whirlpool kitchen suite (range, dishwasher, fridge and microwave hood) for going on five years now and I’ve been very happy with all of them. I found, at least, that black was cheaper than stainless, but that might vary by brand.

    8. Llellayena*

      No problem with the mix of stainless and black, but if you mix brands across appliances, be careful with the stainless colors. Each manufacturer seems to have a slightly different color to the stainless steel finish (there’s a brownish one out there that I really like) and having 2 different stainless colors will stick out more than the stainless/black mix. You’re less likely to have that issue going all black.

    9. foolofgrace*

      When I am faced with an impending purchase of more than $100 or so I bite the bullet and get a one-year subscription to the online version of Consumer Reports. It more than pays for itself. Then, after the fact, you might need it again for a different purchase. I got it most recently for a window air conditioner and then had to consult it for a vacuum. I love Consumer Reports.

      1. fposte*

        It’s also worth checking to see if your library has an online subscription that its patrons can use–mine does.

    10. Reba*

      I’d aim to keep the micro and oven coordinated. Otherwise I wouldn’t worry about it.

      We have a Bosch DW and it is freaky-quiet! And effective too. I mean, I am comparing it to the previous machine, a frigidaire that literally did not wash the dishes, but it is really excellent. :)

    11. My Brain Is Exploding*

      We have a kitchen aid dishwasher and fridge. Have had GE dishwasher and microwave. Did not like! Ours are white. If you don’t need an oven, don’t get one. If you move, ask a realtor if you should replace it. If so, then just put in an inexpensive one that matches.

    12. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I have a mix of black and stainless steel, and it looks fine as far as I’m concerned. I have dark cherry cabinets and a dark granite countertop with a black dishwasher, so it kind of just blends in to those. My fridge and stove are stainless steel.

    13. EN*

      Some brands also offer Black Stainless Steel, which has a more premium metal look and feel than the standard painted black finish. Could be a nice upgrade that wouldn’t leave your oven looking out of place. The brands I’m familiar with—KitchenAid and Whirlpool—give it a fingerprint resistant coating.

    14. Dusty*

      You’ll be fine with black oven and rest stainless.
      FWIW, we bought Thermador Stove Top, Oven and Steam Ivenz, and they threw in the dishwasher for free. The point being, if you buy what you need at the same time, you could get yourself a real deal!

    15. Bluebell*

      We have all whirlpool appliances, but everyone I know who has a Bosch dishwasher adores it.

    16. Lucette Kensack*

      If your kitchen is open to the rest of your house (or to any other room you use frequently), go for the Bosch dishwasher. They are SO much quieter than other models. I just love ours.

    17. Chaordic1*

      This reminds of how, back in they day, I had a friend who got a helluva deal on mismatched kitchen appliances from a store that was going out-of-business. Avacado Green, Harvest Gold and Brown. She ended up painting the doors of the kitchen cabinets different contrasting colors and the whole thing had a weird kind of harlequin multi-colored vibe to it. Surprisingly it worked.

    18. allathian*

      We have a Bosch dishwasher, and I especially love the cutlery tray at the top. It means I’ll never touch something that’ll go in someone else’s mouth again and I wouldn’t buy another dishwasher without this feature, as I hate the idea of touching the business end of cutlery when I’m emptying the dishwasher. Our old one had a basket, and I’d use disposable gloves when emptying the washer, long before COVID was an issue. It’s also very quiet. Recently, we bought a new Bosch fridge. We used to have a fridge/freezer, but we also have a chest freezer, and needed more room in the fridge.
      Ours are smudge-free stainless steel, as is our Electrolux microwave. The oven has black accents, and we have an induction hob, so it’s all black. They’re Ikea rebranded, but AFAIK the manufacturer’s Philips/Whirlpool.

    19. Piano Girl*

      We discovered when we shopped for our last dishwasher that our dishes (that have a lip) would not fit in a Bosch. If you have dishes with a lip, make sure they fit into whatever dishwasher you pick.

    20. only acting normal*

      Another vote for Bosch. We have dishwasher, fridge freezer, hob, and washer dryer. They’re all freakishly quiet, and very reliable.
      Don’t buy CDA – the oven we got at the same time as everything else has had to be fixed 3 times, and is showing signs of breaking down again. We had two CDA dishwashers crap out on us too.
      We have had Hotpoint goods before that were pretty good, but not as quiet as the Bosch.
      Also our Samsung microwave seems to want to last forever.

    21. Just us chickens*

      It might also depend on when you sell; by the time you sell the new owners may want to buy all new appliances anyway. So as long as you’re happy with the set up of stainless steel and black, I think that’s more important. Plus, for me, it’s more important to have a good quality appliance than the colour of it, so I’d definitely go for a Bosch.

    22. Um, yeah, no*

      If your kitchen is very small, depending on the arrangement of the appliances (if they are all visible at once, vs oven hidden by an island or angle of wall) it might look a little weird having different color appliances. Though if you have different color cabinets (uppers in light grey, lowers in dark grey, for example) it might work.
      I personally would not spend the extra money for stainless unless it is what you really want.
      I also would not worry about future buyers unless that is in the immediate future. Personal anecdote: my spouse insisted on a tub/shower in the master bedroom remodel for “future resale value”. Well, 30 years later, still not moving. I’ve had to step over the bleeping side of the tub through numerous illnesses and injuries, not to mention the irritation of cleaning it…
      So make sure you end up with an arrangement of appliances that YOU want to live with.

  23. Random things you’ve stocked up on*

    Now that it has been 3 months since covid, what random things have you stocked up on / bought that you wouldn’t have previously?

    With all of the zoom calls, I ended up buying 7 or 8 different foundations so I didn’t look like a thumb. I’m usually a matte person but ended up with dewey/ luminous formulas.

    1. nep*

      I have eaten way too many Larabars in the past couple of months (after being off all bars for a long time, as they’re basically glorified candy bars; Larabars aren’t too horrible, as the ingredients are pretty simple in most). In the early days I had this underlying panic and thought I’d better have enough on hand in case food supply halted or something. Ridiculous. Of course I ate them rather than stock them away. Finally stopped buying and eating the danged things last week.
      I also bought a dry erase board I thought I was going to use for my fitness classes I’m doing on Zoom; haven’t used it yet.

    2. Anonymath*

      Ten pounds of onions. I’ve got a big pantry with room for lots of extra storage, and I’m inclined to keep a good backup stock of food anyways because we live in a natural disaster zone, but I still haven’t needed to get into those onions yet.

      1. Em*

        We use 1-2 onions every single day, and it is usually the factor that forces us to go to the grocery store every 2 weeks. How do you keep your onions from sprouting/rotting? Despite being stored in a dark place, ours don’t usually last beyond 2-3 weeks max

    3. CoffeeforLife*

      My partner made us stock up on food (we started in Jan) so we have a crap ton of pasta, beans, and ramen. The ramen will hopefully be eaten by our teenagers.

      He bought a lot of office things, second monitor, laptop connections, switchers, fancy mouse.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      My teenager now does the bulk of the shopping, and this week brought me dried cannelini beans when I was picturing cans. So I actually made beans from dry and they were quite good. Cooked much faster than I expected, less than an hour after soaking overnight. Will do again!

      1. allathian*

        I hope they were also cheaper than the canned stuff? When I was a student and especially when I was interning in Spain more than 20 years ago, I ate a lot of lentils. Those cook fast when you’ve soaked them overnight, and they were really, really and I mean really cheap. The equivalent of 15 cents a pound, dry weight. I would soak about a cupful and that would at least double in volume.

        Wonderful that your teenager’s doing the shopping! I often did that when I was 17 and still lived at home. I worked in a grocery store that summer and continued working weekends and some evenings after school. Because the rules were much less strict then, I was allowed to handle money as a minor and to sell beer and tobacco even though I was too young to buy them, these days this wouldn’t fly. I’d often bring a shopping list of things to buy so we could take advantage of my employee discount.

    5. Jules the 3rd*

      BEANS.

      It turns out that chili is now my kid’s comfort food. He’s 12, and it’s the first soup he’s eaten voluntarily since he was 2. There’s also some texture sensitivities, so I was really surprised when the kid ate the chili enthusiastically. He never even liked chili on his hot dogs…

      1. WellRed*

        Heheh. I’ve never understood why people would want chili on their hotdogs. It’s like a meat garnish on meat.

        1. Rebecca*

          It’s awesome, there’s a diner in town that’s been in business for about 100 years now, and one of their signature things is hot dogs with various toppings, one of them is “Texas” sauce, it’s a ground beef sauce and it’s wonderful on hot dogs with lots of onions on top. We call them “growlers”.

          1. nonegiven*

            We went to Boston a long time ago and I was scandalized and canceled my order at a hotdog stand because they had neither chili or cheese for my hotdog.

        2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          So is bacon on hamburgers, and most people seem to like that. Because it’s delicious.

          Also, hotdogs are fairly boring without stuff on them, and I don’t like ketchup, mustard, or pickle relish.

    6. GoryDetails*

      I just bought a box of face masks. I’ve been using the CDC’s method-number-3 masks – scarves or handkerchiefs folded and looped through rubber bands – and those have worked fine for me for my relatively short-term stints out in the world, but when I saw a hefty supply of face masks at a local supermarket I decided to pick up a box. While the handkerchief method is quick and easy – and the handkerchiefs can be laundered for re-use – I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have disposable masks on hand.

      Oh, and I did stock up on prescription meds, but that was partly due to the drug store – when I renewed my prescription last, they went ahead and got me a three-month supply instead of one, which reduces the number of visits I have to make.

      Other than that, I haven’t really been stockpiling anything; just trying to restock necessary items far enough in advance that I can plan and space out the trips to the supermarket, pet food store, etc.

    7. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I have managed to buy way more canned tomatoes than I realized. And bags of rice. And other miscellaneous stuff like dried fruit. We stocked up a bit beforehand because of brexit and now we kind of look like food hoarders.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Opposite, actually – I had gone to Costco about a week before everything went crazy and bought my usual three month supply of toilet paper, restocked the gloves I keep in my kitchen (texture issues, I hate handling a lot of foods bare-handed), soap refills, cleaning supplies etc, so at no point during the panic did I come anywhere NEAR running out, and we just opened the last case of TP from that trip three days ago, but I still have to stop myself from going down the TP aisle and grabbing a “just in case” pack :-P

      I did accidentally buy a second bag of rice, so I have 50 pounds of it, but that was just because I forgot I had the first one, not intentional stocking up.

    9. Kage*

      Eggs. We go through so so many eggs now. Normally a dozen would last us almost 2 weeks. Lately I’ve been buying the 30-pack each week and we’re STILL running out between Sunday shopping trips.

    10. pancakes*

      Koeze peanut butter by the case. There are only 6 jars in a case so it’s not an absurd quantity of peanut butter, but I used to just buy it by the jar.

      1. Windchime*

        It wasn’t intentional, but I somehow have 3 huge Costco-sized jars of peanut butter in my cupboard. I usually have one as a backup, but somewhere along the way I bought another twin-pack so now I’m set for the next year or so on peanut butter.

    11. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Hmm good question – I think the only thing we really “stocked” up on was toilet paper and that was 2 giant packs back in April. We’re still on the first pack. I mean we needed them normally but we wouldn’t have gotten the giant packs or bought more than 1 at a time. 

    12. Dancing Otter*

      I actually have bread in my freezer. It isn’t quite as good after being thawed (texture), but it beats twice weekly grocery runs. Amazing how much more bread we use, eating lunch at home every day.
      Another thing is cat litter — accidentally. Since I’m using Target’s drive up service, I get several containers at once. But then I forgot I still had some in the trunk and ordered more. Well, it doesn’t get stale, and the kitties will certainly use it eventually.
      Same thing, sort of, with dry pasta. I can’t reach the top shelf without a stepstool, so didn’t realize there were already two or three different unopened boxes up there until I went to put the new ones away. I was so happy my preferred brand was finally back in stock! And then…. oops.
      Sometimes my daughter and I both buy the same thing, which is how we ended up with three months’ supply of toilet paper at one point: a 12- or 18-pack is normal for us, except we both bought one the same week. Toilet paper keeps basically forever, but sadly it also happened with celery and apples, which don’t.

      1. allathian*

        Are you telepathic with your daughter? LOL
        Does this happen a lot? What did you do with the extra apples and celery?

    13. Wishing You Well*

      Cadbury chocolate bars – by the handful!
      Gotta quit that! This quarantine is a marathon, not a sprint. *sigh*

    14. Anxious Cat Servant*

      Yoga pants. Pre-pandemic I really only wore yoga pants for my thrice-a-week gym visits or occasionally as PJs. Now I’m wearing them 24/7 and have bought extras of the ones I’ve found I like the most (Skechers bootcut).

      We did take the excuse to stock up on basics but I grew up military with the belief that you should have 3 months’ worth of food in case of emergency so it’s something I’d wanted to do for a while.

      At the beginning my self-soothing regime included painting my nails every other day so I wound up stocking up on nail polish. That dropped off for a while but at least now I know how to paint my nails without it getting all over my cuticles and I’ve got the supplies if I want to pick it up again.

    15. lazy intellectual*

      At the beginning of the pandemic I developed some unusual eating habits. I suddenly really wanted to eat a lot of sweet junk foods – particularly donuts and Frosted Pop Tarts. I hadn’t had a Pop Tart since I was a child. I spent the entire month of April eating these for breakfast. I also suddenly started guzzling coffee like crazy and had to buy 3x my usual amount (of course, part of this was because I was consuming more coffee at home than in the office.) My eating habits have reverted to normal, now. I just have a lot of coffee.

    16. Altair*

      I began to crave sushi, so I’ve bought sushi rice, nori, rice seasoning, and pickled fish of various kinds. So far I’ve mostly made chirashizushi and a couple of pathetic hand rolls, but I’ll keep trying.

    17. Tris Prior*

      The fact that I have a food/supply stash at all right now is remarkable to me. I was always an eat-down-the-entire-friedge-and-pantry-and-don’t-shop-til-it’s-empty kind of person. Now I actually have a small stockpile, which I know is smart but I really only ever did if a bad blizzard was forecast.

      Things I now have large stashes of: coffee, when before I drank the office coffee 5 days a week as it was actually pretty good. Baking supplies, particularly sugar and flour – since my partner and I are now not eating crap at the office all day long, I feel OK about baking at home now, while before I tried to keep at-home meals super healthy and sugar/flour free to counteract all the crap we ate elsewhere. Dried beans and lentils. Cat food, which again was a buy-when-it’s-almost-gone thing before – my partner and I can eat whatever but our cats need their cat food! I’ve got about a month’s buffer of that now should sh*t hit the fan again.

      Also, after years of wanting to, I signed up for a CSA share, so now I have more veggies in the house than possibly I ever have in my life. I’ve been freezing or otherwise preserving what I can’t use right away so come midwinter I will still be eating off of this stuff.

      Hand sanitizer was very hard to find here for some time and I still don’t see much of it so I got a big jug of it on Amazon that will likely last us months.

