weekend open thread – July 25-26, 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: Family and Other Accidents, by Shari Goldhagen. It follows two brothers left on their own after their parents die, and their relationships with the women in their lives over decades. I loved it, although be warned there’s a jarring number of sex scenes that, to me, felt oddly discordant with the rest of the book.

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

{ 1,272 comments… read them below }

      1. Tomacco*

        MaudAndJane on Etsy. The seller is in Thornhill, ON, her masks are really comfy (I have to wear one all day long), decently priced, and she has really fun fabrics.

    1. TTailor*

      You don’t mention mention where you are so try looking up a chapter of Canada Sews, or the sewing army (Diana Coatsworth)
      Many of my colleagues in the theatre wardrobes have been sewing masks and gowns and sell or donate them, maybe where you live there is an out of work stitcher you can support.

    2. Lau*

      I got one from a local maker at a weekly market we have in town.
      Maybe look for something like that?

    3. Fleurette*

      I might be too late but I recommend BienAller, a Montréal-based company: https://bienaller.com/collections/all

      Masks are made of premium cotton, washable, and have adjustable ear straps, which are a plus for me. Some of the masks also come with 2 reusable antibacterial filters. Free shipping in Canada is also included.

  1. Anna Banana*

    What’s everyone reading? I’m in that period where I need a new book and nothing looks interesting, not even re-reading old favorites. Would love some suggestions. I mostly read literary fiction. (Alison’s recommendations usually work well for me but at this point I’ve read most of them!)

    1. Esme*

      I never really know what people mean by literary fiction, and this recommendation definitely isn’t that, but I’ve just finished the audiobook of The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James and I adored it, so I’ll post anyway!

    2. Jow*

      I’m re-reading On The Beach by Nevil Shute. It follows a group of people in Australia as they wait for the cloud of nuclear fallout that’s already wiped out the northern hemisphere to reach the country.

      Last time I read it, it stuck with me for weeks after. It’s not the most uplifting, but the range of emotions and actions from the remaiming population is poignant and compelling.

      1. AP*

        Careful, there’s an abridged version of On the Beach which is floating around. The Kindle version used the be abridged, but I think it was later fixed.

        Make sure you get the complete version. An easy way to check (from the Amazon reviews):
        First line, second paragraph, has gone from “He woke happy, and it was some time before his conscious senses realized and pinned down the origin of this happiness,” to “He woke happy, and was not sure why.”

      2. GoryDetails*

        I love On The Beach, harrowing as it is. If you’re into apocalyptic books, I’ve recently enjoyed:

        THE END OF THE WORLD RUNNING CLUB by Adrian J. Walker, and its follow-on, THE END OF THE WORLD SURVIVORS CLUB

        The books deal with a catastrophic meteor-swarm that causes ongoing devastation; the first book focuses on a man’s attempt to travel across the country on foot to rendezvous with his family on a rescue ship, and the second takes up the story from his wife’s point of view.

        1. a librarian (surprise surprise)*

          Oh my goodness! I got an End of the World Running Club ARC at the American Library Association conference on a whim once and couldn’t put down. Something about it ended up sucking me in so resolutely that I just HAD to marathon it. I didn’t realize there was a follow-on! Now I know my next read for sure.

        2. Autumnheart*

          Aren’t they coming out with a movie with this exact plot? Gerard Butler?

          I love apocalyptic fiction, so I’m all over this.

          1. GoryDetails*

            “Aren’t they coming out with a movie with this exact plot? Gerard Butler?”

            I hadn’t heard of that one (oddly, as I’m usually all over disaster-flick news). It does feature Things Hitting The Earth, but it sounds as though its a “society crumbles while awaiting the planet-killing strike”, with the fragments as precursor. “Running Club” is definitely NOT a planet-killing situation, though from the perspective of the main characters it sometimes seems that it might be…

            I was fond of “Deep Impact,” another Things Hitting The Earth movie; will have to watch “Greenland” when it’s available! (No word on whether there’s any film interest in the “End of the World” books.)

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        By coincidence, I just started Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank, a post-nuclear-apocalypse novel from 1959. I detect a theme.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Hands down the most unforgettable last line of any book I’ve ever read. Admittedly I first read it in middle school, so my expectations played a role there. To borrow a phrase from my 13yo, I was shooketh.

      4. LastDaughter Standing*

        I read that book for the first time when I was about 8 or 9, not too long after it was published. It was terrifying to me — and completely put me off any book that didn’t have a reasonably happy ending. (For context, I’m about 70 now). An example of the fact that just because a child can read at an adult level doesn’t mean they are ready for adult concepts.

        1. Smithsisters*

          So true! I was also a very young prolific reader of adult books and yes they left indelible scars.

      5. WorkerBee*

        The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker is in a similar vein, though it takes place with middle school characters in California. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (movie) is also like that. One of my favourite genres (if you can call it that) is the “realistic apocalypse” scenario, where the world is ending, no one is going to escape, and rather than having a sci-fi or fantasy focus – as many apocalyptic novels do – it instead examines how humans react to the end. It seems depressing, but it’s oddly cathartic.

      6. Pam*

        I find Shute’s work to be comfort reads. Trustee from the Toolroom is a favorite, along with Pied Piper.

    3. NeverNicky*

      Not so much reading as listening to audiobooks. In the last ten days or so I’ve finished:
      The Secret Pigeon Service by Gordon Corera – about the use of carrier pigeons in WW2 and the bravery of people in Nazi occupied France and Belgium. Fascinating and heart breaking.

      The Body by Bill Bryson – popular science that’s very well done. There was a bonus documentary at the end which I had a small part in putting together, so an unexpected glow there as I hadn’t realised it was being used.

      A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier – well observed characterisation and I loved all the stuff about embroidery. I felt the ending a bit too tidy though!

      I’m currently listening to The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow. Not dissimilar to A Single Thread with its theme of spinsterhood and finding your place and your voice, but it is more witty. Not as subtle as its source material but very enjoyable

      1. Lena Clare*

        I often think the books that people read (and the things that they like) are good recommendations for who you’d get on with. I think you and I would get on, based on your list here :)
        You’ve reminded me that I have The Body in my TBR pile. I’m going to get on to that next.

      2. GoryDetails*

        Re audiobooks: I love ’em! Am currently listening to Neil Gaiman’s THE VIEW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS, a collection of his nonfiction, read by himself. There is some repetition there, but it’s fun hearing his introductions to other authors’ works, his experiences in filmmaking, etc.

        Also just finished listening to A COVEN OF VAMPIRES by Brian Lumley, a nicely-varied anthology where the vampires range from bloodsuckers to alien parasites to emotional vampires.

      3. Valancy Snaith*

        Mmm, I felt much the same about A Single Thread. Tracy Chevalier is one of my all-time favourite authors, but that one was tied up a little too neatly at the end for me.

      4. Southern Academic*

        Also listening to audiobooks, since work stuff right now is keeping me sufficiently busy that I don’t have the time or inclination to read physical copies. :(

        I just picked up Erik Larson’s new book, the Splendid and the Vile. It’s about Churchill’s first year as prime minister and his consistent work at keeping up British spirits under the German bombing. I don’t go out much for WWII history (think it’s overdone) but I make an exception for Larson –– everything of his I’ve ever read is so good, detailed and alive.

      5. ForNancy*

        I just finished listening to The Boys in the Boat about the 1936 men’s Olympic rowing team. Now listening to Seabiscuit. I run every morning and like listening to inspirational books or podcasts. Would love other recommendations. I’m going to check out The Secret Pigeon Service.

        1. Not Australian*

          Sorry, this is a dead tree book not audio (as far as I know) – but THE OARSMEN by Scott Patterson may suit you; it’s about Australian rowers at the tail end of WW1, desperate to get home from Europe, competing in the 1919 Royal Henley Peace Regatta.

      6. Marni*

        I *love* Bill Bryson and somehow missed the existence of this book. Hooray and thank you!

    4. Sue*

      I just finished The Three Musketeers, it’s a fun read. Now reading Asymmetry, it was on Alison’s 2018 list, I believe and have Memories of a Geisha in my queue. Also recently read Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher, nonfiction but a really interesting story.

    5. AussieDee*

      Just finished new David Mitchell – Utopia Avenue. Still has links to his previous books but mostly focused on the music scene in London in the late 60s.

    6. AussieDee*

      Also recommending Longbourne by Jo Baker. It’s an alternative version of Pride and Prejudice told from the perspective of those who “live below the stairs”

    7. Effie*

      I just finished reading Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park (one of my favorite authors) and it made me tear up.

    8. Laure001*

      I am rereading all Jane Austen and loving it. This time I even adored Mansfield Park. But I would, of course, first recommend Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion.

    9. Analyst Editor*

      Try old adventure novels. Like Treasure Island or Ivanhoe.
      Treasure Island is just excellent. Like, it’s such a well-crafted novel: pacing, and characterization, I mean, it’s iconic. Stevenson knew what he was doing. And it looks like it’s the source of every pirate trope ever. The go each the movie with Christian Bale as Jim Hawkins, Charlton Heston as Silver, and Christopher Lee as blind pew!

      And then, Ivanhoe. Not only is it probably the source of half of our Robin Hood and King Richard tropes, but it’s also – in my opinion – a work of some depth and sophistication. Walter Scott also knew what he was doing. Then go watch the BBC miniseries with Ciaran Hinds as Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert and Susan Lynch Rebecca, and Christopher Lee in a small role.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I do enjoy those classic adventure tales – though some of them don’t hold up as well as others. Some fun ones that aren’t as well-known are by Arthur Conan Doyle: the very funny “Brigadier Gerard” tales, in which the aged Gerard recounts his adventures during the Napoleonic Wars (with, it is presumed, a fair amount of dramatic enhancement), and The White Company, set in the 14th century, with a few main characters getting involved in the adventures of a mercenary band.

        1. Green great dragon*

          I do like Brigadier Gerard (and I’ve never worked out quite how much we’re meant to assume is exaggerated) but I found The White Company pretty meh. Not sure they’re exactly literary fiction though :)

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m having trouble getting into Treasure Island. It’s my third attempt no less. But it was one of my husband’s favorites as a child so I shall persist. I have to wonder if his hometown library had an edited “good parts version”.

    10. Helvetica*

      Stephen Fry’s “Mythos”. His style irked me a bit in the beginning but it is actually very readable. I loved Greek mythology as a child and probably know all the myths by heart, so reading this makes me feel very nostalgic and soft. Recommended!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have this on deck in audiobook format – I don’t often do audiobooks, but I am hoping that this one (because it’s narrated by the fellow himself) will be more like, Stephen Fry just following me around telling me about Greek mythology. (Which I also know pretty well.)

        1. Helvetica*

          I think it actually might work better in audiobook format! Maybe that’s what irked me – I love him dearly but his humour comes across better in spoken than written word.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I plan to start it today, so I’ll come back and report on the first couple hours tomorrow, if I remember :)

      2. Nervous Nellie*

        Stephen Fry! He wrote a wildly exciting book called Making History, in which a scientist who developed a working time machine instigated the early death of Hitler, and changed world events as a result. The twists were a huge surprise. It is an interesting thought experiment and cautionary tale. Loved it!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Thank you, I just grabbed that from the library!

          (For the Mythos fans, there appears to be a second book along the same vein, Heroes?)

    11. Foreign Octopus*

      No Longer at Ease, by Chinue Achebe.

      It’s the last of his African trilogy and I’m looking forward to sitting down to read it today.

    12. anonanna*

      Here’s what I’ve been reading: a mix of literary fiction, nonfiction, and fun thrillers!
      An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
      The Guest List by Lucy Foley (MAJOR Agatha Christie vibes with this!)
      Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker (cannot recommend enough)
      The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
      Just stared The Snow Child and loving it so far! It transported me to an Alaska winter and I forgot I was in hot N.C. for a while.

    13. GoryDetails*

      I’ve enjoyed Cassandra Parkin’s books, including THE BEACH HUT and THE SUMMER WE ALL RAN AWAY; they’re interestingly-twisty relationships-with-mysterious-elements books. The Beach Hut especially has a great sense of place.

      Some of my current reads:

      TAAQTUMI, edited by Aviaq Johnston, is a collection of horror stories from Inuit and other northern authors.

      NO TURN UNSTONED, by Diana Rigg – a collection of bad reviews of theatrical performances, snarky and entertaining

      DOG YEARS: A MEMOIR by Mark Doty – a lovely, personal, poetic look at the slow death of his partner Wally, and how their dogs helped them through it. (There are some surprisingly funny bits in among the “you WILL need tissues” ones.)

      AWAY WITH THE FAIRIES by Kerry Greenwood – from her “Phryne Fisher” series, this one has a more melodramatic subplot than most, with Phryne’s beloved Lin Chung being kidnapped by pirates; makes a fun counterpoint to the main case, the murder of an advice columnist with a penchant for flower-fairies.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Thank you for the recommendation of Aviaq Johnson! I am always looking for First Nations works to read.

    14. Richard Hershberger*

      Do you enjoy older books? You can get books in the public domain for free, or nearly free with light formatting. I am currently rereading chapter five of Tom Brown’s School Days, though this is not strictly recreational, but for a project I am writing on early football.

    15. The Other Dawn*

      Walk the Wire by David Baldacci. It’s part of his Memory Man series.

      I have a bunch of books I put on hold through Overdrive and they’re all becoming available at the same time. I’m not someone who can read multiple books at once so I keep having to delay delivery. It seems like I either have tons to read or nothing to read.

      1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        If you use a Kindle, the airplane mode can be your best friend here. Download ’em all, put in airplane mode, proceed. My librarian friend assured me that it doesn’t even hold up the wait list, because of Algorithms and Reasons.

    16. Wander*

      I’ve been reading The Network Effect from the Murderbot series. It’s probably not what you’re looking for, but it’s so good. The basic premise is that a previously controlled AI manages to override the controlling factors and is (kind of, given the circumstances) free to makes its own choices. There’s undoubtedly deeper meanings in there, but it’s also really well written and funny. The first four (and upcoming sixth) stories of the series are novellas; the fifth is a full length novel.

    17. nep*

      Finally picked up Brideshead Revisited. It’s been in the house for ages and it was always one of those ‘I suppose I should read that one.’ And I’ve been curious about it.
      Looking forward to Masked Rider by Neil Peart, which just arrived in the mail yesterday. (I wouldn’t go out of my way to turn off a Rush song, but I was never a devoted fan. Learned only a few weeks ago that Neil Peart (RIP) wrote several non-fiction books.)

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Oh, nep, Brideshead! I have read that book so many times, and loved the BBC miniseries made in the 80s with Jeremy Irons. It was so true to the book that many of the lines in the film came straight from it. It is a beautiful examination of privilege and religion. Evelyn Waugh was a complicated man, and used his books to express how he felt about institutions of all kinds. The book can be a bit gloomy, but it is magnificent.

        1. nep*

          How cool. Thanks. (I picked up a biography of Evelyn Waugh at a Y book sale a few years back. I haven’t delved into it but might after I finish Brideshead.)

    18. Doc in a Box*

      I’m currently reading Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue, and really like it. Most of the characters are very realistic and believable, with the exception of one who seems like a cliche — I say “seems” because the author is otherwise so good that I have to wonder if there’s a twist coming in her character.

      Up next is The Winter Soldier, by Daniel Mason. WW1 novel where the Austro-Hungarian empire has run out of army doctors to treat their wounded, so they rush a bunch of medical students to graduate and deploy across the front lines. Sounds familiar….

    19. Gamer Girl*

      Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh. I’ve been recommending it to everyone, left right and center. As a writer myself, I loved it, especially the section in the middle that is essentially a fantasy sequence with character outlines. It surprised me and delighted me. My daughter calls it “the book with the white trees” because I walk around the house reading it (already on my second read-through)

      Please read it–you’ll love it!

      In this case, the paper version provides some added value, as the spaces and italics are part of the story, but the digital edition should still be readable. (My mom tried both after I insisted she would love it, and we both prefer the paper version in this case)

      1. Gamer Girl*

        Also, The Namesake is one I finally pulled from my stack and read. I loved it. As an immigrant parent myself, it encapsulates so many of my wishes and fears for my children, the miscommunications you feel sometimes but can’t quite put your finger on, and it lead me to think about some things in a different way, re, my children growing up.

        1. Ginger ale for all*

          The Namesake was such a great movie that minutes after it ended in the theater, I was in my car heading to the bookstore to buy the book and stayed up far too late for several nights until I read it through.

    20. mreasy*

      Was just in the hospital so I got a lot of reading done. I really enjoyed Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower (though not as much I liked her Kindred), and usually don’t tolerate speculative fiction. Jacqueline Woodson’s Red At The Bone was breathtaking, and I liked the vignette style “coming of age” novel by Zalika Reid-Benta, Frying Plantain. Other recent (lit doc) reads that I’ve loved – Ann Patchett The Dutch House (her best IMO), Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, Madeline Miller’s Circe, Nell Zink’s Doxology.

    21. Not A Manager*

      Last week’s book recommendation made me remember a book with a similar title. We Have Always Lived In The Castle, by Shirley Jackson. It’s really excellent. It’s about two young women who are living alone with their uncle in the large family “manor” under somewhat mysterious circumstances. They are shunned by the neighbors… but why?

      1. Big Moody Curve*

        Seconded. I recently gave this book to my teenaged granddaughter. (She had read “The Lottery” for school.) I thought about giving her “The Haunting Of Hill House” as well, but after rereading it, decided the writing style might be too formal and stilted for a teen.

        I am considering getting “Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny.” Not my usual fare, but the Kindle version is $5, the characters are diverse, and the writing style seemed okay in the preview. The difference between trashy novel and literary fiction is about 150 years, right?

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          When I finish Treasure Island I’m moving on to Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Speaking of trashy novels that are now literature.

    22. Nervous Nellie*

      I am reading two quite surprising and un-put-down-able books: McTeague by Frank Norris (written 1899, the story of an unlicensed dentist whose new wife wins the lottery. It all goes south fast!) and The Gates Ajar by Elizabeth Stewart Phelps (Penguin Classics), which was a random used book grab bag treat. I owe a thank you to whomever stuffed that grab bag! Written in 1868, it is the story of loved ones grieving lost Civil War soldiers, but is a delicate, gentle & comforting story of heaven, hope & optimism.

      Bowled over by both – highly recommended.

    23. MinotJ*

      Im re-reading The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. I read it on paper last time, audiobook this time. I’m picking up so much stuff that I must’ve skimmed before. It’s going to keep me going for a few weeks. He’s one of those authors who I wish if never read, just so I could discover them for the first time.

    24. Big Moody Curve*

      Haven’t read, but want to: The Mycroft Holmes series by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I know his non-fiction writing is thoughtful and expressive. And he’s apparently a Sherlock nerd.

    25. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

      I just went on Goodreads to refresh my list for library curbside because I need some new books, too. These are ones I’ve loved lately:
      -all of Jasmine Guillory
      -The Most Fun They Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
      -The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (sequel to The Royal We)
      -Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld (would 100% recommend anything by Curtis Sittenfeld)

      Authors whose work I consistently enjoy:
      Anita Shreve
      aforementioned Curtis Sittenfeld
      Sue Miller
      Chris Bohjalian
      Alice Hoffman
      Elizabeth Strout

      These are ones I put on hold to pick up curbside (I think there’s some overlap with Alison’s reads here, so you may have already some). I got most of the recommendations based on other books I enjoyed on Goodreads:
      All This Could be Yours by Jami Attenberg
      City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
      The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
      The Mothers by Brit Bennett
      Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
      The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver
      Happy & You Know It by Laura Hankin
      In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
      The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall
      The Last Flight by Julie Clark
      All Adults Here by Emma Straub
      Beach Read by Emily Henry

      1. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

        Someone mentioned Tayari Jones upthread. I also enjoyed The Silver Sparrow and American Marriage by her.

    26. PhyllisB*

      I’ve had so much sadness in my life the last month or so I’ve been checking out with what I would call “escapist” books. By this I mean nice romances that are entertaining and somewhat humorous but not a lot of substance. One of the funniest was Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Ah, PhyllisB. I have wondered how you are doing and sure wish you well. For a breezy, fun romance, check out Nightingale Wood by Stella Gibbons. I think it is her best book.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Thank you Nervous Nellie. Personally, I’m fine, but things aren’t well with my family. My grandson who was on house arrest, cut off his ankle bracelet and ran away. Judge told him if he violated he was facing 27 years in prison.He got captured last week and is facing charges on that plus another stolen car charge. He goes to court on Wed. and I’m sure he’s going to prison this time. My son got thrown out of his rehab unit for leaving the grounds. He wanted us to come get him but we refused. Have no idea where he is now. But you can’t help someone who doesn’t want help.
          Yes, I know some of you on here told me we were enabling him, but not anymore.

      2. Gamer Girl*

        I read The Flat Share a couple of months ago–fits in that rom com vein, and it’s enjoyable for a light, breezy read.

      3. Kt*

        One the vein of smart, snarky romances that made me laugh out loud, the Reluctant Royals series by Alyssa Cole was nearly perfect. First book: graduate student Naledi Smith keeps getting emails from an African prince claiming she is his childhood betrothed, and if she’ll just send some info…. She’s frustrated her spam filter is failing. The conceit is… The dude is real! And they *were* betrothed in childhood! Hijinks ensue.

        I just love the fun Cole has in juggling tropes and cliches and having snarky fun with them. It’s like this book, and series, were born out of pulling outlandish yet familiar scenarios from a hat and saying, “could I pull that off?” The science puns are on point. The interpersonal observations are real. It’s “secret prince” * Wakanda * grad school all in the social media age.

    27. Jaid*

      I’m re-reading the manga One Piece, about a young man who wants to be The King of Pirates in a “World of Adventure”.

    28. Jen Erik*

      Can’t remember if I mentioned this last week, but I think not – The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison – which is a surprisingly true to the books/the spirit of the books retelling where Sherlock Holmes is an angel. Then Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall which did, properly, make me laugh out loud occasionally, which I almost never do.
      I then really considered reading Jasper Fforde’s latest, The Constant Rabbit, but I still haven’t finished Early Riser, and the sample didn’t grab me, so I went for the much cheaper Doing Time by Jodi Taylor. (I stopped reading the St Mary’s books at maybe 5 or 6, but this is a spin off series, and I did enjoy it.) Then Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher, which was more of a romance that I was anticipating, and which I also enjoyed. And I’ve just started the second of the Slow Horses series by Mick Herron called ‘Dead Lions’.
      I’ve really been enjoying reading this week, for the first time since lockdown started. (But nothing that qualifies as lit-fic, so no recommendations – sorry!)

      1. Millicent*

        I’ve been re-reading these just in the last week! I don’t own the whole series, so I’m skipping around a bit, but they are as fun as I remembered. Sadly, I seem to be missing all the books where the characters meet their respective significant others (May, Josie, Anne Marie).

        1. Old and Don’t Care*

          May first appears in Bank Shot, the second book. If you don’t have it, it’s well worth the $10 on Kindle. I just re-read it and am now in a good mood.

    29. Erika22*

      Oof, I was in a reading rut too recently. Usually when this happens I start reading short stories – this last time I discovered Zen Cho and definitely recommend her works! She has a few things on Scribd if you use it!

    30. Windchime*

      I just finished another Emily St. John Mandel book called “The Glass Hotel”. It was really good (as are all of her books). I also read a kind of supernatural post-apocalyptic novel called “On Fire but Not Burning” by Greg Hrbek. I really, really liked this one; basically it’s about a boy who remembers having a sister but nobody else seems to remember her. It’s set in the not-distant future. I also read a Hugh Howey book called “The Shell Collector”. It was not bad, but doesn’t compare to his “Wool” series which is one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever, ever read.

    31. NRG*

      I just finished The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie, I really really like this one. I could not get into her Hugo-award-winning-sci-if Ancillary Justice, but this one was great. Enough that I will give the other another try.

      1. Anonbeth*

        Ha, I was thinking of recommending Ancillary Justice! It’s one of my all-time favorites. Not sure if it’s literary enough for OP, but it has heavier themes of anti-imperialism so it’s not just a sci-fi romp. (The Traitor Baru Cormorant is another sci-fi/fantasy with anti-colonialism themes, tho fwiw I keep getting distracted before I finish it.) I have Raven Tower on my shelf to start soon, glad to hear it’s good!

    32. AliceCW*

      A few books I love that I haven’t seen mentioned are:

      “Angelmaker” by Nick Harkaway

      “A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki

      “The Kindness of Enemies” by Leila Aboulela

      “The Hakawati” by Rabih Alameddine

      Good luck finding something to spark your interest!

    33. Mac*

      I’m currently re-reading for the gazillionth time The Caravaners by Elizabeth Von Arnim (who also wrote the incredibly-charming-book-that-was-made-into-a-very-charming-movie The Enchanted April). It’s wickedly funny.

    34. Ginger ale for all*

      I work in a library and the staff have a thing called the book cart challenge. The concept is that once a semester, we go to a reshelving cart and we have to pick a book from the reshelving cart to read. It gives you a chance to get out of a genre rut and see what other people are into. I am not sure how your libraries are dealing with covid right now so this might be tricky to pull off with so many libraries only doing curbside service.

  2. Skeeder Jones*

    So parents of fur-kids, how many treats are too many? My cat wants treats all day and has learned how to ask for them. She’ll go stand by the container, look at me, meow, look at the container, and then repeat for a while until I give her the treats or she eventually give up. And then she just has the most forlorn expression on her face like her whole world is falling apart. I have tried to put the treat containers away and she’ll just stand where they used to be and meow. Sometimes I tell her she can’t have treats all day, but if I’m eating anything at the time, I swear she looks at me in judgement “oh so you can eat whenever you want…” I bought a puzzle-type treat dispenser, but she’s not very interested in it. She would far rather get treats directly from me.
    I would also add that she is the laziest cat I have ever met, which is probably why she doesn’t really care for the treat puzzle, or any of the toys I’ve purchased for her entertainment needs. When she isn’t asking for treats, she pretty much wakes up from her nap to go to her next nap spot and goes back to sleep. She has a few nap spots that require her to burrow underneath furniture and spare blankets and she takes an extended nap in one of those places at least once a day. She’s a true introvert. I love her to bits, probably more because she’s lazy and a total introvert like her mom.
    So how do you handle “treat-addiction” with your pet and I’d love to hear your funny stories about your pet and their treats.

    1. Esme*

      I’d say the issue is frequency as well as volume. Don’t give her treats when you’re eating and don’t give in to her manipulation and guilt trips!

      I’d say once a day max, if at all.

      1. tangerineRose*

        If a treat can be broken into pieces easily, you might do that and give her 1 treat a day, but in separate pieces so it feels like more.

    2. Lady Heather*

      There are two potential problems with treats: overfeeding and rewarding bad /begging behaviour.

      What I was taught regarding dogs is that what you give in treats you deduct from evening kibble. That way you’re not risking overfeeding and there really isn’t a “too many”.
      Works pretty well.

      As for behaviour – I don’t know how cats “work” so I’m not going to get into that!

    3. Amy*

      My little monsters get sent on scavenger hunts around the house for treats we’ve hidden. And they have to work for handouts. The cats sit or give high 5 for treats. My kitten will be a handful though – she appears at all dog and people food activities to look cute and try to score snacks. We keep her success to under 50 percent.

      1. tuesday last?*

        My last cat was completely aloof & hated being pet … but learned to snuggle on the human laps during dinner so he could score food directly from our plates.

    4. Ann*

      Vet student here! Treats should make up no more than 10% of her daily calorie (kcal) intake. You can work this number out yourself pretty easily: on the bag of her cat food it will tell you how many kcal/cup or kcal/kg of food, and the treat bag should tell you how many kcal/treat. There are formulas to figure out how many kcal she should be getting per day based on her body weight, so you can go deep on this or just keep it simple by figuring out how many kcal of food you’re giving her each day, then allocating 10% of that to treats instead of food.

      In terms of the begging… that’s hard. If it’s really bothering you then probably the best approach is to consistently only give treats (and maybe food too) through an automatic dispenser. I’ve had friends for whom this worked really well after an adjustment period. If you would rather not do that another thing you could try with her (since she is clearly food motivated!) is teaching her tricks to get treats, or hiding treats around the house so she has to forage for them. This kind of enrichment might help keep her mind occupied so she’s not pestering you so much. Or not… cats will be cats. :)

      1. Skeeder Jones*

        Thanks for this. She doesn’t eat wet food so I figured it probably all worked out ok, she would leave treats behind when she was full but begging is a habit I want to break and I think I just didn’t put it into the statement “I’m rewarding her for begging” and now that I have, I can see how my treat-dispensing is problematic. She has a treat puzzle tower so I hope to switch to using that and eventually using treats to train her but she’s just been settling in so I was holding off on that. It will be easier to train her using treats if I don’t give them to her all day.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My younger dog, the Junior Ambassador, is very treat motivated and my husband is a sucker. The Elder Statesdog is not quite as much of a treat hound as she used to be, but is very accommodating. JA has decided that any time Elder Statesdog (specifically) comes in from being outside, they should get baby carrots, which are her favorite treat.

