weekend open thread – August 8-9, 2020

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

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: The Comeback, by Ella Berman. A former teen star grapples with her relationship with the man who made her famous and controlled her for years.

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

{ 1,366 comments… read them below }

  1. On that Academic Job Market Grind is Employed!*

    I moved to a new apartment in a new city for a new job this week! I’m in the US, and we moved in a state doing OK with COVID. I am bummed because it’s hard to do the things I’d normally want to do to get to know a new city while trying to mostly stay home and safe. Any suggestions for how to start making a strange city feel like home in these ~uncertain times~?

    1. Kate*

      Walk walk walk!

      I have been finally getting to know my not-so-new-to-me city so well this summer by walking all over it. About 5-10 km a day, depending on the day, not always all at once. Mask on, no crowds, no real aim in mind.

      I moved here three years ago, and it has never really felt like home until this summer. Turns out I like it a lot better now!

      1. Anne Kaffeekanne*

        Second this! I moved in May and am lucky to be on the outskirts of my new city, which means not many people and a forest behind my house. I’ve now walked pretty much every single path in that forest and then some, and I’m exploring the surrounding neighbourhoods, finding new paths and favourite walks. Having walking routes which feel like ‘my’ routes has helped a lot to make this place feel like home.

      2. fposte*

        And remember you can drive somewhere and *then* walk, even if it’s not an official destination like a park. It doesn’t have to be a walkable radius from home.

      3. LizM*

        Yes, my husband and I walked a lot when we moved to a new city. Bike riding too, it gives you a bigger range but is still slow enough that you can look around and get the feel for an area.

    2. Treebeardette*

      I’m moving and while I drove around my new city, I spent most of my time looking at the street view on Google maps. Lol

      1. Dancing otter*

        For a moment, I thought you meant looking at Google maps /while/ driving around.

        Speaking of Google maps, use that and Yelp to locate grocery stores, restaurants and pharmacies. It’s not home until I can order decent pizza and Chinese food. (If you moved away from Chicago, good luck with the pizza.) It may take a while to get prescriptions transferred from your old drugstore. A lot of farmers markets have reopened, but may be in out of the way locations or at odd times, so look them up in advance. (I don’t know how sociable they are now. Where I used to live, they were a prime location for running into half the people I knew in town.)

        Register to VOTE as soon as possible. Registration cuts off in advance of an election most places. If you have a party affiliation, you could contact your local precinct chair or equivalent; tell them you’re new in town, and what would they recommend to familiarize yourself with local issues? (The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan alternative.) Find out who your local, state and federal officials are: aldermen and representatives are great at cutting through red tape.

        I have mixed feelings about Patch and NextDoor. Look, but you may not want to get sucked in too deeply. (There’s a rather vicious argument on mine right now about a school reopening petition.)

        Oh, almost forgot – is there an appropriate professional organization you could join? Your employer might even pay for you to join and “attend” their virtual (or in person) events. Good way to get to know people and build a local network.

    3. nep*

      You might eheck to see whether the city is doing any online meetings/town halls. I just watched a Zoom meeting my town had to discuss the parks and rec master plan. You could get to know some of the issues on people’s minds, and just get a feel for things from that angle.
      Congratulations on the new job and all the best.

    4. GoryDetails*

      Check the local museums/music-venues/other-sites-of-interest-to-you to see if they have virtual programs going on. (I’m an avid geocacher so I always recommend that; it’s a GPS-based find-the-hidden-container activity. Some places won’t be as accessible just now, but others might be, and it’s a fun way to get out of the house and explore odd nooks and crannies of your new town. If you’re interested, check out the geocaching web site. I’m still finding new-to-me places in the smallish city where I’ve lived for over 30 years!)

      If there are interesting sculptures, murals, or other public art, you could do walk-by or drive-by visits to those, or check them out online and perhaps plot future expeditions when it’s safer.

      Check for Meetups on topics you’re interested in – lots of those are using Zoom or other virtual access.

      Enjoy your new home!

    5. Jean (just Jean)*

      Please re-post your news next Friday so we can congratulate you! Academic employment is worth celebrating.

    6. cleo*

      Join local online groups – either general ones or interest specific ones. I’m thinking of Facebook and MeetUp – you can search for your neighborhood/city name plus a hobby or interest to start finding your people.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Check your library online to see what is going on.
      Look for a neighborhood forum to join.
      Eh, go into “street view” of your fav map program to help plan your walks.

  2. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    As usual, this is not limited to fiction writing.
    I got some loose world building done (mostly figuring out how my magic system would affect the world) so weee!

    1. jules*

      I’m 45,000 words into my novel and feeling kind of good about it! I’ve got all of the elements placed now and can start to resolve the central mystery, and my characters have come a long way.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve set a vague release date for Book 2 (January—yipes!). Right now I’m dealing with structure. I find this difficult, but I learned a lot from Tunerville‘s editors. For one thing, I’m less afraid of chopping it to bits now! A new outline with structure notes is proving very helpful.

      I say ‘yipes’ because I need to hire an editor before I can publish it, and there’s not much time. I may have to push it out a bit. God, I need a job, like NOW.

      World building has been taking up a lot of time. Too much, especially when I found Inkarnate and started playing with maps. Fun! I also realized my conlang will have to be a little more consistent, or people will just check out. It’s all over the place right now.

    3. Janis Mayhem*

      I’ve started fleshing out my main characters for a series…it’s the most creative writing I’ve done in over 10 years. I’m excited.

    4. ampersand*

      Question for you all: when you write nonfiction, do you know how the story will go (and end) before you start writing or does it only unfold as you’re writing?

      1. jules*

        I start with a framework but don’t know many of the details.i know enough about the premise to set up the conclusion and enough about the conclusion to work out the start, and then i let it build itself.

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I start out with a framework too, plotting the major events and such, but the actual details come later and depend on the characters. Sometimes the story ends up going in a different direction than originally planned, because going the original route would mean trying to force characters do do things that are out of character for them.

      3. Aerin*

        If I don’t know what the climax is, I’m not ready to start writing. I don’t have to have all the details in between, but if I don’t have some sort of goal posts it will be a mess. Now, I don’t necessarily have to be correct about what the climax is. It’s happened that things have escalated beyond that point. That still gets me to the right spot, it just means that I keep going.

        I used to consider myself a pantser (as in, writing by the seat of my) because I struggled with outlining. But I’m really a plotter at heart, and the more I have figured out at the start, the more likely I am to have a finished product that I can do something with. There’s still a lot of discovery and letting characters become themselves and dictate their own actions–that just happens in my head before I get to the page.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        Most of my stories start with notes. Lots and lots of notes. I’m also a big fan of outlining. The first one is very vague, just a framework, and it usually has a rough ending. I need to have an idea where I want to end up or it’s hard to tie events together as I go.

        Later, I do a more intensive outline with scenes, what chapter they’re in, points of view, etc. to guide me through structural revisions. In fact, I just spent two days doing that for Book 2. Sometimes the story will change a lot when I get to this point. I don’t think this one will, because I pretty much worked it out in the multiple pages of notes.

  3. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    I finished Divinity: Dragon Commander a while ago and have now started Divinity: Original Sin. Pet Pal is the best ability, hands down. I also love how playing on easy mode doesn’t mean I get to let my guard down in fights – if I don’t pay attention to what I’m doing, I’ll still get my ass kicked.

    1. Treebeardette*

      I played divinity original sin but never beat it. It’s a huge game. Huuuuge. I also agree. Pet pal is highly needed.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Yeah, I get the feeling I’ll be sinking a lot of time into that one. I’m like 15-ish hours in and just finished Cyseal’s main questline, so…Luckily I like RPGs a lot and have a good memory XD

        1. Dr.KMnO4*

          If you play Divinity Original Sin 2, make sure that the character with Pet Pal also has points in Persuasion.

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Also, forgot to mention but this thread is NOT limited to video games, any games are okay.

    3. Still*

      I loved Original Sin 1 and 2, they’re fantastic and pet pal is a must! Now I’m finishing the second Pillars of Eternity – it’s a slightly different combat system but a very similar vibe and gameplay, would highly recommend.

      Anyone have more recommendations for similar games? I mean adventure RPG with non-dexterity-based combat?

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Dragon Age probably fits that bill, as do most older cRPGs (several of which have had updated re-release, such as Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights, though I haven’t played them yet so I can’t speak as to how their combat works exactly). The first Witcher game is also more timing-based than dexterity-based (click mouse when sword glows, which isn’t twitchy frantic clicking).
        If you don’t mind JRPGs, most of them have menu-based combat. Dragon Quest for example basically hasn’t changed much since the first iteration ( Dragon Quest XI S even gives the option of playing with 16- bit graphics) other than QOL updates, but it works pretty well. The story also tends to be run-of-the-mill (I often compare it to Dan Brown novels: he basically rewrites the same novel every time, so you know more or less what you’ll get when you buy one), but usually the character interactions are the most important part of the story.

        1. Still*

          Thanks for the suggestions. I haven’t really tried any jrpgs so that’s something to check out!

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            Just be aware that if you don’t like anime tropes, some of them are fairly heavy on it. Also not every JRPG is menu based, FFXV and the Ys games for example are more dexterity based. They can also be slow to start (Persona 4 Golden, which recently came out on Steam to great succes, famously has a three to four hour prologue. Trails in the Sky FC is literally an entire game that can be considered the prologue to the other Sky games and even the rest of the Trails series as a whole), which I think is partially because Eastern storytelling traditionally has a four-act structure (known in Japanese as kishotenketsu, I forgot the Chinese name) rather than a three-act structure.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We got knocked out of gaming by storm damage and my gamers are getting restless. Happily we found a cable company WiFi hotspot in a shopping plaza that has its power&Internet back, so we’re going out for morning coffee with the laptops. (In the car, not monopolizing their tiny outdoor seating space.)

    5. TX Lizard*

      Video games: Stardew Valley and Skyrim. I like to alternate them since they are so different in gameplay and tone.
      Board games: I bought Wingspan a while ago but got intimidated by all the instructions and distracted by the gorgeous bird art. I need to bite the bullet and try actually playing this week.

      1. Purt's Peas*

        Wingspan is a lot of fun! If the rulebook is getting intimidating I’d actually check out a Youtube video explaining the rules–Watch It Played as really good explanation videos.

      2. Raia*

        Wingspan!! I like this game, even though it can definitely look confusing on first sight with all the cards and art. Thankfully, you can only do 4 actions ever, play a bird, gain food, lay eggs, and draw cards. Thats it! I hope you are able to take 2 hours needed and enjoy the game.

    6. beancat*

      Paper Mario: The Origami King! I’ve never played a Paper Mario game before this and regret I haven’t because it’s 300% my jam!

      1. Phoenix Wright*

        Glad to hear you’re enjoying it! Haven’t bought Origami King yet so I can’t compare, but I’m a big fan of the first 3 games in the series, especially Super Paper Mario. If you have the possibility of playing them, I can’t recommend them enough.

        1. beancat*

          I’ll see if I can find them!

          Your username also reminds me it might be time for a replay of Ace Attorney :)

    7. lasslisa*

      Heaven’s Vault. I’m a space archaeologist / mystery solver! The world is very peaceful and pleasant and interesting and I have really grown attached to it.

    8. Jill of All Trades*

      For those of you into D&D, I just started my first campaign as a DM this week! It’s a ton of work and I’m very excited.

    9. Dr.KMnO4*

      Played some Magic: The Gathering, and getting ready for a Warhammer: Age of Sigmar weekend in a couple of weeks.

      I bought the M:tG Unsanctioned game from Meijer and it’s a lot of fun. You get five half decks (one in each color) that are made of silver-bordered cards. Those are the “joke” cards that have wacky powers and mechanics, and are full of puns (Syr Cadien, Knight Owl for example). You pick two colors and make a full deck from them. My husband and I greatly enjoy it.

      I know there are other M:tG fans here. Have any of you tried out the Ikoria Behemoths set with the Companion mechanic? I love building themed decks so the Companions are right up my alley. The two best decks I’ve ever built have been themed (Black/White lifegain and Red/Black deathtouch) so I’m looking forward to building decks around my companion cards. I wish my husband, who got me into M:tG in the first place, wanted to play more often. I’ve built so many cool decks but I don’t get to play with them :(.

    10. Phoenix Wright*

      I’m currently playing Yakuza Kiwami 2. Love the series, despite this being only my 3rd game out of 7 mainline ones. It may take a long time since I’m aiming for 100% completion, but then again time is what I have the most during lockdown. Plus I’ve finally learned the basics of mahjong, so it seems possible to beat those challenges now.

    11. Raia*

      Im starting to get bored with Story of Season in mid Fall, so I’m getting Final Fantasy xii zodiac age to play as my story game. Not sure if i want to return to animal crossing just yet. Also, played a solo game of Sorcerer City the board game yesterday, I love this game!!!

    12. ThePear8*

      I’ve been playing Armello, I’ve been taking a game design class that has made me appreciate more tabletop-style games more.
      I’m hoping to start “Learn Japanese to Survive! Kanji Combat” soon, it’s the third in the Learn Japanese to Survive! trilogy of turn-based RPG games that teach the different Japanese writing systems (I’ve played the other two, Hirgana Battle and Katakana War. It gave me a nice head start when I started studying Japanese). I have a placement test coming up soon so hoping I’ll have a chance to start the game and brush up!

    13. Chylleh*

      I bought Final Fantasy VII Remake on sale and am enjoying it immensely. My first FF game was the original on the NES. It’s amazing how far graphics, game systems, and sound had chime since then.

      I’m also playing Terraria and Stardew Valley, too. I’m so happy there is a place for both blockbuster and indie games in today’s market. The amount of variety and choices in gaming is incredible.

    14. Aerin*

      This is the week we were supposed to be in New Zealand for WorldCon. Which I’m still bent about not being able to do. I’ve already expanded my quarantine bubble to include the other 3 people in our gaming group who were supposed to take the trip with us. So we kept the PTO and made it a “summer vacation” week like we’ve done before, where we just sit around and play board games and eat junk food. (It wasn’t quite as fun because we couldn’t do much outside the house, although we still did the drive-in and mini golf.)

      My favorite was definitely Mansions of Madness. It’s similar to Betrayal in that you build out the house with room tiles and try not to go insane. But instead of being random, there are scenarios and a tablet app manages everything for you. So rooms can move and disappear, monsters get specialized attacks, and combat varies because you might use a weapon differently (so if you attack with a knife it might have you lunge in and use a strength roll, or it might have you look for exactly the right opening and use an observation roll). It’s heavily narrative, and it’s Lovecraft without the racism. We played it twice this week, and it might be my new favorite game.

      The other new game we played was The Crew, which is kinda like hearts but way more complicated? It was okay. Old classics were The Captain is Dead and Galaxy Trucker. Galaxy Trucker was rough because it’s been a while since we played and I was super tired that day, so building the first ship was a special kind of hell. Didn’t get knocked out, though, so I guess I’ll take it.

    15. Aerin*

      On the video game front, Tom Nook still owns my soul. I’ve started doing yard sales on Turnip Exchange, because I’ve gotten to the point where getting rid of stuff is a bigger concern then acquiring it. Thinking of setting up a grab bag game, still trying to figure out where I’d put it.

      Also we broke out Mario Party this week, and now I kinda want to keep playing to unlock everything. I really dig the ally/special dice mechanic. And I got tired of my husband bitching that I hog the Switch (even though it was my Christmas gift…) so I found one on eBay for a decent price (bundled with a bunch of extras) so he can have his own. Because you still cannot buy them new retail a n y w h e r e.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I once did one of those “which Animal Crossing character are you” tests and got Tom Nook. Honestly, I do not disagree :p

        Wow, Switches are still sold out? Over here they’re back in stock at retail, but stores are limiting them to one Switch per customer.

  4. jules*

    I’m having family photos taken next week and would love any advice anyone can share. My husband, two-year-old daughter, and I will be in the pictures (plus our puppy if she’s feeling cooperative) and any tips on photo-friendly outfits/makeup or tips on getting some good candid shots would be so welcome.

    1. Green Mug*

      One year I told the kids that they could choose any outfit / accessories that they wanted. My middle son wore his bathrobe over his clothes (he wore that bathrobe all day every day after school) and carried a lightsaber. My daughter chose the most colorful clothing imaginable. No one is coordinated at all. Ten years later, this remains my favorite picture. It captured my children and their personalities in that moment. Oh my heart!

    2. Valancy Snaith*

      Even if you’re going to be in the sun for the photos, skip the sunscreen (just for this one point in time!!!!) if your photographer is going to be using a flash. It can give a weird cast to the skin that shows up in photos. Otherwise, don’t wear anything that will make you feel UNcomfortable, because it will definitely show up in how you look! Wear something you like and that you feel you look good in. When you feel like you like the way you look, it’ll show up more so than any “someone told me this was my most flattering outfit” could ever.

    3. Lizzo*

      Here’s some advice from 20 years of photography experience!

      Re: clothing, stay away from bright, crisp whites (e.g. men’s dress shirts). I would also avoid clothes that are clingy–if you have a shirt that’s constantly grabbing you in the wrong places, most of the session will be spent adjusting clothes instead of having fun. If your daughter plans to wear a skirt or dress, I recommend some sort of leggings or bloomers underneath so she can move as she likes and you don’t have to worry about accidental underwear shots. :-D

      Re: candids, a fun warmup would be to have everyone make faces that correspond with emotions, e.g. happy, sad, mad, scared, just smelled someone’s fart, etc. If the kid *and* the adults do this, it will be awesome. I also personally like to have movement for the candid shots, e.g. asking the kid to run back and forth between me and parents. I would check with the photographer about what they’re comfortable with (I started with sports photography so action is awesome!). Taking breaks for movement will also help your kid sit still at the times they need to.

      I would also make sure that the adults have good posture for the more posed stuff. Sit up straight by making sure you’re not slouching in your lower back, lift your chest towards the sky, roll the shoulders back.

      Hope this is helpful!

      1. jules*

        Thanks! One question. My daughter’s turning two a couple if says before the shoot, and her language is a little delayed, so I’m not sure how she’ll do with things like practicing different faces. I’m trying with her now but can’t get her interested. Do you have any suggestions for that stage?

        1. Missouri Girl in Louisiana*

          Try bubbles- a bubble wand- or something squeaky or noisy or enchanting to her. Have somebody stand behind the photographer making funny faces or waving at her or even dancing. I’ve been known to make a variety of funny faces and noises that are somewhat embarrassing for an adult but I want to elicit a reaction.

    4. Missouri Girl in Louisiana*

      I am photographer and I would stay away from busy fabrics-or anything that would take away from the person. Think about where the eye is drawn to. Watch the shade (I’m assuming this is outside). Many times, I’ve seen photographs with the people’s faces either too dark or mottled from the shade. Let the photographer take those photos of you guys coming together-trying to get everybody to be still or being silly or getting that puppy to behave or sit for a nano-second. Many times, the best photos are those that aren’t “planned” although there’s nothing wrong with those either. Be relaxed but listen to the photographer. They have the experience and expertise to get your family photos the way you want them to be.

  5. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I mentioned last week that I was trying to teach myself to knit. I ended up finding it quite frustrating — mainly around getting the tension of the yarn right and my stitches consistent, but also with the yarn itself fraying and getting fuzzy as I worked with it. (Maybe that’s a yarn quality problem? I bought pretty cheap yarn to practice on.) I think it would be easier if I could learn from someone in person, but that’s not going to happen with Covid. In any case, I’m now going to try crocheting instead, which looks slightly easier.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I never got on with knitting (the tension was beyond me) but clicked quickly with crochet. I don’t know anyone who is equally comfortable with both.

      Yours does sound like a yarn problem. I mainly use Stylecraft Special DK with 4mm hook (size G/6 US apparently) which is a good balance between price and quality, and comes in a huge range of cheerful colours.

      What kind of thing are you wanting to make?

      1. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

        I had the opposite problem – knitting is waaaaay easier for me than crochet! What helped me was that when I started knitting I spent months doing nothing but knitting ‘scarves’ (too generous a term really) with terrible yarn, either straight garter stich or knit-and-pearl. Once I had been knitting easily without looking at my hands for a week or more I moved on to some basic patterns and so on. It really did the trick! I just love how portable knitting is, although that might not be it’s greatest selling point just now lol.
        So basically don’t worry about terrible yarn until you’re ready to make something that isn’t terrible!

        1. Mephyle*

          This is great advice. Note that Dragonfly spent months practicing. One week is way too soon to give up on knitting. For many of us, getting to be a good knitter can be on almost a similar time scale to learning a new language. You don’t give up on learning a language if you’re not ready to have conversations after one week of practice.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I am equally comfortable with both and have different preferences for different project types :) I probably knit more, just because I love doing lace and cables and both are fiddly at best in crochet, but I’ve been crocheting for (Jesus wept) 35 years and knitting for 20. (My mom and grandma tried to teach me to knit when I was five, but the needles were too long for my arms — all they had was 14″ straights – so they taught me to crochet instead and I didn’t pick up the knitting til I was 20 and on my own.)

      3. Wehaf*

        I know plenty of people who are equally comfortable and skilled knitting and crocheting, and plenty of people who have a preference.

      4. RagingADHD*

        I knit and crochet interchangeably based on what type of project I’m doing. For me, the continental style of knitting (working yarn in non-dominant hand), aka the “pick-up” style, is very close to the motion of crochet.

        It probably makes a difference that I started learning when I was in elementary school. I didn’t pursue it my whole life, but the concepts and introductory skills were already grounded in there when I picked it back up.

        1. Kt*

          Same here. Continental is great for me, and I can’t knit American-style at all. Too much hand movement.

          1. RagingADHD*

            I sometimes switch to American style when I do double-pointed kneedles in the round. Depending on the size & weight, it can be tricky to juggle everything.

            But for straightforward stuff where I want to go *fast*, it’s continental FTW!

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Honestly, same on the knitting Vs crochet thing. I can do basic knitting (mom taught me) but find crochet far easier to do. There’s also certain styles of crochet that give you a sort of knitted look, if you’re into that, but that’s slightly more advanced. If you’re looking for tutorials, there’s a YouTube channel called “naztazia” that has beginner tutorials (for both right-handed and left-handed people) and tutorials for specific stitches.
      The fraying thing does sound like a yarn problem to me, but I don’t know what brands are available in the US so I can’t help there.

      1. Washi*

        Wow, I just googled “crochet that looks like knitting” and you’re right! I mean, it wouldn’t fool me, but it does have that more grid-like look. Very cool!

        I’m still in the knitting camp because I like being able to fix a lot of my mistakes without ripping out rows, but a lot of crochet looks very boho grandma to me, especially from the magazines I see in the craft store, so it’s nice to know there are other options.

      1. Pippa K*

        I’ve tried to learn to crochet twice, and I just Cannot. Everything comes out like kevlar no matter how diligently I try to keep it loose. It turns out that weaving is the fiber craft for me! Got a little loom, love it.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Same. I could never get past a chain. Knitting is hard for me too and I have similar problems with tension but if I sit down and concentrate on it, I think I’ll be able to do it. It’s fallen by the wayside lately, with so much crap going on in my life. Once I’m settled again, I plan to spend a little more time on it. There are lots of instructional videos online and I have knitty friends I can ask for advice.

    3. Christy*

      Agreed on the yarn problem. Try ordering some from fibre space in Alexandria! They have some inexpensive but decent yarn (I think it’s $8? It’s the stuff they use for their intro classes, if you call and ask about it.)

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      You probably need better yarn…try a worsted weight in a light color (easier to see the stitches). Check online to find a local yarn store. Lots of them are doing lessons and knitting groups on Zoom. Where I live our local library also has a knit/crochet group that is currently virtual. Good luck!

    5. AGD*

      Tension and stitch size are things that work themselves out with practice as your hands get used to the rhythms; it’s most important just to get a routine going that you like and that isn’t creating pain/tension. Some yarns do fray easily, especially the soft ones. A mix of tougher fibres (especially linen/cotton/viscose) might be worth aiming for.

      1. Anxious Cat Servant*

        This! I’ve taught crochet and one of the things I emphasis is that consistent tension will come with practice and don’t worry about it at all your first couple projects. At the start the focus is on figuring out where your fingers and yarn and needle(s) are supposed to be at any given time. That’s more than enough! Once those become habit THEN you can work on tension.

    6. Koala dreams*

      Oh, getting the stitches consistent takes time. It’s too early to worry about that! Yarn gets a bit fuzzy when you work with it, but it’s possible you could find a less fuzzy yarn.

      It’s a bit easier to learn in person, but there are a lot of great video tutorials out there too.

      1. Washi*

        Yeah, it just takes time! And if, as you practice, you accidentally keep splitting your yarn, doing and redoing stitches, etc that will definitely result in the yarn being fuzzy.

        Alison, if you posted some pictures of your attempts, the knitters here could probably diagnose some of the issues! Especially regarding the type of yarn. It is indeed easier to learn with a person – when I’ve taught people, I usually sit beside them for an hour or two and help fix dropped and twisted stitches, etc. Usually after an hour or two, they get to the point where they are working each stitch correctly, but the tension is still often very inconsistent. It does take a lot of practice.

        If you just want something to do with your hands, then yeah, try crochet! If you were more motivated by creating a particular end product, then I would keep practicing the knitting, because crochet will never look like knitting.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’m mostly motivated by having something to do with my hands — I like the idea of using a different part of my brain other than the one I use for the rest of life. Also there’s a bunch of stuff my husband would like to watch with me (certain movies, concerts, etc.) that I just cannot watch without my brain wandering, and I thought having something to occupy part of my brain might be a perfect solution. So I’m not really wed to either knitting or crocheting — hell, I would happily do origami or something else if it served the purpose — but knitting seemed like the most appealing one to learn. And I thought I liked the challenge of it, but that turned out not to be true; I got impatient with myself pretty quickly. (Which I realize you just have to push past, but I think my level of motivation isn’t there.)

          1. AGD*

            I started knitting for very similar reasons (I am fidgety and sit through things better if my hands are doing something). There was a lot of frustration early on, and then suddenly a point where I got it and everything was kind of exhilarating. No guarantee that everyone’s going to feel this way, of course. Just that for me, laying the groundwork was like climbing 8 sets of stairs and then there was a point where it suddenly turned into an inner-tube waterslide. It did take a while and several attempts over the years to get there, but I’d prematurely concluded between attempts that I wasn’t ever going to get much out of it.

            Now I need to figure out how to get there with crochet, which continues to boggle my mind. I’ve made a few attempts over the years, exactly one of which has been good, and haven’t even recaptured that much progress on subsequent follow-ups. Skills are so weird!

          2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            A lot of people say you can knit by feel, without needing to look at your work, which is a bonus for simultaneous TV watching. I don’t usually have a problem keeping track with tv and crochet at the same time, unless I’m following a new pattern. But anything like c2c (3dc, sl, ch3) needs very little attention at all.

            Another point to ponder is that your tension will vary with your mood. If it’s gone horribly tight, maybe you were taking your bad day out on your work. If it’s all floppy and loose, maybe you were more chilled, or maybe more sad. You’ll learn what yours does.

            1. Anxious cat servant*

              I made the mistake of crocheting a flat single-crochet rectangle for a purse while watching a rather intense show. You could see when things got tense by how tight my stitches got. Lesson learned!

          3. lazy intellectual*

            I got into sewing for similar reasons. The interest was ignited in me via mask- making plus ample free time at home. But…I’m finding it really hard to teach myself. I’ve botched so many attempts at hems.

          4. crookedglasses*

            I’ve found linocut printmaking can occupy that kind of space for me. You do need to look at what you’re doing, so probably not good for any movies that you can’t get by with mostly listening to.

            1. Washi*

              I love linocut! But the little bits of lino shavings everywhere mean it’s definitely not a couch craft, or even a portable craft.

              I recently tried needlepunching, which is a cousin of rug hooking, but less intimidating IMO. It was pretty easy to get an ok-looking finished product and really fun! I just made a little embroidery-size thing but I kind of want to make a real rug now.