      We had a lot of shortages in my city – just yesterday I found hand soap for the first time since mid-March! – so now when we do our rare stockups, I tend to grab an extra of anything I see that I had trouble getting initially but use often, like flour or tofu or pasta. I wonder how long that is going to remain a habit.

    18. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I bought 15 pounds of oatmeal and close to 100 granola bars, because apparently I conflated stockpiling for a pandemic with camping.

    19. Worked in IT forever*

      Root touch up products. I normally have a bit to tide me in the last week before my usual colour appointment, but I REALLY stocked up. I thought that the products would disappear and that I’d go through a lot of them. I’ve used a lot less than I expected, and I think that salons will be reopening here soon, though. So I’m not sure I’ll ever go through everything I bought.

    20. Nita*

      Powdered milk, because the kids go through almost two gallons a week and I was scared to go to the store that often. I wasn’t counting on the school system distributing lunch to go, so the powdered milk hasn’t come in handy yet. Baby wipes, because they’re good for cleaning hands on the go. Disposable gloves for shopping and public transit. And kids’ Vitamin D because for a few weeks we barely left the house…

    21. Melody Pond*

      I bought two hundred reusable cotton flannel wipes (spent $240 on Etsy), so we could stop using disposable toilet paper altogether.

      We already had a bidet attachment – and honestly, I’d been thinking about this change for a while. Covid just gave me the nudge to make it happen. I wouldn’t have done it without the bidet, for sure, but now that we’ve made the switch, I love it.

    22. Meepmeep*

      I’m stocking up on various hair accessories. I’m letting my hair grow out during this pandemic and it’s just hitting this awkward stage when it gets in my face and can’t be put in a ponytail yet. I am now the proud possessor of a lot of Bobby pins and barrettes and claw clips and headbands, all of which make me look silly.

      1. allathian*

        I hear you, although I only have two cloth headbands so far. Both are black, but they do need washing occasionally…
        Feels like I’m back in college when I had this hairstyle so I could get away with getting a haircut twice a year.

  24. Blue Eagle*

    Decluttering Update #6
    Taking a month off from decluttering and making progress on the flower and vegetable gardens re-motivated me to get back to declutter another 310 items this past month. One project was to tackle the pantry, which is only 30% food and 70% other stuff.
    It was interesting to get all of the non-food items off the shelves and see what things had been tucked away in the corners and never seen since we moved in so long ago. There was so much to discard! My favorite amazing find was a Presto Fry Daddy electric deep fryer from the 1980s that my husband used to make french fries before I met him. Now that I know we have one, it will be fun to finally use it and make our own delicious french fries.
    What amazing finds have your rediscovered in your closets/pantries, etc. when you got around to cleaning them out?

    1. Venus*

      I’m so happy for you! I haven’t done any decluttering in the past few months but my place is okay. Well done you, and I hope you keep it up!

    2. PX*

      Aha. I havent done a clean for a while as I tossed a lot during my last big move about 4 years ago, but rediscovering clothes is one of my favourite things.

      Unfortunately it does also tend to encourage me to cling on to things sometimes because I’m like “But remember that time you rediscovered that thing which you now wear a lot?! What if that happens again?” so then I dont donate things out when I should.

    3. GoryDetails*

      You may have just motivated me to do more decluttering – especially as it’s really hot today so yard work doesn’t sound appealing. In the past I’ve rediscovered lots of “treasures”, from a bean pot that I used for sourdough starter back in college (in the ’70s!) to a “so *that’s* where that’s been!” coffee press that I’d long since replaced (due to not being able to find it).

      There are undoubtedly many more discoveries to be made in the basement, where I’ve been piling up the gardening supplies at the end of each season and then kinda sorta forgetting to get around to sorting them out; the number of new pots I’ve bought in lieu of searching for the old ones is… not insignificant!

    4. Ali G*

      I am inspired by you! I am supposed to be decluttering and reorganizing the kitchen and pantry as we speak/type. Having trouble getting motivated since I know it’s a huge job.

    5. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Packing to move makes me want to declutter but there are two obstacles. One is that nowhere is taking donations or large trash items yet so I don’t have a place to get rid of stuff. The other is that I find it really hard to select items to get rid of when I have to choose between very similar things. I have a ludicrous number of socks, for instance, but trying to pick ones to throw away is somehow very mentally taxing.

    6. Nervous Nellie*

      I love that you are counting the culled items! How satisfyingly tangible!

      I had a related potato find in my cupboards – a Veg-O-Matic french fry slicer from the 70s that somehow has stayed with me all these years. Thank you for the reminder! I will use it tomorrow for a fish & chip dinner I have been looking forward to all week.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      The key to my front door.
      I have two locks the one I use all the time and a deadbolt lock. I lost the deadbolt lock key. I could not find it…. I mean for years I could not find it. I was ready to buy a new lock. And that is when I found it mixed in with a box of hardware. sigh.

    8. Nita*

      Everything is coming up in the planters, though the carrots and beets look a little twisty and stick out of the ground more than they should (I think?) I’m happy to see that the beans are still doing great and are growing flower buds – I guess I’ve learned my lesson and will only grow them outdoors. The backyard is still a work in progress. Also, got the first raspberries of the year! Apparently last week I touched my arms with the same gloves I used to pull poison ivy in April, because I’ve got a horrendous rash on both arms. Oh well – it comes with the territory sometimes.

  25. Long Time Fed*

    I finally pulled the plug on the trip to Japan I was planning for October. It’s my favorite place and although I’ve known for months that it probably wouldn’t happen, it still hurt to cancel. It’s harder because I don’t even know if I should start planning for 2021 because Japan will be strict about who they let in and Americans are going to be last on their list because of our COVID-19 issues.

    What have you had to put off this year that you were really looking forward to?

    1. Blarg*

      All the concerts. I had a couple trips planned to see shows, with friends meeting me and none of them are happening. I am glad the tours are cancelled, I know in the scheme of things this is the smallest of potatoes, and also I’m heartbroken. I am not a religious person but live music is the closest I get — a communal experience with strangers, a shared passion for whomever is playing. And knowing it’ll prob be at least another year is pretty awful for me.

      1. Claire (Scotland)*

        Yeah, it’s concerts and gigs for me. Two shows were rescheduled for the equivalent dates next year, which is fine. One gig was rescheduled from April to August, but I’m expecting that to be postponed or cancelled again. And then just this week the concert I was most looking forward to, in September by my favourite artist, was cancelled entirely. They can’t reschedule it, so I’m really sad about it.

      2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        I bought myself a ticket for a show for my birthday last year and it’s been postponed twice now, until next September. And the local beer festival was cancelled. And my husband’s 40th birthday, my parents’ 50th anniversary, and my mother-in-law’s 70th, all of which were supposed to be fun parties and my parents were supposed to come over, possibly with my nephew. But we’re planning to do them all next year instead.

      3. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, concerts! I was supposed to see Def Leppard (my favorite), Motley Crue, Poison, and Joan Jett in August in Hershey, PA, but it has been rescheduled to 07/20/21. I purposefully scheduled my back surgeries earlier in the year so I’d be recovered by August. Oh well. I’m still going to PA that week anyway so I can visit my cousin. She’s in Lancaster so we always stay with her when we see concerts in Hershey.

      4. Tris Prior*

        I feel the same way. Dead Can Dance was touring this spring! It was postponed a year but who knows if it’ll be safe in a year. Also, dancing at clubs (largely goth and/or 80s/new wave) is so important to my mental health. They’re having virtual club nights but the energy is just totally different and it makes me sad. I am like you, live music and dancing are spiritual experiences for me even though I’m mostly agnostic. We just watched the Queen/Adam Lambert documentary the other night and seeing all those people at their concerts, clearly in ecstasy, was painful.

        We cancelled our trip to New Orleans, and decided not to take some other planned but not yet booked trips for obvious reasons. We were hoping to decide what city to move to this year, as we want to leave our hometown. That’s now postponed indefinitely.

        1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          Oh man I haven’t thought about DCD for years. Might have to look up the postponed tour now.

      5. Liane*

        All the cons!
        Especially +Plano, Texas) Gamer Nation Con where we meet up with friends. The early April dates were pushed back to Labor Day Weekend in mid/late March. Even if it does go on in September, we’ll probably have to skip. My husband is high-risk due to medical conditions and both Texas and our state (Arkansas) have increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases as they open up and more citizens disregard remaining restrictions and sensible precautions.
        Our daughter is also missing the anime cons and cosplay she loves.

        Aside from geekery I am missing church and choir.

    2. PX*

      Holidays with family and friends. Things are sort of opening up again, but most of my people require flights to see which are tricky at the moment, and I’m not sure when things will be stable enough to really do anything.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Travel for me too. I have always wanted to go to Santa Fe, and was picturing it as a Big Anniversary + cancer treatment done trip with my husband this fall. I’m now pondering driving somewhere nearby for a long weekend.

      Though New England is opening up in reaction to lower numbers, so I am now picturing occasionally eating out rather than Plan A, getting an airbnb somewhere it’s nice to walk outdoors and cooking all meals ourselves.

    4. Ducksgoquack*

      Seeing my grandma. We live in different countries so when my flight was cancelled there was no other flight option and now I heard it’s difficult to get a visa to where she is. I cant wait to see her again.

    5. Jules the 3rd*

      Visits with my parents – we’re going to see them today for the first time in 3 months. They cancelled their usual May trip to see family. We usually spend 3 – 5 days at the beach together, that won’t be happening.

      We had planned my kid’s first trip to the Smithsonian with my parents over Thanksgiving (the whole town is usually pretty empty), but I’m pretty sure COVID’s not going to be controlled by then, and with the election, things in DC might actually be really crazy, so we’ll put it off a year. But my mom’s not doing so well physically, so I fear that we have missed our chance to do it with her.

    6. NeonFireworks*

      I was supposed to be backpacking around the other side of the world right now, so I empathize. There were some big work events I was really excited about, as well. Hopefully there will be later chances!

    7. GoryDetails*

      Soooo much travel. Mostly just day trips or the occasional overnight with family, but I used to do that a LOT. I can still do some trips, and as the situation allows I may fit in some longer ones, but it’s not as much fun if I can’t rely on being able to drop in to interesting eateries – nowadays if they’re open at all they usually require reservations for the limited outdoor or suitably-distanced indoor seats. And some places still have fairly strict lockdowns on things like beaches, state parks, museums, and other points of interest – luckily I can check all that out ahead of time, but I really miss the “hop in the car and go exploring” mode.

      I’d also wanted to plan a trip to the west coast to see extended family, but I don’t think I’ll be doing any air travel in the foreseeable future…

    8. Jenny*

      I honestly miss baseball and all the summer festivals. My nephew’s birthday is in a couple weeks and we were supposed to go visit.

    9. Might Be Spam*

      Had to cancel my visit to my son. I usually fly because it’s a 1,500 mile drive. Air travel isn’t safe enough yet and there are a lot of Covid hot spot along the way, so driving is out. He normally comes to visit for Christmas but it probably won’t be a good idea this year. It’s hard to wrap my heart around the fact that I don’t know when I will be able to see him again.

    10. MinotJ*

      My big trip was also supposed to be in October, to Hawaii. I kept checking the news to see how much they’re opening, and if the event we’d be traveling for would even happen. The event still hasn’t officially been cancelled, but I’m just deluding myself at this point.

      I’ve also had to cancel a trip to the Midwest US to visit elderly parents, a trip to Canada for a sporting event, a fun trip to Washington’s San Juan Islands, and a beach vacation to Mexico that hadn’t even been purchased yet but was all planned out in my head.

      I keep reminding myself that I’m in a very privileged situation that this is the worst thing I’ve got in my life right now.

    11. Travel Junkie*

      We had to cancel a vacation to Thailand. It would have been our first big trip together with my boyfriend. Even though we had insurance, we lost about 1000$ on accommodation (don’t get me started on this). We got vouchers for the flight tickets but I’m not sure if we will be able to use them because 1) they have an expiry date and 2)the company’s prices have been skyrocketing. In the end the cheapest solution might be to cut our losses and start saving up for a new holiday in a couple of years when it’s safe again to travel.
      This hit us harder then it should have (we are doing okay financially) because we live in a place up North and one of my conditions of moving to this dark, cold and boring place was to travel regularly. Instead, we are stuck here. At least it’s been pretty warm recently and it looks like we can go see family later this summer.
      Has anyone else received vouchers? Do you have any plans with them?

    12. Disco Janet*

      Oh, I’m sorry about Japan! Maybe start planning for 2022? We had to cancel a big family Disney World trip for July – my state has had under 300 cases a day for all of March, and Florida just broke 3000 in one day! So even if we were willing to deal with wearing masks, not having shows or fireworks or parades or character greetings, and so on, it would just be too risky.

      We’re not planning on going until spring 2022 – Disney is currently planning on requiring reservations to enter the park and social distancing through September of 2021! Though my husband and I did plan a trip to Jamaica for our 10 year anniversary next summer! I’m very excited about that – I’m someone who enjoys planning trips, but all this uncertainty has me stressing. So we booked a room with a butler at Sandals Montego Bay, and I am very much looking forward to having someone who will plan everything for us and take care of the details.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I lost three Disney trips (including my husband’s 40th birthday trip with our dearest friends), a convention I’ve been going to annually for 20 years (which is where I met my husband and housemate), and the executive leadership program I was accepted into at work for this fall got delayed til January because they didn’t feel that it was effective without the in-person interactions. (They tried with the cohort that was already underway and I guess had bad results.)

    14. StellaBella*

      COVID has thrown a monkey wrench into moving to Italy, traveling to New Jersey for a wedding, and going to the beach by the seaside. A lot of my family and friends have had to postpone things like the wedding, moving for jobs, and vacations as well as new school programs and kid-sports-things for now.

    15. LDN Layabout*

      Properly looking at property buying. A chunk of my deposit comes from an inheritance abroad and…I can’t actually go there and sort it out. And it feels like I’m missing out on an opportunity with the current housing market.

      It doesn’t help that it also means I can’t see family living there, so it’s just doubly depressing.

    16. Mimmy*

      Several concerts and our yearly family gathering, which this year was going to be in Cape Cod.

      My husband’s high school reunion in New Mexico (where he grew up) is still on for October and I think he’s contemplating doing that. Although I think NM might be one of the states whose COVID numbers are rising so I wouldn’t be surprised if the reunion gets scrapped too :(

    17. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Seeing my long-distance boyfriend: there’s a border in the way and I have no idea when we’ll both feel safe, or when the Canadian government will let me in without requiring a fourteen-day quarantine (and possibly having to quarantine again when I got home).

      1. LDN Layabout*

        My friend’s in a similar situation, but she got married pre-pandemic and stayed in the US to finish out her teaching year…and now has to move from the East Coast of the US to the West Coast of Canada during a pandemic.

    18. OperaArt*

      A two-day ballroom dance event with judges, our fancy ballroom gowns, professional hair and makeup, a formal dinner, and dozens of opportunities to dance.

    19. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A friend’s not visiting from overseas. My daughter’s first big stadium concert. Summer camp for the daughter who’s aging out of it. Restarting my music lessons. Meeting new babies in the family.
      This is depressing.