      So one thing she does a lot is run over to the back door and bark like she sees bunnies. Elder Statesdog comes over all “What? Bunnies? Let’s go!” So I open the door and she runs out. JA does not run out. So after a couple steps, ES stops and goes “I must have missed something,” and turns around to come back in and go back to her nap. As soon as she crosses the threshold and is back inside, JA runs over to the fridge and sits pretty, looking back and forth expectantly between the produce drawer and whoever just did the door dance.

      If ES has a bone that JA wants, JA will ruckus at the back door like there’s something amazing going on. When ES puts down her bone and makes her way through the dining room to see what’s up, JA is rounding back through the kitchen to get back to the living room and snag the fallen bone. (There’s like a dozen, so ES kinda goes “…whatever” and picks a new one.) She tries this on people too, like maybe I’ll leave my sandwich in range, and she gets huffy when I pick it up and take it with me when I go see. Cracks me up.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        When Junior Ambassador was a baby and learning tricks, she was having a hard time figuring out what I wanted her to do with “play dead” – I just wanted her to lay on her side, but she kept getting all wiggly and goofy and rolling all the way over because she just wanted the treats. Finally Elder Statesdog came over and used her paw to push JA over on her side and then flopped down next to her in “play dead” position with one paw over her so they were basically spooning. “Like THIS, silly.” JA never flubbed “play dead” again.

        We taught ES shake, high five, fistbump, which are all variations of the same thing. So for a while, she would go up to people and sit and just randomly start trying to shake, high five, etc in the hopes of getting treats. (The common refrain in my house was “Look, I am not just a treat dispenser that you hit until the goodies come out!”) One day we had a plumber come out. She walked up very politely, tail wagging, sat down in front of him … and almost whacked him in the junk, trying to high five. (He deflected and thought it was hilarious, luckily, but we worked harder to break that habit afterwards. :-P He had biscuits with him and had her lay down for it instead of shaking etc.)

        1. I take tea*

          Elder States dog teaching JA how to play dead properly is the most adorable thing ever!

    6. Four-legged fosterer*

      Ann is right with the 10%. A 10 lb cat should get about 200 calories a day, so 20 kcal of treats is 10 Temptations (they are 2 cal each).

      I would suggest giving the treats out at specific times, so she hopefully learns to reduce her begging to Treat Time. You can give her regular kibbles at other times to reinforce that she’s not getting treats, even if it makes her unhappy, or ignore her at non-treat times. Or have a sound like a whistle to call her for treats. A bit like how my cat runs over when I open a tuna can but not tomatoes or chickpeas. You can give her 10 treats at different times of the day, the key is to find a way to reduce the begging.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        As far as time of treats: Avoid a time when you want them to let you sleep. A friend is thinking about moving meal time to midmorning now that she’s WFH so they keep waking her at dawn.
        I like the automatic feeder idea for when we add a pet to the clan.

        1. Skeeder Jones*

          She’s pretty lazy and has yet to wake me up. I do keep her kibble out for her all the time (which is how I’ve always done cat food and ok as long as I regulate how much I put out) so she’s never tried to wake me up for food. She doesn’t like wet food which is probably one reason. I consider myself lucky for that, it makes life a little easier.

    7. Queer Earthling*

      No advice, just funny kitty anecdote. Hennessey (big gray cat) has to have pills twice a day for his thyroid, so obviously they go in treat pockets. He does a trick (either a handshake, which he isn’t very good at, or lifting off his front legs, which he is) from on top of a crate and gets his ‘treat.’ He also doesn’t, obviously, know how to tell time, so several times a day he jumps up on the crate and yells at us in hopes that it’s treat time and we just forgot.

      Our other kitty, Percy (big creamsicle cat) doesn’t really understand treats, so he’ll run over to see what’s going on and try to do tricks, too, but if you give him a treat it’s 50/50 on whether he’ll eat it or just bat it around and wander off. So we “shake his hand” and then pet him a lot and he’s good with that.

      1. Jaid*

        My kittygirl knows when it’s time for her treat pill, but still begs for other treats. Since she’s 20 something old, I usually give her a few at random times.

    8. Impska*

      My cat must follow the “sit” command and “quiet” command before getting treats. We also give treats to reward her hardships, like getting her claws clipped or going to the vet. We try to look for good behavior, like when she scratches her scratching post or comes when we call her.

      We try to avoid giving treats for bad behavior like begging… even though she’s cute.

      1. blackcat*

        I trained mine to do a spin on his hind legs to get treats. So he “dances” for treats, which is super adorable.

    9. JustEm*

      I give my cats a treat (hairball preventing so I benefit from them too) twice a day, morning and night. My treat-obsessed cat has learned to run chirping to the room where the treats are kept when I go upstairs around bedtime

      1. Skeeder Jones*

        I have some “greenies” that are for dental health and also hairball control. I admit I do feel a little differently about those as they have a larger purpose.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Toddlers and kids want cookies all day too. Doesn’t mean they get them. She won’t die, she just thinks she will!

      I handle treats really as treats. They’re bribes to get them to come in, to help with reinforcement of desired behaviors. I can and have gone weeks between handing out treats or catnip.

      1. Quiet Liberal*

        Our late kitty would come running to a little brass bell when we wanted her to come in for the evening. She would always stop at the door for her treats. So cute. The bell probably wouldn’t have worked without the reinforcement of the snacks. She was the sweetest cat we’ve ever had. Just put her down last month due to aggressive stomach cancer. :’( Everyone, be sure to kiss your cats on the head today!

    11. ES*

      She has you trained! Give treats only at specific times or after specific events! Cats understand schedules. Keep in mind that three treats are about as good as six, too, as long as the treat event occurs.

      TL,DR version:
      Mine gets a measured quantity of kibble as treats supplementing his wet food diet. He gets a few treats after claw clipping (weekly), after his shot (daily), after we come in from his walk (daily), if he gets a mouse (occasionally, in the middle of the night) after I have taken the mouse away (this is not a fair bargain in his eyes), with the daily usual treats being a few during play after breakfast and a few at bedtime. He also gets a pill pocket treat daily at the same time. He does ask for them at other times, but not naggingly, more hopeful. I don’t feed him from the table. I toss the kibbles for him to chase and catch and eat and he loves that, because they’re better tasting than bugs. So he gets four predictable treat events a day of a few kibble pieces each time and the pill pocket, and he really doesn’t ask outside those times. I dread the day he works out that he can open the pantry and get the bag off the shelf himself…

    12. MissDisplaced*

      Oh god, I think they must put kitty crack in those Temptations treats, because mine beg for them nonstop. Every time we go into the kitchen, the cats think they NEED treats. And they know exactly where they’re kept in which drawer.
      I don’t give in every time, but man it’s bad.

      1. Windchime*

        My cat is super picky, but he will make an exception for Tempations (but only the fishy flavor…..it’s called something like Beachside Party mix). He gets 2 or 3 of them in the morning when he first wakes up and he runs right to the place where they are kept. He begs for them every time I go to the kitchen but I stay strong, because I don’t want him to become too overweight or unwilling to eat his kibble.

    13. Skeeder Jones*

      Thanks for all the advice and information. I was her 4th home and she is almost 2 so I think when I got her, I just did anything that would make her feel comfortable/happy and then just encouraged bad habits. Yesterday I gave her some treats in the morning, but then none the rest of the day and I haven’t given her any yet today. She did get some treats from her treat puzzle tower, which is an improvement. She’s a sweetheart and I love her to bits but this is my first adult adoption, I’ve only ever raised them from kittens before and it is a little different.

      Here are some pictures of Zig Zag
      https://imgur.com/a/ZRTmhlN

    14. Skeeder Jones*

      Hi everyone, thanks for the great advice. I posted an update with a link to some pictures of her so that’s awaiting approval but I’ve way scaled back her treats and it was good to just get some advice from others.

  3. Vic Venti*

    Food prep before baby comes

    Did you keep much in the way of food prior to delivery? If so, what kind of stuff/How much?

    Hubby and I don’t eat much seafood and no pork. We have shops very close, so maybe this is not necessary? We also use a meal delivery service three nights per week (they send ingredients, you make the food) which I’m thinking we might suspend for the week baby is due.

    We’re in a location with no community COVID spread so can have visitors if we want

    1. Lady Heather*

      No personal experience with babys, but having a stack of frozen meals in the freezer is a lifesaver any time my health problems play up and I’m tired. Which seems to resemble the post-delivery family, so it might work for you as well.

      I usually cook too much and then freeze the leftovers, but you can also buy frozen meals (usually very high in sodium) or cook a couple of twelve-person meals to portion and freeze.

      1. Lynn*

        This is ace. My sister registered for tupperware for her baby shower with this in mind and was able to pack a ton of single-portion meals that she and her husband could grab and eat in less than ten minutes.

        Her hack she learned too late: figure out how to turn off the loud buzzer on the microwave

    2. allathian*

      No doubt you already know that due dates are approximations at best. Only about 5 percent of babies are born on their due date, not counting scheduled c-sections.

      My husband, who’s the main cook in our house, cooked a lot of stuff for our freezer in the weeks preceding our son’s birth. I was almost two weeks overdue and by the end I couldn’t stand for more than about ten minutes at a time, so I skipped most of the cooking. He’d cook 6-person meals every day for several weeks, even when he was working. We’d put 3 portions in the freezer, eat and, and save one portion for my lunch the next day. I started my maternity leave a month before my due date, but I had six weeks to try and rest before the baby arrived. (Resting was hard, though, because I literally had to pee every hour, on the hour, day and night, for the last few weeks.) We also ate some frozen meals after the baby was born, but my blood pressure was a bit too high so I wanted to avoid sodium as much as possible while I was still pregnant.

      Once the baby was born and my husband had returned to work, my retired MIL often brought food when she came for a visit. Our son is her first and only grandchild, so she visited often. She’d take the baby out in the pram/baby carriage so I could do chores or rest. He napped best when pushed and outdoors, so I also took daily walks as soon as I could walk comfortably and he was napping three times or twice a day.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      What I found most difficult about eating in the early baby days was that I was nearly always holding the baby, and the timing of baby’s needs was very unpredictable at first. On top of that, there’s your own physical recovery which can make you unpredictably picky.

      So my main recommendations would be to have in food you can eat with one hand that is equally palatable when it has cooled down a bit. Meals you freeze are great but not if they require foresight – if you can reheat them straight from the freezer, great, but if they require 24 hours’ defrosting then it’s likely you won’t remember, or won’t still want it by the time you’re ready.

      Good snacks are important. Again, one-handed and unfussy. Fruit, vegetable sticks, cheese, crackers, protein bars, etc. If you are nursing you will be constantly ravenous and thirsty. Ditto if you have any haemorrhage (which is reasonably common, and you’ll also want to prioritise iron-rich foods). If you are nursing you may want to look into foods which stimulate milk production such as dark chocolate, oats and apricots.

      You will drop food on the baby. You will probably lick it off.

      A good one-handed insulated lidded coffee cup is useful because otherwise you won’t have a hot drink until you go back to work. A lidded cup with a straw may also be useful for cold drinks.

      Visitors are responsible for getting their own refreshments, period. Good visitors bring one-hand food with them, wash up what they use and anything else they find in the kitchen, and make sure they leave you well supplied before they leave.

      Very best of luck.

      1. allathian*

        I couldn’t do much with only one hand and my son on my arm, so he learned to spend a lot of time in his bouncy chair. Didn’t hurt him any and he seemed happy enough. He got plenty of time in my lap otherwise, but I was just too afraid to drop hot food or coffee on him to carry him while I got stuff from the kitchen.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Yes, with my first I spent so much time nursing, and was ravenous around the clock, desperate for things I could eat one-handed. We luckily had already stocked up on lots of sandwich fixings, granola bars, protein and/or nut butter muffins, trail mix.

        1. Aza*

          So many chocolate peanut butter protein granola bars! Those were so helpful. Didn’t need heating, could be one handed. I ate them all hours of the day and night.

      3. Imtheone*

        A cloth napkin to put over baby’s head to catch the salad you are sure to spill on him/her when you are eating with your non-dominant hand.

    4. Ann*

      Congratulations on your pregnancy!

      I made a bunch of freezer meals before my child was born and it was definitely helpful to have some easy options. I mostly did crockpot meals where I put all the prepped ingredients in bags and froze them, then the whole thing could be dumped into the crockpot to cook from frozen. I would say prep as many as your freezer will hold/you have the energy to make. And if you don’t have a meal train set up, that’s something to consider if you have nearby friends and family willing to help out.

      I will say, regarding the meal kit service – unless your husband is going to be cooking these or you’re a very efficient cook who can bang the meals out in <25 minutes, you're probably going to want to pause these for longer than a week. (I use Blue Apron and rarely seem to finish the meals in the timeframe they say they will take, so maybe I'm biased!) But I really doubt you're going to want to take 45+ minutes to prep meals, then wash a bunch of pots and pans, even if it's just three times a week. Newborns spend a lot of time sleeping and there are definitely tasks you can knock out while they snooze in the swing or in a baby carrier, but you will probably be exhausted (especially if you are breastfeeding, since you will be feeding the baby every two hours around the clock) and need that time to rest yourself. Or catch up on laundering multitudes of poopy onesies. Heating up something frozen or getting meals delivered ready-to-eat is a much better option in the early days. Once baby is waking less at night and on a consistent nap schedule it's easier to resume doing more cooking yourself.

      Personally, I had to give up Blue Apron for the most part until my child was closer to four because I was usually cooking dinner while parenting solo (husband works long hours) and chopping vegetables with a toddler wailing and clinging to your leg is a certain kind of hell. Not to mention when you finally put the meal in front of them and they won't touch it. (And yes, pre-kid me would not have thought that was acceptable behavior… but that's not the world post-kid me inhabits.)

      1. Aza*

        I was thinking the same for the meal kit! I would pause those for at least a couple of months and then reevaluate. My daughter just turned 2 and i’m only now mostly ok with recipes that have some chopping/are more involved lol.

    5. Aza*

      My mom made us about 2 weeks worth of frozen meals and that was so helpful. Getting it together to call out for delivery would have been kinda hard at first, just so little sleep/little brainpower.
      Later on I discovered frozen meat patties from Costco- this flaky pastry that surrounded spicyish ground meat that I could hold in one hand. Those were amazing because I could pop one in the microwave and still eat it while holding the baby. Meals like spaghetti from my mom were appreciated but harder to eat, since you need two hands.
      We recently discovered Nebraskan Runzas in the cookbook Midwest made by Shauna sever (though i’m sure there are other versions!) and have decided to make those for friends in the future who have kids. It’s basically a roll stuffed with ground meat/cabbage. They freeze really well and are good for one handed.
      Congratulations, and best wishes! It’s a wild, wonderful ride.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I filled my friends’ freezer when they were expecting their last, but my goal was more to make sure they could easily feed everyone who wasn’t baby-wrangling (baby made seven, three parents and four munchkins), so they could focus more on taking care of making sure new mom and baby were sorted, because I don’t know about mom and baby needs. So I did several pans of different flavors of mac and cheese, a couple lasagnes, a few dozen pre-cooked meatloaf patties, about ten pounds of pulled pork in two pound bags, a couple big tubs of beef stew, a couple tubs of beef and bean chili, homemade spaghetti sauce, and I think a Tex-Mex tinged shepherds pie or two.

      Apparently one of the beef stew tubs escaped to the bottom of the freezer and baby ended up eating it right around her first birthday, and loved it. Heh.

    7. Ranon*

      My most important tip is to remember that breakfast exists and to plan for it too, not just lunch/ dinner.

      As for what, anything burrito shaped was a winner in my book.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Gosh yes. We had a few people on our meal roster bring muffins, egg casseroles, or baked oatmeal and it was SUCH a blessing.

    8. Yetanotherjennifer*

      In the early days you’re going to be like a deer in headlights whenever the baby is sleeping or occupied: eat, sleep or shower…pick one and fast. And you may get hungry at odd times if you’re breastfeeding. It’s helpful to have some appetizing prepared lunches and snacks ready to grab when you need them. I bought frozen chicken patties and microwaved them, which I don’t recommend, but they got the job done.

    9. Parenthetically*

      My favorite pre-prep freezer things are meatballs. Satay chicken ones, buffalo turkey ones, Moroccan-style beef ones, spicy Italian ones, etc. etc. ad infinitum. Make in big batches, bake in a hot oven, freeze in plastic bags. You can pull them out as needed and throw them in a sauce or microwave them and have them in a sandwich or wrap, rather than having to reheat an entire lasagna or whatever. Brown up a bunch of ground beef and freeze it, and you’re 15 minutes from keema, sloppy joes, picadillo, pasta sauce, pad gra prow, etc. The key is to think about minimizing how much time you spend prepping. I was SO hungry all the time with my first and even though I love to cook, I needed things that could be on the table with the shortest expenditure of time and effort possible.

      Whatever you do as far as prep, though, KEEP AN INVENTORY. We have a white board with a list of everything in our freezer and it’s CRUCIAL to prevent waste. There’s no point filling your freezer if stuff just gets forgotten and shoved to the back and thrown away in two years.

    10. blackcat*

      I ate a TON of nuts and other snacks I could eat one-handed and quickly (and in the middle of the night) I also ate A TON while breastfeeding, so if you’re breastfeeding, multiply your normal portions by 1.5ish (though I think this is somewhat person dependent… I did not have extra weight associated with pregnancy, so I didn’t have fat reserves for producing milk).

    11. RagingADHD*

      For #1, I had 6 weeks of dinners in the freezer, pulled from our normal meal plan we”d been using. Didn’t really have anyone to help, so it was a lifesaver.

      For #2 we had a better network of help, and were generally more copacetic about what newborn phase was like. And I had a toddler to chase, so I wasn’t doing batch cooking.

      If you have the time & ability, I highly recommend stocking the freezer with 4-6 weeks of dinners. If you also get help or takeout, that will just make the supply last longer.

      Just freeze what you normally eat.

    12. HBJ*

      Honestly, I’ve never done much for meal prep. I always have grandiose plans that never turn into anything. My husband isn’t really into reheated meals, so anything precooked and then frozen wasn’t great. And he always said “I’ll just come home and cook.” So I keep a few pizzas and such on hand, but we mostly just go ahead and cook, and I try to make easy things.

    13. Bulu Babi*

      I announced and strictly enforced this rule: all visitors must bring food. Some brought, some ordered in when they arrived, some cooked and cleaned up. I survived on friends’ food for the first couple of weeks. Also: protein shakes and smoothies did the job for sudden hungry hippo moments.

    14. The German Chick*

      We made it my job to care for the baby and my partner’s job to care for me. So we didn’t need much good prep since he was in charge.

    15. Observer*

      One thing to keep in mind – even if your baby is a crier, it’s ok to wear them if that works for you and / or put them down. And if the baby is in a crib or bassinet, you can do whatever you need to do, even if you are out of sight of the baby.

      That doesn’t give you tons of extra time, but it does make it easier to make sure the you actually eat and do things like take a shower and get out of your pajamas / nightgown. People will tell you to not bother with that, but I’ve seen how much better people fell when they do these things.

      Also, not every baby needs to be nursed every two hours round the clock – feeding schedules are all over the place. And it tends to change with time. So pay attention to the baby’s schedule as you are likely to have a better time if you work with it.

      The most important thing food wise? Make sure to eat! Preferably nutrient dense, and the easier it is to eat and prepare, the better.

    16. B*

      If you feel comfortable with it set up a meal train. There is a website. Your friends sign up and bring a meal on the designated day. Just specify drop and go (most people who sign up understand you might not be up for visits.)
      This was a lifesaver for us. My husband and I literally cried we were so grateful to just have the first meal ready.

  4. Jow*

    After several years of being in a somewhat LDR, my partner and I are going to be moving in together (yay!). The place we’re moving to is new to both of us.

    We’re starting to have a few chats about how we want to handle various things once we live together. I’ve lived with other people for years, but this will be my first time living with a SO. What are some things that surprised you to find out after moving in with a partner, or things that you wish you’d discussed before you started living together?

    1. Aphrodite*

      Money. It’a the thing new couples are least likely to talk about and the most likely to break them up. Are you a spender or saver? Do you create a budget and plan for things or do you use retail therapy? Do you or are you willing to share financial information, strategies and plans? Do you intend to keep finances separate or combine them?

      Lots of potential issues there. Or maybe watching old Judge Judy program on YouTube (and/or old Till Debt Do Us Part on Amazon) has made me unduly suspicious. I have savings in various places for various things but especially since mid-March I have become even more reluctant to spend, except to get my final debt, a car loan, paid off so I am carrying no debt and building even more savings.

      1. ..Kat..*

        Who pays for what. Do you split costs down the middle? Do you both make about the same amount of money? If you want the premium sports package and your SO does not, do you split the cost down the middle?

        Who does what chores? Or do you pay for housecleaning services? What happens if one of you has to be nagged by the other to do their fair share?

        How clean is acceptable? I.e., what are the standards to how clean things have to be?

        How much privacy do you need? How much alone time? Do you like the same types of music? Is music or TV always on?

        Have you two been together when you have lived near each other? If not, this could be a difficult transition.

        1. Jwal*

          We do weekend visits (which is why I say the relationship is ‘somewhat’ long distance – not as long distance as some people’s!) but have never lived nearby while dating. We’ve been together for years so we are very used to the pattern as it is now. It’s probably why I’m really wanting to identify as many potential problems as possible now – despite all good intentions on both sides, there’s bound to be something!

          1. Jwal*

            Btw not sure what happened with the name here – I’m the OP for the question and this is my usual AAM commenting name!

          2. Esme*

            Also do bear in mind that when you’re in an LDR you’ll probably give each other a lot of attention when you’re together.

            It might take time to get used to more benign time in the same space where you aren’t constantly doing things together.

            1. allathian*

              This. Also, be prepared for some arguments early on. When my husband and I moved together, things went pretty smoothly for us. When you’re mainly LDR and only see each other occasionally, it’s easier to be on your best behavior pretty much all the time because being with the other person is a rare treat. It’s also easier to ignore the little things that may bug you about the other person because you aren’t with them all the time. But when you live together and especially if both of you are WFH as well, you can’t be “on” for the other person all the time.

              1. Jwal*

                I can see this – being apart most of the time has meant that visits are together time, and there’s (internal) pressure on it being a good time. But I’m definitely not a person who can be ‘on’ for a long time, so need to be wary of falling into that trap!

      2. Jwal*

        Money is a key one definitely. We’re pretty much on the same page with this, thankfully.

        I know it works for other people, but I’m not comfortable combining finances pre-marriage.

        1. allathian*

          I’m not even comfortable combining finances 100 percent after marriage. We have our separate current and savings accounts, as well as a joint current account for groceries, etc. We have a joint mortgage that we’re paying off in equal shares, but because my husband makes almost twice as much as I do, he pays most of our other bills. I pretty much only pay for my cellphone use and for clothes, etc. I admit that we’re not all that fussy about who pays for our son’s stuff.

          1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

            My husband and I haven’t combined finances either. Partly it’s just laziness, but since I’m a dual citizen living overseas there could be tax implications if I had signature authority on his accounts, so we keep them separate.

        2. Generic Name*

          Do what feels comfortable for you. My first husband and I were super young when we got together, and I wanted to combine everything, so we did. Everything was jointly held and most of our credit cards one of us was an authorized user on the other’s card. When we divorced, he neglected to take my name off some of that stuff and then didn’t pay the bills for a few months, which impacted my credit. Not cool.

          My husband and I have combined almost nothing. We’re older (=set in our ways), and have different spending habits. I make more money than he does and he pays me a portion of his paycheck and I pay most of the household bills with it. It’s been working so far.

          1. Dan*

            The split-up possibility is the thing that keeps me from sharing bank accounts.

            My ex and I weren’t on the same page regarding money, and there was a nagging feeling that I couldn’t articulate as to why I didn’t want joint bank accounts.

            We were married only a few years, and when we split, she went on a spending binge that resulted in $600 in over draft fees (above and beyond the actual amount withdrawn.) We didn’t live in a community property state, and when I realized what she was doing, I was so, so relieved that it was not a “me problem” that I had to fix.

            My advice on the money topic is that if one is more responsible with money than the other, the responsible one should think very long and very hard about keeping separate accounts. Partly because if you’re not on the same page, it probably will cause problems later, and if you do split, you don’t want an irresponsible person wrecking your financial history.

        3. Always Late to the Party*

          Neither was my partner, but we ended up creating a joint account where we each contributed a set amount just to cover our standard monthly expenses because it was *way* more convenient than paying each other back for every bill or squaring up periodically. This worked for us because we wanted/were able to split things 50/50. We both kept personal checking and savings accounts to maintain some financial independence and so that “fun spending” is completely independent. Over time we started contributing to the joint account more and started to use it for more stuff (groceries, vacations, joint savings) but it was a nice way to ease into sharing personal finances. We still maintain joint and personal accounts after 6 years living together (and 2 years of marriage). :)

          1. Venus*

            This is a great way to do things (joint account which is used for needed expenses, separate accounts for your fun stuff), with the suggestion that it not be 50/50 but rather a percentage of your pay. So if one person makes twice as much as the other, then pay into the joint account 67/33. If you do 50/50 then the person with the lesser pay has very little fun money and that’s miserable.

            1. Always Late to the Party*

              Yes! We made the conscious choice to do 50/50 because we could both afford it fairly easily and it was important to both of us to feel like equal financial contributors to the household. We agreed that we would adjust if circumstances warranted.

              Different couples have different priorities it’s all about finding what works best for you!

            2. ShockedPikachu.gif*

              I agree with this and would add there’s also other considerations that might go into this. For example, maybe the higher earning partner also has really high student loan payments, or they took a second job to send a portion of their paycheck to family overseas, and their effective income once those costs are taken into account is more like 50/50. That couple might keep their shared expenses split 67/33, or they might decide to do 50/50, or they might come down somewhere in the middle.

              Another situation where splitting expenses gets complicated is when one partner is the sole owner of the house that the partners share. How much should the non-owner partner(s) contribute to a mortgage when it doesn’t buy them any equity?

              There isn’t necessarily a right answer to the questions of how to divide things equitably—what’s important is that all parties involved feel the decision they come to is fair. Personally, I’d probably take student loans/remittance payments into account to a certain degree, but if that big cost is a car payment on a Maserati? Probably not.

              1. Always Late to the Party*

                Yeah, the student loan payments is what made figuring out “proportional” sharing really complicated which is why we went with 50/50.

      3. Aphrodite*

        I’ll further add: holidays. What holidays are important and not important to you. I’m talking not just about gifts–what to spend, who to buy for and so on–but family. The amount of grief handed out in some families about where you will spend it or how you handle Uncle Norbert when he gets drunk or dealing with Sister Susie when she wants to bring her drug-addled (newest) boyfriend around can cause untold tension when you both don’t agree on how to deal with it.

        And even not around the holidays but in general. What kinds of family relationships are there and how are they handled? Look not just at potential problems but how each of you normally handles them. Passively or aggressively? By being the mediator or ignoring the mess.

        1. Sled dog mama*

          Talk about the gifts too. My husband’s family does lots of gifts an spends a lot at holidays, mine does one gift.
          Does the family expect a list of what you want (his parents do, mine do not) or do they prefer to choose a gift for you?
          Talk about thank you notes, my MIL expects a thank you note for everything (and I do mean everything, we go to dinner and they pick up the check that we were expecting to split, even ifI thank them sincerely at the time she expects a thank you note). My parents only expected a thank you note when for gifts when the giver could not be thanked “sincerely and specifically” at the time of opening, and a few other instances. This caused a lot of tension in my relationship.

    2. JKP*

      You should get the book Intellectual Foreplay by Eve Eschner Hogan & Steven Hogan. It has just about every question you can think to ask each other. My boyfriend & I started long distance, and we had fun going through book together before I moved to be with him.

    3. Lynn*

      Create your “maintenance plan” in advance — figure out how and when, with regularity, you want to broach relationship and roommate issues.

      We do weekly check ins to talk about any chores that have been piling up and game plan to resolve them, review the calendar for the week and make our grocery plan, figure out gifts for upcoming family birthdays, etc. I know another couple that does all of that via email; it’s whatever works best for you, but make sure you do kind of plan out how you will continue to check in, and be kind to yourself as you transition to roommates in addition to partners (and don’t confuse roommate problems for relationship problems!)

      1. Jwal*

        A check in is a good idea. And yes to your last point – especially as niggling annoyances can become relationship problems if unchecked!

    4. Esme*

      A few things I’d suggest you talk about:

      – Guests. Not so relevant in the era of social distancing, but how do you feel about them? Is it no big deal if someone is coming over? Or do you want lots of advance warning? Don’t assume you’ll feel the same or that any etiquette will be obvious, as there’s no one right thing, just what you each prefer!

      – Will you take it in turns to do all chores or have some things you each do? Personally I find the latter works better but YMMV.

      – How do you feel about being tidy? What is your idea of the right level of tidiness? Don’t talk in abstracts like ‘very tidy’ or ‘about average’ as those are different for everyone!

      – How do you like to fall asleep? My husband liked to fall asleep to the TV, which I hate. We have compromised and now listen to audiobooks or the radio.