          5. Kathy*

            Do you have a friend who needs a Dr. Who scarf? You know, the 17 foot long one from the Tom Baker episodes? All you have to do is cast on, knit one kind of stitch, change colors every 4-9 inches of scarf length, and finish off. It’s the only knitting project I ever really enjoyed.

    7. University Minion*

      Go to Walmart and buy a skein of Red Heart yarn in a light color and work with that. It’s not fancy but it’s tough as nails, affordable and consistent, in other words, perfect for trying new things. I love working with natural fibers and higher end yarns, but 30 years on, much of what I do is initially practiced on a skein of Red Heart.

      1. LizM*

        This is the type of yarn I learned on too. It held up well, but was cheap enough that I didn’t feel bad if I ended up throwing away whatever I was making.

        1. university minion*

          Exactly! It is the McDonalds of yarn – not fancy, but does the job; it’s cheap; you can find it literally anywhere; it’s 100% consistent – you always know what you’re getting. That makes it perfect for learning on.
          Oh -AAM- if you decide to try crocheting, an H or I hook is best with this yarn.

      2. Lost in the Woods*

        Strong agree. You want a yarn to learn on where the stitches are easy to see, it’s easy to frog (pull out the work) if necessary, and where the yarn itself isn’t going to be a detriment to the learning process. I generally think needle sizes 6-8 US/4-5mm are good needles to learn on – often “learn-to-knit” kits have size 10+ needles in them, which I think is way too clunky.

      3. BetsCounts*

        I’ve got to disagree re: red heart. I have found it feels so yucky and rough on your hands while using it, and too scratchy to be used for blankets. I’ve had MUCH more success with Caron Simply Soft- lots of great colors, no dye lots, and, as the name suggests- very soft on the hands while working.

        1. university minion*

          Depends on the end use. Caron feels nice right off the hook, but almost always pills badly after a season or two. I have Red Heart blankets, hats and other heavy-use items that are 10+ years old and not the first pill. It softens up a bit in time, too. Interestingly, Caron and Red Heart are now owned by the same company. I hope they keep the lines separate.

    8. HannahS*

      Personally, I found crocheting much easier to start with, and crocheted for years! I eventually went back and somewhat reluctantly learned to knit. Crochet is wonderful for sturdy items, like bags, pillow-covers, dog toys, blankets, slippers, and for very light lacy items (which take ONE MILLION YEARS). Knitted fabric tends to have better stretch and drape, and is better for clothes (and you can also spend a million years knitting lace if you want.) The issue of yarn fraying and getting fuzzy–well, with acrylic yarn, yeah, a more expensive one will last. But there are some very cheap sturdy wools, and some expensive fragile alpaca that falls apart if you look at it wrong.
      Good luck!

    9. Emma2*

      I agree with others that it can take some time to feel happy with your knitting, also, it may not be your thing and you might prefer crochet – in which case, great. I started knitting by making little sample squares – I could finish them, if something wasn’t working, it didn’t really matter because it was not part of a large project, I could try different stitch patterns, and I could theoretically stitch them all together to make a scarf (I did not do this).
      If you do try knitting again, a few thoughts:
      Knit with a woollen yarn at first – wool has a degree of elasticity that you don’t find in plant yarns (e.g cotton); I find this makes it easier to work with, and also results in a fabric that is a bit more forgiving (when you block you work, the wool blooms a bit and the stitches tend to even out – although this won’t fix a tension issue, a blocked piece of work will always look better than one that has just come off the needles, even if all you do is soak it and then lay it out to dry with a little bit of nudging into shape). Synthetics will be cheaper, but I don’t tend to use them, partly because the feel irritates my hands.
      Start with a worsted weight yarn – you will need US size 7 or 8 needles. Personally, I find that this is a needle size that sits comfortably in my hands, and the yarn is thick enough that you can see yourself making some progress. I find that very large needles make it difficult for me to get a consistent rhythm in my knitting and feel awkward in my hands, which will not help with tension.
      As for tension, to some extent, you just need to let your knitting happen – you will not be able to consciously manipulate individual stitches to get the tension right. The tension will come from consistently knitting the same way, which comes with enough practice that making the stitches becomes natural. Never, ever tug on your yarn to tighten your stitches (the only exception is the first stitch in a row, where you can give your yarn a little tug to keep it neat); anywhere else, the stitches will find their own settling point. It can be deceptive, you may think that you can tighten the yarn just to fix this one stitch that looks a bit off – don’t do it, it is going to make things worse.
      Sorry, I have gone on a bit and just when you said you were going to switch to crochet.

    10. Asenath*

      It takes practice to get good tension and consistent stitches, but the type and quality of yarn can also make a BIG difference in how pleasant it is to work with. This doesn’t mean that if it costs more, it’s easier to knit with – there are expensive and gorgeous yarns that are an absolute trial to use. It means that maybe you shouldn’t go too cheap – any decent basic worsted-weight yarn shouldn’t be troublesome.

      If you’re going to learn crochet, begin with yarn and a biggish hook. I can’t remember when I first learned to knit, but I do remember that in my teens I wanted to learn to crochet, and asked my expert grandmother to show me how. I adored that woman, but she wasn’t really a good instructor for beginners! She gave me one of her steel (that is, small) hooks and some of the cotton she used to make doilies. I ended up very frustrated with lots of little knots, and eventually taught myself to crochet with wool and bigger hooks. In fact, as she aged and couldn’t handle the fine work any more, she kept on crocheting, producing a long stream of items out of worsted weight yarn.

    11. Ey-not-Cy*

      I have crochet brain, I find it easier than knitting. Gigi, my granma, taught me both and said that some people find one easier than the other. (She could do both easily.) I picked up crochet again last winter, after trying to knit again and my hands seemed to say “Yes, Ey-not-Cy, this is what we like, not knitting.” My brother uses one of those knitting looms rather than traditional needles. I haven’t tried it but that could maybe help you?

    12. Lifelong student*

      Lots of great you tube videos on crochet. I recommend The Crochet Crowd and Fiber Spider. There are also multiple FB pages where people share tips and patterns. I have made over 200 afghans/lapghans

    13. Mimmy*

      I think it would be easier if I could learn from someone in person, but that’s not going to happen with Covid.

      Would you consider learning from someone over video? I don’t mean by watching a YouTube video, I mean finding someone who could teach you via Zoom or a similar platform.

      1. Bibliovore*

        yes. This. As I mentioned last week. I have taught third graders. I have taught spirituality groups. I have taught people in their thirties and during the pandemic, one woman on zoom in her 70’s. It helps if you can see the hands of the person and have them talk you through a few rows. Then you both knit for a while and then check in. That way when things go wrong, (and they will) there is a quick fix. I also think having good yarn makes a difference.

    14. Windchime*

      Knitting is a skill that takes time, especially with regards to tension. There is a YouTube channel called Very Pink that goes through very basic knitting techniques and she shows the lessons at a speed that is appropriate for beginners. A couple of things:

      –There are two main styles of knitting; some people carry the loose thread in their right hand; these are called “throwers” or English-style knitters. Other people carry the loose yarn in their left hand; these are “pickers” or Continental-style. I knit English-style; I hold the yarn in my right hand to wrap it around the needle. One way may be more comfortable for you, so try both and see.

      –Yarn definitely makes a difference; so do needles. I find that bamboo needles can sometimes be a little easier because the yarn isn’t trying to slide off them all the time. For yarn, get something with a little wool in it. If your yarn is cheap and scratchy (hello, Red Heart, I’m looking at you), then it’s not fun to knit with and it will be harder to be successful.

      Having said all that, maybe crochet for awhile and then change back to knitting later. I prefer to knit and I like the look of knitting better, but crochet is definitely fun and my current handbag is a super cute one that I crocheted out of cotton yarn.

      1. AGD*

        Love bamboo needles! I like that they’re light, grippy, never too cold, and not too loud and clicky. I’ve also only ever had one break, which is pretty good after more than a decade and a lot of knitting during travel.

        1. Nita*

          Bamboo needles are great! I have a bunch of nice smooth restaurant chopsticks that looked too much like good knitting needles to throw away. They’re my No. 1 go-to needles now, and they’ve gotten beautifully shiny from the yarn polishing them.

          The frizzy yarn – that does sound like a yarn quality problem. I think even a not-super-cheap acrylic yarn should be better, and wool or cotton should be better yet (but are they ever expensive!) One warning if you do use yarn with acrylic in it – it should not be anywhere near a hot wash or dry cycle, ever. It melts and fuses and is not pretty at all.

          1. Nita*

            On second thought – are you using very small needles and pulling the yarn tight? If you use needles big enough to comfortably put one through the loop on the other, you’ll have less yarn splitting. Another thing to do is to keep your loops a little loose, not pulled close around the needle. The result may look a little too sloppy for wearing, but you’re still learning. You can start pulling the yarn in tighter when you’re more comfortable with it.

      2. CSmithy*

        All of this — I found knitting English-style agonizing and never got the tension right; when I switched to Continental it all clicked and I enjoyed knitting a lot more. I think that’s totally worth trying as a first step. Switching to bamboo needles made a huuuge difference for me, too.

        Now I want to go start a project!

    15. Fabric Snob*

      It’s probably just me, but when I was learning to knit I found that it was easier for me when I used large needles and (for the purpose of learning) a larger size polyester yarn. (I don’t often wear clothes made of synthetic fabrics, but over time I’ve broken down to where I will now buy and wear clothes made of fabric blends that have a comparatively small amount of synthetic thread to help the fabric maintain its shape.)

      It was awkward because the things I knitted weren’t really things that I would wear or feel comfortable giving to other people, since they were made of polyester.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Interesting. Right now I kind of hate yarn because it keeps splitting apart and then my hook goes through the middle of it and it is a disaster. I would rather be using something totally synthetic and perfectly smooth with no chance of splitting. Any chance you remember the one you used?

        1. Fabric Snob*

          It was Bernat Blanket yarn and I knitted a scarf with it. It did not have any stretch to it, but it was soft and it didn’t fray or split. It was a bit more expensive than Red Heart acrylic, but not overly expensive and I think I bought it at WalMart or maybe Joann.

            1. Fabric Snob*

              I’m not positive if it is the same as what I used, but it is very close to it, if not. (I don’t think I paid that much for it, though. Maybe it was on sale when I bought it.) I found it easier to use than Red Heart and it helped me get the hang of knitting and get some confidence in my skills.

              After I got better I moved onto merino wool yarns. I found knitting easier than crocheting, and that’s what I’ve been concentrating on, but I’m hoping to get more into crocheting in the future.

        2. Wishing You Well*

          Sometimes switching to knitting needles with blunter tips helps the splitting-yarn problem.
          (Yes, tips on knitting needles vary!)
          Best of Luck!

      2. Melody Pond*

        I second this. I’ve been knitting off and on for several years, and was attending a weekly knitting group for a while (pre-Covid). There was an elderly woman (in her 90s) who lived in the condo building where the knit night was hosted, and she was completely new to knitting – a couple of us worked on teaching her.

        I saw her get discouraged regularly with how difficult she was finding it, with smaller yarn and needles, so I ordered some very large needles and a synthetic polyester type yarn (think like chenille blankets). That was much better for her – A) because she could see much more clearly what was happening with each stitch, and B) because the yarn was pretty much incapable of being split.

        I assume you’ve already made copious use of Youtube, Alison? Because if not, there are a ton of videos out there that go over basic techniques very slowly, and I like that you can always back them up and play stuff again and again until you master the thing you’re working on.

    16. Amethyst*

      I tried learning to crochet but all my attempts turned into pennants even though I had all the right stitch counts, etc. So I took up loom knitting instead. I have about 10 Zippy Looms now and have been in the process of making my nephew a blanket using them. They’re incredibly easy to use and it keeps everything I make even (no chance for a pennant here, lol). They come in all shapes and sizes. I just happen to prefer Zippy Looms.

    17. Bibliovore*

      Yes, cheap bad yarn IS frustrating. And if you have a friend who knits do a zoom together so you can get a good start and do a few rows .

    18. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Okay, crocheters: My yarn keeps slipping off the hook after I pull it through (when making a chain). What am I doing wrong?

      I’m using a size H (5 mm) hook and acrylic Red Heart yarn that’s supposed to match that size.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          That shouldn’t make that much of a difference. I’m pretty sure when I was new to it the slipping happened to me a lot. It’s probably mostly a getting used to it/wrist hand angle thing. You also might be inadvertently making too big of a loop.

        2. A.N. O'Nyme*

          That shouldn’t really be the problem – while you shouldn’t go *too* crazy with different sizes, you can get away with using a smaller hook (for a much tighter result) or a larger one (giving a looser result). I had the same issue when I started out – I’d say experiment a bit with the tension and how you hold your hook (do you use the pen grip or the knife grip, for example).

      1. LizM*

        A lot of it is getting used to how the yarn feels, to get the tension right and how hard you need to pull. It usually still takes me a couple rows on a new project or with new yarn to get the feel right and get into the zone. The size shouldn’t make too much of a difference if you’re withing .5 mm.

        1. Lcsa99*

          I am sorry its been so frustrating! You’ll find something that works for you. Maybe try something like counted cross stitch. Its easy enough and thread doesn’t come apart as easily as yarn. If you can thread a needle and can do something like sewing on buttons you can probably figure it out.

        2. WoodswomanWrites*

          I get this totally. My mother is an expert knitter and I have lovely things like a fisherman’s knit afghan she’s made that are treasured. My sister has since become an excellent knitter as well and has gifted me with her creations. Me? I tried and simply can’t stand working with yarn.

        3. Pippa K*

          Hello I am here to plug weaving again! Had concluded fabric crafts just weren’t for me, and then someone showed me a gorgeous scarf and the simple loom it was woven on. It suits my particular spatial-logic and I still get to use all the pretty yarns. The only down side is that you can’t whip it out during a meeting or on a plane!

            1. Pippa K*

              I don’t have a link but google “rigid heddle loom” – mine is an Ashford, but there are several makers. They come in various widths, and my 16” one is both suitable for a novice and still capable of making a huge range of things.

        4. ChristaG*

          Don’t give up yet!! I have taught knitting classes for decades, and the most important thing is to find the style of knitting that suits you – I can teach six different methods of holding the yarn and forming a knit stitch, and a few more for forming the purl stitch.

          If you’ve only been trying one method, you haven’t found your version yet!

          https://www.mybluprint.com/article/different-knitting-styles-to-take-for-a-spin

          If you then have a method that is close, search “different ways to tension yarn when knitting ____ style”.

          Good luck! Feel free to email me for help, I owe you for your resume and interview advice!

        5. Knitter, not crocheter*

          Sorry it’s not going well! I tried to crochet but didn’t like it. Yarn kept slipping off the hook for me as well.

          Were your knitting attempts using English style or continental style? My early attempts to learn to knit were a disaster. I tried again years later using English style (yarn in the right hand) and it was way easier. I just can’t control the yarn with my left hand (contintental style).

          In the beginning, it’s best to hold the yarn loosely because it’s easier to get the needle through the loop. Don’t worry about the fabric not looking good. Bamboo needles are less slippery than metal or plastic. I also like wooden needles.

        6. Dr. Anonymous*

          I used to sort of rest my thumb lightly over the hook area as I was sliding the hook backward so the loop of yarn didn’t escape on me. Once I got it it was easy but it didnt’ start easy.

          But to heck with all that. Buy some pretty coloring books and colored pencils or crayons. You can do something with your hands and you don’t get a big mess if your fingers don’t go EXACTLY where you want them to.

          1. Dr. Anonymous*

            So glad you’re hanging in there. Think of yourself as herding the yarn, the same way you guide kittens not to fall off a table. You just start giving it a little nudge when you’re pulling the hook through. No, no, don’t slip off (nudge).

      2. Not So NewReader*

        It’s been a bit since I have done yarn work. I think I used to loop the yarn around my index finger twice I did not lose it so easily. This would be the index finger of the hand holding the work, NOT the hand holding the needle.
        Yeah it will jump around on you if it has any slack in it.

        About your yarn with the knitting: I think I threw out my yarn from my first “training piece”. I split the yarn (split stitches) and I pulled the work apart so much that the yarn was dirty and frazzled. I think this is pretty normal and nothing to be discouraged about. There is always some waste when starting a new craft. I tried doing stained glass. Yeah, I lost some glass but NOT all of it. It got better.

        I’d like to suggest that incubation time is just as important as time spent learning how to do this. I think when I first learned I did not spend more than 45 minutes in one sitting trying to master the basics. Time away from it gives the brain a moment to process what has taken place so far.

        Do you have a trusted friend who knits or crochets who would watch you and talk with you over Zoom (or other video-chat thing) while you do this?
        I think you said you are a lefty? So you’d want another lefty to hang with.

      3. Batgirl*

        That sounds like an overly wooly, slippery yarn problem to be honest. Also, I find long chains annoying; it is not a satisfying stitch. I do a chain of 24 stitches to make a circle/square and then I do this kind of stitch
        https://youtu.be/rSUqMV_7GdU radiating around it (doubled up to make corners). It makes a cool snuggle blanket.
        I can’t knit for toffee.

      4. Tortally HareBrained*

        If you want to keep going (and no judgment if you don’t) look at the difference between tapered crochet hooks and in-line hooks. I learned on in-line which I think helped “point” my hook better into the stitch and held the yarn for me, but now prefer a tapered hook since I’ve got the muscle memory for creating stitches.

        Also agree with the other commenter who said to let your brain process what you worked on and go back to it later. With new crochet stitches I’m often very frustrated initially, make myself do a row or two then set the work down. Come back to it in a few hours and it makes so much more sense.

    19. HamlindigoBlue*

      I was really frustrated when I learned to knit too. I taught myself using video tutorials. I really like the videos from verypink.com and found her very easy to follow. I also found that knitting is more comfortable to me (and, for me, easier to maintain tension) using the continental method since there are less “steps” involved per stitch. I tried crochet about a year after figuring out how to knit, and I thought that was even more frustrating at first until I figured out holding the yarn is similar to continental knit. Now, I like knit and crochet equally. It just takes some practice to get your hands to do what you want them to do.

    20. LizM*

      I knit and crochet. If you want to check with your local yarn store, some are offering lessons or knitting groups over zoom. One option that’s between “teaching yourself” and “in person lessons.”

      My grandma taught me to knit, but I learned to crochet from a book I got at the library (pre-you tube, if you can imagine such a time).

    21. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

      May I suggest that you just practice on tension for a bit. Just make the same stitches over and over and not worry about making anything. When I teach crochet I start them out just doing a chain, until they relax and get a feel for it.
      Also get a nice yarn, even for this. How it feels to you actually makes a difference!

    22. JobHunter*

      Try naalbinding! It’s an ancient precursor of knitting that is most commonly associated with Viking-era Scandinavia. (Also see Coptic sock, Coppergate sock,and Bjornstad mitten.) You work with short lengths of yarn at a time in a needle. Projects can be started flat or in the round. I tried a hat for my first project, since building the heel in a sock looked too hard for a newbie. There is a Facebook group and a lot of excellent tutorials on YouTube.

    23. No fan of Chaos*

      Congrats on trying! Get a tightly twisted yarn-doesn’t have to be expensive-try Lion Brand-Heartland. Buy a medium color-darks are harder to see. Cast on about 20 stitches and just knit back and forth. Don’t worry about the loose loop at the end of the row, just turn and knit the first stitch a little tighter and the loop will disappear. I turn on Youtube on my computer and search for how to knit. Keep looking if the first doesn’t seem easy. You can hit the space bar to stop the action. Even though I have knitted for years, I forget things I don’t do often. Just keep knitting is the way to learn. I learned to knit socks and made many that were barely recognizable as socks. Slowly they got better. Cheap ugly yarn is harder to knit with. Good Luck.

    24. Purt’s Peas*

      Not to add to the chorus of advice, but if you don’t like it you will not want to learn it and it will not happen! I personally don’t like either knitting or crochet—just neither clicked with me—and so I can’t really do either.

      I still do like many other fiber arts, but I have never liked one where I had to fight to find it interesting or enjoyable from day 1!

    25. CastIrony*

      I must warn you; if you have something like arthritis on your wrists, I don’t recommend crochet. However, I did used to enjoy knitting hats and scarves on my Knifty Knitter round looks. I used YouTube to teach myself how to do anything that is basically a rectangle or square.

    26. Chylleh*

      I’ve been trying to teach myself how to crochet without any luck. I can crochet a foundation chain pretty easily but when I have to go to the next row I’m doomed when it comes to doing the next row. I don’t want to give up but I’m just not getting it. It seems like sort of people get one or the other, so maybe knitting would be more my thing.

      1. BetsCounts*

        I was having a hard time learning crochet also, but found this book:
        ReCrochetions Presents: Rowan’s Learn to Crochet Sampler Afghan
        on amazon. It has both a left & right handed edition and about a bajillion pictures. I normally prefer to make things that are finish free (no sewing or assembly) but this came together v quickly.

    27. Molly*

      Crocheting is easier and typical goes faster. A scarf is a good start because once it’s wrapped around your neck few people will notice irregularities. And starting out with cheap yarn is the way to go as far as I’m concerned. Once the piece is finished, and you wash and dry it, the fraying shouldn’t be obvious. If label says you can machine dry, definitely do so.
      Also, as far as lessons, we have a store in town (MA) that sells local crafters’ work and a huge variety of yarn. They are still giving lessons, but limited to just 2-3 people around a big table for social distancing, masks required. I believe they’ve cut back to offering only during the slowest times, when few people are shopping. And they have lots of sanitizer available.

    28. Apt Nickname*

      I took a knitting class because I absolutely had to have someone physically show me before I could follow along to written directions. I made one long scarf that apparently is well done, since people are surprised that it was the first and only thing I have knit. I can knit you anything you want as long as it is square or rectangular. I never got to the point where I could knit without looking at my hands, so I stopped because I had wanted a useful hobby I could do while watching TV.

    29. Victoria*

      You aren’t going to learn perfectly on the first thing you knit. As with anything it takes practice. Yes the first projects will not be perfect and it may take time to conquer the tension but nobody learns how to do anything perfectly at their first go. I made tons of scarves before I decided I wanted to try something else. I STILL rip out stuff because I messed it up.

      It’s not necessarily the yarn quality. Lots of quality yarns will get fuzzy and fray if they are ripped out. It depends on what they are made off.

      For beginners it’s better to use an acrylic yarn. Less fuzzing and fraying. Even the acrylic (both Red Heart and Lion Brand make a decent yarn) at Michaels (or Joann’s) are fine. Michaels also has a good store yarn I think it’s called Loops and Threads for acrylic.

      There are lots of videos on Youtube and lots of websites for teaching to knit. You can probably take a class online even.

    30. Free Meerkats*

      I meant to reply yesterday, but got busy mounting new TV on the wall.

      My best advice for anyone trying a new craft is, don’t cheap out on materials. Buy from the mid-range stuff. Both top shelf and bottom shelf stuff tends to be persnickety; top because they figure you can deal with its idiosyncrasies, and bottom because it’s crap.

      So you might try again with better yarn.

  6. Treebeardette*

    I’m moving! My new company will have someone pack and move me. Any tips to prepare? Any watch outs? I never done this before.

        1. fposte*

          A friend’s family had a corporate packed move and she talked about opening a sealed box of lovingly packed twist ties.

        2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          Yes they are VERY literal. They packed my toaster. There was a chunk of bread in it that I hadn’t noticed. They packed that.

          They packed my toothbrush and I had to go to the grocery store at midnight to buy a new one.

          They also packed the ziploc bags we needed for the TSA, we had to go buy new ones.

      1. LizM*

        Yup, packers dumped my entire junk drawer into a box. I ended up throwing away 95% of that box when we unpacked.

    1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I’ve never had professional movers as an adult, but one thing I have heard is to make sure the things you want to carry yourself (valuables, stuff you’ll need during or immediately after the move, your favourite pillow, a child’s special toy that they must have or they freak out) are clearly marked or preferably put somewhere away from the main stuff (like in your car if applicable).

      Years ago we moved several states away and the military paid for professional movers. My little sister’s favourite teddy bear that she carried literally everywhere got packed with the rest of her toys and she cried about it for days. I’ve also heard stories of things like contact lenses and driver’s licenses getting packed by mistake.

      We recently did a small scale move but because of the pandemic we weren’t able to declutter much before we had to pack. It would have been much easier if we’d had less stuff.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        All I can say about that is thank the universe I had six months to purge before I actually moved. And I think once I find a place, I’ll end up doing it again.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        I’d take anything that you don’t want packed, and physically lock it somewhere.

        A friend of mine had half-empty bottles of booze packed. This got caught by customs and confiscated (it was an international move). That turned out okay, but some accidentally packed weed, for example, could have triggered international drug trafficking laws.

    2. Claire Ritt*

      Pack a suitcase for each person as if you were going on a several day trip (maybe you are, in reality!). Health and beauty essentials, clothes, etc. will be handy when you arrive.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Both of our cross country moves, it took our stuff 2 weeks to get to our new home.

    3. Ihatelogins*

      Group like objects together before the packers arrive. For example: I took down (and dusted) all framed wall stuff and put in one room. Same with table lamps. It was easier for me on the other end to deal with two Boxes o’ Lamps than to have to root around in infinite 20” boxes marked ‘downstairs.’

    4. CoffeeforLife*

      Have a box of move in essentials. Cleaning supplies, shower curtains, bedding, trash bags, whatever would make your first day/night smoother. If you aren’t bringing this box yourself, make sure to label it so you know which to open first!

    5. Asenath*

      Declutter big time first, like you would before any move. And based on the one such experience of relatives – prepare ahead of time – as others have said, make sure what needs to be moved is clean, and that anything you don’t want them to move is set aside. Those professional packers work FAST, and there won’t be time on the day to say “I’m carrying my mother’s antique vase with me!” or “That’s the dirty laundry I’m going to wash and take with me!”

    6. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I like to use a big, bright-colored plastic tub to store important items that absolutely can’t get lost. Bills, door stops, moving paperwork, etc. Both big moves have been over the winter holidays so I had one tub for gifts and one for the move.

    7. Anono-me*

      I say this anytime anyone asks about moving. Schedule your move for the first move of the day. (You don’t want to be waiting for your moving team to deal with someone else’s crisis or for the rental truck to be returned for a diy move . )

      Call the moving company, ask them for their advice.

      If your company reimburses you for a set portion of the move but you responsible for organizing it, call the person who handles reimbursements and ask them if they have any recommendations. When getting estimates: Local moves = you pay by the hour. Moving out of state =you pay by weight and by the hour for additional services like packing. (Some companies will underestimate the weight to get the job, but you will still pay for what your stuff actually weighs. ) Also now is a good time to mention anything unusual about your home or belonging , 3 flights or stairs or 17 big bookcases full of books etc.

      Since your company is paying, even if it is just reimbursement later, mention that it is a company pay move to the moving business. Most moving business like repeat customers and company pay moves are a more ready source of repeat customers than an individual move, so you will be more likely to get one of their best teams.

      You are also more likely to get one of their best teams if you schedule your move for an off peak day. (Almost everyone wants to move the last Friday of the month or the last day if the month. ) Most movers are paid hourly, with only the better movers getting a full 40 hours every week.

      Have all your stuff that is not being moved labeled. Big full sheets of paper “do not move ” or something similar.

      If you live in a building with an apartment, contact the building manager about using the elevator. Most elevators are designed so that pads can be hung to protect the sides from damage.

      Make sure you know where the moving truck will be parked. If you live on a scarce parking street, Plan ahead and have several friends with cars park in a row to hold a spot for the moving truck. If the moveing truck has to park two blocks away, the movers have to cary all your stuff two blocks to the truck. This is not good for the movers, your bill or your stuff (especially if it rains).

      Tell the moving team which bathroom that they can use. (Even if there is only one; all to often movers are not ‘allowed’ to use a bathroom in the home they are working in. In addition to being dehumanizing, it slows down ths move as movers then have to take a break to find a place with a public restroom, especially if they have to drive the moving truck to it.

      If you are doing a longer move (since this is corporate pay, I’m guessing that it is), Most moving companies want your drawers etc empty, as it can be hard on the joints of furniture to be moved full and long distance moves put a lot more stress on furniture in general. So don’t be suprised if that happens in your move and pack anything private in a suitcase or box beforehand.

