weekend open thread – June 27-28, 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: Perfect Little World, by Kevin Wilson. An 18-year-old sleeps with her teacher, gets pregnant, and becomes part of a scientific project studying what happens when 10 families raise their children collectively. It turns out that planned utopias have as much dysfunction as anywhere else. (He also wrote the wonderful Nothing to See Here.)

* I make a commission if you use those Amazon links.

{ 1,478 comments… read them below }

  1. Older Long-Term Weight Loss?*

    Looking for advice and tips on weight loss if you’ve got any, but specifically:

    – hearing from those who’ve kept the weight off long term (esp. weight loss NOT from bariatric surgery, as I am ineligible for this)
    – weight loss in AFAB women over 40 going through the menopause – is this possible?!
    – if you tracked your food intake, how?
    – what to do when the motivation is lacking, or the healthy eating plans go way off track?
    – how did you manage your portion sizes?
    – did you retrain yourself to notice hunger pangs rather than eating from boredom etc, and how?
    – did you use any good free or very low-cost apps or online community forums (not WW et al., though) for support?
    – did your family/friends help you, or did you keep it quiet? What did you say to people who noticed you’d lost weight?
    – anything else?

    I’m not looking for dietary or exercise advice because I have specific dietary requirements and allergies, and physical problems, and so I’ve got that covered by my health professionals; thank you so much in advance!

    (PS. Liverpool are champions and awesome! XD)

    1. Historic Hamlet Dweller*

      Lost 20kg, and have kept a good amount of it off
      – MyFitnessPal for tracking, portion sizes and there are some decentish forums and its free
      – if I’m hungry, drink some tea or water and wait 10 minutes to reduce mindless eating
      – remembering no day is perfect, some days you eat everything in sight and that’s OK, but tomorrow is a new day. I don’t have “bad” or “forbidden” foods and I try to use positive self talk, which is hard
      – I went for not talking about it, to minimise unsolicited advice

    2. Kate*

      I’m trying to do the same as you, not menopause yet but over 40 as well. One thing that has helped when I’m totally off track is to fast for a day (also helps with indigestion problems). It really helps to remind me that no, I shouldn’t take “just one nut” when I open a new pack to pour it out to a bowl, etc. And it kind of resets my stomach, who then next day starts feeling full and heavy already after small portions (I guess it’s like coming back to work after Monday).
      I use a dessert-size of plate instead of dinner-size for portion control. I also have a huge cup that I try to keep by my side filled with water or tea, it helps to keep from feeling hungry. And just in case I have some carrots in fridge (but don’t keep anything next to computer that you don’t want to find being secretly eaten by gremlins because who else could get at it when nobody but you was at home and anyway these were sitting between wall and yourself, right?).

    3. Lych*

      For me, what has been really important for losing weight in a healthy way is realising that eating too little is just as counterproductive as eating too much. So often I have fallen into a pattern of eating 700 kcal less than I needed to lose weight with my exercise pattern. This just resulted in me being completely unable to function and falling asleep all day. Things finally changed when I tracked my calories for a month, paying special attention to eating enough, and then stopped tracking and started relying on my newly learned habits and actual hunger cues. As long as I only eat when I am actually hungry, and not just craving something, I lose weight.

      1. Lilith*

        I found I had the exact same problem, with being way too extreme in restricting calories and it actually affecting my ability to live my life.

        I ended up planning my food out for the weeks ahead, which meant I could work out the nutritional value of everything when I wasn’t already in ‘food food food’ mode. My planning includes literally everything, including snacks, and anything that’s not on the plan doesn’t get bought so I can’t mindlessly pick at food but I’m still sure that I’m actually getting enough of everything. Helped me work through cravings, and also started doing origami as a hobby just as something to concentrate on and occupy my hands!

    4. Alexandra Lynch*

      I am 48, going through perimenopause, and have fibromyalgia and arthritis as well as some food allergies and intolerances. I have lost 35 pounds this year.

      I am using myfitnesspal . com to track my calories. They give me, as a sedentary woman of this age, 1350 calories a day. I can “earn” more calories through exercise. However, most days that 1350 is fine. You can have those calories however you want. Yesterday I had an English muffin with real butter and jam for breakfast (I can’t eat a heavy breakfast), a cup of yogurt about 10 am, a hamburger and small bag of chips for lunch, a cup of chai tea with cream and sugar in it about 3:30 pm, and homemade crab cakes with wild rice pilaf and garlic bread for dinner. Then I had a cup of hot chocolate with real whipped cream before I went to bed. I am not suffering at all. (grin)

      They have support forums which are good, and people do it all different ways; some people are doing keto, some people are doing intermittent fasting, some people are trying to bulk and cut to improve their looks, and some of us are there with hundreds of pounds to lose and bad eating habits and coping strategies to unlearn.

      I have been doing portion control to shrink my capacity to eat, since I can’t eat large amounts of low-cal vegetables (thanks, IBS). I largely don’t keep things that I want to binge on in the house, and do some of the portion control by buying individual bags of chips and things like that.
      Motivation has been pretty high in me because I have sore feet from the arthritis, and I had a LOT less soreness with the first weight off, and that has kept getting better and rewarding me. I do daily yoga practice, and I can fold up tighter, and that’s a reward. As is having to buy new clothes that are smaller. My partners are very encouraging and supportive, and praise me when I come downstairs in new jeans.
      While I can say that my motivation is to find my waist and my adult figure (I’ve been fat since my early teens) actually, my motivation is to walk into Christmas this year 75 pounds down with a new figure, a Coach purse, and a fabulous engagement ring, and watch my sister writhe in jealousy. (Wry grin) Not all that noble, but it’s kept me on the straight and narrow several times.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      Tracking daily food, water, and exercise is essential for me. I lost about 60 lbs at age 48 and at 50 am focused on keeping it off. I use my Fitbit alongside a good old fashioned paper notebook. I found that a lot of my eating has more to do with emotions than actual hunger so making note of how I was feeling that day helps me determine the difference between needing food and needing something else. I also made a lot of small changes, like taking stairs instead of the elevator, whole grain bread instead of white, etc. When I want to reward myself, it’s always non-food. (A book, a new pair of fun socks, a pretty plant) I also found that by not tying myself to a numbered weight goal I had more success. My goals are things like completing a 5 mile hike with my dog, making it up all 6 flights of stairs at work (back in the day when I went to the office!), finishing up a whole week with healthy food choices, not “when I lose 5 pounds”. Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Some days it just doesn’t work and you have to forgive yourself and move forward. “I already ate half the contents of the kitchen so I might as well have dessert!” is a trap! “Well, that happened, so now I’m going to drink a bunch of water and go for a nice walk” is much better!

      1. Older Long-Term Weight Loss?*

        Thank you, this is really helpful. I have about the same to lose, and I like your techniques.
        Can I ask – all the stuff I have read has suggested that the calorie intake for those who lose weight to get to their ideal weight, is less than those of the same ideal weight who have never had to lose it. This is because of muscle loss.
        Have you found that you have needed to do strength exercises? And have you found that you have to eat much fewer calories?

    6. PharmaCat*

      I use myfitnesspal as well. I also suggest buying a food scale and measuring portions, until you have a better idea of what a standard serving looks like.

      1. Older Long-Term Weight Loss?*

        Yes, good point! I don’t really have a good idea of what portion sizes are, so it would be helpful to measure at first.

    7. WellRed*

      I’m 50, started using MyFitnessPal at the start of the year and have lost 10 pounds so far. I eat fairly healthy anyway, I have diabetes, and have to weigh and measure food. I set multiple short term goals. I don’t use the app every single day, btw, but it still makes me feel accountable and motivated.

    8. Workerbee*

      Over 40, not a registered health person of anything, and what I did / have been doing is:
      -Accepted the help and motivation of a long-distance friend already into fitness (after grumbling over it for a week prior).
      —Thinking about the “why” of losing weight and getting fit. He said losing weight itself can’t be the sole goal because it won’t be enough and people can backslide. For him, it was so he’d be around for his young child as she grew up. I had to find my why.
      —Committing to MyFitnessPal and being honest with my tracking so I could see in front of my eyeballs what I was doing…and not doing.
      —Talking over my Week 3 “I hate this” slump with said friend
      —Exercise! Whatever you enjoy doing is my view, and of course adhere to tolerance levels and safe methods for you. But if you hate the method, you’ll resent the heck out of it and it’s too easy to say you can skip a day. So this can be a variety of options. Also, if I know I have a day of outdoor work ahead of me, I’ll skip the elliptical, so things like that.
      —I definitely (or defiantly) track housecleaning too.
      —Moderation in food, which comes slowly and is not always adhered to. Yet: I don’t really restrict myself from anything I like, I just don’t eat the whole durned thing in one setting or take all the options if I haven’t justified it by exercising. Sometimes it’s hard to tell your taste buds NO! even when you’re already full.

      I make myself step back and think things like: “I just had 3 chicken drumsticks. They haven’t even had time to reach the depths of my innards. Wait a bit before deciding on dessert because you feel hungry still but it’s not really true,” or “I could have ice cream, or Cheetos, or chocolate”—and decide on a real portion of one or little bits of each.
      —This last bit might sound overly regimental but it doesn’t take as long as it did to read or type, and you get used to the instant calculations your brain does for you once you get used to the concept of tracking in the first place. Also for me, I found that if I denied myself favorite things, I wouldn’t stay committed to my goal. But that’s just me!
      —Don’t panic if the scale shows a little gain after you’ve been doing everything you should. There’s a point where the scale isn’t accurately conveying your tone and fitness. You’ll know better by how you look, feel, and fit into your clothes.

      I lost 20 pounds in a year, two years ago, am satisfied with that and have kept it off. By no means perfectly, but I am aware of balance, moderation, and my goals.

      1. Workerbee*

        Arrgh, forgot: Smart watch fitness tracker as well. Set it to bug you to move. I rant at it, but it works for me.

      2. Kiwi with laser beams*

        The scale thing is real – according to my dietitian, it’s because you’ve gained muscle from exercising more. He’s had clients quit when they see that initial small weight gain, even though he also measures body fat with calipers and that does show a result. If that happens with you, don’t quit and don’t undereat (another thing my dietitian says a lot of people do when trying to lose weight). Just keep going.

      3. Older Long-Term Weight Loss?*

        Congrats! And thanks for the tips, this is really thoughtful of you.

    9. Not A Manager*

      I’m well over 40, and I gained a ton of weight when I experienced symptoms of menopause after going off the pill. For me personally, I could not take any of it off until I started HRT. Once on HRT, I used the weight watchers app and added some exercise. I’m not back to my college weight or anything like that, but I did lose what I wanted to and I’ve been able to keep it off.

    10. Kathenus*

      In my early 50’s, post-menopause, I was able to lose 15-20 pounds over about four months. What worked for me was focusing on two specific things – reducing alcohol consumption (due to calories) and smaller portion size. And if I was still hungry, I made myself wait at least 30 minutes after eating to get more – if I was still hungry then I’d have more, but generally once the food hit my system I was fine. Other than just trying to mostly eat healthier food, and being deliberate about it when I did eat less good options (meaning it was a conscious decision, not habit), I didn’t change anything else. I’ve tried the exercise route but it never sticks for me to dramatically increase exercise, so I knew that was unlikely to work this time. None of the popular diets were for me, so I chose two things I felt I could easily control and decided to see how it went. For the first time in over a decade I went down a pant size and wow was that great motivation to continue. Now my goal is just to stay where I am, my weight still fluctuates at times, but as long as I can stay in these pants I’m pretty happy.

      1. Older Long-Term Weight Loss?*

        Congrats, and thanks – I like the tip to wait, I will definitely use that. I am aiming for more intuitive eating so I can recognise when I am full or not.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Water and rest.

      Water: Thirst will masquerade as hunger. Figure out how much water you should take in daily. There are different formulas. What I do is take my current weight and divide by 2. The result is the number of ounces of water I should drink a day. I measure it out in mason jars in the morning. (Yes, I am a grown a$$ed adult and I cannot remember to drink water. So now there are annoying mason jars on the counter that must be finished about 2 hours before bedtime.) If I feel like snacking or eating more after dinner, I have a drink of water and let that settle in for a short bit. Then I check to see if I am still hungry.

      Rest. Think of it this way, we have to get energy from some where- we get it from food and sleep. If we do not get enough sleep then by default we must have MORE food. I was amazed to find out that the “well-rested me” did not graze much at all. Well-rested me could follow my diet restraints. All this time, I had thought I was weak/stupid/hogish and what was really wrong is that I was actually low on energy from not sleeping enough.
      The body does “maintenance” work while we sleep. If we fail to sleep enough, that work does not get done. So not only does this set us up to eat too much it also sets us up for health issues later on.

      1. Older Long-Term Weight Loss?*

        Thank you so much for your kind words – I always think you write kindly to others asking for advice :-)
        I have been way too hard on myself in the past and have had disordered eating all my life, so an approach that is kinder to myself that isn’t all based around food and exercise (and hence the input from professionals I am having) will work most for me I think. I will definitely do this.

    12. university minion*

      Quit alcohol. I hate that this is my first suggestion, because I loved and miss beer. Quitting booze also alleviated my night sweats that have been my most problematic symptom of impending menopause.

      This leads to… better sleep. Get your sleep hygiene up to snuff. I get stupid, stressed and hungry when I’m exhausted.

      Cook your meals at home, mostly vegetarian – think of meat as a condiment. I personally don’t cook low-cal/”healthified” versions of anything and I love food. I’m part raccoon. I’ll eat anything. I also have a few go-to combos of salad ingredients that I like and make a quick, filling meal when I’m in a hurry.

      Keep your activity level consistent and make any increases very, very gradually. For me, what that looks like is lower intensity than I might prefer, but I do something every, single, day (walk, run or cycle, generally). I haven’t done anything to push my distance or speed in a while. If I wanted further weight loss, this is probably where I’d end up having to change things up, since I enjoy eating too much. Keep in mind that if you want to lose more weight, it’s harder to do with exercise alone. Not saying it can’t be done – but extra miles take time out of the day you might not have.

    13. KeinName*

      I‘ve lost 15 kilo due to an illness but have not gained it back since 2016. the secret is that i stopped eating wheat/gluten and most dairy products (due to illness), as well as refined sugar for fear of becoming ill again :-) For me it was really interesting that cutting out some food groups automatically stopped the weight gain. Since COVID I have started to eat more sweets again but have also started walking an hour each day so have not yet gained much weight.

      1. NeonFireworks*

        Same boat. Illness, quit dairy entirely, quit wheat/gluten mostly, got better, discovered I was 30-40 pounds lighter and some of my clothes were falling off.

        Food is less tasty, but a lot of gluten-free stuff is decent now, and there are pretty good vegan cheeses too. My health is much improved.

        1. Kt*

          And for me, cutting out grain products solved my indigestion and made me look skinnier (less abdominal bloating) without changing my weight! I’ve found that most GF breads etc don’t agree with me, either — I seem to be sensitive to the starch load.

          Thanks for asking this question — I’m reading with interest!

    14. Steak salad*

      I did well with an online program called naturally slim. It was free for me through my husband’s employer, so I’m not sure what the pricing was, but I lost way more than I expected and it didn’t feel like I was having to sacrifice

    15. Former prof*

      Several years ago I lost 60 lbs. I’ve gained about 20 back due to injuries, but am pretty stable at this weight. I did a medically supervised ultra low calorie keto diet. OK, that was a lot of adjectives. Basically 7 months of keto shakes, going to the doctor weekly. I did it for medical reasons, but it was a great choice for me. Keto eliminates hunger completely. Being off sugar that long cuts off all the snack cravings. I had seven months to get rid of my bad eating habits. That was a few years ago. Now if I start gaining weight, I go keto again for a few weeks to reset the habits, but then go back to a high protein, moderate carb diet that I don’t think about too hard. Keeping my protein intake up to keep hunger and cravings down, tracking everything on My Fitness Pal, walking my 10,000 steps when I am not injured (I have a syndrome that causes a lot of injuries), exercise sessions 3x per week all works for me. Also, I bought small plates, tiny bowls and little spoons (seriously) and I only eat out of those. I started all this at age 60. My husband lost 100 pounds over the same time period, by going from walking to jogging to running. He’s out doing 12 miles right now. His way worked for him, mine works for me. I wish you all the best in finding yours.

    16. Joie De Vivre*

      Just starting to lose weight – about 5-10 pounds in the last 2 months, and so far it has been amazingly easy. (Yes, I have gone through menopause).

      My tips:

      * Portion Control – here at home, I’ve been weighing or measuring a lot of my food just to retrain myself on what a portion size is. Nuts are one of my big downfalls – 28 grams is a serving. My normal serving was probably close to 3 times that amount. Meat should be about the size of a deck of cards, or the size of your palm. I don’t portion control fresh fruits & veggies. I eat as much as I want of those.

      * Weighing myself – this may not work for others, but I weigh myself everyday & track it in my Garmin connect account. I don’t pay attention to the actual weight, I look for the trend. My weight fluctuates by 2-3 (or more) pounds every week- depending on when I weighed, if I’ve run (and how far), how much I sweated, how much fluid I’ve drank, if I’ve eaten, etc. For me it is motivating to see that over the last few months, my weight is trending downward.

      * I have my personal food kryptonite – don’t buy it, because I can’t stay out of it.

      * Retraining myself to recognize hunger pains – I’ve increased water & unsweetened tea intake. If I’m still hungry between meals, I eat fresh fruit. And as bizarre as this sounds, I think it helps that I have a hobby that keeps my hands busy & my brain engaged. I do genealogy & have noticed that I get so involved in my research that I don’t notice time passing & I don’t get hungry.

      Good luck!

      1. Older Long-Term Weight Loss?*

        Thanks! I like your tips and I am going to try them, I think they will be helpful :-)

    17. Oxford Comma*

      –it gets harder to lose as you start going into menopause, but it’s not impossible.

      –I have used My Fitness Pal to track food intake. It can be a pain. Finding the correct entries for items you are consuming or putting into recipes is not easy. There are a lot of entries written by people who don’t know what they’re doing for instance.

      –If I go off plan, I just try to get right back onto the wagon the next day.

      –I use smaller plates. I measure. If you don’t have a food scale, I recommend getting one. Look for one that has a tare feature and one that can do grams, kgs, ounces, pounds if you’re in the US.

      –I don’t tell anyone till it becomes really noticeable. Have had too much sabotage from people around me.

      Hope this helps!

      1. Older Long-Term Weight Loss?*

        Thanks, I am wanting to keep it quiet too. People are weird about food and weight, aren’t they?

    18. Sunset Maple*

      45 years old, lost 50 pounds and kept it off for over a year now. I did it all with diet–I’m sedentary AF and skinny fat right now, which needs to change, but I’m just proud to have maintained given the current state of the world. I’d like to lose another 10, when life calms down.

      Major changes: quit most dairy, quit added sugar, quit alcohol.

      I don’t count calories, but I did keep a food journal to watch for reactions. This helped me realize that dairy was partially responsible for my stomach bloating and my chronic deep, painful acne. The other acne culprit was biotin, which is apparently a common issue that few people seem to know about. I switched to almond milk and dumped my hair/skin/nails vitamins, and my skin has drastically improved since (the irony…). Quitting dairy also gave me the flat stomach I was aiming for. I still eat hard cheeses, but no milk/ice cream/yogurt/etc.

      Quitting added sugar and caloric drinks has been slightly expensive, because I know my limitations and there’s no way I have the asceticism necessary to live on plain water. I drink Hint fruit waters and Bubly flavored seltzers. Cracking open a can feels like a treat, despite it having 0 calories.

      Another thing I changed was to do intermittent fasting, though this was intended to help with my severe reflux and only ended up helping with weight loss as a side effect. I do 16:8 and my bile is firmly under control now. I also find it easier to manage my diet because I let time be the guardian–sorry honey, I can’t join your midnight pizza binge, it’s outside my eating window.

      Something people don’t often talk about: quitting sugar makes you feel like you’re losing your GD mind. You have to wean off very slowly, like over weeks or months, or you will wonder if you’re developing dementia. I dropped it cold-turkey the first time, and I couldn’t think of common words or remember where I was going after I got in the car and left my driveway. I went back and started over, and reduced sugar so slowly that my taste buds were able to catch up. SO much better.

      1. Older Long-Term Weight Loss?*

        Congrats on your weight loss and thanks for the tips! I think I can relate to the sugar withdrawal, as I have tried going cold turkey before – it’s addictive to me!

    19. Choggy*

      Nothing to add except I’m in the same boat and will be reading the posts with interest. My Fitness Pal seems to be a common denominator, will have to check it out.

    20. RagingADHD*

      I have successfully used SparkPeople for tracking in the past. It’s very easy to create custom groups, meals, and recipes. So if you eat the same meals frequently, you can make them into a 1-click add. Same with favorite foods, recent foods, and favorite exercises.

    21. Mademoiselle Sugar Lump*

      I joined Weight Watchers maybe 15 years ago, lost more than 30 pounds and have kept it off. What I learned:
      Track calories for everything. Then I did it on paper.
      Portion size is important – measure till you get a feel for it. Most restaurant portions are 2 meal sized
      Don’t keep snack foods or whatever you have trouble with in the house. Or divide into portions – currently I’m eating all meals at home and have vegetable chips with lunch, but I divide the bag into zipped bags because if I just eat out of the big bag, I won’t stop eating.
      Try to savor each bite and notice when something like dessert stops being thrilling after a few bites (I have trouble with this)
      Plan meals, that way you don’t have to decide if you’re hungry or bored, just whether it’s time to eat. You’ve already decided what you’re going to eat. I never felt hungry after cutting back on portion sizes, actually. People talk about dieting as “starving yourself” but if you’re eating reasonably, you’re not.
      My husband didn’t join WW but counted calories too, so I didn’t have problems with him eating things that I craved in front of me. I was lucky, I know.
      People complimented me and I just said thank you.
      For me at least, I had to become really obsessed with this. I apparently can’t eat like a normal person. I work in an industry & for a company with free food (at least before the COVID). I have to avoid the buffet line and make my lunch of pre portioned things like cottage cheese, fruit, small portions of chips.
      I continue to track all my food with the Lose It! app.
      Good luck.

      1. Kiwi with laser beams*

        “People talk about dieting as “starving yourself””

        If you’d like to understand why you might see people saying that, it’s because bad weight loss advice often consists of undereating, which creates flashy results in the short term but then the body goes into starvation mode, the weight loss tails off and then when the person finally snaps and starts eating until they’re full again, they put all the weight back on and maybe more.

        As long as you find GOOD portion control advice, you don’t need to worry about this.

      2. higheredrefugee*

        -I echo many of the strategies above, but also developing habits that will help you stay on track. Lots of good studies on the National Weight Loss Registry site, it is my goal to maintain my weight loss sufficiently to join some day!
        -Find ways to think about it as a lifestyle change and ways to reward yourself that encourage continuing to make good choices. I live in a part of the US that is not particularly well known for hiking, but I have found ways to do so because I can go alone to recharge but also head out with family and friends. For you, it might be walking the mall with an audiobook or going dancing with friends or taking a new workout class or a cooking class to inspire your cooking, or whatever!
        -Find a way to keep yourself accountable without beating yourself up, and you’ll figure out what your healthy range is, don’t sweat some muscle loss here or weight gain there, there’s grace in the range, if you allow it. It might even inspire you to find a new way to spice up your cooking or exercise routine. I do so by a quick trip to the Asian market or Penzeys for flavor changes within my own dietary restrictions.
        -Decide who you are and are not willing to talk about any of this with and be ready to shut it down with everyone else (I like the lines, Oh, weight loss is such a boring topic, I don’t discuss my body at work, that’s none of your business, and sometimes, just walking away).
        -I initially lost 70 pounds, and gained about 25 back with winter and COVID. Also, finally have a perimenopause solution that is helping me, which helped me turn the corner yet again. It only took 7 years, but the last 90 days have been wonderful and reminded me that I MUST be my own medical advocate.
        -Good luck!

        1. Older Long-Term Weight Loss?*

          So true about being one’s own medical advocate! I can definitely relate. Congratulations on your weight loss.

      3. Older Long-Term Weight Loss?*

        Thanks very much and congrats! I like your tips and I will use some of them :-)

    22. Trixie*

      Speaking as a chronic snacker, I tend to do better when I have protein each meal. I aim for more veggie and greens plus healthy fats which I feel better balance out my hormones.

      Less sugar is best and it’s in everything so it’s adjustment but then foods begin to taste real again. I can’t stand most commercial yogurts but low-sugar brands like Siggi or plain with berries and almond butter.

      1. higheredrefugee*

        This is also why water consumption is important. I used to be perpetually dehydrated, not hungry! Quality, high protein, even with more calories, has been a huge help.

    23. Dancing Otter*

      Agreeing with those who recommend MyFitnessPal. Create your own custom foods if you can’t find the exact brand, and even then review against the package; formulations change.

      Take a really good multivitamin/mineral supplement. Dieting doesn’t have to mean malnutrition, but you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

      Divide up the food you cook, with measuring cups or kitchen scale, *before* putting any on your plate. Put the extra away for another meal immediately, or portion creep will get you. Also, I use a meat grinder (or a food processor) to grind up leftover cooked meat/chicken to add into future dishes. There’s less urge to finish it off and not waste it, when I know it will NOT go to waste.

      Contrary to other advice here, I don’t trust my perception of hunger. Keeping to regular meal times, including a planned evening snack, works better for me. If I wait until I’m really hungry, I grab something easy, not something healthy that takes time and effort.

      I like having a graph to look at, either the increasing amount lost or the decreasing amount weighed.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I need to remark that MFP may not be suitable for those with a history of eating disorders.

          1. higheredrefugee*

            I understand why you might think that, but I find it the best tool for adjusting at the macro level based on your dietary plan. While MFP has default settings, the system doesn’t hassle you AT ALL for changing your percentages, etc. Definitely discuss with your dietician.

    24. BJP*

      Read The Obesity Code by Jason Fung. Life changing. And really clears up the idea that all calories are the same. Our bodies aren’t combustion engines! We are waaaaay more complicated than that, and a calorie from fat causes a different hormonal response than a calorie from carbs. Good luck!

    25. Older Long-Term Weight Loss?*

      Thank you so much for all your lovely comments! You’re great, I will be taking lots of them on board :)

      1. tiasp*

        Thank you for your question – it’s so helpful for me too, and the responses are also so hopeful on what I usually consider to be a hopeless subject.

        1. Older Long-Term Weight Loss?*

          Yes I agree, it has been really positive and I am much more hopeful about the challenges of losing weight from now on in. I’m glad you found it helpful too!

    26. Sleepy*

      My husband and I (mid-30s) both lost 10-20 pounds and kept it off by:
      – reducing our alcohol consumption (used to be 1-2 drinks per night, now 1-2 per week)
      – purchasing groceries once per week–we get everything we need for the whole week’s meals, and that reduces the temptation to eat out. We also get only one sweet item (usually a chocolate bar) per week and when it’s gone, it’s gone, so we’re not eating dessert every night.
      – practicing intermittent fasting–eating only between noon and 8pm. This sucked at first but I got used to it after about two weeks.
      – calorie tracking at first using LoseIt, to get a sense of how much we were eating. We stopped tracking after about 3 months because we felt we had a sense of portions by then. For me, I don’t like feeling hungry so I set goals to lose weight very slowly.

      For us it was about finding steps that are sustainable, hence still allowing ourselves some alcohol and some sweets.

    27. Anonfood*

      Stop eating when you are full and don’t snack after dinner. Best thing I have done. You need to think about the discomfort of overeating and desire avoiding that feeling.

    28. Ginger ale for all*

      I have lost 25 pounds since December. I cut back on fast food and starchy foods. I now take soups and salads to work for lunch and drink V-8 juice instead of a soda as an afternoon work pick me up. I fall off the wagon a lot but I try not to let it get to me and I just go on to the next day after a wobble. I know that I graze at night so I keep healthy grazing foods around. I also try to keep sugar free jello in stock. I love chips and dip so I get baked chips and make French onion dip with dry French onion soup mix and Greek yogurt. It’s still pretty rich but it makes a good treat.

    29. Victoria*

      I have been having excellent results so far with Renaissance Periodization. I read their book, The Renaissance Diet, and have been using their app for about eight months now.

      They’re mostly geared at serious athletes/bodybuilders but their program will work without hardcore exercise (I am…….not even slightly hardcore, though I do exercise almost every day.) It basically prompts you to eat certain macros at certain times based on your weight loss/maintenance/gain goals; the evidence base they’re working from seems solid; and like I said, I’m pleased with the results.

  2. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    Has anyone ever cracked the code of how to get over limerence quickly? I am not able to see the object of my (over-done) affection, and with a lot of extra time on my hands, I’m just obsessing and obsessing. I’d love to know how not to fall into this trap again, too.

    1. Anónima*

      I don’t know that I’ve cracked the code but what’s helped for me in varies degrees, at various times, in combination or in isolation, are:
      • counselling
      • investing in my friendships and hobbies
      • getting out and doing something (i.e. not just thinking)
      • mindfulness meditation
      • acknowledging why we wouldn’t have been good together
      • talking about them to one trusted friend, with a set time limit, and then moving on. Taking about them keeps them fresh in your mind. It’s useful to have another perspective, but it’s better to not dwell.

    2. Formerly Ella Vader*

      If it’s appropriate, I might do a geek-flirt. Geek flirting is like the opposite of flirting – no plausible deniability at all, just a direct statement of “I’m attracted to you, and if you were interested in (a), (b), or (c), I’d be up for that. And if not, that’s cool, I’ll never talk about this again.” The person might actually say yes! But if the person says no, the straightforwardness will probably stop the fantasy. In my experience getting a no has about a 50% chance of carrying on to have a better friendship with no lingering awkwardness and 50% messed up the friendship, but it has always turned off or dimmed the distracting daydream. And I figure it goes without saying, but if I don’t say it the commentariat will: don’t do this if you are co-workers or if there is any power imbalance at all.

      An alternative approach is the poor old lady who swallowed the fly routine. That is, find someone else to fixate on. It’s not ideal, because like the poor old lady who swallowed the fly, the subsequent crush could be stronger. But I’ve had success distracting myself from an inappropriate crush by feeding a new one. Possibly a celebrity I don’t run any risk of meeting.

      Also, being self-disciplined about not feeding the crush you don’t want. Not looking at the person’s picture. Not clicking through everything on the person’s facebook. Not playing and replaying the music, movies, stories that remind you of the person. Keeping busy. Not bringing the person’s name into conversations with other people at the least excuse, the ‘Bob-likes-peas” thing. Choosing to put time in to some activities and hobbies that the other person doesn’t share and has no interest in, rather than, oh, spending the whole time you’re jogging thinking about how you could mention to the other person that you went jogging and wondering if you will run into the person out on their run and how cool that would be and isn’t it a good thing that you’re wearing your best leggings.

      Tell a friend you trust about the crush, and then tell your friend some of the bad things about the person. I’ve also sometimes found it helpful to kind of psychoanalyze myself and explain to myself why I fell so hard (they reminded me of my high school sweetheart, when I met them I didn’t know anyone in town yet and I was lonely, I was newly separated and hadn’t allowed myself to have a crush in ages, they looked up to me and that felt good, they smelled nice, I actually kind of had a crush on their cool progressive parents …) and then it feels less like some kind of perfect match.

      Yeah, no, I don’t have any experience with this at all.

    3. DeepDarkBlue*

      AlexandrinaVictoria: fellow-limerence-suffere here. Things that are beginning to help me:
      1. Use a slightly different name (initial instead of full name or title + surname, etc.) when you think of the person, because names are powerful and changing how you say it can break the spell a bit, IME.
      2. Recognize when you’ve been focused on something other than the person (like an interesting conversation with another friend, good book, fun tv, engrossing task, etc.). I tell myself, “ Hey- I forgot about (person) for 2 minutes! Eventually, I’ll do it again, then for 4 minutes, then for 8 minutes, etc.” Knowing that I can be fully present in my immediate world helps me feel more in control.
      3. Ask yourself how often your limerent relationship with the person brings you satisfaction? How often does it bring you pain? Reflect on the ratio of highs and lows instead of careening between extremes.

      Good luck weaning yourself off. Some of us are just prone to it, I suppose. I’ll be watching this thread for ideas!

      1. DeepDarkBlue*

        -Get outside
        -Spend 5 minutes per task on 5 different tasks
        -Each day, write 3 good things you did/observed/experienced that day
        -Look into controlling your breathing. Terri Gross recently interviewed the author of Breathe (I think that’s the title) and it was cool.

    4. Crushing Juniper*

      Writing helped me. I actually ended up writing a little short story/beginning to a novel-never-to-be-published about a woman with a similar problem than mine and her processing the crush and being obsessive and how aloof her crush was.

      I distinctly remember writing about her reading about psychology of love obsessively and then writing that even if she could enter her crush’s brain, see every piece that locks together in there, see every connection, emotion, desire, she still could not make him care for her more than he did, which was not much at all.

      Coming to the conclusion via writing simultaneously made my heart break a little and made me melancholy but also in awe of the realization. It really helped me get over the crush. Obviously everybody has their own method of processing, for me writing always helps.

    5. Anonosaurus*

      What I’ve found helpful with the latest one is to try to practice acceptance. As in, yes, I am attracted, there isn’t really anything I can do about that because chemistry just is, and he’s lovely, nothing weird about acknowledging that. BUT having acknowledged it, I also need to move on and do something else. It doesn’t matter what. For me, there’s something helpful in not trying to force myself to not have “those” thoughts (which just gives them more energy not less) but to accept that I do while trying not to give them any more or any less attention than that.

      I have also spent quite a lot of time analysing this crush and I think I understand why it exists (that is, what psychological benefit it brings beyond him being super cute, because I do think there’s usually more going on). For me this crush is alerting me to the need to pay attention to something else in my life so I try to remind myself of this and also try to do something constructive about that need. And also just grieve for the fact that some of it will never be met (I don’t have a time machine and so can’t go back to being 25 and doing it all again!)

      Good luck :)

      1. DeepDarkBlue*

        Anonosaurus, how do you analyze the crush to understand why it exists? What kinds of questions are good for reflection?

        1. Anonosaurus*

          That’s a good question. I’m not sure how to answer. I have a therapist, so it’s not like I have to figure it all out myself. I guess I have found that when I have a crush, it usually means that I see something in the person that’s missing from my life or my personality, so the crush is telling me I need to address this. For example, current crush is very direct (in an appropriate way) about his emotions. I know how he feels about things and who he is. I am more likely to hide my emotions or even deny them for the sake of being a people pleaser. I don’t like this about myself, I want to be more authentic. So I figure that his role in my life isn’t to be a romantic partner (this isn’t possible) but like the universe is saying “hey you still gotta work on this bit”.

          Maybe I’m overthinking, but to me this makes sense of why Cute Guy #1 is fun to flirt with but NBD while Cute Guy #2 gets under my skin.

    6. Mystery Bookworm*

      The only method I know for getting over quickly is distraction, unfortunately, which is tricker during an outbreak.

      As someone who falls into this trap on occasion, I’ve found that therapy, writing and mindfulness practice are helpful for the long-term.

      I’m also prone to this, so it’s kind of nice to see other people writing about it as well!

    7. Miki*

      If all else fails, I like to feed the feeling with something other than the person I’m obsessing over.

      Books with failed/damaging love affairs are a favorite for this – Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier, F Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, more low-key explorations on the theme in a number of Alice Munro’s stories. If I had to pick one story as the greatest curative though, it would be Tessa Hadley’s Married Love, which is published online at the New Yorker.

      Otherwise, the Spike and Angel seasons of Buffy, if that’s more your speed. If you play music (or just listen), there are plenty of deranged love songs and torch songs to feed that hunger too. I think I prefer something more narrative though (books/tv/movies) to get catharsis for that pent up feeling, but over a bunch of fictional characters whose story ends, so that the feeling is released but also contained in a way.

    8. Catherine*

      I lean into my calculating side for this.

      What do I know about that person’s preferences, desires, motivations?

      Ok. What do the answers to that question tell me about what I would have to do and how I would have to change to draw them in, to make that specific person want me?

      If I actually make myself plan the campaign, I conclude that it would be too costly (time, effort, mental energy, etc) to actually carry any of it out. Understanding that I don’t want to change myself to the degree necessary to win the person over usually smothers my feelings.

    9. Batgirl*

      Get Over It:
      1) Keep busy, make fun plans or projects or find some absorbing reading or something to learn so time doesn’t hang heavy on you.
      2) Block all indirect as well as direct contact. Don’t look them up, don’t keep sentimental objects or items nearby. Don’t indulge shared passions, like music for example. Try some new things. I found a complete break from social media was necessary to become fully disengaged.
      3) Snap an elastic band on your wrist if you catch yourself mooning. Or, you have to get up and tackle Dreaded Task each time you do.
      4) Sometimes the ruminating has to be done but do it in a controlled way. Make sure you aren’t comfortable, possibly standing up. Limit the time. Write down your conclusion of why it’s a no go. Take out the note next time you ruminate.
      Figure out which of the following has the greatest effect on you from 1 to 10.
      – Effortlessly entertaining conversation
      – Thoughtful gestures
      – Being physically attractive
      – ﹰBeing open and sharing feelings
      – Shared interests and recreation
      – Immediate chemistry
      – Shared values
      – Shared lifestyle goals
      – Generosity with time and money
      – Someone admiring and ‘seeing’ you.

      For me, I used to be able to foresee, and avoid crushing on the highly physically attractive, chemistry-laden ones but those attributes are not even my greatest weakness. I was always getting into deeply intimate conversations with people of moderate attractiveness and falling prey to their openness and admiration. I’ve learned to avoid doing that and to keep things light, because it’s like accepting downpayments on my heart.

      1. Miki*

        This comment, especially the phrase “downpayments on my heart,” made me think of one other thing: think about the things you do for the object of your affection, and cut back.

        Unless this is a very close, long-term friend (aka not someone you’ve fallen into intimate friendship with very quickly), someone else can help them move. Someone else can be a sounding board for all their problems. Etc, etc. Don’t lend out your favorite books to them, or sacrifice your own sleep to stay up late talking to them, or linger at work/the end of the party/whatever for a chance to steal a few more minutes with them. Doing these kinds of things only makes your feelings stronger. Evaluate the emotional energy you are putting into them and limit whatever actions you can.

    10. DeepDarkBlue*

      Not the OP but thank you to everyone for your ideas and solidarity. These ideas are life preservers.

  3. Kate*

    I have a week of work this week — half of it with my 5 YO and half without (she has day camp).

    Best staycation tips? How do I make this feel like a genuine break for both of us?

    1. Anónima*

      I love staycations! It’s slightly more difficult with lockdown in place because I can’t go swimming or visit the library or the museum, but you could see what things are online that are available culture-wise.
      I subscribe to my local council’s newsletter so I can find out what’s on where, and I also read their Twitter feed regularly, so that might be a source of info for you to.
      I like to read, chill out, catch up on sleep too.
      You could spend some time doing hobbies, and going out for walks!