    20. Merci Dee*

      Last November I booked a cruise to the Bahamas in July for my daughter and me. First time we would have sailed, and we were so excited. We would have been sailing in three weeks, and ordinarily been out of our minds with excitement by this point.

      Weird thing about the cruise is, I always used to say that I never wanted to go on one because the ships are basically floating petri dishes, and various illnesses spread like wildfire among the passengers. But I got over that and booked the trip when we found out that the school trip my daughter was eligible to travel with cost $4700 – a 4 day cruise for both of us to travel was way cheaper than her alone on the school trip.

      And then the first cases of Covid hit the cruise lines.

    21. There's no place like home.*

      This was the biggest year of travel ever. Two trips to Italy, one to Sweden, one to London, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, New Mexico with the planning of one to Tokyo. Ah well.

    22. HannahS*

      Wedding–we had it, but only our officiants and witnesses were there. No family. Medical school graduation happened online. Honeymoon was canceled.

      Worst part: not having our families there. That just about broke my heart. Beyond just my parents, I’m a big believer in “life event as family reunion,” and all my aunts/uncles/cousins were going to come, too (from Asia, the Middle East, and South America, so it was a big deal)!

      Silver linings: Because we planned very low-key things for both the wedding and honeymoon, we didn’t lose any money on either, despite canceling it two months before the intended date. Also, due to both working from home, my new husband and I get to spend a lot more time together than we would have otherwise!

      1. allathian*

        I’m glad you can see the silver linings. Are you planning an event with family to celebrate your marriage when it’s safe to do so?

        1. HannahS*

          Yes! Absolutely. Truth is, it’ll probably not be until our first anniversary, (or later), but we’ll do it at some point. Even if it winds up being in three years, and its a “hey, come meet our kids, too.”

    23. Quoth the Raven*

      I was going to go visit my boyfriend (he lives in the US, I live in Mexico) around this time of the year, but it’s been scraped for now and I don’t have any definite date figured out for the future (but it’s looking it’ll be at least until next year). I live with my parents who are at higher risk, so that adds another layer of discomfort to the idea of travelling.

      I also wanted to take my mum to visit her hometown in New Mexico this year (she hasn’t been back in decades), but again, that will have to wait.

    24. Lcsa99*

      My husband and I are both turning 40 this year. I usually find birthdays really depressing because of Reasons, but I wanted to really celebrate this year. I kinda wanted to make it a big, happy deal so I could feel OK celebrating in spite of Reasons.

      The party wasn’t supposed to be until September, but most of the people who would help us celebrate are from out of state and a couple in Canada. We haven’t officially canceled but I don’t think we have a shot in hell, making this coming birthday even more depressing than most.

    25. Felicia*

      A trip to New Zealand in April I’d been planning for about a year. The worst is not knowing when I can reschedule

    26. Nita*

      Going to the country for a couple of weeks. My husband was saying we won’t go anyway, but I was hoping I’d talk him into a long weekend, at least. It’s all good though. It was really scary here in NYC for a few weeks, so we’d spend most of the week inside and then go on a long nature hike every weekend. I guess that kind of balances out. Still hoping for that stay in the country next year, though…

    27. Nicki Name*

      A big international trip for me too. We’re still tentatively planning a Disney trip by the end of the year, but I’m trying to not be too optimistic.

    28. Lemonwhirl*

      Was meant to see my favourite band 3 times earlier this month and those shows were all rescheduled.

      Also have had to give up the idea of taking my kid on a European city break in October for his October break. Last year, we went to Paris and had a great time and were looking forward to starting a new tradition.

      And I had planned to sign up for a special work program that would have had me working in a foreign city for 2 months this autumn.

      My sisters-in-law and their families are supposed to travel to us for Christmas for the first time in 10 years and although they’re still planning to, I honestly can’t see it happening. (They already cancelled summer trips here. The having to quarantine for 2 weeks is a big hurdle. That requirement might be gone by Christmas, but I am dreading flu season and expecting that it might get way worse before it gets better.)

    29. allathian*

      Our annual road trip. We were planning for early June, when the school year had ended. We hadn’t finalized any plans or booked any tickets, so we didn’t lose any money on the cancellation, but still, it was something we’d looked forward to as a family.

    30. Lisa L*

      Tickets to NYC Broadway shows. Music man with Hugh Jackman. Trips to Canada and Ecuador to visit my daughter during her semester abroad. 25th Wedding celebration cancelled.

    31. Daisy Avalin*

      I should have been at a cricket match today :( Was planning on travelling to Manchester yesterday, cricket today, then a bit of shopping tomorrow before travelling home – a treat for my birthday (today).
      Really annoyed I couldn’t go, especially since the train tickets would have been stupid cheap!

      Hopefully I’ll be able to go next year, although I doubt it’ll be the same dates/actually on my birthday.

    32. only acting normal*

      I’d been feeling bit scruffy so I was going to smarten up my work wardrobe, and make more of an effort to keep my hair well styled… AH-HAHAHAHAHA! I have used a comb twice since March, and an iron once.
      Also live music events – but so far they’ve been rescheduled.

    33. Alex*

      I had a beach vacation planned last March. Lost $800 worth of airline tickets. I have “credits” that are good until the end of the year, but I don’t see how I can use them.

      I’m hoping I can eventually make the airline give me back my money but I’m not banking on it.

    34. Not trying to be rude, just good at it*

      In 7 hours my family was scheduled to hop in our obnoxiously large vacation car and travel to Cape Cod for the week. We stay in a Best Western, fish during the day on the Bass River, swim in the hotel pool for a couple of hours and go to Provincetown at night for squid and mackerel fishing while living on burgers and fried food and ignoring the amazing restaurants because we are doing to many other things.

      Maybe next year.

    35. Mameshiba*

      I’m so sorry :( Hopefully we will know more about Japan immigration rules in a few weeks. I was supposed to get married in the US this year but had to postpone because can’t get back into Japan. Probably going to have to move our postponed date as well.

  26. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    There are no limits on size (mold in your coffee cup counts if it is important to you), and feel free to ask questions

    1. PX*

      A neighbour put out some lemon verbana cuttings, so I’m attempting to see if I can get those to..sprout? Root? Do the thing where they become alive and I can plant them basically. Its failing so far, but its nice to try. And in the meantime I’ve had some lemon verbana leaves which smell nice and I’ve dried a bunch for future use.

      A different neighbour also had an alpine strawberry plant going spare after splitting it so I’ve acquired that too. Waiting for the teeny tiny strawberries to ripen so I can eat them. May need to repot it. It seems to have come with a lot of nature (ie bugs) attached.

      And I probably also need to repot my mother-in-laws tongue (aka snake plant) as I feel like the leaf to pot/soil ratio is slightly out of balance. Alternatively are you meant to prune it? Its definitely growing (unlike my other plants which seem alive but dormant)…

      1. Venus*

        I seem to have strawberry plants randomly throughout my yard, among the grass. I wish that it was in one place, so that I could find and eat the strawberries! Instead they disappear into the birds. I’m curious to know if you get any fruit!

        1. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

          That might be a mock strawberry! They look really similar but if you look closely at the fruit, it’s imitating the external seeds of the true strawberry with teeny blobs of fruit flesh. I did some quick research after finding some in my own yard, and they are reportedly non-toxic but relatively flavorless if consumed.

    2. CoffeeforLife*

      Bulbs I planted last spring (and left over winter) are coming up. Gladiolus and peonies are all I can remember but there are two other.

      My blueberry bushes aren’t flowering and one lost half it’s size- I guess the left side died? But they mostly survived.

      I have some indoor plants I should repot but I’m scared I’ll shock them. I have a pretty black thumb.

      Anyone have luck in killing spider mites? I’ve tried spraying rubbing alcohol but that burns the leaves. Regular soapy water?

      1. Ranon*

        On spider mites for stuff I wasn’t going to eat I’ve had the best luck with a systemic insecticide (the dry soil amendment type).

      2. Natalie*

        Insecticidal soap is pretty effective, as well as non-toxic and cheap. Regular soapy water can totally work but packaged insecticidal soap will be the right composition and concentration.

      3. pancakes*

        Neem oil diluted in water, maybe? The only mites I’ve had a problem with are clover mites, which I didn’t realize were called that until searching “tiny red mites.” A couple sites recommended spraying peppermint oil diluted in water for those, which I did, and I haven’t seen any since.

      4. Venus*

        “Ed Lawrence of CBC recommends this recipe for infestations of Aphids, Whitefly, and Spider Mites: 40 parts water: 1 part liquid soap – usually dish soap. This is messy when spraying or using a soppy washcloth, so it’s recommended to apply the treatment in the bathtub (spray from underneath or wipe leaves), don’t be shy, your victim should be dripping wet. There will be insect eggs so as soon as you see new signs of crawly life — repeat!
        For ‘Scale’ use same recipe but add 8 parts rubbing alcohol (to help break down the waxy shell); leave on for 5–10 minutes. Another trick I learned was to cover the soil tightly with a bag or anything that will hold the soil in the pot, submerge upside down and gently swish – rinse with clean water after you feel every pesky bug has expired.”

    3. Container gardening*

      Some parts are growing well and some others not so well! I have a container garden on my patio and my tomato plants are not doing so well. Which is a shame because last year they did absolutely awesome. One of the plants Was looking very sad (yellowing, curling leaves) and it’s stem was growing sideways and the base was very dry and brown while another part of it looked like there root nodules. So I buried the stem further hoping that additional roots would sprout and save the plant (this was about a week ago). The plant still looks very sad (although it’s only been a week) and I am now contemplating whether I give up on it and buy another seedling before the seedlings all disappear. Some of the leaves on my other tomato plant are developing black spots and I’m not sure if it’s something to be concerned about or not.

      When do you decide it’s a lost cause and move on versus trying to save the plant?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Keep nursing this one along and go buy another one. If you get too many tomatoes you can give them away. But if you get no tomatoes, that is sad.

    4. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Everything is tiny and pathetic still, even after being planted out two weeks ago. I think it might just be that the weather was first very hot and dry, then got very chilly, near freezing some nights; and then has been very dull for a few weeks. Hopefully it will perk up soon but in the meantime I’m thinking about buying some plants.

    5. Doctor is In*

      I had already vowed pre-Covid to be a better gardener this year, not let bugs and weeds take over like last year! So far so good. I have had plenty of lettuce, kale, spinach and peas. Tomatoes are coming along. I planted small batches (all in garden boxes) and replant every few weeks for continuous supply. Got seeds from Johnny’s Seeds- they have things like lettuce mixes and kale mixes that give variety in a small space. Also have some strawberries, trying to keep the slugs away is a challenge.

    6. Teapot Translator*

      Is it terrible to water my plants while it’s sunny?
      I know we’re not supposed to, but it’s when it’s sunny that I think of watering my plants (on the balcony). If I have to wait until there’s enough shade, I often forget. :(

      1. hermit crab*

        I assume they’re in containers, since they’re on your balcony? Then don’t worry about it – for container plants, if it’s hot and sunny, it’s more important that they get enough water. I recommend looking up some watering guidelines for the specific plant types (do they like to dry out completely between waterings? etc.) but otherwise you’re fine. Mostly that recommendation is for stuff like using a sprinkler on your lawn, when it’s wasteful to use water that’s just going to evaporate.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          Thanks! And also thanks for explaining for the sprinkler. There’s a no-watering the lawn rule in place at the moment (second heat wave of spring!), but I watered my dad’s plants with a water can and I just did it when I thought of it and didn’t wait for the sun to go away.

      2. fposte*

        It’s fine. It’s not optimal because there’ll be more evaporation, but it’s not going to hurt them. (There’s an old myth that you’ll boil your plants, but I think people who say that have never touched actual earth.)

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Some plants are fussier than others. I try to water from the base instead of getting the leaves wet, because I’ve had some plants that have trouble with mildew. If the best time to prune is when your knife is sharp … Then the best time to check if your plants need water is when you think to check.

    7. Jen Erik*

      Four or five of my Brussel sprouts are slightly keeling over, and a couple of the kale are looking tipsy as well. I don’t know if it’s cabbage root fly or club root, or just that it’s been fairly windy recently; I might dig one up and peer…
      The irises were just fabulous this year, but now they’re going over the leaves are very tired looking – some are brown, some tattered – is that normal? They’ve only been in two years, and last year I only had one flower, so it feels too soon to split them, but do you think I should?
      And the blackbirds in the hedge have fledged, without the cat finding them, which is really lovely – but every time I go into the kitchen garden there is a flurry from the red currant bushes, so I think what we gain in bird population we lose in soft fruit.

      1. pieforbreakfast*

        That’s normal for iris leaves, you can trim off brown ends but don’t prune them all the way because they’re creating the energy for next year’s growth. Eventually they will die off and then can be pruned out (usually late fall). Cut the flower stems to the base when they’re faded. I wouldn’t divide them yet unless they seem overgrown, like rising up above the surface or growing into each other.

    8. LQ*

      Reporting in from my indoor gardening. The lettuce is still looking really good. The tomato is coming along really well. The first one is up to about the size of the tip of my pinkie. The peppers are flowering. (Thank you so much to the person who mentioned about making sure to beware pollination without bees!)

      The basil is still …weirdly pathetic. Like a leaf a week worth picking. I have grown basil successfully in the click grow garden, and basil is supposed to be one of those that does really well in these things. This one is in the aerogarden. I can’t tell if I should toss it and start over or if I should be more patient.

      I’m also not sure how much I should be pruning the tomato or pepper plants. They’ve got some leaves that are sort of curled under that aren’t getting much light, should I be cutting those?

      1. Venus*

        It might have been me about the pollination, as I learned that myself recently. A friend uses their electric toothbrush against the stem to promote pollination!

        Tomatoes should have the shaded leaves trimmed, yes. Especially if they are near the bottom of the plant. I’m not sure about peppers but it would seem reasonable.

        1. LQ*

          Thank you! I thought so based on a few things I read but it’s one of those things that get muddy after a while in my brain. I’ll trim some leaves tonight :)

    9. Treebeardette*

      I LOL’ed at the mold in a coffee cup. I recently pulled an orange out of the package and poof! Mold spores.
      I grow my plants with a green house shelf inside. I attacked these purple grow lights to it. I’m not sure what I think of it. My one succulent flowered. I don’t know if that’s a good thing but it’s cool!
      I plan on growing sprouts for salads soon.

    10. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I put up a cucumber trestle a few days ago and the vines are starting to cling to it. The plants have been putting out lots of bright yellow flowers, some of which have now shriveled, meaning I am hoping for cucumbers soon.

      I put too many seeds of Tom Thumb lettuce into a pot, all of which sprouted, so I am not so much thinning the seedlings as nibbling on microgreens.

      No flowers on the tomato plants yet, alas.

    11. Stephanie*

      I did some clean up in my backyard last weekend and found a peony plant under some overgrown bushes. It’s in a really shady area, and I think that peonies need more sun. Does anyone know if peonies can be moved successfully? If so, can I do it now, or is there an optimal time to move it? Any tips I should know?
      We just moved to this house last September, and it’s fun seeing things pop up. I discovered that the tree next to the back door is a dogwood, which was a very nice surprise.