      Have some cold drinks available to your movers, even if it is just bottled water. (Yes they will bring their own, but it is a little gesture that goes a long way. )

      Don’t eat in front of the movers, if it can be avoided. If you do order delivery; tell them before you order and ask if they want to place an order at the same time.

      If you can, pack up your small high value items like expensive jewelry yourself and have them out of the house before the move. No decent mover wants the responsibility of that. (Moving stuff like that takes time as most smart movers will make the client or atleast the team lead witness the packing of small high value stuff to avoid drama later.

      For an average two or three bedroom home (like the house from King of Queens) a nice normal tip is $20 per mover (if you can afford it). Tip after everything is loaded for a long distance move and again when everything is delivered. Except for possiblely the driver and maybe a partner, you will have different teams in each city. (If you have lots of stuff or stairs or don’t remember to save a parking spot nearby for the truck, tip more. If you are having a smaller move or are having hard times, movers are people too and most will understand a smaller tip.

      With covid, the movers will probably want you to do a one person masked distant walk thru or even a virtual walk thru and then be out of the home.

    8. Joie de Vivre*

      Unless things have changed from 20 or so years ago, the amount the company pays for your move will be taxable compensation for you. If it isn’t spelled out in your relocation documents, you might want to check with your payroll department.

      Good luck!

    9. LizM*

      I said in a subpost above, make sure you throw away anything you don’t want moved. They will pack literally everything.

      We boarded our cats the day the movers come. They would have been so freaked out, and I didn’t want to worry about keeping the movers from opening the wrong door and letting them out.

      In the times of COVID, think about where you’re going to be. My husband and I just hung out in our camping chairs on our patio. Make sure you respect their distance.

      We had cold drinks we offered them. Especially in the summer, they were really working carrying all our stuff down three stories from our apartment.

      Pack a suitcase for everything you’ll need. Our stuff ended up going into storage while we lived in temporary quarters, so we didn’t get it for almost 8 weeks. Even if you have a place for it to go, it could still be several weeks, depending on how far it needs to go. Make sure you set the suitcase aside and put a big sign on it that says DO NOT PACK. If you’re keeping your car with you, I’d put it in the car.

      Don’t assume that you’ll know what’s in what box. Our stuff was labeled by room, but there were a few where there was room in the box, so they filled it with random stuff from other rooms. Our sheets all got packed in the kitchen box, which was fun when we were trying to set up our bed and have a place to sleep. If it’s important to know where something is, talk to the movers and have them label that specific box (“Sheets”).

    10. Quinalla*

      Pack valueables/heirloom stuff to move yourself and have it already in your car so they don’t accidently take it. Have a box & suitcase with the stuff you need immediately – PJs, a change of clothes, TP, toothbrushes, toiletries, a couple towels, etc. – like the stuff you would pack in your carry-on for a plane trip if your luggage were delayed/lost. That way you don’t have to unpack everything to find that one thing you needed. If you have kids, make sure their favorite toys, stuffed animals, whatever is in your own car too and of course diapers/pull ups/bottles/etc. if that is needed for them.

      Also, don’t forget things like bedding for the beds if needed, curtains if your new place doesn’t have them, phone charges, etc.

      1. Quinalla*

        Oh and make sure you know what they WON’T move, most won’t move liquids and anything explosive – propane tanks for grills for example, so make sure you have that packed up already for you to move too.

    11. J. f.*

      Check that they for real got everything. In one memorably disastrous move I helped with, one of the movers got a ” grandma died” call part way through and they missed a whole closet.

      Also, they will do zero cleaning, so take that into account! We ended up hiring a cleaning service and billing our friends because there were ten inch high cat hair drifts and at least ten species of fungus living in the bathroom.

    12. rubyrose*

      Just went through this.
      Do not assume the packers know what they are doing. Meaning, actively monitor them. I had movers that specifically promoted themselves as having packed fine art for international shipment. I provided plenty of blankets for them to use in packing my POD. I ended up with two frames with multiple nicks and an unopened package of 12 blankets.

    13. KR*

      Make sure everything you plan on bringing with you in a car or on a plane fits. I didn’t do that ahead of time and there were things I wished the movers took, but by the time I knew that my stuff was long gone, so I had to ship it.
      Take pictures of everything, TVs (both on and off to prove they work) , corners of furniture, apolstery, fragile goods. I’ve heard of movers putting big scratches and scuffs on furniture, then claim it was like that when they picked it up, or it’s normal wear and tear.

    14. Treebeardette*

      Thank you for the responses! I can’t respond to everyone but this is a big help!

    15. Ktelzbeth*

      I just had professional packers and movers in days ago. My main tips:
      1. Clearly label everything you don’t want them to pack. I used pieces of masking tape that said “NO” in black permanent marker. If possible, put it all in the same place as well.
      2. Don’t assume they won’t pack something like the trash, because they might.
      3. Conversely, don’t assume they will pack everything not labeled “do not pack” or “NO,” because they might just skip random things or decide random things that are valuable to you are actually trash that shouldn’t be packed. (For example, the block that goes under the front wheel of my bike to level it when it is on the trainer.)
      4. If you have any furniture or breakables that will be hard to pack or to get out of the house, talk to them ahead of time and then watch them. My team brought 5 people for packing day and 5 for moving day, so I couldn’t watch everyone all the time, but I tried to stay central with excursions to monitor the stuff that needed extra attention.
      Good luck!

  7. Jackalope*

    I have a question for everyone about music. I normally listen to music on the radio or on CDs, but my personal laptop doesn’t have a CD player (which is a trend I find incredibly frustrating but don’t know what to do about it). Now that I’m spending a lot of time at home due to That Thing We Don’t Discuss On This Thread, I’m looking for a way to get background music. What do you use? What works well as a method for getting a constant stream of instrumental background music coming your way? I’m open to a program such as Spotify or Pandora but I don’t really know *anything* about either of them besides their names. Have you had better experience with one than the other? It’s important to me not to have commercials randomly popping up for multiple reasons; I’m willing to pay for something if it’s a reasonable cost (preferably less than $20/mo), but would then want a reasonable assurance that it would do what I want before committing to paying them. Any thoughts? (Including the two I mentioned earlier or other programs entirely.)

    (Note: apologies if this posted more than once; feel free to delete extra postings. My internet is being weird right now…)

    1. glowingbooks*

      I love Spotify. I don’t know if it has instrumentals but I only use Spotify now and I don’t buy physical music. I have a family plan and for the two of us it is a very fair price. Spotify is very easy to use once you get used to it.

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

        It does! They have most of Deutsche Grammophone’s and Decca’s catalog, movie soundtracks and… some anime soundtracks! Some labels region-lock their content (Ilan Eshkeri’s The Young Victoria for example), but even then is more than enough to create a concentration playlist.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Spotify has nearly everything. Lots of classical, all kinds of instrumentals. Ambient and binaural beat music.

        I’ve even discovered some wonderful stuff like Vitamin String Quartet, who make classical-style instrumental covers of pop songs.

    2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I have a free Spotify account but I don’t really use it that much, though I like it just fine. The ads are pretty unobtrusive. I also sometimes listen to random artists on Bandcamp, which is a better platform for making sure the artists actually make some money off sales, if that’s a concern for you.

      The main thing I have done is buy a £20 USB CD drive and rip all my CDs to a hard drive. In my case I’ve been doing this for years and I have both an external hard drive and a network storage device in my house, so most of my music is already in digital format. Now every time I buy a new CD I rip it straight away so it’s available.

      1. pancakes*

        I like Spotify a lot, and rarely use Pandora because the stations require too much fiddling from me, by way of upvoting or skipping songs to clarify my preferences. You might like TuneIn too, which is a radio app that has stations from all over the world. I love being able to favorite particular programs & DJs. It has podcasts, too.

        1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          Pandora isn’t available in the UK as far as I know but I also have Last FM which I use sometimes, and I listen to a few radio stations via Podcast Addict. I have a favourite station that I listen to on the radio a lot, too (BBC 6).

          1. pancakes*

            I love BBC 6 too, and listen via its own site or TuneIn. Also BBC 4 for the shipping forecast! It’s so soothing.

      2. another scientist*

        I listen to my Spotify a bunch, and am on the verge of shelling out the $10 per month to get rid of the ads(I’m a tightwad). I have a few playlists that I made, and really enjoy their personalized weekly playlists. For me, the algorithm finds a lot of music that fits my taste (also rediscovered old favorites). Beyond classical music, they also have many playlists such as Deep Focus or Reading Soundtrack, which are modern instrumental pieces, perfect background music.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, I do that too. I bought an external drive when I got this HP laptop. It didn’t come with one. But I listen to soundtracks and although I mostly download these days, many older albums are out of print and not available as mp3s. I have to save the CDs but they don’t take up much room.

    3. Pennyworth*

      I recently had to replace my laptop and one of my non-negotiables was a built-in CD/DVD player (I found a DELL which did), but when I was shopping around I was told you can also get plug-in players.

      1. nep*

        Same. Dell Inspiron 17 here. I hadn’t even thought of it as a non-negotiable till I realized how rare it is that laptops have the optical drive anymore.
        As an alternative, I like the idea of getting an external drive and ripping the CDs.

    4. Lady Heather*

      If you can get your hands on a separate CD player – one that attaches to your laptop with USB – you can ‘download’ your CD’s onto your computer, and then you can listen to them even when the CD player isn’t there. Cheap ones are 15 bucks on amazon.

      1. Filosofickle*

        This! When my latest laptop came without a DVD drive I bought an external. It doesn’t get used a lot — just to transfer any new music to my laptop and watch the occasional movie. (I prefer to own my music on disc and even still buy it that way.) It’s not a high-use item but it’s handy when you do need it and inexpensive. Mine was around 20-25. Cheaper than a subscription if you already own DVDs you want to listen to.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I have Pandora and I pay $10.00 a month. I like it. I can create playlists, skip songs, replay songs, search, etc. I use it on my phone and I tend to plug my phone into the car stereo system just about every time I go out, so it’s nice to have it wherever I go. They have a free version, too. So does iHeart Radio and Spotify. Though I believe with the free version you don’t have many options.

    6. Lizzo*

      If classical music is something you’d enjoy, I recommend streaming WFMT out of Chicago (available on their website). They do include movie soundtracks from time to time. The DJs are all low-key so when they do pop in to say things, you barely notice.

      1. Capsicum*

        Yes, absolutely try streaming public radio! Just send them some money too so they can stay in the air. If anyone wants a non-instrumental music suggestion, I listen to The Current (out of the Twin Cities) all day long and love it.

        1. pancakes*

          Yes!

          Thanks for the MPR recommendation — I added it to my list in TuneIn.

          WERU out of Blue Hill, Maine and WFMU out of Jersey City are my non-classical favorites, particularly for the psychedelia & whatnot show on WERU called Let the Dog Drive, and Sophisticated Boom Boom on WFMU, for female-fronted pop from all eras. Also a big fan of Atlantic Tunnel on The Face radio (Brooklyn) for brit pop and Jazz24 (Seattle).

      2. Jackalope*

        I tried to do this because I love my local classical station! (And I support them financially so I feel invested in them too.) My problem was that it seemed to freeze itself and stop if I wasn’t actively using my computer (which since I have my music set up on my personal laptop and I’m working on my work laptop was most of the day). I finally had to stop because it was throwing my concentration off so much more to have to get up every 20 minutes to go wiggle the mouse.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I like Classic FM also, but that’s UK-based. I cheated and used my auntie’s postcode so I could access the web player, heh heh.

    7. allathian*

      We have a Spotify family subscription. I usually listened to that on my commute. Avoiding the ads made it worth it for me. There are instrumental playlists as well.

      If you want to listen to CDs on your laptop, a removable USB drive would do the trick.

    8. Nervous Nellie*

      When I work at home I use jango.com because it is free and customizable. You type an artist you like, or a theme you like (say, ‘instrumental guitar music” or ‘classical’) into the filter and set the variety setting. I set up a Brian Eno ambient filter with a very low variety setting so that every related tune would be very similar in spirit to his work. If you create a username and password and stay signed in, you will never hear an ad. I used to use Pandora, but it was only ad-free if you paid for it. Maybe that has changed? I am too cheap for that. :)

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Is it painfully old fashioned that I have a CD player at my desk? Sometimes even radio, although this area lost its daytime classical music years ago.
      I am however seriously considering getting a USB CD player because I’m told cars are starting to skip them as well….and it makes it easier when I’m in the room with other people. For the same reason, I also sometimes connect my phone as am external USB drive and play mp3s from there, so I can switch to Skype without fumbling headphones.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I don’t mind giving up a CD player in the car but they better not take my auxiliary jack away.

    10. Kardamumma*

      Check out what your public library offers. My free public library membership lets me stream from Naxos Music Library, and at least two other digital music resources with tens of thousands of options.

    11. Kathenus*

      I used to stream old 70’s music through an online radio station at work some days, but those types of stations are now blocked. I’m also a CD person, I have no downloaded music at all, just an old fart I guess, but I like my CD’s – plus I have so many that I’m never going to easily be able to digitize them all.

      So on some days I just let nature sounds or nature sounds + music stream all day on You Tube, which I’ve had no problems doing at work – very relaxing. Today I’m using the same method as Seeking Second Childhood, I brought in an old CD alarm clock (Dream Machine for those who remember them) and I’m playing my old 70’s music compilations (go KTel!).

    12. Asenath*

      I haven’t subscribed to a streaming service – the ones I’ve tried out never seem to have the music sorted in a way that I like, or that make sense to me. What I did was to put all my music into mp3 files – nowadays, of course, I buy most of my music through download, but I also ripped music from my older albums. It started out as a kind of non-iPod system for someone who didn’t have and couldn’t afford an iPod (I did try cheaper knock-offs but didn’t like them). I put them all on my home computer (and had one of the backup copies on a little portable hard disc for work), installed MediaMonkey, and then all the music I liked was at my fingertips. Of course, unlike an iPod, you do need to hook your portable drive to something that can play the music, but it’s easy to play anything you want from your home computer, and it’s all music you like (or, sometimes, did like once, and when it comes up as a random selection, you wonder why!).

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I just started using MediaMonkey! I like it. Especially since it imported my WMP playlists (after a simple conversion) and I didn’t have to reproduce them, yay!

    13. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve been using YouTube Music as my background music for my laptop, because I’m already paying for YouTube Premium (no ads, able to download videos offline on your mobile devices), and YouTube Music is included in that. You can do a one-month free trial to see how you like it. You can definitely make an instrumental playlist.

      That said, the only options aren’t CDs or a streaming service. You can rip your CDs to MP3, and listen to those digitally by just storing those on your computer.

    14. TPS reporter*

      Google play is my go to for background music. You can find anything (even brand new music) and it syncs with my Google account. It’s 10.99

    15. Parenthetically*

      YouTube is my go-to tbh. There are SO MANY 8-hour or longer “videos” that are just soothing classical or chillhop or instrumental bluegrass or instrument/genre/mood/decade of your choice, you name it. Easy, free, and most of them (esp classical) don’t have ads.

    16. Professor Plum*

      Spotify and Pandora have different approaches to how they work. Here’s a page that compares them. I like both, depending on whether I want to listen to something specific (Spotify) or a particular style (Pandora). You can try both for free with ads, and decide if you want to invest in a subscription to either or both of them. https://www.diffen.com/difference/Pandora_vs_Spotify

    17. Senor Montoya*

      Spotify, and pay for it. Otherwise you have to listen to commercials. You can get the basic subscription if you are the only one (or the main one) using it. If you have two or more people sharing the subscription and you both use it a lot, you’re going to get in each other’s way. At that point you may want a family subscription: $15/month for up to five accounts. I miss seeing my son’s choices pop up when I open the app, but I can follow his account to see what’s new, and now we don’t inadvertently take over the other person’s listening experience.

      There are tons of already-made playlists that will work for you, and you can make your own as well.

      My son also likes Pandora. Same as w Spotify: if you don’t pay, you will listen to ads. (Since I pay for Spotify, he just deals with the ads on Pandora.)

      1. pancakes*

        My boyfriend & I split a family plan with a good friend and it works well. The playlists Spotify makes for me are pretty good too, better than the ones Pandora did when I last listened, which admittedly was a while ago.

        What I dislike about Spotify is the way it treats musicians. It keeps most of the profits for itself, and leadership seems to favor a sort of Dickensian workhouse approach to making music — the CEO said last week he thinks it’s not enough to release a new album every 3-4 years, and some other out-of-touch nonsense. I am trying to support Bandcamp more, and fortunately there’s a lot to love and a lot to listen to there.

        1. pancakes*

          I should add a couple Bandcamp recommendations, since why not.

          People fond of instrumental music for working should check out Sahel Sounds, a record label and field recording project dedicated to the Western Africa Sahel region (in the Saharan desert), and Ghostbox, a UK record label that puts out music I’ll let their website describe:

          “Ghost Box is a record label for a group of artists exploring the misremembered musical history of a parallel world. A world of TV soundtracks, vintage electronics, folk song, psychedelia, ghostly pop, supernatural stories and folklore.”

    18. mreasy*

      I recommend trying Spotify before you buy. I personally really dislike their interface so I use Apple Music (they also pay musicians slightly better than Spotify does).

    19. Torrance*

      I must add to the chorus of positive Spotify comments. I’ve used it near daily for a few years now and I love it. I pay around 10 dollars for an adfree experience, their algorithm gets to know you and your tastes super well and super fast, and they’ve got a really expansive and extensive library.

      To give you an idea of what they offer, I looked up instrumental music playlists. There’s instrumental pop covers (27 hours), instrumental study (13 hours), reading music (music to read to; 67 hours)– basically they have a ton of instrumental music with pretty much any kind of instrument, mood, or purpose you’d desire.

      I don’t think you could go wrong trying them out.

    20. MsChanandlerBong*

      I absolutely love Pandora. I have premium for $4.99 a month right now b/c I am in school, but I think it’s only $9.99 without any kind of discount. You can create your own stations, search for songs, find music similar to what you already like, etc. I just found an amazing album of clarinet, oboe, and bassoon music because I had looked up Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and Pandora started playing a piece from the cool album afterward.

    21. Working Hypothesis*

      I use a combination of Amazon Music and SiriusXM radio, both played through my Echo Dot. It’s got pretty good sound for a little $20 thingy, and it’ll play the satellite radio subscription we already have for the car anyhow, or if I feel like asking for a specific album or song, I can just request that directly and it’ll go get it through my Amazon music subscription. The only problem I’ve occasionally had is getting it to recognize what exactly I mean by a particular Broadway musical album, since there aren’t specific performers usually associated with that (it’s just “by the cast of…”) and I can get around that by pulling out my phone and typing in the search term, then sending it over to the Dot to play.

    22. e271828*

      I am a Squeezebox devotee. I have two, have bought them for others. No monthly fees. They are compatible with Spotify and Pandora, but don’t need them; they provide access to all the worldwide free streaming stations out there, and in the case of the Boom and the Radio models there are decent built-in speakers. (The Touch needs to be hooked up to speakers.) This is an older product but a good one, not exactly supported by Logitech but not written off either. The catalogued and classified stations can be searched and saved into a favorites list; it’s very convenient.

    23. Observer*

      Some of the services give you a month free to try. I know that YouTube music does. That gives you a chance to see if you like what they have, as well as experimenting around with things like playlists, etc.

      Also, if you have CDs you can rip them and play them from your computer. I don’t know about Pandora, but YouTube Music and possibly Spotify let you upload your music and let you stream that as well, if that’s something you are interested in. It also seems to me that doing that makes for better streams when you are actually streaming.

  8. Merci Dee*

    It’s been 10 days since my mother passed away from pneumonia and related complications. It all happened pretty fast – she went into the hospital on Sunday and passed the Thursday before last.

    I’m torn. I miss mom so much, and I always will. But I’m also kind of relieved that she passed so quickly and without any pain or fear.

    About two months ago, she was diagnosed by a pulmonologist with a laundry list of problems. Bronchitis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and restrictive lung disease (which prevented her lungs from fully expanding when she breathed). She was also well on her way to a dementia diagnosis, but had not officially been screened for that. If she had pulled through from the pneumonia and come home, it would have been a matter of time before she would have been back in the hospital with it again, or with the flu or something else. I’m not sure that she would have continued long enough for the dementia to become too much for us to manage on our own as family caregivers.

    So how do you reconcile missing your mom and your daily evening phone calls with feeling like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders with regards to ongoing medical care? I realize that both feelings are valid – it’s possible to feel like there’s a hand strangling your heart, but to be happy that she won’t have to suffer through deteriorating health. I guess it’s just that sometimes I feel guilty for feeling like we all dodged the bigger bullet of having her health get worse and worse further down the road, and watching her suffer more and more for it.

    1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I haven’t had quite the same experience but when my grandfather died I was relieved in some small way. He’d been living with Parkinson’s for years and he was really feeble and unsteady, which must have been awful for him. He was also completely incontinent and was really miserable because of that. In the end he fell and hit his head, and the family decided not to do any drastic intervention because he would have had to spend the rest of his life in a nursing home which was the one thing he was adamant he didn’t want to do. I still miss him, and I feel guilty that we basically killed him, but I also am sure that he didn’t want to go on living like that. I wouldn’t have. But I am also a supporter of assisted suicide in the right circumstances so I appreciate that my views may be a bit off kilter.

    2. Pam*

      My mother chose her moment. She was a retired nurse, and when her health issues got to where she was looking at extremely restricted quality of life, she quit.

      It helped us to know it was her choice, and that continued life without being able to enjoy itwasn’t what she wanted.

      1. Not A Manager*

        CW: End of life question, allusions to personal autonomy and decision-making

        Hi Pam. Would you be willing to talk at all about your own feelings about your mother’s choice, and what the family dynamics were? My friends and I talk sometimes about how our relatives’ lives have been extended by medical science (without last-minute heroic interventions, just things like pneumonia vaccinations and flu shots and diabetes control, etc.), and that it seems like all that’s left for them are difficult endings rather than earlier, easier ones. We all wish that we could choose our moment rather than extend an unhappy experience.

        (I will put a caveat here that we all recognize that our perspective is skewed by our own current ages and experiences. It’s very possible that we would be closer to end of life and not have this feeling at all.)

        When we think about choosing our moment, though, one thing that seems very difficult is how hard that would be for family, especially adult children. It might be one thing in a hospice setting, but when it’s more like “things are going downhill and I just don’t see a healthy and functional life ahead of me,” it seems like family could really feel abandoned and rejected by someone making that decision.

        Did your mother discuss this with you in advance? Did you have time to process on your own or with her? Do you wish she’d not chosen her moment, and had accepted whatever medical science provided her?

        Thank you for whatever response is comfortable for you. I’m sorry for your loss.

        1. fposte*

          I’m not Pam, but my father very much kept this as a possibility; fortunately for all of us his body obliged without needing to be told. One of his friends at the retirement community chose to refuse food, and his family was on board; my father was very reassured by the fact the facility didn’t intervene.

          My mother had a long and difficult death, and I think my father was determined to avoid that (and frankly afraid of it). He laid the groundwork with all of us for decades–he was a bit of a Victorian in how much he liked to talk about death, even if his conversations were very practical–and none of us would have intervened in a DNR situation; a deliberate choice would have been harder to handle but I think we’d have managed it. His judgment also seemed pretty reasonable on the subject, in that he was willing to engage in things that would affect his quality of life even as he was pretty limited, but he drew a line at things that would just involve prolongation (he refused a colonoscopy because he wouldn’t have wanted to be treated for cancer, for instance).

          I don’t think I’d have felt abandoned if he’d gotten to the point of refusing food; it would have been an action of a man who was staving off an inevitable worse death. My main concern, frankly, is that he’d have done it to try to spare his children something worse rather than for his own welfare, but this was a subject he returned to often enough that it seemed to be a core principle for him.

          So based on my family I’d say normalize it–don’t leave family members finding out about the possibility when the actuality comes. And the same goes double for DNRs–it’s really common for family to override DNRs, and the more emotional preparation you can give, the better it’s likely to go.

          1. Venus*

            Yes, TALK! With family and friends. Anecdotal info in countries with assisted dying (Canada, etc) shows that families are supportive and feel included if they know the plan. There will always be exceptions, but it seems to be a big positive overall.

        2. Pamela Adams*

          Not A Manager,
          The one who struggled with it most was her granddaughter, who she had raised, and was just 18. For the rest of us, we had seen grandparents and, in my case, my husband go slowly, and knew what it cost the patient, even more than the family.

          All of us saw that it was the right decision for her- she wasn’t willing to live with the lowered quality of life. My mom was a caregiver by nature- after retiring from a career in public health, she volunteered with the Red Cross, doing disaster services, flu clinics, and anything else that needed nurses. After a stroke that paralyzed her left side, she had to give up the disaster work, but still did flu clinics and acted as the advice nurse at our local senior center.

          Complications from diabetes began restricting her life, and when she wound up ‘temporarily’ in a nursing home, the writing was on the wall. She was hospitalized for an antibiotic resistant infection, and decided then that she was done, and explained her reasoning to us. She came home under hospice, and was gone in a week.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      My condolences on your loss. It does get easier to reconcile the feelings over time. When my grandmother (I was her caregiver and we were extremely close) died, I had a lot of guilt over the relief I felt. It’s perfectly fine to miss the person but not the logistics of doctors and daily care, but it took a while for me to arrive at a peaceful point. If you consciously separate your mother the person from your mother the patient, it’s easier to cope with. Virtual hugs to you!

    4. Not A Manager*

      What makes those thoughts easier for me is remembering that we all know the end of the story. Everyone dies. So the question becomes, what kind of end-of-life experience do you hope for, for yourself and for your loved ones? What you describe, in and out of the hospital, critical care, the onset of dementia and all of the complications that can bring to the experience of emergency medical care – that’s probably not what any of us hopes for as an end-of-life experience.

      Pneumonia used to be called “the old man’s friend.” I think physicians, and maybe family members too, had more of a holistic understanding of death at a time when we didn’t expect to be in control of everything, all the time. I think you really can accept your mother’s end of life experience as a blessing to her, without in any way diminishing your own grief and love.

      I’m sorry for your loss. I’m sorry that it came at any time, in any way at all. But I am thankful for everyone’s sake that your mother’s passing was as easy as possible. I hope your loving memories bring you comfort.

    5. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I am so sorry for your loss

      my dad passed away a few years ago from a silent heart attack. It was very sudden. One of the things that comforted me was that it was instant and he didn’t suffer very much. I wish we had had more time with him but I think it would have been more difficult for him to die slowly and for us to watch it. I see the slow deterioration my mother now and it’s painful to see.

    6. allathian*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. It sounds like you have pretty much come to terms with your ambivalent feelings for now. I hope that your good memories of your mother will sustain you and that the pain of her loss as well as your feelings of guilt will ease as time goes on.

      I haven’t lost a parent yet, but I have lost all of my grandparents. When my maternal grandfather died I was five years old, and I barely remember him. So I didn’t mourn him, although that was the first time I realized that when people die, it’s permanent. When my paternal grandfather died, he had been pretty much housebound for years, although his mind was clear. He passed away from pneumonia when I was in my early teens. I spent quite a bit of time trying to console my grandmother and to some extent my father, and I don’t feel like I mourned him much, either. His ill health made him taciturn and grumpy, and I don’t remember ever having talked with him much. After his death, I spent quite a lot of time with my paternal grandmother after school. We’d talk and do jigsaw puzzles and crosswords together. I suspect that thanks to her intellectual hobbies, she was able to remain functional in spite of her dementia for as long as she did. In the end it got the better of her, and watching her decline is the most distressing thing I’ve experienced so far in my life. She’d go outside and get lost a block away from home. There was a medical intervention when she went out in her underwear and barefoot in the middle of winter, when there was snow on the ground. She had to go to a nursing home because she needed care 24/7. In the end, she didn’t recognize my father, her only child, or her own face in the mirror, although she had no trouble recognizing herself in old photos. Five minutes after a visit, she’d complain to the nurses how her son never came to visit her… It was hard both for my own sake, because I had a closer relationship with her than any of my other grandparents, and because my dad took it so hard (my mom was probably more relieved than anything else, because although she was a fantastic grandmother to me, she was the MIL from hell and I was old enough to realize that). When she finally died, I felt mainly relief because I realized I’d been mourning the wonderful grandma I lost to dementia for years already. For as long as I can remember, my maternal grandmother suffered from heart disease. So it was not a surprise to learn that she had died of a heart attack. I did mourn her, too, although I admit I didn’t know her very well. I spent a lot of time with her during the summer when I was a kid, but by the time she’d died I was in my mid-20s and I’d only met her once or twice as an adult (she lived a 6-hour drive away).

