weekend open thread – July 4-5, 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: Carrie Pilby, by Caren Lissner. A former child prodigy hits adulthood and struggles to connect with people. It’s quirky and charming.

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

{ 1,375 comments… read them below }

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Mapo tofu – a spicy Sichuan dish of silken tofu and ground pork.

      I like a piece of silken tofu topped with soy sauce and either finely grated ginger or Japanese fish flakes, as a side dish, served cold. You can also add diced green onions and toasted sesame seeds. It’s also good paired with century eggs.

      In miso soup, of course, and in hot and sour soup. There’s also a soup I do with chicken stock, diced soft tofu, sliced tomato, some leafy green vegetables like bok choy, peas, and some beaten egg drizzled in (a fancy egg drop soup). Korean kimchi and tofu stew (tofu, kimchi, thinly sliced pork, green onions, and an egg cracked in at the end).

      On the non traditional side, you can make a decent pudding or cream soup by pureeing soft tofu with other ingredients. It doesn’t keep well as leftovers, as it tends to separate with time, so eat it right after making it.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        I also love Mapo tofu. Seconding this suggestion.

        If you’re eating vegetarian, the sauce is pretty good even if you don’t use pork. (I’m not vegetarian, but I’ll often make it, skip the pork, and throw in some green beans. Still delicious.)

        1. Lena Clare*

          Thanks both. I like the mapo tofu idea. I am vegan and have a recipe for this, but it stated firm tofu. It looks good though.
          1 question: do you use white or red miso?

          1. Reba*

            Mapo Tofu is a staple at our house. We like to use a combo of firm and silken — the firm stays in cubes and the silken kind of crumbles up, which is in a way reminiscent of the pork we don’t use (also veg here). The dish is super forgiving, so experiment! We use fermented black bean paste when we have it, just canned black beans when we don’t, etc. Very much worth getting the Sichuan peppercorns if you can for the mala experience.

            We also don’t use miso in this dish. I mean, go for it, but mapo dofu is a Chinese dish! Maybe the miso is given a substitute for the fermented black bean?

            For a miso soup, I like the white, “sweet” flavor more, personally.

            1. Lena Clare*

              I think it must have been Reba, because there was no black bean paste in the ingredients just chili bean paste, unless these are the same thing but called differently in the UK and US?

              Here’s the recipe I had:
              – I fried shallot, garlic and ginger in chili oil.
              – Added pea protein mince (delicious!) instead of pork mince.
              – Splash of soy sauce and bit of miso paste and chili bean paste (I then discovered after I had almost cooked the dish that I had bought the sauce not the paste, so I added a but more for a stronger flavour).
              – Added low-salt veg stock and silken tofu. Cooked for a bit.
              – Stirred in sesame oil at the end, and served on rice with sesame seeds on top.

              1. Reba*

                Yeah, sorry for any confusion. I was referring to douchi — fermented black bean — or doubanjiang — fermented bean paste or bean sauce. I do think that is more or less the same as what you know as chili bean sauce (although there are versions without chili).

                It is an essential ingredient in this dish; the beans provide the “speckle” in “speckled bean curd!”

                I was conjecturing that the miso (as a fermented ingredient) was included in your recipe in order to recreate some of the pungent, funky taste of the fermented bean… but since there’s both, idk what it’s doing there but I’m sure it can’t hurt!

          2. Mystery Bookworm*

            This is the recipe that was given to me by a family friend (apologies, no measurements). I’ve never used miso, but I’m sure it could be good!

            mince garlic and ginger
            chop green onions
            drain dofu
            in sesame oil, saute garlic, ginger, and whiter portion of green onions to brown and infuse sesame oil
            cut dofu cake into cubes and place in pot
            add one to two tablespoons of hot bean sauce (critical)
            add soy sauce.
            add chicken broth so enough sauce
            black/red peppers can be added to increase spiciness

            *I’ve always just subbed in water for the chicken broth, and it’s been fine!

              1. Lena Clare*

                Thank you both – I have just seen this, it is pretty much how I made it too :-)

      2. Koala dreams*

        I find the silk tofu is good in many kinds of soup, also soups that aren’t asian. For example in carrot soup instead of milk or cream. You need to beat it a little extra, including when re-heating, but it really adds that creamy flavour.

        1. Lena Clare*

          Thank you! I might do this to miso soup rather than have the pieces of tofu in it. It has the texture of lightly set custard, doesn’t it?

          1. Red Sky*

            Here’s the recipe cut/pasted from that link. I might give it a try myself.

            Moo-Less Chocolate Pie-
            13 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
            1/3 cup coffee liqueur
            1 teaspoon vanilla extract
            1 pound silken tofu, drained
            1 tablespoon honey

            Chocolate Wafer Crust-
            6 1/2 ounces chocolate wafer cookies
            1 tablespoon sugar
            3 ounces unsalted butter, melted and slightly

            Place enough water in the bottom of a
            4-quart saucepan to come 1 inch up
            the sides. Bring to a simmer over medium
            Melt the chocolate chips with the
            liqueur and vanilla in a medium
            metal bowl set over the simmering water,
            stirring often with a rubber or silicone spatula. Combine the tofu, chocolate mixture
            and honey in a blender or food processor and spin until smooth, about 1 minute.
            Pour the filling into the crust and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until the filling sets firm.
            Chocolate Wafer Crust:
            Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
            Spin the cookies and sugar in a food processor until fine crumbs. Then drizzle in
            the butter, pulsing to combine. Press this mixture firmly and evenly into the
            bottom, up the sides and just over the lip of a 9-inch metal pie pan.
            Bake on the middle rack of the oven until crust is set and appears dry, 18 to 20
            minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely, about 1 hour.

            1. Lena Clare*

              Thank you so much for sharing, that is very thoughtful of you :-) It sounds heavenly.

      1. Lena Clare*

        What are the ingredients, do you mind sharing? That sounds good, especially if I can freeze it.

        1. i heart salt*

          13 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
          1/3 cup coffee liqueur
          1 teaspoon vanilla extract
          1 pound silken tofu, drained
          1 tablespoon honey
          1 (9-inch) prepared chocolate wafer crust, recipe follows
          Chocolate Wafer Crust:
          6 1/2 ounces chocolate wafer cookies
          1 tablespoon sugar
          3 ounces unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

          Place enough water in the bottom of a 4-quart saucepan to come 1 inch up the sides. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
          Melt the chocolate chips with the liqueur and vanilla in a medium metal bowl set over the simmering water, stirring often with a rubber or silicone spatula. Combine the tofu, chocolate mixture and honey in a blender or food processor and spin until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour the filling into the crust and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until the filling sets firm.

          Chocolate Wafer Crust:
          Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
          Spin the cookies and sugar in a food processor until fine crumbs. Then drizzle in the butter, pulsing to combine. Press this mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom, up the sides and just over the lip of a 9-inch metal pie pan.
          Bake on the middle rack of the oven until crust is set and appears dry, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely, about 1 hour.

    2. Emma*

      I have made the Minimalist Baker’s macaroni salad recipe: https://minimalistbaker.com/vegan-macaroni-salad/
      She uses silken tofu as the base for the salad dressing. I was a bit skeptical, but had silken tofu that I needed to use, so I tried it and it was actually really good.

      I keep intending to make bibimbap, but have not done so yet. Bibimbap often has silken tofu in it, is generally delicious and should be relatively easy to make.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Oh that looks good! I could do that for lunches when I return to working in the office.

        Bibimbap sounds a bit like thunder tea rice I think – assorted veg with rice and tofu (or meat). Are you vegan? I use Sasha Gill’s East Meets Vegan (in the US), which is called Jackfruit and Blue Ginger in the UK, A LOT! It’s so good.

        1. Emma*

          Thanks for the tip on the cookbook – that looks great!
          I love Meera Sodha’s cookbook East – it is a mix of vegetarian and vegan recipes, lots are vegan and a lot were published in her vegan cooking columns in the Guardian before the cookbook was published.

    3. Recent Grad*

      I like to use firm silken tofu for tofu scrambles. I cut the tofu into large chunks that naturally break up as you stir it. You also will need to cook it a little longer than you would with drained tofu because it still has a lot of moisture in it.

      1. For goodness sake, wash your hands!*

        Also, for any baby moms in the crew, silken tofu makes an awesome protein addition to veggie mashs for babies.

      2. Lena Clare*

        I have heard that using Himalayan salt gives it an eggy flavour – have you tried it? (I haven’t). Do you add any other flavourings to it?

        1. Recent Grad*

          I use lots of nutritional yeast to give my tofu scrambles an egg-ish flavor and B vitamins. I always sauté the plain tofu with some diced onion and then add a spice/nutritional yeast paste and then cook that until dry. I’ve been using the same recipe from memory for years so I have no clue where it came from. Here is my best approximation:
          1 block of silken tofu cut into large cubes(it’s ok if it breaks)
          1/4 of an onion diced
          Spice mix:
          1/2tsp turmeric
          1/4 tsp black pepper
          1/4 tsp dried sage
          1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
          1tsp tamari (soy sauce would also work)
          1/4 cup nutritional yeast
          1/2 cup of water
          Mix the spice mix ingredients with the water in a bowl. Then sauté the tofu with the onion and a pinch of salt in some olive oil. You want some browning on the tofu. Once the tofu has browned add the spice mix and sauté until the tofu is dry and slightly browned.

          There is a type of salt called black salt that has a sulfur flavor like eggs, it’s traditionally used in Indian cuisine. You could add a pinch if you really want a super eggy flavor.

          1. Lena Clare*

            Thanks Recent Grad! Himalayan salt is the same as black salt. I have never used it.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Ooh, I’m glad you asked this; bookmarking. I’ve only cooked with firm tofu and had no idea how to use the silken kind.

  1. Shrieking Violet*

    I’m looking for advice on long-distance relationships. I last saw my boyfriend in February, and it’s been hard not knowing when we’ll see each other again (I’m in a super hot COVID spot, so I don’t even want to leave my house, much less travel 1,500 miles). We talk and/or text everyday. We’ve discussed moving to either one of our locations (or a third/neutral place) in 2021… I guess I’m looking for hope, where people have made this situation work. If you have, and someone (or both people) moved, what did you take into consideration in deciding who would make the move?

    1. Eva Luna*

      I’ve been in this situation twice; once it didn’t work, and I’m married to the second one (almost 11 years now!). I think that in general, long-distance can only work over the long term if there is a plan for it no longer being long-distance. He moved, because I had a job and he didn’t. I’m glad that he was willing to take the plunge, needless to say!

    2. Lemonwhirl*

      In the first two years of our relationship, my husband and I lived in different countries for most of it. Notably, a 14-month stretch during which we saw each other once – for one lovely week right in the middle of the 14 months. This was in 1994-1996, so email and computer messaging were an option but texting, cheap phone calls, and video chats were not.

      We moved to a third location inside my (at the time) country (we now live in his country). We moved to my country because it was easier to get him there, visa-wise. We moved to a third location because he did not like my hometown – he found it depressing. We wanted to move very far from my hometown, to a coast, but the cost of living, even in 1996, was too high. So we moved to a big city about a 6-hour drive from my hometown.

      We based all of our decisions on practicality and prioritised being together. Our savings would last 6-months in Big Middle City or 1-month in Coastal City. We could get him a fiancé visa and he would be with me when we’d saved up enough to move or I could try to get a job in his country, which was pretty much an impossibility from another country and without much work experience at that point.

      In October, we’re celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary and we have a delightful 9-year old kid. So it all worked out. My advice to you would be to prioritise what’s important to you and track down all the details to create a plan that will get you what you want. I know the pandemic complicates everything right now, but do your best and know that being apart is only for right now, it’s not forever, even on the dark days when it feels like you’ll never get what you want.

    3. Guava*

      I last saw my husband in February too :)

      It’s 2:40 AM my time, so I’ll come back and add more, but definitely yes. Husband and I have been apart for 12 month and 18+ stretches. Sometimes we were able to meet up in other countries, at the 6 month mark.

      I agree with Eva Luna that having an end point to long distance is important. At some point, many just can’t or won’t want to do it anymore and you just want to be in the same place together.

    4. Lalage*

      Just wanted to say, we are on the same boat (different European countries in our case). We both have niche or, in his case, academical jobs. I could not bring myself to get ‘just any job’ after I finished my PhD (which was spent mostly apart but not completely). So I moved to another country, and I am sure not many men would have accepted this. So, yeah, we are quite stuck, particularly now that universities in this country are going to stop hiring due to covid. Here international travel is starting up again so we will meet in a week and spend 5 weeks together (working from there + holiday). Who knows how I’ll feel when I need to leave again.

    5. Washi*

      We were pretty young, but my husband and I did a year apart while we were in college, and then another year apart after we graduated. We then got married, so obviously it worked out!

      I would echo what the others have said about there being an end date. The thing that I found hard was that as much as I wanted to be with him, it was also hard in some ways to end the long distance. Career-wise, it’s way easier to make decisions just taking one person’s dreams into account. Sometimes there’s no convenient time to move to be with each other, at some point you just have to decide that you are prioritizing the relationship over everything else. I’m not even a super ambitious career person, and the offer I gave up to move to be with my husband wasn’t a long term dream job nor did it pay well (unlike the job my husband had) but it was still surprisingly hard at the time.

      The other thing I didn’t realize was that I’d kind of gotten used to the emotional rollercoaster of long distance. Really missing each other, then the anticipation of seeing each other, then the bittersweet joy of a visit you know will end, then crying on the plane home….when we finally moved in together, it almost immediately felt normal. Which was great, but sometimes I felt confused because what love had felt like to me were these dramatic moments of being super excited to see the person and then missing the person. I had some moments of “what if I don’t love him?” before getting used to the new reality of love generally being a steady contentment in the other person. I do sometimes feel excited to get home from work and hang out with him, but obviously nothing can compare to being excited to see each other because it’s been weeks or months!

    6. Akcipitrokulo*

      My partner and I were long distance for first 18 months or so. This was 15 years ago so no facetime, but lots of irc chats and a visit usually once a month.

      Eventually I moved there because of his family situation.

    7. Sandi*

      Agreed with the comments about it being easier with a planned end-date, even if it is a bit unsure now.

      For moving: both of us paid equally for the move, and set aside the same funds to move back if we broke up. That way the risk seemed less. They moved to me because of our job options, plus they preferred my town. It all worked out well for us long-term.

      1. hermit crab*

        Also adding my agreement! My wife and I met in college, dated, broke up, then got back together a few years later when were living in different (U.S.) cities. We did about a year long-distance, then made the deliberate decision to sign on for another two years of it – she was moving to a third city for a postdoc and I liked where I lived! We actually got married while we were still living 1,000 miles away from each other. Now we live in the city where I lived that whole time. We knew that we would end up in the same place eventually, even if the timing was really uncertain (thanks, academia!) – we made a lot of vague plans for “someday,” which helped.

        Also, we almost never video-chatted but spent a lot of time on regular phone calls. We both liked that better since it was easier to have the other person “around” while you were cooking or walking or whatever – it felt more like real life, somehow.

    8. Jack be Nimble*

      My fiance and I were long distance for about six months — both within the US but about 1500 miles apart. We talked on the phone pretty much every day and decided somewhat impulsively that I’d be the one to move. My lease was up, I didn’t have a permanent job, and I had decent savings (not decent enough to establish myself in the new city, but decent enough that I could l could afford to move back if it was a total disaster). I was also living in my hometown, where I’d gone to college, and I was extremely eager to get out and live in another part of the country.

      I agree that having an end date and a set plan helped our relationship. Talking regularly helped, as did sending snail mail (we wrote a lot of postcards to one another, which we still have).

      The other thing about my relationship is that it probably shouldn’t have worked as well as it did! We’d known one another less than a year and been dating about 3 months when I decided to move out, 6 months when I made the move. It worked out for us, but I don’t think I’d advise anyone to just go ahead and do the same thing on the same timeline!

      1. Eva Luna*

        He moved in with me 3 months after we first met face-to-face. We both acknowledge that this was insane, but 13 years later, it seems to have worked out!

      2. Philosophia*

        Shrieking Violet, it can work. My late partner and I declared our wish to live together only four months in, and we celebrated our thirtieth anniversary before the end. It took a year-plus after that declaration to accomplish it while we waited out leases and secured a new domicile. When we met, we lived three hours apart via intercity bus, and developed a pattern of meeting one weekend in City A and one weekend in City B, then taking the third weekend as a rest from traveling. Fortunately, we were also able to talk on the phone almost every night. All of this building domesticity helped to cement the relationship in those first months.

        I moved there because I’d been thinking of that as the next place I would live anyway. Several years later, we moved together to a mutually more compatible place, where we put down roots. It was helpful that neither of us had a career, only jobs, but we did have a shared avocation for which the mutually more compatible place offered ample opportunity.

        Best of luck!

    9. Aeryn Sun*

      My husband and I were long distance for 2 years before we moved to the same town. We did the phone/Skype email thing and we kind of had the attitude of keeping it long distance until it stopped feeling right and we’d either break up or one of us would move. We decided based on practicality – I lived in the high cost Bay Area and he was in Georgia. So we could afford a house in Georgia, plus it was closer to both our families. I ended up getting a good job near him, moved, and we have been married 8 years.

    10. Shrieking Violet*

      I appreciate everyone’s comments – thank you! He has discussed moving to me because my mom has a not-great health history (she’s fine at the moment, thankfully), and my brother was the opposite of supportive when our dad was dying. He hasn’t mentioned it as a reason, but I almost earn significantly more than he does. On his side, his daughter is going off to college in the fall (we assume… they haven’t released their plan yet), but it’s only an hour or so away from where he is, and he’ll miss her terribly. I am worried he will eventually turn resentful of me if he moves here. Right now, I’m also staying in my job, where I’m somewhat miserable, at least in part to save money to support us both should he move here while he looks for a job.

      Washi, what you said struck me. I cry the whole plane ride home and sometimes here at home, for missing him. Running into his arms when I first see him is always the highlight of the visit. It’s not always sunshine and roses when we are together, and it can be intense, but it also has a vacation-like quality… we eat out, go to the theatre or the beach or a ballgame. It’s not “real life” sustainable, and I’m trying to figure out if we will be, preferably without actually incurring the expense – emotion and money – of a move first.

      1. Distance love*

        I think there’s no way to know until you move. I was the one who moved in my case because my SO is in a very local niche industry, and I insisted on living in my own apartment for the first year or so. E we did some regular dating like normal people before throwing living together into the mix.i think it was best to limit the number of changed you make at one time.

      2. Washi*

        Like Distance love below, my husband and I also lived apart for 8 months until his lease was up, and that was a nice transition.

        That said, you can fail-proof a plan (have strategies and backups, etc) but you can’t really fail-proof a relationship. For me, I took the leap and went after the relationship because I wanted to know for certain one way or the other if it would work, and I had a backup plan in case it didn’t. Whatever happened, it was worth it to me to find out. It was scary but also freeing to leave behind the will-we-won’t-we-when-maybe-how?

        I will say, that as the one who moved to be with my husband, I have moments where I’m down on the area (which I generally really like) and feeling dramatic and am tempted to be like “aghhh I moved away from family and my beautiful home state to this humid traffic swamp for you, you owe me one.” That’s life! Sometimes I’m sad about what I left behind and sometimes I’m not rational about it either. One of you will probably miss some stuff that you leave behind. If there’s a 3rd location that works better for you, then you can both move and both miss some stuff! (I assume you will discuss not only how to be together but also where you’d like to live long term.) But I’m also an adult, I made my choices freely, and I don’t regret them. My husband and I are thinking of leaving in a few years, but I’m glad we’re a unit, and together here now, and that we’ll decide where we go next together.

        Basically, I think you have to accept that failure, regret, and missing things are possible, and it’s more about coping with them than preventing them. Idk if this all makes sense! It’s a tough decision.

    11. Jackalope*

      Also, you don’t give your gender, but one thing to think about. Traditionally it’s been the woman who gives everything up to follow the man’s dreams, so much so that often everyone (including the couple) automatically weights his dreams and desires higher. This may or may not be the case for you, and you can obviously make decisions as you believe are correct, but if you are a woman don’t let his desires, career, etc. automatically be top priority. It might still make sense for you to move to him, for example, but make sure to take this into consideration. (If you are same-sex this applies less but it is still a helpful rule in general to make sure one person isn’t getting a de facto stronger vote than the other.)

    12. Asiina*

      My boyfriend and I haven’t seen each other since December. He lives in the US and I’m in Canada and we’ve discussed our future and we know that if we do end up together for the long term, he’ll move here just because, well, it makes sense to. Not the least of which because I have a chronic condition that requires follow-up with doctors on a fairly regular basis and I refuse to live anywhere without UHC so it wasn’t really too much of a discussion. Still, it’s hard to have one person make the sacrifice, and I think if we were already in the same country we’d take into consideration things like family and how close we are already and career prospects. Both of us right now are pretty early in our careers but are in jobs with a lot of upward mobility, so either of us giving that up will be a bit rough.

      The separate has been hard and we had to cancel two trips to see each other we had planned this spring and now the border is closed (although there’s a little loophole where I can visit him, via plane, but he can’t visit me). We talk to each other every day on Discord through text and just keep each other updated on our days, and then Saturdays we devote entirely to each other on voice and video chat, but it’s still hard to not have the physical contact and we’ve both been kinda testy about it with others.

      We actually have the issues that you have where meeting is always in “vacation-mode” and it’s usually a frantic long weekend, and that’s not really an indication of what it’s going to be like to live together. We actually have plans right now because my job lets me WFH for the foreseeable future, to go stay with him and live with him for a month to see if we’re compatible before we have to deal with the nightmare that will be immigration. It’s frankly very scary to voluntarily go into the US right now when we have everything so under control here, but it’s important enough to our future that it’s a necessary step. I think if either of your jobs allow WFH then I would highly recommend that as an option before either (or both) of you commit to a move.

    13. allathian*

      When my husband and I started dating, we were living a 5-hour drive apart. He had moved there right after graduation for his first professional job. We knew pretty quickly that this was serious, but continued LDR for three more years.

      He didn’t know anyone in the town where he worked except his coworkers. His parents and most of his friends lived in my city, so he’d travel almost every weekend, more so when we started dating. It was always understood that when we moved together, he would do the moving, because all our families were here. By then we knew that we wanted kids and having retired grannies around who were willing to babysit was a godsend. Then he got a job offer from another employer in my city and used that to persuade his employer to transfer him here, and they did (he would have switched jobs if they hadn’t and they knew it). So we moved in together and within four months I was pregnant. Neither of us wanted a big wedding and both of us wanted to be married before our baby was born, so we had a small wedding (parents and siblings) when I was 8 months pregnant.

    14. KiwiApple*

      Mine is pretty easy as to the who moves question: we met whilst he was here on a work visa that expires this month. I can hopefully get a partner work visa in his country.

  2. Neyla*

    Are there any habits you started because of the pandemic that you think you’ll keep up once this is all over (please let it be all over at some point)? I’ve found I really love grocery delivery and plan to keep that up. And I started growing my own herbs to avoid having last-minute runs to the store and love having fresh basil and dill on hand.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      Seconding grocery delivery! I don’t always get the things I want, which is bothersome, but I do love saving the time and energy.

    2. Bob_NZ*

      I’ve kept up with a few things. One is my early morning weekly session with The Sofa Singers virtual choir. Another is running on the beach, something I’d found indescribably tedious before but which I now absolutely love. I’m definitely going for more walks than in the Before Times, even though it’s now winter here. And I’m connecting with friends overseas (via Zoom or social media) far more too.

      Online dance classes have fallen by the wayside due to the online option stopping. Daily online yoga has fallen by the wayside because of sheer laziness on my part!

    3. AP*

      I know that it’s almost a cliché at this point, but I’ve started baking bread which I never did before the virus hit. I’ve tried a bunch of different recipes, but I think this one is the easiest and quickest: Peasant Bread from alexandracooks.com.

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        Same! I loved baking and then I had a kid almost 10 years ago and the baking went right out the window. It’s been so nice to be back to it. And, you want to talk cliche – I have 6 sourdough starters in my fridge right now. :D

        My husband and kid will never be able to go back to eating burgers on toast after I’ve been making artisanal roll for burger Fridays. You can find the recipe by searching for Sally’s Baking Addiction, homemade artisan bread recipe. The recipe is for a loaf but I’ve been making about 6 rolls instead. Super easy, you just have to have a little bit of planning because you get the best taste from refrigerating the dough for 2 days.

      2. Solar Moose*

        Focusing on a smaller number of friendships.

        Over the years, I’ve realized that I’m fairly introverted, and am miserable when I try to act like an extrovert. The quarantine only underscored that realization.

        1. allathian*

          It’s always great when you learn something about yourself. Good for you!
          I’m also pretty introverted and I have a handful of really good friends, a few acquaintances of the friends of friends type that I don’t invite to my house when we have guests but who I enjoy socializing with once or twice a year when some mutual friends invite them. I also count my husband’s friends and their spouses/girlfriends in this category (although obviously we invite them, but I only spend time with them for my husband’s sake). I don’t have any work friends that I’d want to spend any time with outside of work, although I did have some at previous jobs when I was 20-something and single.
          I’m not active on any social media (except WhatsApp and I don’t really think that counts), so I don’t have any online friends I never see IRL.

    4. lazy intellectual*

      Same with grocery delivery. I always hated grocery shopping, and decided it is totally worth paying a monthly delivery fee to scrap this out of what was my weekly schedule.

      1. valentine*

        it is totally worth paying a monthly delivery fee
        If you’re definitely continuing, it’s worth checking whether they have an annual fee that works better for you.

    5. Not A Manager*

      I’ve been baking my own bread for years, but with the lockdown I started making my own yogurt. I’ll keep up with that for sure. I’ve been working out more, and I like that too.

      I’ve also been drinking more, but that’s a habit I won’t mind not keeping up on.

    6. Stephivist*

      Cooking! I never enjoyed it pre-pandemic and let my husband be the main meal-dude for the family, but it’s been a source of comfort for me the last few months. I wouldn’t say I love it, but I’ve developed a reserved appreciation for it that I hope to maintain.

    7. nep*

      Meditation. I’ve long ‘dabbled,’ and I was already doing some here and there pre-pandemic. But with some sessions offered online because of the pandemic, I’ve gotten into it much more and for many reasons it will remain part of my days.

      1. Jim Bob*

        What has enabled you to stick with it? I’ve tried a few times, and the rare consistent stretches I’ve had have clearly improved my mental health, but I always find myself falling asleep every other session and eventually give up.

        1. nep*

          I hear you. Sometimes I doze too. But I just keep going back to it, even if it just means starting off by going through the motions, because I know how much good it does me, and the universe. I’m trying out some different ways of sitting or lying, some different guided meditations to listen to, or silence. I’m increasingly convinced of the good it can do so I just keep that in the forefront of my mind for those times I might feel like giving it up.

          1. nep*

            (I’m also participating in research about the effects of meditation on the body. Great timing coming upon the study, because I was just getting more into it.)

    8. Not Australian*

      Home-dyeing my hair. I haven’t tried to cut it yet, but I’m willing to give that a go as well.

      1. mreasy*

        For DIY haircuts, getting high-quality professional-grade scissors made all the difference for me. A tip in case you decide to try!

      2. Rose*

        For my home hair cuts as well! I have the simplest cut on earth but can’t get it done for less than $70 in my area. My boyfriend did a surprisingly good job.

      3. Filosofickle*

        I’ve colored my own hair for 20 years, and recommend it! Stylists advise against it, but if you have reasonably good attention to detail and aren’t trying to do anything too fancy/drastic it is easy. This year I graduated from mixing boxes to mixing salon tubes and it’s even better.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’ve been using the professional color too rather than the cheap stuff until I can afford a salon again. But my babylights are almost grown out and I cannot do that on my own!

          1. Filosofickle*

            For sure, I wouldn’t be able to tackle any low/highlights! I feel confident about what I do, but I do keep it simple. It feels good to be able to do this myself, I take pride in it.

        2. ThatGirl*

          I’ve been using the same home hair color for nearly a decade and have gotten multiple compliments from stylists so I figure I must be doing something right.

          1. charo*

            I cut and color my own short hair because I got tired of not getting what I asked for. At least it’s what I’m wanting, even if it’s not pro-level.

            And the more you do it the better you get. I’ve had strangers ask me who cuts my hair, a nice compliment.

            1. ThatGirl*

              I am lucky that my stylist does a great job cutting my hair because I could not do that myself. But it’s fairly short so coloring is not difficult and I’m definitely well practiced by now. :)

          2. Filosofickle*

            Nice! If they didn’t stop canceling my colors I’d have been able to do the same. About every 4-5 years mine would be cancelled and I had to find something new, eventually mixing boxes to get in-between colors that weren’t sold anymore.

            It was fortunate that my last stylist of 15 years was happy to give me advice. She actually said she couldn’t do much better than me! I appreciated how she supported my home color rather than trying to upsell me.

            1. ThatGirl*

              If they ever discontinue my color I may just have to grow it out because it took me several years to find the perfect color. So I hear ya. :)

    9. Helvetica*

      Grocery delivery! It is so convenient, especially for getting heavy stuff, like for cleaning and other household chores. I usually walk to the store and I’ve always begrudged dragging this heavy stuff back with me. So now I…don’t.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Scheduling a regular 2 or 3 hour “lunch” on Thursday to run errands. I will keep this up at least as long as I work from home. Grocery shopping at 11am on a weekday has been much less stressful challenging than expeditions on weekends and early evenings.
      Also a weekly Zoom call with a group of college friends–we’re all over the place and only some of us were in regular contact with each other.

    11. Morning reader*

      I finally got a CSA share this year. It’s delivered weekly and I’m eating so much better! And differently than ever before, trying new things. (yesterday I sautéed beet leaves for lunch… so many of them I had to look them up to see if they were edible and sure enough, they were delicious!) It’s a wonderful way to support local ag and also not shop.
      Strangely enough, I’m also having more social time than I used to. I have the best backyard for outdoor gatherings (patio, grill, fire pit) so I’ve been hosting small weekly dinners with a couple of single friends. We mostly socially distance but at this point we are in each other’s pods, and have similar level of protective practices on the rare occasions we go anywhere else, I.e. masks for any quick trips to stores, etc. Not sure what we’ll do when the weather changes. If we step up our protocols I might let them in my house (or if our local cases disappear, currently plateauing.)
      A freezer. One of my pod friends who is in the process of moving from her big city to my little one has parked her freezer in my garage. About a year ago I downsized to a small fridge to save energy and space in my kitchen, figuring I would shop for fresh food more often. Now I have the freezer stocked and between grocery pickup and CSA delivery I rarely go into stores at all. I love it so much I’m buying a (smaller) one of my own so I can continue once she takes hers. My food habits have vastly changed, lots of fresh veggies, less meat, more cooking.
      Gardening: I’m still embarrassingly bad at it but the two friends who are temporarily in apartment living have borrowed space in my backyard and planted gardens… one flowers, the other mostly veggies. I’m made some modest attempts myself, so far, only my pumpkins are flourishing.
      Less spending on travel and restaurants. I’ve filled up my car perhaps 3 1/2 times so far this year. I tried getting takeout a couple of times to support local restaurants, but both times noticed that the employees were not wearing masks. (Maybe they don’t need to for food prep if the food is hot, but shouldn’t the cashier be covered? Both seemed to offer outside pickup but when I got there, I had to go inside to pay and pickup.) sorry local restaurants, but I won’t be coming back until This Cruel War is Over.
      Telemedicine, yeah! Sometimes the doctor needs to see me physically but often she doesn’t. So nice to just get on the phone to check in. I hope this one stays with shifting regs on in-person visits.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yep, we have monthly meat deliveries and fortnightly veg deliveries and it’s so great! And HUGE yes to a deep freeze.

        I emailed our GP yesterday and he called me within the hour, chatted about my question briefly, told me I didn’t need to come in, and was effusive about how convenient telemedicine is.

      2. Quinalla*

        Same on the CSA share, we love it so much and it worked out that this was the first year since we are cooking nearly all meals at home now (we do occasional carryout from places we trust).

        I also hope we keep the weekly family zoom chats! We all live 2 or 5 or up to 11 hours apart driving, so it has been really nice and will be nice to keep doing, maybe we’ll go to monthly when COVID is over.

        I kept up my morning exercise habit which has been great. And we increased our grocery pickup and delivery use, we already were doing it some, but now we do it all the time, it just isn’t worth the risk of going in a store right now for us when we have those service available.

        I’ve also been reading more, not so much a habit, but I had been reading less recently – though still reading – so that has been lovely.

    12. My Brain Is Exploding*

      No hair dye (I think. Eep!) Yoga every day (even if it’s only 10 minutes). Not shopping as much. Continuing to go thru old photos.

      1. Aphrodite*

        I am going silver/gray as well. I started graying early so began coloring it, which has been going on for 20+ years now. I’m ready to go fully natural, and I think it’s going to be beautiful, not to mention far less expensive for the salon coloring. (I could do it at home when it was temporary color but went salon only with permanent.)

      2. allathian*

        I started to go gray in my 30s, like my mom. Now that I’m in my late 40s, I have lovely salt and pepper hair, and I’m basically too lazy to ever bother dyeing it. My stylist is also very complimentary about it. I don’t feel like the silver streaks make me look older, because that’s outweighed by the smooth skin on my face. I’m very lucky to have small pores and almost no wrinkles, except a few on my forehead and from my nose to the corners of my mouth.

    13. Natalie*

      I like curbside pickup for everything, especially with a baby. My husband spends every few weeks on call so we can’t divide and conquer – I have to run the errands with the baby, or we all have to go together in case he gets a call and it’s a pain.

    14. Overeducated*

      Biweekly grocery shopping. Delivery isn’t in our budget but shopping always took a big chunk out of the weekend, so figuring out how to do it half as often, with a curbside pickup produce box to get us through week 2, has been great.

      And telework! Before, we’d always have to schedule meetings around when different people were in the office, but I think we are at least partially past that now. I got approval from my boss to telework 3 days a week for at least the next year, and that is allowing us to move farther away where we can comfortably afford a home!

    15. AnonEMoose*

      Working from home. I realize it’s not for everyone, but now that I have my technical setup the way I want it (dual monitors and I figured out how to solve my audio and video problems), I love it. It’s just me and the cats until DH comes home from work, so I get the alone time my introvert self needs, and I’m able to concentrate on my work.

      I’m also realizing how much less expensive it is to work from home. No running out for a snack, no lunches out. And it’s having a clearly evident impact on the bank account. I mean, I pay more for groceries and we got upgraded internet to make it easier, but we’re still saving money overall.

      Also knitting…I’ve been teaching myself how to knit with a book and Youtube videos and the occasional question to crafty friends. I’m not very good at it yet, but I enjoy it.

      1. NeonFireworks*

        I started knitting 12 years ago with two books and a yarn store owner to answer my questions (e.g. “what the heck is an SSK and how do I do it?!”). A little at a time and your knowledge really comes together. I spent 2-3 years getting to know new techniques by trying out patterns, and at that point was advanced enough that I was recruited to help teach others!

        Also, Ravelry is the world’s best timesuck for browsing patterns, projects, yarns, and groups.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          Thanks for the encouragement! I splurged a little on the Vogue Knitting Book from Amazon and it’s super helpful. If I need to see how something is done, I’ve been going to YouTube.

          I am enjoying it – I like having something to do with my hands while I’m watching a movie or something. So far I’m not attempting anything more complicated than a scarf. I’ll get there eventually!

    16. Falling Diphthong*

      Never using cash. The norm in much of the rest of the world, and I think I might stick with it when normalish comes back.