      – What’s a good evening or weekend to you? Do you like chilling out at home or do you turn into a caged animal if you have to spend a few hours on the sofa?

      1. Esme*

        Also yay!

        Right now I would also be discussing your attitudes to covid, what level of precautions you want to take, etc.

        1. Jwal*

          Re being specific about tidyness: yes this is definitely a conversation we’ll be having! I’m currently dealing with a someone who doesn’t understand cleaning hair out of the bath, so if the boyf does the same then the relationship may not survive (just kidding. But seriously…)

          1. Sled dog mama*

            While tidyness is a big place to be specific (current difficulty in my household, he sees clean as everything put away, to me it’s not clean if it’s just stuffed in a drawer, I need things to be tidy in the drawers, not stuffed in).
            Talk about what clean means to you. My husband cleans the bathroom by washing the shower walls, but had never noticed that our toilet had a massive accumulation of dust because to him you clean the inside of the toilet not the outside.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yes on all of this, but especially the guests. My now-husband used to be the “everyone just comes right in and we don’t even lock the door” type, and I’m the “I don’t care if it’s my mother or the publisher’s clearinghouse guy, someone who doesn’t call first isn’t coming in and I might not even answer the door” type. (We defaulted to my preference, because surprise visitors in my house are a line I will draw and he was just fine with that, and now also hates surprise visitors himself.)

        1. Jwal*

          That would stress me out no end. It’s the sort of thing that’s fine on TV, but I don’t want to be worrying that someone will barge in while there are still dishes in the sink and I’m wearing indoor trousers.

        2. Dan*

          Um, the publisher’s clearinghouse guy is the one person who can show up without warning and I’d gladly welcome.

          Side story: I got a cold call at work (I get very few landline calls on my work number) from a financial services firm. The guy clearly identified himself, and I immediately responded with “not interested.” He was clearly not happy with my non-interest, and said with a very poor tone, “but you don’t even know what I have to offer.” I almost said to him, “Unless your name is Ed McMahon, I don’t care.”

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I mean, if someone comes up with the giant cardboard check, I’d probably at least open the door for more info. But whether they can come in or not depends entirely on the number of zeros on the giant check. :)

        3. Anonymosity*

          This is especially relevant when it comes to family — those relationships can complicate the guest issue. You have a right to privacy, even where relatives are concerned.

          I’m thinking specifically of pushy in-laws who like to drop in, but also a situation where my brother and I were living at a parent’s house when he got engaged to the mother of his oldest child. She extended her status to her siblings, and they traipsed in and out like the place belonged to them. It was annoying as hell — I never knew when or if the house would be full of people I barely knew. Later, we discovered some things had gone missing.

    5. GoryDetails*

      I don’t know if it’s possible to anticipate everything, but things like finances, chores, and boundaries (re guests as well as family) would be at the top of my list. In my case, the finances were easy as we both had similar jobs and incomes, and we just split everything. Chores were sometimes a little trickier, and we did get a cleaning service for a while as it seemed simpler than kvetching about who should do what. The boundaries thing… yeah, that was a problem. His family dynamic involved lots of lengthy phone calls, in which I was expected to participate even though I didn’t know most of the people he and his mom were talking about. I’d try to beg off and get puppydog eyes… Sigh. Figured out that I could get on the extension in another room (this was loooong before ubiquitous-cell-phone days) and read a book while occasionally chiming in to the conversation, but it was a real ordeal for me! (Caveat: my marriage only lasted a few years before I figured out that I wasn’t really happy cohabiting at all; have been happily solitary ever since. So any relationship advice from me should be taken with a grain of salt!)

      1. allathian*

        It’s also possible to be in a relationship without cohabiting. My sister who’s happily childfree and her SO have pretty separate lives during the week but live together during weekends, even though they live in the same metropolitan area. Both of them just need a lot of personal space.

        I need a lot of personal space too, and I’m lucky in that I’ve never been so poor that it would have been necessary to have a roommate who wasn’t a family member. In my late teens/early twenties I shared an apartment with my sister for a while and it worked well. When I was interning in Spain I had a few roommates, and that was great because I got to know people, but it wouldn’t have worked for me in the longer term.

      2. Dan*

        Family dynamics are IMHO one of the most overlooked pre-marriage discussion topics. Money is kind of the obvious one that isn’t discussed, but the family thing can be critical.

        My ex’s family was hugely dysfunctional, they established a pattern of they would do what they want, screw things up, and then call a particular brother-in-law to bail them out of financial jams. Turns out my ex was the proverbial apple that didn’t fall far from the tree. Before we got married, I even told my ex what I observed, and if she had the expectation that I would fill a similar role, then I wasn’t the right person.

        My ex’s family never hit me up for money, but when we split, I wasn’t sure if I was happier getting rid of her or her dysfunctional family. My advice to others on the topic is to watch their partner’s relationship closely. If they get sucked into the dysfunctional mess, that’s a very big warning sign. If they can keep an appropriate level of separation from the dysfunction, that’s a different matter.

      3. Batgirl*

        That’s a super unreasonable expectation. Welcoming you into the conversation, sure, but insisting? I dont understand why some people make their partners perform for others.

      4. Sled dog mama*

        Along this same line, how much of day to day life do you each think is normal to share with your parents or other family? My husband’s parents call at least every other day and he agrees that they are way too involved in our lives but at each call he is still sharing everything we’ve done since they last talked (like the list of stores we went to when we had to run errands level of detail). I talk to my parents when we have something to say to each other, so every 10 days or so and we talk about things not just a list of what we did.
        Are you going to get irritated at partner’s level of contact and detail with family? Are you ok with that level of detail being discussed about you?

    6. Wander*

      A lot of the previous suggestions are great. Some of the less important (but still came up for me) things I would add are:
      -Overall cleanliness. Not who cleans but what levels of mess would bother you. How long can dishes be in the sink? Do shoes need to be kept somewhere specific? If one of you likes the place to be spotless and the other is fine with more mess, it’s going to come up.
      -Temperature and noise levels. My spouse likes background noise and a cold house. I like silence and warmer temperatures. Are you on the same page with that kind of thing, and if not, who takes precedence?
      -Pets. If you already have them, who takes care of what? What rules are there for said pets? If you don’t have them, are you on the same page about wanting/not wanting them in the future? If you want them, do you both want the same kind of pet?

    7. BRR*

      How to bring up when one of you have a preference? Example, my spouse puts knives back in any open slot I think he knife block. I like the knives in the same spot.

      Alone time. Having space set up and how to utilize it.

      I would say the biggest difference is shifting from dedicating your time together to the each other to having to take care of other things while still being around each other.

      1. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

        OMG, I’m so glad I’m not the only person in the world with this peeve. I’ve never mentioned it because it seems so small (especially when he’s cleaning the kitchen), but I do end up rearranging things.

        1. allathian*

          I rearrange stuff on the sly to my liking. My pet peeve is not knives, but rather scissors. My husband never remembers to put them back in the drawer and then he complains when he can’t find them.

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, your last paragraph is so important. It doesn’t only apply to other things, but other people as well. The realization that even if you don’t focus on your partner all the time that doesn’t mean you’re falling out of love with them, or they with you.

    8. Anono-me*

      Congratulations on your new home and getting to live in it with your sweetie pie . It sounds like you are laying a really good foundation for living together. And you’ve also gotten some wonderful advice on things to discuss.

      One thing to remember in your discussions is to use exact terms, not qualifying terms. For example you might both agree that you like to keep the house fairly cool. But if you consider cool to be 65° F year round and your partner considers cool to be 70°in the summer and 60° in the winter, but didn’t specifically mention the temperature, then you have potential thermostat wars.

      Also please discuss ‘helping loved ones in a crisis’. Especially if you are combining finances. Who counts as a loved one? And at what point do you need to both agree to the help and what kind of help will that be? Is it let my drunk friend stay overnight every couple of weeks help? Is it bail out my overextended financially sister help? Do we bail her out one time or multiple times ? Is it babysit for my brother every weekend help? Is it let my mother move in with us first 6 months help? I don’t think there are any ‘wrong’ answers here, and I don’t think you have to agree totally, but I do think you it will be helpful if you can figure out some general expectations and compromises before you’re actually dealing with the emergency.

      You might also find it helpful to discuss how much time (#of hours) you usually spend each day or week on the TV .

      And this part of the conversation will be less pleasant, but I would also suggest discussing your expectations of each other if one of you gets laid off or sick. The discussion about expectations when sick should hopefully also include things like where your like insurance information is kept, any medical conditions that a doctor would want to be aware of in an emergency, and who to call in each other’s family circle in an emergency.

      1. Jwal*

        Hadn’t thought about illness – not afun discussion but definitely an important one!

      2. allathian*

        It also depends on the jurisdiction but the biggest difference between actual marriage and living together unmarried in most jurisdictions is that marriage carries an obligation to support dependents. That includes spouses, if they become ill or unemployed.

    9. Not A Manager*

      It’s important to have an idea of how much time you expect to spend together as opposed to on your own. Some people tend to default to “if we don’t have a specific reason to be apart from each other, then we will be together.” Others default more toward “I will schedule my own time and experiences unless I have a reason to coordinate with you.”

      I generally schedule my own time and experiences UNLESS it’s in an area that I think of as coordinated. I assume we will plan and eat dinners together, but not lunches. I’m happy to have lunch with my husband, but someone needs to bring that up before lunchtime or I’ll plan my own meal. Similarly with recreational time. If I want to watch TV I’ll turn it on, but it won’t occur to me to say, “I’m going to watch x do you want to watch it with me,” unless it’s a show we’re following together. Some people would find that thoughtless or unloving. I know couples who literally eat all their meals together (especially in lockdown), watch all their movies together, go on all their walks together, etc. To me, that wouldn’t feel loving, it would feel intrusive.

      So that conversation might be worth having.

      1. CJM*

        Your second paragraph describes me too! My husband and I are both introverts, and it works great for us to spend gobs of time apart and solo.

    10. Generic Name*

      Money and division of responsibilities. Speaking as a cis-het woman, don’t expect your male partner to do the “male” chores or automatically assume the division of chores will be the same way your parents did. It’s easy to unconsciously make those assumptions and then be disappointed when the other person doesn’t share this same assumptions.

      Also discuss how you would prefer having houseguests over. Are you okay being surprised, or do you need a few hours or days advance notice? Do they have friends or family you’d rather not have at your house. Can they bring their dogs when they visit?

      If you have pets, make sure to discuss who is responsible for what.

    11. Parenthetically*

      We went from extremely long-distance to living together and married in one fell swoop. For us, doing “boring” things like grocery shopping and watching TV together was really, really special because we hadn’t been able to do that before! Our biggest hurdles have been personality and temperament things, but if I could go back and do it again, I’d talk about emotional labor and mental load before we lived in the same house.

      I’d recommend reading and discussing Fed Up by Gemma Hartley, and Fair Play by Eve Rodsky together before you move in together.

    12. Bex*

      Figure out which household chores each of you absolutely despises. I cannot stand taking out the trash – l hate it and will avoid it like the plague. If there’s a chore you both hate, share it and share the misery. Otherwise fill in each other’s gaps.

      Figure out bedtime routines. Do you need a fan? Do they need absolute silence? Work this out now so you’re not having arguments at the end of the day when you’re tired, or worse, the next morning when one of you hasn’t slept well.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Oh my gosh yes bedtime routines!

        And, real talk: snoring protocol. Is the non-snorer expected to just deal with it/get earplugs/whatever? Or can the non-snorer nudge the snorer, wake them, ask them to roll over, etc.?

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          My husband has been either traveling for work, or subsequently quarantined waiting for test clearance, for all but six days since Memorial Day. He was out of hock on Thursday night for the first time in like, four weeks, and the first thing I said to him Friday morning was “I didn’t miss the snoring.” :P

      2. allathian*

        Please don’t ignore the option of separate bedrooms. Sometimes people’s sleeping habits are so different that sleeping in the same room is extremely unsatisfactory. Obviously, if you live in a tiny studio in NYC that’s not an option, but in a three-bedroom house with no kids it definitely is. I’m a very restless sleeper and get antsy if I don’t get enough sleep. I’m 100 percent convinced that the decision to sleep in separate bedrooms saved my sanity and our marriage.

        1. Paquita*

          My husband and I have seperate bedrooms. When we got married I was working third shift. It was just easier to use the other bedroom so he wouldn’t disturb me during the day. He also snored so bad I couldn’t sleep with the noise. Sometimes even with the door closed, fan running, and radio on. :( Now he uses a CPAP but after 30 years we still don’t sleep in the same room. Also I want it cold and he wants the electric blanket. And we both want the center of the bed. Definitely talk about these things!

    13. Always Late to the Party*

      My partner and I did a very similar thing (quasi-LDR but spent most weekends together).

      The biggest thing is to make sure there’s space for open and honest communication. Depending on your personality, it can be hard to tell someone you love that you find one of their habits gross, or that you feel like you’re being taken advantage of because they never do the dishes. It can also be hard to hear these things from someone you love. But setting boundaries early and staying in communication with each other will keep small annoyances from turning into deep-seeded resentment.

      My other advice is don’t feel bad if it kinda sucks at first! It’s an adjustment to share space with a new person. It’s an adjustment to be with each other all the time (especially if you are in a covid-y area and not able to get out much). If it feels tough at first, just trust that things will improve.

      Hope it goes well! :)

    14. Nita*

      Food! We’re both working full-time. We both love to cook, but it takes time. So if we’re too busy, I want to buy prepared food. My husband, who gets food poisoning easily, will just cook the same basic thing over and over again rather than buy prepared. I tried to respect that, but I underestimated how much it irritates me to never eat my favorite foods unless I have three hours to make them from scratch. Gets me riled up on some basic level lol. Eventually I got better at speed-cooking and he got better at tolerating takeout, but it caused some real fights at first!

      1. Chai life*

        Food likes & dislikes, and leftovers!
        I currently live with someone who does not eat leftovers. I come from a family who cooks large quantities and eats leftovers for lunch, subsequent dinners. I really dislike wasting food and try to make smaller meals, and I freeze some leftovers for my future meals (there’s only so much freezer space though). It really bugs me when he fixes new meals when there are leftovers to be eaten.

    15. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      There’s so much good advice on this thread. Everyone who suggested talking about money, chores, time together vs. apart, etc are all right. You also might want to talk about how you’ll make decisions about things involving your families. i.e. “My family wants us to come for Christmas and your family ALSO wants that”, how do we decide where we’ll go, will we split up, alternate, etc.

      It’s also a good idea to talk about “fighting fair” and what you may need when you’re angry or upset. My husband tends to want to be alone when he’s angry or upset, and I want to talk everything out right away, get it out in the open and then move past it. It took some practice, but we manage to respect each other’s needs and he’ll listen to me when I need to talk things out, but I’ll also try to give him space when he’s upset while also letting him know that I’m here to support him.

    16. allathian*

      On this thread you’ve received lots of advice and had people tell them what works for them. That said, the most crucial thing to remember, I think, is that flexibility is needed when things don’t work out as planned. When my husband and I started out, we split our chores fairly evenly, although admittedly somewhat along gender lines. There are no chores my husband won’t do, but I won’t touch our cars or mow the lawn. Both of us clean when necessary, but I do most of the laundry and fill and empty the dishwasher (our son’s helping with these as well as cleaning his own room). Whoever thinks of it takes out the trash, including our son, who’s taken the initiative a few times. When we moved in together, we’d pretty much do an equal share of cleaning the bathrooms and vacuuming and dusting, but he has much more energy than I do these days, so he does a bigger share. It’s a combination of my energy levels dropping slightly and his increasing a lot after he started running long distances regularly. He runs to the office at least once a week and rides his bike in the other direction and that’s a half marathon. They’re allowed to go to the office but not to use public transit and he doesn’t have his own parking space because he mostly uses public transit. I’m not a total slob, but my husband often takes the initiative on cleaning. Especially now that we’re WFH and here most of the time.

    17. Jwal*

      Thank you everyone for your suggestions! I’ll be going through them all this week and then will be scheduling some important conversations over the next few weeks. Today has been extremely hectic so sorry for not replying to everyone, but all the comments were very much appreciated :)

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Books, records, spices, and other sets of things with lots of small parts. I am an efficiency nut and former librarian who wants to find my object without shuffling at random so I keep those things organized. My ex-bf just put the most recently played record in at the end of the shelf and pushed. Hard to find and hard on my vinyl. My husband doesn’t want to do the organization in the first place but agreed to put things back where they came from.
      2. Frequency of common household chores. Once a week or “only when it’s visibly dirty” or somewhere in between–get it defined. Because if this if you to work out and you stay together and have children, the children will pick up the easiest habits from the parent who does least around the house. You do it all for two of you, and your kids will expect the same deal.

    19. Mac*

      Physical and emotional intimacy. If it’s always been long distance til now, there may be some adjustment while you guys figure out what it’s like to have a lover available and present all the time. You may discover that you have so much sex you end up with a UTI, or the opposite may happen, where there’s a precipitous drop off because there’s no artificial urgency imposed by the fact that you’re going to be parted soon. You may discover that you no longer have the kind of privacy you want for masturbation.
      If you’re both going to be new to the area, what about friendships? Are you going to try to make friends as a couple, or as individuals? What happens if one of you has a good emotional support network and the other doesn’t? (This is a fairly common dynamic in hetero relationships– many guys find it difficult to form new, deep friendships as they get older.)

      Good luck!!!

  5. Ella Bella*

    Anyone ever have to go no contact with a good friend? What did you do for the emotional fallout? I’ve paused (gone no contact) with my best and oldest friend because of something she cannot let go. She needs help because her obsession with the thing in question has taken over her life. If anyone is interested in the details I can share them but suffice to say she can’t move on and it is hurting her. Everyone who knows her knows this but she thinks anyone who doesn’t agree is against her. If she ever got help and moved on I would welcome her back into my life but until then I made the choice to go no contact and it hurts.

    1. allathian*

      It hurts, yes, but sometimes staying in contact would hurt even more in the long run. Please let yourself grieve for the loss of your friendship. Breaking up with a friend can be as tough as breaking up with a significant other.

      I’ve had to do it a couple of times. Once I had to tell a friend who was in the habit of calling me in the middle of the night, drunk, to rant about this, that and the other, that I wouldn’t be taking her calls anymore because I needed to sleep and it wasn’t really helping her, either. This was before caller-ID was widely available in my area and I still had a landline and no answering machine, so I just took the phone off the hook. It helped that I lived in the same apartment complex as my parents, so in a true emergency they would have been able to get in touch with me even in the middle of the night.

      With another friend I just decided to spend less time with her, because she vented about her problems or talked about herself all the time, but never wanted to listen to me either vent or talk about the good things that had happened to me. Whether bad or good, there was always a sense of oneupmanship from her, and I just got sick of it. I didn’t ghost her or anything, but just started declining her invitations with a “sorry, can’t make it” and never invited her to anything, so in the end our relationship just petered out.

    2. Lena Clare*

      I wouldn’t share the details. If she’s hurting, it’s not yours to share.

      I no longer have a friend in my life who I was close to for 30 years. It was more of a gradual fade due to growing apart, than a no contact, but we’re no contact now.
      The pain might be similar? I felt guilt, even though I’d done nothing ‘wrong’. Initially I found it hard to let go because I suppose I was invested more in what had been rather than what currently was.

      Do other things you enjoy and remind yourself that you’re self-caring. Looking after your own needs is your top priority.

      I found that the friendship ending (and me wanting to leave it rather than stay in it to try to fix it) was part of a wider pattern of behaviour in me that I wanted to look at, which I got therapy for amongst other things. You might find that helpful.
      At any rate, you’re grieving – be kind to you, be kind to your friend. This will pass.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My emotional fallout was mostly that my now-husband, who knew all the issues I had with the friend and why I was cutting him off and such as well as all the creepy things he was doing to try to get back into my life, took probably a year or so to stop hanging out with the guy as well. (In husband’s defense he hadn’t yet been medicated for his bipolar and was making a lot of bad decisions; as soon as he finally got into treatment things changed. I don’t know if they’re still in chatting contact – I hope not – but I’m not getting left at home while he goes over to hang out with the dude in person so I’ll take it.) That was a mess for a bit.

      Otherwise, I had kept the circumstances of our friendship “breakup” pretty close to the vest, so it was mostly the occasional “What’s Fergus up to?” “Dunno, I cut him off six months ago and don’t really want to get into it” discussion. But I’d done my mourning for the friendship I lost before I cut him loose for good. (I think it was last week’s open thread where I was talking about this too a bit.)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Cry. It’s sad, hugely sad. But otoh I had to remind myself that the decision came for a reason. The dual thinking can be confusing and upsetting on it’s own. But it happens in all different relationships, that we can still care about a person and for the sake of practicality/safety we can’t be around them.
      I love what my wise friend used to say, “Some times we have to get out of the way so someone who IS actually going to help can move closer.”

    5. StrikingFalcon*

      I did. I had to end a friendship with a very old and dear friend when the relationship got very toxic for me. It was hard, because we both cared a lot for each other, but when I tried to talk about the things that were hurting me, it just made things a lot worse. I was angry for a while, and sad. I still wish things could have been different, but I remind myself that I did everything I could on my end and they had choices about how they behaved and responded. I doubt they understand why I did what I did, but once the initial grief passed (and it is grief), I’ve been in a much better place.

    6. Generic Name*

      Yes. I ended two friendships after my first marriage ended. My ex husband was abusive and I decided that for my safety, I could not maintain friendships with people who decided to remain friends with him after I told them about the abuse. (We had several mutual friends who were less close that I didn’t disclose the abuse to and I remain friends with those people). I blocked both on social media. One former friend felt bad about it and later apologized to me, and I’m open to being friends with her now, but she hasn’t made a effort to do so, and the other reacted really strangely and defensively and I haven’t spoken to her since.

      I had a lot of mixed feelings about it at first. I worried I had overreacted by cutting them off, but I was also really scared at that point. I eventually realized that they weren’t the kind of friends I need in my life after all and moved on. Talking about it in therapy has helped. Yes, I do wish that things had been different, but we all have to make choices about what’s best for us. It was one of the first things I had ever done to put myself first (asking my husband to move out was the first thing I did).

    7. Wishing You Well*

      Letting go of a long time relationship usually involves grieving. It sounds like you’re getting out at the right time.
      I let go of a many-years-long friendship. My “friend” berated me at length for something I didn’t do. (A friend of hers made up a story about me.) I was completely done. I didn’t grieve at all – which means the friendship was over long before that final phone call. You don’t have to wait for some final event to end relationships that no longer work for you. Do your best to handle it maturely and be kind to yourself.

    8. Been there*

      I am interested in the details because I think it is relevant to your question. Tools and suggestions for coping with the emotional fallout from this can be tailored to the situation. From my experience, loss of a relationship because someone can’t move on or can’t let go of something can impact someone in very different ways depending on what the “thing” is, because part of the grieving process is coming to peace with the whole situation. One can offer general advice and empathy, but I think advice can be more specific and targeted if there’s a little more context. If you’re talking about addiction, I think that impacts your experience of loss differently than if we’re talking about someone who won’t leave an abusive relationship, for example. I also respectfully disagree with Lena Clare’s comment that “it’s not yours to share.” This is an anonymous forum where you’re seeking advice about the situation, not sharing your friend’s personal information with others who know her. It does not cross any ethical boundaries to share the details in this situation.

    9. Kiitemso*

      Four years ago I stopped contacting a friend I’d had for 15+ years. What hurt the most is when I stopped, she also stopped. She never got in touch, not so much as a text.

      I will be honest, the grief and pain goes away quicker but I still see her in my dreams sometime and sometimes freeze if I see somebody who looks like her out in public. There will be reminders. I think it’s important that you draw that boundary and I hope she gets help and can return to your life.

      1. Anonbeth*

        I had a similar experience to this. For me it was weird to have spent 15+ years so entwined with this person (she was very controlling, which is most of why I left) and then have her just vanish once I wasn’t around. I later learned that she’d latched onto someone else soon after, and at first I felt sad for being replaced and then sad for the other person!

        Anyway, I would let yourself feel all your feelings–it’s a breakup even if it’s not a romantic one. Sometimes it helps to imagine what you’d say to the friend (in an unsent letter or in an imaginary conversation), and then cut yourself off from thinking about it after a set amount of time so you don’t dwell. I also cried through a lot of Jane the Virgin and ate a lot of ice cream/brownies. Oh, if this friend’s been in your life a long time, maybe cultivate a new interest that doesn’t make you think of her? And remember why you’re setting this boundary. You can remember and cherish the good memories and your friend’s positive qualities without letting that influence you into letting her back into your life.

    10. Hello*

      I’ve had to do this a couple times to college friends. It was hard but necessary. I tried addressing stuff in the moment but it didn’t work and neither did a big picture conversation. I just stopped talking to them.

  6. Neela*

    How do you explain AAM to your friends? My friends don’t understand why I spend so much time reading a work advice web site and I never know how to capture it when talking to people who don’t read it.

      1. GoryDetails*

        “AAM is the Mystery Science Theater 3000 of the workplace?”

        Ha! Yes, sometimes it really seems that way – especially in the “grab the popcorn and settle in for drama” threads.

    1. allathian*

      I don’t really explain it. I’ve only recommended AAM to one friend who’s very unhappy in her current job and wants a change. I haven’t talked to her for a while so I don’t know if she’s read AAM or not.

      That said, I’m a pretty private person and fairly introverted, so I don’t share much about my private life with anyone, even friends. When we talk, it’s mostly been about our plans for the summer, such as they are, our kids, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever discussed the websites we visit with any of them!

    2. Sue*

      I think some of my family/friends are probably sick of me mentioning the blog but I’ve read letters to people, shared links and talked about issues enough that some have now become readers and others just come to me for advice and I try to channel Alison.

    3. Lena Clare*

      “It’s a work advice blog, and I enjoy reading it and get a lot out of it.”

      I don’t feel like I have to explain it though. I have mentioned it to my work colleagues, and I’ve shared some particularly hair-raising articles for a joint laugh, but that’s it.

      I don’t know why you’d need to explain why you’re reading this blog a lot, unless you’re doing it in work time, which is not advisable. I do occasionally read it in work, but I don’t spend so long doing that, that co-workers question me about it.

      1. Adam*

        Those classes I sent you to? Great foundation. Read some of these and do what the managers in the posts don’t do. You’ll be fine.

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        I agree. Why would you be discussing this with anyone? Internet browsing is a boring topic to bring up with someone who doesn’t share the same habits. It’s like describing a long-running TV show to someone who doesn’t watch it. You should probably evaluate why this is coming up so often in conversations.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah. If it comes up, it’s generally because someone had a quandry and I remembered a letter that was similar so I might send someone a link to a specific post because it fits their situation. But I don’t talk about the site generically. I also sort of feel like even if I did, the title is sort of self-explanatory.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      It fills in work gaps and life gaps and we all have gaps. There is a collective genius at play here, it’s the knowledge of many people. And people use their thoughts and knowledge to help people go in a positive direction. I think the comment I see the most is about the level of respect that goes on here. And that is because Alison demands respect be in place at all times. So if a person has a question this probably one of the safer places on the net to put that question.

      (snickering) Tell them if they have a question you will be happy to ask here and you will report back what you get in answers. Maybe if they see how it goes IRL they will start to “get it”.

      I am turning 60 this year. It’s happened a few times where people have asked me how I knew about x or y, when most people in my area don’t know or people my age don’t know. It’s because of reading here that I am at least aware of x or y. I consider it my continuing ed to just keep reading.

    5. MommaCat*

      I just say “it’s a great workplace advice column, and the comments section is really well moderated,” and that usually gets people nodding. A well-moderated comment section is a wonderful thing, to cherish once found.

    6. lazy intellectual*

      I purposefully don’t because I usually come on here to complain about them! Or just aspects of my life I’m not very open about IRL. Sometimes if I want to talk about something I read on here, I refer to it as a “forum” that I’m a part of.

    7. Bibliovore*

      AAM is where I can hear other people’s issues work and otherwise and often get excellent advice about things that are worrying me.

    8. Utah*

      It’s a combination of useful advice AND interesting drama, from somewhat normal to as extreme as “this one guy literally ghosted his ex by leaving the country and now she is his boss.”

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        That is precisely the letter that someone shared with me as an introduction to the site, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

    9. Skeeder Jones*

      I tell them the story of the guy who ghosted his gf of many years and then ended up with her as his boss, the boss that pees in the sink, the duck club and the manager who complained that her best employee quit when she wasn’t allowed 2 hours off to go to her own graduation. It’s like the best of Judge Judy with a little Jerry Springer thrown in and then a whole lot of really good advice about stuff in the workplace.

  7. Lynn*

    This is random but has become one of my great joys in quarantine life, so I wanted to share —

    I recently started knitting!

    It was easy and cheap (~$10) to get started, and it gives me a tangible result of my effort, which I don’t often get with work. It also doesn’t involve any little bright screens, which I get too much of at work. It also requires minimal space and makes no mess. (Guilty admission: I do often knit during boring work meetings now that my office is fully virtual and no one can tell. It actually helps me pay attention better because I am not so bored my mind wanders or I just start catching up on email instead).

