weekend open thread – August 1-2, 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: America for Beginners, by Leah Franqui. A widow leaves India to tour America and find out what happened to her estranged son. I loved it.

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

{ 1,467 comments… read them below }

  1. Neela*

    Related to today’s book recommendation, does anyone have other recommendations of Indian literature they like? I’ve read and enjoyed A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry and the Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. What else do you recommend? I especially enjoy themes centering around family and marriage but not too light (I didn’t like Polite Society by Mahesh Rao).

    1. Jessie*


      A Suitable boy by Vikram Seth. To be quite honest, I didn’t like it much. But a lot of people do.

      1. Workerbee*

        I feel the same! If I ever feel the urge to reread it, I just skim through to the enjoyable parts (personally speaking).

    2. Np*

      Shantaram, which is Indian literature in the sense that it is about India…not written by an Indian. It doesn’t really deal with family and marriage, but it was a surprisingly engaging read, given its length. I know opinions are starkly divided on this one.

      Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra. Again, not really about family or marriage, but I enjoyed this, too.

      1. Jemima Bond*

        Omg are you a man and if so have you ever used internet dating sites? No need to answer it’s just something that makes me laugh. You see when OH and I met it was b it a a dating site that had various questions and you could see people’s answers to figure out if you’d get on, type thing. We were chatting about trends we’d seen in answers and one was “what was the last book you read?” We were convinced that every single man had read Shantaram and every single woman had read We Need To Talk About Kevin.

        (I did go on to read the latter. Good, but kind of like being hit over the head with the misery stick)

        1. C Average*

          Too funny. My partner and I met online. At his urging, I read Shantaram. At my urging, he read We Need to Talk about Kevin (and went on to become a huge Lionel Shriver fan–I think he’s read all her books now).

          1. Altair*

            Lionel Shriver is kind of… reactionary, isn’t she? She wrote a book where a major plot point is a Black woman getting led around on a leash, and said in response to an Armenian person challenging her writing about Armenians that basically “I have an Armenian friend so you can’t challenge me”. In general her responses to POC who disagree with her have been dismissive in the extreme.

            1. C Average*

              Yeah, she’s definitely embraced controversy throughout her career and has written and said things that can be described most charitably as “problematic.” She’s also a hell of a talented writer. As with so many other talented writers who show evidence of being garbage humans, I’m not sure how best to proceed.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Kinda medical in aspects but both “The Tennis Partner” and “My Own Country” by Abraham Verghese.

    4. Mystery Bookworm*

      Family Matters, also by Rohinton Mistry, is lovely and is really all about the themes you described. Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa – family features heavily, although it is also largely about the impact of partition.

    5. CatLeHog*

      ‘Jasmine’, by Bharati Mukherjee, is fantastic. It’s quite a soberly written book about identity and fate. Really well-plotted and quite gritty at times.

      And I second the suggestion for Arundhati Roy!

      If you enjoy crime novels, I’d also recommend the Wyndham and Banerjee series by Amir Mukherjee, starting with ‘A Rising Man’. They concern a British Scotland Yard detective who relocates to Calcutta after WW1, and becomes part of the police force there. If you like a richly-set whodunnit with undercurrents of racism, colonialism and opium…

    6. with a comma after dearest*

      The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar, about social class and women and slums/poverty and modern India. An inter generational drama. Highly recommend.

      Not fiction, but I loved Beyond the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo.

      Finally, Sister of my Heart by Chitra Banerjee about 2 cousins raised almost as sisters and what directions their lives take and how they intertwine.

    7. nep*

      I’ve also heard huge praise for A Suitable Boy; I’ve not read it.
      I didn’t care much for The Namesake but I really liked Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies (stories).

      1. Paprika Pringles*

        I’ve just finished Jhumpa Lahiri’s memoir In Other Words (In altre parole), an account of how she fell in love with the Italian language: she even moved to Rome for a few years with her family, and decided to write in Italian rather than in English. Has anyone else read it?
        I haven’t read any of her other work so I don’t know how similar it is in style to her fiction writing. I’m not sure I could say that I liked it, but there was a lot which made me think: I’d expected to breeze through it as it’s short (the Italian edition is just under 150 pages) but that wasn’t the case at all.

        1. AGD*

          I read it and loved it, but it’s the sort of thing I respond to readily (writers considering the languages they use). I later read The Namesake, and liked that too. I’d say that In Other Words is always going to be an idiosyncrasy but they both have a thoughtful, warm tone with well-drawn descriptions.

    8. Buni*

      ‘Fasting Feasting’ by Anita Desai – it follows three siblings: a sister who makes a ‘good’ marriage but find it stifles her ambitions, the son who escapes to the USA but it utterly bewildered by the place, and the remaining spinster sister who is left at home being suffocated by their parents. It’s short but not ‘lite’, it was a Booker prize runner-up.

    9. Violets are blue*

      I love The Hungry Tide and the Ibis trilogy by Amitav Ghosh. His books are beautifully written and the stories stay with me for a long time.

    10. HannahS*

      A lot of Rohinton Mistry’s other works are great, too! I’d recommend. I liked A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth, too.

    11. Nervous Nellie*

      Not fiction, but a wonderful read anyway, is actress/cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey’s autobiography about growing up in India. The book is called “Climbing the Mango Trees” and is my go-to book for every vacation I go on. She is a national treasure!

      A similar gem is “The Settler’s Cookbook – A Memoir of Love, Migration & Food” by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, whose family was uprooted from Uganda when Edi Amin expelled all of the Indian residents in the 70s. It is poetic & angry. It has a few recipes scattered through it. Her Fish Masala is scrumptious.

      1. Clisby*

        Oh, I’m going to have to look for Climbing the Mango Trees One of the things I love about Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbooks is how she works autobiographical details in with her recipes.

      2. pancakes*

        Yes! I love her writing and her recipes. Her World Vegetarian book is such a great resource, even for meat-eaters. It covers the basics about how to prepare just about any grain or vegetable or pulse, and has hundreds of other less-basic recipes, some of which I’ve been making for years.

    12. Richard Hershberger*

      Nonfiction, but I recommend “Being Hindu: Understanding a Peaceful Path in a Violent World” by Hindol Sengupta

    13. nep*

      Not by an Indian writer, but putting this here as I’m curious what people thought of it–has anyone read Beyond the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo?

      1. Double A*

        I thought Beyond the Beautiful Forevers was incredible and would highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in reading about India.

        1. nep*

          Interesting to hear.
          I quite like Katherine Boo’s writing, and I could listen to her talk all day…

      2. with a comma after dearest*

        I loved that book. I mean, it broke my heart but I loved it.
        If I remember correctly from the epilogue, her husband is Indian.

    14. Helvetica*

      “The Inheritance of Loss” by Kiran Desai which is very intimate, intermixed with a lot nature, and also the Indian immigrant experience in the US, as well as themes of family.

    15. Bluebell*

      The Toss of a Lemon, by Padma Viswanathan. I’ve also enjoyed Thrity Umrigar and Jhumpa Lahiri’s books.

    16. Double A*

      It’s been a long time since I read it, but I remember really liking “The White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga, which is about the tension between upward mobility and family. I love Indian literature, partly because so much of India feels like America turned up to 11. The ambition, the inequality, the pace, the individualism vs. collectivism… as an American, the themes feel so familiar and yet so much more intense. For this reason I often find Indian literature somewhat excruciating, but in a good way, if this makes any sense.

    17. Koala dreams*

      I enjoyed “Q & A” (the movie “Slumdog Millionaire” is based on it) and “Six Suspects” (a mix of satire and mystery novel) by Vikas Swarup. They are perhaps too light for you, with a lot of humour and not so deep, even though they deal with social injustice.

    18. Eenie*

      I loved The Namesake. I recommend you read Sister of my Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I do not recommend the sequel.

    19. A Book Reader, Too*

      The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri. Really gave a good view of Indian life and had family and marriage in there, too. Was interesting that the women in the book met to play a game – after I went to my first Bunko party, I realized that is what they were playing. I read the book at least 20 years ago, so you might only be able to get a used copy.

    20. Knitter*

      White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
      I don’t remember the story super clearly but I do get a emotional response (Basically “That book was intense”) to seeing the spine on my shelf.

      Anita Nair is one of my favorites. The Ladies Coupe is about 4 women on a train and their conversation. Mistress is about a failing marriage. I loved both.

    21. AGD*

      I enjoyed The Namesake as well, and I’m grateful you asked the question because I’ve been left wanting to read more Indian fiction also.

      Raj Kamal Jha might be worth a look, though I’d skip The Blue Bedspread (which ends up stirring up melodrama that I thought was over-the-top and made no sense).

      Only kind of related, but I also loved Saroo Brierley’s A Long Way Home, which is the memoir that was turned into the film Lion with Dev Patel. When he was a five-year-old in India, he and an older brother got separated at a train station while out begging for the family. Brierley boarded a train looking for his brother, fell asleep, and woke up having unwittingly travelled to Kolkata. Eventually he was taken in by an orphanage and adopted by an Australian couple along with another boy. The mystery of where Brierley came from and whether his biological family might still be wondering about him loomed over Brierley’s life, until he decided to brute-force it. He wrote down and drew everything he remembered about his little hometown in India, did some calculations, drew a big radius around Calcutta, and started using Google Maps to follow railway tracks and look for anything matching his recollections. Months and months went by, turning into years. Then, one evening, there was a match…

  2. Anna Banana*

    I’m thinking about changing up the decor inside my house. We have to be here all the time now, so might as well! What are some of the interior decorating changes you’ve made that you think had the biggest impact on your house? What changes are you most happy with and what didn’t work out or didn’t seem worth the budget?

    1. Pepper Potts*

      I know what you mean! I’ve been looking at local real estate so much more since WFH began. As for decor ideas, I’m not sure what rooms you’re thinking of, but I feel like my kitchen looks brand new after changing the cabinet door knobs and the backsplash. Easy projects to do depending on the backsplash you choose.

        1. pancakes*

          +1. House of Antique Hardware is a good source. Despite the name they have a variety of styles, including more modern & mid-century mod. Schoolhouse Electric too.

        2. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

          Thirded. I did that a couple of years after moving and it soothed my soul. That tiny upgrade made all the difference and for less than $100 modernized the whole kitchen.
          Other things that made a big difference were painting, resisting the urge to clutter up the walls too much, and just a few really GOOD quality fake flower bouquets.
          Oh, and having summer vs winter bed spreads.

      1. Summersun*

        Does anyone know a good online shop to match older-style hardware and accessories?

        One of the towel hooks in my bathroom broke, but they match the faucet knob, shower knob, towel ring, and TP holder. I’d really prefer to just find a dupe than to replace everything. The design is a distinctive all-white 1990s look.

        1. Venus*

          We have secondhand shops here. I think Habitat for Humanity ReStore is prevalent. That might be an option?

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          There’s one called Restoration Hardware that we used to get a catalog from. Probably online now if they’re still around.

        3. e271828*

          Have you tried ebay? You’ll have to winnow through a lot of listings that aren’t quite right, but I’ve had a lot of luck finding one or two more of something old there.

          (Another approach would be to replace the hook with something deliberately mismatching and arty.)

        4. Dream Jobbed*

          Late to the party- sorry!

          Try taking a photo of it (you may have to glue it, etc. to make it look whole) and do an image search on Google. Go to the shopping tab – it may show up!

    2. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      Everything I can do to create space, light, and air makes me happier. I always think I want small spaces, and use bookcases or other furniture to divide up large ones, and then I take all the dividers down again and it’s like I can breathe better.

      Getting new, matching furniture to replace all the Freecyled/curbcycled stuff has been a game-changer.

      Top of my own current list: nice picture frames for all my unframed and cheaply framed artwork. I have a painting that’s already beautifully framed in dark wood, and I’m thinking of getting all natural shades of wood, not the same but coordinated.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Stuff that you won’t see everyday but I think is low cost/high impact in terms of home value are a couple of outdoor things:
      * having nice, clear house number on both your door and by the street
      * uplights on significant trees/shrubs

      1. Pippa K*

        Depending on where you live, up lights might not be allowed. They contribute to light pollution, so some places with dark-skies initiatives now require that lighting be pointed toward the ground.

      2. Chai life*

        Motion sensitive outdoor lights are a great money saver and also preserves dark skies!

      3. Old and Don’t Care*

        Speaking as a former Uber driver, the awesomeness of nice clear house numbers can not be overstated.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      We spent a chunk on installing PV cells (solar panels) and car charging port. Having a 2nd hand car that runs on sunshine has basically no downsides. Running appliances without burning liquid dinosaur is good too.

      Similarly, boarding and insulating the attic made a big difference (as did insulating the cavity).

      If you can’t redecorate, just washing the walls with sugar soap and a sponge will make things look brighter. Cheap, easy changes can make a big difference: maybe change your shower curtain or get a cushion to go on your sofa.

      Blackout curtains/blinds, especially in combination with a daylight alarm.

      We replaced an ugly hedge with holly. It changes throughout the year with different variegation and flowers and berries.

      Fruit trees, bird boxes, pollinator hotel, bee café, wildflower patch. Bringing wildlife into your space (any size space, even a windowbox or potted succulents) is great for quality of life.

      Getting rid of stuff. Not useful things, but Stuff. Kondo is a goddess for changing attitudes to Stuff. Also somehow when you half empty your cupboards and closets, you have double the usable things at your disposal.

      Having some stuff you really love. Get the soap you like, and a mug that fits your hand perfectly, and a silk pillowcase. You deserve all those tiny daily luxuries and you can get all three for under $50.

      1. ObscureRelic*

        Thank you for some great ideas for small-apartment dwellers like me with no yard and not much money. I’ve been taking good care of my indoor plants, and have added (and propagated) a few succulents. I will resume efforts at getting rid of more stuff, although I’m not sure where I can donate things during a pandemic, and I hate sending potentially useful stuff to a landfill. And a big yes to a silk pillowcase, coming right up.

    5. Still*

      I love my floor to ceiling curtains on both sides of the window. They don’t actually cover any of the window itself and we never draw them because plants are in the way, but having curtains on the walls creates some great texture and softness without blocking any of the light. They even create an illusion that the window itself is wider, plus they make the room feel taller. And they are much lower maintanance than decorative blankets or cushions, don’t need nearly as much dusting or moving around!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Expanding on the idea of creating an illusion: Think about how you use a room and what type of “feel” you want that room to have.
        For my bedroom, I wanted it to feel like a little den/a little escape. So I went with darker colors than the rest of the house. I also reduced the clutter and furniture because clutter is a distraction and the room is for rest. I did put in good lighting because I am tired of falling over my black dog in the dark. (Yeah, he’s tired of it too, I am sure.)

        My den/computer room went the opposite way. Books, overall, can be dark and heavy. So I wanted my walls light. I went with a light yellow and white trims. Again with the good lighting, I added a ceiling light in the middle of the room. This room is probably the most cluttered in the house, so it’s an on-going effort to declutter. I thought that having light colors in there would help motivate me to get it sorted and KEEP it sorted. This seems to be working for me.

        Decorating and painting is very much an illusion, it creates an atmosphere for the room. Think about how you use the room. If the room is not getting used the way you would like, think about what it would take to get that turned around.

        1. Chai life*

          Color! Giving a beige (contractor white, grey, etc) room some splashes of color through accessories, curtains, pillows, pictures can really change the feel of a room.
          If you really want to change things up paint the walls and ceilings, or change the carpet or flooring. Don’t be afraid of bold colors. A quick one line search of room & color scheme will give you lots of ideas how to use colors in specific spaces.

      2. allathian*

        An added advantage is that textiles improve the acoustics of any room by eliminating that awful empty room echo that you get in an unfurnished apartment or house, even if you like a minimalist style.

    6. A Simple Narwhal*

      We had our house staged recently to sell, and two easy things that made a difference were putting up some more paintings and putting rugs in rooms that didn’t have them.

      Also some brightly colored throw pillows in the living room – we had some pretty neutral color ones and our realtor replaced them with bold colors we never would have chosen, but they matched small accent colors in the rug and it really tied the room together in a way I wouldn’t have predicted.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve found that paint made a lot of difference in a couple of rooms. The smallest bedroom in my house was, god knows why, painted dark charcoal grey when I bought the house, with dark wood trim. It felt positively claustrophobic. When we did some rearranging last year and that room was going to be empty for a few days, I pulled the trim, painted the walls a really pretty spring green, and replaced the trim with white instead of the dark wood, and the room immediately felt three times bigger.

      My kitchen was this weird yellow-cream color, with off-white cabinets that didn’t quite match. When I had the cabinetry replaced, I went with bright white, and before they were mounted, I painted all the parts of the wall that would be visible (which is admittedly not very much, between cabinetry and appliances) bright turquoise. The new cabinetry actually takes up a little more space than the old stuff did because we added a butler’s pantry type bank of cabinets and workspace to one wall, but even with that the room now feels spacious enough that having a small cart/island in there doesn’t feel cramped the way it did before, and I think it’s because we went from the weird neutrals to the bright white-and-turquoise. (A kitchen cabinet redo is a little bigger than an interior decorating change, I know, but it was another example of color changing making a difference :) )

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Our kitchen had cream cupboards and walls, except for the strip between wall mounted units and the work surface which was a strong wine red. We had so many compliments on it, but are trying to sell and the agent has strongly advised against so it’s all cream now.

        I miss the red. It was a joy (and a very small investment compared to other kitchen work).

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Aw, that sounds super pretty! That strip in my kitchen is tiled in cream, which I kept when I repainted, and there’s vinyl tile stickers in a couple spots around it that tie in the turquoise from the walls and the red from my kitchen island with a splash of color. I’m not planning to move for a good long while yet, but if that comes to be, I’ll cross the repainting bridge when I get to it. :) (Good luck with your sale!)

      2. Seal*

        Second the painting recommendation. When I bought my house 2 years ago, literally every room, including the bathrooms and kitchen, was painted mocha brown. The floors and woodwork are also dark. It was like living in a cup of coffee. I repainted all of the downstairs rooms in lighter, brighter neutrals and couldn’t believe how much it opened everything up. I also took down all of the curtains and curtain rods in favor of neutral cellular blinds, with the exception of the bay window, where I added curtains that hang to the floor for a splash of texture and color. Everything looks very clean and open now – very pleased with the results.

    8. Tiara Wearing Princess*

      Painting walls of course but painting a piece of furniture can make a big impact. I just painted a square oak coffee table white and I was amazed at the difference. Brightened the whole room. I used chalk paint; you can buy it at Home Depot but I make my own from any paint I have lying around. Google Recipes for it. All it takes is paint, water and plaster of Paris. A quart of paint goes a long way with this. If you’re thinking of using a color, check out the paint dept of hardware store/ Home Depot. If you get lucky you can find a returned/wrong color for for $4-$5 for a quart. I’ve painted a nightstand with one of those $5 paint samples (the ones they’ll mix for you so you can try the color). I used about a half quart to cover the coffee table, only because I needed multiple coats to cover the oak grain. My next project is my master bath cherry vanity. I’m going to go with a medium gray. I think it’ll bring the bathroom into the 21st century.

    9. Generic Name*

      Paint! That’s the biggest bang for your buck, but it can be a lot of work. Even just painting the trim in a room freshens it up. I’m a fan of white glossy trim, but I’ve seen rooms that look great with other colors.

      Getting new throw pillows is another cheap and easy way to refresh your decor. Target and world market have stylish ones. I had a down pillow that I loved but was tired of the color so I got a very nice cover for it in Etsy.

      Adding plants can also change the look of a room. People rave about succulents, but I’ve never had luck with them. Indoor gardening is super popular right now, so it’s easy to find a wide variety of plants at big box stores.

    10. Jay*

      My husband finally convinced me that it’s possible to hang more than one piece of art on a wall, so we now have several gallery walls. We already owned the paintings and prints – they were stored away because I didn’t think we had enough wall space. I absolutely love it. Over the years, we’ve learned that high-quality framing is worth the investment, so the frames and mats add to the visual pleasure of the room.

      My best advice is to think about how you use the space – not how you think you *should* use it but how you actually use it. We redecorated our living room when we added French doors, and the same architect/designer who helped us with the renovation also did the decor. I love the colors and the furniture is comfy, but he chose small end tables and no coffee table, with the result that we didn’t really use the space because there was no place to put a cup of coffee or plate of food. I finally bought two large, inexpensive square trays that can sit on one of the end tables or the ottoman. Now I sit in there and read, and we’re much more likely to have guests there (when we can have guests….)

    11. NaoNao*

      I recently purchased two new rugs (each about $200), one from Anthropologie sale-on-sale and the other from Pier 1, also clearance. They made a BIG difference in my overall enjoyment of my space. I have laminate floors that easily scratch and collect dust and animal hair so putting 5×8 rugs in my living and dining room made a big difference. I picked out a bright yellow patterned rug from Anthro and a purposefully distressed vintage style chenille Persian/Oriental rug from Pier 1.

      We got rid of an old Pier 1 rug that was a lovely ombre of blues and aqua but had several pet stains and had seen much better days.

      This is also very specific to my apartment, but many kitchens have a cabinet above the stove/vent hood. I removed the doors from this cabinet and use it as a cookbook book shelf. It adds so much color and life to the kitchen and brightens up a dead space. We saved the doors and hardware so we can simply reattach when we move out!

    12. Firefly*

      We wallpapered the living room ceiling with an embossed paper in a swirling leaf pattern, and added a foam-based crown molding with a similar leafy scroll, all painted the white of our trim. It was a few years ago now, but I want to say that part of our living room redo cost… $400 all in? Something like that. It is so pretty. We’re redoing our kitchen now, and the contractors and designers that have come through to quote have all commented on it and asked us who did it – we did! The big thing was an extra glue along the seams. You can’t even see where the paper joins.

    13. Jaid*

      I don’t use the coffee table, so I moved that out. It opened up the living room. Since I have a Guggenheim Modern rug woven with a Joan Miro image on it, I can see the whole.

      I’m also a sucker for fairy lights and color shifting light strips. Also, getting a desk organizer helps.

    14. Female-type Person*

      1. Adding a tile backsplash to a kitchen that didn’t have one.
      2. Moving the shower curtain rod way up, and getting an 84 inch (standard is 72 inch) or longer white shower curtain.
      3. Take all the decor out. Bring in one or two bigger things. Wait a week. It is amazing how subtracting decor and having less of it calms a room.
      4. Pricey Pottery Barn battery operated flickering candles. They come on automatically every day, so I can have a lantern with a candle in a bookshelf where a real one would cause a fire, and I feel classy and cozy at once.
      5. Paint. Benjamin Moore Edgecomb gray is a greige that looks happy with the brown leather couch you may still have, but still current.

    15. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Big impact things that were relatively easy or cheap because I already had the materials on hand:

      – filling all the gouges and scratches in the living room walls and painting the shiny, bright white walls an eggshell off-white
      – painting all the doors and trim white
      – painting the door hinges and other hardware black and swapping the damaged old handles for matching black ones
      – changing the cabinet knobs in the kitchen
      – changing the curtain rail in the bedroom from the generic, outdated blonde wood thing to a sleeker black double rod
      – getting rid of the bland beige curtains and making new ones in grey and white

      My husband likes to have everything beige and bland. In general I don’t mind *that* much but the whole house was brown, beige, and off-white. Just having a few bolder black and white touches has helped.

    16. Sleepless*

      My house was built in the 80s, and the builder did every staircase in the neighborhood exactly the same. Medium/oak color stained banisters and white painted wood balusters. A few years ago we pulled the banister up and yanked out all the balusters. We removed the carpet, stripped the wood, stained it darker, replaced the worn out carpet (I would love to have left the stairs bare, but I am far too clumsy to live with bare wooden stairs), and put in dark metal balusters. It wasn’t as much work as it sounds like. Other than the carpet install for about $800, the only cost was the balusters for about $400. It remains my favorite update ever in this house. It updated the whole front of the house.

    17. e271828*

      Seasonal swap-out of goods (and don’t have so many soft goods that we’re drowning in them). We change pillow covers, throws, and one small area rug seasonally, cooler colors in summer, warmer in winter, but do whatever pleases you. We move art around to showcase seasonal themes in the most-used rooms. The rug not in use gets rolled up and stored in a closet and the pillow covers and throws don’t take much room—it just takes two or three things to highlight the color. I had read about doing this and scoffed, but I was surprised by what a difference it makes.

      Replacing light fixtures (kitchen and DR) with interesting copper ones has been a huge win, and it’s easy! Lights really set the mood of a place and although they were more expensive than the Home Depot standards they replaced, they’re like hanging art. You can get screw-in can light converters for pendants, too, if you don’t want to commit to changing the whole thing right away.

      Reupholstering is so expensive that if you don’t have something you’re really attached to, it’s more economical to replace one or two chairs with ones whose style and color and comfort level make you very happy. You are going to be using those chairs a lot. Get ones you really like.

      Decluttering to make room for yourself in the home is important as the first step, especially looking forward toward winter with the prospect of more physical/social distancing.

    18. willow for now*

      I replaced my 1980s angular couch and chair with a leggy white loveseat and a small upholstered rocker that had been my mom’s, also in a light color. Made my small space seem larger and airier. And the baseboard heat works better with the bottom of the couch 6 inches up instead of one inch up.

    19. jleebeane*

      We just added a stick on tile back splash in our kitchen that was really easy and relatively cheap. They’re 10×10 inch sheets of “tiles” that remind me a lot of the puffy stickers of my childhood. They can be cut with regular scissors (or a rotary cutter or box cutter and a mat) so it’s easy to work around outlets, etc. We did the whole back splash in about four hours and for under $200. It’s been a month and I still tell my husband how much I love it at least twice a week!

  3. Pepper Potts*

    So…dating during COVID. Any ideas for responsible dates during a global pandemic?

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      Watch a movie together remotely while on voice chat or text chat. It’s best if it’s a movie you both know well so there won’t be any unpleasant surprises and you can happily talk over it.

      Read to each other outdoors from six feet away, or over the phone.

      Set up a video call from kitchen to kitchen, agree on a recipe, and cook it “together”.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Oh they are cute ideas, I like that. I think I’ll do the cooking one with my friend.

      2. coffee cup*

        Yeah, I watch a movie every Saturday with a guy I’m dating. We’re not even in the same country, but it works surprisingly well! Sync Netflix as best we can and watch while on Zoom.

        1. Anonymosity*

          I think there’s an app for that now, Netflix Party or something like that. It autosyncs so you don’t have to do the “Okay, press it NOW!” thing.

      3. LegallyRed*

        My now-husband and I did the remote movie watching thing several times while were dating, and we always had a good time. I think it would be awkward for a first date, but once you know each other it can be really fun.

      4. M*

        When my current bf and I first started dating, we were long distance due to work. Every weekend, we would watch a movie together on Netflix, and would do either a video chat or just a phone call during the movie. We would trade off each week as to who picked (so I would choose a move I liked that he hadn’t seen, and the next week he would choose one he liked that I hadn’t seen). It was a great way to see new movies and to get to know each other better!

    2. c-*

      My partner and I came up with a google drive document to record all of these during our country’s 3-months-long stay at home orders. In addition to Director’s ideas, we had:
      – Karaoke over videocall
      – Exercising ‘together’ with youtube videos
      – Coming up with a joint playlist on Spotify and listening/commenting it together
      – Virtual boardgames
      – Arts & Crafts over videocall (knitting, colouring, drawing… whatever you like)
      – Cybersex (careful with this one if you don’t know your datefriend well, it’s very easy to take a screenshot or record video without the other person’s knowledge).

    3. Ranon*

      Lots of museums have virtual tours.
      You could take each other on tours of your home town or favorite city via screen share and street view

      1. Canuck girl*

        Same – though I’ve only managed one in person Bumble date so far lol, bad luck/slim pickins lol. We first had two video chats and then agreed on an in-person date. We discussed who we have been in contact with recently and throughout the pandemic, reassured each other that neither of us had been to crowded beaches or big indoor parties. Turned out we have both been equally responsible. Then we agreed to meet at a park for a socially distanced date and the park had to have ample walking space for us to stay 6ft apart. For the first half of the date we wore masks, and then we agreed to take them off. There was no spark with this dude, but it was good conversation and we both felt comfortable. Same as others mentioned – the in-person approach may not be doable in cities experiencing a surge in Covid cases.

    4. Eeeek*

      Depends where you are but Park, distanced walk with coffees/to go cocktails, outdoor ice cream place , dog walk. Now if you’re in a big hot spot you may want to go virtual of course

    5. Courageous cat*

      I’ve just been doing wine in the park. I don’t go on dates with people who live with others or work outside of the house, so I don’t worry too much about social distancing – I live alone and work from home too, so it falls within my level of like, acceptable risk. Being outdoors helps as well.

  4. Wonka’s Golden Ticket*

    I feel like I’m cheating ‘the system’ and profiting from things I shouldn’t be, in two different instances.

    1 – I broke my leg last fall. Because I’m prone to breaking bones, I pay for accident insurance but this was my first time actually using it. The check I got ended up as way more than I expected it to be. I thought they’d pour over my medical costs to match it but they sent me a check for like three times my combined medical costs. I don’t remember the exact numbers but I had enough money after ‘paying myself back’ to cover a very expensive dental procedure I needed at the same time, and still have funds left over. My family and friends just said ‘that’s how accident insurance works’ so I shrugged it off while still feeling weird that I basically profited from my injury.

    2 – I’m furloughed due to Covid and receiving unemployment. The money unemployment sends me is double what my pay check was. I knew I was being a little underpaid for my job but this amount was still way more than I expected. It’s apparently the normal amount for my state. I expected to go through my savings with the furlough, even with unemployment, but I’m actually growing my savings. The weekly check is way more than my bills, rent, car payment, and groceries costs. I feel weird spending this government money on non-life essential things.

    So even though in both cases I’ve done what I’m supposed to do, I still feel like I’ve profiting when I shouldn’t be. I’m not doing anything wrong but I feel like I am. Maybe this is stemming from guilt that I have friends who are struggling financially while I’m raking in the dough without even trying. What can I do with this misplaced guilt, if it’s even misplaced? Can I donate unemployment funds to charity?

    1. Pepper Potts*

      I can’t speak to #1, but keep in mind with #2 that in addition to covering your salary, that extra money is going toward healthcare costs, retirement, and other benefits you’d normally be getting. (Not everyone gets those during furlough.)

      Would it help if you found a few worthy causes to donate some of the money to? Once the money is legally yours, you get to choose what to do with it. Same as any paycheck.

    2. SunflowerT*

      I think the first thing to do is shore up your finances so you can withstand future hardships. Make sure you have 3-6 months living expenses in a savings account that you won’t be tempted to use for vacations or takeout. Personally I would build 3 months emergency fund and then start splitting future money between emergency fund and charity. I’ve found several local charities that are doing a lot of good work related to COVID impacted families and businesses so some months I put extra money towards them, other months I send extra to anti-racist groups.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, this. Make sure you are set financially for a while.

        If you are in a good spot, check up-coming expenses to see what is needed. Winter always brings so much added expense here. One of the things I like to do is pay ahead on my oil bill. I know of people who pay ahead on their power bill, too.

    3. Aphrodite*

      I think your guilt is unwarranted. The insurance company obviously sent you what they owed you. As for the unemployment, I would keep it all in a liquid savings account or money market fund at your bank. Right now, you may feel you are swimming in cash but things can change so swiftly that the more money you have in savings the better. Personally, I wouldn’t donate to charity (other than my long-time monthly one to a local cat rescue) because I am a firm believer in that old airline emergency order to “put your own mask on first before you help others.” No one has any idea how long, how severe, how economically crazy this virus is going to impact us, and having a solid savings plan means that you might avoid being a burden to others later.

    4. valentine*

      Please keep the money. And enjoy it! It’s yours now and it’s not like you found it on the street. You bought insurance. A rep paid your claim. Your employer underpaid you. Your state has higher regard for you/r neighbors. Everyone should be comfortable and making yourself less so (on principle!) isn’t a net gain.

    5. AGD*

      I completely understand the sense of guilt! I found it helped to think of it like this: if everyone else in my situation were getting $X or %Salary and I weren’t, that’s what would be unfair.

      For various reasons, I made more money than anticipated this past year and ended up deciding to pour a big proportion of that into a separate savings account for retirement. That way it doesn’t constantly give me the illusory sense that I somehow earned too much – and it’s locked away for a good purpose.

    6. HannahMiss*

      I was in a similar situation with unemployment up through July – making way more than I usually would. I got called back to work, but my roommate hasn’t. During this whole thing, we both kept that overage in savings because we didn’t have faith that there would be government relief once the $600 expired. I found it helped me to think of the extra as an advance on relief since the economic fallout is going to last longer than the relief will. My roommate will be slowly using what she saved since our state unemployment is about to drop to an unlivable amount.

    7. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      A lot of accident-related legal settlements include an amount for “pain and suffering,” because you weren’t just dealing with medical bills, you were at least partly incapacitated for a while: that “extra” could have helped pay bills if you were unable to work while recovering.

      Maybe think of the extra unemployment benefit as part of the stimulus package? You can put that money aside to pay for those expenses once the payments stop coming in, or use it to help friends and family with their bills, or donate all or part of it to a food bank or other charity that’s helping people who can’t afford their day-to-day bills right now.

      1. blackcat*

        Yep, 3x medical bills is actually a pretty standard payment.

        And, yeah, a large part of the point of the unemployment benefits being so high, was that you’d go out and spend them on non-necessary things, thereby stimulating the economy. It wasn’t so much for *you* but rather the economy overall.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          “Yep, 3x medical bills is actually a pretty standard payment.”

          What state are you in? Because it certainly isn’t in Maryland. I know we are on the low side for such things. We love it when dealing with an insurance company that doesn’t do much business in Maryland, because they routinely overpay. But 3x? In our dreams?

          1. Wonka's Golden Ticket*

            Actually, I am in Maryland and yes, the payment was about 3x my medical costs. Not sure if the insurance company is based in MD but I live and work here. For about $2,000 in medical bills between the ER, doctor appointments, multiple x-rays, ridiculously expensive leg brace, and physical therapy, the accident insurance sent me a check for $7,000. That’s why I was so shocked by the check amount because it seemed so overpaid.

    8. Richard Hershberger*

      Insurance: What does your policy cover? It may be more than just medical bills. If so, no reason at all to feel guilty. You have been paying for this all along. Another possibility is that they basing the medicals on list price. You mention paying yourself back. How did you pay those bills in the first place? If you used health insurance, your health carrier most likely paid less than list price, and if you have to pay them back, this is based on what they actually paid.

    9. Kage*

      #1 – AI policies typically work on a line-item/additive basis. So they have a flat payment for going into an ER/DR and then add on additional amounts if you had broken bones (and number/what factors in), stitches, follow-ups, PT, etc. So they can get quite large depending on what happened. And in my experience, my AI policy was completely separate from my health insurance so they had no way of knowing what I actually had to pay. Consider it just a reimbursement on what you have been paying in to carry the policy. Also- if you didn’t know, a lot of AI policies have a benefit if you go in for your annual wellness exam (mine was $50/person/year). The idea being if you go in regularly you might be more healthy in general. Check your policy and if it has that, make sure to submit for it.