      (I’m one of those people who really like grocery shopping (as opposed to all other shopping save bookstores) and miss being able to casually drop in and see what looked fresh.)

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes, I really miss grocery shopping. It was something my husband and I did together — a habit we developed when he moved here after a year and a half of being long-distance and cherished doing the boring things together! When we had Little Brackets #1, we kept up the family grocery shop, but Little Brackets #2 has mostly lived in Pandemic World. I’ve gone to a shop a few times, but mostly we’ve been having groceries delivered, and I really miss the normalcy of browsing the aisles.

    17. Rose*

      Washing my hair every third day (instead of daily).

      I was always a gym goer but now I take lots of long walks and I’m finding it so much more peaceful.

      I lost a bunch of weight from the combo of not eating out, being totally sober for quarantine, and not being able to run to the store of a pizza or candy craving (were in a hot spot so we were limiting grocery shopping to every 2-3 weeks very strictly). It’s a big eye opener to how much I was doing those things. Im not sure how much I’ll keep but but hopefully some.

    18. Choggy*

      I have not done it enough, but using those online cash back or couponing sites for all the online shopping I do and will continue to do. i have used Rakuten for my clothes and other non-food shopping, use Walmart.com and Amazon for non-perishables, and have downloaded Ibotta but haven’t used it.

      My husband is the one working outside the home, and has always done the grocery shopping because I hate it. I am trying to alleviate how much he has to purchase, how often he has to go, and how long he has to be in a store. Have not yet looked into grocery delivery for perishables as hubby usually goes very early and so it’s not been that bad.

    19. Nita*

      Yes, grocery delivery! I used to avoid getting some things because they’re so heavy and take up all the room in my cart, but lately I just get them delivered. When I go to the store, I can focus on getting fresh produce instead.

      Been telling myself for a while that I need to study with the kids more, in addition to what they’re learning in school. School was a mess at the end of the year, so I’ve been forced to do it, whether or not I have the energy. We’re finding a groove here. Although I’m 100% sure that I cannot survive a repeat of remote learning in September, never mind hold down a job while doing it. That’s going to be a whole other kettle of fish.

      We’ve been using the free time that was forced on us because of all our weekend commitments ending, to go hiking more. And I’ve gotten back into gardening. Would be nice to keep that up.

    20. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      This is so niche, but….I’m a choral conductor with no gigs in sight for quite awhile, by the looks of it. I have an extremely talented friend who composes service music for my synagogue, and in a fit a boredom, asked them if I could arrange one of their songs for 4-part choir. I AM HAVING A BLAST! It’s not anything I ever did except as assignments in grad school, but I love it! I’ll definitely keep doing this.

      1. allathian*

        Congrats! I have absolutely no musical talent whatsoever (my year of trying to learn to play acoustic guitar in my teens proved that conclusively) so I’m always blown away by people who do things like this.

      2. Philosophia*

        Enjoy! Rosh Hashonah is only ten and a half weeks away (yikes) and somehow I don’t think we’re going to be able to celebrate in person this year.

    21. LibbyG*

      A great thread! I do more meal planning, since we don’t want to go out to the store as often.

      And more ritualistic markers of time. Like making beds in the morning and family movie night on Friday to mark the end of the week.

      I hope to keep all these up as things evolve.

    22. Alpha Bravo*

      Grocery shopping every two weeks (though it would be wonderful to be able to actually get what I want, instead of whatever they happen to have on the shelves). Baking bread. I’ve been baking a lot of sweets too, dunno if that will continue (probably).

    23. Aphrodite*

      I love saving money! Though I still get all the emails from stores I almost always delete them unread. (Come the shopping holiday season (in late September for me), I will look at all of them because I really get a lot of pleasure “browsing” the online stores; now, however, I am immune to their charms.

      What I am getting serious pleasure from is watching my former debt being reduced at a serious pace. I’ve made more progress since this coronavirus and isolation-at-home thing began than I probably made in the last two years. In fact, yesterday I made the final payment on my car loan and I am now DEBT FREE. I don’t owe anyone a single penny. While paying it off I continued to put some into savings but now I can put a lot more. I anticipate being able to save somewhere between $1,000 and $1,500 per month beginning in late July while still keeping my spending flexible enough to do what gives me pleasure.

      I find myself checking into my credit union account, my PERS (Public Employee Retirement System) account, my member account at Experian, where I watch my FICO score. Watching my numbers go up is like crack cocaine for dollars; it gives me such pleasure! Yup, I am definitely keeping this up.

    24. Jane*

      I’ve never been able to keep herbs alive for very long, at least not without bolting. What’s your secret?

      For me, I hope the habit I keep is working from home! Haha.

    25. allathian*

      More WFH. We have a liberal WFH policy and when we go back to the office in September, I’d probably be happiest working there one day a week and WFH the rest. The only thing I miss from the office is spontaneous chats and coffee breaks with people I don’t work with day to day. If the COVID prevention measures are stringent enough to prevent that completely, I don’t see the point of going back…

    26. GoryDetails*

      Re new habits: for me, one would be the adoption of proper hand-washing techniques (and frequency). Not that I didn’t wash my hands before, of course, but I’m paying more heed to a full 20-second count, and to washing before going out and after coming home. Oh, and while I’m not quite rid of the touching-my-face habit, I’ve cut back a lot on that – using something other than my bare hands if I need to scratch my nose or rub my eyes, etc. Even if/when COVID goes away/has a vaccine, those habits should help reduce my acquisition of other illnesses. [I suspect that wearing a mask may become a new habit too, at least when spending time in crowded public spaces…]

      I have been doing better at planning my shopping so I don’t go out more than once a week, something I would like to keep up in future, as it saves time and gasoline and (if I follow through on using any fresh produce before it goes bad) money.

    27. Sparrow*

      Regularly video chatting with friends! I’m back in regular touch with long-distance friends I don’t see or talk to often, and there are even local friends I’m seeing much more regularly than I was before – like once a week in a standing zoom meet-up versus once every 3-4 weeks irl. That’s been pretty great and I hope it continues even after life returns to something resembling normalcy (which I do think will happen, just…not soon)

  3. NRL*

    Inspired by this week’s book recommendation, which is a movie too: When I watch a movie based on the book, I like to read the book afterwards. (I find if I watch it first, it ruins the movie for me but for some reason it doesn’t happen the other way around.) What movies based on books have you liked? Which ones have you disliked even if you liked the book version?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I think that the 1956 (I think; the one with Gary Cooper and Anthony Perkins) movie version of Jessamyn West’s _The Friendly Persuasion_ is better than the book.

      The 1967 _Far From the Madding Crowd_ is also very good.

    2. Blaidd Drwg*

      I’m the opposite; I almost always read, then watch (as long as I’m committed to reading it at some point; if it’s something I have no plans for, then I’ll watch first).

      – I liked the My Sister’s Keeper movie better than the book; I hated the original ending so much that it was validating to see it changed.
      – One of my favourite YA novels was absolutely butchered when they made it into a film, Blood & Chocolate. They completely changed (& ruined) the characters and plot.
      – While some Austen adaptations are better than others, I generally enjoy them all. I’m particularly partial to Billie Piper’s Mansfield Park & the 2007 Northanger Abbey.
      – Speaking of Billie, her Sally Lockhart films were an exception from my rule; watched first, then was inspired to read. (The ending of The Shadow in the North! T_T)

      1. Kate*

        Interesting- I am the total opposite re: My Sister’s Keeper. Loved the book, LOATHED the movie.

        Into The Heart of the Sea is actually one of my favourite books of all time. Total surprise. The movie is as Chris Hemsworth-y as you would expect; the book actually does some really critical thinking about race and its impact on how the story ends out (trying to avoid spoilers there).

        Controversial pick: I have always hated the actor the chose to play Harry Potter in the movies. IMHO they picked him for looks, not actual acting or personality, and I lasted half of one movie before swearing off the rest of the franchise (I later went back and watched one and a half more on an airplane out of desperation, I still can’t stand Harry)

        Hunger Games was better as movies than books, probably because the inspiration in the first place was Reality TV. The medium just suits it better.

        Outlander is weird. I would almost say the books and the TV show are two completely different stories. They are both good, but something really changes when you get out of Claire’s head — I am sad that the medical aspects of the story that I loved so much in the book are near impossible in the show, but the show cuts down on some seriously meandering storylines, which I appreciate.

        1. Reba*

          Re: Outlander, I haven’t watched very much of the series, but it is like other adaptations where the narrator’s or main characters *voice* is so important in the books, in a way that can’t really be carried to the film medium.

      2. chi chan*

        I loved the ending of My Sister’s Keeper movie too. I tried the book after the movie but gave up halfway.

    3. Mystery Bookworm*

      Typically, the more emotionally attached I am to the book, the less I will like the movie, even if it’s well done. For that reason I don’t like *Chronicals of Narnia* or the Harry Potter films, although I can acknowledge they’re well made. (I refuse to watch *Ella Enchanted* altogether.)

      An exception to this is *I Capture the Castle* which is a favorite book and the film was endearing, I thought.

      I liked *The Shining* and *American Psycho* MUCH better than the book versions. I also prefer the film version of *Under the Tuscan Sun* but they’re basically different stories so it’s not a fair comparison.

      And not a movie, but I HATED, HATED the Netflix version of *The Haunting*. WTF with that ending???

      1. Tortally HareBrained*

        I strongly encourage you to keep avoiding Ella Enchanted. The movie was AWFUL compared to the book, which is one of the few books I’ve reread several times in my life. Such a magical story.

        One film adaption I like better is Sahara, although I’ve heard that Clive Cussler once said “I’m not sure whose novel that’s based on, but I don’t think it’s mine.”

      2. Jackalope*

        I hated the way they dealt with Ella’s magical compulsion in the movie. In the book it’s very important to her that she struggle against things and try as much as possible to keep control of her life despite it. In the movie when someone gives her a command she leaps to attention and then immediately does whatever it is exactly as asked. For me it took away a lot of her agency, which was one of the underlying themes in the book.

    4. aarti*

      I was obsessed with the Princess Diaries books as a kid and I love the movies. They’re very different but I love them in their own way!

      I’m generally a books over movie type person though the movie can be better when it removes an annoying inner monologue or overly detailed descriptions. Eg-I enjoyed the Twilight movies but could not get through the books.

    5. Kiitemso*

      I tend to like it when books and movies are very similar but adapt to their formats so that you can say, “The movie is different but still very good.”

      David Fincher does a great job of this. Gone Girl I would recommend both book and film for different reasons. Same with Fight Club, though both the book and the film have aged a bit.

      Trainspotting is another one where both are great but in vastly different ways.

      1. league!*

        Loved the Gone Girl book, hated the movie primarily because of the way Amy was portrayed. In the book she’s


        a classic charmer-type sociopath who’s all bubbly and lovable, although of course it’s fake, but in the movie she’s an ice queen and it’s hard to imagine her being so beloved.

        1. Falling Star*

          I could not finish the Gone Girl book. There was maybe 1 other book in my life I didn’t finish, but I can’t say for sure. Had no interest in watching the movie.

        2. Mystery Bookworm*

          I also found that the book made Nick seem way less sympathetic. At the end, I was felt that those two awful people deserved each other. Whereas the movie made Nick seem more sympathetic to me.

    6. Jen Erik*

      I’m another that found the original ending of My Sister’s Keeper thought-provoking, and was grumpy at the film as a result of the change. I Also hated the ending of the 2005 Pride & Prejudice film – it just makes me cross that Elizabeth Bennett is so sidelined, and the last scene is two men agreeing her future. That anyone could have thought that was appropriate is mind-boggling. (So I waited to see the US ending, and it was worse.)

      Lot of hate in our house at the moment for the Artemis Fowl movie, and when I say hate, I probably mean genuine sadness that the franchise has probably been killed off by the terrible first film. (I haven’t read the books, but I feel the same way about the Dark is Rising film – I do not understand why a writer or director would make fundamental changes to a much-loved book.)

      I’m finding it much harder to think of books that have become films I’ve loved. I did love the TV series of a series of Unfortunate Events, but they weren’t books from my childhood, and I’d only read about three, so I don’t know that that counts. And I loved the BBC’s North and South adaption, but again, I saw the adaption first, which is a different experience.

      I’m crossing my fingers that the adaption of the Bridgerton’s is released soon, and is good. I really enjoy the books, but I don’t love them as books – if that makes any sense – so won’t mind if they’re changed. And I just want more light and fluffy things in my life.

      1. RagingADHD*

        We saw Artemis Fowl. So. Much. Hate.

        I haven’t read the books, but I was appalled that it was just so poorly written altogether. Zero character development. Terrible, on-the-nose dialogue. Constant exposition instead of people *doing* things.

        Bleah. Branagh of all people should know better.

    7. Helvetica*

      I watched the first Lord of the Rings movie and then read all the books before the next one, and it just holds up so well. I guess this isn’t news to anyone but I do think of how easy it would’ve been to fail with those movies and instead, it was everything I could’ve imagined.

      And one I was really worried about was “Atonement”. I loved the book so much and I actually remember thinking that it would be impossible to make it into a good movie. But then the movie came out pretty much the next year and it was so good, so perfectly capturing the mood of the book.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I do like the LOTR movies except what they did to Faramir. It eliminates the contrast with Boromir and dulls the impact of Boromir’s change of heart.
        The one saving grace is Sam’s line “I feel like we shouldn’t be here”–at which we burst out laughing and whispered “that’s because you never went there in the book!”

        1. Tau*

          Agreed – LotR is one where I don’t like the movies because of the books. Sure, some changes were probably a good thing – removing Tom Bombadil, making Arwen take a larger role at the start (although I’m less happy with how that role developed) – but what they did to Faramir was just… no. I was also very annoyed at the way Gimli got treated as comic relief.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Yes, a cheap joke, and failure to take full advantage of John Rhys Davies’ abilities.

            1. allathian*

              According to the dvd/blu-ray documentaries, many of the bits of comic relief were actually off-the-cuff improvisations by JRD, like parts of the drunk scene and the line about hairy dwarf women.

      2. allathian*

        I did the same and I like both for different reasons, and I’m pretty much onboard with all the changes they did, like removing Tom Bombadil and the Sacking of the Shire (even if Frodo saw a vision of that in Galadriel’s Mirror). I loved the way they moved Boromir’s death to the end of the first movie and Shelob to the beginning of the third, because it made sense from a storytelling POV in the movies. I also liked when they had the Rohirrim join the battle at Helm’s Deep instead of yet another until then unknown group.

        The only thing I didn’t like was the way they changed Faramir…

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I love the Dark Tower books, like I have two Dark Tower tattoos levels of love them. I loved the casting in the movie, and I thought the movie itself was okay, but not a great rendition of the book universe, even set up as the next cycle. But Idris Elba and Matthew McC were perfect to my mind.

      I liked Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon books (they weren’t GOOD, I just enjoyed them :) ) and Tom Hanks should have been (and was) excellent in the role of Langdon, but the movies themselves were crappy and made lots of weird, unnecessary and detrimental story changes. (At least the first two did; I stopped trying after that.)

      Jurassic Park was good as both book and movie, but the second book was written as a sequel to the movie and focused on a character that died in the first book, which always annoyed me a bit.

      Anything where the story depends on the reader’s ability to visualize loses me, because I literally can’t do it – Harry Potter, I was totally meh on the books but enjoyed the movies. LOTR, same, with a side helping of “Tolkien writes like a 1950s Cambridge history professor who hates women” but I LOVED Jackson’s movies. (Hobbit, on the other hand – I love the book, but the movie was kind of a slog with weird extras. It literally takes me five times longer to watch it than to just read it.)

      Stephen King books in general tend to be either quite good or quite bad as movie adaptations. 1408 kept me awake at night, I thought Dr Sleep was amazing (with major props to the way the movie managed to both sequel the book and the Kubrick film, despite the differences between them), I have a soft spot in my heart for the Stand miniseries. I haven’t been able to make myself watch the second half of It yet, because the first half was so well done. :-P

      1. HBJ*

        Yes, I agree about the Hobbit. It is a freestanding book with a subplot that links to LoTR. But Peter Jackson went all “THIS IS THE PREQUEL TO LOTR. PREQUEL. PREQUEL. PREQUEL.” And that ruined it. That and too much CGI, especially in the last movie. And it really didn’t need to be three movies. Talk about a money grab.

      2. allathian*

        I must say I disagree on Dan Brown… When I read the books, I strongly visualized Viggo Mortensen as Langdon (largely because he had the physique of a former swimmer, like Langdon, and unlike Hanks) and it took me the best part of The Da Vinci Code to get used to Hanks in the role.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Well, like I said I *can’t* visualize, and Langdon’s physique always seemed to me as something that was mentioned a couple times per book but never really relevant, so I viewed Tom Hanks as excellent for the general behavior. But I wouldn’t have frowned on Viggo Mortensen either, from a casting perspective! :)

          1. allathian*

            Indeed. I’m pretty good at visualizing, to the point that I often have a full movie going in my head as I read a book, provided it’s descriptive enough. That can be a distraction when I read a book first and then watch the movie, as happened with Dan Brown’s books. I guess I’m lucky in that I watched the first LOTR movie before reading any of the books, so I could keep the style fairly consistent in my head so that any differences weren’t jarring. I remember being amazed how I’d subconsciously imagined Rohan like “vikings on land” and that matched Peter Jackson’s vision.

    9. The Other Dawn*

      I would say I dislike nearly every movie that has been made based on a Stephen King book. The books are far better in my opinion. The only exception is the Shawshank Redemption; however, I haven’t yet read the novella that inspired the movie so I can’t say whether I liked the book or not. I have it in my digital library to be read.

      1. Sunset Maple*

        I was going to post separately, but here is better–Shawshank is literally the only movie that improved on the written source (novel/novella/short story). It’s just that good.

    10. Akcipitrokulo*

      I liked both movie and book of Presumed Innocent – but book is so much better. Movie looks seriously lightweight in comparison, although there are parts I love in it.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The Postman by David Brin was a really good book, with some thoughtful ideas about what it means to survive vs thrive, and the influence of one person or symbol. Costner’s version was cheasy action-only, and blew details to boot.
      Costner’s adaptation of “Field of Dreams” though? He made a good movie out of a good book, even with the plot/character changes required. (I suspect J.D. Salinger said no to being portrayed onscreen even in a fictional version. And we benefited because James Earl Jones was fabulous. )
      On the YA side, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” was a wonderful graphic novel and “Hugo” was a charming movie.
      And then there’s “World War Z”… a powerful book explicitly patterned on the Studs Terkel oral history “The Good War”–everyone telling his or her tiny slice of those years. The movie? Someone had the horrible idea to make one character who would be in the middle of all the action. It was just a fun&stupid zombie flick with cool visuals. Instead of the movie, go with the audiobook–preferably the complete unabridged recording– with reading done in character by a cast of stars. (Mark Hamill, Carl Reiner, Nathan Filion, Denise Crosby, Alan Alda…)

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        “World War Z”: Enjoyed that book and loved the style, and one could still make a great movie based on it. Since the first one just took the title and the presence of zombies.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        When I read World War Z, I thought it would make a good miniseries/limited series with different episodes for the different stories, if they had to have it done visually. But I bet the audiobook is great.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          World War Z should have been made about the length of ‘Roots’, not shoehorned into a 2hour slot.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      My whole nerdy family loved The Martian in book form, and the movie is great too.

      I picked up a book of short stories by Ted Chiang–so far the best of sci fi, interesting and thought provoking–and one turns out to be the story on which the movie Arrival is based.

      1. Altair*

        I was hoping someone would mention The MArtian I loved the book but the movie smoothed out some of the more frat-boy aspects of the main character, which I appreciated. (OTOH they shouldn’t’ve changed the ending.)

        I really need to read Ted Chiang’s works. From all I’ve heard he’s amazing and right up my alley.

      2. allathian*

        Yes to both of these. Two of my favorite movies from the last decade. I’d read the Arrival story in an anthology before I saw the movie, and while watching it, I had this weird, almost metaphysical feeling of knowing the story before it happened, although something like ten years had passed since I last read the story so I’d forgotten most of the details. Of course, the story was so short that most of the movie was new material anyway.

    13. chi chan*

      I loved both the book and movie Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It’s not a movie but Yona of the Dawn was a good manga and anime.

      1. WellRed*

        I read and loved Wild just last week and plan to watch the movie this weekend, if I can figure out how to input my darn password correctly for RedBox. I also loved the book and movie versions of Practical Magic.

    14. Solar Moose*

      The Martian sucked a lot of the book’s humor out.

      Inferno (Dan Brown) changed the ending in a really horrible way. I was delighted by the ambiguity of the original ending (don’t want to spoil it), I was furious walking out of that theater!

      Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events was FANTASTIC, very close to being as good as the books.

      1. allathian*

        I don’t mind losing a lot of the frat boy humor in The Martian. I like the hard sci-fi aspects of the book, but I hate frat boys with a passion so I’m glad that part was toned down.

        One thing I found hugely funny in the Martian was when Sean Bean’s character Mitch Henderson is organizing a brainstorming session to try and open communications to Mars or to figure out how to get Watney back to Earth and he makes a reference to the Council of Elrond. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Boromir touches the shards of Narsil and says “Still sharp,” which is a reference to one of the most iconic characters he’s ever played, Lieutenant/Major Richard Sharpe. I love catching references like this.

      2. Emily*

        I couldn’t get into the Netflix adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events – there were some funny bits, but I found some of the acting (especially from the kids) underwhelming. I know lots of other people who really liked it, though.

    15. Llellayena*

      Liked the book better than the movie: Contact. Mom made me read the book first and it was much better, though the movie was well done. I think the reason books are often better than the movie is that you can get much deeper with the characters and can describe things that don’t translate well to screen. Thoughts and reasoning is very difficult to show on screen, but books can develop that internal dialog. And while special effects can do wonderful things, it’s dependent on the director’s or artists vision. Sometimes describing the indescribable is better when your own mind is inventing it.

      Movie better than book: Hunger Games. The book added nothing to the movie and felt like it had been written solely to allow for an easy translation to screen.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The book came 4 years ahead of the movie, was there a novelization/shortened version published after?

    16. Jack be Nimble*

      I just watched The Girl With All The Gifts on Netflix and was very surprised to learn it was an adaptation. I don’t want to say too much about it, except that it’s a very intelligent and unique take on a by-now-tired horror subgenre, and I’m reluctant to give the book a try because I enjoyed the movie so much.

      I went in the opposite direction with the Netflix adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House. I really love the novel, and the show is just too different. I’ve heard it’s really good, but I think it’s just not for me — I tried a few episodes and was just struck by how much I wished I was watching a more-faithful adaptation. Then again, the strengths of the book just might not translate well to the screen!

      I really like the book Fingersmith and the movie adaptation The Handmaiden. Extremely different, both very, very good for entirely different reasons.

      1. Tau*

        Huh! I’ve read The Girl With All The Gifts and had no idea there was a movie version. For the record, the book is very, very good, although I understand that you might not want to risk having it impact your experience of the movie.

      2. Bagpuss*

        The girl with all the gifts book is awesome – there is also a further book, The Boy on The Bridge, which is set earlier in the same world.
        (They are very different, but I also love Mike Carey’s other work – the Felix Caster novels and ‘Lucifer’ comics)

    17. Koala dreams*

      I liked Howl’s moving castle as a film and as a book. I’ve read the Harry Potter books but I’m not interested in watching the movies. The little I’ve seen on tv haven’t drawn me in. The Narnia books though have great movies, especially The Silver Throne.

      The movie Beyond (original title: Svinalängorna) is very good, the book too, but I’m not sure I’m recommending them since they are very sad. Bring handkerchiefs.

      1. Tau*

        Funny, I cannot stand Howl’s Moving Castle the film! I think it’s because I loved the book, am bad at separating book and movie, and the movie changed a lot of the things I loved the most about the book (Howl and Sophie’s dynamic, most especially.)

    18. Rose*

      I think about how much joy it will bring me and how often. A regular mattress would have been fine for me, but EVERY time I get into bed on my temperpedic I am so happy I own it.

      I came from a middle class home and expensive shampoo was one of those things that was very looked down upon as irresponsible and snotty. I spend $48 for my set of Moroccan oil shampoo and conditioner and my hair, which was already fine, no real issues, is crazy soft and my showers feel like a little moment of luxury.

      I used to use mostly expensive makeup but I found L’Oréal foundation and mascara to be just as good as urban decay and too faced so I stopped.

      I also think about how many of something I might need and eventually buy. I have a very limited closed of a lot of black, olive, and cream colored clothing. It’s mostly very high quality. I very often have friends comment on how jealous they are of a beautiful cashmere sweater or hear them talk about how they wish they could afford this or that item. Meanwhile, I go to their houses and they have closest and drawers stuffed with 15 $50 sweaters, 25 $20 tops, etc. I would rather have a few really nice things than a million ok ones.

    19. KittyCardigans*

      The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was a charming book, but the movie sucked every single bit of wit and whimsey out of it and made it a dull, Hallmarky historical romance. I was so disappointed, especially since I like the main actress. She just wasn’t right for the part.

    20. Sunset Maple*

      Two movies changed major plot points so badly that I still rage about it: Arrival and Runaway Jury.


      The way Arrival changed the daughter’s death (from a freak accident while enjoying her hobbies as an adult, to a drawn-out illness as a child) completely destroys the viewer’s sympathy for Louise, in a way that is grossly calculated and sexist. In the book, Louise understands the inevitability of time and accepts that she will not have forever with her daughter, but knows that her daughter’s life will be full of joy and fulfillment despite ending early. In the movie, Louise is so desperate to be a mother that the audience is subjected to a tortureporn montage of a deathly sick child who is barely old enough to develop a sense of self before she’s overcome by disease. It’s disgusting, and I’m shocked that Ted Chiang was attached to the screenplay.

      Runaway Jury took what was an interesting microcosm of addiction vs free will (suing the tobacco companies over the lung cancer death of the protagonist’s in-laws) and instead made the trial about gun control (a child dies via stray gunshot). The book turns this into a David versus Goliath showdown while still making you think about individual choice. The movie says “You have to agree with the protagonist, because dead kid. We win automatically!” It’s lazy, sloppy, and undermines the entire book.

      1. HBJ*

        Oh, I so agree about Runaway Jury. I was so disappointed. Probably the worst movie adaption I’ve ever seen. It’s a completely different story. Literally nothing is the same.

      2. Patty Mayonnaise*

        The screenwriter of Arrival said a major reason he had to make the daughter die younger in the movie was because Amy Adams had to be able to play both the younger and older versions of her character feasibly without aging makeup. IMO, I like that the daughter is younger – it heightens the drama. To me it’s a pretty obvious choice to have a kid you know will get to adulthood but have their life cut “short” (which is relative concept tanyway), while it’s not such an obvious choice to have a kid you know will suffer and die as a child but still have *a life.*

    21. AnonEMoose*

      “The Hunt for Red October” is a fantastic movie, and an excellent adaptation of the novel – the changes they made for the movie made sense, and it’s a well-crafted movie.

      And, of course, “The Princess Bride” – I thought the book was fun, but I LOVE the movie. I also like both the book and the movie of Neil Gaiman’s “Stardust” – the movie is worth it just for Robert De Niro – not going to spoil it. But I will say that De Niro himself looks like he’s having a fantastic time doing stuff you would not normally associate with him…!

      For “Pride and Prejudice,” for me the definitive version is the BBC version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle from the 90s…no others need apply.

      1. NeonFireworks*

        I loved both versions of Stardust! Mild spoilers ahead. I usually have pretty strong feelings about how bittersweet an ending I want for a particular story, but in this case I thought both the book and the film versions followed well from the plot.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Speaking of Neil Gaiman… his&Terry Pratchett’s “Good Omens” was a fun book and a fun miniseries!

      3. Emily*

        I find The Princess Bride delightful in both forms! I think the movie does a good job of adapting – it preserves a lot of the feel of the story, but makes a few changes to make it work better in film.

        I also really like the BBC Pride and Prejudice, which is really funny (and also quite pretty). Much like with a lot of Shakespeare, I was able to appreciate the book a lot more after seeing it acted out.

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

      Not a movie but the Starz show outlander. First found the show and then read the books. There are 8 books and 5 seasons

      1. Trachea Aurelia Belaroth*

        Ooh, speaking of TV, I was really enjoying the adaptations of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and his and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          Loved the first season of “American Gods,” wasn’t as fond of the second. But I love Ian McShane as Wednesday…I literally squeed when I heard he had been cast in that role. I also love Ricky Whittle as Shadow.

          1. Trachea Aurelia Belaroth*

            I didn’t get to the second season yet. I have a hard time keeping up with TV, especially darker stuff. But I agree, the casting is almost half the enjoyment of the show. I was just reading the casting of Audible’s adaptation of the Sandman, and I enjoyed it so much I might not even have to listen to the performances.

            1. AnonEMoose*

              I finally gave in and signed up for Audible just so I could pre-order the Sandman…because clearly, Neil Gaiman needs more of my money. I’ll probably get the full-cast version of “American Gods” with a future credit.

    23. Trachea Aurelia Belaroth*

      I tend to like movies that know they’re movies and adapt the material to suit the medium, honoring the book but not trying to recreate it (so long as they actually do a good job, haha). Some that I like in both media because they are suited are Jurassic Park, Stardust, Howl’s Moving Castle (but only in Japanese because I DO NOT like Christian Bale’s voicing), Shawshank Redemption, and The Body. Fight Club I actually like the movie better. There are others but I can’t think of them right now.

    24. Ron McDon*

      Not a movie, but I looooved the recent BBC adaptation of Normal People by Sally Rooney. I hadn’t read the book before watching the series, but read it afterwards and really enjoyed it.

      Generally I prefer to watch the film/tv show then read the book afterwards; there’s usually a lot more explanation and background in the book.

      1. allathian*

        We’re halfway through the BBC miniseries. In this one, the episodes are so intense that I’m actually glad they’re only 30 minutes long! Maybe I’ll read the book, too.

    25. Falling Star*

      I really liked “The Firm” movie so much, I read the book.
      Didn’t like the Book. Thought a pack of lawyers running around the countryside playing detective was ridiculous.

      1. WellRed*

        The one with Tom Cruise? I recently reread the firm and want to check it out (don’t love the book, but was in the mood for Grisham).

    26. Just us chickens*

      I’m sure I would’ve enjoyed Jack Reacher as a typical action movie if I didn’t have the knowledge that he should be 6’3″, 6’5″? Not the 5′ something that is Tom Cruise.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Cruise was the producer…so I’m pretty sure he didn’t consider anyone else.

    27. voluptuousfire*

      I’m a huge Jacqueline Susann fan and the movie version of Valley of the Dolls was just terrible. I wasn’t able to make my way through it even though I wanted to love it because I do love campy films like that. The book is my all time favorite novel.

      The most recent book/movie I both enjoyed is Call Me By Your Name. I saw the movie 6 times in the theatre because I honestly couldn’t figure out if I liked it or not. I usually tend to like queer romance films but this one took awhile for me to really like. Now its one of my top 5 favorite films. The book is excellent as well and the movie was a great adaptation of it. The movie was an excellent distillation of the greater plot points of the book and very little was moved around.

    28. Patty Mayonnaise*

      I LOVED the book of The Cider House Rules and it literally changed my life, BUT the movie is better because it cuts out a 15-20 year interlude that has relatively little impact on the plot and the theme (some semi-major characters get cut out but I don’t miss them when watching the movie). John Irving adapted his own book and I think that’s why the movie works so well.

    29. Lindsay*

      Contact, Pride and Prejudice (BBC miniseries, but the 2005 movie is ok too), Atonement, Little Women (new and 90s one), Jane Eyre, The Princess Bride, Emma (new one), Harry Potter films, The Secret Garden (90s one), The Age of Innocence (90s one), The Great Gatsby (either one), The Book Thief, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

    30. Ronda*

      I used to think the book is always better….
      but then the princess bride movie came and I really cant decide which I like more… both have their advantages.
      (I read the book long before the movie and really loved it, so was a bit wary of the movie, but it was great)

      I saw the movie Arrival 1st and loved it. I even watched it a 2nd time on a plane and liked it again…. but the big screen experience really made this one more enjoyable. I loved the feel of the movie and the sound of the movie and seeing how aliens looked. I listened to the short story it is based on and I didnt really like it. His stories dont have much feeling to me ( I listened to all in the collection, not just this one) Interesting ideas, but no feeling.

      I went to a Q&A of the author of the books the HBO mini series True Blood was based on. Someone asked her about the changes / stuff not in the book. She said they are different things and she is not bothered by it. She wished that she had come up with one of the characters in the mini series that was not in the book because she was a great character. ( Bill’s daughter)

  4. Financial calculation*

    Do you have a financial calculation/ formula when buying something you’d consider a luxury version of a practical item (assuming you have cash on hand)?

    Ex if you usually buy $50 sheets and you find a sheet set that is $250 that completely bowls you over in some way. But 5 times more than usual is a lot whether you have the money or not.

    1. Bibliovore*

      Why yes, I am glad you asked. As I have aged, I do spend money on the super expensive thing that would appall my younger self. I make fewer money errors now. I purchase fewer things. I am not an impulsive spender. If something absolutely bowls me over I consult with a friend. A good example is swimsuits. I had always bought not cheap but not expensive speedo tanks. I once found myself trying on a 90 dollar suit and phoned a friend from the dressing room.
      I buy fewer things but still like a bargain. That $250 sweater might go on sale. I watch the website. If it goes on sale for under $150 with free freight AND it is in my size it is meant to be. I obsessively read reviews.
      Now sheets. That is a tough one. I do buy expensive sheets. I DO feel the difference and it does make me happy.
      Sometimes I amortize the purchase. I buy pricey glasses because I wear them everyday. I finally bought a custom cuff crutch to replace the generic hospital type issue one that I had for years. Padded leather cuff, bicycle handle grip, sized for me, titanium. Worth every penny. If you are shopping for crutches, I highly recommend the Fetterman lite stik.
      The equation in my head- are all my expenses paid? No unsecured debt? money set aside for prudent reserve? For donations? Then I buy it.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I recently spent $170 on sheets, which would have appalled my younger self and made my mother and father drop dead. But I’d been looking and looking for what I wanted (crisp sheets, not those overly soft and thin sheets everybody seems to be selling these days) without any luck, and when I finally found something that fit my criteria, I took the plunge. I am glad I did, too. I sleep much better and really enjoy seeing the nice crisp sheets every time I get into bed.

      2. Filosofickle*

        My first experience with a $100 bathing suit was a revelation. It was the first time in my adult life that I felt really confident in a suit! Honestly, if you can swing the cost that feeling is priceless.

    2. Doctor is In*

      Will the purchase mean you can’t afford something else you want or need? Also my mom always said, wait a week and see if you still want it.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Sort of. I used to ask, do I like Luxury Item X times more than I like Non Luxury Version. That led me to over-buy on the luxury side. Now I ask, will Luxury Item give me X times more pleasure than Non-Luxury Item. For me, this helps me distinguish between “this is truly great art” and “this is truly great art that will make me happy to own.” Maybe it’s a bit of a Marie Kondo thing. It has to spark, not only joy, but X times more joy than the basic model.

      1. Vina*

        Also, is the quality 5X that much or is it just the name? Will it last 5 x as long?

        For example, in the grocery store, store brands are usually made by the same people who make the name-brands. So, I’ll typically buy the store brand.

        If I’m talking watches, shoes, purses and items that have a visible quality and durability difference, then I purchase the more expensive item.