    I’ve been recommending to friends and family as a great little quarantine hobby and thought I would share with my AAM friends too :)

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      I am on my fourth Quarantine Afghan already! I was already a knitter and crocheter before. It’s a good meditation- with each stitch I envision a bit of stress unknotting from me and moving into the yarn. A word of caution, though…yarn addiction is a real thing!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Yay! You probably have found these already, but just in case – Ravelry (dot com) is a good resource for pattern-ogling and acquisition and you can also use it to track your own projects if you want. Knitty (dot com) is a long-running quarterly (I think) knitting digital magazine with patterns and articles and such – I haven’t checked it so much lately, but all their archives are available too. :)

    3. Forensic13*

      I’ve loved quarantine knitting! I tend to make only scarves because that’s all I know how to make, and for me the point is that it’s a relaxing semi-mindless thing. I did make two small baby blankets, which was nice.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I love knitting and crochet, but I can’t stand handling yarn in the summer, and it was already hot here by March.

      It’s always muggy, even with the AC on, and my hands are rough from gardening.

      I’ll pick it up again around October.

    5. Always Late to the Party*

      I learned to knit in quarantine too! Definitely a great break from the grind of WFH while still using your brain a bit.

    6. too much wool, clearly*

      “cheap (~$10) to get started, …. It also requires minimal space”
      yes, I remember those days. No longer cheap with the $40 balls of sock wool, and no longer minimal space with the wool for a dozen pairs of socks and several sweaters. And, that’s before the sweaters I *really* want to make. It’s a lovely hobby, enjoy.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One word of warning… when you start finding yourself buying yarn from thrift stores and garage sales, plan to treat fiber for moths every time, just in case.
      Theoretically putting objects into a deep freeze for 3 weeks from a 70° room works too, as does baking at a certain controlled temperature, but I’ve had to move on to mothballs.

  8. Amy*

    Ok, here’s a “what would you do” question, particularly for parents.

    I’m 20 weeks pregnant with my second child. My first is almost four. We live in an area that is severely affected by COVID and our household includes two high-risk people: my mother-in-law, who is in her 70’s, and me (I have a chronic lung disease in addition to being pregnant). We have been isolating since early March: everybody working from home, no preschool, no visitors, no going anywhere except socially distanced walks a few times per week. It’s been really rough with two full-time WFH parents and no childcare (other than my MIL, who is able to help out a few hours a day, thankfully) but we are hanging in there for now.

    But… a baby is coming. We don’t have any other family or friends nearby who can help when the baby comes. My dad and stepmom have offered to travel to us (several days drive) and stay in a rental house nearby to help out. They are retired so they have lots of free time, and would plan to quarantine for 2 weeks after arrival, then stay for about 3 months.

    While this is a really generous offer of help I’m honestly not sure I want to take them up on it. For one, my Dad is in his 60’s and I worry about him coming here and catching the virus. Second, I’m not sure I totally trust them to self-isolate effectively. I know they are still seeing friends, going to the store, hosting outdoor dinner parties, etc. back home, and my Dad in particular is a very active person who needs to get out and do something every day or he goes stir-crazy. Usually that thing is a hike or some other outdoor activity, but outdoor areas are pretty crowded here. Third, I honestly worry about us getting in each other’s hair too much over three months(!) of being together every day. Even if they’re sleeping somewhere else (our guest room has become the nursery so they would get a vacation rental) we would all be here in the house together all day, every day, and COVID means no one is getting out very much. I love my parents but that’s a lot of houseguest time, and in the past I’ve gotten stressed out having them around since they don’t always deal well with my older child acting out, as four-year-olds are wont to do.

    And yet – keeping a four-year-old entertained while caring for a brand-new baby with no outside help would be real rough. My husband works long hours and my MIL struggles to keep up with my older child at her age. I’m pretty confident my Dad would do a good job of engaging the four-year-old. I don’t know… what would you do? Would I be crazy to turn down this offer? I think my Dad would be a little offended if I do, but he would deal with it.

    1. Lynn*

      Those are valid concerns!

      If your dad did come, would he be willing to isolate more than he is now? You don’t need to frame it as him doing anything wrong right now, you can focus on how he is going to be in close contact with a newborn with minimal immunity and needs to follow new standards accordingly.

      Or, depending on your finances, would a nanny be an option? Or maybe a part time babysitter? You have time to vet and find someone you trust to strictly adhere to isolating safely.

      Also — trash or treasure, but I often get caught up trying to figure out the “best” or “right” answer, and sometimes there isn’t one. Life is not always a system of constraints you solve and optimize; sometime you can only satisfice. In your case, you may have to adjust your expectations of the outcome, but also, don’t beat yourself up for not figuring out a better solution — there is not a playbook for getting through this pandemic and you are doing the best you can. Good luck!

    2. Analyst Editor*

      I think the mental health tradeoff for a small increase in exposure might be warranted for you.
      You can probably do without help, more or less, while you’re on maternity leave. But it will be very hard and likely to take a toll on you.

      From my own experience with #1 and #2, being pregnant and hormonal (and post partum and hormonal) a lot for stuff makes you anxious and upset that wouldn’t normally, so it’s important to correct for that in your assessment of the situstion. But the help your parents can give should outweigh the stress of not having them and having to get paid help anyway. – what if you have PPD bad? Or you need a c section and it’s a long recovery? Or your MIL needs extra care?

      Masked visits to the store, hikes out side in full sunlight, seem like a reaosnable thing to do, even in a high Covid area. Life still needs to happen; and to soothe anxieties, maybe look up numbers by county and see how and yours is?

      Congratulations on the second pregnancy, and good luck! As a pregnancy on its own, my second went much easier than #1.

    3. PX*

      Hmm. I was going to suggest sending the 4 year old to stay with the grandparents for a while rather than the grandparents coming to you. Not sure how that would work with quarantine when child needs to come back or if your grandparents could actually handle a 4 year old full time for a while, but maybe its an option for a couple of weeks?

      I’m from a part of the world where grandparents looking after their grandkids for extended periods of time (1 month +) isnt unusual, so that was my first instinct. Maybe you suggest it as grandparents + older grandchild go somewhere (something like camping somewhere more remote) for a few weeks so everyone else can find their feet? That plus sometime in a rental near you on either end could help break up the 3 months?

      Mainly I guess I was just struck by the idea that they you will need to see them all day every day while they are around which…doesnt seem helpful to me. I’m used to grandparents where you can drop off child and/or baby and then have some time to yourself!

        1. valentine*

          I was going to suggest sending the 4 year old to stay with the grandparents for a while rather than the grandparents coming to you.
          This is a great idea, unless what you really need is help with the baby. It sounds like it’s all on you for the foreseeable future, but is that set in stone? Are your husband and you not eligible for family or parental leave? Can he not work fewer hours for a stretch?

          Another option is for your parents to be the four-year-old’s daycare. At their rental.

          But I wouldn’t involve your parents unless you have great boundaries (both in general and especially with them), they don’t have competition or jealousy with your MIL, and they’re happy to follow your rules. Because, especially if you help pay for the rental or anything else for them, and they don’t do risk-reducing things, you don’t want to end up feeling guilty/helpless/obliged about giving them time with the kids.

          What would you be doing if there were no pandemic and how close can you get to that? Is paid, non-family help the best solution?

      1. CorgisandCats*

        This is a possibly a cultural issue but often first born children can really struggle to adjust to having a new sibling and no longer being the only child. They often regress, get clingy, and worry they are being replaced so I would tread lightly on having them travel away from home with grandparents, at least at first. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, ask if they could help specific days at specific times so you get some time but also aren’t sick of each other. Good luck!

        1. Observer*

          I agree with this. In my community, it’s very much the norm for grandparents to be a first line of help, but it’s generally not through sending a child this young away from home.

    4. Alice*

      I live in the US and I hope that you will keep posting these return-to-almost-normal life pics.
      I think that many Americans do not realize that the pandemic can actually be significantly controlled by an effective government and societal response, and that the current situation in FL and TX was not inevitable.
      If your friends don’t want to read it, they can scroll past.

    5. Ranon*

      Honestly, in this scenario I’d be very tempted to tough it out (although for background I currently have one nearly four year old and he’s a super easy kid to care for so that’s my context). None of my friends who’ve had parents promise to be super careful about isolating so they can have childcare have had their parents actually follow through at a level they’re truly comfortable with (most do better but they’re so far apart on risk assessment to begin with better doesn’t get you close), and most feel stuck at this point taking the help anyways. On the other hand, most of my friends who’ve had a second have found that the extra baby isn’t really the difficult part, you may cope better than you expect.

      My thought for you is- how flexible are your parents? You’re still ~20 weeks out from actually having a baby in your life- how long can you wait to make this decision? There’s a lot of factors that can change in wow, nearly 5 months. I’d procrastinate as long as possible- heck, if they can do short notice, wait until the baby is here! You’d have to wait a bit for your relief help if you decide you do need it but it might be easier than trying to read your future self’s mind.

    6. Not A Manager*

      How good is your family about disagreement and conflict resolution? A bunch of people up in each other’s business for three months are going to have disagreements and hurt feelings. Is this something that you historically have been able to work through or shake off?

      How good are all of you about compromise? I see behaviors on both sides that *to me* don’t seem to be fully rooted in the current science about the virus. Would all of you be willing to research current best practices and come to some joint agreement about how you will keep everyone physically safe and mentally healthy while your parents are in town?

      If your parents are bringing a car and staying in a rental, why on earth would they have to be at your house all day every day? Couldn’t they pick up your older one a few times a week and drive the child to their place?

      I know that free childcare is never free, and I respect your concerns. My recollection of my second child is that they are every bit as exhausting as you remember your first child being. If there’s a way that you can get some extra support in a way that is healthy (physically, mentally, relationally) for your family, I would try to make that happen.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Take the help.

      Imperfect help in a situation like this is better than no help.

      Outdoor activities are low risk, even with some people in the general vicinity. If they aren’t being careful enough, you can deal with it when the time comes. The fact thag they’re willing to quarantine after travel indicates that they intend to protect you and respect your risk tolerance, even if theirs is higher at home.

      Take the help.

    8. Anono-me*

      Have you recently priced out what a vacation rental would cost for the projected time frame?

      The people I know who do vacation rentals say that prices have shot up dramatically. This may not be a financially viable option for your family and so the debate you’re torturing yourself with maybe irrelevant.

      The other thing I would suggest is, if the vacation rental is not too expensive for your situation, could you find one that has a lot of outdoor space included? That could both help with your dad and step mom’s love of being outdoors and your four-year-old could sometimes go over there for some quality center of attention time

      Congratulations on your future new addition.

    9. LegallyRed*

      I’m in a similar situation. I’m 29w and immunocompromised (cancer patient), albeit with older kids (2 teens and 3 in elementary school). We have no local help and have been super locked down since all this started. We have several offers of help from family but it is hard to trust that they will self-isolate in the way we would prefer them to before entering our quarantine bubble. Right now the plan is for my MIL to fly out and self-isolate in our basement guest room for two weeks.

      The one thing I do know is that we will need another adult. I have been very sick this entire pregnancy and my husband has been running the show — parenting, managing the “homeschooling” situation once the schools closed, working from home, taking care of my medical needs—with very little help from me. He is amazing, but it is wearing on him, and I’m not going to feel much better until early next year. He can’t keep doing all that AND take care of a baby. So we are going to have to take a risk, but I think it’s a small one. My MIL certainly understands that these are high stakes circumstances for us and seems willing to live by our rules while she is here, which I appreciate immensely.

      1. allathian*

        Congratulations on your pregnancy and on winning the MIL stakes! I’m wishing you a more comfortable pregnancy and easy labor when the time comes. Good luck with your cancer treatments. I hope your MIL can help to make things a bit easier for you and your husband. How old are your older teens? Many teens in ordinary circumstances would be babysitting kids in the neighborhood, but that’s obviously not an option in your case at the moment. I hope they’re doing their share of the chores at home, though.

    10. Koala dreams*

      I wouldn’t feel comfortable for my parents to travel that far, but if they and you are comfortable with that, I guess it’s okay. Could you find a rental place with a garden so your grandparents and the four year old can play outside? Some people tent with their children in the garden to make it feel like a fun outing, but I don’t know if that’s even possible in a rental place. Or if you have a garden, could you go to the rental place with baby and husband and let grandparents and four year old have your place?

      Or could you find a local baby-sitter instead? Even if you only can only afford a few days a week, it would be better than nothing, and a local baby-sitter would hopefully have their own place to live when they aren’t working. I also think maybe you need to negotiate working shorter hours with work, both you and your husband (you write your husband works long hours, but if you also work full time or more you’ll need shorter work hours too). Sometimes you can’t do it all, and something has to give.

    11. Nita*

      When are you going to be going back to work? If you’re going to have a maternity leave, you might be able to tough it out. It’s possible (not a given, but possible) that you will actually find it easier to care for a second baby and toddler, than to go from having no kids to being a first-time parent. It’s still a good idea to figure out who you can call on for help, but it’s not a given you’re going to need to do it. If you’re going to be working, you’re 200% going to need help.

      Either way, having your parents come sounds problematic in so many ways. What about finding a nanny instead? You might be able to find someone local who also takes precautions seriously and is able to limit their circle of contacts to keep everyone’s risk lower…

    12. Not Australian*

      “In his sixties” is not a factor here; please trust that your father would not have made this offer had he not properly considered the potential consequences – and you say that he’s a fit and active man, as well.

      Make your judgment on other factors by all means, but please leave age out of it. These are people you know well, who have made a good faith offer to help you out at a difficult time, and you need to trust that they are capable of doing what they say they’ll do; no more, no less.

      1. acmx*

        Sixties is considered high risk for COVID-19 which is what her concern is “my Dad is in his 60’s and I worry about him coming here and catching the virus”

  9. My curiosity failed me*

    TRIGGER WARNING: This post includes references to sexual abuse/child molestation, child abuse, and suicide.
    I found out some really difficult family-related news this week and would love some insight and perspective from other readers. It all started when my brother, sister, and I shared a text thread reminiscing about the neighborhood we grew up in and other childhood memories.
    This got me to thinking about that period of my life, which was when my mom was married to my former stepdad, Mike. Mom and Mike’s relationship was complicated for a number of reasons, the biggest of which was Mike’s son from a previous marriage (Junior), who was close in age to me and my siblings. Junior was very troubled and had severe behavioral issues that were very disruptive, so much so that he got expelled from a special school for kids with behavioral problems. Long story short, their marriage fell apart when my mom insisted that Junior get serious mental health treatment (either residential or a full-time day program), and Mike refused. (He was from a cultural background that was very old-school disciplinarian and considered mental health care either taboo or not of value.)
    My mom and Mike were married from when I was 5 to 11, so a huge chunk of my formative years. Their separation was abrupt and final, and I only saw Mike a few times after that, and I’m not sure if I ever saw Junior again. Mike was intimidating in some ways and was a disciplinarian, but I believe he was a good man at heart, who cared about us and wanted to do right by our family, even if the whole situation was toxic due to Junior’s behavior and bullying. But I cared about Mike and had affection for him, and still do, even though it’s been 30+ years since I’ve seen him.
    So this reminiscing with my siblings had me thinking about Mike and Junior a lot, and I decided look them up online, as well as their extended family whom we were very close to during the marriage. And what I found was… very disturbing. Junior became a multiple felony child molester who also killed his 1-year old daughter (shaken baby syndrome), and he hung himself a year ago. I also found Mike’s brother, my then step-uncle, who molested me as a young child (though I never told anyone at the time — it was a different era). He is also a convicted child molester now, so that was upsetting too. But the news about Junior upset me to a degree I would not have expected. It is taking up so much headspace!
    I grew up with this kid. We were family and shared a household for a huge chunk of my childhood. But I think what is even harder to process is the pain I feel for Mike. Who knows what would have happened if he’d gotten Junior the help he needed as an adolescent, and one can fault him for not getting his son more help, but I still hurt for someone who used to be a father figure to me, and whose son grew up to be such a tortured, horribly violent and destructive man who died by suicide.
    I think part of the reason it looms so large in my mind is that there are fewer distractions these days than during normal times. But I also feel very alone in being the sole person in my family to be carrying this heavy knowledge. I talked to my therapist and ultimately will share it with a couple close friends, but I cannot and will not share it with my mom, my brother, or my sister. It is too upsetting, and I wouldn’t do that to them. I do have to say it’s tempting to talk to my sister, because we are pretty close and she is part of my support system, and she is emotionally stable and could handle it, but still I wouldn’t do that to her! But it still feels very lonely to be the only one of us who knows.
    If anyone has any perspective or personal experiences they can share that might help me process this and work through it, it would be much appreciated!

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I think the chances that the uncle abused Junior are not zero. And if he did, that would at least partially explain Junior’s problems.

      I think that you’re taking responsibility here where there is no responsibility to take. You didn’t commit a crime. You were a child, and you had no power to change the outcome of the situation. It doesn’t matter that it was a different era – plenty of abused children today don’t tell anyone. And I wouldn’t be so sure that your mother doesn’t know, or at least have some awareness of what these men were capable of. I don’t know your family obviously, but if I were you, I would think about why you’re so determined to keep this knowledge from them. Family secrets don’t help. Shining light on everything might be painful, but it also might allow old wounds to heal.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I agree. What are you protecting your family from? If you find this information disturbing it might be good to be able to share the burden.

    2. Always Late to the Party*

      Please take this with a giant grain of salt as I do not know you and am not a therapist (and am glad you have your therapist in the loop on this!). I couldn’t help but wonder when reading this if you are feelings these strong feelings about Junior and Mike because of unresolved feelings about something else. Of course it’s terrible to learn this but to feel *so* haunted about people who have not been in your life for over 30 years makes me wonder if your brain isn’t doing that “i have strong feelings…it’s too painful to think about the real reason….oooh here’s an external thing to project them onto that is a little less painful.” I only say this because it happens to me; this may not be your situation at all!

      If this resonates, I’ve found journaling really helpful for processing feelings and figuring out the root cause of these kinds of emotions. Either way, I’m so sorry for what you’re going through and I hope you find a way to process it. <3

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I don’t know. It took me a bit aback when I learned that a kid I grew up with OD’d, and we weren’t even close. I didn’t obsess about it, but he wasn’t almost my brother, and his death was a whole lot less fraught.

        It seems to me that a close family member’s death and horrible crimes, and a father figure’s grief, are both things that should upset someone. Even if you haven’t seen either of them in 30 years. It shouldn’t mess you up, but it is a terrible thing that happened to/by people you care about, and that is well worth mourning.

        1. Always Late to the Party*

          Thanks for sharing your experience. I did not mean to imply that My curiosity failed me shouldn’t be upset because of learning this news, but rather the fixation on it seemed disproportionate (to me).

          I honestly almost didn’t post because I am wary of doing anything that even smells like diagnosing a stranger on the internet, but I re-read their post twice and felt that they were looking for a variety of perspectives, and that they might benefit from considering this as a possibility.

          Also my post was super qualifying and clearly based on personal experience (“please take this with a giant grain of salt”, “if this resonates”) so if you’re reading that I implied My curiosity failed me shouldn’t be upset, you’re reading something that I did not write (at least not intentionally).

    3. RagingADHD*

      Keeping silence to “protect” the family is a burden that many survivors of childhood sexual abuse feel compelled to carry.

      It doesn’t protect anyone. It just crushes you.

      It is entirely possible that the uncle also abused your siblings. Or Junior did. Maybe disclosing these things would hurt them. Or maybe it would help them heal to know they are not alone.

      Either way, abuse and its destructive power thrives on silence. Breaking the silence breaks the power.

      1. ..Kat..*

        This. There is power in truth.

        I recommend at least telling each of these family members (mom, brother, and sister) that you have learned some disturbing news about these people. Ask if they would like you to tell them. And then respect and abide by their choices.

        1. My curiosity failed me*

          I love this idea — thank you! It’s perfect, and hadn’t occurred to me as an option.

    4. My curiosity failed me*

      Thank you to those of you who’ve shared your thoughts and given me something to think about. I should mention that I did eventually tell my mom about the uncle’s abuse, as a teenager. She was horrified. Trust me that she did not know about abuse. If she had, she would have protected me. Please just take me at my word at that.
      I also appreciate Ellspeth’s comment validating my mourning and grief about this news and how jarring it has been. Think about if you had a (step)dad and (step)brother who were suddenly pulled away from you and out of your life at age 11 after you’d living with them almost as long as you can remember, and Grandma 3 blocks away whose house you went to every day after school, and aunts and uncles and cousins (most of whom were very good to us). Sure, 30 years have passed, but ages 5 to 11 is a really key part of your life and development. I am also certain that the amount of headspace it is occupying is impacted by the isolation and lack of everyday distractions/activities/human contact of COVID times.
      My decision not to share this news with my family has a lot of context, although I appreciate people questioning it which has given me something to think about. It’s hard to know when sharing a story in this type of forum, what to leave in and what to leave out, and of course one does their best to share the most important facts but there’s always so much more to it. My mother is in her 70’s, recently lost her younger sister to cancer, has her own (physical and mental) health issues, and also just found out her sister-in-law is entering hospice care for cancer (the sister of my current stepdad — my mom has been married for 2o+ yrs to my current stepdad who is a great guy). She has enough on her plate. Her memory is also not great these days. My brother has serious mental health issues, a personality disorder, and is very volatile. He often freezes me out and stops talking to me. He is very emotionally fragile. So, this is why the only person I’ve considered telling is my sister.
      To respond to the suggestion that I have unresolved feelings about something else, well, I’m sure that I do have unresolved feelings and wounds from throughout my childhood. I had a very traumatic childhood (for those familiar with ACES, I had 8 ACES), and no doubt this has made me revisit some painful and complicated parts of my past. I’ve done my best to heal and recover, but some things are never fully resolved. I don’t want to inflict pain on others because of my own desire to share the burden. It feels like it would be selfish, and to what end? Sometimes sharing secrets allows old wounds to heal, but I am confident that this is not one of those times.

      1. TL -*

        It is very likely your sister and perhaps mother are going to find out anyways, though – so you can go through this together or you can go through individually, but if the information was there for you to find, chances are they’ll find it as well.

        1. My curiosity failed me*

          Thank you for your input. Interesting point, and you have me reconsidering whether to tell my sister. I’m fairly confident my mom will not find out. Her hands are disabled to the point that she can barely type (which is really hard on her because she was a career journalist and still freelanced until a few years ago), and I just don’t know why out of the blue she would look them up. Also, memory is getting more and more impaired, and she struggles so much physically and emotionally, that I just don’t think it’s worth it.
          It was just so random that I decided to look them up, and I am of the three siblings by far the most sentimental and most likely to do something like that. Also, my sister sometimes overreacts angrily to random things being brought up from our childhood. Things I do not consider upsetting or a big deal. It’s hard to explain. I don’t know. There’s no right or wrong answer. But I also know my family, and while others are making good points which I appreciate (!) and am willing to consider, I have 40 years of interactions with my siblings and mother, so I would ask that people not assume that keeping this a secret is the WRONG decision. It is more complicated than that. I understand and appreciate the insight and feedback being offered here, and I also acknowledge we all have potential blind spots when it comes to our own families, but I’m also asking that people allow for the fact that I have deep knowledge of my family that makes me uniquely positioned to make decisions about this.

          1. StrikingFalcon*

            “Also, my sister sometimes overreacts angrily to random things being brought up from our childhood. Things I do not consider upsetting or a big deal.”

            This is a very common reaction to trauma. Of course, I can’t say from here that this is definitely the result of trauma, but given how you’ve described your childhood, she is almost certainly dealing with her own trauma. It may help you talk about some of the things that happened, or it may not. Ideally she would also be working with a therapist when you have those conversations.

            You could tell her that you looked them up, but that it isn’t happy news, and ask her if she wants to know. That gives her the choice to learn it or not.

            1. My curiosity failed me*

              I should have been clear that she sometimes reacts to seemingly positive memories and events (not negative ones), with the response to snap at me and shut down the conversation, “I don’t want to talk about that.” But then again, she is sometimes just snappy and unreasonable period, so who knows. She is definitely dealing with her own trauma, all three of us are, without a doubt. She does see a therapist, or has seen one, on and off for years, but I don’t know if she is right now.
              But I do love the idea of giving her the option, which Kat suggested in another comment too. It is a perfect solution which for some reason hadn’t occurred to me. I think my sister would probably say that yes, she wants to know. I’m not sure about my brother, but we hardly ever talk anyway.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Hey, FWIW, I wasn’t trying to tell you what to do. I was speaking to what sounded like a real burden of obligation.

        I think if you *wanted* to talk about it, it would be okay and you don’t have to carry it alone to protect others.

        You are the expert on your own situation, and I wouldn’t presume to say you “should” do this or that.

        You *could.* Should is your own business.

        1. My curiosity failed me*

          Thank you for saying that, and I didn’t infer from your initial comment that you were trying to tell me what to do! Your first comment was great, although I also really appreciate you clarifying it further. There were a couple comments that said “should” explicitly or implicitly, but yours was not one of them.
          Although I also understand that all the comments are well-intended and meant to be helpful, and I asked for advice, so I appreciate everyone who is taking the time to share their thoughts and suggestions.
          I just think it’s hard to take this stuff out of context, but having that perspective of objectivity can be really helpful too. But honestly, it’s also occurring to me that in the last year I spent a lot of time and energy protecting my some of my family from some serious emotional abuse I was dealing with from another family member (related by marriage), which felt like the right decision for some really complex reasons. Anyway, it occurred to me just now that the toxicity of that situation perhaps created a norm around the behavior of protecting my family that wouldn’t otherwise be such a strong instinct.
          Regardless, I like other commenters’ suggestion to tell my siblings and my mom that I looked up Mike and Junior, and that it’s not good news, and let them decide whether they want to hear it.

      3. ..Kat..*

        I wish you good luck and peace of mind whatever choice you make.

        My previous advice up thread stems from people in my life making choices for me (deciding what is best for me) and deciding to keep things from me “to protect me.” Their decisions for me did not protect me, and I have anger about them making decisions for me.

        1. My curiosity failed me*

          Thank you so much, and your suggestion upthread is a great one and hadn’t occurred to me, to tell them just enough so that they can make their own decision.
          I am sorry that you had the experience of people keeping things from you because they thought they knew what was best for you. I wouldn’t normally keep secrets from my family, especially not any information that was actionable or that would impact their decisions. This felt like dredging up the past in way that wouldn’t be helpful, but still you are correct that it should be their decision. It just hadn’t occurred to me that there was a way of sharing the information that gives them an “out,” which makes me much more comfortable since they can opt out if they don’t want to know. This has been a really tough year for my family so I just was not wanting to inflict more pain.

          1. ..Kat..*

            This makes a lot of sense. And, you are obviously trying to solicit opinions from the wonderful people on this blog about what might be best to do.

      4. Batgirl*

        “Trust me that she did not know about abuse”
        It was very obvious from your first post that your mother is a proactive lady. She ended a marriage because she couldn’t stand idly by and watch a child not be helped. What more can people do?

      5. Observer*

        Trust me that she did not know about abuse. If she had, she would have protected me

        I totally believe you. Based on her behavior, I would have been surprised to hear otherwise.

        1. My curiosity failed me*

          Observer and Batgirl – Thank you! I love that even from this one piece of information about my mother, you understood her strength. She also left an abusive husband (my “real” dad) and took on raising 3 small children as a single mom in the late 70s.

      6. Mac*

        I sympathize so much with your struggle, and I’m going to just share my 2 experiences in the hopes that it helps even a tiny bit. When I was in my 20s, right after my father died, when I was an absolute emotional wreck, a younger cousin who I was close to revealed to our family that her stepfather (who I’d always really liked) had been molesting her. I was so grateful to her that she trusted us to believe her, to support her, to give us the opportunity to show her love and try to help her heal. I am still grateful to her. It has been a long, hard, scary road of healing for her –for the whole family, but obviously mostly for her– but I am grateful every day to be part of her life.
        So that’s one experience.
        The other experience is that about a year ago I realized that I too was a survivor of sexual abuse –though not from a family member– and I haven’t yet told anyone in my family, especially not this cousin. I am afraid of burdening or hurting her somehow. It feels hypocritical to me on a purely logical level, but I just don’t know how to bring it up in a way that makes it clear that I don’t want her to feel like she has to take care of me. I’m in therapy; my partner knows and has been incredibly supportive and loving; I know I’m eventually going to be ok. I am sure also there’s a big part of me feels like what happened to her is worse than what happened to me, and so I’m embarrassed to even bring it up as if it can compare… it’s all a tangle. I do hope someday to be able to talk to her about it, but it’s just so hard to figure out how.
        So… my advice is to just try not to use the language of “I won’t do that to them”. If they love you, sharing your hurt is a gift to them, a sign of trust. The question is what do YOU need for healing, what are YOU ready for or not ready for? I have found that the adult survivors of CSA group on reddit has gotten me through some dark nights, if you’re looking for some community & support. I also don’t want to get too sidetracked from your original question, which seemed to be more about dealing with your feelings around Junior. It is obvious to me that he was also abused, and I don’t want to at all put words in your mouth, but I know that one of the things I most struggle with regarding my cousin is a feeling of guilt. Guilt that I didn’t know, that I didn’t help her, and guilt that it was her, not me– I couldn’t shake the feeling that it should’ve been me. Even now that I know I was hurt, too, by someone else, it doesn’t stop that feeling that it should’ve been me.
        You are alive and Junior is dead because he could no longer stand the pain of his own existence. That is not, by any measure, your fault, but survivor’s guilt doesn’t care– which is why it’s a commonality among even very elderly Holocaust survivors.
        I feel like this has been all very rambling, so I’ll try to end concretely: you deserve love, and community, and healing. You deserve to be heard.