      #2 – Don’t feel bad. Your employer was underpaying you. Keep/use the money. One extra caution – unemployment benefits are taxable (stimulus check isn’t). If your state wasn’t withholding taxes on the $600 boost, make sure you set some of it aside in an account to pay the extra tax bill next year. I know our state just withheld taxes on their portion and not the extra federal boost. I’d hate to see you give all/most of it away and then get slammed with a giant bill next April which creates a big hardship for you.

    10. Dan*

      To your second point…

      In my state, “normal” unemployment just covers a fraction of your paycheck, so there’s no way to strike gold with just that. I’m assuming that you were the beneficiary of the COVID-related $600/week extra? If so, the glory days have passed as of yesterday. Last I checked, the senate has let the $600 lapse, and they put on the table a $200 bump.

    11. Eeeek*

      You are doing NOTHING wrong! You bought insurance and then they gave you a payout, same thing with UI really! You paid in and now you’re getting paid out. The extra $$ is gone at least temporarily so you may want to just save some of that cash while job hunting. Do something nice for a family or friend if you’d want. You literally deserve this money!

    12. Courageous cat*

      Oh man, enjoy it. I would be over the moon for something like this. You have to worry about you first and foremost.

    13. Traffic_Spiral*

      So… you have medical conditions, you broke your leg, and your job pays you garbage, and you feel that you somehow are unjustly enjoying life by finally getting a fraction of your rightful compensation for these issues?

      Please, you deserve all this and more.

    14. Chaordic One*

      No, don’t feel bad about it. OTOH, don’t get lazy (and I doubt you will), but be prepared to start a new job search if you have to, and keep that surplus ready for a rainy day if you run into one down the road.

      When (and if) you manage to come out on the other side of the rainbow and everything is coming up roses for you, you can consider paying it forward. Perhaps, by making some donations to worthwhile charities. That’s what I’d do.

    15. Alex*

      Are you back to work yet? The gravy train is about to run out, so save up that extra money in case you are out of work for a while after that money isn’t coming in any longer.

      And even if you are back to work…this thing isn’t over yet and having extra savings never hurt anyone.

    16. Quinalla*

      1 – Don’t feel guilty about this, it is exactly how accident insurance works, it gives you extra because it isn’t just supposed to cover medical bills and medical expenses but also help you out in general with things that likely were affected by you getting hurt. And you paid into insurance and likely will continue paying in so most likely the insurance company is going to still end up profitable from you and for sure profitable overall. So try to let go of this guilt!

      2 – Spend the money how you like, though I agree I would try and sock as much into savings as you can. This extra benefit is yes meant to help pay for insurance, etc. that most aren’t going to have anymore due to being laid off and just to help get people through the crisis a bit. I’m glad it is giving you a cushion, that is what it should be doing so again don’t feel bad about it. People that lost their job due to this crisis should be getting extra help and I’m glad they are! If there is a charity you want to donate to, go ahead, but don’t feel like you have to because of guilt!

      I do understand the guilt though. I’ve felt a little guilty in the past about getting money that I didn’t feel I “earned”. Money is tied up with a lot of weird feelings for many of us.

  5. Belgian*

    Update on last week + new question:

    Last week I told you guys that my cat needed dental work and I was a bit worried about it.
    While the cat was under anaesthesia she suddenly had trouble breathing due to fluid in her lungs. The vet had to cut the dental work short to fix the cat’s breathing issues. While they were able to restore her breathing, they wanted to keep her overnight to keep an eye on her and run more tests to figure out what had caused the fluid in her lungs. Her heart was fine, but an x-ray of her lungs showed she has bronchitis. The cat is home now with 2 weeks worth of antibiotics and a follow-up appointment with the vet after for a new x-ray of her lungs.

    It’s been an eventful week.

    So: any tips on how to get my cat to take her antibiotics? It comes in a pill. The vet suggested I mix it with her wet food.

    1. CatCat*

      You can try mixing it with her wet food and see if she’ll eat it. You can also get pill pocket treats to hide the pill in. If those don’t work, you can get a tool called a piller (looks like a large, needless syringe) that you load the pill in, put it in kitty’s mouth, and pop the pill into the back of the mouth so they swallow it. I used to stand behind my kitty to do this when he was on meds to prevent him from scooting back. Follow with whatever is the thing that makes kitty super happy like a fave treat, play time, or pets so kitty associates a good thing with getting the pill.

      1. Anonbeth*

        Yes, absolutely get the pill gun/pill popper. There’s videos on youtube showing how to use it effectively. We had good success wrapping him in a towel, moving fast, and holding his mouth shut and massaging his throat after. My cat’s very food motivated, so we gave him dinner right after this as a reward (+ makes sure the pill goes down his throat instead of sticking to the side).

        You can (one can–I couldn’t) do the same thing by hand, but you risk getting bitten, it’s harder to get the pill back into their throat, and doing it by hand was more alarming for my cat.

        Hiding it in food or in a pill pocket like others have suggested can work, but if you have baytril, that’s such a gross tasting pill that your cat might refuse the food.

    2. Jackalope*

      Also cats don’t like having something come straight at them and they will tend to fight. There’s a natural gap in their teeth partway back and if you can aim for that they *may* fight you less.

    3. Senor Montoya*

      Have a chair right next to a table. Put the pill in a bowl so it can’t roll away. Have a large towel draped across one shoulder and down your front.
      Pick up the cat. Sit down on the chair and quickly wrap the towel around the cat, being sure to have all paws well wrapped. Only the cats head should stick out.
      Hold the cat with one hand/arm. Grab pill with other hand, shift non pill hand over the top of the cars head and gently press against the sides of its mouth. Mouth will pop open. Put the pill as far back on the cats tongue as possible. Hold the cats jaw closed with one hand and stroke its throat with the other. Once the cat swallows, quickly unwrap the cat. Watch for a spit out pill.

      Or get a liquid antibiotic. So much easier to just squirt it into the cats mouth.

      1. TechWorker*

        Not sure if you live by yourself or not but if you do have a second person who can help this makes it easier!

        If you’re putting it in wet food, do it when they’re hungry and put it in a small amount of food so they hopefully just gulp it down in the first mouthful. Having to go through the food to work out whether it’s left and then try to feed them a half-disintegrated pill by hand is.. less fun.

      2. Quinalla*

        Yes, this is the method I used when I had cats, though I didn’t wrap them in a towel (this is a great idea!) It sucks, but if you get the pill far enough back, they will swallow it. I could never hide pills as they would just pick around the gross tasting thing. For antibiotics we always got liquid which is easier, but for travel, we got some pill drugs for that to help them relax/sleep/not get carsick and I did this. A small amount of discomfort getting them to eat the pill was worth their comfort on the couple long car trips we had to take them on.

    4. Arya Parya*

      I always get the liquid antibiotic. Not all cats like the flavour, so results might vary. But my cats like it fine when I mix it in with some wet food.

      As for pills, I have to give my cat a pill for his heart twice a day. That pill is pretty flavourless, so not exactly the same as the antibiotic pill. But I can hide that in a piece of cat stick. I like the catessy ones . He just thinks he gets a treat twice a day.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I had good luck with Feline Greenies pill pockets. For a large pill, I cut it in half and used 2 pill pockets, otherwise my cat noticed and would just eat around the pill. For another cat I used Tomlyn pill paste, which I molded around the pill (it’s similar to play dough in texture). Both are available on Amazon. I also found cream cheese worked pretty well too.

      1. Nicki Name*

        Was coming here to recommend Pill Pockets. Not every cat likes them but they’re a huge help when the cat does!

    6. Esme*

      Some of those tablets taste of fish or beef. My cat happily ate them out of my hands!

      Hope your kitty is doing ok.

    7. Bagpuss*

      When my previous cat needed daily thyroid pills I found sardines were a good delivery method- about 1/3 of a sardine with the pill tucked inside (he would identify and reject it in any form of wet food and while I could get it in using wrapping him it was incredibly stressful)

    8. That'll happen*

      If it’s a tablet, crush it up as fine as possible with the back of a spoon and mix it in to a SMALL amount of wet food. You want to make sure she gets the whole dose, which is why you put it in a small amount of wet and then give her the rest of her wet food after she eats the medicine.

    9. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      If you’ve never had to pill this cat, give it a go first? My current cat is astonishingly easy to pill- open her mouth and stick the pill in the back.

    10. TheMonkey*

      Pair it with something positive. My cat has to be pilled twice a day and he now comes running when I shake the bottle.
      YMMV, depending on your cat.

      First, IMO, pill popper = awesome.
      Second, find a treat that your cat loves.

      My goal was to make the pilling process a minor part of the twice daily ritual, and instead it’s a time when he gets love, affection, attention and a treat. Here’s what I do:
      I put the pill in the popper and get his treat out (I use tuna-flavored laxatone after discovering that it was like crack to him.
      I sit on the floor, curling the inside of one knee behind his butt so he can’t do the ‘scoot backward at light speed’ trick that cats are so good at.
      Overhand grip around the top of his head so my thumb is on one side of his upper jaw and my fingers on the other and squeeze slightly.
      Once his mouth is open, I slide the tip of the popper into the side of his mouth in a little gap and aim it slightly toward the back.
      Hold his mouth closed gently until I’m sure he’s swallowed it, then immediately give him his treat while telling him he’s a good boy and giving him some vigorous pets (which he loves).

      As I said, this means that he associates the pill bottle with tasty treats and love from me, so he is to the point where he begs for pill time.

      Good luck!

    11. What the What*

      The problem with mixing it with wet food is that if the cat doesn’t eat all of the wet food, you’re worried they didn’t get the full medication. And they’ll just lick the food off the pill if you leave it whole. My cats were never fooled by pill pockets.

      I have decided it’s easiest to just insert the pill directly in the cat’s mouth and give them a treat afterward. Look up how to pill a cat on youtube. Shut the cat in the bathroom or other small room with no hiding spots before trying.

      Basically though, you corral the cat (I prefer to kneel, lodge the cat between my knees, butt facing in to me so they can’t back up because my body is blocking), open their mouth and shove it in, then rub their throat until they swallow. It sometimes takes a try or two if they spit it out.

      1. Generic Name*

        Your last paragraph is exactly how I pill cats. Lol I look like I’m sitting on and torturing a poor cat

    12. Generic Name*

      Honestly, the only way I’ve been able to pill a cat is to wrap them in a towel, and shove the pill down their throat. It’s definitely not easy. Unless you can open the capsule and sprinkle the powder on wet food, sticking a pill in with their food will not work.

    13. pancakes*

      Best wishes for a speedy recovery! My cat loves just about any kind of cheese so when she’s had to take pills I hide them in a bit of goat cheese or cream cheese or whatnot.

      1. Jaid*

        My kittygirl loves all dairy, too! Right now, her favorite is whipped cream cheese. But if she realizes I’m eating ice cream, she’ll come running!

    14. lasslisa*

      One of my cats is easy to either pill traditionally or to trick. One time I smeared a tiny bit of wet food on the pill and was going to try to pill him by throwing it into his mouth and holding his mouth shut and all the usual tricks, and then he came up and ate the pill out of my hand instead.

      My other cat is a screaming crying writhing nightmare if you try to hold her still for anything, and has apparently got tongue dexterity that is completely unknown in cats because she can hold that pill in her mouth and swallow and then turn her head to the side and spit out the pill. However, if I take one of the Temptations treats she likes and cut it in half, I can stick a pill in there and she just… eats it. Man. The first time that worked it was like the clouds parting and the sun coming out. A miracle.

      Try lots of things, basically.

      1. WS*

        Yep, I had a cat who could swallow a pill then spit it up again whole a few minutes later. In the end I had to get a pill I could grind to powder and tip that into her mouth because it stuck to her tongue and she couldn’t spit it out. And I did that every days for seven years!

    15. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      Is your cat allowed to have cold cuts? My cat needed pills as a kitten and I’d wrap them in whatever turkey/ham/chicken we had for sandwiches that week. She happily ate her pill, though unfortunately it gave her a taste for cold cuts and now you cannot make/eat a sandwich without her sticking her paws in it.

    16. Belgian*

      Thanks for the tips everyone! For now I’m just cutting the pill up really fine and mixing it with her wet food, which seems to work. She doesn’t need to eat the whole pill, as that is actually a little bit too much for the weight she is so it’s no problem if there are little bits left over.

      She Does Not like being touched unless she comes up to you for pets, so pilling would be a stressful experience for both of us, especially as I am by myself.

    17. Inefficient Cat Herder*

      Honestly, last time we had to we finally resorted to tuna, and that worked. Grumpy cat had figured out pill pockets (though they worked for years), liquid drugs in syringe, pill shooters etc. Even cheese had stopped working!

      Might work better if cat never gets tuna or tuna flavored food. For our cats tuna is crack.

  6. Women's health anon*

    Women’s health question here. Has anyone quit birth control – specifically Nexplanon – and found that your mental health improved after you quit? If so, how long did it take before you noticed the improvement? After taking BC for nearly 2 decades – the pill, the ring, the implant – I finally quit. I had tried to treat my depression and anxiety with medication and therapy. I have found that therapy helps me from falling deeper in a dark spiral, but doesn’t really pull me all the way out of depression. And medication made me physically ill. I tried SO many medications. So I wonder if the BC caused or exacerbated the depression and anxiety. 

    1. Lena Clare*

      I believe depression is a commonly reported side effect of taking the pill (can’t attest to the other methods of BC) but researchers can’t find a link. I would be more inclined to go with anecdotal reporting here because, imo, your body knows itself.

      My depression and my acne both cleared up after coming off the pill. It took a while for me to get balanced but it eventually happened.

      I do take antidepressants, but it has also taken me a while to find the right one and get used to it. I have therapy once a year for about 10 weeks, which I find helpful in managing it. Tbh, until I started the current meds I’m on I didn’t feel contented, just like I was managing. Now I feel like I have a better quality of life and am not just surviving each day.

      But back to the BC thing – good riddance I say!

    2. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      Yes, birth control pills made my partner actively suicidal, and going off them is still the #1 best thing they’ve ever done for their mental health. It was a pretty quick improvement in their case.

      1. MayLou*

        I was switched onto an “identical” brand after my regular birth control pill, that I’d been taking for years, had production issues, and had the same experience. Thankfully a friend spotted the pattern which helped me cope with the monthly surge in suicidal feelings, and after three or four months the old brand was available again and I switched back. They’re powerful things!

      2. regular going anon*

        This happened to me as well. Never attempted, but there was really strong suicidal ideation (along with positively numbing depression) that vanished quickly once off hormonal birth control.

    3. Grandma’s sweater*

      Took about eight months to level off, my hormones went on a bit of a rollercoaster ride, but it was so worth it. Felt so much lighter, quitting definitely had a positive effect on my mental health.

    4. Jen Erik*

      My daughter has been on 3 different types of pill – for pain relief, actually – one of the first two made her nauseated, can’t remember what the other did – the third, yes, she sank into depression. And neither of us knew that could be a side-effect so it took a few months before she worked it out. With her, she started to improve quite quickly, but, as I say, she only took it for a few months.

    5. PX*

      I think depression is unfortunately often listed as a side effect of many hormonal birth control methods. If you’re still interested in BC, the most effective non hormonal version I’m aware of would be the copper IUD (or abstinence I guess!)

    6. A Simple Narwhal*

      Anecdotal evidence but I took the pill in high school for awful periods and I remember just not feeling like myself on it. I thought I was going nuts because I didn’t feel like I fit in my skin and everything felt off. I think I also felt depression-y symptoms, but in my head it was “typical teenage moodiness” (or at least that’s what I was told) so I’m not sure.

      But once I stopped taking the pill I felt so much better and never wanted to take hormonal bc again.

      I will say that I now have the skyla iud, which is hormonal, but it’s the tiniest amount on the market and I found it to be just enough to smooth everything out for me. I still feel like myself and now my periods are predictable and light, which I never thought was possible. (Oh and no babies, that part’s great too lol.)

      It also helps that I now have a good gynecologist who believed me when I told her how the pill made me feel, and after walking me through all of my options helped me make an informed choice, and reassured me that if I didn’t feel well on it we could remove it, no muss, no questioning, it was up to me. It was the belief and control I didn’t know I was missing from my first foray into birth control, where I was treated like all my side effects and symptoms were a bother to my doctor and that I was a big whiny baby.

    7. MatKnifeNinja*


      BCP made me ragey and wanting to end it all. This was in the 1990s (stone age). OB/GYNs were less than happy to fiddle with different brands/doses back then.

      Any medications that fiddles with my hormones makes me a mess. I hit menopause, and the doctor want me try out different pills to cut the night sweats. I refused. Nights sweats are better than depression.

      I know this is a data point of one, but when I dropped the BCP, the non situational depression went away.

    8. Generic Name*

      I’m so glad you’re feeling better! It’s scary to know that the side effects can be so bad, but it sounds like drs downplay them, which isn’t cool. To add to the conversation, there are so many different pills out there and women respond to them differently. I’m one of the lucky ones who does really well on the pill. My skin clears up, my periods are lighter, PMS symptoms are reduced. Now that I’m off the pill because my husband and I are trying for a baby, I kind of miss being in the pill. :)

      1. Jen RO*

        I’m also one of the lucky ones. I was on the pill for 10 years… 10 years of super light periods and flawless skin! I am now on the Mirena IUD and my period is gone, but my skin will never be as nice as it was on the pill.

        1. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

          Same. Actually just went back on it age 46 because my doc said it would help with my peri menopausal symptoms, and he was right!

    9. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      I cant speak to nexplanon specifically, but YES! BC can definitely cause or exacerbate depression. I’d done pill, patch, ring, and went off and found I was happier, but because I have pcos I need *something* to regulate my cycle. I talked to my gyno and she put me on just progesterone 10 days per month. It isnt bc (doesnt prevent ovulation) but it hasn’t had the emotional toll that taking estrogen always had for me.

    10. blackcat*

      Yep. I noticed a pretty dramatic improvement about 2 months after stopping hormonal BC. I would suspect Nexplanon would take longer to leave your system fully, but I don’t know.

    11. lazy intellectual*

      Yep. A few years ago I was feeling really depressed, and felt instantly better after I stopped the pill. I don’t remember exactly how much time lapsed but I remember it was pretty instant – like 2-3 days.

    12. Scouty D*

      Mood changes are definitely a side effect of birtg control pills. If you haven’t used a progesterone-only pill (most are a combo of estrogen and progesterone) that may be something to try. You could also try an IUD – either with hormones (Mirena/Skyla) or a copper one without hormones (Paraguard). The hormones in the hormonal IUD usually don’t have mood-based side effects because almost all the hormones are contained to your uterus.

    13. RagingADHD*

      Yes, I only tried hormonal birth control for a short time because the side effects, both mental and physical, were intolerable.

      They did not go away after a couple of months, as I was told. They didn’t go away until I stopped it.

      It’s certainly not for me to say any one individual is or isn’t experiencing these side effects. But I believe it happens to a lot of people who have no idea.

      I’ve known a number of women whose parents put them on the pill at puberty, “just in case.” And the amount of physical & mental health problems they get dxed with as “chronic conditions” – which then magically resolve when they stop the bc for other reasons – is mind blowing.

      I truly believe this is far more common than is discussed, and a lot of women are gaslit about their own mental health.

      Even without bc, I’ve had doctors push antidepressants when in fact I had a thyroid problem. I’ve had them push antidepressants when in fact I had ADHD. (Interestingly, neither of those times was I offered a referral to a psychiatrist to see if I was actually depressed).

      I know a lot of folks who need mental health treatment have trouble accessing it. But medical gaslighting is also a real problem.

      1. Double A*

        Yes to all of this. I was put on BC at 14 to help with acne. And I’m glad that I had access to BC at that age; I don’t really blame anyone. But I didn’t know it was affecting my mental health until I went off it 10 years later. It was as if my mental health just literally didn’t matter — like, a doctor NEVER talked about it with me. EVER.

        When my daughter is old enough, I’m going to suggest and non-hormonal IUD for her.

      2. Women's health anon*

        This really resonates. I also have Hashimoto’s. Several doctors, disappointingly female doctors included, have been dismissive because my TSH, T3, and T4 levels “look good” on my current dosage of levothyroxine, but I still don’t feel super great. I mean, hasn’t my body been attacking and destroying my thyroid for many years now? Considering going to an ND for this…

        Back to the BC issue at hand, thank you everyone for sharing and validating! It is incredible/infuriating that the link between depression and BC gets dismissed or downplayed again and again. I am hopeful things will improve in the weeks and months ahead now that The Thing is out.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Re: thyroid – I brought literature to my doctor about natural porcine thyroid. It’s a normal prescription, and was the standard before Synthroid existed.

          It made a marked improvement in my lingering symptoms. The theory is that because it has trace amounts of many different hormones (T1, T2, etc) it does a better job replacing them.

          Levo (T4) is supposed to be converted by the gland into the others. But my thyroid is dead and atrophied years ago. It’s basically a lump of scar tissue. It’s not converting anything.

          Brand names of dessicated porcine thyroid include Armour and Naturethroid.

          1. RagingADHD*

            No. I used to read a lot of bullshit about curing thyroid with woo. This book may not be one of them, I don’t know.

            I had a biopsy. They identified antibodies. My immune system ate my thyroid. Adrenal glands don’t have anything to do with it.

            Most of the woo out there is just more gaslighting, to sell expensive “courses” and/or magic pixie dust supplements.

            None of my real doctors are trying to sell me anything.

            1. Noelle*

              Ugh, I hate all the “cure your thyroid with supplements” garbage. However, I feel like it wouldn’t exist if doctors weren’t so terrible at treating thyroid disorders. As someone with every single symptom of hypothyroidism, my doctors have basically just ignored it because my TSH is normal. Still in the process of trying to find someone who will address low T3.

              1. Women's health anon*

                What about dietary changes? Some say that giving up gluten, or soy, or dairy, or going FODMAPS, has helped with their thyroid function. I haven’t tried any of these approaches yet.

                1. Noelle*

                  I haven’t found that diet has made a positive difference, although I’ve been gluten- and soy-free for many years even before I started having thyroid issues. In a couple cases the recommended diets actually made my labs and symptoms worse (AIP especially, but also FODMAPS and going dairy-free).

      3. Altair*

        This is very, very true. I was lucky on BCP — they actually improved my depression. But as an informal tally I’d say at least six to eight of my friends had the opposite effect.

    14. Jules the 3rd*

      Hormonal BC made my anxiety notably worse both times I tried it. It went away within 3 months of getting off the BC.

      I use a no-hormone IUD now. It makes my periods heavier but other than that I love it.

    15. Eeeek*

      I feel better only a few days off it. I want to quit because it genuinely makes my life worse than not being on it, but I want a pregnancy even less.

      1. Natalie*

        Definitely look into an IUD! More effective than the pill, last for ages, and you can pick between very low and no hormones.

    16. More Coffee Please*

      I’ve had a Nexplanon for 4 years now, and to be honest I haven’t had any side effects other than slightly more frequent periods. That said, a quick Google search shows that depressed mood is a common side effect. You can always try going off for a few months and seeing if things improve. I’m not sure how long it takes the hormones to fully go back to normal, but my doctor told me that I would be able to get pregnant as soon as my Nexplanon was removed, so it seems like it might be a quick return. Definitely recommend talking to your doctor about this stuff, they can be very helpful!

    17. Double A*

      Yes. I have not suffered depression in the same way since I quit hormonal birth control over a decade ago (switched to Paragard IUD). It wasn’t a complete lifting of the darkness, but the quality of the depression changed forever.

      I never, ever had a doctor discuss with me the connection between birth control and depression. I actually can’t think about it too much or it makes me furious. I think women’s mental health is just basically irrelevant when it comes to the medical system.

    18. FuzzyTheCat*

      I was on BC pills (various) for 15+ years and stopped to get pregnant and didn’t start BC again after giving birth (4 years ago).

      I recently came to terms with the fact I suffer from anxiety (CBT started to work on that!) and found out that depression and anxiety have some association with magnesium deficiency and BC can impact magnesium.

      I was already thinking about trying to take magnesium to help with other things (sleep, headaches) and a week ago started taking Magnesium Glycinate (pure…not buffered / added other magnesium like oxide…I poop enough, ha!). It has been about a week since I started taking it and today I realized that I had a fairly stressful day but am feeling fairly relaxed. I have also noticed that when I wake up in the morning I feel more refreshed and calm/even. I can’t confirm it is the magnesium helping out but I’ll embrace the change (tbh, placebo effect is fine with me!).

      1. Blue wall*

        Good reminder for me that I would benefit from taking my magnesium regularly! Glad it has helped so much.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        Turns out, magnesium binds to the seritonin uptake receptors, same as SSRIs.

        My experience has been that magnesium helps my mood, though if I miss even one day, I am weepy and short tempered for 1 – 2 days after. Since I also had muscle twitches and pains that are gone now that I’m taking magnesium regularly, I am confident I had a deficit, and very confident that vit D and magnesium have had a big impact.


    19. allathian*

      Yes. I was on the pill in the 1990s (can’t remember the brand name), so I sure hope things are better now, but for me, the biggest effect was that it totally killed my libido. That’s a pretty good way to prevent a pregnancy, but it essentially meant that I was in a sexless relationship. My then-bf didn’t insist, which I’m grateful for in retrospect, but he didn’t show much interest either, which made me feel unworthy and unattractive. That didn’t help the depression that I suspect I developed at least partly due to the pill.

      Early in my relationship with my husband I tried “mini pills” (no estrogen, just progesterone) for two months, but two weeks after starting the pill I started bleeding and it didn’t stop until two weeks after I stopped the pill. After that, I had to take iron supplements for about six months.

    20. Texas Ranger*

      I was on BC for years and I quit when I developed an ovarian cyst… and decided I was never going back. I was happier after one week off the pill than I had been in over 5 years. I will get severely depressed short-term after taking a plan B pill. Due to these things, I decided I’d never go on hormones again, and decided to get a Copper IUD. Unfortunately, that also screwed things up a lot, but in different and sometimes less recognizable ways – over the course of several months I became kind of manic and paranoid and my anxiety was through the roof, I couldn’t focus at all – to the point where it felt like my brain was shutting down. It’s unfortunately taken me a lot longer to bounce back from that than it did from the hormones. While these don’t seem to be well-recognized side-effects, similarly to the pill as Lena Clare mentioned, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence.

    21. Non Dairy*

      Hormonal birth control gave me pretty severe anxiety. Fortunately I figured out what was going on within days so it was a quick fix.

      I don’t how common this is but milk makes me anxious too. Milk has the same hormones as are used in birth control.

      If you’re sensitive to birth control but still anxious, you might want to consider going dairy free and see if that helps.

  7. The Bare Minimalist*

    Fumigation for termites coming up in a few weeks. This will be a first. A little nervous about leaving anything behind. They say to take food, medication, things we consume, but what about the wooden cutting board or serving spoons? Vintage clothing that is frail? Art? GaH, should I just take everything out of the house before they fumigate? Any advice appreciated!

    1. Aphrodite*

      I don’t have the answer for that but I do have a recommendation for you to share with your neighbors: Keep all pets, especially cats, inside the day the tenters come. It would be too easy for a cat to be near the house when the tenters arrive and slip into a hidden spot under the tent until the noise stop. You really don’t want that to happen.

    2. MistOrMister*

      Can you ask the people who will be doing the work to clarify? We had to set off bug bombs once years ago, but we just set them off and ran. I don’t recall taking anything with us. But a big professional fumigation job might be different. I don’t know about the vintage clothing, but I would think you can leave everything you won’t be planning to eat behind.

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I agree with the advice to check with the provider. I had it done last year after an infestation (so gross) and the only thing I had to remove was my cat (boarded her at a cat hotel for the day).

    4. Arya*

      We just fumigated for termites. We were advised to remove all living things and food that’s not in an unopened glass or metal container. It doesn’t leave a residue so you don’t have to clean afterwards and you don’t have to remove any clothes, furniture, utilities, etc.

  8. CatCat*

    I had some credits on Amazon that were expiring soon and got a cookbook that is listed on the “Great on Kindle” category. Because I got a “Great on Kindle” book, there’s some sort of promotion that gave me another credit to use on another “Great on Kindle” book. Great! So I got another… and that one also had a promotional credit. It seems you can just keep getting promotional credits even if you used promotional credits to buy the last book. So I have been on a TEAR downloading a bunch of cookbooks that look interesting to me.

    I’ve gotten all the cookbooks I want. And I still have more promotional credits. All the “Great on Kindle” are nonfiction and I’m at a loss for what to get now. They have a lot (well over 200!) of biographies and memoirs available, and these are not genres I usually read. I’d be interested in checking some out though.

    Are there any biographies or memoirs that you’ve read and found particularly compelling and interesting to read?

    1. Pepper Potts*

      Educated by Tara Westover
      The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
      Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
      Four Perfect Pebbles by Lila Perl
      Small Steps by Peg Kehret

    2. CatCat*

      Oh, just realized, it’s thousands not hundreds of “Great on Kindle” biographies and memoirs (it’s 200+ screens to click through to view them all). So a lot of options.

    3. Nessun*

      From The Ashes by Jesse Thistle – Metis author, Canadian professor, he’s so down to earth and honest, and he’s done so much with a very tough life.

    4. MissGirl*

      Seabiscuit was so much more than a book about a racehorse. The acknowledgments were interesting.

    5. Helvetica*

      If into world politics/foreign policy, I highly recommend Samantha Power’s “The Education of an Idealist”. It was a very easy read and I loved her style and voice, being quite self-critical and analytical, and taking us through both her personal life and her life as Obama’s advisor and the Ambassador to the UN.

      1. DustyJo*

        Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, hands down! If you can get through the first 10 pages of geneology to the part where his father gives him What-For for a boyhood escapade, you’re in! And, of course, skip over the Naughty parts, heh heh…

      1. acmx*

        Memoirs is fiction. The author also betrayed his source.

        His source wrote her own book Geisha, A Life. Iwasaki Mineko.

        1. A Simple Narwhal*

          Whomp, whomp. Well, I enjoyed it, but that definitely dampens my memory, I’ll have to check out the other one.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Discovered when checking sources for book recs below, Radium Girls by Kate Moore is a “Great on Kindle” that is super compelling. To quote myself, it’s the story of women who worked in, and were killed by, the radium dial painting industry and the resulting workers’ rights developments. Heartbreaking and so so good.

      1. LemonLyman*

        Seconding Trevor Noah’s book but I always recommend the audio. Love hearing him tell the stories in his own voice (literally) and enjoyed hearing the Zulu words pronounced for me.

    7. Memoirs*

      I’ve loved Peter Hessler’s books about his time in China (River Town, Oracle Bones, and Country Driving). In particular I loved Oracle Bones. He is now living in Egypt, and I read an essay he wrote in the New Yorker years ago about a garbage collector that I also thought was very interesting. Looks like he wrote a book last year about Egypt called “The Buried” which I will now add to my reading list!

    8. Gatomon*

      I’ve been sucked into that “Great on Kindle” credit chain too! The best thing I’ve picked up so far is Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which I strongly recommend.

    9. Nervous Nellie*

      The dreamy biography ‘Running in the Family,” by Sri Lankan-Canadian Michael Ondaatje (author of The English Patient) is un-put-downable. His early family life in Kandy & Trincomalee reads like a quiet conversation you might have at a family reunion, when you said, “Tell me the story of your aunts and uncles.”

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I married into a restaurant family, so these two caught my eye… one from someone who made it to the celebrity chef status, one from someone whose family has a respected place in a smaller town:
      –My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family, and Food, by Lidia Bastianich (This includes her childhood in the part of Italy that was turned over to Romania, and her family’s dramatic escape.)
      –Wife of the Chef, by Courtney Febbroriello

    11. CatCat*

      Thank you for the suggestions! Not all were available on “Great on Kindle,” but I found them through Overdrive for my local library or could request the library acquire them.

      From Amazon, I picked up “Radium Girls,” “Educated,” and “Tracks,” which all look like very interesting reads!

      1. voluptuousfire*

        +1 on Jen Lancaster. I’m a huge fan of hers but the one book of hers I would avoid is Bright Lights, Big Ass. This was the one I didn’t finish.

  9. a capitol time*

    I am relocating to the DC area (Arlington) due to a new job! I’m currently located in the South and trying to find a place- it is TOUGH, especially since I’m not famililar with the area and can’t figure out if the units are in good locations.

    Does anyone have any recommendations on where to live? I’m hoping to find a 2+/1.5+ (over 1000 sq ft) for <$2500 that is a decent commute to the Rosslyn metro station. I'd prefer not to live in a high rise apartment/condo as I have two dogs. I'm hoping for a townhome, but I know that will be tough with my budget.

    1. The Bare Minimalist*

      Congratulations on the new job! Cleveland Park on the Red Line is a charming, walkable neighborhood with grocery stores, embassies, easy access to Rock Creek Park, and near the Zoo. Petworth might have some townhomes in your price range. In addition to craigslist, try Zillow for listings. Good luck!

    2. Wehaf*

      Congrats! I recently moved to the DC area for a new job (on the Maryland side); I found hotpads dot com had the most comprehensive listings.

    3. Washi*

      What is a decent commute to you? Pairing the commute with the budget is usually the real challenge. For example, I’m in the DC area in a townhouse for way less than your budget, but my commute to Rosslyn would be a little over an hour on public transit (I’m on the maryland side.)

      1. Washi*

        Also if you can say a bit more about “good locations.” When I lived in DC proper, I was in an area that some people considered expensive and fancy and some people considered a bad part of town. Some people get very nervous about any possible level of crime and some people are more blase about it, some people want to be within walking distance of bars so they don’t have to pay for ubers, and some people would really rather not be that close to nightlife!

    4. Anon for this*

      I lived in Arlington for a long time and loved it. There’ve been a lot of developments I left, so I can’t make specific recommendations, but it’s got lots of different neighborhoods with pros and cons as to commuting, walkability, price point, etc. You might find it worthwhile to work with a real estate agent. There are lots of townhouses etc that owners rent out (highly transient population, at least in normal times).

      Even thought I worked in DC and had friends who liked living in particular neighborhoods there, I preferred to live in Arlington. Lower taxes and car insurance, liked my neighborhood, had great city/county services (libraries, schools, recreational options). Enjoy your time there!

    5. blackcat*

      As a general tip, use the map from the listing and just do a google maps search for the typical commute times (transit or car, whichever you’re aiming for).
      You can easily live further out (~1hr commute, driving) from Arlington within that budget, but close in would be tough.
      You may also find that there are good options in duplexes. With two big dogs, I’d aim for living on the bottom of one, so that sound doesn’t bother your neighbors as much.

    6. OlympiasEpiriot*

      Truth in Advertising: I’m not in the DMV.

      But, I have a friend in Springfield who likes it a lot. Very close to Arlington. Include that in your real estate search area.

    7. I'm in Arlington*

      I’m actually in Arlington and can give recs, but it would be helpful to have more information about what you’re looking for. Is Rosslyn where you are commuting to each day or do you just need to get on the metro? Are you open to buses or other forms of public transportation. Do you need parking and/or covered parking? Do you want close to the nightlife on the orange line or in DC, or are you looking for something a little more sedate?