        For sheets, for example, there is a visible quality and durability difference if you get a higher-tread count. But, after you get beyond, say 200-250, the difference isn’t worth it.

        Side note: with clothing, I do two things. One is to learn how to tell quality v. Not (e.g, stitching, matching of pattern at sewed edges). Item two is to have clothing tailored. A $20 blouse from target with $5 of alterations that fits me properly will look much better than a $2000 blouse that does not.

        1. Vina*

          PS there are tons of articles on the internet on how to tell quality clothing. For other items, do your research. They you will know if the value use with it.

      2. Vina*

        I also sometimes buy something just b/c it makes me happy.

        I have enough coffee mugs to serve the chorus line of the Rockettes. I still sometimes buy new ones b/c I like them.

        Not everything one buys should be about liking it or “speaking joy,” But some things just should.

        For me, vinyl records, coffee mugs, yarn (to knit), art supplies, wine and bourbon, cat toys, and a few other items are things where I will gladly indulge.

        Finally – never anything disposable unless it’s also something like high-end chocolate that will get eaten.

      3. Nervous Nellie*

        This is the ‘wows per dollar’ idea that I first saw in a book in the 80s called ‘Your Money or Your Life’ by Joe Dominguz & Vicki Rubin. It stuck with me ever since and is why I have no debt and even though I doubt I will ever afford retirement, it has given me savings tools that mean I can sleep at night knowing I can withstand most financial surprises.

        My folks were of this mind set all along. Recently I laughed with my Mum about a time when I was about 12 years old and driving them crazy for a pair of designer jeans to fit in at school. I know now that those jeans would now be long gone, and they would not have had that money to live on in retirement. I am grateful for the perspective. That said, after 25 years of using threadbare bath towels, I just bought fancy thick hotel style towels – worth it, and definitely more ‘wows per dollar’ than the cheaper, lighter ones. :)

        1. Not A Manager*

          Wows per dollar is a great way of phrasing it. That’s exactly how I try to make these decisions.

        2. Bibliovore*

          Hey I just recommended Your Money or Your Life to a friend yesterday! I’m all about the wows. Also there are some super pleasant surprises- COSTCO sheets are sort of pricey (more than $60) but they are just as fabulous as sheets that are 3 times their price. They don’t always have them but they also have wonderful bath sheets.
          Go for the wow.

    4. matcha123*

      Not a financial formula, but when I want to make a pricey purchase I spend a lot of time looking up reviews, taking a look at the items I have on hand and how much more use I can get out of them, and such and so on.
      If the item is limited and I would get a lot of wear/use out of it, then I might just buy it. If it seems like something I could find used, I check those places first.

    5. willow for now*

      I look at the actual amount of dollars I would spend, not just the difference. $250 sheets are only $200 more than your usual sheets. But a $2500 couch is $2000 more than a $500 couch, so that one, I would think about a bit harder. Is there something else I would want to have that “extra” $2000 for?

    6. Kiitemso*

      I sometimes look at times of (likely) use. Sheets that are more expensive generally get more use than say, a shirt that is expensive. Even if you change sheets a lot, when you are using that one you are sleeping on it every single night. I don’t usually wear a shirt more than 2-3 times a month at most. A winter coat I will wear for four months out every day for at least 5 years, so for me, a splurge there is perfectly acceptable.

      I also once bought cheap sheets that were uncomfortable until the 12th wash, so those kinds of experiences can also play a factor.

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      There is often a difference between price and value. Cheap items may be poorly made and not last as long, but they may surprise you by being higher quality than you thought. I consider how well the item is made, how often I will use it, any repair or maintenance costs (if applicable), and whether I can buy the item without going into debt. Sheets, shoes, and appliances I tend to veer towards the pricier side. Clothing and housewares I go with cheap to midrange. I have also had good luck in finding good deals at thrift shops and my town’s local “buy and sell” Facebook page. I bought a beautiful interview suit for $15 that would have cost about $300 new in the store. I know that because the original department store tags were still attached!

      1. Vina*

        I know I’ve discussed the boots theory of economic value on here before with some posters. But it relates directly to this.

        A $5 pair of boots v. A $500 pair.

        I have a $500 pair that I’ve had for decades. Will need to have them resoled this year. But I have worn them a lot.

        For the curious, they are Beretta boots. Beretta was traditionally a long-gun manufacture, but they maybe outdoor/hunting gear. Their women’s boots are super-high quality and last. They are also super-comfortable.

        If you splurge on nothing else in life, have one very-high quality pair of boots. And watches.

        1. Nita*

          This! For a few years, money was really tight and I’d buy cheap $20 boots and cheap $15 purses. I’d have them for a year, tops. Then the boots fell apart and the purses would start to flake. The very first year when I had a little extra to spend, I bought a pair of boots for $65 and a purse for $75. I felt like such a spendthrift. Well. It’s been a few years and the new boots and new purse are doing fine. Much better.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      This isn’t universal, but for a lot of things, my mental math is along the lines of, if I get one use per dollar spent, will that be sufficient to make me feel like I got my money’s worth, and to I think this is sufficient quality to make that likely?

      Example: If I buy $10 shoes at Payless, I expect to be able to wear them ten times before they start having issues. So I wouldn’t in general do that for everyday shoes – but maybe if I wanted something super specific, summer dress sandals that I would only need a couple times a year, sure. My everyday wear shoes, I’m more willing to spend $100 on, because I have higher expectations of them, and I’ve been fortunate enough that they hold up. (This isn’t a perfect example – I’m not going to wear my $500 Sandlar boots that many times, because they’re very situational in their styling, but I COULD because they’re handmade high quality leather and they’ll last forever, I’ve already had them for six years. Similarly, my $200 ren faire garb has not had 200 individual wears, but it has gotten me through 21 ren faire seasons.)

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I have to look at how it benefits me. I sleep better on cotton sheets, so my first thing is to look at the content- 100% cotton? Good, keep going. For this kinda money, I have to be in absolute love with the color/style. Let’s say that I am so we can keep going… The next thing is to look at the online reviews to get a sense how these things are wearing. Are people pleased or are they regretting their purchase?

      Last. Okay so this looks like I am going to do this. I tie it to something, maybe a b-day present for myself or maybe I take on a personal/work challenge and this is my reward. My final step is to see if I can get a break on price. I have used points on my credit card to get some things. (Snowshoes, for example.) I also try to figure out if it will go on sale or if I can find a coupon code.

      My bias: I tend to be penny pinching. Things have to last forever if I pay good money for them. In the case of sheets, I do believe that good bedding (linens and mattress) can be part of good health. If I sleep well, my body will function better. So I tend to think that it’s an investment. I would probably do this but I would look for ways to see if I could save some bucks on the purchase. If I cannot find any reductions, I can at least say I tried.

      1. Vina*

        What’s your thread-count range?

        Do you care if it’s “Egyptian” or regular cotton?

        I find sheet preferences so interesting!

        I have a friend who wants flannel. I have only 200-250 thread count cotton in my house. He hated it.

        I’ve also tried natural fibers like bamboo. Bamboo was waaaay too slick. I kept sliding out of the bed. It felt amazing, but completely impractical.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          In an ideal world, it would be the best organic cotton and highest thread count I could afford.
          But like you I have the thread count in the 200s, because that’s my price range.

          Right now, I have a cotton quilt (not a big fluffy comforter) that I end up cocooning in and I sleep like a rock. (Nights are cool here.)

          Interesting about the bamboo. I wanted to try that sometime. I have a bamboo pillow here. Some days I really like it and I sleep well with it. Other days it ends up on the floor. So I guess I am middle of the road on that one.

          I have a lot of issues with chemicals so synthetic sheets don’t usually do well for me. I do have fleece sheets for winter which sounds like I am confused. There is a wind that pounds my bedroom wall every winter. I got in heavy insulation and good windows. I can STILL feel the cold. So if the sheets make me over heat a little I am okay with that. Early spring, I switch back to the cottons.

    10. Purt’s Peas*

      First, I make a budget. If I budget $200 for something, I’m probably not going to spend $15 on a version of it just because that version is cheaper. If you can spend it, you can spend it.

      Second, it’s really worth considering what you’re paying for. It’s likely that luxury item was made for a similar price and with similar methods to the non luxury item. So what are you paying for? This doesn’t have to be judgmental. Was there a really cool ad that made you ache for it? Do you like the aesthetics of it? Is it fair-trade or handmade? Are the materials non-synthetic, or vegan, or nice-feeling? Do you want to buy a luxury thing for the feeling of “ahhh I live in luxury!”

      This isn’t to justify the purchase or to dissuade you from the purchase. It’s just to identify why you want the thing. Maybe you’ll be like, eh I could pay this markup for a fair trade product but maybe not for “I like the luxury reasons.” Or maybe you’ll be like “the nice material and living in the lap of luxury is a one-two punch, I’m getting it!”

      Knowing why you made a decision really helps with buyer’s remorse. Though maybe this entire comment is saying to a maximizer, “why don’t you just satisfice??”

    11. Ranon*

      My first criteria is whether the more expensive item is an incremental improvement or a significant difference- for example we just spent (mumble mumble) dollars on a kid’s bike because we wanted one with hand brakes and components designed for kids rather than adult components on a kid’s frame, which makes for a significant difference in quality and ride experience (for a corresponding difference in price). That’s what I consider the Vitamix versus Oster spending for quality- there’s a big jump in price and functionality but it’s only worth the price if you use the function. But if we’ve been wishing we had the function consistently we’ve found it’s worth the money to buy something with that functionality.

      For something like sheets where there’s more of an incremental improvement and wear/ longevity is a factor we’re more likely to try to get a sense of where the highest value price point is- often there’s a point where the quality stops improving and you start paying for branding. So we try to land thereish on things where the quality matters to us (related, I’m totally ready to replace some of our sheets but I guess we hit the quality line just right because I’ve gotten almost ten years out of our current sets with no signs of wear besides elastic so I guess we’re keeping them forever?)

      We are also at a point in our lives generally where we have lots of disposable income and limited need for new things so we do tend to shop at a higher price point overall than we once did when we’re making the “is the nice version of this worth it” decisions. Except furniture because the things that cost 2x the Ikea version aren’t generally 2x better in quality and the things that cost 10x are 10x better but with a kid in our house they won’t stay 10x better.

      1. Shrieking Violet*

        Yes! Like Bibliovore, I am all about amortization. I think this was a commercial some (many?) years back. Price divided by number of uses = actual cost per use. So I am willing to spend more for a classic pair of shoes or earrings than the trendy pair I’ll wear once or twice. Sometimes I would put on an outfit I’ve had for years and think, it only cost me $2 to get dressed today!

        Also, as Ranon says, there’s (usually) a whole world between $X and $5X. How does something that’s $2.5X compare? But as long as $5X doesn’t keep you from meeting some other obligation (including those to yourself, like retirement or charitable giving), go for it.

    12. Overeducated*

      Less a financial formula and more a strategic habit. Spent my 20s and early 30s on a very tight budget, got used to hand me downs, but even more importantly, simply delaying purchases. If you have one big luxury item on your mind, but you put off actually buying it for weeks or months, you wind up making fewer big purchases over the course of a year.

      1. Nicole76*

        That’s my approach to car buying. I buy new, but keep my cars as long as possible so that in the end I will have purchased fewer overall cars during my lifetime. I’m only on my second new car, third overall car (the 1st was a hand me down) and I’m in my forties.

    13. Jules the 3rd*

      For durables I usually buy the luxury version, it’s usually worth it. We’re still using the pots and pans we got 18 years ago, and the new stove is amazing. But clothes? I’ve changed shape a lot over the last 10 years, and am still changing. I buy mid-range clothes for work but only sale / closeout clothes for daily wear. Swimsuit elastic seems to die after two years, whether it’s a $150 suit or a $40 one.

    14. Not A Manager*

      Here’s another calculation I make. People were talking above about durability and quality, and their sometimes-correlation to price. There are times when the mid-range version of something either (a) won’t last as long as the pricey version or (b) won’t provide much happiness for the money (the wows per dollar discussed above). In that case, I will sometimes opt for the super cheap, bottom of the line version and treat it as more-or-less disposable.

      Our house has an odd mixture of pretty nice, fairly expensive, well-made furniture and then a bunch of Ikea or similar. If we can’t afford what we really want, sometimes we don’t want to invest the extra money into something we don’t like, that will last for a while but will still need to be replaced in a few years. We’d rather have something with decent lines (like Ikea), that works okay for now, and that we don’t mind tossing out when it breaks or when we can afford the thing we really want.

      I do that with clothes too. I have a few nice, expensive pieces, but generally I buy very inexpensive things that look good for one season and I don’t mind that they get tiny holes in them or they start to fade. In my experience, “mid-range” clothes frequently fall apart anyway and just aren’t worth it.

    15. Koala dreams*

      With nice looking stuff, I’m thinking “I don’t need to buy everything in the art gallery”. The thinking is, I like the colour/pattern/look, but it’s enough to see it in the shop window, I don’t need to own it to appreciate it.

      For clothes, I imagine opening the wardrobe in the morning and choosing clothes. If that piece of clothing were to hang in my wardrobe, will I reach for it first thing in the morning?

      For sheets, I buy rather cheap stuff, but I do have a really expensive cover. So, yeah.

      Recently my shopping has become more erratic due to all the online shopping. I knew there was a reason I prefer to buy in shops. Somehow there’s less impulse buying when you need to carry things home with you, instead of ordering delivery.

    16. Sunset Maple*

      I calculate based on the way I intend to treat the item.

      Example: I sling my purse around, stuff it full of sunscreen and other spillable items, and chuck it on the grimy factory floor at work. I don’t want something I have to coddle, and rub with leather conditioner, and tuck into a satin bag at night. Expensive purses are a waste of my time and effort, so being able to afford one is irrelevant.

      1. Slightly Sloppy*

        I relate to this! I’d be so stressed out about ruining an expensive purse and don’t have time to care for it

    17. Dan*

      Literal formula? No. But I look at function and value, perceived or literal. The first place I start, though, is checking to see if I’m buying “new” functionality or replacing something that already exists. If the later, that’s almost purely in “luxury” spending anyway. E.g., I’ve got a 7 year old TV. It’s HD but not 4k. Replacing it with a 4K TV is on my list at some point, but let’s be honest, that has to go purely in the “luxury” category, even if I buy the cheapest model out there.

      Now presuming that I’m buying something where the functionality is actually needed. First, I assess what I actually need. Then, I assess what I may not need, but will actually use or value. If I don’t value it or expect to use it, then odds are I won’t but it. I’m not much into “name” brand anything, so buying Z brand for the label does zilch for me. For me, the label essentially serves as a tie-breaker. If the thing was a serious contender anyway, the brand can help me make up my mind.

      On the topic of bedding… I’m not all that particular about sheets, although I like Egyptian cotton. That said, I recently bought a $5,000 bed when I could have bought a $1,000 bed. And you know what? It was worth every penny. I took stock of what I needed in a bed, and the cheap stuff wasn’t actually an improvement over what I currently had. So in that regard, the cheap stuff would have been a waste of money. (I was waking up with a lot of lower back pain, hence the purchase.) The stuff that was giving me proper support was more pricey, and there was no getting around it. I bought an adjustable base, which I thought was bit of a frill. Turns out, not so much — the thing is great.

      OTOH, I’m the opposite with cars. I don’t drive a ton (less than 8,000 miles per year) but I drive regularly in non-COVID times. While my cars last forever, I tend to buy late model slightly used cars. I just can’t imagine spending oodles of money on cars.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        It’s probably a seperate thread, Dan, but which bed did you go for? Some neck, back and hip pain that are not improving here and I can feel a dip starting in my existing (was expensive) bed.

        1. Dan*

          Perhaps, but threads drift. I went with the Tempurpedic pro-adapt medium hybrid with the adjustable base. I also got their memory foam pillow. The funny thing with the adjustable base is that there’s a preset on the remote called “zero g” that sales people love to show off. I hate it. But I do sleep with just a smidge of elevation of my lower body and upper body and I love it.

          If there’s one thing I learned mattress shopping, the internet ain’t it. There’s all these mattress-in-a-box places that tout great reviews, but I was able to demo a few of them, and none had the support I know I needed. And if you return those mattresses, they most likely end up in the dump. Plus, everybody’s different, so random testimonials from random people on the internet don’t mean much for the person looking to buy.

          It’s true that you can’t truly tell how you’ll like a mattress until you sleep on it for awhile, but I think if you have one you don’t like, you can figure out what you don’t like about and then demo things in stories. If you’re noticing sag when you first sit in a bed at home, and you notice the same sag in the store, what’s the point in bringing it home for trial? There weren’t that many beds that offered less sag than what I had, so sadly, I had to pay. One sales guy at a non-Tempur store even told me that he used to work for Tempur and sleeps on a Tempur, so if I know I want a Tempur, there’s not much alternative. He didn’t even bother to try and show me some “lower priced alternatives that you might like.” It was really just a “sorry dude you have to bust out your wallet.” Well I did, and I’m happy with my purchase.

    18. Jackalope*

      I have specific areas that I let myself spend more based on my interests and then try to watch the cost on others. For example I love ballroom dancing, it’s one of my favorite hobbies, under nonpandemic circumstances I go dancing a couple of times a week, and this has been my habit for over a decade. I will therefore be willing to pay extra for a good pair of dance shoes that will make my feet happy since I will wear them a LOT. I also like to dabble in the garden which for me means one or two days a year of intense work and then a bit of weeding and watering as needed. It’s a much less intense hobby and I care a lot less. So I spent enough money to get the basic needed tools at a solid but not fancy cost and then I try to spend less money when possible. I’m not going to spend $200 on fancy gardening tools because it doesn’t matter to me that much. So a part of it is figuring out how important it is to me and how much the extra money will help me enjoy it (because having danced in $20 dance shoes and $200 dance shoes, I will give up dancing before going back to the $20 dance shoes; the difference is too much. And as others have pointed out, $200 shoes will last a lot longer and be worth the extra money).

    19. Thursday Next*

      This is a really interesting question! I guess I make different calculations depending on the category and other tradeoffs. I bought an expensive bottle of champagne after realizing my overall alcohol consumption and therefore expenditure was much lower this year and last year. So there was a kind of substitution of 1 bottle for x less expensive bottles. But also the feeling that I’d get more pleasure out of 2 glasses of fancy champagne twice a year than two glasses of wine every week. I guess this is a combination of trying to value pleasure and practicality.

    20. NoLongerYoung*

      Yes, for me the algorithm is quality but not focused on the nam/ brand (it’s about function… ), and longevity, and not creating landfill. I literally don’t buy unless I need it (replacing something broken and un-repairable, is first; then something that saves me time better used to improve my life/work/meet my goals is second – which includes learning to paint, for example; spending money to just entertain is very low if it is mindless shopping or can be met another creative way).

      My comparison was the automatic espresso machine. I had bought a used (insert name of one that cost more than my first car), and it had finally reached end of life a week after the SIP started here. Note, that this substance is essential to my job retention and keeping (I think) my schedule and depression stable.

      I looked carefully at the replacement version online. Then did more research, and discovered that regardless of how much I spent, they all have about a 5 year life regardless of price. My new one is 1/5 as much; it is mostly plastic, basically zero chrome. I call it the Toyota corolla of automatic espresso machines.

      I am happy. My budget is happy. And, I can retire two months earlier, basically, if I look at the amount of after-tax income I would have spent to buy a new (insert name of the Lexus machine).

      For non-urgent items, I do research and then put it on a master “wish list.” Then periodically evaluate how to get it if I still need it. (thrift store? Offer up/local buy-it group). In some cases, I have a set of friends and borrow and try it. (Decided I did not need a seltzer maker, for example).

      By postponing the non-urgent, and comparing the savings I’m making (against my retirement goals), I have reworked my mindset and I’m actually pretty happy about it.

      Note- I did get some phenomenal sheets – because I like the 100% cotton high thread count and I can feel the difference – at the local (charity) fundraiser sale. a good sterilizing wash… and 3 years later I am still alternating those two sets and they look flawless. Sadly, as I understand it, most of those donations are from older folks whose estates get donated to that charity. A lot of very nice things were “saved for the good/ visitors” and rarely to never used. Not Porthault but very nice. So look around. Patience is your friend.

    21. foolofgrace*

      If it’s something I use a lot, like every day like a paper towel holder or set of mixing bowls, I will spend more because of the frequent pleasure I’ll get out of using it. I spent too many years buying the cheap stuff and being irritated every time I can’t easily get a paper towel or not having a bowl of the right size.

    22. Aphrodite*

      “Do you have a financial calculation/ formula when buying something you’d consider a luxury version of a practical item (assuming you have cash on hand)?”

      I do, and it varies depending on the item. As I have gotten older, I find myself making far fewer mistakes as regards money. Take sheets, for example. I used to love sleeping at Grandma’s house because those wonderful sheets–cool, crackly when you climbed into bed–were such a treat. Well, the trend is toward soft, softer, softest now but I hate that. If I could get sheets that matched that I’d be thrilled. And I did! It took a lot of googling and reading but I discovered the percale sheets available through the Vermont Country Store to be fantastic. Low thread count, pure white percale dried on a line are absolute heaven. I don’t think they cost more than other cotton sheets but they are crispy and crackly. So I end. up spending what I consider more money on those but, oh, the pleasure.

      I would rather wait and save and buy high quality of most items now. That’s what our grandparents did: save until they could afford it. Having it cheap and now is no longer my preferred way. And I like things to last, an important factor when spending more money.

      The financial calculation varies depending on the item but I almost always go for the quality item that costs more–and yes, I am willing to pay the price for US-made goods. I also buy frugally for other items like TP, paper towels, books (thrift stores!), etc. It’s understanding value vs. price, quality vs. usage, and enough vs. more.

      I tell ya, this getting wiser as I get older is genuinely priceless!

    23. OP for this thread*

      Well… this question has become kinda moot since our hvac system broke this morning and it is going to be $$$ to replace it.

      And we’re in a heat wave. Sigh.

    24. Cedrus Libani*

      For basically all life decisions – including “should I buy this item I do not strictly need” – my goal is to maximize the overall awesomeness of my life.

      I don’t spend money lightly, because money is freedom, and freedom is awesome. But I do spend money, because sometimes it’s worthwhile. For example, I spent $500 on a self-cleaning litter box. Scooping cat litter is not awesome; letting the cat waste stink up the house is also not awesome; throwing money at the problem removed both forms of trouble from my life semi-permanently, and I have no regrets at all.

      I am also willing to pay for upgraded versions of the items I use heavily – for things like shoes, bras, and bags, I’d rather buy the $120 version and get a few years of trouble-free use out of it, rather than buy the $20 version and have to repair or replace it every few months. It’s not actually that much more money in the long term, and it’s so much less of a bother.

      However, for me, a minor difference usually does not justify a major expense. Sure, I can hear the difference between my partner’s $2000 speakers and my $20 speakers, but for my purposes – rocking out to some tunes while I do house chores – I’ll take the slightly muddy tone and $1980, because that is the path of maximum awesomeness as far as I’m concerned. I can buy a lot of other awesomeness for $1980.

    25. Nacho*

      Yes: I buy the cheapest thing possible until I have tens of thousands of extra money in my bank account/stock portfolio and literally nothing to spend it on, at which point I start to worry that maybe I’m being too miserly and start buying the second cheapest things.

    26. Jamboree*

      Well I have two thoughts on this: first, I almost never regret buying a more exclusive, generally better quality item when given the choice. Experience has simply taught me you usually, but admittedly not always, get what you pay for. The cheap sheets will tear faster / pill sooner / shrink / fade whatever so you’ll have to replaced them more often, spending more in the long run.

      But if that still had me doubtful, I calculated cost-per-use … That $500 suit doesn’t seem to cost as much when you figure with care you might wear it twice a week for the next 20 years. That’s 25c per wear! Not unrelated, I bought my wedding dress at a Loehmanns outlet on clearance.

      1. Jamboree*

        Autocorrect makes me sound extra snooty. I typed “expensive” not “exclusive.”

    27. Bagpuss*

      Fascinating thread!
      I don’t have a formula as such but I do consider how much use / pleasure I will get from something and whether it is worth it to me to spend the extra.
      So for instance, I wouldn’t spend thousands on a hand bag because I’m not interested in having a designer name on it, and wouldn’t want the worry of nursing it, but once I could afford to, I did start paying for better quality, more expensive bags because they lat longer and look better for longer than cheap one. I bought a bag 3 years ago (original price £150, sale price when I bought it £75) which I’ve used daily and which still looks smart, whereas the ones that cost £30 or so rarely last even a year before they start looking tatty. Similarly I will buy mid-range shoes which are better quality, rather than very cheap ones, because I don’t like shopping for shoes and it is important for me that they are comfortable, and I find that spending £75 rather than £25 gets me that. (I will buy cheaper if I am not expecting to wear them much – my sister and I bought identical shoes for our other sister’s wedding where we were bridesmaids – appear from wearing them around the house in advance to practice walking in them, I didn’t (and didn’t expect to) wear them except for the wedding. We bought them in Turkey but I think they were only the equivalent of about £15.

      Having got to a point where I have had the chance to do so, and can afford to , I have also found that it is worth it to me to spend more on really good meals out, and part of that is that while it is expensive, it’s affordable if I don’t do it too often, and I do get more pleasure from it than I would by (say) having 5 times the number of pub meals or takeaways.

      I do sometimes find myself ‘justifying’ the things I spend money on to myself by reference to what other people spend – so for instance in normal times I spend a lot more than most people do on theatre tickets, but I spend a lot less on holidays than a lot of people I know. It’s a bit odd because of course I don’t have to justify my spending to anyone except myself, but I still do it. I think mostly where my spending is on things which are a little bit out of the norm!

  5. Anon for this post*

    Can anyone recommend any sources on how to be more approachable or even likable? I’ve always been shy and introverted, but it seems to be impacting my life. While I think that the people that I currently surround myself with are toxic, I blame myself for everything. A few close friends say that I’m fine and just need to relax/be myself, but I don’t know if this is true.

    1. Grim*

      Read the book “how to win friends and influence people”. Made a positive difference in my life and career.

      1. Helvetica*

        Seconded! It’s an old book but Dale Carnegie really knew what he was talking about.
        And a similar book to that is Robert Cialdini’s “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” which is also fascinating.

        A good tip for being likeable is asking a lot of questions if your talking to someone. People love talking about themselves, and if you ask them stuff, they’ll remember you as a good listener and as an approachable person.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I’d say you need to be pretty expert in social skills to apply Cialdini’s work without coming across like a cheesy salesman.

    2. aarti*

      It’s fine to be shy and introverted! There are books and articles extounding the many benefits of it, so try Google and read some of these. If it bothers you only then should you try to change something.

      In terms of being approachable, ask people questions about themselves and really listen to the answers. Remember what they said and ask them about it later, “How is your 6ft rainbow scarf coming along?”

      1. Uncertain*

        This is good advice. People love to talk about themselves (me included!), and expressing interest in their activities and thinking is a great way to open a conversation which may lead to friendship.

    3. Anonnington*

      The thing about shyness and social anxiety is that they’re extremely common. And a lot of people don’t seem to realize this.

      So the bad news is that shyness is often read as something intentionally insulting (because of people’s own social fears). It can come across as though you’re being quiet or distant because you don’t like the other person or you feel superior.

      However, when you keep this in mind, it’s really easy to mitigate it. Just say things that make your feelings and intentions clear. Like giving people compliments, saying, “It’s great to see you!” and so on. You can also just say that you’re kind of shy or introverted and a lot of people will relate. It’s just a matter of building those kinds of bridges.

      Also, a lot of people really enjoy talking. So you can use introversion to your advantage. Ask questions that show you’re geniunely interested and then just listen. This applies to making new friends, of course. Don’t set yourself up to be a designated listener in the long run. It’s just a way to make a good first impression without talking much.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Keep reading here. You will get more and more insight to what people are thinking about and what their concerns are. Advice columns in general are an opportunity to get a peek inside someone’s thinking.
      If you have general ideas of how people think you are more prepared to interact in more situations.

      My other suggestion is odd. I say just accept yourself. You tend to be introverted, this isn’t a crime, honest! I looked at my own introversion when I read, “people are introverted IN PART because they feel a need to protect themselves.” It’s not wrong to protect yourself! But it could be misplaced, because sometimes the people we need to protect ourselves from are the very people we interact with. Perhaps you can distance yourself from the toxic people and feel less vulnerable???? In some cases, I was safer with strangers and I refused to consider this angle. Once I started setting boundaries with those around me, I found it easier to extrovert myself more. Strangers became less concerning because I had defined my boundaries. I had defined what I would and would not accept from people. This takes time, it’s not an instant thing.
      Get to understand your needs/concerns and what you want in a friendship. Start there.

      1. Washi*

        This was my immediate thought, but NSNR said it much better :) “Strangers became less concerning because I had defined my boundaries. I had defined what I would and would not accept from people.” So true!!!

        The more I accept myself, the more comfortable I am around others, and the more comfortable people seem to be around me. Instead of working hard to be liked, I work hard to be myself and like myself. It sounds really self centered, but I’ve found that it’s actually the opposite. When I didn’t like myself as much, I was often unconsciously fishing for reassurance and validation from others and trying way too hard to control how our interactions went. Now that I feel more comfortable with myself, I can just be me and let other people be themselves. I feel safe and secure because I have my own back.

        1. winter*

          Yes, I definitively +1 this angle.

          You can ask questions, smile more, remember to say hi all the time. This puts you in the position that you are waiting for other’s approval. Success will depend on if others are happy with you.
          This might be okay as an intermediate step, but what will make you feel good and centered in the long run is the advice in this subthread.

          When I turned my focus to “what do I want from this interaction?” “Am I satisfied with the thing I did just there?” (including putting the effort in but not immediately getting results) “Am I ok with how I’m being treated or do I need to push back?” That’s what makes me feel better and lets me make connections on equal footing.

          Nice and healthy people do not want to (subconsciously) be the judge and executioner of your self-worth. It’s okay to get clear on your wants first and hold fast to them in any interaction (of course with the caveat of respecting boundaries – if you make a bid for connection and the other person doesn’t take it up, try another time. And don’t try forever with the same person if it’s not working)

          In that vein, asking question does work well, the others are right. But don’t forget the second part: share some facts about yourself unprompted and see if they pick up the bid. Otherwise the others might feel like they are being interrogated, or worse, you meet people who love talking about themselves and will never show an interest in you. You are worth being interested in.

    5. Vina*

      Have some go-to Q&A you can discuss with people. Interesting, but not standard stuff. If you have a script, you won’t be so nervous in the moment. If you have good questions, people will remember you. If you ask about others, they will like you.

      Instead of asking the usual stuff like “where do you work?” “Married?” “Kids?” Ask about a favorite piece of art, ask about where they would love to travel given an unlimited budget, ask about where they have travelled that they loved, ask about guilty pleasure musically. Now, some people will be sticks in the mud and not answer. But I’ve found people respond to unusual, but not overly personal, questions.

      Also, people love to talk a bout themselves. So if you can just get the conversation flowing, it will help you.

      Finally, ask opinions/favors of others. That makes them like you. If you phrase it as “can you do me a favor?” Then ask for an opinion, it’s a double-win.

      For example “can you do me a favor?” “I can’t decide if I like the chocolate teapot model or the Carmel dipped in nuts model, do you have a favorite?”

    6. Sandi*

      “While I think that the people that I currently surround myself with are toxic”

      It is okay to let those people go. I have a friend who had many toxic friends because they didn’t think that anyone else would want to be around them. They would meet someone toxic, that person would see an easy target and want to be friends, and suddenly they had a big collection of them. Learning to value themselves and dump those toxic people was the best thing, and they slowly replaced them with really good friends. It took a longer time but much better for all of us. I don’t know if that is the case for you, but good luck either way.

      1. Vina*


        Also read up on toxicity and setting boundaries.

        Could it be part of what’s going on is that you have some concerns about your own ability to set boundaries with people?

        1. Vina*

          IDK that it is the case, but just want to flag it should it be part of it.

          I’d rather raise it and be wrong than not raise it and have you suffer.

          1. ampersand*

            I’m not the OP, but I’ve recently concluded that this is what’s happened in my life–my boundary-stomping family of origin never taught me about setting boundaries (either how to or that it’s a good thing to do), and I’m just *now* realizing how that’s translated into letting toxic people into my life (mainly, I become friends with people who are emotionally draining and not true friends). This can be hard to identify if it’s all you’re used to, and I’m glad you flagged it just in case anyone else needed to hear it!

      2. Anxious Cat Servant*

        This. Thanks to a toxic family, I had a hard time finding non-toxic friends. Fortunately at one point I found one good person who introduced me to others but it wasn’t until I dealt with my underlying framework installed by my dysfunctional family that I was able to recognize the less extreme toxic people in my life. The neat thing is that the more I hang around with good, kind, non-toxic people, the better I feel about myself and the better a person I am.

    7. Morning reader*

      I’ve lived in my new region for about three years now, and I was making some good attempts to get out in the community and get to know people. Volunteering, book club, senior center and so on. I’ve noticed that when I am with someone else (a friend visiting from old home place for instance), I also get involved in more conversations with new people. I don’t know if I’m less approachable alone (I’m not good at striking up conversations) or if my companions are more approachable or if other people feel more comfortable chatting with a couple or 2 or 3 women together or what. I’ve noticed even my next door neighbors are friendlier and chattier when I have others visiting vs being in my yard by myself. Perhaps people think approaching a woman on her own can be perceived as threatening. Perhaps I give out shy awkward “please don’t talk to me” vibes when alone and I’m defaulting to more sociability When with others. Who knows? My advice, bring a wingman sometimes, someone more extroverted than you.

    8. Artemesia*

      I am an introvert and not someone who was ever immensely popular but when we moved to a new city where we knew only our daughter’s family, I needed to build us a social life and I knew my husband would not do that. I found that they key was to be enthusiastic about events I was participating in (e.g. not my sarcastic self, but positive during that initial acquaintance) and to take the initiative. We have lived in Chicago for 8 years now and within two years we had a nice social circle of two very close friend couples whom we saw every week and another half dozen couples we often socialized with for plays or dinners out or dinner parties etc and then another dozen of couples and singles we sometimes socialized with. It all stemmed from me when I would meet someone — usually a woman my age at a book discussion or meet up walk or club — I would get their number and arrange to meet for lunch. If we hit it off I would arrange a dinner out with our husbands — and from that we built a nice social circle.

      So being welcoming, taking initiative and being positive about that play or restaurant or whatever you are celebrating all helped me accumulate friends who then mostly were happy to be with my more ascerbic self once they got to know me.

      1. Artemesia*

        PS during the pandemic these friends are now in our movie club on zoom and we are beginning to meet one couple at a time in an open air setting e.g. drinks on our rooftop, dinner on their rooftop or in a park etc where we can social distance but see each other. Others we meet for drinks on zoom to chat with.

      2. JustKnope*

        Wow! As someone who wants to embark on a friend-seeking mission like yours (and has been thinking a lot about it lately) I’m impressed by your persistence, strategies and success!

  6. Friend of Bill*

    I am celebrating my 30th anniversary of sobriety this weekend. I know this is a tough time for those wishing to abstain from alcohol. Can I hear from my AAM fellow travelers? How are you doing? Anyone counting days? I just discovered a podcast called Back From Broken. It is interviews with people who are in recovery from alcohol and mental illness and PTSD etc. Highly recommended. I am almost finished with the run. Does anyone have any other podcasts like this to recommend?

    1. Doctor is In*

      Congratulations! It is tempting to drink more than usual in stressful times. Good job.