      1. pieforbreakfast*

        Yes! Move the peony to a happier place. Best in early Fall (like September) since they’re an early spring plant. Cut the stems to the ground, dig out the root (looks like a tuber) trying to get as much of the root system as possible.

        1. Stephanie*

          Thanks! My front yard is very sunny, so I will find a spot there for it in the Fall.

      2. RagingADHD*

        And don’t plant it too deep! I don’t remember the right amount, you’ll have to look it up. But mine didn’t bloom for years because I buried it too deep, I finally found out.

        They like to be shallower than you’d expect for their size.

      3. Nita*

        I don’t know, my peony is in a shady spot and was doing very well until my neighbor decided it needs more sun! I wasn’t around when she moved it, so it’s possible she did something wrong – in any case, the transplanted peony died. The roots didn’t, though! A couple of years later I found a peony leaf peeking out from the hydrangea she planted in its place. It looked pretty sad for a while and all I could do was thin everything around it to let it get some light. That was about five years ago, and this year it bloomed again. It’s still in a shady spot, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem.

    12. The Other Dawn*

      I finally bit the bullet and decided to get a landscaper in to clean up my big garden, the one I had demolished last year. I’m still on back restrictions (back surgery) so I have to either nag my husband to plant some things for me, pay someone to do it, or just watch helplessly while the weeds grow. Thankfully it’s nowhere near as bad as previous years. I also want to move my sage, oregano, and thyme into the big garden. They’re overtaking the raised bed, and I want to use that bed for jalapenos. The guy came out yesterday to look at everything. Hopefully I’ll have the quote next week since they’re scheduling three to four weeks out at this point. I was hoping my sister could plant for me next weekend when she visits, but I’ll have to find something else for her to do. Maybe plant a row of hostas out front. Not my favorite plant, but I have to do literally nothing to make them survive and they’ll fill up all the open space in front of the stone wall.

      One raised bed I managed to plant myself. I put in some tomato plants, green beans, and scotch bonnet peppers.
      I also was able to plant a few small plants in the big garden last weekend: hens and chicks in honor of my mom (she loved them), Golden Creeping Sedum, and a small purple phlox.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Most of my lettuce has vanished. The leftover one I put in a pot next to a tomato is going strong. A friend gave me some more perennials and squash seedlings to replace the ones that fell victim to the weather, just in time for us to get more bad weather. The bad flavored mint is back, but the good tasting mint is doing much better so it all evens out. How do you keep slugs out of your dahlias?

      1. Dahlia Enthusiast*

        For keeping slugs out of dahlias, I’ve used slug bait and/or crushed eggshells, and done beer traps sometimes, too.
        I was once advised to get some SOLO cups, cut off the bottoms, and put them around the dahlia shoots (like the cup is upright). I guess it makes it too much work for the slugs, to go up and over?

      2. Natalie*

        Sounds weird but open cans of beer are an excellent slug trap. Drink enough beer that you can lay the open can down without the remaining beer spilling out. (Or pour it out I guess.)

    14. Dancing Otter*

      Thank you for including indoor plants. I have two potted plants on a plant pole, that have so far resisted all my attempts to kill them by neglect.
      The African violets all died over the winter, and I haven’t had a chance to replace them yet: it’s all very well to order tulip bulbs by mail, but I don’t trust live plants to arrive, well, alive. I don’t know which is worse for them, freezing in winter or being baked in a hot delivery truck in the summer, but I can wait until I feel safe going to the store.

    15. Seifer*

      My long planter is doing well! Tomatoes and cucumbers are going gangbusters; the tomatoes have started to fruit and enough of the cucumber flowers are collapsing that I’m hopeful that the male flowers have gotten the pollen they needed from the female flowers and will fruit soon, too. The pole beans… they’re still trying to grow up and I think next year I’m going to do bush beans since I can’t get the height needed for the pole ones. I have no idea how the potatoes are doing but I guess we’ll find out eventually?

      Basil and mint are growing like weeds. Harvested radishes the other day and they were delicious. I also have a couple of ornamentals that are doing super well and then some of my inside houseplants that are on ‘summer vacation’ outside have put out plenty of new leaves. Oh, and then the peppers that I’m babysitting have fruited and now we’re just waiting for them to ripen. I have Caribbean reds, chocolate habaneros, and an infinity seven-pot that are very happy with the regiment of tons of sun and water… pretty much every day. I still have some room for more plants and I’m debating what I should plant in my empty radish container, but it’s basically a jungle on my balcony haha.

    16. RagingADHD*

      Green beans and blueberries coming in by the gallon. Blackberries are over. The plum tree had a decent first year, really juicy and tasty. Collards & kale are happily cut & come again.

      I need to get on top of the weeding, but it’s 90F and up. So I’ll have to start getting up early again.

      Hard to do, but it’ll be a much-needed antidote to the quaran-doldrums of staying up late & sleeping in.

    17. Alexandra Lynch*

      Nothing this year but a brand new house and a yard with serious drainage issues and mature trees.
      I want to plant things but this year may be the year of figuring out what likes to grow with its feet in water.

    18. Natalie*

      Regarding indoor plants, I’ve had this lime tree for at least a year, maybe two, and while I’ve kept it alive it was definitely not thriving. It always had scale somehow, even though I was monitoring it closely to remove them, and didn’t grow a single new leaf the whole time.

      Well, this year I put it outside a week or two ago, as soon as it got warm enough. A new cluster of leaves has already unfurled and I can see two more beginnings growing. It’s not an issue of light since the room where it lived gets the same light. I guess it just needed to be outside?

      1. Venus*

        I always thought that windows limited some of the UV rays? So maybe it is getting more light by being outside. But I could be wrong.

        1. allathian*

          I think it’s the UV. Glass filters some of it. Full-spectrum lights for plant growth include UV.

    19. Nita*

      Everything is coming up in the planters, though the carrots and beets look a little twisty and stick out of the ground more than they should (I think?) I’m happy to see that the beans are still doing great and are growing flower buds – I guess I’ve learned my lesson and will only grow them outdoors. The backyard is still a work in progress. Also, got the first raspberries of the year! Apparently last week I touched my arms with the same gloves I used to pull poison ivy in April, because I’ve got a horrendous rash on both arms. Oh well – it comes with the territory sometimes.

    20. Liane*

      My potted roses are doing well, with rose food and neem oil. The pink Attack Rose (giant thorns!) is getting ready another wave of hand-sized blooms. My Easter lily (2019 church plant) bloomed in May! My poinsettia (2019 Christmas) is happy & green next to the roses. Our daughter’s hisbicus is blooming too.
      Inside, I have small pink/green houseplant and my Christmas cactus. Am ready to give son an ultimatum — he moves his 3 lovely houseplants to his new apartment soon or they’re mine.

      Questions —
      1. Is it too late to plant gladiolus bulbs or hosta roots?
      2. How do I get happy & green poinsettia to bloom and grow the red bracts for Christmas?
      3. Can the little houseplant palms be divided when replanted?

      1. Dancing Otter*

        The guy who sells gladioli at our farmers market plants more every week through at least the end of July, in order to have fresh blooms every week instead of a million all the same week. Unless you’re in a lot colder zone (shorter growing season) than northern Illinois, I’m sure you’d be fine planting gladioli now.

        I believe getting the poinsettia to turn red has something to do with hours of sunlight. Sorry I can’t advise better.

    21. Loopy*

      First time gardening here! We have some potted tomatoes and have actually reached the fruit stage which is so exciting! But now we’re hoping to get them the whole way and could use some help! Does anyone have tips from experience on amount of direct sunlight, watering, when to actually pick a tomato, etc? I know we can find this online but it’s so much better to get lessons learned and little tips and tricks general sites don’t always offer!

      We are also doing basic and attempting bell peppers. Basil is great, worried the bell peppers are too crowded but we have a few flowers at least?

      1. Nita*

        Tomatoes really like lots of water. I’m watering every day unless it rains. If you want them to ripen sooner, pull out the side shoots that start growing at the base of the branches, so the plant puts its energy into the fruit instead of branching out. As for when to pick, I guess it’s when they turn nice and red (or whatever color they’re supposed to be). You could leave them on the vine a few more days to make sure they’re ripe, but for me that usually means they disappear (probably the squirrels…)

  27. Rebecca and the Bear*

    Rebecca, a while ago you said you found a young bear hanging around your car like he wanted a ride! You told him no and he went away.

    Did he come back? Or look like he still wanted a ride?

    I was amazed how calm you were about it (I would not have been!) but the idea of a “kid bear” wanting a car ride made me smile!

    1. Rebecca*

      I’m glad it made you smile! I love seeing our wildlife here. My poor wayward 2nd year cub is still coming around, I think he’s lonely without his Mom and sort of trying to find his way. He likes to walk into the back yard near the deck during the day, I’ve caught him a few times over the past weeks, so I go out and tell him to “get off my lawn” and shake my fist, like a grumpy old person. I had to put the garbage can in the garage (caveat, there’s no “garbage in it, everything that can’t be composted like meat bones are in a bag in the freezer until garbage pickup day). About 2:30 AM about 2 weeks back, I heard our garbage can being rolled away, yes, I recognize the sounds the wheels make on the pavement…and sure enough, the bear was wheeling the can toward the woods. They do the strangest things sometime. The next morning I found it overturned with the lid off, but nothing was scattered and the can wasn’t damaged. I also make sure to bring in the hummingbird feeder and the one small tray feeder for the other birds every night so it’s not a snack source.

      Unfortunately, there are people who feed them on purpose and the bears can become a nuisance and destructive, and are trapped, tagged with yellow tags in their ear (or ears) and relocated. Sometimes they become so much of a problem they’re put down. I think that’s very sad as we humans have encroached on their habitat.

      1. PX*

        Oh my god the bear came and took the garbage can!!!! I love it.

        I’ve seen those videos that go viral of bears in hot tubs/pools/opening doors, and I think people underestimate how smart animals are. And especially when they get used to certain environments, they learn how to get around things.

        Shame about people feeding them like you say, I hate when people encourage “bad behaviour” in animals and then get surprised by the results :/

        1. allathian*

          LOL at the garbage can.
          That feeding should really be stopped somehow. Bears are smart. In Sweden where bears are hunted but mothers with cubs are protected by law, some bears have started to wean their cubs later, keeping them an extra year (2.5 years instead of 18 months). I think that’s pretty cool.

      2. Rebecca and the Bear*

        Ha! Who knew you’d be a grumpy old person to an adolescent bear??

        Stealing the garbage can like that is so amazing! I’m glad nothing bad happened but it’s so amazing what they figure out.

        1. Rebecca*

          I think he is super adorable, but I half heartedly grump at him – I don’t want him to be used to me to the point where he gets into trouble with other humans or isn’t afraid to just walk right up to them. He’ll meet a quick end if he does that here.

  28. MinotJ*

    TLDR: Where can I find soft insoles that fit Birkenstocks?

    I’ve been a Dansko person for years, but I started wearing more “foot-shaped” shoes a few years ago on a lark. Literally, I googled “why aren’t shoes shaped like feet?” and fell down a rabbit hole (ok the second clause is metaphorical). My feet seem quite happy in Lems and Altra and the like, and I spend quite a bit of time barefoot also. But my foot-shaped feet are becoming more and more neanderthal-foot-shaped. I’m fine with it, but it means I can’t ever go back to my beloved Danskos.

    I got Birkenstocks a few months ago after avoiding them for years. I got either the SuperBirki or the ProfiBirki because I needed waterproof clogs for work. The shape is great, but the insole was nuts. I have high arches and the huge Birkenstock insole arch hit me in the wrong place, so I took it out. But the volume of the shoe is so huge that I had to replace it with a cut-to-size foam insole. The foam insole isn’t working great; it doesn’t have enough volume to keep the shoes filled up and they still flop around a bit. My partner (a Birkenstock fan) is aghast that I would buy $100 plastic shoes and then throw away the part of the shoe that made them worth that much money. But I like the shell of the shoe; I just want an insole without the rock-hard enormous arch support.

    1. sswj*

      I’m a prefer-to-be-barefoot person also, and I still pretty much live in Danskos. I’ve got wicked bunions though, and they’re one of the few shoes that don’t rub me. I’m in retail and on my feet all day, and I go back and forth between Dansko clogs and their sneaker-type shoe (Honor, they’re called). In those I actually put Ariat insoles, the blue Carbon ones. They’ve got enough arch support without breaking my feet, and enough squish to be soothing and still supportive.

      Happy feet are important!

    2. foolofgrace*

      In my area there is a store called The Walking Company or The Walking Store that carries shoes for hard-to-fit feet. I have extremely high arches. They sell orthotic insoles, you walk across this pad thing and it shows where you put the pressure and you can buy orthotics to match. They aren’t cheap ($70 or so) but they’re worth it if you have challenged feet. I too live in Danskos, the Professional ones.

  29. PX*

    I like to broaden my news sources, so I read the English version of DW (German news), and there is a great article on there titled “Do we need to work less to save the world?”. I’d recommend reading it, but I really like the fact that it challenges some of the consumer focused ideas that are floating around, and says we should be looking at the big picture. To quote:

    “Everyone knows you have to consume less,” Frey said. We know that the throughput of energy and resources inherent in Western lifestyles is unsustainable. But focusing on consumption puts the onus on individual choice instead of asking why we are producing so much stuff that is harmful to the planet in the first place.

    And

    Mediavilla says traditional societies aimed to work only as much as necessary to meet the needs of the population and cared for the natural resources on which their livelihoods depended.

    As usual the topic of a universal basic income comes up, as well as the idea of fewer working hours (my favourite proposal).

    But it got me thinking: what do you think the best way to save the world is/would be? With all that is going on particularly in the US around social/political structures that could be improved, what things do you think would help get us closer to utopia?

    1. nep*

      Everyone should listen daily to Jon Kabat-Zinn and especially Dr. Gabor Maté and spend time outside interacting with nature.

      1. PX*

        I like time outside interacting with nature. I think for many people thats a definite improvement in quality of life almost instantly :)

      2. Reba*

        Thanks for these rec’s nep!

        I like Joanna Macy’s writings. She might be a little out there for some (a key idea is the “non-linear view of reality”) but it’s all about seeing ourselves as closely integrated with the earth and its systems, and so she links the struggle for justice with developing an ecological consciousness.

        She coined certain phrases like “the great unraveling” (to describe the multi-catastrophic period we are in) and “the great turning” (shift away from industrial growth-based society to more ecological society) that work for me in thinking about these issues.

    2. Square Root of Minus One*

      I’d say that as a civilization, we’d need a change of paradigm and start to consider economy a simple tool at our service instead of the alpha and omega of our lives.
      But then, I’d be going into politics and against commenting rules.

      1. PX*

        Yup. I like like how you put it. The economy is just meant to be a way to help keep track of the payment for various goods and services. It’s now turned into an enormous monster that controls so many things in life and for which it’s not actually suited.