    8. Capsicum*

      Hi! Arlington person here. Your budget is a little tough but definitely doable – a lot will depend on your method of commuting, though. My recommendation during non-pandemic times would be to look along a bus line that goes straight to your office – check the ART (Arlington) buses as well as WMATA (metrobus). Rents decrease sharply as you go away from metro stops but (again, in non-pandemic times at least) the bus system is really reliable.
      TR’s Arlington Village suggestion is great. The Columbia Pike corridor in general might be a good option. You should also check Shirlington/Fairlington (lots of townhouses, awesome dog park). Stay away from Crystal City/Pentagon City, which still have hugely inflated rents due to Amazon plus a lot of soulless high-rises.
      If you can consider trading the second bathroom for a walkable commute, try Colonial Village between the Rosslyn and Courthouse metros. I have lived in the neighborhood for years and LOVE it. (You actually just missed the opportunity to rent our next-door neighbor’s house, which would have fit your specifications perfectly.) Across Rt 29 from us, the North Highland neighborhood has a bunch of lovely duplexes that come up for rent pretty often. And Alexandria would be a slightly longer commute, but you might also want to check the Del Ray/Braddock Rd areas.

      If you have any specific questions, feel free to let me know; we bought a townhouse here last year and I could talk Arlington real estate all day long. :)

  10. Aphrodite*

    Financial literacy.

    I have a stable job in higher education with fabulous benefits. I have no debt and some decent savings spread out among a money market account, a certificate, several specialized savings accounts (feline fund, fortuity fund, emergency fund, home fund, etc.), my retirement account through the state.

    I’ve been watching a show I stumbled across online, Till Debt Do Us Part. It’s appalling as well as interesting though not much of her advice is new to me. (I do like the jars.) But it’s occurred to me that there are lots of “gurus” promoting their financial knowledge and presumably, products. And I figured all the smart people here would have people or programs or blogs or websites that they thought are good for information. So what are your recommendations?

    1. SpottyArbuckle*

      I used to love Till Debt Do Us Part but then I do have a weird fascination with how other people manage their money! Depending on age I like the Financial Diet on YouTube but that’s geared toward millennials mostly, in that you might be beyond the life stages where their advice is relevant. Curious to see other good recommendations.

    2. Lady Heather*

      Financial Diet, Two Cents, The Money Guy Show.

      Financial Diet has a lot of “You should save and this is what you can save on” (very reasonable, not the ‘share a toothbrush with your roommate’ type).
      Two Cents has short, simple (fun!) explanations about how finances work, whether it is “should I have a car loan” or “what is a mutual fund”.
      The Money Guy Show is run by accountants/financial planners who have solid, in-depth advice with a lot of talk about how to have US tax laws work to your advantage.

      There’s also Dave Ramsey, who is not at all my thing – between “pick up a second job, what do you mean you are disabled and can’t” and “have you spoken to your pastor about this” I find him to be obnoxious, “poverty can be overcome by hard work” (even his advice on MLMs being “they only work if you work really really really hard), ableist and prostelyzing – but maybe that does resonate with you.

      1. Lady Heather*

        Except Dave Ramsey, none of these push products. (He pushes his get-out-of-debt class.)

        TMGS does ask that if you ever get rich enough to need a financial advisor, you consider giving them a call.

        None push investment products. (Two Cents and Financial Diet do have sponsors like budget apps, VPNs etc.)

      2. voyager1*

        I haven’t listened to Dave Ramsey in over a decade. But I do think his jam is getting people out of serious debt. I think he is good for that, however what happens after (ie investing etc.) he was very lacking in. I am not crazy about his religious angle.

        1. Kuododi*

          DH and I took the course together sometime ago. (Employee benefits where he was working at the time.). We are both clergy and we both found the evangelism heavy handed. We were able to find a number of helpful budgeting ideas we were able to incorporate into our way of life. The best part for us was it did help open communication regarding the topic of$$$ and budgeting. Kuododi

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I like Martin Lewis of Moneysavingexpert.com. It is a UK based website, but a lot of the information applies wherever you happen to be.

        An old series I found on YouTube, Spendaholics, also has some good ideas, such as rating potential purchases out of 10.

    3. CatCat*

      You Need A Budget for budgeting (even if you don’t use the YNAB software, the budgeting info is excellent).

      JL Collins’ for investing, especially his stock series. As far as I can tell, he doesn’t make money on that advice itself other than he turned the stock series into a book (same info as on the site), and there is clear advertising on his site like AAM has advertising.

      1. Spessartine*

        Big second to You Need A Budget! The software is great but you can 100% use a regular old spreadsheet to accomplish the same thing. The magic is in the method, not the software. It changed my life, no joke.

        1. Belgian*

          Thirding YNAB. Using the software has helped me save a lot of money and deal with big unexpected expenses.

    4. Dr. Anonymous*

      I’m fond of Trent Hamm’s writing on The Simple Dollar. He’s very thoughtful about frugality about finances and also about productivity and time management.

    5. fposte*

      I like bogleheads dot org. It’s a lot more high end than I am but there are plenty of people not making seven digits in the Bay Area, too.

      Just don’t go for any service you have to pay money to or invest money with.

    6. Arya*

      The Mad Fientist had a wonderful blog and podcast that breaks down financial strategies.

      I also recommend the sidebar on Reddit’s r/personalfinanace.

    7. Nickels, Dimes, and Quarters*

      It depends on your goals. I save like crazy (drawing the line at shared toothbrushes) in order to purchase assets. Primarily, I’m buying multi-family real estate for the rental income. Once I have enough units, I’ll quit my day job. If you’re not interested in that route, check out the book Quit Like a Millionaire.

      How you manage your money and where you choose to invest depends on what you want your future to look like and how soon you want it to start.


    8. Dan*

      I don’t really get into that stuff. As a whole, I’m not a fan of the consumer finance industry, mostly because everybody pushes their own spin on the same super basic concepts, and at the basic levels of money management, there’s not a lot of advice worth paying for beyond perhaps an initial consultation. I don’t begrudge people needing to make money, and I don’t think good advice necessarily has to be provided for free, but beyond the first gut check, there isn’t much *advice* worth paying for on an ongoing basis.

      I think what turns me off to most of it is that personal finance is just that, personal. The problem is that most consumer advice is targeted to the “average” person, and if you’re not average, then what?

      If you’re in debt, in order to get out of it, your revenue/income has to exceed expenses. It’s really that simple. It can help to have somebody point out where you’re spending lots of money/what can get cut back, but if you’re not willing/able to increase your income or change your spending habits, nothing’s going to change no matter who you pay.

      The most useful thing I do (for me anyway) is track my cash flow and do cash flow projections on an excel spreadsheet. It’s the only tool that I use. I do have a finance guy, but mostly for the customized advice that I need. (I live in an HCOL area with a lot of student loan debt, employed by a company who has one heck of a 401k match. The match is really high, and combined with the debt, really complicates the typical advice about the order in which certain “typical” milestones are achieved.) But I found tracking cash flow on a spreadsheet super useful, it really helps me figure out what I can/want to do with money after the regular stuff is taken care of.

      1. Rick Tq*

        I’m a tracker too. I typically have 3 months of income and expenses preloaded in Quicken with things like credit card payments set at our typical monthly run rate. Some utility bills come straight to checking, others go on a credit card (for the points) that is paid in full every cycle. I also preload our December and April property tax payments as soon as the statement comes in September.

      1. Aphrodite*

        Well, I feel comfortable but one never knows when something might happen in this unsettled environment. My job is secure but there is that tiny chance that if the virus is still wrecking havoc a year from now it might not be quite as stable.

        Thanks so much to everyone. I intend to look at all the recommendations and see if any would suit me.

    9. Dancing otter*

      These suggestions are for investing, not getting out of debt:

      If you want an investing education in a single volume, study Benjamin Graham’s “Security Analysis” (1934) or “The Intelligent Investor” (1949). The regulatory climate has changed, but the basics of analysis he explained are still valid. I think there may be an edition with an introduction by Buffett.

      Motley Fool ( www dot fool dot com) has a lot of free information. Don’t buy the newsletters unless you have a lot of money to invest, but get the free reports and read the introduction to investing articles. They also have guidelines for choosing a broker if you want to start investing directly, outside your 401K. They publish Warren Buffett’s annual pronouncements from the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting (and analysis of same), and those are always fascinating.

      Most brokerages offer some of their market education features for free, but be careful of the information you give them if you don’t want a deluge of solicitations to open an account.

      Also, if you have a 401K (or other self-directed retirement savings plan through your employer), take advantage of their educational materials. I think they ALL have some variation of the “How Much Do I Need to Save” interactive tools.

    10. Academia Anon for this*

      Since you are in state higher education, I would recommend that you see what financial literacy courses the company running your institution’s 403(b) offer. 403(b) is the equivalent to a 401(k) for education for those outside academia. My state has started pushing budgeting courses, which is a wee bit unsettling with how higher education is doing right now.

      In addition, expanding it a bit to retirement savings, investigate any matching beyond the automatic contribution. My state offers that if I put in $40/pay period into my 403(b), they will put in $20. Not a huge amount, but no where else are you going to get a 50% return immediately.

      In addition, if you are considered a state employee as well as in education, you can have a 457 account in addition to a 403(b). This means that you can contribute double the limits on contributions. Or maybe the 457 company has better funds than the 403(b). While it may seem unlikely that you will reach the limits, it is handy to have the knowledge.

      Also, check out any quirky policies that are floating around in the manual. My state has one where if you qualify on some basic things and voluntarily retire early, they will pay the employer portion of your medical insurance from 60-65. The reason is to get highly paid people to leave early. For many people, health insurance is the reason that they can’t retire early.

      Finally, if your institution has a business librarian that is worth their salt, email them and ask for recommendations. They will know of any business databases that might help you choose mutual funds or stocks and also probably have read most of the investing books. You may have free access to Morningstar Mutual Funds, Investext and more financial literacy books than you ever can read.

    11. Inefficient Cat Herder*

      Not a program or blog but I do recommend Michelle Singeltary in the WaPo. Straight forward, no-nonsense advice.

  11. SpottyArbuckle*

    I’d love to hear how or why you chose the town or city you live in. The reason? I can’t decide! I’ve lived all over the country and globe throughout my life and have no place that pulls me back there as being ‘home’ (both parents have passed and no close family left) which means that I’m often thinking ‘I might move there…but I might move here…oh what about this other place?!!’ because any time I have moved everything has been just fine. As I get older the process of moving is less exciting (how many brown boxes can you pack and unpack in your life) but where I live now was an accident and I’m looking for somewhere to put roots down. For the last few years I’ve been working toward a small coastal village that has some personal significance to me and now things are lining up to where this is a distinct possibility and I’m becoming very unsure about it! In the last year or so I’ve been travelling a lot (pre-corona) and spending time in big cities which remind me of why I liked living in those too. I’m single, late 30s, no ties anywhere….and have no idea (or too many ideas?) where to go next. So, AAM-ers, how did you choose where you live?

    1. Riley*

      I live in Vancouver, Canada. I grew up in Alberta which is very cold 8 months of the year so I was looking for a place that was a bit warmer. I also moved for school and so far haven’t left! It helps that my career industry (visual effects) is very big here. It’s close to nature (skiing, hiking, and beaches) which is my favourite part.

      I had thought about moving pre-corona because I have lived here almost 10 years and am growing a bit bored. Now that a lot of studios are moving towards being remote, I might make it happen!

    2. Amy*

      We live in a smallish coastal town that I really enjoy. We are here in large part because it’s in the middle of my husband’s and my opposite-direction commutes, but we chose this town over others nearby because it has a really sweet small-town feel in a region that generally feels pretty crowded and sprawling (San Francisco Bay Area). Prior to this we lived in the heart of Silicon Valley and we got so fed up with the terrible traffic, the insane cost of living, and everything being crazily overcrowded all the time (example: toddler storytime at the library was so oversubscribed you had to reserve tickets for it as soon as they became available on their website at the beginning of each month – like, click the button as soon as sales opened). Not to mention the palpable levels of stress and entitlement in the people around us.

      When we found this little town it was a breath of fresh air. They hold old-timey parades with tractors and marching bands on every holiday (in non-COVID times); you can drive downtown and have brunch on Saturday at 10am without hunting for a parking spot or standing on the sidewalk for 45 minutes (or even 5 minutes) waiting for a table; there are tons of free/cheap family and kids’ activities that are open to all; and there are parks everywhere. The adorable downtown is composed entirely of locally owned small businesses (chains are not allowed) and historic homes, and it has a weekly farmers market and a gorgeous waterfront area. Honestly, it’s such a gem. It’s not perfect – the COL is still pretty high, though not compared to the rest of the Bay Area, and it’s less diverse than I would prefer – but I would be happy settling down here long-term. That’s probably not going to happen for career-related reasons but it has been a wonderful place to live, particularly with small children.

      It really comes down to the lifestyle you’re looking for, but things I look for are a reasonable cost of living, the availability of outdoor spaces for recreation, a downtown area (especially restaurants) with some character, and a cohesive feel to the town. Nightlife is not important to us, but we’re probably in the minority.

      I hope you find what you’re looking for!

    3. KiwiApple*

      I live in Edinburgh, Scotland and I chose to move here because I was bored of the small city I’d grown up in and around. Edinburgh has better work opportunities, more events, more leisure, excellent transport links etc.

      I am hoping to move to NZ over the coming year and that’s because my partner is from there and he isn’t able to stay in the UK long term due to visa restrictions so it is hoped I can move over there with him (an already complicated situation made all the more due to covid!)

      Seaside towns (I grew up in one) can suffer over-tourism and can be slightly miserable off season but since you have a connection you probably know this and many seaside towns have managed to diversify themselves.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I grew up in central Michigan and moved to the Seattle area when I was 20. Got engaged to someone who wouldn’t consider living anywhere else right about the time I realized the weather there was terrible for my mental health. So when we separated I immediately started working on my return to the Midwest – I wanted to live somewhere that I had friends already, that had a decent COL, a large hospital system (that’s where my career background is), and was close enough to my hometown to visit easily, but not so close there would be any surprise dropping in. (My sibling had children and a tendency to demand last minute babysitting from my parents and I wasn’t interested in getting pulled into that dynamic, among other things.)

      I ended up in the Indianapolis area, and while I moved around a bit since I got here, I’m currently literally 3 hours by highway from my folks with exactly two turns on each end between house/highway. I just had my sixth anniversary working for the biggest hospital system in the state, the rain doesn’t make me cry anymore, and I’m married to and living with a couple of the friends who were on the pro list for moving here. :)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I also generally prefer suburbia to either a rural or in-city living experience. I don’t mind having to drive a couple minutes to things, but don’t want the grocery store to be a day-trip or to have to fight for parking when I get home again. Within ten minutes drive of my house, I have a mall, two movie theaters, a post office, a library (which is actually walking distance, if they ever finish the sidewalk that’s under construction), Target, Meijer, (a Walmart I never go to), Costco, Sam’s Club, Menard’s, Home Depot, Lowes, Ikea (!!), JoAnn’s, Michaels, Petsmart, Petco, a half dozen vets, a large hospital (not the one I work for – our nearest campus is 15 minutes), both dental and medical 24-hour urgent care centers, countless restaurants of a variety of price ranges and cuisine types including both chains and locally owned places, five gas stations with a sixth under construction. And our airport is about 35-50 minutes drive, depending on traffic. (I usually fly out dirt early, not much traffic at 3am :) )

        1. Dan*

          I’m finally getting to the point where I can think about buying property, and I’ve been thinking about where to do that. I went to college “in the city” and liked it, but for the last decade, have been renting out in the suburbs. As I started looking at things back in the city, I’ve realized that I’ve become enamored with the many of the trappings of suburban life, and moving back to the city isn’t quite the no-brainer I thought it may have been. I think what I really want to do is move to a closer-in suburb. One *big* turn off about the city itself where I would think about moving back to is that the residents there can’t vote for much.

          And Red Reader, I think last week we were talking about KA attachments. It was late when I got back to the thread, but the meat grinder attachment is super easy to clean. It rinses well and most of it is dishwasher safe, and it’s probably my favorite attachment.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Yep – in addition to all the stuff close by, I can drive into downtown and be in the main core within 30 minutes, plus they’re working on express bus lines from several of the suburbs into downtown over the next couple years.

            And awesome, re the meat grinder attachment – thank you!

      2. ThatGirl*

        Indy is underrated, honestly. I grew up in Fort Wayne and went to college in Greencastle and it’s a pretty cool smallish city. Lots of friends still in that area.

    5. PX*

      I lucked out with my current city (the job was here) but in hindsight it definitely has all the things that are important to me. So I would say given that you already seem to have some idea of the things that are important to you, evaluate any potential move against those. For me some criteria:
      – I rather like it if the city has some kind of water within it (river, canals, lake, sea)
      – Actual city conveniences, I’m lazy and like options of where to shop/eat
      – Reasonable amount of diversity in population
      – Cost of living, size of city (not too expensive, not too big)
      – As I get older, I’m also starting to think about livability. Is this somewhere I could live for 10-20 years? What kind of retirement/pension needs are available? What is the health system like?
      – Related to the above, do I already have any ties to this place? Can I make friends easily? Do I already have friends or some kind of people base already?

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        – I rather like it if the city has some kind of water within it (river, canals, lake, sea)
        – Actual city conveniences, I’m lazy and like options of where to shop/eat
        – Reasonable amount of diversity in population
        – Cost of living, size of city (not too expensive, not too big)

        All of these reasons are why I remain in downtown Cincinnati and didn’t move back east (I’m from outside of Philly). Though Cincy’s starting to go up in cost in the city proper (I swear, these people think this is NYC) – but there are still areas that are reasonably priced if you know where to look.

        Will I retire here? Probably not. I’d like to buy a condo downtown within the next five years, but we’ll see how my career progresses – I still have a ton of student loan debt to pay off first before I’d feel comfortable taking out a mortgage. For now though, I stay because my mom and her job are here, my brother and nieces live six hours away (though they’re moving back here shortly due to my brother’s new job in the city), and I don’t want to be away from my family. I want to be close enough to watch my girls grow up (I’m very close to my oldest niece and hope to have that same kind of relationship with the baby once she gets older).

        I could see myself eventually moving back east to retire. I’m an east coast girl to my core, and I miss Philly’s vibrancy.

    6. Ranon*

      We’re working on our up next city (which we expect to be a long term one) and our criteria are: weather (although not many people consider our up next city to have good weather we’ve tried “good” weather areas and we like seasons and winter better than endless summer), climate change impact predictions we think are liveable (no coasts, no drought prone areas with rapid population growth), climate change resilience planning by the local municipality, walkability/ bikeability, access to nature, particularly public land and job prospects (which means bigger city in our case).

      I’m extremely solar powered but also don’t want to live in a desert so our list got pretty compact pretty quickly.

    7. ThatGirl*

      I moved to the Chicago area because a) my boyfriend was up here and I wanted to marry him (and I did) b) Chicago was/is a way better job market than southern Indiana c) it was closer to my family and friends.

      As for what suburb, at first I moved for my job, but I realized jobs were gonna come and go, and my husbands job is in the opposite direction anyway. So when we were looking for a house we focused on what suburb do we want to live in? Is the neighborhood walkable? Is it accessible to major roads and highways? Does the town itself have any charm? Thankfully there are a lot of burbs to choose from and we really like the one we chose.

    8. Jennifer*

      My reasons were more practical than anything. Affordability, plus quality of life and weather. There are a lot of places that have great quality of life and weather but are wayyyyyyy out of my price range.

    9. Generic Name*

      I live near Denver, and I intend to stay here for the rest of my life. I’m originally from Omaha, but I spent summers in the Colorado mountains as a kid, so I had very good memories of Denver. I lived near Dallas for a long time before I moved here, and I just couldn’t take the heat anymore, and I was tired of always being a Yankee Outsider. (Texas is very provincial.) The deciding factors for me were the climate (Lots of sun, not too hot, love the snow), the size of the city- large enough to have lots to do but not a sprawling megatropolis, and it’s within a days drive of my parents. And there’s a ton of job opportunities for my industry. Denver tends to be the western hub for lots of the major players in my industry.

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        If I weren’t married to a Brit I think I’d move back to Colorado. I grew up there and I miss the weather!

    10. Jay*

      We live in Allentown, PA. We ended up here because I followed my husband to PA and didn’t find a job I liked in Philly, where he was working, so I took a job here (50 miles north) and for ten years we lived in between. The dual commute ceased working when our daughter was born and by that time we had a community up here, so we moved to Allentown in 2001. About ten years ago I realized I wanted to make a career change and we started to talk about moving. I’d love to live somewhere with better public transit, a larger and more diverse Jewish community, and closer to family and lifelong friends. But here’s the thing about Allentown: the COL is reasonable – especially the cost of housing – and neither of us has ever had a significant commute. We both had Big Jobs at that point and the only reason it worked was that we weren’t spending our lives getting to and from work. Anywhere I would have preferred to live – the DC area, near NYC, Chicago, the SF Bay Area – would have meant spending three to four times as much on housing and one or both of us traveling an hour to work.

      We thought about it again when he retired and we started to plan for my retirement. Our daughter goes to college in CA and has no intention of moving back east. After a lot of discussion, we’ve decided to stay here. I’d be perfectly happy moving into a townhouse or apartment, but my husband needs a yard to work in, so we’d be looking at increasing our housing costs after retirement, which is not appealing. With the money we don’t spend on housing, we can rent an apartment for part of the winter and go visit her. We’ve made this house exactly what we want, and we’ll stay here unless we get to the point where we need a first-floor master.

      1. Jay*

        The downside: we’re a pale blue dot in a very red countryside – as in white supremacist cells, Confederate flags, militia members. We’re pretty far left politically for the US. In the current political climate, we’ve second-guessed our decision….but we’re still here.

    11. Richard Hershberger*

      I live in a semi-rural semi-exurban county seat in Maryland. I was living in Philadelphia, which I very much like. Then I met a Maryland girl. Whatcha gonna do? This probably doesn’t apply to you.

      Of all the places I have lived, the two most objectively nice are Santa Barbara (a medium sized city on the coast in California) and Flagstaff, in northern Arizona (and not at all like what you think of Arizona being like). Both are expensive, with limited employment opportunities. Beyond that, I have lived in big cities (Pittsburgh and Philadelphia) and very small villages in the country. Both have their attractions. It depends on finances and personal taste.

    12. NaoNao*

      I’m in Denver and have been for 7 years.

      I was repatriating to the US from overseas after 3 years. I wanted an adventure and to move forward, so I decided not to move back to my hometown. To be perfectly frank, I also returned to the US with the express idea that I wanted to get serious about a long term life partner and therefore wanted to choose a “target rich environment”.

      My sister and her spouse lived in Denver (and still do) and she sold it to me and was super on board, sending me apartment listings and so on. They both helped a lot—they got me a little pay as you go phone, drove me around, put me up for a few days while I apartment searched, and helped me move to my new place.

      I chose somewhere that felt like a mix between a new adventure with roots. If you have something similar—a place that’s appealing that has 1-3 friends, a family member, an alma mater, etc, maybe that’s a good starting point.

      1. SpottyArbuckle*

        The ‘target rich environment’ is one of the things making me rethink moving to a tiny village (I’d still like to meet someone and ideally have children)! I have to ask….did it work for you?! The joys of singledom in your 30s…

    13. Roja*

      My husband and I went through this process and moved to our chosen city last summer. It’s worked out great so far; we love it here. We made a list of everything we needed (healthy job markets for both of us, low COL since neither of us makes a lot in our fields, walkable/bikeable neighborhoods, good transit), and things we really wanted (a day’s drive of family and/or good airport, good parks system). Frankly, that only left 2-3 cities, and we just picked which one’s vibe we liked the best.

      You may find a sweet spot if you find a small town outside of a large city, or a neighborhood inside a city. We live in the latter, and although it’s definitely urban, it has that community feel that one associates with smaller towns.

      1. Roja*

        Oh, I should add too, include things you don’t particularly care about because there’s always tradeoffs. For us, that was crime rate, since I’ve lived in very high crime areas before.

        One thing I forgot to add to the earlier list is weather and natural disasters, which a lot of people wouldn’t put on their “need” list but we did. We both hate the heat and didn’t want to be always dealing with fires and hurricanes and tornados (been there, done that) again.

        We picked Cleveland, OH for what it’s worth. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s our cup of tea.

    14. Seal*

      I’ve lived in the Upper Midwest for most of my life, with exception of living in a college town in the Deep South for a decade. I moved to the college town when I took a job at the university there. While it was a good move career-wise, I never truly felt at home there. Aside from being so far away from my family, surprisingly the biggest thing I missed was the weather. I absolutely HATED the long, hot, humid summers and mild, brown winters. I missed having actual seasons and living in a place that knew how to deal with snow (although I will admit to enjoying the half dozen snow days we got every winter when the university shut down at the sight of a single snowflake).

      A few year ago I moved back to the Upper Midwest for a different job and am SO much happier here! The beautiful summers offset the harsh winters, I do not experience culture shock every other day, and I live within driving distance of my family. Although I expect to be job hunting again soon (new job and new university are not handling the pandemic well), I will not look outside the Upper Midwest again. This is home.

    15. Not My Money*

      I always wanted to work in the movies so we moved to Los Angeles and now that I do work in the movies we’re stuck here because my health insurance requires it. Luckily we were able to travel for work and live in a lot of different places (pre-Covid) but it sucks to have to maintain a residence in a city I don’t care for (way too crowded) in order to keep my benefits.

    16. Jaid*

      I was born and raised here. I spent time in some rural places, but Philly has everything and what it doesn’t have, is available in a couple of hours drive.

      1. Return again*

        I’m moving back to the Philly area in a month (grew up in Bucks) after thinking “oh, I’ll never move back up there!”. I’ve lived in a small college city and a mid-sized college city in the upper South. I’m actually excited about the move (beyond the driving factor of being with family). Real good sized rivers! Great parks! Cool neighborhoods! I’ll be sure to ask for neighborhood considerations once I have a job so I can figure commuting distances…

    17. Anonymous Educator*

      Spouse and I lived in the Bay Area but couldn’t afford to stay. We also came down to LA all the time to go to Disneyland (not in LA but nearby) and do LA stuff, so we figured we might as well move down to LA, so we did. I’m guessing you don’t have a single place you keep getting drawn back to, though.

    18. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I was born and raised in NYC in one of the boroughs. I loved it until I didn’t. Weve lived in Brooklyn and the Bronx. We started thinking about moving about 2 months ago to another state but couldn’t figure out where. Neither of us has immediate family here and we both wanted a nicely built house, his job is remote and I had none. The only “anchor” was that it had to be within a 10 hour drive to Toronto where his family lives. We eventually settled on NJ, as it was far enough away (houses come with parking spots!!!!!) for us to find something affordable but close enough to Manhattan in case I ever go to work.

    19. Tau*

      I’ve lived in ten different cities in three – four if you count England and Scotland separately – countries over the course of my life. (OK, for two of them I was too young to remember much, but still.) I’m currently in Berlin, and this is the first one I’m really thinking to stay in long-term. Reasons are several:

      – career. Berlin and Munich are *the* places to be in Germany for my career (software developer), and jobs in Berlin are more heavily slanted towards a culture that I like (more international, more informal, a little start-up-y even when they’re not actual start-ups). I’m kind of tired of switching towns every time I switch jobs, and it’s way too early in my career for me to settle down in a single job yet. Living in Berlin allows me to do that while still being picky about the jobs I take.
      – queerness. It would be cool if I had the option to date eventually, and I have a super-minority orientation that shrinks my dating pool to where it probably doesn’t even deserve to be called a puddle. I’m also flaky to manage online dating. If I want to have a partner one day, I basically have to live in an LGBT-friendly metropolis so that I have a chance at in-person meetup groups with compatible people. Even if I don’t find a partner, life gets lonely and it’d be nice to have in-person friends in my community.
      – disability stuff. I have executive function type problems that result in problems getting out of the house. It is very, very important to me to live in a place where I have shops, cafes, grocery, etc. in easy walking distance because the more barriers between those and me the bigger a problem going there is. Similarly, it is super helpful for me to have a wide array of meetup groups and the like for socialising.
      – Germany. I spent a lot of time living in foreign countries – a good chunk of my childhood and my entire adult life up my early thirties – but I realised that I start missing bits and pieces of German culture, food, etc. a lot (I’d get so homesick around Advent every year) and I get squirrely if I’m only ever speaking my native language on the phone or when visiting my family. Also, I was living in the UK when the Brexit vote happened, and the aftermath of that made me reeeaaally reluctant to set down roots in a country as an immigrant, EU or not EU.

      That said, after my nomadic life so far it is a weird feeling to consider staying in one place FOREVER. I’m still toying with the idea of finding a job in Spain for a few years in order to really practice my Spanish. But at this point I’m willing to say that even if I move somewhere else, I will likely move back to Berlin eventually. It’s the first time that’s ever happened.

    20. HannahS*

      Interestingly, Toronto was chosen for me by The Mighty Algorithm (a.k.a The Match) which spits out assignments for graduating medical students–you apply and rank where you want to go, sign a contract that says you’ll go where you’re sent, and then one day you’re told where you’re going to live for all of residency. It’s a bizarre and stressful process. I like it here, though! It has a lot of strengths:
      -good job markets for myself and my husband
      -large, varied Jewish community
      -walkable (in parts), good transit system (in parts)
      -lots to do (usually): arts, culture, festivals
      -diverse, progressive
      -nature is accessible in the form of parks and the waterfront
      Its weaknesses are the high COL, crowds, noise, and lack of space, like all big cities. I find the summer heat pretty brutal, too–the lake makes it incredibly humid. We’ll be staying here for a while, as our plans to have children will mean that my training will easily last seven or eight years. We may ultimately want more room and quiet, and then move somewhere like Ottawa.

    21. Seeker of truth and light and grilled cheese*

      I moved from Midwest to WA state for college and never looked back. When I got to Seattle my soul said “I’m home!”. Finally, a place that is (normally) only hot for a couple weeks of summer! A winter full of gray rainy days! My skin disease finally healed, my allergies decreased, I can finally manage my sun exposure, life is good here for me.

      It is too expensive here but I cannot leave, my body would revolt.

    22. Chai life*

      Don’t forget to include available healthcare in your considerations. I love where I live but our healthcare choices are nonexistent. As I get older that’s becoming a problem. It’s hours driving to get to a big city with medical options.

  12. WoodswomanWrites*

    I posted here recently asking about the FODMAP diet since my bloating had gotten so bad. Now I know why I wasn’t having the discomfort others report with digestive sensitivities–after an appointment with my gastroenterologist, it turns out that I have a hernia. That explains why my belly has gotten so distended that it looks like I’m pregnant. My gastroenterologist and primary care doctor have affirmed that this isn’t a critical medical issue and it’s up to me how I want to respond. To fix it requires surgery, and I’m certainly not going anywhere near a hospital in the middle of a pandemic.

    Have others had experiences with hernia surgery? It’s just a general comfort issue and not time-sensitive. I’ve had major surgeries that were a much more intense While this one seems simpler, I know that any kind of surgery can become a big deal. I welcome perspectives.

    1. KeinName*

      Sorry, no advice, just a thank you for the update. I‘d never have been able to guess this as the reason for the bloating. Hope you are able to have the surgery soon.

    2. Jen Erik*

      My husband did – it was done as a day procedure. Because he is an absolute idiot he walked home afterwards. (Do not recommend – I was so cross – but just to make the point that, for him, it really was a very minor op,) I think there were restrictions – he couldn’t drive for a couple of weeks, or lift anything, but it wasn’t a huge deal.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Good to hear stories of an easy recovery. And I’ll make sure to get a ride and not walk!

    3. KoiFeeder*

      Woah! I don’t have any experience with hernia surgeries, but good luck! I always thought hernias were excruciatingly painful, I didn’t realize you could just… have one.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I know what you mean. I was surprised. This one has been around for a long time, and because I’d had a sensitivity in the past to some fruits, I thought it was just more of the same. It gradually got larger to the point where I realized something else must be going on.

    4. SP*

      I had hernia surgery a few years ago – mine was relatively urgent as I had to go to the ER in an ambulance multiple times for it. It was a day procedure, in and out. I definitely needed to take it easy for a couple of weeks afterwards – no lifting things for awhile. I was on mat leave at the time, but if I hadn’t, I would have expected to be off work for a solid 2 weeks, I imagine. Anyways, super glad to have done it!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Surgery and maternity at the same time. Yowza. Glad to hear about your positive experience.

        1. Observer*

          That’s not surprising – for women, pregnancy and childbirth tends toe exacerbate certain types of hernia.

    5. Scouty D*

      I don’t have any advice for hernia surgery, but don’t delay the surgery *only* because of Covid. The hospitals near us (I work in a dr’s office in an area that used to be a hotspot) are requiring a negative Covid test within 72 hours of your procedure. You’re only allowed one person with you, and they cannot leave the hospital once they’ve entered. They also have a dedicated OR for Covid positive patients so that they are away from the rest of the hospital. Good luck! I hope you’re able to get some relief soon!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I appreciate the perspective. I had a CT scan for diagnosis and both of my doctors said this is an elective surgery, and that some people choose not to have it. I know that for me, I don’t want to continue with a belly like a bowling ball indefinitely but there is no rush. Right now, even my doctors are only going into their facility in person if needed. While the scan was in person, I had video calls to discuss what was going on before and after. If this were medically urgent, I wouldn’t put it off.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          I should clarify. My doctors didn’t call it “elective” surgery. They said I could live with it for as long as I’m comfortable, wrong word there for my post.

    6. RagingADHD*

      A friend of the family had to have his repaired twice in quick succession, and the recovery period was much worse than he expected.

      But a) He is well past retirement age, so recovery would naturally be slower, and

      b) He did not follow any of his discharge instructions, and started right back to his hobbies immediately after the first surgery. His hobbies include terraforming his yard, building & repairing things at his church, and other types of manual labor.

      So like, don’t do that.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I’ve had plenty of experience with surgeries, nothing life-threatening fortunately. I made the mistake of too much activity too soon once–young and assumed I was immortal–and I know better now and will follow the instructions for recovery. I’m lucky that I have good insurance, paid sick time, and an accommodating workplace so I can take whatever time I’ll need. Unless I’m not feeling well before then, I imagine I’ll schedule the surgery for next year.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Just to echo RagingADHD, take it easy and follow your body. Everybody heals at their own pace, and your body will always tell you what pace that is. I was told that by an Ortho Surgeon when I was a teen – and have taken it with me since as very good advice.

    7. Jaid*

      Oh, wow. My Mom has a hernia too large to operate on, so she eats very little to avoid discomfort. She’s fine with it, but yeah. Please don’t let it get to that point! You may be missing out on nutrients.