    2. Also sober*

      Congrats. I’ll be 19 yrs sober this Monday!
      I don’t go to AA anymore, but my friend does and she is attending online meetings which she says is helpful.
      I will check that podcast out; I don’t know of any others, sorry.

    3. nep*

      Not a podcast recommendation, but (here I go again) pretty much anything by Dr Gabor Maté. On YouTube you can search his name along with themes you’re looking for…see whether he resonates.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        nep, I made a promise to myself that every time you mention Gabor Mate, I will take the time to explore his video list and watch one I have not seen yet. Thank you SO much! I will do that today. After seeing him speak, I feel like a plant that has been watered. :)

        1. nep*

          Oh my goodness, Nervous Nellie. That is such a great way to put it. SAME.
          May you find one that speaks to you. He’s truly a gift to humanity.

    4. Lemonwhirl*

      Highly recommend John Moe’s excellent “The Hilarious World of Depression” (which sadly was recently dropped by its distributor but hopefully the archives will be around for a long time). I particularly recommend the “crossover” episode that he did with Ana Marie Cox of “With Friends Like These” – she speaks so movingly her of struggles with addiction and mental illness. Really relatable and helped me understand my mom in ways that I never had before, since she struggled with some of the same issues.

      1. Friend of Bill*

        congratulations. You are not alone. Its easy to find on-line meetings. Just go to your area intergroup website. Also one good part of the pandemic is that from the midwest I can go anywhere. I go to a 7:30 (6:30 for me) am meeting in Brooklyn NY, every day. Keeps me on an even keel and reminds me that the good life I have today started there.

    5. cleo*

      Magnificent Obsession by Jim Nayder. First person stories of addiction and recovery. It was a show on public radio. The host died a few years ago and some of the archives are available as a podcast.

    6. Lulubell*

      Three and half years sober here. :) I never did AA but the HOME podcast was what I listened to when I quit. Holly Whitaker and Laura McKowen hosted, and both released books earlier this year. The podcast was a mix of them sharing their personal experiences, plus interviews with doctors, authors, spiritual leaders, etc on various aspects of sobriety.

      Congrats to you on this major milestone!

    7. Anonnington*

      I went substance-free nearly four months ago. That was after four years of gradually phasing out drinking and realizing I prefered to be sober. I don’t go to meetings, but I’m on an adjacent path, just appreciating sub-free living. Congrats on 30 years!

    8. Come On Eileen*

      30 years is AMAZING. Congrats to you! Fellow friend here walking the road of happy destiny. I have 6.5 years and I love Belle’s Sober Insights podcast. It’s more aimed at people in early sobriety but I still get a lot out of it because she talks a lot about how sobriety becomes the foundation that makes the rest of life possible – and the rest of life can be great when we get rid of alcohol. I also like The Bubble Hour, which sounds similar in that it’s interviews with people who are sober or trying to get sober.

      1. Friend of Bill*

        Eileen! I almost wrote is there anyone on AAM trudging the road to happy destiny. I love that phrase. I will look for those podcasts. Early sobriety is good to hear. Keeps it fresh. My last bender was the day after July 4th. Made it through the 4th, went out the next.
        Too ra loo ra too ra loo rye aye!

  7. Marcina*

    I only came across Ask A Manager about a month ago. I have so enjoyed it, I went to Amazon to see what books Alison had written. Amazon must have a very interesting search algorithm. The first two books returned in a search for Alison Green are her “Managing to Change the World” and “Ask a Manager”. But the third book returned on the search is “What Do They Do With All That Poo?” by Jane Kurtz and Allison Black. There’s a cute drawing of a zookeeper with a wheelbarrow containing a towering mountain of Poop.

    At first I thought it was a strange error. Then I realized that Allison spends a lot of time helping people dealing with all sorts of crap. So – actually closely related, and maybe the Amazon search algorithm is just much more clever than I had given them credit for!

    1. Bibliovore*

      FYI, “what do they do with all that poo?” is a fabulous book and a great read aloud.

      1. Ranon*

        I have read that book so many times to my 3.5 year old. Definitely recommend for the 3 year old set, it’s been wildly popular with all the ones we’ve shared it with.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      Sounds like the algorithm expects people to interchange Alison and Allison and any surname that is also a color.

      1. Marcina*

        Oh, I’m sure you’re right. But it makes me happier to think the algorithm picked up “Books about People who have to deal with a lot of sh..crap for a living.”

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          And maybe they are factoring in phrases from this blog… poo boss, aND all the other times that question #2 was, well, #2 related.

  8. The Grey Lady*

    I typically go and see my grandparents every summer (by plane, as they live several hours away), but I am not going this year because of Covid. They are upset with me for canceling my annual visit and have accused me of not caring about them. They aren’t worried about the virus because they live in a rural area where they don’t have much contact with people. That is true, but I live in a pretty big city that is a Covid hotspot. I just don’t feel safe travelling right now. I have promised them that I will come and see them as soon as I can, but they’re still upset and I’m feeling guilty. Does anyone have any good advice for what I can say to make them understand that I DO care and the virus IS a major concern?

    1. Bob_NZ*

      “I don’t want to be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus and be the one cause your death”??

      Because that’s what it comes down to, isn’t it? – the chance, no matter how slight – that you might inadvertently be a carrier of the virus from your city Covid19 hotspot to where they live?

      You choosing not to travel is an act of love. You are protecting your grandparents (and everyone else you would come in to contact with while travelling). You are also protecting someone your grandparents love (you!).

      1. tangerineRose*

        Yeah, this. You care, and you don’t want to accidentally bring them a deadly virus.

      2. ThePear8*

        Yeah this. Basically the understanding that if they got it they really could die, and that you love them and aren’t willing to risk their lives, even if it means sacrificing your time with them.
        It’s very tough not being able to see loved ones and friends during this time. But it’s important to keep them safe.

    2. Homo neanderthalensis*

      Sometimes folks who love you and want to see you are willing to shoulder the risk on themselves. In another context this is nice. In this context not so much. Maybe remind them that the risk isn’t just that you’d bring the virus to them- which would kill you- but also all the people in the airport- all the people in the plane- all the people at the rental car center- all the people in the rest stops, ETC ETC. Maybe if your grandparents are generally compassionate people, even if they disagree with the risks to themselves as important, they could see how worried you are about potentially being a vector or carrier to all the people you’d have to interact with along your trip to see them.

    3. Not A Manager*

      “I love you too much to ever endanger you.”

      “I understand that you don’t think there’s a great risk, and that you’re willing to undertake that risk, but I couldn’t live with myself if I thought I’d harmed you in any way.”

      “Thank you for loving me so much that you are sad that I’m not visiting. I love you too much to visit this year.”

    4. RagingADHD*

      At one point when my elderly dad was leaning on me to come over too soon, I said, “Nothing you say now can ever absolve me if I accidentally put you in the hospital or kill you. I could not live with that guilt.”

      He got it.

    5. nep*

      You might just have to accept that no matter what you say or do, they’re going to be upset about your not visiting. Good move, not visiting. Sorry they’re making it rough for you.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, it’s certainly not impossible to find a magical combination of words which will suddenly make them understand (I’ve seen that happen, although not in this context) but… you’ll probably not? I feel like this is a situation where you’ll just have to live with their being upset while holding steadfast in your resolve and absolving yourself from any guilt.

    6. Akcipitrokulo*

      Repitition. Reassurance. They may be more worried than they are letting on, and (illogically) wanting contact because of that.

      Possibly increasing contact could help, if you are able – maybe send some long & chatty emails? Which has the dual advantage of something different and nice and showing caring, and means you don’t have to deal with a guilt trip to keep in contact. (Usual calls keeping going also good.)

      At the end of the day, you can’t make them be ok with this. You don’t control their feelings.

      You can be understanding, kind and reassuring that you do love them.

      And firm, preferably without debating. Accept the complaints will happen, and let them pass by you. Acknowledge the feelings, but don’t debate the result. “I know it’s hard for all of us. I love you.”

      I think they will eventually accept this. But if they don’t, then that is not on you.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Depending on where you & they live, you might have to quarantine 2 weeks when you get back. Or not enter your work site for 2 weeks.
      And all their neighbors would be put at risk if someone sneezes on you in transit.

      1. pancakes*

        It doesn’t sound like they have many neighbors, since they’re in a rural area. Passing through airports twice and being on a plane twice would definitely put the commenter at risk, though. I’d try to emphasize that aspect of it. If they’re not worried about themselves, fine, but it doesn’t follow that their grandkids shouldn’t worry about risking their own health.

    8. Eeniemeenie*

      You can’t change the way they feel. There’s good advice from other posters but if you try all this and they are still upset, go onto working on your own acceptance about their feelings. That’s sometimes harder than trying to convince someone to change their mind.

    9. Artemesia*

      Can you up your on line video chatting or do other things to show extra concern (maybe even send them a couple of nice face masks ). And then stop discussing it. ‘Gram, you know how much I like visiting you and Granddaddy but it would just kill me to carry this to you; it probably wouldn’t make me all that sick but it could easily make you very miserable or even kill you. I could not live with that. I have made up my mind on this so let’s not discuss it anymore.’ Then refuse to discuss and if they don’t cut it off it is ‘well, I have to run, we’ll talk on Saturday’. and then call them back on Saturday and again if they won’t drop it get off the phone.

      These are tough times for everyone — I so miss my own grandkids whom I used to have overnight at least once a week and now see only on carefully socially distanced walks while masked.

    10. Courageous cat*

      I would just work the “think about how I will feel if I give you this disease, especially if you are injured or worse – think about how painful that would be for me”

    11. Um, yeah, no*

      I am dealing with an adult who’s being guilt tripped by his elderly (though by no means helpless) parent. The parent wants a visit (to their hot spot region) 2000 miles from our rural, mostly contained region. My parent is being reasonable (different hot spot, similar distance) in understanding that no one is traveling till vaccine or containment.
      I wish people would be reasonable about the real problems with this pandemic.
      And I wish everyone could internalize that we are not responsible for anyone else’s feelings in this way. You won’t be able to change their minds, but you can express the love you have for them, and that is sufficient.

  9. IOU*

    Does anyone work in property management or adjacent fields? (Not actually a work question, I promise!)

    I’m writing a short story, with a scifi/fantasy angle, and I’m going to have a character disappear for 6 to 9 months (living in the U.S.). And I have no idea what would actually be waiting for them when they get back. Single, lives alone, renting an apartment, no friends or family in the area. After the first month when no rent is paid… what happens? I can read about the eviction process, but what actually happens the first month after a missed rent check/draft, if the person can’t be contacted by phone, mail, in person, and is clearly not living there anymore?

    Has this every happened to anyone? Tenant just picks up and leaves with no word, leaves all their stuff behind? Would my character’s things still be there because of red tape, or would they come back to find someone else living in their apartment?

    Any help or direction would be appreciated!

    1. The Grey Lady*

      Well, I don’t actually work in property management or anything, but my understanding is they would come back and find someone else living in their apartment. If you leave your apartment without notice, you could potentially be sued in small claims court for unpaid rent. Otherwise, if you do leave without notice, this is considered abandonment and means that you would forfeit your security deposit. As far as for what to do with the person’s belongings, state laws differ on this. In some cases, the complex has to put the stuff in storage. In other cases, they can just throw the stuff away or donate it after a certain period of time. It depends. But the complex is going to do whatever they can to get a new tenant in there.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Try googling abandoned property and tenant laws for the state in question, because there are legal requirements about stuff like this.

      But before that – a non payment of rent often starts the eviction process immediately (because the process is lengthy). But if they cannot contact the person, including by knocking at the door, they could contact the police, who would conduct a wellness check. People dying in their apartments unnoticed is a thing that happens. When there’s no dead body, but the person has apparently vanished leaving all their possessions, food in the fridge and money in the bank, there could be a missing person’s report. Next of kin might be contacted, or the person’s employer.

      The apartment would definitely be empty and rented to someone else after a few months. The details of the possessions would depend on local law, but after six months they’d have been sold or thrown out or collected by the next of kin – by that point, the landlord would have been able to make a reasonable effort to contact the ex tenant and is not obliged to pay for indefinite storage for someone who is probably dead.

      The other possibility would be that the tenant had all the payments set up automatically – their rent and utilities would still be paid, so no eviction, and if the landlord doesn’t need to make repairs or otherwise contact the tenant, they might not have noticed the empty place.

    3. Dr Rat*

      In the US, unless automatic payments were set up, in most cases it is as the others have mentioned: the personal effects would have been either put in storage or thrown out, depending on state laws, and someone else would be living in the apartment. If you’re looking for a storyline in which they come back and everything is still there, covered in dust, you’d probably have to make some adjustments. You can Google Section 8 – if the government was paying for the apartment, it would be different. Of course, you could make it a privately rented “mother-in-law” apartment rented by an individual rather than a corporation, and invent a scenario where at around the time the renter disappears, the owner is, say, put into a nursing home, and a legal situation prevents anyone from realizing no rent is being paid.

      There was a case of 2 sisters in the US who died and their bodies were not found for something like 2 years because they had everything set up for automatic payments – so the lawn was still being mowed, the home was already paid off, the taxes were paid, etc. Google Dreams of a Life for a sad situation in London.

    4. WS*

      I’m not in the US, but had the police come around to ask about a patient of my workplace who had gone missing, and it was the second month of missed rent that triggered the welfare check – the first month was covered by their deposit when they rented the place, so they received a letter about it but it wasn’t until a month after that that the rental agency tried seriously to contact them. The rental agency had to serve an eviction notice to the premises, and 30 days after that packed up everything and put it in a storage unit (at the agency’s expense – they did not have to do that, but goodwill is important in a small town). Sadly, a few days later they found the car by a scenic overlook in the national park and a few months later a body.

    5. Anonnington*

      If they couldn’t reach the tenant, they would try their emergency contact. If that didn’t work, they probably contact the police to report the person missing. After 30 days (or whatever the specified time limit was), they would post an eviction notice on the door. Once the eviction period had expired, they would clean out the apartment.

      At that point, they would need to find out if it was a real missing person case from a legal perspective or just a case of abandoned property. If it was the first, the police or the person’s extended family would get access to whatever they left behind (and maybe sooner than the end of the eviction process). If they could determine that the person was alive but had abandoned the apt, they would take posession of anything left behind, It would all be sold or thrown into a dumpster.

      In either case, the apartment would be completely cleaned and re-rented within about two months of the time it was abandoned. Local laws would determine the time frame. Someone else would be living in the apt, you’d be sued for all expenses, you might be wanted as a missing person, and you might also be sued for feigning your own disappearance (I think that can happen if a lot of resources were invested in looking for you).

      1. Anonnington*

        Also! A landlord who only owns one or two properties might not follow standard procedures. For the sake of the story, you could have an eccentric landlord react in an unusual way.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yes, you can go in any number of directions. You could have an elderly and wealthy landlord who viewed main character as another grandchild and was actually very concerned so they kept everything in place waiting for the main character’s return.

          Or you can go the opposite way with evil landlord who puts all their belongings out at the curb one day after the rent is due, because Law? What Law? Some landlords think they are above the law.

    6. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      If you need them to not lose the apartment, have them set up automatic payments. My current landlord has that as a condition of the lease, and the electric company would probably be happy to do the same. There’s a common “level billing” option; if I signed up for that, and then told my bank to pay that amount every month, the electric company wouldn’t notice anything except an overage if I turned off all the lights and the computer, walked out the door, and vanished for several months.

      T-Mobile would notice if we stopped paying the bill, but they’d just cut off service, not call the police for a welfare check. With the above set-up, if I dropped out of sight, there’s a credit card company that would start charging fees and sending notices: that would be a hassle at best for your character when they returned, but wouldn’t get them evicted or reported missing.

      (I don’t work in the field, so this is just personal anecdote.)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Some places a person can sign up for their postal carrier to report if they do not take their mail from the mail box. The postal carrier would call for a welfare check.

    7. Jack be Nimble*

      If the person has a job, their place of work might call in a welfare check after a week or so, depending on the field and the type of work. If it was a seasonal job or one with a lot of turnover, they’d probably just terminate the character for job abandonment, but if it was a longer-term role, I think they’d probably notify an emergency contact/landlord/police after a few days.

      If the police are notified, I think there’d be a missing persons report, but investigating adult disappearances is often a low priority if there are no suspicious or dangerous circumstances — if the apartment was left in total disarray with a smashed lock and signs of a struggle, they’d investigate more than if it looked like the person had just left quietly and under their own power.

      1. Jackalope*

        I have in the past requested that my employers do that. I was living alone for awhile and they were the ones who saw me most regularly, so I told my boss, “You know I’m super reliable and always on time. If I’m ever late, call out the Calvary, since it means something is wrong.” Never needed it but I was so glad she said yes.

    8. LegallyRed*

      In most (all?) places in the U.S., the landlord would have to pursue a judicial eviction. That’s more than just posting a notice and waiting out a prescribed period of time; the landlord would actually have to sue the tenant for eviction and win. (A fairly open and shut case if rent has gone unpaid.) Usually, the eviction can be filed within days of the missed payment (5, 10, maybe as many as 30 days depending on the jurisdiction) and another 30-60 days would pass before a court date and a final order that would ultimately allow the landlord to complete the eviction and dispose of any leftover property.

      While a welfare check is certainly a possibility, I think most landlords (especially large commercial landlords) would not go to such lengths. I think they would be more likely to assume (as is usually the case in such matters) that the tenant is unable to pay the rent for whatever reason and is avoiding the matter. Also, when the sheriff comes to serve the eviction notice they don’t actually have to make contact with the tenant (personal service); they can just leave the summons on the door (service by posting). (Again, some jurisdictions may do it differently but I would assume this is the standard practice in most places in the U.S. because it is derived from the common law.)

      Source: I used to work as a lawyer for a non-profit that helped people with housing issues.

    9. Green Mug*

      In Wisconsin, the landlord can empty the fridge/throw out spoiling food after 30 days. Formal eviction is after 3 months. They hold possessions for 3 (or 6 maybe) months after eviction. Good luck!

    10. Can Can Cannot*

      Depending on where they lived they would be evicted 2-4 months after the first rent payment is missed. Their stuff would be either put in storage or put on the curb, also depending on where they lived. There would likely be someone else living in their old apartment when they returned.

      If you want to let them come back, you can have the rent paid via automatic payments, withdrawing rent every month. Some landlords like this since it reduces late payments. You could also put utilities on auto payments. If things are auto paid, the apartment should be in exactly the same condition as when they left.

      If you are wondering if something like this could happen, and that no one would notice, do a Google search on Pia Farrenkopf. Farrenkopf was found in her house approximately five years after she died. She had all of her bills and mortgage paid via auto payments. Since everything was taken care of financially, there were no flags raised. It was only when her bank account fell to zero that the bank foreclosed and someone from the bank visited the house.

    11. Junior Assistant Peon*

      If you need an excuse for the character’s stuff to still be there, maybe the building or complex has a high vacancy rate and there wasn’t any urgency for the landlord to empty the apartment and get another tenant in there.

  10. Grim*

    Happy Independence weekend everyone! What are your July 4th plans? I’m planning on a staycation Grill n’ Chill at home with wifey.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Absolutely nothing. Actually, the 4th is my birthday. I’m lukewarm on that since I’ve had enough of those to last me awhile, thanks, but I suspect I’ll be spending it at the ER with a listless and anorexic cat. I am not thrilled about that but I have to assume I’ll be a lot better once she’s been seen by a vet and started on . . . whatever they need to do for her. So right now I’m kind of wretched but 24 hours from now we’ll all probably be OK, or at least on the road to OK.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Update: Kitty ate this morning! She has an appointment with the regular vet on Monday, anyway (it was either going to be for shots or “ain’t doin’ right”) but if she’ll eat I think a trip to the ER is averted.

        I found a kitten at the park five weeks ago and have been managing the usual stray-kitten illnesses (upper respiratory infection, gastrointestinal parasites). He’s doing really well and I have a great home lined up for him, but, wow, are these cats putting me through the wringer.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          I’m glad kitty is feeling better – it’s been a bad year for cats. In my fam / friends group, we’ve lost 18 in the last 14 months. Most of them were old age, but there were a couple of younger losses.

      2. Jaid*

        My kittygirl wasn’t eating either. I thought it was because she’s 20, but the vet said it was her thyroid and started her on medication.

        I did switch up her food from the pate style to a minced/chunk in gravy style. This morning, she ate a whole can! (๑ˊ͈ ॢꇴ ˋ͈)〜♡॰ॱ

        I wish you and the fur children well!

      3. Anxious Cat Servant*

        I’m so, so sorry. We went through something similar a couple months ago and it’s not something I’d wish on my enemy. I hope all goes well and she’s able to get the care she needs and you’re able to find the peace you need during this time.

    2. Pam*

      I will eat chips and try and keep the dogs from harming themselves. They REALLY hate fireworks.

      1. Alexandra Lynch*

        I hate loud random bangs and whistles, and around here people have been doing that any night of the week since the last week of April.

        I know it is not technically legal on Memorial Day but I will stretch a point in charity.

        However, I object, violently, to random mortar rounds on a Tuesday night at 11:30 pm.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Fireworks and thunderstorms are about the only good things about my Elder Statesdog going deaf. She used to get so scared, poor thing, and now she doesn’t even bat an eyelash.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I’m in England where it isn’t Independence Day but it is the first day pubs have been allowed to open since March. We are Not Going Out.

      1. Vina*

        Husband just put the ribs on (Kansas city sauce in the offing). Will have it with a wedge/blue cheese salad, fries, and then a blackberry pie. If I’m not lazy, homemade vanilla ice cream.

        I have to work today for a client who is having emergency surgery and wants to update a will. When I’m done, it will be eating and cheesy movie time. I think the theme this year is Indiana Jones adjacent. Like Tom Selleck’s movie and the Quartermaine movies).

        I’m sure the doggies will spend the evening staring at us eating those ribs and hoping we drop some.

    4. ..Kat..*

      I am on call. If I get called in, I make time and a half and will treat myself to something. If I don’t get called in, I get paid a small hourly amount for being on call – I will be paid for sleeping in!

    5. Jaid*

      Wearing red, white, and blue boxer shorts and a red t-shirt for the day. Maybe making some seafood congee, braised meatballs, and miso glazed eggplant. I’ll be going back to work on the 13th and it’s time to step up my prep skills on foods that will fit into my Mr Bento thermos so I can avoid the breakroom microwave…

    6. Anonnington*

      I plan to hide from the world, but I might catch some fireworks later on. I’ll see how my dog reacts and if I need to stay home to comfort him.

    7. Choggy*

      We are having my MIL over for a social distancing BBQ, have not seen her since this has all started, though my husband has done short visits with her (wearing a mask). We will be on our good-sized back deck and make sure to keep 6 feet of distance, and she won’t need to into the house but to use the bathroom which is near the deck. While I have not been out in public (and when I do, I always wear a mask), my husband is a nurse in a psych hospital. No cases in his building and his Covid tests have all come back negative, but not taking any changes. Unfortunately, his MIL has been visiting with his sister, who had been in the hospital to get bariatric surgery and they can’t stay away from one another. So I’m more worried about her than us.

    8. Corky's Wife Bonnie*

      I was really in the mood for a seafood night instead of the usual hot dogs & hamburgers. Yesterday I picked up some lobster rolls, shrimp, lobster bisque and littleneck clams to steam. I can’t wait for dinner!!!!

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Swam. (Outdoor pool really careful about physical distancing.) Battered chest muscles so grateful it opened.

      I bought hamburgers to make tonight. Probably watch A Voice in the Dark.

    10. WellRed*

      I puttered around the house etc. I’m now at my local Applebee’s cause it’s the 4th and I wanted a burger and didn’t get any cookout invites. It’s pretty well done in terms of social distancing and masks.

    11. LDF*

      I’m celebrating freedom by donating to orgs helping immigrants detained at the southern border.

    12. Jackalope*

      At my place it’s like a war zone. I would love to go to bed and it’s well after 11 but I don’t think that’s in the near future. Sigh.

  11. RMNPgirl*

    Anyone else already watch Hamilton?

    I saw it on stage when the tour started, I had to wait in an online queue for over an hour but was able to get good seats. I loved it in the theatre but I might love the film more. Even with good seats, you can’t see all the expressions and nuances in performances. This filmed version allows that and I felt like I got more out of the show. (Also, closed-captioning was sooo helpful!)

    1. Doctor is In*

      Watched it today! Very well filmed, of course not as good as live. Video quality was poor on our Samsung TV but we switched to running it through Roku and it was fine. Well with a month subscription to Disney +

      1. Artemesia*

        Did you do a trial month or something? I am trying to limit my pay channels to one plus netflix — and right now I am doing Acorn and netflix — last year it was Britbox — when I run out of British (French and Australian) murder mysteries on Acorn we will drop it and add another one. I can’t imagine there is much on Disney I want to watch.

        1. Cat*

          I don’t think they’re doing that right now but there’s no commitment. My plan is to pay for one month at $6.99 and then drop it. (I might try to watch the Star Wars movies again while I have it.)

    2. IndoMex*

      I stayed up and watched it. I’ve seen it once in person and know the album very well but seeing their faces up close really added to the experience and helped me even better connect with the scenes. Probably one of my favorite pieces of art!

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I’m partway through. I’m enjoying it – as is spouse, who isn’t really into musicals as a genre – but I don’t get the fuss.

      I’m glad I didn’t go when my friend invited me, because the closed captions are essential (I lipread in real life).

      I’m learning some US history I didn’t know, which is always cool too. I’m in the UK so I’ve done only European history at school and university.

      1. Altair*

        I think part of the fuss is the combination of/examples of popular US musical styles which are unusual for Broadway musicals, so if you don’t have that musical background it makes sense that those musical quotations and styles aren’t grabbing you in the same way they grab those of us who grew up with them.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      I read the biography that inspired it, but haven’t watched it yet. Can’t wait, but I promised my son I’d watch it with him, so we’re planning to watch it today.

    5. Lych*

      I don’t live in the US or UK, so going to see it live has never really been an option for me. Over the years I have listened to the album so many times that I can sing along to all of it. I think Hamilton is uniquely suited to just listening instead of seeing the whole musical, since there is barely anything in between songs. But it was still really cool to actually see it be performed, and it did make for a very different experience!

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      For the interested: There is a book called “Hamilton: The Revolution” that’s basically a combination of behind-the-scenes articles/essays about the development of the musical, the cast, etc alternated with a libretto annotated with footnotes by LMM. The physical version is $24 or so, but at least a couple days ago, the Kindle version was $3.99.

      It’s not a “traditional” e-book — they basically digitized the physical book, which is more of a coffee table style book with full-screen color pictures, two page spreads and the like, so I don’t know how well it would lend itself to screen reader tech, but it is a very pretty book (in both editions – I got my husband the physical version for Christmas a couple years ago), and the “behind the music” parts (both the essays and the footnotes) were really interesting to read. I haven’t watched it yet, that’s on the docket for sometime this weekend, but the libretto might be a little easier to follow in some of the busier songs than closed caption lyrics too?

    7. Felicia*

      I watched it last night and thought it was ok, good even, but I didn’t love it. I went in knowing nothing about it, including the history (I’m not American ) and I was a bit confused at first. I got it eventually and there was nothing wrong with it but I just didn’t get the love.

      I’ve seen A Lot of musicals live ( I live in the Canadian city they all come to) and Hamilton is not in my top 10. Musically I prefer the soundtrack of in The Heights , think it was Lin Manuel Miranda’s better work and was super disappointed the movie was postponed.

      It was super hard to tell anyone I know irl that I didn’t love it, and it’s surprisingly hard to not love something that’s a global phenomenon. At least this is anonymous! So if anyone else thought Hamilton was just ok, it’s not just you.

      1. Just Lurking*

        I tried watching it last night, got about 20 minutes in and had to shut it off. I just…didn’t care? Couldn’t see what all the hype was about?

        I love musicals and have seen several in person (including big names, like “Wicked”) but just couldn’t get into this one. I liked the creative approach as far as having hip-hop/rap/jazz inspired songs and loved that so many people of color were cast. I guess my biggest issue at the end of the day is that I just don’t care much about Alexander Hamilton’s life and times, and this particular flavor of US history does not hold my attention.

        1. Felicia*

          I’m really glad it’s not just me! I’ve seen a solid 30 musicals in person over the past 10 years.

          You explained one of the reasons I wasn’t into it better than I could- I didn’t care about any of the characters or events.

          I only watched the whole thing to say that I did but I did first think about stopping after 20 minutes

        2. Different Strokes*

          Yeah, if you’re the kind of person for whom Wicked is a good musical, Hamilton probably just isn’t gonna be your jam.

          1. Felicia*

            I enjoyed at least the soundtrack and what I know of the story of Lin Manuel Miranda’s other musical In The Heights far more so I don’t think it’s the style at least for me

          2. Cat*

            It’s funny – I love Hamilton but have seen Wicked twice and disliked it both times. I felt like I must be missing something since so many people loved it.

        3. Black Horse Dancing*

          It’s not just you. I saw it on TV and was meh. I love musicals, this one was ok. I found the subject matter mildly OK–I love history–but Alexander Hamilton was actually, as presented, a jerk who liked to humiliate his wife and cheated on her. (And his whiny song about ‘tell me how to say no’..ew.) HIs wife and SIL are far more compelling.

            1. Black Horse Dancing*

              I understand that but he’s a jerk. Self centered. Again, for me, it was meh. For me, none of the characters are compelling/have depth.

              1. Luffi*

                That’s interesting! I’ve never seen the musical but the historical Hamilton was definitely a difficult person. So sounds like they got that right :)

          1. TL -*

            I read him less as a jerk and more as a flawed human being who made bad decisions in moments of stress. And I don’t think he liked to humiliate or cheat on his wife; he didn’t do with her in mind (which is absolutely a problem, but a different one.)

            I think a lot of people read him as relatably flawed and sympathetic. (There are lots of people who think cheating is an unforgivable sin and that’s a fair interpretation but there’s lots of other valid ones as well.)

      2. pancakes*

        Toni Morrison didn’t like it at all, and financed a play by Ishmael Reed called “The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda” that critiques it.

        1. Altair*

          I read about that play, and I kind of want to ask Ishmael Reed what he thinks should be done with all the performers whose career has been advanced by _Hamilton_. Does he think they’re traitors for having been in it?

          Liking or not liking a work is not and shouldn’t be considered to be a matter of politics, but I do know that one aspect I enjoyed about _Hamilton_ was seeing a cast full of Black and Brown people who weren’t being relegated to yet another story in the genre of Stories About Being POC. Which are really valuable stories! But they aren’t the only stories that can be told about or by us.

          1. pancakes*

            I don’t think anyone, Reed included, questions the obvious talent of the Hamilton cast.

    8. Solar Moose*

      LOVED IT.

      My (now) husband and I were supposed to see it for our honeymoon in April. LMM gave us a gift :)

    9. Sorcha*

      Yeah, I watched it yesterday and loved it. I’ve seen the show on stage in London three times, but getting to see the original Broadway cast in such detail was amazing. And the direction was great – some of the framing choices Kail made were inspired!

      I started watching again at midnight my time because the cast were doing a Twitter party watchalong, but I was so tired I had to go to bed after Satisfied. :) I caught up with the Twitter list this morning, it was so fun.

      I think I’ll be rewatching quite a lot. Thankfully I already had a Disney+ subscription.

    10. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      I fell in love with the soundtrack when it was first released, and was lucky enough to see it live in Chicago with Wayne Brady as Aaron Burr. My hubby and I (both fans, though I’m more of a superfan) watched it last night with my 23 year old daughter and her same aged girlfriend. Daughter knew of the soundtrack and story from us second hand, girlfriend was a 100% newbie and didn’t know anything.

      We all absolutely loved it, and it was kind of sweet to have all 4 of us sobbing our way through the second act. For me the big OMG moments were Satisfied – holy s*it Renée Elise Goldsberry can SING, every single time Daveed Diggs was onstage, and Lin and Phllipa’s expressions during It’s Quiet Uptown. I’m sure I’ll find even more on re-watch.

    11. Colette*

      I watched it yesterday. I went in knowing the soundtrack but hadn’t seen it. (I had tickets for June, which is when it was supposed to be here. They have been moved to December but we will see,)

    12. Esme*

      Watched it today and also donated to a charity supporting theatre professionals during the pandemic. Disney+ is raking it in while all employees of Hamilton London are losing their jobs. It was so good – but hearing a full theatre applaud broke my heart.

    13. EllaBella*

      As a black person, it lost me when POC were portraying racist white historical characters. Between that and the other historical inaccuracies, I did not enjoy it when I watched it.

      1. Altair*

        That’s been a very common criticism of _Hamilton_, yes. You’re definitely not alone.

        OTOH, when I first listened to it I loved hearing various musical styles originated by POC brought to Broadway, and delighted in seeing so many actors of color in a story that wasn’t something like _Porgy and BEss_ or _Once On This Island_. And I really enjoyed finding out about Laurens the abolitionist. As a Black woman I found it a very validating musical. Which I bring up because we both exist, right?

    14. Cruciatus*

      I watched it last night and thought it was great. It was so cool to see a lot of the choreography. The dancers really balance that show out. Sometimes they are used as a doctor, or a woman on the street, etc. I felt like they were just as recognizable as the main cast by the end (which is how it should be, but doesn’t always happen in practice).

      I really enjoyed the choreography of sending letters throughout the show.

      Was anyone else surprised to see that Hercules Mulligan/James Madison was played by the actor who plays Dean on Station 19? I didn’t recognize him as Hercules (he wore a hat a lot) but when he came out as sickly Madison I realized it was “Dean”.

    15. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I saw it yesterday, and liked it.

      I liked seeing a Broadway cast that looks like the mix of people I’d see on the streets of New York (though I’m white, which makes the casting choices lower-stakes for me).

    16. Jamboree*

      I saw it a few years ago when it was touring Boston. It ended up being less expensive to buy a season subscription than the individual ticket. So I bought a single season ticket, center stage, for the Saturday matinee and treated myself to a fancy dinner out afterwards and I had so much fun I subscribed for a couple of subsequent seasons, same center dress circle seat each year. I only stopped when I moved away. Now it’s scheduled for dc but it’s too soon for gatherings (also I assume it’ll be cancelled if he hasn’t been already) imho.

  12. WoodswomanWrites*

    Health question about digestion and bloating here, nothing graphic.

    A number of years ago, I noticed that I was bloated when I ate sugary foods. It’s gotten progressively worse to the point where it’s constant, and my belly is so distended I look like I’m pregnant. Three years ago I had an unrelated acute digestive issue and at that time had a battery of tests and procedures that ruled out anything dangerous. A year later I did a follow-up with the doctor to discuss the bloating, and he suspected that I have a decreased amount of enzymes to process fructose, a condition that he said is common with older adults like me. He suggested cutting back on fruit. I’ve done some reading and reduced how much I eat the worst offender–apples–and found a digestive enzyme online for fructose that I can take in advance. That has resolved my discomfort but the bloating is still around and worse.

    Since then I’ve read about FODMAPs and the related diet to address them. I’ve made an appointment with the doctor to get his guidance and will see him soon. In the meantime, I welcome hearing from anyone who has had bloating issues and was able to resolve them.

    1. nep*

      I feel for you. Bloating/distended stomach is the worst.
      I can’t eat apples or pears (or some vegetables) without ending up looking like I’m seven months pregnant, with horrible pain. Same with energy bars esp with peanuts, though less bloating and more overall discomfort. (I’m off energy bars now–the sugariest thing I ate–and my gut is happy for it.)
      I do occasionally get bloating/gas absent any of my apparent triggers. I’ll be interested to read responses here.
      I’ll also be interested to hear what your doc says about it. Hope you’ll find some relief soon.