    2. AcademiaNut*

      One thing I do for staycations is clean the house well at the beginning. Tidy, scrub the kitchen and bathroom, wash the bed linens, dust, vacuum, clean out the fridge a bit. Then I start the vacation with a clean house, which I find relaxing.

      I like to save a book I’ve been waiting to read, or a TV series, for when I get a break and can thoroughly enjoy it. You can also vary your diet a bit. I’ll make a fancy brunch, or have a tapas style dinner.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        I agree with this. In general I’m someone who struggles to relax at home if I feel I haven’t “earned it” so I often set a timer for an hour of productivity in the morning, and once that time is up, it’s time to relax.

        It can also be fun to make a “bucket list” with your kid and cross it off. It can be little things like making ice cream sundaes (bonus if you bake brownies for it), going for walks, learning to hula hoop, maybe a movie or book marathon. If I don’t have a list I feel like sometimes the week ends before I do anything.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I third getting the chores you’re meaning to get to out of the way at the start.

        I like the idea of varying food–get takeout, have chocolate chip pancakes for dinner. With your daughter, something you don’t have time for normally, like a bike ride and picnic. I remember my nephew’s response when asked about his favorite part of an elaborate family trip where they did a lot of cool stuff: he liked riding his bike with his dad.

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      I saw advice to copy cruise scheduling: plan for days at sea (reading a book, going for a walk, playing games) and days that are shore excursions (harder now but drive to a place/past a place with great scenery, maybe try virtual museum tours).

      And plan for days you dress up for formal dinners (with fancy takeout).

      And plan a learning day – study a place – history, tourist spots, language, cuisine, etc. Learn to cook something from that place.

    4. Colette*

      Picnics (in the park, back yard, or living room)
      Make a fort (maybe sleep in it)
      Give yourself a pedicure
      Do something you don’t have time for usually – take a bubble bath, read a book, run through the sprinkler
      Take a nap

    5. Alex*

      Things with your 5yo:
      Buy or build a kite and fly it in a field somewhere, not near people (or trees!)
      Do a baking project. Bake a cake and celebrate something silly, or bake cookies to bring to friends and leave on their doorsteps.
      Throw a “Halloween in June/July” party on Zoom–ask a couple of friends to participate, and you all can make a costume and share it with each other on Zoom.

      Do a chore that’s been nagging at you–clean your closet or wash the kitchen drawers or something. It feels good to accomplish something even on vacation! Play fun music while you do it–music with curse words, if that’s your thing (since your 5yo is at camp)!
      Arrange a really comfy spot someplace–inside or out–and pick out a totally enjoyable book. Maybe even at a park, with a picnic.
      Go for a solo hike or bike ride.

    6. Nervous Nellie*

      When I do them I deep clean the week before so that it’s not tempting me during my ‘staycay’.

      I also make a plan NOT to do my usual at-home things, whether it is read the news, watch TV shows, eat the same breakfast, whatever. I also plan a list of fun things to do, whether it is a sewing project, a book I have been waiting to read, etc.

      But most importantly, I ‘play hotel’: beforehand I grocery shop for favorite frozen meals, good booze and fun treat foods and stash them for “room service”. Sometimes I even draw up a menu in Word and put it on a little easel I keep on my breakfast bar. I buy chocolates to put on my pillows (once I even did turndown service, LOL!), and do another little “Welcome to Casa (My last name)” sign that I can see on the Friday night when I come in the door and it is officially vacation time. You can really play with it – check in and check out times, room service, activities roster….and I bet your child would get a kick out of it.

      I hope you have a fun week!!

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          It’s not stealing! Happy to share! Just remember to book ‘late checkout’. :)

          1. Nervous Nellie*

            Oh, and you can have fun with ‘valet parking’ too. It used to drive my ex-husband crazy that on ‘staycay eve’, I would come in and hand him the keys to park the car & deliver my ‘luggage’ (laptop bag) to ‘my room’, choosing instead to fish around in the ‘minibar’ stocked with chocolates and the baby booze bottles from the supermarket. :)

    7. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Find new things you can do outside, like bike trails, parks you haven’t gone to before.
      Maybe find some arts and crafts stuff you could do together.
      Or of it’s bad weather or something create a giant pillow fort, make popcorn and watch some movies.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Do you have a safe yard and a tent? Backyard campouts are on my wish list for this summer.

  4. Bethany*

    I was curious if anyone in the AAM community are involved and/or interact in the booktube community? It’s been my quarantine project and it’s been fun, but stressful at times. It’s also given me a sense of control in an out of control world right now.

    1. riverflows*

      I’m curious too! I’ve only “interacted” as a consumer. I am watching booktubers who make videos about SF&F book reviews. What has made it stressful for you?

      1. Bethany*

        Stressful to get everything edited and posted on the schedule I set for myself. Also there’s been a lot of booktube drama lately, which has been draining and challenging. Even for me on the fringes of it all. But it’s mostly given me a creative, productive outlet for myself, so I enjoy it mostly.

    2. laughingrachel*

      I discovered booktube at the beginning of the quarantine and got suuuuper into it. I literally JUST set up a channel for myself last night! That’s really interesting what you said about control, I can see how it would give you that. I’ve noticed during the quarantine when I’m only on Zoom meetings, that I am almost 100% in control of how people see me physically at the moment and I have found that really nice! I can see how a YouTube channel would be the same way! You are in control of the filming, editing, posting, ect.

      I don’t know if you can with the commenting rules, but if you felt comfortable sharing your channel, I would love to check it out!

      1. Bethany*

        I’m glad I’m not the only one that’s gotten into it during quarantine! Yes, I agree about control! I think it also just gives me something productive. Although I’m still working, I’m limited in my work due to the current economy. So it also helps me feel productive.

        I don’t know if it will work, but my channel is: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2DttIZOjORHCZE-Y3U6xhw

  5. WFH2020*

    Thank you for movie and series suggestions a couple weeks ago. I found the following very interesting :

    Mrs. America

    One Mississippi

    Space Force

    Hidden Figures

    I’m now working on watching “Dollface” and “Last Man on Earth”

    1. Anónima*

      Do you like to watch one series at a time, or can you combine them?
      I have to watch one series in its entirety before moving on to the next one!
      I just devoured The Alienist this week. I’m behind the times I know, but I’m glad because I really liked it and the second series is on in a few weeks so I don’t have to wait for long!

      1. WFH2020*

        Funny you should ask! Most of the time I watch one series at a time.

        I watched Mrs America and Space Force over the same period of time and ended up having some very weird dreams. This was also during the height of the protests in my city so the dreams were full of strong powerful women who were a force to be reckoned with. And there was lot of strange/funny parts to the dreams.

        I had never heard of The Alienist. I’ll need to check that out.

        I went months watching every Scottish/British/Irish murder mystery series in a row. Devoured them all. I think it was a great way to escape reality for awhile.

        1. Aphrodite*

          Could you list those Scottish/British/Irish murder mystery series, WFH2020? Are any of them online like at Amazon or free on YouTube?

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I am a fan of Death in Paradise. A series of fish-out-of-water British detective inspectors are posted to the fictional island of St. Marie in the Caribbean. Various people are murdered in a place with excellent weather.

          2. WFH2020*

            For starters:

            On Netflix: Broadchurch
            The Stranger
            If I Hadn’t Met You
            On Amazon: The Fall
            Tin Star (Canadian)
            Hunters (US)

            1. Anónima*

              Have you watched Line of Duty on Netflix? If not, and you liked Broadchurch, I think you will like this!
              I’d also recommend Giri/Haji and Shetland (they were on BBC iplayer may be in Netflix now in the US). Very different, but equally good.

          1. Pharmgirl*

            I too would love some recs for Scottish/British/Irish murder mysteries. I recently got Acorntv and love it but need some suggestions on shows to check out!

            1. Lady Alys*

              If you haven’t watched “Foyle’s War,” I HIGHLY recommend it – set during WWII, acting is wonderful. Set in Hastings as WWII is starting, Foyle is a detective superintendent navigating some of the moral ambiguity caused by the war. The show actually lasted 8? years, so by the end the war is done and he is working for the gov’t in London, but the moral ambiguity hasn’t gone away that’s for sure!

              I can’t say these count as murder mysteries, but a few things we have enjoyed on AcornTV recently are:
              *Kingdom (Stephen Fry playing a Norfolk solicitor with interesting family complications – ITV cancelled this, so be warned it ends on one hell of a cliffhanger, with NO RESOLUTION CURSE YOU ITV)
              *Delicious (Iain Glen and Dawn French lead the cast – family dysfunction at a boutique hotel in Cornwall – scenery is stunning, show is funny and moving…and hard to describe without giving away big plot points…)

              We just started “Inspector George Gently,” because I like Martin Shaw. Set in the north of England in the mid-sixties – so far so good, three episodes in.

              1. allathian*

                Inspector George Gently is great. I hope you enjoy the rest of it.
                I’m enjoying Endeavour, about young Constable/Sergeant Morse. Set in the 60s and 70s it’s a wonderful look at that period. The cityscapes always make me want to visit Oxford, although the congestion is considerably worse now! The show has very good production values and each episode is 90 minutes. My main gripe is that you get three to six episodes and then there’s a year’s wait for the next season…

                1. Batgirl*

                  My mother loves Endeavor because she’s constantly seeing forgotten items she owned in the sixties or seventies, or forgotten habits like saying “Im coming” to a ringing telephone without answer machine. The story is just great though.

              1. Batgirl*

                Vera is such a great character. What a response to the convention of glamorous female detectives in high heels with tonged hair!!

            2. WFH2020*

              On Netflix:
              The Stranger
              If I Hadn’t Met You

              On Amazon:
              The Fall
              Tin Star (Canadian)
              Hunters (US)

          2. WFH2020*

            On Netflix:
            The Stranger
            If I Hadn’t Met You
            On Amazon:
            The Fall
            Tin Star (Canadian)
            Hunters (US)

    2. Remote HealthWorker*

      For last man on earth skip to season 2 once you know all the characters. It’s a lot funnier.

    3. MsChanandlerBong*

      I loved Space Force! My husband and I never like the same shows, but he actually sat and watched Space Force with me and found it to be very funny. I’d pay to watch Steve Carell read the phone book at this point.

    4. Jennifer Juniper*

      We’re big Snowpiercer fans right now. Dystopian sci-fi about people in perpetual lockdown on a train – I love it! It helps remind me that going outside to do errands a couple times a week is a privilege.

      1. allathian*

        Have you seen the movie as well? It was good, but it also made me realize that I don’t want to see this sort of dystopia more than once…

  6. Might Be Spam*

    I just found out my landlord is selling my apartment building and the realtor is bringing at least 4 sets of visitors today. What do I need to do? Can I require them to wear masks and not touch anything? What should I say or not say if they talk to me? Do I talk about problems with the building or neighbors?

    I don’t want to leave while they are here because I have nowhere to go, I don’t know what time they are going to be here, and I won’t know what will get touched and what I will have to disinfect when they leave.

    Also my lease expired and I’ve been renting month-to-month. I asked my landlord for a new lease agreement. He said he would work on it this weekend.

    There’s a lot of interest in the building and I think it will sell quickly.
    This is a total surprise that came out of nowhere. Any word’s of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.

    1. I Go OnAnonAnonAnon*

      Check your lease for notification requirements; even as a month-to-month renter, you should aha some protections. Most locales require 24-hour notice for the landlord to bring anyone through, and your local department of health will have info on what is currently required in your particular location as far as real estate showings goes.

      1. Uhtceare*

        If you don’t have paper for a month-to-month, google ‘month-to-month tenancy in [state/jurisdiction]’ and check. If there is a 24-hour requirement, you can push back. You can also maybe push back anyway, depending on the size of your building / your relationship with your landlord, explaining that you don’t feel comfortable with the short notice and/or you’d rather have time to clean.

    2. Traffic_Spiral*

      “Can I require them to wear masks and not touch anything? ” do it anyways. I’d call the realtor right now and tell him that you aren’t letting anyone in without them (follow up in email) and then, just plain don’t let them in if they don’t. If the landlord doesn’t like that, what’s he gonna do, sue?

        1. Uhtceare*

          This really depends on the jurisdiction… In Ontario, for instance, a month-to-month tenancy can only be ended by the landlord if the landlord or their family will be moving into the unit, and even then they have to give 60 days notice.

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        My upstairs neighbors moved and when the landlord brought people they wore masks. It shouldn’t be a huge deal imo. It’s no.diffrent than asking people to take off their shoes if it’s snowy/raining. I would ask the landlord to have them wear/bring masks. After all it’s still your home. Your the one living there and you should have a say in how to protect yourself.

        1. Jennifer Juniper*

          You may wish to have a supply of masks on hand in case people don’t have them. Then hand them to any maskless visitors at the door. Offer them a squirt of hand sanitizer as well.

    3. WellRed*

      They are going to open cupboards and closets and probably touch other things. It’s not reasonable to expect them not to but I doubt they’ll touch your actual “stuff.” Definitely ask them to wear masks. Call the realtor now.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        You’d be better off supplying them with gloves and asking them to wear them.

        1. Natalie*

          Eh, gloves get contaminated as easily as skin does, if they touch their face or cough on their gloved hands, the gloves are pointless.

          Focus on the air-sharing most of all – surfaces are very low risk unless you’re going to touch someone’s spit and then immediately touch your face. Everyone should be wearing a mask and staying physically apart. The shorter the time they spend, the better, and anything you can do to increase the ventilation in your unit can’t hurt.

    4. No Name Yet*

      The general ‘rule’ around here for showing houses is to make it easy for them not to touch anything – leave all closet/cupboard doors open, all lights on, etc. A realtor I know also has the policy that anything the viewers want to open/turn on, she will do – so it’s only one person touching things (and she wears gloves that she’s conscientious about). Good luck!

      1. Anonymosity*

        I like that policy. I was nervous about people handling things since I was still living in my house when it was up for sale. This was before the pandemic; I was more worried about accidents.

    5. Reba*

      I think it would be weird to talk much to the prospective buyers but do make sure you have the realtor’s contact–she could be a good conduit for information about what buyers are thinking wrt your tenancy.

      And can you open the windows and catch some breezes today?

    6. Uhtceare*

      Hope you see this in time for it to be useful at some point:

      I gave notice in April that I was moving, and my landlord immediately started bringing people through. That was the height of lockdown here. What we did:

      I was there the whole time. The landlord waited outside in the hall (I also had a very small studio apartment, so three people couldn’t social distance inside anyway). I wore a mask, and most of the people who came in did as well. (If doing the same today, I would have pushed for everyone to wear a mask–the guidance on masks was still a bit unclear then.) I opened the door to let people in and out. I stood ~ 6 ft from them and said, in essence, “it’s small, I’ve been here for years, look there’s a kitchen, it works, there’s a big closet, the neighbourhood is good, look at the balcony, you can step into the bathroom and look at it if you like”. No one touched anything, and no one was in the place for more than three minutes total. There were probably seven or eight visits in the space of a few weeks, and one of them took. But the precautions I took reflected that my city has never been a hotspot… if you’re in one, you might need to dial it up.

      Also, that was for renting the unit, not buying the building. I can maybe help with that too though, because that same building sold the year before, so pre-lockdown. Those showings were even shorter… basically they want to know if the unit looks livable. For those showings, the realtor knocked, I said hi, they all walked in, they took a couple of pictures, said variations on “you’re happy here?”, I said yes, they left. If there’s a lot of units, they may not spend a lot of time in yours.

      Regarding notice, as someone else said, 24 hours is usually required. But springing 4 on you on the same day with under 24 hrs notice, is a lot, so you might be able to push back.

    7. Oxford Comma*

      I have been around when they’ve shown my building, but it was pre-covid. I think people said hello and smiled and nodded and I stuck to one part of the room and stayed out of the way.

      Could you call whoever called you about this (landlord, realtor, property management co) and say something like, “Of course, I will be wearing a mask and please be sure to ask any prospective buyers to wear them as well.” You could probably come up with better phrasing, but I think you want it to seem like a given rather than a question.

      Touching items will be harder. They may want to look at cupboards or closets and to check water pressure. But again if they’re being shown by a realtor, could you see if it’s possible the realtor could ask them to wear disposable booties, wear gloves on entry?

    8. bunniferous*

      Speak to the realtor if you can. In our location (I am in the business) we have been given specific instructions on how to show houses safely during the pandemic. I do not work with buyers but even I am told they want me sanitizing doorknobs and such when I deal with the vacant houses I manage. In any case they should be just as aware as you are of covid-19 precautions.

    9. Might Be Spam*

      Thanks for the suggestions. I did talk to the realtor and everyone has to wear a mask. I stayed in the apartment and the realtor stayed in the hall and sent in groups of people (7 or 8 to a group). A couple of people touched things but I was watching as much as I could so I would know what needed to be sanitized. So maybe 50 people came through already and the realtor said that they were taking offers right away and would accept one by Monday.

      It hasn’t been horrible but I didn’t like that the groups were so large. When they ask me questions, I just keep to short answers. I don’t know if anyone will come back to ask me any questions. One couple stopped me in the alley yesterday to ask questions.

      Now my concerns are about what comes next. I hope my landlord remembers to get me the lease paperwork so I can have a lease before the sale. They want to close as soon as possible. This is my first apartment since selling my house where I lived for 36 years, so the uncertainty adds to my concerns. I’ve never been in an apartment during a change of ownership so I’m not sure what to expect.

      1. Observer*

        Please remind your landlord. He might “forget” or he might genuinely forget. Either way, you want to avoid that if possible.

        1. Might Be Spam*

          I texted a reminder and my landlord called back and told me he is fudging the date on my new lease but won’t give me any details over the phone and won’t show me the lease until Tuesday. I suspect that he told the realtor that everyone already has a lease.

          I don’t like the idea of being rushed into signing the lease anymore. Maybe the Universe is telling me to move now. The buyer’s inspector is going to find things that will need disruptive repairs.

          Some of which will mean I may lose access to my bedroom, garage and part of the basement for awhile. I will probably have to hire someone to move and store some of my furniture. I hoped I wasn’t going to still be here when he got around to fixing things. It’s liveable for now, but will probably have to be done to allow the sale.

          Would it be reasonable for me to ask for a two year lease to make up for the inconvenience and future risk? I don’t want to be unreasonable, and maybe I might be better off looking for a new place now, rather than wait a year and hope there’s a vaccine in the meantime, to make it safer to move. I really don’t see much chance of a meaningful improvement in a year.

          1. Can Can Cannot*

            Don’t count on your landlord to actually give you a lease. The new landlord might not want to be locked into the current tenants, unless you are paying above market rent. When I bought buildings, I wanted to be flexible in who I rented to and what I charged for rent. If a landlord signed a two year lease just before I was about to buy, that would be a big red flag.

  7. Anxious cat servant*

    Has anyone helped a cat get over a fear of hands? We’re fostering a mama cat and four kittens and the mom apparently has some trauma in her background. She’s sweet and will come to me asking for pets and loves them but flinches when she sees my hand. If I approach her from the front with my hand out she’s obviously frightened and, if I don’t listen and as a last resort, will bat my hand without claws. When she asks for pets she’ll look at my hand then look away, almost like she’s keeping herself from seeing my hand.

    She’s really a sweet girl but that sort of fear won’t help her chances of being adopted so I’d like to help her learn to trust hands.

    She’s also frightened of bare legs but I figure the hands are the more pressing issue.

    I started tonight using Temptation treats and moving my hand until she just started to show fear and once she settled I gave her the treat, talking to her all the while. I was able to get my hand about 9” away with her not freaking out so hopefully I didn’t add to her trauma.

    1. Christy*

      I have a rescue who flinched for a few years after getting her… she’s ok now! A lot of only petting her back, never her head, paying attention to cues, but when she wanted attention I would absolutely reward her with very careful movements.

    2. Scc@rlettNZ*

      Is there a particular food that she really loves? Try feeding her from your hands instead of from a bowl.

      Keep your hands really still and quiet and if you are patting her, don’t do it head on, touch her on her back and sides and slowly work your way around under her chin (most cats enjoy having their chins scratched).

      I’m in NZ so I’m unsure if the same pet foods are available but Fancy Feast Temptations is like crack cocaine to cats (it’s puree, in a tube). The rescue I’m involved with use it to help socialise cats and kittens that were born stray and who are unused to humans. It rarely fails to get the cats eating out of your hands and then time and lots of patience do the rest.

      Good luck and let us know how you get on.

      1. Shirley Keeldar*

        When my cats were too sick to want to eat, our vet recommended baby food that’s basically meat puree–they loved it! Would she lick a little bit of that off your finger, maybe?

      2. voluptuousfire*

        There’s a brand called Churu (you can get it on Amazon) that’s a pate treat in a tube, sort of like a kitty gogurt. I adopted a cat and the chicken flavor of Churu brought her around 100%. That’s definitely an option.

    3. Jaid*

      Maybe switch the position of your hand, like you’re cupping it? Or wear gloves? Best wishes.

      1. Merci Dee*

        That worked with a former cat if mine. If you reached to pet her with your hand out in a typical palm-down, reaching-for-her-head motion, she would flinch back and not want to be petted (I don’t think she was abused, but she came from a house with very small children, and maybe their parents didn’t do a great job of teaching about gentle touches with pets, etc.). But if I approached her with the back of my hand facing her, with my fingers lightly cupped in toward my palm so that the back of my hand was the first part that made contact with her, she would lean in for petting and then let me turn my hand over, paln down against her fur, once I’d made contact. It seemed to be the shape of a big extended hand that freaked her out, but she was much more responsive to touch when the silhouette approached her was altered into something else.

    4. Animal worker*

      You’re on the right track with the treats, but I suggest that you take it back a step. By moving the had until she starts to show fear then backing off and treating her, you’re building fear into the behavior. So she sees you coming with treats, wants them, and knows that she has to endure a level of fear to be able to get them. Try using the method where the goal is to build up her comfortability by never pushing past that fear line.

      Example of how to do this – establish a verbal cue like ‘treat’. Say treat and drop one in her bowl or on the floor well away from her but where she can see it, and walk away. Do this until she goes to and eats the treat quickly after you move away. Then, once she is taking the treat quickly without you being nearby, slowly stay closer and closer while she goes to and eats the treat – but again the goal is move slow enough so that she is showing comfort, not tentativeness and fear. That proximity will continue to be reduced until you can be hear her, and then once you’re established this very strong bond with the word treat, your presence, and the fact that you’re letting her set the pace and not pushing her fear line, you can start approximating your hand closer and closer to the treat until you can have her take it from your hand.

      The two really important parts of this approach are her being comfortable and not scared from the beginning, and taking it at her pace – letting her behavior guide how quickly you move forward. It doesn’t take long, it’s really about giving her power to control your behavior to build trust. And that kind of trust is worth taking the time to develop at her pace. Good luck!

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Time, patience, and repeated positive experiences. Pet from behind her so she feels the petting before sees the scary hand. If possible, allow her to observe other cats interacting with you that are not afraid – the example can be very helpful. And the treats are good too. Basically, you’re teaching her that hands can be associated with good things.

    6. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Check out Jackson Galaxy from animal planets my cat from hell. He has a lot of great tips and such. He’s got a YouTube channel.

    7. Can't Sit Still*

      I adopted a very hand shy cat 4 years ago. What worked for him was offering my hand while looking away and remaining quiet. I still can’t talk to him while petting him but he allows me to glance at him once in a while. He headbutts my hand and lets me pet his back and now, 4 years later, he allows me to pet his head. The only reason I persisted is that he loves to have his ears and head rubbed, but I still let him come to me for them. Since the shelter in place, he’s started cautiously twining around my ankles, which is very exciting!

      It’s important to remember with a feral that looking directly at and/or staring at a cat is extremely rude and threatening. Also, it’s mostly kittens that communicate by “talking,” while adult cats communicate with body language instead. So looking directly at cat while reaching for them and talking to them is extremely threatening behavior.

      Anyway, even though he is extremely fearful of just about everything still, my shy boy has started coming out for Zoom calls and livestreams, which is hilarious. He normally doesn’t wake up until 3 pm, but if I have a 6 am Zoom call, he’s there for it. WebExes and conference calls, he doesn’t care about. Cats are weird.

    8. Caterpie*

      The Flatbush Cats channel on YouTube has a video about this! I think it’s the spicy feral kitten one.

      That video features a kitten but maybe some of the information and steps could help you too!

  8. cushionblock*

    Has anyone else been mistreated in a will? How did you move past it? For me it wasn’t about the money, but the principle of the decision made. The decision in the will sent a message.

    How do other people feel about will decisions?

    1. Grim*

      My father left his estate to my nephew and left out my two brothers and myself. It would have been great to have some of the family heirlooms or a few pieces of my mother’s jewelry and to be able to give my family a leg up in life, but people can leave their estate to anyone they choose.

      It was hard seeing my mother’s jewelry on various relatives of my nephew’s wife during family gatherings and watching my nephew blow through several million dollars over a couple of years.

      It took some time to let go of my negative feelings about it, but by living well and working hard, I made my own nest egg for my family.

      The family is finally healed. Unfortunately, most don’t heal.

    2. Katefish*

      Not personally, but my childhood friend’s mom was grossly mistreated by the executor, and my grandparents divided their kids’ shares unevenly, so I’m here to commiserate.

    3. Insurance mom*

      Find a way to let it go for your own good. Unless someone exerted undue influence and there are legal remedies, you have no power to change anything. You probably weren’t completely surprised at the ‘message’ sent. I’m full of platitudes this morning, sorry, but the best revenge is a life well lived.

    4. J.B.*

      I’m sorry. Clearly that was hurtful. I would say don’t push yourself to get over it too hard. Spend some time grieving, and feel how you feel.

    5. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I don’t know if this counts but my father didn’t leave a will. It was understood that everything would be my moms and then it’d be split equally between my brother and myself after she passes.

      Well my mother was trying to have it so that I get 1/3 and my brother here 2/3. religious & cultural bs. My brother the atheist fought to have it split 50/50.

      Thing is that we need some of the money now but she refuses to do anything. Everyone we talk to says she should be doing that, it’s not fair to us. My father tried to give us some before he passed but she had a huge fight with him.

      Aside from angry and resentful I don’t know what else to feel. I’ll get over it eventually but it’ll be in the back of my mind. At least when i create my will I’ll make sure to do it differently.

      1. pancakes*

        When someone dies without a will (intestate) their property is distributed according to state law (intestacy laws). Whether there’s any sort of informal understanding that was in place during the persons lifetime will not be taken into consideration.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          This was in a foreign country. I think it was as long as all parties agree to it, we can have the arrangement that way (50/50) we want it rather than going to the courts. “Luckily my mom listened to my brother but sadly she had a lot of people at that time around her telling her it was wrong and to give me less.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Unless the spouse/partner/whoever is joint owner with right of survivorship – or whatever the local equivalent would be.

          Then there might not be anything in the estate to distribute, because the surviving partner simply becomes sole owner of the house, bank account, or whatever was jointly owned.

          If that’s the case, then there’s no question of how to divide “dad’s money,” because it’s mom’s money.

    6. Not A Manager*

      There was an article a while back about people who were written out of wills. I’ll see if I can post a link in a reply. It’s so difficult because, as you say, the money is a symbol of so many things and an unequal share is a statement about the person’s view of the relationship, at least in that snapshot of time when the will was written. And the fact that the person is now dead makes it like getting the last word. There’s literally no closure with that person.

      If you can, I think finding some professional support could be helpful. Just to give you a safe place to express your own feelings. If that’s not possible, it might help to try to zoom out a bit on the relationship. Yes, at that very moment the person wrote the will, they were sending a message. But that’s not the totality of the relationship or of your experiences with them. Do you have other memories or interactions that provide a more rounded picture? Can you trace a path in that person’s life where old age, or illness, or Fox News, made them less emotionally accessible than they used to be? There might be a way for you to honor the connection that you did share, while acknowledging that they were harsh and cruel in the writing of the will.

      I’m really sorry this happened. I can understand why it upsets you beyond any issue of money.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      The will writer was a vindictive person. They had a high need to get even for whatever reason.

      They are not the quality person I thought they were and that is the extent of my error here.
      I can go the opposite way and say, “This is no different than what I saw of this person during their life. They have remained consistently obnoxious even in death.”

      If the person is the parent, that makes it super tough, I think. It might be wise to bring in some professional help to work through because our parents can leave a life time of scars.

      A more general conclusion I have found is that the people who owe us much, are usually NOT the ones who pay us back. The universe does answer our pleas for fairness through random people. People who don’t owe us a moment of thought can turn out to be the biggest help in our lives. This process continues to amaze me. My best thought is to have a higher awareness of people’s kind gestures that you do actually receive. I make myself look around for positive actions from others.

    8. Remote HealthWorker*

      I am sorry you are going through that.

      As someone whose been on the other side, try not to take it out on the recipients. I think sometimes the will is purposefully trying to cause fights.

    9. Seal*

      My aunt, who never had children, told her nieces and nephews for years that she would divide her estate equally amongst the 8 of us when she died. One of my cousins, who is nasty and manipulative but tolerated my aunt because she could use her, was designated the executor. I stayed as far away from my aunt as possible once I became an adult because she had mentally and physically abused me as a child. All of the drama surrounding her will happened when I lived halfway across the country, so I was merely a long-distance observer.

      As she got older, my aunt had health issues and needed to move into assisted living. My brother and sister-in-law, who are in real estate, found her a place to move and put in a ton of time and labor getting her old house ready to sell. My cousins reluctantly went along with the plan and even helped with the estate sale, but were always questioning and pushing back on my aunt spending her own money on herself because they were concerned about their inheritance. While my sister-in-law waived her realtor fees to sell the house, my aunt agreed to pay my brother for the extensive repair work he did. The house sold the day after it went on the market, which shut my cousins up for a while. But there was some confusion about whether or not the money my aunt gave my brother was actually payment for his work and time or a loan to be paid back. My scheming cousin convinced my aunt (who was highly suggestible at the point) to sue my brother and somehow won. This further fractured the family.

      My aunt’s health continued to deteriorate. My cousin, who as executor was by then was controlling my aunt’s checkbook, refused to pay for even the most basic of things that would improve her quality of life. She and another cousin eventually stopped speaking over it. Other family members eventually overruled my cousin to a certain extent, but she still kept an iron fist on her checkbook.

      Then my aunt died and her will was read. Lo and behold, her estate – which was essentially the proceeds from the sale of the house my brother and sister-in-law helped sell – was evenly divided amongst all of the cousins except 2. The first was my eldest cousin, who had been mentally ill and homeless most of his adult life and was the cousin that would have benefited most from a financial windfall. My aunt always thought he just “couldn’t get his act together”, essentially blaming him for his mental health issues. Instead, she split his share between his kids, who had mental health and substance abuse issues of their own and blew through it in months. The second person she wrote out of her will was my brother, the one who got sued for helping her sell her house.

      In addition to my share of the estate, my aunt specifically left me an ugly cocktail ring and necklace because they had my birthstone. My cousin, who in addition to being morally bankrupt apparently has no taste, offered to buy them from me if I didn’t want them. I kept them on principle and have never spoken to my cousin since.

    10. Texan In Exile*

      My husband’s parents disinherited him, which we don’t care about. It was their money. They get to do what they want with their money.

      The part that has had me furious and what my husband, Mr T/Primo, is finally letting himself get angry about, five years after their deaths (they died within six weeks of each other, FIL dying of a post-surgery infection, MIL dying after FIL fell on her when he was drunk and broke her knee, putting her into the hospital), is that they still made Mr T executor of the estate and (unpaid – they specified unpaid) trustee for the money for the four grandchildren. The money is in trust until the kids are 30. My youngest niece is 22.

      They did not set up separate trusts for the kids. They did not set up a special needs trust for my 23 year old nephew who was born with special needs. (This is essential to protect his SS disability benefits.) (But Mr T’s dad did have time to watch porn on his computer. He had his priorities.)

      In addition, their estate was a mess. Mr T didn’t know if they had a safe deposit box. He didn’t know where the car title was. (In a manila folder on the top shelf of the office closet.) He didn’t know what bank accounts they had.

      (My mother and I spent two days going through all of her files, which are in you know – files. Her financial advisor came over for an afternoon and talked about her investments and the strategy. We made a spreadsheet of all of her accounts and her doctor’s information. I am a signer on her safe deposit box. I am on her checking accounts. I have her financial POA. My sister, a nurse, has her health care POA.)

      Moral of the story: do what you want with your money, but if you disinherit someone, don’t dump all the work on them.

      (The whole saga is on my old blog, diaryofagolddigger.blogspot )

      1. Reba*

        I remember the blog!

        This is a great point for the OP here: the way you feel about this situation may change over time, even a long time from now.

        Hope you get some peace.

      2. Just Another Manic Millie*

        Didn’t your husband have the right to decline being the executor and trustee? I wouldn’t like it if I suddenly found out that I had to be an executor and/or trustee and was not able to say, “No, I can’t do it.”

        1. higheredrefugee*

          While true, I’ve seen lots of executors, and even more trustees, say yes because they knew anyone else would actually be worse.

          1. Just Another Manic Millie*

            I was named executor of my father’s will. But he also had to list an alternative executor, such as a bank, in the event that I was no longer alive or able or willing to serve. I find it hard to believe that bank personnel would do such a bad job that your husband felt that he had no choice but to serve. There must have been some provision made in the will regarding your husband’s inability/unwillingness to serve.

            1. Vina*

              Banks and trustees can be trustees. They can’t be executors. At least not in any of the states where I have a license to practice law.

              Always name at least 3 people. At least.

        2. Insurance mom*

          I’m sure you may decline: and the fee part may be changed at the courts discretion. Otherwise banks trust departments would be a really good cheap alternative for executors! /s

        1. Happy Lurker*

          Me too! Once the in laws passed there seemed like nothing to write.
          Sorry to say, but Gold diggers in law stories made mine pale in comparision and I heartily thank you for that.
          I hope you are doing good!

    11. Pennyworth*

      Trying to understand why they did it can ease things a bit. When my aunt died she left absolutely everything to her husband, which was incredibly hurtful to her eldest daughter who was their carer, even though she knew she’d be getting an equal share with her siblings when her father died. Both her parents had always made it clear that their wills were going to leave everything fairly. It turned out that her mother was worried about her other daughter, who was trying to get out of an abusive marriage, and didn’t want her husband to have an oppportunity to get his hands on an inheritance. The will was a delaying tactic which worked well (abusive marriage was long past when their father died) but that wasn’t apparent at the time and I can still remember my carer-cousin looking so sad and saying ‘she didn’t leave me anything at all.’

    12. CastIrony*

      My grandmother on my dad’s side did him dirty. I am not so sure of the details, but part of the property he has(d) in his home country was given to his sister. He still resents her, even though she’s dead now.

      My sister and I joke that we want the avocado tree his sister planted on there. She even hates them!

    13. NaoNao*

      The book “A Tangled Web” by L.M. Montgomery (which has some racial stereotypes and casual n-word use but was written in the 1910s I believe just FYI) has the framing device of the will of a VERY cranky and divisive old woman being read and how characters react to getting just the wrong thing and the slights and personal digs the old lady gets in at the reading. It has some of the most beautiful, uplifting, and delightful writing I’ve ever read in a book (skip the “sailors fight over a statue” part) and it deals with the fallout from a badly written/mean spirited/clueless will.

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

      My grandmother convinced her childfree sister-in-law to leave her house to my dad’s brother, which deeply upset my dad and my mom and make them break contact with them for the next twelve years. To make things worse, when the time came my grandmother sold her house instead of leaving it to dad. To this day I’ve only seen my cousins twice in my life, and neither party is interested in having any kind of relationship.

    15. Choggy*

      My husband’s best friend lived his whole life looking forward to a large inheritance. So he lived his life according to what his parents wanted to guarantee he would get it. He married and had kids, neither of which he was ever cut out for. Years later he ended up divorced and living his life like the free-wheeling bachelor he always should have been. His parents passed and he comes to find out the bulk of the will was left to his sister, the rest was put into a trust for his kids because his mother wanted him to know, loud and clear, she did not approve of his lifestyle. He now has no relationship with his sister and got an attorney to contest the will but got no where. Because he expected that inheritance, he never worried about saving for his retirement or for his kids educations. His parents never should have used that to control his life, and he never should have counted on an inheritance for his future. Living your life under your own terms is priceless to me.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, this. Don’t let the promise of future money keep you from living your life on your own terms as long as you don’t hurt others on purpose (if someone feels hurt or offended because they disapprove of your lifestyle, that’s on them) or break the law.

    16. higheredrefugee*

      Don’t be afraid to do some grief/anger counseling over this. I’ve had so many clients benefit from 3-6 sessions to really appreciate why and what hurts and develop appropriate coping skills.

    17. Thursday Next*

      Without more details, it’s a bit difficult to understand your particular situation.

      I think there can be many ways to approach “fairness” in wills. My parents, both of whom are alive, have willed everything to each other. I think that’s fair—whichever one outlives the other still needs means to live on. My brother and I *shouldn’t* get anything.

      My husband and I have divided our estate unevenly between our children (technically, between one child and the other child’s special needs trust). I look at our decision as a way of caring for our disabled child after we can’t, and in doing so, removing the financial burden of care from our other child. This is not equal division, but it is fair.

      But I think your point is more about coping with the feeling of unfairness. I think maybe to not think of “fairness” as a fixed concept? Or to think of the will-writer as a flawed person with flawed motivations that don’t necessarily tell the truth of your situation? I’m not sure whether it would be helpful to you to write the person off as terrible. I tend to advocate for a more flexible understanding.

      1. Vina*

        In the US, spouses are entitled by law to a share. Most states it’s ½ of most property.

        Most people leave everything to their spouse and only to their kids if their spouse is dead. People who get upset that a parent left everything to their other parent or to a step-parent need to understand that’s the normal way to do things. The other spouse usually needs the money to live on. Also, if it is earned during life, both spouses are typically contributing to the household. Viewing it as one spouse or the other spouse’s money only screws over women.

        Now, if both spouses are dead and a child is left out, that’s something to be salty about.

        1. allathian*

          I think most people would consider it fair if the surviving spouse is their biological parent. It’s more iffy if it’s a step-parent that the children don’t expect to inherit.
          Here, biological and adopted children, but not unadopted stepchildren, are always the primary heirs. Unless the spouses have a prenup specifying otherwise, the surviving spouse has the right to keep living in the dwelling the couple lived in during their marriage and to retain ownership until their death. This also applies to common-law marriage at the time of death, defined as living in the same household for at least ten years (common-law spouses are not entitled to each other’s property otherwise unless there’s a will). We have same-sex marriage and, under the old legislation, registered partnerships, and the same rules apply to them.