    8. MsChanandlerBong*

      I am glad you found out what it is. I read your post with interest, as I have also been having bloating so bad that I look like I am about seven months’ pregnant at times. I also wonder if I have a hernia, as I have what looks like a bulge in my abdomen, right around where I had laparoscopic surgery a few years ago. I’m going in for testing at the end of the month, so we’ll see!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I’m glad to hear you’re getting checked out. I hope everything works out well for you.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          Thank you. I told my husband yesterday that if I have a problem that needs to be fixed, I am going to be mad, because I’ve been telling doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants for three years now that something isn’t right. They keep telling me, “You already have enough problems; let’s not go looking for more.” I had one ER doctor order an abdominal scan once, but then his attending canceled the order, so I never got it. The last time someone told me not to go looking for problems, I had a ureteral blockage that needed to be stented, but it went undiagnosed for several months, pushing me into acute kidney failure and causing me to develop hydronephrosis. So you can imagine how happy I am when someone tells me not to go looking for problems, lol.

          1. Observer*

            What about “You have so many problems that we had better find and fix anything we can”? Is your medical team as stupid as they sound, or is this just an outlier?

          2. WoodswomanWrites*

            That is terrible to hear. I made a video appointment with my gastroenterologist and showed him what I look like. I was scheduled for a CT scan two days later, and he emailed me the next day with my diagnosis and invited a phone call.

            I’m sorry you’ve had so much difficulty with the practitioners you’ve seen. I hope you can find a more responsive medical team, and that things turn out well for you.

    9. CastIrony*

      I had a close co-worker get hernia surgery once. I don’t know much, except he was sore, and his job required heavy lifting (a no-no while recovering!) that our bosses didn’t do much for him for, if at all.

    10. Observer*

      You probably want to get that hernia repaired. Hernias tend to not be emergencies – till they suddenly ARE, and then you can wind up with emergency surgery. The thing is that you are already having symptoms, so in any case, you want to watch this very carefully.

      Based on your description, you probably have a hiatal hernia. The surgery for that is going to be a bit different from the surgery for iguanal or umbilical hernias (which are the most common kind.) So, when you do your research focus in on that.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        You know your stuff. I have both a hiatal hernia, diagnosed a few years ago with my symptoms taken care of with weight loss, and an umbilical hernia. Lucky me. It’s the latter that I’m going to get surgery for when it feels safer to do so.

        1. Observer*

          Umbilical hernia is a pretty straightforward procedure, and really should be in and out. But please do take care of it. They can go along and go along and then suddenly BOOM. In the meantime, taking care with what you do can be helpful. (Like no lifting, take it easy with stretches, etc.)

    11. Chaordic One*

      A close male relative had hernia surgery (but I think it is a bit different for men than women). Anyway, they used some kind of mesh and he says that from time to time he’s still sore “down there” after more than 4 years. He thinks the mesh is bumping into other things “down there”. He complained to his doctor and the doctor didn’t seem to think it was important.

      1. Observer*

        Please tell your relative to follow up, with another doctor if necessary. There have been issues with mesh in the past, so it’s worth checking out.

  13. MistOrMister*

    I was playing with the idea of a move to Canada (from the US) and after looking at their government website on how to get citizenship, I am completely perplexed. It looks like you need to already have a job so you can be a permanent resident or get a work visa. I feel like I’m missing something. Don’t people just move on a whim all the time? Any advice for how one would go about this sort of move?

    1. KiwiApple*

      I can’t speak to US/Canada but here in the UK it does seem like loads of people just come over here to work. However, I would guess that a large majority of these people are 30 or under and can take advantage if a working holiday visa (some countries have a whv til 35). Otherwise yes, it can be difficult to do unless your (work) skill is in demand or you are a partner/dependent of a citizen of the country you want to move to.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        Canada is a nightmare to immigrate to unless you had tons of cash, a job literally no one else can do or family.

        My aunt has a PhD is speech pathology. The amount of government paper work almost bordered on not worth it. It was that bad. She wasn’t married, and had no family to sponsor her.

        But now she’s living on Victoria Island, so I guess it worked. Lol…

        Canada has always been hard. My aunt left the US in 1988, not much has changed.

      2. Dinoweeds*

        Yikes – that seems like an over the top response to a nicely phrased question, which is definitely not “the epitome of privilege.”. As an American with no interest in moving, I have been on the receiving end of Facebook ads talking about how easy it is to immigrate to Canada so it makes sense that folks can be confused about how hard that might be to accomplish.

      3. MistOrMister*

        Oookay, I was just saying that it seems like people move on a whim all the time. Not just people from the US wanting to go to Canada, I mean people relocating anywhere.
        I am finding it is a lot more difficult than expected, which is why I asked for advice.

        1. Adrienne Oliver*

          Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it seems. Most of the countries will only give you a work visa if you have a highly sought after skill set that they can’t source locally. Of course if you are part of the European Union you can freely move and work but most companies have the expectation that you are fluent in the local language. So there is that. I’m a US citizen who worked in Germany for about ten years and it was super helpful that I speak fluent German and the local dialect due to having a German mother. That opened doors for me that otherwise would have remained closed.

    2. Scc@rlettNZ*

      Unless you are moving to a country that has a reciprocal arrangement that allows each other’s citizens to freely live and work there (e.g. Australia/New Zealand or the European Union countries) then you’ll need a work permit or visa that allows you to work.

      Many countries have 12-24 month work visas for people under 30. If you don’t fall into that category then you might be able to immigrate if your profession is considered a skill in short supply.

      I’ve moved countries several times, and roamed all over the world but even if it was on a whim, I still had to get the appropriate work visa first.

    3. Quandong*

      International moves are complex and even more so during a global pandemic. Perhaps you haven’t thought about this before?

      Stringent immigration controls exist for nations other than the USA! This is not new.

    4. Asenath*

      No, people don’t move to Canada on a whim, not unless they want to come in on a tourist visa and stay illegally, working under the table. Which is NOT a good idea. The immigration system is very complex, and the rules change frequently and apply differently to different classes of people – refugees, people who might or might not be accepted under family reunification rules, people with lots of money to invest, people who have already been offered a job by a business who knows how to get a work visa for them (which does, or did, involve proving to the company that there’s no Canadian who could do the job), and so on. Just crossing the border on a whim and working is, um, not going to happen legally. Moreover, right now, there are COVID restrictions which vary by province. We’ve had a couple of situations in the past couple of weeks involving people who DID have the right to work here temporarily, but had to comply with rules – COVID testing before they left the US and after they arrived here, and members of the public questioned whether or not they would do/had done two weeks isolation on arrival. This isn’t a situation in which you can ignore the rules and expect no one to notice.

    5. Grasshopper*

      No, people do not move on a whim all the time. Immigration is (unfortunately!) difficult, complex and challenging. You don’t get in just because you feel like it. I have a French friend who emigrated to Canada and even with the language etc. it was a hard and exhausting process that took years.

      There are numerous websites that can guide you through the intricacies of the admin and legalities. The Canadian Government website has a very clear guide. If you are highly skilled in a field that is in short supply there you might be lucky and get in through Express Entry. If not, it will be very difficult.

    6. 2QS*

      Canadian here who lived in the U.S. for several years. I have to say I completely understand this misconception. I think it’s more “out of date” than “fundamentally misguided”. My upbringing had a ton of American adults in it, and I assume most of them came up here in the 1960s and 1970s when things were more fluid. Before then, I had settler ancestors on one side who straddled the border in the 19th century. They simply walked back and forth as they felt like it, and settled on whichever side ended up working for them. Now the family is split in two. Nonetheless, on the American side, there are still always public figures (and others) threatening to move to Canada (from any part of the political spectrum, even the end that is not well represented up here). And from this side of the border, there is often a quiet sense of feeling superior to the U.S., or at the very least presenting a compelling alternative. So I’ve watched Canadians eagerly spur on individual Americans who express interest in moving here out of nothing. A bit of a feedback loop.

      From what I’ve seen, the non-Canadians who have managed this have done one of several things:

      • Marry a Canadian. It’s hard to make this work even as a committed long term relationship. In one case, I watched a pair of friends in a relationship struggle so much with the border dividing them that they simply went and tied the knot legally. (In another case, one of the partners kept crossing the border to get yet another tourist visa until the pair married. That must have been exhausting.)

      • Get a highly skilled or highly in demand job here. This is a hard one to make work from abroad; job searching from a distance is already tough, and there are anti “brain drain” measures that often mean Canadian candidates are the priority for jobs (all else being equal). And because a lot of the government jobs require citizenship. One thing that might help is developing high-ranking French skills, because some of the jobs demand bilingualism in the official languages of the country.

      • Education-to-job. This might actually be the most realistic strategy. Enroll in a master’s program, get a student visa. A long-term address on this side of the border helps with local job searching, as does a qualification from a Canadian university. Most of the people my age (thirties) who are from the U.S. and living and working here arrived this way and have stayed.

      • Cross the border as a refugee. Dangerous and unlikely to be looked upon sympathetically if your citizenship is American, at a guess. But it happens. Canada did recently rule that refugees are not necessarily safe in the U.S. (took long enough).

      • Have an obscene amount of money and some politician friends in high places (think white collar criminals, even non Canadians). Requires toxic affluenza.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Yeah, moving internationally is not done on a whim unless you happen to have more than one citizenship or residency permit (other than moving back home to your own country). I’ve done it more than once, but it was job related (STEM academia). Look at it this way – if it were easy to move to a new country and work, illegal immigration wouldn’t be an issue.

        To expand a bit on the approaches:

        Student visa: these are common, but you have to be accepted into a program of study, *and* you have to demonstrate that you have the financial resources to support yourself, either cash in the bank, or a scholarship. Student visas don’t generally let you work, with a few exceptions (like working as a TA as a graduate student).

        Work Visa: there are a couple of work visa approaches. One is to have a skilled in demand job where your employer is willing and able to sponsor you for a visa. You need the job before you get the visa, and the visa is tied to the job (but there is potential to change to a longer term visa). Another is to come in to do low paid but essential work for less pay than the locals are willing to accept (think nanny, elder care, migrant farm work, that sort of thing). Keep in mind that most employers are not interested, or necessarily able, to sponsor a work visa – they need a reason to hire a foreigner over a local.

        Family: only do this if you’re genuinely in such a relationship. Fake marriages for visa purposes (like a green-card marriage in the US) are frowned on, and they do check. If you have a relative who is already in Canada, they can attempt to sponsor you.

        For more general immigration, there’s a complex set of eligibility requirements. You might want to talk to an immigration lawyer to figure out options.

        1. Valancy Snaith*

          Canadian student visas will let you work, but not to the point where you can support yourself. Mine had the stipulation that I could work, at maximum, 20 hours per week during the school year and 40 hours per week during vacations, which is enough to help float you along but certainly not enough to pay international tuition plus costs of living. There are also restrictions on the type of work you can do, notably that sex work (including stripping) is explicitly not allowed.

        2. Asenath*

          If you’re studying a very in-demand field, you can come to Canada on a student visa, and if you successfully graduate and are offered a job, apply for permanent resident status from within the country. Or you could last time I knew someone who did this. In any case, this doesn’t happen all that often because, well, there aren’t that many fields like that, they’re hard to get into, and prospective employers often want proper residency status FIRST because they don’t want to offer you the permanent, full-time job while you’re on a student visa, and then find out that its going to take months or years for you to finish the application process, and you might be turned down anyway. While you can work when you’re on a student visa, the amount of work you can take on is pretty limited since after all, you’re supposed to be a full-time student.

      2. American Student*

        Also for the education-to-job option, you have to stay after graduation for to receive the immigration benefit. I attended a Canadian university and I had 90 days after graduation to find a job that would sponsor my work visa or I had to leave. I ended up leaving and now having a Canadian degree doesn’t change anything for me, immigration-wise.

    7. immigration*

      This post makes me think of all the refugees and asylum seekers languishing in various places around the world…clearly not easy to move to a new country – that’s what they are trying to do.

      1. Asenath*

        There are special rules for refugees. They’re not perfect rules, but they are less stringent that the rules for ordinary would-be immigrants. During the last big influx of refugees, there were groups of people all across the country who raised money and agreed to be a resource for a refugee family for a full year – all legal and government-approved – as well as access through the more traditional government program for refugees.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Do people move on a whim — sometimes, yes, but not usually across international borders. That’s generally a thing that involves consideration and an unholy ton of paperwork and requirements.

    9. Valancy Snaith*

      Uh. No. I immigrated from the US to Canada and it took years and marrying my husband to do so. And it was expensive. People absolutely do not move countries on a whim.

      If you’re actually serious about it (given that the border is closed for the foreseeable future, thankfully) investigate the immigration website for in-demand jobs and see if you can find a Canadian company to extend you an offer. Or you can investigate some of the other ways to move, like the Express Entry. But you’re not missing something. Canada is a sovereign country, not just a place for Americans to move whenever they feel like it.

      1. blaise zamboni*

        Out of curiosity, if you happen to know the answers… If you do find an in-demand job that is willing to sponsor you, you still have to live there for a while before you can apply for citizenship, right? In that in-between time, are you able to bring your family if they’re also not Canadian citizens? Are they able to work?

        Immigration is incredibly complex and a very long process. I’ve looked at a dozen other countries I’d prefer to live in and the chances that I’ll ever get there is depressingly slim. I wish we could just do it on a whim, but that’s only an option for extremely lucky people.

        1. purple trees*

          Yes, if you are sponsored on a work visa, you can bring members of your family. Whether or not they are able to work is more complex, but if you are a permanent resident (equivalent to green card in the US), the answer is probably, but only after some time. But if you sponsor family members you remain financially responsible. So, if you sponsor your spouse, but then they divorce you, you are financially responsible for them. I haven’t looked recently, but it used to be for 10 years.

        2. Valancy Snaith*

          Yes. Basically it’s a long-term process where if you find a job willing to sponsor you, you can work in Canada for some time before you’re eligible to apply for permanent residency. Applying for PR took me about 17 months, start to finish. Then you have to be a PR for a minimum of three years before you can apply for citizenship, which is another 12-18+ month process. So moving to Canada does not mean citizenship is around the corner, it’s still several years away.

          Currently CIC states that you may only sponsor your family to come to Canada if you are a PR or citizen. Now, I think if might be different if you received a job offer and were wanting to bring along a spouse and minor children, but I have no experience with that, so I can’t say.

    10. Glomarization, Esq.*

      > whim

      Nope. When I moved myself and Mr. Glomarization to Canada from the U.S. it took a few years of planning, over $10,000 in immigration fees and relocation logistics costs, and the lucky circumstance that one of us was already a dual Canada-U.S. citizen. And also an understanding that we need to find at least a thousand dollars whenever we want to go back to the States to see family and friends, even for a short visit. International moves are no joke and nobody makes them on a whim.

    11. Violets are blue*

      Even within the EU (or the Schengen area where there’s no border control) as an EU citizen, you don’t just move to another country without any paperwork. Permanent stay has its own set of requirements. Getting citizenship is even harder. I’m not saying it’s as complex as moving between the US and Canada (because that’s one lengthy process) but you cannot do it on a whim if you want to stay more than 6 months and don’t get a job within that period.
      I’m curious: what are the language requirements for Canadian citizenship? (I realize I can just google this.)

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        Canadian citizenship requires you be able to be reasonably comfortable in either English or French if you are between the ages of 18 and 54. You must be able to prove to an immigration official that you can express yourself in English or French.

        There are other requirements for different immigration and visa programs, some of which require that you demonstrate English or French proficiency via a test, but citizenship itself is a fairly low bar, language-wise.

        1. Violets are blue*

          Thank you! So it is either English or French. Interesting. I was wondering if it’d be both but I don’t think that’s the case very often in countries with multiple official languages.

      2. Tau*

        …I never actually realised this, probably because I moved to the UK (in pre-Brexit days) for university and then just stayed there afterwards. Now I’m wondering if I missed filling out some forms somewhere along the line. /o\

        But yeah – intra-EU moves are the closest I can think of re: people moving internationally on a whim. Or if you’re in a highly specialized or in-demand area – I work as a software developer and we have loads of people from non-EU countries who seem to have ended up in Germany mainly by coincidence, and many (most?) academics will move internationally to follow their job.

        1. Tau*

          Although it’s worth noting even the specialized/in-demand areas often end up like “hey, there’s a great job open here, how would you like to live in Germany?” rather than picking and choosing your country. One guy I worked with (from Venezuela, IIRC) told me that he’d gotten really in-depth in his French course because he was expecting to land a job in France, and then he got an offer in Berlin and oh, whoops, guess you have to switch to beginner’s German now.

    12. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      It’s a very common misconception that you can easily move to another country. I suspect that because Americans don’t need a visa to travel to many common tourist destinations we don’t think about these issues much.

      As an immigrant myself (US to UK) I can tell you that the process can be very expensive, complex, and not guaranteed to succeed. Especially at the moment, when many countries are dominated by anti-immigrant sentiment, it is even more difficult than it was even 15 years ago.

    13. Almost Academic*

      My partner and I are in the middle of trying to figure out how/if we can move to Canada for a short term at the moment, before deciding whether we want to settle there permanently eventually (partner is a Canadian-US dual-citizen, I’m a US citizen). We’re contemplating a short move at this point, and we’re already probably a few thousand dollars into immigration lawyer fees just to make sure we’re not messing up future chances at PR for me if we do a short-term stay now / figure out how to have our best shot at making it into the country together given the COVID border rules. It’s not easy despite what most Americans think. Keep in mind that if you’re a US citizen, there is a bunch of nasty tax paperwork that goes along with a move to a foreign country and you’ll likely be paying double taxes unless you renounce your US citizenship.

      Some countries are easier than Canada to get into, so might look into there. In general, rich western countries are harder to move to since so many people want to go there. I’ve moved and lived in France and the UK in the past, and easiest way for sure to do these sorts of moves is 1. Work for a multinational company that takes care of sponsorship paperwork for you; or 2. be enrolled in a student / degree program and plan on leaving the country afterwards anyways. In short, it’s generally an unholy and expensive amount of work to move permanently or get a work visa. Student visas are usually easier to go between countries, especially if you are young and have US citizenship, but you still need to show that you have the financial independence to support yourself to an absurd degree over the course of your studies.

      1. Natalie*

        Most US expats do not pay double taxes – they can exclude foreign earned income up to a certain threshold or take a tax credit for whatever foreign taxes they pay. The filing is fairly complex, though.

        1. Tau*

          Yeah, filing my US taxes has actually resulted in a net plus of money for me, but… the filing. The filing. Why does the US do this to people, my god, the only other country in the world with citizenship-based tax requirements is Eritrea. I am happy to go without the economic stimulus check in order not to have to do the filing.

          (…I’m happy to go without the economic stimulus check in general, I still don’t understand why on earth they didn’t exclude US citizens residing in foreign countries. Still figuring out if there’s some US charity I can donate to that will count under German charity law so I don’t have to pay German taxes on the thing.)

          And it’s worth noting that the filing burden, and the chance you’re going to be paying double taxes of some sort, goes up strongly the more complex your financial situation is. If you’re a freelancer, if you get money from investments or renting property or the like… maybe talk to an accountant first if you’re thinking of going international. A lot of the easy options (hello form 2555 my old friend) only work if you get all your money from a fairly standard employer/employee relationship.

    14. Gatomon*

      No, you really need to have a job or basically a very close family tie like marriage. I grew up in southeastern Michigan and marriages for immigration purposes to either place were certainly whispered about.

      I have a friend who did get into Canada to be with someone, but the paperwork was so complicated and kept getting “lost” in turns by the US and Canada that they ended up just marrying their SO. It’s been a decade plus so I’d say that’s worked out (hah), but they actually came back to the US because they were struggling so much in their area of Canada financially. Now it’s looking like they’re heading back across the border, partially because of the situation here, but also because one of them has been diagnosed with some chronic health issues and the health care system up north would be better for them. They’ve probably spent thousands alone on lawyers to help with the immigration systems and it’s certainly not a fast process.

    15. Koala dreams*

      No, people don’t move on a whim all the time, most countries have a lot of rules about immigration, with different processes depending on the reason for the move: work, investment, study, family, asylum…
      There are some programmes to make it easier, such as exchange student programmes or working holiday visas. I’m not aware of any programmes for easy and quick citizenship.
      A lot of people think it’s easier than it is, just look at all the articles in the media about refugees and immigrant workers and retiring in other countries. Very annoying! I wish media would look into the facts before publishing those articles.
      I used to have a co-worker who helped people with immigration paperwork for a living and even with a job offer it was quite complicated.

    16. MistOrMister*

      Wow…ok so apparently I accidentally offended people by saying I was playing with the idea of going to Canada. Just..wow. Thanks to those who gave a helpful answer. To those who consider this to have been a priviliged question, my family has a legitimate reason for wanting to potentially leave the US. Canada seemed like the best option for us as we have been there before and like it. This is not “oh I’m American so I can move to Canada whenever I feel like it”. None of us has moved internationally before and I was simply asking for advice, as what research I did made a move seem much more difficult than I was expecting. I did not anticipate any rancor from such a question and it seems unnecessary and certainly unhelpful.

      1. Koala dreams*

        I don’t know about offending people, it’s simple the reality that unless you are very privileged or have double citizenships, immigration and getting a new citizenship is going to be a complicated process. We don’t say this to discourage you, but to help you get a realistic picture of immigration.

      2. Ramona Q*

        It seems like you got a ton of helpful advice, as well as, yes, some acknowledgement of social factors you seemed to be ignoring; I’m not sure why you framed your response around “rancor.”

      3. WoodswomanWrites*

        It looks to me like a number of people provided responses from experience. From my perspective, only one person responded with what I would describe as “rancor,” and Alison removed their post as unkind.

        My US friend was able to emigrate to Canada using the student route. She got her master’s degree there with part-time work at the university. Once she graduated, her position continued with grant funding and was full-time. She was able to stay for three years and her application as a legal resident beyond that was eventually approved. After her position ended, she has been able to stay legally, and her application for Canadian citizenship is pending.

      4. Altair*

        Well, “don’t people move countries on a whim” was a bit dismissive towards those of us who have immigrated and the struggles we underwent to do so. But you have the information you needed now.

    17. Bob_NZ*

      It can feel like people move on a whim all the time but I suspect there’s an element of survivor bias here. After all, it’s quite easy to spot the people saying “Oh yes, we decided to move to Canada” who then did it. It’s less easy (perhaps impossible) to spot all the people who wanted to do so but were then stymied by visa restrictions and the like. This is because the second group are far less likely to be talking about it.

      I moved from the UK to New Zealand back in 2005. If you asked me about it now I’d give a happy “Oh, yes, it was pretty easy, my residency application took 2.5 weeks”. It would only be when we talked in more depth that you’d find out that I spent 4 years working in the UK to get work experience to make me more attractive to a NZ employer in the same industry; that I saved up 6 months of living expenses so I could support myself in NZ while applying for jobs here; that I dedicated weeks to sorting out paperwork and getting medical and police certificates in advance; that I spent thousands of dollars in application fees; that I just happened to have some of the attributes which made me more attractive to the decision makers (like having a degree, being the ‘right’ age at the time of applying, perfect health etc).

      Moving to another country is hard, For me, the whole process *felt* easy partly because it was something I really, really wanted to do and partly because I was lucky. In truth there was one heck of a lot of time, effort, money and luck which went into it.

      Good luck with your journey, whatever you choose to do.

    18. ampersand*

      I looked at moving to Canada a few years ago (from the US; I’m American), and yes, it seems exceptionally hard to move there. I have no idea how this differs from trying to immigrate to the US, but seems like they want you to be financially self sufficient; hence the long list of criteria you need to meet. And fair enough for them–if their restrictions were more lenient half of the US would be living there already! I definitely don’t qualify to move there.

    19. NewCanadian*

      I went through this process and it took me well over a year, and almost $2k. It is near impossible to move to Canada on a whim.

      It IS (or…was, as of a couple of years ago, pre-COVID) possible to move without a job lined up, but you have to apply. Whether or not you are accepted depends on a number of factors–your level of education and your work history, your proficiency in English and French, your age, etc. (and you need to prove all of this.) Your “scores” in these areas, weighed against other applicants’, determines whether or not you will be let in. You also need to pass a health examination, background check, and have a certain amount of cash in your bank account.

      I don’t know if this will change, and is almost certainly on hold at the moment, but you definitely cannot just show up at the border. My advice is, if you are serious, make sure you have at least 15K in cash before you even start the process, read all the fine print, and plan for the process to take up to two years before you will finally be able to move.

  14. Mystique*

    Possible TMI for medical talk…how can I get rid of an ingrown toenail by myself? I’m in a Covid hotspot and doctors are not taking appointments except for emergencies and non-urgent care / non-emergency clinics are not open. It is not not considered an emergency to see a doctor or go to the ER because it is not infected, only sore and inflamed. I know it happened because I cut my own nails. Normally I don’t because doing it hurts my legs and back but nail salons here have been closed since March and I had to do it. It is really red, sensitive to the touch and even putting on socks or touching the sheet when I’m sleeping hurts so much. I’ve never had an ingrown nail before so I don’t even know where to start. But it needs to go, any suggestions?

    1. HBJ*

      Soak in hot water with Epsom salts. Get under it and lift it slightly. Even a little bit a few times a day will help, but if possible, wedge something under there to hold it up – a bit of cotton a tip or a piece of folded over tape or a trimmed off piece of credit card.

    2. Lena Clare*

      Oh ingrown toenails are so painful. If you can bear the pain and if the nail is at tge to of the toe, try to lift the pointed bit digging in and push a tiny bit of cotton wool under to lift it up. You’ll have to keep lifting it a miniscule amount daily ance keep an eye on the cotton wool. Wash with cooled boiled salt water. I can of tea tree oil also keeps it clean if you can tolerate it on your skin and are not pregnant.

    3. Wehaf*

      Curve Correct; it’s a set of braces you glue on; it reshapes the toenail and holds it in place so it grows out reshaped. It seems crazy but it worked for my moderately ingrown toenails following an over-agressive pedicure (never again). I found that I had to follow the instructions very carefully to keep the braces from popping off after a day or two. Once I did that they stayed on 4 – 6 weeks, as expected. I used the braces for a full year to be on the safe side (that’s about how long it takes for a big toenail to grow out completely) and it was probably overkill.

      1. Bob's my uncle*

        Second this recommendation. I was amazed that it worked as well as it did, but do follow the directions carefully. Mine wasn’t serious, but was beginning to be painful all the time.

    4. Scc@rlettNZ*

      My mother always said to cut a V in the top of your nail. Apparently it pulls the ingrown bit in as it grows out (but then she also believed that sitting on cold concrete would give you piles so it’s probably an old wives tale!)

      My ingrown nail was actually cured by my horse standing on my foot. After the second time my nail grew back normally. A bit of a drastic cure, but it worked :-)

      1. Lady Heather*

        My friend had a doctor cut in that V. It can work. It didn’t for her, so she went for “surgical half nail removal, then douse with peroxide so the nail doesn’t return” which still makes me shudder to think about.

        I have an ingrown-ish toenail that, when it starts hurting, I wedge half a nailclipper under (ideally when it’s moist, for nail flexibility) so I clip off the ingrowing corner. And then it lasts me another month.
        I’m still looking for a permanent fix there.

        1. Wehaf*

          As I said above, I recommend Curve Correct. I when I ordered it I thought I had a 90% chance of wasting $45, but it worked completely.

          1. Lady Heather*

            I don’t think that’s sold around here – tried to google it, but I couldn’t get any hits.

            I did get some other options from this thread, though, which I will try!

      2. willow for now*

        OMG, the cold concrete and piles! Grandma told me that, and I had the hardest time getting a straight answer about what “piles” were!

    5. OlympiasEpiriot*

      Soaking the feet to soften things like everyone else is saying then use a short bit of yarn and, holding the ends, work it gently under the nail. Trim off the loose ends a bit so it won’t rub in your shoes once it is in position and let the nail grow out over it.

      Also, take a good look at your shoes and how you stand and walk. You want shoes that fit properly and you may need orthotics to help with how your stance is to lessen the possibility of ingrown nails in the future.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Be careful you’re not getting an infection!
      For me the pain is worst when I break the nail and a small piece is still growing in the skin fold. I numb & soften the toe as best I can and push back the overlap until I can get at the little dagger with the fine tips of cuticle clippers.
      In some states, nail salons are reopening.
      If that’s your case and you are comfortable with that, ask if they have a pedicurist who knows how to desl with ingrown nails. I once had someone trim back the side that grows in, giving me a month or more of relief. I also wore open sided sandals until the general irritation went away.

  15. Lena Clare*

    Hey gardeners! Post your gardening queries here.
    I have 2 – how do I get rid of a very tenacious lilac bush? It’s my neighbours’ but the roots are pushing through the paving on my side and lifting them up.

    And how do I get rid of dandelions? I have some pushing through the cracks of concrete in my back yard and it’s wrecking the concrete which had now cracked in two. I can’t get the roots out. I do need the yard doing but not yet because money and Covid; it’s just like to not to wreck the yard in the meantime.
    I heard vinegar was good so I fed them that, crazy things seemed to drink it up and grow stronger?!

      1. Lena Clare*

        Borax is not available in the UK or EU (commercially anyway). Is borax substitute, sold as a cleaner – similar to bicarbonate of soda, any good?

        1. Wehaf*

          I’m not familiar with borax substitute, but the internet tells me that you can use sodium bicarbonate to kill weeds.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          Borax is sodium tetraborate. If that’s the ingredient on the product you’re considering, you’re good to go.

    1. Jen Erik*

      I’m not sure you can do a lot about the lilac – would your neighbours do something if you asked? Other than that, I’d guess you’d need a physical barrier – dig a trench along the boundary and put pavers or something along it – might damage the tree, but given that you can cut off branches that overhang your boundary, I imagine you can cut roots as well.
      And I think both salt and boiling water will do for the dandelions as Wehaf suggests. But equally, you could just buy a systemic weed killer in a spray bottle – if they’re in concrete you won’t accidentally spray anything you love and that will definitely kill the roots.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Thanks. I’ve asked them and they said they don’t want it there so feel free for me to cut the roots out! Which is annoying because the bit above soil is on their property right on the other side of our fence and I can’t access it without going into their garden.
        Anyway, I’m going to drill some holes into the root in my side and put herbicide on it, then hope the other bit dies down too.

    2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      For the dandelions, you could cover the surface with sheets black plastic. That might not kill them–dandelion roots are tenacious–but should slow them down, and is cheap.

    3. tangerineRose*

      How do I get rid of what Himalayan blackberries? They seem to be invasive and will grow everywhere.

    4. Brrrrr*

      Standard household vinegar is only 5% acetic acid, which is not strong enough to kill dandelions. Horticultural vinegar which can be used as a weedkiller is at least 20% acetic acid. I did purchase and use a small amount of the high % stuff once and do not recommend it – the dandelion tops died off but they came back from the roots within a year or less. DEFINITELY DO NOT USE IT NEAR CONCRETE! A little spilled on our walkway and started eating the top layer of concrete before I realized what had happened (it did sit for several hours before I noticed and washed it off).

  16. Izzy*

    Question for people who know about how computers deals with data: If I’m using someone else’s computer (or a public computer), but saving stuff to my own flash drive, will the computer record any of the stuff I’m writing?

    (Also applies to stuff like using a work laptop to, say, write a cover letter. Not using your work email to send applications or anything, but working on a draft but saved to a usb?)

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      It depends on the program you’re working in. If you’re using something like Microsoft Word that has an auto-save function, that creates a hidden file that your work is automatically saved to until you hit the actual “save” button and it copies from that hidden file to the one on the flash drive. It would be fairly difficult for someone to find that file, but it does exist. You might be better off using Google Docs: log in to use it, log out when done, then clear the browser cache.

      How much access your company IT department has to your work laptop will vary. At my company the IT people need permission to remotely access your computer, but once they’re in, they could look at anything. Other companies log/track everything you do on a company machine.

      1. AW*

        It’s not difficult to find the auto save files if you know where to look.

        IT might need permission to remote control your machine but they do not need your permission to access and view any of the data on the machine if it’s connected to their net work.

    2. Lady Heather*

      Public computers also carry the risks of things like keyloggers being installed by.. ehm.. ‘curious’ third parties. These can either be software (akin to the surveillance software used to monitor WFH’ers, installed either by the owner of the computer or by someone who has an unhealthy interest in your banking information) or hardware, like a thing that’s placed in between the keyboard and the USB port the keyboard cable goes into.

      So it’s not really a ‘they will’ or ‘they won’t’ thing, but a very big ‘they can, and they might, and someone else can, and someone else might’.

    3. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      If it’s a computer that you can reboot, you might consider downloading a live USB (basically a computer operating system on the flash drive) and using that to do your work. Depends on what programs you need etc. but if you’re OK with using Linux and alternative programs like libre office it could be helpful. Using this kind of system would not involve the hard drive of the host computer at all so auto save files and key logger software should in theory not be able to run.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Specifically forbidden by my employer’s IT department, so check this. Part of my parent corporation does government work so our rules are likely stricter than other comapnies’.

    4. Gatomon*

      The best choice is to always use your own hardware. Avoid public wifi and public computers if you can, and work computers for anything you don’t want to have a discussion with your boss about. If you have to use public computers you can ask about what measures they take to ensure your data isn’t accessible to others. (If they can’t answer, run.)

      If you don’t have your own PC, you can pick up a basic Chromebook or Windows device for $200 – $400 these days that can handle basic word processing and web browsing. If you need Microsoft Word in particular, it’s a subscription now with monthly or yearly options, but check to see if your company has a corporate discount. If you can’t afford that I’d recommend a trusted friend or family member, and then a public machine as a last resort.

    5. Bob Howard*

      One option you could consider is a Raspberry Pi. They are quite powerful enough for web browsing, word processing etc. The operating system includes Open Office as standard

      It boots from an image on an SD card, so if you are concerned about uncontrolled data retention, then you can just re-image the SD card. Apart from that, and any USB devices you plug in, there is no other storage.

      The unit costs about $35, but you have to add your own PSU, screen, keyboard & mouse. If you have these lying around or can scrounge them, then it is a good option.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      It’s hard to know for sure how much is being recorded. As someone mentioned above, if you don’t own the computer, you don’t know what’s installed on it. If it has a keylogger (installed intentionally by a snooping owner or installed accidentally because it’s malware), the keylogger will record every single word you type. But, yeah, there are also sometimes temporary auto-save files that can be created. The bottom line is that unless you have a computer you have full control over, you can’t know that your stuff isn’t being recorded.

      Definitely booting a Linux live USB is better than using the built-in OS if you can. Sometimes you don’t have that option, though.

    7. Observer*

      Almost anything you do on a computer leaves tracks that someone with the right tools can find. Sometimes the tracks are easier to find and sometimes there are better (ie more able to find the faintest traces) in play.

      If you don’t control the hardware and software, then think very carefully about what you do on that system. At my job, if I needed to I could probably find out if you wrote a cover letter for a job, if I needed to, but I would have to go looking. On the other hand, the odds of anyone going looking would be nill unless we had to look at your computer for another reason.

      Which leads to another important issue – if you are sharing equipment with someone then that computer could be searched and you stuff exposed even if you have nothing to do with anything or anyone problematic. But also, YOUR stuff could explicitly get searched if someone or something you are connected to winds up being investigated. It’s very easy to get caught in the cross fire.