    2. valentine*

      If you can, stop all fruit and see what happens. Your body might need a break. Are you only bloated or is there gas? What else causes that for you? Do you drink anything carbonated or take in a lot of dairy products? What relieves you may also provide a clue as to the cause, so, different anti-gas remedies are worth trying.

      If he’s not your GP/primary, you could use a full physical with whoever is. You need second and maybe third opinions from someone who will take it seriously and work with you until they can figure out the cause and prevention/treatment.

    3. Detective Rosa Diaz*

      Oh! A friend has that exact intolerance. They learned a lot about fructose and fructanes and are on a strict diet. It’s a pain, but they have a lot more energy now and their bloating has gone away entirely. They are trying to ascertain the limit of what they can consume, i.e. one gin for a G&T, one mandarin a day,…

    4. AGD*

      I’m doing much better on the low-FODMAP diet. My diagnosis was IBS, and cutting out apples and pears and stone fruits (cherries, apricots, peaches, plums) along with the other categories was a challenge for a while but has become normal. I still eat bananas and the occasional orange.

    5. KeinName*

      Yeah, I love the digestion questions! The low FODMAP diet might be very good for your issue, from what I understand of it through my gastroenterologist. It is recommended when your gut cannot handle much, and it changes the bacterial composition, resolving things like IBS and apparently also sometimes IBD. But only as long as you are on this low FODMAP diet, because once you stop the bacterial composition will again change. Ilove garlic and onions too much and they are needed for good gut bacteria, so I have not tried it, even when I was very sick. My bloating and gas was related to histamine intolerance and is now totally manageable by eating low histamine foods and taking a digestive enzyme.

      1. KeinName*

        Oh, and another thing apart from lactose and histamine and gluten intolerance which I was tested on to find out why i have too much gas was a bacterial imbalanace in the lower intestine, which can be treated with a special antiobiotic. So you could also have this.

      2. KeinName*

        And to add another comment: Drinkable clay (no idea what it would be in English or if even available in your country- in German it is called Healing Earth, it is a finely ground mineral) helped me a lot with trapped gas! Truely. It feels like it binds the air to it and you pass gas once and then all is quiet and no bloating.

          1. KeinName*

            I just googled it and: no. It is Loess – very finely ground loess. In German the manufacturer LUVOS names the following components: Silikat, Kalkspat, Dreischichttonminerale, Feldspat, Dolomit.

    6. Tau*

      I have bloating issues, but it sounds like not as bad as yours – my main problem is that one of the places it builds up is below my lung and so my lung volume decreases if I don’t keep it under control. I mainly deal by eating simethicone like it’s candy.

      I do have an aunt with fructose malabsorption and I have to say, a low fructose diet is intense. It sounds like you’ve just reduced it a bit, but it might be worth going all the way for a few weeks – cut out fruit, most vegetables, and sugar – to see if it’s a matter of you still having too much fructose in your diet, or if something else is the culprit.

    7. Mildly Embarrassed*

      Sometimes taking an OTC probiotic helps. I’ve had good luck with “Floragen Digestion”.

      I also find that it helps if I can keep things moving (as in not getting constipated). I will make a point of eating fiber (usually in the form of vegetables) and maybe make a point of eating 8 or 9 prunes before bedtime 2 or 3 times a week. (Every once in a while I might break down and use an OTC laxative, but not often because I don’t want to become dependent on them. The most I would ever use a laxative would be once a week.)

    8. 00ff00Claire*

      The doctor can check for specific problems to hopefully find a cause. I’m not sure, but I think there may be a test they could do to check if it’s specifically fructose malabsorption. I have had a very similar problem and my doctor ordered a hydrogen breath test. There are other breath tests too, that can identify if you have a problem with certain carbohydrates, like lactose. I’m on the low fodmap diet and it’s not that complicated once you get used to it. It has helped me a lot. I started eliminating fodmaps on my own at my doctor’s advice and got some improvement, but then I working with a dietitian and it has helped a lot to have someone help me tailor the diet to my needs. I’m working with her now to see what foods trigger which symptoms (I had others than just bloating, but the bloating was really bad – I too looked pregnant when it occurred). The goal is to add foods back eventually, because it’s not healthy to cut out things and keep them out unnecessarily. If you want good info on the low fodmap diet, look for Kate Scarlata’s book and also a website called Fodmap Everyday. I believe Fodmap Everyday even has an article about enzymes. They may give you some ideas or insights to help you as you talk with your doctor. Everyone is different, so you will have to find what helps you and it might take a while. But I hope this helps and gives you some hope that it is possible to find relief!

    9. WoodswomanWrites*

      I appreciate all the comments and it’s good to hear that people have had good results. Thanks to you all, and I’m taking your comments to heart.

      Some more details that I didn’t mention are that I also have a hiatal hernia as well as GERD (acid reflux), which are contributing factors. Both were diagnosed a few years ago partly because they were affecting my breathing as an asthmatic, after the bloating first started. When I found out about those conditions, I consciously lost weight and I’m on maintenance medication, and that combination has almost completely eliminated symptoms for my breathing and GERD issues. I used to have pain and digestive discomfort, but fortunately that’s gone since I stopped eating so many apples and with taking my fructose enzyme before eating fruit (glucose isomarase). It’s just the bloating I’m dealing with now.

      I looked at a few FODMAP diet lists online and I think I wouldn’t have much trouble with it based on what I already eat. I would miss fruit and cutting out dairy would be the biggest change but I’m willing to do what’s needed to address the problem.

      I have a primary care doctor I trust, and she’s part of the same medical practice as my gastroenterologist. That’s a good suggestion to check in with her.

      1. JustEm*

        Trying low FODMAP sounds like it may be a good next step for you. Food intolerances can be weird! After several elimination diets, I finally figured out that my bloating and abdominal pain occurs if I eat cow or sheep dairy fat (goat is fine), sesame, corn oil, or sunflower oil. If I just do fruit oils (coconut, olive, avocado) and avoid the known triggers I’m more or less fine.

      2. Zweisatz*

        I just want to caution you to get back into fodmaps/fructose/whatever you’re cutting out again after a while (say a maximum of 6 months).
        We eat a varied diet because it’s good and necessary for the human body to get all it needs.
        Even if you have life-long issues with something it’s important to test the boundaries regularly so you’re not unwittingly restricting beyond what’s necessary.

        I did have issues with gluten, lactose, histamine and fructose (and therefore generally also fodmaps). That leaves a very restricted diet. My digestion was better with cutting stuff out but at some point improvements stagnated. I needed to get back into a lot of stuff for it to finally calm down because you also need energy and certain vitamins/minerals for good digestion.
        I pushed the boundaries with food that might give me a little issue but not too bad and now I can eat gluten and histamine no problem. Fructose has gotten considerably better. Only lactose I have to watch (and also take enzymes) but even that has improved so I can eat at least “lactose free” products.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          Thanks for your perspective. I’ve read that the idea for the low FODMAP diet is to figure out triggers and that it’s not meant to be forever, at least for most people. I appreciate your confirmation from your own experience.

      3. SimonKitty*

        Research the Fastrak diet. It’s designed for people with digestive problems and is similar to the FODMAP diet.

    10. cleo*

      Most of my bloating issues resolved themselves after I started therapy to heal from childhood trauma. I did not expect that at all but apparently it’s not uncommon.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I’ve learned that stress is a common trigger for digestive issues but I hadn’t heard about the connection with childhood trauma. Thanks for the info.

        1. cleo*

          You’re welcome! Trauma (like stress) is held in the body and it can cause all sorts of strange seeming symptoms.

          Good luck resolving your digestive issues. Bloating can be so miserable.

  13. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! As usual, this thread is not limited to fiction writing.
    I actually ended up taking a little break from the daily writing thing, and I’ve found that I figured some things out where I’d gotten stuck when I did so. Anyone else have experiences like this, considering the prevalent advice (that I’ve given to people too) to write every day?

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I’ve always interpreted that advice to mean “write SOMETHING every day” but not necessarily towards your project. Sometimes a five minute totally unrelated slash fic clinch does the job, then you go for a walk and iron out the stuck scene in your head.

      I don’t write every day, either by strict rules or my interpretation. Sometimes I read back and edit, sometimes I daydream, sometimes I read advice/tips/coaching. I am teaching my 9yo creative writing at the moment (lockdown home learning) so it’s been good to get back to basics like “how many senses can we invoke in this setting description? if we asked someone to draw it what would their picture look like?”.

    2. KoiFeeder*

      It’s important to do something creative every day, so you don’t get blocked up, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be working on the same project every day. Sometimes you just gotta draw something cursed and call it a day, and that’s alright.

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      I am extremely close to finishing the first draft of my sequel to a fan fiction I wrote a couple of years ago. It’s a behemoth, sixty-chapter thing, and I’m really excited to finish it to get some of my life back!

    4. Tau*

      Ironically, I too just came back to my writing after a short break and I’m definitely having an easier time with the section that was just refusing to come out OK before! Like others have said, it might have been better to just switch projects instead of not writing during that time – but I do think occasional periods where you don’t write for a given project but just let it percolate in your subconscious can be necessary to gain a little perspective on it.

  14. VirtualLight*

    I’m working to make a habit of anti-racist actions, so I’m expanding my budget for monthly charitable contributions and seeing how I can use my money for change.

    I’m looking at 1) bailout funds (pretty straightforward) 2) organizations working against voter suppression, especially in communities of color; and 3) getting money into underbanked/ undercapitalized communities. (So far all I’ve got on that one is putting my money in the bank that serves the Black community in my city, NYC.)

    What do people know about effective & reputable (US) organizations working on these issues? What am I missing? What are your thoughts? Thanks!!

    1. Uncertain*

      Sort of related to VirtualLight’s post: I have been wondering about volunteering in voter registration or other activities that facilitate voting for those who might struggle in the USA. I do not live in the US (and am white and am not American) but could be in the US to volunteer, virus conditions allowing, of course.

      Is this something that can happen and is helpful? I am not familiar with US election protocols, but have been hearing a lot about voter suppression, and since I have recently retired, and all the things I had planned for retirement have been pre-empted by the virus, I have plenty of time on my hands!

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Some things that usually happen around voting in the US:
        Voter registration drives (the clipboards are *everywhere* at the protests)
        Canvassing (go to houses, talk to undecided voters)
        Phone banking (canvassing over the phone, not commercial banking)
        Get out the vote drives
        Working at the polls (US local residents only, but we’re going to need a lot of younger people this year! Older people are the backbone, but COVID’s reduced volunteers. If you know any US younger people, encourage them to work the polls this year. Long day, no phones / texts, small payment, but really important: more volunteers = more polling places can be open.)

        Most require in-person contact, so… this year is going to be weird. Please focus on Pennsylvania (PA), North Carolina (NC), and Florida (FL). Our electoral system makes those three critical – no one can win the presidency without at least one of those three states, and the voter suppression is ramping up.

        Remotely, the best bets are phone banking and get out the vote.
        – Phone banking: find an org (campaign or political group; League of Women Voters, Nat’l Org for Women are two I like, but Dem party also usually has some). They’ll put together scripts, lists of people to call, etc. You may be asking for donations, but often it’s answering questions on the campaign’s issue positions or where / how to register and vote.
        – Get out the vote: donate money for free rides to polling stations. Local churches and political parites often organize this, but Uber / Lyft may have a mechanism for it.

        I know people from strongly partisan states (ie, California) will sometimes go to undecided states (ie, North Carolina) to canvass in person, but that seems unwise this year.

        And I can not overstate the importance of getting polling place volunteers this year. If you can visit a relative or friend and take over their childcare for a day so that they can work a polling station, that may be the biggest help of all.

        1. Uncertain*

          Thank you for your thoughtful answer.

          From what you have written, it sounds like there are lots of ways a non-US citizen can help by volunteering. I was concerned that not being a US citizen would mean volunteering would be prohibited or unethical. Or something :)

          Thank you again.

          1. Dancing Otter*

            Well, poll workers have to be registered voters. We are actually sworn in as judges for the occasion. (I’m in Illinois – other states may use different terms.)
            But everything else Jules said? No problem.
            Door to door canvassing is maybe not such a great idea this year. I think phone canvassing is going to be even more important than usual.

        2. Virtual Light*

          Thank you! That is great info. The NAACP also has a get-out-the-vote program called “Black Voices Change Lives” where they assign you to “contact up to ten [infrequent] Black voters in your community in the weeks before the 2020 election.” It does say that you do not have to identify as Black to participate. They are especially looking for volunteers in GA, FL, MI, NC, PA and WI. You can sign up now. They say they will give you tools to text these people, which is appealing to me, though I would assume it also could be calling?

        3. WellRed*

          This is so location dependent. I’m my city there is an archaic requirement that poll workers be equal numbers of registered democratic and republican.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            wow, yes, that is archaic. Maybe talk to your city council about changing that this year. Our area requires that the top 2 people at each site must be of opposite parties, but after that affiliation is not tracked.

            Also: Yes to NAACP, they have really done great work in my state. They do a *lot* of the ‘day of’ rides.

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’m involved in anti-racist work and issues of voter suppression. Reclaim Our Vote is reputable. The focus is on helping disenfranchised voters who’ve been unfairly booted off voter rolls to get their right to vote back. (There are other groups with similar names but I don’t know about those.) As a white person, I’m also part of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), “to bring more majority white communities into movements for racial justice.” If case that’s a fit for you, SURJ has a chapter in New York City and networks with and supports efforts led by people of color around multiple issues.

    3. TPS reporter*

      Go to the Black Futures Lab website for ways to help. The team behind it coined the Black Lives Matter phrase

    4. self employed*

      League of Women Voters works to increase voter access for all, fights discriminatory voting practices, and provides nonpartisan voter education.

    5. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Some of my money is going to Color of Change, for voter registration and to fight vote suppression.

    6. Artemesia*

      I am donating to groups like this too but in this season I am looking to support candidates who are progressive. Ultimately it is about public policy and as long as candidates who run on racism are elected we will not fix our racist policies.

      So I am giving donations to candidates that seem to have a good chance to dislodge incumbents who supported racist and sexist SC choices or failed to support anti racist policy. There are lots of Senate seats up this round and a fair number of opponents to those incumbents who look to have a good chance. There are also lots of house races that are competitive. We are giving modest amounts to about a dozen such candidates.

    7. pancakes*

      Have a look at the National Bail Fund Network. They have an account on twitter under that name. There’s also a directory of community bail funds at communityjusticeexchange dot org.

    8. Bluebell*

      Over the last few months, I’ve done voter postcards with the NC NAACP, done some phone banking, and also donated to a variety of voter activist and racial justice orgs. One I haven’t seen mentioned yet is Fair Fight. I don’t want to break Allison’s rules here, but The Justice Fund is a coalition of Black led orgs working in swing states. You can google it.

    9. LDF*

      UNCF donations might be similar to your 3rd category. Helping people afford college who couldn’t do so otherwise, and helping people stay in college when emergencies happen and they don’t have a family with the resources to help them stay in school.

      1. VirtualLight*

        Thanks! Yes, the money work seems to be the hardest category. I think that as a larger culture we are only beginning to grapple with the idea of economic reparations.

        I found an organization called Operation Hope that aims to “disrupt poverty” through “financial dignity programming,” which seems to mean financial literacy and entrepreneurship education in underserved communities, and they also seem to have COVID-19 mini grants. They position themselves as a civil rights organization. Anybody familiar with their work?

        Grameen USA does microloans for groups of women. I looked at Kiva USA but… there is one loan under “black-owned business” at the moment. Any other thoughts on this, hive-mind? Thank you all for your great thoughts so far!

        1. VirtualLight*

          Um, I meant “Black-owned business.” And I was just reading about how the NYT changed their style guide to “Black” instead of “black” and still made the typo!

        2. pancakes*

          There are several potential problems with this organization and I’m wondering how it was recommended to you. For starters, in September 2019 it rescinded its 2017 audited financials, which raises questions about its financial controls and solvency, and founder and CEO John Hope Bryant reportedly draws a salary of over $500,000/year for his work with the organization while simultaneously running several for-profit businesses that are promoted at Operation Hope workshops and other events — real estate (“Promise Homes”), penny stocks, etc.

          More broadly speaking, the organization describes itself as “moving America from civil rights to ‘silver rights’ with the mission of making free enterprise and capitalism work for the underserved.” The idea that the best solution for structural problems is for individuals to become wealthier is something to think carefully about. Many people would say that’s only reinforcing the status quo.

  15. RacecaR*

    Please stop posting variations on the same fake stories; you’re taking advantage of this community’s good will and it’s not welcome here. – Alison

  16. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual, this thread is not limited to video games, any games go.
    So how do y’all keep up with new releases? For video games the E3 used to be THE event, but I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that it has been losing relevance for a while now. Do board games have similar events?
    (For those who don’t know: E3 is basically a large event where all the major developers and publishers would come together to show progress on their games or announce them or be like “oh by the way this thing you didn’t even know we were making will be coming out in a few months”. For obvious reasons the physical version has been cancelled and I don’t remember if they were going to go digital).

    1. Andrews*

      I started Arkham Knight and then remembered why I dropped it before; I can’t control the Batmobile. I just suck so much at driving games. I tried getting past the (very early) part where you have to navigate the car across the movie studio roof probably 50 times then just gave up and started a new save of Arkham City instead.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Yeah, its focus on the Batmobile rather than Batman was what bothered me too about that game.

    2. Jack be Nimble*

      This week, I’m playing Hades, a roguelike from Supergiant Games, Crusader Kings 2 (in anticipation of CK3 coming out in September), and the Sims 4 (because I just love the sims so much).

      I get virtually all my games news via podcast from Waypoint Radio! I’ve been a fan of Austin Walker’s for years, but I only just started listening to WPR after binging the Pride & Prejudice Be Good and Rewatch It episodes.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Oh, yeah, I’d forgotten CK3 was on the horizon…I spent so many hours on 2, mucking about with cheats, naming empires after myself…

    3. Purt’s Peas*

      I only keep up with newly released board games, barely :p I like Shut Up And Sit Down for reviews.

      I’ve been playing Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door for the first time, and it’s a lot of fun! It’s a pretty funny game and does some interesting stuff with RPG mechanics.

      Also playing Maniac Mansion with my husband. He’s driving and I’m keeping an eye on the walkthrough—cause I don’t mind spoilers—to either drop a hint if he needs one…or let him know if we accidentally used a crucial item and can no longer win. Oh, old adventure games!!!

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I am playing Paper Mario and the Thousand Year door for the fifth or sixth time. I love that game.

    4. Dr.KMnO4*

      Playing a lot of the following recently:
      1. Destiny 2. The new season is quite good, and is setting up for an epic new story DLC.
      2. Path of Exile. A Diablo clone very much in the vein of Diablo 2. Good gameplay, if somewhat overwhelming at times. The new league (seasonal mode) is pretty fun once you get the hang of it.
      3. Animal Crossing. I’m currently working on getting the rarest flower colors, which is a tall order when there is no visible way to tell if the red roses that just bloomed are hybrid reds or regular reds.
      4. Stardew Valley. I love this game, mostly. I wish days were a bit longer. I also tend to play it a lot for a couple of weeks, then set it down for a month or two. When I come back to it I find that I’ve forgotten what I was really working towards. That, combined with my lack of interest in the endgame, means I tend to just start a new farm. I love the gameplay loop in Years 1 and 2, so I just restart when I get bored.

      1. Tau*

        I hear you about Stardew Valley! I generally have the tendency to play games to, like, 95% completion, drop them, then come back to them months later and start over from scratch. It’s a thing.

        And I might have to check out Path of Exile, because was I ever addicted to Diablo 2 back in the day.

        1. Dr. KMnO4*

          Path of Exile is great. It’s free to play, which is great for trying out games.

          Some things that are helpful to know
          1. The skill tree and skill gem systems can seem overwhelming at times. Finding a build guide on the Path of Exile forums can really help you focus on what you want to do.
          2. The game doesn’t always explain mechanics of the new league very well, which is a shame because the league content is really cool. The PoE reddit has a lot of good info for the current league, which is Harvest.
          3. If you do look up a build guide, find one that says “starter”. Some PoE builds involve trading with other players, but “starter” builds tend to work with gear you can find or craft yourself.

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Same on Stardew Valley! I literally have post-its on my gaming rig to remind myself what I’m doing. I do the same for Graveyard Keeper, too (basically Stardew Valley but with black humour)

    5. Bilateralrope*

      Any recommendations for games with asynchronous multiplayer ?
      Any games where I can take my turn, then close the game and do something else while the other players take their turns.

      Even ones that require the players to manually email the save file around would work, though I’d prefer a more streamlined system.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I don’t play a lot of multiplayer, but maybe something like Sid Meier’s Civilization would work?

        1. Bilateralrope*

          Which version(s) of civilization have it ?

          Asynchronous multiplayer, play by email, or whatever other names this feature has is something that the developers need to implement. I’ve seen a lot of games where it seems possible that dont have it.

    6. Jackalope*

      I just started another old game for the first time: Dragon Warrior VII. I hear it’s very long and I don’t know if I’ll play to the end but it’s been fun.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Ooh, yeah, just looked it up on howlongtobeat, looks like you’d need at least 100 hours for that one. Have fun!

        1. Jackalope*

          Yeah, I’m betting that for me it will be even longer since I tend to do a lot of grinding; I’d rather have a slightly higher level than expected when facing each boss so I don’t run an overly high risk of dying. But there’s no obligation to finish if I lose interest, so I figure I can keep going as long as I want and then drop it if needs be. Video gaming has come back into my life in a more significant way since the pandemic started, so I have more patience for it now than I would have 6 months ago.

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            Oh, yeah, I feel you on the grinding thing. As a fan of RPGs I’ve found I enjoy such long games most on a portable device (such as a Vita or a Switch, which I’m planning to get this summer) so I’m not stuck in one spot to play them (although I also enjoy playing them in all their graphics glory on PC).

            1. Jackalope*

              I hadn’t thought of that. We do have a Switch and I played a bit of Skyrim on it but haven’t tried anything else.

    7. Lonely Aussie*

      Haven’t really been playing anything this week but I’m seriously considering a switch lite (assuming I still have a job after tomorrow), does anyone have any game recommendations? Animal crossing and Breath of the Wild are def on the list.
      Also yellow or turquoise?

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I’m planning on getting a switch myself this summer, though I’ll probably go for the standard version. I’m a fan of the Ys series so I’d say maybe Ys 8: Lacrimosa of Dana would be a good one. Also, that Link’s Awakening remake is adorable.
        As for colour, I’d go with turquoise, but that’s my personal preference.

      2. Dr.KMnO4*

        I would pick turquoise!

        If you like turn-based strategy games you should try Fire Emblem: Three Houses. It has a great story too.

        If you like Animal Crossing you might also enjoy Stardew Valley.

    8. DarthVelma*

      We changed things up a bit this week. (We’ve got a ton of Magic stuff coming later this week and didn’t want to get burned out before it gets here.)

      Anyway, this weekend has been all about Gloomhaven. On Friday we painted our character miniatures. Jeezus h cheeerist they are tiny. But it was fun and totally worth it. I painted my Cragheart to look like she’s made from beryl. She’s very shiny. :-)

      We’ve made it through 3 scenarios (took us twice to get through one of them) and I’m finally starting to feel like I have a clue what I’m doing and I’m really enjoying the game now. We’ve both leveled and added stickers to the map and I even knocked out the first bit of my personal quest. We are really close to upgrading the town for the first time. Hopefully we can get that done today.

      Next weekend is hopefully Core Set 2021 – cats and dogs living together!

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I’ll admit I have no clue what Gloomhaven is, but it sounds like you had a lot of fun!

        1. ThatGirl*

          Gloom haven is like beginner D&D – in that the characters and scenarios are mapped out. Its a massive box. We have not painted our characters.

    9. ThatGirl*

      There’s an annual convention in Indianapolis called GenCon (it’s gone virtual this year) that is focused on tabletop gaming, and lots of publishers either debut or announce new releases there. Your friendly local gaming store is also a good resource.

  17. Lucette Kensack*

    My husband’s 40th birthday is coming up this month, and of course we’re not going to be able to celebrate in the ways that we would like. I’d like to ask friends and family to make videos — like a roast — about him, and then edit them together to give him. But I’ve never done anything with video before and I need help!

    First question: What Android apps or web services would you recommend to edit together video?

    Second question: What advice do you have that I can pass on to the folks I ask to make videos? Like: horizontal or vertical? … I don’t even know what other kind of advice might be useful!


    1. Tortally HareBrained*

      I just attended a virtual retirement party and the host used FlipGrid to record and stitch together videos. They were able to send out a link and a password to film your video, and then play the whole collection during the Zoom meeting. The presentation also has a link for the honoree so they can keep watching later. I have an iPhone but it appeared some people used their computers to film so I suspect this is Android compatible as well.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I can’t help with apps because my resident expert uses an iOS product, but this kind of video should be LANDSCAPE (like tv, not portrait which is how you hold your phone). I’m dealing with one of these at the moment and I’ll warn you it’s a lot of work.

      Think about length – depends on numbers, but you probably don’t want each video much longer than 15-20 seconds, which is pretty much “hey Jim, sorry we can’t be with you, hope you have a great day and we’ll see you soon”.

    3. Aeryn Sun*

      A friend of mine used Tribute to put together videos for her mom’s 80th birthday and it was great. If there is something your husband particularly likes/would get roasted about, you can ask people to include it in the video (example: for my friend’s mom, practically everyone was holding a glass of wine/had a bottle of wine in the background, etc.)

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        Perfect — this is exactly what I needed! Just got it all sent out.

        The only hitch: some folks thought he had DIED, because of the way the company phrases the email invitation (“Please contribute to a Tribute for Husband’s Name.”)

    4. Lady Alys*

      Can’t help with apps (I use an open-source program, Open Shot, in Windows), but some tips for the video makers:

      Make sure the light is in front of them, not behind them.
      If they’re using a laptop webcam, don’t get too close – those lenses tend to be wide-angle, so their faces will be distorted.
      Lift the laptop up so that the lens is at eye level – avoid those views straight up the nostrils :-)
      *Anything* they can do to reduce background noise will be worth it.

    5. Fellow Traveler*

      My sister in law used a website called vidhug to do this for her dad’s 75th birthday- basically you use it to invite a bunch of people to upload a video greeting and then it puts them together for you. It’s not free, but she was really happy with the results, and on our end it was really easy to use and submit.

    6. Not A Girl Boss*

      I use Power Director and it works well for me, but I’m also familiar with video editing software. It isn’t the *most* user friendly but I think with tutorials you can figure it out.

      As far as portrait/landscape, think about where you want to publish your end product. Instagram TV? Portrait. YouTube? Landscape.

  18. Lucette Kensack*

    If someone says they had a “cancer scare,” how would you interpret that? They thought they had cancer but it turned out to be something else or nothing at all (e.g., found a lump, got a biopsy, no cancer)? Or they had cancer and it was treated easily and they are well now? Something else?

    1. Chanel No. 5*

      Their doctor (or healthcare provider) saw something that could have been cancer, like a lump, a mole or another sign, but subsequent tests came back negative for cancer. The definition is pretty straightforward. If they ended up having cancer it wouldn’t be a “scare”, it is the real thing.

    2. Another Sarah*

      If someone has or had cancer that isn’t a scare. A scare means it was thought they could have had it but it turns out that person did not.

    3. Not Australian*

      I think it’s a little more subtle than that, actually. Having had both a pointless scare and (many years later) actual cancer, I would say that the use of the word ‘scare’ is what’s important here – i.e. that the individual had some kind of ‘further investigation’ for cancer which turned out to be something benign, as you say, but also that during the waiting period they were actually *scared*.

      Please don’t underestimate how severely even a temporary uncertainty can affect the morale of a person or a family; all of a sudden, out of a clear blue sky, they’re contemplating things like ‘have I made a will?’, ‘who’ll look after my children/pets?’, ‘will there be a lot of pain?’ and – most importantly in my case ‘who do I tell and how will they react?’ This may sound like catastrophising, but I think it would be very difficult *not* to have these thoughts if one was told “We think it may be cancer, we need to run some more tests.”

      The way I would interpret “I’ve had a cancer scare” is that the person has been told they may have cancer and has had time to worry about the potential consequences if it’s confirmed. Even after getting the all-clear, it takes some time to ‘bounce back’ from what is after all worrying news; it can’t just be shrugged off as insignificant. I’m sure something like 90% of the people who experience this will be as ignorant about cancer as I was before I got it, and may not understand how survivable it can be given the right (timely) treatment. That being the case, even a tentative diagnosis can be quite traumatic, and the emotional effects of it should definitely not be underestimated.

      1. Esme*

        This is so well-put. People I know who have had cancer say waiting for test results was the worst part – they call in scanxiety.

        I had a cancer scare and it was extremely stressful. The things that went through my mind, the waiting… it was awful.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Agreed. I remember saying at the time that when your doctor says “it probably isn’t cancer” what you actually hear is “blah blah blah CANCER”.

      3. another academic librarian*

        My body likes to scare me. And then there is the fun of inconclusive results with attendant biopsies.

      4. Lucette Kensack*

        Yes! This is what I mean when I use it. I spent six weeks being told I likely had cancer, and because they couldn’t tell where it came from (… because it turned out not to be cancer after all), the prognoses I was hearing were quite poor. It was devastating. I could barely sit up straight. And then I had surgery and it was benign and I went home the next day and it felt like everything was supposed to be normal all of a sudden.

        1. WellRed*

          The stress and trauma are no less real. I bet you went limp with relief and disbelief but still, be kind to yourself.

      5. Falling Diphthong*

        Having had a few weeks of cancer “scare” that culminated in a “yup, it’s cancer” result, I think this is well put. Those weeks from “Hi, can you come in for a follow-up mammogram? Like in 45 minutes?” through various other tests to “The biopsy is back” were rough. Not as rough as cancer! But really stressful.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          (Caveat that as with all human behavior it’s possible to do this one in a frustrating way: If a woman just started getting mammograms it’s not unusual to get a follow-up request, as they don’t have much baseline on her. And I do know someone who wanted to lean on me about being asked to come back in after such an early mammogram, but didn’t want to talk to her doctor because that would be so stressful, and just wanted to do omg what if it’s cancer? without reading or asking a damn word about how likely it was to be cancer. It wasn’t cancer. I got a similar call a year or two later and got rechecked, negative, without the drama. So it is possible to take a really normal, almost certainly nothing recheck of a screening and freak out about My Cancer Scare to the annoyance of those around you. But any time tests have gotten to the point of a biopsy, or a surgeon telling you actually she’s thinking 75% chance it’s cancer rather than your 10% guess, that certainly qualifies as mentally and emotionally taxing.)

        2. WellRed*

          So stressful! This was me last summer. Now I’m $3000 poorer and still a tad traumatized.

          1. Lucette Kensack*

            Yep! I hot my annual out-of-pocket maximum on January 4 this year. I was looking forward to a year of free health care before the pandemic shut that down too.

    4. Akcipitrokulo*

      It depends on the person! It could mean anything from “had odd symptom/lump – had test and it was fine” to “had aggressive treatment and now in remission”.

      I know people from all along that range. The main messsage that is common is

      * I had/may have had cancer
      * It was frightening
      * I am now OK

      The details of point one can vary wildly – the last two are pretty universal I think.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I agree. I’ve heard people use it for a mammogram callback, for instance, which I’ve had and didn’t think of in those terms.

    5. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I would interpret it to mean “I had good reason to believe I had cancer but it wasn’t cancer”. I would definitely assume there had been some medical involvement, eg examinations or testing.

      So for example, I had an ovarian cyst (teratoma) which required surgical removal, but pathology revealed it was not cancer. It was in the meantime very scary.

      “I thought I had a new leaky mole but it turned it to be chocolate stuck in my bra” wouldn’t reach ‘cancer scare’ threshold for me even if I’d panicked.

    6. Artemesia*

      Cancer scare means I don’t have cancer to me. They had a bad mammogram and the biopsy was benign (I had one that the doctor told me was very likely cancer that luckily turned out not to be). Or maybe they had a skin cancer that the doctor thought was melanoma but turned out to be a trivial less dangerous skin cancer.

    7. Lucette Kensack*

      Thanks all! I appreciate the input.

      I should have shared the context for my question. I had what I’ve been describing as a cancer scare over the winter, but I’ve noticed that some people who had an easily resolvable cancer refer to their experience as a “cancer scare,’ and I’ve wondered whether I’ve been inadvertently claiming an experience I didn’t have.

      In my case, I found a lump in my neck that my doctors immediately suspected was cancer. I was hospitalized, had a half dozen scans and biopsies, and spent six weeks without a diagnosis. Eventually, I went to the Mayo Clinic and had a neck dissection done to remove the (as yet undiagnosed) mass. It wasn’t cancer and no further treatment was necessary. I have an 8 inch scar from behind my ear to the base of my throat, but I am otherwise totally fine. It was the worst experience of my life, but it ended suddenly and happily, and I still haven’t figured out how to talk about it.

      1. WellRed*

        I had thyroid cancer which was easily removable (well, lost the gland). I had a breast cancer “scare” last summer with first mammogram. Neither was fun, but the first one was definitely real ( though not on the lines of other cancers by any means). I do think that I having already been diagnosed once with cancer contributed to how scary the scare was. After all, cancer had happened once, why not again?

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        As someone who spent shutdown having radiation therapy for cancer treatment, I absolutely think that makes sense to describe as a cancer scare.

        I agree with Akcip as to “it was frightening, but now I am okay” being the main emotion.

      3. LegallyRed*

        I think calling your experience a “cancer scare” is accurate but at the same time may not quite do justice to everything you went through. Having a tumor resected from your neck sounds like a pretty major surgery to me, regardless of whether or not cancer was a possibility. And since for some people their “cancer scare” is resolved with imaging or a needle biopsy, it’s a term that’s going to carry different connotations for different people.

        My only cancer scare turned out to actually be cancer (that I’m still fighting), but either way I had to have a giant mass removed from my abdomen (while pregnant!). Even if it had turned out to be benign, I think I would have framed it as “I had an abdominal tumor” because, for me, “cancer scare” wouldn’t have fully encapsulated the experience that I went through.

        1. Lucette Kensack*

          Hmm, interesting, and thank you.

          I’m realizing through this conversation that there’s not great language for what I experienced. “Tumor” sounds worse than what I had (even though it’s accurate; I had a mass, plus a bunch of lymph nodes, removed). I’d like to find a way to talk about it that honors the trauma but doesn’t overdramatize it.

          1. allathian*

            The doctors suspected cancer, and even though it turned out to be a benign tumor, that’s still a cancer scare, if you were scared/terrified until you got the biopsy results after the surgery.

            Waiting for the result is the scary part in cancer scare. I don’t think there’s any need for you to downplay your experience. Someone who gets cancer and recovers or goes into remission doesn’t just have a cancer scare, they have actual cancer.

            1. allathian*

              I haven’t had this experience, except vicariously. My mom had breast cancer in her early 50s, although they caught it early so she didn’t need a mastectomy or chemotherapy, but she had to take estrogen blockers for a few years. Last year she had to have a part of her lung removed, but luckily it turned out to be a benign tumor. She quit smoking when my son was born, but before that she’d been smoking a pack a day for most of her adult life, so lung cancer was definitely a possibility we were worried about.

      4. Altair*

        That sounds absolutely terrifying, and I’m really glad for you that you came through to the other side. As Legally Red put it, “cancer scare” might be if anything understating what you went through.