    7. Valancy Snaith*

      My mom passed away on Halloween of last year. She was relatively young (67) but had been suffering from cancer for the better part of a year, and she was really, really miserable.

      The things that you’re feeling (relief, guilt, etc.) are all incredibly normal. It is a relief to know that our loved ones aren’t suffering any more. I saw my mom about a week or ten days before she passed, on her last aware-and-lucid day, and it was obvious that she was completely and totally miserable. I don’t want to think of my mom in that state. Honestly, once my dad made the choice to move her into hospice care, it was already a bit of a relief because it allowed for more peace.

      I can’t say that you’ll feel better about this today or tomorrow or next week. But eventually those feelings of being torn, feeling guilty about your own relief, etc., will begin to fade away and you will feel better about the whole thing. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t miss my mom badly. Sometimes I get so far as looking for my phone because I think “I have to tell Mom this” before I realize, and it hurts. But now that it’s been almost a year I feel better knowing that my mom is at peace, because the suffering she was enduring was unspeakably terrible. My dad, who was my mom’s primary caregiver, struggled a LOT with this–it was extremely stressful for him, and he also felt terribly guilty about how relieved he felt when my mom passed. He saw a therapist for a bit to work on it.

      So, what you’re feeling is normal. It hurts and is awful and makes you feel terrible, but it’s normal. A book that helped me realize this was The Dead Moms Club by Kate Spencer, whose mother passed away after struggling with cancer as well, because she talks a good bit about all the feeling you’re feeling.

      I’m very, very sorry for your loss and I wish you weren’t a part of the club.

    8. Kathenus*

      My condolences. It’s been ten years for my mom – which I can hardly believe. She unfortunately had many years of bad health and a less than happy existence. I hated that, seeing how unhappy she was, even if some of it was of her own making and choices. So I think it’s great that even in your grief you can see that she didn’t have to linger in that kind of state. My mom not living an unhappy life anymore brings me comfort, and I hope your realization that your mom was able to pass quickly will give some to you.

    9. fposte*

      As people say, the two sort themselves more easily the farther away you get. With a parent or other senior relative, the worry is a late overlay; the person you miss is lifelong. Gradually those two disentangle again.

    10. Parenthetically*

      In my family, literally all of the grandparental-age deaths were the opposite — years, and in one case over a decade, of failing health and gradual physical and cognitive decline, and you are right that it’s truly gut-wrenching to see that person you love slowly dwindling away into something less than what they once were.

      As to how you reconcile it? I don’t think you do. I think you sit with it, acknowledge it, allow every single feeling to come and go, even the “meta” feelings. Name them. “I feel guilty for feeling relief that my mother died fairly quickly.” Permit them. “I’m allowed to feel this way. I give myself permission to feel guilt and relief.” And THEN, I think, you can interrogate the feelings, just very gently. Does feeling guilt for the fact that your mother was spared years of suffering, and that you were spared years of watching her slowly decline, align with your values? Can you choose to allow yourself the feeling of relief without guilt?

      All the best to you as you navigate this complex time.

    11. HannahS*

      The two things aren’t in any way contradictory! You wanted your mother to have a good life, and to pass from it without pain and fear. “I miss my mom so much, and I’m so grateful that she didn’t suffer,” is a totally common, totally normal sentiment.

    12. Working Hypothesis*

      I have something kind of similar going on. My Mom died in December, just before the pandemic hit. She had terminal cancer and we knew she didn’t have long, but hoped for a few more months. I feel guilty for being glad she didn’t get those extra months now, because I know she was fighting and wanted as long as she could have. She was only in her early seventies, much younger than she ever expected to die, and she didn’t feel ready for it. She was furious and frustrated, and when I think of her own spoken desires at the time, I wish she could have had the additional time she wanted. At least those few months, even if we couldn’t dodge the terminal cancer altogether.

      And yet… and yet. Mom lived alone in New York City, and had a weakened immune system. When I think about what would have happened if she’d lived into the Covid era, trying to function in a hard-hit city without the help she needed (because nobody could leave their own homes to go take care of her); attempting to deal with her medical issues in an overwhelmed system when just getting a taxi to the hospital would have been both difficult and risky? I shudder at the imagination. And when I look at the way she died — with her family around her, lighting up visibly on her last day of consciousness when she saw my kids walk into the room and passing on the next day with me holding her hand — and think about how different all of that would’ve had to be if she’d died after the pandemic began, I have to be relieved for the way it really happened. Even if she *hadn’t* contracted Covid, or had her medical care fall through, or been left to struggle on her own when she needed help and nobody was able to go help her… even if everything else had somehow gone right six months later, we would absolutely not have been able to travel from Seattle on short notice to be at her bedside. She’d have died worried about us rather than secure in the knowledge that she was leaving her family in good, stable condition; and she’d have died alone.

      She wanted more time. But not like that, I think. I hope the ways in which it did, ultimately, go as well as possible for her outweigh the ways in which she didn’t get as much time as she wanted. Since we didn’t get a choice about it either way, that’s all I can do.

    13. Nita*

      The relief is a very normal feeling. For yourself, and for your mom. I have lost three older relatives in the last two years to cancer, and one to age-related heart trouble. The ones who escaped a long stay in bed, and had a swift final decline, were the lucky ones in my opinion. As much as we miss them, and as much as we wish they had stayed longer, they were very fortunate to be on their feet and with some quality of life, nearly to the end.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      One nurse summed it up for me, “We don’t prolong people’s lives, rather we prolong their deaths.” My father died 5 times in 2 weeks. DNRs were just becoming a thing. I waited too long to sign, I kept hoping this wasn’t the end.
      Every time we die and come back we lose brain cells and have other damage. If he lived after the last time he died, he never would have done anything but lay in bed. That’s not living, I wouldn’t want it and I knew he didn’t either. I signed. And he died for a sixth time 2 weeks after I signed.

      This is when I learned why we have DNRs. Too many times they resuscitate and the person actually comes back! Does the person want this level of help??? The answers vary here, hence DNRs/living wills/ health care proxies.

      “So how do you reconcile missing your mom and your daily evening phone calls with feeling like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders with regards to ongoing medical care?”

      Well there’s several things to look at:

      1) The first time I looked at this stuff was with my mother. That was not a positive relationship at all. For this situation I struggled with trying to figure out how to be fair/ethical. Finally I landed on, what would *I* want if this were ME in the exact setting my mother had. My answer: You should have let me go a while ago. Why did you make me stay in this condition? Think about how you would want to be treated in the same setting.

      2) My father was the opposite conclusion. I wanted him to stay when it was his time to go. I did not understand. I still don’t really understand. He was 72. Had he lived he’d be 100 years old this year. Fposte is right about time. He had been gone about 7 years, and the WTC happened. I know this would have wounded him to his very core to see this happen. It was the first time I caught myself saying, “I am glad dad is not here to see this.”
      My father’s body was worn out. His mind and heart were figuratively worn out also. He had done all he felt he could do here. He’s been gone 26 years. I still miss him. It’s different now less of a roller coaster and more like a pang in my heart. Think about what you would tell others who expected/wanted you to keep living, if you were in your mother’s setting.

      3)At some point, I too will reach my end. I have watched my elders fade away and I realize this is the process. I don’t want people breaking their backs trying to take care of me. It’s too much to ask of a person, as you are very much aware right now. But it is also too much to ask of me to continue on when I am pretty much spent. And this point was driven home for me with my father. I wasn’t ready for him to leave. We never are ready for them to leave, I guess. But some day (many years from now!) it will be time for me. I don’t want someone holding me here by willing me to live or by medical intervention if it’s time for me to go. (Yes, I have that all in writing some where….)

      It’s fine to say, “I. Can’t. Do.This!” Or “It’s too much for me!” Our medical systems are very labor intensive. It’s a tremendous amount of physical energy but it’s also a huge amount of emotional energy. There is only so much one person can do to keep another person alive. And after that, the one person can’t do any more to help their person to live. I have to conclude with the fact you did as much as you could. Think- you did as much as you could. You could not do any more for her than what you did and you were maxed out (most of us do get maxed out). And this is why you have a sense of relief. Probably you kinda know this already. All that is happening here is that you aren’t avoiding this fact any more. You are acknowledging, “I did all I could do for her. I couldn’t do more.It was just too big.” And this is okay to say this, a good many folks feel the same way.

    15. eeniemeenie*

      I’ve heard this as a common theme from people whose parents die after significant health battles. I went to a funeral for my friend’s father years ago, and she told me that caring for him was so hard she wished he would die quickly. She was incredibly close to him, so it speaks volumes about the stress people endure when their parents are seriously unwell.

      Death comes to all of us. I’ve seen so many people endure a lengthy and painful death process where euthanasia would have been kindness to them and their families. It’s totally valid to feel relief that your mother did not suffer for a long time.

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

    16. Merci Dee*

      Thanks to everyone who has offered condolences, I truly appreciate your kindness and compassion.

      I’ve been visiting with my dad and a couple of my sisters today, and came home to more posts than I can answer individually, so a few extra notes for the group….

      About 5 years ago, both my parents had living wills drawn up to specify that they did not want heroic measures to prolong their lives if their quality of life would suffer, and they drew up additional documents to give me power of attorney in the event that something happened to both of them simultaneously and they couldn’t make decisions for each other. With all the traveling they did together where chances were good that they’d be injured at the same time in a traffic wreck or the like, it was a smart decision.

      Turns out that mom’s living will did not have to be enacted because she passed away before she got to the point where she would have been placed on a ventilator. When I say her passing was quick, I’m not joking. My dad called at 5:30 a.m. for an update on her condition, and the nurse was so pleased – she had a great night’s sleep, her oxygen level was around 90% and had been stable all night, and her breathing was more relaxed and stronger than the day before. We really thought she was turning the corner and starting to improve. At 6:20 a.m., the hospital called dad back and said her pulse rate was increasing and her oxygen level was at 42%. She was basically starving for oxygen. He immediately left for the hospital, called me on the way. It took him 20 minutes to get there, and she died about 2 minutes before he walked through the side door. She went from a glowing nurse’s report to her final breath in about 75 minutes. And it’s still a little hard to grasp.

      I’m grateful that this was the woman who was my mother. She had such a vitality about her, a sense of humor and fun. She was honest as the day was long, and had an incredible work ethic (which her daughters complained about when she woke us up at 6 a.m. every Saturday morning to clean the house). She had the grit and determination to raise four kids alone during the late ’60s after divorcing her first husband, but had a heart tender enough to try love again when she met and married my dad. I could not have asked for a better mother.

    17. Batgirl*

      It’s very soon for you. I wouldn’t try to reconcile anything just yet. When my father died suddenly we were all personally devastated for ourselves, but struck by how much it was probably his ideal way to go. He would not have wanted to struggle with his health; that was not his personality. Tallying up the benefits of a quick death did lead to guilt in the early days. He still felt close, he still felt like he was alive somewhere… I expected that to fade, and when it did for the realisation to crush me with an added prong of guilt for assessing his death. It didn’t happen. He still feels close. The instinct that he wouldn’t have wanted to die in a drawn out way hasn’t faded or become doubtful either.
      I miss him terribly. He was the only person who understands my oddities, who was at all like me. He was too wonderfully vibrant to be forgotten or to feel like his death was convenient. However, I know that while I can deal with his loss using a catalogue of great memories, I would not have dealt well with the threat of that loss or with his pain. I only have to mourn the absence of good things not the endurance of something long and hard. When I cry, it’s usually because of a happy memory.

    18. Pucci*

      My deepest sympathies. Accept that you feel guilty and accept that this was the best outcome for her and for you. It will get easier for you with time. As your friends go through this with their parents you will see the full range of the way the elderly die in our society, and little of it is good. Both my mother and my aunt died of cancer, but my mother did not have dementia while my aunt had a severe case. Watching the person die from dementia years before the body does is heartbreaking. For what it’s worth, a doctor friend told me that pneumonia is considered an easy death.

      As for the phone calls and little conversations you had only with her, you will miss them terribly, then slowly switch to having them in your head. You know her and know what she would say. She is with you always.

    19. voluptuousfire*

      My dad passed in May I was the primary caregiver. He also had some stripe of dementia as well and I’m glad he passed before it got worse. His mental health wasn’t that great as it was due to his illnesses and not having the independence he once had. I miss him but I have to say it’s a relief that I don’t have to worry about him anymore. He was still fairly self-sufficient in that he made his own meals and took his medications but still needed a lot of help.

      There’s no need to feel guilty about dodging the bullet of watching your mom’s health deteriorate. In a weird way, I’m glad my dad passed when he did because he would have hated living in an incapacitated state. He was a very independent man and that would have crushed his spirit even more than it was.

  9. Goose*

    3 am… 8th floor of doorman building… awoken to sound of banging on front door and someone twisting my doorknob. When I mustered the nerve no one was there

    Just a drunk neighbor trying the wrong door…right?

    (Also now I’m terrified to go back to sleep. Happy Saturday!)

    1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Well, think of it this way. If it was a burglar they wouldn’t have been banging on the door, and if it was the police they would have broken it down. So I’m sure it must have been a neighbor who had a few too many. (Though yikes!)

        1. Pharmgirl*

          Can you ask the doorman? Not necessarily who it was, but if a resident of the building entered around that time? Explain what happened, they might be able to tell you if someone came home during that time.

    2. nep*

      My friends once had a guy banging on their door (of a house) in the wee hours. Banging and banging and hollering to be let in. Cops came and the guy was drunk as hell. The theory was he thought it was his house, or at least the house of someone who should have let him in.
      Would be great to have cameras in your hallways. Could you get one just for your area/door?
      All the best. Here’s hoping it’s a one-off.

    3. Traffic_Spiral*

      So long as they can’t get in, who cares. Unless it’s ghosts. then you clearly have a problem.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Enough people have been shot at raids on the wrong address that I’d be terrified too.

        1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          That was kind of my point above. If it had been a raid on the wrong address they would have gotten in. Police in Colorado blew up someone’s house in a wrong address raid, so a locked door wouldn’t stop them.

    4. Anxious cat servant*

      That sounds 100% like someone who got their doors mixed up. Doesn’t keep it from being scary though!

    5. Wishing You Well*

      Wow. Sorry you went through that.
      One evening, I had a guy bang on my front door, then drive off, drive back and bang some more. He made 3 or 4 trips like this. I was home alone at the time, so I didn’t answer. I didn’t recognize him at all (through the peephole). I assumed he was drunk or had the wrong address. When he was out of sight, I got in the car and left for a friend’s house. I figured if he wanted to break in (or whatever), it would be best if no one was home. (He didn’t end up breaking in.)
      Never found out what it was about. Why didn’t I ask “Who is it?” – I was getting a bad feeling, so I didn’t.
      Ask your doorman if he knows what the deal was.

  10. Seeking Second Childhood*

    I’m in the US northeast where ‘just a tropical storm” Isaias did a lot more damage to infrastructure than expected. The big regional power company isn’t guaranteeing everyone will be back on the grid by Tuesday, a full 7 days down.
    So emergency preparedness is on my mind: What are some things you & your family do or have that DON’T show up on the typical checklists? And why?
    (Ps I’m lucky to be in an area that got power back quickly…. I’m hoping that’s the same for other commenters in my area.)

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A dozen clean empty gallon water jugs to prefill in advance of a storm like this. Just strung by the handles on a cord hung in a corner of the basement near the well pump. After this storm, I’m going to add a second string because I hadn’t thought about how much extra water you need in high summer.
      A camping shower bag
      A propane campstove to cook without electric (and extra propane)
      A generator (we added this to the wishlist after Hurricane Sandy and watched for a sale…it was a Prime Day special.)

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      Hi, neighbor! We always fill the bathtub and a couple of buckets with water to dump into the toilet tank so we can flush. (Well and septic means no water if the power is out).

      1. Inefficient Cat Herder*

        We do this as well.

        Also we have some of those foldable 5 gallon water jugs that are sold for camping. They don’t take up much shelf space but are handy when we think there might be power outages (we do have a generator now after one particularly bad ice storm, but the well pump is a huge drain so nice to be able to get water as needed without always running the generator)

        We have a hand-cranked weather radio and lamp.

    3. Lizzo*

      We have small battery packs (supposedly they can be solar charged) that we use to charge our phones. Also not a bad idea to ensure you have entertainment options that do not rely on power, eg books, board games.

    4. GoryDetails*

      I don’t know if this shows up on typical checklists, but battery-powered book-lights are awesome to have at times like that. (My area was spared major damage or power outages, but my sister and family lost power for a day and a half, and she specifically mentioned going nuts after dark because it’s so hard to read by candlelight!) If one has e-readers that may make up for the absence of booklights, but if the e-readers run out of power you’re kind of stuck; with booklights you can replace batteries as needed.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I used to have an oil lamp like Little House on the Prairie. It got me through three days trapped in my house without power after an ice storm. Not really safe if you have small kids or pets, though.

      2. Mephyle*

        Solar-powered lights are another option, batteries not even needed. For power outages I have a couple LuminAID lamps and a radio/flashlight combination that can be powered by a crank, has a small solar panel for charging, and can also be plugged in to charge via a USB cable.

    5. Ranon*

      We keep the freezer full or pack it with ice (full freezers will stay at temp longer without power than partially full). Friends in hurricane areas will keep their food in the fridge but in garbage bags so that if power goes for a long time and/or they have to evacuate cleaning it out is just a question of grabbing the bags and tossing them.

      LED lanterns and headlamp- both are so much more civilized than flashlights for power outages. Although we also get a lot of use out of the LED tea lights we bought for our wedding for the bathroom and other spaces in the house you might need a little light for.

      A lot of bug repellant- power outage means a lot more open windows and outside time and storm means water = high insect repellent needs. I keep wipes in our go bag and our house well stocked in bottles.

      What I really want is solar panels, battery backup, and a Zero Mass Water system (they’re solar panels that pull drinking water out of the air- very cool) but that’s on the some day list.

    6. Me*

      I’d suggest considering one of those jump starter units for cars. Seems like a strange recommendation but ours gets charged once a month and then if the power goes out, it can be used to recharge our phones. Look for that capability when thinking about buying one.

      We also keep 72 hour food kits here for each person. Each one has 2500 calories that can be eaten with minimal prep and includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks.

    7. Senor Montoya*

      Flashlights, batteries for flashlights, crank powered radio, food that does not need to be cooked or kept cold, bug spray and anti-itch spray or gel because if the power’s off you have to open up the windows and doors and you will be eaten alive.

      No need for bottled water, btw, if you are on a municipal supply because that rarely goes down (we have a flat of bottled water in the deep freeze, take it out once a year and use it up for hiking and such).

      Make sure your laundry is DONE before the storm arrives, same thing w running the dishwasher.

      1. TexasRose*

        Depends on where you live, about the municipal water supply. During one hurricane two years ago, a third of the county lost water because we had one of those can’t-make-up-it’s-mind storms that kept pouring rain and Cat 1 winds in, pushing the water up into the suburbs, which washed out the soil under the water mains, which broke in multiple places. (This is also a consideration if there’s a lot of major construction, like a new highway.)

    8. Alexandra Lynch*

      We have plans to get a large water filter, of the sort that is the size of a coffee urn and can deal with raw river water and put out potable safe water on the other end. Mainly because my city’s infrastructure has issues and I fully expect boil water alerts on a regular basis. That’s just waiting on Boyfriend to get hired on somewhere again so we have an income.

    9. Summersun*

      We bought a small generator to keep the aquariums running. When we lost power during a blizzard years ago, the heaters and filters were out too long, and I lost several hundred dollars of imported tropical fish.

    10. Free Meerkats*

      It’s a clickbait standard, but freeze something like a mug of water and put a coin on top, then store that about halfway down in your deep freezer. Once power comes back and the freezer is back down to temp, check that. If the coin is at the bottom, your freezer got warm and the food is trash. If it’s still on top, the food is good, if it’s partway down, you have decisions to make.

    11. Alex*

      I may be over-prepared given that I don’t live in an area where we are likely to need to evacuate on short notice, but I am ready to anyway. I have everything I need to live out of my car for a week. I have a big backpack plus some plastic boxes that contain:
      Sweatpants, sweatshirt, T shirt, socks, warm hat, underwear, rain poncho
      Sleeping bag
      towel
      Emergency blanket
      Mess kit, mini camping stove and fuel cans
      Flashlight with batteries
      Water filter
      travel mug, tea towel, dish soap, plastic utensils, knife, can opener, in a plastic container I can use as a plate/bowl
      foldable bucket
      first aid kit with band aids, alcohol wipes, ibuprofen, and benedryl
      toothbrush and paste, shampoo and soap (hotel samples)
      tampons and pads
      toilet paper
      Paper towels
      five gallons of water
      food to generously feed me for a week, or less generously feed two people for five or so days, all able to be eaten with no prep or simple prep in the mess kit/camping stove (and non-perishable of course)
      Solar phone battery and charging cable
      passport, cash, extra car keys

      Since COVID, I’ve also put away for emergencies some Tylenol, gatorade, ramen noodles, jello, and protein drinks, in addition to making sure I always have at least two weeks’ of regular food in case I need to suddenly quarantine.

      In addition, for at-home situations with no power, I make sure I have a lighter to light my gas stove, LED lantern, and extra batteries. I keep a flashlight in an immediately accessible place so I don’t have to search for it in the dark!

      I go camping every year as well and so most of these things are cross functional.

    12. Owler*

      Prescription meds. I hate how hard it is to get extra meds. So about a year ago, I filled my prescription as early as I could (like day 28 of a 30 day prescription), and saved the extra to build up a personal stockpile. Now I have a month’s worth, so each month when I fill a new one, I just rotate my stockpile so it’s always fresh. Even without an external emergency, I’ve gotten into it for backup (once there was a national shortage of my prescription; another time I needed extra for a trip).

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Well, we’re a bunch of Internet junkies in my house. We just got back from buying equipment that will let us WFH from a nearby park that has town wifi….to find our Internet back on. We all went in different directions to get some quality time with our favorite flavor of media. 5 days offline was a bit too much togetherness.

  11. Christy*

    Does anyone have recommendations for dealing with the side effects of synthroid? I started taking it about a week ago and I’m not sleeping well, I can’t get through a real workout, I have no appetite, and it’s like my anxiety disorder just relapsed. Do the side effects abate or am I just going to have to turn into one of those people who needs to practice impeccable sleep hygiene to get enough sleep?

    1. CJM*

      It’s been about twenty years since I started taking Synthroid, and I don’t remember having side effects. (Maybe I did but forgot.) I do remember feeling less lethargic pretty quickly. Could your dosage need tweaking already? I’d contact my doctor and ask if they can lower the starting dosage so you feel more like you did before you started. I also remember that it took some experimenting to get the dosage right, where right included two things: my TSH level was in the target range, and I felt pretty good.

      Are you working with an endocrinologist? A good friend who also had hypothyroidism pushed me to see an endocrinologist rather than my GP for fine tuning. My GP was satisfied when my TSH level was on the higher end of the normal range, but I still felt off. The endocrinologist wanted my TSH level on the lower end of normal, and I definitely felt better then. I’ve been seeing the endocrinologist ever since (now just annually because my numbers stabilized).

      1. Haven’t picked out a username yet*

        Call your doctor. It sounds like your dosage may be too high, but I’m not a doctor. I started on synthesis (generic) about 8 months ago but was started really low. We then tested every month or two and gradually increased until my levels were right. The symptoms you are describing sound like hyper thyroid which may mean you have pendulumed over to the other side. The only way to know is to have your doctor test your numbers. Good luck!

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        IANAD but I and several members of my family are hypothyroid and have been for over a decade.

        1) Yes, have TSH tested, you sound like your prescription’s too high. Be prepared to do *small* tweaks yourself. For me, taking the prescribed amount of synthroid every day means I get hyperthyroid a little – no period, hair falls out, forehead skin dries out and starts to flake. So I take the prescribed amount 6 days a week for 3 weeks, 5 days on the week of my period. I feel ok, my doctor says the numbers are great.

        2) Have your vitamin D checked. Every person I know who is hypothyroid is also low on D, in direct proportion to how hypo they are. The person who takes 150mg synthroid / day has D under 10 without supplements; I’m prescribed 60mg / day, and my D is in the 20s without supplements. Official recommendation is >35 for D in your blood test, but the doctor who wrote that recommendation aims for >50.

        D is a hormone that your body synthesizes, it makes sense to me that if your thyroid hormones are out of tune that may also affect other hormones.

        Definitely listen to your body, and good luck.

        1. Summersun*

          Agree about Vitamin D. I take 50,000 IU once a week, per my endocrinologist. Just be careful to check any vitamins or supplements you already take first. A lot throw D in the mix, and you don’t want to overdo a fat-soluble vitamin.

    2. WellRed*

      synthroid is basically a hormone so it takes several weeks for it to build to the right level in your system. I’ve never heard of it causing any side effects, rather it’s that the dose is wrong. If you are suddenly feeling anxious and sleepless call your doctor. It can take quite a bit of fine tuning. I’ve been taking it 20 years after thyroid removal.

    3. The Doctor is In*

      It is replacing a natural hormone so there should NOT be side effects if the dose is correct. Call your doctor.

    4. Ranon*

      I’ll second/ third/ etc. the call your doc rec, it sounds like something unusual is up. Synthroid has a pretty long half life so it’s unusual to have immediate reactions to it, when I’ve had side effects like that (not immediately) my dose has been way too high.
      Since guidelines for TSH levels have changed I’ve had to advocate to keep myself in the higher end of the TSH rec instead of in the middle, luckily I have an endocrinologist who believes me and is happy to keep my dose adjusted there.

    5. Christy*

      Thanks, all! I’m on it because my reproductive endocrinologist wants my TSH lower before I go through an IVF transfer in a few months. My level was 3.8 so within normal bounds for non-IVF purposes. I’ll send her an email and let her know about the side effects. (As an aside, I’m so used to bad side effects from this fertility process that I figured I just had to deal with it. Thank goodness it’s my wife doing the egg retrieval at least.)

      1. Observer*

        Your RE is actually right – if you’re dealing with infertility, good doctors are going to look at that number differently than if you didn’t have any issues. Also, for any pregnancy, doctors prefer a range of 2 – 2.5

        But, it sounds like your dose is too high, unless something else hit at the same time as starting synthroid.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Thyroid replacement hormone is not a one size fits all presctiption. You & your doctor may need several rounds of testing & adjusting levels. Some people end up on combinations of T2&T4.
      So yes, call the dr.

    7. fposte*

      Seconding everybody–Synthroid isn’t something that should give you side effects. If it’s only been a week, it’s also possible this is actually the low thyroid effect taking its toll and that the Synthroid should help that. But yeah, call the doc to see if they want to change anything.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Call your doctor. That’s not normal. Don’t wait around for that to resolve on it’s own, that is way off base.

    9. Working Hypothesis*

      That’s pretty extreme side effects for levothyroxine. I had very minimal jitters and loss of appetite for the first couple of weeks and then we found out that I was on too high a dose for me. It was the recommended dose for my thyroid level, but it turned out to push my particular system too high. So they dialed it back, and now it basically doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t sleep too well, but I never did before the synthroid anyhow, so I don’t think it’s related.

      I would talk to your doctor about the side effects. This seems like too much, to me.

    10. Summersun*

      As others have said, check with your doctor. Even if your numbers are in range, some people just don’t do well on synthetic, and need the porcine version instead.