    18. allathian*

      My MIL’s husband’s father was a very difficult person. He verbally abused his wife, my step-FIL’s mother, at a time when you had to have a guilty party to get a divorce, it wasn’t possible to get one for irreconcilable differences. So she intentionally provoked him to hitting her, went to the doctor and got her injuries documented. When my step-FIL testified in her favor in court (he had been present when his dad hit his mom), his father cut him out of his will and they basically didn’t speak for nearly 40 years. Normally, it’s pretty difficult to cut anyone out of your will here, because direct heirs are entitled to at least half their legal share. But it’s possible to start a foundation with your estate in a way that leaves heirs penniless, which is what he did. The trouble was, he wanted his son to be the executor of that foundation, but he turned that down firmly. I don’t know how they resolved it, finally. I never knew him very well, but by all accounts he was very difficult to live with. Eventually he remarried and his second wife was 20 years younger than him. She was his caregiver for almost twenty years, he lived well past 100. When he was about 98 he had to go to hospital and his wife said that she wouldn’t take him back when/if he recovered. He did go into a nursing home, but only after her doctor wrote a note saying she was too infirm to be his caregiver anymore. Whenever I think of him, I get an earworm of “Only the good die young, all the evil seem to live forever…”

    19. Dancing Otter*

      Parents may divide property unequally for any number of reasons.

      Yes, it may be anger or resentment at perceived neglect, ingratitude or other mistreatment. It could be cultural bias, or a perception that one heir is more or less “deserving”.

      But it may also be gratitude to the heir who took care of them, who was always loving and generous.

      It could be just poor planning. Maybe when they assigned asset A to heir X and asset B to heir Y, they were of equal value, but one went up in value compared to the other.

      And frequently, the parents want to provide for the child who they think needs help the most. If Susie makes a good living but Sally is disabled, Sally needs more help than Susie. It isn’t equal, but it is fair (assuming the need is real).
      Example: I have a pair of cousins, one of whom has Down’s. The elder has always known that his younger brother would need help forever. The estate was left in trust for the younger, with the elder as his guardian and trustee. It’s the best response to an unfortunate situation, not any indication that the parents didn’t love them both just as much.

      1. Grim*

        This happened to my friend. He devoted himself to taking care of his parents as they aged and became infirm, while also taking care of his family as they struggled paycheck to paycheck.

        His younger brother lived a troubled life and had trouble keeping a job. He lived with their parents off and on while the parents enjoyed good health and a steady income, but was not to be seen once the parents became elderly and infirm.

        The parents left their entire estate to the troubled younger brother, noting in the will how self sufficient the older brother had been and how the younger brother needed all the help he could get.

        Younger brother went on to a 5 year run of spending carelesly and eventually was back to where he started.

        1. allathian*

          Are the brothers still talking? In that situation, I wouldn’t be saying a word to my sibling ever again and I’d spend a while regretting every sacrifice I made for my ungrateful parents. Then I’d try and let go of my anger with my parents because I would only be hurting myself by being angry. The best revenge is a life lived well…

          That said, I’m just glad that I live in a country where it’s really, really, really difficult to disinherit your children (they’re usually entitled to at least half their legal share), pretty much the only option is to either make a foundation, where if you disinherit one child you disinherit them all, or if the child is living what is termed an “immoral life”. It’s OK to disinherit a person who’s in jail for serious crimes like murder. There have been court cases where conservative parents tried to disinherit a homosexual child who according to their view was living an immoral life, but they still got their legal share, because homosexual relationships have equal status with heterosexual ones before the law.

    20. Anonymous Educator*

      I haven’t had that happen, and I hope that’s a long way off. My parents have said numerous times that they are splitting things evenly between me and my sibling, so if the split didn’t end up even, I’d mainly be upset about being lied to. I don’t care about the money. And if they told me they favored my sibling over me, that’d suck, but I wouldn’t be that surprised. It’d mainly be the lying I’d be upset about if it turned out unfair.

    21. Anon for this*

      I’m so sorry you are going through this. My family is dealing with something similar (trust in probate court); my side is likely to win. I’ve been trying to keep an “eyes on the prize” mentality and it’s not helping at all. The situation is full of bad feelings and worse actions, and fractured relationships that will not be repaired, and it deeply sucks. Like you suspected, getting your “fair share” would not necessarily make you feel any better.

    22. WoodswomanWrites*

      My parents of four kids divorced and my father remarried. His wife had three kids from a previous marriage. When we were all adults, the two of them explained to us that they had created wills. Their agreement was that whichever of them died last would leave everything to be divided by the seven of us.

      I have no doubt my father would have honored this commitment to his stepchildren if his wife had died first, which would be appropriate. It turned out the other way around. When his wife survived him and eventually died, we learned that she had changed her will to exclude all but one of her three kids. She consistently resented her husband’s children and I never expected anything, but even so I was surprised she excluded two of her own kids. My guess is that it’s because they had set healthy boundaries with her negativity.

      This contrasts with my mother’s side of the family. When their parents died, my mother’s brother gave his share of his inheritance to her because he was financially well off and wanted to help his sister. It’s possible that by the time my mother passes away, my siblings and I will be supporting her and what she’ll leave behind will be a few heirlooms. I’m glad to say that my siblings and I will no doubt divide things up without acrimony. I’m grateful for that.

      1. Just Another Manic Millie*

        “Their agreement was that whichever of them died last would leave everything to be divided by the seven of us.”

        I would have known right away that that was something I couldn’t count on. First of all, as you said, the surviving spouse made a new will. Second of all, what if the surviving spouse married again? Would anyone expect him/her to say to the new spouse, “Sorry I can’t leave you anything in my will. I already promised that I would leave everything to be divided between my children and my step-children from my prior marriage.” As posted previously, someone who is married is required to leave a certain amount in his/her will to the spouse.

        Now that I think of it, maybe that’s why some relatives of mine are being really nice to their stepmother (who is a horrible person). Their father (the stepmother’s husband) died, and maybe they told all the kids that whoever died last would leave everything to be shared equally among them. Maybe they are afraid that if they aren’t really nice to their stepmother, she won’t leave them anything, meaning that they didn’t inherit anything from their mother (who had left everything to their father), and they won’t inherit anything from their father (who left everything to his second wife, their stepmother) if she decides to leave everything to only her own children.

  9. Frustrated*

    People who live with a chronic illness: how do you deal with the frustrations of flare-ups even when you feel like you’re doing everything.

    I’m just so tired of being sick. I’ve had it under control for years now and thought it’d just stay that way. But it’s chosen this time (when the health services are so stretched) to start giving me issues. I can’t be sure it’s a complete coincidence (since stress can be an exacerbating factor, and there’s been plenty of that lately) but I just…wish it would go away.

    1. NeonFireworks*

      I know this feeling so well. I remember during a healthy stretch for one of my issues, suddenly feeling intense dread realising that a flare-up could be tomorrow. Or next weekend. Or in two months. But it was coming. I didn’t get that issue under control for years – one of the worst periods was a decade after diagnosis.

      One thing that helped me, psychologically, was beginning to follow peer-reviewed research on my conditions. I’m not any kind of health scientist, but it helped reassure me that people were working on it!

      Asking around among the medical people I see really paid off. Against my expectations, an everyday PCP made a creative suggestion (a kind-of-off-label medication) that helped that none of the specialists had ever come up with, and I also tried a dietary adjustment suggested in the research – published in 2013, which was well after my diagnosis – that went a long way too. I have had maybe two episodes in the last year, which is hard to believe after so many bad years – and I’m pretty sure that both of them were set off by viruses, too. I’m still processing the amount of suffering I went through, but I try to return to gratitude. Thinking of you from another spoonie.

    2. Lemon Meringue Pie*

      Sorry you’re dealing with this.

      I’ve found it helps massively to join support groups (Facebook, Reddit, wherever you find your people) of people who have your illness and really get it, so you can have a moan or reach out for support – I’ve found it helps if I know my audience truly gets it.

    3. Smeralda*

      I try to remember that living with this condition is a marathon, not a race. Sometimes it’s incredibly frustrating. I let myself feel that frustration. I try to remember that wanting to be in acceptance is not acceptance.

    4. Anonnington*

      Keep trying new alleviation methods. I say alleviation because, obviously, some illnesses can’t be cured and the treatments aren’t that great. But continuing to test new ways to make it more bearable can help. Everything from experimenting with your diet to new symptom relief methods.

      In keeping with that, avoid people who are negative or condescending about the illness. There is a lot of that out there, and it’s toxic in many ways, from the obvious to the more subtle. It’s better to be completely alone than to interact with anyone who treats you disrespectfully because of a medical condition that you have.

      Seek out offline friendships with people who are dealing with something similar, and in a relatively healthy way. (A lot of people, understandably, struggle with denial, substance abuse as an escape method, etc, which is not a reason to judge them, but if you’re around a lot of that, it can be contagious. There are ways for people who are struggling to get help, and it’s not your responsibility.) Find people who are on a path towards dealing with it in increasingly healthy ways, and join them.

      I hate to say this, but I would minimize use of online communities around illnesses. As valuable as it is that they exist, they tend to attract types of dysfunction that are easier to avoid offline.

      And keep seeking out ways to lift your spirits. Small things can make a big difference.

      1. Lemon Meringue Pie*

        Well I think it really depends on the community!

        I have a rare disease and it is so great to talk to people who get it.

        1. Anonnington*

          Yeah, I agree, and I respect that. But I think it’s hit or miss. Just speaking from personal experience.

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        I completely agree about the online communities. I often feel very “stuck in the middle” with a lot of things in my life, this being one of them. I am not a healthy person, so I don’t quite fit in with my healthy friends (they are great, but they don’t get it). But then when I go to online communities, it’s like a lot of the people want to be defined by their illnesses. They have signatures with their diagnoses and surgery dates and medications…and that’s just not me. I don’t know if I’d call it dysfunctional, but it’s just not something I can relate to. I am a person who happens to have multiple serious health conditions, but I don’t want people to focus on that aspect of me.

        1. Lemon Meringue Pie*

          Those kinds don’t sound helpful, it’s true. But they’re not all like that!

    5. HannahS*

      It’s tough. I don’t have much to offer by way of advice–my way of coping with it is to just be kind of sad for a bit. Plus I have a big meltdown every couple of years where I sob for a couple of evenings and then the rest of the time I’m ok. It sucks. Acknowledging that it sucks matters, I think. Being kind to yourself matters. Making sure that your coping mechanism isn’t things that make your life worse–so, you know, a little comfort eating is fine, but I eat more junk when I’m stressed and ultimately it hasn’t served me well, you know?

    6. Treebeardette*

      For me, I had to do a deep dive into what could trigger my flare-ups. Everything from getting more sleep, less mental stress, what I eat, and how I exercise.
      My flare-ups are getting less and less. It use to be that when I thought I did everything right, I actually wasn’t. Sometimes I just faced a really stressful situation which causes a flare up. I’m finding my mental health contributes a lot to my flare-ups. Sometimes I did too much exercising like cleaning my whole house.

      1. NeonFireworks*

        I had completely unpredictable symptoms for years that were supposed to be diet-related given my diagnosis. I set up an experimental period in the summer of 2011 when I dropped two big categories of food. No difference. Turned out that in order to perceive the massive difference that came along in 2017, I would have needed to drop both of those AND 90% or more of a whole bunch of other miscellaneous things cutting across conventional grocery-store categories of food.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          It is so difficult when it feels like you can’t eat anything. I keep having to add more and more foods to the “Do not eat this or you will experience severe distress list.” I can’t do onions, carrots, bell peppers, eggplant, cashews, peanuts (or peanut butter/anything cooked with peanut oil), almonds, macadamia nuts, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, anything greasy/fried, corn, pretty much any kind of seed (sesame, poppy, sunflower, mustard, etc.), or anything too sugary (e.g. my favorite drink from Starbucks is no longer doable). I can basically eat chicken, steak, cheddar cheese, fresh mozzarella, seedless watermelon, cantaloupe, and asparagus without problems. The problem with that is I have kidney disease, so I’m supposed to be limiting animal products, AND I have to watch my potassium intake. It really wreaks havoc on my life.

    7. Former prof*

      I am there with you. I spend so much of my life waiting – waiting to recover from the latest flare, waiting for the next medical procedure, and when I am better waiting for the next flare. One of the bizarre things about the pandemic is now everyone else is in here with me waiting. I especially resent the virus because I was in a good phase, and now it’s all being wasted sitting at home. When I can finally leave the county again, who knows what condition I’ll be in?

      Despite having a rare syndrome, I recognize that I am luckier than others because my condition can be managed to some degree. So I try to be religious about my physical therapy and exercise, getting enough sleep. I swear at my body a lot – not sure that’s effective but it makes me less mad :-) Because I have a degenerative condition, I try to make myself keep going because if I don’t do it now, the wheelchair is waiting.

    8. KoiFeeder*

      I write swear words until I feel better.

      More seriously taking those frustrations out by making something, even if you’re going to immediately delete/destroy it and have no intention of sharing it ever, is very cathartic. It doesn’t have to be good, you can write swear words in fancy ways and that’s valid.

    9. KeinName*

      I am so sorry. This is shit. I cannot really reccomend anything, apart from making a friend who has the same condition. She always understands, is supportive, knows remedies and the latest research/doctors, she is very appreciative when i help her. When she is well, i can feel hopeful that i will also be well.
      Other than that, it is really just so shitty fearing flare ups or going through them. You can do everything right but you cannot control your body and you have no control over sudden events which might stress you out or conflicts which suddenly need to be dealt with and so on.

    10. RagingADHD*

      I know, it’s so discouraging!

      I just try to remind myself that my management plan is just that – a plan for ways to manage the symptoms. It’s not a cure, and it’s not necessarily going to go according to plan, any more than any other plan in life.

      The other thing I try to do is remind myself that at least I can avoid making the flareup worse. So that motivates me to keep working my plan on bad days.

      But it’s not easy, and I usually wind up taking a little time to just rest and feel whatever I feel – disappointment, frustration, anger, sadness.

      You can’t get past the feelings until you feel them. If you try to squash or avoid them, they just stay longer and get worse

    11. Alexandra Lynch*

      Well, I gripe and moan about it a bit, and then I talk to the part.
      “Oh, you poor gut. I know it’s so hard with the moving and the uncertainty, and all the pressure that I’m putting on myself to do it right and carry most of the burden. I know you’re stressed and when you’re stressed you tighten up, and I’m going to do the right things to help you deal with it.”
      Which may be corny but works for me.
      And then I do the right thing which in this case involves upping my fiber and water intake and using stool softeners and doing as much relaxing as I can, and generally being good to myself.

      I’ve had various chronic issues for 20 years, and I’ve gotten to a point of acceptance with them. It just is, and I am just going to have to deal with them, so what can I do in advance to make them impact my life less?

  10. nnn*

    Can anyone with medical knowledge tell me if a pulse oximeter would be effective as a fainting early warning device, or does it not work that way?

    Backstory: I struggle with wearing masks, and sometimes get light-headed while wearing them. I’ve seen people, including medical people, say you should push through the difficulties and keep the mask on, but the problem is I don’t know how far it is from “light-headed” to “fainting”, and I don’t want to find out the hard way. (I’ve fainted exactly once in my adult life, no warning signs that I could perceive, and it resulted in a head injury with after-effects that have lasted for years.)

    I saw some doctors on Twitter wearing pulse oximeters to show that wearing a mask doesn’t effect your blood oxygen levels, so I’m wondering if I could use this to check if I’m at risk of fainting. If I were to wear a pulse oximeter and the reading was stable, would that mean I’m safe from fainting, even if I feel light-headed? Or could I faint even with a normal blood oxygen reading?

    (Note that I don’t have any sort of diagnosis for what’s making me struggle with the mask, and seeking one is not an immediate option.)

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I’m not a medical person, but I sometimes work in high altitude environments where we use a pulse oximeter to monitor blood oxygen for safety reasons. What I’ve experienced and observed is that when your blood oxygen starts dropping, you don’t generally faint – the warning symptoms are faster heart beat, headache, nausea, dizziness and shortness of breath. If you don’t get oxygen supplements or go to a lower altitude, the more serious version involves loss of coordination and confusion. But keeling over suddenly isn’t something that happens.

    2. allathian*

      I’m not a medical person either, but the few times I’ve felt light-headed is when I’ve been anxious and close to a panic attack and I’ve been hyperventilating. I’m not particularly anxious normally, but I am when I’m particularly stressed. Currently, COVID’s pretty much under control in my area and I’m not particularly anxious. Some precautions are still in force, such as limiting the number of people who are allowed to meet (500) and limiting the number of people allowed inside restaurants at the same time (75% of capacity, every customer must have their own seat and social distance is enforced while queuing).

      Masks have not been recommended never mind mandated in my area so I haven’t even tried them yet, but I can imagine that the mask might make me feel anxious enough to hyperventilate. I live in a temperate climate and we can have cold winters. I can’t tolerate breathing through a scarf to avoid the worst of the cold for more than a few minutes at a time.

      I had a growth spurt in my early teens and that led to low blood pressure for a while. If I got up too quickly, I’d feel light-headed. I even fainted once or twice.

      Are you taking rapid, shallow breaths to compensate for the mask?

    3. Bagpuss*

      I think fainting is normally more to do with low blood pressure than low oxygen so I am not sure how much an oximeter would help from a *medical* point of view. However, I think lightheadedness can be a result of anxiety so it might help by reducing your anxiety by reassuring you that you weren’t low on oxygen, perhaps?
      On a practical level, if you do feel lightheaded then pausing, sitting down and putting your head down will help and reduce the risk of fainting.

      1. hermit crab*

        I think this is an interesting idea! Fainting/lightheadedness can absolutely be a symptom of stress/anxiety so if the pulse ox helps with your anxiety (and your lightheadedness doesn’t have some other cause) it might be worth a try.

        (my browser’s spellcheck thinks that “lightheadedness” should be “lightheartedness” or “pigheadedness” which amuses me…)

      2. Former prof*

        Bingo baby. Maybe trying to stay really well-hydrated would help since that supports blood pressure.

        1. nnn*

          Oh, this looks promising! Thank you! It’s useful to have something I can actually *do* that isn’t related to breathing.

        2. Beth*

          These exercises are good, but I would also add, if your fainting is due to blood pressure then the best and most immediate solution is to simply sit down. I pass out (or get close to it) relatively frequently and it took me a long time to get over the inherent weirdness of sitting down in the middle of a hallway, eg, instead of desperately doing muscle clenches to stave it off. This led to falling a couple more times than I had to. nnn, since you’ve already fallen and that’s your biggest fear (reasonably so!) I’d drill it into your head that sitting is ok. If your passing out is related to loss of blood flow to the head, like mine is, it will get harder to think clearly as the symptoms come on, and your brain may default to its most engrained behavior (in my case, trying not to draw attention to myself). When that happens, you want to be able to remember that sitting is ok. (Necessary caveats that during a pandemic, sitting in the middle of a grocery store aisle isn’t great. So using these exercises to stay on your feet long enough to get to a safe place to sit is a good combo technique.)

          Also, figure out what helps you recover (might be water, snacks with sugar/protein, Gatorade) and carry some with you when you go out. Will help you feel more prepared even if you never need it.

    4. WS*

      Fainting isn’t usually related to overall blood oxygen levels, so unless you know it is in your case, I think a pulse oximeter would be a waste of time.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        Agree with this. Very rarely is a reduction in oxygen the reason for light headedness during mask wearing. Usually it’s hyperventilating, blood pressure, or psychosomatic (really a combination of all things, since locking your knees and tightening your muscles and hyperventilating are often all caused by anxiety). If you have asthma or something, maybe? But oxygen can get really really low without you passing out.

        You *might* get something out of your pulse but in reality it will probably just feed your fears more as you see normal fluctuations and read too far into them.

        The good news is, the best warning system is your own perception. If you’re feeling light headed, sit down and take a break. Theres likely quite a long time between that first feelings of wooziness and actually passing out.


        1. nnn*

          Oh, THAT is the information I was missing! Thank you!

          I was thinking that because the big issue I have with the mask is light-headedness, that must be the problem everyone was talking about. (I’m sure there’s a name for that logical fallacy.)

          Then when my twitter started getting full of photos of people with masks and pulse oximeters, I thought the thing they were trying to prove with pulse oximeters must be related to the problem I’m experiencing, so maybe I could use it to monitor the problem I’m experiencing.

          But it turns out we’re all talking about two different things, which I wasn’t knowledgable enough to recognize. So thank you for your expertise :)

    5. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      Honestly, you are probably attributing the wrong thing (the mask) as the root cause of your fainting. Millions of medical workers wear masks for 14 hour shifts without fainting: masks have been mandatory in other countries like China (pop: 1.3 billion) without there being a secondary epidemic of fainting. Masks are safe and do not cause harm to the wearer unless they have a cardiac or respiratory disorder. This is a myth being spread by anti-science Americans who believe the pandemic is fake.

      I recommend you contact your doctor for a consultation. If the mask is actually causing you to faint, you likely have an undiagnosed disorder that needs prompt treatment. Otherwise, please stop spreading fake news. This is not the place for it.

      1. Morningstar*

        On the other hand, isn’t it great to ask these questions rather than accepting potentially wrong information?

      2. RagingADHD*

        Hey, whoa. Needlessly harsh.

        OP isn’t “spreading fake news.” They are having a problem they don’t understand, and asking if something might help.

        And they got good info about it.

        They are also looking for ways to make mask-wearing easier, not looking for excuses not to wear one.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Were supposed to be nice here–and its not nice to accuse someone of ‘spreading fake news’ when they ask a question about navigating a fear of fainting that they feel coming on more when wearing a mask.

    6. Courageous cat*

      I agree that the mask is not causing you to faint but I also don’t necessarily think it’s another serious cause – I think it could be your association with the mask and *feeling* that it’s making you breathe less efficiently that’s causing you to be lightheaded. In short: anxiety. Anxiety itself can make you breathe differently and cause lightheadedness.

      I would recommend trying square breathing with a mask on.

    7. Kt*

      Yeah, other folks have contributed good info. A few further observations:

      When I’ve had consistent trouble with light headedness it’s been anemia or low blood pressure. My oxygenation has been fine.

      The way you breathe can really influence lightheadedness as well, and learning some breathing techniques to combat what you might be unconsciously doing could be very useful.

      When I’ve actually fainted, my vision has narrowed first. It is a useful warning sign for me, personally, to sit down.

    8. Doc in a Box*

      I’m not your doctor, and this is not medical advice, but there are lots of different reasons why people may faint. The faint being described by most commentators here (getting woozy, tunnel vision, etc) is called vasovagal syncope and is usually due to low blood pressure or another relatively benign cause. Fainting WITHOUT warning, on the other hand, is potentially quite serious — not just because of the risk of injury, but also because it can be due to an abnormal heart rhythm or even a seizure (yes, even without visible convulsion). In neither case would a pulse ox be useful.

      I really hope you are able to get a diagnosis for what makes you faint!

    9. I'm just here for the cats*

      I’m not a medical professional but I believe that fainting is typically caused by low blood sugar or blood pressure. I think you would have to be seriously hyperventilating in order to faint. I think someone else mentioned anxiety, which could cause issues with your blood pressure. Could wearing the mask make you anxious or feel claustrophobic, Zaza and make you not be able to catch your breath.

    10. Beth*

      I’m not a doctor at all, just a patient who’s been dealing with mystery passing out for about twenty years. Somebody above recommended looking into vasovagal syncope, which I second. Some other potential causes for you to read up on might be pots, orthostatic hypotension, or postprandial hypotension, if it seems like a blood pressure thing, or low blood sugar (hypoglycemia or reactive hypoglycemia) if it seems related to diet. Those are things you can read up on on your own and see if they give you any clues. I’m *not* advocating self diagnosis, just looking into potential causes for this to help you know what sorts of things to pay attention to. When looking up vasovagal syncope, remember that the triggers for it don’t have to be the traditional examples of blood/needles; it can also be worsened by heat/sun and dehydration. Basic treatment for vasovagal syncope is lots of water, compression stockings, and increased salt intake…but talk with a doc before increasing salt. Mine started laughing when he told me how much sodium I should be getting (it’s a lotttt).

      It could also be anxiety, but push back against that diagnosis if it doesn’t make sense to you. Or see a therapist for a second opinion (a therapist can tell you if your anxiety (if you have anxiety at all) is bad enough to lead to passing out). Mine was misdiagnosed as anxiety for a while, which delayed me figuring out how to manage it.

      When it’s safe to see a doctor again, please bring this up and they might order some heart tests (ekg, echocardiogram, and/or heart monitor) to rule out heart issues as a source of the problem. Or bring it up in a telemedicine appointment if this is a recurring problem! They couldn’t test remotely, but could determine if it’s serious enough that you should come in. Generally passing out *with no warning* is much more serious than the light-headed, staticky-vision passing out a lot of us have been describing.

      Good luck! Re the mask question specifically, you could practice wearing one around your home while you do different breathing methods to get used to it before going out. If you can get your hands on the loose blue surgical masks, I’ve heard they’re more comfortable than cloth masks (but not reusable, and leave them for medical staff first obvs).

  11. Juniper*

    UK based readers – any idea where a large amount of history bools would be welcome?

    My dad had a large collection of Medivael history books that he wanted to go to a history society when he died, but when my mum contacted them, they didn’t seem bothered. She’s reluctant to take them to a charity shop as she knows it’s likely unlikely that someone who would enjoy them would actually find them.

    Any ideas of libraries / societies / etc that might want them?

    1. DeepDarkBlue*

      Could you create a very basic list including title, author and year of publication, then email it to several university libraries? Perhaps those librarians could direct you to more societies or individuals with that particular need. Good luck!

      1. StellaBella*

        This is a good idea – also – perhaps mail the chatelaine (welcome person) for your local or national branch of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) as that org is filled with medieval-focused folks who might love these as a way to share with their groups including kids.

      2. Thankful for AAM*

        Making a list is a great idea. A word of caution about donating. Libraries where I live in the US do not take donations inot the collection bc the risk of bringing in mold or bugs that can spread to the rest of the collection is too high.

      3. Nancy*

        St Andrews might be a good place to start? It offers a degree in Medieval History, and has quite a well known Medieval History department.

      4. Medievalist*

        You might also send the list to university departments that have postgraduate students in medieval fields (e.g., history, literature, etc.), to see if they could circulate the options internally. While academic libraries can be very selective, students are often less so. (When I was working on my own medieval doctorate, I started my personal academic library based on donated books—and still use some regularly.)

        1. Dr. Vanessa Poseidon*

          This is a great idea especially now, when lots of scholars and students are unable to visit libraries in person. I know lots of academics who are buying more books now and seeking out PDFs from others’ personal libraries, so some of your titles might be really useful at the moment.

        2. cat paws*

          That’s mostly what I did with my dad’s maths texts when it was time to get rid of them: I left them in the protected entrance of the maths building at the uni. At the time of year I left them, it would have only been postgrads and faculty accessing the building. My fantasy is that a bunch of postgrads leafed through texts about other subject areas and learned a little – the best possible outcome of a book.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      I’d also try looking up some of them by googling the ISBN, if they have one. You might find they are valuable or not and that can help them find a home.

    3. KiwiApple*

      More specialist charity bookshops (specifically Oxfam) or second hand bookshops would be worth investigating. I volunteered in a few Oxfam bookshops and collectors definitely knew us!

      1. Retiring Academic*

        I second this. Some charities are very good at getting books to collectors or dealers who are interested in them. Christian Aid does a giant booksale in Edinburgh during Christian Aid Week which dealers come to. I don’t know if they do a similar sale anywhere else in the UK though.

    4. Nancy*

      I’m not sure about libraries or societies, but my partner, an academic with a relatively niche interest, found a treasure trove of someone’s specialist library in one of the secondhand book shops on Charing Cross Road in London. Turns out he knew the person who had collected the books, and whose library was now being sold off (it’s a small field), and he bought loads of the books – like multiple trips, with many, many carrier bags full. It was Quinto Bookshop, but there are lots of others in the same area. It’s not the same as donating to a society, I know, but these particular books certainly went to a very appreciative home!

    5. Lemon Meringue Pie*

      Charity shops can potentially sell books in other ways and it could be really helpful for them when so many charities are struggling right now.

    6. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Where in the UK? Groups like the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle or a local archaeology group might be interested.

      1. Juniper*

        I’m currently in London, my mum is in the North West, so we can cover a range of the UK hopefully!

    7. BethDH*

      There is a medievalist book exchange group on Facebook. Typically people are only passing on a small number of books and it’s handled by mail but you might be able to specify local pickup only.

    8. Juniper*

      Thank you to everyone so far for the suggestions! There’s a lot places I wouldn’t have even considered. I’m going to let my mum know and hopefully we’ll be able to get the books to people who will be happy to get them.

      Any other suggestions are welcome!

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        Just thought of this – if you’re willing to send them to people and but necessarily looking to give them away as a collection you might message the admin on the “BAJR UK archaeology” group on Facebook and see if it would be ok to post them there. Lots of medieval specialists there who might be interested.

  12. Denver Bound from NC*

    Looking for advice on a move to the Denver area next year.

    – Early 30s married couple
    – One kid (preschool age)
    – One dog

    We’ve coming from the Raleigh-Durham area which had a lot of amenities we really liked (access to parks and trails, good schools, GREAT food). I work from home but need to be within 30-40 minutes of an airport since I travel 1-3 times a month.

    We liked Louisville but it also felt a bit too sleepy after living in a college town. Stapleton looks interesting for semi-urban living but we’ve heard mixed reviews. Our budget is $600K and we’d be looking for a 3bd2ba (no plans for more kids).

    If anyone is living in Colorado now or has recently planned a move, what are the top things to consider/top things you wish you had known? (Ex. when moving to Raleigh-Durham, you don’t just want to live close to I-40, picking the right exit can literally shave 20-30 minutes off your commute). We’re planning to rent for a year before we buy so we’d welcome tips on what others have done. Happy to answer questions about Chapel Hill for any folks making the move this way. We’ve really loved it here!

    1. Parenthetically*

      With the train out to the airport, I would think that as long as you live close to the line, you wouldn’t need to worry about the commute to the airport, per se. I have a real soft spot for the City Park/Zoo/Greektown/Congress Park area, and it looks like you’d be pretty easily able to find something there in your price range — if you look north of City Park, that’s really close to the airport rail line which would make your trips to the airport a breeze.

        1. Parenthetically*

          I like the homes, it’s very tree-lined and fairly quiet, the parks in that area are SO nice, and it’s near the city proper, so there are plenty of fantastic restaurants and things to do very nearby. But it’s not posh or snooty or fancy-feeling in the way that some of the neighborhoods are. We spent a fair bit of time in Greektown when I was a kid so part of it is just nostalgia!

    2. Anon in Colorado*

      I love the historic homes and architecture in the Congress/ City Park area :) I think a lot depends on the type of home you’re looking for. Do you want an older historic home or something newer? Gentrified or suburban vibe?

      1. Denver Bound from NC*

        Our current home has needed a lot of repairs so I’m wary of historic (aka expensive) homes but I freely recognize that new construction isn’t realistic in the city either. We can make just about any type of house work since we’ll have a small budget for remodeling/upgrades. The bigger issue for us is walkable and kid friendly. We live within a mile of a grocery, park, rec center, trails, movie theater, library, coffee shop, grocery and more so we’re super spoiled.

    3. Smeralda*


      Stapleton is boring and homogenous af. There are a LOT of bored couples looking for neighborhood drama. The town center doesn’t have great food, mostly chains like Starbucks and Cold Stone. Kind of a drag, imo. However, if that stuff isn’t a deterrent for you, Stapleton also is pretty safe and has great parks and a really nice rec center / gym. It’s close to your big box stores (convenience!), has some ok elementary schools, and there are two Krogers. It’s also walkable.

      I would recommend looking at Park Hill, which Is much more diverse and feels less contrived imo. Park Hill is also walkable and is a gorgeous neighborhood with lots of old, unique bungalows and Victorians that should be within your budget.

      Both Park Hill and Stapleton are airport accessible.

      As far as cool places to live that are closer to the action, I’d look at Baker and Capitol Hill. That’s where you’ll find your boutiques and cafes and great food.

      1. Denver Bound from NC*

        Your review of Stapleton is spot on! We like the amenities and green space but I get hives thinking about boring white bread suburbia. My husband and I have both lived abroad and love to travel (I’m a dual citizen) so we are hoping to find a bit of diversity in terms of people and food. At one of his military duty stations there was ONE (1) ethnic restaurant and we swore we’d never go back to those dark ages.

        1. Smeralda*

          Ooh yeah then Stapleton is probably not your cup of tea. Is there any kind of cuisine / culture you’re looking for in particular? Denver has great Mexican and Vietnamese food.

          1. Denver Bound from NC*

            Any hope for good Indian food? Tikka masala is legit comfort food in our house. YES on good Mexican food. That’s our second favorite.

            1. Smeralda*

              Yes! There are some great Indian options (I love Little India) and also lots of decent Chinese places

      2. Generic Name*

        Yeah, I personally wouldn’t live in Stapleton due to environmental contamination in addition to these factors. It was built on the old Stapleton airport and there are areas where waste was dumped that had to be cleaned up. The levels at the site, to my knowledge, comply with state standards for residential uses, but I personally would not knowingly live on or near one of those sites (I’ve been working in the environmental business for about 15 years).

        1. Denver Bound from NC*

          This is really helpful (and I had no idea). It’s hard to get a handle on safer environment areas. Ex. fracking is happening 500 meters from some houses in Broomfield – yikes! Are there any areas of Denver or it’s suburbs that you would recommend?

    4. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      It’s been a while since I lived there but I used to live in the Cherry Creek area and I liked it quite a bit. Might be a little expensive though. Public transportation, especially to the airport, has improved exponentially since I lived there.

      1. Denver Bound from NC*

        Cherry Creek looks gorgeous but definitely feels pricier. I assume it’s because of the schools?

        1. Smeralda*

          Yeah Cherry Creek is expensive and kind of elite-y in my experience. Not real diverse. Lots of expensive, designer stores.

          Wash Park is close by and can be pricey but a lot cooler, I think.

          1. Denver Bound from NC*

            I grew up in an elite-y town and don’t have fond memories of most of my classmates. Haven’t bought new clothes in years, much less designer label stuff! What makes Wash Park cool?

            1. 2QS*

              Off-topic given the thread, but…darn, I know this feeling so well. My family was newly upper middle class and had the choice of several elementary schools, and at the one my parents decided to send me to, I probably came from the lower end of the income spread. Intellectually, it was a very good match for me, and the school had top-notch facilities, so I stayed. After four years or so, I finally made a friend! Ahem.

              In the meantime, it was such a bizarre world. All-day birthday parties, located across several rental locations, with entire casts of adult characters hired for the occasion. Custom dollhouses, 1/12″ scale, to match the house they were in, with people who looked just like the family members (kind of creepy). Poverty was acknowledged, briefly, as a distant concern affecting some hypothetical proportion of the population – out there somewhere, surely, maybe? But that was all. Oh, and the amount of travel people’s families were doing! At one point, everyone in my class got to fill out a long piece of paper with the name of a country they’d visited, and then we’d put them all up on the classroom wall to see where everyone had been. Like most white folks who grew up in Canada, I’d stuck close to the border and had been to the U.S. a few times, so I had that. But given public airing, I was a bit ashamed that my experience was so limited compared with the huge number of places most of my classmates had been, a lot farther than short border hops. Keeping in mind that this was during the year when most of us were not yet seven years old. (My only private consolation, given moderate childhood embarrassment, was that I wasn’t the worst off. I quietly noticed that there was one unfortunate kid – already picked on for various terrible reasons – who had never left Canada at all and so had to ask our teacher for special assistance. That kid’s form did end up going onto the wall with everyone else’s, but it bore the comparatively underwhelming caption “______________ has been to Vancouver,” which I’m sure was much more humiliating than my experience.)

              I noped out in my teens as soon as I discovered the frugal options. Not only did I start going to thrift shops and used bookstores, I eventually began making my own clothes. The horror!

              1. Anonnington*

                I relate. I was always drawing horses and the kids would yell, “Why don’t you just BUY a horse?” Like that was more reasonable than doing sketches of horses . . . Yeah. I had to try and explain money and how it’s finite.

                And vacations . . . “What’s Wisconsin? WE went to Paris and then we went skiing in the Alps. Why would you go to a lake?” Well……..

                I befriended the other kids who weren’t rich or were just misfits. We were an interesting bunch.

          2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

            It wasn’t all that posh when I lived there, at least not in the bit next to Chesman Park. I’m definitely not from a wealthy background!

            1. Lost in the Woods*

              Cherry Creek has gentrified really really fast in the past few years. It’s now very expensive and fancy.

    5. From Denver Area*

      I would give Louisville a second look. While its neighborhoods are a bit sleepy, it has a great and fairly busy Main Street with lots of local business and it’s only a 15 minute drive away from Boulder, which has all the amenities you’d expect in a college town plus amazing parks and trails. Also, the public schools in Louisville are really good and it’s a very family friendly community (lots of free public family events, especially in summer, for instance).

      Honestly, Boulder sounds like it might be what you’re looking for ideally, but you probably will have trouble finding a house in your price range.

      1. talos*

        They’re also going to have a hard time getting to the airport from Boulder…

        Otherwise though I agree.

        1. Denver Bound from NC*

          We went hiking in Boulder (gorgeous!) but yes the real estate is absolutely eye watering. We would like to be able to buy a house and still be able to send our kid to college lol.

      2. Denver Bound from NC*

        We spent several days in Louisville (the library is gorgeous!) at the start of 2019 and really enjoyed it. Especially the mulled wine at Por. How would you describe the friendliness to transplants? If it’s not too political, are you able to share where most folks land on the progressive-conservative spectrum? We’re in a blue part of a purple state right now but we’ve lived in deep red areas before and it’s not a match.

    6. Celestial being on a bike*

      I’m up in Longmont which is too far from the airport it sounds like although the route has little traffic. But it’s great here. We chose it because it’s close to Boulder where my husband works but the houses here aren’t a million bucks. Very progressive governance and wonderful schools. Municipal gigabit internet. Easy hop into the mountains (no skiing for us though). I70 is such a traffic mess these days that we head north for mountain fun.

      I’ve lived in Golden too and love it. Lots of character and recreation.

      I was here 20 years ago, left, and came back in 2018. Traffic is now really bad and I’m glad I do not have to take 25 or 36 every day. The weather is amazing, though, and the cycling is a dream.

      I can’t think of anything too surprising. Real estate is expensive so don’t expect a big lot. That’s ok since parks and open space are everywhere. Mexican restaurants are different from what you find in the South ( I’m a southerner) and “southern food” here is not good. And if you drive a shiny new 4runner, expect to be judged! Ha, get a beat up Tacoma instead.

        1. Celestial being on a bike*

          It’s not the Subaru heaven I remember from the past, but there are still loads of them. Jeeps and Toyotas are around every corner. And, strangely enough, 2005 Honda Accords. I see them everywhere. :-)

          1. Denver Bound from NC*

            Funnily enough my husband has a Honda Accord! We’d be looking to swap out my vehicle for something mountain ready. My job is fully remote minus travel to visit clients so no daily commute to worry about. I’ve lived 1-2 hours from a major airport in the past and it’s do-able but more unpleasant than you’d expect. After a long business trip you just want to be home. Have you had any negative experiences with oil and gas wells in Longmont?