    8. Impska*

      I once had an X-ray done if my lungs and the radiologist saw a shadow that they said might be cancer. Hearing a doctor tell you there’s a shadow on your lungs that may be cancer is pretty scary.

      Turns out it was just a poorly done X-ray. Oopsie-doodle, sorry we told you that you may have lung cancer.

  19. Mystery Bookworm*

    Normally I lurk, but I have a bit of a personal question this weekend. A few months ago I started working with a therapist to address some recurring patterns. One of those is working on my ability to handle rejection (I’m perfectly gracious about it, but then I feel deeply ashamed and retreat, so that any rejection is followed by long periods of giving up entirely or feeling very grey or drinking more than is helpful).

    One thing my therapist has stressed is that feeling bad after a rejection is normal, and not a sign that there’s something fundamentally wrong with me.

    Well, I was rejected from an eduational programme this Friday, and I’m trying to navigate this one a bit better. If anyone is willing to share a time thtey were rejected and felt bad about it (as opposed to immediatetly putting on happy face), I’d be grateful to hear and feel a bit less alone!

    (Apologies if this is a bit of a bummer post. And I’m not talking about any one kind of rejection in particular, just the broader act of putting yourself out there and not being recieved the way you’d hoped)

    1. Kiitemso*

      Hey, at university I had a test I had to pass to get my undergrad degree. I didn’t prepare for it because every one of my teachers said it wasn’t a big deal, so I went in, finished it, felt good and then got the rejection (it was a pass/fail, no letter or number grade). I was shocked, immediately felt like I wasn’t cut out for life or school and was not gonna pass my undergrad. I contacted a teacher, in tears, asking how could this have happened, they put me in touch with a tutor working with the university who scheduled an appointment to walk me through how to *actually* prepare for the test. She was surprised none of my teachers had told me about the specifics of the test. I felt like an idiot but she told me there wasn’t a whole lot wrong with my initial test, I could easily re-do it and get a pass. So next month I did and passed.

      But it really taught me that I was too reliant on not putting in the hard work sometimes and skating by on my own intellect, and that honestly that rejection lead me to being a better, more independently minded student. I used to be really afraid of rejection and avoided romantic encounters simply because of it, but what helped me a lot was applying for jobs furiously, even jobs I didn’t really want. Getting rejections from those didn’t feel so bad, and eventually I got used to rejection being a part of life. Yes, it does sting, but you just move on. I find it good to process it by writing about it or chatting to a good friend about it briefly.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t have a whole lot from a personal level, I’m pretty good at brushing it off, but my husband is super sensitive in the way you describe and his therapist had him looking up “rejection sensitive dysphoria” to help find some coping tips, and he has said that is helpful. (Not diagnosing, just trying to provide a possible search term. Captain Awkward has talked about dealing with RSD too a couple times.)

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        Thank you for sharing! This is interesting, as I have recently been given an appointment for an adhd referral and it seems that rejection sensitive dysphoria is correlated with adhd.

        It does seem to describe some of how I feel, and there are good tips in the google results. Thank you, would never have thought to search for that otherwise!

    3. lazy intellectual*

      It’s okay to be disappointed by a rejection without identifying with it. This is kind of random, but something that makes me feel better about rejection is hearing stories of all my favorite actors who auditioned for an iconic role and got rejected for it before their big break. Clearly, these people didn’t get rejected for it because they suck, but because of a combination of factors outside their control. Rejection is common and happens to everyone.

      1. lazy intellectual*

        Also allow yourself to deal with rejection disappointments like you would any heartbreak. Allow yourself to wallow, cry, eat ice cream, and watch movies on your bed. I do discourage drinking though.) Treat yourself to your favorite things and perks if you can. The disappointment is normal and will heal with time.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think that alcohol and other substances tend to exasperate the intensity of our feelings. This raised intensity can be such that it makes it hard for us to even function.
          I think creating a plan of different options you will use when faced with rejection would be a supportive activity.

      2. Mystery Bookworm*

        It’s okay to be disappointed by a rejection without identifying with it.

        That’s very much what I’m hoping to get better at. I love the suggestion of looking up famous people who’ve been turned down. It’s not necessarily something people talk a lot about proactively and it’s very easy for my. jerk mind to convince myself I’m the only person getting rejected, even though I know that makes no sense.

        1. lazy intellectual*

          You hit the nail on the head – a lot of people don’t usually share or admit when they’re getting rejected, but they certainly do. EVERYONE gets rejected – even people you think are successful and talented. Sometimes, the rejection makes you a stronger person in the long run.

    4. Hi there*

      Lately I’ve been finding Brad Stulberg’s writings really helpful. He co-authored a book called The Passion Paradox, among other writings. One point I like to return to is a 24-48 hour rule for dwelling on a success or a failure and then returning to the work. The idea is to focus on the work and why you care about it, not some number, result, or reaction people have. I also appreciate that I don’t have to put on a happy face but just figure out how to stay true to myself.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        I’ll have to look him up. I like the idea of a contained time to give yourself permission to feel sad.

    5. No Name Yet*

      Two incidents jump out at me, though I know there have been plenty more.

      1. When I applied to graduate school, I applied to a whole bunch of programs (very competitive field), I got interviews at half of them, and was then rejected by all but one. On the one hand – all you need is one acceptance, I should be happy! And after a while I was happy and it was a good program, but I had expected to have at least some level of choice, and was pretty upset.

      2. In my field, you need several years of practical training after you graduate in order to work in the field. For the second year I applied to about 10 programs, and was rejected by all of them. That HURT, and also made me incredibly anxious about whether I had spent all of that time/energy/money for years and wouldn’t actually be able to use my degree. I don’t even remember how long I spent being upset and worried. There is basically a second round for people and programs who didn’t match up in the first round, so I did that process and found a position then. Not a place that was my first choice, but it ended up being a positive experience and I was able to successfully work in the field after that. The other upside is that since then I’ve known other people who had the same experience of being rejected at that stage, and I was able to offer them support that it can turn out all right.

      Managing rejection is absolutely hard! And good for you for working with a therapist on this, since often talking about it can be even harder than the experience itself.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        Thank you so much for sharing those stories, I really appreciate it. My rejection is also related to my hopes of succeeding within my field. I know that there will be other opportunities, but sometimes sadness gives a bit of tunnel vision.

        1. No Name Yet*

          Tunnel vision = absolutely! And I think because so many of us put so much stock into what field we want to go into, that those rejections can feel particularly devastating. We put so much time and effort into that conceptualization of who we are and who we want to be, those rejections can feel like rejections of us as a person, vs. someone else had more relevant experience or a higher GPA/test score. I’m glad that hearing these stories felt helpful – you mentioned above that we don’t usually talk about these rejections later, which can make it feel like it’s just us even when we know it’s not (a program with a 50% acceptance rate will be rejecting lots of people besides us!)

    6. Aeryn Sun*

      I have found that mindfulness helps me a lot – highly recommend “Full Catastrophe Living” by John Kabat-Zinn. It’s sort of acknowledging, “yes this sucks” but then letting it go. I like the suggestion about taking some time 24/48 hours to feel it and then move on. Also, with rejection in particular, my father told me 30 years ago when I was applying to colleges/scholarships that even if you don’t get it, you are no worse off than you were before you applied. You are still the same person and the rejection isn’t a reflection of your value as a person – it just wasn’t the right fit. Often for me, rejection also taps into the “what I am going to do now?” so I try to have backup plans (most recent example, I got furloughed due to Covid. I’m applying to jobs but also have reached out to contacts and have gotten some contracting work so each rejection stings less because I know what other options are/what other paths might look like).

    7. KoiFeeder*

      I got rejected from my first choice of grad school in a way that felt pretty unkind (the message had indicated that this was a get-together for accepted students, and it turned out that that was not actually the case, and then they never actually refunded the travel expenses as promised).

      I’m still a little bitter… but the fact that I’m in a great program now and the college I ended up going with knocked it out of the park with regards to COVID and the other one didn’t is a helpful bit of schadenfreude.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        That sounds awful. A friend of mine had a similar experience where a grad school was a bit confusing about the funding — leading her to accept thinking she was fully funded.

        My recent rejection involve a phone call, which I am confident was meant kindly, but then I was prompted into a fairly lengthly small-talk / weekend plan conversation when I would rather have gotten off so I could process the news.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          That the school I’m in now communicates clearly was an integral factor to me joining the program. I’m already autistic, I don’t need more trouble in that area.

    8. left foot first*

      Look up Jason Comely. he might have a book, but I’ve heard him on a podcast. He challenged himself to getting rejected everyday. Which kind of turns the whole thing on its head: it principle you should be sad for getting rejected, but if that’s your goal, you’re happy.

    9. Deanna Troi*

      I always wanted to work for the federal government. I worked for a non-profit, state government, and private industry (where I was extremely successful and worked my way up to associate VP level), but it was always my dream to get a job at the federal government. I applied to 5 different federal jobs over a 10 year period. Every time I didn’t get a position, I was incredibly disappointed and discouraged. I finally got the 5th one and have now been there for over a decade. It feels like I was born to be in this position and I am considered to be a nationwide expert, traveling all over the country to provide training (not right now of course). My point is that I retreated and licked my wounds over and over, then get back out there. If we’re lucky, our lives and careers will be long and eventful, and the road to where you want to be will have unexpected turns and setbacks. I know it sounds cliché, but it is worth the journey.

    10. Cedrus Libani*

      I’m a big fan of Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art” series. He’s a writer, so he writes about writing – but the same principles apply to any work that requires personal investment. Obviously, writers get rejected, rather a lot, and part of “turning pro” is learning how to fail while doing something personal to yourself without taking that to heart as the failure of yourself as a person.

      One thing he talks about is the locus of identity. You need to identify with the self that does the work – your higher consciousness. Imagine that higher self as a musician. All of your other traits – your physical and mental talents – are the instrument. Your job is to assess what you’ve got and learn how to use it to its best possible advantage.

      As Pressfield puts it: “Does Madonna walk around the house in cone bras… [No.] Madonna does not identify with ‘Madonna’. Madonna EMPLOYS ‘Madonna’.” She’s the musician, not the instrument. When one of her songs (literal in this case) falls flat, she can learn and adjust. She’s a pro, and she knows to stay out of her own way.

      On an adjacent point, as my dad put it: “Get up, give it hell, and if that’s not good enough…f*** it! When you leave it all on the field, win or lose, you did everything you could. You don’t have to wonder what might’ve been.”

      If you want to know if you’ve earned the right to be proud of yourself, look at your process. Have you given it hell? Have you been practicing your tail off? Have you chosen a genre that suits your instrument? If so, good job. Now it’s time to f*** it, because the rest is outside your control. Win or lose, hit or flop, it’s up to the universe. You have thousands of songs inside you. Play a better one tomorrow.

    11. chi chan*

      I got rejected from a lot of jobs at one point that I was hoping would support me in moving out of my parents’ home. It was crushing and made me question the validity of my work. Honestly the only thing that helped was success in small achievable goals to get momentum going again. Also therapy. I moved out too into a sucky flatmate situation but I accepted that I was making progress and refused to feel sorry for myself.

  20. Myrin*

    I need some advice on how to move forward as well as a reality check because I’m not sure if I’m overreacting.

    Some background first: Ten years ago, I randomly found a tumblr blog which introduced me to feminism – I was blown away that these feelings and thoughts I’d always had actually had a well-established, structured, and even academic side, and I began reading the blog daily and with great enthusiasm. It was run by a young woman a couple of years my senior who mostly did advocacy work (both IRL and online); the biggest and most successful part of her blog was answering questions and giving advice, especially regarding relationships and women’s self-worth, a bit like a light version of Captain Awkward.

    I started sending in a few questions of my own and we got to talking frequently and eventually, she became my very first non-German internet friend. We weren’t suuuuper close – we only ever talked through tumblr and didn’t have each other’s contact information – but we talked regularly and about all manner of things, and over the years helped each other through some tough shit.

    She was an actress by trade but had a bad accident shortly before we met which made her very limited in movement and work; she was also in an abusive relationship at the time. A few years down the line, her health became better, she managed to leave her boyfriend, and she starting getting some small acting gigs again. I was really happy for this development but it also led to us hearing less and less from each other until she basically didn’t use her blog at all anymore and was rarely online. I was fine with that, albeit a bit sad, and when we fell out of contact altogether about two years ago, I wished her well in my thoughts and moved on.

    Now on to the current situation: Out of the blue, she sent me a message on tumblr last Saturday asking for my email address “so I’d have a larger space to write and think and converse more than 3 sentences with you”. I very happily gave it to her, thinking we’d be able to catch up on how our lives had been going the last couple of years. So imagine my surprise when I received her email which, after three introductory sentences, went the following (this is copied verbatim):

    ANYWAY, I am trying to start up a business – membership site surround self care tool and lifestyle to help maintain women’s emotional health and general wellbeing. I want it to be a community feel loo, like my blog was, but I was more. I’m hoping to make money know so I can use that money to helps others and other causes. I’m also going back and forth between doing a subscription box – still working on logistics there ha. Also 1-on-1 coaching, maybe. Lots of decisions gah! Hopefully I haven’t bored you to sleep yet haha. <3
    ANYWHO I know how we developed a relationship through my blog and I treasure that very much. :) I was hoping because of that you might be able to do a testimonial, talking about me “coaching” you and brining young women together in to build a safe and warm, supporting community. Also, I am hoping to add: Name, photo (like mostly headshot for this) of you, City in Germany, job (you can put whatever makes you comfortable, former job, job you have now, or one you want in the future). Oh another thing for the testimonial if you can think of a specific story you can remember that would be great.
    I’m hoping this is not totally overwhelming but if it is just let me know what to clarify or answer to make more sense. I kinda ended up having to turn this up a notch in speed so I can launch much sooner rather than later because I am going to be having some [surgery related to the accident mentioned above]

    And I… honestly don’t know how to feel about any of that. I was so looking forward to establishing contact again but this whole thing read to me like she basically just wants me to help her out with her business. She sent me this whole thing and then another three sentences, one of them being “I also want to know how and what you’ve been doing” and I just… I thought that’s what that email would be about – us talking about how we’d been doing and stuff like that but honestly, after receiving this email, I lost all enthusiasm to talk to her about my life these past few years.

    Don’t get me wrong, this business idea of hers was already an idea she had when we were still in contact regularly, and I don’t doubt in the slightest that she’s sincere and will probably be quite successful; I’m also positive that she will indeed use any money she receives to help her community and that she’s earnest about wanting to help people. I’m also sure that if I till her that I’m not comfortable doing any of what she’s asked me to do (other than maybe writing about encountering her blog), she will be understanding and not pressure me; I will also definitely tell her that, but I’m on the fence about writing how uncomfortable this whole email made me. I’m sure she wouldn’t take it badly and we’ve always been honest with each other but I don’t know if I should just leave out entirely how sad it made me that she contacted me after literal years in such a way and just focus on not wanting to give my personal information like that without mentioning my discomfort at all.

    So what say you, people of AAM? Should I be completely honest or just answer vaguely? She wrote me on tumblr again yesterday wondering if I’d gotten her email and I replied that I’ll be busy until Tuesday because I’m honestly at a loss. Am I overreacting? She’s an extremely kind, empathetic, and just plain lovely person, so I was honestly a bit shocked by such a business-focused email and it being mainly about how I can be useful to her, but maybe I’m reading too much into this entirely?

    1. Kiitemso*

      I can understand why this made you uncomfortable. I also have online friends going back a decade who I have shared some of myself with, even though we are still ‘casual’ friends. It’s easy to share online! Now she is reframing those conversations as her “coaching” you and that’s not what those conversations were – they were between friends. Me and a colleague of mine do “whine and wine” evenings together sometime, I’d be weirded out if she framed those to me as “career-focused therapy” because that’s not what they were, even though they were indepth conversations about careers and work.

      I would reply back that you wish her the best with her business venture but don’t feel comfortable with the framing of private, friendly conversations as ‘coaching’. Or if you don’t even want to say that, you can say “I don’t think we’ve ever done coaching together so I don’t think I can write a testimonial for you.” If she insists you have been coached by her, or asks if you would want coaching, you can say, “I would prefer to catch up as friends.” or something along those lines.

      1. Myrin*

        These are amazing scripts!
        I have to admit I didn’t even really pick up on the “coaching” angle of all of this because I was so flabbergasted by the sales-y tone of her entire email and her assumption that after years of basically no contact, I’d use my free time to write a testimonial for her about something that was relevant, at most and if at all, eight years ago.
        Thanks for your reply, I’ll definitely use the wording you suggested!

        1. Anonnington*

          And just to help draw the line, “coaching,” would involve signing up for an established service. It would involve paying a for-profit business or applying for services at an established non-profit.

          It would be fair to say something like, “I was never a coaching client. Maybe my name wound up on the wrong list by mistake.”

    2. WS*

      Ugh, I’m sorry, that’s the good old “let’s catch up, oh BTW buy stuff from my MLM”. One reason why I got off Facebook. A plain “Good luck but no thank you,” is enough, and if she persists then you can point out how gross this is.

    3. Lena Clare*

      Trust your instincts! You don’t have to give her any of that info just because she asked. Wish her well, and move on. Sorry, this sucks!

    4. Detective Rosa Diaz*

      You feel like it’s about being useful to her because… it pretty clearly is? I think your instincts are spot-on.
      Also came to point out that listing a job on a testimonial that “can be just a job you one day hope to have” is v much not above board. I mean, combined with retroactively turning your online friendship into “coaching”, it seems like a pretty clear indication that however pure her intentions, she seems to be a-okay misleading people.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, that jumped out as strange at me, too. Although I’m honestly not even sure how exactly I have to imagine this business of hers – it seems like a website where you have to pay to get access to it, like the online magazines Alison writes for? I have no idea about any of this at all, though, so above everything else, I might also be totally wrong with how this would look like in the concrete sense. I guess I didn’t put too much weight on the “job you’d like to have in the future” because if the site’s general tone is a casual, friendly, and personal one, I could maybe see something like “Myrin, 29 and based in Munich, hopes to become a chicken’s hairdresser in the next few years” (none of this but my age are true btw) but IDK, that seems at the same time too casual and too irrelevant if she really does intend for this to be a serious business.

        1. Zweisatz*

          Another issue that comes to mind is that at this point you don’t know what you’re lending your voice to. If ALDI or McDonalds or Zwergenwiese asks you for a testimonial you have an idea of the company and what they do.
          With this “opportunity” you have no way of knowing if you’re lending your voice to a legitimate new business, a scam or a grand idea that will never take off. I would feel uncomfortable as well to take that chance.

    5. Mystery Bookworm*

      Oh, this is so hard. I understand the disappointment of feeling like someone wanted to connect on a personal level and then discovering that they had other motivations (even if those weren’t their only motivations).

      Personally, I think there’s a bit of freedom in being willing to state plainly your feelings. It’s vulnerable and uncomfortable (for me, at least) but I rarely regret it.

      And your feelings are your feelings. I don’t think you need to analyze and figure out the degree of “inappropriateness” this was to have the reaction you did. (Although I 100% understand that impulse).

      1. Vina*

        I think there is some subset of people who do personal or career coaching that do this. I’ve seen it over and over and heard it from my friends.

        I had an acquaintance who wanted to start a life coaching business who wanted me to be a “test client.” Mind you, I was already over 40 and a successful lawyer, good marriage, lots of hobbies and as content as one can manage. I looked her dead int he eye and asked “just what area of my life do you feel I’m deficient in handling on my own?” She never asked again.

        It’s not that I’m opposed to this type of help. It’s not that I think people who are “put together” couldn’t benefit from an outside POV. It’s not that I think I’m above that. It was the sheer arrogance of her presuming that somehow she knew more about my life than I did and she was foisting advice on me when I hadn’t asked and we weren’t friends or intimate emotionally in any way.

        I realized that it was all about her. What she wanted and needed. She wasn’t looking at me as a person, but as a tool to serve her wants. That makes her a bad coach, IMHO.

        I think he fact this friend is taking this approach with you means she’s exactly the wrong kind of person to be doing this type of job.

        I agree with Mystery – you need to state clearly that she hasn’t coached you, you never asked for it, and it would be misleading for you to state that this occurred. I’d also say something about the ethical implications. That’s just me.

        1. Artemesia*

          I am always just dubious about all of this as the few people I have known personally who have launched this type of business either career coaching or personal coaching have themselves been a total mess. They are doing career coaching because they have no career. They took a seminar on some gimmick and then want to use that as part of personal coaching.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Yeah, she wanted you for a “test client” because you’d make her look good, and hopefully introduce her to people with money to spend.

          Thing about life coaching is, you have to have clients who have disposable income, a stable enough lifestyle that they’ll keep coming for a long series of sessions, and problems that don’t require an actual licensed counselor.

          Convincing those folks that they need your advice takes some serious credibility.

    6. Anonnington*

      That’s really yucky. Honestly, I wouldn’t respond. Maybe this is a phase, but she’s currently devaluing people and trying to use them as stepping stones to promote her business. Don’t get stepped on.

      The thing about writing back is that anything you say could be published or just used to argue with you via email. And digital arguments are rarely productive.

      I would just appreciate the past friendship, and hope that she’ll eventually come to her senses and be nicer again.

      Also, this is something that happens – when people become more successful, especially if it’s sudden, they can go through a phase where they feel superior and they devalue other people in their lives. Sometimes, it has to do with moving to a different social circle, having friends who are famous, semi-famous, highly successful at what they do. Or maybe she just got bad advice about how to grow a business.

      I would also unfollow her online if that’s an option. Disengage while making it clear that you don’t support this.

      1. AGD*

        Agreed. This sounds like ‘we were friends so now I get to exploit you!’, and that makes me want to run in the other direction.

      2. Anonnington*


        When I first read this, I kind of skimmed and I thought the email was a form letter she had sent to numerous people, and that she had just added a few lines for Myrin. Re-reading it, it sounds like it was personally written for Myrin.

        So I think I over-reacted a bit. But it also makes the “coaching” thing sound yucky in a different way. I guess my advice is the same – I’d read it as, “This person doesn’t respect me,” and I’d archive/unfollow, etc. But it’s weird – it’s like she wanted to reach out and genuinely wants advice and help with her business, but she’s also really misguided about some very basic things.

    7. Purt’s Peas*

      Every so often we’re forced to recontextualize a relationship or memory. Sometimes in a pleasant way—“oh, we were flirting and I like you too!” “I thought we were acquaintances but you value my friendship!”—but sometimes…not. I think this was probably a jarring email to receive and you’re trying to recontextualize your friendship.

      I don’t think you’re overreacting. I don’t think you need to write her a testimonial. If you wanted, it’d probably be within bounds to mention some of the dissonance you’re feeling.

      1. Reba*

        “forced to recontextualize a relationship or memory”

        oooh yeah, well put.

        I think I would feel pretty sad if I received that message! I don’t think it’s like, horribly exploitative for her to ask, but definitely transactional, and certainly not tactful.

        I’m not sure how I’d react in Myrin’s shoes. If I were feeling especially generous, mainly because she has struggled, I might write more or less “So and So’s blog meant so much to me on my journey to become a chicken stylist.” And then write off the relationship. But disengaging with, “I’m not comfortable doing this, best wishes” is also totally good.

        1. Anonnington*

          I actually get emails like that on a fairly routine basis – a few times per year. I perform, I meet a lot of people, and you see a lot of weird power trips and delusions of grandeur among some people in that sphere (mostly those who are less experienced or just misguided about how things work).

          Sometimes, it’s REALLY not who you would expect. They seem so nice, and then they reach out with a creepy back-handed compliment coupled with a dubious marketing ploy. I’ve learned to just unfriend/unfollow, and not respond directly. Sometimes, I take a screenshot so I can use it as an example of what not to do (maybe with their name removed, or maybe not, depending on the circumstances).

          The thing is, there is often a lot of prejudice underlying this kind of behavior. And you can’t tolerate that.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        This is a great comment here. You want a friendship and she wants to launch her biz, OP.

        I am guessing that you want no part of the biz. I don’t blame you there, I would not be too thrilled. I might be tempted to email: “Hi Friend, So I got your email and after careful consideration I have concluded that I can’t help you. I did enjoy our chats and if you ever want to chat a bit let me know. We sure did have fun, didn’t we? I wish you much success with your new endeavors.”

        She’ll ask other people the same thing, no worries. Some one will help her and it does not have to be you.

    8. Courageous cat*

      I don’t think you’re overreacting but I do think you’re overthinking. A well-placed version of “nah, since I haven’t heard from you in ages this feels off/tone-deaf/etc, I would have rather caught up but I’m good now”

    9. pancakes*

      I can’t get my head around the idea of someone who’s been in an abusive relationship thinking it’s a good idea for women to post their photo, name, and location on the internet. It’s entirely unnecessary to give so much personal identification to write a supportive blurb. It’s not as if someone specifying their location makes a statement of support from them more credible. I would be very wary about this scenario.

      1. Misty*


        I never give out my photo or location for public online spaces if I can help it. Like I’m sure there’s some photos of me in group pictures on friends Facebook but I dont have any social media and I would be cautious of giving someone permission to use my photo on their website.

      2. Myrin*

        See, I’m of two minds regarding this (and this really only pertains to my own personal comfort, not what I think anyone else should do): right at this moment, there isn’t anything about me on the internet because other than tumblr, I don’t have any social media because I’m not interested in it. However, the job I’ll hopefully (fingers crossed!) get in October would, because of its nature, have my picture and full name out there (as well as my general location because it’s actually related to that) and I don’t mind that at all. What I absolutely DON’T want is having my real name and my internet persona cross streams in any way, and I think that’s what’s bothered me most about this aspect of it – to her, I’m Myrin, and I’ve only ever interacted with her as my “Myrin self” (although we do know each other’s real names) and now she wants me to behave like we’ve dealt with each other professionally and in real life. Does not compute.

        1. pancakes*

          I think it reflects very poor judgment on her part, regardless of whether the same information is available elsewhere on the internet. It would put people at risk without making the testimonials she’s seeking any more credible.

    10. RagingADHD*

      I can’t tell if you’re overreacting. Unless you were always more of a fan than a friend, your reaction seems reasonable. Some people might not be phased by this, others would. Neither way is wrong.

      I think your level of honesty should be governed by how much you want the friendship back.

      It seems to me that if you are vague, the friendship won’t really ever rekindle, because you are holding her at arm’s length. It will limit your communication and closeness overall, and downgrade the friendship to an acquaintanceship.

      That’s a perfectly valid and justified choice, if that’s what you want.

      If you are honest and thoughtful in how you express your feelings, it can go one way or the other. She could be offended, hurt, or guilty and back away. Or she could respond in a way that pursues a better friendship.

      Do you feel like it’s worth the risk? Then be honest.

      Do you just not want to get into it, or can’t deal with more emotional messiness right now? Or feel so hurt that you don’t see a future for the friendship? Then be polite and vague, and let it drop.

      There’s no right or wrong answer.

      1. Tau*

        I was about to respond but this sums it up even better! Agreed: if you never address it, that is it for the friendship. Whenever you talk, you’ll have to wonder what her motivations are. That’s poison for a relationship. Being honest has the chance of salvaging it – or, of course, of burning the bridge completely. But the latter would be a clean break. (It would also do your friend the favour of letting her know how badly she’s coming off – but, of course, you’re not obliged to do her any favours here.)

        Ugh. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this, Myrin. What a shitty thing to do. :(

    11. LGC*

      This is one of the times where I don’t think you’re overreacting. (Not you particularly, I mean – OPs in general.)

      It sounds like you’re hurt by this, but you still value the friendship. So I’d be honest – that you were glad to hear from her, but also that you found her attempt to profit off your friendship hurtful. Honestly, maybe I’m less bothered by the privacy aspect because I’m American (or maybe you feel the same way and just phrased it differently), but the way she cast your friendship as a mentoring relationship is kind of a slap in the face – it reads like she thought you were broken and a project for her to fix.

      And yes, it does sound very much like an MLM pitch. If there are other clues that show she’s in multilevel marketing, definitely feel free to close the door on her.

    12. allathian*

      Sounds like she’s trying to use your (former?) friendship to promote her business.
      You were online friends and a bit more than just casual online friends, since you shared contact details and she knows your name.

      She won’t know how uncomfortable this email made you unless you tell her. If you really value the friendship you had, I’d err on the side of honesty. Tell her you can’t help her and that you’re not comfortable with linking your real name and online identity and location. As an abuse victim/survivor, she should understand, even if you don’t have any abuse in your background. If she keeps pushing you, you may have to consider disengaging from her completely.

  21. aarti*

    About three years ago I stopped taking hormonal birth control. My periods stabilized to about a 25 day average cycle. About nine months after I stopped the BC, my period was three weeks late. I took a few negative home pregnancy tests then ultimately saw a doctor who confirmed it. Not pregnant. I know a lot of things can affect your cycle but I wasn’t traveling, sick or particularly stressed then. After that it went back to a normal cycle until now. Currently my period is over two weeks late. Same deal, negative home pregnancy test, no other symptoms, no travel, illness, etc.

    Has anyone ever experienced this? Can give me an idea of what’s going on or something to look into? TIA.

    1. Not Australian*

      You don’t mention your age, but is there any possibility it’s early menopause? I know some women have had that in their 20s and been unable to conceive as a result. IANAD, but I’d be looking into that myself.

      1. aarti*

        I’m 31 and that never occurred to me! Thanks and going on the list of things to ask the doctor.

      2. Vina*

        Late periods mean she didn’t ovulate on time. It could be perimenopause, stress, or any number of things.

        Unless this becomes a consistent pattern, I wouldn’t freak out too much.

        As someone over 50, I had plenty of late periods in my time. I’m still not yet truly perimenopausal (unfortunately). Ugh.

        We do such a bad job in the US talking about these things.

        1. aarti*

          That’s true! I’m not in the US but my country does an arguably even worse job of talking about these things. I actually come from a family of very fertile women, a number of whom had late in life pregnancies (late 30s, early 40s) so loss of fertility is less of a worry for me than other things.

          It’s probably just a random late period but I am SO regular in my cycles normally, that I’m confused by why this is happening.

    2. WS*

      Generally, whenever something changes about your period it’s worth checking in with the doctor – it’s very unlikely to be anything serious (most people skip a period occasionally), but the few serious things it could be should be caught early.

      1. AGD*

        I have PCOS and it seems to be a pretty mild case but my cycle is completely unpredictable.

        1. WS*

          Yeah, I have PCOS as well and have never had a regular period in my life! But that’s “normal” for me, so the advice the gynaecologist gave me was to go back if anything changes.

      1. Cat*

        Highly unlikely to be PCOS if it’s happened twice in two years. Many many women in their 30s have fibroids but usually they’re not an issue unless they’re causing pain or very heavy periods. I wouldn’t borrow trouble by looking for them because of this at this point.

    3. Cambridge Comma*

      My cycle got a lot longer during lockdown and I’ve read about it happening to others to.

      1. Vina*

        Stress interrupts ovulation/egg release. It’s so not at all concerning to me.

        Unless it’s a pattern over a longer period of time. Then, yes, get it checked out.

        1. Cambridge Comma*

          Oh, I’m not stressed at all, rather I suspect it’s the lack of interaction with other people.

          1. Vina*

            Well, it may also be the rarer – not having sex so body doesn’t see the point – trigger.

            There’s increasing research that women who aren’t having regular sex or self-pleasure go through menopause before those that are doing one or the other.

            Somehow the body thinks “you aren’t using these, so let’s stop.”

            So, yeah, in your case, might be that.

            I hope it’s not distressing/a problem for you.

            1. aarti*

              I’m actually having sex during lockdown, so not that for me!

              I’m personally not stressed about this, it’s just strange and I’m trying to find how common this is and if there is any reason to be worried. Generally I liked to know what my body is doing and why!

      2. Quoth the Raven*

        This is my case, too. My cycles have always been all over the place, but regular within their irregularity, so to speak (never shorter or longer than a given number of days) except for the last one, which was two months long (and the longest it’s ever been).

        I did go to the gynecologist about it (there was no chance I was pregnant, but it still scared me a lot) and was told that they’re getting a lot of calls and visits from people who are going through the same ever since lockdown started. I’ve done some reading online and I’ve found a lot of others who are going through it.

    4. mreasy*

      When I stopped taking hormonal birth control the first time, my period was over 60 days late, and took a long time to regularize. My doc said that it was unusual but my body was adjusting to the change in hormones and nothing to worry about.

      1. mreasy*

        Reading comprehension fail, I missed the “three years” since bcp. If you’re mid thirties to mid forties, it could be perimenopause, the delightful pre-menopause time of life nobody tells you about ahead of time. My cycle has always been super sensitive to anything in the environment – could it be the low-level stress we’re all under due to the pandemic? Worth going to your gynecologist but it could just be the weirdness of bodies as time goes on!

    5. Morning reader*

      Before the hormonal birth control, were your periods regular? If not, maybe they’ve just got back to the intermittent cycle. 25 days is pretty fast, and 3 weeks late could be just skipping one. (mine used to be anywhere from 3 1/2 weeks to 7 weeks and I’d routinely get a pregnancy test when it hit 42 days, just to be sure.) sometimes I’d skip one and my roommate would get hers instead (or so it seemed at the time.)

      1. aarti*

        I’m one of those ladies who was put on hormonal BC when I was 16 and never got off it until 3 years ago. So actually I have no idea! A skipped cycle seems most likely because I also get cramps, acne, some mood swings around my period regularly and both last time and this time I didn’t get any of those.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Any chance you’ve started ongoing strenuous workouts due to self-isolation? Extreme athletes will see cycles reduce or stop.

      1. Mandy*

        Yes, I think losing a lot of weight can cause something like this too. A combination of eating out less, not having as many snacks/alcohol to leave room in our less frequent shop for essentials, and more time for exercise has caused a big weight drop for me. If you’re low on body fat, you won’t cycle, I think the theory is something along the lines of if there is a famine a pregnancy would be unlikely to succeed so your body pauses.

    7. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      This happened to me last year and this year; my period was 2-3 weeks late each time. This year I went to the doctor and got it checked out. Got my thyroid checked, other blood tests, etc—nothing wrong. The nurse-practitioner asked, “Are you stressed?” I did not feel consciously stressed, so I said no. But, after my period came the very next day, I put it together that I actually was stressed. Every year my husband goes away for a long weekend with his friends, leaving me solo with our toddler. The late periods matched the run-up to the trip exactly. I always have a friend come stay with me, but even with that in place I still feel overwhelmed about being the “on” parent 24/7.

      I will take you at your word that you’re not stressed. Just because I was stealth-stressed doesn’t mean you are, but I wanted to throw this in in case it’s helpful, and because late periods are maddening af.

      1. aarti*

        Yes, it sounds like we’re experiencing similar things!

        It’s possible I’m stressed in some ways that I don’t realise. Given that I have literally no other symptoms that could point to other causes, stress seems like the most likely cause.

        1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

          I saw your comment upthread about coming from a family of women who were fertile into their 40s. Same here. My cycles are normally very regular, and the nurse-practitioner saying “You have irregular periods” was actually infuriating. I was there because this was a real aberration; she was looking at that same info and concluding I had irregular periods. Logically I could see her reasoning, but it was a real emotional disconnect. And she ended up being wrong. But so was I. I don’t think I wanted myself to feel stressed because I wanted my husband to get time with his friends. And I didn’t want to say don’t go. But my feelings about it were actually quite strong under the surface.

    8. blackcat*

      Where are you and is the any chance you’ve had COVID?

      My cycle has been super wonky since getting COVID back in late March. One really short cycle (18 days) and now one really long one (35). Also not pregnant. My conversation with my midwife suggests that I’m far from the only one with this as a long term side effect (I’m in an area where cases peaked in April).