  17. possum whisperer*

    Dont know if this will help,but I usually cut them out myself.Im going to guess that its on the side of a big toe.If you try it on your own,you’ll need to sterilize any implements you use and it helps to soak the affected foot in a nice hot bath to soften the nail.Clean the toe and surrounding are with a good antibacterial soap.I use a set of nail clippers that look somewhat like diagonal wire cutters,and slide one side of the clippers under the nail and between the nail bed and where its growing into the toe.Yes,its painful and there may be blood,but without medical help,this is all I know to do.I’ve never had one clear up on its own,only more painful and infected.Medical help is best,and if you can get it,go that route.Good luck and I hope you can get it cleared up.

    1. possum whisperer*

      Ah crap,nesting fail.This was supposed to be in response to Mystiques question on ingrown toenails.

  18. Curious Owl*

    I’ve been reading on the Anna Sorokin aka Anna Delvey case, and there’s one question that so far I haven’t been able to find the answer: Who pays for her lawyer team during trial? I mean, she’s a scammer, so she’s broke, right? She couldn’t even afford a hotel room. And her parents don’t seem to be rich either. So, how did she afford lawyers?

      1. WellRed*

        Yes, also a high profile case can help an attorney make a name for themselves and thus generate more clients.

  19. Not A Manager*

    A relative of mine is in the hospital on a ventilator. I’m worried about her but also now my anxiety about everything in the world is at about 1000%. My adult kids are about her age. They’re not idiots but they’re not super careful and I can’t make them be.

    How do you cope with anxiety that you can’t address with some kind of “action item”?

    1. Anonymous for this*

      I’ve been there. Fot me, deciding I would worry about it if and ONLY if was a big help, i.e. repeating to myself “No, that worry is pointless UNLESS we hear that (name) has the virus.” Challenging and reducing the thought every time it emerged is something that gradually helped a lot.

    2. Lady Heather*

      I’m sorry about your relative. Hugs to you if you want them.

      I don’t know if this is good advice, but I like to picture ‘life after the worst case scenario’.

      ‘My sister is sick. She might die. If she dies, I will be sad. If I become depressed, I will barely come out of bed for a year. Then, gradually, the sadness will move from fresh grief to old grief and I’ll start getting out of bed again, and some day I might realize the sunset looks nice.’
      ‘I have a work meeting that might not go well. What if I get fired? If I get fired, I will live off unemployment until I’ve found another job, or move to welfare if I don’t.’

      I’ve found it works well for helping me get through the ‘paralysis’ of what if [bad thing] happens, it’s unimaginable that [bad thing] will happen, I can’t bear it if [bad thing] happens. Picturing the practical minutiae of life after [bad thing] – don’t picture the feelings, picture the actions – helps me.
      Empty reassurances like ‘it’s only a small chance that it will happen!’ just have my brain reply with a ‘someone has to be that one-in-a-million!’ so I don’t even try.

      If you don’t mind me adding pseudo-scientific philosophic-psychologic-biologic bovine feces: your body has one purpose: surviving. And it has one stress response that is the same for ‘I’m running out of sugar’ as for ‘I’m going to die’. (Ideally, said response is less severe for an empty sugar bowl than for a loaded gun, but it’s the same chemicals and hormones involved.) By picturing life going on, you’re assuring yourself you’re not going to die, and by convincing yourself you’re not going to die, you’re soothing your stress response/reducing your stress hormones as your stress hormones only exist to make sure you don’t die.
      (I’ve also found this helpful in ‘what if I die’ situations – I’ll picture my loved ones being sad, but getting up to do grocery shopping and go to work, etc. Or I’ll picture the sunrise and sunset and the seasons changing.)

    3. nep*

      they’re not super careful and I can’t make them be
      A giant source of anxiety for so many people right now…
      So sorry about your relative.
      The things that have helped me cope are walks, working out, yoga/stretching, meditation, online retail therapy (potentially hazardous), and watching shows that make me laugh. And limiting my exposure to the news.

    4. Laura H.*

      Maybe not a way to cope per se, but for me, knowing what I can do to lessen the bad thing’s likelihood helps me feel better.

      In the case of COVID, my practices of washing my hands frequently, minimizing contact with others, masking up, and one outing covering multiple tasks if needed helps me know that my actions are properly accounted for. It’s not a 100% guarantee that I won’t catch it (or something else), but it lessens the likelihood of catching it via ignorance on my part.

      A single, gentle reminder to please take proper precautions might be well-received too.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Obviously not for everyone, but I pray. It is an acknoledgement that there are many really, really, important things I care about which are totally outside my control.

      Actively turning them over to God /my “higher power” / the Universe / terminology of your choice, gives me peace and helps me remain in the vulnerable place of still caring.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      Try physical activity for anxiety, especially if there’s a home project that involves “sweat equity”.
      If you don’t have such a project, old-fashioned exercise might help. Start slowly, though.
      Really, really hoping you and yours stay well and your relative pulls through.

    7. lasslisa*

      It helps me to specifically use the phrase “don’t borrow trouble”.

      I tell myself that and it makes me picture the bad thing possibly happening in the future, and remember for a moment that the future has yet to happen. If the bad thing happens, I will have to deal with it then, and it will be bad, but no amount of feeling and thinking and fear and trying to pre-experience it NOW is going to make it not be bad THEN. And it might not even happen, so, wouldn’t that be a double waste to experience it unnecessarily?

    8. Not A Manager*

      Thank you all. My relative is doing very well on the ventilator and I hope they will be able to be weaned off it soon.

      My kids are gonna do whatever they’re gonna do, that’s for sure.

      1. Altair*

        I have no advice but all sympathy. I send you peace, your relative healing, and your kids as much good sense aas possible.

      2. allathian*

        Good to hear that your relative is doing well on the ventilator.

        Easier said than done, I know, but I like lasslisa’s recommendation to do what you can to avoid borrowing trouble. Your kids aren’t living their lives AT you, after all.

  20. Fleurette*

    Poshmark Sellers – I’d like to hear from your experience selling on this site. Do your items sell fast? How to do package your items? This will be my first time selling anything online so any advice and tips would be great! Thanks!

    1. nep*

      I love selling on Poshmark.
      So many variables as to how quickly items will sell. I’ve had things sell within hours. And I still have a couple things in my PM closet that I listed a year ago. (I’ve delisted and relisted them over time.) The the system favors a closet that’s listing regularly. If you have five items to list, I’d spread it out over a couple/three days, not list them all at once.
      I wrap things in simple white packing paper or tissue paper and put a personal note. (So I save all packing paper I get with purchases to recycle.) My packages look nice, but I don’t do a lot of fancy packaging mainly to minimize waste. For shipping, take advantage of free Tyvek envelopes and boxes you can order at USPS.com–free and delivered to your home. (You should be able to get them at a kiosk in your post office also.)
      What kind of items are you selling? Clothes, home goods, both? Your own things or are you sourcing from other places?
      All the best of luck. It’s quite fun and can be a decent income stream.

        1. Selmarie*

          Yes, this. I buy jeans/pants mostly from PM and ThredUp. My favorite listings show a tape measure of all of the important measurements, especially the inseam. At a minimum, I’m glad when they lost the inseam length.

          1. Fleurette*

            Good to know. I was planning on writing “Measurements available upon request”. Most of the pants I’ll be selling are Banana Republic with regular inseam. I thought that would be enough but I can absolutely add the inseam measurement.

            1. Selmarie*

              Please do add the inseam. My favorite sellers show the tape measure placed on the item to show the measurements (along the inseam, across the folded waist — meant to add that). There are items I would have bought on first viewing, but I had to send a message to the seller and wait for a response, which doesn’t always work out (sometimes, I’ve gotten too busy to look again; sometimes the seller doesn’t get back to me; etc.).

              Also, I appreciate that some sellers want to make the buyer feel extra appreciated, but some of the “froofy” packaging is unnecessary (and I have to throw it away) — although a small thank-you post-it is nice.

              1. nep*

                Yes–it will save time for everyone, and sometimes a sale, to put measurements, esp inseam. Good point. (Agree–fancy packaging is fun, but wasteful if the materials can’t really be used again.)

            2. nep*

              It’s the ‘request’ thing that can take time, and you might lose a sale. Someone might be really keen on an item and ready to buy, and that can fade in the time it takes to exchange measurement information. Takes some time up front, but in the end it’s the best way to go.

      1. Fleurette*

        I was planning on listing everything at the same time, so thank you for that! I’m planning on selling clothes and a few accessories, all my own things. I have the bad habit of buying items I fully intend on wearing at the time of purchase and then, it just sinks at the bottom of my closet (I’m trying to make more thoughtful purchases now or return the items). I used to give everything to charity but I need the cash right now.

        1. nep*

          Good–I wanted to clarify. If you’re just getting your closet started, you do want to list as many as you can at once; you want to have more than just a couple items to get going. What I meant regarding spreading out listing is for later on, once your closet is established–if you get, say, five or six items to list, spread out the listing over a couple/few days.
          All the best with it.

    2. nep*

      One more thing I’ve heard helps for selling: Use the title to your advantage–be as specific with proper style names if you can. And you don’t need to use the limited space there for ‘NWT’ or the size, as those are categories you’re going to tick.
      And put your title as the first line of description–apparently this helps for SEO.

    3. lazy intellectual*

      Following this. I started a Poshmark account a few months back and only sold one thing so far.

      1. nep*

        It’s quite hit or miss. I’ll go through droughts then get a bunch of sales in a week.
        I will say that I’ll be in a dry stage and if I list (or relist) one or two things, I’ll generally make a sale or two–not necessarily of the new items; sometimes things that have been up for ages. It’s just the ‘action’ of listing that helps.
        How are your photos and titles?

    4. HBJ*

      How fast your items will sell depends on if there’s a buyer who wants it and the price. My stuff has not sold fast, but admittedly, there’s a couple things I want to get a little bit of my money back on, and no one so far is willing to pay. I admit I’m a hypocrite. I typically wouldn’t pay more than 30-40% of the original purchase price, even if something is NWT, and I’m definitely asking more than that on some items.

      I just wrap the items in tissue paper with a note and use whatever mailer I happen to have around or the free flat rates from the post office.

    5. Tote Bag*

      I am a person who recently made my first and only (so far) purchase on Poshmark. I did a google search for a brand of tote bag that isn’t made anymore. The Poshmark listing came up in the first few results of the Google search. I received my item wrapped in tissue paper with a hand-written note. The note surprised me but was a nice touch. I would say make sure your pictures are clear and show all aspects of the item.

  21. anon for this*

    I would like ideas on how to help my friend with bipolar and ADHD who is not coping well and on her own in a different city. She moved there (3 time zones away from most of her friends including me) almost a year ago for a new job with a giant corporation and was really excited. But the virus happened and she was laid off in March. By that stage, she had not made friends in her new location yet, because she is generally a quiet person. The hints and clues suggest that she now has a freelance contract online for an old employer. She said she does still have health care. But I think she ran out of her medications at some time, and now her emails are sometimes not making much sense and arrive at odd hours. The one that was most lucid was indicating that she doesn’t know how to get back on the rails. I told her to go to the emergency room, and that did not happen, because her functioning isn’t good enough right now. I alerted her family, but they are far south of me and ALL of us are in virus plagued cities, so they cannot do anything right now. I don’t want to call 911 because this is about mental health and I already don’t trust the police in her city. I only know one other person who lives in her area. He doesn’t already know her, plus Google Maps says he lives an hour drive away, and he has a family to watch out for. I don’t know if my friend has money or is able to buy food for herself right now, and I’m stuck at a distance. We have only one mutual friend, who is wonderful, but who I don’t want to bother because he is looking after two immune compromised family members, and he doesn’t live in her city either. My friend’s executive function is not good without the medications and her moods are really up and down. Is there anything I haven’t thought of that could help? She is in bad shape and simply telling her I support her is not enough to help solve the problem. I’m scared of things getting much worse if I don’t do anything, but I also don’t know what I can do. Thank you.

      1. anon for this*

        Thanks! Yes, several times, and once I was insistent about it. She hasn’t given me any answers to the question, though.

    1. Reba*

      You could try calling the NAMI hotline and asking for suggestions — especially if there is a chapter in her city, they would have the best information on resources and procedures where she lives.
      That does sound very worrying and your u seem like a good friend.

    2. Not A Manager*

      It sounds like you think the most urgent issue is meds. If you have enough discretionary money, you could try to get some meds to her.

      If your friend can tell you what pharmacy her prescription is at, and if it’s not expired, you might be able to order her meds by phone or online and have them delivered to her.

      If the prescription is expired, you might have some option to ask the pharmacy to have the doctor write a new one, but that depends on the med and if she has to be “seen” in order to get a new prescription. Depending on how involved you want to get, you could try calling the doctor’s office and setting up a video appt. for her – which you might need to pay for.

      I think these are the easiest and most impactful ways to help her right now. My guess is that you can be of limited help generally until she gets back on her meds.

      If it were me, and I loved her, I would be willing to go further if necessary. If I really couldn’t get her hooked up with her meds in her own city, I would find a friend or acquaintance in my own city who takes the same meds and ask them for a small supply. These psych meds are ubiquitous, and people with good insurance frequently have a back supply. It could well be trivial for someone to give you a few weeks worth of meds, and you could overnight them to her.

      I understand that this is controversial and risky. There’s a small but not nonexistent possibility that this could get you into trouble. If it were someone I loved and it was possible for me to do, that would be a risk I would take.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I think it would be a Very Bad Idea to rely on someone in the condition described, for information about what medications and dosages she should be taking.

        The OP says her emails are incoherent. She’s not able to clearly report whether or not she is working, whether or not she has food.

        She’s not going to suddenly become coherent and accurate about her prescriptions.

        1. pancakes*

          If she has old or unfilled prescriptions on file with a local pharmacy she wouldn’t have to be, though. Likewise if there’s a way to get in touch with her doctor and have them call prescriptions in. I agree with Reba, contact NAMI.

          1. RagingADHD*

            I was referring to the idea of procuring someone else’s medication and mailing it to her.

            Paying for waiting meds is one thing. But I should hope that a doctor’s office isn’t taking calls from random people they’ve never heard of, and disclosing a patient’s meds, or calling in refills based on their say-so.

            There are fifty-eleven different kinds of ethical issues and potential abuse, diversion or fraud in that scenario.

            1. pancakes*

              Well, yes, but times when I’ve been really going through it health-wise, my boyfriend has been able to speak with both my doctor and my pharmacist to get prescriptions filled. Picking up only requires confirming my birth date. That said, there’s probably a perception that cancer-related medications are less prone to abuse than mental health-related meds, and he has met my doctor on several occasions, so maybe it’s not comparable to this scenario. Getting someone else’s meds and mailing them to the friend here seems dodgier to me than trying to get her her own meds, but in any case the intention is to help her get the meds she needs, not to abuse the meds or divert them.

              1. RagingADHD*

                I’m not talking about the OPs intention. I’m talking about the practical, legal, and very much correct & rightful obstacles to someone calling up from out of town, who the doctor’s office has never seen or heard of, and asking for medication for a patient they *claim* to be friends with (not partner, not relative). When the doctor has no way of verifying this, and presumably hasn’t seen the patient in a while.

                Any medical provider who would go along with that is shady and should have their license revoked.

                How do they know what the caller’s real intentions are? They don’t even know who she is.

    3. Wehaf*

      Can you find out if the police department in her area has a Crisis Intervention Team? It’s a program for training officers to be able to respond well to mental health issues; NAMI supports it and helps run it in some places. If the local PD has a CIT, you could ask them to do a wellness check.

      1. OyHiOh*

        Some US cities, if you call 911 with a non life threatening mental health concern, will dispatch a mental health team and ambulance rather than police. Unfortunately, this is still a relatively rare option, but helpful to know if it exists. OP, if you call any mental health clinic in her city and ask about how to get help for a friend in mental health crisis, they will know if there’s appropriate 911 dispatch (CIT or other) and you can use that information along with NAMI to get a better sense of how to get help to her.

    4. RagingADHD*

      You could try calling 211.

      It’s an info line about social services & assistance that covers the US and much of Canada. They may be able to help find a local nonprofit that could reach out to her.

    5. Koala dreams*

      You could try to call the local (at her city) psychiatric hospital for advice, if there is such a thing. If you want to encourage her to see a doctor (or go to the emergency room), look into the practical things such as phone numbers, addresses, how appointments works, how to get there (taxi? medical driving service?). She still has to want to go there herself, but it’s easier when someone has a how to-list as opposed to a vague idea that it’s time to see a doctor. In some places it’s possible to get home visits from either a nurse or a doctor, if that’s available where she lives you can look into how that works for her.

      As for food, you can buy food to get delivered to her, or send her a gift card. Ask what she prefers. As an aside, it’s easier to say yes to help if you are specific about the kind of help you can offer.

      Finally, you are her friend and just being a friend is good enough. If you can do more, great, if you can’t, that’s fine. Text her, make phone calls, send postcards if she likes those. Just being there as a friend is a good thing.

    6. Anono-me*

      Your friend is lucky to have a friend that cares as much as you do. This must be heartbreaking for you.

      1. You said you’re worried about your friend eating properly. If you can, I would recommend baking some oatmeal and raisin and everything else cookies* and mailing them to her. They’re semi-healthy, and very easy to eat.

      2. I would probably check the online news media for the city your friend lives in to look for stories about local social justice and welfare groups that are coming up with alternatives to calling the police when the situation isn’t a serious crime. It would probably be helpful to reach out to those groups and see what they suggest. ( In the city where I used to live, there has historically been a great deal of concern about the police responding to non-criminal situations. There has been a lot in the news recently about the social organizations that are available to help people deal with non criminal crisis situations.)

      3. You can also try reaching out to Faith leaders in the community where your friend lives, especially if one or the other of you are a member of that Faith group. They might also have recommendations.

      *Basic oatmeal cookies with raisins and nuts and chocolate chips and dried berries and whatever else you think sounds good to stick in.

    7. valentine*

      Unless her neighbors are clogging the streets or their porches are within spitting distance, someone in PPE can go knock on her door and, if she answers, step back and have a chat.

      Can you or her family call her doctor, emergency contact (hopefully, it’s not you or her family), or social services? (A social worker will take a cop with them, but they should be able to do an assessment from a distance.)

      Once this possible crisis is sorted, discuss with your friend whether she wants you to leave it to others in future or to establish protocol for what you do in various scenarios. But she should really do this with someone closer than an hour away, and possibly a social worker.

    8. anon for this*

      Thank you so much to everyone who made suggestions and pointed out resources (none of which I knew about)! I’m feeling a lot less powerless than I was now.

    9. ShockedPikachu.gif*

      One more resource that hasn’t been mentioned: the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. They run support groups for people with depression and bipolar disorder. Find the local chapter and see what they’ve got – in my city, they’re doing online support groups (for our city specifically, in addition to the national ones). You might be able to attend a friends & family group for that area that could give you advice from the local perspective, or otherwise reach someone who could point you to local resources.

      Your friend could also find support there. It sounds like she might not be well enough to access it right now, but since bipolar is cyclical, she will be at some point.

  22. Esme*

    Has anyone ever had a flexible cystoscopy? Why do
    I need to bring a pair of slippers?

    I don’t own any, and don’t know whether to buy them just for this.

    I’ve been given an urgent (two-week wait) referral due to possible bladder or kidney problems and they’ve sent me a packet in the post that:

    – asks me to bring things I don’t have
    – makes zero mention of covid-19 safety

    Other hospitals are sending out information about this – the lack of mention isn’t encouraging.

    1. Esme*

      Just realised 2ww is UK-speak. It means you could have cancer (although statistically it’s more likely that you don’t).

    2. PX*

      For what its worth, anything that comes in the mail as far as info/preparation from the NHS is likely to be a boilerplate template developed years ago before COVID was a thing. I’d call whatever number is listed for the hospital/department and you’ll probably get better advice not only about COVID precautions (I’d guess at wear a mask, maybe self isolate as much as possible before) but also on what exactly you need to take to prepare.

      If there isnt a number listed, ask your GP if they can get it for you.

      1. Esme*

        I had treatment recently at another hospital trust near my office and they sent me a leaflet specifically about covid precautions. So I guess I expected the same.

        I really want to know why I need slippers!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          They probably just don’t want you walking around barefoot or putting street shoes on the beds :)

          Are they at all specific about the style of slippers? My only pair of slippers are big stuffy leopard-paw looking things (complete with claws!), and my husband’s are big stuffy sea turtles. Probably entertaining, but I wonder if those would actually meet their requirements. Heh.

          1. Esme*

            Haha no they’re not and I would much rather get some cute animal ones than anything ‘sensible’

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Haven’t had one personally but it’s generally an outpatient procedure and you’d go home shortly after. Usually it’s done in the office without anesthesia. The slippers are probably to walk around/walk to bathroom after. You could just wear regular socks or in the US at least would be given packaged socks with anti slip bumps on them.

      I’d expect the staff to wear surgical face masks at least plus gowns and eye protection. Maybe N95s maybe not since it’s not aerosolizing. I’d expect you to be given a medical face mask to wear while you are there.

      1. Esme*

        Thanks, I figured about face masks etc. What worries me is there’s no warning not to come if you have cv symptoms.

        1. Squidhead*

          In the US you’d be given anti-slip socks. You’ll probably need to stay long enough to urinate after the procedure. My family member had one for a kidney stone where it was done under anesthesia since they also placed a stent. So it’s worth finding out if you need to be driven home after.

          If it’s an urgent diagnostic procedure they may not want to delay it, although offices here are addressing that when they confirm the appointment 1 to 2 days ahead of time and screening for symptoms then (not 2 weeks out).

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      Cute overstuffed slippers (animals, reptiles, whatever) sound fun but you might prefer to have something washable so you can get rid of any medical-facility-related germs when you get home.

      I could be overthinking this? I don’t know how long bacteria or viruses remain potent when marooned on fabric. Other readers, feel free to correct me!

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yes, my only experience of taking slippers to the hospital was having babies. I did not even attempt to bring them home, they went straight in the trash bin on the way out.

        That’s a more messy experience of course, but I’d advise you to consider any hospital slippers as single-use or at least hot-wash, hot dry items.

    5. Doctor is In*

      Probably because your feet will be placed in metal stirrups (like a pelvic exam) and the sippers will protect your feet.

    6. Alaska_Blue*

      Just had one on Tuesday, probably my 15th after being diagnosed with bladder cancer at 29-and I’m a non-smoking woman who is now 42. (Most bladder cancer occurs in 70+ yr old male smokers).

      It’s not terrible. I find I have less discomfort with the cystoscopy than with a speculum for a pelvic exam. I don’t know if you have any control over what time of day your cysto is scheduled for, but I recommend a late afternoon appointment. I find that my bladder/urethra is irritated by the procedure, so late afternoon works better because I only urinate a few times before bed, and then my bladder can rest all night. I am normally a firm believer in “first appointment of the day!” , but my system was more irritated after those appointments due to urinating all day and I took longer to get back to normal.

      The other recommendation I have is if they give you a choice in how to numb the urethra, choose the syringe. The other option is a q-tip covered in numbing agent, and having had both, the syringe is much more comfortable. Apparently syringe is the standard for those with penises, as the urethra is longer, whereas q-tip is standard for shorter urethras, but I started with the syringe treatment due probably to a kind nurse who saw how freaked out I was, and then when I experienced the q-tip several years down the road (different nurse) I was really taken aback at how uncomfortable I found it.

      Seeing the inside of your bladder is pretty cool. I usually take my mom with me to hold my hand but she couldn’t fly up this year because of Covid, so I took a good friend instead. There’s a prep period where you are on the table, with your bits having been sanitized with betadine, while you wait for the numbing agent to do it’s job in your urethra. It’s nice go have someone there during that time, if your clinic allows. Maybe that’s what the slippers are for- waiting in the stirrups.

      Good luck! The waiting before and during the appt is the hardest part, but a cystoscopy is great because it’s pretty definitive- the doctor will either see something or they won’t- which helps define treatment from there. Best wishes, and know that you’re not alone. :)

      1. Esme*

        Thanks so much for commenting and sharing your experiences and tips. I’m a 39-year-old woman but was a heavy smoker for years and I have a lot of symptoms of something. I’m hoping for kidney stones I guess. I’ve had bladder problems for six months and they’ve got dramatically worse in the past few weeks. Dip test found no infection and microscopic blood, and then I learned that visible blood is a thing you’re meant to tell your dr about – I’ve had 4-5 instances of visible blood in the past year, and didn’t think anything of it because I didn’t know.

        My appointment is mid afternoon – however I don’t get any respite at night as that’s when my other symptoms are the absolute worst! They’re pretty bad in the day too though so what the hey!

        Duly noted about the syringe! Thanks!

        I have to go in by myself because of covid – you absolutely can’t take people into hospitals here unless it’s essential (eg caters or interpreters). Apparently will have a nurse there so I guess they might chat to me. (I’m actually really upset about having to go in alone, but so be it, my husband will sit in the car somewhere nearby. Also dreading having this stuff done with a mask on – all feels a bit medieval torture-ish.)

        Thank you so so much for all your insight. I’m sorry to hear about your experience of cancer, and glad it sounds like you’re doing ok now.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          Wishing you lots of good luck. I’ve had three cystoscopies, but all of mine were done under anesthesia. Just an FYI, if your pee is blue the first time you use the bathroom after the procedure, don’t panic. If they think there’s a blockage, they might inject some blue dye into an IV and give it time to travel through your urinary system. Since I was asleep, I didn’t know they had done that, and my urine was blue the first time I went to the bathroom. In my drug-induced haze, I started panicking and thinking that something hinky was going on with Smurfs.

        2. Alaska_Blue*

          Well if it makes you feel better, I had visible blood in my urine several times before I was diagnosed, and when I asked 2 different providers about it, I was told literally “well, you’re a woman, obviously it’s not blood in your urine, it’s coming from your uterus.” And even though I insisted that I was 99% sure I was not having my period and the blood was definitely coming from my bladder, I was ignored. Then a piece of the tumor broke off and I had very very bloody urine for 24+ hrs. I used a tampon during that time so I could definitively tell any medical professional that it was damn well NOT coming from my uterus. But that was the only symptom I had, no other issues, no frequent UTIs or anything, just a bit of blood every now and again.

          I lucked out, I had the “good” bladder cancer where it was just growing on the inside lining. Easily removed and cauterized (under anesthesia at a hospital as outpatient surgery). I did have inter-bladder chemo once, after I had a small recurrence 5 years down the road at the same bladder location as the original tumor. My cancer was low grade, but 4 cm in size, so I will continue getting cystoscopies for awhile. I really like my provider and now don’t have to get checked again for 5 years- unless I have blood in my urine.

          The exam definitely can feel a bit tortuous because of the prep and then the wait. I’m lucky that I’ve had the same providers for 10+ years now so it’s more like a friendly visit with a bit of torture. But the exam is 100% worth it to help figure out what is going on. I am doing just fine now and don’t expect things to change. Good luck, I’ll be thinking of you and hoping for the best outcome possible.

          1. Esme*

            Thanks, currently a bit short on words so sorry for not formulating a better reply but I really appreciate your post.

  23. Reckless Abandon*

    How would you have handled this retail store situation:

    I went to Target a few days ago. There was one long queue for checkout, then when a register was about to open, we were assigned to wait six feet apart from that register. But the employee directing customers to specific registers directed me to one where it turns out a customer was having a lengthy dispute with the cashier. 

    A manager was called over. Another manager. Almost ten minutes passed. Meanwhile, I was trapped behind her and customer after customer on the long queue behind me got whisked to other registers.

    I was late for an appointment and needed to get out of Target pronto. I tried to get the attention of the employee sorting people into lines so that I could politely ask to be reassigned to a different line, but couldn’t get her attention. She was swamped with other problems. Meanwhile, the argument at my assigned register kept going and going.

    I ended up moving my cart off to the side, abandoning it, and leaving the store. I couldn’t wait any longer. No one noticed, and I got what I needed later in the day at a different store. But for days I’ve been thinking of the poor Target employee who eventually had to restock my cart full of unbought items. What would have been a better way to handle the situation, besides raising a stink, which I definitely didn’t want to do even without the threat of COVID?

    1. Bagpuss*

      You said you tried to attract the attention of the person sorting the line – I suppose you could have physically gone back to her and addressed her directly, or possibly aid something directly to one of the managers dealing with the other customer

    2. Choggy*

      In that situation, you probably did the only thing you could, given that you had to get to your appointment. Everyone is so on edge that it may have made things worse if you had insisted on being moved to another line. Don’t worry about.

    3. Nacho*

      You should have asserted yourself and went up to the employee sorting people into lines. It’s not fair that you had to wait that long just because of some asshole.

    4. What the What*

      Back out of the line and re-queue.

      It’s interesting that you are so overwhelmingly compliant with non-authoritative commands (Target employee tells you to stand in THIS line) that you didn’t see any other option than abandoning your cart because no one noticed your problem.

      Did it occur to you to be disobedient and re-queue without someone directing you? If you did, what did you think the hypothetical worse that could happen? Were you worried someone as going to be mad at you?

      1. fposte*

        It sounds like it was a big long queue, though, so going back to the back of it might have meant for sure Reckless wouldn’t make it out in time. So then your choice is cut another line, wait, or bail. I can see bailing in that situation too.

      2. Reckless Abandon*

        If I re-queue myself, the person at the head of the line would justifiably be angry. That person would be liable to get up into my face, and loud talking has been proven to be one of the biggest COVID risks. It did not seem worth it to me.

        If I walked up to the manager, either the manager or I are liable to not stay calm, and same problem comes up.

        The line-queuer should have been alert enough to not put me behind an extreme couponer and realized the situation when she saw me still waiting 10 minutes later, but she was visibly rattled and I thought one more complaint might put her over the edge.

        For better or worse, that was my thought process here.

        1. fposte*

          I think if you were wound up enough that you wouldn’t have been able to count on keeping your cool in a manager conversation, bailing made sense. Shopping is stressful right now and I’ve definitely done similar things (stupid self-checkouts) because my ability to treat a situation reasonably is impaired.

          But I also don’t think the line-directing person or the manager is likely to have been angry, and it certainly wouldn’t be justifiable; I’m not sure if you’re thinking that because you were cranked up or because of another presumption. It’s pretty likely that if you said to the person directing the queue “Lane 4 is blocked so I’m requeueing” they’d say “Okay, fine.” It’s not like they’re going to assume you’re lining up again for the pure joy of it. I don’t know that the line director fell below what I’d expect of them (I think they mostly just check for number of customers in the lane); I think this was just a traffic jam that you validly wanted to reroute out of.

        2. HBJ*

          What? Why would they be angry? You’re not cutting in line, you’re just going to stand in a different line.

        3. Courageous cat*

          I don’t think it’s fair to assume that neither of you would be able to stay calm if you spoke to the person queueing people. Next time just go up to them and say “this person has held up the line for 10 minutes, is there another line you’d like me to try?” if you want to do that.

      3. Courageous cat*

        Yeah, I’m inclined to agree. In general I see a lot of comments here with problems caused by a lack of assertiveness, and this is one of them. After the first (or especially second) manager was called over you should have realized it doesn’t make sense for you to wait indefinitely and tried another line.

    5. Dan*

      I’ve abandoned carts before.

      There’s a national grocery store chain right behind my office that is open 24/7. I tend to work late, and am prone to hit the store on the way out of the office. Except… this store woefully understaffs late at night and doesn’t open the self checkout lines then. One night, there was literally one dude in the store (that I could see) and when I got in line, there were 20 people.

      I left my cart in the aisle and bailed. I even filed a complaint online, and didn’t even get a form response. If the store can’t staff properly and their staff has to work harder as a result, that’s not on me.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      I think you did the right thing: very quietly leaving when you had to. You did the quickest, quietest thing you could. Anything else would have taken more of your time.
      A very routine part of a store employee’s job is putting things back on the shelves. We should all try not to create work for these people but on rare occasions, we all might find ourselves in your situation.
      You’re fine.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I think you have a number of misunderstandings that are not serving you well.

      You could have moved to another register yourself without waiting for someone to tell you where to move to.
      You could have asked a different employee to help you find a good lane to go to.
      You could have asked if you could pay at the customer service desk because you had an appointment coming up soon.
      You could have moved with someone to another register but just let them go first because they are the ones the clerk told to move over.
      In all likelihood the clerk assigning people to lanes wasn’t “in charge of assigning people” no more so that a traffic office is “in charge of tell people where to drive to”. The officer is just making sure people don’t plow their cars into each other. Likewise with the clerk, she is just making sure there is not a 70 cart pile up on register 5.

      I am not sure who would get angry or why they would get angry. For myself, if I feel me getting angry that is probably because I let the situation go on too long and I did not do something to change my circumstances. Perhaps this might make sense in your setting.

      Bare bones, you could have gone to the service desk and asked them to hold your cart and you would be back after your appointment. I remember one time I went to the grocery store, I was in line with a full cart. When I went to pay that was the very moment I remembered my credit card was at home. To go home and back was 45 minutes. They put my cart in a walk-in cooler because I had refrigerator items in the cart. I came back, asked for my cart out of the cooler and went back in line to the same register. At that time, they stored the receipts on a
      single register, I am not sure if they still do it that way. It was all fine no one was bothered by it.

      I have worked a lot of retail. I can tell you first hand that if the worst thing that happened to that employee that day was to put away your items, then that employee was having a GOOD day. It’s very easy to underestimate how awful retail is.

    8. StudentA*

      I would just file this under “life’s not fair” and move on. No one messed up. The poor girl at the register was likely humiliated at the arguing. The managers and the employee at the line directing people were most likely doing the best they can.

      I think all you can do in a situation like that is either calmly and quietly try to get her attention (the one directing the line), and if you can’t, then you wait patiently. If you can’t wait, you leave the merchandise at the best location possible for the employees.

      I’m sure everyone is tired of hearing this, but everyone has to give a little, especially at times like these. In the end, it was 10 minutes of your time, and a few minutes of the time of whoever has to remerchandise those items. And yes, I have tons of retail experience.

    9. RagingADHD*

      I have abandoned a cart before, when other types of delays made leaving urgent. Sometimes it can’t be helped.

      In this specific scenario, I might have done a couple of different things, depending on my assessment of the other people around me.

      1) I might be politely assertive toward the argumentative jerk, “Excuse me, could I get worked in here? Because I’m going to be late for X.” I don’t really care what he thinks of me, and it might serve as a pattern interrupt to give the cashier a break.

      2) If the cashier is waiting for a manager, I might catch their eye and ask if they could ring me through while Jerk is waiting to get his issue resolved.

      3) I might catch the eye of the next person in the main queue, and ask if I could try another lane, because this guy is holding everything up. Usually the first or second person in line will be sympathetic.

      4) I might ask the queue director to reallocate me, if the first 3 options looked unlikely or failed.

      People are generally quite reasonable about small public favors, as long as you ask for it politely, acknowledge it’s a favor, and have a “because”, like your appointment.

      There’s a famous experiment recorded in a book by Robert Cialdini called “Influence.” (He didn’t do the experiment, just wrote about it).