        1. My curiosity failed me*

          Hi Mac – Somehow I missed your comment on Sat – I wonder if it went through moderation and took some time to post? Anyway, in case you see this, I just want to say thank you for sharing your story and for your thoughtful comment and insight. I’m sorry that you had those experiences, and I appreciate your point about not framing it as, “I won’t do that to them.” It’s making me think about at how I relate to my family in general, and why I have such a strong instinct to protect them even when I could use their support. I can think of a lot of reasons why I would have developed that instinct, but it never occurred to me to question it.

    5. TL -*

      I also think you should tell your family- Mike and Junior were an important part of their lives and your family deserves the chance to process and deal with the information as they want to. You shouldn’t take that choice from them. I also think abuse thrives on secrecy – and there’s been enough of it already that there’s a chance others are hiding information and feeling alone as well.

      1. Observer*

        It’s true that abuse thrives on secrecy. But what actionable information is there to share? No one is going to be abused if the OP doesn’t share this with their siblings.

        As for their need to process, I think that that’s more complex than you allow for. Kat made an excellent suggestion, which I totally agree with. But the first issue that needs to be addressed is that potential fallout to the OP of sharing. In other words, they need to make a decision for themselves, not for their siblings.

        Which means that it may turn out that it makes sense for the OP to offer to share with their sister but not with their brother. I can’t say that for sure, but there is definitely a difference in the the way those two react to things, and it sounds like Brother may not be safe to share with.

        1. My curiosity failed me*

          Observer – Thank you for this thoughtful comment, and your point about this information being non-actionable, which is also something I mentioned in one of my other responses in the thread. I would be much more likely to share (or at least offer to share) with my sister, for the reasons you mention. My brother is so unpredictable (and, sadly, quite distanced from me by his own choice), that I’m not sure I would ever bring it up with him.
          Also, I appreciate the perspective that I should make the choice that is right for *me*. I think I tend not to do this in my family, and it is good to be reminded that it is okay to prioritize my own needs.

    6. Not Australian*

      Are you absolutely certain, 100%, beyond all reasonable doubt, that your brother and sister don’t already have this information? For all you know, they could be trying to protect *you* from it. It may sound unlikely, but this is often the way these things work out. If I were you, I would try very carefully introducing the subject with your sister – along the lines of “I accidentally found out the other day that Junior had died” – and see if that starts off a conversation which sheds more light on the subject.

      1. My curiosity failed me*

        Fair point. I have to say thought, I would bet good money on my siblings not knowing. My sister wouldn’t look them up. My brother would tell us if he knew (it wouldn’t occur to him to protect anyone but himself from anything ever). My mom…may have heard through the grapevine. It’s possible. Although I’m almost certain she would tell us if she knew, it’s possible she either wouldn’t tell us, or that she forgot about it, or that she *thought* she told us — she’s really forgetful these days.
        Anyway, I like your suggestion. Thank you.

    7. My curiosity failed me*

      I just want to say a moment to say THANK YOU to each and every one of you who has taken the time to comment and share your thoughts and suggestions. You have all given me a lot to think about and explore both in regard to this situation specifically, and in regard to my family in general. I genuinely appreciate all the advice, and am considering/thinking about all of it, even though I pushed back on the “one size fits all” suggestion around not keeping secrets.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I’ve been thinking about this a bit more, and am wondering if what you need is to take time to actually mourn? To plant trees in your stepbrother and neice’s memories, or look through old photos with a glass of wine, or light candles and pray, or whatever ritual of greif and love and memory seems best to you.

        Or possibly I am projecting. But it would be helpful for me, in the same circumstances.

        1. My curiosity failed me*

          I think that in some way I do need to just mourn and that it will take a little time. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your comments. It is such an unusual circumstance to find oneself in — the time that has passed, the distance and lack of contact over those years, the extreme tragedy and violence of the events since then, and even the initial experience of having family ties severed in such an abrupt and final way.
          I am glad that I posted here. The comments overall were helpful. Tbh, I once posted here about another difficult and extreme family circumstance, and was attacked and judged by readers who brought their own assumptions and baggage to the situation. So I was hesitant to try again this time. I am grateful that I took a chance!

    8. Observer*

      Talk to your therapist first, but I don’t think you need to shield anyone from this history. The real question is whether it will benefit you to talk to them or not.

      As far as your mother goes, this could be upsetting to her, but also validating. Keep in mind that if you were close to him and felt that he was a good man who wanted to do right by you, your mother probably felt this even more so. And I also have no doubt that plenty of people also criticized her for not “trying harder” to “make it work”. Knowing what actually happened during and after the marriage could be the validation that she did the right thing. Even while I have no doubt that she would very hurt to find out what had happened to you.

  10. Forgot my name again*

    Covid etiquette and social media:

    I live in a country that handled the pandemic well, and life has been fairly normal since early May. Most of my friends and family live in the US and Canada, and I’m well aware that their reality is different now.

    Should I avoid posting on social media about things that are off the table there, like get-togethers with friends, events and (in-country) travel? How do those of you in locked down places feel about it?

    1. Lynn*

      Your friends and family may feel differently so this may be a know your people situation, but it’s not your fault this is happening, you aren’t making it worse, you didn’t make them live there, and you aren’t continuing your life AT anyone, so I think that it is thoughtful but not necessary to alter your social media. (This isn’t, for example, like talking to a friend about a party you hosted and didn’t invite them to)

      But maybe be prepared for some friends asking if they can marry you for citizenship so they can move to your country permanently :)

      1. Forgot my name again*

        Thanks for the thoughtful reply! My husband might object to the marriage thing, but I say the more, the merrier.

    2. Ann*

      This is a really considerate thing for you to be thinking of, so thank you!

      I live in the US in an area that has been hit hard. Since I’ve been stuck at home for months social media has been a nice escape and a way to catch up with friends. To be totally honest, it can be difficult to see people getting to go out and do things that may not be possible for us until next year, like dinners with friends and vacation travel. I mean, that’s kind of always how social media has been: we see the highlight reel of other people’s lives and have to work it out on our own whether it makes us feel bad about our own lives. But the pandemic does make those feelings more acute, particularly because of how unfair it is to be a stuck in a country that has botched the response so badly.

      I think it’s a kindness to minimize posting those kinds of things where others who can’t do them could see the photos, but I don’t think you have to. There’s an argument to be made that it weakens people’s resolve to stay socially distanced, but I would imagine it’s clear to your friends online that you live in an area where what you’re doing is ok. Personally, it might make me a little sad or wistful to see, but I wouldn’t begrudge you the experience. It’s a lot more grating to see the same sorts of social media posts from people who should be locked down and aren’t (like an acquaintance who has spent the last few months traipsing around Florida and Texas with her kids, hitting crowded tourist spots practically every day and basically doing as they please.)

      1. Forgot my name again*

        Thanks for your thoughts! The world doesn’t need any more wistfulness, so I’ll keep that in mind. I hope things improve in your area.

    3. Esme*

      If anyone dislikes those posts they can snooze you, and I honestly think live your life and post what you want. Although of course I would be thoughtful in how you word things – fine to post what you’re doing, maybe don’t post “so glad we are doing better than you in x country” (obviously you wouldn’t).

      Some people might enjoy the normality or get some hope from it. A friend in another country was just leaving lockdown when we went into it and it was nice to see there was something beyond that.

    4. Jennifer Juniper*

      We’re locked down until they develop a treatment or vaccine for COVID. This is our life for now, maybe for the rest of our lives, as my wife has eight autoimmune diseases. You don’t have to avoid posting stuff you do! We are happy for you and rejoice in what you’re able to do. We are also grateful for being alive and symptom-free, which is all anyone can ask for these days.

    5. Anono-me*

      Most of the time, I really like seeing happy news and my friends being happy. If I’m feeling particularly frustrated with everything, I avoid social media ( and other forms of contact that would highlight the situational differences.

    6. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Canada has flattened the curve; it’s not really comparable to the situation in the States. When I look at the news, I tend to think “dang, Ontario and Quebec need to get their act together,” but their situations pale in comparison to what’s happening in most of the states.

      In the province where I’m living, our restaurants, bars, shops, offices, and other workplaces have been open for a few weeks now. There are social distancing measures in place (restaurants at half capacity, social gatherings are supposed to be limited in number, that kind of thing) but masks aside it’s feeling very normal. If I were to see social media posts from friends in another country also enjoying “normal” stuff, I’d enjoy it.

      1. Forgot my name again*

        The mask thing is a big difference! We never had them here, except on planes. So there’s always some cognitive dissonance when I read invective about not wearing them. :)

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      I live in the U.S. in an area that’s seeing increasing numbers of Covid infections, and I absolutely 100% wouldn’t mind a friend abroad posting things like get-togethers and “normal” life. You all did what you had to do to get the virus under control, so you should be able to enjoy your lives.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Post what you want.

      People with babies post about them, and friends who want babies deal with it. Same with weddings, new jobs, gardens, or any other type of personal happiness.

      The world & social media need more genuine happiness, not less. The world has enough misery that we don’t need people *pretending* to be miserable.

      Seeing that there is a way to get to the other side of this, life will go on someday, keeps our hopes up!

      And if someone is in a headspace where they take it as a personal affront? Well, you can’t fix people’s headspace for them. They have to address that for themselves.

    9. Koala dreams*

      I live in an European country where the pandemic situation is bad, so I can’t speak for people in the americas. I find it very hopeful to read about places that has handled the pandemic well and where life is normal. I assume your family and friends know that you live in another country and that the situation is different there. Keep enjoying life and happy events!

      1. Anxious cat servant*

        This is where I’m at. Also, as someone in a hotspot here in the US, seeing such posts is a great counter to those deniers who seem to think the only way to normal is to ditch masks and accept this dystopian reality or deny it and pretend things are already normal. It’s really hopeful for me to see that it’s possible to see friends without waiting for the vaccine … if we only do what’s needed to get this under control.

    10. lazy intellectual*

      I don’t think you have to any more than you should “have to” censor yourself during normal times because someone might feel bad. If someone doesn’t like your posts, they can unfollow your posts or quit social media altogether. It’s their problem.

    11. Katniss Evergreen*

      I’m in an area of the U.S. that’s doing okay as far as cases/mortality, but so much of the state is rural (read: not into social distancing or masks) and are doing at least 30% worse than we are on any given week. I’m back and forth on what I’m okay posting on social media for myself but I honestly like seeing travel stuff and happy things even when it makes me feel a little wistful. We’re all trying to make it through this as best we can – post what you want to. We’ve just cancelled plans for the next 2 weeks since friends we saw earlier this week have what sounds like colds but can’t rule out COVID-19 unless they’re tested. This is just reality now.

    12. Nicki Name*

      Post about the fun things, it’ll help remind the rest of us that life will eventually be fun again.

    13. Nita*

      I’d lean toward posting less, but I’m having a hard time articulating why. I just know that it’s painful to watch, especially when the person doing the posting doesn’t normally plaster their fun times all over Facebook. It’s like the worse things get over here, the more they ramp the posts up, to rub it in how brilliant they are to not be living here any more. But I don’t get this vibe from everyone, just a couple of people, and it’s hard to put a finger on why it feels so tone-deaf.

  11. Jessie*

    Hi,

    I turn 40 in mid August and have been struggling with it. I’ve never had problem with ageing. I’ve had friends who were much older and friends who were much younger. I turned 30 without blinking. I took my time and did things much later than usually done in my culture. People here usually have kids in their early 20s. I had mine at 35 and 38.
    But for some reason I’m rattled about turning 40. And everywhere you turn there is negativity about turning 40. Oh, your body starts breaking down your joints start hurting, you are not flexible anymore and bending and crouching hurts , you can’t have another baby even if you wanted to. If you haven’t “made it” in your career by now, then you probably won’t You are not attractive anymore and blah blah.
    I’m just curious if anyone has any positive stories. What was it like to turn 40. Was it that bad?

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      Loved it! I felt like I had finally become “old enough” to accept myself as I am (including creaky knees). When I worried less about what other people thought of me I was amazed by how free I felt. 40s is still young enough to achieve wonderful things while being mature enough to make the smart decisions it takes to succeed. Happy almost birthday!

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I had a rough time with 30, but 40 and after was a breeze. I really don’t care anymore what people think and have enough work and life experience to have more options and awareness, and less insecurity, than I did at 30. You cannot stop the march of time, so why not embrace it and who you have become, however you choose?

      Physically, however, the wheels completely fell off the bus and I got blindsided by a serious health issue. Its now under control, I feel better than ever, and looking at me you would have no idea about my chronic condition. I would at the very least maybe make sure you get a complete health check at some point just as a baseline!

    3. Claire*

      It wasn’t a big deal for me at all. I don’t have kids and didn’t want any, so it made no difference to me that fertility was dropping, and a birthday isn’t a magical off switch anyway. I don’t think a lot about age anyway, which probably helps (in my head I’m permanently 19 anyway ;)).

      I think 40 gets used as a shorthand for a lot of stuff about ageing, and it just isn’t really that significant. If people are already worried about ageing then it becomes a hook to hang those concerns on. But I didn’t notice any particular change in myself, physically/emotionally/mentally. It was just another birthday for me.

      So I think how significant it is is largely down to you and your mindset.

    4. Morning reader*

      I thought all those stereotypes were about turning 50…

      I don’t remember any anxiety about 40 ( or any age, now that I think about it) but I want to report that I had the best time in my 40s! I had kids earlier than you, though, so 40s represented being able to go out and about again without needing to find and pay a sitter. So many adults in similar situations that 40s seem to be a time of relative freedom after the intense early years of parenting. Also (for me) some career stability with better income than in my 30s, plenty of energy (not so much as in my 20s I admit) but enough ability to stay up late, be physically active recreationally… some recovery time but none of this have to take a nap if I’m planning to stay up til midnight stuff I do now in my 60s, or take 2 days to recover if I stayed up late in my 50s stuff. Your experience will differ as you still have young kids in your 40s.
      Many people still have kids in your 40s. I can think of several people who did, or whose mother was 40+ when they were born. If your concerned about perceived attractiveness, 40s is kind of a sweet spot for women. Date men in their 50s who will find you a sweet young thing, or men in their 20s or 30s who will find you a hot, experienced older woman. At 40, your range can be from mid 20s to as old as you like.
      All that older person stuff, the knees, the menopause, usually comes in the 50s. Delay your anxiety until then. (Or skip it entirely…)
      And happy birthday!

      1. Jessie*

        I’m actually married :) But it’s bizarre how many women felt “invidible,” once they turned 40 ;)
        I’m concerned about how I will deal with middle age. So far, I’ve only been “young,” so it feels a bit scary.

        1. Morning reader*

          The invisible thing? I associate that with 50s and beyond too. I did notice a diminishment in street harassment (nobody’s yelled “nice tits!” or the like at me in years) and also fewer of the catching someone’s glance moments (more subtle appreciation) around that age, but I consider these advantages of ageing. I don’t miss the harassment or the appreciation.
          In short, there are at least as many advantages to being older as disadvantages. And as my dad used to say, “it’s better than the alternative.”

          1. Morning reader*

            P.s. or you could do a Jack Benny and stay 39 forever! (See, I am old… google it, youngsters.)

        2. WellRed*

          I’m 50 and reasonably confident but at some point since turning 40, I’ve definitely felt invisible more than not. It’s…not fun. But, for many other things, I no longer give a fk, which is very freeing.

        3. matcha123*

          I’ve always been invisible :)
          I think being ‘invisible’ is a privilege of the racial majority. As a minority, I’ve never been able to shine.
          Not to sound depressing, but I feel like the whole “I’m a woman of xyz age” has a larger impact for those that are part of the majority. If you’d never been one to catch the eye of guys or people in your age group…or generally, then you don’t feel as crap for experiencing life as always.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Turning 40 in December. I’m not anticipating any issues – I still feel like I’m in my 20s – but we’ll see. :)

    6. InMy40sAndLovingIt*

      40 has given me a great dose of confidence, contentment and a devil may care attitude.

      30s helped me re-evaluate who I was, what I want, whom I want around me…and the why’s of it. But 40s is taking me to a whole new level I never thought was possible. I was always a confident person, but this new influx of confidence is amazing!

    7. allathian*

      I had a crisis when I hit 30. At the time I was on part-time unemployment and the job I had was entry level call center stuff, not a thing I expected to be doing with a Master’s degree. I was also single and had been for 5 years and thought I’d never find anyone I would feel comfortable sharing my life with. By then I’d learned that I’d rather be single than in a bad relationship. There’s nothing wrong with being single if that’s what you want for yourself, but I wanted the typical things; a spouse, kids and a solid middle-class life in a house in the suburbs and a full-time job that lets me pay for all the essentials and some luxuries. By the time I hit 40, I had all those things. I was also more confident than I’ve ever been and it’s a relief to honestly not care so much what other people think. I’m also embracing the invisibility, it’s fantastic not to be heckled or harassed in the street anymore! For me it’s enough that my husband still finds me attractive.

      1. matcha123*

        This may be a strange question, but why would you want those things?
        I’ve never understood people that want those things. What is the appeal? Doing what everyone else does doesn’t give me comfort, it gives me fear.
        Of course not following the lifescript is hard because there’s so much judgement.

        1. Claudette*

          This is a strange question. Why do people want anything? People want these things for the same reasons we want most things: we desire some combination of security, safety, community, respect, comfort, appreciation, stability, love, commitment, partnership, loyalty, freedom, happiness, etc.

          You might prefer to get those things in a different way, but it’s surely not hard to see that for many people that lifestyle fulfils many of these needs and wants? Why are you so afraid of not being super unique and different? Where does that need come from? Is it serving you well?

          Your question comes across similarly to those hipsters who are too cool to like thinks that are popular. It seems a bit pretentious and judgy.

          1. matcha123*

            I think I worded my question politely, so I’m not sure why you are replying with such aggression.
            I didn’t grow up in a family that promoted that lifestyle so I wonder WHY there are people that desire it. In the same why that I’ve gotten a ton of questions from people about why *I* don’t desire that lifestyle. I have tried to put myself in that position numerous times and I can only come up with negatives, so I’m asking what the positives are.
            I’m not afraid of being not unique because with 7 billion some people on the planet earth, all of us are somewhat unique and different. Where does what need come from? I wasn’t raised in a family that pushed those points as desirable. As an adult I see that many more people than I expected find those points desirable. I wonder what the appeal is. In the same way that the people that find those points to be natural often ask me why I don’t feel the same way.
            Is what serving me well?

            1. RagingADHD*

              I never had the suburban house, marriage & 2 kids, steady job lifestyle as a goal. But it is the life I have now, and it’s really nice.

              We have our own garden. We feel very safe for the kids to go around to friends’ houses unaccompanied. Our neighbors are not just friendly, we’re friends who hang out. (When not in quarantine).

              The cost of living is relatively low for the amount of space, quiet, and green that we get. We have to be thoughtful with our money, but we don’t have worries about money. I have health problems, but I don’t have to worry about getting treatment.

              That stability allows us to give a lot of time & attention, and some money, to others in our community and to causes we care about.

              It’s not the only way to live, but it’s very pleasant and satisfying. And it creates a lot of options for us and our kids to do interesting & meaningful stuff.

              Flaubert advised artists to be regular and ordinary in life, so they could be violent & original in their work. There’s a lot of truth to it.

            2. ...*

              Spouse- Love, support, sex, friendship, companionship, someone to do things with, someone who helps you when your sick
              Kids- I imagine it gives people joy and also there is a natural instinct for many to procreate. Someone who likes kids may have to answer
              House- Somewhere to be comfortable, shelter from the elements, feeling of safety
              Money from a job- To buy food, clothing, healthcare, and spend on hobbies.

              That is the appeal of those things. I’m curious how you say your family didn’t “promote” these things. They did not promote have relationships or having a job?

              1. matcha123*

                No, I think you’ve got the wrong idea. My family didn’t push the: “get a husband, get a house, get kids and then you will be successful” narrative.
                I was taught that as a woman I needed to be able to have a job that would allow me the freedom to take care of myself if need be. That I shouldn’t go to college for an “MRS”. Basically that you never know what will happen in life so you should always be prepared. That relationships should be based on mutual respect and that sometimes you’ll be called to help friends, family, or other people in need and that that is something good.

                Yes, having a great relationship with someone you love is something I would assume make most people happy. Again, I was responding to:
                “I wanted the typical things; a spouse, kids and a solid middle-class life in a house in the suburbs and a full-time job that lets me pay for all the essentials and some luxuries.”
                I grew up in the suburbs surrounded by classmates with all of the above, including grandparents and seemingly strong extended family units, and I remember the moms always being in terrible moods, the moms always arguing with or complaining about their husbands, etc. Growing up around that didn’t endear me to the “typical things” at all. Should add that I’m not saying the person I replied to is in that kind of relationship, and that’s why I wondered what the appeal was.

                1. allathian*

                  Thanks for giving more details about your question, your first post puzzled me enough that I couldn’t answer.

                  I certainly never went to college to find a husband! I graduated at the tail end of the early 90s recession, and it took me a long time, a really long time, to get going in my career. I worked entry-level jobs and was unemployed for much of my twenties and early thirties. I w as in a relationship in my early twenties that didn’t work out, and I was reasonably happy being single until I hit 30.

                  My mom was SAHM until I went to school, and even when she went to work, she worked shorter hours than my dad, at least partly because she did most of the chores. My dad would cook on Sundays, but that was about it. She’s a pretty stoic person and I’ve never heard her complain about her lot. Sure, my parents had their differences and argued occasionally, but they always made up as well. My mom was the first person in her family to graduate from college, and getting a college education was something my sister and I took for granted growing up (it definitely helps that I’m in the Nordics where there are no tuition fees up to and including a Master’s degree).

                  I never had any strong feelings about kids and was expecting to remain childless, not childfree because that’s a choice, until I met my husband, who definitely wanted kids.

                  I’ve never been fond of big cities and their pollution. I never dreamed of a house either, but because my husband did, we built one and I’m quite happy to live in one now. That said, I’m equally happy to leave all the house maintenance (apart from cleaning) to him.

            3. Anna Banana*

              Saying that you don’t understand why people would want companionship, family and financial security is such an odd thing to say that it comes across as… well, I don’t know, almost hostile to people who do want those things or trying to make a point at other people’s expense. Of course people want love and peace of mind. It’s ok if you don’t, but saying you don’t understand why others would sounds really odd. You really can’t put yourself in others’ shoes and imagine why those things would be appealing to them? If not, I think that is worth seeking help with (I don’t mean that unkindly, I’m sorry if it sounds that way but I think it would be so hard to navigate the world with no understanding of why people seek companionship and love.)

              1. Anna Banana*

                To add to that last point, I wonder if might be neuroatypical in some way? You’re describing an ability to connect with some really fundamental human emotions, maybe something like that is worth exploring?

                1. matcha123*

                  I think you are misunderstanding what I wrote. I can understand why people want companionship. I was looking at this part:

                  “I wanted the typical things; a spouse, kids and a solid middle-class life in a house in the suburbs and a full-time job that lets me pay for all the essentials and some luxuries. ”

                  She didn’t mention companionship or those other things, she mentioned a very ABC Family Night TV type of life. I was raised in the suburbs, and my hometown was and is very safe, the schools are great, etc. If I wanted kids, I’d send them there.
                  But there’s also a lot of bickering between parents that I witnessed growing up. My classmates parents often seemed to hate being parents, resent other kids, and were generally pretty unpleasant people. The moms complained incessantly about their husbands, about their children’s friends and classmates, about basically everything.

                  That lifestyle is put on TV as an ideal, yet when I looked around my hometown, I saw people who had a ton of money (average household income in my hometown is way above average, and most of my classmates’ families were pulling over 100k a year. In MI. In the ’90s.). They had the comfort of money (which I want!), they had large family support systems (which are pretty helpful), they owned their own homes (not my thing, but definitely helpful for some), they went on vacations at least twice a year, often overseas (my family never went on vacation), and yet the kids (my classmates) were entitled and spoiled and their parents, or I should specify moms because I almost never saw the dads, were always angry and stressed.

                  I wonder how anyone could grow up and look at that lifestyle and think that that would be ideal.

                  The points about comfort or love weren’t in that post I was quoting? I know and have met enough people in my life who are willing to stay in abusive relationships so they can say that they are in a relationship. I’m not saying that the person I originally responded to is in that kind of relationship, but when reading through the replies, there are a lot of assumptions about what “everyone wants” that weren’t even in her original post.

                  So, no, I don’t think that “a spouse, kids and a solid middle-class life in a house in the suburbs and a full-time job that lets me pay for all the essentials and some luxuries” automatically equates to fulfilling an emotional need shared by all people.

                2. anony*

                  That is very sad that that’s all you saw but I guess take our word for it that that’s not how all or most marriages / families are. It sounds like you have had very bad examples around you and it has deeply affected you. I would say to be aware that you have been impacted in that way and your sense of this is not calibrated well.

                3. matcha123*

                  To anoy,
                  I can appreciate that there are many different types of families that all have their own issues. Maybe I just listened more closely to adult discussions than my peers when I was a kid. Because I don’t see the families I grew up around as some kind of weird exception.
                  It’s entirely possible that the people you grew up with were mostly in good spirits, and it’s also possible that they spoke about their worries when you weren’t around to eavesdrop.
                  But I don’t know why anyone would take away that I thought people should live alone and in poverty?

                4. allathian*

                  @matcha123
                  I’m sorry that you had so many bad experiences with families growing up. In your situation, I’d probably feel the same. But that seemed to be a very high-stress, high-income lifestyle with a lot of competition between families in who had the biggest house, coolest car and smartest kids. It’s not something I want for myself at all. I refuse to participate in any and all keeping up with the Joneses games.

                  Companionship is very important to me, perhaps so important that it didn’t occur to me to specify. I did say earlier that I’d rather be single than in a bad relationship.

            4. Deanna Troi*

              matcha123, I mean this is a non-snarky way, but to me your first comment came across as much more judgemental and harsh than Claudette’s did. It is….unusual to have been raised in a family that didn’t think being loved and being able to support yourself financially were important. These are basic human desires in pretty much all cultures across the world (I have a graduate degree in Anthropology). I hope that you find satisfaction in life through some other means, although most people find it difficult to feel secure when they don’t have enough money for essentials.

              1. matcha123*

                I wasn’t raised to think that being loved and supported was a bad thing, I was raised that too many women see success as having a man, relying on him financially for everything, and then having a house and kids. Putting your happiness into the hands of someone else is never a good idea. And I should reiterate that I’m not saying and never said that the OP was that.
                I’m not sure how you could read my comment and take away that I thought people should live without love or they shouldn’t be able to support themselves financially?
                I grew up poor, so I know very well how valuable money is to improving every facet of your life.

        2. ...*

          Why would you want love, children, and success? I mean I don’t want children of my own, but its not crazy to want a loving spouse and/or family and a job that provides you with money to live. I guess I also don’t want to live in the suburbs either, but a nice, comfortable place I enjoy which for me would be the city, but its similar. If you dont want any of those things, you’re free to pursue being unemployed without a spouse of family, but most people find those things appealing. “Everyone” wants that because having money to live and people who love you is generally a very good thing.

          1. matcha123*

            I’m really struggling with how so many people took my reply to mean that people should be desolate and die alone? I’m not married and I don’t have or want kids, but I do have a family. And as someone who grew up poor, I know very well the value of financial stability.

            I was replying to:
            “I wanted the typical things; a spouse, kids and a solid middle-class life in a house in the suburbs and a full-time job that lets me pay for all the essentials and some luxuries.”

            I know a good number of people who want these things and love doesn’t factor in at all. They want to be able to tell others they have kids, a husband, and a home because our society respects people that have those things. Yeah, having someone or a bunch of someones that care for you is comforting, but I didn’t say it wasn’t?

            1. allathian*

              Quite honestly I think you saw something in my comment that I didn’t intend to put there. I wanted those things for myself, not because it was expected of me or because it fit some kind of social norms.

            2. Cat*

              I suspect the people you know are a lot more complicated than you’re giving them credit for.

            3. NaoNao*

              I think for many people, those specific things are a shorthand, a representation for “the good life”. Some of those things represent hard work and sacrifice and achievements (like a house and a good job). Some of those things represent typical major milestones (house, kids, marriage) that we as a culture recognize uniquely in a way that we don’t really recognize many other milestones or that many people can relate to in a “welcome to the club!” kind of way. I don’t think the OP meant it ultra literally, I think she meant “I felt “behind” and I wanted what I saw as a good life full of blessings, companionship, abundance, comfort, and acceptance.”