      1. aarti*

        I don’t think I’ve had COVID, but your message reminds me that when I had dengue last year it did shorten my cycle. I’m definitely in a place where COVID is a possibility.

    9. Myrin*

      I don’t want to sound cavalier but I don’t think two late periods in three years are a cause for concern, even if you’re usually very regular.
      I totally get wanting to understand what’s causing one’s body to react a certain way – heck, I have tinnitus which in itself seems to be a weird medical mystery, and I’ve had a permanently burning tongue for about a year now which I saw five or six very different doctors for and everyone was stunned which is so unsatisfying – but I think sometimes we just have to accept that things and bodies happen in mysterious ways (in fact, that’s what the neurologist I saw in that regard told me, and she seemed hilariously exasperated by that, too).
      My cycle has, basically since I got my period and with few exceptions where I could usually pinpoint the culprit, been 31 days but three months ago, I got intermenstrual bleeding for the first time in my life without any comprehensible reason. It didn’t happen again the two times after it so I think I just have to begrudgingly accept it as a Weird Body Thing, which it sounds like might be the case for you, too.

      1. Cat*

        Yes agreed. From experience, most gynecologists will say something like “come back if you haven’t gotten your period back in another two months.” Sometimes our body just changes things up.

      2. RagingADHD*


        Two irregular periods in three years is not a cause for concern, as long as you did a pg test.

        The only thing it means is that your body is not a machine and can’t read a calendar.

        I think the prevalence of hormonal bc (while awesome in many ways) gives completely distorted and unrealistic expectations of what the real range of normal is.

    10. Artemesia*

      Before my first child was born I was totally random like this — I guess the fact that you were regular before does give you pause and checking it off is good.

    11. Jules the 3rd*

      Have them check thyroid levels, especially if you’re losing weight or seeing changes to your hair.

      I am hypo thyroid (body doesn’t make enough), but the regular prescription is just a little bit high (hyper thyroid), which can make my hair fall out a little and can make me skip periods. I’ve heard other people talk about hair getting dry.

    12. HBJ*

      I don’t think there’s anything to look into. You have regular periods with two weird ones in a three-year timeframe. That seems pretty normal to me.

    13. left foot first*

      that regularly happens to me when I up my exercise a little, or eat healthy for a while. I’m not under-eating or anything, just more salad focused. think, start of summer, go walking more places.

    14. JustEm*

      Unless it becomes a pattern, that is really normal! Even women who are normally super regular will occasionally ovulate late or not ovulate one month. Twice in 3 years is nothing to worry about. If it becomes more frequent that you are having irregularities, then your doctor will want to look into other causes.

    15. Zweisatz*

      I seem to have one cycle per summer that’s weird. No reason. In my case the length differs about 6 days to the usual length. Other big jumps are only with huge stress or illness for me.

  22. Helvetica*

    Has anyone had experience being told that they’ve been a role model of sorts for someone, without having thought of it before?
    I recently had a friend tell me that I’m the reason they started thinking about feminism and related topics and start a journey on that. And it was apparently because when we were in high school – like 16, 17 in my country – I was the first person she heard say that they’re a feminist in a very matter of fact way. I do not remember this at all, but it did make me think of the influence we have on other people, inadvertently. It’s a good feeling to hear something like that but then you think wow, I had this impact 15 years ago and I had no idea.

    1. 2QS*

      I went to a really, really stuck-up and traditional private school. There was a lot of messed-up gender role stuff. No one said a word about women’s or LGBTQ issues for four years. Except for one classmate, who was open about being bi and a feminist and just by existing caused me to rethink some earlier assumptions (she was into super femme stuff and also one of the smartest people I’d ever met). I had a lot of learning/unlearning to do after many years in that kind of environment, and she unwittingly opened the door for me. We lost touch, but yeah – exactly the opposite of your experience.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve had several friends over the years tell me they look up to me because I’m “the stable one” and seem to “have it together.” To be honest, I don’t like when they say that. It makes me feel like I can’t talk about my problems with them. I’m not worried they’ll suddenly think I’m a mess or something, just that maybe they think my problems aren’t as important as theirs. I don’t know quite how to explain it.

    3. Jack be Nimble*

      Years and years ago, I was fairly active on Tumblr and the title of my blog was something goofy about being gay — the internet was my only outlet for my sexuality at the time, I wasn’t out to family or even most friends. At some point, I got an anonymous message from someone that said I’d inspired them to come out, because I seemed so happy and confident in my sexuality, and they particularly said my silly blog title made them smile and feel good about being gay. It was really sweet but also made me feel so strange — I wasn’t out at all, but my confidence on my blog inspired someone else?

      It was a messy and painful period of my life for a lot of reasons, but now I’m so much happier, confident, and proud than I was back then. I think about that anonymous person every now and again, and I hope they’re doing well!

    4. blaise zamboni*

      Sort of a dark example, CW: abuse.

      My best friend’s sister heard my struggles with confronting my abuser (and the ensuing sh!tshow) at a pool party when we were 13. Five years later when she confronted her own abuser, she said she had wanted to do that since the party and subsequently seeing that I had gotten through it. I wish she had said something earlier, even just privately to us as friends, but I feel really grateful that she was inspired to speak up at all.

      Similarly, I was very outspoken about my abuse experiences in college, and close to a dozen women privately approached me to share “skeezy” experiences they’d had but were afraid to name as assault. Some of them had never shared the story with anyone in their life, and later told me how meaningful it was for them to feel validated even if it went nowhere else.

      Not the most upbeat part of my life, but it really helped cement that I want to be the person that 12-year-old-me needed! That has pushed me to be much more vocal and compassionate than I probably would’ve been otherwise, and not just about abuse.

    5. Overeducated*

      My husband says I was a big influence in his learning about feminism and other social justice issues. I kind of think he would have learned the same stuff from the internet eventually anyway, but it’s nice that he thinks so.

    6. Cedrus Libani*

      Years ago, I went to China to teach at a STEM camp for high schoolers. At the end, one of the students privately thanked me for being a great role model. Women in STEM, right? Nope. She was maybe 5’10”, which is tall for a teenage girl in southern China, but I’m 6″. She’d never seen a woman taller than her before. Apparently the way I stomped around and unapologetically took up space was inspiring.

      I totally hadn’t thought about it, and was gobsmacked. The experience did make me more conscious of the energy I put out in my everyday life. You never know when (or why) you might be the person somebody needs.

  23. Also sober*

    I usually post under a different name but want to keep it anonymous for this.
    Have any of you (afab) women dated a (amab) man with a colostomy bag?
    Have you had any problems with sexual activity?
    Any other issues?

    1. TempOstomate*

      I’ve been the ostomate, so I can’t quite answer your questions, but I did want to comment so you get some info. Do you know if you are the first partner since he got his ostomy bag? If you aren’t, than I think you can assume that everything is working well and he’s figured out any necessary workarounds (some positions work better than others). The bigger issue might simply be your ease with being intimate with his body. (To be honest, some partners and even some ostomates never really feel at ease, and a lot of relationships suffer when a person is first learning to live with an ostomy.)
      If it helps, there are products available to keep the bag close to the body, like those from Ostomy Secrets or a cloth band like a Stealth Belt. Also, there are bag covers that can be made out of a soft fabric.

      1. Also sober*

        The bigger issue might simply be your ease with being intimate with his body.

        I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there.
        Thanks for the tips.

        1. TempOstomate*

          It’s ok to feel this way; the key is to be honest with yourself and (once you sort your feelings) your partner. If you really like the guy and the relationship, then hopefully you can talk about it. When I was dating my now-husband and realized an ostomy was a possibility, I knew he would have issues. It ended up not being necessary, but I’m not sure how it would have turned out back then. Flash forward a dozen years into our marriage when I had cancer, it was unavoidable, and we figured it out.

  24. Amethyst*

    TW: Discussion of vomiting and…the other end to follow. Sorry. I’m gonna try to make it not gross.

    I have IBS and a severely overactive gag reflex. Sometimes when I have too much gas in my intestines, I feel really sick and have to spend a lot of time on the toilet. Sometimes it results in vomiting while I go.

    Has anyone found a workaround on this? I’m tired of dealing with this. The nature of my IBS is so that normally safe foods can turn unsafe for a day before it’s safe again. And I can never know in advance whether it’s gonna be an issue that day. I’ve actually made myself really sick from pulling hair off my shower drain, and I’m tired of it. (Hair is a gag reflex trigger.) I can tell you that I’ve been vomiting a lot more in the last 10 years than I ever did previously.

    I did speak to my dentist about the gag reflex issue and they didn’t have any solutions except to refer me to an oral surgeon (for my mild tongue tie), and who was of no help.

    I’m just sick of the gag reflex being a highly sensitive trigger over anything/everything/nothing and the vomiting. They’re the absolute worst.

    Anyone have one or both of these issues? How did you resolve it? I’m all ears.

    1. Jaid*

      Not a problem for me, but it’s weird what comes up on the internet. Apparently accupressure/accupuncture can help.

      JADA (Journal of the American Dental Association) has an article saying that they tested 36 people with a device that applied pressure to a specific point on the palm and there was a significant result. You’d have to pay for the full article.

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4606684/ Has info about accupuncture.


      I wish you well. I hope these help.

    2. KoiFeeder*

      Ah, vomiting on the toilet. That happens a lot to me. I don’t have any solutions to resolve the issue… but I do have a cheap plastic trashcan right next to the toilet for when things happen.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      I strongly recommend you see a gastroenterologist and maybe an ENT. This is a quality of life thing and there might be really great answers out there for you from the right experts.
      Fingers crossed!

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Oh, definitely. Not being able to reliably eat is a big problem and no gastroenterologist worth anything is going to ignore that (and if they do, or give you the bulimia pamphlets, you absolutely should fire them).

    4. HannahS*

      One thing I notice there is that some of the things that make you vomit–hair from the drain–aren’t directly related to your bloating/IBS. Maybe a therapist with experience with exposure therapy could help you feel less nauseated and less likely to vomit when looking at/smelling things are triggers.

    5. TempOstomate*

      For the committing while you go: have you tried a squatty potty? Sometimes raising your legs can reduce the pressure on your vagus nerve, which can be a trigger for some.

    6. Zweisatz*

      This is completely out of left field but I’ll leave it here on the off chance that it might be a useful tool. Due to my digestive issues which probably include SIBO, I found a breathing exercize to improve SIBO. I’m mentioning it here because when I use it regularly, my digestion is noticeably better and I don’t have the SIBO issue of feeling sick after I eat. Maybe it can contribute a little. Link in next comment

    7. Anon5775*

      The only tidbit I have for you is that apparently sniffing rubbing alcohol can make nausea lessen.

  25. Clodagh*

    Gamers – I get what I think is motion sickness when I play a lot of console games, particularly first person ones. Does anyone have any tips on how I can manage this? Would painkillers help? Would it be worth getting anti-nausea tablets? I’m tired of getting a pounding headache and a slight sick feeling every time I play a game!

    1. Lych*

      You could maybe try sitting further back from your screen? Motion sickness is caused by a disconnect between what movements your eyes think you’re making and what your inner ear is registering. If the screen is the only thing you can see, that might lead to confusion between those, and make you sick. If you sit further back you will see more around your screen which gives your brain another reference point.

      1. Bilateralrope*

        Also you’d be matching the field of view rendered onscreen with the angle the screen takes up in your vision.

        Having the fov at a lower angle than what the screen takes up causes me motion sickness. I’m on pc and normally deal with it by adjusting game settings, but changing your distance from the screen also works.

    2. Purt’s Peas*

      If you haven’t already, I’d do a deep dive in the options menu—specifically looking at controller sensitivity if the option’s there, or turning off camera shake. It’s also possible that adjusting the frame rate down, if possible, would help. I know those things might interfere with performance if you’re playing competitive games but it might be worth a try.

      1. Clodagh*

        I play most things on easy so definitely not playing anything competitively! thanks for this – I’d never considered there might be something in the game settings that would help.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Might investigate your TV settings too. My husband got a high-def TV that’s probably too large for the size of my living room, and when he first set it up, it gave me crazy motion sickness. I forget what exactly we did to it, but if you google “soap opera effect” or similar, there’s an article called “Soap Opera Effect: Tom Cruise Wants You To Turn It Off” that helped me figure out what settings were giving me the wiggins and it’s been just fine ever since. (Which is good, because I do most of the TV watching in the living room, and having a TV in there that made me motion sick was not a viable option. :P )

      1. Clodagh*

        Ooh, interesting! My TV is definitely too big for my living room (it looked smaller in the shop, I swear!) and I struggled with panning shots when I first got it so this might be very helpful.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I get it, but I haven’t found anything that works better than avoidance & cutting tome. I long ago gave up on IMAX & 3D movies. I have problems with the bouncy motion of Charr characters in Guild Wars 2. It’s manageable for short sessions if I turn off the setting called something like ‘camera bounce” (or shudder, or motion).
      Beyond that I never let myself play long if I catch myself getting queasy.

      1. Clodagh*

        I’ll check out the camera bounce/shudder/motion setting, thank you! I’m bad at limiting the time of my sessions and just end up in a really bad mood because of the headache… not an ideal situation!

      1. Anxious Cat Servant*

        Those things are magic! I get mal de debarquement fairly easily and those things saved me last trip. I put them on before the flight and felt so good I figured that it was just one of those times my inner ear wasn’t being a pain and took them off. Five minutes later I was looking for a trash can. Put them back on and I was fine again. So weird but I’ll take whatever sorcery that is if it keeps me from going green.

    5. anon24*

      PC gamer here. Zofran helps if I take it beforehand, but its prescription only. Definitely play with your graphics settings. It took me a bit to be able to play without getting sick after 5 minutes. I don’t really play console but a tip a friend gave me that works well is to sit on an exercise ball while playing console. You’re constantly balancing and readjusting yourself so it keeps your brain and inner ear grounded in reality. Definitely helps.

      1. Clodagh*

        Ooh, interesting! I quite like the idea of perching atop an exercise ball when I play. Thank you!

    6. pancakes*

      Not a gamer, but whenever I’ve had motion sickness on a boat or in a car I’ve found looking steadily at the horizon to be very helpful. Taking your eyes off the screen to look out a window, ideally, or to look at something stationary in the room might help. I only get car-sick if I try to read in the car (as a passenger obviously!) so I don’t do that anymore unless it’s to briefly check an email or something.

      1. Clodagh*

        It took me a long time to identify what was happening as motion sickness as it’s something I never get when I travel, even when reading. The brain is a strange thing! Thanks for the tips.

    7. Duckymuffin*

      Have you had a recent eye exam? Sometimes a small uncorrected prescription difference between the eyes causes one to work harder than the other during focusing tasks and the imbalance causes strain, discomfort, etc.

    8. Dr. Anonymous*

      I’m just spitballing here, but I wonder if a speech pathologist could help you. They deal with swallowing difficulties and I wonder if they could help you desensitize to the gag reflex.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Do you have astigmatism?

      I get extremely motion sick from 3-D movies, from some IMax movies or simulator rides, and oddly enough from Minecraft. I rarely get sick from *actual* motion, just the visuals.

      I had an eye doctor once tell me it was related to my astigmatism, though I have no idea how accurate that might be, and I wear my glasses all the time, which should correct it. Perhaps it’s more a brain thing than an eye thing.

      Anyway, I don’t have any workarounds. I just don’t do those things much because they’re no fun. (Though some IMax stuff is worth it).

    10. LQ*

      Mess with your settings. Bounce/motion/etc dig around in your game until you find the settings, you may be able to google the game you are on and motion sickness and find some specific settings.

      Plan your gaming. Don’t do a whole bunch of stuff that is bad at once, do some things that are less sickening inbetween.
      Cut yourself off. I use parental controls on myself all the time. It’s a good time to get up and take a break. (This is a lot harder if you’re a hardcore gamer but it sounds like you aren’t so I really recommend this. A 3 minute break makes playing longer no problem.)

      I just can’t full FPS games they absolutely make me feel sick. But the good news is there are a LOT of kinds of games out there. Honestly, just explore different game types to find something that you love to play that doesn’t make you sick. I know there are great game experiences I miss out on, but there are only so many gaming hours anyway so I’m going to miss out on great things. So I might as well miss out on the feeling bad too.

    11. Christmas Carol*

      Flashing lights triggering pounding headaches and nausea, sounds like migraines to me.

  26. Hotdog not dog*

    AAM gardeners, how are things growing? I’m finally getting things to eat from my herb and vegetable gardens and I’m thrilled! Still waiting for the first tomato, but have herbs, peppers, lettuce, chard, peas, and zucchini. On a related note, who’s got a good zucchini recipe? Based on previous experience I expect to be drowning in zucchini in about another week.

    1. nep*

      No recipes, but I like to spiral-cut them and cook them up in a skillet w some olive oil and whatever seasoning. Makes for a great side. (The volume shrinks down like crazy, of course.)

    2. Alexandra Lynch*

      My boyfriend had WLS, and since he can’t have pasta, we substitute what I call “pan-seared zucchini” for pasta for him. My girlfriend, who lives with us, has the zucchini on the side with her pasta. So it works either way.
      Cut off ends, cut zucchini in half, then quarters, and cut the quarters into regular-ish sized pieces. Get a cast iron skillet hissing hot, add a couple teaspoons of grapeseed (or another high smoke point) oil, and toss in the zucchini. Let them sear dark on a couple sides, and get soft, stirring three or four times. Take out of the pan, toss with sea salt and cracked black pepper, and top them with sauce. They are good with marinara sauce and meatballs, and they are astounding with alfredo sauce topped with chicken and diced pepper bacon.
      It is very fast, and easy, and one of those things where the sum of the parts adds up to a taste greater than what you expect.

    3. Anonnington*

      Zucchini bread! So incredibly delicious.

      I’m growing everything from seed, completely organic. I’m in a small cluster of houses. We’re all into gardening. The neighbors started later but bought fully grown plants, not organic. They’re using the big name brand soils and fertilizers. So now my garden looks scraggly compared to theirs. I’m trying to catch up. We’re all very nice. There are no tensions. But I feel like we’re having a friendly gardening competition! It’s fun.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        Ours is all organic too. Compost is my best friend! I’ve gardened for years and find that there is a big difference in the production of fruits/veggies. My plants aren’t as big and lush looking but they have more fruit and are less susceptible to insect damage. Most commercial fertilizers encourage growth of the green parts, which results in tender stems and leaves which the bugs love.

        1. Anonnington*

          Aha. Right now, my struggle is lack of sunlight. My yard is surrounded by tall buildings. I have some very snail-eaten, post-flowering arugula. I’ve already planted amaranth seedlings in the same pot. But I can’t bring myself to remove the arugula yet. I feel bad about killing anything . . . vegicidal??

    4. Recent Grad*

      Zucchini pie, it’s kind of like a crust less quiche that uses a lot of zucchini.

    5. GoryDetails*

      I’ve got peppers and eggplant and tomatoes developing, but none at harvest size yet. I have had some husk cherries (aka ground cherries, aka Cape gooseberries), but noticed some empty husks under the plants indicating that something else has been harvesting them too. (I’m blaming the chipmunks, but it could have been birds.) Added some chicken-wire around the plants to see if that helps.

      Got some heliotrope plants from a favorite local nursery; the fragrance on this variety isn’t as rich as on other types I’ve had in the past, but it’s still lovely.

    6. GoryDetails*

      Forgot to add a zucchini recipe (possibly because I put in my summer squash plants a bit late and won’t have any produce from them for a while!). I like to oven-roast veggies in general, and for summer squash it works really well – concentrates the flavor, and removes a lot of the moisture. I can nosh on the roasted veggies straight from the pan, or use them in soups or pasta sauce or frittatas or ratatouille…

    7. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I harvested my first cucumber yesterday!

      There are two more almost ready, but I want to give them a day or two in the sunlight and that might not be until Wednesday.

      A windstorm knocked my (container) tomato plant over, but I have set it back upright and it seems to be fine.

    8. Container Gardening*

      My container garden on my deck is going quite well! I’m a fairly inexperienced gardener, so I’m so happy to see the plants growing and looking forward to being able to eat some home grown veggies this summer.

      Two questions for more experienced gardeners:
      My cucumber plant has grown so tall, it is now higher than the trellis. What can I do? The top two vines are precariously clinging on to each other. Will they stop growing if they have nothing to cling on to? Is there something I can rig up to help them?

      One of my pepper plants is already producing peppers. They are still green but last week I cut a couple off (and ate them!) as I read that harvesting some early in the season will cause the plant to produce even more peppers. This week I have a couple more that I can cut off, but how do I know when to start leaving them to ripen? I’ve read that it takes quite a while for peppers to ripen so I want to balance early harvesting vs leaving so I actually get to eat some red peppers.

      1. Venus*

        Usually I pinch the end of the vine to help it focus on the fruit (tomato pruning basics but it may apply to cucumbers?)

    9. MommaCat*

      My two tomato plants have been producing well enough to keep my kids happy, and my cucumber has been producing about one cucumber a week, which is awesome. I discovered my potted orange mint and potted chocolate mint have been throwing out rhizomes that almost reached the ground and each other, so I had to do some hurried pruning and moving the pots away from each other. I got one massive harvest last weekend from my orange mint since it was blooming, and now I’m trying to stay ahead of the oregano and peppermint plants as they start blooming. I’ve been a little lazy with harvesting all the chamomile, because I’ll be happy if I get volunteers, but mint? Stay in your pot, dangit! I get the feeling that most friends and family will be getting dried herbs for Christmas. Which is good, since I’m in theater, and our income will be halved.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We harvested two pints of blackcaps (wild raspberries) from our woods this morning! And more to come, especially if we suit up to enter the poison ivy zone.
      It kind of makes up for the bug damage to everything else. (So much diversity in pests…even the slugs are an interesting shade of yellow brown. But I’m still putting out beer after finding 8 of them in 10 minutes.)

    11. Nita*

      It’s been hot and dry, and my garden is showing it. Most of the grapes seems to have dried up on the vine, and many of the raspberries were pretty much dried fruit when I picked them. That’s what I get for being a weekend gardener – the garden is not technically mine and I don’t live at my parents’, so I can’t give it the TLC it really needs. Still, three big cups of raspberries, so there was enough for my parents and the kids. The container garden is doing good – the tomatoes and beans are blooming, the radish looks nearly ready to pick. The backyard… I don’t know what to do about the backyard. It is growing weeds, which is a good sign, but so far nothing I’ve planted will take. I think the problem is not enough water (fixable) and not enough sun (not fixable). The next-door neighboor has a green thumb, but even she can’t get anything but herbs and flowers to grow in her backyard. Maybe I should give up on vegetables, and plant another fruit bush back there.

      Zucchini: if you’ve got the time, they’re delicious fried. You make a bowl of flour with some salt and pepper, cut the zucchini into thin circles, heat up some oil in a pan, and then dip each circle in the flour and fry. They’re done when they start to brown a little/start to look a bit “wrinkly”. You can put some lemon juice and garlic on them after frying. They also go in stews and soups, but the frying is my favorite.

    12. WellRed*

      My tomato and peppers are doing great, but cucumber is very slow. Is this normal (curls are new for me). Too much sun? Will something for it to crawl on help?

    13. Venus*

      My garden is so dry and everything is now growing slowly.

      Yet I did get garlic scapes and the raspberries have started to produce, and there are some tomatoes that have started to grow. So I have hope!

    14. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Everything is still tiny and pathetic although some plants are finally starting to get bigger. Last week I bought some bags of compost to fill up some big pots to put some plants in but we’re expecting a very windy day tomorrow so I’ve left the things I was going to plant out in the greenhouse for another day. I have some cabbages that I bought as plants that seem to be mostly growing so at least I might have those. I did get a few peas and strawberries today but the damn woodlice attacked the strawberries.

    15. Newbie Gardener*

      Our green beans are almost finished. I’ve harvested a handful of beans every 3 or 4 days for about 3 weeks now. Harvested 4 beets and have 4 left. Roasted the beets with Maui onion and they were great. The beet greens were delicious, too. Getting enough zucchini, summer and patty pan squash to sauté every few days. Harvested a few cherry tomatoes and one small beefsteak tomato and they were all delicious. My neighbor and I planted our gardens about the same time. All of my plants are scrawny and his are magnificent. He shows up on my doorstep with huge cucumbers and zucchini every few days.

    16. Altair*

      I just took a paddle slicer to a zucchini and sauteed it with a good pinch of salt in pretty hot oil (8 on a scale of 10) with a dressing of rice vinegar, honey, fresh extra virgin olive oil, and some “salad herbs”. The zucchini shrank down considerably because the slices were so thin and the whole dish came out really well, caramelized and tasty. I’m definitely making it again. I could add this to pasta, but I currently ate it with smoked salmon and rice.

    17. AcademiaNut*

      One of my favourite dead simple zucchini recipes – slice zucchini and layer it on a baking tray or shallow pan, each slice overlapping the other a bit. Brush with garlic infused olive oil (crush a few cloves into the oil, and let it set for a few minutes), sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at moderate heat for about five or ten minutes, depending on thickness, then sprinkle with grated parmesan. Put back in the oven, turn the heat up, and broil until the cheese is starting to brown. Serve hot.

      I can also eat buckets of ratatouille and related stews during the summer, both cold and hot.

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Shining leaf chafers… has anyone tried the bright-light kiddie pool trap idea? Does it work?

    19. Ali G*

      I have milkweed buds!!! I lamented previously how my milkweeds have never bloomed in 3 years. I was so sad, especially when I see other peoples plants in the neighborhood blooming. But! I have 2 stalks with buds and I am so excited to see them finally bloom!
      For zucchini, I make zucchini lasagna, subing roasted thick cut slices of zukes for noodles. Make more slices than you think you will need.
      My pepper plants are still stunted, I am just going to let them grow (I tried picking buds and fruit off for a few weeks, but they want to fruit so be it).

    20. Parenthetically*

      Bell peppers are going crazy! Peas are pretty much finished and we’re putting zucchini behind them, greens are about finished and mom’s decided to put onions in behind them. Beans are just coming on so we’ll have them coming out of our ears in a couple weeks. Herbs are all going like mad — can’t use the basil fast enough.

      When I have an abundance of zucchini, I just shred it and add it to everything — curries, pasta sauces, sloppy joes, mac and cheese, whatever. I love the shreddy texture and really love any chance to get more veggies in my life!

  27. The Other Dawn*

    Anyone ever have issues with their piriformis muscle? How do you deal with it?

    It seems like I keep having issues pop up as I continue recovery from back surgery. (I totally blame the pandemic, as I know getting back to a normal daily routine much earlier would have made recovery go faster.) The back is pretty much fine, though it still bothers me if I sit too long. Last week I got a cortisone injection for the bursitis in the left hip and that seems to have taken care of it. I’m also enjoying the 4 inch mattress topper I bought a few weeks ago. And now I’m noticing pain in the crease of the back of my legs at the top (where the butt meets the leg), both sides. It feels like sciatica, though it doesn’t radiate out like sciatica usually does. I asked the physical therapist about it and he mentioned it could be the beginnings of piriformis syndrome. He said it can come from too much sitting and sitting on hard surfaces, which makes sense given I’m now working from home and I’m basically just home all the time for the most part. At my session yesterday he did some massage on the muscles, which was uncomfortable but necessary, and I felt good after that…until the usual aches from new exercises, etc. set in.

    My next session is Tuesday and I plan to ask if there are specific exercises or stretches I can do to help this, but I’m wondering if anyone else has had piriformis syndrome and how you dealt with it. (I’ll add that I just ordered a seat cushion from Purple (I had no idea they make seat cushions),which hasn’t arrived yet, and I’m hoping that helps while working. Even though I have a sit/stand desk and my chair isn’t hard, it seems like I can NEVER get enough activity in at any point during the day to offset the issues I’m still having, which totally sucks. I may need a new chair, too, I’m thinking.)

    1. Roja*

      I haven’t had piriformis syndrome specifically but as a dancer I’ve had plenty of similar issues. DEFINITELY ask your PT for exercises and stretches because that’ll really help. I’d also recommend getting a tennis ball, a franklin ball, or a bouncy ball (or any combination), because you can stick the ball between your butt and a wall and roll around. It’ll really help relax those muscles, although it’ll hurt at first so be gentle.

      There’s a ton of stretches you can do but the easiest one to describe by words is sit in your chair and let your legs dangle (or rest on the floor, but I’m so short my legs dangle). Then cross one leg so its ankle rests on your other knee. It’ll look like a number 4. You can vary the intensity of the stretch by leaning forward or letting your knee fall farther open over time. Most of the variations on that stretch are just in different positions (aka, make that shape but lying on your back/side/standing up/whatever). Your PT should have nice handouts with pictures, or at least my previous PTs have done so.

      They might not mention this but one thing I’ve found that makes a difference in how tight my hips get is how tight my lower back gets. You can try lying on the ground, pushing your butt up against a chair or the couch, and then resting your legs on the chair. Your knees should be a 90 degree angle or so, and your shins parallel to the floor. You might not be able to do this while you’re still recovering from surgery, but when it’s safe to get up and down off the floor and lie on a hard surface, I’d give it a shot. 5-10 minutes a day makes a HUGE difference in how my back and hips feel.

      Good luck!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thank you! Yes, he mentioned using a lacrosse ball for massaging that area. I have one so I’ll give it a try. I only brought it up to him yesterday and it was actually someone different. I assume I’ll have the regular guy next week so I’ll bring it up again. I do have a follow-up with the doctor for the hip injection in a couple weeks, but I didn’t want to wait that long since this pain is truly annoying.

    2. acmx*

      What Roja said.
      I do the figure 4 stretch where I lay on my back and bring the knees up to stretch. I’m able to do this in bed.
      I also just use my fingers to work out any knots (or you could use a tennis/la cross ball, foam roller).

    3. Knots*

      Ugh, yes. I did a 12 hour road trip for a 1 week vacation and when I got back, I had strong piriformis pain. It seemed very unfair to hurt from sitting! I did the four-square stretch described by Roja and things loosened up.

    4. HannahS*

      Yeah, I have! It was bugging my sciatic nerve for YEARS. Honestly, just being diligent (and by “diligent” I definitely mean “occasionally diligent but most lackadaisical”) about physio and self-massage has been sufficient.

    5. Ellen*

      I had it for months. Exercises didn’t help as much as anti inflammatories and keeping heat on my backside.

    6. J.B.*

      I have chronic hip issues tied to a back that is much too bendy. What works for me is daily lacrosse or soccer balls and keeping the glutes strong. Be diligent about pt and it should help.

    7. Anon, colleagues read AAM*

      I encourage you to see a pain specialist if your insurance will cover it. Because you want someone who’s going to look at the big picture.

      Tl, dr: your problem may not be the piriformis or not just the piriformis.

      My sad story:
      I had a similar issue at the start of the year (prirfirmis has been achy/tight a long time before that too). Got bad enough that I couldnt use stairs. Course of steroids, pt, got better, got back to my usual activities over a couple months. Shutdown, WFH = too much sitting, less comfortable chair, bad setup for using computer all day long, problem came back, got worse, went to ER (pain level 9, I do not exaggerate), admitted to hospital, got to try all the anti-inflammatories and opiods (and let me say, morphine is amazing), Steroid injection in SI joint which kinda helped, back home now, Did another course of oral steroids, doing pt twice a week, piriformis and nearby muscles still tight/painful, next week I get a steroid injection in my spine because dx now is nerve Root impingement affecting nerves going to/near yes, you guessed it, piriformis.

    8. Anon, colleagues read AAM*

      Also, I got a lumbar pillow and through the PT got a back brace w an ice insert. The improvement to my posture, back support, and back icing has made my hip and piriformis feel better. Everything’s connected…

    9. Anonacademic*

      Yes, for me it was posture and strength imbalances plus too much sitting. I joined a gym and started walking 7-10k steps a day, plus doing mobility exercises. Haven’t had any lower back pain/piriformis pain for almost a year now.

  28. Anon Estate Planning for Pets*

    The pandemic has given me the nudge I needed to get my end of life planning documented. I want to put a provision in my will to give X thousand dollars, and my cats, to my designated cat guardian. I have an informal “you’ll take care of my pets if something happens to me” reciprocal arrangement with another single relative retiree who also has two cats.

    My question is around instructions for their care if I die. I’d like it if some good home took them in til the end of their natural lives, but what if there’s no feasible home for them? My general preferences for the “guardian” are 1) keep them yourself as your own pets, 2) rehome them if you can find a good place for them, 3) return them to the no-kill shelter where they came from (or another such.)

    Now that my cats are getting old (as am I), I am thinking of adding that if they are elderly or in poor health at the time of my death, it would be OK to have them put down rather than returned to a shelter. One of them is shy and would probably get a stress infection and die in the shelter. The other is more territorial and would probably get into fights with other cats (and lose as he is old, fat, and declawed.) I doubt either of them would get adopted out at 15 or 20 years old, and they’d have a hard time adapting even if they did.

    My question is: is this a terrible idea? Is it ethically bad to kill beloved animals rather than let them live as long as they might in circumstances they would find challenging? To clarify, I wouldn’t put this in my will, it would be more of an understanding with my pet guardian person. My instructions would be to use the money for their supplies and medical care, then donate any remainder to the shelter.

    What arrangement do you have for pet guardianship? (I of course have no plans to die soon, but several thousand Americans probably thought the same a few months ago.)

    1. The Other Dawn*

      This is a tough one. Speaking as someone who volunteers with a cat rescue, thank you so much for making provisions for your cats. So many people don’t.

      As to whether you should tell the designated guardian to put them down if necessary, it depends on a lot of factors and you/they have to be logical about making the decision. In your case, I agree euthanasia is a viable option: they’re senior cats; one is territorial and may get into fits he can’t win; and the other would be very stressed in a shelter. I don’t, however, think it’s the first option the guardian should consider–it should be the last when there are no other viable options. And health, in my opinion, should be heavily factored in. If they are healthy, it’s possible someone will want to adopt one of them since it’s likely they won’t be tied down to the cat for 10+ years and/or want to give a senior cat love and caring in their last years; some people prefer adopting older cats because of that.

      This reminds me I need to make a will. I have 12 cats and I shudder to think what will happen to them when we die. I know most family members wouldn’t consider taking even one of them, and other family members I wouldn’t WANT them to take even one of them. And I wouldn’t want the decision to be left up to anyone but me and my husband, or the woman who runs the rescue.

    2. Four-legged fosterer*

      It sounds like you have the right wording. Find them the right home, and if all options are exhausted then euthanize. Euthanasia is about not wanting them to be miserable, physically or mentally. It would be awful if someone euthanized their pet because of their own laziness, so their circumstances hadn’t changed but they got tired of old age, but your case is completely different and reasonable.

      1. Vina*

        Euthanizing a pet can be an act of kindness.

        I had one cat where we loved her and waited a wee bit too long. That was about us, not her. That taught me that it’s better to do it before you are ready than after it’s too late and the pet has suffered.

        It’s not like the cat can tell you “I want to die.” But sometimes, it’s clear they have no meaningful life and are suffering.

        If you have given them the best life you possibly could but they hav eno quality of life left, then ending their lives is an act of kindness and mercy.

    3. Vina*

      As a lawyer, look at your will v. Setting up a pet trust with a lawyer. I can do them for under $1500, sometimes as low as $500.

      Also, if you are doing this using an online form, please don’t. I’ve never seen a DIY one of those that worked. Also, lawyers are usually cheaper. Seriously, I charge only $350 for a will, power of attorney, and 3-4 health care documents.