        There was also a hilarious quote going going round twitter a few weeks ago saying how the stock market market is just a gauge of rich white mens feelings and I had to laugh because it’s true.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      No longer let corporations be considered people, and don’t make the primary purpose of a corporation to be to increase profits for shareholders. Tax the hell out of anyone making over $10 million. Tax exponentially even more anyone making over $1 billion.

      1. PX*

        This. I get so mad at the government where I am for talking about how they want to reduce corporation tax, meanwhile funding for all the basic things the government is supposed to provide (hospitals, schools, infrastructure etc) has been cut to almost nothing in the last few years.

        And I’m like: what is wrong with you people???!! Where do you think the money is going to be coming from??!! Because raising it from income tax or a sales tax is just punishing people who don’t make enough money as it is.

    4. Nervous Nellie*

      There is a burgeoning ‘degrowth’ movement that makes a lot of sense to me, but the catch is that we would need all of society on board with it. We could work less, earn less, and live more simply, but if housing, health care and education are still at their full-retail rates, we will struggle more than we already do.

      That said, the old-fashioned ideas of living on less than you make, keeping things longer than we currently do, and downscaling our expectations for enjoyment (ie. a summer hike instead of going to Disneyland), can offer enormous freedoms. I downscaled hard in a divorce a decade ago, and live in a tiny apartment and drive a car that is old enough to vote, and I have never been happier. :)

      1. PX*

        Oh man. I’m not sure if it was just the particular journalist I was following, but back during the last big crash (2010?) I remember reading a few economists talking about how the world needed to rethink the whole ‘constant growth’ idea of economies. It seemed like a fairly trendy topic for a while and then just seemed to disappear, but I was always on board with it because just. How is it a sensible idea that people are always consuming more? Why are economies built on that premise? It just seems so illogical to me and yet thats what people expect. Mad.

        So yes, I think a radical rethink in terms of what societies goals should actually be is probably one place to start.

    5. Koala dreams*

      I think it’s important to not focus on finding the best way to utopia, and instead start with the ways we already have. We can start now, and improve our methods as we go along.

      If I need to choose one thing, I would say time off from work. For many people, life goes on in the same tracks. When you have vacation or other time off work, the tracks swerve and there is suddenly time to think about how you wish life would be instead of how it is. More friends, less dishes to do, less pollution, a more meaningful life.

  30. Oxford Comma*

    I have been reading a little bit about people creating Quarantine Pods or Bubbles (if I understand this correctly, this means you find people who are doing the same kinds of things you are doing and whom you can trust and then can be more social).

    If anyone has done this, do you have tips you can share? How are you all keeping on the same page? Good experiences? Bad experiences?

    1. Disco Janet*

      We have a quarantine bubble! It started off just us plus my parents. Now, the negative thing about this is that my dad is a store manager, so he’s with the public every day. But so is my essential worker husband, unfortunately, and we needed my mom’s help with occasional babysitting while I work from home. My mom and I are equally fastidious about sanitizing everything, and my husband and dad both wear a mask and work and shower as soon as they get home. And it’s nice to have their house to go to when I just need a change of scenery. They are not doing social get together a beyond the ones with us, and vice versa. I think that’s the most important thing – much as I’d love to have a bubble that includes other friends of mine, they’re also seeing their parents, and their parents are seeing other friends too, and at that point the bubble is just too big. Maybe soon though, as we’re doing pretty well with the virus here in Michigan.

      1. Oxford Comma*

        Did you talk out boundaries or anything ahead of time? Or did that happen organically?

        1. Disco Janet*

          My mom and I had a discussion about it, but we already kind of knew we were on the same page just based on previous discussions before we started seeing each other regarding sanitizing, getting cabin fever from not leaving the house, grocery deliveries, etc.

    2. RagingADHD*

      We are going to have to find a pod soon. My younger extrovert kid is just miserable, she’s so lonely.

      Problem is, one of her BFF’s mom is a nurse, so we know she’s highly exposed. The other is just not taking it seriously at all and not taking any precautions.

      It’s a pickle.

    3. A*

      I know I’m 2 days late to the thread, but answering on the off chance you check back..

      I’m in a ‘pod’ with my best friend, her husband, and their 1 1/2 year old son. By extension through them it also includes her brother and mother. My best friend is a hospice nurse and relatively high-risk (not working with COVID patients, but passing through facilities with cases).

      I’m single/childless and relocated to this fairly rural area ~1 year ago for work, after specifically choosing this location because I had a pre-existing social base. I sheltered in place for three full months (have been WFH since March, will be at least through end of the summer) but it eventually got to the point where for mental and physical health reasons I needed to start incorporating some in person interactions. In our case it was relatively easy to put into place because I was the one choosing to join a higher risk bubble – I just sent her a text one day saying I was ready to start hanging out again and we all agreed that we didn’t feel masks were necessary (again, fairly straight forward as this was entirely my call to make since they were higher risk), especially since I’m extremely close with their son and there’s only so much social distancing you can do with a toddler. We figured if I’m interacting with him as usual, the jig is up since it’s only a matter of time before he sticks his fingers in my mouth / licks my face etc.

      It’s worked out really nicely. I’m getting to see my friends and not turn into a hermit, and I’m also able to help them out with some of the child care during the days since my employer is extremely supportive of people having to work + watch kids at the same time right now.

  31. So not using my regular name here*

    I would like to know how other people’s own peronal/family lives have changed or what actual individual life changes have you made since Ms. Frazier’s video became public?

    We are concerned about identity theft as our tax preparer’s office was in a building that was damaged by post protest riots. (We are unsure if PII was removed or not, so we are being pessimistic and assuming it was.)

    Banking is drive up not ATM. (Most ATM’s give cash in twenty dollar bills and my partner has changed from no bills larger than a twenty to no bills twenty or larger. )

    We have decided to try following NASCAR.

      1. fposte*

        I’ve seen some great comments about that–like who knew the left was going to get Neil Gorsuch and NASCAR and the right was going to get J. K. Rowling?

    1. StellaBella*

      For me personally, my life itself has not changed much but I have begun to modify my behaviour. I am no longer filtering most of my facebook to a small group of like-minded friends and family…now I mostly use the “Friends” setting for all the people on my page to see my social justice work and support for women, feminist ideas, science, climate change, and equality/equity. I also am supporting NAACP with a monthly donation to their Empowerment Fund. I am reaching out to check in with friends and family to see how they are doing and have shipped masks to friends and family who cannot get them in their areas.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      We are concerned about identity theft as our tax preparer’s office was in a building that was damaged by post protest riots. (We are unsure if PII was removed or not, so we are being pessimistic and assuming it was.)

      You should be concerned about identify theft all the time. There’s all sorts of shady and careless stuff going on. I mean, there was an Equifax breach not too long ago.

      I would recommend putting on a credit freeze.

    3. ThatGirl*

      I was confused by who Ms Frazier was, so let me say for anyone else who’s confused, she’s the young woman who filmed George Floyd’s killing. I’m not sure why you didn’t use his name.

      I’m also not sure why your partner is concerned about big bills? What does that have to do with it?

      I’ve been a Black Lives Matter supporter for years (I’m not saying that to toot my own horn) but this has me redoubling efforts to be a worthy ally and anti-racist.

      1. So not using my regular name here*

        I use Ms Fraser’s name because:

        I wanted to minimize the risk of triggering.

        Ms Frazier’s decision to take and then post the video was an act of bravery worth veneration. The BBC has an article about people who share unfavorable video of police if you would like more information.

        Most importantly – many people feel that Mr. Floyd’s horific killing would not have received the attention or even the acknowledgement that it did without Ms Frazier’s sharing of the video. Remember, Mr Floyd’s death was originally reported as someone being arrested who was in medical distress. In Minneapolis, only the subjects of police body camera video may request it and it is only made available once the police department is officially finished with all investigations related to the video. (That is, if the body cam is on and functional.) The Minneapolis Star Tribune has an interview with the Hennepin County Head Public Defender if you would like additional information.

        In my experince , many people who are visible minorities don’t carry large sums of cash or larger bill’s because:

        There is a much higher rate of scrutiny for counterfeit and subsequently the potential involvement of law enforcement. There are lots of couterfeit bills in circulation that the average person wouldn’t recognize.

        Carrying a large amount of cash when arrested is often argued in court as a demonstrated intent to pay for something illegal.

        The “unrepored seizure of funds/goods”.

        People who “look Latino” are deemed “safe’ to rob, because they will be too afraid of deportation to report the crime to the police.

        A visible minority using large bills in public can set off a racist rant. And racist rants always include a concern about possible escalation to physical violence.

        So in our house, I ( the model for a Karen meme photo) have always carried the $50 & $100 bills and the large sums of cash, instead of my partner who is a visible minority. But now that we know that the precipitating event of Mr. Floyd being killed was a $20 bill being questioned as counterfeit, that has changed to my partner not carrying anything larger than a $10 . Using $10 bills and smaller requires going to the bank drive up for cash as ATMs around here are usually just filled with $20 bills.

        I hope that I responded to everything.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Ok, the money thing makes more sense. But it lacked context in your original post. And $20 bills are the most common bill out there, I feel like small bills could potentially also get people going, because racists are gonna racist. But your partner should certainly do what he feels most comfortable with.

          Here’s the thing: I agree Ms Frazier deserves respect and credit, but when you’re talking about a widely known event, context is key. Using the name people know is helpful. Otherwise you end up confused. I mean no disrespect to anyone but George Floyd is the name people know, I would think just reading his name would not in and of itself be a trigger. You could also have more broadly spoken of the BLM protests or events in Minneapolis specifically.

          1. Deanna Troi*

            Yes, I googled “Ms. Frazier” and the first three pages had nothing to do with George Floyd’s murder, and I didn’t check any farther than that. I understand why the original commenter wants to recognize her and I think that it is an important thing to do, but without any context, there was no way to know who that was. It may not seem right, but her name has not been mentioned on any news source that I’ve seen. Perhaps if it had said “Darnella Frazier” instead of “Ms. Frazier” or mentioned her video of the events in Minneapolis, that might have helped those of us trying to google so we could figure out what this post was about. I also didn’t understand the connection between those events and the small bills without the additional details, but I completely agree now that more context has been provided.

            I DID, however, get the NASCAR reference the first time around, and thought it was hilarious!

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      By the way it took me a little while to see the connection with NASCAR, so for the benefit of overseas readers and readers of the archive some years from now, NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at its races.

    5. Altair*

      Weirdly, my life has not changed much but many of the people around me have been changing quite a bit. I’ve had more than one friend apologize to me for not really believing me about racism in the US before (which evokes a weird set of feelings, you can probably guess). Also, pleasantly, I have not lost a single friend this time. I lost friends over the racist response to Hurricane Katrina, to arguing over Trayvon Martin’s murder, to so many incidents going back to losing friends in high school over the LA riots. But this time all my friends have been true. It’s weird to cry for happiness, especially in the face of such horror, but this means a lot to me.

      Your husband is sensible in not carrying large bills. I’m sending him and you all safety and good fortune vibes.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Even other police stations have condemned what happened. I think most people feel that there’s no room for argument about what happened and what a horrible thing it was.

        However, I’ve seen a few strangers on facebook say some unpleasant things, but only a few, and then there are the people who are all “Why are you being political?” when various companies have posted supporting BLM (this isn’t just political; police officers can’t be allowed murder people).

  32. MissGirl*

    How do people deal with family member on the opposing side of politics? We’re having our first post-COVID party tomorrow. I just want to go, see my nieces and nephews, and get caught up. But I know my brothers will be harping on everything that’s going on. Engaging doesn’t work because one, they’re not changing their minds and don’t want to hear any other viewpoint. Two, they know I think differently and love to needle me, which I don’t want to do. I also don’t want to engage because it causes me a huge amount of anxiety, and I spend the next week having imaginary arguments with them and not sleeping.

    My plan is to go a little late, stay outside with the kids, and walkaway when they start up, which I know they’ll make fun of me for. I want to maintain the relationship so I can keep up with the kids and my parents. What’s funny is my dad is also on the extreme spectrum from me but it doesn’t affect our relationship at all.

    1. Disco Janet*

      See my post just below yours – I’ve definitely dealt with this recently! But honestly, I’m at the point now (after losing a close family member/friend over this stuff) where if I know I’m not in a place to engage with them about this stuff, then I would rather just stay away. Especially since I have kids – you don’t really want yours hearing the things they’re saying and seeing you not challenging them on it, do you?

      I’d set up a different time to visit with your parents.

        1. Disco Janet*

          Ah, I misread the part where you talked about the kids – sorry! Do you think your parents would be willing to talk to them beforehand and set a boundary there? Or would that just cause then to give you more grief?

    2. aarti*

      I’ve had arguments with family members about racism and homophobia stuff in the US (we’re non-black POC FWIW). I think your idea to hang out with the kids and be somewhere else is a good one. A few years ago, I was doing the same thing at a wedding and my nephew came over and talked to be about what it meant to be trans for like an hour. So sometimes be available to younger kids in a high-conflict family can be a good thing!

      Otherwise, I refuse to participate. If someone calls me a “feminist killjoy”, I calmly agree and either walk away or start talking to someone else, “Yep, that’s right. Aunt Maya, have you tried the cake?” Or if they say “You’re too scared to debate me,” I say, “Yep, that’s right. Uncle Fred, how are your hemorrhoids doing?” etc. etc.

      1. MissGirl*

        Thanks, I’m going to work on answers like these. I wish I could stop the arguing in my head, which amplifies my an anxiety.

        1. fposte*

          There are some Captain Awkward posts that touch on this. Mostly, though, I’d say let go of the impulse to convince and correct. They don’t have to officially accept your POV for it to be valid, and there’s actually a lot of power in the refusal to engage further. “I don’t agree with that, as you know. Hey, is little Kaitlin falling off of the roof over there?” You don’t even have to answer if they say something–you can look at them, smile, and go back to the salad.

          1. MissGirl*

            Thanks, I’ve want to let go of that impulse, especially since I know my one brother’s responses is based on misplaced severe anxiety. I just don’t know how. I was trying to distract myself from the internal argument by counting or repeating things but my therapist said denying it would make it worse. I think I have this huge need to prove I am right, which is so stupid and self-defeating when you want to build relationships.

            1. fposte*

              Oh, I so get that. I am the original “Someone is wrong on the internet” person. I fully endorse mental tricks where you redefine various outcomes other than agreement as proof of your rightness–that you don’t have to keep arguing and he does, for instance.

      2. aarti*

        I totally get that. What made it easier, is I told myself that I wouldn’t argue with family about the humanity of people of different races/sexualities. Thus I spent less time worrying beforehand about what arguments to make. So if they start in with me, I’ll refuse to participate and sometimes physically walk away.

        I created this policy about a decade ago and depending on things like my mental health, I stick by it to various degrees.

        A few years back, one cousin started with me about some racist nonsense and wouldn’t stop even though we were sitting down to dinner. I was fully prepared to leave the table when my grandma, hardly a progressive activist herself, told him to shut his mouth or she’d shut it for him.

        This is a marathon, not a sprint, and sometimes your allies end up being 85 year old ladies who also will complain that you wear your hair too short! Take care of yourself! If you’re up to it, maybe let us know next week how it went?