      1. No fan of Chaos*

        One way to know if it is too high is if you eyelid is vibrating or trembling or such. Also, weigh yourself. If you are losing weight then it is probably too high.

        1. Observer*

          Those are symptoms, but you don’t need those particular ones to say that the problem is probably a too high dose of synthroid.

    11. Observer*

      Call your doctor immediately – you should NOT be having such side effects. I’d be willing to bet that either something else or your dose is too high.

    12. WS*

      I’ve been on it for decades now and for 10 years I had to have my TSH suppressed for post-cancer reasons. Every time the dose goes up I do get those effects for about 5-6 days, plus restless legs. Then it settles down and everything is fine. If you’re having your TSH suppressed, it is normal to feel like your dose is too high to start with because it takes time for your body to say “Hey, better slow down on the TSH then.” If it continues past a week, do talk to your doctors, though.

  12. L in DC*

    Has anyone read Susan Anderson’s books on coping with abandonment (Journey from Abandonment to Healing, Black Swan, Taming your Outer Child)? Any thoughts?

    For context I am trying to work through residual feelings from my alcoholic father (now deceased) leaving our family when I was 9. I have a great life but am still anxious and unhappy. I will start looking for a therapist this week as well.

    Appreciate everyone’s candid and constructive feedback!

    1. Incessant Owlbears*

      I’m sorry, I haven’t read those books, but I can recommend a group called Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA or ACoA) that might provide the kind of resources you are looking for. I have been attending the Zoom meetings of a “new to ACA” group for a few months now, and I find the structure and materials are really hitting the right things for me.

  13. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    I finally have some tomatoes!

    Both the garlic and tomatoes are in low quantities due to the lack of water, but at least I’m getting something for my hard work. And the potatoes and beans continue to grow.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      It doesn’t. I got started late this year. Then the tomatoes basically did nothing for more than a month–the plants didn’t even grow bigger. I have a few little tomatoes, but they’re taking forever. Same with the jalapenos. Blossoms, but no peppers. Then something came by and ate all the leaves off one. (I have 12 plants so not a big deal.) I had a couple actual peppers on the two scotch bonnet plants, but then something came through and chomped the plant and the peppers. A have a few green beans, but not enough to do anything with. I’m calling this season a bust.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m in much the same boat except for one zucchini plant that’s going great guns, one Thai pepper also doing well, and a couple summer squash that are giving one or two at a time. My garden’s been an entomology lesson: aphids before the spting freeze, then slugs, rose chafers, shining leaf chafers, June beetles, stink bugs, some nasty little shield-shaped beetle, caterpillars, spider mites, mealybugs…although finally no gypsy moth caterpillars. The mammals got in on the action too, but it’s harder to say. I was just delighted the insects let one habanero grow because that had one nibble taken out and the plants behind it were left untouched by mammals.

    2. NeverNicky*

      The lollo rosso is beginning to bolt (thanks heatwave) but the tomatoes are really beginning to ripen, including our heritage variety.

      We’re beginning to get courgettes and chilli peppers too (not bad for outdoors in England!)

      The first plums are ready, so I will be eating some fresh and making some into chutney.

      The lavender and buddleia continue to be really popular with bees and butterflies, it’s lovely to see them. We’ve consciously made out garden as wildlife (especially pollinator) friendly as we can and it’s beginning to pay off.

      1. another scientist*

        My salad bolted, now I’m waiting to collect the seeds to seed the next round of plants myself. Currently, it’s developing tiny yellow blossoms, and they should turn into white, poofy, mini-dandelions when ready to collect seeds.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      We are nearly drowning in tomatoes! I found a good recipe for vegetable soup. Brown sausage, ground beef, or chicken, drain and add chopped celery. When the celery is partially cooked, throw the meat/celery into a crock pot with chopped tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, zucchini, and fresh basil. Salt and pepper to taste. To make it vegetarian skip the meal and toss in a can of beans. I’ve made it twice so far using veggies from my garden (except for the meat and beans) and am freezing it for next winter. I’ve also donated bags of zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers to our local food pantry. This is the first year we’ve ever gotten this much yield from our garden, so it’s very exciting!

    4. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      It’s finally warm and sunny more often, so things are starting to bloom a bit. Two zucchini plants, one tomato, and a runner bean are flowering but I had to cut one little zucchini off because it was starting to rot on one end.

      I cut down a tree/shrub thing in the front yard a week or so ago but I couldn’t get the stump all the way to the ground with the tools I had to hand, and I didn’t feel like putting forth the effort to dig it all up. So I got some big rocks I had laying around and built a little raised bed around it, then filled it with some miscellaneous plants. So far so good, hopefully having soil around it will help it rot down faster. I also constructed a crude little bin out of branches from the hedge to hold leaves etc for compost. I have too many overgrown shrubs and it fills up the green bin very quickly so I’ve had to get creative about getting rid of hedge clippings and stuff.

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      My zucchini and winter squash plants got killed by squash vine borers after having no issues last year. It’s weirdly upsetting. I think I will do cucuzza next year which is resistant.

    6. GoryDetails*

      My container plants are lush and productive – but alas! one of the heirloom tomato varieties has major blossom-end rot, such that there’s barely any edible fruit. Everything else is doing well, including the yellow grape tomatoes – very flavorful, easily my favorite tiny-tomatoes so far. Lots of jalapenos, lovely sweet purple peppers, eggplant in three different colors, tomatillos… [The summer squash was nibbled to nothing by either a groundhog or some rabbits, but it isn’t hard to find loads of summer squash this time of year; in some neighborhoods people leave baskets of it at the ends of their driveways in a “please take these away!” move.]

      1. NeverNicky*

        Monty on “Gardener’s World” (the biggest gardening TV programme in the UK) has blossom end rot on his heritage variety so it even happens to the professionals! He says it’s down to watering – either too little, too much or just being irregular with it.

        1. GoryDetails*

          Glad I’m not alone! (Well, not really; I wouldn’t wish blossom-end rot on anyone.) Not sure watering is a factor for me, though – my tomatoes are all in self-watering containers, so the water should be well-balanced, and only one of the varieties is showing the problem. Perhaps that variety’s not as resistant as others? [I have been adding calcium to the potting soil – as per the planter instsructions – in part to help prevent this problem, but in this case it isn’t enough.]

    7. Lena Clare*

      Last Saturday I posted a letter through all of my neighbour’s doors asking them to come out and help me in the back alleyway if they wanted to and today a few of them did come out! It was pretty rough; it’s been left for years and is reallt overgrown.
      But we have made me some progress & parts look pretty good.
      There’s still a lot to do but we’re getting there and I feel more enthusiastic and motivated to continue with it now that I know that I have help.
      It’s nice to reclaim some shared space and we’ve got some pretty big ideas for how we want it to look as a community area!
      Also, I’ve lived here for over 10 years and I only got to know some of my further neighbours’ names today, even though we’ve obviously seen each other in passing and said hello.

      My front garden is looking great! Turns out… I’m not a terrible gardener?! And I quite like it!

    8. Me*

      Anyway.

      I am loving my new tall birdies bed, despite the fact that I crammed it with way too many plants:

      2 fireball peppers
      2 jalapeño peppers
      A bunch of bush bean seeds
      2 sprouting sweet potatoes
      A random arugula start
      A bunch of green onions
      And apparently 2 squash seeds but I don’t know which ones quite yet.

      Alllll of it is lush and healthy and starting to produce veggies.

      I’m using sweet potato leaves in my morning scrambled egg. Not sure if the potatoes will form but I’m enjoying the endlessly prolific leaves.

    9. NerdyPrettyThings*

      Ours barely survived an (illegal) May 2,4d herbicide drift from a neighboring field and finally produced, just a bit later than normal. Our cucumbers didn’t make it and corn was short, but we got a ton of green beans, peas, squash, and zucchini. We’ve tilled that stuff up now that’s it’s done and planted fall cukes, squash, zucchini, and pumpkins. The okra is still going.

    10. Ali G*

      The pepper plants are going nuts! I hope to be making hot sauce soon. It only took 3 years, but the hops plant finally fruited too. They probably won’t be too good this year, but we were excited.
      Oh and an avocado sprouted in my compost pile. I need to transplant it.

    11. Parenthetically*

      Cucumbers are going CRAZY. We’re going to have 50 cucumbers a week from now, from four plants that got a very late and sorry-looking start. Sliced one up today and put it on a be-cream-cheesed sesame bagel with EBTB seasoning — definitely the crunchiest, juiciest cuke I’ve ever grown.

      We have a ton of green peppers, some cherry tomatoes, a ton of jalapenos, beets and carrots looking good, herbs going really well. Peas and green beans were a bust and we’ve dealt with blossom rot on pretty much everything despite blossom set spray.

    12. Capsicum*

      Hi, this is the poster formerly known as hermit crab; I changed my name to reflect my new hot pepper gardening obsession :)

      I don’t have a yard, so all my gardening is in containers, and this year I went all-in on hot peppers. I grew them from last year’s dried peppers and they are doing fan-flipping-tastic out on my super hot and sunny front steps. I have two nice big tomato plants too, but most of my early tomatoes got knocked off during a storm a while back (think sad little green tomatoes rolling away down my steps… poor things!), so I’m waiting on Round 2 to ripen.

      Yesterday I traded my aunt some extra pepper plants for a loaf of sourdough bread. That was a GOOD decision.

      1. Ali G*

        I’m doing hot peppers too! What do you have? I’ve got one each: lemon drop, cayenne, calabrese, serrano, fresno and a seasoning pepper. I plan to make hot sauce!

        1. Capsicum*

          Mine are mysteries! I actually planted peppers that I had dried previously, and I never knew the specific varieties. There’s some kind of cayenne type thing in there, something that is going to be BIG, and also a pepper that my friend got from his favorite Thai restaurant :)

          Your hot sauce sounds like it will be great!

    13. Jr. Woodworker*

      It grows well! Well, ok, not the carrots I just pulled out that are tiny :(, but my cherry tomatoes and wax peppers are still doing well/producing, my flowers are in bloom, and my cilantro and scallions are doing good! I just sowed a 2nd round of veg seeds for late summer/early fall, and fingers crossed that they do well.

      Very exciting that your tomatoes are coming in! And I don’t have room for them, but I bet fresh new potatoes are delicious.

    14. RagingADHD*

      I’m in the vicious cycle of midsummer where I missed my chance to get on top of the weeds when they were small, and now they have swallowed a couple of my beds. It is too freaking hot and I just don’t wanna.

    15. All the cats 4 me*

      We had our first pesto feast, and it was amazing!

      I haven’t been planting for a few years. Life was too full and some things had to be let go.

      Now basil is back and it is so good!

      Many cucumbers are developing now.

      1. Lena Clare*

        I had to Google this to check that air plant wasn’t like an air guitar for example, and imaginary >.<

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Haha, they’re my last ditch effort to keep plants alive :) I am the blackest of black thumbs.

          1. pancakes*

            I have a modestly green-tinted thumb but have killed several air plants, so I’m envious of your flower!

    16. Nita*

      I’ve got harvest! Finally got myself over there last week, and picked a couple small jars of beans – not as much as I hoped, but not bad for planting three bean plants. I’ll know to plant more next year. Getting the first cherry tomatoes, and one tiny (but delicious) new potato – the rest are still in the ground so they can get bigger. The radish grew very nicely but yikes, it’s so spicy! The peas are looking sad, maybe the heat is bothering them. I’ll try to plant more when the weather starts to cool. Two of the three daikons went to seed, but it’s all good, I’m short on daikon seeds. I just hope I don’t miss the right time to pick them, since now I can come around only once in a few weeks.

    17. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I have 2 mini tomato plants, and as it turns out, I only want to eat 2-3 a day. I am now regularly giving tomatoes to my neighbor. And I probably won’t bother next year, or will only do 1 plant.

    18. ..Kat..*

      My garden is in a few pots. But, I have a lovely basil forest! Fresh basil is the best! My one blue berry bush (that was 4 inches tall when I planted it, because digging big holes is a pain) has given us an amazing amount of fresh blueberries this year.

  14. PX*

    For the BA Test Kitchen folks: how bummed are we that all the POC refused to go back to shoot video? What next for the Youtube channel?

    For anyone else who is curious about how systemic racism plays a part in the restaurant industry, this article (from 2017!) managed to put into words some feelings I had been having about how…slightly icky it is when you see white chefs doing “ethnic” foods and is it or is it not appropriation and how authentic is it really: “What Happens When a Brown Chef Cooks White Food?”

    Also an article from last week in BA by Priya and Yewande about the process of recipe writing itself which also had some good nuggets…”When Did Recipe Writing Get So…Whitewashed?”

    (links to follow in comment)

      1. Deanna Troi*

        I agree with those that have said they are proud of the POC who are not going back. But I would like to thank you for posting these articles. I had never thought about this issue before and had no idea this was going on. Extremely eye-opening and disturbing.

    1. BRR*

      I’m not bummed they’re not going back, I’m proud of them for not going back. I’m irate at Condé Nast for low balling them. I’m wondering if the YouTube channel can survive. I have no interest in watching it even if I miss the videos I like.

      1. PX*

        Agree. Bummed in the sense that a thing I enjoyed won’t exist anymore, but glad because it sucks to know they were being exploited for that thing.
        Curious if they will explicitly address any of this going forward (though according to reddit they are hiring more POC explicitly for this purpose).
        Given that many of the others said they wouldn’t film unless everyone was being paid fairly – so there’s a pretty clear benchmark for what needs to happen – I’m just amazed Conde Nast…didn’t do the bare minimum basically! Surely from a reputation /brand management point of view that would have been the first and easiest step to take.

        1. Reba*

          IKR, it’s baffling??? How hard could it have been to just make people a decent offer?

          Amazing opportunity to grow in public and to make a fairly high-profile response to the present moment, meeting an audience that while critical, yes, was also REALLY loyal. Instead they just crashed and burned their own brand! Lighting money on fire! Throwing all that goodwill away!

          Since the only BA recipes I return to regularly are Sohla’s and Rick’s… I’m ready to move on if they are.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, that phrasing that they refused to go back is odd. I’m also proud of them for not going back. The injustice they faced is appalling.

      3. pancakes*

        I hadn’t seen any of the videos until the Sohla supercut made the rounds, but I’m proud of them too. Condé Nast has badly bungled this at every step.

      4. Catherine*

        Agreed! I look forward to following them wherever they move on to, and I’m glad they walked away instead of accepting crumbs.

      5. Sylvan*

        Me too. I mean, I’d love to enjoy more videos, but I’ll do that if/when all of the employees are treated well. I liked seeing Sohla on Binging With Babish.

    2. Baked Banana*

      I’m not bummed that the POC refused to go back! I’m bloody delighted they refused! I’m “bummed” (Read: angry, upset and hurt) that Conde Nast have behaved so badly, shown themselves to be racist to the core, and refused to do even the bare minimum to fix the problem.

      I hope that the people who have refused to film videos will find much better opportunities where they will be properly paid, respected and treated.

        1. Aly_b*

          Agreed. I’m pretty bummed that some of the white people are staying and are apparently undermining some of the efforts. Honestly though I’ll follow Sohla anywhere and am planning to buy cookbooks from Rick and Priya.

    3. Parenthetically*

      Devastated for myself, because the BA youtube channel is my fave, but proud of them for sticking to their guns.

    4. Blue Eagle*

      Oh, so now we are only allowed to cook the food from our own ethnic background???? A chef should be able to cook whatever food there is a recipe for. And no need to feel icky about it.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Wow it’s almost like you have no idea about the background for this or any understanding of colonialism, racism, or the injustices and inequalities intrenched in Old Media.

        This is a real bad hot take.

      2. Reba*

        There is a difference between what we cook in our homes for fun, and what professional chefs choose to cook and write about, be “inspired by” and build their brands around, for profit. And who gets praised for “adventurous” cooking.

      3. Sylvan*

        Have you been following BA? Because that’s not the issue at hand. The problem at BA is that employees of color were being paid less than white employees of similar experience, seniority, etc.

  15. Anon this time, please*

    So, I’m 28 years old and still don’t pay for my phone bills/am on the Verizon family plan. The feeling of shame around this has been multiplied 100x lately because…

    I have recently learned that my mother is spying on me through the online Verizon portal. Reading my texts, checking my call logs etc. She’s always had issues with boundaries and spying on me/my father when I grew up. She also monitors his phone log and texts.

    Every time I’ve tried to talk to someone I trust about this, they’ve stayed on the “28 and on the family plan” point. Believe me, particularly after this I feel stupid and immature, but I also feel as if my privacy has been seriously violated by my parent. My questions are these:

    1. Am I wrong to even feel like my privacy has been violated, and
    2. Am I wrong for being hurt that my friends have ignored the spying aspect for the phone plan aspect?

    I can handle honest answers, but please don’t be a jerk about it. I’ve been tearing myself apart for being so stupid as to let this happen to me. I’m also at the point where I’m realizing that distancing myself from them for my own sanity is the only option going forward, and I wish that weren’t true.

    1. Anon this time, please*

      I forgot to add: the reason why I’ve been on the family plan for so long was that I only just started earning enough to be able to afford to pay my rent, for my medication, and for a phone plan. I’m also, frankly, coddled by her, a cycle I realized too late in life and am trying to break because I don’t like the person I’ve become/am becoming because of it.

      1. Wehaf*

        You should not feel ashamed; you made what you thought was an economic decision, not a privacy one, and your mother turned it into the latter.

        Do you have enough wiggle room in your budget for a low cost plan? There are a lot of MVNOs (Tello, Mint, Twigby, dozens more) around, and you can typically get a decent plan for under $20/month, talk +text+data. I use Twigby and I pay about $19, and I had 25% off my first six months. (If you want a referral let me know.) If you are on Verizon you might want to consider their MVNO, visible, although I think it’s on the pricey side.

      2. tangerineRose*

        1. You’re right; your privacy is being violated, and it’s not OK.
        2. Your friends seem oddly uncaring about this.

        Glad you’re going to be able to afford a phone plan.

        1. Not A Girl Boss*

          Yeah, honesltly, I think anyone who has a reaction other than “holy crap that is Not Ok” is probably not someone you should rely on to help you assess healthy relationships. How is your relationship with these friends otherwise? Do they leave you feeling built up, or guilty/ashamed/torn down? Are they contributing members to Team You, or are you only a member of Team Them?

      3. BethDH*

        I am in my mid 30s and on my parents’ plan. When I got married they just added another line. For a lot of people this makes sense! Don’t feel bad about it. The invasion of your privacy is horrific.

      4. Not A Girl Boss*

        I’m 28, married, my husband (32) and I make well over $100k a year combined… And we are both on our parents family plans. Because why pay $90/month when you could pay $60?

        There’s no shame in saving some money by leveraging relationships. In my book it’s the same as sharing a Netflix account (which we also do with our parents).

        However, if either of us found out our parents were spying on us?
        1) It would pretty much be relationship ending. As in, they would immediately lose access to any information about our life and any polite conversation with us at all. It would take a really serious apology and a demonstration of trustworthiness and appropriate boundaries for them to earn access to our life back.
        2) We would be getting our own phone plans to facilitate removing their access to our life. Of course, we absolutely have the luxury of this, and I understand you might not.

      1. Evergreen*

        Agree with PX.
        If it makes you feel better about staying on the family plan for so long, I know many people in the 25-35 age bracket who have stayed on the family plan for cost saving reasons because the price of a plan for one phone isn’t great. Many of them are will pay their share to their parents. And some actually have taken over as principle plan payer.

        But your situation where your mother is spying on you is not okay. She shouldn’t be doing that (to you or your father). Is your relationship with him such you could bring it up with him? Is he concerned at all that your mom is spying on both of you?

        1. Anon this time, please*

          They’re in a mutually abusive relationship and any issues I bring up that hint at my mother’s mental illness are swept under the rug or diminished or denied. He has no power in the relationship (after being the abusive one for a while), so it’s a mess, TBH.

          1. Not A Girl Boss*

            I like the point about taking over as the account owner. Is this something you could convince her to let you do? Then she wouldn’t have access to your data.

            1. Observer*

              That’s not necessarily true.

              In any case, given what the OP describes, their best bet is to cut that tie. Don’t discuss it, just do it.

    2. nep*

      Your privacy as been violated, full stop. You are not wrong to feel that–That’s what’s happening.
      It’s astounding to me that anyone would say that because you’re on the family plan, you lose your right to privacy. That’s completely groundless.
      Sorry you’re having to deal with this. Wishing you resolution.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        +1. My 94 year old father in law is on our family plan, and I wouldn’t dream of checking up on him that way. If we want to know how he’s doing we call or text him and ask! As an adult you’re entitled to privacy.

        1. Bluebell*

          Adding that my 85 year old mom is on my 53 year old sister’s family plan. It’s fine!

    3. BRR*

      No to both. This is a huge invasion of privacy. Your not a child who needs to be monitored for safety. There’s 0 reason for your mom to be doing this.

      Your friends should have gotten past this. Family plans are often a good deal. I’m 33 and while I could pay for my own phone, why would I if I don’t have to? My brother is 37 and just bought a $1.7 million house and is on the plan too. Why should people pay more just to feel independent? We live spread out and My parents consider it what they would pay to have us both to dinner every week (which this way also avoids telling them we wouldn’t be seeing them for dinner every week).

      1. Capsicum*

        I agree, the whole family plan shaming thing is so weird! My wife and I have our own plan — but my best friend is also on it, because when we signed up it was cheaper to get three lines instead of two. My parents are users on *my* Netflix/Hulu/etc. accounts. Why pay extra if you don’t have to?

        Also I think it should go without saying that this is 100% an invasion of privacy. It doesn’t matter who pays – you’re still an adult!

      2. Filosofickle*

        My brother and I are in our late 40s and we share a 4-iphone family plan with our parents! Strictly because it’s cheaper — almost half — and we don’t have families of our own. If my mom spied I’d figure a way out but there is no shame in saving money!

    4. Jellyfish*

      1. It wouldn’t be okay for her to spy if you were 18 and on the family plan. That’s definitely an invasion of privacy, especially if she’s been doing it secretly for years. I would definitely feel violated too, and I’m sorry you’re dealing with that.

      Are you able to pay for your own phone plan? Switching ASAP won’t fix everything, but it seems like the quickest and most direct way to cut off your mom’s access going forward.
      There are cheaper options than Verizon out there.

      2. You’re allowed to feel hurt.
      It may be helpful to consider whether these other people have valid points about the specific situation, but that doesn’t mean they get to dictate your feelings or your finances.

      1. Anon this time, please*

        I think they have a valid point that I’ve passively allowed myself to be coddled. It’s a shitty combo of not knowing any better and not WANTING to know any better. I want to grow from this. I’m working on building a nest egg for things like phone bills and therapy.

        1. Jellyfish*

          Hey, we’ve all gotta learn sometime. Navigating boundaries, finances, and family connections aren’t innate skills, and long term dysfunction makes those lessons harder. Don’t beat yourself up about it. You’re genuinely trying to learn now, and that’s enough.

          Your mom took advantage of the phone plan and violated your privacy. That’s not your fault, and you aren’t responsible for her shitty actions.

          It’s not wrong to take practical steps to save money, and family phone plans do just that in lots of cases. She chose to turn a cost saving measure into a control thing. The spying is 100% on her. You didn’t “deserve” it or bring it on yourself by sharing your parents’ phone plan.

          1. Anon this time, please*

            Everyone always seems to beat me up for not having figured it out and been a perfect kid from a dysfunctional home…. thank you. It means so much to read this and know I’m not stupid and broken.

            1. Anon this time, please*

              It usually seems to be tied to either “I had a shitty childhood, too, and I didn’t make this specific mistake ergo you are an idiot” and “I don’t want to hear something bad about my sister/wife/mother/friend.”

              1. BRR*

                Honestly, it sounds like you might need to hang out with better people. What person would just assume their parent was spying on their adult child? Frankly, what parent would be interested in reading their adult child’s texts? Forgive me if this is a leap but it seems like the phone thing is a smaller part of a larger issue. If it’s possible, I would consider seeing a therapist over it. It feels like you’re being so hard on yourself when you have done absolutely nothing wrong and people are reacting to you weirdly about it.

              2. Working Hypothesis*

                I have to agree with BRR — people who tear you like to when you’re shocked and hurting and feeling betrayed are not great friends. You sound like you’re working your way out of a tough situation in various ways already, so you may not have the energy to go trying to make a whole new social circle right now; especially during a pandemic. But do try to hold onto the awareness that the people around you aren’t treating you the way good friends treat each other, and that there really is better out there if you can find it someday. You shouldn’t have to put up with this from what’s supposed to be Team You.

                1. Working Hypothesis*

                  Sorry — the first sentence should have read “people who treat you like this.” I’m typing on a phone’s swipe keyboard and it conflates badly with the spell checker sometimes. I usually catch it but not always.

              3. MsChanandlerBong*

                “I had a shitty childhood, too, and I didn’t make this specific mistake…”

                That is my mother to a T. She had a horrific childhood. Not direct physical abuse, but complete neglect. My grandfather had PTSD from serving in World War II and was in and out of psychiatric hospitals. My grandmother was an alcoholic with her own set of mental-health issues. My mom had three siblings, but two of them had mental-health issues that prevented them from stepping in, and her older sister stayed away from the house as much as possible.
                Despite this, she has absolutely no sympathy for anyone struggling with addiction, abuse, or any other problem. She lived through a horrible childhood and didn’t do drugs or “become” an alcoholic or gamble away her money, so there’s no excuse for anyone else. I’ve tried to tell her that she may not drink or gamble, but she DEFINITELY bears the scars of that neglect (she is a control freak, probably because her brain thinks if she controls everything, she won’t ever be that helpless again). But of course she doesn’t think she’s controlling, so there’s no getting through to her.

              4. Anon today*

                Yeah, there’s something going on here beyond the phone plan. I had a “good” childhood at home beyond the abuse from a neighbor, and I have made bad mistakes and avoided others. Either your friends are conveying, or you are hearing, inappropriate judginess. And I only write that you may be hearing it because I sometimes have projected my fears onto the innocuous comments of others — but the bottom line is you don’t deserve that attitude from anyone.

                I’ll say for personal finance I like Ramit Sethi’s book.

                Anyhow, sounds like you’re learning and growing and moving forward on good ways! Good for you! You’ll find solutions for now and for later, and will hopefully find better friends or increase the kindness of your inside voices. All good wishes to you!

            2. fposte*

              Honestly, I grew up in a pretty functional family, but I ducked several “hey, you should probably give me a key to your apartment/house” requests from my father. I don’t think he’d have spied on my phone records but I would have been on a family phone plan for a looong time.

            3. Potatoes gonna potate*

              That’s heartbreaking to read. You are not stupid and broken. You remind me so much of myself in my late 20s. I repeat you are not stupid or broken. I’m 35 and just had my first kid and I came to the realization weeks ago that my mother is a straight up narcissist. Even people with dysfunctional upbringings can’t recognize other dysfunctional upbringing. Baby steps and give yourself a break.

            4. ..Kat..*

              I come from a dysfunctional family. I am still figuring out stuff about this and I am middle aged. Don’t feel bad about this. Figuring out normal takes a long time. The more dysfunctional, the longer it takes. The good news is that you are figuring out things and moving forward, making progress.

              If you can afford to pay for your phone plan, this would solve this problem. If you need to stay on your parents’ plan to save money, well now you know you need to be more discreet. Let your friends know, so that they don’t think you are suddenly being weird with your text messages.

              Good luck as you move forward in life and learn to have a healthy, non-dysfunctional life.

          2. L in DC*

            +1. It took me until I was 27 to realize my father was an alcoholic. Another 13 years later and I’m Still trying to figure out how to not take it personally.

        2. Anxious cat servant*

          Listen. My parents are not great and still have my 35yo brother and his family completely coddled. I blame our parents and wish he could see what’s happening clearly enough to break free but I don’t blame him – our parents started when he was young and made it so hard for him to be independent. They always had great reasons for why he couldn’t do one thing or should let them do this other.

          Point being, just realizing how coddled you are and that it’s harming you is SO IMPORTANT and you should be very proud of yourself for that.