            1. Celestial being on a bike*

              Many new developments here are on or near old oil fields (also on old landfills) but we’re surrounded by farms instead. The recently problematic former gas sites nearby are further east, at least the ones I’ve heard about are east of 25.

              That said, I hope your move goes well. We love it here.

    7. Generic Name*

      Your budget looks reasonable for the area. That’s the first thing I tell people who move here from out of state, be prepared for sticker shock. Are you committed to Denver proper, or would you be open to surrounding towns/suburbs? I’m sure I’m biased, but I think Jefferson County Public Schools is one of the best districts in the state. Better than Denver Public Schools. I love Lakewood, it has cute older houses, and all of Jeffco has great access to parks and trails. Littleton is great too, but can be more expensive than Lakewood. Then there’s the vast tracts of unincorporated county areas, which are definitely the suburbs. You’ll hear people gushing about Highlands Ranch, but it’s full of giant cookie cutter suburban houses and chain restaurants, and although lots of people love the schools there, the school board is packed with right-wing pro “vouchers to use public money to send kids to religious private schools” Americans for Prosperity/Koch bros people.

      1. Denver Bound from NC*

        You sound like our people! We’re open to suburbs of Denver, just ideally trying to stay close(r) to the airport. Highlands Ranch is definitely off our list – we’ve lived in a lot of red areas (Military life) and would prefer somewhere more progressive.

    8. Anon for this*

      I would love your take on your current area as it appeals to me. (You said you’re in CH rather than Raleigh?) Is it beautiful or is it just in the middle of west (mountains) and east (beach)? Are public schools good, esp for gifted? What neighborhoods are walkable and family friendly? Thanks SO much and good luck with CO. :)

      1. Denver Bound from NC*

        Sure thing! Chapel Hill is beautiful on its own – so much lush greenery. The downtown area has a lot of charm and there are great restaurants both around the UNC campus and scattered elsewhere in town. Plus Durham and Raleigh restaurants aren’t more than 20-30 minutes away. You’re 2.5 hours from the beach and 2.5 hours from the mountains. Summers are rough (so. Humid.) but the spring and fall are out of this world. Chapel Hill has some of the best schools in the state. I don’t know about gifted programs specifically but my colleague has twin boys in a public language immersion school that they love. Walkable can be hit or miss but generally the neighborhoods surrounding UNC campus have good sidewalks because #students.

    9. Lost in the Woods*

      Unfortunately, there is really no good place to live reasonably near Denver proper where DIA is not kind of a hike. They built it out there so they could expand hugely (DIA has a land area literally double the size of Manhattan, it’s the fifth busiest airport in the country). I live in east Denver and it typically takes me an hour to get to DIA. I’m unsure of how long it would take, but you could live in Golden – which is a super fun town with great hiking – take the train to Union Station and then switch to the train to the airport, which would at least allow you to not worry about a car. The train also makes downtown Denver pretty accessible from Golden, so you kind of get the best of both worlds – a smaller, college- town kind of feel (Golden has the Colorado School of Mines, which is primarily an engineering school) with access to the city center when you want it. I lived in Golden for a summer doing research at Mines and I absolutely loved it.

      Look for swamp coolers. AC works out here, but swamp coolers are better – they’re almost nonexistent in most of the country because they only work in really dry environments. I’d also really recommend reading *Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River* by David Owen, which is a nuanced and interesting discussion about a really important political topic in Colorado (water use).

    10. NaoNao*

      Lakewood and Bel Mar are two very under-rated gems in Denver. The Colfax area of Lakewood can get a bit dicey, but the Bel Mar side is full of very charming homes from the ’60’s. I also recommend the Tennyson district it’s delightful.

      It’s not near the airport (45 min drive, BUT you can hop on a train very easily that is a straight shot, and the train is 5 min from this area) but Virginia Village, Virginia Vale, and Goldsmith as well as Corey Merrill area are **amazing**. Its 15 min at most from downtown, full of mid-mod impeccable homes that are Architectural Digest worthy. A few fixer uppers that might be steals. Close to Cherry Creek—10 min drive. Close to stores, close to the train station, 20 min to the southern areas like Littleton. Close to DU, close to Cherry Creek State Park, etc etc (in case you can’t tell this is my ‘hood). If you like a Palm Desert or California mid-mod house vibe, this is your area.

      The biggest tips I have:

      Be very careful about the area you choose. Do a thorough “sniff check” literally. Areas like Cap Hill and University or Congress or Observatory Park are beautiful and have charming homes—-where 7 college students who smoke weed all day every day live and it can get DANKY. (#notallofthembutmanyofthem)

      Aside from rent, Denver is **expensive**. There’s a place called Atomic Pizza and Denver Biscuit Co. I once ordered a single cocktail and a single biscuit with butter and jam, the bill was $20 before tip.

      The traffic is rough. Rush hour starts around 3 and lasts until 7, but there is steady, consistent traffic **all hours**. DO NOT plan on “just bopping up” to the mountains on a nice day or off the cuff. The traffic in nice weather or during ski season is miserable and there’s no way around it.

      Denver is…not super diverse (compared to other cities I’ve lived in) and you can really feel that in certain areas. There is a very thin covering of liberal values + legal weed but scratch that and you find some INTENSE red-state values in many places.

      Speaking for myself, I’ve had some trouble connecting with childless (or with grown and flown kids) people here. Most people seem to be young college students (with whom I have very little in common), hard working 25 year old marketing coordinators working in the tech field, or late 30 something with kids couples who live in the ‘burbs. If you have kids, it’s great. If you are super into outdoors-y stuff and like to drink, and are a certain kind of….really bubbly and easy going and upbeat person who is not super into “artsy fartsy” stuff, it’s a breeze! You may have to work harder to find the bookish type, artsy types, childless older people, etc.

      16th street and downtown is a very mixed experience. There is a huge homeless issue that has shifted (for the better/not sure?) to tent camping outright along Colfax/13th/14th/Lincoln/Broadway–basically the capitol building row there. 16th street is quiet now but usually full of beggars, buskers, scam artists, very intoxicated people, drug users—especially on a Friday night.

      The suburbs are nice…for families. They feel very bland and prefab (especially places like Parker/DTC/Centennial) and they are designed for single family with car(s) living. No sidewalks, no trees or few immature trees, McMansions with no yards and no privacy, tons of depressing strip malls and/or “Towne Centres”, tons of razed naked wilderness waiting to be developed. Just do your research before agreeing to move to Castle Rock :)

      1. Smeralda*

        I’m sorry to hear you’ve had trouble finding your people in Denver! The artists are *definitely* there.

        For finding them, I’d recommend the Mercury Cafe (weekly salsa dancing and poetry slams), St Marks Cafe (where all of Denver’s artists and their mothers congregate throughout the evening to type out their novels), and other art-freak gems like the Gypsy Cafe and the gallery district on Santa Fe. If you like supporting young artists I would 100% recommend going to a show at Denver School of the Arts. Crazy talent in their theatre and orchestral departments. And for just a general artsy vibe? Take a stroll down Broadway.

        Also, Denver is not as diverse as some other cities but we are pretty diverse if you know where to look! East Colfax for example is a major hub for refugee resettlement. Drive down Yosemite and you’ll see carnicerias next to pupuserias next to Burmese groceries next to Somali convenience stores (always good deals on tamarind).

        And yes I agree 100% that the burbs can get icky and conservative, but we have so much more to offer than that noise!

  13. The Big Flower Fight (Netflix Show)*

    Have you watched “The Big Flower Fight” on Netflix?

    I love it and I would love to get other people’s thoughts on some non-spoiler aspects!

    Question #1 – Do we really think they built that giant dome just for the show?

    Question #2 – Where do all the flowers come from? Do we think there was a local nursery/florist flower shortage due to the show needing soooo many plants?

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I binged it in about three days, and loved it.

      Yes I do think they built it for the show, but I think the cost of doing so will have paled into insignificance compared to the cost of plants.

      I think it will have been filmed at a venue with its own nursery (when I’ve finished commenting I’ll look it up) and they will have grown to order with months of planning, and put unused plants into their own shop.

      My big question was what they did with the installations after each round. The best explanation I can come up with is that they were probably displayed at the venue (presumably without notes on placing) as part of their summer offering last year.

    2. GoryDetails*

      I’m afraid I can’t answer your questions, although I’ve seen local nurseries that have as many plants as were typically available for the show (if not necessarily in the same varieties), so it doesn’t seem impossible that they could have stocked their selection without stripping all the local nurseries.

      One of *my* “I wonder” questions about the show had to do with liability insurance {wry grin} – the teams having to wrestle with some of those oversized armatures seemed pretty risky!

      I binge-watched the show and really loved it; unusual and inventive, and the teams were fun to watch. (It also made a nice change from the foodie shows I’ve been watching lately!)

    3. fposte*

      I have no answers, but I really liked this show. Natasha Demetriou was an amazing host (I love Vic Reeves, but he doesn’t seem to have found his hosting groove yet) and the teams were so lovely.

      1. Triumphant Fox*

        LOVE Natasha but I agree that Vic just seemed to fade into the background. The contestants were lovely and their interactions with one another felt very Great British Bakeoff. I found Kristen to be annoying. I think I wanted him to be more Tim Gunn mentor role and instead he felt more judgmental and less helpful.

        The only weird thing about that show is I didn’t think it was very clear how they were doing the armatures. In the first episode, someone had designed the different structures and they they made them find the pieces, which seemed bizarre. From then on it was unclear if they designed things from scratch or they were pre-made.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I didn’t really fall for Kristen. I’m okay with him not being Tim Gunn but he just didn’t make that big an impact on me.

          This is also an interesting one for me as, much as I love gardening, I have no idea how to judge what they’re doing. I mean, when something plummets to the floor I can see that’s not good, but I have no idea whether I respect the judges or not.

      2. Not a cat*

        Natasha is perfect! They should have considered her for the next iteration of GBBO. Natasha and Noel….my idea of heaven!

        1. fposte*

          What’s funny is I had just finished What We Do in the Shadows, so apparently I’m following her around.

    4. Just a PM*

      I loved it too! I thought the built the dome just for the show, but perhaps (if they’re going to film more seasons) it’s being used as storage by the gardens or wherever it was filmed?

      My biggest gripe about the show was in that one episode when one of the teams looked like they wouldn’t finish and other people ran over to help them but the judges stopped them. On the one hand, I can understand the judges’ concerns about how to do the judging on group work but on the other, it seemed…distasteful, maybe? I don’t know of any other competition series like that where people were specifically told not to help that to have seen it just really rubbed me the wrong way. Did anyone else feel perturbed by that scene?

      1. Triumphant Fox*

        Definitely. I think it was more that guest judge who was super indignant about the whole thing. Just factor in that others helped them into your decision. It is not that hard.

      2. GoryDetails*

        Re the judges telling the other teams to stop helping – I definitely noticed it, as some of the other shows have featured people helping each other for last-minute plating and whatnot, usually shown as a positive thing (especially on the shows involving kids – though even then, if one of the helpers still has work of their own to do, I think I’ve seen the judges nudge them to look to their own plates before helping others). On the flower show, I seem to recall there was a LOT left to do, and all (or almost all) of the other teams were joining in, and it did feel a bit much… Maybe the judges just didn’t want to set a precedent, especially if they would then have to take the “how much help did they get” factor into account during judging?

  14. Brob*

    Hi, I asked this question a few weeks ago but it was deleted– I think it was my fault for not being clear that I was really asking for advice and not just venting. Can anyone give me any ideas on how to overcome my throat culture phobia? I haven’t been able to tolerate one since I was a child. I have a bad gag reflex, I can’t even tolerate a tongue depressor, and just the thought of anyone poking a swab in my throat makes me upset. But that means I’ll never be able to be tested for Coronavirus or anything else. I really want to conquer this phobia, any suggestions please?

    1. Anonymous for This*

      You have probably already considered this (and it may be less helpful for a true phobia vs. just a general discomfort) but they make some pretty strong throat numbing sprays that might help. There’s the normal ones for when you have a sore throat that taste dreadful and then there’s, ahem, some adult themed brands that are more tolerable.

      Again, doesn’t address the underlying gag reflex but if you find yourself in need of medical care before you’re ready, they can help you stay safe!

      1. RagingADHD*

        I would think the medicated ones would ruin the test. They usually contain alcohol or other antiseptic ingredients.

        That would interfere with culturing whatever you’re swabbing for, wouldn’t it?

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, I think so. Many testing instructions say that you aren’t allowed to eat or drink anything for an hour or two before the test.

    2. Washi*

      Have you tried exposure therapy? I think that’s the typical treatment for phobias, and I would imagine you could find a professional to help you through telehealth visits, since unlike a phobia of heights or something, you could do the exposure practice while sitting with your therapist.

      There are also a lot of books out there that talk about exposure therapy and have exercises – for example, I have a different kind of anxiety but I loved “Overcoming Intrusive Thoughts” by Sally Winston and that had a whole section on exposure exercises and good explanations of tolerating distress and ways you could start small and build up.

    3. matcha123*

      Do you brush your tongue when you brush your teeth? Maybe start with brushing/scraping your tongue when you brush your teeth to get used to the sensation?
      I gag when I scrape further back in my throat, but I honestly think that most people do the same?

    4. 2QS*

      I was tested for coronavirus last weekend, and fully expected a throat swab – but it wasn’t! It was nasopharyngeal, as in pushed back into each nostril. Not the most fun in the world but might mean that (at least in this case) gag reflex wouldn’t enter into it.

      Also, this is going to sound offbeat, but seriously, some speech pathologists do a lot of work with patients having trouble with swallowing (dysphagia, etc.) – maybe worth investigating? They’re thoroughly trained not just in phonetics but in anatomy.

      1. Lemon Meringue Pie*

        Depends where you live? Here it’s nose and throat but spit tests may come in.

        1. fposte*

          Even the spit tests are just that–there’s no throat swab involved. So Brob is going to struggle with, say, a strep culture but it’s not going to affect coronavirus tests.

    5. Alex*

      I don’t have a throat swab phobia, but I did have an eye exam phobia with the same sort of results. This was very inconvenient because I have problematic eyes. I would get so stressed out about the exam that I could barely complete it, and a few times couldn’t complete all parts of it. My eyes literally would just not open. I couldn’t make them open.

      What helped me was finding a doctor I felt very much at ease with–for me this meant a woman with a very soft manner. I told her about my phobia and she was understanding and had a “NBD” kind of way about the exam, and I was much more at ease and actually able to complete it.

      1. Mimmy*

        I have occasional issues with eye exams as well – what is yours specifically, if you don’t mind my asking?

        My problem is that I’m photo-phobic (I think due to lack of natural lenses), so any light that gets shone on my eyes–no matter how dim–is torture. One exam in particular is when they shine the light, then add the little magnifying dome–AHHHHH!! :'(

    6. Anxious cat servant*

      I have a hair-trigger gag reflex but no phobia so I don’t know if this helps but for me what helps me power through tong depressors and my bi-yearly strep throat tests (for some reason I get strep incredibly easily) is being fatalistic. I will gag, it will be unpleasant, and there’s a chance I’ll throw up. It sucks but it won’t cause any permanent harm.

      For whatever reason the acceptance keeps my brain from spiraling out further and puts it more in the category of washing particularly dirty dishes.

      1. hermit crab*

        I’m exactly the same – I sometimes have trouble brushing my teeth and have learned the hard way not to put something in my mouth for a second when my hands are busy. There are certain kinds of, um, adult activities that are completely off the table, LOL. As an adult, I don’t have the fear component, but as a kid I was so, so scared and traumatized by the dental impressions you get before/during orthodontia. I really hope the technique for those is better now.

        Anyway, as ThatGirl recommends, really focusing on your breathing can help. Something else that helps me is that I memorized a couple of poems a long time ago. If something physically stressful is happening and I just have to get through it (e.g., a blood draw or pap smear), I can focus on silently reciting the poem and it kind of blocks out the stressful stimuli.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Ugh, the dental impressions. I had to have some taken earlier this year and they make me gag, but the dental hygienist showed me a trick that actually works — tilt your head forward, chin down near your chest, and focus on breathing through your nose. Tilting your head forward closes up your throat so you don’t feel like the clay-like stuff they use is getting in your airway.

            1. allathian*

              I had braces as an adult and the tip you mentioned worked wonders. I also asked the dentist to lift the back of the chair so I was sitting upright rather than lying down, that was great.

        1. allathian*

          Certain adult activities are completely off the table for me too, for the reason you mention. I threw up once during, and now they’re off the table for my husband, too. LOL

    7. ThatGirl*

      I had a pretty bad gag reflex as a kid. Threw up on my dentist once. What’s helped me as an adult is to focus on breathing through my nose. You could try it at home with something that might otherwise make you gag, in small increments, and try to work your way up. Once it’s in your mouth, just breathe in deeply through your nose -helps remind your brain you are getting enough oxygen.

    8. Mimmy*

      Thank you for posting this – I’m not phobic but I have an easily-triggered gag reflex and can’t STAND the tongue depressor. The responses given by everyone so far could be a big help to me (and hopefully to you too!)

    9. fhqwhgads*

      Taking this from a different angle…everyone I know who has been tested for COVID-19 was tested via nasal swab, not throat culture. I’m not saying there isn’t a throat culture test, but I do not believe it’s the most common method. So if part of your immediate concern is the pandemic, this phobia is unlikely to affect your ability to get tested for that. Likewise, strep and flu tests are in my experience usually a cheek swab, not a throat swab. Do you have the same reaction to something touching the inside of your cheek? Are you sure that in your area these tests are generally done by throat swab? If you have an immediate need to get tested for something you can probably ask the doctor if they have tests that are cheek or nose or even a finger stick and not a swab at all, and they may be able to accommodate you that way.

    10. Might Be Spam*

      My gag reflex is so bad at the dentist, that staff in other rooms come in to make sure things are ok. We finally worked it out so they don’t let me see anything that will go in my mouth. Not even toothpaste. They hide everything behind me. I try to keep my eyes closed and they tell me everything that they are doing. The combination of trusting them to tell me what is going on and not being able to see it, really helps. I lift my hand if I feel my gag reflex start and they back off until I’m ready.
      Fortunately we got a system worked out before I needed the root canal. I also mentally imagine that I’m doing Tai Chi movements to help distract myself. A progressive muscle relaxation podcast may help distract you.

      1. Loves Libraries*

        I get Valium for anything other than a cleaning. Staff and I are so much happier. Also love, love laughing gas!

    11. Sylvan*

      I have an issue with things being put in my mouth. Telling doctors/dentists beforehand helps, especially if there’s anything simple or easy that helps. (If you hate seeing the swab being held near your face, tell them you’re going to close your eyes?) It can be good to ask about alternatives for whatever they need to do – sometimes there is another way to do things.

    12. nnn*

      I don’t know if you’ve tried this already, but I find singing a low note while I’m being swabbed opens up the path to the point that they need to swab as much as possible. Basically emulating a basso profundo opera singer (which is particularly ridiculous since I’m a lyric soprano).

      It doesn’t eliminate the phobia or the gag reflex, but it reduces the need for tongue depressor because it gets your tongue out of the way and keeps it from fighting the swab. It’s a brief moment of ick rather than a whole battle.

        1. demosthenes*

          I know this is very late but I’m catching up. After I pushed a nurse over for taking a strep test culture, an experienced nurse gave us a tip. They gave me the cotton gauze squares to hold, one above my tongue and one under. I held with both hands on each side of my tongue and when I had a natural instinct to push the nurse or move back, I held tighter for a few seconds. Giving my mind something else to focus one helped. And I certainly wouldn’t bit my own fingers so I was able to keep my mouth open. Also generally brushing my tongue and focusing on breathing through my nose helped desensitize me in general.

  15. Detective Rosa Diaz*

    Parents of one/two-year-olds: what items or furniture would you most recommend?
    I mean:
    – bed wise, what type? I read about toddler beds but also, just a baby bed until 3yrs, and then big bed right away?
    – for clothing storage, just a drawer of do I need hanger space from the get-go
    – diaper station, and recommendations?

    – smaller items: anything a new (foster) parent might not think of but will be helpful?? Age range is likely to be 1-3yrs, and after the call it might be very fast, so I am trying to prep wherever possible.

    1. Denver Bound from NC*

      One year old mom here!

      – Everything I read says to keep them in a crib as long as you can, up to 3 years unless they are actively climbing out. Once they can leave their bed, you have permanently changed the game (have to baby proof the entire room, travel can be a bear because they won’t want to go back to sleep in a pack n play etc)

      – Drawer space is fine! We rotate through the same half dozen easy outfits that we keep right next to the changing table. We have hangers too but we just never actually use them day to day.

      – Diaper station. Don’t bother with a wipes warmer. Dries out the wipes and only warms the top couple wipes. Vaseline or Aquaphor for diaper rash. Diaper genie or Ubbi for dirty diapers.

      – if kiddo has a favorite stuffed animal/lovey BUY MORE. And rotate them all through the wash regularly so they’re equally “worn”
      – a Boon drying rack for all the tiny parts from bottles and sippy cups is great if you have the counter space to spare
      – “toys” can very very easily be plastic cups and wooden spoons and nesting bowls initially. Make your own water table with any large enough container plus random kitchen items or bath toys
      – portable sound machine! We use the Yogasleep Hushh. Perfect size and has a mini nightlight for middle of the night check ins
      – EzPz feeding mats. They suction to the table and can reduce (not eliminate…) mealtime mess

      While you’re waiting, you may find it soothing to channel some of your energy to researching kid friendly recipes or even making some foods in advance. Kiddo and I both LOVE banana pancakes so I make huge batches and freeze them. Thaw in the microwave or toaster oven for an easy meal or snack. I try to sneak veggies into everything (hint zucchini is virtually tasteless in baked goods with cinnamon and vanilla).

      Good luck!!

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        Oh, thank you so much! All of these are so helpful! I have never thought about double buying stuffed animals but that is the BEST idea :0

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Also helps for when the child’s sleep buddy gets lost… when I had to replace the magic blanket I got 3.

      2. Alexandra Lynch*

        I always just stuck the wipe in my bra while getting the kid in order; it was warm enough.

        We wound up putting the twin mattress on the floor for a bit for my youngest; he was a very active kid, even in his sleep, and that way he can’t fall off the floor, and once he is largely sleeping on the mattress, I’ll put a bed under it. Worked just fine, although it horrified my mother.

    2. Just a Guy in a Cube*

      Beds – echo stay in a crib as long as they can, and then have something ready for after. I don’t think the “big kid bed” vs toddler conversion kit matters much except that when they’re able to escape the crib you need to transition pretty quickly.
      We just did drawers with clothes separated, no need for hangers. We also just did the changing table on top of that dresser.
      Echo that toys can be anything. Plastic bowls are amazing.
      Baby gates/pack n play/bouncy chair/something to contain them while you’re doing a hot stove or have to go to the bathroom are pretty important.
      I ended up spending a lot of time in the kitchen with mine (prepping bottles/snacks/meals), and so having their space with a small table and where we could lay out toys (lots of measuring spoons, later dried beans to pour once they wouldn’t just scatter them everywhere/eat them) was really helpful. With our first, that was far enough from the oven and she stayed engaged enough with it that I could open/close the oven without needing to contain her

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        Thank you! My kitchen is ridiculously narrow so I am afraid that won’t work. But I will put a pack and play on my list; I hadn’t thought of that yet!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Cover that pack and play with a bedspread, leaving an air gap, and you are set for cold camping trips too.

    3. legalchef*

      My little dude just turned 3. A one/two year old is likely still in a crib, and as the person above me said, keep them in there until you can’t anymore! My son is still in a crib because he hasn’t shown any interest in climbing out of his “cribby.” After the crib you can either do a toddler bed or a regular bed with rails on the side so they don’t fall out. Some cribs convert to toddler beds, and they also sell separate toddler beds (though if I was going to buy a new bed I’d just buy a twin bed and rails).

      Drawers only are fine. My son doesn’t have a closet in his room, and I’m not sure he ever had anything I need to keep hanging, other than coats, and if he did I would just put it in a different closet.

      For toys, depending on how young/mobile they are, a push walker is great. Also a ride on car is great for toddlers. A pull toy that they can walk around dragging behind them. My son devours books – even when he was younger and didn’t know his letters he loved to be read to. A play kitchen, music table, mega blocks (like big legos), bristle blocks, crayons and paper, etc. See if there’s a buy-nothing group in your area, a lot of this stuff (and more) can be found there.

      Other stuff: I use ikea plates and bowls and he liked the munchkin spoons when he was younger. Drs day to avoid sippy cups; we went from bottles to Philip’s avent straw cups to munchkin 360 cups. A diaper clutch can be really useful when out.

      But in reality the biggest thing a baby that age needs besides food is love and comfort.

      1. Clisby*

        Second all the comments that the time to abandon the crib is when the toddler starts climbing out. This was at 18 months for my daughter. We moved her to a regular mattress placed right on the floor, so that even if she rolled off it there wouldn’t be much damage done. This was a king-sized mattress, and I don’t think she ever did roll off. I can’t even remember when she moved to a true bed.

      2. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        “But in reality the biggest thing a baby that age needs besides food is love and comfort.”

        Those will be very freely available!

    4. Cardsfan*

      Keep some hypoallergenic shampoo/baby wash on hand. Foster kids don’t always arrive sparkling clean, plus a bath can be soothing once some trust is established.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        If you don’t have a bathtub, a baby bath may be useful, and plenty of pouring/floating/squirting toys in bright colours. These need to be allowed to dry after every use and occasionally bleached, in both cases to prevent mould build up.

        I wouldn’t bother with special baby towels, but if your towels are very large then some slightly smaller ones might be useful – the size you’d take to the pool.

        I agree with others that drawers are far more useful than hanging space, though I think this slightly depends on wardrobe. My active sons never had dresses needing painstaking ironing, but a child with a fancier wardrobe would need hanging space. Drawer units and other heavy furniture do definitely need to be firmly fixed to the wall as they can and do kill children.

        Blackout blinds or curtains/drapes for the bedroom can be very useful to support sleep routines – you can get these everywhere but we’ve been very pleased with ours from IKEA. Again, look out for child-friendly cords and/or fix up out of reach (there are products to retrofit existing fixtures).

        Actually a trip to IKEA would be very useful if yours is open. The ANTILOP high chair is simply the best for comfort and safety in use, and for ease of cleaning, and it stores very small when not in use. An older child who doesn’t need a high chair but struggles with a regular chair can use URBAN or AGAM and we found we had far less fidgeting. You can also get a stash of KALAS flatware and cutlery in bright unbreakable plastic.

        Good luck.

        1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

          Thanks so much! Definitely building an IKEA list (they are open here, and I can do pick-up). I will probably order right when I know the actual age and some more information.

        2. Aza*

          Seconding blackout curtains if you’re able. We got ours at Target- I think they’re cloud island.

          Some kind of white noise machine is probably a good idea- it muffles the sound of you outside the room so hopefully they sleep better. We used an old iPhone with a free app for 2 years but it just died (it was probably for the best, since at 2 she definitely wanted to mess with the phone). Pink noise is nice.

          Oh, and make sure to anchor dressers, shelving, and anything else that might fall if the kid pulls or climbs on it. They sell anchors that you attach to the wall. You may also want to proactively clear out the bottom 2 shelves of bookcases (we moved our books and now store toy bins there) /bottom cabinets (or get a kid lock). We have childproof locks on any cabinets with cleaning supplies or medicine- important!

          We just installed locks for the cabinets where it’s not a safety issue, but an annoyance one (like the ones with tupperware).

          And you may want to make sure to have a thermometer and kids ibuprofen on hand.

          Depending on how your doors are you may want to make sure you can lock them/unlock them. Our inner doors have a little wire universal key that we keep above the door in case she locks herself in her room. If you have round door knobs they also have little plastic things that go over so it’s harder for them to open. We have levered doors but can use the deadbolt.

          1. Um, yeah, no*

            Toddlers can be wily, I recommend literally crawling around the house to spot dangers a kid might get in to (cords, breakables, etc). Also, move breakable items now, and make sure kids room is kid safe always. I had to have a lockable dresser, because one kid was monkey- like in his ability to climb or turn things into climbing gyms. He was moved out of the crib and onto a mattress on the floor at a year.

      2. Renèe*

        Yes! I was a foster parent for many years. Another thing you never think of is lice treatment. We had several placements come with lice. I am a big fan of Fairytales lice shampoo and leave in spray and a robicomb.

        1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

          Thank you, and Cardsfan! Yet another thing I hadn’t thought of yet.
          The kiddo wil likely have been in care for some time due to how the system works here (only crisis placements arrive virtually out of the blue, and I am up for long term only), but those are good items to have on hand regardless. And now my head is itchy due to imaginary lice :’)

    5. Nancy*

      My children have only ever had drawers; they’ve never needed any hanging space, apart from hooks for coats. I have a feeling that mine were 2-2.5 when they moved to a big bed. Basically when they were able to climb out of the cot on their own. For me the most important thing about bedding has been the waterproof mattress protector – makes it so much easier to deal with accidents (still true – like the time I managed to throw coffee all over MY bed!).

      1. RagingADHD*

        Also, get some of those waterproof crib pads or incontinence pads. When they are potty training in the big kid bed, you can make the bed in lasange layers: waterproof, a towel, fitted sheet.

        That way when they wet the bed, you can just snatch off a layer and put them back to sleep. If you have to remake the bed from scratch, everyone will be too awake to go back down.

    6. Ranon*

      For a bed, we just use a floor bed (i.e. mattress on the floor). Can’t fall out of a floor bed. Once he started trying to climb out of the crib (around 15 months?) we started with the crib mattress on the floor and upgraded to a folding foam mattress when the toddler made the executive decision that that was where he sleeps now (we were using it as a spare when the grownups got sick/ needed to sleep separately). Downsides are it’s hard to get up from for the grownups and no storage underneath. Keeping them in the crib is all fine and well but once they’re climbing it’s not safe and you won’t know if you’ll get a climber or not so best to plan on not being able to contain them I think.

      My child is 3.5 and I’ve never hung up a piece of his clothing for any reason other than drying it, a dresser works great and can double as a changing table, although with a toddler of unknown flailing for diaper changes I’d make sure you have a good floor plan for diaper changes (again, can’t fall off the floor)

      Toys can multiply fast so something to chuck them in is good- we have an Ikea trofast thingy but I think if I were doing it again I’d just get a few tub trugs, hard plastic gets dragged over our hardwood floors in a way the softer plastics don’t. Plus you can use them for laundry baskets or gardening or baths or whatever too (the tub trugs that is)

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        To echo the floor bed idea, a large dog bed actually makes a great toddler bed once they are out of the crib. Sounds weird but true and often very affordable. They are usually easy to clean and designed (sometimes) for dogs with arthritis so are pretty comfortable. You can have one in your room to keep the toddler out of your bed or for travel.

      2. allathian*

        My son absolutely refused to lie down on the changing table once he was old enough to walk and we switched to pull-up diapers. So if your foster kid is slightly older, you may get away with not having a changing table.
        My son never tried to climb out of his crib, but we switched to a toddler bed when he was 3 and he grew too heavy for me to lift above waist height.

    7. Parenthetically*

      Bed: I have a pack and play with a snug-fitting mattress in it for my almost-three-year-old, and he’s been in it since he outgrew his bassinet. It’s sized for a fitted crib sheet — no blankets or pillows as long as they’re in a crib, is the rule — but it’s fully waterproof.

      Changing: We’ve always had a diaper changing pad on top of a low dresser as our changing stations, but plenty of people just throw a towel on the bed or the couch or the floor and have a little basket of diaper things in each room.

      Misc: I HIGHLY recommend the LectroFan Micro as a sound machine — it’s cheap, charges fast (no plug-in = no problems if your power goes out with summer storms), has a variety of sounds, lasts all night easily, is portable in case you need to do a nap on the go, and is about the size of a jar of eye cream.

    8. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Once you do move them out of the crib, don’t bother buying a fancy toddler bed. Especially if you need to hand the crib down to someone. Just go to a twin. Otherwise, you’ll have to buy a twin mattress in a couple years once they outgrow the crib mattress. If you want to put the crib mattress on the floor, or borrow a frame, go for it. But you’ve got better things to spend your money on than a specific toddler sized bed that will only fit for a year or 3.

    9. HBJ*

      My children sleep in a pack n’ play until the next baby needs it, lol. So, my 3yo moved out of it just past two. We moved her to a twin mattress on the floor. I didn’t see a point in spending money on a toddler bed that will only be used for a little while, whereas she can use the twin until she’s 18 or it wears out. We still will go get her in the morning or at naps and find her flopped halfway off the bed occasionally, so I have no idea when we’ll move it onto a frame.

      Drawers I’m sure will be fine. Personally, I use hangars for dresses and nice clothes that are prone to wrinkle, which isn’t a lot.

      I’ve never had a diaper station. It’d be nice, but I tend to just change them on a blanket on the floor. Occasionally, we’ve had a wide counter in the bathroom, and I’d have that set up with a heavy blanket down.

    10. Aza*

      My 2 year old is in a crib & keeping her there til she climbs! We have the Ikea Sundvik- you can remove one side to make a toddler bed. Or another option is just a mattress on the floor- I have friends who did that with their kids- no falling out! If you have a crib mattress, you could just use that if the crib doesn’t work because they climb.

      For diaper changing we just have a changing pad on top of the dresser. We looked for a lower dresser because of this. We got the Graco Kendall dresser- not great quality, but fine. I highly recommend wipeable changing pad covers. Target has “cloud island” wipeable changing pad covers for like $15 so you can wipe them down vs having to wash them all the time. They can still be machine washed, which I do maybe every couple of weeks.

      We don’t really use hangers, just the dresser. It’s actually more helpful for us to have shelving in the closet for toys and shoes and whatnot.

      And thanks for fostering!

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        Oh, I saw the Sundvik! Thanks for your recommendations! No Target here, but that sounds like a super useful thing, so gonna google to find something similar here. I imagine “wipeable” and “machine washable” are gonna be my two new favorite words soon :’)

        1. Natalie*

          You can also find changing pads that are themselves wipeable, no covers needed.

          For a dresser, check Craigslist if that’s a thing in your area. Kid sized, changing height dressers seem to be common and affordable – we just bought one for $60. Look for something 3-4 feet tall depending on how tall you are. Having to bend over will get old fast.

    11. Triumphant Fox*

      2 year old mom.

      Agree on keeping them in a crib. We will convert this crib to a toddler bed and then see. There is also the Montessori method of having a mattress on the floor, with the idea that they can get up for water and toileting and to access their room without help or danger.

      In choosing a crib, I wanted all wood since I went down a rabbit hole of research into scary chemicals in cribs. Ikea had an inexpensive one that has held up well. Our child never chewed on the crib but some do. We also cared about the mattress. I got a Newton breathable one because I was paranoid but an organic one would also have worked.

      We got the IKEA Hemnes drawers, which was the perfect height to put a changing pad on top.we have loved that setup. I got a lot of drawer dividers, which is a huge help when all their things are so little. We do have hanging space, but just for jackets. People tend to hang dresses and dress shirts, so think about how fancy your kid’s clothes will be.

      We got a three tiered rolling cart which has worked great for diaper supplies. I also hung some basket shelves next to the changing station so creams and supplies are within reach.

    12. Sparkly Librarian*

      I have a 14-month-old, and find that she needs so much less “stuff” than a younger baby. We use a mini-crib for sleeping and a pack’n’play for some of the hanging out in the living room. Also have a pack’n’play set up under shade in the backyard, so I can put her in there while I water plants and do gardening (and then take her out when I can supervise closely).

      Top of my list for you would be several lightweight bins or small laundry baskets to make cleanup easy at the end of the day. IKEA’s good for that, and so is a store like Bed, Bath, and Beyond or Target. Mine has one for toys in each room she plays in, and one for books in the nursery and the living room. And I have a small one for the outfits that currently fit her, and in the closet several more for other sizes.

      Somewhere safe to put the kid down (pack’n’play, fenced off area, or crib) while you cook or run to the bathroom.

      Somewhere to change the kid (I’ve never used a changing table, just the floor/couch/bed with a washable cloth laid underneath) and something portable to put diapering supplies in, like a plastic bath caddy, and a diaper pail.

      A backpack or bag with zippered pockets for when you go out (consider the park and store but also doctor appointments, visitation, etc.).

      I like having two dishes, two bowls with the suction cup on the bottom, and two sippy cups for water (Take & Toss are the easiest). And some kid-sized spoons and a fork. That’s enough that I don’t have to wash right before or after every meal (hate for hungry kiddo to wait) but they can’t really pile up.

    13. Natalie*

      One thing I didn’t see suggested yet – if you have hardwood floors, get a good rug for the floor of kiddo’s room. You want something comfortable (both fabric texture and cushion) to sit on since you’ll probably hang out on the floor a lot.

    14. Detective Rosa Diaz*

      Another general question:
      currently the room that will be the kid’s room is kinda my library. It has two tall and two short IKEA Billy’s and is pretty packed. I am doing a grand culling regardless, but how safe is it to try to keep one or two there (just, as someone suggested, with the bottom two shelves cleared)? The house is pretty cramped and has a lot of corners and slated ceilings and I am doing a lot of mind tetris about this :’)

      1. allathian*

        We’re book people and we’ve always had bookshelves, even when our kid was small. Admittedly, most of our library was in the master bedroom upstairs when he was at the toddler stage.
        Some kids need more baby proofing than others, ours never tried to pull books out of the bookshelf. My husband when he was a kid would try to climb the bookshelf if the opportunity arose.

        Be sure to attach your Billy to the wall if you haven’t already, Ikea’s pretty good with child safety these days. You could even fill the bottom shelves with something appropriate for the toddler.

      2. Aza*

        I think it’s fine as long as they’re anchored to the wall!
        And just looked again at our bookshelves- we’ve cleared the bottom 3 shelves. But she definitely accesses the bottom 2 the most. As she’s gotten taller she’s just been able to access more in general (we’ve had to clear off our kitchen table from things like the fruit bowl, for example, but the counter is mostly fine for now), so things may change depending on both the height of the kid and how quickly they grow.

        Oh & you’re probably thinking of this, but some sort of baby monitor, depending on location of rooms. We have an audio only monitor which is cheaper but sometimes I wish we had a video monitor to see what she’s doing in her room without going in there.

      3. Ranon*

        I would absolutely anchor to the walls. I’d plan on needing to clear the bottom three shelves, we certainly did (we were one of those houses where all surfaces were empty of things from pulling to stand until 3, friends with less exploring/ slightly destructive kiddos got to keep things on their shelves)

        I’d also make sure there’s nothing precious on the shelves- toddlers are tough on stuff generally and you’re going to have toddlers that have had a tougher time in life than many- big emotions sometimes come out in big ways and those ways aren’t always easy on things like books. Also watch the shelf pegs that the Billy bookcases have, I pulled all the shelves from our small one in our kiddo’s room for a while because my kiddo could move the shelves and get to the shelf pins. Now he’s 3.5 and doesn’t put everything in his mouth anymore we’ve let him have the shelves back.