      A student would approach people in line for the copy machine at the library, and ask “would it be okay if I went ahead of you? Because…”

      The great majority of people agreed, as long as there was some grammatically correct phrase after the word Because. Surprisingly, the content of the phrase didn’t matter at all. Could be “because I’m in a rush.” Could be “because I need some copies.”

    10. What the What*

      I think it’s important to consider whether or not you’re this compliant in other situations. For example, if you were sick and went to an ER, and the receptionist tells you to sit down and wait because you’re not a priority. Do you sit and wait for hours, even as your symptoms worsen? Because you’re worried that she’ll get mad at you if you draw attention to yourself?

      People die in the ER all the time for this exact reason, sometimes in the waiting room.

      The truth is that no one was going to be angry with you if you changed lines. They would understand that there was a problem and probably stop putting people in the line once you alerted them to it. This was a problem with low stakes consequences. You were worried they would view you as a complainy Karen if you so much as spoke up and said “I’m going to go ahead and move to another line because a customer is having a problem in this one” when in actuality, the reaction would have been “Ok, sorry about that!”

    11. Kiwi with laser beams*

      So, there was an actual shitty customer and since it sounds like you’re American there was *gestures at everything*. Yet you leaving your cart behind – due to a decision that was in itself based on not inconveniencing others – is what warrants several days of self-recrimination?

      This is something I’ve seen people doing to themselves and others a lot. Stopping the shitty customer would likely have been difficult. Stopping *gestures at everything* is something prominent people have been trying to do for months. But you’re willing to act in good faith so that’s where you put the blame, because it’s what feels the most within your control. But it’s a losing battle because your cart was never the cause of the problem.

      So I don’t know what, if anything, I would have done differently because I’m not dealing with *gestures at everything*. But I do want to highlight that sometimes there’s no amount of perfect you can be that will stop problems from happening, and turning all the blame in on yourself will just make you feel like shit needlessly.

  24. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Viewing a home today! Anything I should be aware of?

    I’ve always looked at finding new housing through the lens of “We desperately need to leave and as long as the new place doesn’t have that problem, it’s perfect.” So every potential home is compared to problems against our current home. We are not very picky to begin with but moving home is always a huge decision for us whether it’s renting or buying so want to tread carefully.

    For example, these are the issues in our current house—

    the basement floods constantly during rainfall—new house pix show a completely finished carpeted basement but aside from smell how would I know if there’s a flooding issue?

    the pipes are ridiculously tiny so the toilet gets clogged if you throw too much TP in it—how will I be able to determine this in a new home?

    We are very very limited with budget and what we can get but this home seems to check every single box of our requirements and it looked great in pictures. Measurements are available in the listing so we have an idea of size. On paper it seems to be bigger than my current hom and from what I’ve heard from those who live nearby, it’s a calm, quiet area and not too far from where I’d possibly commute to work (IF that ever happens).

    We are working with a realtor and he mentioned that the second item can be looked at during the home inspection but if that is an issue I’m not sure how it would be resolved.

    Anything I’m missing?

    1. Fleurette*

      I’m not an expert but you should inspect the foundation carefully to look for cracks and water damage. Also look if the ground slopes towards the foundation, if so this would mean water accumulates next to the foundation when it rains and that’s not good. If you can visit the house after it rains, you could see if water pools near the foundation. You can also Google foundation inspection checklists.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        I *am* an expert in this and I second this advice.

        –Signed, a geotechnical engineer.

    2. Dear liza dear liza*

      We’ve learned to talk to the neighbors and boy howdy, dodged a bullet. (Learned the HOA was pursuing legal remedies against a prospective neighbor who broke all the covenants and had driven away the current home owner for the house we were looking at). Obviously that.’s harder to do in Covid times, though.

    3. Hazy Days*

      Would you not be having a survey of the house before purchasing, or is this to pick up on problems so you can avoid getting as far as a survey?

      Having a good google for the street name, checking crime stats, visiting the area at different times of day and the week – all things that are usually advised when purchasing in the UK.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Is a survey house inspection?

        If we enter into contract we can have the inspection and break out of the contract if need be. This would be a first viewing. I suspect these things that can only be found by a home inspector I guess.

        1. legalchef*

          You are looking in NY, right? Usually in NY you do the inspection first, and then sign the contract once you get the all clear.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            NJ. We’re working with a Realtor. The way it was explained was that we make an offer, attorney reviews, we get an inspection and I’d there’s something in it, seller has to resolve it.

            If anything comes up during inspection seller has to resolve it or we can back out without penalty.

            This is the extremely simplified version I think

            1. ThatGirl*

              This was our experience in Illinois, our first offer we backed out of after the inspection, due to some issues that we were not prepared to resolve. We were only out the inspection fee.

            2. Anon just here.......*

              Also my experience in both Utah and Alabama.

              For water issues look really closely at the foundation, and especially at the areas around any windows in the basement. Also, look for any area that seems to get WAY, WAY more cleaning than any other area of the basement (can be an indicator of things trying to be hidden).

              Looking at the grade of the backyard/garden is also a really good idea because it can tip you off to issues before they start. Ideally things should be sloped/graded away from the house. If not, looking at how much work it would be to change the grade is definitely a good idea.

              (I speak from experience – current house had some minor water issues – easy to spot in the at the time unfinished basement. Our issues were all a result of the prior owner sloping all the backyard flower beds around the house so that water ran towards and sat against the foundation. We had one crack sealed and spent two weekends resetting the grade in the back to where it should have been. Seller paid for the sealing and a more in depth inspection of the basement then normal – but he was desperate to get out of the house at the point we saw it, so we had a bit more leverage than normal.)

    4. Tiara Wearing Princess*

      Water issues? Is there a sump pump? Age of roof, heating system. In US, are there circuit breakers? Is electrical panel 100 or 200 amps (nothing less than 100).

      Porch or deck – give it a good bounce. Does it feel sturdy or a bit “mushy”? Mushy means it needs to be replaced. Town water and sewer or well and septic? How old is septic?

      In the P&S, definitely stipulate that sale is contingent on a house inspection by a professional, but try to uncover deal breakers before you make an offer. A good inspection is not cheap. And don’t go with an inspector the realtor suggests. They can feel beholden to the realtor for referrals.

    5. Dr. Anonymous*

      It would not be unheard of for buyers to throw a bunch of TP in the toilet during a showing and see how it flushes. I’m not saying it’s nice, but it’s sure been done.

      1. Anon for this*

        This is terrible advice and incredibly rude to the homeowner. Please do not do this.

      2. Potatoes gonna potate*

        The realtor mentioned the inspector can examine that. I wouldn’t/couldn’t do that during a viewing.

    6. Stephanie*

      Make sure to drive or walk the neighborhood, too. Not just the street the house is on, but also the surrounding few blocks. That will give you a good idea of how quiet/noisy the area is, how much traffic there is, etc.
      I think the only way to determine if the pipes/toilet drain sufficiently is a home inspection, unfortunately. You could certainly try flushing the toilet when you tour the house, but I don’t know if that will tell you anything.
      Good luck! House shopping is so exciting!

    7. No fan of Chaos*

      If it is 2 story, have someone downstairs and flush the toilets upstairs. The sound of water falling in the walls will tell you the insulation is not good. Look under the sinks to see if there are leaks. Look in the upper kitchen cupboards to see if they are clean. When you drive around the neighborhood look at the cars-are they all old beaters or about like yours. Come back by the house you are interested in and look at the cars-are they filled with junk and stuff? Don’t buy the house. That tells you what kind of housekeepers they are. Look in the garage to see what kind of paint they buy (do this while viewing the house) because cheap paint doesn’t wash or last. Look at the inside of the dishwasher to see if there is a mess. Look inside toilet tank to see if very old and dirty. Go to the local police station and take sweets. Ask for the real low down on the area you are thinking about. If that person doesn’t have time ask for a detective. Find the post office delivery person and ask the same. Find a local cafe-not a chain-and ask about the area. Hope this helps.

      1. university minion*

        LMAO, guess you’re not buying the house across from my house and messy beater car! Or my neighbor’s! You’d be missing out on a great ‘hood, though where people know each other, help each other out and make for a great place to live.

      2. pancakes*

        The idea of cops being happy to give someone who strolls in “the real low down” is wild to me. Cops in the US are not known for treating everyone fairly, for starters, and often take self-serving positions on crime that are at odds with statistics generated by their own departments and/or with people who study criminal justice for a living.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Since my husband and I could only afford a modest house, our target was, “Will it need major repairs in the first year?”.
      So to us, this meant the roof, foundation, furnace, dangerous trees, and big plumbing problems. My husband had wired a house and he had done other smaller jobs such as a room or garage. So we did not worry too much about wiring. We would just fix that.
      My secondary level was appliances. We got the appliances, the rugs and the curtains. This was such a huge help.

      Notice I don’t mention water problems. What a mistake to miss that. Look for willow trees or other water loving plants that telegraph there is a large and continuous supply of water around the house. Ask the soil type. We have clay. Clay soil happens because there is rock a few feet down. Unless there’s a hill, that water is not going anywhere. Annnnnd my lot is flat.

      I have done a lot of work to get the water draining better here. But it involved TEARS. I still have river grasses growing in my back yard. These are narrow grasses that one would expect to see along the side of a brook or river.

      Eh, you stay with something long enough, you learn a lot. I have learned a lot about drainage. Any modestly priced house is going to have hassles. The trick is picking hassles that you think you can work through and make the situation better.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        So by modestly price do you mean if the house itself is cheaper than the others around or in the general area?

        I’d say this was modestly priced compared to our current home (400k, similar houses in my neighborhood go for 500-600+) but for this one, most homes were in the 280-330 range in that area. It is a little smaller than others around but it seemed like a really nice starter home.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          At that time, I’d estimate that 75% of the houses out there were more than ours. One house that was lower than this one, I could not walk into it. Another house around the same price had several rooms that were not usable right away as they needed extensive repair. House shopping was a total downer.

          Until this one. Every room in this house was usable on day one for us. It had a good roof and a relatively new furnace. Everything was on one floor. (This is such an advantage if you come home flippin’ exhausted every day.) Added bonus the drive way was flat. No major worries about winter snows.

          It’s considered a starter home or retirement home. If I live here much longer it will fill both functions for me. I thought we’d get a larger house at some point. but the longer I lived here the more I realized I have what I actually want.

    9. Anono-me*

      When I was house hunting. I took along a level and a flashlight and the Whatchamacallit used to test outlets for power.

      If the house was a serious contender, I would take off my shoes and socks and scoot barefoot across the carpeted areas in the basement to see if I could feel any major cracks in the foundation.

      Also the neighbors that were out and about were a great resource for me.

  25. CJM*

    Any tips for falling asleep at bedtime or at 2am when my thoughts keep me awake for a few hours? Reading a book is all I’ve found that works: my mind wanders into the book instead of my own anxieties until I doze off. But some nights are rough, and nothing I try seems to help (e.g., counting backwards, relaxing muscles one by one, repeatedly thinking something like “don’t think,” and taking melatonin). I’d appreciate learning what reliably works for others.

    1. PBS Fan*

      I put on a British television show from PBS and listen to it with my eyes closed. The accents are very relaxing and there are no commercials to jar you awake with a sudden blast of sound. Don’t forgot to put on your TV timer so it goes off automatically.

    2. nep*

      I have a really tough time falling asleep. It seems to help to listen to a speaker I like…You need to be sure it’s a commercial-free audio that doesn’t end with any loud sounds or anything. I don’t know whether you’re into anyone in particular whose voice and message would be conducive to falling asleep?

    3. Lena Clare*

      The sound of rain on a tin roof, or thunder sounds at the ocean on YouTube soothe me.
      I use a bedtime yoga sequence (3 minutes long, I will try to post a link to it) which helps and I do mindfulness meditation. Mark Williams and Danny Penman on YouTube are great for that; they’re also short, and clinically approved :)

    4. sswj*

      I have a meditation app or two on my phone and iPad. It took a few trial and error sessions, but I found one with background music that was soothing and the speaker has a nice voice and a delivery that I like. (iSleepEasy, I think). I put the volume at a level that’s just barely loud enough for me to hear what’s said, and I just focus on that and try to follow the meditation directions. Usually it works pretty quickly. And if I don’t actually fall asleep I’m at least lying still and relaxed with my brain not acting like a coked-up squirrel.

      The other exercise I do I usually try before going through the bother of getting my iPad app going. It works well for me most times. I do the ‘circular breathing’ technique where you inhale for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of five, and exhale for a count of six. Lather, rinse, repeat. The exact timing isn’t so important, if I’m having a bad breathing day I’ll shorten everything (and sometimes I just inhale, hold, exhale to whatever’s comfortable) but the concentration on breath and the quiet repetitiveness of it is what’s helpful. There are all sorts of articles and videos out there that explain it better than I can. It sounds so simple, but for me it’s pretty effective.

      Good luck, that kind of sleeplessness is the pits!

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      If your thoughts are related to things you need to do, you could try making a to-do list in bed so your brain knows you won’t forget. Or you could do journaling if it’s different sort of thoughts. Either way a pad of paper and pen by the bed, maybe a small reading light.

      Exercise is generally good for mood. Don’t eat too close to when you want to sleep.

      I like to take mental “vacations” when trying to sleep by picturing in detail a happy place or time from my own past – trip, nice things about a place I lived, etc.

      I also believe in melatonin but it’s not a miracle worker. I wouldn’t do benzodiazepines or alcohol but if you need a medication, you could ask your pcp about low dose seroquel.

      1. nep*

        Oh, such an important point about eating. If I eat too close to bedtime, I might as well give it up. Makes a world of difference.

        1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

          Melatonin supplements peak about an hour after taking so take it about an hour before you want to sleep.

      2. Easy there*

        Try out melatonin on your weekend; it gives me nightmares & unrestful sleep. I’m an outlier, but do your trial runs on nights it won’t matter as much.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah, ASMR can help if that sort of thing works on you. Give it a try and see if it does.

    6. Claire*

      I use the sleepcasts on the Calm meditation app. Most sound things don’t help me, but these really work for me. They begin with a short relaxation exercise, then it’s just someone talking about an imaginary place such as a library, beach etc. There’s no real narrative to follow so my brain doesn’t worry about understanding what’s happening, and I fall asleep fast.

    7. HannahS*

      I watch really boring chemistry videos. Or fine art restoration videos. They are things that I’m mildly interested in, but don’t really care about, and narrated by calm voices. So for me, it’s Nile Red and Baumgartner Restoration on youtube. It’s gotten to the point where, a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t have my phone handy, so I just thought about chemistry and zonked right off to sleep.

      1. Altair*

        Nile Red! That kid has a very soothing voice. I actually find his videos fascinating so I have a little list of the ones I’ve watched already to fall asleep to, as if I put on a new one I’ll start watching it. :)

      2. NeonFireworks*

        I like Nile Red! Allohmon also has the world’s most soothing strategy game narration.

    8. 2QS*

      I struggled with this for years and finally did an overnight sleep study and discovered that I have clinical insomnia. It’s true that anxiety, etc. can be readily mistaken for sleep disorders, but this explains why I never had any luck with any of the tips that helped other people, up to and including melatonin.

    9. Ranon*

      I like the Sleep with Me podcast, it has a kind of evil genius to it where the person who makes it talks in a soothing voice about something inane and then rambles so excessively that my brain just gives up and goes to sleep- there’s enough content that my spinning brain thinks it can listen so I don’t wind up thought spiralling to calming background noise.

      Going to sleep in another location even if it is less comfortable works pretty well too.

    10. fposte*

      I like ASMR videos. But what also helps a lot for me is making sure I get some vigorous physical exercise during the day. It doesn’t have to be long, but enough that I get out of breath and raise my heart rate. It makes a huge difference for me.

    11. Parenthetically*

      I think good sleep is usually a result of a constellation of lifestyle choices rather than a life-hack sort of thing at bedtime, if that makes sense?

      Magnesium (I take Natural Calm), NO SCREENS IN BED (I’m terrible at this), deep belly breathing, moderate booze consumption, cool and very dark room, no caffeine after noon, vigorous exercise in the morning hours, staying hydrated.

    12. Dino*

      One of the best things you can do for sleep hygiene is to not stay in bed when you can’t fall asleep. If you haven’t fallen asleep after 30 mins of trying, get up and do something. Wash dishes, do bills, fold laundry, just something mindless but out of your sleeping area, then try to go to sleep again. Repeat as needed throughout the night (but hopefully it won’t take that much!)

    13. Dan*

      In general, do you exercise? I can have the darndest time falling asleep if I don’t get regular exercise. I noticed this back in my college days — the first two years I lived on campus, my dorms were on the opposite side of campus from my classes. But junior year, I moved to a much more convenient dorm, but got less walking. My sleep patterns did suffer as a result.

      Now that I’m adult with an office job, it can get even worse, so I really do have to exercise regularly if I want to sleep well.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yeah, consistent exercise (even just 20 minutes a day of Pilates) and a white noise machine knocks me out cold these days.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Things that have nothing to do with sleep, except for the fact that they prevent good sleep:

      Are you set for tomorrow? Do you have everything lined up that you will need for the next day? Not being prepared for the next day can add to restlessness.

      Did you finish putting away the stuff you pulled out for today? Is the world’s largest pile of dirty dishes sitting on your counter? Knowing that things are not completed can add to restlessness.

      Are your bills paid? If no, do you have some idea of how they will get paid? Even starting to launch a plan can be of help.

      Have you been hydrating regularly? If no, time to build a plan to get in a regular amount of water each day.

      A wandering mind and excess stress can be a clue about mineral loss. We don’t need a ton of minerals but if we don’t have them, our minds can be a hot mess. You can talk to a pro about this. If that is not doable, or if you have to wait, I’d suggest a drink with electrolytes in it. Stress pulls vitamins and minerals right out of the body (and therefore the brain also). Wandering thoughts that won’t quit can be (not always) a sign that minerals are running low.

      How’s allergies? I had to change my laundry soap because I could see that it was impacting my sleep.

      I have never found telling myself “not to think” worked out well. I ended up thinking more. How about a gratitude journal? Or how about just listing off what you are grateful for in life?

      I even went as far as simplifying my diet. I eat very simple foods, with minimal added ingredients. That helped.

      My absolute fav thing was to end my day at 9 pm. This gave me an hour to read benign material (okay boring material) and empty out my head from the days events. I got to the point where I really looked forward to 9 pm because I could count on me to just STOP.

    15. CJM*

      Thanks, everyone. You’ve shared so many good ideas! I do some things well (like cool temp, darkness, white noise, and no caffeine after noon) , but I could stand to work on others (like exercise, hydration, and minerals).

      I’m noise sensitive and count on a silent room to help me sleep, but I’ll try a podcast or other audio options … because why not? I need to make some changes.

      Thanks again to those who’ve shared and to those who still may!

      1. Autumn*

        I always thought I needed a silent room (with white noise) but I’ve started listening to soothing audiobooks – I got a pillow speaker, a really flat one that I plug into my phone, and I find that helps so much! I can’t listen to anything where I’m too interested, so it helps to pick something that I have already read, or that is sort of dreamlike/nonsensical – Peter Yearsley, who reads for LibriVox (free, public domain stuff) has the most comforting voice, and I have been listening to him read parts of M.R. James’ The Five Jars for weeks now and I still have very little idea what it’s about, lol. LibrivVox’s app is fairly good – it has a sleep timer, and if I wake in the night I just restart it. With the pillow speaker my spouse isn’t annoyed (he has his own), I don’t worry about damaging my phone, and the voice is just muffled enough to let me drift off. One of the unexpected benefits is that even if I do wake up a few times, I know I wasn’t awake all that long based on the fact that I can only remember a sentence or two in the morning.

    16. MistOrMister*

      I have a couple of go-to movies that almost always put me to sleep. I like them both a lot, but I’ve fallen asleep to them so often they have an almost Pavlovian effect when I need something to push me into sleeping. It does take some time to get to that point with them, though.

      I also like to sometimes stay in bed and thinking through a story. Like recounting a recent dream I’ve had that night and filling out the details. Or something that would be considered day dreamy. Doesn’t work all the time, but sometimes I will fall back asleep while my brain is meandering through the story.

    17. Double A*

      I cannot sleep with sound or a TV on, but an episode of “The Joy of Painting” usually calms my brain enough that once I turn it off I can sleep pretty well. There’s a million of them available on YouTube.

    18. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve found waking up extremely early in the morning and not taking a nap makes it far easier for me to fall asleep at a “normal” time. But if you’re worried your mind might wander too much into the book, I’d recommend reading the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. That will put you to sleep within a few pages.

    19. RagingADHD*

      I take magnesium & zinc as well as melatonin. My go-to brain unwinder is Sudoku. It requires just enough attention to override worries, and then I start dropping off.

    20. Heather*

      I discovered headbands with bluetooth speakers in them. They are small and flat, so I don’t really feel them even if laying on my side. I actually have three – 1) thicker material for cold weather, 2) much thinner material for warm weather, and 3) a set that’s actually an eye mask as well.

      I know which podcasts help me sleep and the sound doesn’t bother my partner.

  26. Unsure but Trying*

    Can anyone recommend a book or website that is similar to AAM but deals with social situations? If someone is socially awkward and unsure of themself, where could they look for direction and practical advice/scripts for everyday life? Thanks.

      1. Generic Name*

        Totally agreed on these two recommendations. Dr. Nerd love is skewed towards a cis-het male perspective, but it’s still useful for people who don’t identify as the above. The advice is noteworthy because it helps men to improve themselves (and therefore their dating prospects) and tackles toxic masculinity.

    1. Deep Dark Blue*

      Late comment but I’d love to learn about a few others besides Captain Awkward and Dr. Nerdlove. They’re great but don’t always fit the bill.

  27. Sandra Dee*

    In a moment of uncoodination, during my morning walk this week, I stepped wrong, and thought I sprained my ankle. After a quick trip to urgent care, it was revealed I broke my ankle (walked part way home on it before a neighbor offered me a ride). So I am in a cast for at least 6 weeks (currently non-weight bearing), then a boot for a couple more weeks, then an ankle brace. I am not the most coordinated person, so crutches are not the best idea for me. I have a knee scooter arriving today. I am fortunate that when I bought my house a couple years ago, the main bathroom has a built in seat, so I can sit and take a shower, and most of the living area is on one floor. Plus, it is my left ankle, so I can still drive, if needed. At least I can get most things delivered, thanks to the pandemic. I have been sleeping on the couch, only because I cannot move as much, which limits my pain level with less tossing and turning. I am open to suggestions and tips from anyone who has gone through this or something similar.

    Going to search for Alison’s blog documenting her foot surgery and issues from several years ago. (I am very greatful I do not need surgery)

    1. Recent Grad*

      I’ve broken my left foot twice(so boot only for 6 weeks), one thing I wish I had done was some physical therapy once I was back in regular shoes. My hips got kind of messed up from the constant uneven weight distribution and I wish I had done more to address that immediately.

    2. Anonymous for this*

      Ouch! This sucks. I had a similar injury a few years ago; I randomly tripped and thought I’d sprained something in my foot, but it turned out to be a fracture in a bizarre place (seriously, who breaks their first metatarsal?!), and I ended up in a cast for six weeks. The doctors told me I didn’t need the crutches, but I felt so unstable and precarious without them that I used them the entire time. The hardest part for me was in the recovery. Getting the cast off was a thrill, and a couple of months of walking around evened out the dimensions of my calf muscles. However, the pain and stiffness endured, gradually receding but lurking in abeyance for a long time (there was a long time when everything felt back to normal unless I tried going on tiptoe, in which case OW OW OW NO BAD IDEA). I also developed temporary arthritis in the joint, which prolonged things.

      The best thing I did was sign myself up for six months of physiotherapy for after the cast came off, which reassured me that I was doing the right things and making progress. Even a year wouldn’t have been overdoing it. Also, the second physiotherapist I saw – later, during the arthritis period – did a careful check on all of my shoes, and suggested I wear really good athletic shoes for a while (new, upmarket ones that don’t yield easily to being twisted if you put one hand on the toebox and one on the heel and rotate in opposite directions). Here’s to a straightforward recovery!

    3. Mimosa Jones*

      One thing I noticed when I broke my ankle a few years back was that it really affected my mood and the mood of others on the broken ankle facebook group I was in. Some days/weeks were harder than others and it was so predictable you could almost mark your calendar. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the weeks now, but be prepared. Human beings are meant to move and when your ability to do so is suddenly so restricted it can be very emotionally hard. But it’s almost always temporary. (The Facebook group is “Broken Ankle / Foot / Leg Recovery – On a Quest for Normal!” I highly recommend it.)

      My Orthopedic department was fairly useless for the little things like functioning with a broken ankle so I learned most of what I needed to know from YouTube. That’s how I learned to walk with crutches, how to transition to walking with the boot, how to put on and take off my boot, etc. And figure out how to make physical therapy work with your area’s Covid restrictions. It’s absolutely worth it.

      My last piece of advice is to throw money at this. Obviously, follow your budget, seek out used before new, etc, but get the things that sound like they’ll make your life easier. Every time I talked myself out of getting something because Reason, I regretted it. And I never regretted buying what I did end up buying. So get the cushin that properly elevates your leg…carefully arranged pillows are a poor substitute. When you get your boot, get the shoe lift for your other foot so your hips are even, get the fuzzy socks that feel so good. And the anti-gravity lawn chair that elevates your foot while reclining. Spring for grocery delivery, or the extra streaming service. Whatever you think you might need to make this situation survivable. It’s worth it.

      1. Mimosa Jones*

        One more thing…ask for help. It’s the hardest thing to do, and you’ll find yourself wanting to do really stupid stuff to avoid “inconveniencing” people. Covid definitely limits what anyone can do, but don’t try to gumption your way through this alone.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Forgive me if you already know this rule for stairs- up with the good and down with the bad.

      This means if you are going UP a flight of stairs you start on your good foot. Go up one step. Bring your bad foot up right beside your good foot on the same step. Then go up another step with your good foot. And repeat, bring the bad foot up beside the good foot then move the good foot up the next step. This is called “up with the good”.

      Going down the stairs is the opposite, “down with the bad”. So you put your bad foot down on the step, bring your good foot down beside the bad, on the same step. Then drop the bad foot down one more step. Bring your good foot down beside it. “Down with the bad.”

      Now in order to get this right each time, remember the saying, “good go UP to heaven and bad go DOWN to hell.” So you need to step up on to a curb. Up with the good. (Good go up to heaven.) Going back, you need to step down, so down with the bad. (Bad go down to hell.)

      I know you won’t need this ATM, but you will soon enough. I showed my friend this and her ability and willingness to move about increased many times over. She was at that stage where she did not need her chair but walking was still exhausting. She said this was helpful and she was baffled that none of the medical people had told her.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      When the cast comes off, if covid-19 Rose, try swimming. This will let your body get exercise without putting weight on the ankle or the other muscles nearby that may have weakened over time in the cast.

    6. WoodswomanWrites*

      I can relate. I broke my ankle walking down the street. Your treatment sounds comparable to mine, although I opted for crutches rather than a scooter.

      Adding to the helpful suggestions others have shared, it’s good to remember that swelling contributes to pain, and anything you can do to address swelling is useful. It’s typical for the ankle to hurt more toward the end of the day just from gravity since you’re not moving around much. What helped me was elevating my lower leg whenever possible throughout the day, whether that was lying on my back or propping up my leg sitting upright. Reducing pain promotes healing and if you’re open to taking painkillers, I found ibuprofen or acetaminophen useful especially for sleeping.

      When you get the cast off, cushioned athletic shoes make a big difference. You’ll have atrophy in your leg from lack of use and physical therapy exercises help a lot. And having sprained both ankles more than once, I was pleased to realize that a bone heals more quickly and becomes pain-free much sooner than a sprain that can get irritated for a long time. I wish you speedy healing!

    7. Ktelzbeth*

      Many times, the boot will be have a thicker sole than your regular shoes. They make lifts that strap to your regular shoe and even you out. I highly recommend them.

  28. coffee cup*

    I’ve found that during the pandemic and working from home especially (this isn’t a work question, that’s just related!) my well-honed routine of getting up early and doing things has been sliding a lot. The weird hours I’m keeping (because my brain naturally wants to start doing things in the evening) plus the antidepressants I’m on seem to be combining to make me so tired in the mornings. I wake up super tired and not in the mood to do anything. Once I’m up and often once I’ve had a nap I’m fine. I wasted all of this morning just napping in bed and I’d hoped to go out and do some walking and stuff.

    I’m often too hard on myself for things that I should just chill about (like, yeah, it’s a world crisis, I’m on meds, I live on my own, so maybe this is all OK?) but I also would like to try to get back a little to the way I lived for years before this happened (because I had to commute, mainly). Has this happened to anyone and have you any tips to try to get back to ‘normal’ a bit more without also getting annoyed at yourself for being not ‘productive’ enough? If that even makes sense.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Might try adding a vitamin D supplement, if you’re spending less time outside than you used to? I found that vitamin D made a significant difference in the ability to get out of bed in the mornings. (I’ve always been okay if the sun is up before I am, but had a much harder time in the winter – once I added D to my daily vitamins, I was getting up at 6am in the winter without any issues or snooze buttons or anything.)

    2. Natalie*

      How much sunlight are you getting exposed to throughout the day? Vitamin D aside, sunlight is how your brain figures out its circadian rhythm. We’ve had a lot of heatwaves here that have necessitated closing the curtains to keep the house tolerable, and between that and blackout curtains for our baby (roomsharing) I’ve been having a ton of difficulties getting out of bed. I try to remember to open the curtain at night either before I go to bed or when I get up with the baby, and that early morning sunlight exposure really seems to help.

      1. fposte*

        I’m starting to see a lot of pandemic effects as percentage influences rather than total changes–I’m definitely more dependent on light in the morning than I would be in a normal summer, which became clear this week when we had some rainy mornings and getting out of bed was like December. I have a daylight alarm clock and I’m setting it up this weekend, figuring the worst it could be is redundant.

    3. Anónima*

      I second the recommendation to take a vitamin D supplement. I will also add that getting natural sunlight in the day, along with the other typical sleep hygiene recommendations – such as maintaining the same bedtime and get up time everyday, no napping, cool bedroom, exercise daily, no caffeine after about 2 pm – will help a lot.

      I combine the sunlight and exercise thing by walking for half an hour every day – if you can do this, I think it will improve things for you, but just sitting in the daylight will help reset your circadian rhythm too. I think many of us have disrupted sleep patterns at the minute because working from home during Covid has switched things up. I find it objectively interesting, along with the more disturbed dreams that people are reporting having during this pandemic. Seems like the collective consciousness is going through it right now. Best wishes to you.

      1. coffee cup*

        Thank you! I do the best I can do adhere to those things so I’ve not done too badly really. But something clearly isn’t quite working. I did take vitamin D for a while in but maybe it’s time to try again. I feel that even though it’s totally understandable that people’s patterns are different because of the situation, some people still don’t quite understand that and would assume I was being lazy… which I don’t want!

    4. valentine*

      I am a fan of giving my body the sleep she craves because I know it won’t last and fighting it will both extend it and make everything worse. So sleep when your body says to. Maybe you are getting up too early and an hour or two later would let you either go without a nap or do stuff pre-nap. If what you want is to be outside in daylight hours, later hours are okay? Can you split up your workday so you have the walk/stuff in a bigger block near the middle?

      Finally, if this is your attempt to get as close to possible to pre-pandemic SOP, stop. That time is gone. You’re free to establish a new SOP that fits your current needs, which may be (very?) different.

      1. coffee cup*

        Yeah, I just don’t like the current timeline. I liked being earlier to things. I quite enjoy the early morning. I just can’t get my body to want to like it again too.

        I can’t be super flexible with the core hours during the day so I feel I have to always be ‘present’ at home even if I’m actually watching YouTube and waiting for my motivation to kick in. I’m just worried that when I go back to a more ‘normal’ way of doing things it’ll be really tough.

    5. Dancing otter*

      I don’t know whether you take your meds at night or in the morning, but have you talked to your doctor or pharmacist about the timing? Something is clearly telling your body that evening is for being energetic and morning is for sleeping.

      Some people are naturally night owls rather than larks, but you used to function as a lark before the antidepressants, right? If it isn’t because of the meds, what about caffeine or something else?
      Anecdata — My father used to put away half a pot of coffee with/ after dinner, and wondered why he had insomnia. Scandinavians and their coffee! Well, 1970 decaf was pretty foul stuff, but really, Dad.

      A timer to start the coffee at whatever time you want to get going might help.

      1. coffee cup*

        Thanks for your comment! I take them at night because I thought that would help with the tiredness (I took them in the morning to start with). The thing is, I’m naturally more of a night owl. I used to stay up late when I was younger. But in working life I was a well-oiled machine of just getting up and doing stuff, and it was never *too* bad. I liked that I’d changed that, because I like being up early and getting things done. That’s why I miss it, really. I feel slow to get going in the morning and end up working late at night to make up for my uselessness.

        1. BeenThere*

          Try taking the antidepressants in the AM instead of the evening, if you can. Some antidepressants can have a stimulant effect – makes sense because they are trying to raise you out of the depression.

          The first time I took antidepressants, the doctor (not an expert) told me to take them at night. Then suddenly I couldn’t sleep for half the night, every night, which made me feel even worse than before medication. So I was recommended to a specialist, who told me to try taking the pills at breakfast instead. The not-sleeping problem went away. Might work for you too. Doesn’t hurt to try, unless you specifically been told not to take them in the morning.

  29. Washi*

    Has anyone watched the show Love on the Spectrum? It’s originally Australian and Netflix just picked it up. I don’t normally watch a lot of dating shows, but I used to watch the Bachelor/Bachelorette with my friends and this is kind of filling that hole in my life, even though it’s more on the documentary side than the reality TV side. (If you’ve ever watched the Bachelor and wished they would stop playing silly games and also cast more nerds, this may be the show for you.)

    Basically, it follows a number of young adults on the spectrum in their quest to date/find a partner. I’m not autistic, but at least in the episodes I’ve watched, there seems to be a good balance of showing some of the unique challenges of dating for autistic people but also some of the universal experiences of awkward first dates and liking the person more/less than they like you, etc.

    I’m only a couple episodes in, but thus far all of the cast is going on dates with other autistic people, and there are lots of scenes of parents giving advice and encouragement, and of some coaching by a relationship specialist. Some of the advice seems pretty universal, like making sure to introduce yourself and ask the other person questions, but sometimes I’ve wondered if the advice is geared towards mimicking how non-autistic people interact in necessary ways. For example, when Maddi is roleplaying a date with her dad, he asks her if she wants kids, and she says “no.” He tells her that just a blunt no kind of shuts the conversation down and to leave things more open. So they try again and this time she says “no, because I think they are a waste of time and money.” And then he models answering something like “well, I’m leaning towards no, but I’m still thinking about it.” Which she rightfully points out might give the other person false hope! I mean, yes, on a date I might find her wording a little jarring, but it’s also clear and honest, and I wondered if she’s interested in dating other autistic people, is it necessary to coach her to be less frank?