          1. tangerineRose*

            Yes, you should be proud of figuring this out. You were brought up to think this was normal. A lot of people take a much longer time to realize that this isn’t (and some never realize).

        3. Observer*

          I totally understand why you want to save money. But, to be honest given your mother’s behavior, it’s worth it get your own plan.

          Think of it as a first step in your therapy journey. Obviously it’s not going to fix everything, but it’s a solid first step and it accomplishes multiple goals at once, so it’s rather cost effective.

          Also, check out if your insurance covers mental health services. And check out what resources exist in your area for free or low cost therapy.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Totally jerky thing to do. I’m the primary user on a family plan with my husband and our housemate and I didn’t even know that was a thing I could do. (And I certainly wouldn’t do it now that I do know, because gross.)

    6. Morning reader*

      I don’t think being on a family plan with parents is anything to be concerned about. I’m still on a plan with my 30-something child that we started maybe 20 years ago during the high school years. Bill is still in my name but they pay it and I Venmo my share. It’s just a convenience thing and doesn’t have any meaning re our independence.

      The spying is a huge violation. I didn’t know this was possible. Maybe there’s a way to restrict access? I don’t want my kid to read my texts and get my voicemails but it would be cool if we could see each other’s location. I’ve heard references to “find my phone” and some kind of friend tracking app. I assumed people would have to opt in to do it. I’ve only used find my phone to find my own phone. How do you go about getting the level of privacy or access you want with family members and friends?

      Do smart phones on the same family plan allow this by default? If so, why isn’t there a huge outcry against it? Shouldn’t this default setting end when the family member is no longer a minor? (I would have loved to be able to see my kid’s location when she was a teenager! Now, it’s none of my business.)

      I don’t think paying for someone’s phone gives them the right to know everything you are doing with it. If there’s no other way to disallow the access, I’d drop the family plan and get a low cost phone. Or keep the family phone and use it only for official business and do all your personal use on the other phone.

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        It’s not default. You can choose to share your location with specific people under the “find my” app on an iPhone. There is also a toggle switch to turn it off and on if you want to stop sharing/not share for a particular period of time (doing a private errand for instance) even with people you normally share your location with. Say if you had a private doctor’s appointment or something…

      2. Observer*

        What the OP’s mom is doing has nothing to do with smart vs dumb phones or features like “find my phone.’ What she is doing is going on line to Verizon’s portal, where you can see things like call logs. This is done primarily so that people can manage their bills. Most vendors also allow you to see a record of texts although I believe that you have to pay an additional fee to do that.

        Which is why the only way the OP can stop their mother is to get their own account.

    7. Traffic_Spiral*

      It’s perfectly fine to be on a family plan if that works for you, and no, it’s not permission for your mom to spy on you. That was wrong of her.

      However, the question now is: what are you going to do about it? You’re not “wrong” for having feelings, but if you want your situation to change, you are going to have to take actions to change it. If you don’t like how your mom acts, you’re going to have to either do something about it, or accept it.

      1. Anon this time, please*

        I am building a nest egg, and researching phone plans that would allow me to keep my number/level of service I need (I’m an EA in finance, so I can’t just buy a burner)

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Well, looks like you’re st then. Can you get your work to spot you a work phone for a while?

        2. Ellie Mayhem*

          Oof, if you’re in Finance and are using a personal cell phone, and others have access to your clients’ information and communications, that is a serious ethics issue. Meet with your Compliance Officer right away and let them know the details. This could come back to bite you.

          1. Anon this time, please*

            I’m an admin, so that’s not likely at all but a good point if I go further.

            1. Ellie Mayhem*

              I’d at least loop in your supervisor. If any of my admins were in this situation I would want to be informed.

        3. Natalie*

          Assuming you’re in the US, you have the legal right to port your number to any other carrier. All you need to do is price out the service.

          1. lasslisa*

            You probably need the account holder’s permission, though, so if you can attack this as something you need for work or a new compliance requirement that may help. (Can’t be on someone else’s account because of the risk of confidential whatever! It has to be a work plan! Can’t do anything about it, compliance is so strict!)

            1. Observer*

              Actually, unless the holder has put a lock on the number (which mom may or may not have done) you can have your number moved to a different account without the account holder’s permission.

        4. Observer*

          I’m assuming that you are in the US. You can port your number to any other carrier – they need to do it at no charge.

          Verizon tends to be expensive, but if you go prepaid (which makes a lot of sense for you) you can go as low as $30 per month for unlimited talk, text and a decent (not high) amount of data. AT&T gives you the same for $25 per month. Tmobile’s cheapest plan is $15 per month and it gives you 2 GB data.

          Then there are the MVNOs. The bottom line is that you can get good coverage and good service for a decent price.

        5. Double A*

          If you have access to reliable wifi, I HIGHLY recommend Republic Wireless. It is $20/month for a gig of data (plus a few more dollars for taxes etc).– and if you need more data, you buy it in increments of $5/gig. But it defaults to wifi, so if you’re mostly at home using it, you probably won’t need more than 1 gig/month. In years of having them, I never had any surprise charges and never spent more than $30 in a month.

          I had them for years and was very satisfied. I had to switched to Verizon for a bunch of reasons (rural internet sucks), but I’m now in a position to switch back and I am STOKED. I mean, who ever is stoked about a wireless carrier? But they’re great. And I’m even more stoked to dump Verizon.

    8. CJM*

      My two adult kids (both in their mid-30s) are on our Verizon family plan, and my husband and I wouldn’t dream of looking at their calls or texts. I didn’t even know access was available! (And I wouldn’t change a thing now that I know that.)

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this crap, and I encourage you to get your own plan. I don’t think you’re wrong on either count.

      1. Green Mug*

        I am also a parent who has all the kids on our family plan. It doesn’t make sense to have them get their own plans. However, and this is big here, I never read their texts. I wouldn’t even if I knew how to do it. It’s creepy, and I don’t want to know all their business.
        Also, my parents just got on my brother’s family plan. Family plans make financial sense. Don’t stress about that part of your story.

    9. HannahMiss*

      In a family with healthy boundaries and without any overlapping dysfunction, I can’t see how being on a family plan isn’t anything other than practicality. My sister and I are in our late 20s and still on our family plan. My parents pay the bill, but the transactional relationship flows both ways in other areas. I have access to travel discounts through work, so I help save them money in other areas. To me, this could be part of a normal give and take between families, especially if there’s an income disparity.
      The privacy violation is a whole separate issue – it sounds like the phone plan is just how other issues with your mother are manifesting. Your feelings on this are totally valid. You thought you had a straightforward arrangement over the bill, but discovering hidden strings sucks. I don’t think you’re wrong for being hurt that your friends are focusing on the family phone plan rather than the privacy. It may be worth considering how this fits in with your overall view of these friendships: is this a one off misunderstanding of your feelings that’s influenced by their own family blinders, or is there a pattern of you not feeling understood when it comes to discussing your family situation? Because while it’s much easier said than done, it may be worth trying to branch out to find other people who have dealt with dysfunctional families to talk to about these issues.

      1. Anon this time, please*

        The friend I have discussed this with had a more dysfunctional upbringing than I did, so her issue is “it wasn’t as bad as what I went through ergo stop complaining.”

        I’m realizing she’s kind of an asshole who uses her poor upbringing as an excuse to berate and ignore others.

        1. Been there*

          I had a friend like that. She’s not really your friend. It’s not a contest.

          I stopped talking to mine after she told me to get over my mom’s cancer because her mom had been sick her whole life.

        2. Working Hypothesis*

          Yeah, that is not a good friend. Suffering isn’t relative — yours isn’t any less real because mine happens to be greater. If she doesn’t realize that, she may not be good for you… and if she actively puts you down over it, she *definitely* isn’t good for you.

          I hope you have, or can get, better friends. You deserve people who are truly on your side when someone treats you badly — which your mom definitely did.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Sometimes people get wounded and their wounds are such that they are not able to help others. She sounds like one of these people. She is still facing her own problems.

          She gave you a lot of information about herself that will be helpful for you to know.

        4. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Pain isn’t a competition.

          With that said, it is hard to talk to people in person about this. It’s far easier to talk about it online on internet forums like this one or others because people can relate.

          I’m careful about who I talk to my parent issues with. Majority of my friends don’t get what I go through, they say it’s normal and all women of that culture and generation are like this and it makes me feel like….I’m broken for not being able to laugh off the toxicity like they probably can.

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah, you raise a good point – sharing plans really is entirely commonplace. OP, is this really about you (or your friend/s) displacing your feelings about the phone plan on to a more general “you know she spies on people, so why on earth would you give her such an easy way to access your private life?”

    10. Alex*

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with being on a family plan with your family. There IS something wrong with your mom invading your privacy. Really wrong. That is an incredible violation. I would be livid.

      Are you in the US? There are plenty of phone plans that are really cheap, like Ting. Can you afford $20 a month? You can afford Ting. I’ve used it for years.

    11. Nixologist*

      I was on my family plan until my boyfriend volunteered to add me to his plan (at thirty). It was cheap, I paid my share every month, and my stepdad is a well adjusted guy who would never spy on me and always allowed me contr of phones, updates, etc. Sometimes I’d get side eye if it were mentioned but I think “communal living” to save money is fine, especially when everyone is pitching in and being respectful.

      But your situation is obviously really loaded. The privacy violation is big! And very unhealthy! And the only way to establish this boundary of “don’t spy on me” is to get a phone in your name. I’m sorry about your badly behaved parents, and your judgy friends.

    12. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Your friends are jerks if that’s what they are stuck on. My parents paid my car insurance until I was almost 30 and moved to another country, because it was cheap enough for them and they wanted to make sure I had it. There’s nothing wrong with staying on a family plan if it works for you.

      But also, your mother should not be spying like this! Is there any way the phone company can block this? You’re an adult, after all. It seems odd that this is even a thing.

      1. Anon this time, please*

        She lost both her parents before age 20, so maybe she was the wrong person to ask for guidance in that regard.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          Your friend wasn’t the wrong person to talk to about this boundary violation because she lost both parents before she was 20. She was the wrong person to talk to about this boundary violation **because she insisted on making it all about her** instead of addressing YOUR feelings and YOUR situation with you, like you asked her to. That’s not okay behavior from a friend. It’s fair of her to say “I’m sorry, but I just can’t handle being the one you talk to about your parents because it brings up too many feelings,” but it’s not fair of her to say “Well, your feelings and experiences are totally invalid because they’re not as bad as mine.” Please don’t let her get inside your head like this… you don’t need to make excuses for her behavior, either to us or to yourself. Her behavior was just plain bad.

      2. Observer*

        Nope, the phone company won’t block it. The person whose name is on the account gets to see all the call logs (there are actually good reasons for that) and can also request texting logs, although they may have to pay. Interestingly it may not be legal for the company to provide details of internet use beyond how much cell data was used when. (At least that’s what AT&T told me when we were trying to track down some issues with a work issued device.)

    13. Anon this time, please*

      Another question: How do I affordably keep my phone number/level of coverage? My job is too high powered for something like a burner phone.

      1. ThatGirl*

        You can transfer your number easily, and you may even be able to keep your phone if it’s paid off. If not, many providers offer payment plans for phones so you don’t have to pay it all at once. Start looking into options with providers in your area.

      2. Laura H.*

        I’d ask your current carrier. Or look for another one that has the ability to keep your number if you transfer.

        Stupid question/ you probably have thought about it, but have you actually told your mother that this is a major issue/ presenting it as “What if I were doing that to you?”

        There is still a parent/child dynamic and that won’t go away. However, that dynamic should change over time on both your part and hers. You’re both adults, and while I highly disagree with the notion of being entitled to privacy- imo it’s more of a two way street- it should be implicitly understood that monitoring phone activity is a violation of that inherent agreement. You’re not wrong to be bothered that your mom seems to see “can always equals should” rather than “just because I can see this stuff doesn’t mean I should.”

        Good luck. :)

        1. Anon this time, please*

          She’s deeply unstable and would come up with a littany of excuses to justify the massive violation. One thing I’ve learned from years with a mentally unstable mother is that you can’t reason with her, because reason has abandoned her.

          1. Anon this time, please*

            Actually *deeply* is an exaggeration, but she does have an intense martyr complex and is willingly keeping herself in an abusive/destructive marriage due to said martyr complex, and an unwillingness to change.

      3. NerdyPrettyThings*

        I’m not sure if you’ve thought about it this way, but right now your phone number belongs to your boundary-crossing mom. I have a friend who found out when she got divorced that she couldn’t keep her number, because it “belonged” to the primary account holder (her ex). If it’s possible at all, you need to get it separated from her account sooner rather than later if it’s vitally important to your job that you be able to keep it.

        1. WellRed*

          If a phone is vitally important to the job, have you asked about a work provided phone? Or if they have a subsidized employee plan?

          1. Anon this time, please*

            I’m an admin, so they’d never give it to me :/ It’s a fun middle ground.

            1. allathian*

              If you use your phone for work, and your mom has access to the text messages you send and receive, she has access to confidential work-related information that she’s not entitled to. This includes your company’s customers if you ever have any contact with them. You could potentially be fired for this. I know it’s unfair and not your fault, but the potential for misuse is there. I bet your employer would be horrified if they knew your mom has access to your work phone.

      4. Ali G*

        Can you talk to your boss? Frame it as a change that means your personal phone can no longer be used for work: “Due to some personal circumstances, I can no longer have a phone plan that supports data and other needs for work. How can we resolve this?” Keep in mind you might end up with two phones, but that’s probably better in the long run.

      5. fposte*

        There are low-priced carriers, usually MVNOs of a bigger company; obviously it’ll depend on what you use your phone for and where you need service, but a quick Google of discount cell service should get you some reviews. I have Cricket; Tello looks even cheaper; T-Mobile Connect has some discount plans if you can prepay. I would imagine you could port your number for any of those.

      6. cat socks*

        We go to Best Buy to renew our phone contracts each year and sometimes they have deals on new phones. I like going there because they have phones from all different carriers and you can compare prices. Everything can be done in store and they can port the number from the other carrier.

        I’m not sure how the in store services are working these days, but I’ve always had a good experience there. Good luck.

      7. Wehaf*

        The MVNOs will let you keep your phone number, they have varying levels of coverage. I mentioned them in another comment up above.

      8. Anon Too*

        If you have the data to spare and/or access to Wi-Fi most of the time, I wonder if using an app like Signal to send messages and make phone calls might circumvent the logging?

      9. RagingADHD*

        When you are shopping for plans, bear in mind that changing your phone number is a small temporary hassle, not a huge obstacle.

        Perhaps your mom has Mother Gothel’ed you into thinking that you have all these complicated hurdles to jump in order to get some space.

        It’s a lie.

        Many plans let you port your number. Google Voice gives you a number you can use forever, with any phone. A new number just means letting people know.

        You have lots of options. It’s all eminently doable.

        1. Observer*

          All plans allow it – they are legally required to by law.

          The key here is that the OP needs to let Verozn know that they are taking payment responsibility for the number.

      10. Observer*

        It sounds to me like you should get some help with budgeting. If you have a high powered job you are not making minimum wage. Which doesn’t mean that you can just throw money around, but it does mean that you should be able to afford a decent cell phone plan.

        As I noted in a different message, you absolutely can move your number over. But you may actually want to just get a new number and let your employer and work contact know that you got a new number. It may be easier in terms of dealing with your mother.

        You need unlimited talk and text, but your work should not require you to need a large amount of data – if they do, they should definitely subsidize your plan. You can decent plans that should cover you between $20 – 50 per month. (A lot of plans look lower, but then you wind up with the taxes and regulatory surcharges.)

    14. Llellayena*

      I was on the family plan until I was 32 or 33, I think. I would have continued on that plan except at that point I got a smartphone and needed to get data as well as talk/text and the parents said they wouldn’t pay for it. Also at that point I had a solid job and was making enough to absorb the extra bill. So if it helps with the finances, there’s no problem with still being on your parents’ plan at 28. However the spying is an issue. Can you absorb a small phone bill at all? The latest issue of Consumer Reports has an article on cheap, reliable cell phone plans. Some are under $30/mo. Do you have a good friend, sibling or other relative that would add you to their plan if you cover the difference in plan cost (which is often cheaper than a whole separate plan)?

    15. Anonymous Educator*

      If your mom didn’t think she was doing anything wrong by spying on you, why did you only recently learn about it? In the meantime, I would consider using Google Voice, so you can take Verizon’s portal from having direct access to your texts and calls. But you can also just port your number to something else (perhaps a pay-as-you-go plan). You are not in the wrong for feeling your privacy has been violated. That is super messed up, almost more messed up because you’re 28. If you were 12, there’d be a much better case for a parent checking on your texts (even then, that’s not cool).

    16. LuckySophia*

      Maybe the easiest solution is to contact Verizon customer service (or go into one of their stores, if they are open in your area) and find out what your options are for either: (1) blocking your mom from viewing your call logs or (2) switching your existing number to a different Verizon plan; their pre-paid options tend to be the best deal for individuals. You can get a Verizon pre-paid plan for $40 per month. Verizon will bill your credit card automatically for the month to come. That kind of plan gives you unlimited calls/texts and… some amount of data, maybe 5 gigs? per month.

    17. Yetanotherjennifer*

      If you leave your doors unlocked and get robbed it’s still a crime. The police still come. Your mom grossly violated your privacy and trust. Period. Only she is in the wrong. You’re not foolish for trusting your parents to respect basic boundaries. That’s one of those boundaries that should even have to be stated in advance. You don’t spy on your kids.

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        Shouldn’t even have to be stated in advance.

        Also, I was in my 40s before I figured out how abusive my family dynamic was. There is no too late for something like this. Actually, it sounds like a great litmus test for friends. If they focus on the shared plan more than the privacy, they’re not people who will support you the way you need.

    18. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      You are right to feel your privacy’s been violated and your friends are focusing on something tangential. Having had personal experience, I’d say—1. Have a steady cash flow (eg. Job), 2. Withdraw $20s and $50s here and there if you share a bank account with your mom. 3. Get your own savings account if you don’t already (some banks need $300 minimum) and pay in cash like I did, 4. Get a checking account with said bank, then 5. Pay for a new phone with a new plan with said checking account. It’s SO hard to free yourself from the grips of strict/crazy family and it took me a lot of virtual online therapy of sorts to require my thinking. But it IS possible. Best of luck!

    19. mreasy*

      I know tons of people far older than you who are still on family plans! That is not at all a justification for them spying on you, period. Your friends are focusing on the wrong thing, and I’m sorry they aren’t being more compassionate. It sounds like you’re doing the hard work to extricate yourself from this relationship and financially you’re still getting there. You’ll get there when you can. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

    20. Senor Montoya*

      Your mom is completely in the wrong for violating your privacy.

      But you now know she does this — and, gently, you might have expected it since you knew she did it to your dad.

      So, yeah, get off your family’s verizon account.

      Check out captain awkward re setting and maintaining boundaries and dealing with difficult family members.

      1. Anon this time, please*

        I found out about my dad’s privacy being violated about 2 weeks before I found out about my own.

    21. Courageous cat*

      Nothing weird at all about the family plan thing. I’m 33 and if I could save money being on a family plan you bet your ass I would! You’re not wrong for any of your feelings, though, other than the fact that I really don’t understand why you’re tearing yourself apart about it. There’s nothing even close to shameful about YOUR part in this situation. I don’t know a single person who would laugh at me if I were on a family plan right now, so I dunno, I think that might be worth being aware of as well.

      That said, I AM REALLY CONFUSED also. I am on my own Verizon account and I feel reasonably sure there is no way I could see the actual contents of my text on my account, and I have explored my account online pretty thoroughly. Even from a quick Google, Verizon’s website itself says the account owner cannot see the others’ texts. Are you sure she’s getting info that way? Do you have some other icloud thing set up maybe? Make sure you figure that aspect of it out to get everything on lockdown.

      1. Observer*

        Most carriers to provide access to texts although in most cases you have to pay for that. It’s done for parents who have young kids on the plan.

    22. Ronda*

      being on a family plan with others is perfectly normal. I am on a friend’s family plan, it is a good way to reduce the cost. (paying your portion if you can is a good thing, tho)

      What your mom is doing is not right. The easy fix for the phone spying is to get your own phone plan.

      But I think you know that wont solve your parent problem… you will have more decisions to make on how you handle the things they do.

    23. Generic Name*

      Yes, your mom violated your privacy horribly. I don’t think it’s completely absurd for you to be on a family plan given the difference in cost per line on a family versus individual plan. Now that you know, you’ve gotten important information on what your mom is like.

    24. Lady Alys*

      Agree with everybody saying that a) no shame in being on a shared plan – heck, my 84yo aunt is on *my* plan, just so she doesn’t have to get one more bill – and b) wow your mom is so far out of line she’s on another planet.

      That said, for the time being, maybe sign up for a Google Voice account (if you’re in the US)? You get a phone number that you can set to ring on your current phone, and you can send/receive text messages, *but* they are behind your Google account password, safe from your mom’s prying eyes…

    25. RagingADHD*

      Feelings are not right or wrong. They just are.

      Yes, your mom violated your privacy.
      Yes, your friends ignored your need for support and a safe ear to sort out your options/feelings on your own.
      No, you are not stupid. Privacy/boundaries are reasonable things to expect from a loved one, and it’s a long, hard process to come to terms with a parent who does not respect them.
      Support is a reasonable thing to expect from friends.

      Yes, you have the power to stop your mom from spying on you. Buying a cheap phone plan should not automatically equal “distancing” yourself from your parents. In a healthy family, it should be merely a logistical step.

      It’s possible it will not be simple or healthy in your family, if your mom equates privacy and boundaries with rejection. If so, I’m sorry.

    26. Texan In Exile*

      No and no!

      My sister and BIL have my mom on their cellphone plan and it never occurred to me that someone would use that as an excuse to spy on someone. If I found out my sister was reading my mom’s phone stuff, I would be livid. (She wouldn’t, though, because IT’S WRONG.)

      I am sorry you are going through this.

    27. Working Hypothesis*

      Your friends are behaving badly. Your mother behaved horribly. This is a very real invasion of privacy and you have every right and reason to feel upset by it!!

      I’m the “adult” in our family plan. My young adult is on it as well as the teenagers, because why the hell not? It’s cheaper than their getting their own plan. I would never consider poking into what they are doing with their phone!! It’s THEIR phone, whether or not it’s on my plan, and I don’t want to know more about it than they want to share with me.

      Even with the teenagers, I don’t snoop. They know that I claim the right to look at their phone whenever I think it’s necessary or warranted, and that’s the price of their having their own cell phones. But I don’t use that right often or without specific need, and I don’t do it behind their backs. If I feel I have a reason to want to see what’s on their phone, I tell them so and I ask them to hand it over; and I look right in front of them so they can see what I’m looking at and what I’m not. And that’s for the kids who are fourteen and sixteen (well, actually they were 12 and 14 the last time I actually did it!)… I’ve never tried to claim the same right with the young adult because they’re an *adult*, and I don’t get to tell them what to do anymore.

      There’s no earthly reason why you shouldn’t be on your parents’ phone plan at 28 if that’s the arrangement which makes financial sense for you and your family. It’s not wrong, it’s not foolish, it’s not humiliating. It’s just a way of saving some money and making things easier. AND it also doesn’t give your mother any right to invade your privacy!!! That was completely wrong of her and I’m sorry you’re not getting the support from your friends that you should be for this.

      At this point, yeah, I think you’ll have to get off her phone plan… but not because you’re 28 and it’s high time; because she’s being a jerk about it and invading your privacy! You have every right to expect better than that, and I hope you go get a secure place for yourself. But please don’t let people talk you into believing that this is somehow your fault for being on her plan in the first place, because it absolutely wasn’t. All you did was to trust your mom — and honestly, you SHOULD be able to do that.

    28. MissDisplaced*

      Well, nothing wrong with being on the family plan if it really is cheaper for everybody and saves money. No shame in saving money.

      But you’re a grown person and I’m sorry but your mother is overbearing! I share a plan with my partner and would never dream of spying on his calls, texts or voicemails. And she also does this to your dad? It’s just such a violation of privacy. Can the Verizon portal be disconnected or blocked on your individual phone? That might be easiest to do given you are over 18, Verizon may be able to turn it off for you.

      But if you really get tired of this, I’d look into your own personal phone and plan. Verizon is not the cheapest.
      I use MetroPCS which is about $40/month unlimited. Cricket has plans as low as $30/month. There are also lots of prepaid plans from Ting, Republic, Consumer Cellular, etc., starting around $20.

    29. KoiFeeder*

      You are not wrong on either count. I’m still on the family plan, because it’s cheaper for me and because I know I can trust my dad not to spy on my private correspondence. Run, do not walk, away from people who refuse to respect your boundaries and privacy.

    30. Nita*

      You’re not stupid for letting this happen to you! It’s sensible to stay on a family plan to save money. It’s also sensible to assume that your mother is not spying on you. I’m sorry this is happening to you, I’d feel violated in your shoes too, and I hope you can switch to a plan of your own very soon. People who are acting all shocked when they hear how this happened, maybe don’t understand what it’s like to be saving up for living independently when you’re a young adult. And/or they’re not real friends and are a little short on compassion.

    31. JKP*

      Don’t be embarrassed about being on the family plan. Sometimes it just makes more sense. My parents were actually on MY phone plan, because I had mine first and it made more sense to add them to mine for $10/mo than them get their own. So they were 70+ and on their kid’s family plan. I don’t think anyone thought less of them.

      Being on their plan doesn’t give them the right to violate your privacy, and you have every right to feel upset about it.

      I would get your own phone plan as soon as possible, not because there was anything wrong with you being on the family plan in the first place, but because you know you can’t trust your mom not to snoop as long as she still as access.

    32. Jackalope*

      Another voice chiming in (in case you need it!) to say that a) there’s nothing wrong with being on a family plan, and b) it wasn’t okay for your mom to spy on you like this. I’m in my 40s and am on a family plan since it’s cheaper and easier. The family member who administers it (my dad) doesn’t ever (as far as I know) spy on what we’ve done or anything like that; every now and then he’ll do something like say, “Hey, Jackalope, the bill is indicating that your phone used a lot of extra data this month, could you kick in extra money to cover it?” or things like that, but never anything unreasonable or invasive. That’s the right way for a family member to administer that.

    33. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Two separate things here involved: 

      Your mom is abusing your right to privacy and the cell phone plan. 

      You’re right to feel like your privacy is being violated. It’s not appropriate for her to do that. The only real, permanent solution is to move out but I know that’s not a possibility for many reasons. As others have said, start with getting your own plan. You don’t need her permission to do it. Just get a line and inform her to cut it off. As the child of someone who has no boundaries, there aren’t many easy solutions so you have all my sympathies. 

      As for the cell phone plan, it’s really not a big deal. I have a family plan that I pay for, it’s myself my mom and dad and my husband. I’ll never ask my parents to pay for it. 

      Also, I’m sorry your friend isn’t supportive. 

      1. Anon for this, please*

        I don’t live with her, I live an hour and a half away. She’s unwell and has no ego boundaries, so my social life is by extension her social life.

        1. Observer*

          Actually, don’t involve your mother in this at all. If you really need to keep this number, call Verizon immediately and move your plan over to a plan that does not have a term. Don’t let them tell you that you “have” to get a plan with a contract for one or two years. Then you can shop around for the cheapest plan that works for you.

          The key here is that your mother can call them and tell them to “lock” the number, and not allow you to take charge of it. Once you’ve moved the number, though, it’s too late and it’s yours. If your mother thinks that you might move your number she might lock it, so jump in immediately to move it unless you are ok with changing your number.

    34. Not So NewReader*

      oh my. I am so angry on your behalf.

      I am glad you see that you may need to distance yourself from your folks. I wish that wasn’t the solution also, but you have to put your own oxygen mask on first.

      What I would like to talk about is where you are tearing yourself apart over this. Please pretend a random friend just told you this story. Pretend you have to talk your friend through it. If you can’t say X or Y to a friend then you really can’t say it to yourself, either. Be gentle with you. You were NOT wrong to trust your mother. SHE breached your trust. You were correct in trusting her. She had a responsibility there and she failed, big time.