              Many of us look to our peers to see if we’re “doing okay” or if we’re behind, or struggling, or if we’re doing better. That’s not super unusual. Society has a typical path that is a well trod, established and well lighted road that signals “yep, this person is normal, okay, and well adjusted” to the outsider or casual viewer. Sure, it’s easier to go along with the majority than to forge your own path. It’s lonely without kids. It’s lonely working a crap job or being an artist for low pay once you get older and you watch those around you afford vacations, nice meals and luxuries—or even things like health care and preventative medicine. It’s very lonely without a spouse!

              A woman can want a house, good job, and kids without a man (hello she can be gay!) paying for that or depending on him to give her those things, too, so I think the whole “don’t depend on a man!” thing is a little off topic for why wanting these things is so confusing to you.

              Wanting a spouse doesn’t equal “needing” him. Wanting someone to share your burdens with and to bear witness to your life is not weak or boring or basic! Just because people complained about their husbands back in the 90’s or whenever doesn’t mean that person didn’t bring real value to their life and they didn’t love and need that person and want them around. People sometimes get swept up in complaining when they’re in a group.

              I myself am on a non traditional path and was a bit defensive about it to the extent of scoffing at houses and cars as “chains” and other edgy and slightly tiresome poses.

              I do think it’s important to question why one wants the things one thinks one wants, but this “confusion” about why someone says they want very common and typical things that 90% of people want is…a weird choice to me.

        3. matcha123*

          Thanks for your reply, and apologies for the confusing wording. I did try to sound as neutral as I could given that I was asking a question that people seem not to generally ask.
          I was going to write more, but it’s already past 1am here. Thanks again for the reply!

    8. Doctor is In*

      I just got my Medicare card! 40 seems like a distant memory. 30 was hard (was a single woman and worried if I would stay single forever), but by 40 I was more settled in my life and accepted who I was.

    9. SpellingBee*

      None of the big decade birthdays have bothered me. I always thought that they might – for instance I loved turning 30; I felt like I was finally being taken seriously. At the time, though, I thought “well, 40 is probably going to hit me hard.” Nope. Then at 40, “that was fine, what was I worried about? Probably going to hate turning 50!” Nope. I’m in my early 60s now and love it. I feel like the older I get, the more confident I become, and more content with who I am and where my life is. Is it what I dreamed of being and doing as a young person? Well, maybe not, but it’s pretty darn good and I’m happy with it and with myself.

      Re feeling invisible, I honestly don’t. Although that may be because I’ve always been something of a background person – reasonably attractive but not attention-getting gorgeous, friendly but not wildly sociable, and happy to quietly putter along – so nothing has really changed.

      1. bikelover*

        You sound just like me in 15 years. I’ll be turning 46 next month and I keep waiting for it to bother me. The truth is, I’ve liked every decade better than the previous one. I feel good about myself and my life. I am not doing the job I dreamed of at 12 (cheetah biologist!), but my work is satisfying and enjoyable. I’m healthy for my age (a combination of luck and effort- good diet/exercise) and I just feel confident about who I am. Like SpellingBee, I’ve always been not-bad-looking, but I was never drop dead gorgeous, so I don’t feel like I need to mourn my 22 year old looks. My relationship is healthy and after 20 years, I feel lucky to have gotten through some legitimately difficult times to a point where we are happy with our arrangement.

        It doesn’t have to be hard.

    10. Jennifer Juniper*

      Forty-five-year-old here.

      It is nor normal for your joints to start “breaking down” at forty. If bending and crouching hurts when you’re that young, please schedule a trip to the doctor. I am still flexible and have no trouble crouching, etc.

      What I do have to keep in mind is that daily exercise, for me, is a must. If I don’t exercise, my hips start hurting at night when I stay in one sleeping position too long.

      As for physical attractiveness, I am prettier now than I was when I was younger. Why? Because my wife, who’s a an artist with impeccable taste and fashion sense, consigned five bags of worn-out raggedy clothes to the trash bin, bought me a new wardrobe, and taught me to wear makeup. In other words, she taught me how to present myself more attractively. I don’t look like the Little Match Girl Goes to Woodstock anymore.

      I can’t speak to kids or career, since I’m childfree and care for my wife full-time.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      A dear aunt (I person that I love very much) made a wise crack about hitting 40. (She was 70 at the time.)

      I didn’t mind hitting 40, so I said to my dear aunt, “I love this age because I know who I am, what I stand for and what I won’t tolerate. This is the best understanding I have ever had of myself and my strengths and my weakness. I refused to be whipped around by people’s opinions, but I have people in my life whose opinions I respect and I want to hear what they have to say.”

      And here’s why I loved this aunt. She simply said, “Yes. That is absolutely correct. That’s what can happen at 40.” And she smiled at me in a reassuring manner as if to say, “you’re doing okay here, kiddo.”

      With each decade in our lives we let go of something and we receive something we did not have in the previous decade. We don’t ever “have it all” at any given time. Probably because we wouldn’t know what to do with “all of it”.

      Look around. What do you have now that you have not had in your previous decades?

      I hope you can chuckle. When I got to my 40s I notice more and more people held the door for me when I went into a public building. Why do we let the door go when we see the person is YOUNG???? what is up with that?
      So instead of feeling “unseen” I felt like I was FINALLY being seen. Yes, I do understand that holding the door in public is a silly example to hang my hat on. But it did become a spring board that encouraged me to see how other things have changed. I found that I was listened to more often. My opinion had more credibility than it used to have. I liked the shifts. I did not have to be “pretty” or “beautiful” to matter any more. The focus shifted to the quality of my character, the person I actually am.

      To the Negative Nancys I have to say, “Maybe YOUR life ended at 40, but MINE opened up.”

      Going line item by line item here:
      “Oh, your body starts breaking down your joints start hurting, you are not flexible anymore and bending and crouching hurts , you can’t have another baby even if you wanted to.”
      Answer: Yeah, things hurt. Soooo??? Eat good foods daily. Hydrate. Get rest. In other words, be an adult. The baby comment is just insulting. There is more to us than our ability to produce a child. [Important:For those who actually want a child or another child, my heart goes out to those people.]

      “If you haven’t “made it” in your career by now, then you probably won’t.”
      This is a variation on the baby comment. It assumes that sum total of our worth is what we do at work. Again, flawed thinking for oh-so-many reasons.

      ” You are not attractive anymore and blah blah.”
      I’m not here to be YOUR eye candy. Please move out of the way so I can find real friendships with admirable people. You’re not it.

      These types of remarks can be a people filter if you allow it. They can show you when you are talking to a quality person and when you are talking to a person who— uh— does not have that much to offer.

    12. nep*

      I was at one of my healthiest, fittest periods at age 40.
      Everywhere you turn there is negativity about turning 40. Don’t listen to all the narratives–they are just that. Stories. Someone else’s stories or projections. (I think sometimes they become self-fulfilling prophecies because someone will hang on to them and go down a hole because they’re thinking it’s all inevitable. I caught myself doing that for a short time over 50s/menopause.)
      It truly is but a number. I get that it feels like a real milestone and your age will no longer start with that magical 3. And, yes, some physical challenges come along with ageing. But if you treat your body and brain right, there is absolutely no reason the 40s can’t be your best decade. Enjoy and all the best.

      1. nep*

        (I should add–I was still drinking alcohol around 40, so I became even fitter and healthier in later years when alcohol sort of faded out of my days.)

    13. Me*

      I threw myself a heck of a 40th party, embracing the decade.

      That advice sucks right now because…covid. But in general, embracing the decade is a good move.

    14. Dancing otter*

      I just remind myself that the alternative to getting old is getting dead. No other choices.

      That may sound morbid, but you know, it’s true. The only part that’s optional is whether one ages with grace or tries to deny reality.

      As for any particular birthday? The day you turn 40, you are exactly one day older than the day before, when you were still 39. The only one that bothered me was when I reached the age my father was when he died.

      1. nep*

        +1
        A 60-something woman in the exercise class I used to teach at the Y would say that often: ‘Getting old ain’t for sissies. But it’s better than the alternative.’

    15. Lives in a Shoe*

      I had my fourth and wonderful baby at 42 so I don’t know what people are getting at about not having more babies if you want them.

      1. Lives in a Shoe*

        Responding to my sub to add, for people who want to have babies and cannot, that is heartbreaking. I went through years where I was secondarily infertile in the middle of all that and it was a tough time. Loss is a loss at any age. I just wanted to say that it wasn’t a hard and fast rule

      2. Jessie*

        Man, I’d love another baby so much. But my first is asperger’s and the second is 18 months and not talking yet, so I need to wait and see before having another one. This will take 6 months to a year. By then I will be going on 41. See, this is when I get stressed about turning 40. If I was in my mid 30s, I would have had the luxury to wait.

    16. RagingADHD*

      My post-40 aches & pains started phasing in between 42-45, but it’s true that you notice the physical difference between your 40s vs 30s a lot more than you noticed your 30s vs 20s. You aren’t miserable all the time, but it’s easier to get hurt doing something silly, and harder to snap back from a bad night’s sleep, a hard workout, or an illness.

      My husband’s issues hit like a cliche – he had like 3 different body systems go “sproing” within a month of his 40th birthday. But he’s always burned the candle at both ends, and never did stuff like stretching or regular doctor checkups before that. So I think for him, it was more of an existential confrontation of his own mortality. You look into the abyss, and then you get over it.

      The great part about turning 40 is that you run out of fucks to give. It’s an awesome thing, and I highly recommend it. I’m happier with my life and have more fun & satisfaction than I can remember at any stage of adulthood before now.

      Most of the crap written about how being over 40 is so awful, is written by snot nosed kids without a clue about life or what’s important. Pfffft.

      Yeah, maybe you’ll get a bad back or a bum knee. You get a perspective that’s priceless.

      1. Anon JIC*

        It’s also a narrative pushed on women that we are only as valuable as we are fertile, combined with the myth that women start breaking down faster than men for some reason. I’ve actually observed the opposite: women tend to take better care of themselves than men, with skin care, diet, etc.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Well, the majority of people in general would prefer to have kids. That’s just natural programming to preserve the species.

          And it’s true that getting pregnant for the first time is statistically harder as you approach/pass 40. But OP already has 2 kids.

          If she wants a 3rd, it’ll be a lot easier for her than if she hadn’t had any yet.

          1. Anon JIC*

            Uh…did I contradict this in my comment?

            I was referring a woman’s intrinsic worth, in general. In that, women have worth whether or not they have kids, and continue to be valuable when they are done giving birth.

            1. RagingADHD*

              Okay I have no idea why you’re coming at me about this. It has nothing to do with anything I’ve said.

              Maybe your nesting got mixed up.

              1. Anon JIC*

                I was replying to what seems to be your reply to my comment. If you didn’t mean to reply, that would explain my confusion.

              2. Deanna Troi*

                RagingADHD, I actually thought maybe your comment nested in the wrong place, even before I saw your comment about nesting.
                Anon JIC said that the idea that women are only valuable when they are fertile is pushed on them. You responded that most people want children and that some women can have children in their 40s. You sounded like you were disagreeing with them, but I don’t see what your response has to do with their comment. I think that both what they said and you said are true – many, if not the majority of women do want children, and also society portrays women who are past their child bearing years are considered to be less valuable. I’m not clear on what the intention of your response to their comment was.

    17. Anon JIC*

      I have a cousin who just turned 40 this month. Whenever I find myself anxious about aging, I try to remember this cousin, because she kind of kicks the negative narrative around aging to the curb. She’s a naturally lively and fun loving person who always likes to try new things, and while she is married with kids, she doesn’t slow down when it comes to enjoying stuff. It’s a nice reminder that getting older doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. I hate that this is a narrative pushed on women so much. I was socialized to believe that if you are a woman, life will only be appealing in your 20s and maybe part of your 30s because “biological clock” or whatever. Eh, I choose to reject this narrative and enjoy my life until I die.

    18. University Minion*

      My 40s are awesome. I feel good, have no f*cks to give about what people think, am somewhat financially secure and do as I damn well please.

      While I may not measure up to the world’s measuring sticks of family, looks, career or children, well, see previous mention of my available f*cks to give.

      1. Dan*

        zero f*cks to give + do as I damn well please = bliss.

        Elsewhere in this thread, I mention a formerly crappy relationship. That crappy relationship (we were married) involved paying someone else’s bills who didn’t fee the need to work, nor feel the need to watch her spending.

        I get to spend money on things *I* want without having to worry about someone else, and it’s great. I know this is a “me problem” per se, but I don’t know how people support families on a single income. That stress and responsibility would drive me crazy.

    19. Dan*

      Not bad at all. I don’t preoccupy myself with TBH, there’s no point to it. Every once in awhile I look back and ponder if the “best” years have passed, and the answer is…. no, at least not with the exact same circumstances.

      For me, the big thing is financial. I live in a HCOL area, and ten years ago I wasn’t making a ton of money. I was “getting by” just fine, but that’s really all it was. Now? I make a lot more money and paid off a lot of debt and save a bunch, so it feels a lot more like truly living, and a lot less like surviving to the next pay check. Plus, I like my job and I’m good at it, so that part of life isn’t unsettling.

      Plus in my early 30’s I was in a crappy relationship. So no, my younger years weren’t better.

    20. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Eh, I’m 45. I’ve never been super fit but nothing has dramatically changed in the last 5 years.

    21. Athena X*

      I am 50 and I love it. I wasn’t too upset about turning 40 either though.
      Turning 40 (0r 50, or 60…) is a privilege that not everyone receives. I am so happy to be alive and relatively healthy. I can still do everything I want to do, including physically. I did a 200 mile bike ride in 2 days when I was 46 and went back to grad school the same year. I accept that everyone has flaws, me included, and I don’t worry about them too much while still growing and changing into the next version of myself. I am not stagnant.
      I do find I am somewhat more invisible and also younger people are astonished that I ever did anything daring or interesting in my life, as if I emerged from the womb a middle aged person with a marginal hairstyle.

    22. Middle School Teacher*

      I’m 40 and single but I’m also doing my Masters degree, I’m making progress in my career, I own my own home and car, I buy myself really REALLY nice shoes, and I live my life the way I want! Life really does begin at 40 (at least a lot of mine did).

    23. J. f.*

      I’m not quite 40 but almost and I just dyed my hair bright purple; I’ve never cared less what other people think and it’s great. I lobbied at the polls the first time this year, against gerrymandering! I went back to full time work! I started two new hobbies! Everything that was creaky was already creaky before this year anyways! (for me at least)

    24. Courageous cat*

      Man, as someone who’s 33.5, thank you to everyone who responded positively to this thread. I have been SPIRALING since I turned 30, because I realized how fucking quickly 20-30 went, and I know it will only speed up as time goes on. I feel like I’m going to turn 40 tomorrow. I mean, this year just started and it’s already almost August, you know?

      I’m so glad to know most people here feel like they found themselves because I feel more lost at 33 in many ways than I ever have before.

    25. London Calling*

      Dear Jessie

      From the perspective of 66 it’s a bit of a myth that you start breaking down and creaking and losing flexibility and attractiveness – I wonder if a lot of what you are hearing isn’t projection people’s blanket negativity about getting older. I’m not saying you don’t have the aches and pains, of course you do, but in my experience I was nearer 60 when those became noticeable. As far as I can remember (40 was a long time ago) my life improved a lot. I came out of a bad marriage, I had my own home and satisfying work. I was made redundant at 50, freelanced for years and in my early 60s gained a permanent job in which I’m earning more than I have ever earned before. Who decides what is ‘made it’ in your career but you? not everyone wants to be a Sandberg or a Bader Ginsburg. For me I take quiet satisfaction in doing a good job and leaving each day at a decent time. What I have now is a life of quiet satisfaction that suits me.

      Sorry if this rambles a bit – it’s 4am in London and I can’t sleep.

      1. Jessie*

        Thanks everyone for this very positive thread about turning 40! A couple of days ago, I read some turning 40 threads on reddit and they were miserable;)

    26. Lora*

      Eh, turning 40 had its good points and bad points.

      Bad: it was noticeably harder to heal from illness and injury. I had a few surgeries ages 22, 26, 27 and 37, and bounced back reasonably quickly. Sprains and broken bones healed on schedule and I didn’t get many. After 40 it seemed like I was constantly injured with a sprain, a clumsy movement, a cut, a weird rash, something. Surgeries required more nursing and follow up care. I started feeling like I spent half my life at some sort of physical therapy trying to recover from whatever. Weight did not come off no matter how healthy I ate or how much I exercised, and it’s one of those “nobody believes me” things, but I would diet like a jockey, exercise over 90 minutes daily with the recommended mix of cardio, weight lifting, stretching etc for months and not lose a single pound. Then everyone tells you you’re doing it wrong or fibbing about secret ice cream binges. You’re not doing it wrong – your gut bacteria shift in population and a lifetime of antibiotics, antidepressants and hormones starts catching up with you, is all. At this point I eat what I’m in the mood for and what seems healthy, exercise when I feel sluggish (about 3X weekly) and I weigh the *exact same* as I did when I tried to count calories, cut out carbs and exercised like a fiend. Your body just kinda picks a set point and you’re stuck with it.

      Also bad: definitely became invisible. Not just in a dating sense, also at work. I decided it’s actually a super power because you get all sorts of insight into what is really going on when people sort of talk around you like you’re a houseplant.

      Not awesome but stopped caring: the dating pool sucks. It’s just awful. I tried to get back into dating a couple of years post divorce and it was so awful I decided I’d rather be single forever than spend another two hours thinking “well this was a waste of makeup”. I never enjoyed dating much to begin with, it always felt like a job interview to me, and when the likelihood that the date is going to turn out to be married (whether to a human or to their misspent youth) or looking for a girlfriend in lieu of therapist / maid / nurse / wallet is EXTREMELY high, it’s just ten times worse. I’d rather go to the dentist and have my gums deep cleaned than go out for coffee with some hopeful soul looking for a side chick again. People occasionally tell me about the horrors of dying alone and frankly I would rather die alone and let the cats eat my eyeballs than spend my life cleaning up after, waiting on and paying for another grown, capable adult.

      Not sure if good or bad: More tied down. I have a lot of stuff (house that would be a lot of work to sell, friend network, career) in my current location. Can’t just up and leave. If I was less invested, financially and personally, in this particular location I would probably move overseas.

      Sort of depressing: Realization that all grown-ups really suck and don’t get any better. I think before 40 you can sort of rationalize away adults who are terrible. When you’re 40, people are who they are and it’s a bit of an existential moment.

      Good: Made more money. As someone else said, it is basically the first time I became financially stable. Had finally divorced the money-pit ex. Downside was, everyone else in my family promptly viewed me as their personal banker…but money has reduced a lot of things from “this is a disaster and I don’t know if I will ever recover” to an annoyance. That’s huge for me. I don’t really want stuff anymore, if that makes sense? I have enough: nice clothes, roof overhead, good food and wine, vacations and hobbies. A lot of people are super interested in what they can buy, and I’m just…over it. I can buy my own stuff.

      Also good: zero fks to give.

      Also very good: colleagues, when they did notice me, tended to be more interested in my work and respect me as a colleague. Was less likely to be written off as stupid.

    27. Anon attorney*

      47.5 here. I’m relaxed about it really, except I hate being either ignored or fetishised by men (no, Tinderdude, I do not “like younger men”, I like individuals of all ages and qualities, take your Graduate fantasies elsewhere). I’m fitter, stronger, more solvent and more at peace with myself.
      Being single is the only thing that I feel is consciously impacted by my age. That and hangovers.
      But then I did lose my poor husband when he was 44, so my perspective is obviously defined by that.

      I sure wish I could hire out a time machine by the hour to visit a certain lovely gentleman of my acquaintance, but I’ll get over it!

      My advice is to concentrate on real people you know who are over 40 and smashing it, and ignore all popular culture representations of over 49s women which exist only to make you feel scared and dissatisfied so you buy stuff.

    28. voluptuousfire*

      I turned 40 in December and in a lot of ways it was just another birthday in many ways. I treated myself to a meal at the Olive Garden. :) I enjoyed it! If it involves tiramisu and wine, I’m a happy girl.

      I think the most positive thing is that I finally feel like an adult and it feels good. Also the random flash insights that I had in my twenties finally now make sense. It felt like it took the rest of my twenties and thirties to percolate and now they finally finished. Flashes about how and why I approach relatoinships with people as I do, so on. It’s been an enlightening few months.

  12. Helvetica*

    Who else has been listening to Taylor Swift’s new album non-stop? I was never a huge fan but this album is beautiful and feels like a really proper quarantine album.

    1. Scc@rlettNZ*

      I have. It popped up on Spotify yesterday and I’ve listened to it about 3 times since then. I really like it, it’s different to her usual style and seems more mature.

    2. Disco Janet*

      I have! I was a major fan of hers who felt that I’d lost her in the Reputation era, and I’m so happy to have her back. All Too Well is my favorite song of hers, and this album is very reminiscent of it – lyrically beautiful and just a gorgeous piece of music!

    3. Summersun*

      Normally I just wait to hear her stuff on the radio, but as soon as I heard Justin Vernon was involved in this album, I was all over it. I really like it, particularly “invisible string” and “seven”.

    4. LGC*

      I’ve given it a couple of listens. I’m still trying to get into it, just because it – in a good way – is way outside my idea of what 2020 Taylor Swift should sound like.

      It does sound very pretty, though! Although if she’s just going to start randomly dropping albums on us along with Beyonce, I don’t know if I can handle the stress.

  13. Eeniemeenie*

    Should you do nice things for other people even when you don’t want to? Obviously I don’t mean things like calling an ambulance if you see someone hit by a car. I’m referring to kind or helpful acts of service that benefit others in a non life threatening situation. As a general rule, is it better to do good deeds through clenched teeth or do nothing at all?

    I am struggling with this minor moral dilemma after a lifetime of being useful and efficient for others. I feel helpful fatigue. When I have family members ask me for my help with this or that, it’s something I could do without much inconvenience; but I feel irritated and resentful at doing these things for others.

    I’m on a waitlist to see a therapist but curious to hear other people’s thoughts and experiences.

    1. Dancing otter*

      Do these relatives ever reciprocate? I can understand getting fed up if it’s all take and no give.

      What happens if you ask them for help with something? Try it sometime. Either they’ll help, and you won’t feel so resentful; or they won’t, and you can decline their future requests with a clear conscience.

    2. Colett*

      It’s good to do nice things for others, but not to the point where they expect you to always do to them even when it doesn’t work for you. It’s ok to look after yourself and what you want, and it’s ok (and healthy) to say no on occasion.

      In your case, I’d suggest taking a break. You can even call it that – “I’m burnt out and need to look after myself, so I’m taking a break from these kinds of things until the fall”, for example.

    3. Alex*

      It sounds like there is more going on here. Personally, I enjoy being helpful and am happy to help people even if it is more give than receive on my end.

      BUT the minute they start acting like they are entitled to my help and/or I owe it to them, I’m all done helping.

    4. lazy intellectual*

      As a recover people pleaser, I relate to this.

      I don’t know what the “right” answer is, but I’ve been leaning back from being overly helpful and generous. The way I see it is, you should help people because you genuinely want to and don’t expect anything in return. But you will get resentful if you’re constantly inconveniencing yourself to help others. So I would stop at that point.

      For obvious reasons, being helpful all the time does make you a target for boundary crossers. I ended up dropping a friend of mine because she was used to taking advantage of people and got resentful when I started putting down boundaries.

      People will be fine if you don’t help them all the time. They will eventually get help from someone who can provide it more comfortably or some Act of God. It doesn’t always have to be you.

      1. lazy intellectual*

        Also, if you have internalized the idea that you need to do favors for people to get people to like you/incentivize them to be in your life, please un-internalize it as much as possible. People who truly like you will like you for you. The people who only like you for what you can do for them are **not** your true friends. One of my wake-up calls was when I realized that I was burnt out from constantly doing favors but no less lonely than if I wasn’t doing them to begin with.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      If you never say no to people asking for favors, you might be burned out. Make sure you’re saying no sometimes, even if it’s just to practice saying no. People will survive. If you’re always giving and they’re always taking, the relationship is unbalanced. To fix that, you’ll have to change your behavior, which is tough but it’s far more effective than wishing and hoping others will change their behavior.
      Change is always hardest in the beginning but it gets easier with time and practice. I think you’re ready for a change!

    6. Anon for this*

      Very good question. You might like the book “Boundaries.” Or check out podcasts about the topic. It sounds like your boundaries have been overrun and you’re wiped out.

    7. Koala dreams*

      It’s good to do nice things for others, but it’s also good to give others the opportunity to do good things for you. Reciprocity strenghtens relationships. Do you ask your friends and family for help as often as they ask you for help? If not, maybe you can start small, and ask for little favours as practice.

    8. valentine*

      As a general rule, is it better to do good deeds through clenched teeth or do nothing at all?
      Nothing. Because the deed may be good, but attitude and approach matter.

      I don’t care for the idea of good deeds. Help when you want. If you feel obliged and/or used, examine that. Learn to detach. Find non-family outlets if you want to be generous with your time and talents. But count the irritation and resentment as inconveniences and don’t do things just because it seems like you don’t have anything more pressing to do. Say no to all requests for a few months and see how they find solutions that don’t involve you. If they guilt you, tell them flat it just reinforces you were right to say no.

    9. Ali*

      Without more context I would guess you should say “no” much more often. Make sure you are not giving more weight to others’ convenience than your own. I am also curious about any gender, age, and culture factors at play.

      I recommend the book Burnout by the Drs. Nagoski – check out the section on “helper syndrome.”

    10. Dan*

      If you’re clenching your teeth (metaphorically or not, it doesn’t matter) then no. Do things because you feel some sense of fulfillment from the act. If it’s causing resentment or what have you or you’re “keeping score” then don’t. I know if I thought someone was doing me a favor and resenting it, I wouldn’t feel good about it.

    11. RagingADHD*

      These are 2 different situations.

      1) Doing nice/kind things in general for people in general – yes, generally speaking you will have a happier & more posituve life if you choose kindness as much as you can.

      2) Prolonging a pattern of favors/demands with people who leave you feeling used, resentful, tired, and like the relationship is one-sided – no. That’s not healthy for you or the relationship. Take a big step back and find some freedom in saying no sometimes.

    12. Generic Name*

      I am a people pleaser and I really like to be helpful (or at least seen as helpful, ha). When my therapist asked me what it would look like if I were to put myself first. I couldn’t answer her at first, but after I thought about it for some months, I realized that putting myself first meant saying yes to things I wanted to do and no to things you didn’t want to do. What if you didn’t do things you don’t want to do and feel resentful when you do them?

    13. Jennifer Juniper*

      People pleaser here.

      The pandemic can be your friend. You can tell these people that you’re isolating, so you can’t do favor X for them. (This only works if you’re really isolating, of course.)

      Otherwise, you can also be more assertive.

      Relative: “Can you do X?”

      You: “I’m sorry, I can’t.”

      Relative: “Why not?”

      You: “I’m sorry, I can’t.”

      Relative: “You’re so selfish!”

      You (in a neutral tone): “That’s right. I’m selfish.”

      Relative hangs up the phone in a huff.

    14. allathian*

      Sounds like you need to learn to say no occasionally. Maybe say no to everything for a while, no matter how minor stuff people ask for. It’s easy to feel resentful if you feel like your help is taken for granted and you’re always the first and last person people turn to when they need help.

      Who helps you when you need help? Or are you so self-reliant as well as a people pleaser that it doesn’t occur to you to ask for favors occasionally?

    15. Longtime Lurker*

      Agree with others who suggest saying no more often. It might be good to take into account how hard it was for someone to ask for help though/how often they ask. If it’s a friend who asks for something once every few years, a yes might be appropriate, even if it is helping them move or the ride to the airport at 5 a.m. If it’s the family member who asks every week and never helps in return – boundary-city!

    16. Observer*

      As a general rule, is it better to do good deeds through clenched teeth or do nothing at all?

      Yes.

      But that’s not really the issue you have, and I don’t think that this framing is helpful or useful to you. A better set of questions is how much reciprocity is in these relationships; how much teeth gritting do you think you need to do in a healthy relationship; and what are some good ways to set boundaries with people who ask for too much. Also, in general what are your real obligations to others.

      For example, asks you to do the Really Annoying thing and you just don’t want to do it, but it would be very helpful to them. It would be better to grit your teeth and do it than to not do it. But SHOULD you do it? If it’s a good friend who doesn’t generally make unreasonable requests and also generally steps up to the plate when you need help, then yes, you probably should do it. If it’s an acquaintance who mostly seems to remember your existence when she needs something, then I’d you that you SHOULD not do it.

      Also something worth thinking about – if there is a lack of reciprocity is it because people won’t step up to the plate when asked or is it that you don’t ask.

    17. Avasarala*

      I believe there is a big difference between doing nice things for other people, and doing things that people ask of you.
      It is always nice to do something nice for someone and expect nothing in return. Buy a homeless person a sandwich, donate to charity, let someone merge in front of you, help someone with their bag, that sort of thing. If you’re feeling irritated and resentful for people not performing gratitude for this kind of thing, you’re not really getting the point of “charity” and “generosity”, but I don’t think this is the kind of situation you’re talking about.