      4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Echoing what everyone has said about anchoring to the wall, but also …

        Children climb. You turn your back for twenty seconds and jolly moley how did you get up there?! A bookcase is basically a ladder with deep rungs. No doubt the child will be able to climb them. I would consider moving the taller ones to another room, but the ones that are shorter, meh, maybe? It would be great if you could clear the bottom shelves for children’s books and/or toys.

    15. Aza*

      Last comment:) A lot of parenting is adjusting on the fly. You’re clearly conscientious- you’ll adjust as you need, and do what works for you and your kid! If there’s something you haven’t thought of (of course there will be!) you’ll address it at the time.

      You’ve got this!

    16. Former Foster Parent*

      You should check your local requirements for guidance on the bed – Montessori beds (mattress on the floor) are not allowed for foster children in my jurisdiction. (We switched to that basically the day after we adopted our former foster child!)

      We use Ikea trofast for both toy and clothing storage.

      One thing I did was make a make Amazon list of all the cool (or boring, necessary) things I saw for each age group. Then when we got a call, I ran to Target for the things we needed for that first day and hit “add to cart” for the things we could wait 2 days to be delivered.

      I also bought a car seat that can go from 4 lbs to 65 lbs and just had that on hand.

      Learn from my mistake – I was “all set” and then when I had a one year old in my car, I realized I didn’t have any socks or pajamas? I should have made a literal check list.

      Best of luck on your new adventure!

  16. MistOrMister*

    Cat post!!! My cats really enjoy their backyard time (fenced yard, supervised only). Murderfloof 1 runs around when she sees something worth hunting, chatters warnings, etc., but has never managed to catch anything. Murderfloof 2 does the same and has caught a few creatures. Both Murderfloofs love their indoor playtime and attack the bejesus out of the toys, but 2 might be a smidge more murdery. Has anyone had a cat that is alert and seems to want to catch something but never manages? Maybe her heart isn’t really in it since she’s well fed. But I find it a little odd that they’re not on the same page huntingwise.

    Side note – I keep an eye on both murderfloofs and actively shoo off the chipmunks and birds so they’re not in danger, but once in a while one comes out of nowhere and the floofs get to them. We’ve only lost 1 bird (darn cat leapt up and caught it in midair, which I was not prepared for!!), everything else has been released back to the outside. I am absolutely 1000% not encouraging the floofs to attack anything other than their toys.

    1. Tybalt*

      I think that they vary hugely – Where I live it’s normal for cats to have free access to the outdoors, and mine have always had a lot of variation in what & how much they catch. Since yours don’t get a lot of opportunity to hunt it may be that she is just a slower learner, or has a shorter attention span and gives up more quickly.

    2. username required*

      I think it just varies from cat to cat. Lil Dude was a tiny feral rescue kitten – turned up on my doorstep demanding LOUDLY to be fed :0) super affectionate but would hang upside down on the catflap and try and eat through it if I tried to lock him in. Even though he was well fed he hunted and brought things back occasionally which I was usually able to save. Lil Dudette I had as an older rescue – she was dumped in the car park at probably 6 months old – if she gets anything while hunting it’s purely by dumb luck and I rescue them and take them away from her – she’ll then stay in the same spot for the next 10 mins looking at me and looking at the spot expecting the rescued gekko to reappear!

    3. Asenath*

      I agree that cats vary a lot in their hunting skills. I’ve heard that it has to do with how long they spent with their mother and how good she was at teaching them to hunt – and also, of course, whether she needed to teach them. At one point, I let my cats outside, and I was convinced that the two felines in residence at the time would starve if food didn’t appear in bowls at regular intervals. But they – or one of them – could hunt better than I expected, as I found out when I found scraps of one of the mice which very rarely made its way into the house I was living in then. But on another occasion, they seemed unable to finish off a mouse, which I “rescued” – it probably didn’t last long outside; it didn’t seem to be physically injured but did seem quite shaken.

      There weren’t actually that many mice in that old place, but it was the kind of place that was old and impossible to mouse-proof. The previous tenants had poison everywhere. I got rid of the poison, moved in with my cats, and almost never saw a mouse. Most of them were smart enough to stay out of the living space when they smelled cats and I tried not to think what they might be doing behind the walls.

    4. GoryDetails*

      Mine seem to prefer “hunting” as a game – the longer the prey darts around, the more enjoyment for the cats. They’re indoor-only, so the only times they get live prey involve insects or the occasional mouse that got inside, but then it’s circus time! Recently the three of them spent over 24 hours hunting a hapless mouse in and out of the stacks of Things I Need To Put Away Real Soon Now, and while it’s possible that they couldn’t actually catch it because they got in each other’s way, I suspect they just found it more amusing to maintain the hunt. [I eventually cornered it and evicted it myself, since the poor thing must have been exhausted.]

      Side note: if the cats do catch and eat prey, keep an eye out for parasites; in the past I’ve had cats acquire tapeworms or fleas from contact with wild mice or chipmunks.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I’ve heard that the reason cats play with their prey is to wear out the prey so the cats can safely get close enough to administer a kill bite. If a cat tries to do this to a mouse who isn’t already exhausted, the cat might get hurt.

      2. I'm just here for the cats*

        Cats definitely play with their prey, especially indoor cats that dont need to hunt. My oldest cat when she was much younger caught a mouse and was flipping it up in the air and letting it slam back on the floor. Kind of like what killer whales do to seals. (She does the same thing with h err r toys). It was very sickening, especially at 7am when I was eating my breakfast !

    5. Anxious cat servant*

      Aww, sounds like they’re living their best lives with you. I have one cat who loves being outside (supervised, fenced yard) and thinks of himself as the Greatest Hunter Ever. But … he’s really not. He gets too excited and starts wiggling his butt, scattering all prey before he can get close. I don’t think he’s gotten within a couple feet of any smaller animals in all his time outdoors. It’s a good thing humans and canned food exist otherwise this sweet boy would be in trouble.

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      In cats that are well fed, it comes down to their prey drive, combined with physical ability. Some cats are just less skilled. It’s thus very common to see a range of outcomes.

      Also, it might just be the type of prey. Arwen will stalk a lot of things, but she really only goes after rodents. So I think she’s killed 2-3 birds in her 12 years, but I’m sure we’re well into the triple digits of rodents (mice, chipmunks, voles, shrews, etc. I wish she’d find the moles!). Sibley had a fascination with lizards. I don’t think she ever killed any, but she caught a bunch. But Sibley wasn’t much of a hunter in general.

    7. Impska*

      I think it depends on the mother’s ability to teach them as kittens. My two cats were born indoors as fosters and neither is able to hunt. Their mothers weren’t able to demonstrate live prey. One of them will kill and eat bugs.

      The other shows every inclination of hunting, like yours, including being aggressive with toys, but can’t pull the trigger on actually catching anything. The thing is, we once had mice in our house and the only reason we knew was because she would find and chase them. She was obsessed with them and would open live traps to let them out to play with them some more. At one point, she cornered the mouse in an empty room and someone shut the door. She was in there for 5 hours with this mouse and still never killed it. Poor little thing practically threw itself into a trap when it was presented.

      During this whole period, kitty would behead her toy mice at night and leave the headless toys in her food dish. So some kind of instinctual connection was made that she wasn’t able to convert to real prey. She actually only beheads her toys and stores them in the food dish when she sees live prey up close.

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        Is the toy-food dish thing common? Our sweet and extremely stupid cat has one or two toys she loves past all reason, and occasionally we’ll find them right in front of her food dish. We joke that she’s making a sacrifice to make her beloved kibs appear, but I’ve always wondered if there’s some kind of small prey-food connection her tiny brain is making in there.

        1. Wander*

          From what I understand, cats consider their food dishes to be a safe place, so sometimes they put toys there for safe keeping. It’s definitely not an uncommon behavior. One of my cats also has a toy she loves beyond all else, and she’ll put it in the middle of her food dish sometimes. (And then sometimes forget she put it there and wander around looking for it. She’s also not very bright.) Another isn’t attached to any one specific toy, but I’ve seen him play with one for a while, notice another cat watching him, and put the toy in the water bowl when he’s ready to take a break to do other important cat things. If there’s no other cat around, he’ll just leave it where it lands, but any other cat takes interest? Into the water every time. He considers it his (despite the fact that all the cats have access to the same food and water bowls, and the cat noted above will readily fish toys out of the water), and thus it’s safe to leave things there.

    8. KR*

      My cat has tried to catch a bird once on her supervised playtime. I don’t think the bird was worried for a second, she was way too slow. She has caught bugs easily but is not interested in eating them and after poking them she loses interest. I feel bad sometimes that her natural killer instincts are just… Not there.. but she is also well fed and could probably kill and eat something with a bit of practice if she wanted to.

    9. allathian*

      My parents’ two cats lived to be 16. They were allowed outside on a leash, but even so, each of them managed to catch at least one vole each. They killed them, but didn’t attempt to eat them.

    1. Helvetica*

      Sorry, didn’t mean to make it necessarily about work! Hopefully it’s okay if I rephrase – what is some activity you enjoy that is more or less universally considered boring or tedious? For me, it’s any kind of data entry. I find it relaxing, not tedious at all, so even some of my hobbies include some element of data entry. For similar reasons, I also really like ironing, which I find also really soothing and unwinding for my mind.

      1. Asenath*

        I’ve heard that a lot of people feel that way about ironing. I don’t, but I’ve always found repetitive activities soothing and relaxing. I used to find sewing that way, if it wasn’t the kind of pattern I had to puzzle through. Jigsaw puzzles are good, and so are the kinds of computer games in which you do the same thing over and over again – patience/solitaire, the rpg-type where you do repetitive stuff rather than working through quests and so on.

        1. Reba*

          But seeing is like 70% ironing! ;)

          I don’t love ironing per se, but I do like making bias binding, it’s one of those oddly satisfying things.

          1. Asenath*

            I remember learning for the first time that you could make your own bias binding, from a quilting teacher. It was fascinating to discover that you could produce bias binding that matches your material perfectly because it was the same material! And yes, ironing is an essential part of sewing, but sewing nice simple straight seams, focusing only on getting them straight – that can be relaxing. So can knitting and crochet, unless it’s one of those complicated patterns and you notice a dozen rows on that you made a mistake which means the pattern is now noticeably off. Maybe I should get back to crafts.

      2. LDN Layabout*

        Washing the dishes. A good sponge and brush, access to hot water/washing up liquid, rubber gloves.

        I fine it weirdly satisfying/relaxing.

      3. 2QS*

        Most chores I find are chores, but I love sorting things. I sometimes reorganize the closet for fun, because it means going through all the boxes. Most people see my place and think I’m a neat freak, but for me it’s not about uptightness at all – quite the opposite. I get agitated when things aren’t in predictable places, or when there’s way too much clutter. Addressing those things creates a sense of calm.

      4. Animal worker*

        Hosing, or more rare but even better – pressure washing. Something relaxing and zen-like about it to me. I’ve spent my career in the animal care field and some people seem to really like hosing, others raking/sweeping. I definitely fall into the former category.

      5. Anonymosity*

        Stuffing envelopes at work. Folding the papers and making a pile, then putting them all in, then sealing all the envelopes. It’s very satisfying.

        Outside work, any kind of folding (towels, napkins, etc.). I don’t mind ironing, unless I’m doing it last-minute and am in a hurry. My mom used to let us iron pillowcases when I was a kid so we could learn how to do it.

      6. allathian*

        I hate ironing to the point that the only thing I iron is our party tablecloth that’s used for Christmas dinner. All my clothes are wrinkle-free without ironing. I do have one or two blouses that need ironing but they stay in the closet because I can’t be bothered. My husband doesn’t iron his shirts either, they don’t need to be ironed if you shake them out and put them on a hanger. We don’t have a tumble dryer so it works for us. We never do black tie events where a pure white, ironed shirt is essential.

        My favorite chores are filling and emptying the dishwasher and hanging and sorting laundry. Doing that gives me a sense of achievement for some reason.

    2. Nancy*

      I quite like ironing too! Although I don’t actually own one myself. But when I’m staying with my mum I quite often do her ironing. I quite enjoy filing, too. I recently spent hours happily organizing my partner’s paperwork into a lovely, alphabetised filing system. Bank statements, bills, and on through to ‘U’. I feel like taking a photo of my achievement!

  17. Layla*

    I am not sure if this should go in the work thread or not but here goes. Feel free to delete if this is the wrong place. Some days I am alone at work and it can be hard to find time to eat between the customers. (Paid lunchbreak because it is understood that you will be eating between serving customers. No need to comment on this aspect.)

    What are some meals that you can eat/swallow quickly that doesn’t necessarily need to go in the fridge? I was thinking some sort of smoothie or the like but I am not sure it will fill me up and I would need to put it in the fridge when I get interrupted because I don’t know for long I will be interrupted. I have been eating sandwiches but if I am not conscious of taking small bites, of course a customer will come right at that moment and there I am emerging with my mouth full of food. Most are understanding and laugh it off and I hold a hand in front of my mouth but there are going to be people upset at me talking to them while trying to get the food down as fast as possible.

    1. Denver Bound from NC*

      You may have some luck researching the snacks that breastfeeding moms eat since (almost by definition!) we are very hungry, very tired, and trying to squeeze in food at odd hours. I personally got a lot of mileage out of making sure I had foods I could eat with one hand or which were already bite sized for easy snacking. The more prep you can do beforehand, the easier it will be during your actual meal. Pancakes and waffles can be frozen and then reheated in a microwave or toaster oven and they’re fine at room temperature too. Fruits like bananas and grapes can be easy too. Sliced peppers and celery. Bagged popcorn. Nuts/trail mix. Lunch doesn’t have to be one “meal” but can instead be a collection of snacks that are easy to graze on. Good luck!

      1. Pennyworth*

        I love finger sandwhiches, and you can cut them across into squares just the right size to just pop into your mouth and eat quickly.

    2. Jaid*

      Soup in a thermos. Granola bars.

      Smoothies can have peanut butter or tofu, quinoa, oatmeal, etc to be filling. Hemp seeds, chia seeds, different nuts… Use a thermos to keep it cold.

      1. Anonyme*

        I second this option. I do smoothies in a thermos at the nursing station since I expect not to have breaks and to be constantly interrupted. They stay cold several hours. I usually add nuts for protein.

    3. Pinkbasil*

      I’d probably go full squirrel. Little packets of crackers, nuts, berries, a cheese stick, a couple cookies. Anything that can be eaten little bits at a time and swallowed quickly.

      1. pieforbreakfast*

        I do this all the time, I call it Adult Lunchables- crackers, cheese, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, nuts. Add some cured meat if that’s your thing.
        Make sure there’s some protein (nuts, nutbutter, dairy, boiled egg, etc…) so the afternoon isn’t a slog.

      2. blaise zamboni*

        +1. I used to love Babybel cheese for exactly this purpose.

        Can you make cracker sandwiches, ie peanut butter/cheese/meats + Ritz (or whatever)? It’s a little messy and you can still get caught up by customers, but the crackers are small enough that you can’t really get a huge mouth full of food so I imagine it would be better. I’ve also heard that hard-boiled eggs are good for this situation.

        Whole raw almonds are my go-to for easy, inconspicuous snacking, but you could also do that with sunflower seeds, pistachios (I hear there are flavored, deshelled versions), etc. You may also look at healthier chips, like popped varieties or even making your own kale chips or etc. You can make roasted chickpeas with a lot of different flavors, which also gives you some protein. Chopped carrots are a nice crunchy snack, especially if you can swing keeping hummus nearby.

        I sympathize with you; it can be really hard to find healthy, easy snacks for situations like yours. If you find something that works well for you, please report back! :)

    4. MistOrMister*

      Cottage cheese and fruit or yogurt and fruit (with or without granola) can both be eaten fairly guickly and can be filling. If you have one of those blender bottles with the flip lid, you can make and freeze smoothies and then let them stand at room temperature until you’re ready to drink them. I like to grind up oatmeal into powder and add that to smoothies to give them more heft. Wraps hold well a lot of the time and can make a welcome change from sandwiches. Rice and cooked vegetables is generally fairly easy to eat and swallow quickly.

    5. Jack Russell Terrier*

      Look for canopes and finger food recipes that appeal. They will tend to be small and easy to manage.

  18. Nonny for this*

    I know quite a few posters here have said about being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult – I was wondering if anyone would mind saying how they went about getting that diagnosis and if it made things easier in your life afterwards?

    I’ve always thought I was just a lazy procrastinator but I’ve been looking into what ADHD looks like in girls and women for the past few months and it’s looking very familiar! It would explain many of the issues I’ve been having with work and my studies (I’m a part time mature student), and have been slowly failing at both :(

    I am in the UK, and while I know most here are in the US I don’t know how much difference having the NHS makes with this?

    1. Anónima*

      Waves! Hi, not ADHD diagnosed, but probably got it, and am recently diagnosed autistic.
      Go to your GP to ask for a referral and then you will see a psychiatrist and OT or specialist nurse.

      What I did with my initial inquiry was take the triad of impairments for autism for the doctor and list how I felt I was struggling in each area (I wrote this down because by the time I got there I was sobbing and couldn’t speak).

      Anyway, it may be helpful for your doctor to read if you go through the diagnostic criteria for ADHD and write down specifically how you are having problems in each area. This gives you some structure but it also gives your GP, who presumably doesn’t know you that well especially if you have been masking, a framework to make the referral. I know my GP kept the things I wrote and used it to write her reasons for sending me for a diagnosis.

      All the best!

      1. Anónima*

        And I am STILL waiting for the official report, but it has made my life easier knowing, yeah. I am kinder to myself and feel a bit more like my insides match my outsides now, which is how everyone should feel :-)
        And when I get report I will be able to ask for reasonable accommodations at work and at uni.

      2. Anónima*

        Sorry, this is going to be along thread if I keep writing a different answer every time I think of another point (I did say I am probably ADHD though!) but one thing I had to do after I got an autism referral was complete a form about past behaviours which involved asking family for input.

        The idea is that they will have insight into how you were as a child. I did ask my mum for some info, but I was also aware that families can rewrite history and, moreover, if I was masking (which I was) how would they know what I was really thinking? I am an incredibly good social and linguistic mimic, with excellent communication abilities. My family asked me about this – did the professionals mention your communication because it is really good, and therefore you can’t be autistic?
        So working against that bias was hard too.
        I ended up going on my own to the appointment, and letting the med staff know that I was going to do that and why.
        The process is the same for ADHD in the NHS. It’s worth it though. It’s a long waiting list, but if you go private it is £1000+.

        Anyway, have you seen this: https://www.clinical-partners.co.uk/insights-and-news/adult-adhd-aspergers/item/adhd-in-women-why-is-it-so-undiagnosed
        This is really good.

        1. Nonny for this*

          Anónima, thanks so so much for your answers! This is really helpful, and you’ve clocked some of the concerns I hadn’t quite been able to articulate (especially around how/if to ask my family for input). I’ll make an appointment with my GP and go from there – hopefully won’t need to go private with that cost, ooof!

          1. Anónima*

            I’m so glad this was helpful. I wish you all the best, Nonny, and if you want to update us I would love to hear how you get on!

    2. rubble*

      I’m in Australia so can’t speak about NHS or whatever. anyway (oh boy, this ended up long. sorry!).

      I would say that it’s certainly helped me understand more why I behave the way I do, and it’s helped to embrace certain behaviours that are helpful but that I was suppressing because I thought teaching myself to cope without them was “learning to adult.”

      I take stimulant medications and it makes a small but noticeable difference. Here there’s a significant lack of psychologists that treat adult-diagnosed ADHD, so it’s been hard for me to get actual therapy to help manage/improve my time and attention management. Thus I haven’t made a huge amount of progress yet. Meds help me complete tasks but don’t help me start them *shrug emoji*. I do know some people who, once getting medication, felt an immediate and significant improvement in attention management, though, so it’s different for everyone!

      I’m a part time student too, but I’m still in my 20s and am barely working because I just don’t have the mental energy for all it at once. What the diagnosis does allow me to do is get what we call an Education Inclusion Plan (EIP) that allows me accommodations for assignments (usually extensions). I don’t have to have an excuse, I just say “hey here’s my extension application, here’s my EIP” and they basically have to approve it. If I was working in an office setting maybe I would be able to get reasonable accommodations to adjust my workspace or something to help me work, but I haven’t had to try that yet. Try not to think of your worth or mental health “improvement” in terms of how productive you are. It’s an easy way to make yourself an anxious wreck :(

      Here the process is: talk to your GP > get a referral to a psychiatrist > talk to the psychiatrist (I took a lot of notes with me, quotes from articles and the diagnosis criteria. I didn’t need all of it but it made me feel better) > get prescription for meds and/or a referral for a general psychologist (which I already had)/ADHD coach (a life coach!! because there’s no other options!!) > see how you go.

      It took maybe 3 months for me to go from zero to medication, but I feel like I’m always hearing about long wait times for the NHS so that might be an issue. I would definitely look for a psychologist or therapist if you can get in to see them quicker than a psychiatrist, they might not be able to diagnose but they can help you organise your thoughts at the very least, so you’re prepared.

    3. Sarah*

      My husband was diagnosed with ADD about two years ago. He got a referral from our family doctor to a specialist (sorry, I can’t remember what type). It wasn’t covered by our provincial healthcare, so the cost was around $1500-$1600 Canadian. Husband went for several sessions to the specialist, and I came in for one session and was asked a bunch of questions too. He got the diagnosis and went on Vivance (sp?). That made a big difference, BUT it’s still challenging. The doctor recommended some cognitive behavioural therapy, which husband hasn’t followed up on. And while a diagnosis is helpful it doesn’t make the struggle go away. The medication helps with focus a lot, but it doesn’t “cure” it. Overall, I’m really glad we did it.

    4. Lemon Meringue Pie*

      There are some charities that support people with ADHD – i bet they’d be able to advise you and maybe have some useful info?

    5. Anonymous for this*

      I was diagnosed in college (in the U.S.). Unfortunately I don’t have tips for going about getting a formal evaluation since mine nearly didn’t happen. The evaluator looked over my transcript and seemed prepared to dismiss my concerns about struggling with class work, specifically lengthy reading assignments, because my grades were fine. (As an aside, this reasoning has led to delayed diagnoses for many other women I know. Good grades don’t mean you don’t have ADHD!) He only went ahead because I mentioned some symptoms that prompted him to consider ADHD out of an abundance of caution, and thank goodness he did.

      The diagnosis made a positive difference in three ways: accommodations (the only one I asked for was not being assigned a seat in the very back row of a lecture hall, but I am not sure the school would have agreed without the official diagnosis); access to a learning specialist retained by my university, who helped me with strategies for course work; and medication. I no longer take it, but found it useful while I was a full time student. The medication I found helpful is a controlled substance here, and in my experience doctors around universities are mindful that some people seek ADHD medication to use as a “study aid” when they do not actually have a condition requiring treatment with the medication. A formal diagnosis (and history of several doctors confirming it) enabled me to take my concerns to the university psychiatrist with less fear of being labeled as drug-seeking.

      1. lazy intellectual*

        I finally got around to making an appointment to finally start seeking an ADHD diagnosis. I’m afraid I won’t be taken seriously. SO MANY of what I experience lines up with ADHD symptoms (particularly the inattentive type), but if you look at my life, it doesn’t seem like it. I remember telling a friend about how I suspected I had ADHD and she immediately dismissed it because “I was good in school.” I also have reasons to suspect ASD as well, but I mask heavily and am pretty sure no one would bother considering it.

        1. rubble*

          being good at school and then struggling once you have to manage without that structure is a very common adhd thing!

    6. space cadet*

      I was lucky that my therapist saw the symptoms in me first, but the next few steps were to read a bunch of books about it and get a referral to a neuropsych testing place, personally. The books helped immediately to understand what was happening! And there is a huge ADHD / neurodiverse community on Twitter that I’m still learning from three years after my diagnosis.

    7. Natalie*

      I’m in the US and I saw a neuropsychiatrist and did a couple of hours of testing.

      I found it helpful in two ways – strategies and meds. It was helpful to me to know that I wasn’t struggling with sitting meditation or remembering tasks because I just wasn’t trying hard enough or doing it right, and that I could find alternatives (active meditation and extensive to do lists, respectively). I also pursued meds. There are non-stimulant options if you’re hesitant about Ritalin, although oddly now that I’m breastfeeding apparently Ritalin is considered safer. Go figure.

    8. KoiFeeder*

      Not ADHD myself, but just popping in here to say that “laziness” as a concept is incredibly fake. No one is lazy. People can be stuck, or incapable of doing things, or just in the wrong situation, but they’re not lazy.

    9. Oldbiddy*

      I’m in the US and not formally diagnosed. I’ve probably been ADD all my life, but between getting good grades and picking a career that meshed well with my ability to hyperfocus on things I like, I slipped through the cracks until perimenopause hit and wrecked havoc with my hyperfocus.
      When I had my physical a few months ago, I asked my primary care physician about what steps I should take to get a diagnosis. She suggested I try Wellbutrin (ADD is one of its off-label uses) and see if it helped. For me, it helps a lot with focus, although it’s not a cure-all. It doesn’t help with procrastination but it does help me with constantly flitting from one thing to the next.
      The first weekend I started taking it I deep cleaned my bedroom and bathroom and wrote a two page review for work when I’d normally do half a page and get really bored. A week later we went into lockdown due to COVID. I managed ok-ish with working from home, so I consider that a win.

    10. RagingADHD*

      I’m in the US. I asked my GP about it. She referred me to a psychologist, who dx’ed me based on taking a verbal history & asking about symptoms & how they affect me. So really, just an hour of conversation.

      The meds have helped me tremendously with work, with managing stuff like my bills and calendar, and with enjoying situations I previously found overstimulating and hard to tolerate, like block parties or school assemblies for the kids.

      My kids also find me much less crabby and volatile, because I can cope with interruptions or distractions without totally losing the thread of what I was doing.

      But above that, learning about ADHD has released me from *so much* internalized shame, blame, and unproductive striving. It’s allowed me to overcome magical thinking and be realistic about what matters & what doesn’t, what works & what doesn’t.

      And it’s allowed me to focus on results, so I can change my methods rather than constantly rehashing the eternal project of trying to “fix myself.”

      My life is so much more free and satisfying, even in areas that didn’t show huge visible improvements.

    11. Alexandra Lynch*

      The diagnosis was really helpful. It’s not me being difficult or stuffing up just for randomness, I have a brain that has issues with certain things. And it let me relax and just use the lifestyle interventions. My purse goes here. My keys go here. I plan things and do things in order and in a routine, and it’s okay, I don’t HAVE to be spontaneous and scattered, I can just set a boundary for my health and tell people that I have to do things this way, and it really helps.

      I also take stimulant medication, and what it does is it turns down the noise of everything in my head, and lets me focus on just one thing a lot easier. I can also remember what I was doing with the glass in my hand all the way from the sitting room to the kitchen. (grin)

  19. Blue wall*

    I’m confused by photos I see on social of people not distancing, having events, etc. Is this a thing that it is ok to do now, in some places? I live in NC and our case count is rising so very cautious here. What’s it like where you are?

    1. LGC*

      Short story: yes, a lot of people did consider it okay. (I’m not going to get into the politics.)

      Where I’m at (in northern NJ, just outside NYC), it seems like we’re still fairly cautious. I’ve seen some small get-togethers, but nothing really big. Nothing on the social media I track about get-togethers, as far as I know, although I know my parents have been seeing my mom’s sister and her family.

      For what it’s worth, I have been going to running club workouts – in fact, I kind of suggested starting back up. (We’re outdoors, so it’s a bit easier to space out.) I’ve gotten a bit more relaxed about going to stores (still have to wear a mask, but I feel slightly less like I’m committing a crime every time I do it). A lot of people will pull their masks down outdoors – I’m guilty of this as well – but since you HAVE to wear a mask in public spaces where distancing isn’t possible and thankfully NJ’s mask rule was put in place before it got really politicized…most people actually have them.

      1. Mimmy*

        Fellow NJ resident here! (central area). When the pandemic first started, I know your neck of the woods was hit much harder than my area, so I am glad that everyone is still being cautious. My husband and I have been very vigilant.

        I’m generally pleased with how well our state has been faring compared to many others. However, I get nervous with each new reopening announcement. I know we can’t keep things shut forever, but as the summer gets under way, I worry about how much people will continue to practice social distancing.

        1. LGC*

          It’s weird, and maybe we’re a bit insulated because of what we went through? (Not fully, but partly. I JUST saw a post about BLM protesters in my hometown being confronted by a group of maskless dudes “protecting” a Columbus statue.) Obviously, it’s awful that our area got hit so hard, but it doesn’t seem as political as it does in other areas – partly because it happened here, so it’s a “here” problem (while it sounds like in the Sun Belt, they mostly considered it a “there” problem).

          I think people will continue social distancing as much as they have to, which gives me some hope. A huge reason why things aren’t going back to normal is…well, they CAN’T go back to normal. (If not because of the mass psychological and physical trauma, because of a metric ton of executive orders saying they can’t.) And I’m pretty sure all of us know someone who got COVID (I know several) or even someone who died (I know a couple). The joke I’ve heard is “we’ve all had it anyway,” but I don’t think that we’re acting like we’re immune to COVID now.

          1. Mimmy*

            That’s a really good point – we GET it because we know how bad it can be. Thankfully I don’t know anyone who’s died from COVID but I know at least one person who was in the ICU for several weeks.

            Stay safe!!

    2. Loopy*

      Unfortunately, yes it’s a thing where I am. I’m in SC and the attitude here can be really bad in terms of keeping up with recommended pandemic practices. There’s no statewide mask mandate, and local cities are all over the map on them, with plenty voting against instituting one. Restaurants are seeing staff get covid all over the place, closing for the day, opening back up a day or two later to the same situation. Stores have plenty of non-mask wearers and people don’t social distance consistently. It’s depressing.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      This seems to be a thing over a lot of the US. It’s really not okay, and the states that relaxed restrictions first and most enthusiastically (like Florida and Texas) are headed for disaster, with exponentially rising case counts and hospitalizations. It’s going to get a lot worse, given the time lag between infection and illness.

      Where I am – masks are required on public transit, government offices and classrooms, and food servers and preparers and transit drivers are required to wear them. They are strongly recommended in public when social distancing is not possible, and I’d say the wearing rate on the street in busy areas is about 90%. It’s been 90% or higher on public transit since late January. Large indoor events are still restricted, but most other domestic restrictions have been lifted. We were never under lockdown.

      However, in the past two and a half months, in a population of 23 million, we have had zero local cases. There are still a few cases of people returning from abroad sick, or showing symptoms while in quarantine after returning, but all the positive cases (including asymptomatic ones) have been kept in hospital until they test negative three days in a row. And everyone is still wearing masks in public.

    4. Washi*

      I also find it confusing to figure out what’s ok. When we were under a strict stay at home order, everyone was kind of doing the same thing, but now that we’re in phase 2 of reopening, I find it unclear what is safe vs risky behavior.

      It’s weird, my in-laws and my grandparents are doing everything that is allowed, like going to restaurants and non-essential stores, and my in-laws are going on vacation next week. They are in higher risk groups due to age but don’t understand why we’re being so cautious, and yet we also have young and healthy friends who aren’t even going for walks outside with anyone! I feel like I’m cautious or reckless depending on who I talk to. (Currently we are seeing friends outdoors but trying to avoid being indoors with anyone really, other than grocery store or pharmacy.)

      1. ThatGirl*

        Basically, outside is much less risky than inside, and if you are inside, the fewer people, more space and less time the better. I see my mom (age 69) not being as careful as we are and it drives me a little nuts.

      2. Blue wall*

        “ I feel like I’m cautious or reckless depending on who I talk to”- yes, this! I think I’m doing the same as you; seeing only a couple friends outdoors but avoiding the indoors. I’m partially back at work and my coworkers seem to demasking with each other but that’s not my MO; it makes me feel like I’m being too cautious but I think I need to just rest in my certainty of safety.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      NYS here. People seem pretty relaxed to me. But there are pockets of people who still will not leave their homes. I am hearing the further upstate you go, the more and more relaxed things are. I have no way to know first hand but this is what I am hearing.
      My county is doing well but it has done much better than many places during this crisis. We figured we’d have an outbreak because of all the people coming up from the city and we have not.

    6. Long Time Fed*

      I’m in Montgomery County, Maryland, and our county requires masks. I never see anyone without them. No one likes them, but our infection trajectory is going down. People are more comfortable being closer to each other. For a while, everyone maintained the 6 feet distance. We’re still cautious, but not quite as much.

      1. Anon100*

        Similar here in a different Maryland county; I think it’s a state order that inside a store you must wear a face covering. Went to a winery a couple weeks ago, and I felt pretty safe with my friends doing so. We got our own outside table, socially distanced, and when we got up to buy food/drinks or use the restroom, it was required to wear a mask for everyone’s safety.

      2. Jack Russell Terrier*

        I’m in DC – yes, mandated inside stores in DC and I think all surrounding areas. I’m finding people are generally complying – even outside, which is such a relief.

        Of course, all areas surrounding DC have opened up a bit with inside eating in restaurants (distancing masks etc) and being allowed to have small gatherings with distancing etc. This started last monday in DC and the friday before in Montgomery County. Hopefully the numbers will continue to decline.

    7. Potatoes gonna potate*

      NYC here. Masks are still mandatory but stores and salons restaurants etc are slowly opening up. I haven’t taken public transit since March so can’t say but it seems like people still respect social distancing.

    8. Kathenus*

      To answer your first question “Is this a thing that is ok to do now” – it is allowed to do in some areas now, but in my strong opinion it is absolutely not something that is ok to do from a public safety standpoint. Just because some states/areas allow things doesn’t mean they are smart, or in the best interest of people’s and peoples’ health.

    9. ThatGirl*

      It shouldn’t be political, but somehow it’s turned into that. I live near Chicago and we’re one of the few states that are doing fairly well. Because people are wearing masks and mostly not crowding together! Meanwhile states that are not mandating masks and are letting people crowd bars are seeing bad gravy.

      Outside the US it may be different, but mostly those photos are showing you what not to do.

    10. Anonnington*

      I’m in NYC and we’re seeing the full spectrum here. What’s sad to witness is that a lot of the, “OMG, back to normal!” skews affluent and white. People whose communities lost more people are taking the precautions more seriously.

      And I believe this will come out in time and the people who are gathering will be seen for what they are. That said, there are obviously judgment calls involved. Gathering for work or political action is not the same as going to the beach with your friends just for fun, for example.

      I say don’t feel guilty if you choose to gather for a good reason. But if you’re being more cautious than most, take pride in that choice. You’re saving lives.

    11. Anxious cat servant*

      I’m in TX and people certainly THINK it’s ok. My FB feed looks no different than it did 6 months ago with unmasked people hugging at parties and restaurants. Looking at the soaring number of cases and our quickly-filling hospitals, those people might not be the best judges of the actual risk.

      1. Koko's human*

        I lived in east Texas for six years, so I have a ton of friends there and so many of them have been posting day trips and stuff before the lockdown stuff even lifted. One family has been having huge multi-household gatherings the entire time. It’s like “what are you doing?!?!” But I say nothing. As I say nothing to Oklahoma friends doing the same damn thing. Masks? I will shame anyone who posts about refusing to wear one. But so far, that was like one person. I live amid the worst-hit zip codes here, and it’s all because of the political leanings of the area. It’s infuriating.

    12. Analyst Editor*

      I think there is several levels. I think the photos of crowds aren’t all “crowds”, but look that way because of an aerial photo – and in fact people are pretty far away from each other and sticking to their own little group. I’ve been out to parks in my area, which were never really closed where I was, even under lock-down, and there are a lot of people but clustered in their little groups of 2 or 3 and far from each other. I think that sunlight, open air, and breeze, with masks for close proximity, are a good level of risk mitigation.

      I do think that the reversed messaging on “no gatherings, but protests are fine, but no other gatherings” sends a mixed message, and I’m regrettably seeing people in my own circle downgrade their caution after their (reasonable, IMO) pointers that the reporting on COVID and risks has been too politicized to be credible. My view is, COVID doesn’t care about your politics, and whatever your opinions of the media, there’s no excuse for not using your head and taking precautions…. but this issue is there.

      1. Anonnington*

        In the 80’s, HIV was “political,” and, “controversial.” There is a similar mentality playing out right now.

            1. MissDisplaced*

              Seat belt debate never went away here! People have literally every excuse in the book to not wear them! One lady I worked with (daughter of a cop no less) said that she would not wear her seat belt because if she were in an accident it would trap her and she wanted to be able to jump out of her Jeep.

              I mean. Really?

              My brother and his wife and kids all refuse to wear them. Nothing convinces them it saves lives.
              Ditto with smoking. In spite of all the health warnings, people insist smoking does not cause cancer (oh, but 5G does somehow).

        1. Vina*

          Oh yeah. And people though they were immune from anything b/c they weren’t the type of people who got sick (i.e., white, heterosexual, Xtian).


          1. Anonnington*

            Right. That and the denial, and a lot of racist ideas about the disease’s history.

            Some of that is still around. It was just more mainstream in the 80’s, just like the COVID reactions today.

            1. Vina*

              Racist and homophobic. Black people and gays got it. In other words, people who were “other” and “not us.”

              I also see so much of that with Covid.

              People can be so awful.

              1. Anonnington*

                Exactly. I keep leaning towards being vague about it because it was so incredibly awful, I don’t want to repeat it and give it more attention.

                But I remember being told these horrible racist, homophobic things about HIV in the 80’s. I questioned it at the time. Even as a child, it was obvious that it didn’t add up.

                With both diseases, when you compare that kind of commentary with the reality of the illness, it’s so much worse. People are so sheltered and entitled to their little delusions of superiority.

    13. Nita*

      NYC here. It seems a lot of people started “dipping their toes back in” in the last few weeks, we didn’t see a spike in cases, and so there is a lot less distancing. Families getting back together – often outside, sometimes with masks, but people who didn’t see each other since March are starting to catch up. Kids meeting up with their friends – again, mostly outside. We’ve started visiting my parents, but if our exposure goes up, for example if one of us physically goes back to work, or when schools reopen, we will stop seeing them (or go back to meeting up outside with masks on). One thing that hasn’t happened yet – large numbers of people sharing transit and enclosed spaces. I hope that the lack of a second wave means we’ve gotten to herd immunity here, but that may not be the case. It’s possible that the virus simply doesn’t spread well outside, or that it takes a few super-spreaders to cause a big rise in infections.

      1. LGC*

        The estimate I’ve heard is that 25% of New Yorkers contracted COVID-19. (And that’s in NYC proper. It’s probably lower statewide.)

        The estimate for herd immunity? I’ve heard at least 70%. And that’s for imperfect herd immunity.

        From the research I’ve seen (I’m not a doctor, but I would have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night if I was willing to travel), science points both to SARS-CoV2 not spreading well outside and to it spreading in clusters. That is, a few people spark huge chains of infection (infamously, Patient 31 in South Korea, but then you have a ton of stories stateside about deadly gatherings – most recently, the party in Florida where all sixteen people and seven staff at the bar contracting COVID-19).