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t know if this will actually help you, but I’d recommend watching the latest One Day at a Time animated episode. It’s about exactly this thing.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I don’t mean to nitpick but if you are in the US COVID is not over. Even if cases are declining in your area, it’s not gone.

      But basically, take reasonable precautions, and protect yourself. You don’t have to agree to argue with anyone.

        1. Kiwi with laser beams*

          Or Vietnam, they’ve done the best that I know of. Taiwan’s another one that’s been mentioned in our media as a country we should strive to be like.

          I wouldn’t have pegged “post-covid” as a New Zealand term, we call it “Level 1” because even though we don’t have to distance right now, there are still restrictions in place (mainly at the border) that affect a lot of people in a lot of ways. And we all just got a big reminder of why we can’t act like there’s no more risk. (Not labouring the point with MissGirl, just sharing where we’re at over here.)

      1. MissGirl*

        I never said it was over. I am a data analyst in healthcare and I’m tracking the virus and its hot spots. I’m hoping for suggestions in working with family.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I never said it was over.

          I think you can understand why people would think that’s what you were saying:

          We’re having our first post-COVID party

          Maybe it means something else I’m missing, though.

          1. MissGirl*

            I meant first post-COVID becoming a threat. We haven’t gathered in several months. I don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of debating on the party itself. That’s not the issue, and I know people will have differing views on it. It’s twelve people outside.

        2. ThatGirl*

          You said “post-COVID” which implies it’s over. I get what you’re saying and I don’t blame you for seeing family, but I think it’s important to be clear.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I thought it was a reasonable point (it’s valuable not to feed into the idea, even inadvertently, that this is behind us and it’s OK to return to normal). But it’s also been addressed and I think we can leave it here!

    5. Natalie*

      For whatever it’s worth, this sounds like it’s more about them being rude than it is about politics specifically. So I would think about what strategies will get you the behavior/boundaries you want and ignore the content.

      The ruminating is a different issue that you have to work on in yourself unfortunately. Ignore this if it doesn’t feel relevant, but I think it’s easy to fixate on changing a couple of stubborn people’s minds because we’re used to sparring with them, when that might not be the highest and best use of our political energy. So if arguing with your brothers has been your main form of political engagement, considering trying to get involved in other ways and dropping the rope of convincing them or even reminding them you don’t agree.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, it can be very hard to break out of these patterns with family members!

        Maybe it will help to see it as just the pattern, rather than the subject matter, as Natalie says here. If it wasn’t politics, they’d be messing with you over, I don’t know, barbecue sauce or elephants or Disney movies, something else you care about. The political stuff is just a tool they have picked up for irritating you.

        I think unfortunately a lot of people engage with politics in this way. They don’t really care or think deeply about their positions, they just like to stoke interpersonal conflict.

        1. MissGirl*

          Thanks for this. You’re right in that it would always be something. I am going to try to remember that. If it isn’t this, it would be something else. I am trying to focus on the parts I can do, and I’ve been more active in that regard. Maybe each time they say something about protestors, blue lives, etc., I’ll mentally plan to donate a dollar to the NAACP. I could fund an entire scholarship eventually and give it the family name. :)

    6. Anxious Cat Servant*

      I don’t know if my perspective helps since I’ve had to put my own family of origin into time-out and it sounds like that’s not an outcome you want.

      However, before that my strategy was to be clear on my boundaries and simply refuse to even start. I let them know that if a family member (usually my father) brought up politics I’d walk away. If he continued then I got in my car and drove away. All done in complete calmness and after a serene, “this is not enjoyable and I want an enjoyable time with you. If you continue to make it disagreeable then this visit is over.” There was some decided pushback and I was labeled a sensitive snowflake and there was complaints about having to walk on eggshells around me … but whatever. If they find it so difficult to not be bullies (and my father is decidedly a bully) then that’s their problem. The rest of the family tolerates the bully because they want family harmony. I simply made it clear that if they wanted to keep that family harmony then they needed to tell the bullies to shove it. And they did, at least for limited periods of time.

    7. Traffic_Spiral*

      I have 3 and different methods for each of them.

      1st: changes personality based on who she dates (and married a MAGA) and also just generally is the type that needs a cult to belong to – it’d have been MLMs, conspiracy theories, or the healing power of crystals if not this. We have a solid “don’t talk about it” policy, because she gets emotionally distraught when disagreed with.

      2nd: same age, disagrees, but doesn’t take offense when disagreed with. We discuss things occasionally – mainly fact-checking him when he’s forwards another fake news story, but he’s gotten much better about that.

      3rd: older. We generally just aren’t interested in discussing politics with each other. One of us might make an offhand comment and the other one will disagree and we’ll have like 5 min. talk about things and then change the subject.

    8. Grapey*

      “love to needle me, which I don’t want to do.”

      Needling you is not something that YOU are doing.

      From a societal POV, please engage them anyway. One thing the BLM movement has cemented is that racist loudmouths of the world need to be engaged with, not just eyerolls and “i can’t even”s and allowed to spew their crap. You might not change their minds but the kids will see the loudmouths aren’t the only ones that can say something. It should be anxiety provoking….many current topics are certainly life threatening to other populations that need solidarity.

      1. Natalie*

        Spending a ton of time and energy arguing with people that are essentially real life trolling isn’t doing anything for society. And as far as the kids go, it just implies that the humanity and rights of fellow human beings are something that is up for debate. You don’t need to cede the space to them, but making your position clear and drawing firm boundaries is far more effective.

      2. Melody Pond*

        From a societal POV, please engage them anyway.

        This is something I am really wrestling with, and was debating starting a separate post about it. Especially with Father’s Day falling on this weekend. My dad and stepmom do not believe that white privilege or unconscious racial bias are real things, and at this point I almost feel that I am complicit in injustice if I continue to not engage them on this.

        But, ugh, it’s complicated. They’re kind of the worst people I know, and they’re very unlikely to change (even with a very careful compassion-oriented approach).

        1. Taniwha Girl*

          I honestly don’t think it’s worth engaging with everyone on every topic.
          First of all, they occupy a different reality than you. There is no logic, no turn of phrase, no data points, no research, no books or think-pieces or magic wand you could use to convince them to change their minds. They are adults, they have come to the conclusions they have come to and you are not going to upturn their worldview and years of experience with one conversation. After all, nothing they could say to you could change your mind, could it?

          Second of all, we are all complicit in injustice whether or not we fight with our parents at Thanksgiving. Your parents could have voted for Obama 4 times and that doesn’t give you a “get out of systemic racism free” card.

          There are lots of ways we can fight injustice, and most of them don’t involve mixing family dynamics. I can’t find it now but there was a twitter thread about “would you argue with a flat earther? we don’t need you to waste your time and energy arguing with your racist uncle.” What else can you do to support the cause and live your values?

          So we have to change our goal from “changing hearts and minds in one conversation”. Maybe the goal can be “I won’t discuss politics with you” or “I won’t tolerate hateful speech” or “we only speak kindly about people.” Or whatever makes sense as a line you could draw. This also means you can use value statements in your defense–this can be very effective.

          “Have you seen the news? [Racist take on current events]”
          “I’m going to stop you right there. That’s not how I understand the issue, so let’s not get into it. What else is new with you?”

          “[Innocuous story that veers into gross biases]”
          “Aww Dad, that’s not a kind thing to say. You raised me to respect people regardless of the color of their skin. [Topic change].”

          “[Something something riots are bad]”
          “Well I think it’s great that in our country we have the freedom to protest if we want to. Speaking of freedom, have you seen Hamilton is coming to video?”

          And so on–very hard to argue with this, but you have to follow it yourself and not bait them or bring up topics you know will start $hit. And emotionally disengage from the result.

    9. Lucette Kensack*

      Honestly? I ended my relationships with my far-right family members.

      When all of their conversation became about the ways in which people not like them are ruining the world, it became not worth it to be in relationship with them. All the care about is punching down the ideas of folks they don’t agree with; it’s literally their only way of engaging. My life is much improved with them not in it.

    10. Out in the Wilderness*

      I don’t have any great advice for you, but I so, so sympathize. I struggle with this with my mother. We are on opposite ends of the political divide, and she has outright admitted that she enjoys “needling” me — or as she sometimes puts it, “yanking your chain.” She does not seem to understand that all she is doing with this is pushing me further and further away. And then she wonders why we don’t have a close relationship and why I don’t seem to want to spend time with her. (For context, I am nearly 50 years old and our politics began diverging when I was in my 20s)

      I’ll never understand this mindset.

      At any rate, I have at various times managed to successfully shut down political conversations with her, but I rarely am able to do so without losing my temper and yelling, which is not great. Your plan to hang with the kids sounds better. Others in the thread who have suggested calmly walking away from confrontations probably have the right idea, it is just something I’ve never been good at.

      Later today I need to call my dad for Fathers Day and I’m sure she’ll get on the phone as well and I’m absolutely dreading it. So sad that I dread talking to my parents these days.

      1. allathian*

        Sounds a mess, I’m sorry. I hope things went OK with your parents when you called.
        Next time your mom wonders why you don’t have a closer relationship, you might try saying outright that you don’t appreciate having your chain yanked and as long as she keeps doing it, she can forget about having a closer relationship with you.
        I’m in my late 40s as well and I have very low tolerance for behavior like that, but then, I’m fortunate in having a good relationship with my parents, sister and in-laws. I have a friend, though, who had a very troubled relationship with her parents growing up and into her 30s, until she cut off all contact with them. I heard quite a lot about what was going on in her life and I felt so helpless when I couldn’t do anything other than listen to her woes and sympathize with her. I’m very glad she’s in a much better place now. Going no contact is a drastic step, but some people don’t deserve anything else.
        With most of my extended family, we basically only exchange Christmas cards. I haven’t seen most of my aunts or uncles for about 5 years, the last time was at an aunt’s funeral. My dad’s on only child so I have no relatives closer than second cousins on his side of the family and I don’t keep in touch with any of them.

    11. winter*

      I can highly recommend the book When I say No I feel guilty for specific strategies. But off the top of my head.

      Fogging: Agree with part of the answer while not conceding anything. “You might be right” (mentally very heavy on the “might”). “I’m sure you think that way”

      or even more vague, going into non-committal noises:
      “That sure is an point of view/sentence.” “OK.” “Uhu.” “Right.”

      Agree with negative assertions (as somebody mentioned in the subthread): “Yes I don’t have any humor.” “I might be wrong about this.” “Yes I’ll never learn.”

      The key to pretty much all of them is to keep your tone non-committal, light, and while not exactly bored mildly absent-minded. You want the exact opposite of engagement or anger in your voice.

      Then change topic, address somebody else or leave the conversation physically.

      I CAN recommend rehearsing this with somebody or at least practicing the answers and the tone out loud.

      As you’re having issues with not getting drawn into these arguments, I also recommend choosing some possible talking points from past experience and going over which non-committal replies feel natural for them. Most effective would be to feed a trusted person some obnoxious scripts and rehearse not getting into it. If no one is available you could also make a one-sided script where you try to come up with replies spontaneously.

  33. Disco Janet*

    Apologies if this posts more than once – my phone did something weird as I was finishing up the first time.

    Has anyone else lost a friend due to current events? My cousin was my best friend growing up and we’ve stayed close, but there has been some distance since she started dating her partner five years ago – she has taken on some of his beliefs and attributes that I dislike. Now she hasn’t said a word about black lives matter or racism or equality in general, but she has plenty to say about how furious she is that more people aren’t supporting blue lives matter. And she keeps inviting people over because the pandemic is a conspiracy and it’s really just like the flu, apparently. I sent her a gentle message telling her that I disagreed with the things she’s been saying lately, said why, and asked if we could please talk about it – that this wasn’t like the her I grew up with and I didn’t want to lose our friendship. She didn’t respond and deleted me from social media.

    I think I’m feeling worse about it (though losing a close friend would always make me sad!) because my sadness about losing her is mixed in with my sadness and anxiety about the state of our country. Doesn’t help that I live in a conservative town.

    How do you balance your own mental health with the importance of current events? I want to just turn off the news for a bit and stay away from the internet (irony, yes), but I realize my ability to do so comes from a place of privilege. But I also know that I need to disengage from the debates in order to be the best mom to my kids, and so I can focus on planning my lessons for next year with my students – we have some great lessons in our literary textbook On Civil Disobedience, and that address racism, and I feel like focusing on that and the next generation is a better, less anxiety inducing, use of my time. But again…privilege. Trying to confront mine here.

    1. Ranon*

      Honestly, I keep my news consumption limited in source to journalists I can trust to report facts without running my emotions through the wringer and limited in quantity to the amount I can take before it causes me to take less action, rather than more.

      Never in history have we had as much constant access to as much news and data as we do now, there’s no compelling reason to me to try to absorb all of it. A daily papers’ worth is plenty. My time is much better spent getting enough and then working in groups with other people (virtually, sure, informally or formally) to, as Angela Davis says “change the things I cannot accept”

    2. MissGirl*

      I’m limiting my news to two sites that aren’t filled with opinion pieces (one my local news and the other AP news). I’m unfollowing some people’s posts because arguing online never changed anyone’s mind.

      I’m also focusing on what *I* am in a position to do. For instance, I’m a writer so I’m trying to buy and support own voices books and amplify their words. I’m also trying to figure out how to diversify my books but in the right way by asking and learning.

      I’m an advocate of the outdoors on Twitter, which has a diversity problem. I’ve started following and sharing different accounts. We have a primary election coming up and I’ve queried some of the candidates (no response) so I’m looking at what they’re saying.

      I’m also reminding myself the person I have the most influence over is me.

      1. LQ*

        I’m also in the focus on what I CAN do space. I could (and have) spent a tremendous amount of time consuming media to try to be aware. But what I can do is the thing that will matter most. And I will drift and be imperfect, but no amount of media consumption will cause me to be perfect. So I focus on a long term goal that maybe I can be a part of and I try to see my pieces, the places where I can help move things forward, the things I can change or do. And then I try, often unsuccessfully, to let the rest of it go, knowing that weighting myself down with the must know all the things feeling makes me worse and the actions I can take.

        That’s not true for everyone, and you need a way to consume some, though I’ve found that my current, fairly passive, method is ok for me. I don’t know all the things. But I wasn’t going to no matter what I did.

    3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I don’t look at news before breakfast, or last thing at night, and I avoid national-level US news sources: the bit of distance I get from looking at the CBC and sometimes the Guardian is useful. I supplement those with local news sources, including a blogger who finds relevant things on Twitter and the websites of two of the area NPR stations.

      I also figure that there’s very little that I need to know now instead of in two hours or even tomorrow, and those few things are more likely to pop up on my phone (storm warnings) or via a phone call from one of my relatives than on any news site.

      I haven’t lost any friends to current events, as far as I know; if someone quietly unfollowed me on social media, that’s their business, whether it’s because they think I’m a flaming radical or because we are in vigorous agreement but they don’t want anything political in their feed. Nobody has told me that they are unfollowing because they dislike my politics.