    Anyway, I’m curious if others have watched and what you think!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I actually think her dad’s advice in that example is dumb, haha. If the answer is “no” on something as potentially significant in a relationship as “do you want kids” and you’re NOT actually still on the fence about it, then anything other than a clear “no” is a bad idea. If my now-husband had responded anything other than a clear and unambiguous NO when I asked him if he wanted kids, especially anything that involved “leaving things open” or otherwise implied that he was open to considering it as an option, we wouldn’t have started dating, let alone gotten married, on the grounds that if I already know I don’t want to have kids, what’s the point in continuing a conversation about maybe having kids with someone. (But I peg pretty high on the HFA indicators, so maybe I’m biased.)

      I mean, my answer to ANYONE who asks me for any reason if I want to have kids is “Absolutely not.” So I’m on Team Maddi and now I’m curious about the show (which I’ve never heard of).

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        I’m with you. This isn’t a dinner party with strangers situation, where the objective is to avoid points of conflict so as to have a pleasant conversation. If you have deal-breakers, you bring them up. It’s kinder for everyone involved to break the deal ASAP, preferably while you’ve only invested a half-dinner into the relationship. You can avoid phrasing this in a way that implies that you disagree with the other person’s choices because those choices are self-evidently stupid, but you can’t weasel either. (But I am a blunt instrument myself, so.)

    2. alex b*

      I watched the 5 eps on Netflix and have many thoughts!

      — Mark is such a gem. “What if she doesn’t like dinosaurs?” “Nope.” His museum tour! The zoo date! He should get a job as a docent, and also his future partner is so lucky.
      — I felt sorry for Amanda: first date, suuuper formal, cameras. She’s so cute and brave (that anime costume!); hope she is happy.
      — I also felt sorry for the dudes Olivia was set up with because she was kinda rude.
      — I had a bit of a hard time reading Maddi but thought maybe they should have set her up with NT guys. She kept going back to appearance and money, which wasn’t funny to me but just super dumb and shallow. I would have a hard time being her friend, I think.
      — I hope Lotus and Chloe went on more dates together! And I liked the scene with Chloe and her DS bff.
      — Michael kinda took the Red Pill; not a fan.
      — Hardcore rooting for Kelvin and Andrew, almost as much as Mark. Also Lauren! Loved her.
      — I loved the interviews with the parents. A lot of them came across as wonderful supporters.

      1. Washi*

        I haven’t watched all the episodes yet so I don’t recognize everything on your list, but yes I loved Chloe and wanted to be her friend! Her sunflower date with Lotus was the cutest thing ever. And it really threw into contrast Amanda’s first date. Being filmed in a fancy restaurant on a first date would be super anxiety producing for almost anyone! I’ve wondered if they’ll address the confounding factor of the cameras at any point.

        Oof, haven’t gotten to anything super concerning about Michael, but I can see that. It seems like he’s read a lot about dating on the internet, which can definitely lead a person astray…

        1. alex b*

          Thanks for responding! Maybe next weekend more people will have watched it; I’d love to discuss! None of my in-person friends are into it.
          The sunflower date was, indeed, adorable, and the later eps have sweet dates and earnest people, too. :) I’m less interested in the story-lines about established couples, but Jimmy did win me over.

    3. The Time Being*

      I think that kind of a question falls into a bit of the grey space between what is “acting neurotypical” versus what is conversational skills.

      Running with your example, a blunt “no” does shut the conversation down! A blunt “yes” does too, although not quite so harshly. The reason is that it doesn’t toss the conversational ball back to the other person. If you just say “no” in answer to a question and leave it at that, you’re creating a dead end, and also treating the conversation as much more of a one-way interview than as a mutual get to know each other activity.

      On the other hand, telling her to waffle on the answer instead is useless. Being frank but still moving the conversation along would be saying no, and adding additional information that tells something about yourself and might be interesting to the other person. IE, “No, having kids would interfere with traveling the world, which I’d really like to do.” Or even just saying “No, what about you?”

    4. only acting normal*

      Haven’t watched yet, only seen the trailer, but that dad’s advice to be less honest is messed up; apart from anything else lying is not the way to keep a conversation going!
      My NT husband seems to attract multiple autistic friends and mentees, including me. He actively likes the autistic tendency to frank honesty.

    5. Tau*

      Haven’t watched the show, but I am on the spectrum, and I agree with you that the dad’s advice there is terrible!

      This actually hit a button for me, because… how to put this…

      A lot of “social skills” that autistic people learn are actually “social skills for interacting with neurotypical people”. These social skills can make you actively worse at interacting with other autistic people. I put a lot of work into passing as NT/functioning socially in the NT world in my late teens, and in that process I ruined a friendship with a fellow likely-on-the-spectrum person because we shared certain behaviours and I began to react super badly to hers because I was trying to train myself out of mine. Fun times!

      In general, talking to other autistic people, I often notice that there are… ways in which we understand each other, body language that we can interpret, conversational patterns that we follow, that NT people do not and which therefore get interpreted as “meaningless behaviour” or “lack of social skills” on our part. I have another autistic friend where talking to him is always amazing because I can just *relax* and follow some natural patterns of conversation which I normally always have to suppress. And I’m sure that feeling would be even stronger if I didn’t have a ton of engrained let’s-fake-being-NT habits layered on top of it. :/

      So yeah, “don’t just say ‘no’, say ‘I’m still thinking about it'” is ABSOLUTELY 1000% terrible advice for interacting with other autistic people. Not having to deal with that sort of double-talk is one of the benefits of interacting with fellow people on the spectrum for a lot of us, coaching her into using it – when she will not have the skills necessary to work out whether it’s being interpreted correctly or how to deal with it when her conversational partner doesn’t pick up on it on the implied meaning – is just plain sabotage.

      1. Washi*

        This is what I was wondering about! The dad’s advice to Maddi stood out to me especially because while he’s partly right about a monosyllabic answer shutting things down, the other piece of his advice was kind of silly for neurotypical people too.

        It’s hard for me to point to anything else super specific from the show (though maintaining eye contact was another bit of advice that seemed like it might not be necessary for a date with two autistic people.) But yeah, it seems like you could end up with two autistic people tiptoeing around each other in unnecessary ways. There were several moments on the show when one person would ask the other a fairly simple follow up question, like what movies/books/animals they like, and the person would totally freeze up and actually have to leave the conversation. Maybe I’m totally misinterpreting that, but I wondered if the strain of trying to remember all this advice that doesn’t always jibe with their natural tendencies made it hard to just be in the moment and give the real answer to the question! (or I could be totally wrong and there’s something else going on there). And that sucks, since the point of dating is to find someone you can relax and be yourself with!

        1. Tau*

          Maybe I’m totally misinterpreting that, but I wondered if the strain of trying to remember all this advice that doesn’t always jibe with their natural tendencies made it hard to just be in the moment and give the real answer to the question!

          You’re absolutely correct that that could be happening. Social skills for autistic people is one of my red-button-of-rage issues and this is one of the reasons why: a lot of these “skills” take work and energy and focus that detract from the actual conversation at hand or, y’know, other things you might want to do. And they always take that energy, because they are unnatural to you. I have continual neverending problems with… exhaustion, lack of energy, difficulty doing basic things, especially difficulty interacting with people, and I am certain that a large part of the cause is the amount of extra work I do in social situations. Work which is by now automatic enough that I’m not even consciously aware of a lot of it and absolutely can’t stop doing it, but which still drains me. It sucks a lot, and it’s setting my teeth on edge that apparently these autistic people are coached into this sort of social… self-control and suppression of their natural instincts… with other autistic people, which is the #1 place you might not have to do this. Also, it’s possible to start putting “act in a neurotypical way” over things like “say what you mean” or “understand what it is you are saying” or “understand what is happening in the conversation at all” which is so not recommended it’s not funny. (Ask me how I know /o\)

          and the eye contact thing makes me want to laugh until I cry because… I think I actually pass as NT really damn well these days? And I don’t really bother with checking my eye contact. I have my stims under absolutely iron control, I emote in a way NT people can read, I can follow a lot of the rules of conversation and politeness and do small talk and everything, but I find that eye contact is too finicky (the area between “you are not looking at me and it makes me uncomfortable” and “you are staring at me and it makes me uncomfortable” is really narrow), takes an absurd amount of energy, has a high chance of accidentally overloading you (I often find eye contact really unpleasant), and you can get away with not doing it properly if you tighten up other areas. I will never, ever stop finding it ridiculous that this is the thing people latch onto when it comes to skills people on the spectrum absolutely must have. It sounds like in this case they didn’t even teach the “look at the person’s nose or mouth instead of their eyes” trick for faking it?!

          …sorry for the rant, it just always gets to me how risky these sorts of skills can be, how vulnerable they can make you, and how hardly anyone who isn’t on the spectrum themselves seems to realise this.

          1. NeonFireworks*

            Thank you so much for sharing all this! I am NT but almost all of my closest friends are spectrum/ADHD folks, and so I’ve been trying to read more perspectives from neuroatypical voices in order to better support my friends and remove unconscious ableist ideas from my expectations. Between two of these friends in particular, I think this sub-vocal communication is exactly that thing I’d accepted but never understood!

          2. Washi*

            Thank you so much for your reply! This all makes a lot of sense. Obviously anyone can/probably does get bad dating advice from their parents or even professionals, but it seems like it would be even harder to sort it all out if you’ve been told that autistic = bad at all social things and therefore the NT person must know better.

            1. Cedrus Libani*

              In my experience, the best advice **for you** comes from the people who are most like you. Even if that person is objectively less skilled. It’s very difficult to teach things you never had to learn.

              I don’t quite meet the criteria for autism, but I’m profoundly optimized for thinking about logic puzzles rather than thinking about human behavior. I had to learn social skills nearly from scratch, and while I’m functional, sometimes it shows. But I’m good at teaching people like me, because I’m aware of the basic mechanical details of how social skills work – the stuff a good salesperson would do subconsciously, by instinct, to the point where they don’t even know they’re doing it.

  30. Anon and alone*

    Hey all. Any tips for coping with a broken wrist? It’s in a temporary half cast right now, I’ll be getting the permanent one Tues. or Wed. I live alone and it’s my non-dominant hand. In case you’re wondering, it was a stupid accident, I tripped on the sidewalk. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Ranon*

      If you have hair you prefer to keep out of your face, headbands and clips are super helpful for one hand hair styling

      If your doc will do it, there are cast materials you can get wet- I had one and while I wouldn’t, say, swim with it daily it was really helpful to not have to worry too much about getting it wet (although I still did a dry bag for showers because constantly damp skin is itchy!) And if the cast is uncomfortable, ask if they’ll recast it- my first made my thumb a little numb and the second was much more comfortable.

    2. pancakes*

      I broke my non-dominant wrist a couple years ago slipping on ice. I’m not sure I have advice but you have my sympathy! It was tedious. I’m not sure I had a permanent cast — I had ORIF surgery, and had to wear an enormous foam thing for about 10 days, but don’t recall a cast. It healed quickly and very well, if that’s any consolation. I have a little titanium in there now and it’s fine.

    3. DistantAudacity*

      Home Cooking is a podcast from Samin Nosrat and Hrishikesh Hirway, done during these times. Episode 5? answers questions about cooking one-handed – that may give you some tips?

      Also, it’s a lovely podcast :) They were going to do 4 episodes, but are now up to 6!

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Broke mine as a kid. Mom got me slip on shoes and sandals. Today you can get elastic shoelaces for sneakers. I just did not wear socks until the cast came off.
      I asked for a short haircut after only a couple of days of mom brushing my hair.
      And if you’re a bra-wearing human I highly recommend a front-clasp bra.

    5. Pam*

      If your cast can’t get wet, you can buy cast covers at your local pharmacy or Amazon. Beats the trash bag, duct tape version.

    6. Anono-me*

      Electric can opener and paper cartons for orange juice and milk. (If you have trouble opening them, you can just stab them at the top with a knife.)

    7. Anon and alone*

      Thank you to all who responded with both sympathy and recommendations. Ranon I will definitely ask about the water resistant cast material.

  31. Blue Eagle*

    Inflatable stand-up paddleboard.
    Good news! Remember three weeks ago I posted that we tried to buy the Body Glove Performer 11′ Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board Package from Costco but were unable to because the website said they were out of them? Well, one of the commenters suggested trying one more time. And even though I tried every day since the previous Saturday and always got the “out of stock, product no longer available” message and had given up, I tried one more time. And – – success!
    The reason I haven’t posted about it sooner is because it took 17 days to finally arrive, and I was excited to finally use it on Wednesday. Inflating it was a bit of a workout for my arms (which is probably a good thing) and the board had good stability on our gentle waters. Using it has been great fun and I am so glad to have the recommendation for this particular SUP package from the AAM commentariat (so sorry that I forgot exactly which one of you recommended it in the first place and which one suggested trying one more time).
    Paddleboard on!

    1. CatCat*

      Yessssssss! I’ve taken it out a few times and love it! I can’t take it out again this weekend, but I’m hoping for next weekend! Glad you were able to get one!

    2. purple trees*

      Yay! I’ve got a different brand inflatable SUP, and the inflating workout does get easier. I’m going out today. Have fun!

  32. Pain sucks*

    A week after bone graft to prepare for a tooth implant.
    Taking NSAIDs and Tylenol. cold packs. scale 1-10 on pain- about a 7. always present. distracting. trouble reading.
    salt and baking soda rinse a few times a day. Numbing gel.
    Spoke to Dr. given my special needs (connective tissue disorder) not unexpected. not alarming. No infection.
    self medicating with ice cream and root beer floats and Endeavor.
    On the last season of Endeavor.
    More streaming suggestions please.
    I have Netflix, Disney plus, CBS plus, and Amazon.
    This too shall pass.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      CBS – if you like Star Trek, I REALLY enjoyed the Discovery series. (I think there’s like, one crew member on the entire main cast that’s a straight white human dude – everyone else, including the main protagonist, is some combination of POC, LGBTQ, alien and/or female, and that was refreshing.) I also tried the first couple episodes of Picard and it felt really disjointed, like it hadn’t quite figured itself out yet, so I kinda bounced off it, but one of these days I plan to keep going and see if it finds its feet.

    2. Auntie Social*

      CBD oil. I broke a filling and was very sensitive but it didn’t count as an emergency. CBD oil got me eating again.

    3. fposte*

      I applaud your wisdom on root beer floats. They are a wildly underappreciated medication.

      I can’t remember what you’ve been through already and what your tastes are. Shakespeare and Hathaway? Agatha Raisin?

      1. Pain sucks*

        I don’t know Shakespeare and Hathaway. will look for those. I am watching more TV now than in any other time of my life. So far and liked
        Discovery- couldn’t follow Picard.
        All of Bosch- very good distraction.
        New to me- these British mysteries. Tennison and Endeavor haven’t watched the ones they are a prequel to.
        I think I like them because of the period piece feel of them.
        Surprised that I haven’t liked comedies.

        1. fposte*

          Those are both pretty light-hearted mysteries; I’m the opposite of you in not being able to do anything serious right now. So feel free to skip past them in search of something less fluffy.

          However, if you haven’t seen the original Prime Suspect, I highly recommend it.

      2. Chaordic One*

        I second Shakespeare and Hathaway. They’re what Hallmark mysteries aspire to be, but can’t quite pull off. (And I love the actor who plays their receptionist. If I ran the BBC I’d give him and his character his own spin-off program.)

    4. Not A Manager*

      Stupid question, but is there a reason the doc hasn’t given you a mild opioid like Tylenol 3 or Percocet? I’m asking not to offer medical advice, but because in our strange climate sometimes you need to push a little bit if the concern is something other than “this med won’t work specifically for you specifically in this circumstance.”

      1. Pain sucks*

        I have too many side effects to the opioids. Life threatening ones. I knew this going in. Sucks to be me.

    5. Pain sucks*

      oh and thank you last week the suggestion of animal documentaries- that was a big help for a while. But not so much a week in.

    6. Texan In Exile*

      PSA for others needing bone grafts before implants (I am not sure what you did, Pain Sucks – this is advice I got when I had mine): Pay for the donor bone. My sister, a nurse practitioner, told me that a bone harvest of my own bone would be painful. The donor bone in my case (back in 1999) cost $200. I can’t remember if insurance covered it.

      I am sorry you are having so much discomfort. :( Tooth and tooth-adjacent pain is awful.

      1. Pain sucks*

        yes, it is donor bone. My own body material is bad. That genetic disorder. This too shall pass.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      What about mysteries that don’t require a lot of mental fault? We just found Murder She Wrote…. even my 13 year old is spotting theit mistakes in police procedures, but it’s still charming. I’m told Brother Cadfael is online now too.

    8. Skeeder Jones*

      The Americans on Amazon Prime – a family with 2 soviet spies living in the DC area in the 80s.

      Call The Midwife on Netflix – Midwives working in a working class area of London in the 50s and 60s

      Diagnosis on Netflix – people with undiagnosed (and debilitating) diseases crowd-sourcing a diagnosis.

      Indian Matchmaking on Netflix – I wasn’t sure what to expect on this because someone recommended it to me but didn’t elaborate. It was not one of those dating shows where everyone is a hot mess. I would say it gave me a greater appreciation for Indian culture especially the glimpses I saw of their artistic/creative side (the fabrics and jewelry that had been put aside for a son’s wife for example). I have more appreciation for the tradition and how matchmaking works when done by people who really care about you.

    9. Cedrus Libani*

      If it helps, I was in your position 17 years ago, and the process was not especially fun…but once they were in, the implants have yet to give me a bit of trouble. Much better than the bridges I had originally.

    10. Dancing otter*

      Miss Fisher Mysteries from Australia. Very, very good books by Kerry Greenwood. Adaptations aren’t entirely true to the books, but are true to the characters and period. And the costuming – late 1920’s flapper – is brilliant! Wish I could find which service I used to watch them….

      1. All the cats 4 me*

        Seconding that suggestion and adding her other series, Corrina Chapman, a baker and former accountant who loves cats and solves mysteries. I may have to go and reread them, thanks for reminding me!

    11. Anonymosity*

      I don’t know if you like this sort of thing or if you’ve already seen it, but I just finished Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix. I never got to finish when it was on Nickelodeon.

      I looooooooooooved it. It’s very engaging and has lots of lighthearted moments. It’s anime with great characters and high stakes, but it’s made for kids, so it’s not too taxing if you’re not feeling your best.

      1. Anxious cat servant*

        Yes! I binged it when I was dealing with some medical issues and it was perfect- engrossing, fun, great characters, interesting plot, but basic enough that I wasn’t lost despite my brain being mushy.

      2. Pain Sucks*

        Thanks. For anyone who is following. Just watched Ready Player One. Hadn’t seen it. The perfect distraction.

  33. Adalada*

    Any body know some amazing female spies? Or actually male spies with female code names? I have a girl kitten to name, and I’d like to stick with the theme. My older cat is named after a WW2 spy who was an astonishingly bold lier and my absolute favorite. He ran a spy ring for the Germans in Britain, except he was actually a double agent and the whole thing was made up and all of his subordinates were entirely imaginary. His series of messages to his German handlers after D-Day is a thing of beauty. All the female spies are I’ve found are comparetively meh. Surely there were some awesome ones with cool stories?

    1. Lost in the Woods*

      Josephine Baker! Known for a lot of other things in addition to her spy career, but a fascinating person all around.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Vera Atkins and Virginia Hall are both fascinating – I’ve read biographies about both this year. (I read a book about your dude too, I think — Eddie Chapman?)

      Virginia Hall was an American woman who lost a leg after a shotgun hunting accident, so she did all her spy work (first for the British, then for the US) with a prosthesis she named Cuthbert.

      Vera Atkins was part of the British team that snuck the Enigma codebreakers and reverse-engineered machines out of Poland, and after the war ended, was instrumental in tracking down what happened to a bunch of the secret agents who had been captured by the Germans. (Out of something like 120, she found confirmation on all but one.)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Side note — anybody know how to pronounce “Cuthbert”? Q-bert? Cuth-bert? Cupboard? I’ve never figured it out.

        1. PX*

          Google says its Cuth-bert :D

          (I just found out there is a website called pronounce names because I wanted to double check I was right :D)

        2. Esme*

          I’ve always heard it pronounced phonetically, so basically it would rhyme with stuff except if that ended with a -th, and then with hurt.

      2. Adalada*

        Nope, Juan Pujol, a Spaniard who really didn’t like fascists. One of the books about him is ‘Operation Garbo’, if you are interested.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Will put it on my list! The book I read was Zigzag: The Incredible Wartime Exploits of Double Agent Eddie Chapman by Nicholas Booth.

          1. Adalada*

            Oh cool! I never met someone who knows about him before! I’ve read all the books I could find about him, all two of them, and named my cat after him, so obviously I’m a fan. I hope you enjoy his story as much as I do. How far have you gotten?

      3. Damn it, Hardison!*

        My vote is Virginia, for Virginia Hall. I just finished reading A Woman of No Importance, which was so interesting. Julia Child was not a spy per se but a top secret researcher for the OSS, which was a precursor to the CIA.

    3. Natalie*

      Elizabeth Van Lew was a Richmond abolitionist who ran an extensive Union spy ring in the Confederacy’s capital city, including among other Mary Richards (often called Mary Bowser), an enslaved woman Van Lew emancipated upon inheriting her father’s estate. There are a lot of stories about them that are hard to substantiate, but my favorite by far is the possibility that Richards was hired into the Confederate White House as a servant.

    4. fposte*

      Violette Szabo and Nancy Wake from WWII. If a fictional spy is viable, Verity would be a great cat name. There’s also Elisabeth Furse, who was married to Christopher Guest’s father for extra trivia points.

      1. All the cats 4 me*

        Oh, I loved that book! I listened to an audio version, so the accents were perfect.

        But there were a lot of things I didn’t understand, sort of the veiled references which you had to know and complete the context. Its been a while since I listened, maybe I should try again.

      1. Altair*

        Thirded heartily! I was going to nominate her if no one else had.

        I also second/third/whatnot Nancy Wake.

    5. Jaid*

      Can they be fictional? Emma Peel, Modesty Blaise?

      I like the story of Princess Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan.

    6. Max Kitty*

      Marie-Madeleine Fourcade ran the Alliance, one of the largest French Resistance networks. One of her agents was Jeannie Rousseau, who infiltrated the Germans and survived being captured and sent to concentration camps.

      Krystyna Skarbek (aka Christine Granville), allegedly Winston Churchill’s “favorite spy,” was a Pole who skied into Poland from Hungary to deliver British propaganda and smuggled intelligence out of Poland.

      Pearl Witherington Cornioley, a British agent, worked for the SOE in France as a courier and maquis commander. She apparently was the best shot, male or female, the SOE had ever seen.

    7. Summersun*

      Not sure this meets your criteria, but the Soviet sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko was known as Lady Death. She killed 309 nazis during WWII, befriended Eleanor Roosevelt, and was an outspoken feminist.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I must admit, my immediate thought was Harriet the Spy!
      But you want historical spies, so look up Anna Strong, who used her laundry line to help transfer info to General George Washington.

    9. Skeeder Jones*

      Check out the “Mighty Girl” site. They have tons of stories about some incredible female spies during WWII. I don’t want to get caught in the moderation review so I’m not posting the link but I googled “mighty girl” and “female spies of WWII” and got a ton of results.

      1. I take tea*

        Aphra Behn! Spy for Charles II in the 17th century. Also one of the first professional female authors in England.

        Fun fact: learned about her via fanfic.

  34. Jennifer*

    Hi y’all,

    Do you know a non-crabby way of adding a note to my grocery delivery to ask the shopper to make sure they are picking up cilantro and not parsley? They made that mistake twice before.

    Do you feel wrong making any kind of complaint about a grocery delivery person nowadays? After all, they are risking their lives to keep us fed. I get to stay in because of them.

    1. Mid*

      I’d just add a note. Those two aren’t really interchangeable. Make sure you have cilantro set as no-substitutes so if they’re out they’re not giving you parsley as a sub.

    2. CatCat*

      I mean, it’s not like you’re stomping your foot and demanding they be fired. This is an easy mistake to make since the herbs look alike (at our store, they also place them right next to each other!), and also straightforward to fix with a little extra attention. “Hey, a couple of times when I’ve ordered cilantro, I’ve received parsley. I know they look alike so can the shopper be sure to double check the bin before bagging the item to make sure it’s the correct herb?”

      If there’s a notes section when you place an order, you could also make a note about if there so the shopper is aware of the problem.

    3. nep*

      Definitely put a note–in the end you’re helping the shopper. (Former Shipt shopper here.) She/he/they should know the difference if they’re going to be shopping for people. It’s like buying onions instead of potatoes, truly. I wouldn’t worry about it coming across as crabby, as long as you’re being kind and just pointing out something important.

    4. Parenthetically*

      Nthing putting a note below the item — “Please ensure you get CILANTRO instead of parsley.” My grocery also texts me when they start shopping, and I wouldn’t hesitate to text back and say, “Hey, whenever you get to produce, please make sure you pick up cilantro and not parsley!”

      1. nep*

        That’s a good idea, texting when you get the initial note from shopper. (I’d ditch exclamation points though.)

    5. Jennifer*

      Thanks, everyone. It’s just such a first world problem lol. I didn’t want to come off like a spoiled brat. Texting once they start shopping is a good idea.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’d probably mention that it had been mixed up previously so’s to clarify WHY I was being specific as well :)

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        It’s not a negligible difference–to many people, cilantro tastes like soap and is completely inevitable.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          But in this case the buyer wanted cilantro, and did not want parsley, which tastes like basically nothing whether you’re a supertaster or not.

        2. allathian*

          I’m one of those. I doubt I’m a supertaster because I love stuff that some supertasters hate, such as pretty much the entire cabbage family of plants, but I can’t stand cilantro/coriander or celery in any form.

    6. Senor Montoya*

      Might not have been a mix up — unless I put a “no substitutions” note, they use their best judgment. (I’ve tried some good stuff that way!)

    7. Dan*

      COVID or not, I want the service I paid for, and I’m in a risk demographic such that I can go to the grocery store and not sweat it. So if I can’t get my stuff delivered properly, I have no qualms going to the store. (And I hate the business models, so I go to the store anyway.)

      At the stores (plural) that I shop at, cilantro and parsley are next to each other, and sometimes can get thrown in the wrong bin. For as much as this can be an easy mistake to make, it’s an easy one to avoid, too.

    8. Eeeek*

      Considering That I’ve done it myself more than 2 times I wouldn’t say anything. I mean you say this person is risking their life for you to have herbs so no I wouldn’t complain. Go yourself if you want it to be perfect.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        No – she can kindly ask them to double check the bins like was suggested upthread. She’s a paying customer who is presumably tipping these shoppers/delivery people (if they’re one in the same), so she has a right to get what she paid for.

      2. Anxious cat servant*

        The fact that I’ve mixed them up before is why I’d feel comfortable saying “hey, please double check.” It’s an easy mistake to make but you really can’t substitute one for the other.

        And as for the shopper risking their life – they’re doing that one way or another unless the store is 100% pickup only. Adding one more person to the grocery store just to get cilantro will only increase their risk.

    9. valentine*

      You could call the store for the cilantro code and to make sure it’s labeled cilantro and not by the other name for it, so you can include that info in the note as well. I wouldn’t mention prior errors in the note.

      Mmm, cilantro!

      1. allathian*

        It’s also known as Chinese parsley, dhania, and coriander, so there’s plenty of room for confusion.

    10. Jennifer*

      I know y’all have been waiting with bated breath lol. My groceries were delivered and I got cilantro! Taco night is saved! Doesn’t take much to make me happy these days.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I eat a lot of veggies. Worse, I do home cooked for my mutt so I buy even more veggies.
      It’s amazing how many people at the check out who do not know the names of various fruits and veggies. And it’s people of all ages, so age does not matter. I feel bad but I do wonder how many customers tell them it’s a cheaper priced item so they get it cheaper.

      I am sure the parsley/cilantro thing comes up often enough, that they will not bat an eye when you ask them to double check before sending it out the door.

      1. Jennifer*

        I’ve noticed that too. It’s kind of sad.I’ve had cashiers that didn’t know wha jalapenos, asparagus, ginger, and many other things were.

    12. Anono-me*

      Yay! Tacos!

      There are little frozen cubes of cilantro (and other seasonings like garlic and ginger). I think the brand name is ‘Doyot’. I don’t like it as well as the fresh, but I think it’s way better than the dried. It is nice to have as a backup.

  35. Emily*

    Please give me your nonfiction book recommendations!

    I’m primarily a fiction reader (speculative fiction is my jam!), but I’ve read a few good nonfiction works recently and am interested in adding more to my to-read list. I’ll accept any recommendation, but will probably prefer things that are more focused on a specific scientific or anthropological topic over…idk, military histories and the like. Some stuff I’ve read or been interested in recently:

    Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times (Elizabeth Wayland Barber) – About textile history. Someone on AAM mentioned this book over a year ago and I finally got ahold of a library copy – so far, so good!
    Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness (Peter Godfrey-Smith) – About octopus evolution, cognition, and philosophy. Some of the philosophical tangents were longer than I would’ve preferred, but I felt like I learned a lot of interesting things.
    A Death in the Rainforest: How a Language and a Way of Life Came to an End in Papua New Guinea (Don Kulick) – Haven’t read yet, but it was highly recommended by an author whose opinions I trust (Jo Walton).
    The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America (Erik Larson) – Haven’t read yet, but I get the impression that a lot of people like it.

    1. Parenthetically*

      Just glancing at my shelf, I can recommend:

      Basilica by R.A. Scotti, about the building of St. Peter’s in Rome, a fascinating look at a bunch of really weird, big, prickly personalities.
      The Bounty by Caroline Alexander, a very different take on the famous mutiny on the Bounty.
      The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester, one of my all-time favorite books, a pure delight about the compilation of the Oxford English Dictionary. His A Crack in the Edge of the World is also great.
      Of course, the classic, epic Guns, Germs, and Steel! It’s a whole journey to get through, but really worthwhile, IMO.

      1. Dancing otter*

        Plagues and Peoples
        Justinian’s Flea
        Then again, we weren’t in the middle of a pestilence when I read them.

        More recently, Nine Pints by Rose George.
        The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson

        The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius, translated by Robert Graves, the author of I, Claudius

        I, Claudius for that matter, though I liked the TV adaptation more than the book. The cast reads like a Who’s Who of RADA and the Royal Shakes.

        Antonia Fraser wrote several good biographies: Marie Antoinette; Mary Queen of Scots; Love and Louis XIV…

        Anything by Alison Weir, though these are novelizations: Lancaster & York; Elizabeth of York; The Six Wives of Henry VIII; separate volumes about each of his wives by name; Mary Boleyn; The Children of Henry VIII; A Dangerous Inheritance. I haven’t actually read all of them, but the ones I have were good. I’m currently looking for a copy of her Captive Queen, about Eleanor of Aquitaine.

      2. Altair*

        I love _GG&S_ passionately. It was the first book I ever read about the shapes of history that didn’t state or assume that certain human lineages are Just Superior to others. Not least as a Black girl that’s very important to me. The same author, Jared Diamond, wrote _Collapse_, which requires a slightly larger grain of salt but is fascinating and illuminating.

        1. Parenthetically*

          I half-jokingly say the subtitle of Guns, Germs, and Steel should be “Everything You Think You Know About World History is Wrong (and Also Super Racist)”

      3. Emily*

        Thanks! Some of these sound like pretty interesting topics.

        I did try Guns, Germs, and Steel once without making it all the way through, but I’m not opposed to having another go at it eventually.

    2. Casey*

      Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou is one of my favorite non-fiction books! It’s about Theranos and the people who worked there.

      What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia by Elizabeth Catte is a response to Hilbilly Elegy — Catte goes into the labor history of the region that I found fascinating and compassionate.

      This one is probably a hit or miss, but Women Who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes has been on my list after I listened to the original audio program. It’s kind of a mix of folklore about wild women (specifically from Mexico and Central America, I think) and thoughts about the roles and inner conflicts of women today. I identify heavily with it, but even if you don’t, I think it’s interesting from an anthropological view.

      Keeping an eye on this post for more!

      1. Emily*

        I haven’t read Bad Blood yet, but it’s on my radar! I think I’m saving it for when I want to read some really juicy drama. The other two you recommended seem like they could both be things I’d really like.

    3. Helvetica*

      I really enjoyed Richard Shepherd’s “Unnatural Causes” – he’s a British pathologist and medical examiner, has experience with responding to catastrophic events etc. It is really well written and very humane, not at all bloody or cold. His experiences took a toll on him and he describes it very candidly.

    4. Nicki Name*

      A few favorites off the top of my head:

      A Polar Affair: Antarctica’s Forgotten Hero and the Secret Love Lives of Penguins (Lloyd Spencer Davis) – Starts with a Victorian-era coverup of gay penguin behavior, talks about the expedition that scientist was on and the author’s own experiences in Antarctica.

      The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story (Douglas Preston) – About a 2015 expedition that uncovered a city long rumored to exist in the Honduran jungle, what they found there, and the interesting disease most of them (including the author) came back with.

      The Rhino with Glue-On Shoes: And Other Surprising True Stories of Zoo Vets and their Patients (Lucy Spelman) – What it says on the tin. Lots of stuff I didn’t know about zoos and zoo animals.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        A Polar Affair sounds like something I’d like. Thanks for the recommendation.

    5. alex b*

      For scientific and anthropological content, I highly recommend:

      _The Precipice_ by Toby Orb
      _The Fourth Turning_ by William Strauss and Neil Howe
      _1491_ by Charles C. Mann

      (sorry; I don’t know how to make the titles in italics)

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I like a lot of medical history myself.
      Rabid by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy – How the rabies virus has impacted history, medicine, science, and culture over the last four thousand years.
      Radium Girls by Kate Moore (this is actually one of the “Great on Kindle” books with a discount mentioned in the earlier thread) – the story of women who worked in, and were killed by, the radium painting factories and the resulting workers’ rights development. Heartbreaking and so so good.
      And The Band Played On by Randy Shilts – a detailed story of the rise of the AIDS epidemic (it ends with Rock Hudson’s death) by an journalist who was reporting on it in San Francisco from the very beginning, and actually put off his own testing until the book was finished because he didn’t want his results to skew his writing.
      The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum – about the rise of chemical testing in criminal forensics in NY, with side branches into various worker’s rights issues and the impact of Prohibition that were also affected. (This is also a really good documentary.)
      The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee – a history of cancer and its treatments, written by an oncologist. He’s such an engaging writer, I’ve read this book (and his others, see below) a couple of times. (There’s also an associated Ken Burns documentary that features him as one of the main speakers, also very good.)
      The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee – also really interesting, a history of the study of the human genome (also has an associated Ken Burns doco). (His The Laws of Medicine was good too, but not quite as enthralling as the other two, I thought. But it is also less focused, it’s more a collection of stories from his experience rather than a focused history of something.)

      Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City is very good — in fact, I don’t think I’ve read anything of his that wasn’t. His In the Garden of Beasts is about the American ambassador and his family in Berlin during the rise of Hitler. Dead Wake is about the sinking of the Lusitania, and Thunderstruck is simultaneously about the development of the Marconi wireless radio and also a murder investigation.

      (Now let’s see if I broke any of my italics tags…. )

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Two more that just came to mind!