      I suspect that this is the tip of the iceberg on a life-long story. It’s a straw that broke the camel’s back. Well, now you have your eyes wide open and you are in a position to start to deal with things. Take the upset you have here and let it propel you forward to a better quality of life.

      As to friends who let us down- I found that in my 20s it was the older people who were of more help. My peer group really did not know what to do with the stuff I had going on. Look around. Do you see an older person who seems to have always taken an interest in you for a while now? This could be a family friend, a relative, a neighbor, it could be anyone. I’d like to encourage you to that there might be someone who is waiting for you to spend a little more time with them.

      I had two retired neighbors. A mom and daughter who always had something going on. They’d call to say they had bought a big beef bone for my dog and I had to get it. At one point they decided that bringing the garbage up the looong drive way was too much. They paid me to drag their garbage out for them every Sunday night. When they went away on vacation, their plants needed watering and they would pay me. They just had a knack for doing these soft checks on how I was doing. I was a kid, it was the 1970s and a different era from what we see now. They were throwing me the life line that they had available at that time. And I grabbed it. Look for these people who throw life lines. They are around, even as adults we can still find these understanding folks.

      1. Eillah*

        Any older person I have a connection with is attached to my mother, and equally unwilling to communicate directly OR apologize and acknowledge past mistakes (said mistakes being “i knew you were in an abusive situation and didn’t do a damn thing about it because I hate uncomfortable conversations :( :( :(“

    35. Thankful for AAM*

      Our 30 year old son is back on our plan (we pay) bc the cost for 3 is the same as the cost for the 2 of us. And he pays for a few things like spotify and a movie channel so we all have access. So we are sharing costs. I dont think this is immature on his part.

      But the “spying” is not ok. It is really a separate issue and I would have you focus on that. And getting your own phone bc of the spying and violation of trust, not bc you bindled a service.

    36. Amethyst*

      I also grew up in an extremely dysfunctional, toxic home (mother extremely controlling, father emotionally checked out). She was oddly very eager to make her children independent, to the point where some of the things she did were neglectful (but we thought it completely normal as we had no other way to gauge normality). For dynamics’ sake, I (#1) was the bad kid. There was/is no way for me to ever step out of this role as it was given to me the moment I was born. #2 is the favorite. She is our mother’s mini me. #3 was lucky in that she had a very close friend group so she spent the majority of her time at those friends’ homes & away from ours. The three of them (#2 & 3, & our mother) were the Three Musketeers. In their world, I was an afterthought, IF I was ever remembered at all.

      Your post is ringing alarm bells because this very closely resembles something #3 went through with our sister (#2) about a decade ago. #2 was the head of the family plan (our mother & #3 only) because she had the best credit score of the three. #3 texted me one day saying she & #2 had a massive fight in which #2 threw in 3’s face everything she’d told her boyfriend (over text!). When 2 was called out over this, she refused to apologize, & justified the snooping because she was “worried” for 3 & that she didn’t think her “boyfriend was the right one” for her…with no evidence except a hunch. She asked me for a reality check, & I told her there was zero possible instances in which this would ever be appropriate as everyone are grown adults & they know better. I urged her to tell our mother this in case 2 was snooping there, too. (Our mother held a very sensitive position at a company dealing with all manner of HIPAA related issues with the clients enrolled in this program.)

      Long story short, #3 bailed as soon as the contract with AT&T was up. She now has a Verizon prepaid phone plan. #2 & our mother broke up the phone plan shortly after that. BTW, The number #3 had at AT&T was transferred over to Verizon.

      You are absolutely right to feel the way you do. This is a MASSIVE breach of trust, & it’s never a pleasant thing to have this type of realization that one or both parents aren’t safe. It breaks that unspoken covenant within that parent/child relationship that can be very hard to overcome, if you’re willing to put in the work. (It’s totally fair if you don’t & choose to walk away or put in some measure of distance between you & them.) Your friend may be a decent friend, but they may not be the right friend to talk to in *this particular* instance. Keep your eyes open for a pattern & make decisions based on that pattern instead of what we internet strangers tell you, lol.

      Verizon has a number of prepaid plans that run from $30-70 + tax, IIRC. Do some price checking & go with the one that best suits your needs. Good luck. I’m sending you a virtual, COVID-free hug to you.

    37. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Another vote for not wrong.

      I’m mid 30s and still on the family plan, though I send money to my sister for my share every month. It’s a great solution for families that are capable of respecting boundaries. Your mother has control issues. Really, the solution is for you to do a clean break. Get your own plan. Change your passwords to anything and everything. Think about what you’re ok with your mother knowing and not knowing, think about who can keep their mouths shut around her, and act accordingly. If that means most of your family is on a low information diet, well, they can change their behavior.

      Some things to google: low information diet and greyrocking. Also, if you’re on reddit, the justnotalk sub is a nice quiet sub with people who really get having not great family, and will generally give good advice (that is accessible all the time, not just weekends!).

    38. J. f.*

      1) super big YIKES on your mom, that is not okay
      2) sharing things to save costs is…. normal! My parents and I share a Netflix account and a grocery/gas card. I am a 39 year old married parent of three. No shame in saving where you can!
      3) Please switch off as soon as you can! I have Ting and it’s less than $20/month.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, it’s not wrong to share phone plans! But you cannot share a phone plan with your specific parent, who is not trustworthy. I’m so sorry she did that.
        I have had Ting and currently have the Google phone service, Fi (I have to roll my eyes at myself a little, since this in the context of privacy, but I do like it!). There are some more affordable options that still have good features.

    39. Observer*

      Yes, your mother violated your privacy. I’d suggest framing it this way, rather “my privacy was violated” which has the effect of kind of distancing the fact that a specific person – someone who you had the right to trust – violated your privacy, rather than some unfortunate but general and possibly accidental event.

      Get off your family plan. Your mother is 100% wrong. No ifs, ands or buts. But at this point your best bet is to just take away the power for her to do that. And, to do so without warning or discussion. It has the nice side effect of being a significant step in breaking the pattern you’ve described.

      You don’t have to pay a lot – and you don’t have to stay with Verizon if the cost is too high. If you have a relatively new phone, odd are it will work on at least one of the less expensive networks.

  16. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    Any tips on managing blood pressure that is normal in day to day life but spikes 30+ points when you go to a doctor’s office?

    I get very anxious around doctors. Part of it has to do with the fear of having my blood taken. The other part is fear of bad news: I’ve had two friends diagnosed with cancer in their 30s (my age range now).

    Last time I tried listening to my favorite music before the appointment — made no difference. Meditation doesn’t work for me. What is left?  This time I’m going to try taking the day before the appointment off from work in case work stress is also a factor (my job has been extremely stressful lately). Thanks in advance. 

    1. BRR*

      I also have white coat syndrome. My doctors usually just take my blood pressure again at the end of an appointment and it’s better than the beginning.

      1. Choggy*

        Just came here to say the same. My BP is always checked in the beginning and end of any appointment, and there is definitely a difference. I have a bit of anxiety and doctor appts don’t help so I’m not surprised my heart beats faster and my blood pressure rises. My BP has always been well within the normal range so it never matters too much.

    2. Long drives*

      Whit coat hypertension is a thing! Have you talked to your doctor about it? Are you worried about getting an accurate bp reading, or that your doctor will mistakenly prescribe meds, or something else? Some doctors will record your own readings from an at home device in order to get an accurate reading.

      I have dental white coat hypertension. I just let the dentist know, and they don’t freak out about the numbers. Then we move on to, lol.

    3. Zooey*

      This is such a common thing that when my husband went to the doctor concerned about his blood pressure, and in basically all the risk categories for high blood pressure, they still assumed his high reading in the surgery was white coat hypertension and tried several ways to get a ‘real’ reading before conceding his concerns might be very real.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Same with my BP at the end of both pregnancies. It’s such a common issue that every time I’ve had a high reading, the nurse taking it cancels it out and does it again.

    4. Puppers*

      I think of a lawful of puppies all trying to lick me at once. I try to start while on the way to the appointment and then while their taking it.

    5. No Name Yet*

      Yup, white coat syndrome is totally common (even without the factors you mention). If you haven’t, definitely mention it to the docs/nurses. My PCP (who is very gentle) always does my blood pressure himself, basically interwoven while we’re talking, and that makes a difference for me.

      Also, does it get worse if you’re feeling not as prepared for the visit itself? I’ll often encourage people to write down their questions/concerns, so on top of everything else they’re not worried they’ll forget what they want to ask about.

    6. CJM*

      That sometimes happens to me too. I have high blood pressure, take medication for it, and don’t want to increase my dose. So I feel anxious about those numbers looking good.

      I do a few things during the blood-pressure reading that seem to help. I sit normally with both feet on the floor and my arms relaxed at my side, and I don’t speak. (I read once that’s the recommended posture during a blood-pressure reading.) I also imagine a soothing moment in my life, such as holding my favorite cat with him facing me and gazing into my eyes. My heart relaxes a bit, I swear.

      Can you take daily readings at home for a week or so leading up to your appointment and record them to show your doctor when you get there? In theory you’d be more relaxed at home, and blood-pressure cuffs don’t cost much. I’m planning to do that before a video appointment in a few weeks with my doctor. I bought a “do it yourself” cuff that I haven’t used yet, and I hope it’ll work okay.

    7. HannahS*

      Either get a BP cuff and take it at home and report that to your doctor, or go to a drugstore where they have those machines and have it taken there. Take a few readings at different times in a week, write the numbers down, and take that to your doctor.

    8. Book Lover*

      Buy a blood pressure cuff, take your blood pressure a few times a week for a couple of weeks, then take the cuff with you to an appointment to confirm its accuracy and review the numbers.

      1. Esme*

        If you’re doing it at home they like it twice a day for a week – or maybe that’s just my dr!

        1. Book Lover*

          That’s more than I need, generally. If it is white coat, I get a bunch of normal readings and otherwise I get borderline or high. I don’t need over a dozen measurements to tell me there may be an issue.

    9. Esme*

      I have white coat hypertension and when I need my BP checked my doctors surgery just loans me a machine so I can do it at home.

    10. Stephanie*

      I’ve had this happen, too. I have found that concentrating on breathing slowly and deeply (think yoga style breathing), and relaxing my shoulders and arms really helps.
      Talk to your doctor about it, too. It’s really common. My doctor also would take my blood pressure several times during my appointment, and it would usually be quite a bit lower after the first time.
      It’s a tough situation to be in, because you start to get into a spiral of worrying about your blood pressure, which of course makes it go up.

    11. lapgiraffe*

      You are definitely not alone, my doc anxiety is awful and I won’t sleep well for weeks beforehand. I have to be extra diligent the morning of, giving myself way more time than needed to get there, putting on a good podcast about something light, having ample water and minimal caffeine, just enough to avoid a headache, taking the elevator instead of the stairs, bringing a New Yorker to take my mind somewhere else and feel normal, and almost always taking a new blood pressure reading at that end of the appointment. Definitely tell your doctor, there’s never been any follow up questions because they see it every day. For me it’s definitely worth taking a half day, I try to schedule mid morning so I don’t have all day to freak out but I don’t have to rush or fight commuter traffic. And I usually treat myself at the end to a nice lunch or a coffee and pastry, basically my grown up version of a lollipop.

    12. RagingADHD*

      I have this, too. I also always get a much higher reading when they use the automatic pressure cuff at the doctor’s office. They know about it, so they do a second manual reading, which is usually lower by enough that they are reassured.

      I also track at home from time to time.

      My husband swears by “4-7-8” breathing. Inhale on a 4 count, hold for 7, then exhale slowly for 8. When he does this 3 times, it can drop his bp by 20 points. For me, for whatever reason, it puts mine up. Maybe I’m doing it wrong. But it’s something to experiment with at home.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I would expect the holding for 7 aspect of this to raise BP. In general holding your breath does that.

        1. RagingADHD*

          It seems to work for a lot of people. I guess it’s the slow pace that does it. The initial inbreath isn’t supposed to be huge where you are bursting.

    13. MissDisplaced*

      This happened to me at the doctor office. As I had no history of high blood pressure previously, they recommended that I keep a journal of my blood pressure at home, using a home device and recording it. Then if it spiked due to anxiety they could see it wasn’t a normal thing. Or yeah, have them take it at the end of your visit once you’ve calmed down and had all your procedures done.

    14. No fan of Chaos*

      You can train yourself to lower your blood pressure. I use an elevator image and picture the doors closing and it going down and down and down. I use it right before they take my pressure and ask that they not talk to me while doing it. Also, hang your legs straight down from your chair or their table. Crossing legs will cause it to rise. Practice your image to familiarize yourself with it several times.

    15. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      Thanks, everyone, for the reassurance. I knew white coat syndrome was a thing but didn’t know if that was still the right term to use.

      I thankfully do have a blood pressure cuff at home and am taking readings. Most are near normal, a few are a little high. I only worry that the doctor will think I’m lying or trying to downplay that I have high blood pressure.

      The breathing technique that involved holding my breath was one thing I tried once that didn’t work — when I did that, I ended up with a 160 over 100 BP reading and a quite alarmed doctor.

      I wonder if going for a 30-40 minute run shortly before the appointment would help relax me, or if that would be dangerous considering I have to fast for blood work. In any case, it sounds common enough that I’m overthinking it and worrying needlessly. Thanks again!

    16. Dancing otter*

      I have no idea what you weigh, but I am a large woman, and I have learned something that might or might not be helpful for you.
      Blood pressure cuffs come in sizes! Using one that’s too small raises the reading by a good — well, bad, actually — twenty points or more.

      I second the counted breathing, though I just use the same eight or ten count for both inhale and exhale, and close my eyes.
      It must work, because my BP isn’t elevated, compared to measuring at home, even when I’m preparing to donate blood. (I swear I’ve knit with smaller needles, but there’s no source other than human donors, so I grit my teeth and do it anyway.)

  17. BRR*

    So I’m moving soon (yay!) and my landlord is selling the apartment I currently live in. Since she is selling the condo as is, should I push back if she wants to deduct anything from my security deposit? We’ve lived here for seven years and I’m not sure what she could deduct that’s not wear and tear. She’s under contract so whoever the potential buyer is made an offer with however things are now. She’s also suppppeeerrr cheap and pretty lazy about home maintenance. My other thought beyond pushing the “selling as is” angle is to insist on documentation that she used the money for work on the place and didn’t just pocket it.

    1. BRR*

      If it matters, she’s selling as is because she’s a little older and just wants to be done with it. I don’t think anything is terribly wrong with the place. Most things are just old and cheaply maintained to maximize profit. Certainly nothing we damaged but I can see her trying to deduct for things that are wear and tear and that she wouldn’t fix because she doesn’t have to.

    2. Emma2*

      I’m not sure how far the “selling as is” point will get you – if there has been damage to the apartment, that would decrease the value of the apartment. Buyers will at least theoretically factor that into their offer, resulting in a lower price for her. If buyers discount the price they offered due to damage, if your landlord “pockets” that money, she is arguably being compensated for the decrease in the selling price. If she uses the money to make repairs, she is presumably doing that to help herself get a higher selling price.
      I think you can push back on deductions for normal wear and tear, but I don’t think the landlord’s approach to selling the apartment affects whether or not she should make deductions from the security deposit for other damage.

      1. WellRed*

        Agreed. What happens with it when you moved should have no bearing on you. She shouldn’t deduct for normal wear and tear, but for things like If you punched a whole in the wall. You do need to make sure you clean thoroughly including the fridge to be safe.

        1. Gatomon*

          Agreed. Normal wear and tear should never be chargable to a renter anyway, just damages.

          I was actually the buyer in this kind of situation where the tenant had actually done some substantial damage. I really didn’t care if anything was fixed aside from health and safety issues found in the inspection because it was all factored into my offer. I personally would’ve sued the tenant here for damages had I been the landlord here trying to rerent this place, but I don’t actually care if that happened as the buyer. I only cared that the tenant was moving out before closing.

          Anyone buying a rental should know what they’re getting in to.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Our landlord sold the house we rented for 5 years and he gave us our whole security deposit. I would have fought back massively if he hadn’t. Part of that is that the inspection revealed some pretty big issues with the house that we had unwittingly been living with, but I was also in the unusual position of knowing the buyer and knowing that the house was being sold as-is.

      You can absolutely ask for an itemized list of any deductions and receipts if she does choose to deduct.

    4. Asenath*

      If there was damage to the place while you were living there, you can’t expect to get all your deposit back whatever the terms are for selling (or renting) to a new person. Landlord-Tenant laws vary from place to place; check your own out before discussing the damage deposit with your landlady.

    5. LizM*

      Laws in your specific city/state may vary, so it’s always a good idea to check local rules or consult an attorney in your jurisdiction (a lot of cities have an office that specifically deals with landlord/tenant issues that can provide info), but generally, normal wear and tear shouldn’t come out of a security deposit, but any damage should.

      I don’t know that the fact she’s selling it “as it” matters. Presumably, if there is a damage, that was taken into account and the offer was lower. I don’t think you get a say in what she does with the deposit after you move out – even if she doesn’t do the work, she’s still being compensated for any damage and the fact the property is now worth less than it would be without the damage.

      If you think she’s going to try to deduct things you shouldn’t have to pay for, you’re in a much stronger position asking her to document, and understanding the local rules on what’s considered “wear and tear” vs. “damage.”

    6. Tenancy Manager*

      The conditions of her selling are irrelevant. If you haven’t done damage, you should get your full deposit back (assuming your tenancy agreement concurs). If there is damage beyond reasonable wear and tear, you shouldn’t. Document, find out what’s considered reasonable wear and tear where you live, and be prepared to stand up for that if appropriate.

      Your final comment is inappropriate and unreasonable. It doesn’t matter if she pockets it, if she’s entitled to it, she can do what she likes with it. It’s money that belongs to her. Don’t go there.

      1. BRR*

        I’ve realized I did a horrible job presenting the situation. We’ve done no damage beyond normal wear and tear. I’m worried because she’s cheap and greedy she’ll try to claim things are our fault and if saying she’s selling as is would be a way of trying to avoid a headache of fighting with her. I realize now I need to focus on what’s normal wear and tear.

        I don’t think my final comment is inappropriate or unreasonable. Our security deposit is for any damage we caused and if she claims the money is for fixing things, she needs to use it for repairs (at least ethically, I’m going to double check my lease and state law on this). She’s tried to skip doing any repairs for seven years, including when our 10 year old water heater went out. It’s largely moot since we’ve done nothing but I’m not going to let her try to swindle me.

        1. WS*

          Document everything – she can’t charge you for repairs of things you didn’t damage. Focusing on how she’s going to sell the place is just distracting you from the real issue, which is her trying to keep your security deposit for things it shouldn’t cover.

    7. Flabbernabbit*

      I took a landlord to court over this once. They took my whole security deposit. Where I am, the landlord had to prove that they did the work they claimed was needed, and they couldn’t deduct for reasonable wear. I won. I think because I was credible. I had damaged a screen door, so going in I agreed that $50 was legitimate and that they had a receipt for it. But the landlord couldn’t offer any others, and could only offer vague amounts for specific work. So I did a lot of legwork. Checking with their usual vendors to see if they did the work the landlord claimed they did. They didn’t testify but I did articulate that I learned they would normally cite which units they worked on in their invoice, which of course “couldn’t be found.” Felt good. My family thought I was nuts for chasing after this, but were impressed in the end. Got paid back right away.

  18. StellaBella*

    Any tips on dealing with a tracked package sitting in the NYC Service Centre since 17 July? I mailed it 11 July, and it is going to Atlanta. It is tracked and I have already filed an email complaint asking why it has not left NYC yet. I am aware of the recent purposeful slowdowns in the USPS, and just read another story or the new measures put in place by the new boss, that are backing up all postal mail, boxes, ballots, etc. Should I call the Service Centre? Should I file a complaint with the inspector general’s office? The box is a gift for a friend and I am beyond frustrated with all of this. I am finding it disingenuous to blame all of the slowdowns on covid when it fact some of this is due to mismanagement.

    1. BRR*

      I’d raise hell. And by raise hell I mean follow up and file complaints where you can while acknowledging they’re being set up to fail and it’s extremely busy for them. This is pretty egregious even by delayed mail standards. I’d also write your reps in Congress to complain about the postmaster general (might as well also push for them to revoke the prefunded pension law too while you’re at it).

    2. Ranon*

      Is this a UPS to USPS Sure Post thing or just USPS directly? Sure Post is a hot mess where each will blame the other and if the thing that’s been shipped was shipped from a vendor you’re best off just calling the vendor so they can claim it as lost and resend.

      If you shipped it and the package is insured (and the gift is replaceable with money) I would probably call it lost and file a claim at this point, it may turn up eventually but I think it will be cheaper for you in time and frustration to treat it as lost at this point.

        1. Trixie*

          Start with a call and see if you can connect with a person and make plan to speak again within 24 hours for an update. I had a similar experience where the tracking showed it sitting in one location when in fact it was sent to the a nearby city. After I called to ask why it was being held, they did some searching and tracked it down.

    3. MatKnifeNinja*

      I order a package July 1st. It shipped from CA, and still is not here (midwest). The vendor is a small business.

      Insurance wasn’t an option. The vendor checked the USPS, and it’s “in transit”. In CA.

      I’ll be asking for FedEx next time. This is BS.

      1. Max Kitty*

        Even changing shippers may not help.

        I ordered a (very large) item from a company and they shipped it FedEx. Weeks later, it was still marked as awaiting pickup. The company marked it as lost and refunded my money. Three weeks later, the huge package was on my porch. Still not sure if it was a company issue or a FedEx issue.

      2. Altair*

        On the one hand we should get our mail in a timely manner. On the other hand the USPS is being deliberately strangled by its Postmaster General for political reasons.

    4. Nita*

      Well… I guess it will arrive eventually, not that this makes you feel much better. I just had a package arrive that was due by July 9. It was also a birthday present, and I ended up scrambling for a new one, but better late than never.

  19. The Other Dawn*

    I’m curious if anyone knows of a decent online support group for people who have had back surgery.

    I’ve never been someone to seek out support groups. When I had weight loss surgery, I tried a couple support groups both in-person and online and none of it really clicked with me so I stopped attending/reading. The when I had the back surgeries in March and went through months of recovery during a pandemic, having to come off the pain meds after a year, the long recovery in general, etc., I started feeling like I needed an outlet. I know one person whose had fusion and found some support with her, but she really hasn’t had the issues I’ve had, mostly because her surgery was in different location in her back. She sometimes asks, “Why are you still having pain?” I don’t know! If I knew, I’d fix it! (She’s not being a jerk about it. It’s more that her surgery was in the thoracic area, whereas mine was in the lumbar area and it’s comes with different issues.)

    I searched online and recently found a Facebook group and joined; however, I’m finding it…I don’t know how to describe it. Depressing, maybe? And like I just don’t fit in. There are so many people who have it so much worse than me and have such complicated issues that I just really can’t relate. I realize a support group is a group with a common issue that ties everyone together, but everyone’s unique issues and experiences are different, which isn’t one size fits all; you glean from it what you can. But I just feel like the number of people with my kind of issue are far outweighed by the number of people with really complex, life-altering issues. I also feel like some people like to respond to others with something along the lines of, “Why would you do that/feel that way/think that’s necessary?”

    I found a few other groups and requested to join, but they haven’t responded so I’m guessing those groups aren’t all that active. I’ll keep searching, but thought I’d check and see if anyone here knows of anything.

    1. Laura H.*

      Hmm maybe check and see if a local rehab hospital might have something?

      One in my area has a disability catch all that splits off into different conditions- dunno if surgical recovery is one but I’ve had success with my local one both with the over-reaching disability category and the one for my condition.

    2. Book Lover*

      Check whether your hospital has a pain rehab program – part of pain rehab programs (good ones) is group therapy with a focus on positive interactions. The idea being that living with pain doesn’t have to mean disability or focusing on the pain all the time, and seeing other people being successful is really important. The programs often transition to online group support.

    3. fposte*

      I know what you mean; it’s why I don’t engage much with Crohn’s/UC support groups. “I have a sad about mocha” just doesn’t stack up to “I had my intestines removed.” I think the problems you describe are fairly common–a lot of people fall into the gatekeeping habit, and support groups generally cast a wide net so there will be severe sufferers and milder sufferers. I’d definitely not limit myself to Facebook, though; I’d keep looking on the open net (I swear I’ve seen some relevant forums on back websites) and other social media. I also like sometimes to look at subforums on more athletically focused forums, where people talk about how they work around pain or what activity has been good; I like to hear about people who are focused on finding ways to do stuff with their body despite the limitations.

      On the pain itself: hopefully your doctor was clear with you on this prior to surgery, but surgery doesn’t always cure back pain, because the correlation between the physical abnormalities seen on a scan and what we actually feel are pretty loose. Pre-MRI, for instance, the thought was that a bulging disk = pain and removing the disk = cure. Now that we can see inside bodies better, it’s clear that some people’s bulging disks don’t bother them and some people have pain without visible impingement. Or the surgery did fix the relevant problem but there may be some nerve damage that’ll take up to a year to heal; there may be some nerve damage that never heals. Some of us just have nervous systems that freak out more than others (raises hand). Back pain, IMHO, is a response to years of life, and bodies don’t just say “Oh, never mind” after surgery.

      For me, PT with a good, creative PT is super-important, because you have to find ways to build strength that don’t make the pain worse longer-term (short-term pain that resolves between sessions is okay). I would look very carefully for those; somebody who works with athletes is preferable, and water therapy may be a plus. IIRC you’re in CT–look for somebody who works with university teams, for instance. I’d say it’s better to go less often with a really good PT, as long as you’ll be diligent at home (I have stocked my house with the lower-end PT equipment), than to go more often with a mediocre one. Overall motto for lower back is: strong butt, glad heart.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I should have clarified: when I talk about people asking “why are you still in pain?” it’s in response to me saying I can’t sit upright at my desk for more than 20 minutes without having to get up, or mentioning the hip pain I was having (turns out it’s bursitis–got injections and am better now), and still struggling with leg aches once in a awhile. It’s really not back pain anymore–I’m much better than before surgery, thankfully.

        And yes, I have good PT and I’m very diligent about it. I do it everyday, though I take it easy one day and do more the next. I really like the PTs at the place I found and some of them work with athletes. The one who’s also an athletic trainer gave me the go-ahead to start doing some planks, lunges and incline push-ups, so I’m happy about that.

        I guess what I’m struggling with is this whole long term recovery thing, still not being able to sit upright in a desk chair for long, plus the fact that I HATE that I can’t just take a pill and get pain relief when I need it–Tylenol does absolutely nothing and I can’t have NSAIDs at all. And the pandemic is making me struggle more than I think I would have without that.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Forgive me if I have mentioned this before, but have you worked with a nutritionist? You might be able to gain some inroads with certain types of nutrients. I have a chiro here who also does nutrition. The reason I say chiro is you need someone who understands how the body is structured and which vitamins and minerals help which problem.
          Not a magic bullet for sure, but if you could get some stuff to dial back that would probably be a bit of relief at this point?

  20. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Etiquette about approaching someone with a creative hobby/side business?

    I have a friend who paints and I saw a few things she did and I loved them. I’d want her to paint me something in a specific color scheme.

    The only thing I can think of is that — hopefully it goes without saying — I would never ever expect it for free or cheap so I’d def pay. and…not being a demanding jerk?

    Anything else I’m missing?

      1. tangerineRose*

        Can you ask her to do a sketch of it first? That way you can tell if you’re on the same page.

    1. Jellyfish*

      Can you ask if she takes commissions? That implies you’ll pay and also gives her the opportunity to say no up front.

      1. D3*

        I agree, “do you take commissions?” is a good opening. I would also suggest adding “I’m looking to hire someone to make me something in the color scheme of my living room. I love the feel of your pieces (list 2-3 that you particularly like) Is that something you would want to do?” That way it’s crystal clear you’re willing to pay and why you’re not just buying something she’s already done.
        Expect to pay more for a commission than for something she had total artistic freedom to do that is already complete.
        And if she’s not up for it, drop it.