    4. Koala dreams*

      I don’t like the belief that sad things are more important than happy things and we need to keep up with whatever horrible news of the day to be good citizens. I’ve also had to cut out a lot of news for the sake of my health recently. A privilege? Yes, perhaps it’s a privilege to be able to do what’s best for your health. In that case, it’s a privilege everybody should be afforded. I don’t know how to solve the problems of the world, but getting sick from watching too much news is not a solution.

    5. Treebeardette*

      Social media is very polarizing and paints only one picture. (I have a lot of conservative friends who are upset about police brutality which the media would never show.) It’s okay to take a break from it and focus on other things. Staying on Facebook doesn’t change anything. Your lesson that addresses racism does make a difference. Being a good mother makes a difference.
      I too have lost a friend for being nonsense about the pandemic.
      I found on YouTube, ‘Noah Elfrief – How to deal with anxiety’ to be a helpful video. It’s almost like a guided meditation to sit with your feelings and ask questions that help you let go of things. It may not help with everything, but it’s worth a shot? I also like his video on depression. Please note it isn’t a cure all for everyone. It’s helped me a little though.

    6. Altair*

      I don’t have advice, just commiseration. I have lost friends and even a whole friends group once over politics (I don’t care what anyone says, the political is personal, and being someone’s Pet Black Person or Special Exception to All LGBTQ People Are Evil is not fun nor safe) and each time it was as painful as a romantic breakup. Maybe one piece of advice I can give you is to let yourself grieve if the relationship is truly broken, and to remembr that you aren’t wrong to be on the right side of history.

      Being able to disengage from the news is a privilege, and it’s sensible of you to recognize that, but I don’t think breaking your sanity on a news overdose will actually help anyone, and it will hurt you and those who depend on you. I think you can ethically take advantage of this privilege to protect yourself just like we who live with infrastructure enjoy our running water instead of foregoing it because many people don’t have it.

      Thank you for working on educating kids, btw. You’re making the world a better place.

    7. HannahS*

      Yep, over COVID stuff. In my case, I’m not really missing her; our friendship survived, frankly, because I did a lot of the work and tolerated a lot of poor treatment. Not every relationship is going to last forever; if the other person doesn’t want to work on it, then there’s not a ton you can do.

      I think part of advocacy involves prioritizing. Is convincing one person the best use of your time? Is knowing everything necessary for you to effectively advocate and teach? No amount of internet will make you perfect; making one imperfect call to your local politician is better.

      1. winter*

        Good points.

        Also I think sometimes we outgrow friendships/relationships and it takes us a while to realize that the other person hasn’t grown with us.
        Yes you were great friends when you were younger but then she decided to go into this direction and it seems to be not accidental if she’s not up for a discussion and unfollowing you.
        You are probably not able to preserve this friendship because she doesn’t want to.

  34. I'm A Little Teapot*

    Thanks to those who gave input about a foam mattress topper for my too-firm mattress. I ordered one and last night was the first night I slept with it. It seems a little warmer than without, but I was much more comfortable and able to sleep more naturally. I also didn’t wake up sore! The one I got is 2 inches, but that seems perfectly adequate for me.

    I can’t say I slept well, but that was because the new kitty Rosie Cotton came home yesterday, and last night was rough. She spent a decent chunk of the night crying in the other room. I’m going into battle now to administer medications. Two liquids, ear drops, and a powder mixed in with wet food. I have several scratches from her escape attempts last night, and I’m sure I’ll be picking up some more. Thankfully, there’s an end date on the meds, just need to do this for a couple days. She’s a very nice little kitty and I think that once she settles in and she and Arwen are introduced that she’ll do well. We just have to survive night times for a while. And if anyone has any tips on ear drops, I’ll take them.

    1. Dr. Anonymous*

      Wrap her whole cat-self in a towel, with just her face out, like a kitty burrito. This is hard, too, but you’re not trying to hold her ESR and get drops in and control her paws at the same time. I also used to put the kitty burrito on the floor and kneel down with her between my legs surrounding her so my lower body was doing most of the work or corralling the kitty.

      1. Word Prefect*

        Seconding the kitty burrito. Recently had to put a cat through a hardcore program of multiple antibiotics twice a day and this was by far the easiest way to deal with the situation. The cat is now fine and still speaks to me. :-) I found the best way to wrap the cat was to spread the towel over my front and lap, lean the cat back across my body and then swaddle it very firmly. And use a big towel for plenty of overlap otherwise your cat will sprout eight extra legs in its efforts to extricate itself. After that you can rest the cat sausage across your lap while you administer the medications.

        And, tbh, they look remarkably cute when swaddled. Pissed off, but cute. Good luck.

      2. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Yep, have been doing the purrito. It helps. Luckily, I have a 2nd person to help hold her for ear drops, and only have meds today and tomorrow. Thank goodness!

  35. Teapot Translator*

    What are some ways (healthy or not) that you have ended friendships?
    I don’t have the greatest track record with ending friendships, so I’d like to know how other people do it so I can learn over time.
    I know ghosting is hurtful for the other person, but I also don’t think talking about why one wants to end the friendship is all that better or productive.
    For example, years and years ago, I realized that I just didn’t share the same values as a childhood friend. There was no point in debating our values. I know how it goes (I’ll point out it’s hurtful to people; they’ll point out that I’m being hurtful by telling them that it’s hurtful). So I just slowly faded away (this was before social media and mobile phones).

    1. Anonymous because reasons*

      I have just kind of faded out. She did it too I think. I don’t even really know who started it first, but we just made contact between us less and less until it petered out.
      I rang her months ago because I guess I just wanted to see how things were, and although she was perfectly polite there was no doubt in my mind that the friendship was over! There was a lot of relief and some pain to that, but I’m glad it’s over.
      Captain Awkward has articles on her blog about this kind of thing.
      The purple plant of friendship or something?

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think I’ve had any explosive friendship breakups. Almost all of my ended friendships have been due to ghosting. We just lost touch. Usually it’s people who are out-of-sight-out-of-mind just not putting in the effort.

    3. Potatoes gonna potate*

      So, I’m the kind of person that never lets people go, I get attached easily, and I put a lot of energy into maintaining friendships. so if I cut someone out, it’s a big deal for me IMO. 

      With that said, I had a friend I was talking to on an almost daily basis. A lot of our conversations revolved around career, friends and family etc. I was trying to get a job in my desired career, she was a VP in that field, and would constantly advise me to go into teaching or working in a daycare (completely different career path). I had no interest in either of those. 

      So, one day I was studying for an exam to get licensed that would help me in my career. I remarked that it’s such challenging subject matter but I’m enjoying it. She said that if I find it too difficult, it’s not the right career path for me and brought up working in a daycare again. I told her I was sick of her constantly advising me to go into a low-paying minimum wage job [my understanding ist hat daycare workers make minimum wage]/it was disrespectful to teachers and their profession to advise someone to go into it just because they can’t get a job. At that point in my life I was tired of being told to take the easy path and not work hard for anything.  

      She said something along the lines of stay mad and that was the last exchange that we had. 

      1. lazy intellectual*

        Yikes – looks like she was threatened by you. Good thing you let her go.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Heh I can’t imagine why — she was in hedge funds, pretty high up and making $$$$$. I’m in tax. Really very little overlap, she was 5 years older than me but had 20 years experience. She’d had an interest in this since HS, but I had a very little interest in any career path until I was about 26 (eek). I had a “late” start in life.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Some friends can’t grow with us. If we move, they still see us as we were, not as we are currently.

        I am not sure why your friend was so stuck in time regarding your friendship, but she was.

        I hope you smile knowingly: my wise friend used to say be aware of people who tell you “no, you can’t!”. Watch out for those people, my friend said.
        I have found this to be true. These people cannot not help us through our progression.

    4. Potatoes gonna potate*

      To add to my last comment, I think that was the last time I actually ended a friendship (or maybe it was mutual).

      Otherwise, there were people I were close to where we drifted apart, mostly classmates and coworkers. There was one coworker I was really good friends with. After he left the company, he went strict NC and I was crushed. We reconnected at the beginning of quarantine (over the phone!) and while it’s not at that same level as it was when we worked together, it’s nice to be in touch again. 

      IMO ghosting is when one party thinks things are going great or have no reason to think otherwise, and the other suddenly stops contact. I used to think cutting someone out was cruel, and while I can never do it myself…after reading this blog for a few years now I can totally understand why some people do that.

    5. Ronda*

      if you are both not contacting each other…. just let it drop off.

      But if they are contacting you and you dont want to see them, it is probably best to tell them. You can also say you dont want to discuss the “breakup” and give only whatever level of reason you want to give them.
      Breakups are not great fun for people, but it is a little nicer to not leave people hanging.

    6. lazy intellectual*

      I don’t have the courage to end friendships myself. I’ve had friends end friendships with me. It hurts at first, but I realize over time that it was probably for the better – we were both outgrowing each other and it freed me to make friends more suitable for me at the time. I’m currently considering “downgrading” a friend. So not necessarily ending the friendship completely, but no longer hanging out with her one-on-one or confiding in her as frequently. Basically, just stick to group outings and such.

    7. Alex*

      I’m not sure I’ve ever “healthily” ended a friendship. But I’ve definitely ended them.

      In most cases, I just…start declining invitations. Once you decline enough invitations, you pretty much stop getting them. I never “ghosted” in the sense that I suddenly didn’t respond to messages, but rather, stopped putting in effort and making time for that person, which ended up in eventually them not putting in time either, and so the friendship was basically over.

      In a couple of cases, I let things get tense until the other person blew up at me and then we just kind of never spoke again. Probably wasn’t the most mature thing to do–I would pull back, they would feel hurt, get resentful, and then blow up. In these cases I think I just knew that the person had a temper and I didn’t want to deal, and in most cases like this, I’d tried to tell the person that they’d done something to upset me, only to have them not care or belittle me for feeling that way, and so I pulled back from them. But I didn’t explicitly say “this is why I’m ending the friendship.”

      I wish I could say I had a good “break up” with a friend but honestly I’m not sure what that would look like. Would a rundown of why I dislike spending time with them be less hurtful? It probably would have been better to end friendships where someone was hurting me by telling them I was leaving because they were hurting me, but in a couple of cases I was living with the person and so that was complicated.

    8. you've got mail*

      well just recently someone ended a friendship with me via a very long email detailing everything I’ve apparently done wrong in the friendship over the years…so being on the receiving end I can’t say I’d recommend email as the way to go

    9. Ducksgoquack*

      When I ended a close friendship recently I decided against explaining to her why. She would likely respond with rage and denial so any explanation would have only added distress. Of course ghosting is not ideal but sometimes it’s the least painful option.

    10. The Other Dawn*

      I once ended a friendship. It was 1999 and I’d been friends with her for years. We were friends for a couple years in grades 1 through 3, I believe. She then moved across town and went to a different school, so we lost touch. We met up again in high school and became good friends.

      I eventually came to know that she had depression and anxiety, was seeing a therapist for it and was on meds. At one point, maybe sophomore year, her parents divorced. That’s when I started to see glimpses of what she’d become several years later, and is why I ended the friendship: everything bad that happened or good that didn’t happen was blamed on her parents’ divorce, “men are scum,” etc. Nothing was her fault. Eventually she got a job at the same store as me and things were fine for awhile. Then she quit school. Then she quit her job, got pregnant, and moved in with her boyfriend at his parents’ house. She had the baby and they eventually broke up. She moved back to mom’s house. She didn’t go back to working. She just sat around the house, blaming everything, especially her father, and everyone else for her life. She constantly bashed men in front of her son.

      In 1999 it became obvious to me that I needed to end the friendship for my own sanity. I couldn’t take two hour phone calls where all she did was man-bash and take zero responsibility for anything in her life. She wasn’t willing to do anything to help herself at all, and her mental health issues were constantly used as an excuse as to why she couldn’t do something, or X happened to her, etc. Also, by that point we didn’t have anything in common anymore. She never wanted to go anywhere or do anything. She had no interest in anything going on with me. I know mental illness makes all those things harder, but she did zero to help herself. I have other friends with the same issues and none of them use it as an excuse to get out of taking responsibility.

      So, I wrote her a letter. I considered calling, but knew she’d argue with me and deny anything was her fault. I tried fading out, but no matter how long I went with no contact, she’d eventually pop in again. I explained all the reasons why I didn’t want to be friends anymore and wished her well. It was such a massive relief. I didn’t realize how much she was draining me mentally until I broke ties with her. I never got a call or anything from her. Years later she wrote to me on social media and explained how hurt she was, that she cried when she got the letter. But what stuck in my mind is she never reached out, so I took it as she was fine with the friendship being over.

      A few years ago she tried to friend me on Facebook. While I miss the great talks we used to have, I knew what I’d be getting myself into again and I deleted the request. (I’ve kept in touch with a mutual friend and she said my ex-friend is no different than she was years ago: still blaming everyone else, her now-teenage son is in therapy and has been for many years, doesn’t do anything to help herself.)

    11. allathian*

      We moved around a lot when I was a kid, so my childhood friendships ended naturally because we just didn’t see each other anymore. I sometimes envy my husband who’s still friends with a guy he met in daycare when he was three years old, so they’ve been friends for 40+ years.
      There was one friend I broke up with when she’d call me in the middle of the night, drunk. She was very much a poor little rich girl who’d rage quit her jobs at the slightest provocation because she’s from a wealthy family and she’ll never need to work. She just needed someone to vent to, drunk or sober, and I was that person for a while. But when I was facing some challenges in my personal life, she was never there for me so I just stopped being friends with her. This happened when she had a cellphone and I didn’t, and I didn’t even have caller-ID. When I had enough, I called her one day when she was sober and told her that I didn’t appreciate being woken up in the middle of the night and to delete my contact info from her cellphone so she wouldn’t call me when she was drunk again and that from then on, I’d unplug my phone at night just to make sure.

      1. lazy intellectual*

        This actually reminds me that I DID end a long-distance friendship for similar reasons. Basically whenever we would chat online, it was always about her – her problems, her relationships, etc. etc. Whenever I would share anything about herself, she would maybe respond with one line and immediate revert it back to herself. It didn’t help that a lot of her problems involved her causing a lot of negative drama with people in her life.

        I finally decided she was super toxic and that I didn’t want to talk to her anymore. It was really easy to end – all I had to do was stop logging in online. I would get some messages like “Where have you been lately???” and I would just respond like, “Sorry been super busy!” This was when we were in college so it was really easy to blame a heavy course load and busy social life.