    14. KR*

      We are in rural Southern CA. We are seeing a rise in cases here and I don’t think our governor is scared to do another stay at home order. People where I am seem split between thinking it’s communism to be told to wear a mask/thinking they aren’t really effective, vs encouraging everyone to wear a mask and socially distance. People are going to restaurants and doing things involving gatherings but husband and I are still doing take-out only. I am also diligent about my mask use and try to maintain distance from other people, but a lot of other people in public aren’t also doing so which makes it hard. This pandemic has disappointed me so much in seeing how selfish people can be and willing to bury their heads in the sand.

    15. MissDisplaced*

      I think you have to follow what is good for you.
      My state is not spiking due to our governor’s plan to reopen slowly in stages, and continuing to wear masks in public places. Stores and restaurants have begun reopening with outside dining, though not salons and spas and bars.
      So, what to do? If you’re younger and healthy, you can probably begin to shop non-essential stores or dine, or go outside to do things with precautions.
      If you are at risk, I’d continue to only venture out when necessary.
      I am dipping back in and going to the beach! However, I do not plan on doing some of the things there I normally would, such as drinking at the bar or putt-putt golf. We’re also planning on taking our own food/grocery shopping to minimize dining out.

    16. Former prof*

      I’m in Northern California. We are seeing two things here. The first is transmission from large family events. Those infected people then took it into their churches. The governor is having a lot of trouble convincing people not to have get-together in their homes. The second thing is young folks getting infected. The medical director at UCSF Med Center said their COVID patients used to be mostly over 50 and are now mostly under 50. The bars opened up and the kids went out. So yeah, social distancing and masking are the thing that works, but people seem to have a hard time maintaining that when they want to see their friends and family.

    17. Oxford Comma*

      I personally don’t think it’s okay or safe. I don’t know what’s legal in North Carolina. I’m in a blue state that shut down early and has been careful about reopening, but as far as I am concerned Covid is something to be very concerned about. I will be social distancing, mask wearing, and limiting my activities for the duration. Cases may have dropped in my area right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone.

    18. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      People are still being cautious here (Boston area), though I can’t say how cautious because my own caution means I haven’t been to the beach, or to a restaurant (even at an outdoor table).

      The photos are a mix of people who think it’s safe now, people who still don’t understand why social distancing etc. was ever necessary, people who live in places that are reopening too soon (in my lay opinion), and a few who live where it really is safe. “It’s OK” is a weird mix of places where it really is safe, to go out, or about as safe as it ever was, and places where the decisions are driven by the stock market, or the desire to get kids back to school because distance learning isn’t working well, or a general feeling of “I can’t take this anymore.”

      Any of this other than strict lockdown means we have to make decisions about who we trust, and whether our guideline is going to be “if $Authority says it’s safe, I will go out and do it” or closer to “if the government says it’s okay, I might go out, but only for a very few things.”

      I resent feeling like I have to be extra-careful because of people who are either deliberately ignoring the risk, or don’t believe in it. But the virus doesn’t care what any of us believe, and regardless of *why* other people are being careless, their actions shape the environment I’m making my decisions in.

    19. RagingADHD*

      A lot of people are doing it here, even though it is certainly not okay. We are at record-high cases, all the public health officials are begging people to distance, stay home, wear masks.

      But the legal restrictions were all lifted for entirely political reasons, against medical advice, so people are blithely infecting each other faster than ever.

      Some of the larger cities in my state are already out of ICU beds, and folks in rural areas are just dropping dead because there’s no hospital access.

    20. Jennifer Juniper*

      I’m in DC. We earned Phase 2 on June 22nd. We still must wear masks and practice social distancing. Gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited. So far, no COVID spike. I’m waiting at least two weeks past Fourth of July (to account for any COVID spikes that may be caused by holiday tourists) before I even think about consulting our doctors about safe guidelines for us to get out of lockdown.

    21. knead me seymour*

      I think it’s more that people are tired of social distancing than it is about actual safety, and many politicians seem to be doubling down on an already troubling tendency to prioritize the economy over people’s lives. I’d rather see governments support people in maintaining safe public health habits than encouraging people to just pretend the virus has magically disappeared. My curmudgeonly anti-capitalist tendencies are growing by the day.

  20. Grim*

    I’m curious if you have been laid off in the USA, where you have gotten health insurance – Cobra coverage, ACA (Obama care), or have gone without due to the cost? Medicaid is also an option.

    Tough time to be without insurance, especially with the pandemic spreading and the potential Obama care erasure pending before the Supreme Court.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Cobra is stupid expensive. I’ve had individual plans twice, once before the ACA. I was lucky to not have preexisting conditions then. I’d recommend ACA plans, even if it’s a fairly high deductible it’ll still cover certain things and be a backup in case of emergency. Despite our ludicrous insurance system it’s still better to have than not.

    2. Anonymosity*

      Anytime I didn’t have insurance through a job or was out of work, I just went without. When it was available, I went to Planned Parenthood for birth control prescriptions and got an annual exam that way.

      My old doctor’s office used to have a program where office visits were very low-cost. I’ve never found anything like that for dental or vision care, however.

    3. MsChanandlerBong*

      My husband got laid off in May, so we both lost our health insurance through his employer. I signed up for my employer’s plan, but it was too expensive for both of us (my employer pays 50% of the employee premium, but nothing toward a spouse’s coverage). We signed him up for a plan through the Marketplace for $285 per month. Fortunately, he got a new job in June, and he’ll be eligible for their insurance on July 13 (to start August 1), so we’ll just have to pay for June and July. Despite the fact that his new job is with the state government, the benefits aren’t very good IMO. For someone who just needs preventive care, sure. But I have a lot of health problems, and the copays/deductible/OOP max are much higher than what I have now. For example, my insurance has a $10 copay for labs, but his new plan requires 30% coinsurance. Some of my lab work costs north of $1,200, so that would increase our costs significantly. We’ve decided he will sign up for his plan as an individual, and I will keep my plan. I will take his dental and vision coverage, though, since I don’t have any.

      1. Black Horse Dancing*

        People have the mistaken belief government work = grwat insurance. Nope. Not unless you’re a congresscritter, President, or SCOTUS.

    4. Ronda*

      i went on obama care 2x when leaving jobs. It is easy pretty easy to sign up and the subsidy if your income is low makes it more affordable than other options. The 1st time I signed up was during open enrollment and that was super easy, signing up mid-year had an extra step of providing proof that job was lost and had insurance up til then and address changed/ residence. (also note that if you are below a certain income it is medicaid instead of oboma care and some states didnt expand medicaid so no coverage if you dont meet minimum income either)

      the price without subsidy was not that far off of the price for cobra, but there were some options that were less.

      I go for the lowest cost plans with high deductibles. The 1st time I went on it for 2016, there were many different provider options. in 2017 and beyond, we seem to be down to about 2 different providers per location. (my preferred provider did stay in the plan tho)

      I did cobra for dental because I have a bunch of dental work to do and they really jack up the prices if you dont have insurance. Obomacare only seems to have dental for children, and there dont seem to be any good options once cobra is done. Didnt bother with separate vision coverage, but my healthcare provider does include vision dr that I have not checked out yet.

    5. Old and Don’t Care*

      I think that whether an ACA plan is a good option is very dependent on where you live. In some states there are decent options with decent networks, in other states there are fewer options wand few providers accept the insurance. I’d do a lot of research on any ACA plan, certainly if it’s a carrier you’ve never heard of.

      COBRA is expensive but ACA plans can be too, especially if you are older and don’t qualify for a subsidy. I pine for my COBRA, as I now pay more for a plan with 3x the deductible and a smaller network. But I’m older; your math may be different.

    6. I'm just here for the cats*

      Not really an answer but I thought I would put it o her for information if anyone needs it. If you do go through healthcare.gov to purchase, and later get health insurance from your employer, make sure you go through all the steps to cancel the coverage. I kept getting bills for copays but couldn’t figure out why. I didn’t do something right.

  21. Loopy*

    Warning: Covid talk

    Is anyone else in a spiking US state and really struggling? I have a lot of strong anti-mask sentiment where I am and everyone is acting normal while my overall emotional health is seriously taking a nose dive as I reach my breaking point with the entirety of the situation (which is also impacted by other major events but I don’t want to get political here, per rules).

    I’m happy for those in the US and around the world who are starting to really see progress and get back to normal safely, but I am so jealous is hurts and depression is becoming a real obstacle to every day life. This particular situation/stage of pandemic is harder for me, way harder.

    My actual question regarding this is: This massive situation feels so beyond self care. I don’t think all the long walks/naps/baths in the world would world to make me feel better and so I’m struggling for ways to carry on as normal because where I am everyone is acting normal now. Has anyone in a similar boat found any helpful methods for carrying on in a state similar to mine?

    1. nep*

      I hear you. If only those who are acting as if COVID doesn’t exist were the only ones affected by their recklessness, but alas…
      I don’t know whether it would resonate with you at all, but Jon Kabat-Zinn did 14 weeks of daily sessions (he never missed a single day) leading a meditation, talking, and addressing people’s questions. In some sessions he did get at the issue of coping with careless people. You’d have to browse through some–but actually pretty much everything he says is helpful, whatever the subject.

    2. sswj*

      I’m also in an exploding state, though my immediate area is not quite as bad. I work in retail too, so I see a lot of people come through our doors. Our store has a strict Must Have Face Covering rule, and we are free to remind people to wear it correctly. It’s still nerve-wracking though to see how dismissive people can be.

      My strategy is to take exceptional care of me while doing as many “normal” routine things as possible. I guess I have an edge a bit since I’m going out to work every day, but I also do things like errands for food and supplies, an occasional visit with friends, a meal out, a drive-around to go exploring. I’ve also done a run to the garden center for plants and the pet store for goldfish because those things make me happy and I can devote my home-time to them.

      When I’m out in public I am masked, of course. I have sanitizer on me and use it frequently if the store doesn’t have any for public use. I try and run errands without a timeframe in mind because if the store is busy I will do my utmost to stay in my own space bubble, even if that means waiting for an aisle to clear or backtracking and zigzagging to shop in clear areas. When we went out for dinner we found a restaurant that did it right – nice big space with seating blocked off appropriately, servers in masks, etc. (It helped that we went at an odd hour too, 3 pm or so). Whenever I’m out doing “normal” things I stick to my distancing+mask+hygiene protocols, and I don’t let anyone or anything divert me.

      Being hyper-vigilant like this IS tiring, but I can then come home and eat good food, play with my animals, admire my plants, and do all my normal household routines. It’s not perfect, and I try and suppress the sadness and the fear, but this current state of affairs I can probably live with for a while and not go nuts. I’m taking exceptional care of me and in turn I hope I’ll also be taking care of others, even if they don’t want me to.

    3. Ranon*

      I think I am doing okay (also in a spiking state) because I always thought this would happen and frankly I thought we would do it a lot sooner. We never had a first peak and apparently some folks including our governor just aren’t going to believe that you really have to fundamentally change how things work until we have herd immunity or a vaccine if you don’t want to overwhelm hospitals (and I do believe even the most reckless folks don’t want to overwhelm hospitals, but they likely didn’t believe their behavior could cause them to be overwhelmed because it didn’t happen because we, you know, prevented it the first time)

      So, all this being to some extent inevitable because people are, well, people, I’m glad that we at least waited to do this until we had a treatment that significantly reduces the death rate for those on ventilators and oxygen (it’s still not good but I’ll take 1/5 over 1/4 any day), treatments that keep people off ventilators in the first place (laying on your stomach, who knew!) and protocols to reduce risks from blood clots (that we didn’t even know existed a few months ago). Plus loads of convalescent plasma around, I think the blood banks are pretty well stocked on that front (but if you can, donate blood, they still need whole blood)

      It’s still a stupid experiment that I wish we weren’t doing and it’s still going to result in a bunch of unnecessary deaths, but, well, probably not so many as if we’d tried it on March.

      So, I guess my advice is cynicism with a side of “could be worse, there could be alligators in here with us” (i.e. we could be doing this without all the knowledge about the disease we’ve acquired in the intervening months since this started)

      1. Ranon*

        Oh, and in personal behavior we’re still pretty much rolling with the stay at home order life of groceries, curbside takeout, and outdoor recreation in our family group away from other people because, well, it’s not like the virus changed so this is our normal until it does or we get a really blockbuster treatment.

      2. Ranon*

        Oh, and in “how to manage having a body that is having a big stress response” I highly recommend Emily Nagoski’s book Burnout and a piece she wrote on Medium after the 2016 election called “Despair, and its Cure”. She’s great at explaining how brain stuff and body stuff influence each other and how changing your body stuff can change your brain stuff.

        1. Natalie*

          She also has a podcast with her sister about the same subject if that’s more your format: Feminist Survival Project 2020.

    4. LGC*

      Hi, I’m probably you from two months in the future! And I’m going to dump a diary post because…well, I think it might be relevant.

      I mentioned in the thread above, but I’m from New Jersey. Masks weren’t that much of a question – Governor Murphy kind of made it for us back in April – but the issue was that we got hammered about two weeks after Italy and the US as a whole (and our area especially) wasn’t prepared. So we were really flying blind – I made a lot of dark jokes about how you couldn’t get tested for COVID unless you were dead, and that wasn’t that far from the truth. Intellectually, I know the situation’s better now, but even still I can’t help but think that getting tested myself would prevent someone else from getting a test.

      And I was jealous too that the rest of the country seemed to be dealing well with things. I was ashamed when Florida announced they’d be quarantining people from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. I felt dirty and sinful.

      In April, I was thoroughly convinced that by this time, we’d still be logging 400 deaths a day and we’d have over 30,000 dead in my state by June. (To put this in perspective, the town I live in is around 25,000 people, and the town my parents live in is just over 30,000.) I was shocked to open a news article in late May and see that…things were actually improving, because I’d so thoroughly convinced myself that they never would, and that it wasn’t a matter of if I got COVID, fell ill, and landed in my local hospital’s ICU (shout out to Valley!), it was a matter of when. I was bracing myself for the inevitable call from my job that someone had died of COVID, and that came on April 29.

      And then…eventually things started to subside. Especially in New York, where the pandemic kind of burned itself out, but also in New Jersey. Stores reopened. Outdoor dining reopened – in fact, my town shut down the center to turn it into a huge street cafe. My running club started meeting for group workouts again. I returned to work in the office. Barber shops reopened last week. We’re getting some indoor dining back this week. New Jersey Transit is returning to full service next week (previously, trains and light rail were on modified holiday service). And cases continued to fall – NJ was having a slow decline, but we saw consistent declines week after week.

      But the secret is…I don’t feel like I’m back to “normal,” or at least what I would have considered normal in February. Some things have subsided – like, my fear and guilt every time I leave the house, that I’m being reckless and getting myself sick (or worse, getting other people sick). But I’m still REALLY thoughtful about where I go – do I need to go see my parents this week? I want to see my friends, but should I? What’s socially responsible to do? Obviously, I just don’t leave the house without a mask. I’m afraid to take my mask off when I do see my parents, and I haven’t hugged them since COVID really got underway in the US. I haven’t seen my best friends (or any friends other than my running group) in person since February. I have a lot of resentment for my job because they take up so much of my contact budget. I’m still a little antsy whenever I hear an ambulance. I was terrified to go within even three blocks of the hospital until this month.

      And honestly, even this site feels less fun. It feels like I’m not a good person for not being able to socially distance enough and that I’m adding to the problem – that if I don’t shut myself in my apartment for months on end, I’m a plague spreader.

      But also…I’ve started caring much more about the community. I feel like I’m more responsible – although I’m much more cautious, it’s not entirely a bad thing. I’ve had to re-examine a lot of things with my life, and I’ve become much less high-strung about minor things. I’ve rediscovered my passion for running and why I enjoyed it. And although I wrote a lot about all the bad that’s gone on…I’m hoping that eventually the good will outweigh it, because the bad is already beginning to fade a bit. I wish we never had to go through the hell we went through in the spring, but at least I’ve become a better citizen.

      So, I don’t want to scare you, but…that was what it was like for me riding out the epidemic in suburban NJ. It’ll be a bit different for you – when we went through it, we didn’t have knowledge, but at least we had willpower, and you guys are facing the reverse – but…like, I’m hoping there will be a bend. Even the governors who were initially most resistant – like Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott and Doug Ducey – are taking measures now against the virus. I’m hoping that by September you guys will be on the mend, and just maybe…the people who responded with arrogance are humbled.

      Maybe you’ll finally see a guy in a Trump 2020 shirt emerge from your local burrito shop with his face covered (like I did last week). Maybe the Florida Woman (I think that meeting was from Florida – she is spiritually a Florida Woman regardless) who declared in a viral video that she doesn’t wear a mask for the same reason she doesn’t wear underwear will be viewed as weird…for her mask aversion (and not just for her TMI). Maybe when things can finally reopen, your area will start caring a bit more about others and not rushing headlong into frivolous normalities like crowding packed bars and stuff.

      And maybe you’ll go through months of trauma and fear. Maybe your emotions will skitter out of control, and they’ll continue doing that for months – even now, I had a breakdown when I was talking with my therapist last week because I’m just so exhausted of dealing with EVERYTHING and having to worry about every step I take and why can’t I just have a moment where I can just let my guard down. But I think that you’ll start to come out the other side.

      COVID is a brutal disease, and many US officials even now refuse to acknowledge that. It feels like it’ll be forever. But it’s…not. True to form, I’m going to say that it might not even be a marathon, it’s an ultra-marathon. But even ultras have a finish line.

      As an aside: if we banned politics from the comments, I’d have to ban myself from even looking at this site. The issue isn’t politics, it’s that pretty much everything in our existence (and heck, even existing) is political, according to a lot of people.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I think the key word is “acting”. Everyone is “acting” normal. This does not mean they think it’s back to normal now. It merely says that they can carry a pretense of normalcy.
      I think we all can see here that plenty of people are still pretty worried. I do think that some life functions have to be dealt with and people are using that as a tool to help themselves along. I think many folks are inching along going instance by instance to figure out how they will handle each scenario.

      All that said, my wise friend used to talk about misplaced fears. Sometimes we worry about X and do ten things to help ourselves with X. But we can remain super worried. My wise friend said that this often happens because our real worry is NOT X. It’s something entirely unrelated. This may or may not apply to you. It could be that you have set aside some other concerns and those concerns are eating away at you because they are not getting more of your attention.

      If the misplaced fears idea does not resonate with you, my next suggestion is to deliberately channel your thinking to the “can-do” side of the issue. It’s one thing to make a long list of things we can’t do. Peach. This means we have set limits. It’s easy to neglect the second step of looking for what we WILL do. This should come to us automatically but somehow it doesn’t. We all have lists of things that we “will do when we get the time”. What’s on your list? Is there something there that you are willing to start doing today/this week?
      Keep in mind that it is a basic human need to be productive, to be growing. This means you’re not at all wrong to feel stymied, stunted, shut off from life. Think of it this way, if you lacked food and clean water it would be immediately apparent, yeah, there’s a problem here. Well the need to be productive and to grow ourselves is on the same level as food and water. If we don’t have this productivity and/or growth it can feel like we are wilting or even dying in the inside. Yeah, it’s a problem and a big one. So here an idea would be to check in with your “some day I will do…” list. If you go this route pick something that is realistic. Pick something that you will actually complete. Feelings of success are super important. We can have a special type of starvation if we go too long without experiencing success from something.

    6. LQ*

      The massive situation feels so beyond self-care is true. I’ve been struggling since this started and going through my own brand of hell the whole way. I think that part of it is finding some way to accept that it won’t be carrying on as normal for you. Even if other people are. You need to find ways to carve out something for you even if it’s new, or old. But it doesn’t need to be what other people are doing. This is the new normal part of it.

      And honestly, there are some things I just lie to myself about. “I’m too busy (not entirely a lie but…) to go to the grocery store that’s why I deliver and tip outrageously well.” I’m going to pretend the other part of that doesn’t exist. I’m not really opposed to a good lie sometimes and you may be, so this may not work for you. But it’s been working for me on a few things like that. Making really fancy brunch for myself and reading and telling myself how much I enjoy cooking (sort of true) and ignoring the (actually true) thing that I can’t go out to brunch with the people I love and feel this horrible aching loniness gutting me.

    7. D3*

      Yes, I am. Weary and struggling.
      So tired of the anti mask movement and how none of them seem to give a damn about how their actions can affect others. So tired of them insisting that high risk people should just stay home so that they can exercise their effing “liberty” to not wear a mask and not get shamed for it.
      When you CHOOSE not to wear a mask, thereby making a CHOICE to do something that endangers high risk people (and everyone else, too!) who just need food to eat, then YOU should choose to stay home.
      Meanwhile, our state has record numbers of cases and deaths pretty much every other day….
      I feel like the good will and community spirit that seemed to be everywhere at first was all a sham and now people’s real selfishness is coming out.

    8. Reba*

      No suggestion, but wanted to share that we looked at a therapy intake questionnaire that included “bothered by feeling afraid as if something awful might happen.”

      And we grimly laughed because it didn’t include an option for “every hour of every day.”


    9. Nita*

      Sending you good thoughts from NYC. In my experience, you will soon see a shift in how people around you react. We went from people with masks on getting shocked looks on the subway, to most people wearing masks (or, by now, at least having one on them in case they end up in a crowd). We went from people laughing at anyone who freaked out about their plans to travel/go to the theater/attend sports events, to many people wanting nothing to do with crowded things indoors. I wish this had happened sooner. Maybe many lives would have been saved. But every state thinks it won’t come to them, why, I have no idea. In any case, you can do things to protect yourself – at the very least, minimize shopping and get delivery if possible, try to find non-crowded places to be outside, and remember this will pass.

      Also, no one’s sure if this is true yet, but doctors think the virus may be mutating to a less deadly form once it’s been around people for a while. I’m hearing that here in NY and NJ, the people coming in with COVID symptoms have much milder cases than before. If that’s the case, I hope the states currently having outbreaks got the “lite” version of the virus.

      1. Ranon*

        The science I follow (mostly through This Week in Virology) says no signs of significant mutation (in fact it’s mutating quite slowly which is good news for a vaccine), but certainly treatments have improved so it’s quite likely we’re seeing a lower death rate- it’s just very unlikely it’s from changes in the virus rather than changes in us

        1. LGC*

          Also – I think the “good” news for the Sun Belt is that younger people are getting infected. And there’s probably one more point of good news: I have NJ’s numbers seared into my brain, but…there were something like 65,000 people in residential nursing care across the state in March. Of those, something like one in eight have died since then.

          One of our biggest mistakes was putting COVID patients in nursing homes. My hope is that if Arizona, Texas, and Florida avoid that they can head off the shockingly high death tolls seen here. (On the other hand, we do not have The Villages, so…)

          1. Nita*

            I’m not sure if this is good news or bad news! Florida is full of retirees. If the younger people start infecting the older people… I hope it won’t happen, because many of the seniors are living away from their families (who are in other states). But it’s still impossible to truly self-isolate once you’re older and in poor health.

      2. pancakes*

        There’s a team of disease modelers at Columbia University whose analysis indicates that if we’d started social distancing a week earlier, 36,000 lives would likely have been saved — in the NYC area alone, they projected 21,800 lives could’ve been saved.

    10. Kiwi with laser beams*

      “I’m happy for those in the US and around the world who are starting to really see progress and get back to normal safely, but I am so jealous is hurts”

      As someone who won the covid response lottery, don’t spend one moment worrying about trying to be happy for people in my country. Be as jealous as you need to be; it’s incredibly unfair.

  22. Talk to me about tattoos*

    I’ve been contemplating getting a tattoo (actually 2 separate ones) for a few years and think I’m ready to actually get one. What I would like to get is a Mama Wolf (sitting) nose to nose with a pup and have a sort of ghost silhouette of a second pup out of the mama.
    I had always thought I’d get this on my back but now that I’m really ready to get it I’m not so sure. If I’m getting this for myself why am I putting it in a place I can’t see it? I can’t really think of where else to put it.
    So tell me all the things I’m no considering. How much work is caring for a tattoo? How does location affect caring for it? How often am I going to want it touched up? What do I not know?

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      I have several pieces, including one on my back. Ironically, I like the one on my back the most, but I tend to forget it’s there because I never see it! My husband’s back is fully covered and he also forgets frequently. So do bear in mind that you will not get the enjoyment from constantly seeing it on your back.

      As for care, once you’re out of the healing stage, it’s just sunblock and lotion like any other skin. The back can be tricky while it’s healing to get your lotion on it, though. Ask your artist about touch ups, if you want colour or have a ton of super fine detail and shading, you may want to get it touched up after a year or so. But you don’t have to if you don’t want to, I’ve had pieces for years and years and never had them retouched at all.

      Fair warning that tattoos are addictive after you get your first! Take all the time you want on finding an artist you really adore, even if they have a long wait list. It’s worth it. And definitely eat something substantial and drink plenty of water beforehand, and come prepared with a snack for afterwards.

      1. Lemon Meringue Pie*

        Haha – it is so true about them being addictive. I meant to stop at one and now I have four…

        1. willow for now*

          I was thinking about what I would get for my next one while I was on the table for the first one!

    2. Lemon Meringue Pie*

      I have tattoos on my shoulder, lower back, wrist and foot. Re location: you will need to be able to put cream on it while it heals or have someone do this for you. (I used a particular cream that my tattooist specified I should get.)

      You want to make sure you can care for it, but ultimately I would prioritise where you would like to have it – don’t sacrifice your location of choice just because it will be easier for a few weeks of caring for it, after which you’ll have it for life.

      The only time location was a major factor was with my foot – I had to wrap it in cling film when I put shoes on, or just stay barefoot.

      You will also need to put sun cream on it if it’s exposed. But you can always use a spray if needed eg to reach your back.

      Not sure you would need to have it touched up – mine are all just black and haven’t needed it, can’t speak to coloured ones.

      You could ask for a fitting (where they do it with temporary ink) so you can check you’re happy with how it looks on you.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Don’t ask “is this spot going to hurt” as a factor in your location decision-making. Two reasons for that – one, the answer isn’t the same for everybody, my most-painful spot was my sister’s least and vice versa. Two, the pain is temporary. Pick the spot you want, recognize that it might be unpleasant for a couple hours, and suck it up. :)

      On the ouch factor – most spots, it feels like a combination of a cat scratch and a sunburn, that just happens to go on for a while.

      On the back: You will wake up at least once, looking at the ceiling, going “Oh, crap, I rolled over on it in the middle of the night and ruined it forever.” You did not ruin it forever. I have *counts* seven, I think, on my back. I rolled over on all of them. None of them are ruined.

      On touch-ups: I’ve only ever had one touched up, and that was my very first one. I’ve had others modified – I have one that I originally got as a heart with a crack in it, several years later we “stitched up” the crack and added a line of text (sort of) around it, for example. But most of mine are primarily blackwork.

      Other placement options that are both easy to conceal and easy for you to see, if you decide the back is too out-of-sight for you: backs of calves, fronts of thighs. I’ve done both (see also, seven on my back, I don’t have much room left there anymore).

      Caring for: your tattoo artist may offer you some specialized tattoo balm. There’s (probably) no harm in that, but you don’t need anything fancier than regular old vitamin a&d ointment. Do not not not use anything like Neosporin, and don’t OVERuse whatever ointment you do use. Personally, if a tattoo artist tells me their practice is to saran-wrap a fresh tattoo immediately after finishing it, I would get up and walk out without continuing further consultation, but I recognize that there are differing schools of thought on this. (Mine is that saran-wrapping fresh wounds is just ASKING for infection and unpleasantness. My artists in the past have all covered lightly with gauze for the first couple hours, which is my preference.)

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        I’ve never had the saran-wrap treatment, but with my newest piece the artist used Saniderm, which is a breathable clear bandage. Slapped that sucker right on, left it on for 24 hours, then took it off, washed it, and reapplied a new piece of it, which I left on for I think about 48 more hours. Honestly, it was a total game-changer. It healed gorgeously, I didn’t have any of the itching or weeping you normally experience, and once I took it off my tattoo was very happy with a little bit of Aquaphor a couple of times a day. What a revelation. The colour stayed beautifully and I had close to 0 discomfort through the entire process. Amazing.

      2. KoiFeeder*

        Wait, so I could potentially get a behind-the-ear tattoo? People keep telling me that’s a terrible idea and that it will be excruciatingly painful, but it’s what I want… :p

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I’ve seen them. I will say, they seem to fade pretty quickly, but if that’s what you want… knock yourself out :)

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Sometimes happiness is having a lizard tattoo behind your ear. I think that’s very valid of me.

        2. BeeJiddy*

          I have a behind the ear tattoo. It didn’t hurt at all, in fact it kind of tickled at some points. It’s also held up really well over the years.

    4. San Juan Worm*

      I have two tattoos — and both had a place that “felt right.” So if your back feels right, go for it! I have one that’s harder for me to see, but just knowing it’s there is enough. An earlier commenter mentioned individual pain thresholds — so true! I was nervous about the inner wrist on my forearm piece because others had said it was a painful spot. Not true for me! At worst, it felt like a combination of a cat scratch and deep tissue massage. After 20 minutes on a three-hour piece I felt a little woozy (the body registers trauma even if your mind knows it’s elective), but asked to stop and have a drink of cold water and felt better. (Your tattoo artist should accommodate your need for a break or water.) One consideration is whether you have any allergies. You’d be surprised at what tattoo ink is made out of. I have inconvenient allergies to ingredients in both traditional ink and aftercare products, but both allergies are to animal products so finding a vegan tattoo studio worked for me! Don’t be afraid to ask questions or visit the studio before you book an appointment — it’s a lifetime investment and most artists take pride in their work and studio.

    5. The One True Church of Ecucatholicism*

      > What do I not know?

      I don’t know if it is obvious or not, but there are people in the world who will judge you negatively if you have a tattoo. I’m one of them. Sorry. But unless it is for medical reasons or it’s a membership requirement for lifelong commitment to some kind of military organization, I look at a person with a tattoo and subtract points from their IQ. Sometimes a LOT of points. Again, sorry. I have what I believe are justifiable reasons[1] for why I feel this way. Note that many people with tattoos take pains to ensure they can be obscured if necessary. But why is this “necessary”? Answer: because there are many people who will judge them negatively if they see the tattoo.

      And, tattoos get rather gnarly over time. There’s some pop-music singer guy who has “California” plus about 20 other things tattooed on his chest, and when I see him I think “wow, he’s gonna look *even worse* in 15 years”.

      I’ve never seen one, but there are probably websites that glorify tattoos and show you all of the rich, brilliant, and successful people who have tattoos. Offhand, I’m not certain who those people are. Bill Gates? The Pope? Dr. Anthony Fauci?

      I’ve expressed my opinion here before – over time, a number of people have asked AAM variations on the question “Will a tattoo cause me problems at work?” (which I think is something to note in itself) – and everyone jumped on me. But I have no malice and I feel like I’m being honest: you asked what you don’t know. Obviously I don’t know what you don’t know. But I feel a duty to bring up the negative side of tattooing, not unlike if someone asked here about the wisdom of trepanation, or of shooting heroin.

      [1] just MHO, but it signifies a fundamental disregard for the long term.

      1. anon 4 this*

        This reads as not just judgmental, but a circular attempt at rationalizing that judgmentality. In the Western world, the sense I have is that the onetime taboo has dropped way, way off in the last few decades, as with colorful hair. Most of the people I know who have tattoos got them because they wanted to decorate their body that way, and most of the people I know who do not have tattoos got them because they did not want to decorate their body that way. I don’t have much faith in IQ tests since the history is so racist and otherwise bogus, but controlling for age, the tattoo rate among my friends with graduate degrees is about the same as it is among those without. I could say the same for piercings, makeup, hairstyles, etc. These things are found across human societies of the past and present and are pretty normal.

        1. The One True Church of Ecucatholicism*

          Judgmental? Absolutely. It’s not a crime.

          Regardless of your anecdotal feelings on the matter, I wrote what I wrote because I wanted the OP to understand that getting a tattoo may cause her difficulties. For instance

          “Broussard and Harton assert that despite the increasing popularity of tattoos over the last decade, people with tattoos are viewed negatively. Pejorative perceptions of tattooed people abound, including having negative personality characteristics, lower levels of inhibition, competence, and sociability, and higher levels of promiscuity. Studies focusing exclusively on tattooed women have found that they are judged more harshly than their male counterparts. Research reveals that women with this form of body art are perceived as more promiscuous, as being heavy drinkers, less attractive, less caring, less intelligent, and less honest. Moreover, tattooed individuals are particularly vulnerable to workplace discrimination, as it is legal to discriminate for being in violation of company policies concerning appearance. Remarkably, one study found that hiring managers would not hire a person with a visible tattoo, because it would taint the company’s image — and they don’t like them. This finding comports with interviews with tattooed individuals, who report that they have had difficulty finding work, because they have visible body art.” – https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/head-games/201809/are-people-tattoos-stigmatized

          It’s pretty easy to Google up lots of references to how tattooed people are stigmatized.

          Tattoos are a lot like smoking – many people view it as a choice, and a poor one at that. Speaking of which, tattooed women tend to smoke 5x as much as women without tattoos.

          Additionally, there’s sobering stuff like this:

          “We found more negative cognitive and emotional aspects of self-esteem in women with tattoos as compared to controls without tattoos. Our results correspond with previous studies [16–18]. The notion that those with low self-esteem tend to tattoo their bodies, is consistent with the phenomenon of self-mutilation in teenage girls. It is well-known, that those with self-mutilating behavior have low self-esteem [61]. It is noteworthy that a study by Varma and Lanigan [62], showed that in 48% of the cases the main reason for tattoo removal was the desire to improve one’s self-esteem. The hypothesis is supported by other studies showing greater maladjustment in persons with tattoos. For example, suicide victims were twice as likely to have tattoos compared to a matched sample of accidental-death victims observed in the same clinic [63].” – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6347139/

          Additionally, there’s at least one major world religion that prohibits tattoos.

          Now here’s the thing: Yes, I personally have a low opinion of tattoos. But it’s not *just* me: there is quite a lot of evidence that says that many – maybe most – people agree with me. That is what I am attempting to convey with the material above. And I feel that anyone considering a tattoo should take a good look at the downsides along with whatever upsides they perceive.

          All that said, you argue that “Most of the people I know who have tattoos got them because they wanted to decorate their body that way, and most of the people I know who do not have tattoos got them because they did not want to decorate their body that way.“ And I truly don’t know how to respond to that.

          Of course, there’s always this: https://vimeo.com/69310297

      2. Taniwha Girl*

        This isn’t as convincing as you think it is…
        “Do old white people have tattoos? No? So why would you get one?” Many many rich, brilliant, and successful people have tattoos. A lot of regular people under 50 have them nowadays too, they’re becoming much more normalized. Certainly not like shooting heroin, yeesh. Are you a time traveler from the 1920s?

        I don’t like tattoos aesthetically either, but I don’t think people are stupid for getting them. I don’t think bleach blonde hair and fake tan looks good on anyone but people do that too.

        Some people will judge you for getting a tattoo OP, but as you can see, their logic doesn’t really make sense, so I wouldn’t factor that into your decision.

    6. Not My Money*

      I have 6 tattoos and can see 4 of them – my favorite place is inside the forearm but you have to be willing to cover that up if needed for work or something. The upper arm is always good for being able to see but easy to cover but you don’t get the best view of it. The early tattoos were more work – lots of healing time, some weeping and scabbing. The later ones have been much better (the last one they used Saniderm and it healed fast and easy). I’ve had a couple of them touched up – added more detail/expanded the design/cleaned up a spot that scabbed over and lost its ink but I do need to get the color touched up on one that’s faded a bit. And I have 3 more that I know I want to get so yes, addictive.

    7. Sick of Workplace Bullshit*

      As far as pain, it’s true everyone is different, but places like over bone, or the back of the arm, or anywhere that you are particularly sensitive, will hurt more. If you are a person who menstruates, DO NOT get a tattoo the week of your period. It was noticeably more painful for me then.

      I usually use regular Lubriderm lotion on the tattoo 3-4 times a day when it’s new. I’ve also had one with New Skin (?), and it was good.

      Any good artist will do a follow-up a few months after for touchups. I have had colour re-applied to one of my smaller ones. Also, sunscreen when you are out is a must!

      As far as placement, I like to see mine. But also think about what you might want to get later and chose a spot you can add other things around.

      Good luck!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        And see, I wasn’t going to get specific, but my least-painful spot is in fact over bone. So.

  23. DIY newbie*

    I have a hole in the wall where the pipes that go to my bathroom sink go. Any suggestions on how I can fill this hole?

    1. Ranon*

      Assuming it’s a normal plumbing hole size in drywall and you’re cool with repainting a drywall patch kit should do the trick.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      My friend who is a builder, ordinarily uses a product called handy foam. But he uses it in cupboards and other hidden areas. It expands out like whip cream coming out of an aerosol can. There are different types, low expanding, medium expanding and very expanding (sorry, not the exact terms used on the can but enough to give you the idea. ) You can get this at a hardware store. If you ask for handy foam they will know what you want.

      The other route to go is the one I have used. But I am not sure if I would do this next to pipes.
      This involves making a backstop and then using spackle to fill in around the pipes.
      1. The backstop. Get a small piece of window screen, estimate the size you will need and cut it to size. You probably will be able to cut it with regular scissors, just be careful. You want to cut it just a little bit bigger than the hole so it does not pull through. You can probably get scrap screen from friends/neighbors, it does not have to be new or in good condition.
      2. Put a piece of thread through the middle holes of the your piece of screening. I use a sewing needle to get the thread in. The thread becomes your “handle” for holding on to the screen. Make it a generous length so it is easier to hang on to.
      3. Bend (do not fold or put a hard crease in the screen) and push it through the hole, while keeping a good grip on the thread. If you lose the screen (down into the wall) in this step you can just start over and make a new back stop. I have never once lost the screen in the wall- it really does not get away from you.
      4. Get the screen in place so it covers the hole. This is actually easier than it sounds. Don’t let go of the thread- maybe you can anchor it to something if you have to step away for any reason.
      5. Take the spackle and apply it over the screen with a putty knife. It’s okay to mound it up a tiny bit higher than the rest of the wall. Matter of fact you probably should because spackle shrinks as it dries. You can get small plastic jars of spackle at the hardware store. You do not have to buy a big bucket.
      6. Let the spackle dry. The instructions tell you how long and I like to wait a bit longer than the instruction say.
      7. Once dry, cut the visible thread off. You can sand it down and paint it to match.
      I know this sounds hard. The first time I tried it I was amazed at how easy it was. I have done, ahem, a few (okay more than a few) holes now…. pups do this they create holes in the walls sometimes….. I was very happy with the results as I don’t consider myself good at stuff like this.

      I hope these explanations make sense, come back with any questions you have. My only caution words are about chosing the spackle method next to pipes. I am not too sure on that especially since I can’t see what you are doing.

    3. Venus*

      How big is the hole and why do you want to fill it? Drywall patch comes to mind, but if you want an ugly tight fit to keep animals from passing through then steel wool and spray inflating foam to keep it in place.