      I don’t think you’re always, or ever, obligated to do something that someone asks of you. If someone asks you to help them move, or go shopping for them, or cook dinner, or wash their dog, or set up their computer… these are not the same as the first group because you have to evaluate their need, your schedule and bandwidth, and the timing. Charity happens on your terms, when and where and how you choose; Favors happen on someone else’s terms, when and where and how they choose.

      It makes perfect sense that you should feel irritated or resentful of people asking too many favors, as it is presumptuous of them to make claims on your time. You’re perfectly justified in setting boundaries and limits based on what you deem acceptable, not based on how available they think you are.

  14. Amethyst*

    I woke up from a dead sleep unable to catch my breath the other night. I ended up making a trip to the ER by ambulance to get checked out. All’s clear, thankfully; I just have to follow up with my PCP to figure out why this happened as it’d never happened before. But this has me thinking: All of my friends and family members either have their phone on but silenced, on but away from their bedside, or turned off and kept by them overnight. In this case, although I was texting two of them, neither one saw until they woke up. I took a Lyft back to my house from the hospital after they discharged me. So… in cases of emergency, how would you get ahold of someone overnight, particularly now that landlines are becoming obsolete?

    1. Morning reader*

      Maybe you can work out a settings solution with them. On my phone, when it’s set to do not disturb, texts won’t make an audible alert unless sent twice. Same with phone calls I think. (It might just be emergency or asterisked contacts.) if they put their phones on DND rather than turning them off, it should work if you call or text at least twice. (Doesn’t solve the problem if they don’t wake up, but if the phone rang repeatedly by my head, I’d probably wake up.)

      Last resort, if you can’t get through, depending on police services where you live, you might be able to get police to knock on their door. This happened once when I was waiting to be picked up at the hospital after being discharged and I couldn’t get through to my dad who was supposed to come get me. Turned out the phone line was out. Local cops came to give him the message. He was surprised, but it worked!

    2. GoryDetails*

      Good question! Might be worth discussing with your circle of friends/family; if their phones can be tailored such that only an emergency call will ring out loud, that might be an option. [I don’t have a smartphone myself, but if there’s a way to set up the filters such that “phone or text from these numbers with high priority/emergency-tag/whatever will make loud noise”, while everything else gets muted at night, that might help?]

      Otherwise… well, much as I dislike the idea of a monitoring service, it might make sense – especially for folks living alone. They might not be able to reach your emergency contacts right away either, but it’d make it simpler to get help.

    3. Bagpuss*

      Talk to them about phone settings. Mine is set to DND from 10pm to 6:30am but calls from my parents, siblings or closest friend would still come through.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yes, I was going to say this. Talk to your closest friend/family member and ask if they are willing to be your emergency contact and ask that they set up their phones accordingly. I have my settings so that calls/texts from my son come through no matter what.

    4. Claire*

      I have a couple of friends who live locally with whom I have reciprocal “in case of emergency” agreements. If any of us call twice in a row it’ll ring even if we’ve silenced our phones.

        1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          My phone’s default do not disturb setting is like this, so it’s likely to be fairly easy to set up.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      If they’re using a do not disturb setting, phoning three times in quick succession can sometimes override it, depending on the system. It might be worth setting up a mutual override with a close friend, but then you have to be careful not to text them at night except in an emergency.

      I would also not depend on texting for emergencies – I’d phone. I often miss texts during the day when I’m not right at my phone, so it could be hours before I saw a text, but a phone call I’ll hear.

      1. MissGirl*

        Yes, my dad called me in the middle of the night in quick succession and it came through.

      2. Green great dragon*

        I DND for text/notifications but let phone calls through, being pretty confident an after hours call will be for a good reason. Would friends be up for that? (I can’t tell whether you tried to ring the friends or just texted.)

        1. Observer*

          You’re lucky. Too many people are not so lucky. And regardless, it’s Amethyst whose phone needs to changed.

          Talking to a few friends about more targeted setting changes is an approach that’s more likely to be successful.

    6. CJ*

      When my father died, it was precipitated by a blood clot, a fall, and an ambulance at 3am. I used to put my phone on airplane mode, so my mother couldn’t reach me. The EMTs suggested sending an officer to knock on the door.

      Unfortunately I didn’t hear him (I sleep with white noise on), so I woke up to 17 voicemails. It was awful and I will never go to sleep without turning my ringer to vibrate again. But the house visit is an option.

  15. Justified or needlessly rude?*

    A volunteer came to our apartment door yesterday to electioneer for our congressman, who is up for reelection. She was wearing a mask, but I didn’t care. I slammed the door in her face as soon as she explained who she was. 

    Am I wrong to be upset about a political solicitor knocking on my door when I’m not even letting my own parents visit our apartment? Soliciting just seems so reckless to me while COVID is going on. Or am I off base?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      No, it’s stupid. I have a sign on my door that says “no preaching, peddling or politicking, we have everything we need” and it’s mostly worked. (One dude pre-COVID insisted his questions about the age of my windows didn’t have anything to do with trying to sell me anything. I was like “what, you’re just curious? I don’t think so. Scram.”)

    2. WellRed*

      Did you have to SLAM! the door? If you’re that worried, why open it in the first place?

      1. Beth Jacobs*

        I mean, most people still open the door. Could be a neighbour telling you there’s a leak or a delivery.

        1. Dan*

          I don’t know if “most” people still open the door. I don’t. With a delivery, I’m either expecting it, or they just drop it off without even knocking.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            I do, but I’m in grad apartments so usually someone knocking is the lovely maintenance crew giving a warning that someone threw a beer bottle down the hall and there’s broken glass again (why did this even happen once? why has this happened multiple times? every day I get emails.)

      2. Mary Connell*

        Because it could be someone Justified needed to talk to? Like someone with notification that the apartment building was on fire? Or there was a gas leak? Or a neighbor with mail delivered to the wrong address? Or a contact tracer? Or Justified was busy and opened the door out of habit and the mask was a reminder that we’re in the middle of a pandemic?

      3. Slinky*

        I agree. I just don’t open the door. I generally didn’t open the door to strangers pre-pandemic, and I definitely don’t now. Slamming the door seems over the top.

      4. Observer*

        So she made a mistake by opening the door, because she probably thought that if someone knocked it must be urgent. Does that mean that she now has to stay and listen. Gently and politely explain why she is upset and gently and politely close the door? What if the person tries to argue?

        To be honest, what I REALLY would like to know is why you think slamming the door was a problem and why you put the word in all caps with an exclamation point?

    3. CTT*

      I don’t think campaigns should be door-knocking at this time, but I don’t think you should have slammed the door either because I don’t think you got that point across – they probably thought you hated the candidate/party they were representing (having canvassed in the past, I have had the door slammed on me before for that reason!)

      1. KR*

        Yes, this. I’m not sure if OP was using it as a figure of speech or if they literally slammed it mid sentence. I would have said, I’m not taking visitors due to COVID, bye! and then shut (not slammed) the door.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Put a sign on your door, “Quarantining. Do not disturb.”

      People who know you will know to ignore the sign.

    5. nep*

      It’s bad practice for sure. They’re not doing their campaign any favors, in my view.

    6. fposte*

      If it’s not a breach of restrictions where you live, I think it’s okay for them to canvass; it sounds like you may have taken your stress about the pandemic generally out on this specific situation.

      However, I don’t answer the door right now except to expected visitors. No reason you have to either. Just because somebody knocks on it doesn’t obligate us for anything.

      1. Dan*

        Same, although I’ve had that policy pre-covid for quite awhile :D As a society, we seem to have this sense of obligation to answer the door and the phone. The reality is, we don’t. If that person knocked on the door and you weren’t home, then what?

        And for those who are like “OMG people shouldn’t be doing this” I’ll point out that one candidate was safely campaigning from his basement, and he was getting some flack from certain circles about not being “visible” enough.

    7. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Slamming the door in her face was rude. I take it you were afraid of infection. Presumably she wouldn’t have been electioneering if she were symptomatic in the first place, so her wearing a mask considerably reduced any risk that she would unknowingly and unintentionally infect you.

      If you don’t want to talk to people who come to your door unsolicited, then put up a “no solicitation, no peddling, do not disturb” note on your door and don’t answer it unless you’re expecting someone. She had no way to know that you didn’t want to hear her message until you slammed the door in her face. That is rude.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        I had a canvasser show up at my door recently, and I kept trying to explain that I was immunosuppressed and didn’t feel safe having discussions, and he just kept talking over me. He stuck his foot in the door when I started trying to close it! I cannot blame Justified for just slamming the door instead of trying to discuss with people who aren’t gonna listen.

        1. fposte*

          Foot in the door is a whole nother deal. But there’s no evidence that Justified’s canvasser wouldn’t have listened; that’s pretty unusual behavior.

        2. I'm A Little Teapot*

          “No thank you, please leave now.” Followed by “If you don’t leave NOW, I will call the police for trespassing. LEAVE.”

          You don’t need to explain why you don’t want to talk to strangers at your door.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            I don’t know if I could’ve called the police on him. I’m in the grad apartments, and you need either the keycard or permission from the staff to get in, so it’s not like he could just walk in the door.

            (Also, the campus police don’t like me, for one valid reason and one bad reason.)

            1. fposte*

              Probably somebody else let him in. And he doesn’t have to know whether you could call police or not.

        3. Jennifer Juniper*

          Oh my god! I would have thought rapist or home invader! There would be lots of panicked screaming from me, followed by my wife beating the snot out of him.

          She’s a trained martial artist with a short fuse. I’m so anxious I yelp if someone drops something and it makes a noise.

          1. RagingADHD*

            Wow. I would have thought a properly trained martial artist would understand how to distinguish between rudeness and assault, and respond accordingly.

            De-escalation & situational awareness have been important in any martial arts classes Ive ever attended. Otherwise you tend to wind up in jail for illegally beating the snot out of people who didn’t actually present any danger.

    8. Laura H.*

      Literally slamming the door in anyone’s face does come off as rude (but sometimes that’s the only thing that works). Soliciting door to door for any reason in these conditions comes off as tone deaf.

      At least they were masked- that’s the only thing about this that seems prudent.

    9. BRR*

      I don’t think you’re off base and I don’t think you were rude. I don’t live in a hot spot and had a door to door sales person come by a couple of weeks. It looked like my apt complex’s maintenance person so I opened the door and was hella mad. While numbers are low here going door to door interacting with strangers isn’t the way to keep numbers low. Not to mention the concept of door to door sales is an awful concept that needs to go away.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I was actually grateful to NextDoor for a bunch of people noting that there was a big sales push on in the neighborhood, because I wasn’t startled when they came by. And I was on a deadline and greatly enjoyed ignoring them, whether they could see me or not.

    10. Justified or needlessly rude?*

      Thanks for the comments. It looks like opinions are split down the middle, which sounds about right.

      To address some of the comments:

      I totally was rude. I knew that before asking the question, to be honest, and I’ll own that. But in the moment, and honestly still now, I was blown away that someone would think that this was acceptable right now.

      Should I have not opened the door in the first place? Valid question. The reason why I opened it was that I have a new upstairs neighbor, who bought the apartment above us several weeks ago, and she’s had work done in her apartment over that time. I couldn’t remember what she looked like, and thought maybe she was coming to talk to us about expecting more noise, etc. I never would have guessed it would be a solicitor.

      Will the volunteer think that I closed the door on her because I don’t like the candidate vs. being fearful of being infected? Another valid point. But quite honestly, right now I really *don’t* like the candidate. He’s showing that getting votes any way he can is more important than his constituents’ health, and that’s not a message I like. And I can’t afford *not* to vote for him, considering the opponent, so I’m really kind of pissed about it all.

      This is too dreary a topic to talk about on a Saturday and I don’t want to trip over Alison’s sensible rule to not talk politics here, so I won’t engage on any more comments, but thanks, all, for sharing your thoughts.

      1. Justified or needlessly rude?*

        Oh, one more thing – I can’t put up a “no soliciting” sign because of my homeowner’s association. There’s a clear “no soliciting” sign outside the apartment building, which obviously is ignored from time to time.

        1. valentine*

          Your neighbor isn’t necessarily less of a risk than the canvasser and a noise warning isn’t worth opening the door. Give them your number or email? If you haven’t already, call your representative’s office and tell them how you feel about this.

          The onus is on you to establish and enforce barriers, of which your door is a great one, if you leave it closed. If you have a front window or space under the door and the HOA allows, leave Post-Its and a pen outside. Inside, have pre-written Post-Its: “Please write a message on the sticky side and stick it to the window,” “Please write a message and slide it under the door,” and/or “Please step back x feet so I can open the door.” And then also have something to preserve the distance, like a long box or a massive umbrella, because, when you open the door, they’re naturally going to step forward.

      2. fposte*

        FWIW, I wouldn’t worry a lot about the canvasser’s thoughts on why you slammed the door. They probably encountered worse than that, and also it’s fair for people to be unhappy when they’re interrupted by strangers.

    11. Middle School Teacher*

      Needlessly rude. What’s wrong with politely saying “no thanks!” and closing it?

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Agreed. We have choices how we treat other people. One choice is to be rude or abusive with words/actions. Another is to say “no thanks” or “sorry, can’t help you today.” Another is not to answer the door at all.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I agree. Either tell the person you’re not interested or there’s a pandemic going on and you’re not talking to people face-to-face, or just don’t answer the door to begin with. I already see so much more rudeness day-to-day than I did before the pandemic. No need to spread it even more.

    12. ThatGirl*

      It seems a bit rude to slam the door. After all, you opened the door. And the election is still happening, and is pretty consequential for a lot of folks.

    13. Anonymous Educator*

      I must be in the minority opinion here. I definitely agree slamming the door in anyone’s face is rude, but so is showing up randomly at someone’s apartment unsolicited, especially during a pandemic.

      1. Cat*

        The Pandemic is a special circumstance but no, political canvassing is not generally rude. It’s part of living in society.

      2. Pennyworth*

        Sometimes being deliberately rude is the only way to send a strong message that someone’s behavior is unacceptable. It’s the mirror image of rewarding good behavior.

      3. JKP*

        I agree with you. People here often talk about “returning the awkward to sender” and I feel like unsolicited sales calls are the real rudeness and I’m simply returning their rudeness back to them. The one exception being small children, but most organizations don’t allow them to go door-to-door anymore. I used to go off on telemarketers, but I worked 3rd shift (and was on call during the day and thus needed to still answer the phone) so they were waking me up with their rudeness.

    14. Anono-me*

      I don’t know what it is that makes some people say ‘More people are home right now quarantineing, so now is the perfect time to go to their homes to sell encyclopedias/politicians/ religions.” But the reason we’re home is to avoid close contact with other people in order to try to avoid dying of a pretty scary pandemic.

      To me; Anyone going door-to-door right now is displaying a comfort level with very high risk of exposure and questionable quarantine etiquette and decision making. On our block alone, we have people who are medical providers, First Responders, and other essential workers, some neighbors have had covid-19 and are in recovery, some neighbors are anti mask, some are still socializing in large groups. (We also have a number of highly vulnerable and elderly people on our block.)

      We have a bubble with a number of Highly vulnerable people in it and thus are being very conservative in our covid-19 risk taking . Random strangers who indulge in high-risk covid-19 behavior are not people we want on our front porch. Especially when there is still a great deal of concern about about the potential risk of airborne covid on mini particles. (We have a sign similar to Red Reader’s, but still get people trying to sell crap.)

      If someone does show up at our door unexpectedly, we don’t let them in or even open the door. But then later we have to go out and throw away whatever promotional crap was left on our front porch and re sanitize the porch, so that our higher risk loved ones can still go out on the porch to enjoy nature and socially distant social interactions with people. ( And you better believe we are cussing out the salesperson and whatever they were selling the entire time.)

      In summary:
      I think it’s rude/disrespectful/possiblely dangerous to the homeowners to show up on someone’s doorstep and ask them to adjust their covid-19 risk taking level to that of the surprise visitor without a phone call or email to figure out an agreement first.

      It can also be counterproductive, because if someone shows up uninvited to sell something to our family, we will take note of what is being sold and never ever ever buy it.

      I actually answer you question about slamming the door: it’s a little bit aggressive, but I understand the impulse. I’m actually more concerned that you opened the door to this person in the first place. If you’re not comfortable with this level of exposure, you need to break yourself of the habit of opening the door when someone rings the bell. If you have a chain on the door, can you use it to slow you down? Or can you put a lightweight chair or a tall empty box in front of the door with a note reminding everyone to find out what the visitor wants before deciding to open the door?

    15. Koala dreams*

      You could have said “No, thanks” and closed the door normally, those two seconds wouldn’t have been that much of a risk increase. I suggest that you direct your complaints to the people running the campaign, not the people knocking on the door. I agree with you that it’s bad to go around knocking on doors right now, they should stick to other means of contact, such as phone calls and letters.

      1. LGC*

        Yeah, that’s kind of where I land too. I think the analogous situation is…like, yelling at a store employee because of a store policy/position the owners take that you don’t like. (Or yes, demanding to speak to the manager, in cases where the policy is clear-cut.) The canvasser’s feelings probably weren’t hurt that badly, but it’s still not a very nice thing to do to them.

        Or, to answer OP’s username: Reading the OP and response, it doesn’t seem like they were forcing themselves on you. So, yeah, needlessly rude.

    16. Wishing You Well*

      In the future, PLEASE don’t open the door to someone you don’t know. Get a peephole if you don’t have one. Talk through the door or sidelight to determine what they want. I don’t answer the door at all to people I don’t know – I’m not interested in wasting my time in a sales pitch. If it’s truly urgent, they’ll pound on the door. Then I’ll respond.
      Be safe. Stay healthy.

    17. RagingADHD*

      Nope.

      I had a canvasser come to my door a couple weeks ago. No mask, expected me to open the door and have a chat. Fortunately, I have a glass storm door that I could stay behind and stay polite.

      But I called out the candidate on his Facebook page and told him to educate his people that there’s a pandemic and we’re a hotspot. He fell all over himself to say that he would correct them, he always wears a mask, etc.

      Whatever, I was never going to vote for him anyway, I’ve seen him in local office for 10 years and I wouldn’t vote for him as dogcatcher.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Anyway, yes, it was rude, but I think it was understandable and I’m not going to fault you for it.

    18. A Teacher*

      Rude, sure, but not needlessly. I wouldn’t let it bother you. Being rude to someone whose behaviour is egregious (like door-to-door campaigning in a pandemic) is fine.

    19. Gatomon*

      I loathed these people pre-pandemic. I’m at the point where if I can’t determine who you are because I don’t know you and you’re not wearing a uniform for an expected package delivery or police/fire, I don’t answer the door. And since my doorbell is broken, my life is honestly quite peaceful. Most of these solicitors don’t seem to bother knocking.

    20. ...*

      I think thats extremely rude. Just dont answer the door. Or call out from behind the door “Who is it?” and then say sorry not opening, please move on. Why open and then “slam it on them”?

    21. allathian*

      Sounds like you need a spyglass or a doorbell camera, so you can see who’s calling before deciding whether or not to open the door.

  16. The Other Dawn*

    For anyone who has had back surgery, or has major back problems: what do you do to prepare for a long road trip?

    I had 360 lumbar fusion in March. The back is feeling pretty good, but I’ve developed bursitis in both hips (got cortisone injections recently and it has helped a lot) and now the piriformis muscle in both hips is bothering me (working on that at PT).

    I’m headed to PA in a few weeks to visit my cousin for roughly five days. I’m going by myself and the drive will be around 4.5 hours. I plan to stop very often–at the moment I can handle about 30-45 minutes of driving before I’m ready to get out and walk. I bought a mattress topper for her guest bed (same one I bought for my own bed), because that bed is an instrument of torture for someone with back/hip problems. I have my back brace, which I use in the car consistently. I bought a Purple seat cushion. And I go back for my follow-up two days before I leave, so I plan to ask the doctor for Tylenol with Codeine because I know I’ll need something for a few days after a drive like that (Tylenol doesn’t work and I can’t have NSAIDs).

    Anything else I can do to prepare or that would make the drive more comfortable?

    (I considered not going, but I really REALLY need this trip for my mental health and sanity. Also, my husband is taking the same week off and I’m pretty sure he would love some “me” time after having to take care of me post-op, do most everything around the house due to my back restrictions, and now getting no break from me since I’m now WFH permanently. We love each other, but we both highly value “me” time. :) )

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I might be tempted to bring a hot pack that I could heat in a microwave. Many convenience stores now have mics for the public to use, so I’d probably find a place to heat it up if I needed to.

      One of the biggest problems I see with travel is lack of proper hydration, like domino’s falling over, this causes other problems. Keep water with you at all times and keep sipping. Bonus points for water with electrolytes.

      1. fposte*

        There are actually chemically powered single-use hot packs and patches and they’re a godsend on a long drive. I just tried to find them and they’re for some reason a search engine nightmare, but start with something like the HotHands Body Warmer for an idea. You shake them up to initiate the chemical reaction and stick them to you.

        1. Lady Heather*

          There are also multiple-use instant hot packs! They’re extremely weird – they contain sodium acetate, which is fluid when cold and semi-solid (like petroleum jelly on a hot day) when warm, because apparently it needs to release energy in order to solidify, but they are too stable to release that energy of its own. So you click a metal plate within the hot pack, which upsets the molecules, causing them to solidify and release heat energy.

          Then, at the end of the day, you need to boil them in a pan of water (put a dish cloth in a pan, then boil) until it’s fully fluid again, then it’ll have absorbed the heat. Next day, click the metal plate and it’ll release the heat again.

          They’re a lifesaver. I use them in winter to heat up my prosthetic in the morning* because I can keep it at my bedside and don’t need a microwave or hot water to heat them up (which would ruin the point as I’d need to put my prosthetic on in order to get to the kitchen).
          *Imagine encasing a limb with poor circulation into a 1/3 inch layer of room temperature silicone.. when room temperature is just above, or even below, freezing. Might be a first world problem but it’s still instant misery.

          Some brands have packs that you can strap around certain body parts like your lower back.
          You might need to have a few – they don’t get as warm or stay warm as long as some other hot packs. But they’re reusable, so there’s that.

          1. Lady Heather*

            Reusable meaning they advertise with ‘500 times’, so Tupperware-reusable, not paper bag-reusable.

          2. fposte*

            Wow, I’ve never heard of these–they sound brilliant. So basically they “store” the heat until activation–that is weird but clever.

            1. Lady Heather*

              Yes! They’re popular as well as pocket warmers here – two tiny ones that you can put in your pockets along with your hands! (Or even to use in combination with too-big gloves.) Very handy if you’re using public transportation and you’re waiting at the bus stop or train station.

      2. Chaordic One*

        Along with the lack of proper hydration is the lack of clean convenient restrooms when you need them. In the past I allowed myself to become dehydrated because I didn’t want to have to use the restroom. Don’t be like me in the past. I rarely fly, but when I did in the pre-COVID days, I dreaded it. When I make a road trip, a lot of pre-planning goes into it. I use Google to find public rest stops along the Interstate highways and Gas Buddy to find out where the gas stations are, just so I can use their restrooms if necessary. Sometimes I will stop to a truck stop to use their restrooms. I’ll usually buy some small cheap item, like a snack or a drink at a gas station or truck stop. I also use the restrooms at WalMarts in small towns.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Yes on the dehydration thing! I tend to do the same thing. I think mapping out my stops is a really good idea, especially since I’ll need to stop quite often, not just every couple hours.

      3. The Other Dawn*

        I hadn’t thought of portable heat packs. I have heated seats; however, they’re not useful now because I have to wear the back brace when I’m in the car. Then I have the Purple seat cushion and a garbage back on top of it (so I can easily slide into the seat and turn so I don’t twist my back–it works!), so that means I won’t feel the heated seat.

          1. Jaid*

            ThermaCare patches are AWESOME. But the glue might bother some people and the heat directly on the skin could be bad.

      4. ..Kat..*

        Don’t forget cold packs.

        And over the counter lidocaine patches or cream. If you decide to use this, read and follow the directions carefully. Lidocaine is also a heart drug. People have died misusing topical lidocaine.

    2. Ranon*

      Since you have a PT, I’d see if they have suggestions for stop frequency and exercises to do when you stop.

      For hip stuff a lacrosse ball to jam into trouble spots has given me relief

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I do have a lacrosse ball I plan to bring with me. I haven’t used it much yet, but I guess this will be a good time.

    3. Reba*

      I’ve been researching adjustments I can make for the car seat. I don’t have spinal issues but muscle spasms that attach my back. (I’m still recovering from a very long drive last weekend!)

      I’m assuming you’ll use the purple in the car? Would a lumbar cushion also be helpful? I usually put a small flat pillow or folded up scarf sort of behind my shoulderblades — in many cars there are quite a few small adjustments you can make to the seat, steering wheel and so on that could help.

      Hope you enjoy the trip!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks!

        Yes, the Purple is going in the car. I have one for my desk chair, which seems to be helping a bit, though I just bought a really good desk chair and it should arrive next week. (I’m skeptical of buying an office chair online, but I did a ton of research first and specifically looked for chairs that are good for sciatica, etc.–fingers crossed!) My car seat has lumbar adjustments I can make, but I’ll have my back brace on so I won’t need anything for the lumbar area–it’s already supported with the brace.

    4. Lady Heather*

      Have you had codeine before? It causes major constipation – so try to get macrogol, milk of magnesia, etc to go along with it. (Milk of magnesia exists in pills as well as liquid, if you’re not a fan of the liquid.)

      I think where I live it is only in the treatment guidelines as a last resort treatment for extreme diarrhoea – for pain killing purposes it’s considered a bad opioid, as it’s a below-average opioid painkiller with above-average side effects – so instead of codeine, it’s recommended doctors prescribe a low dose of a ‘average opioid with average side effects’. Don’t take that as a recommendation against codeine, that’s between you and your doctor – just as a recommendation for a fibre-heavy diet, lots of hydration, and asking your doctor about an in-case-of-emergencies laxative.

      For my back/neck stuff, I have limited success with tiger-balm style creams or arnica, and decent success with NSAID-infused cremes/gels. I don’t know if your contraindication for NSAIDs is just when you use it systemically or also for topically, so I thought I’d mention it anyway.

      I hope you have fun on your trip and it doesn’t hurt too much.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, I’ve had codeine and it doesn’t cause any issues. My first choice is oxy or Percocet, but I’m trying not to ask for that. I just don’t trust that I’ll take them only when I really need them. I don’t mean I’ll abuse them, just that my threshold for pain will be much lower *mentally* because I know I have them and they work fast. The codeine works good enough. Though it IS only for the week. I’ll see how I’m feeling about it when I see the doctor in a couple weeks.

        I can’t take NSAIDs systemically because there’s a risk the bones won’t fuse. But even without the fusion, I’ve had weight loss surgery so they’re off limits forever. I didn’t realize there are NSAID-infused creams. I’ll have to check into that.

        1. Lady Heather*

          Glad to hear it works for you. I get you on the opioid fear – it’s a scary drug to have the option of taking.

          Advil and Voltaren have them here, as well as generics. I really like it because I try not to use NSAIDs too often as they strain my already-strained organs, but I can use the gel as much as I like, so I use the gel when the pain is ‘I can’t concentrate and I feel miserable’ and the pills only for ‘my whole body is locking up’ and/or ‘I need to sleep and it’s keeping me awake’. So it’s by no means a miracle drug, but it’s a good option to have lying around to bridge the gap of ‘this hurts badly but not enough for painkillers’.
          For me, at least – YMMV.

    5. RagingADHD*

      The only thing that gets me through car trips anymore is a hot soak (preferably in a whirlpool) at the end of the day.

      If there’s not a whirlpool available at your destination, pick up some Epsom salts for a good bath.

    6. Mac*

      I don’t know how my issues correlate to yours, but I have a spinal fusion lowish, down between the L & T vertebrae, and sitting/driving cause me a lot of pain and sometimes makes my toes go tingly. After finally going to PT when it got really bad, I learned that for me the key is to get in lots of cobra-style stretches (where you’re on floor on your belly and then press up with your arms while keeping your hips on the ground) to basically squish the cartilage between my vertebrae back to where it oughta be. In some cars I can mitigate pain by basically adjusting the seat in all the ways I can to try to open/widen the angle of my hips and also prop myself so that I can have a more sway-back posture than the kinda curled-up fetal posture that most car seats encourage. Sometimes for long drives I’ve even put the back of the seat WAY back and just not leaned against it at all, but held myself upright with a combo of core muscles, pressing my feet on the floor of the car, and hanging a little on the wheel. It sounds hella dangerous when I describe it like that, but basically I just mean not using the seatback at all, because otherwise it would force my back into a rounded position that worked hurt. So, I guess my advice is don’t be afraid to get weird, and sometimes an active position that engages your muscles can actually be more comfortable than a more relaxed position.

  17. Grim*

    What’s everyone who has been receiving the $600 weekly unemployment supplement planning to do to accommodate the loss of this income? I believe the checks end next week.