    12. LifeOrDeath*

      I ended my friendship with my best friend after she made some not so supportive comments via email in response to me asking for mental support after a rough day at work. Short version is that I was, by her account, showing signs of being very codependent. I was 8 months out from donating a kidney and 5 months losing a loved one very dear to me. I did answer her e-mail with a curt response and have never spoken to her since. The thing is I had a feeling this day would come. She got weirded out when I got married and had kids. When the donation was imminent she got even weirder and st one point tried to invite herself along to the surgery, for support I did not ask for seeing as the surgery would take place in another country and my parents had priority. She then demanded that I call her as soon as I woke up (did not do that). Her behavior felt intrusive to me in the whole process. He behavior towards others had been in my mind questionable for quite some time. Good example was when she still lived with her ex-girlfriend after the breakup, she would bring home other girls and sleep with them with the ex heartbroken in the next room. I ended my friendship with my best friend after she made some not so supportive comments via email in response to me asking for mental support after a rough day at work. Short version is that I was, by her account, showing signs of being very codependent and that the last time we went out together I didn’t pay her enough attention. I had the flu, was running a fever at that time, I was 8 months out from donating a kidney and 5 months losing a loved one very dear to me. I did answer her e-mail with a curt response and have never spoken to her since. The thing is I had a feeling this day would come. She got weirded out when I got married and had kids. When the donation was imminent she got even weirder and st one point tried to invite herself along to the surgery, for support I did not ask for seeing as the surgery would take place in another country and my parents had priority. She then demanded that I call her as soon as I woke up (did not do that). Her behavior felt intrusive to me in the whole process. He behavior towards others had been in my mind questionable for quite some time. She had fx brought home girls to sleep with before her ex-girlfriend had had the chance to move out. I reached out and talked to the ex-girlfriend about this on my own accord seeing as this was sooo cruel.
      My take from all of this is that you should not take criticism from some one who you would not take advice from.

    13. Teapot Translator*

      Thanks to everyone who’s answered! I read and re-read your comments and I’m thinking about them and how it relates to my old friendships.

    14. anon4this1*

      When I was having a hard time (recovering from an eating disorder) I had a large group of friends and in the span of a month I lost almost all of them. We used to hang out every day and then when I got better (a year into recovering) they all stopped answering my emails and texts. I have no idea if its because I got to be too much (I was very hard to be friends with as I cried every time I ate and basically had to eat every two to three hours and I also had a one track mind as all the was going on in my life was recovering). I likely wasn’t a good friend since I was so focused on food and following my meal plan. I wasn’t sure if I lost everyone because I was too much to deal with or if it was because I was at a point where I was better and no longer needed to be with a person basically 24/7. I have to say I greatly appreciate that they didn’t tell me why or tell me that I was too hard to be friends with (or whatever the actual reason was – who knows maybe they all just got busier at the same time?)

      Most friends I’ve ended friendships with was because of moving, my area has a lot of navy people.

      My worst friend ending was this girl I was friends with in college. Our moms were friends and we didn’t have anything in common. She kept asking me to hang out but when we did I felt bored and anxious but couldn’t figure out why so eventually I started declining invitations. Seven months after the last time she invited me somewhere, she sent me an email saying that I hurt her feelings but basically just saying I was too busy to hang out. I don’t know if that was the right way to handle it on my end but I didn’t know how to tell her that I was just not really her friend and only hanging out w her because our moms were friends so we kept running into each other and she would ask me to hang out. I always felt bad about it and apologized a year later but luckily we didn’t go back to being friends.

      1. allathian*

        I don’t think you were ever friends with your mom’s friend’s daughter. You just hung out because your moms hung out, as you said. The other girl probably had different expectations and thought you were her friend, so she was disappointed when you kept declining her invitations. She probably realized later that you didn’t have all that much in common, and maybe your apology gave her some closure.

        I’m lucky in that my son likes to hang out with my best friend’s son, although it’s possible that may change when they get a bit older (my son’s 11, my friend’s son is a year older).

        Something slightly similar happened to me in my teens. When I was in high school, a guy in my class was my former elementary school teacher’s nephew. My ES teacher was also married to one of my dad’s coworkers, so we’d occasionally run into her socially even after I’d gone to HS. It was very awkward for me sometimes, when she asked me about how her nephew was doing. I was an awkward teenager and it felt like she was trying to set me up with her nephew or something, and he was nice enough but not at all my type (and I’m sure he wasn’t the least bit interested in me either). I may have read too much into it and she may have only been trying to make conversation, but it was soooo awkward!

        1. anon4this1*

          Yes I never viewed us as friends but the problem I guess was she viewed us as friends so it was hard to cut off if that makes sense. Like we hung out multiples times w o our parents because when we ran into each other she would ask to hang out and for like a year I would say okay hoping that it would be fun or we would end up as friends. Now being older I would have handled it differently but I was 18 to 19 at the time.

          The nephew thing does sound awkward!

  36. Anonymous Educator*

    Just saw Giri/Haji (so good!) on Netflix, but I really had to browse around to find it. It wasn’t advertised to me. Anyone have Netflix recommendations that aren’t the top 10 things they always keep advertising all the time and that everyone keeps talking about?

    1. Anonymous because reasons*

      That rooftop scene <3
      I don't know if the recommendations are different according to the country you're in. Giri/Haji was on the BBC not Netflix here in the UK.
      Anyway, I've watched and really enjoyed Reckoning on Netflix lately. I only recognised Sam Tramell in it, maybe it’s a bit of an indie series? But that was good if you haven’t seen it.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Thanks for the rec. No, that didn’t pop in the recommendations. I’m kind of annoyed Netflix just keeps recommending the same things over and over again. I mean, if I scroll by it 20 times and don’t watch it, maybe suggest something else to me? Thanks again. I’ll check out Reckoning.

    2. ChatNoir*

      Just looked this up since you mentioned it, and now it’s on my list — thanks! Just finished Bosch, so was hoping for something my husband I would both like.

    3. WellRed*

      I am probably going to have to drop Netflix and Acorn (Definitely Acorn) and I’ve barely watched Hulu since signing up a few months ago. I dropped Amazon/BritBox in favor of Acorn. Sigh.
      last night, I finally settled on watching the movie Couples Retreat on regular old cable.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve already seen Jiro, but I’ve added Kingdom and Money Heist to my queue. Thanks!

    5. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I wish Netflix had an option to dismiss stuff. Like ah yes I can see why you’re suggesting this film starring two actors I watch a lot, but it’s a horror film and I don’t do jump scares.

      And stop telling me to continue watching that series I tried but hated.

      I love Netflix in general, but the absence of a “stop suggesting this” button is infuriating.

    6. netflix*

      I am enjoying Midnight Diner, it’s a Japanese series that takes place in a diner. There are subtitles (I don’t understand Japanese) but it’s vignettes about the people going to this diner.

      Totally agree that it would be great if there was a stop recommending this button.

      1. Syls*

        I loved Midnight Diner! I would really love to see a selection of episodes turned into an arena theater production. If well done, it could be a really fun experience that could easily be made safe (outside) to go to.

    7. Pharmgirl*

      I’ve just rewatched Sense8 – if you haven’t seen it, would highly recommend!

  37. Seeking Second Childhood*

    I’m still hoping to find a pre-made solution for bookshelves over baseboard heating. Does anyone know of someone who *sells* a base that provides air-flow to the shelf on top of it? Or a bookshelf where the legs are not flush against the back wall? I’d rather not attach them to the walls.
    Ladder shelves aren’t dense enough for the three booklovers who live in this house, and I have enough DIY projects on the list that I don’t want to try making something now.

    1. Llellayena*

      Yeah…I ended up designing and building an entire set of shelves to custom fit over my baseboard heater. I suppose you could just build the base and put bought shelves on top. I know you’re not looking for a project, but a cut-to-size piece of 3/4” ply with store-bought legs and a ledger board screwed to the wall is fairly small on the project scale.

      1. Llellayena*

        I missed the “don’t want to attach to the wall” qualification, but I don’t think you’ll entirely avoid that, physics is against you. But if it’s just the ledger board, the holes are low and easily dealt with later. The shelf above does not need to be attached to the wall as long as the base is level or slightly tilted toward the wall.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It’s not aesthetics actually. We have reason to distrust the stability of some work the former owners did, so I’m not attaching more than than earthquake straps (I’m not in EQ country, but I do have a herd of elephants in the house a rambunctious family. )
          I’m also hoping to leave the underneath open to the room, rather than behind screening, because I want to be able to clean out allergens.

          1. Llellayena*

            Well, like I said, physics is against you if you need to offset the legs forward enough to clear the heater. Unless the wall literally moves when you lean on it, attaching a ledger board by screws directly into the studs should be stable, no matter how bad the previous owner’s home improvement skills were. Good luck.

    2. fposte*

      I don’t know what level of aesthetics is desired here, but there are adjustable wooden bookshelves that allow even the height of the bottom shelf to be adjusted. I don’t know if Ikea’s Ivar shelves have that flexibility on the bottom shelf, but that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. You could also go metal–industrial shelving is usually stout enough to allow for more flexibility.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I have a lot of Ivar actually, and it’s totally not stable against baseboard heating units. Because there are two or three inches between the supports (and shelf edge) and the wall.
        I may add legs mid-century modern style, with an extra piece of wood to support the shelving unit so I can have the legs in the middle.

        1. fposte*

          Ah, I was thinking a vent in a baseboard rather than a unit that protrudes from the wall; I’m guessing also from the way you talk that the vent runs along the whole wall, so you can’t just put the bookshelf in around it. If so, I don’t know if you can get what you want–the kind of shelving that’s reliably stable at height with that kind of offset from the wall would have to be very big (in the footprint sense), very heavy, and very rigid. I have metal shelves like that in my basement but they wouldn’t make great bookshelves.

    3. Reba*

      Heat + book binding glue doesn’t seem like a great recipe for longevity. I wonder if some DIY insulation of the bookcase, or directing airflow in some way, should be part of this plan.

      West Elm has a line called “Mid century storage” in which the cabinets and shelves sit on these little feet that are inset from the perimeter of the cases. It seems like that would allow room for the baseboard and still reach the wall in the back.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yes, this is one of the complications that make me hope some company somewhere has a commercial product. I would have to learn new skills to do this–the woodworking is not a problem, but an insulation layer and a metal layer to guide the air and dissipate heat? Not a clue.

    4. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I’ve seen bookshelves that are basically vertical posts between floor and ceiling, kind of like those shower storage poles, that you then attach shelves to. A bit industrial but maybe something like that could work?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Thanks, I’ll look into that for the home office/guest room. The most dire need is the LR, though, which has a very high,
        sloped ceiling and roofline windows. (Hello 1959!)

  38. hermit crab*

    I’ve been thinking a lot about (my) identity lately. And I want to preface this by saying I know that the ability to consider these question reflects deep and unearned privilege. But I’m curious to hear others’ thoughts.

    I have three grandparents of European descent (mostly Ashkenazi Jewish) and one who’s a person of color. But I grew up steeped in professional-class American white culture – as did my grandparent, once he emigrated to the U.S. in his early adulthood. I look white, have a name that is common among white people, and don’t identify as a person of color. But I’ve always struggled with filling out census forms, employer disclosures, etc. I do NOT want to make my mostly-white employer feel better about their diversity statistics, for example. But that feels like erasing my beloved grandparent’s heritage.

    Similarly, I’m a straight woman. I’m maybe like a 1 on the Kinsey scale. But my wife is a trans woman (who transitioned after we got together). So I don’t identify as queer and don’t feel like queer spaces are for me. But at the same time, I’m a woman married to another woman, and there are people in my life who don’t know my wife is trans and (presumably) assume I’m queer.

    There are lots of other shades of this, and I bet nearly all of us have experienced these questions to some degree. (A less-consequential one: I studied science and use it in my job, but I don’t “do” science. Am I a scientist?)

    Who else is thinking about these questions? I mean, like, how do you decide who you are? Is that even an important thing to think about?? Beyond the practical concerns (how do I fill out forms? how should I feel about accompanying my wife in queer spaces?) is it problematic that I *want* a category to put myself in? I go back and forth between “this obsession with categorization is textbook white-dominant culture, spend your time on something good for others instead” and “pondering your place in the world is an essential human trait.”

    1. Nnaanamus*

      Are you comfortable with who YOU are sans labels? No one can tell you how to feel, but I’d think accompanying you wife in any space would be an extension of love and support. I’m assuming you aren’t being asked to defend who you are, how you define yourself, your sexual and professional identity. So this is a personal exercise. Maybe try some journaling to allow yourself the opportunity to explore these questions and how they make your feel.

      As for box checking, I go with what I feel is me and not what others might think. I was raised in an ethnic minority house (1 grandparent), eating the food, listening to the music, imported tv shows, e.t.c. I can certainly “pass” for white but it feels disingenuous to who I am. I am OnLy 1/4 oThEr, but it’s a huge piece of who I feel I am.

      I have a friend who is 1/2 Puerto Rican and totally erases that part of herself. Her kids are 1/2 mexican and she’s erased that too. She doesn’t want to be ethnic, she is “white.” Perhaps because no one in her family celebrates those pieces she doesn’t connect with them and just embraces the white American non-culture? I can’t say.

      1. hermit crab*

        Thank you for sharing – you’re right, this is a personal exercise. Part of it is that I would *like* to feel more connected to a community but I kinda feel like a poser since (for example) I didn’t grow up really experiencing my grandparent’s culture. In a way, I want to undo some of the erasure that happened during my parents’ generation, but I’m unsure of how to do that in an appropriate and respectful way.

    2. Asenath*

      I felt much more comfortable when I stopped labeling myself and putting myself in little boxes. I can’t stop other people from putting me, or bits of me, in mental boxes; it’s human nature to generalize and look for commonalities, but I don’t let it bother me. I know who I am and where I came from without needing to attach the appropriate label regarding gender, ancestry, age etc etc etc. I ignore boxes on forms or put in whatever seems closest at the time if I absolutely must complete them.

      But it seems you do find comfort in the boxes – nothing wrong with that; many people do. As for figuring out which ones you’re most comfortable in, try them out and see which ones fit.

    3. Reba*

      I think this is probably due to my social and professional circles being arty, but soooo many people I know and work with are what we call “multi-hyphenate.” So that has shaped my thinking and sense of this stuff. I do think of myself as a visual artist — trained in this, only make stuff a few times a year now, though. I do think of myself as a musician — again, something I did when I was younger, even though it is just a hobby now. Like, there is no test you have to pass in order to qualify on these things.

      Is anyone or anything being harmed if you call yourself a scientist?

      Would you say you are in a queer marriage? I know that queer is not simply an umbrella term. But (at least in the ways I hear and see it used the most often) is that it is exactly about NOT fitting into neatly-defined categories.

      I have a professional acquaintance who has said she thinks of her identity as a Venn diagram. Sometimes she inhabits different zones of the diagram more than others.

    4. Elizabeth Bennett*

      Hi there! Your question is such a deep and important one one. Pondering our place in the world is essential, and understanding who we are is important in anti-oppression work. Our identities are so complex. I just read a book for a class I’m taking called Beyond Inclusion, Beyond Empowerment by Leticia Nieto that gets into a number of your questions, particularly the matrix of identity and how it is affected by the dominant culture. I didn’t include a link, as it might get stuck in moderation, but if you google the title you’ll find the author’s website.

      1. hermit crab*

        Thank you! That sounds like exactly the kind of thing that would be helpful for me.

    5. Felicia Hannigan*

      I find comfort in labels. But I’m mentally ill and use labels as a way to solidify both who I am and the space I take up in the world so maybe that means it’s problematic? I don’t know. One of my friends likes to mention that quote, which I may butcher, ‘what is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly’; what works for one person wonR