    4. Colette*

      It depends on how big the hole is. If it’s significant (I,e bigger than a quarter or so) you will need to cut a piece of drywall to fit (and probably add some wood on the back to fasten the drywall to) then tape, add the drywall mud, let it dry, and sand and paint.

      This is not hard to do, just a lot of steps.

      Alternatively, if you will need access to that part of the pipes again, you could go with something like this: https://www.leevalley.com/en-ca/shop/hardware/electrical/access-covers/76250-flexisnap-access-panels

    5. Red Sky*

      If you’re talking about the hole cut out for the pipes to go thru, there’s a covering for that called an escutcheon plate that you can purchase at any Lowes or Home Depot. You’ll need a split escutcheon plate since I’m assuming you wont be able to remove the pipe to install it.

  24. Not So NewReader*

    I’d like to thank everyone who answered my question about Covid testing, I did go back and look later to see if there were more responses and I found more very good answers. Please know I checked for more replies and I appreciate.

    Last week someone was talking about smart watches. I am thinking I have to have a cell or something to make my watch interactive. What bothers me is that there is NO brand name on the watch at all. It came with a tiny booklet written in less than size 6 font and there is no manufacturer name there either. I thought all products sold in the US had to have the name of the manufacturer on them and/or package materials. (Red flag number one.)

    The real problem is this watch came into my life in an iffy manner. A place that sells cars was offering smart watches to x number of people just for stopping in. (Bigger red flag.) Ordinarily, I skip this stuff, but a friend really wanted to go so we stopped. I came out with this watch… and basically NO instructions. Worse yet, I don’t know how to find instructions for it. My parents failed to give me these genes at birth so it’s not in my genes. (Yes, getting a little annoyed.)

    My questions are:
    How do I find instructions for it, especially since I am not able to determine who made it?

    And the bigger question, am I wasting my energy on this, should I just toss it and move on? I did end up getting a little charger for it and it takes a charge just fine. It seems to be in good working order so far.

    PS: It’s okay if you explain this in very simple terms, because I am really a duck out of water here. Thanks in advance.

    1. GoryDetails*

      Re finding instructions for the smart watch: my only thought here would be to take a photo of it and try doing an image-search on that – but if it’s one of those sleek-line styles, there may not be enough detail for a good match. If there’s a smart-watch forum out there somewhere, maybe post the image there and ask if anyone recognizes it? [If the watch itself isn’t distinctive, a photo of the display might help…]

    2. Ranon*

      Is there a long sequence of numbers engraved on it anywhere? You can try typing it into a search engine and seeing what pops up- might be a model number.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I find this very strange, there are no numbers or letters on it anywhere. Likewise with the paper work, no identifying numbers at all. I get concerned with this type of thing because I know stuff is snuck past customs by various means and I am wondering if this is one of those items.

    3. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I’ve got a cheap no name watch like that. I bought it from eBay. If you hook it up to a computer or Bluetooth it might pop up with a model number as its default name, which might help you find instructions.

    4. Pharmgirl*

      Are there any other cables besides the charger (e.g. a way to connect to a computer?). My first suggestion would be to plug it in to a computer and see what pops up – there’ll probably some type of program to set it up that you should see.

      If you only have the one cable and it’s a USB plug that end to a computer to see what happens.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It did not even come with charger. So I got the charger and that went well. But there are no cables included. Not very user friendly, I’d say. Maybe I’ll try getting a cable to my computer and see what happens.

    5. fposte*

      Nothing to add to the good suggestions already made, but it’s likely a super-cheap manufacture from AliExpress or someplace similar. I don’t know if it’s required to show a brand name if it’s for sale in the U.S., but it could be an item that technically isn’t for sale here. I wouldn’t consider it to be your fault if you couldn’t make it work–something like this isn’t really made to be useful, just to be as cheap as possible while still technically being a smart watch.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        You and I are close in age…. do you remember a law going into effect decades ago that said the manufacturer’s contact info had to be on the box or instructions?
        I guess the point is kind of moot because they did not bother anyway. haha.

        Yeah we have a lot of stuff now that is not really useful, more like a cheap illusion that any thing that is real.

    6. LGC*

      Is there a website on the box? IME, a lot of sketchy stuff from China will still include a website on it.

      …or did it come with a box? (Or is the website in 6-point font?)

      As a former aficionado of sketchy stuff from China (thanks Amazon!), I’ve had to do that song and dance myself. It’s something I actually had to pull up with my parents when they got a projector – the included packaging had terrible instructions, but digging through the website and finding the projector that matched it kind of helped us figure things out.

      Also, syncing it to your phone – if you haven’t done so already – might give you some info. Some of my devices will have the brand name or a model name – I’m wearing a Garmin watch right now, and when it syncs to my phone it shows its model name. Other devices are a bit wonky – my Bluetooth speaker is from a brand called “BlitzWolf,” but when I sync it it shows as “BW.”

      I would consider moving on if you can’t figure it out. It’s a “smartwatch,” but you might be better served by a well-known watch like a Fitbit, Apple Watch (the Series 3 is $199 now), or even an AmazFit watch.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, it has a box and no website on the box, either. It says smart phone on five sides of the box, the top says music player; micro USB universal serial bus; notifications with FB logo and pic of phone and it also says handsfree.
        It comes in red, white and black.

        I will def move on if I can’t work it into something from the posts here. But I at least feel like I gave it a really good chance.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ya know, I am so very tempted. I might stop by next week and ask them. hahaha.

    7. nnn*

      Two options occur to me:

      1. If you can bother with reading the 6-point font in the booklet, google a phrase from the booklet. If the text is online somewhere, it might lead you to the brand.

      2. There’s a subreddit called “What is this thing?” (link in reply), where you can post photos of things and other people identify them. Someone might be able to recognize it.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Ooooh, I think I might be in serious trouble now. lol.

          Thank you so much for this very interesting link.

    8. Ron McDon*

      If you have a smartphone I would go into ‘Bluetooth’ (make sure the smart watch is powered on) and see if the name comes up on your phone when the Bluetooth connects.

      When I bought a cheap ‘Fitbit’ from Amazon I googled the name that came up when my phone’s Bluetooth searched for nearby devices, then found an app which meant I could change the settings and get it to work through my phone/iPad.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I knew you guys would be all over this one. It’s going to take a moment but I am going to run through many of these suggestions here and then make a decision about the watch. Even if I don’t end up keeping it I will know I gave it my best shot. Thank you to everyone for your suggestions and thoughts.

  25. Concerned Friend*

    Is there anyway to sneakily give food to a friend who is struggling financially?

    My friend Meg works in the theatre making props and costumes. It’s a hard career that forces her to stretch her money really far but she’s always been able to keep her head above water. Obviously Covid has shut down all the theatres she normally works for so she’s had no income for months. Meg has never had much in the way of savings since she lives paycheck to paycheck, and unemployment assistance is giving her difficulty because she’s technically a freelancer. I didn’t realize how bad it was until she said this week that she basically had no more money for food this month.

    I want to help her but I don’t know if I can. Meg will not accept a gift of cash or a loan. She often does commissions for friends, and myself and others have offered to give her advances on the commissions we want from her (since we can’t get together for fittings, Meg can’t make any of our commissions yet) but she refuses. She doesn’t seem to mind receiving gifts of food. I’ve been doing a lot of stress baking these quarantine months and always bring her some of whatever I bake. I’ve been grocery shopping for my mother to spare her from public contact; she’s very picky and I once bought her a few wrong items. I brought these to Meg saying I didn’t want them and she accepted them. It wasn’t much but at least it was something. I’m half tempted to buy some more ‘wrong’ groceries and give them to Meg.

    I know I can’t force Meg to accept help and that she might feel guilty and ashamed if I try to force assistance on her but I’m worried about my friend and don’t know what I can do to help. Myself and others have made it clear she can talk to us and ask us for help but she hasn’t reached out. I don’t think her family is in a great position to help her so she can’t turn to them. Is there anything I can do for her? I don’t want her to be hungry or homeless.

    1. Venus*

      Give her a tip / thank you money for work she has done in the past? I would do the anonymous gift certificate too. Or just an honest “I think you’re a great person and want to invest in your good health, because I’ve been lucky. Life sucks because you do great work and should be better compensated, and while I can’t change that bigger problem I can support a local artist.”

      I have been lucky to be well paid for some of my work, and I helped out a friend with the comment that it’s a weird quirk of life that society values my skills more than theirs, so I want to help rebalance that between us.

    2. Kate in Scotland*

      I would expand on your wrong things by using some face-saving story. In my case, I’m still buying most of my groceries as fixed boxes (meat box, fruit box, cheese box) so I’d start taking over ‘this was in the box this week but I don’t like it/ never get round to using it/ already have plenty’. Or ‘there were great 2 for 1 deals in the shop but I can’t use both’, or ‘I ordered 10kg of rice and had no idea how much that was’. Maybe ‘someone gave me this gift card but I never shop there, can you use it so it doesn’t go to waste’.
      My aim wouldn’t be to actually make Meg believe in my cover story – just to smooth the interaction.

      1. LQ*

        Agreed. This is what I’d do too. Oops an online order got it really wrong. Or turns out I accidentally got a flavor I hate. Or whatever. Also baked goods can be just “listen I’m bad at making the wrong amount and I’m sick of the 3 quarts of chili in my freezer” “I can’t eat a whole whatever, please do me a favor and take some”.

    3. Mimosa Jones*

      Can you make some cooking errors in her favor? Like making something too spicy for you but not for her, or trying a new recipe and hating it. Or just not realizing how big a double batch really is. And since she accepts parts of baking, could you make empanadas or samosas or egg rolls and share? What you’re going for is giving her a way to feel as though she’s doing you a favor or that you’re sharing.

      1. Concerned Friend*

        This is a great idea, actually. She knows I’ve been cooking big batches of meals to share with my mother and that my mother is a picky eater. I could cook something that my mother ‘doesn’t like’ and share with her so the food doesn’t go to waste. Thanks!

        1. My Brain Is Exploding*

          I think I would just say, “Every Monday I’m going to make a big batch of something (Mom doesn’t like) (hard to make in a small batch) and I’m going to set aside some for you and drop it over on Tuesday. What time would work for you?” If she argues a bit about it, I’ve had good luck saying, “it’s about me … I need to feel like there is something I can do to help in these crazy times. It would be a blessing if you would let me.”

    4. Lemon Meringue Pie*

      It’s such a shame that you keep miscalculating your cooking quantities and making too much – but hey hopefully she can help you eat some of what you made…

      In other words, batch cook and give her some portions?

    5. Catskill Chill*

      This would only work once, but you could “arrange” for your fridge/freezer to go on the fritz, preferably shortly after a major freezer-stocking grocery trip. Must get rid of that food before it spoils! You could even do a combo of cooked food and unprepared. “I made two giant lasagnes with some of the hamburger, so here, take one lasagne plus the extra 5 lbs of frozen meat I simply cannot use!”

      That’s perhaps weirdly convoluted, but sometimes, needs must! Honestly, there’s so much chance that that could hurt her feelings if she ever found out that it would be so much more preferable to be able to help without subterfuge. Would she perhaps be open to visiting a food pantry? We all need a little help now and then!

    6. Anonnington*

      I would reframe this, starting with putting yourself in her position. Your interest in helping is great, but the “sneaky,” part is condescending. Imagine if someone was scheming to sneakily give you assistance, including lying to you? Most people would feel insulted and disrespected in that situation.

      Don’t lie to her. Don’t even lie by omission. Ask if she wants help. Offer things upfront – food, gift cards, whatever you want to give. If she says no, direct your resources towards groups that offer assistance to people (not just Food Bank; they require people to apply for government benefits before accessing the food, and that obviously isn’t a good fit for all situations. Also support orgs that don’t pre-screen).

      She’s an adult. She can seek help. But it sounds like she’s struggling with taking that plunge. So be a supportive friend and talk to her about it. Tell you care and you want her to have enough to eat. Keep checking in with her. Offer to support her in any way she wants, whether it’s direct assistance or going with her to get free food or just listening without passing judgment. And if she doesn’t want any of that, just accept it. This is a hard situation to be in and people deal with it in different ways. If she doesn’t want you to be involved, just be a good friend in other ways, do things you both enjoy, keep being a positive and respectful presence in her life.

        1. valentine*

          Lying seems worth it to stop her starving or becoming homeless. She might accept you signing her up for meal delivery. You could lie that it was a prize.

          1. Anonnington*

            I still wouldn’t. I would address it in more respectful ways.

            She might not be using the best judgment due to hunger and stress. Her friend(s) could take her out for a healthy meal, then express concerns, ask relevant questions, and try to convince her to accept some kind of help.

          2. Taniwha Girl*

            That’s just being a bad friend. You can’t force someone to accept your help. Let her have her dignity. If she is really desperate she will turn to her real friends for help, not ones who see her as a project.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      She does free lance work. Get a few of her business cards and give the cards to people you think would be seriously interested in hiring her. Perhaps you can find an NPO who could benefit from her work and would pay her.

      Set up a small garden, and whoops, you planted too much and now you need help using all the food. People tend to think of garden food as low cost/no cost so this might work well for her.

      I have a friend who lives paycheck to paycheck. He does not need to do this, he could build an easier life for himself. He wants the life he has. So there is that.
      But I seem to get volunteer squash in my compost pile. (Maybe I should turn the pile once in a while, ha!) I have my friend over to help me harvest because it becomes work to move 100 – 10# squash (average harvest and average weight). I “pay” him in squash. It’s actually kind of fun with two people working on it.

    8. fposte*

      I find also that people who don’t like feeling like they’re indebted can get behind a “pay it forward” message. “Meg, I’ve been really fortunate to have help in my life, and the understanding was that I’d somebody give a hand to somebody else, who’d then down the line give a hand to somebody else. Can you help me pay back my uncle/friends/whatever by contributing a few groceries this month, on the understanding that someday you’ll be able to do that for somebody who needs it yourself?”

      1. We all need help sometime in our lives*

        I think this is the most sensible suggestion. Many of us balk at the feeling or fact of owing someone, even when we could use help. Framing it as an ongoing social responsibility builds community and allows the recipient (Meg) to accept help as the repayment of a prior debt (you are paying it forward to Meg), and the commitment to pass it on to a future person (meg will pay it forward) when she is in a position to do so.

        Emphasize that you made a commitment to pay it forward, and SHE is helping YOU by accepting and giving you the opportunity to make your repayment.

    9. Still*

      How specific have you been in your offers? In my experience it can be much more difficult to accept some unknown quantity of money / help because you don’t really know what to expect or what exactly is being offered. Have you tried offering a VERY specific thing / amount?

    10. That’s One Idea*

      Could she make items on commission that don’t require a fitting such as pillow covers, curtains, masks, totes, etc.?

      1. Green great dragon*

        Face masks? Everyone needs them these days, and they’re not the easiest things to make.

      2. Pennyworth*

        No food ideas to add to those already given, but could you commission her to design and make something for you, or for a gift?

    11. KR*

      Can you mail her a card with a gift card to a grocery store? It might make it less awkward for her and if she doesn’t want to use it, she can pass it on.

    12. pancakes*

      If she doesn’t seem to mind receiving gifts why not just drop by with a bag of groceries now and then? Or sign her up for Rancho Gordo’s bean of the month club or something. I think it would be a lot less awkward to bring something over or send a gift and say “I was thinking of you” rather than make up stories about why or how you ended up with some sort of surplus.

    13. pieforbreakfast*

      I haven’t looked in awhile, but there used to be fund raisers with grocery store GCs, where you’d pay for a $50 card and the org selling would get a percentage of that. You could honestly say you were supporting a cause and don’t want the “thank you gift”.

    14. Oldbiddy*

      You could use the bulk food excuse and say it was practically the same price to buy a large package as a small one, and would she like some? It’s usually true, and also works for bulk cooking and even promotional deals at pizza places, etc.

    15. I'm just here for the cats*

      If you can afford it could you sign her up for some sort of food delivery like blue apron or something? I wonder if they do gifts wear they wouldn’t put you name any where.
      Otherwise, maybe look into a produce subscription where you get a certain amount of produce each week or month and you could gift her some. Like say “gosh I didnt realize how much zucchini I was going to get can I give you some of this stuff, my fridge is full”

    16. Sam I Am*

      You can also encourage her to sign up for food stamps. There’s plenty of food in this country, no one should be going hungry.

      It’s not simply about “being hungry.” For example, if your body systems don’t have the correct amount of calcium, your body will leech calcium from your bones to make up the difference. This will leave you prone to osteoporosis in the years to come, as after a certain age our bodies won’t create more deposits in the bones. Calcium is required for normal muscle and neural function, our bodies can’t function without it.

      This is just one example; in growing children, nutritional deficiency will be a drag on their bodies and minds throughout their lives. Strong citizens and a healthy workforce require proper nutrition; we all benefit in the end.

    17. The Time Being*

      When I was financially struggling to the point where I wasn’t getting enough food, a friend of mine kept me plied with fresh veggies by making the excuse that she’d overbought and wanted to make sure nothing went to waste. Pretty much just “Oh, geez, I got really enthusiastic buying onions/potatoes/green beans/etc last trip, then I realized I can’t possibly make all these before they go bad. Here, take half.” It was pretty transparent as far as excuses went, especially with how regular the “overbuying” was, but I wasn’t about to turn down the fresh veggies I couldn’t afford for myself.

      Granted, this was in the Times Before, so we were seeing each other face-to-face on a regular basis. Is it possible for you to include her in your quarantine bubble?

    18. Tex*

      Simpler is better. Just take a bag of groceries and tell her matter of factly, “These were extra” and then don’t talk about it. And maybe after a couple of times of doing it, leave them in the kitchen but don’t say anything because it’s now the normal thing you do.

      If it is pride that is standing in the way, then a cover story means she has to play along and acknowledge it. Eventually it will get weird.

      You’re a fantastic friend, OP.

    19. Anono-me*

      Do you belong to Costco or a similar membership store?

      If so, could you offer your friend the opportunity to go shares on some of your large bulk purchases?

      One of the frustrating things about having limited funds is the inability to take advantage of bulk purchase savings. (Example a 1 # bag of rice is $1.40 and a 20# bag of rice is $16.00, but you only have $15.00 for groceries, plus the membership fee is a budget buster all by itself.)

      Your friend would be able to significantly stretch her own buying power and help you save money. This could be a win for both that does not create much of a power imbalance in your friendship. (If she mentions the membership fee, maybe you can tell her you will only split the annual rebate payment amount over the fee.)

  26. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    Questions are encouraged in the hope that we can help you, and everything – indoor, outdoor, and otherwise – counts. No garden is too big or small.

    1. Mimosa Jones*

      My potatoes and peppers are really leggy and tall. I’m pretty sure it’s from not enough sun, but they’re in a raised bed so I don’t think there’s a fix this season. The peaches on one of my trees all have a sort of sap oozing from them. Does anyone know what causes it? This tree is not a high producer, so I’m just picking them all. It wasn’t supposed to be a peach year anyway. This far north the trees only produce every other year. I still have peaches in the freezer from last year and I’m just not excited about more.

    2. GoryDetails*

      I’ve got lots of blossoms on the tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and tomatillos (all in containers), with some of them starting to form fruit, but it’ll be a while yet before I can start harvesting. We’re having a bit of a drought (southern NH), and it’s also been pretty warm, so I have to top off the self-watering planters daily, but I’m rather glad I didn’t try to put in a full garden this year. I do have some squash plants set out in a cleared space in the overgrown garden area, and I have to hand-water those; making use of my rain barrel for that!

      1. Venus*

        I’m using my rain barrel and watering by hand here too. I use the hose in the back, because I have some new plants and I’m too lazy to walk the rainwater to the backyard…
        We keep hoping for some solid rain!

    3. CoffeeforLife*

      I need to repot some split leaf philodendron but I’m quite scared. They both have large Ariel roots going every which way and the pots are the ones I bought them in last year… do I need to go deeper or just wider? They are currently in 1.72 gal buckets

      1. Reba*

        How cool!

        You can pot them up in size and they will keep growing larger.

        You can also repot, not pot up in size.

        Remove from the pots, gently clean off old soil (hands and optional dampen the root ball), trim away any damaged or rotting roots, and repot in same pots, washed, with fresh potting mix. Make sure you have a mix that’s compatible.

        If they are really pot-bound, consider pruning the roots — perhaps during a future repotting in a couple years, since I think it’s best to do it before the growing season. I don’t think enough people know about this aspect of houseplant care! This is basically stunting the plant’s growth, but intentionally.

        You can trim the aerial roots or leave them and turn some of them back into the soil, up to you.

        It is daunting, but don’t be afraid!

        I found a detailed post about this on the HouseplantHouse website with helpful pictures.

    4. NeverNicky*

      It’s doing well – we have had more rain but plenty if sun so perfect conditions here in the East of England.

      Flower wise we’re in a bit of a lull but Monty Don on Gardener’s World is too so that’s okay . That said, the various lavatera are in full bloom, the buddleja is starting to flower and the lavender too.

      Our first outdoor tomatoes are ripening and each of the three plants has now set their first trusses. We have three plants, of different varieties and it looks like without really planning that the plants will fruit in succession.

      I’ve just spent a very pleasant hour or so pottering in my potting shed taking cuttings from various perennials. I think – apart from enjoying the fruits of my labours – cuttings are my favourite garden task. They are quick to do, don’t need a lot of fuss, you’re getting something for nothing plus it’s fairly easy to see whether they are going to take or not.

      I’m also wowed by my radish seeds – I sowed them last Saturday and by Thursday afternoon they were two inches tall. And all my Little Gem lettuce sowed at the same time are through too, so should be ready by the time we’ve eaten all the lollo rosso.

    5. Parenthetically*

      Blossom end rot on our tomato blossoms! The romas, weirdly, seem immune, but Rutgers, Brandywine, and Black Krim are all in need of blossom-set spray ASAP. Peas, beets, peppers, basil, are all going gangbusters. No blossoms on the beans yet but from memory they take over the entire fence, you think they’re never going to bloom, and then BANG, you have 850 beans to pick.

      Any advice for keeping birds off the onions? They seem to think they’re worms, and putting net over them isn’t feasible because they’re in about 1/6 of a raised bed with other plants interplanted.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        When I lived in the city, the pigeons discovered my roof garden – and within hours, my pea plants were gone. So I put up windsocks designed to scare birds (they had a big eye, with shiny metal bits trailing underneath). Problem solved, and the pea plants grew back.

    6. Llellayena*

      My eggplant has aphids! Help! How do I get rid of them? Everything else is growing like crazy. This is going to be a fantastic year for my herbs.

      1. MinotJ*

        I got rid of the aphids on my cauliflower with neem oil. But I’ve learned that it’s a pretty harsh measure for organic gardening as it kills both good and bad bugs.

        1. Green great dragon*

          You can get contact insecticides which I believe only kill the things you actually spray. They seem to keep aphids under control, though won’t stop any new infestations. I’ve got a small garden, so I just spray things I see starting to suffer. (I use Bug Clear, but I assume they’re all much the same.

      2. SpellingBee*

        Aphids can be blasted off with a spray of water from the hose. It can be tricky if the plants are delicate, though. You can also just rub them off if that doesn’t skeeve you out too much, or spritz them with soapy water from a spray bottle. There are insecticidal soaps you can buy, but for aphids dish soap and water works fine and is a lot cheaper!

      3. Llellayena*

        So…not only do I have aphids (no garden hose, potted plant, so that means of getting rid of them won’t work), but I have an infestation of spotted lanternfly, currently the youngest stage. Yay! Yes I’m reporting it…

        1. 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.”

      4. Nita*

        I have ordered ladybugs in the mail, with great results. They ate all the aphids in a few weeks, and then scattered to do their good work elsewhere. This was a few years ago, and I don’t know if you can still do it now. I’ve had a ton of delays getting seeds this year, so it’s possible that there are no ladybugs to be ordered either.

    7. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I’m very surprised, actually. We had to go away on a bit of a rush trip to clean out our flat in London and I expected everything I left in the plastic greenhouse to be cooked when I got back because of course those were the hottest days of the year so far. However the opposite seems to have happened, and apart from some crispy leaves on a bean plant and one foot cabbage everything else seems to have taken off. Now I just have to find time to plant things out.

      1. Venus*

        That’s great news! I had some seedlings die off last year in unexpected heat, and I had quite a few to spare yet it was still sad.

    8. LQ*

      I have peppers! I’m so excited about the peppers. They are looking really adorable. They are the stumpiest little plants, I’m pretty sure the pepper will be bigger than the plant. Actually all the plants in the click grow are really stumpy compared to the areogarden. The aerogarden tomatoes are really tall and look like they are flourishing. I decided to pull the lettuce this week.

      I’m also finally deciding that I’m going to go for getting a third. And then I spent a bunch of time looking at other brands, but I think I’m going to stick with the aerogarden for this one. I like it better than the click grow.

      Anyone have experience with any other brands? I need fairly self contained and I don’t have the stuff to do a DIY version.

      1. Venus*

        I don’t have experience with other brands, but wanted to say that my peppers always look stumpy (grown outdoors) so that seems to be their natural state.

        1. LQ*

          This is good to hear. I’ve grown them outside in a past life too so I think I know it, but I guess it is still a surprise. That’s just how they are is good to know. Thank you for the reassurance!

    9. HannahS*

      My parsley isn’t happy. I have a tiny 18-inch balcony on which I have some potted plants, all of which are growing beautifully except the parsley. I’m south facing, and I wonder if it’s just too sunny? It’s also sharing a pot with basil, which maybe was a mistake. Any thoughts?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Probably too hot and too sunny, meaning even when the sun is not pounding on it, the plant is still too hot and wilting from the heat.
        If the parsley is small enough maybe you can put the parsley (basil and pot) under the shade of a much larger thriving plant. Or maybe you can bring it inside and put it near a sunny-ish window.

    10. fposte*

      Gonna eat some baby lettuce this weekend! I’ve realized the great thing about growing lettuce is that if you miss cutting the baby lettuce you can pretend you meant to do that and just harvest it later.

      Flower-wise, it’s clematis world and the beginning of the lilies; daylilies are on their heels. My tendency to have periods of crazes where I add a bunch of one kind of plant seems to have paid off, as having clematis twining everywhere is a special pleasure this year. Though I did have to skip a few hedge-trimming bits as there was a clematis twining through them that I didn’t want to cut; that’ll teach me to be so late with the trimming.

      1. Venus*

        I’m so pleased that my clematis are doing well this year. I got them last year and they were okay, but there are so many flowers on them this year! I’m definitely a clematis fan.

    11. Aly_b*

      I’m not at all a gardener but have just moved into a place with a fantastic patio and looking to plant some stuff. I’ve ordered a couple of plants that are started, and am planning on ordering some seeds with short maturity times; we get long growing seasons on the west coast and I can move stuff inside so I think I can get away with the late start. I think I need some pots, a trowel, drainage rocks, soil, and fertilizer? What am I missing? It’s all going to be container gardening and I know to look up whether things like shady or sunny and watering instructions for the specific plant.

      1. hermit crab*

        Hello, fellow patio gardener! That list sounds good to me (I don’t even have a trowel, I just use plastic cups and butter knives to move things around). If it’s an option for you, maybe check if your friends/neighbors have extra supplies. I just got a huge amount of free nursery/seedling pots from a neighbor who was getting rid of them. You can also be creative about your plant containers. I’ve got two tomato plants right now doing great in old plastic trash cans with holes poked in the bottoms.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Watering can or hose
        small trellises or cages for vine type growers or tomatoes.
        gloves are nice so you don’t show up with dirt under your nails at work on Monday.
        a strong pair of scissors or small pruners.
        Twine or string

        A good chunk of gardening is re-using what you have on hand. So don’t feel like you have to rush out and buy a ton of special stuff. I mean we can spend huge amounts of money on gardening and it kind of kills the joy. It’s okay to pick up things as you go along. The one thing they absolutely need is water, so have a plan for how to water them before starting.

    12. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I am trying to grow zucchini in a pot this year. I saw on the internet that the best way to grow zucchini was to stake it so thought it was worth a try. The plant is flowering and seems healthy! I’ll update later in the season how it all works out.

    13. Anonymath*


      The squirrels have discovered what I grow in my garden, although not native, is tasty. We’ve lost the whole longan crop to them and they’ve been attacking the cantaloupes. They have also discovered the passion fruit, and I regularly find a couple of passion fruit a day with bite marks out of them.

      I don’t mind the passion fruit as much, as I’ve already harvested over 500 of them and they keep coming. My friend made passion fruit ice cream and it was delicious. I’ve been harvesting enough okra to give to my neighbors and still have plenty to cook with and freeze. I really like this new variety, it stays tender even as it gets long.

      Cucumbers and peppers aren’t doing much, and the volunteer tomatoes are dying back, but the papaya seeds I got from my last papaya and planted to see what would happen are all about two-foot high plants now. I see papayas in my neighbors’ future.

      1. Venus*

        Do the papayas grow within a season? I love papaya, but always assumed that they were impossible in the north. I could winter them indoors if that helps. I suppose that I could google it, but I’m curious to hear more about your work on this, if you don’t mind sharing!

    14. Cruciatus*

      I need soil recommendations. I’m experimenting with a tiny garden because I got 4 free seedlings from a group giving them away in my county. Right now they are in old hanging baskets (though not hanging) and they are doing well! I just ordered a small raised bed (3ftX4ftX11ft) and have been staring at my yard at all hours looking for spots the sun stays the longest. But now I need dirt. I asked on Facebook if anyone has recommendations. I mentioned buying just some bags of Miracle Gro and all I got was “don’t buy Miracle Gro”. OK, that’s not helpful. Based on the soil calculators out there, I will need approximately 11-12 cubic feet, which is about 8 big bags and the cost will be between $64-100. Yikes. Is this my best bet? Is it cheaper at a gardening/landscaping place? But then how do I get it? I don’t have a truck bed or anything. Since this is all kind of an experiment I’m more leaning to just buying whatever’s cheapest at Lowe’s or Home Depot and just see what happens. Does anyone have strong opinions?

      1. hermit crab*

        My local garden/hardware store sells big bags of soil and they’re pretty inexpensive – there is a decent economy of scale when you buy large amounts. All my gardening is in containers so I usually buy the 2 cubic ft bags of potting soil, which are around $10; they’re a manageable size for our car trunk & for moving around once I get home. You can also buy soil that’s specifically mixed for raised beds but I’m not sure how much difference it makes in quality or price. I’m partial to Black Gold organic potting soil but not for any particular reason.

      2. fposte*

        There are sometimes places that can deliver loose garden soil but they usually have a pretty high minimum order (I think it’s four cubic yards for ours). Alternatively, you could just buy the cheapest dirt you can find, but be aware that it might not be as good a soil; consider buying some compost to mix in.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        It’s a one in a million long shot, but if you have a neighborhood forum where your community “talks” with each other, you can ask there how to cost effectively get soil for your raised bed.

        If you have a small family run (not big box chain) nursery near you, you can ask there what people are doing to get soil for their raised beds without taking out a second mortgage. These small nurseries can be hugely helpful over the years. I seriously recommend befriending one or more of them and have on-going interactions with them.

        If you do get stuck paying the $100, I hope I can encourage you that it is a one time expense and you will get the money back in produce over the next season or two. All is not lost here.

      4. Nita*

        Bagged soil can be very hit and miss. I like MiracleGro all right, and Vigoro is great, and much cheaper (here it’s $4/cubic foot). Home Depot should have either one. I’ve tried to order online because I don’t have time to shop for it, but soil is really expensive online. I ended up paying for Home Depot delivery. It’s a pain because you can’t order too much (they’ll charge for truck delivery instead of car) or too little (the minimum cost limit si pretty high). If I had time, I’d just have gone to the store and put the bags in my car. Eight bags can fit in the average car trunk pretty easily.

      5. Venus*

        My suggestion for sunlight is to go out every hour or two in one day, and map out (on a piece of paper?) where the sunlight is. Then you can look at your drawings and sort out where there is 6+ hours of sunlight, or the most possible.

        For dirt, I use fairly cheap stuff and then add manure. Top it off with mulch these days, to keep in the moisture. I don’t know if that’s optimal, but it’s good enough.

    15. hermit crab*

      This morning my wife asked me (only half joking) if I have started a pepper farm. I have been having SO much fun growing new plants from the hot peppers that I dried last season. I’ve been giving away seedlings like crazy on my neighborhood Buy Nothing group and our Nextdoor plant swap forum.

      Also, I have my very first baby tomato! Lots of flowers too, but no other fruits yet. Did I tell you all that we got an heirloom tomato variety called Mister Stripey? I laugh to myself every time I think of it.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        I love vegetable/flower variety names! Great fun to browse the catalogs. My tomatoes this year: Cherokee Carbon, Parks Whopper, Sungold, Early Girl, Sugary Sweet, and Midnight Snack.

    16. Kate*

      I could use help!

      I have three tomato plants. One in particular— in a pot— was looking Fabulously healthy and strong and sprouted four or five tomatoes way before the other two plants— in a bed — were even thinking about it.

      We got two huge rains last week and Tomato in a Pot is looking AWFUL— collapsed, yellow and shriveled. My mum says it’s been overwatered, so I have been trying everything to get it to dry out — adding more dry soil, moving it to even sunnier spots, drilling holes in the bottom of the pot to encourage drainage… I even brought it inside my bedroom today to protect it from another huge rainstorm!

      The four or five tomatoes it had before seem to still be alive, although no new ones have sprouted. Is it a lost cause?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It sounds like it may have exhausted itself between producing early. heat, and rain.

        The thing that strikes me is all. the. water. Large amounts of water removes minerals and other nutrients from the soil. You say it’s yellowed, for example. Well that could be a nitrogen loss because all the water washed out the nitrogen. Nitrogen makes things green again.

        I suggest feeding it some fertilizer. It has probably lasted this long because of the fresh soil you gave it, but there was not enough nutrients in the new soil to carry it along. Give it some plant food and see how it goes. I wouldn’t chuck it until it is totally gone. It might rally with some TLC.

      2. Venus*

        Water-logged plants tend to have their roots die, and then they look dry because they can’t absorb any water. So continue what you are doing, be careful about the amount of water by giving it some yet allowing it to drain well, and expect that it might take some time to grow more roots. Hopefully in a week or two it will look much healthier.

    17. SpellingBee*

      I planted a Mister Stripey this year too! It’s one I’ve never grown and the picture looked so pretty, so I thought it would be fun to try. Also put in Cherokee Purple, Park’s Whopper Improved, Celebrity, Husky Red, Sun Sugar (yellow cherry tomato) and good old Sweet 1000 (red cherry tomato). They’re all going gangbusters except for Husky Red, which I stupidly planted between the 2 cherry tomatoes so it’s getting shaded out. I need to go out and check for tomato hornworms, going to do that early tomorrow morning before it gets too hot.

      The green beans and lemon cucumbers are flowering – as usual I planted too much, so friends and neighbors will be getting a share of the bounty. The beets didn’t come up nearly as well as I hoped; I got a bit of a late start on things (well, late for us – I’m in the southeast) so maybe it was too warm for them? Will try again in the fall.

      It’s been several years since I had a veggie garden, not since we moved here from the PNW, so I’m super excited about it and having so much fun! I love planting a teeny seed and actually getting something you can eat; it’s like magic. It’s also interesting to adjust for gardening in a completely different climate, and sometimes a challenge.

      1. hermit crab*

        Our Mister Stripey was the last of his kind at the garden center – kind of the runt of the litter – and my wife joked that he was actually Master Stripey because he was just a little guy. But he has grown a lot :)

        Our other tomato plant is a Big Beef (which also makes me LOL). I’m kind of disappointed that we haven’t had any hornworms yet because I love petting those squishy little dudes. They’re so cute, and the adult sphinx moth is cool too. (But not so cool that I don’t pick the caterpillars off my plants!)

        1. SpellingBee*

          The Sphinx moths are really cool – if only their caterpillar stage didn’t munch all my tomatoes up! They’re hard to spot on the plants, so even though I pick off as many as I can see, I’m sure I miss some in the foliage. I know I can’t eradicate them, so I just try to keep them in check.

    18. Blue Eagle*

      For the fourth year in a row since they were transplanted from a relative’s garden, my tall irises did not bloom. I’m thinking they need to be transplanted to be in full sun. When is the best time of the year to transplant them.

      1. fposte*

        Bearded iris definitely prefer full sun, and they’re really prone to iris borer as well. You might as well wait until fall to move them at this point; that and spring are the best times. I’d check the rhizomes for mush and holes and if you find any soak them in a bleach/water solution for a bit before replanting (and cut off the mush).

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Adding- rhizomes are funny/odd things. Iris rhizomes really like to be near the top of the soil- they should be mostly visible. And they should lay flat, not vertical.

          When I worked in a nursery we always said there were two reasons why something did not bloom. It was either not enough sun or planted too deep. Sometimes, both reasons.

          1. fposte*

            Oh, good point on the surface nearness; I forgot about that.

            I love the look of bearded iris but they are hugely prone to borer in my area, and I just don’t have the energy to dig them up and treat them every year. I still have a bunch of lovely white ones that were salvaged fro a house getting rid of its garden and that seem to withstand the attacks, though.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Oh that is so sad about the borer and the iris- I have a soft spot in my heart for iris. Beneficial insects or companion plants help? I tried some lady bugs here for mites and the ladies flew away. sigh.

    19. Nita*

      Anyone have tips for dealing with a poison ivy rash? I ended up with poison ivy in my lawn – don’t ask how, the story is too embarrassing. Anyway, three weeks ago I pulled all of it out, wearing gloves of course. Two weeks ago I did major weeding in another part of the garden, wearing the same gloves. I feel so dumb. I didn’t realize how long the oil stays on objects, and I must have been brushing weeds off my arms. It’s been two weeks and the rash is nasty and still seems to be spreading a little. I’d love to know how to feel better!

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re poison ivy rash: much sympathy! I was not sensitive to poison ivy as a kid, and got spoiled, so when I eventually did get a bad case of it I went through an awful time.

        If you get to it early enough, there are (expensive) scrubs that can help get more of the oil off; they claim to work even several hours after exposure. But it sounds like it’s too far along for that now.

        What I found most soothing may sound odd, but: I’d put the affected areas under hot water, as hot as I could stand it. This was… interesting, as the nerves responded with a mad increase in the itching. But if I kept it up to the point where the itching stopped, and then doused the areas in *cold* water, I’d wind up with several hours of relief, and all without having to add anti-itch cream. I don’t know if this will work for you, but it’s easy enough to try.

        1. Beth*

          The hot water method worked for me too, but I later read something (source long lost, I’m afraid) saying that it would prolong the rash.

          My best treatment was boring and simple: wrap the areas in clean soft cotton bandages, wash gently, try not to irritate or pop the blisters. (This was for poison oak, but perhaps it’s similar enough.)

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Some of the home remedies I googled looks like they would sting. But I did see mention of baking soda with enough water to make a paste. That one sounded good to me.

        Since it’s been with you a while, I’d suggest changing your bedding. If you already have, you might want to consider changing it again. Robe, pjs etc, same deal.