    I have two friends who have been getting this supplement. One has been saving as much of it as possible and has frugally cut their expenses. The other has increased their spending to match this new level of income without looking to the future as they live in a hot spot and believe they will get covid and likely die (they’re pessimistic in general and carefree with their money). Neither is wealthy and live paycheck to paycheck.

    I hope the best for both of them. I don’t expect any new unemployment funding to happen for at least several months due to the congressional summer break and the plodding nature of government when it comes to restarting the decrepit unemployment support system.

    1. LQ*

      As long as politicians do a flat amount, I actually don’t think it’ll be that long. My entirely random opinion is something like a week of no additional money. (The $600 will get paid for folks requesting the week of the 26th so most people who request money this upcoming week will get it for last week (unemployment is like a paycheck in that you are requesting for a completed period of time), but when they go in on the week of the 2nd they won’t get the additional $600, that’s the week I think we’ll see the most traction.)

      If politicians decide to come up with some stupid scheme of matching your previous wages it’s going to take months. If they drop the amount and just say $400 for everyone, or even make it a flat amount per state, so all of NY gets 50% of what the annual average income is, and NJ gets 50% of the NJ annual average income, that’d be fine…I think most states will take a couple weeks at most to implement it.

      All that said most of the folks I know personally have been cutting expenses to the bare minimum and socking it away. (I maybe now and have been since states started shutting down…telling all the people I’m close to that this is a real recession and it’s not going to stop and we should expect a lot of lost jobs and a lot of financial hardship. I feel a little like chicken little on this, but I still don’t think I’m wrong.)

      1. Dan*

        Maybe it’s just me, but from a public policy standpoint, I’m kind of fascinated by the “dilemma” of making resources available ASAP knowing that some could be obtained fraudulently or by people who don’t need them, or increasing the bureaucracy to cut down on that fraud or what have you, but then cutting off help to people who need it because they didn’t meet some bureaucratic requirement.

        I know when the $600 thing came out, I told my dad that unemployment where I live pays jack and if some people are making more on unemployment than they were at their job, I don’t really care. I’ve changed my a tune a little when generous unemployment makes people actively avoid working.

        The catch 22 with all of this is that people not spending money is what crates a recession, and then once that starts, the economic problems just compound.

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          I’m glad to still be working, but around here $600/week is a lot of money — I don’t make that much now and I’m doing all right. $600/week + unemployment, and I’d be lose to out earning my husband (who makes really good money for our area).

          So I understand why people can’t walk away from that to go back to minimum wage jobs that will mostly put them working with a public that is widely refusing to take pandemic seriously (in my part of the country at least).

          1. Dan*

            … and this is why things get complicated from a public policy perspective. For me, unemployment+$600/week is less than two days pay. Granted, I live in an HCOL area so my income puts me at “middle class/comfortable” but certainly not “wealthy”. If I were to complain that people making a fraction of my income were getting money they didn’t deserve, well, that wouldn’t be a good look for me. How much money *should* they get? I have no idea what’s “fair” TBH.

            Some people are going to be out of work for a long time, and base unemployment (at least in my state and my county) doesn’t go that far. It goes a bit further down state where the COL is lower, but up here? Unemployment, once taxes are taken out, won’t even cover my rent. So for those that will be out of work for a good long time, base unemployment simply isn’t enough. The tricky part, and I have no idea how to accomplish this, is how to incentive people to return to work when there’s a job to go back to, yet for those who really have no job, they aren’t left hanging.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              I think what’s really needed is for the gov to basically force the states to hire whatever COBOL programmers they can find, and have the whole country update all the unemployment software systems ASAP. Because the whole +$600 business was a bandaid solution to “the systems aren’t flexible enough to do what we actually wanted to do, which was give everyone 80% of what they were actually making, regardless of what the existing max was”. Or mandate different maximums for unemployment across the board. Or both. It’s problematic that those systems are running on such ancient software and that it’s an epic PITA to change, and I know gov stuff is usually slow as molasses to change, and this would not have been a priority before now. But changing this should’ve been a priority since March. Then again a lot of things should’ve been a priority since March that weren’t, so I don’t have a lot of hope for any sort of logical action on this front.

              1. LQ*

                The problem isnt just force the goverment to hire COBOL programmers and magically the system will all be updated tomorrow. The problem is old systems, decades old systems run by programs that were at a historic low just had their volume increased by an order of magnitute. Imagine if you suddenly had to do 10 jobs in addition to your current job. Plus the world was on fire. Plus pandemic. Plus people of course actually getting sick. Plus having to deal with and cater to random whims of higher up bosses who do not care if they work you to death. Oh and also change the entire way your program works. There is so much talk on this site about supporting workers, but it’s all flimsy bs the minute rubber hits the road and something they want isn’t done fast enough.

                Building a new system in less than 6 months while a pandemic was happening and everything about the world was changing? This isn’t just hire more programmers. This is stop and come up with a better solution.

                The $600 is a huge amount of money to a lot of people and it’s a good solution, it’s essentially a universal basic income program start. Which I think is the right solution here overall. I don’t think that deciding unemployment programs are the ones to give it out is the right way (I think that it should be the IRS and make it actually universal, and it would do a lot better with the integrity questions that people bring up, file taxes, get benefits). And despite the people who didn’t get paid, it would likely function better than the random mismash of 50+ states with different programs, different laws, different systems, and different structures.

                It’s easy to yell at people from the cheap seats for imperfections. Everyone knows better, everyone can do better, no one actually steps up.

                1. fhqwhgads*

                  I never said it’d be “done tomorrow” or in six months. I’m saying that those systems have been allowed to sit there as they are for decades is absurd, and the fact that not even the current world on fire situation has prompted any movement on overhauling that is also absurd. We could be six months into said overhaul, but we’re not at all. Whether it’s a fix for the pandemic-related unemployment or not, the longer we leave those ancient systems in place, the more horrifying it is.

                2. LQ*

                  I’m not sure where you’re hearing that there is no movement on overhauling the systems but I don’t think that’s true. I’m pretty sure it’s not. There is currently more federal funding for systems than there has been in decades. And there have been nobid contracts in a bunch of states to do system overhauls because contracting processes would take a year to get a contract to do the kind of updates you’re talking about here. (And yes, seriously a year, often more to do JUST the contract.) So as absurd as it sounds that’s …”progress”?

                  The problem here lies in not maintaining systems until there is a fire. We should always be proactively trying to keep things updated but there’s constant push to just patch things together a little longer. There’s very little incentive in government (both policy and administration) to be forward thinking. You have these cool little bastions of progress (don’t mean politically, I mean places that are being technically forward thinking) but they stand out because so many are so archaic and held down by old processes, low funding (or poorly thought out funding more realistically), and entrenchment, people, policies, fiefdoms. All of it.

                3. Dan*

                  @LQ

                  To your last paragraph, mostly about waiting until there’s a fire… I totally get your point, and I’m not sure I have a solution for it. In 2019, if you were to ask me where on the priority list replacing old COBOL systems is, I’d ask two things: 1) Does it still work? and 2) Are there real fires that need to get put out? We’re at a point where most things that get funded are fires, and there’s not much money for not-fires. Can we get more funding for things that aren’t fires? I dunno, and the reality is, I don’t think so. It’s really, really hard to get funding for things that will never be covered on CNN (or pick your news source of choice.)

                  Part of the problem is the political discourse we currently have. Proponents of something are going to oversell the benefits, and opponents of something are going to down play it to the max. The reality is somewhere in the middle, and we all know it. The problem is, the average joe has no idea what reality actually is. In 2019, if you were to try and sell me on a massive system upgrade for unemployment systems, and your talking point is the huge lines and the number of people who couldn’t get benefits because the computers crashed if the entire economy collapsed over night, I’d tune you out and go on to more pressing matters, and probably forget about your pitch the minute you walked out the door.

                  Now, a year later, there’s a bunch of pissed off people because the entire economy collapsed all-but overnight, and people can’t file for unemployment benefits.

                  Don’t get me wrong… I’m a software engineer/data analyst for what is essentially a government contractor. I’m not up on procurement or acquisitions, but I know it’s hard to actually get money for things that *are* problems, let alone things that might be a problem… some other other time. And the funny thing with this whole COBOL business is that because it’s worked for so long (decades), just how it important is it to make replacing those systems a budget priority for the “next” fiscal year? I can’t/couldn’t make a compelling argument to my boss. And if some politician can’t sell it as a win for his constituents, then forget it. If he can? Then maybe. At least now, if a politician says “I’ve allocated funding to replace the systems so that in case you lose your job, you’ll actually get paid when and how much you’re supposed to” most voters with half a brain will understand what he’s talking about and why it’s important.

        2. LQ*

          This is a really interesting dilemma. I’m sure that billions have gone out fradulently. Unemployment, but also the PPP money, IRS money, all of it. The goal of the programs was to pump money into the economy. So the question I think is really interesting is…does it matter if it went to someone fradulently if they spent money in the economy? And there are all different kinds of frauds too. And there are things that are legal that I think are ethically reprehensible. But most of those things did actually pump money into the economy. Now, not always the local economy, but it’s federal money…how much does it matter if florida man got the money instead of oregon man? It matters to oregon that they didn’t get the extra 10K. But what is the real point of the money. Make people spend so that the economy doesn’t totally tank. (I do think it was pretty inevitable, but the $600 was a breathtakingly big stab at preventing it.)

          1. MysteryFan*

            LQ your point is very well taken. Except for when HUGE, well-connected companies got big bailouts and PPP moneys. I really hate that! I am sure that $ just lined the pockets of already-wealthy corporations. But any extra money going to individuals.. perfectly correct, exactly “fair” or not, yep yep! That is the group who are going to put that money back into the economy.

    2. lapgiraffe*

      I made the most complicated budget (file labeled “pandemic budget”) that has basically made me like your first friend – socking away the majority of that extra money now so that I’m not panicked when its gone. And it’s mostly worked! It has helped that my big weakness, dining out, is severely limited, and it’s just me, no kids or dependents. I am not a great budgeter in normal times but I did go back last week to see “how I’m doing” and I will say that knowing what I had before this has been useful in my spending now, and luckily I’m still within budget and actually doing better than the budget. But I think by September if I can’t see the light of a new job on the horizon I might start to panic a little.

    3. Tris Prior*

      My partner got laid off and has been getting the supplement. The $600/week meant that he was taking more home than he was when working, so fortunately he has been able to save a significant amount of it. I simultaneously got furloughed 1 day a week, so I’ve been able to save less, so I’m grateful that he was able to do this. We did our best to cut expenses; our food bill is up because we’re doing more delivery and less running around comparison shopping, to minimize our time in our very small and crowded city stores. And also because we’re slowly trying to build a stockpile in case things get really bad in fall and people start panic buying again. But otherwise, we’re not shopping or spending on travel.

      We figure we’ll draw on that savings as needed now that the supplement is gone, and hopefully he finds work (and I stay employed!) before it runs out. I’m pessimistic that any more supplement will be coming, but that’s just me, and I don’t want to get political so I won’t say anything more about that. He’s having a really hard time finding work; it seems as soon as he mentions “remote” (as we have risk factors, otherwise he and I both would’ve gone out and gotten retail jobs, I realize this is our privilege showing) the conversation is over.

  18. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    Please ask any questions you might have about plants. No “garden” is too big or small.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I finally have a few tiny tomatoes growing and the green beans are coming in. (I got started very late this year.) My jalapenos aren’t doing much, but I have some Scotch Bonnets coming in. All the peppers will be used for fruit jelly, though I may try making pepper jelly this year, too.

      I’m planning to go get some flat field stones later today, which I’ll use to make a walkway in my flower garden. I had landscapers come out this week and do some heavy maintenance on my flower garden, which has been a huge PITA since we moved in 6 years ago. The previous owner had a totally random mix of perennials, and there was a TON of grass and weeds coming in every year and lots of milkweed and random vines. I just couldn’t keep up with it, as it’s roughly 20ft x 25ft. I had it leveled last year to start fresh with the plan to replant this year, but then I had lumbar fusion in March and I can’t do anything with gardening this year. Rather than watch the weeds come back, which is all I can do, I had landscapers come out and remove the grass and weeds (I sprayed with weed killer before they came to make it easier and thankfully it wasn’t nearly as bad as previous years), dump a huge load of topsoil, add pre-emergent weed treatment, then mulch. They also moved and replanted the very few plants I had, along with my herbs that overgrew the raised bed. It looks so nice! But I have a few flowers i need to plant, which I bought a few weeks ago, and I haven’t a clue where I want them. I’m definitely not good at garden planning and it’s hard for me to visualize what would look good and what wouldn’t.

      1. Venus*

        I know you’ve been working on this for a while, so I’m glad to read that it is making progress, and going as well as you had hoped! Best of luck for the rest of the summer.

    2. GoryDetails*

      Self-watering-container-box vegetables: the eggplants are producing well, and the peppers are coming along nicely. Had my first yellow cherry tomatoes and one full-sized tomato (though the latter had blossom-end rot, which does not bode well for the rest of the crop).

      In-ground: Sadly for my summer-squash hopes, *something* has been pulling the vines through the fencing and nibbling the ends off – I suspect the groundhog but it might be a rabbit. The cucumbers are climbing their trellis, but no fruit yet…

    3. Catherine*

      I have a little potted plant (some random green with spade-shaped leaves, whom I named Cary Plant) that I don’t really understand how to take care of, but somehow I’ve kept him alive two years. Sunlight isn’t great in my apartment, and even though he’s in the sunniest spot, he grows sideways and has very long arms. (The tendrils that grow upwards-ish died off and I trimmed them.)

      Would it be very bad for him if I trimmed back his arms some–say from 30 cm to 14-ish? He’d still have leaves, and I wouldn’t risk stepping on him when I’m getting things from the bookcase.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Would you want to put the trimmings in water until they grow roots? Or maybe put Cary Plant on a plant stand so his arms could hang down the next time they grow longer? Sometimes a plant with oversize presence looks dramatic. Other times it’s just more leaves to avoid. (See sweet potato vine, above.)

        1. Catherine*

          I would probably discard the trimmings, as I don’t have space to be raising other plants and am not a very good plant parent! Unfortunately a stand would deprive Cary of light because of how the buildings around here are angled.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Look into natural light LED bulbs. They are cheap to run and are as good as the old high-energy grow-lights. Get the ones rated to 5000kelvin or better.

      2. Venus*

        Shrubs can be trimmed back to a maximum of 1/3. I think vines can be cut back to almost anything, as I do that with my raspberries in the fall, but those are hibernating in winter so might be different.

    4. LQ*

      I got to eat my first tomato this week! A tiny cute little cherry. The basil is finally growing like I expected so this week everything’s getting basil on it. I think my pepper plant finally has a second pepper that’s growing on it, all the previous ones have fallen off, this one seems to have taken hold and is growing which I’m excited about. I mean…it’s 2 peppers, but it’s still 2 peppers.

      The new lettuce is not doing well though. I may give up and pull it.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Our first 2 zucchini went from “almost ready” to “baseball bat” in one day…as zucchini are wont to do. My husband cooked the bigger one into a TVP chili, the other goes on the grill tonight.
      The beer saucers helped with the slugs…and surprisingly enough with rose chafers too. And the neighborhood birds had a field day eating the trapped pests.
      Our fig cuttings had a great result, looks like 4 made it. That’s 2 more than we wanted, so I am giving some away.
      The deer ate my hosts right on schedule…so this year I’m transplanting a piece to a spot under the air conditioner, right up against the house. We have no other Foundation plantings but right there one piece will hide the bear dirt.
      It’s really been too hot to be outside much. Our exotics are living it, and because the lawn hasnt needed mowing, I’ve enjoyed surprise wildflowers. The weeds are out of control.
      Ideas for non-toxic chafer control?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The deer ate my hostas. Not my hosts. I’m getting tired of teaching the phone that word!

    6. Jean (just Jean)*

      Sanseveria and two succulents in soil plus several cuttings in water, all on a formica console table near the window:
      Everyone is doing okay. Someday I will repot (or pot the cuttings for the first time) and trim down some of the longer sanseveria leaves which will give me more cuttings to root in water. Also a sweet potato vine that if untrimmed will eventually cover the entire dining room table.

      Venus, are you the person who expanded the definition of “garden” to include mold in a coffee cup? I’ve been smiling at that image ever since. Thank you for this chuckle; it’s especially welcome in this difficult year.

      1. Venus*

        Yes, I was the one who used mold in a coffee cup! I have always tried to be inclusive in any conversation, and plants are as much about the conversation as the results. There is something nice about sharing with others, both talking about it and showing off the plants. I can grow some things really well, and others not at all, so I also try to appreciate that there is no minimum standard for gardening, even if it is mold :)

      1. KoiFeeder*

        I… misread this as “We love Japanese beetles! That’s all I have to say about my garden. :D” and I was really confused.

        1. Generic Name*

          Ha! I mean, they are kind of beautiful, as far as insects go. Iridescent green, etc But I decidedly do not love them

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’ll see those Japanese beetles, and raise you Rose chafers and stink bugs. :(

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Invest in praying mantises! They love to eat stink bugs. I don’t know how they feel about rose chafers, though.

    7. MinotJ*

      We put in raised beds this year and it’s life-changing. My back is so happy.

      We thought we spent money on the /good/ soil, but it turns out we needed to do more. My squashes and tomatillos have always grown gangbusters, but this year they’ve been sad and yellow. My partner bought some liquid fertilizer for our flowers that are growing in a difficult rocky bed, and I thought what the heck I’ll put a little bit in with the sad vegetables. And boom! The new growth is green and vigorous. I had added calcium to the tomato bed because blossom end rot is my nemesis, but it turns out all the beds are lacking. We’ll add tons of compost this fall, and try to figure out what other additions we need next spring.

      1. Pippa K*

        Oh! You’ve grown tomatillos, so maybe you can advise me! We planted our first tomatillo this year, and I’m not sure how it’s doing. It’s got lots of flowers and has grown to a size that suggests it has ambitions to conquer the surrounding land and build an empire. But no fruits! Nothing seems to come of the flowers. Is there a pollinating step we didn’t know about, or something like that?

        1. GoryDetails*

          Re tomatillos: do you just have one plant? That could be the problem; they aren’t self-pollinating.

    8. My Brain Is Exploding*

      We dead-headed the bee balm…and it has not rebloomed. The same thing happened last year, but we thought maybe it was just a freaky thing. Clearly we did something wrong. The tomato plant that gave us one tomato and no blooms had a sudden growth spurt and a bunch of blooms after we picked the tomato.

      1. Venus*

        From what I read (quickly googled just now) bee balm has a couple flowering sessions, but doesn’t seem to be continuous. You might research it further, as you may be doing it right and this is just the way of that plant.

        When should you cut back bee balm?
        Deadhead faded blooms to encourage the plant to re-bloom in late summer.

    9. blaise zamboni*

      After a few false starts (bought several rounds of plants that were too delicate and drought-sensitive for my lifestyle), I’m now enjoying a lovely, blooming garden. My tomato plants are getting tall and have the cutest little yellow flowers. My peppers (jalapeno, pepper, and bell) look happy and strong. My strawberries are a bit worse for wear and I’m still trying to figure out why, but overall they’re quite happy. I have a number of flowers to keep our pollinators happy, too.

      Unfortunately, my fruiting plants all seem to have some pest. A few leaves on each plant look like they’ve been eaten away in the middle, then turned white and eaten away further towards the edges. I didn’t see aphids the last time I checked but I’m keeping an eye out. Most of the leaves are perfectly fine, but I worry I’m missing something that will ruin the fruit. I’ve never grown any kind of edible plants so I’m overly worried, I think.

    10. Nita*

      I have no idea :( Unexpected car trouble (it was burglarized and needs major repairs), so I’m not going to see my garden for another week at least. I hope it’s doing OK.

    11. SpellingBee*

      Tomatoes are producing like crazy, except for that dang Mister Stripey which *still* hasn’t bloomed. I’m doubtful it’s going to, but it’s not hurting anything where it is so I’m just going to leave it and see what happens. Green beans are slowing way down. After a pretty good start my lemon cucumbers stalled out, but there are lots of flowers and little cucumbers coming now so I’m hopeful. Basil is huge! I’ve been cutting it back regularly so it’s nice and full. I seem to have successfully deterred the squirrels, however the birds have been helping themselves to some of the tomatoes (probably mockingbirds, of which we have many). I really don’t mind all that much, it’s mostly confined to one plant on the end with fruit high up. Also it’s not my favorite variety!

      A tip to deter deer – whisk an egg and about a tablespoon of milk into a cup of water. Strain into a spray bottle and spritz it on the plants you want to protect. Sounds odd but it really does work. I’ve used it successfully for years to keep deer from eating hostas and other tasty plants. You’ll need to reapply after it rains, but otherwise the effect will last for a couple of weeks.

    12. Sparkly Librarian*

      45+ squash over 6 weeks; now is supposedly their high season, but they seem to have stalled a bit in the last week, and I actually wish we had more. So many tomato plants — a handful of ripe tomatoes so far (the Early Girls). Harvested some tiny carrots (purposely overcrowded in containers) and planted a new set. First apples! (Anna, Dorsett Golden)

      I have bee balm in two large buckets next to each other, with equal treatment, and one became waterlogged before I noticed and is in really bad shape. Planted the same time from the same batch of seedlings, and the other two that are in smaller containers are also doing well… not sure why this one is so poorly, or why the watering affected it but not the other. Still no blooms on any of the bee balm. It’s the first year I’ve had it, and I’m not sure whether it likes my yard or not.

    13. Megan*

      Does anyone know how to keep chipmunks from stealing tomatoes? It’s so annoying to see half-eaten, ripe tomatoes sitting on my doorstep each morning.

      1. GoryDetails*

        This seems to be a chipmunk-horde year; tons of them all over the place. If you can put chickenwire cages around the tomatoes that should do it. If that’s not convenient, look into various repellents, though I think their success rate varies quite a bit. And for extreme measures, there are fairly simple traps you can set… though I admit I haven’t gone that far. Yet.

    14. Violets are blue*

      We’re redoing our lakehouse’s garden after 15 years of neglect due to illnesses. There’s an area where we used to have roses. If anyone still sees this and has experience with roses, what shall we pay attention to when choosing the right kind?
      We’re only there a couple of weeks/months a year amd would like to mostly just enjoy their color and smell.

      1. Venus*

        My understanding of roses is that they are either pretty or scented. The scented ones are less ‘bred’ and sturdier. If you aren’t able to care for them much, then one of the older varieties is likely best.

    15. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I finished cutting down a tree/big shrub that I’ve disliked for years but never got around to removing. The tomato, zucchini, and cabbage plants are finally starting to grow although none have flowered yet. We’ve been slowly cutting back the overgrown hedges, too, but in stages because there’s only so much I can put in the green waste bin at a time.

    16. fhqwhgads*

      My basil keeps dying. First thought it was overwatered, maybe over corrected but not sure? Maybe too much sun? Maybe not enough. Every adjustment seems not to help. It just…dies.

      1. Workerbee*

        This is my first time growing basil, and after starting it from little sprouts outside, I brought the pot inside to sit in our eastern bay window. This was initially because critters kept digging up the sprouts, either eating them or expecting them to be something else.

        The basil is thriving beyond all expectations. Large, healthy leaves and seems quite happy indoors. I water it very moderately two-three times a week. So that’s the only solution I can offer. :)

    17. StellaBella*

      I have a question on zucchini. I have four plants from seed, in very large containers (2 x 2 x 2 ft). I have had over 30 flowers, ALL MALE, and one female, with now a baby zucchini. In my area, 3 friends mentioned also have almost all male flowers this year too. One friend mentioned that usually the male flowers bloom first then a batch of female flowers start to fruit. My plants are now dying back. I fertilised them and keep them watered and in the sun, no luck this year – any ideas on why this was happening? Climate issues? It has been warm here since May but not too hot or rainy.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re all male flowers on zucchini: I’ve run into that in past years. (This year something’s been eating all the blossoms – and stems – as soon as they appear. Sigh.) Anyway, at some point I gave up on waiting for fruit and started harvesting the blossoms instead; they saute beautifully, and can be stuffed if you’re feeling fancier.

    18. NeverNicky*

      We ate our first three cherry tomatoes this week and we anticipate a couple of hundred more over the season – the trusses are setting well and we have a very bee friendly garden so there’s plenty of pollinators for the current flowers.

      We have harvested our first courgette (zucchini) after a couple of others dropped off at the teeny tiny stage.

      With the exception of the lavender, one of the lavatera and buddleia we don’t have much flowering at the moment – I think next year I need some later flowering annuals or perennials, although it would help on that front if I could work out what’s eating my leucanthemums – nothing else, just those…

    19. Ali G*

      My hot peppers are going crazy! I should be making hot sauce in like 2 weeks. I’m excited to experiment!

    20. Mac*

      I had been putting off repotting my aloes, because they’re just such monsters, but they’ve been having lots of babies and were starting to almost topple the pots cuz they’re so top-heavy. But I was repotting a few of my easier plants the other day and felt the aloes burning accusatory glares into my back, so I finally sucked it up and put a big tarp down on the kitchen floor and got messy. Most of them had to be divided up into 2 or 3 new pots, which means now I hafta find homes for them all, but I accidentally killed a few of my euphorbias by letting them dry out too much, so thankfully that freed up some window space. I have given up (after many years of lackluster results) at trying to grow peppers, tomatoes, and cukes in pots on my little north-facing balcony, but I had a potato that went crazy sprouting on my counter this spring, so on a whim I cut it up and planted the pieces in pots, and sure enough, I have many tiny potatoes now!

  19. WellRed*

    I have zinnias for the first time. Should I be deadheading when the blooms pass? Will that look even stranger?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      You can. I tend to think of it this way, a plant’s major goal is to reproduce itself. If you cut off the flowers the plant will naturally grow more flowers because that is how it reseeds and fills its goal.

    2. ..Kat..*

      Yes. Dead head them and they will keep blooming. Zinnias are my favorite summer flower to plant.

  20. DIY*

    I have a sort of triangular space between the bathroom vanity and the bathtub/shower and it’s a terrible spot, some water goes in unless the curtain is just so (like it flows from the wall down to that spot) , it’s pretty much impossible to clean etc. I used to have a triangular plastic thing that I could attach to the wall that worked well in helping keep that spot a bit cleaner but it got too old and brittle. I am trying to find a replacement but for the life of me can’t find anything, I’m not even sure how to look for it. I probably chanced on it at some store and it worked really well but right now obviously I can’t go browsing in lots of stores. Any idea how to even search for it?

    1. Ranon*

      Try “shower splash guard” if the thing I’m picturing is the thing you’re thinking of

    2. valentine*

      My shower curtain has suction cups to attach it to the wall and keep the water in.

  21. WellRed*

    I finally watched The Morning Show this week. Anyone else? The scene where Steve Carell’s character “seduces” another still has me cringing to think about it. As a woman watching, I could relate to those unwanted advances (though not in the workplace). And the victim was so obviously horrified/terrified/repulsed to the viewer. *shudder* On a somewhat related note, I’d like to give a shoutout to AOC for her speech this week about sexism and being called a b***h that is now part of the Congressional record. There’s still so far to go for women’s equality, but I’m hopeful we’ll get there.

    1. Dear liza dear liza*

      Haven’t seen that show, but wanted to co-sign the AOC shout out. Such a great speech and seemingly with little to no notes. (I’m always impressed by good oratorical skills.). And f the NYT for saying it was a “branding” technique.

    2. nep*

      Hear, hear AOC’s speech. So strong, efficient, powerful, smart. She’s one hell of a speaker. I love that she ended up thanking the Congress member for helping highlight the problem.

      1. WellRed*

        The show? Yeah, the first episode or so, I was on the fence. Not the best show by any means, but I do love me some Jennifer and Reese.

    3. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

      Yes to AOC!! I love her so much.

      I really liked The Morning Show, especially the last episode. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but the last five minutes were so great. :) I’m looking forward to the next season.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I totally binged on it, and then I was mad when I had no more episodes left. The end of the finale was SO GOOD! I can’t wait to see what happens.

    4. Molly M.*

      Funny how some people can mention politics and nothing happens, but others who do have their posts deleted.

      1. rude*

        Alison has said many times she doesn’t see every comment and isn’t online all the time, especially on weekends. Why don’t you flag it for her if you have a concern? As she has asked.

        1. anony*

          Seriously. If you have commented here before, you know comments appear right away, they’re not all being reviewed and approved first. There are probably 10,000 comments a week on this site. Do people who make this kind of complaint expect Alison to read all of them? If you think something is a problem then report it. I’m so sick of seeing these complaints. Give the woman a weekend off at least.

      2. WellRed*

        I thought carefully before posting, but women’s rights shouldn’t be politicized. It’s why we are unequal in the first place. Also, no one likes whiny passive aggressive comments, Molly.

  22. Wander*

    Any advice on how to walk with crutches? I injured my foot recently and am supposed to use crutches for the near future. I am very bad at it. I’ve almost fallen a few times, and I can’t seem to figure out how to turn or make using them not super uncomfortable on my arms/shoulders. I’m sure practice is a big part of it, but I don’t feel like I walk enough each day (especially now, when I’m trying to minimize time spent on my feet) to get used to it.