        In the medical history vein – if it’s not a little too close to home these days, The Great Influenza by John Barry is about the 1918-1919 Spanish flu epidemic and also touches on some of the medical developments that came out of it.

        Also, just a fun nonfiction read – “The Time Traveler’s Handbook” by Johnny Acton, David Goldblatt and a couple other folks discusses 19 different historical events ranging far afield in history, but it’s written as a travel guide for customers of a time-travel travel agency, so you can go, like, on a long weekend vacation to Woodstock and here’s how it would happen, the things you might want to watch out for, etc.

      2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        You might like to what I recommended upthead:

        My Own Country (Abraham Verghese) – an infectious disease doctor’s experience of early HIV in Appalachia

        The Tennis Partner (Verghese again) – a doctor’s friendship with a resident struggling with drug addiction

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I have read the first, at least, and did like it! Will check out the other.

      3. Emily*

        Oh, wow, a lot of these sound good. Thanks for the recommendations.

        Regarding And The Band Played On…I was born in the early ’90s and lived a fairly sheltered/privileged life, so I’ve only recently begun to learn more about the early AIDS epidemic and how badly it was mishandled. It’s something I’ve been meaning to engage more deeply with, especially now that I’m more aware than I used to be of the ways that government policies and public health and bigotry can intersect, often with really unfortunate outcomes.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          It’s heartbreaking. It was also very influential in my career decisions — I now have an MPA, with a research focus on health policy, after getting my first undergrad degree in public health, and work in healthcare administration.

          If you’re interested in tracking it down – a TV miniseries by the same name was made in the mid-90s. It and “Philadelphia” were, I believe, the two earliest big-budget projects out of Hollywood to talk about AIDS issues, right around the same time. Huge numbers of big-name actors in it. Some are uncredited – yes, that is absolutely Richard Gere – and others blazoned their names loud and proud – yes, it’s also Ian McKellen, I KNOW HE LOOKS SO YOUNG OMG. (Keep your eye out for his partner – that’s BD Wong.) It’s a drama portrayal, not a non-fiction one, but it’s very well done and a good way to get the cliff notes out of what is admittedly a doorstop of a book. I haven’t found it on any of the streamers, but Amazon has it on DVD for $6.

          Also, the movie “Milk” with Sean Penn is a biopic of Harvey Milk, based off the book The Mayor of Castro Street, also by Randy Shilts. Both are very good.

    7. Llellayena*

      “Why buildings fall down” A look at some of the construction disasters of the past (like the Tacoma-Narrows bridge collapse) and why they happened and how to prevent them.
      “New Orleans: The Making of an Urban Landscape” NO has a unique architectural history driven in part by the fact that it is lower than the river.
      Most of my non-fiction is architecture related but I have seen some fascinating titles in “sources” sections of some fiction books. “Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus” by Orson Scott Card has a long list of sources in the back related to Pre-Columbus American culture.
      Hope this helps!

      1. Casey*

        I would love to hear more of your architecture recs — that book about New Orleans sounds fascinating!

      2. Emily*

        These sound cool! My partner’s brother is really interested in cities and planning; I wonder if he’s heard of the New Orleans one.

    8. GoryDetails*

      Some of my favorite non-fiction books, in order by whichever one came to mind first {wry grin}:

      BETWEEN SILK AND CYANIDE by Leo Marks (the previous post about female spies reminded me of this one): Marks worked on making and breaking codes during WWII, and the book touches on many aspects of that, including some harrowing accounts of the trials that the secret agents went through.

      TOUCHING THE VOID by Joe Simpson, his memoir about his near-fatal fall while attempting to scale Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes.

      THE LOONINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE RUNNER by Russell Taylor, describing his attempts to train for the New York Marathon, a humorous/sports-training/memoir.

      SLEEP DEMONS by Bill Hayes, a mix of history-of-insomnia and personal memoir. (I love Hayes’ work, up to and including his INSOMNIAC CITY, about his relationship with the late Oliver Sacks. Sacks’ own work is worth reading too, from his medical/neurologic books to his Oaxaca Journal about a fern-fanciers trip.)

      For more science-y topics:

      THE DISAPPEARING SPOON by Sam Kean, about the Periodic Table – history, science, anecdotes, great fun.

      THE GREAT BRIDGE by David McCullough, about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge.

      MAUVE by Simon Garfield, about the invention of the first artificial dye. (See also A Perfect Red, by Amy Butler Greenfield, about the search for the “perfect” red dye.)

      And one that I was pleasantly surprised by: TWINKIE DECONSTRUCTED by Steve Ettlinger, which takes the components of the popular snack and traces each to its origins.

      1. Emily*

        I remember hearing about Between Silk and Cyanide on AAM a few years ago – I wonder if it was you who mentioned it then? I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but it’s on my to-read list!

    9. Buni*

      ‘Salt’ by Mark Kurlansky – literally the history of how salt has been made / acquired / used throughout the history of mankind, absolutely brilliant.

      ‘Colour’ by Victoria Finlay – subtitled ‘travels through the paintbox’. She goes through a colour-per-chapter of the original pigment for paint before chemical dyes – where does it come from (she travels there), how was it historically acquired, its use and any cultural significances. LOVE this book.

      ‘Jewels’, also V Finlay – as above but for all the major gemstones (diamonds, sapphires, rubies etc.).

    10. My Brain Is Exploding*

      RIVER OF DOUBT by Candice Millard. Part biography, part adventure, this covers Teddy Roosevelt’s ill-fated journey on an uncharted South American river.

      Same author: DESTINY OF A REPUBLIC. Combines President Garfield (who didn’t want to be president), the history of medical care in that era, and the back history of his assassin.

    11. CTT*

      My favorite I’ve read this year is “The Dinosaur Artist” by Paige Williams. It’s a history of modern paleontology but also focuses on a commercial paleontologist who tried to sell a full Mongolian skeleton and ended up in a lot of federal trouble. The book started out as a New Yorker article called “Bones of Contention” if you want to preview the book.

    12. Middle School Teacher*

      Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez (About how the world is built for men)

      Stiff by Mary Roach (about all the things that can be done with a person’s body after they die) — I would recommend all of her books.

      Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil; City of Falling Angels, both by John Berendt

      1. b.*

        Lab girl by Hope Jahren, Plastic -A Love Story by Susan Freinkel, anything by John Mcphee, mostly historical geography.

    13. Violets are blue*

      Van Gogh’s Ear by Bernadette Murphy. The book tells two stories at the same time: the crises that had led to Van Gogh cutting off his ear and what happened after as well as the research process. It’s a fascinating read, I learnt so much!

    14. Anonymous at a University*

      -Gifts of the Crow by John Marzluff and Tony Angell; it looks at the intelligence of crows (and other corvids), their brain structure, their play, and many other fascinating topics.
      -People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Perry; it examines the disappearance of a British woman, Lucie Blackman, in Japan in 2000, and the long, long process of figuring out who the criminal was, trying him, and discovering exactly what he’d been doing to a whole bunch of women.
      -Lesser Beasts by Mark Essig; focuses on the history of pigs and how people have regarded them throughout history, as well as the ways our relationship to them as food has changed.
      -Unprocessed by Megan Kimble; about the author’s attempt to eat only unprocessed food for a year, and how difficult it really was.
      -The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery; also a good exploration into octopus life and intelligence. (I would recommend almost everything Montgomery has written, as she’s extremely talented, poetic, and funny).

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Two that I got for Christmas that I am parceling out a little at a time —
      All the Best Rubbish, by Ivor Noël Hume (a historian and collector of everyday objects who helped start Colonial Williamsburg)
      Mudlark: In Search of London’s Past Along the River Thames, by Laramie Maiklem. (Not a picture book, by the way. For photos go to her Instagram or Facebook.)

    16. OTGW*

      Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. It was popular like a year or two back and is about the Osage oil murders. If you like audio books, I recommend it that version over paper back, but you get pictures with paperback.

      Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugolosi. He was the prosecutor for the Charles Manson murders. It follows the history of Manson, Tate and the other victims, and the trial. Really well written, despite being a lawyer.

      I know you mentioned like not military history, but if regular history is good (idk if these really count as anthropological):
      Venice: a New History by Thomas Madden (what is says on the tin) and A Midwife’s Tale: the Life of Martha Ballard by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (examines the life of a midwife in late 1700s New England. First bit of each chapter includes Martha’s diary and then Ulrich goes on to explain what we learn from the passages.)

    17. WoodswomanWrites*

      Check out The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. From the promo for the book: “Scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Black tobacco farmer whose cells–taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more.” It’s a fascinating story incorporating history and present-day scientific ethics, and reads like a novel that’s hard to put down.

    18. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Into Thin Air and Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. The first is about his attempt to climb Mt. Everest, and it’s a book I re-read at least once every year even though I generally have no particular interest in the topic.

      My Life in France by Julia Child. I just find it charming.

      The Monument Men by Robert Edsel. The search for and recovery of looted art, artifacts, and archives in the wake of WW II. Much better than the movie.

      My favorite Erik Larsen book is In the Garden of Beasts, which is about the American ambassador to Germany and his family in the years that Hitler came to power. It’s so human, and kind of like watching a slow motion train wreck.

    19. Anonymous Educator*

      Medical Apartheid by Harriet Washington
      Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil
      Brotopia by Emily Chang
      Pretty Is What Changes by Jessica Queller

    20. Altair*

      I adore _Women’s Work_. All about textiles!

      I also love _Last Chance to See_ by Douglas Adams, about witnessing species on the brink of extinction, and _Travels in a Gay Nation_ by Phil Gambone, about notably accomplished LGBTQ people.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        How cool to see someone else recommend Last Chance to See. That is a fantastic book about a heavy topic but told with great humor. I was surprised to discover that the author of the goofy Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series was such an excellent nonfiction writer.

    21. NRG*

      A lot of good suggestions so far!
      I’ll add a few
      DEBT: THE FIRST 5000 YEARS, David Graeber
      THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES, Peter Wohlleben

    22. Pocket Mouse*

      Evicted by Matthew Desmond
      Expecting Better by Emily Oster (She takes an economist’s look at a lot of advice an prohibitions lobbed at pregnant people- I really wish a large swath of the population would read it, not just those who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant!)

    23. Free Meerkats*

      The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. I found it as an audiobook at the library, checked it out as a lark, and found it interesting enough to buy the print version. Lots of history on techniques.

    24. Chaordic One*

      Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City by Greg Grandin. Interesting bit of history about Henry Ford’s unsuccessful attempt to set an auto factory in the Brazilian Amazon rain forest.

    25. Roja*

      Ohhh. I love nonfiction, and here are some of my favorites. It sounds like we have similar tastes so I’m hoping these will be right up your alley.

      Rising Tide by John M Barry–about the (literally) earth-shattering Mississippi River flood of 1927. I had never heard of it before until I read the book, but when you read the shenanigans that went down… well, let’s just say it’s a WILD ride.
      The Better Angels of Our Nature by Stephen Pinker–discussing the falling violence/wars/crime rates over the last century and why that’s happened. Super long but equally perspective-changing.
      Evicted by Matthew Desmond–case studies of evictions in Milwaukee and evictions in general, very moving
      Cities for People by Jan Gehl–discusses how to make cities livable places for people, with illustrations and examples
      The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard–discusses *stuff* in the sense of why we have so much and why it’s so easily trashed. Hard to describe but very, very interesting. (see also Garbology by Edward Humes)
      The Ripple Effect by Alex Prud’homme–discusses water in all its forms in terms of global shortages, systems, you name it.
      The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper, also Because Internet by Gretchen McCullough–both books on language, the first looking at the making of dictionaries (very amusingly written) and the latter looking at how internet/phones have changed language.

      All of those are very readable/accessible for readers with no prior subject knowledge, although the Pinker book is slightly less so. But they’re all books that changed the way I think and see the world, and that I often think about or refer to in conversation.

      Bonus book: Blackout by Marc Elsberg. It’s technically fiction, but it acts more like nonfiction in a sense. It’s a what-if story about what might happen if the electrical grid was hacked and crashed indefinitely. The author wrote it specifically so that people and governments would think about tech security in infrastructure. Sort of dystopian fiction, but something that actually might happen rather than being dystopia for dystopia’s sake. Definitely recommend.

  36. They Don’t Make Sunday*

    Crafty folks: does anyone have experience with darning socks? I’m not practiced at DIY stuff, though I can do basic hand-sewing and I once was into knitting. How hard is it to pick up darning? The only reason I’m interested is that I have a pile of beloved wool socks that are worn out in the heels and the socks aren’t made anymore. Plus I have a favorite wool knit sweater with a worn-out elbow and I was wondering if the sock-darning technique would work to fix the elbow. (An elbow patch would look awful.) I imagine the challenge (for both socks and sweater) would be finding a matching yarn for the repairs? How much time does it take to darn one sock heel? The lazy part of me should probably just chuck all these old things. One wrinkle is that I no longer buy wool, so restoring the wool things I have is the only way to have something comparable in my life. I could still purge anyway, but before doing that I wanted to check on how realistic darning would be for me.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have been knitting socks for years and my method of darning is to go “Oh darn” as I throw out the holey socks, because darning is a pain in the tailfeathers. Sorry :(

    2. Recent Grad*

      I bought a little darning kit a few months ago and it was super fun and easy to learn. The whole process probably only takes 20 minutes at most once you get the hang of it. I’ve fixed up several pairs of wool socks and so everything has held up well.

    3. Damien*

      If you wanted to splash out you could buy a Speedweve and make little mini-patches for your socks, or you can get a cheaper replica model from etsy. There are plenty of youtube tutorials for darning socks by hand as well! I think one method is called swiss darning.

    4. purple trees*

      don’t worry about matching the sock colour – it’s on the bottom of your foot, so people will only notice if you put your sock feet on furniture. I just go back and forth in a weaving pattern and call it good.
      I also knit my own socks and have taken to pre-darning all the bottoms: with needle and extra wool, I try to double the knitting wool. My hand-knit socks wear out too quickly otherwise. Darning socks takes me up to about an hour, but I’m watching TV, so ymmv.

    5. Koala dreams*

      Basic darning for small holes is quite easy to learn. A non-matching colour can look quite noticable, but at least it’s trendy with noticable fixes nowadays. I haven’t done heels, though, and I imagine it can be more difficult since heels need to be sturdy. I don’t think another colour is that much of a problem for heels, it’s quite common to have the heels in a different colour anyways. Expect anything to take more time than it should when you do it for the first time.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      a long time ago I read a blog post from someone who was backpacking in South America and wore holes in her favorite hiking socks. She repaired them with crochet in place circles.of of local yarn in contrasting colors. Unfortunately I can’t find the link for you. I once knit a patch in place, to rebuild a rip in my snow shoveling sweater. Because it’s so comfortable I sleep in it if the power goes out, I made sure to pick a yarn that felt the same, even though that was a really bad color combination.

    7. Imtheone*

      You can also darn the sweaters and then felt that area. We got a small felting kit, and it as quite easy to do. You can match the color or do various patches and decorations in different colors.

    8. allathian*

      I used to knit as well, but haven’t for years. My grandma taught me to knit a double layer for the heel so it wouldn’t need darning so quickly. I used to fix small holes in socks with a crocheting needle. It doesn’t take long if you catch a hole that’s just starting.

    9. Nita*

      The one time I darned socks, I just knit little square patches for the heels out of some thick craft thread I had on hand. The color was similar but noticeably not the same, but I usually wore them with tall boots so it wasn’t visible. And even if it was, it looked pretty good.

      I also darned a shirt elbow once, but I had some spare matching fabric because I shortened the shirt earlier. It was pretty easy. You could see the stitching, but it’s a shirt I wore around the house, so not a problem.

    10. Emilitron*

      My mom used to darn our favorite socks. It was a while-watching-TV activity, each sock took less than an episode. She had a “darning egg” which is basically a ball that you put in the sock to hold the hole in its correct position while you work, it helps you not accidentally pull the edges in too tight. You could buy one, or use any spherical household object (racketball, massage ball, dog toy, etc)

  37. ALM2019*

    Homeowners in the US – what do you wish you would have known or planned for when buying your first home? I’m planning to buy in the next 9-12 months. I’ve rented for 8 years and have never owned before. Most of my family have never owned or if they did their spouses owned the home first and they moved in. I’m a planner so priority #1 for me is having way more money saved up then I’ll actually need for a downpayment. But what else?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Yard maintenance is a big one – right now my front garden bed is mostly covered in black landscaping plastic (I’m killing the weeds with it) while I decide what to do with it, I never thought beyond mowing the lawn. The person I bought my house from had landscapers in to maintain her landscaping every two weeks, and that was just not an option for me, so after her stuff ended up an overgrown mess, I pulled out most of it to start over, and now it’s a question of what to start over with. (We have some tentative plans, and my husband’s brother was going to come help us work on it this spring because he’s more handily-inclined than we are, but rona put paid to that.)

      Also, consider all the things that could need replacing that, while renting, would’ve been the landlord’s responsibility and will now be all on your shoulders – you’ve got the money part, but also consider regular maintenance needs. I had no idea that a furnace or a/c should have regular tune-ups, until my coworker was grumbling that her home warranty company refused to cover her furnace because it hadn’t been getting its annual maintenance. So when I had to replace my heat pump three years after I bought the house, I also set up a maintenance package on the new one. In the first five years, I’ve replaced the heat pump, the hot water heater, the sump pump, the garage door AND opener mechanism, the washer and dryer, most of the kitchen appliances, the sliding patio door and all the windows. Not all of these were emergency replacements, though none of them were frivolous, but it adds up! (I also realized the other day that I probably desperately need to have my gutters cleaned, because I don’t think I’ve had that done since we moved in. :P Second story, so I’m not inclined to even try to DIY it.)

      1. KittyCardigans*

        I’m about 6 months into homeownership, and I want to second the yard maintenance point. We knew there were lots of things we wanted to change on the interior of the house and budgeted our money and energy accordingly, but for some reason thought that the yard would be easy. Instead, it grows a sturdy grass that our manual mower won’t cut through, so we have to either weed eat the entire yard or call a service—we didn’t budget for that. Also, the soil is clay, which is hard to work with, so the landscaping/drainage work we were planning on doing is on hold until we can rent tools to make digging possible. We didn’t budget for that, either. Some HOAs are picky about how the exterior of your house looks, so that would be a good thing to know about ahead of time!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yes! Part of the issue with my landscaping is that not only is the soil super clay-ey, but the previous owner buried like FOUR LAYERS of lava rocks in it, so I can’t even get a tarp staple in, let alone a shovel. :P

    2. Green Kangaroo*

      Plan to spend at least half again as much on ant renovation. There are always unexpected costs and having a cushion saves a lot of headaches.

      1. Dancing otter*

        Ant renovation? The ants always seemed to manage on their own at my old place. Getting rid of them, though – I’m not sure the neighbors who said the whole town was built on a single huge ant colony were actually joking. Put pest control in your budget.

        Seriously, though — Be prepared for the mortgage company to have totally miscalculated the tax escrow. My mortgage payment almost doubled at the first escrow analysis. They had divided the annual amount by twelve, but there weren’t twelve months before the taxes were due.
        Infrastructure can become your problem. If the village water and sewer systems are old or were built poorly, they may break, requiring the water department to dig up large portions of the lawn. They’re supposed to repair the damage, but good luck with that. Keep your alderman on speed dial.
        In addition, the village may decide to repair the sidewalk or plant/remove trees on the parkway and assess you for the cost.
        Get a copy of the detailed real estate tax bill, and look at the financials on all the taxing authorities shown. Read the reports from the village board (or city council) and school board meetings. Not every tax hike requires a referendum, and fees can be raised at will. Real estate disclosures don’t cover everything.
        Register to vote at your new address immediately. Learn who your local, state and national officials are. (You’d be astonished how many Americans don’t know the names of their senators, let alone their state reps and town council members.) Learn where to vote.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          On pest control: I have a service that does an annual “tri-season treatment,” they come out once each in spring, summer and fall and spray around the foundation of my house, and then any other pest control needs (including bugs or rodents) over the course of the year, inside or out, are included. I’ve had to have them come get a hornet’s nest out of my mailbox (I don’t like my mailman, but I DO like getting my mail :P ), they sprayed my yard for mosquitos before we had a yard party last year, we also were having a really bad issue this spring with stinkbugs finding their way into my bedroom (UGH UGH UGH OMG), and they even gave me a couple of suggestions on the rabbit infestation under my shed, even though the rabbits are technically outside of what they cover. It’s nice to know that everything is covered rather than having to debate it all as one-offs, “is this reeeeeeally bad enough to call them” etc. Also helpful since my dogs like to spend a lot of time out in the yard – they’re on flea and tick preventive, of course, but since at least one of the (indoor) cats is allergic to fleas, I feel better having the double protection.

    3. Generic Name*

      Don’t purchase at the top of your budget. Try to avoid being “house poor” meaning your mortgage payment takes up so much of your income that you can’t afford to furnish or make any repairs on your house.

      Home repairs can get expensive fast. A new water heater or hvac can be thousands of dollars. Have the savings on hand or a way to get that money fast.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yes, this, so very much! We were house poor for 16 years, and it was awful. We bought a house at the top of the market, and the top of our budget, assuming that it would appreciate in value quickly enough that we could use the equity to make improvements (and it really needed a lot of improvements), but we just never could get the money out of it. (Our timing was terrible–the bottom fell out of the market just a few years after we bought the house.)
        We were finally able to sell that house and downsize to a much better home (and payment) for us last year. The relief of finally having a little extra money has been amazing.
        Lenders will tell you how much money they’re willing to lend you, but make sure that you crunch the numbers yourself and make sure you’re comfortable with the total house payment (including taxes and insurance) before you take the plunge.
        Repairs and maintenance can be expensive, so budget for those, too.
        And I thought that I wanted a big yard until I actually had one. It took hours every week in the summer just to mow the lawn.

      2. ALM2019*

        Yes I definitely want to avoid overbuying. I’ve done some early calculations of what I could be approved for and it’s way way more than I’ll need. In my area I could afford a large single family home which I have no need for. So regardless of what I could have I’m sticking with what suits me (a single child free minimalist) space and size wise. Thank you!

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Are you open to a condo? From my very limited anecdotal experience, there is maintenance to take care of many of the repairs etc needed in living spaces. If I was single and wanted to own, i would probably go with an apartment.

          1. ALM2019*

            This is what I’m leaning towards if I can find a place with no one above or below. I don’t mind shared walls but my biggest complaint in my apartment building is the people above me. I also have no desire to do lawn maintenance. Most likely have to deal with a HOA then but I’m open to it.

      3. Gatomon*

        I just had my hot water heater die last month so I’ll share: $1800 to have a licensed and ensured plumber come out and replace it. Sometimes they can rebuild them if they are newer, but my unit was 18 years old, so good riddance! I’m hoping to see a big fat dip in my electrical usage too. :)

        My mortgage is about 25% of my take home pay so I’m not sweating the big bills of buying a fixer upper too much. (It’s also a condo though, so I don’t have to worry about the roof.)

    4. Nickels, Dimes, and Quarters*

      Look into your state’s first time homebuyer program. If it allows for it, buy a duplex or triplex then live in one unit and rent the others. You’ll get better tax advantages and still a lower interest rate.


      1. Natalie*

        I’d check regarding duplexes – when I was looking a few years ago mortgage brokers treated them like investment properties. So unless you had 25% down, you got a *higher* interest rate.

      2. CatsAway*

        But don’t pretend that being a landlord is a hassle free way to earn some extra cash. Even if all your tenants are great, you now have ~2x as many kitchens and bathrooms to repair. Do you have enough cash to pay the mortgage if your rental unit is vacant for 2 months between tenants?

        1. BRR*

          To your last point, do you have enough cash to pay the mortgage on your rental if there’s a moratorium on evictions and some landlords are saying it will take 8 to 10 months. Also not everyone wants the hassle of managing a rental unit.

        2. Dancing otter*

          So much this!
          I just sold my rental house after two tenants in a row moved out leaving thousands in damages and cleaning that I couldn’t recover. One actually had the nerve to have her lawyer threaten me for not returning her damage deposit with interest and penalties when she stiffed me on two months rent, put big holes in the walls, and broke the garage door.
          Another investor bought the place, and I wish him joy of it!

    5. Laura H.*

      I don’t own a home, but live with my parents, I have a physical disability, and I’m not financially responsible for those things- so this is finance ignorant…

      Be prepared for replacements as needed. Or try to replace proactively as much as you can rather than reactively. Some things are easier to do this with than others.

      Also, consider as you change in physical ability, or if you have friends with needs beyond what normal fits and you like having them over… the easier ways to get into the house and grab bars come to mind as things that are often not considered (more out of an obliviousness rather than any intentional slight).

      But in the 22 years we’ve been at our home, the flooring has been replaced with other flooring types in all rooms except the master bedroom, both bathrooms were remodeled for better access (roughly 15 years between the mods- the guest/ my bathroom in ~04 and the master just last year) into more limited mobility friendly setups, a ramp was added to the front porch in 2017 iirc, every appliance except the big refrigerator has been replaced once (water heaters twice I think), the AC unit has been replaced multiple times and other incidentals that I’m forgetting.

      Preventative maintenance is also a good idea. Helps possibly anticipate replacement of stuff you do not want to break without warning.

      1. Ranon*

        Delta and Kohler make good looking grab bars for residential install now, definitely worth putting in if a bathroom renovation is in the plans- nearly everyone will be disabled at some point in their lives and it’s such a simple accommodation to make.

    6. university minion*

      #1, You will NEVER have more money than you need when you buy a house. If it doesn’t go toward the down payment, it’ll go toward something else you didn’t realize you needed.
      #2, Buy a house because you want to own a house (and you want to own the house you’re buying). Don’t assume it’s an investment. A house is one of the worst investments out there in terms of liquidity, transaction costs, maintenance costs, inability to control what gets built around it, etc, etc.
      #3, Learn what the coded language is in your city in regards to real estate. In my city, “North of the interstate” is code for nearly all white neighborhoods who’d prefer to keep it that way. That is not where I want to live or spend my money. Likewise, are the “good schools” actually good or is that code for “predominantly white”? Real estate listings are jam packed with really bad euphemisms, some of which are silly (Front porch is falling off – “Great interior!”) and some are more insidious. Learn the language for your area.

      1. university minion*

        One more thing – investigate any HOA thoroughly. There is one development in my city that has an covenant prohibiting people from feeding squirrels, of all things. Another one allows a maximum of two pets, even though the lots are all >1 acre. Another large development is notorious for citing people for things like leaving shoes on the front porch, lawns a half inch too tall, or not pressure-washing their sidewalk. If that’s not your jam, don’t buy a house in a neighborhood that has these sorts of rules no matter how much you might like the house itself.

        1. Gatomon*

          This is key too. My condo’s HOA is a lot laxer than many single-family neighborhoods but I did look at a townhome that had an HOA with only a pet limit and NO fees. This was listed as a benefit, but from what I saw it was a huge negative. First, the HOA literally did not collect a fee, but it reserved the right to, but it wasn’t clear what they’d need to collect fees for. It was also unclear what they even did aside from the pet limit, because they didn’t do any maintenance on the development and they were townhomes, so you were responsible for your own exterior.

          Because the HOA was toothless, the place was in shambles. There were cars parked all up on the sidewalk because the road was too narrow to pass through if street parking was allowed, but driveways were 1 car length at best because the development was so small. Some of the homes had 3 feet high grass around them because the residents didn’t bother to mow, because they didn’t have to! Things were scattered about everywhere. The townhome I looked at had had the entire backyard replaced entirely with rocks (literally not a plant or tree to be found), but it was built into a hill that sloped into the back of the house. The house was unusually warm and muggy for a early summer day as well, which was the final nail in the coffin for me.

          1. university minion*

            See, I’d take the neighbors w/3 feet high grass over some guy in a golf card measuring lawn height (an actual thing in one huge neighborhood here). At least my yard will look good as compared to Weedy McWeederson next door, and if I’m too busy one week to mow, nobody’s all up in my stuff. At least in my city, code enforcement would have something to say about an honest-to-goodness overgrown yard or cars parked willy-nilly.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I actually agree with not feeding squirrels. If you stop feeding for any reason they have been know to get into people’s houses. And people can’t get the squirrel out until it does $1,000’s in damage. I have had bats, rats and mice in here, please Universe, NO squirrels, please.

          1. university minion*

            This particular place is one of those neighborhoods that bills itself as a “conservation community” while enforcing massive square-footage and architectural standards. The rule is supposedly to encourage proliferation of a native squirrel species. One which wants nothing to do with developed areas. The whole place gets a big eye-roll from me – total greenwashing.

    7. voyager1*

      I bought my first house at the height of the economic collapse. It was a buyers market and did very well on it when I sold it.

      Right now it is a sellers market. If you really like a house and it is forever home or one you have to have, you need to move pretty fast.

      There is no telling what the market will be in 9-12 months.

    8. Dear liza dear liza*

      We were surprised at closing costs. We were pretty far along in the buying process the first time when we found out the cost and we had to scramble to budget for it.

      1. BRR*

        ^This. I’m near closing and thankfully wasn’t surprised under contract but was not thrilled when I learned about closing costs when I started seriously looking.

    9. Double A*

      Think about how your house will fit into your employment situation if it changes. We bought our house in part because it was halfway between my and my husband’s jobs. And then I lost my job, and got a job where I can work from home. But once I lost that job, I was a little bit like… Huh, did it make sense to commit to this house? Because we committed HARD to the house — it was a foreclosure, so it’s taken a lot of work, and we’ve sunken a lot into it. After we bought, my parents bought a house nearby so they can help with childcare, so we’re not going anywhere for a LONG time. Like, when were were moving in I was like, “We’re not moving out until our kids [which we didn’t have at the time] move us out into a nursing home,” and I do still think that’s true. But once my job situation changed, I did kind of question if it made so much sense to be tied down here, because it’s more rural than I would ever have expected to live, so I’ve committed to having a 20 minute drive to the freeway for the rest of my life. And I worry some about my parents aging out here. At the same time, we live in a gorgeous area and have an amazing piece of property, and we can do whatever we want here. For me personally, a HOA would be a complete dealbreaker. The trade off is that our neighbors can also do whatever they want, and out here, for every 5 parcels, one hosts a trash curator with a love for dead cars.

      I guess the upshot of this is that home ownership also involves tradeoffs, which we don’t talk about as much because in the US we lionize it so much. Being secure is awesome, but the flip side of that is you’re tied down. I think the most important thing is that you truly want to own a house — don’t do it as an investment, do it because you want a place to live for at least the next 10 years. If you can’t see yourself staying for 10 years, I’d really question if you want to do it.

    10. ALM2019*

      THANK YOU! There is so much good info that I never would have considered. Which is why I asked here :)

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Use an online real estate calculator to figure out how much house you can actually afford. Don’t take the word of the person who gets commission or whatever on selling you a mortgage for some amount. I used the calc backwards, and for the monthly payment I put in our current rent. I went high on the interest rate just to err on the side of caution. And most people take out a 30 year loan so that would be 360 months for the period of the loan. Then hit solve for loan amount. The number I got was 33% LOWER than what we were approved for. My husband and I used MY number and that saved our butts.

      If you have to have a home inspection, remember the inspector does not work for YOU. They are checking to see if things are up to code, etc. It’s amazing what gets through these inspections.

      Ordinary bills other than utilities and mortgage can include:
      water/sewer fees 2x per year
      village tax
      town tax
      county tax
      school tax
      library tax
      Some people want to have someone mow and plow for them, which is fine but it is more bucks. Where I live it’s hard to find people to come do the work.
      The furnace should have an annual check up. Likewise with a water softener.
      Garbage removal is going up and up. What used to cost me 25 cents a bag is now at $4.50 per bag and climbing. Now there is a new fee for getting rid of yard waste such as grass clippings or broken tree limbs.

      Then there is stuff that nickles and dimes us to death. NYS now wants CO detectors in the house. The insurance people ask about this if you go for insurance. This stuff comes up often enough, call a plumber or an electrician and each time they come they will probably tell you, “In order to be up to code you should have Thing, which you don’t have and will cost you $50.” BTW, I have never seen it cost less than $200 to have someone come to the house for anything.

      The one I love (NOT) right now is where they set up your septic tank in such a way that if you don’t pump it out at a certain point, your water gets turned off. You have no water. (Because no one ever has an emergency and needs to wait one more month to pump out. That never happens./s)

      Someone said above, when you get a house tell yourself you are getting it for YOU, not as an investment and not because it will be cheaper in the long run. It’s for you, period.

    12. Dumpster Fire*

      Storage space!! Don’t buy a particular place if you’re already thinking that it’s low on storage space, whether it’s closets, kitchen cabinets, or garage/shed/basement storage. Unless you’re Marie Kondo and are really good at keeping only exactly what you need, you’ll need more storage space than you think.

    13. Preventative maintenance*

      Does anyone have a good resource that lists all the preventative maintenance stuff someone might want to do? Obviously, this is location-specific, but still. Looking for books/websites. TIA!

    14. Observer*

      Make sure to get a really good inspection done – and if at all possible make sure to look at not just “engineering” type stuff. All things considered, our house purchase has worked out very well for us. But, there are a lot of expenses we didn’t expect. We were fortunate that we were able to get things fixed when we needed to, but we would have saved ourselves a lot of money and aggravation had we planned for some of this and addressed some issues earlier / differently. In most cases, we didn’t because it wasn’t till we were neck deep that we realized what we were dealing with. (And yes, the inspector we used missed things that should have showed up even in a very basic inspection.)

    15. Anonymosity*

      I would not have bought an older home that needed updating. Stuff slowly began to fall apart while I lived there, and whenever I had to replace anything, it was all standard size from about 60 years ago. I was never able to make needed upgrades and consequently, I ended up selling for much less than I wanted.

      If you do go older, make sure somebody else did all the replacement work. Unless that’s what you want to do, or can afford it or DIY really well, of course.

    16. D3*

      Unless you like having your neighbors all up in your business, neighborhood snitches turning you in when you leave a note on the door for a friend, and unexpected assessments of thousands of dollars when years of cheapskating management leads to big problems and no budget/reserve for them.
      Our first home was in a small HOA managed by elected neighbors.
      Our second we thought would be better because it was a professional management company running it. Nope.
      full of bees.
      Never, ever again.

  38. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Bathroom sink drain — is it normal for the stoppers not to come out of these, or is there a general super secret trick that I’m missing? We’ve pulled up, we’ve twisted both directions, and we can’t figure out how to remove the stopper from the sink drain so we can snake it (because my beloved husband can’t manage to stop rinsing his damn beard trimmings down the dumb thing :P ) properly. Any suggestions?

    1. Teapot Translator*

      Look under the sink. There’s probably a screw keeping it in place on the pipe. Unscrew it and the stopper will come out.
      Warning, I did this and couldn’t be bothered to screw it back on properly, but the stopper still works!

      1. nep*

        Right, those stoppers are designed to work both ways–either with that rod through it, or resting on that rod.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Oh, fantastic. I haven’t looked up any of the videos yet, but just quick looking under the sink I think I already see the rod y’all are talking about. Thank you both!

          1. bearded sink unplugger*