    20. Cedrus Libani*

      Anyone have luck in growing basil from seed? Curious if it’s just me.

      I gave up and made cuttings from grocery store basil. They spent two weeks in a humidity chamber (just stuck the trimmed sprigs into the seed starting pots, then put them into a food storage container), then a week in a sunny windowsill, then they went outside last week. They’re doing OK so far.

      The tomatoes are starting to set fruit, so the basil had better hurry up. =)

    21. Sparkly Librarian*

      I have a total of 5 tomato plants now (and a sixth that was delayed in delivery, and I killed 3 other seedlings :( ), but no ripe tomatoes yet. We’ve been eating squash here and there for two weeks (25 harvested so far from the 6 plants), but aren’t overrun yet. The beans got to 6-8″ tall sprouts, but then stalled out and I don’t know why.

      Strawberries in pots have largely given up the ghost — any recommendations for keeping those going in a warm (10a) climate?

      1. Venus*

        My understanding is that beans don’t do well in hot weather, so that might be your problem? I’m happy to have flowers on my tomato plants in June, so we’re definitely in different climates!

    22. Aealias*

      I have a volunteer Nanking cherry tree fruiting this year! Any suggestions for what to do with the produce?

      Also, i’m cutting off a corner of my lawn that’s a pain to mow, and turning it into a flowerbed. I want low-maintenance, and I think I’d like a smallish flowering shrub. I’m zone 3, quite dry, and the bed is well-sheltered on the south and east sides, but quite exposed to the north and west. Suggestions?

      1. Venus*

        My knowledge of plants is quite limited, and any shaded areas get hostas. Sounds like you might do well with them?

        For extra food that you can’t use, you can ask your local food bank if they take donations. Our does, in fact they hand out seeds in the spring with the hope that people will donate the results back to them.

    23. Emily*

      Anyone here good at troubleshooting rosemary? Some of my plant’s leaves are turning brown at the tips and I’m not sure if it’s over/under-watering or something else! It’s a small indoor plant in an east-facing window, and I live in the northeastern USA.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I’ve always thought that rosemary was fussy and tricky. It might want more light? I am in zone 4 it won’t winter over here, we have to bring it in.

    24. Seeking Second Childhood*

      You know that old folk song “Inch by inch row by row someone made this garden grow” ?
      This week it’s all about the parody version “Slug by slug weed by weed my garden’s got me really teed” !

  27. Not Tech Savvy*

    Does anyone have recommendations for low-to-mid price range laptops? These are what I’m looking for:

    1. I’ll mostly use the laptop for MS office and internet, but I’m planning on starting side-gig and so will have to install CAT tools. I may also need to use zoom/skype quite frequently.
    2. The laptop must have a good audiovisual system, because I’m pretty particular when it comes to enjoying movies and music (I can’t use headphones often because of medical issue).

    I have done some research, because I’m not very savvy when it comes to tech, I’m still not sure about a lot of things. Like, would 4GB ram be enough, or should I go for 8GB? What about the processor, is i5 enough or will I need i7? What other things should I know/take into consideration?

    1. Colette*

      Always go for more RAM If you can afford it. As far as the processor, check the requirements for the software you want to use and see what the minimum requirements are. (Office, zoom, etc. should be fine – you only need to worry about more specialized software.)

        1. Not Tech Savvy*

          As opposed to HDD? I remember reading something about this, but I don’t really understand why one is better?

          1. Lady Alys*

            A solid state drive is basically a flash drive that’s in your computer rather than stuck in a USB port. There are no moving parts, so not only is it shockingly fast, but I think it’s supposed to last longer. My son swapped an SSD into my 3yo Dell laptop recently and it’s like I have a new computer.

            And I second getting more memory. Get all the memory.

            I don’t know if you’re in the US, but Alienware (a subsidiary of Dell) makes gaming computers – might be good for the audio/video, maybe not so good for the pocketbook…

          2. Colette*

            Here’s a comparison: https://www.avast.com/c-ssd-vs-hdd

            Basically, HDD drives move – so the speed of reading or writing to them is relatively slow. SDD drives don’t move.

            As far as RAM goes, that’s the memory your computer stores stuff in temporarily while it’s running – so the more you have, the more information it can handle without having to go out to more permanent storage.

          3. fhqwhgads*

            Solid State Drives have no moving parts so they’re less prone to failure and faster to boot. Hard Disk Drives have spinning parts so there’s more wear and tear.

          4. Recent Grad*

            SSD do not have moving parts like HDD so they are more robust and don’t have to get up to speed before they can operate properly.

          5. Dumpster Fire*

            SSD is great, but if you feel like you’re going to have lots of big files (videos etc) to store, I’d suggest an SSD and a larger “standard” hard drive. I’ve got my operating system and all applications installed on the SSD so it starts and runs fast, and all of my document files (Word, PPT, pics & videos, etc) on the regular HD. Regular HD is much cheaper, but some SSD is wonderful for starting up and running fast.

    2. Recent Grad*

      If you ever plan on connecting your laptop to a monitor or even a tv make sure you check what ports you have. Lots of laptops don’t have full size VGA ports anymore so you might need an adapter if you have an old monitor with a regular VGA cable.

      1. Observer*

        If you really want to go external, VGA is probably not your best bet, because it is relatively limited spec anyway. Do make sure that there is an HDMI port. There are other options for getting video out, but HDMI is probably the most common port for high definition video.

    3. The One True Church of Ecucatholicism*

      “CAT” tools? Do you mean “Computer-Assisted Translation”? Not to make an issue of it, but I’ve encountered people who said “CAT” when they meant “CAD”, and the system requirements are very different.

    4. Beatrice*

      I have bought a couple of decently-priced laptops from Lenovo’s outlet store. You can filter by features and sort by price to make sure you’re getting the most out of your budget. Agreed on getting the most RAM and processing power you can afford.

      Both laptops are ~3-4 years old now and I’ve had no issues.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      There are several things to look at

      RAM – more RAM will let you run more programs at the same time, or have more files open. If you have too little RAM, stuff slows down.

      processor – the faster the processor, the faster and more smoothly programs run (and you can run more programs at the same time without things slowing down).

      hard disk – the more disk space, the more files you can store. If you store a lot of videos, music files or images on disk (rather than streaming them), you will need more disk space. If you run out, you can use an external hard drive, but that’s fussier and slower than reading from the local disk. As others have said, SSD lets you read and write files much faster, and is more stable (and also handles being dropped better), but it’s more expensive for the same amount of space.

      screen – a high definition display will look better, but be more expensive.

      The thing to keep in mind is that as you push any of the above to higher levels it costs more, and at some point you’re in high end laptop territory, so faster/more isn’t always better. And for word processing, internet and Zoom/Skype, you don’t need much – for the latter two, internet speed is more important. Although if you want cool Zoom backgrounds, you need a more powerful machine. I’m not sure what CAT tools are, but commercial software generally give guidelines for what you need to run it. If it involves heavy image processing or video processing you’ll need to pay careful attention. Overshoot the specifications for the software a bit, so you can handle updates to the software.

      Overall, I’d say if you’re looking at a laptop brand, don’t go for the lowest specifications, or the highest, but something in the middle.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      Can you say what CAT tools you’d need to install? And roughly what your budget is?

    7. Observer*

      Definitely go for 8 gb of RAM.

      If you can get an SSD (it tends to add a bit to cost, but they are coming down) that will make for better speed, but be careful – a lot of machines with SSD have very small hard drive.

      If you want really good music, get external speakers.

      Depending on what you are watching, getting a machine with a discrete video card might be worth it. But for most standard video, it probably won’t make a difference, and those tend to add to the cost.

      i7 is nice, but I don’t think I would spend too much on it, from your description.

    8. Keener*

      For the sound side of things, I wouldn’t worry too much about the computer’s speaker/mic quality. All the laptops I’ve had provide terrible sound quality (but perhaps there are some out there that are actually better). Instead I’d invest in a good bluetooth speaker and pair it with your laptop for sound.

      The bluetooth speaker has the added bonus of also being able to pair with your phone when you want to play music/postcasts from your phone or take a call hands free.

  28. Anon for this*

    Any tips on moving to Asheville, NC? My friend is looking for a family-friendly neighborhood with good school, walkable, open price range.

    1. CorgisandCats*

      I live in Asheville and absolutely love it. It’s a bit heavy on tourists during the summer and leaf season but it’s worth it. If your friend is on reddit there is an Asheville subreddit that has a ton of moving advice. Off the top of my head, if walkability is a big factor I would probably recommend the Montford neighborhood (north of downtown). West Asheville is super walkable but it’s a love it or hate it kind of neighborhood. I will try to remember to check back, I’m happy to answer any questions!

      1. Anon for this*

        Thanks! How is crime? The sub is full of locals downvoting anyone who wants to move there, lol.

        1. CorgisAndCats*

          Haha well that is reddit for you, lots of cranky people over there. Don’t take it too seriously, there is always lots of moaning about “don’t move here” but honestly, it seems like most people I meet aren’t from here. It is also super friendly and your friend will definitely be in good company as a transplant.

          The crime levels are different in each area. Downtown tends to be higher from drug related crime. There are also a few pockets where gun violence is higher. The vast majority has low crime and this is particularly true if you look in the surrounding communities. There are a lot of smaller towns right outside Asheville that are great, Fletcher and Fairview being my favorites. Both of these areas are also very family friendly with good schools. I moved here 10 years ago and have never regretted it. The arts, outdoors, music, and food scene are amazing and there is never a shortage of things to do (well, except during a pandemic). It is also very progressive and accepting, although fair warning that it is a very blue dot surrounded by red so it’s an interesting mix. I hope your friend is able to find the right place for them!

  29. CoffeeforLife*

    I need to repot some split leaf philodendron but I’m quite scared. They both have large Ariel roots going every which way and the pots are the ones I bought them in last year… do I need to go deeper or just wider? They are currently in 1.72 gal buckets

  30. Lemon Meringue Pie*

    Is anyone else in the UK and feeling anxious about how they’re rushing to open things up too fast?

    We won’t be going near any pubs on ‘super Saturday’ – I’ve got a hospital appointment mid July and don’t wish to jeopardise this by ending up having to self isolate and postpone it, so am basically staying in for the two weeks before.

    I just feel so stressed. I was ok in lockdown, because at least I felt safe.

    1. NeverNicky*


      I was horrified by the news and pictures of Bournemouth beach – people had travelled over 100 miles to go there. I live 30 minutes from a different coast but we are sticking with the back garden (and I appreciate we’re privileged to have that).

      Lockdown is being eased for all the wrong reasons. Firstly, Boris Johnson wants to be everyone’s mate, and then there’s the economic aspects. The science and scientists have been sidelined.

      Fortunately I have worked from home for the last five years so I’m not under pressure that way but socially there’s more “oh let’s meet for a picnic” stuff.

      I’m used to being out of step with the majority and I’m trying to not succumb to peer pressure over this but it’s hard not to question myself.

      1. Lemon Meringue Pie*

        Yep. Yep.

        And I don’t know why people are acting like everything has gone back to normal. Lots of people are still at home – my husband’s industry is shut and I’m furloughed, we are both vulnerable but so much is winding down (eg I heard Joe Wicks is stopping, one example of many).

        On the plus side I’ve resolved a scary medication shortage as the hospital posted me some meds.

    2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Totally. I think everything is being rushed way too fast. I really miss the pub but I am not going anytime soon. I’ll continue to order cases of beer from the local place and hope that helps keep them going. We went for a walk in the local park last weekend and there were numerous big crowds of people. We had a van for the week so decided to go to the DIY place to get some items we normally couldn’t carry home and it was really busy with only a handful of people wearing masks and even the staff totally ignoring the social distancing guidelines. Madness.

      1. Lemon Meringue Pie*

        I feel utter despair that people think they’ve ditched the 2 metre rule when it’s still meant to be 2m if you can. I don’t feel safe going out now.

        I think they’re trying to have the second spike during summer. Cynic, moi?

        1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          I don’t like to think of myself as the type to believe in conspiracy theories but man it’s hard not to think that there is a deliberate attempt to make as many people sick as possible.

          1. Pennyworth*

            I’m a great believer in Hanlon’s razor – “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity” – but in the case of the UK I’d replace ‘stupidity’ with ‘incomptence combined with total indifference to the wellbeing of the vast majority of the population’.

            1. Anonosaurus*

              The UK government approach is to provide unclear guidance, fail to observe it themselves, then blame the public when they do unwise and dangerous things in the belief they are tolerably safe, thereupon absolving them of any responsibility for the horrific death toll. They are utterly incompetent but they don’t care because they have no real commitment to governing the country for the common good, rather than simply being in power as an end in itself. And yet even sensible people of my acquaintance say “oh but can you imagine if it was Corbyn” and “but Boris got it himself, he was in ICU” and I just despair.

              1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

                I’d be over the moon if it was Corbyn, and I am not much of a fan of his.

    3. LGC*

      I – what? Are they just…opening them?

      Like, I know the colonies are a total disasterpiece, but have they learned nothing from the US? Britain had about twice as many deaths per capita as the US from COVID (although not for long!), so I can’t imagine that they’re just…going back to normal, right?

      (This has basically been my reaction to all the news this week: “HAVE YOU GUYS LEARNED NOTHING FROM NEW YORK?”)

      1. Lemon Meringue Pie*

        Not sure what you mean by the colonies.

        No, they’re not just opening them – there are loads of rules and procedures, I just don’t know that people will follow them that well.

        But yes to an extent things are going more in the direction of normal than I would prefer.

          1. LGC*

            Yeah, by “colonies” I meant “the US.” I’m watching the spike in Florida with horror. (I saw their confirmed cases yesterday were OVER 9000 – which is the worst use of that meme in the history of mankind – and audibly gasped.)

            I think the good thing is that there are rules and procedures. In my area, we still haven’t opened indoor places like bars and gyms, but will do so at greatly reduced capacity in the next coming weeks. (Or we WERE planning on doing so, anyway. We’ve opened non-essential retail at reduced capacity, and restaurant seating is outdoors-only for now.) And the UK is in a better position to reopen than the US ever was, so that should be a point in your guys’ favor.

            But I also think we’re a cautionary tale of what happens when you handle this recklessly – when you delay a shutdown (like NY and NJ did in March) or when you just decide to switch back to normal because cases are holding steady (like much of the Sun Belt did in early May). Even relative success stories like California are now in the grips of spiraling case counts. I can’t say you’re not wrong to be worried, and while I think that it’d be best for us to remain in shutdown until we eradicate COVID that…just might not happen. I guess the best advice is to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

              1. ELM*

                I do feel that using the word ‘colony’ is particularly ill-judged. Probably because they are not UK-based and have no idea of how horrendous British colonial rule was for so many countries across the globe.

                1. Femme d'Afrique*

                  I had the same thought, lol. I guess it was meant in jest but it took me a little while to get what LGC was getting at. Context is everything!

      2. Mx*

        It’s no better in many European countries, like France with restaurants and cafes opened since 15 June, and plenty of people not respecting social distancing ! And Sweden has done nearly nothing.

    4. nep*

      I’m not in the UK, but seriously I just can’t get my head around people are acting as if they’ll DIE if they can’t get to a restaurant or pub or party. There is a deadly, highly contagious virus sweeping the world–what the hell do people not understand about that.
      Rant over.
      I feel for you. Sorry for your anxiety. As we all know, stress hits the immune system hard so it’s the last thing anyone needs.

      1. Lemon Meringue Pie*

        Exactly. I still don’t get why people were trying to go on holiday in march or why they’re apparently all booking them in July – like, HELLO?!

        1. nep*

          Sad situation, but not surprising…All over the US states are having to ‘backtrack’ on their grand re-opening plans. Surprise, surprise, y’all. Science is truth.

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Next Saturday is gonna be ugly – it better not be hot with the football on. Bournemouth and the Liverpool celebrations… end of July will tell.

      I’ve been out and about monthly for hospital appointments through all this and when I had to go in this week I noticed that the Tube was more active but nowhere near rammed. Everyone abiding by the face mask rule, but some had it pulled down by their chin to talk on a phone/companion or the ever-hilarious “nose overhang” situation where the mouth only is covered.

      It will be interesting to see what happens with the holiday travel and if there are corresponding spikes. We are desperate to see family and get out of the UK for a bit, but both countries are in worse shape than here and with some medication I am on, its rather preferable I don’t get COVID. So… we probably aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

      For the most part we stay home and will still stay home as things open up (except for grocery shopping/light ‘other’ shopping once a month if I feel like it though we honestly don’t need anything) – until I see which way the wind blows on this there is no reason to put myself in harms way as work aren’t forcing anyone back (building is under construction anyway so its a mess) and Ive got adjustable weights, a gorgeous garden, and the new spin bike arrives on Wednesday. I do miss the swimming pool, though….

      1. Batgirl*

        The Liverpool celebrations were a disaster, and deeply embarrassing to me as a Scouser.

  31. In Case Of Zombies*

    Curious as to other’s thoughts on fan opinion vs bad writing.

    I’ve just finished playing a new video game (The Last Of Us Part II, which is a sequel to a much loved game from 2013). I loved it to pieces but going through reviews online, many are disappointed and are saying the biggest critique is that it’s poorly written. No one is faulting the acting, graphics, or gameplay; it all comes back to the story being mishandled. Someone responded with ‘Just because you didn’t like where the story went doesn’t mean it was written badly’. I thought ‘Heck yes, you are exactly right’ because I personally think the game was wonderfully written, and loved the experience.

    But then afterwards, I puzzled over that comment more and tried to apply it to things I initially loved but then was disappointed by. Take the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Loved TFA, hated TLJ, and meh about TROS. For me, the trilogy had a great start and then tumbled down the hill. If I had to say why I thought that, it wouldn’t be the acting or the special effects; it was the badly written story that gave me no sympathy for Kylo and resurrected the Emperor right out of nowhere. But people liked the movies and thought they were great, so then are they really not badly written and I just don’t like them? Same with Buffy The Vampire Slayer; I loved the first few seasons but my joy started falling off around season five because I thought the overall plot got jumbled due to bad writing. I didn’t like the first season of Legend of Korra after Avatar The Last Airbender; again, thought it was all over the place due to bad writing.

    Is it possible to dislike something fictional and not fall back on the excuse that it’s poorly written?

    1. GoryDetails*

      “Is it possible to dislike something fictional and not fall back on the excuse that it’s poorly written?”

      Well, sure! Tastes vary, and it’s entirely possible to not like the way a favorite storyline turned out or a beloved franchise ended without necessarily finding it poorly written.

      That said, opinions vary about what “bad writing” is, too, so some might find the writing bad and others find it perfectly fine. A lot of (often quite entertaining) fan-wars have to do with whether certain plot points worked or not, certain ships should have sunk (or should have sailed), etc. – but those can apply whether the actual writing was bad or good.

      IMO, if characters are developed enough to really care about, that’s a point for good-or-at-least-decent writing right there, though it’s possible to get attached to a character on the basis of looks or outfit or actor/voice-actor… not that I’ve ever done that (ahem!).

    2. Llellayena*

      Definitely possible. My examples are written rather than viewed, but some of the books I’ve read with my book club have been exceptionally well written but I disliked the story enough to not read it again (or read the sequels). My prime example of that is “Leviathan Wakes” the first book in the Expanse series by James Corey. The writing is exceptional, the style of writing is fascinating, and the storyline made me squeamish. I won’t read it again myself, but I’d recommend it as an example of good writing.

    3. university minion*

      Sure – tastes vary and evolve over time. There are movies I LOVED as a kid that when I went back to re-watch, cringed at the thought of how many times I my parents must’ve sat through them with me hating life.

      There are other movies that I respect as works in the cinematic canon, but have ZERO desire to see for entertainment – like, I get why Kill Bill is an important movie from an academic perspective (film isn’t in any way my field, but I get it), but I didn’t enjoy watching it and am fine with never seeing it again.

      Then there are movies that have an interesting plot and excellent cast, that could be good, but are written so poorly that even the best actors can’t salvage it (Tyler Perry’s “A Fall From Grace” comes to mind).

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Oh, totally. I hate Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Parks and Rec, The Good Place (The Bad Place? I forget which it is). I have no idea if they’re poorly written or not, because the styles of the show are so very much not to my taste that I don’t really have any way to judge that.

      But maybe they are badly written, just in a way that other people really enjoy. “Bad writing” is also super super subjective. :)

      1. Caterpie*

        I hate all of those too! I really tried with Parks & Rec but to me it just seemed like a watered down version of the Office made for people that were sad.

        They all have huge fan bases though so maybe its just me missing something.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yep – my husband loves all three. I just can’t get into most comedy styles. He informs me that my sense of humor must have been shot off in some war. (He’s probably right. I do okay with some British humor – the dryer and more deadpan the better.)

    5. Analyst Editor*

      I think that’s absolutely possible. For me, the really important thing is, I found, whether a work embodies some kind of principle that I hold to, or some image of humanity that I agree with. There is practically no good book – certainly no good classic book – out there that follows the prescriptions of a modern creative writing class to the letter.
      For example, I despise repugnant anti-heroes in literature – I really can’t manage shows like “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” or books like Lolita.

      And on the flip side, I forgive the books I like on these grounds many deviations from What A Good Book Should Look Like. I also sublimate a lot of material in a book that is meandering, or awkward, or unpleasant, if the parts are good are good enough. Jane Austen is like that – I sometimes needed to skim to finish them (especially the non-P&P novels), but the good parts I reread a bajillion times. I love the book MASH – it’s hilarious and embodies the kind of attitude I think is right, so the norms and speech of the times don’t scandalize me.
      Or for movies: if you watch foreign movies, you might find more cliched plot lines or jokes, lower-budget productions, but there’s something authentic and familiar and non-hollywood about them which makes up for it.

      With Star Wars, I intensely disliked #8 (The Last Jedi) and didn’t see anything else, so you’re certainly not alone there…..

    6. fposte*

      So I negotiate this for a living, more or less, and I’d say yes. We all have tastes–there are genres of art or narrative voices we like enough to enjoy even if they’re imperfect, and kinds of art we’re a hard sell on even when they’re really good. There’s no perfect work of art, so for most of us it’s whether the joy the good brings us is enough to overbalance the weak spots. (See people who are annoyed that people only have a single shadow in Star Wars vs. people who create elaborate retcons to justify it.)

      Professionally, my colleagues and I have said a million times something like “It didn’t transport me, but it’s not my kind of book.” We’ve been doing this long enough that we could explain in a sentence why it’s not our kind of book, so it really is an identifiable characteristic.

    7. Koala dreams*

      I used to watch a lot of movies and yes, many movies are very well done but not well-written. It also depends on your tastes, I suppose. Some movies I can watch and agree that they surely put a lot of effort in this movie, but I don’t like it. I mean, take action movies for example. Often the action scenes are great but the story is thin. I don’t like horror movies much, but I especially dislike those horror movies where only the girl who is a virgin survives, and so on. Not every viewer needs a good story that makes sense and is logical, and if you do, not every movie is for you.

    8. Altair*

      I have sometimes called things “Faberge turds” when they were well constructed — elegant language, evocative acting, etc — but just not at all to my taste. One example is the movie ‘Shame’ (though I suppose I deserved that, since I went to watch it mostly for the naked Michael Fassbender) which told such a grim sad story I really didn’t like it even though it unfolded the story quite skillfully.

      (Also, wrt the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy in specific and this discussion in general — whether or not one ‘likes a work’ is a summary of a lot of factors. For instance I love the main foursome of characters in the Sequel Trilogy, and much of the worldbuilding, but oh, I did not like so many of the storytelling choices, especially in TLJ and TROS. So did I like it or not? That’s difficult to summarize.)

    9. The One True Church of Ecucatholicism*

      I think that today, so many things go into the production of a game, a movie, a television show, etc that it can bomb even though the script is of sterling quality. Bad CGI, poor casting decisions, bad direction or editing or cinematography, a rotten soundtrack … I’ll stop here.

      I’m not an expert, but I think that many ‘blockbuster’ movies etc go to hell because Big Budget = Lots of Investors. And I’m going to guess that when one invests a $million+ into a project, one feels free to express one’s opinion. I’d imagine that, as a movie director, it’s tough to maintain a strong, clear vision of a movie project while fending off investors who’d like it to be “more like _E. T._”

    10. tangerineRose*

      I didn’t like the book Great Expectations, but it was wonderfully written. I just didn’t like the people or most of the stuff that happened. I was impressed by the writing though.

    11. RagingADHD*

      Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it was badly written. But OTOH, just because someine else *did* like something doesn’t mean it was well-written!

      Lots of people love soap operas. Nobody thinks they are well-written. The last 2 seasons of Game of Thrones won awards and had immense ratings but they were *terribly* written.

      I absolutely loved Greatest Showman. It was not great writing. I hated Pulp Fiction and wish I had back the 2 hours of my life spent watching it. But I could clearly see that it was good writing.

      Enjoying entertainment involves a lot more than technical excellence in one or another area. If you don’t have strong opinions or experience to critique the writing per se, you can still like or not like it for any reason under the sun.

    12. Remote HealthWorker*

      I think “it’s poorly written” without anything to back it up is a bit dismissive. Like why talk about your opinion of something if you don’t want to articulate the why’s?

      For example, while I like HP growing up, I think the series is poorly written because it made a fantastic Gillian the hero couldn’t beat and rather then letting that story play out.. JK pulled a Deus ex machina.

    13. allathian*

      Yes, it’s definitely possible to dislike something fictional and not fall back on the excuse that it’s poorly written.

      As a translator I write for a living and as it’s non-fiction, I get exposed to a lot of truly terrible writing, a lot of meh writing and some quite good and occasionally exceptional writing.

      I don’t think a fictional story was poorly written just because it went in a different direction than what I would have preferred. I can deal with clunky plots, but I dislike stiff and boring characterization. For me the SW prequels were hugely disappointing, with ROTS a bit less so than the others, but I don’t have the same issues with the sequels, because the characters are much more vivid and likable. Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman had absolutely zero chemistry, IMO. They looked like they were just going through the motions. Anakin only got interesting once he began to turn to the dark side and I enjoyed noticing how his gestures mirrored those of Darth Vader in the originals.

      I also don’t think that the last two seasons of GOT were poorly written. I found the story just as engaging as it was earlier on.

    14. The Time Being*

      Is it possible to dislike something fictional and not fall back on the excuse that it’s poorly written?

      Of course it is! But it’s also possible for people to disagree on what makes bad writing without anyone being objectively wrong. There are a ton of different elements to what makes up good or bad writing, and people weight those elements differently.

      I can’t speak directly to TLOU2, since I haven’t played it or the original game. So to run with your Star Wars sequel trilogy example, some people felt TFA had better writing than TLJ because it was an engaging story that moved briskly along and had a coherent and functional plot, while TLJ had so many abrupt reversals of fortune that it simply felt like they were being jerked around rather than being told a story. Some people felt TLJ had better writing than TFA because it had a stronger underlying message and engaged in some great creative subversions, while TFA was just a rehash of ANH with some different characters and an even bigger and more ridiculous Death Star.

      Neither of these positions is inherently wrong, and they both point out legitimate good and bad points to both movies. What elements of good or bad writing are the most important and determine whether a work overall is more good or more bad depends on the observer’s priorities.

    15. knead me seymour*

      For me, it’s not so much about bad writing as lazy writing. Most often when I don’t like something, it’s just not really to my taste. But I do get annoyed when writers consistently make the most obvious choice, or completely neglect to follow through on choices they’ve made, or make characters act incomprehensibly because it’s convenient for the plot, etcetera. On the one hand, I realize those choices aren’t going to bother everyone, so it is still pretty subjective. But I still have a hard time buying in to the story when I can predict every single move the plot makes.

    16. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      To answer your question- definitely! I think so, at least. This is kind of related to something my partner and I talk about sometimes, which is the idea that sometimes you can love a piece of art SO much that it kind of becomes part of your personal truth. There are shows, games, and books that are so important to me that when other people claim that they’re badly written or boring or whatever, it feels like a personal attack. It feels like they insulted my friend or something, even though that’s obviously absurd! But in any case I absolutely loved The Last of Us II and I think/hope it will be remembered as a masterpiece.

  32. GoryDetails*

    Reading anything interesting lately? Some of my recent reads include:

    BEYOND BINARY edited by Brit Mandelo, a speculative-fiction anthology themed on genderqueer themes

    COME TUMBLING DOWN by Seanan McGuire, from her marvelous “Wayward Children” series; this one continues the story of sisters Jack and Jill, who were introduced in Every Heart a Doorway and also starred in Down Among the Sticks and Bones. [This book *could* be read as a stand-alone but will be more enjoyable – and make more sense – if you’ve read the previous books in the series first.] Among my favorite aspects of this one is that it reunites several characters from the first book.

    THE DANGER TREE by David MacFarlane is a memoir/history about MacFarlane’s Newfoundland ancestors, including three brothers in one family who all died in WWI; beautifully written!

    THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE by Patrick Ness is a YA novel about the kids who live in places like Buffy’s Hellmouth, but who aren’t the chosen ones or the Scooby gang; they have plenty of problems of their own, which occasionally intersect with the latest plague of vampires or ghosts or whatever, but they aren’t (usually) part of the Big Final Battle. Fun aspect: each chapter opens with “in which thus-and-such happens” text describing with the actual “chosen ones” are up to – it forms a kind of mini-story which is running in the background of the main tale.

    1. Anónima*

      I want to say thanks to Emma who recommended ‘Vegan For Her’ by Virginia Messina. I have been reading it this week, and it’s really helpful.

      That YA novel, The Rest Of Us Just Live Here sounds really good!

    2. Kiitemso*

      Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips – Two young girls go missing in Kamchatka peninsula in Russia. This book just portrays the world of this peninsula and its people so deeply and interestingly. The mystery unfolds very slowly, and it’s not the sole focus of the book. I absolutely loved this one.

      Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk – Another one I really liked! An older woman lives in a Polish village, and one of her neighbors gets murdered, which sets off a chain of events and she begins meddling in the investigation by the police. The voice of this main character was just so compelling, all her little obsessions and incongruities out there. She loves astrology and the poet Blake, and agonises over the difficulty of translating his work into Polish, and the whole novel really hangs on this incredible portrayal of this complex individual.

      We by Yevgeni Zamyatin – A Russian dystopia written in the 1920’s where society is strictly regulated, every building built out of glass for maximum transparency and everybody’s time and relations mandated from the top down. It’s an incredibly interesting world and dystopia, but the writing style is very vague and aethereal almost, leaving a lot of things unstated, undescribed, or frankly confusing. I recommend it but I wish it had been written in a different style. The main character is a mathematician working on a big machine (an airplane of sorts?), who gets thrown off his normal life by a woman who catches him off-guard.

      1. Analyst Editor*

        If you like that (I haven’t read We yet though) you should check out Nabokov’s Invitation to a Beheading, which is a similar theme. Super surreal, and it’s my favorite work by him – I liked it more than Lolita, for example.

    3. Analyst Editor*

      I read “Carrie Pilby: A Hilarious and Charming Story” recently, after watching the Netflix movie.
      It’s different from the movie in many ways and really worth a read. I really identified with the main character and the book felt wholesome in a hard-to-articulate way. I liked it.

    4. Nervous Nellie*

      Three new books for me – two non-fiction and one fiction:

      I just finished ex-Secret Service agent & polygraph expert Evy Poumpouras’ book Becoming Bulletproof, which has lots of smart tips in it for readers about discreetly getting the truth out of people, how to read their intentions, how to be quietly influential. It is also a memoir of sorts, and was a terrific read.

      I ordered that book as a ‘companion’ to Judith Matloff’s How to Drag a Body and Other Safety Tips You Hope Never to Need. With the disintegrating conditions here in the US, it felt like these books might have good ideas that would help me prep more than just for a natural disaster, like an earthquake, that we are prone to in this area.

      Both are great reads and highly recommended.

      And for fiction, I ordered Philip K Dick’s Time Out of Joint, which is a tremendous cross between Truman Show themes and Dark City themes. Spooky & fascinating. Unputdownable! I even carried it to work! Written in the late 1950s, and reads like a TV episode of the original Twilight Zone. A great romp!

      1. ThatGirl*

        Thanks for the PKD rec, I enjoy him and Dark City and the Twilight Zone, but hadn’t heard of that book.

    5. Jen Erik*

      Tuesday Mooney Wore Black by Kate Racculia , which seems to be also called Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts. The plot is that an eccentric billionaire dies and has set up a treasure hunt of sorts to begin after he dies, but that’s just the device that moves the book along. I can’t articulate what is so good about it, but it is just a quality read.

      1. Granger Chase*

        This sounds similar to the plot of The Westing Game, which is one of my favorites from when I was a kid. I’ll have to check this out, thanks!

    6. 2QS*

      Oh man! One of these I also read and enjoyed recently (The Rest of Us Just Live Here), one’s in a box of used books I bought but haven’t read yet (The Danger Tree – published in Canada as Come From Away, but unrelated to the musical of the same name), one’s in a series I’ve been wanting to start for aaaaaaaages now (Come Tumbling Down), and one I hadn’t heard of but now want to read the heck out of (Beyond Binary).

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      Currently reading Black for a Day: White Fantasies of Race and Empathy by Alisha Gaines. Would recommend.

  33. Vasectomy vs Tying Tubes*

    Share you experience with either of these procedures!

    My husband and I are thinking about what we want to do for more permanent birth control. We are both in our 20s, so lots of years ahead of us where pregnancy is very possible. We already have 2 kiddos and will most likely have a 3rd before any procedure is done. I have no desire to be on a hormonal birth control or get an IUD.

    I kind of think since I gave birth, he should get the vasectomy, but he has heard several horror stories from friends and friends of friends. I do not want him to be in months of pain (as some of these stories go) but how frequently does this really occur? I have a lot of anxiety about doctors/surgery, so not really thrilled about doing a tubal ligation.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. university minion*

      He needs to find new friends. These guys are full of ish. I’m sure there are procedures that have gone wrong, but those are exceptionally rare.
      I’m not a man, but worked in male-dominated areas where the guys talked pretty openly about when they got their vasectomies. I’ve never heard the first person say they regretted having it done or that they had any complications. The most common thing said was, “wish I’d done it sooner”.
      As you probably already know, it’s much less invasive than a tubal, and that factored heavily into the decision calculus of whether he gets a vasectomy or she gets a tubal.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      For him, it’d be an outpatient surgery with about 24 hours of recovery. For you, it’d be invasive abdominal surgery with potentially 1-2 weeks of recovery. Plus you’ve carried and borne two children with a possible third. Your medical risks throughout all of this have been way higher than his. It’s his turn.

      1. HBJ*

        So. Much. This.

        Sure, there’s the occasional V that goes wrong, but do the actual research, and the risks are much higher for a tubal. Personally, a tubal is completely off the table for me unless I’m already opened up for a c-section (and even then, probably not), and considering I’ve so far had low risk pregnancies and births, it’s pretty unlikely I’ll need that going forward.

    3. HannahS*

      Yeah, I’m with you. A vasectomy is a much more minor procedure. Tubal ligation is major abdominal surgery. It has more risks.

    4. Disco Janet*

      In my opinion, he should 100% get a vasectomy over you having your tubes tied. It’s less invasive, less painful, less risky, and has a MUCH shorter recovery time. I seriously side eye my friends whose husband’s refuse to get a vasectomy and want her to go through a tubal, particularly after she’s already endured all the hard work of pregnancy and labor.

      Months of pain after a vasectomy sounds quite unusual to me. My husband drove himself home after his, took it easy for a couple days, and never even felt the need to take Tylenol or Motrin or anything. And he does not have a high pain tolerance! Yes, the initial needle stick hurts and the procedure itself is uncomfortable. But it’s generally an uncomplicated process with a straightforward recovery, and honestly I think it would be selfish of him to push for you to have a tubal done when a vasectomy is significantly less risky. It’s understandable for him to have some fear about it, but it is hands-down the logical option. My husband stopped asking opinions of those who had been through it or googling because he didn’t want to let someone else’s bad experience talk him out of doing what he felt was the best thing for us.

    5. Generic Name*

      What kind of vasectomy horror stories? From what I understand, it’s a laparoscopic outpatient procedure with minimal pain. The patient does have to got in a few months after the procedure to do a sperm count to confirm that the procedure worked. Fertility isn’t gone the day after the procedure. Apparently there can still be sperm in the tubes (vas deferens).

      1. Parenthetically*

        I mean, I do have a friend whose vasectomy went pretty badly and he was in terrible pain for a week, but most of my friends who’ve had them, the recovery involved some advil/tylenol dosing and an ice pack on the nether regions for a day or two.

        A tubal is a much more invasive and serious procedure. Vasectomies aren’t even inpatient. It’s a no-brainer.

    6. Natalie*

      Pain can be a side effect of a tubal, too, so I don’t see how his potential for pain trumps yours. Especially since you’ve already taken all the pregnancy and childbirth complication risks.

      On every level vasectomy is a better choice – cheaper, easier, faster, shorter recovery time, lower rate of complications, lower failure rate. It’s even easier to chose to have another pregnancy if you want to, as you can do IUI instead of needing IVF.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        On every level vasectomy is a better choice – cheaper, easier, faster, shorter recovery time, lower rate of complications, lower failure rate. It’s even easier to chose to have another pregnancy if you want to, as you can do IUI instead of needing IVF.

        Sorry, I’m going to have to dispute that last bit. I assume you mean IUI after vasectomy reversal? A reversal is actually a tricky procedure, and the longer it’s been since the vasectomy, the less likely it is to work. There’s a very good chance that you’ll end up doing IVF, since the sperm may be scant and of lower quality. If there’s any possibility that one of you will want to have a fourth child at some point (i.e., if you know for sure that if you ended up with a new partner in the next 10 years, you’d want to have children with them), I’d go for the tubal. IVF after tubal ligation, assuming the woman was fertile beforehand, is straightforward and has a high success rate. And those are the only circumstances that would make me suggest a tubal rather than a vasectomy.

    7. Venus*

      I have friends who have had tubals and vasectomies. The guys are all fine and have no regrets. My impression for the men is that if they think ahead of time that it will be a problem then they are more likely to regret it or feel that it’s painful. Self-fulfilling reaction.

      The tubal is harder on the body but recovery took a few days and there were no regrets for those who did it.

    8. McGruff*

      I can only speak to the procedure itself, not who “should” be the one to have their respective procedure done.

      In my experience, the vasectomy was a cake walk. A little sore at times, but more in an uncomfortable sort of way than out and out pain that put me on the sidelines for any sort of time. You’re barely in their for an hour and before you know it, you are in your car and driving home. I just wish the Dr. hadn’t cranked the AC while I was in there. Not cool, Doc. Not cool. No pun…

    9. Anon5*

      My boyfriend had a vasectomy and he had no problems other than being uncomfortable for the first few days. He does not have a high tolerance for pain, doctors or medical procedures, but we both wanted to be sure I wouldn’t get pregnant. He also said “I wish I did this sooner”. It’s really not a big deal so I suggest asking around for the best doctor to help ease his fears. And yes, there will be weeks/months afterward before all the sperm is gone from his system so you do need other birth control during that time.