      If you can’t afford a lawyer and are int he USA, look for will clinics through legal aid.

      Also, a few stray thoughts:

      If you leave them in care of the pet guardian, they will make all decisions irrespective of what you write down. Finding someone you trust to make a good decision is far, far more important than perfect instructions. In fact, I’d advise you expressly not to write too much down. You might tie your pet guardian’s hands when they should make a different decision that what you have written.

      Name at least 2-3 people to serve as consecutive pet guardians. You don’t want to leave Fido at the mercy of Aunt Agatha if your nominated guardian dies.

      Finally, you need to know the legal status of animals in your jurisdiction. In my states, they are property. But in one state, they are treated no differently than cattle. In another, they have a special status. This matters.


      I’d also look into local pet rescue organizations. I just got a very, very elderly male cat from one. He was very non-adoptable. Yet here he is, sitting right next to me. Happy as a clam with whatever life he has left.

      1. Vina*

        PS In many states, including those which treat pets poorly, an elderly cat who was a pet has a much better chance than a kitten. My local shelter has about 10 elderly cats awaiting homes. They euthanize all the kittens brought in.

        It’s a dirty little secret of animal rescue: kitten’s lives are pretty much worthless socially.

        I’m not trying to be harsh or cruel, but that’s the reality. A lot of people would think the oppposite and assume a cute kitten had a better chance than a grumpy old male cat.

      2. Anon Estate Planning for Pets*

        Thanks! I am going to a lawyer for a will and based on my research from the do-it-yourself forms, I think I can list them in the specific gifts section, “my pets, and x money for their care, to Y person,” and leave the details to personal instructions I would trust them to follow. Pretty sure they are considered property in my state, and I haven’t thought of a pet trust but will ask about it. Or if there is a better way to set this up. Other than pets and a few other specific things I want to pass along, I wouldnt really need a will if I have “transfer upon death” documents on my house, car, and accounts. (I don’t own much of anything else, only recently that I’ve thought my assets might exceed my debts.)

        Priorities for their guardian would be 1) keep, 2) rehome, 3) return to no-kill shelter. Euthanizing would be a last resort. (I don’t want to specify the shelter because we’ve moved since I adopted them. I would trust guardian to find one near them.) Yes, older cats can be lovely! My last one before this batch was 10, lived to only 14. I might go for a young cat one more time but after that, all new cats will be senior cats, to reduce the chance of me outliving them.

        1. Vina*

          Hope it works out.

          I’m so glad you are planning for this. So many people don’t and then their pets end up at the mercy of whoever is left standing.

          It breaks my heart.

    4. WellRed*

      I think it’s a good idea to include language (maybe get a lawyer, as Vina suggests) that will free the guardian to do what’s in the best interest of the cats. Otherwise, I am envisioning the guardian in charge of a very sick and ancient pet who feels she needs to keep them alive at all costs because “Anon Estate trusted them to me.”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have an awful story of four pets….. yes, this punchline is correct just empower the person to do what is best for the animals. In my story, the money that was not spent on the pets went to the deceased’s favorite family member. (It was enough to get a used car or similar.) We knew this person could use the money and we felt that our lost loved one would be satisfied with that solution.

    5. Lucette Kensack*

      I’ve heard it recommended that parents (of human children) designate someone to decide what will happen with their children, rather than someone to whom the children will go. That seems like a good solution for you: you can’t predict exactly what the situation will be when you die: will your cats be healthy? Will the person you want to take them live somewhere they can have the cats? Will the adoption market be hot and the cats easy to place? Etc. Instead of trying to predict the future, you can figure out who you trust to make the best possible choice for your kitties.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      Here’s a side issue: don’t list a specific dollar amount in your estate planning/will for your cats. Use a percentage of your assets instead, since you can’t predict when you might pass away or how much you might have at that time. A percentage will help preserve your intent for your estate, whereas a hard dollar amount could have unintended consequences.
      Also, you could save yourself another legal bill by designating a backup pet guardian or two. After my first executor passed away, I designated a new one with 2 backups, to make sure I didn’t have to redo it for that reason again!
      I hope you and your cats stay well for a long time!

      1. Vina*

        Or designate a percentage up to an amount. For example, 10% of my estate up to $10,000.

        Who knows, you could win the lottery or have something unfortunate happen leading to a wrongful death sui.

    7. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I set up a trust last year for my nieces*, and as part of that the lawyer suggested also doing a pet trust. It lays out who gets the cats and allots a certain amount of money per cat for their care. It has back-ups in case that person’s circumstances/wishes have changed, and you could have one of your back-ups be the rescue group you adopted them from.

      * The non-pet parts of the trust also include provisions for the trustee to keep AAM’s archives online, which was a thing I’d long wondered about how to handle. I think if you run your own business that might have revenue-generating intellectual property that survives you, a trust is a good thing to do.

      1. Vina*

        The other thing about an ongoing trust is that a judge will try and keep the intent going even if the persons or charities you designate are *ehm* no longer in existence.

        So if you name Golden Heart Cat Rescue, but they no longer exist, but there is a very similar organization that’s come along, the judge will likely look at what you wanted and say “oh, well, this is as close as we can get.”

        Finally, if you have a trustee really misusing the funds/mistreating the animals, there will be recourse.

        Have your lawyer put in a “duty to account” to someone other than your trustee. Think of that person as your eyes and ears after you are gone.

    8. Lonely Aussie*

      My mare died before I did but my will has always included that any horses I own are to be euthanized if I die. They’re big expensive animals that can meet a whole host of not so great ends even from people with food intentions (from abandoned in a paddock to starve to going through the meat pens at the local auction) and a lifetime of Ag work has taught me that a quick death isn’t the worst thing that can happen to anything. Cats are obviously a little different but if you can’t ensure that they’d have the same or better quality of care, then I’d be considing euthanasia.

  29. Wondering aloud*

    I have a trivial question/ thought. There tons of streaming services around for movies. Our family still uses dvds as well, not to mention you can access everything anywhere pretty much. There are a 3 streaming services that are popular amount our child’s friends. Each service only costs $10-15. We decided to only get 1 out of the 3 streaming services. It’s not a money thing. We get other streaming services as well. We just want other forms of entertainment besides electronics! We are never “deprived”. At some point we all see the same movies.

    When talking the other day someone mentioned a show that was exclusive to a very popular streaming service (like 90% of households have it) that we opted out of. When questioned why, I laughed it off. When pressed for why I explained we already watch enough tv in our house. We’re working though the movies and shows on the services we have and then we’ll move onto other services. You would of thought I was an alien.

    How do I explain to people that subscribing to millions of streaming services doesn’t fit our family lifestyle

    1. Purt’s Peas*

      I don’t think you need to. There are a ton of services now and very few people have all of them.

      It’s sort of a conversation-stopper to just leave it at, “no, I don’t watch that and never will,” though. So I’d recommend following up with asking what the other person likes about the show, or mentioning a different show that you’ve been watching!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t really think you need to. “Nah, just (service of choice) works for us, we haven’t run out of stuff to watch yet!” If people get weird about it beyond that, it’s them, not you. Making a big deal out of it, a la the phrasing “subscribing to millions of streaming services doesn’t fit our family lifestyle” (really?) kinda turns you into the parallel of those annoying pretentious hipster folks who are like “What? TV? No, I don’t own one of those bourgeois devices.”

      1. Generic Name*

        Lol My aunt likes to brag that she doesn’t have a TV, but she watches Netflix and movies on her iPad, which is basically exactly how millions of other Americans use their TVs. I’m not going to point that out to her though.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          A jerk I used to know did pretty much that — if someone so much as said the word “television” he’d go off on this pretentious tear about “TV? What’s that? I haven’t watched television in YEARS.” And he actually OWNED a TV too, he just never used it except for playing console games. And watching Netflix. And DVDs. And sports games. He was being a hipster jerk simply based on the fact that he didn’t watch sitcoms on network television. :P

    3. nep*

      I would say you don’t need to explain that to anyone. What purpose would that serve?
      I’m not on Facebook. When someone doesn’t understand that and hears it as ‘I don’t have indoor plumbing,’ well, that’s not my problem.

      1. nep*

        (I guess Facebook is passé in many ways…So replace it there with Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, whatever.)

    4. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Is it necessary to explain? Just an oh, we have enough stuff to watch already so we only have X should be sufficient. Then again I’ve run into a lot of outright disbelief when I’ve said that I’m not interested in this or that cable service because I don’t watch much TV. People just can’t compute not having the TV on all day sometimes.

      1. WellRed*

        I’m often shocked by the amount of movies/tv people sometimes seem to watch, like starting with something in the morning (I’ve never watched TV in the morning, so that is odd to me, but that’s me) and throughout the day followed by more at night. Do they do anything else? Do they never read? I currently have netflix, hulu and acorn and an app for some plain old cable. I’m planning to ditch two and possibly a third.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Background noise. I don’t think many people are actively watching something 24/7.

          I haven’t had an actual television or service since 2008 and I didn’t get to have Netflix/Hulu until I had a steady job so I subscribed to both in 2017 or so. Now that I’m not working, I still leave netflix/hulu on as background noise.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I am amazed by how many homes I walk into, the tv is on and no one is watching it. Worse, no one intends to come back to it in a few minutes. It’s just on. why. “I can’t stand the quiet.” or “The tv is company.” oh, dear.

          I have friends who have a $300 plus electric bill for a modest sized house. And they complain about their bill. It never connects that there are 2-3 tvs running most of the day. TVs are not cheap to run. Now the power company sends us little “love letters” showing each customer where their bill stands in relation to their energy saving neighbors. My thought was they could save the paper and not send these things out. The people who want to conserve energy are already doing it.

          I have never gotten used to having a tv on in the morning. For me, the morning news and digesting breakfast are two opposite actions. I can only have one of these things.

        3. Old and Don’t Care*

          This is a small sample size but people I know who have the tv on all the time have ADD and are usually doing at least one other thing while watching. It seems to help them focus, while it drives me crazy.

          1. London Calling*

            I have been alone in lockdown since the end of March and I confess to having the TV on in the background sometimes just for something to look at while I’m doing something else. After weeks your own company can get a bit tedious and it’s nice to see some movement and hear other voices.

    5. ThatGirl*

      I don’t think you need to overexplain. There are too many streaming services, we have three and even though we could afford to add another, I see no need to. It’s too many. Just say ope, don’t have that one, and leave it at that.

    6. Traffic_Spiral*

      Gonna chime in with everyone else to say that this isn’t that unusual. Not everyone is into TV. That’s not really a new concept either – some people have been Not Into TV ever since it came out. Also, some people just aren’t particularly into whatever show you’re watching so… really not seeing the issue here?

      Especially if you have kids – who has infinite time for adult TV when you’ve got kids?

    7. RagingADHD*

      This dynamic has nothing to do with TV or streaming, really. It’s just rude people who can’t imagine that anyone else has different priorities than themselves.

      Some people are like this about food, or sports, or a particular type of workout, or car, or phone, or kids/no kids, pets/no pets…Could be about anything.

      And the answer is the same for all of them. “Thanks, we’re happy with what we’ve got.”

      There is no inherent superiority to having the thing or not having it. Responding with an attitude of “well, actually…” or exaggerating about “millions” of services, or trying to argue that your way is better, just compounds the immaturity level in the room.

      They like theirs. You like yours. Great, everyone is happy with their own life.

      Just change the subject.

    8. Generic Name*

      I think it’s weird someone pressed you for an explanation of why you don’t have Netflix/Hulu/Disney+. If I were taking to a friend who said they didn’t have whatever service, I think the most I’d say is, “Oh ok”. Your response was fine, and I don’t think you need to go into great depths of your tv watching philosophy.

    9. No Tribble At All*

      This is just my opinion as a kid who grew up without cable or dish — if there truly is a show that 90% of your kids’ friends watch, and the show is going on for a long time, it may be worth switching to the other service. One thing that made me feel very isolated from other kids was I didn’t know ANY pop culture to talk about with them. Every single show was on Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon or whatever and I knew zero of them. I never watched Spongebob! It’s all very well and good to watch re-runs of 90s shows on DVDs with your family, but I definitely wished I was able to keep up with the shows all my friends watched. Or at least watch the show /some/ of the time. You can still limit the amount of TV, but sometimes the particular show does matter. This was in middle school and high school.

      If it’s a short show, like Mandalorian (only on Disney+) just let them watch it at a friend’s house.

      I agree with Red Reader the Adulting Fairy that you can just say “we picked Service X first, so we’re just an X family for now”. No need to exaggerate with “millions of streaming services” when there’s like, 4, and call it a “lifestyle”. Most people will probably assume it’s just to save money and move on, whereas “lifestyle” sounds a bit holier-than-thou.

  30. Eeniemeenie*

    Does anyone else with special needs kids feel like you love them exactly as they are? My son has special learning needs, OCD, tics, some autistic traits, and other stuff that come up every now and then. Obviously we get treatment and professional support in the areas where he struggles. But I love his personality ‘quirks’ and wouldn’t change any part of him. I cannot imagine him being a “normal” mainstream kid nor do I want him to be. I hope the world embraces him for who he is and he never feels the need to change. Neurodiversity makes the world more colourful.

    1. Vina*

      How would you make a neurotypical child feel loved as they are ? That’s the baseline formula. It’s not like children who have differences are some alien species on that front (as I’m sure you know!)

      Also, when working with children with different needs, I always try and find at least one consistent thing to connect with and praise. With kids who are ASD, if they can’t make eye contact, it might be “Oh, Billy, you have such a wonderful smile. It makes me happy every time I see you.” So many kids with ASD can’t make eye-contact, but do have facial expressions that get totally missed b/c of it.

      Make sure that you and those around you tell the child that you like they way they do X, Y, or Z. If it comes from you and others, it will help. External reinforcement sometimes means more than mom constantly telling them something is cool. This is especially true where they do something better than an average child. “Oh, Billy, I love how you always listen to your mother and hold her hand. I can’t get Johnny to do that. I’m worried he’s going to run off.” Or “you make the best towers of blocks. I can’t get them that high. Would you show me how to do it sometimes?”

      You can also tell them stories/read stories about others with quirks or differences. Teach them that being different is ok. I don’t know of any specific books to help, but maybe other posters remember them. If you can’t find books, maybe find a friend with writing skill to make one up for you.

      I’d also encourage any of the writers on this site to write short children’s stories on accepting quirks and differences. We need more of them!

      1. Eeniemeenie*

        Not much of this applies to my child in his specific situation, but nice to hear it’s working for the kids you know!

        I was initially confused by your reply and I realised you thought I was asking for advice on how to love my son. It’s sad that neurodiverse kids are bombarded with messages of “you’re different and here’s how you can change” so I wanted to start a sharing thread with others in my situation where they feel like their kid is amazing as they are and don’t need to “improve.”

    2. Thursday Next*

      Every parent should love the child they have, as the child is.

      As parents, we simultaneously have the obligation to give our children what they need to thrive in the world, as their circumstances allow. It’s a tricky balance sometimes.

      1. Anonnington*


        And I’m adding this to be helpful:

        “Special needs” has taken on a negative connotation among ignorant, ableist, anti-diversity people. It’s used as an insult by that crowd. And that’s not new; it goes back decades.

        I would reserve that term for settings where it is the established, official term (medical and educational) and use different wording when addressing other audiences.

        I know that not everyone is aware of this. Again, just bringing it up to be helpful. You sound like a great parent.

      1. AGD*

        Seconded. You get what you get, and it’s the parents’ job to love and support the kid unconditionally. I see so many parents who buy into ableist ideas about their disabled kid being either a burden or not who they were “supposed” to be, or both. Breaks my heart.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Amongst my friends who have kids with special needs, yes. This is the predominant sentiment.

      The only folks I know who struggle to accept their kids are those who grew up in toxic families and never felt accepted themselves.

      They would have the same struggle in accepting typical kids, because its not about the kids at all. It’s about their own dysfunction.

    4. Altair*

      *cheers in agreement* I love my ‘little roommates’ (both of whom are now way taller than me). They’re amazing people. Their parents and I agree that the goal of any interventions is to help them become and maintain their best selves, not to ‘change’ or God forbbid ‘fix’ them.

    5. Tau*

      I don’t have neurodiverse kids, but I used to be one :) and I’m torn between happiness that this is how you see your kid and sadness that it’s apparently (still) unusual enough to deserve mentioning. I’m autistic, and like… every single autistic person I’ve ever spoken to… I think the symptoms of autism include such deep, fundamental parts of my personality and how I think and experience the world that a non-autistic me would be a completely different person who simply happened to share my name and appearance. To me, “if only you weren’t autistic” translates straightforwardly into “if only you didn’t exist”, and I don’t have much time for people who think that sort of message is OK to send to a kid.

      1. allathian*

        I’m not on the spectrum, but Elizabeth Moon’s Speed of Dark (or The Speed of Dark in some markets) resonated with me. It’s a sci-fi novel told from the perspective of a high-functioning autistic and definitely worth a read. It’s set in the near future when they can “cure autism” and the main character doesn’t want to. Definitely worth a read.

    6. J.B.*

      My kids both have anxiety, and getting a diagnosis and getting them some help was huge in helping them cope with a world that is very harsh and unforgiving, but also for me to reset my expectations. People (unfortunately including grandparents) who don’t give space miss the bright funny creative bits I get to see when the kids feel safe. Good for you to see the whole kid.

  31. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Has anyone felt during pregnancy that they aren’t “allowed” to worry about anything else?

    I’m not sure if it’s because I’m high risk or something that happens to every pregnant person regardless, but whenever I try to talk about something bothering me that’s not pregnancy related, the conversation goes back to the pregnancy.

    So far in this pregnancy, I’ve lost my job, COVID quarantine, and currently we’re trying to sell our house/buy another one which is a super emotional/stressful process. In addition to the regular stuff about being a high risk pregnancy.

    But if I confide in anyone I usually get a “oh focus on the baby, nothing else matters.” For example, when I lost my job I was devastated and my friends all said “well you can stay home with your baby now!” Or when I was worried about a test result in hte pregnancy:

    “I’m worried about the baby”
    “don’t stress, its bad for the baby!”
    “But…I’m worried about the baby.”

    Maybe I’m taking it too seriously but it kind of feels like my concerns are being dismissed….just because I’m having a baby means I have nothing else in my life to worry about? I can keep some things separate? Maybe I’m misinterpreting it?

    Anyone else go through this?

    1. D3*

      YES, so very much. In fact, sometimes it felt like I couldn’t even have a conversation about ANYTHING that wasn’t twisted around to be about the baby, the baby, the baby.
      It’s the reason I didn’t announce my second and third pregnancies until as late as possible.
      I might be gestating, but I am STILL ME AND HAVE A LIFE AND THOUGHTS BEYOND THAT.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Right? Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about the baby when I can but sometimes, I have other worries, with job, housing, etc. Would be nice to have everything else so perfect that the baby is the only thing on my mind. I announced this around 7ish months but I had slowly let it out after 13 weeks so whenever I talked to someone about the job or house or whatever, the pregnancy came up. 

    2. Not So NewReader*

      “Uh. Gee, doc, why don’t you talk to me about my specific concerns. You’re sounding a little paternalistic there when you gloss over my statement that I have concerns.”

      We have a ways to go. We’re are not “there” yet.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Funny enough, doctors have been great so far! But then I don’t talk to them about the life stuff. That mostly comes from friends and family. 

    3. Analyst Editor*

      I think it comes with the territory, and comes from a place of love. And can be really frustrated.
      I got worried about stuff during my pregnancies and luckily had people who could listen patiently and reassure me and talk to me on my level, instead of “you worry too much”.

      If you can candidly say to someone you trust, that yes you know you need to not be stressed, but you need to discuss tese issues, could they level with you and discuss them? People might be receptive.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Thank goodness I’ve been able to identify one or two people who can listen on my level and understand. It just felt out of left field when, like in teh example above, my friends said that stuff about being a SAHM (i have never ever ever given any indication I’d want to be a SAHM) — normally they’re great at listening and giving advice, maybe I wasn’t in the place to hear that. 

    4. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      Ugh, so sorry you’re dealing with this. You’re right to feel like your concerns are being dismissed, because they are. It’s like having to say “Hi, I’m up here” while pointing to your face because some people cannot stop focusing on what’s happening in your uterus. Paternalism that comes from a place of love and concern for a small human is still paternalism. Maybe something like, “I’ve got the baby handled, thanks. What I’m talking about right now is my job/house search/etc.” Optional to add: “The world doesn’t stop just because there’s a baby growing in there! Wouldn’t it be nice if it did? But what I can’t decide is whether we should list right now or…”

      This kind of overstep is so universal, I caught myself doing it before I knew what was coming out of my mouth. One of my first friends to have a baby was excitedly telling me about painting the baby’s room. And I blurted out, “You’re not going in there with all the paint fumes are you??” And then I was like, “omg, what a dumb thing to say, I’m so sorry!” When it comes to pregnant women and other people, even/especially well-meaning people, you just can’t stop stupid.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Heh now that I think about it I definitely must have been guilty of that in the past! 

    5. Altair*

      Every time a friend has been pregnant I’ve tried my hardest to be the friend who asks about and is willing to listen about the rest of her life, because I find it maddening how people expect, and try to enforce, that a pregnant person will only think about their pregnancy. I cannot even IMAGINE how maddening you find it.

      And that’s a hell of a lot of stuff that befel you! Not that the permission of a random internet celestial body matters, but you have my permission to worry about any and everything actionable. I wish I could help!

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        You know what? It does matter to me =) Thank you for the kind words. It’s been a lot to deal with.

        I promise myself I will never say “the baby is all that matters!” because at the end of the day, we’re still people with emotions and are allowed to feel things other than happiness over a baby coming.

        1. Altair*

          You’re totally welcome! And yeah, the reductive attitudes which infest our society totally warrant pushing back against.

  32. Ugh*

    I’m here to vent. I recently watched my friends kids for a day. My Christmas gift to her was 1 day a month I will giver her 9-5 babysitting for a day date with her hubby or for alone time. She has 8yr old boy girl twins. I am their “aunt”. We planned to spend the hot summer day in the sprinkler and snippy side but some unexpected thunderstorms canceled our plans. Trying to figure out last minute what to do started with us baking cupcakes, painting and ended with us playing nail salon. Nail salon is basically played with us tracing out hands and painting the fingernails nails on the drawing. At the end both kids painted my nails an array of colors. I’m ready for fashion week if anyone asks. When the weather cleared we went to the park and played football and out for lunch and ice cream. At the restaurant we ran into one of the kids family friends/ an acquaintance of mine. When we told them about are days adventures the couple started making a lot of snooty comments about the boy twin playing nail salon. They didn’t seem to mind the girl playing football. It got to the point we were all uncomfortable. The couple then went onto say they needed to talk to the kids parents about my morals and watching the kids. After they left I asked each child together and separately if we did anything that was weird / uncomfortable/ they didn’t like today. Both said they had a blast. I spoke to my friends when they came back. They seemed surprised that their little princess and rough and tumble boy both Played football and nail salon. They weren’t bothered by anything. We even set up a babysitting time for next month. This got me thinking is it ok to do different traditionally gender games with both kids? I seriously can’t be this naive and can’t believe I posted this. I’m just really bothered by what the family friend couple said.

    1. WellRed*

      You ran into some people you barely know, they carried on about the boy playing a “girl” activity, and then proceeded to say they were going to talk to the kids parents about your MORALS!? WTF backward place do you live? It’s OK to basically do what the kids want to do and it sounds like they had fun. It’s attitudes like those moralistic fools that create issues, whereas kids are so willing and open.

      1. Ugh*

        Believe it or not I live 90 minutes outside of NYC. I was so shocked by their comment…. that’s why I posted

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        You ran into a jerk. She’s the one with the problem, you’re an awesome aunt.

        A lot of times kids just want the attention of the new and different adult, and don’t care what you’re actually doing. It was coloring, that’s cool enough for most kids.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      The family friend couple are idiots. It sounds like the kids had a great time.

    3. Anon attorney*

      If course it’s ok and your acquaintances are (probably homophobic) loons who I think you can safely ignore. Sounds like you had a great time with the kids and so did the kids. Who cares about some random person’s bizarre views about gender appropriate fun? Smh at the family friend

      1. Myrin*

        In fact, I’d say it’s not only okay but should be encouraged! I see way too many parents who seem kinda set in gender-stereotypical hobbies (like, not completely but also not not, if that makes sense? And like Ugh observed, it’s mostly boys doing “girl things” which seems to pose a problem :| ) when all that crap is purely man-made and we really should give every child a chance to encounter all kinds of things so that they themselves can decide what they’re interested in and what not!

    4. Ranon*

      You sound like a rockstar aunt/ babysitter and those people sound like sexist jerks. It’s not you, it’s definitely them.

    5. MMB*

      Those people are a$$ hats. And their ridiculous statements are just proof of that not to mention wrong on so many levels that I don’t think Dante had a hell for that. My son had a full play kitchen and occasionally stomped through our living room wearing a pair of my high heels and a cowboy hat lol. He’s now a perfectly well adjusted welder with 3 kids of his own. The girls climb trees and play in the mud and his son occasionally plays with their dolls and does “gamma’s” hair. Allowing children to explore their interests and exercise their minds and bodies without judgement is one of the most important things you can do. Good for you. You’re a great friend!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        wrong on so many levels that I don’t think Dante had a hell for that.
        I love this phrase so much.

    6. Stephanie*

      I would say that not only is it okay to do non-traditionally gender stuff with kids, it’s actually a very good thing to do. If the parents don’t have a problem with it, and the kids enjoyed it, keep stretching those gender norms. It’s good for boys to do things that are considered to be more “girly”, and it’s good for girls to do things that are more “boyish”. (In a perfect world, there would not be “girly” things or “boyish” things. It should all just be fun stuff.)

      I totally get being very bothered by what the couple said, I would be, too. But you did nothing wrong. You did a good thing.

    7. Not A Manager*

      “We question your morals” is code for “the boys are going to catch homosexuality from painting your nails.” Those people are disgusting and you shouldn’t give them another thought.

      1. Ugh*

        I don’t think in their minds moral was a sexual nature but more in the sense of traditional gender roles

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Well…yeah but people who equate morality to “traditional gender roles” are sort of inherently homophobic?

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I think you handled this really well, I especially liked the part where you asked the kids together and separately if they had a good time. But it was also very cool that you told the parents directly.

      These kids are going to learn a lot from you. They know it. And they know they will have fun doing all this learning.

      If your morals are bad, then God help the rest of us. We’re hosed.
      I hope you smile. So my friend was watching his granddaughter. She had nail polish that she was using. Some where in the story he got comfy in his chair and nodded off. He happened to be bare foot. When he woke, yep, all his toe nails were painted. Each one was a different color. I suppose he’s corrupt too??? He ended up telling everyone he saw that day what had happened. It was funny and got a good chuckle.

      Not worth much, I guess, but if I had kids then I would def leave them with a person like you and definitely not leave them with a person like that couple.

    9. Eeeek*

      Doesn’t seem weird to me at all it’s not like you forced him to wear a dress out in public or something people are sooooo weird

    10. LegallyRed*

      Ignore them. You’re right, they’re wrong. I have two little boys (6 and 8) who love to have their nails painted and play dress up with my jewelry. They are also more than willing to speak up when someone suggests an activity they don’t want to participate in, as I’m sure your “nephew” is able to do as well. (Point being, you didn’t force him into anything.) You sound like a fun caregiver and your friend is lucky to have you.

    11. Lizabeth*

      They are old enough to chose what they want to do…that said, if you have a sewing machine – teach them to sew! Or how to sew buttons back on when they fall off. Both would benefit from knowing how to do that.

      1. Ugh*

        I can’t sew a button I’m so clumsy, but we are going to do needlepoint at some point!

    12. RagingADHD*


      There are people out there who get wierd like that. Ignore them.

      I mean, if one of the kids didn’t want to do the activity and you pressured them into it to “make” them go against gender stereotypes, that would be manipulative, and beyond your role as friend/ sitter.

      You weren’t forcing anything on the kids either way. They just had a good time. That’s all that matters.

    13. Analyst Editor*

      I think you would be on thinner ice if you had had the boy paint HIS nails, rather than paint nails of a paper hand or yours.
      I think the line to toe is, it’s the parents’ prerogative to teach about gender roles, sex, and relationships at this age, and trying to subvert that by “stretching the gender roles” on purpose would be a violation of the parents’ trust.
      However, you know your friend and her views on these things, and obviously didn’t have those motives. I think you did nothing wrong.

  33. BRR*

    So next month I’ll be doing a short-distance move. Just a 15 min drive away. I’ll have around two weeks to move and clean my current place (rental). My plan as of now is to buy a few large plastic storage containers to use as boxes to run smaller things over the course of a few trips and hire movers for the big furniture. Then I’ll use the containers for storage (will now have a basement woo!). Does this plan have any holes in it? Any other tips for a short distance move or methods that worked well? Last time I moved was 7 years ago and it was across timezones.

    1. Ranon*

      Just make sure as you run the small stuff over you’re not stacking it where you’ll eventually want the big furniture to be.

      Movers will generally move dressers with the contents which can make things a bit easier (assuming the contents are clothes, not rocks or books or something)

    2. NeverNicky*

      We moved 400 yards away from a rented flat to our first purchased home (plus the contents of a storage unit 15 minutes away) and the hired movers moved everything and it was soooo worth it (access was/is awkward with long carries).

      They were quicker than we would have been (and partner worked as a mover through uni and for a year after), and the cost difference between us doing small stuff and them doing it all was negligible. And there were no boxes for the movers to move around.

      It meant we had the energy and enthusiasm to put everything away – we were fully unpacked and sorted in under 3 days including the stuff from my old flat which had been in storage for over 2 years and nearly 1000 books…

      The boxes we used were hired from the removal firm so there was some financial motivation to empty them though

      In terms of storage, we had redundant bookshelves (we fitted out my study with new ones) and we have those in our storage area rather than boxes as stuff is more visible.

      1. Marcy*

        Set up your kitchen first – even if it’s only paper cups/plates and plastic utensils. You will be so happy to be able to easily grab a drink or eat a snack.

      2. Reba*

        Agree with this — if you’re hiring movers anyway, just have them move the small stuff, too. They will be faster than you :)

        My last move was a short distance (5 blocks) and we only moved our houseplants and some final odds n ends on our own. I have a lot of stuff, I suppose, so that was part of the calculation.

        BRR, if I’m reading your plan right, you’re going to carry over and then immediately unpack, then go back and reuse, several rounds of stuff in your bins? I’d say no thanks to this unless the budget was really really tight.

        Some companies will rent plastic tubs for moves — you might need more than you would eventually want to keep.

        1. BRR*

          This is a great point. It’s penny wise and pound foolish. I’ve been amazed at professional movers’ speed from my last move and should cough up a little extra. Not worth several small trips (although a few will probably still be needed).

          1. Reba*

            I always think about this since the day I watched a handyman do something in about 30 seconds — and one-handed — that I had struggled with for multiple hours before calling him.

        2. Venus*

          Yes, assume that you will be doing many trips with small boxes unless you have a lot less stuff than most people. It seems like a good savings in theory, but rarely goes well.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Just make sure you put any bottles in Ziploc bags. When I moved from Queens to Manhattan I did some gradual moving and spilled half a bottle of rice wine vinegar on the floor of the E train.

      You won’t have this issue, but thought I’d share.

      I will say that kitchen stuff can be put away at your new place, so be sure to unpack it, not just drop it off. Same with hanging clothes. Basically, spend some time organizing with each trip. It will make the Big Day easier!

    4. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Bathroom & kitchen are the two rooms that I always set up first. And if you have kids then add play/rest to that. Oh, and take some basic cleaning supplies, food & drinks. For short distance moving I’ve found that going room by room works best. Pack up one room, move everything, then set that room up. It breaks up, for me, the monotony & exhaustion of doing everything at once. I hate having masses of boxes to put away and no room to move. If you can’t do room by room, make sure that you label the box as to where it goes, and put a sign on the doors, so that the boxes go in the right room.
      Hmn, for my biggest move I also numbered all the boxes and had a note book with a list of what was in each box. I had a lot that had to to directly into storage. If I needed something I looked in the notebook – oh, it’s in box 12. Made it really easy to find (most) things.
      Good luck!

      1. TempAnon*

        I moved just across town, but packed the boxes and labeled them. We did hire casual labor and moved it all in one day (except the very smallest and fragile items.

        I did use the “dots” from the office supply store. The boxes for the office, yellow dot; master bedroom – green dot; kitchen – pink dot, etc. (just be consistent).

        Then, I put the dot “legend” on an index card for each helper AND taped the “dot index card” for each room on the door. So, the office door had the yellow dot on an index card, taped to it (blue painter’s tape), etc.

        Some of my casual labor did not read english, and / or were hurrying. A quick look at the dot on the box and the dot on the door, and they could just drop and go.

        I also had designated some boxes LIFO(last in first out) so that I knew which ones were most critical.

        Then I used some totes for the very last in / first out items (like cleaning supplies, basic dishes/pan/ silverware, utensils and cooking needs).

        The boxing made me think through what to keep (vs discard), and let me get things out of the way – they went to a staging area in the house so the first big trip (we rented a truck and used the casual labor) took the furniture; I could get that arranged, then we added boxes to the rooms after that.

    5. hermit crab*

      I have done several super-local moves (the last two within half a mile) and just want to say – don’t get too lazy about it just because you can. In our last move, we just threw stuff into boxes/containers without regard to what the stuff was/where it went in the house, since we didn’t have to worry about things getting broken or whatever. But a year later, we are still looking for things – there is this mystery box in the spare room with tools and DVDs and craft supplies and I think some of those magic erasers? Gd only knows where the wrench is – we had to buy a new one.

    6. Jules the 3rd*

      I have a lot of clothes on hangers – last time I moved, I put kitchen garbage bags over groups of 10ish hangers, leaving the hooks out the neck of the bag, and moved them like that. Maybe 10% fell off the hangers in the move, but it was super easy to hang them back up since they were in the bag and the hanger was right there. I hung them up still in the bag and took the bags off over time, at my convenience.

      I did take a couple off the first day and then used those bags to hold post-move trash like tape from moving boxes.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Depending on what you put in those containers it IS possible to pack them heavier than you can lift. You may want to consider some with wheels depending on what you are handling.
      I packed bedding, pillows and other soft things into plastic bags. They made good cushioning to put in between pieces of furniture.
      You can get free boxes at grocery stores and wine stores. I like the boxes from paint stores for packing books. A box that holds 4 – 1 gal cans of paint is a nice size given how heavy books are.

      Check with your moving company. Ours told us NOT to unpack the drawers, just leave the drawers fill. I did pack my underwear and other personal things, just because that is me. I could see my bras falling out of the drawer as they loaded the truck on *Main Street*. And an evil wind comes up out of no where, I could just see this…….. Yeah. I packed them. They also took the clothes right on the hanger, which was super helpful.

      I brought over favorite lamps and small furniture that I really liked. My rule of thumb was if I was going to get upset if someone broke it, I might as well be the one to break it.

      The last minute stuff you pack up becomes the first thing you need in your new place- stuff like toothbrushes, coffee pot, bath soap etc. So you may want to take the last minute boxes in your own vehicle so you know where they are.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        if I was going to get upset if someone broke it, I might as well be the one to break it.

        Yep — nobody carries my expensive or antique electronics (I collect old computers) except me, and that way I don’t have to worry about what anyone else might be doing to them. Movers may be insured, but they can’t replace my first computer – literally, the Apple IIc my dad bought when I was three.

    8. All Hail Queen Sa