        1. Artist who doesn’t do commissions anymore*

          Also offer 1/3 up front for her materials. That’s non refundable. You and she get together early on in the process to make sure you are on the same page. If not, you should call it quits then but if so, she continues and you have have yourself a lovely painting.

          1. Sam I Am*

            I’d actually ask for 100% materials up front, non-refundable, plus 50% of the artist’s fee after a sketch has been approved. Delivery on payment in full.
            You should also talk about timeline. Deadlines are good.

    2. Anonnington*

      I do art, including by commission. What you’re talking about is a commissioned piece. Ask her if she takes commissions, what her rates are, and if she would/could do the kind of piece you want. If you want to be nice, and make it clear that you’re serious, offer full or partial payment upfront (with a contract and ETA – make it fair to both parties).

      I wouldn’t worry about her lowering the price because you’re friends. That would be her choice. Just set a professional tone so it’s clear that you don’t expect special treatment.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I find it helpful to assume the answer is no. This gives them an easy out. “I know you are probably too busy but….” or “At some point, I would be interested in paying you to do a piece for me…. I am not sure if that would be something that would interest you….”.

        Build an easy out into your request.

        I wanted my friend to help another friend with her hair. My other friend would pay her, of course. I opened with, “Are you taking on new customers for hair appointments?” She countered with, “Well WHO do you have in mind?”. I totally understood why she said that, so I simply answered her question. Her demeanor softened immediately, and she indicated she would be very interested. She could have just said, “I have too much now”, and gotten out of the conversation.
        Show that you are okay if the answer is no.

  21. Landlord Boyfriend*

    Hi everyone! I have a question about significant others turned landlords and if you have any advice for navigating a house hunt and living with your first-time home buyer SO.

    My boyfriend is going with his gut and decided to start looking for a condo to buy. We live in a pretty high COL area – it’s a tough process especially right now because with low interest rates, people are accepting offers way over asking and good opportunities go quickly. He has made it clear that he wants me very involved in the process and while we don’t live together yet, I would move in with him eventually wherever he ends up. We spend a lot of time talking about potential towns/looking at listings from his realtor and talking about showings. He has made it clear that I am a huge factor in where he buys due to my (post-Covid) commute and where my family/vacation home is (all in the same state).

    How many people have gone through this? It’s exciting and I’m proud of him for feeling like he’s ready to take this step, and I’m even more excited thinking that this could be our home for the next 5 years and potentially where we have our first kid. But I also feel some weird anxiety about wanting him to buy the right place but also meeting most of the criteria I am looking for in somewhere I might live for several years while also being supportive of his opinions and what he wants. And also money! Last night, we talked about how much I make. I know he makes at LEAST 3x more than me (but don’t know exactly) and now he is saying “I wouldn’t even want to charge you rent”.

    Any advice for navigating a boyfriend-turned-landlord and the house hunting process/financially/in general would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      I’d say wait a few months until the COVID mess has solidified. There’s gonna be a lot of evictions affecting the property market.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      You want to have a lease. Also look at local tenant law in your area – notice for terminating a lease and evictions specifically as you will be a tenant even if you don’t pay rent. Sometimes the laws are different if you live with your landlord and you have fewer protections.

      It sounds horribly but it’s better to negotiate this stuff and inform yourself to see what you are comfortable with while things are going well. You don’t want to have a fight or breakup and find all your stuff on the front lawn.

    3. Morning reader*

      I lived with an old friend for a few years, not an SO, but we took into account some of my criteria (mostly commute distance) when he was looking to buy a house. He worked in the city and I worked in a suburb about an hour out. We ended up at a place with about a half hour car commute for me and a 45 minute train commute for him. Without me, he probably would have gone closer to the city.
      The mortgage was in his name and I paid iirc about a third of the total. It was an informal arrangement; I didn’t have a lease and he didn’t report the income. We calculated our amount based on our relative incomes (not as deep a difference as yours), and the idea that I was using this low rent period to save for my own house (advantage me) and that he was building equity (advantage him.)

      In your place, I would probably insist on paying some portion, perhaps a quarter or fifth or the mortgage amount based on your relative incomes. And since you intend this as a permanent arrangement, give more weight to your house preferences than I did (I cared about location but not as much about bedrooms, bathrooms, floor plan etc than I would have if I was going to be there long term.)

      Adding in the relationship aspect… no real experienced advice about that, but I’d be cautious about moving in long term without a more formal legal arrangement. The marriage-minded younger women I know often have a rule that they don’t live together without at least an engagement. I’d recommend a lease or a wedding, either way guard your legal rights. (That was not how I did it but I’ve never been one to entangle my romantic and living situations.)

      1. Landlord Boyfriend*

        To each their own! Everyone has different timelines and ideas for what their lives should look like but I don’t believe we need to be engaged before we move in together at all. And I would definitely pay towards something. I’m not going to live for free, we would figure out something that makes sense.

    4. BRR*

      I can’t really speak to the looking for a house part but I think a tricky part is going to be navigating the his home vs your (plural) home, now and when you move in. I’m honestly not liking the language around you calling him your landlord and he says he wouldn’t charge you rent. That’s just…not how it should work when you live with a significant other. It gives off a huge feeling of it not belong to both of you.

      And it’s tricky because of the timing. Ideally, it would be so much easier to wait and buy a place together. If it was me, I’d want to contribute to the mortgage and have a financial stake in the house after moving in. I have two friends who are engaged and one moved into the other’s owned home. He’s not on the deed but is paying part of the mortgage. They’re likely going to sell soon and they’ll both be on the new home’s deed and get the money from the current home’s sale, but it’s putting the current non owner at risk.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Hard agree. You are thinking of having a baby with this person and he is thinking of “not charging you rent”. I am kind of concerned here there seems to be a huge gap going on.

        So what we did here was we both paid the bills according to the percentage of income we contributed to the household. I made 40% of the income so I paid 40% of the bills. This way both of us ended up with the same amount of discretionary money in the end. Both our names are on the deed to the house.
        For me, I’d be pretty uncomfortable with this set up.

      2. Reba*

        Yes, OP as the “tenant” I fear this setup benefits your partner but not you — except in the rental discount department, I guess. Without your name on the deed and mortgage, you would be contributing to the house expenses, but only to your partner’s equity/ownership. You would have nothing to show for it if things go south with the relationship.

        Great time to begin having the (several) discussions about how you will handle money as a couple. Good luck!

    5. Valancy Snaith*

      So the things I’d say that sound risky about this are that you haven’t lived together before and you aren’t absolutely 100% on the same page regarding finances.

      How long have you been together? Moving in together is a big step and one that can cause a lot (a LOT) of problems. I wouldn’t feel comfortable buying unless that person and I had had a big conversation about finances, including every last detail: how much each of us makes exactly, how much debt we are carrying (if any), and how we plan to split finances. The idea that he would be your “landlord” but not charge you rent is a bit worrisome to me as well and I feel like it may create problems further down the line. What happens if in five years he’s still paying the entirety of the house note and you’re making 80% of what he does? What if, God forbid, something should happen to him and he couldn’t work–would you be able to pick up the payments? If you do pay rent and contribute to the mortgage and upkeep of the house, what’s that going to look like if you break up (I hope not, but it does happen)–will you get a return of any contributions?

      When buying a place together, your focus should be on the future. You’re going to be living there together, so is your name going to be on the mortgage? On the deed? What are tenant laws like in your state or province, and do they differentiate based on whether the tenant is paying rent or not? My husband and I waited until we were married to buy our first home (and I mean just–the ink had just about dried when we were out house-shopping) expressly because there was a big income gap between us at the time and neither of us wanted a situation where the other would be left in the lurch.

      So I’d do a lot of research–a LOT of research–and it may be worthwhile for a consultation with a real estate lawyer in your area to determine what each person is risking in this situation.

      1. Washi*

        I agree with all of this. My friend moved in with her boyfriend, who owned his own house and made a lot more money. In addition to paying him rent, she put A LOT of labor in to the house plus bought some large pieces of furniture, imagining that they would get married and this would be her forever home.

        Then he cheated on her. They broke up, and suddenly their financial positions were in stark relief. He got help paying his mortgage for three years, plus all the labor she put into the house and yard. She left with nothing. And yeah, that reflects their different positions going into the relationship in the first place, but it made everything so much worse for my friend to see it play out like that, that he was cheating while she was sweating over his garden.

        Not that I think your boyfriend is definitely going to cheat on you or anything horrible will happen, but it’s important to have a plan and understand the pitfalls. Valancy has a great point that if suddenly he has trouble paying his mortgage payments, are you going to help him out? And if you end up breaking up with him, is he left with a place he wouldn’t have chosen without you in it, and is that a thought that could guilt you into staying longer than you want?

    6. Anon for this*

      I bought a place with my own money while I was in a common-law relationship. I had a reliable income, and didn’t want to risk sharing finances. We picked it together, although my partner works from home so I chose the location. I get a small rent monthly, which covers some costs but not much. I think in your case that you need to pay rent, but a proportional amount (if he makes 3x then you pay 1/4 of costs). Or he pays the mortgage and you pay utilities. If you don’t pay anything then it will feel weird.

      We have been living together in our home for a very long time and it still works for us. We’ve never married, which we both prefer. I’m the only one of the two who wants the work of owning a home, so that has also helped with the division.

    7. HannahS*

      For the situation you’re in, I have questions, some of which are to do with legal stuff:
      1) If he buys the home and you stay together and get married, do you automatically share in ownership of the home?
      2) If he buys the home and you stay together and don’t get married, do you share in ownership of the home?

      If you pay rent to him and you’re living together as a couple and then you separate, even if you didn’t get legally married, the courts in my region would consider you to have some ownership of the home. Not half, necessarily, but some.

      All of that is only relevant if you separate, which is sometimes tough to talk about. If your guy can’t have a conversation about the legal and financial protection you need to have in order to feel comfortable in a cohabitation situation, well, take that as an important piece of information!

      1. Colette*

        I’d add “if he buys the place and then you break up, what happens (I.e. you need to have $ saved to be able to move out, but also you need to discuss it with him before you move in)?”

    8. Asenath*

      Get the legalities straightened out, IN WRITING, now, in case he does luck into something he can afford. It sounds like you aren’t in a position to put money into the place, take on part of the mortgage and be a part owner, but you’ll still need to have some kind of proper agreement as to how much you’ll pay in rent (and if you don’t pay rent, are you budgeting enough savings so you can afford to move out if you break up?) and other expenses. I know this sounds cold and rigid, and I’ve certainly known plenty of people who don’t want to make formal agreements with family, or those who are about to be family. But on the other hand, money is a major source of conflict in a relationship, and housing is where a large portion of a couple’s money is. Get it all worked out, and protect yourself legally – whether that is as a co-owner or a tenant.

    9. lapgiraffe*

      Oooof, tricky. I bought a place with my longtime roomie in kind and even that was going to be an odd dynamic (he ended up moving states for a new job so was a non issue in the end). Have actually only seen it with my girlfriends owning and boyfriends moving in and it’s just… different than when you both live together in a rented, in effect neutral space. I can’t speak to the boyfriend’s feelings about it (and fwiw all of them are long gone, even though most lasted multiple years) but that power dynamic was always an issue. Non owner felt they couldn’t say anything or express opinions even though owner wanted them, but at the same time owner was annoyed at some behaviors because the non owner wasn’t as invested as them. I know the gender dynamics flipping changes things even if we wish that weren’t the case, but if I were in your shoes I’d be more concerned with learning what your partner makes and becoming comfortable talking about money together, then maybe solidifying commitment in a way that works for you, be it a ring and a wedding date or being included on the deed and putting real money down, even if it’s a small amount. All in all seems very grand romantic cart before the horse, avoiding the less romantic but arguably more important details in between.

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      When I bought my house, I went into it with the plan that my boyfriend and two friends were going to be living in it with me, but I was the only buyer/owner. They were involved in the “what do we want in a house” discussion, and they came with me to look at houses, but I got the final say on everything.

      When boyfriend and I got engaged and married, we knew ahead of time that we wanted to keep our finances distinctly separate, and our prenup specified that all our assets and debts are individual as attributed on the appropriate legal paperwork (so, like, his car and car loan are both in his name only, my car and car loan and house and mortgage are in mine only, and so on) and the only accounts of any type that should be considered joint are those that deliberately were set up with both our names on them (we have one joint savings account for shared vacation expenses). In the event of a separation, my stuff (including my house) is mine and his stuff is his. His viewpoint on that is that he would be paying rent somewhere anyway – he specifically doesn’t want the legal responsibility of home ownership, so he’s fine with not accruing any equity.

      All of them (well, one friend moved out but), including husband, pay me the same flat rate every month toward the monthly bills, including groceries, household supplies like laundry soap and TP, the cleaning lady, and our communal phone plan. Basically one of them pays the bills and one of them buys the groceries, and I pay the mortgage. (But it all goes through my accounts.)

      This is frequently considered a weird arrangement for a married couple. It probably is weird. But it works for us, and that’s the important thing as far as we’re concerned :)

      1. Generic Name*

        We don’t have a roommate, but my husband and I have a similar arrangement, so at least one other couple in the world does it this way. :) I own the house and we keep our finances separate. My husband pays me a portion of each paycheck to pay bills and groceries. We decided to do it this way because he makes half of what I do and he budgets on a cash basis while I pay for most things with a credit card which I pay off monthly.

        Before he moved in, we had a discussion about budgets and money and who would pay for what. He was comfortable not having a lease and he didn’t think of me as “his landlord” and the money he paid me wasn’t “rent”. He saw it as contributing to joint household expenses. We also had a discussion about how I saw moving in together as a step towards marriage and if he didn’t see things that way then we shouldn’t live together.

        My situation is different because I am in a much stronger financial position than he is. I told him I was willing to pull together a lease agreement if he wanted one, and he didn’t feel it was necessary. That was his choice. It’s very valid for you to decide you want a lease agreement, especially since you are thinking of him as a landlord. The lease agreement can even say you owe no rent, if that’s what the two of you decide. If the agreement is t in writing, there’s a danger that he (or you) can claim that you agreed to something different later on.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          We were in the same boat when we first moved in (to the house) — I made twice what he did, and while I offered him (all of them) leases, nobody felt we needed to get that formal about it. He’s gotten farther along in his career now and we aren’t as far apart in income as we were then. So now, when he wants the snazzy new giant 4K tv, he figures out how to work that into his budget, and it’s His TV, because left to my own devices I’d have been fine with the 10 year old 32″ that’s currently collecting dust in the guest room. :)

          We didn’t have the marriage/future part of the discussion specific to moving in because -a- we were actually roommates long before we even started dating and haven’t ever dated while we DIDN’T cohabitate – we’ve been friends for like 17 years, roommates since 2012, dating since 2014 – and -b- because, at the time we moved into this house, we were both still on team “not terribly interested in ever getting married again.” (We have three divorces between us. I was actually somewhat surprised when he proposed on our second dating anniversary, and my first three answers were “Are you sure?” because I didn’t know he’d changed his mind. I was, and still am, literally completely indifferent about marriage vs not-marriage, so since it had become important to him, that was fine with me.)

    11. RagingADHD*

      Okay, there’s an inherent conflict between “significant other” and “landlord.” And whether you’re moving into his place, or whether you two are moving in together.

      Y’all need to figure out where you are in your relationship, before you worry about the features of this or that property. Are you partners? If so, then you don’t pay rent. You split expenses according to whatever proportion you can afford and seems equitable. If you’re partners, then you should have an equal voice in choosing the property.

      If you are not partners and you plan on dating your landlord, then that’s very messy. It’s his house and you get zero say in where it is or what amenities it has. You should pay rent and you should absolutely have a lease agreement.

      Do not, under any circumstances, start making financial arrangements or taking things for granted about your money or your housing situation if you two have not discussed concrete, long-term plans and the status of your relationship.

      To be completely frank, if you can’t have this conversation with him and get clarity, you have no business moving in with him. It’s too soon.

    12. Aurora Leigh*

      My (now) husband bought his house shortly before we met.

      We decided to move in together after dating about a year. I felt weird (for lack of a better word) about paying on his mortgage, so I paid the power and water and he paid the mortgage payment (about the same cost, he got this house cheap because it needed a lot of work).

      We’re married now and looking to move because while this was the perfect bachelor house, it’s not a great family house (only 1 usable bedroom). If we were staying, I would want to look into getting my name added to the paperwork. So talk about your long term plans so that you don’t end up needing to sell a couple years down the road. Think about things like school districts, space for pets, etc. Also, don’t buy at the top of your/his range. Look for something where the payment would be comfortable.

      We adopted a dog together before moving in together so I understand doing things in unconventional order — just be sure you’re on the same page.

    13. Landlord Boyfriend*

      I appreciate all of the advice so far! I hadn’t really thought of all of the legalities surrounding this to be honest. This house-hunt is only about 3 weeks old so we haven’t fully talked about what it would look like either, other than that we would be there together. I know after 3 weeks that I could say no to a place and he wouldn’t think twice about it. I know my opinion on location and the actual space matters and carries a lot of weight with him. We also have similar taste in style, layout, and location so I know it will work out the way it’s supposed to.

      Many people were concerned that I would actually not put any money into the mortgage or utilities at all – I would never let that happen. I don’t want to be that person at this point, and we have had previous conversations about splitting this proportionally. While he makes more than 3x what I make, I can still afford to pay rent, my bills, save money, have fun, etc. So it’s not like I’m in a position where I would ever not be able to support myself should anything happen. I also was mostly joking when I called him my future landlord, but I guess using that term a couple times made it seem like I was emphasizing that.

      For others wondering, it is a relatively new relationship of less than a year. We are both late 20’s and have had long term relationships before that ended in the last 2 years, both lived with significant others but always knew that it was never fully right. We found each other and it was one of those situations where we both knew pretty quickly that this was the person we were going to spend the rest of our lives with. We communicate really well so I’m not concerned about bringing any of the advice you all gave me up. It is a tricky path to navigate but with all resources available, supportive families, and advice from you guys, I have no doubt we will figure out how to best make it work for us and be happy in that home!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        On the joking: I feel you. Nobody ever calls me the landlord unless they’re telling me about issues that are going to cost me money to fix, haha. I did make a couple of non-negotiable house rules though, mostly around pets (limited) and clothing (required outside your bedroom/bathroom).

        Any further pets added to our house – by anyone – must be securely and regularly contained, must not eat live crickets, must have no more than four legs, and must not be able to be heard or smelled outside of your bedroom. These are all things I would have requested in a true housemate situation, and my boys would’ve been happy to comply, but since I owned the house, that (the crickets especially) was my hard line. (I didn’t set a minimum on legs. There is a rack in my housemate’s basement with a fancy ball python, a milk snake, and an albino corn snake, and nearby an almost six-foot red tailed boa. Most people don’t often have occasion to calmly observe “Huh. There weren’t this many rodents in this freezer yesterday.”)

        1. Landlord Boyfriend*

          This is great!!Luckily for the boyfriend who is terrified of even the nicest of snakes, I am perfectly happy without one or any other weird pets for that matter. The only thing I see in our future is a dog…and maybe a fish tank because I think I need one of those one day!

  22. Shell*

    Question for the religious folks: when all of this started, my church (a small Episcopalian congregation) started doing simple online services on Zoom, which have been OK, I guess. We are also reaching out to people by phone, and church members have offered to help get groceries/run errands for people who are shut-in. But the weeks drag on, and attendance drops, and people say they don’t feel connected. Most of our congregation is older, and many have health problems, so meeting in-person for us is out of the question for a long time.

    We used to do quite a bit of volunteer community outreach, like fundraisers for the local food pantry, or working with a program to help students in need get food to carry them through the weekend. We’ve been able to keep up with some of this by writing checks, but we are a pretty poor congregation, and our strength was always in showing up and working, not in giving money. We have a meeting coming up to talk about where we go from here, and I’d like to be able to offer some positive, concrete suggestions about how we can help people during this time, but I’m feeling as tired and uncreative as everyone else. So, if your church/synagogue/mosque etc. has found a way to help people feel connected during all this, or help people (in or out of the congregation) I’d love to know.

    1. Anon for this*

      What a great question. Here are a few we are doing:

      Outdoor drive-thru food bank distributions
      Zoom coffee chats after online service
      Zoom book studies (currently on racism)

      I’ll come back with more later if I think of more.

    2. Another anon*

      We are gathering on Zoom and writing nonpartisan postcards to encourage voting. Watch a streamed movie or read a book and discuss. Drop off a treat or snack at people’s houses in advance. Could you drop off supplies to assemble bags for homeless people while together on Zoom? Could you find a similar congregation elsewhere or one of a different religion in your own town and connect for a chat on Zoom?

    3. Hazy Days*

      Frankly I think there’s a point at which the online services do stop functioning as community. I am struggling to stay connected after online service month after month and I know I’m not the only one.

      Some things we’ve tried (two congregations)
      – services that make active use of people being at home / in the garden, by using the home as a point of reflection
      – small daily face to face services for limited numbers in the church
      – small weekly services in the church grounds
      – zoom book groups
      – zoom anti-racism group
      – zoom coffee mornings
      – church open for private prayer
      – church open for individuals to meet and sit with the clergy outdoors
      – allowing a local cafe to use the church gardens for their customers to sit outside

    4. HannahS*

      No ideas, but commiseration. It’s hard. My synagogue is trying so, so hard, but it’s tough. As a congregant, I just got so Zoomed-out so quickly, especially because I’m still working. Either my work is on the computer (like today!) and I can’t stand to be on the computer anymore for services, or my work is exhausting and in person and I don’t have energy to go to a thing on Zoom afterwards. I love the weekly emails, even though I don’t always read them. I don’t know. My husband and I are the fortunate position to be able to give money–to the kosher food bank, to the synagogue–but that’s all that I can really handle right now.

    5. Dr. Anonymous*

      One of the local dance communities gathers by Zoom to listen to music and then they use a Zoom feature to automatically break up into small groups to chat. A big group is too much for a chat.

    6. miro*

      Do you have the space to do outdoor services? My church has been doing that and I prefer it because for me Mass is so much about the physical presence and virtual services just don’t appeal at all. One thing to keep in mind is times of day when the sun/heat is brutal–here, the 1pm Mass has moved to the evening when it’s cooler.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          My church has been holding a weekly Zoom service, but as restrictions are being lifted, some outdoor services (with DIY communion) are being held in a nearby park.

      1. tangerineRose*

        If your church could borrow a drive in movie theater, people could sit in their cars and be sort of together during a service.

    7. Anonnington*

      I think Zoom has untapped potential – people can Zoom from different settings, share things from their homes. It could be a, “Get to know each other better,” kind of thing.

      I’m not sure how you’d encourage this in services. But it can be really nice to see people’s gardens, scenic window views, candles, pets, art, interesting or meaningful things from their home, etc. “Bring Your Pets to Zoom Church”? “Garden Zoom”? You could try different themes.

    8. LizM*

      We’ve started doing zoom coffee hours after the service, where we’re put in 6 person break out groups randomly. It helps feel a little more connected than the big service (which has pretty limited participate outside of the chat box to avoid zoom trolls).

      We have an active puzzle exchange going on our church’s private facebook page. It happened kind of organically, but it’s been fun. We also have a book club and a parenting group. I think some of the other small groups have continued to meet via zoom.

      It depends on your community’s restrictions, but would an outdoor gathering be allowed? (I don’t think we’re there yet in my city).

      Could you host some kind of drive? A few years ago, the high school group made fleece blankets for foster kids (the kind you tie the fringe together) – they organized all the materials, and the congregation showed up to make them. You could distribute the kits, people could make them at home, and then drop them off. Have people take pictures of their blankets and then you could do a slide show during one of the online services.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Perhaps you can work on a buddy system or prayer partners- people who call each other to pray together.

      We have a prayer chain at our church. There is a designated person you call with your prayer request. That designated person then contacts the volunteers in the prayer chain to let them know who is requesting prayers. (I assume they use a telephone tree.) Key point: All requests are confidential. So if a person in the prayer chain gossips or blabs, they are either spoken to OR if the situation is really bad, they are removed from the prayer chain.

      1. Green Mug*

        My church figured out a seating arrangement where everyone is spaced 6 feet apart. The pews and seats are labeled with numbers now. People call ahead to reserve a seat. No standing or singing. Masks required. Pastor takes everyone’s temperature when they enter. Communion is individually prepackaged. There are little baggies taped to the back of the pews for the communion trash. These baggies show the staff exactly which seats to wipe down after the service. We also offer a mid-week service for high risk people only as well as Saturday and Sunday services.

    10. J.B.*

      Food banks lost a lot of retired volunteers who were higher risk. For those comfortable doing that or helping with your school district’s food distribution I would see what openings there are.

  23. nep*

    Do you feel safe walking alone in the woods / on trails? I’d love to hear about people’s experiences.
    I am so grateful and happy to have ‘found’ a woods/trail nearby where I have zero problem walking alone. I know to many it will seem like ‘what’s the big deal?’…but in the past, I’d take a step or two into some woods only to back out for fear of something happening in an isolated area. A friend recently told me about this one place–and it is too beautiful for words. I teared up the first time I entered and started walking around.
    PSA: Forest bathing does wonders.

    1. Washi*

      Yes, as long as I haven’t been watching SVU recently! I’m actually serious, when I lived in a rural area and spent a lot of time in the woods alone, I found that watching crime shows was skewing my sense of safety in what was really a very safe place.

      I live in an urban area now and the nearby parks are all fairly well trafficked, but I’ll occasionally still go on a short backpacking trip alone, but because I like exercising that muscle of being able to spend time out in the woods with no one around.

      1. nep*

        Good way to put that. And there’s really no substitute for solitude in the woods.
        (I detest any kind of crime show, so that’s not an issue.)
        Thanks for your input.

      2. JKP*

        I always like to remind myself that on the crime shows, the hikers *find* the body and are perfectly safe themselves. The woods are where the bodies are dumped, not where they are killed. I’m sure there are exceptions, but in general killers hunt where the people are, not in the middle of nowhere.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Ha! You are right. Not that I want to find a skeleton in the woods either, but it’s much better than being murdered.

          The dog would probably enjoy it though.

    2. Ranon*

      I basically grew up in the woods so woods don’t scare me- my brain has lots of practice knowing what the different sounds mean and what flashes of movement out of the corner of my eye are and I got lots of instruction as a kid about dealing with large non human predators.

      The desert, on the other hand, I don’t trust at all. I mean, I like tromping through it but I’d much rather be in the forest with water and plants and shade. Much safer.

    3. MatKnifeNinja*

      Safe as accident/health getting no help? (how remote), wild animal issue (bear/cougar) or freak of the week jumping you?

      All depends how long, and how remote.

      You let someone know where you are going and time frame. I carry bear mace and a 4 inch swing blade knife. If it doesn’t feel right, I turn back.

      How remote? Alaskan back woods, state park trail or sometime closer to civilization?

      Be ware and act like you belong there. Notice who is around. Never had a problem.

    4. Kathenus*

      I walk/hike by myself a lot. For the most part I have few concerns, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that every once in a while a ‘what if’ crosses my mind. But since much of life is a cost/benefit analysis, the positives of doing this to me outweigh the cost of not doing it due to a low level risk.

    5. Asenath*

      Oh, yes. I think I’ve felt safe in the woods since I was a small child, when it was common for us children to play in the woods near where we lived. I now live in a city with some beautiful trails, and have walked alone on them many times. Nowadays, I stick to ones nearby, and most of them are quite well-used by other walkers, but there are a few that I almost never see anyone on. In the past, I more often walked in the “real” woods, that is, not so much on well-marked and maintained trails. If that’s what you’re doing, you should always tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back, in case you sprain an ankle or something, and keep away from obvious dangers (going too close to cliffs, for example). There are probably other precautions you might think of depending on what the dangers are – need to carry water or food, precautions if you’re in bear country, etc. But I don’t feel unsafe – I take precautions if I think they’re necessary, and then I go.

    6. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Well, I typically have had a dog with me on hikes. Not really for safety, but because the dog likes hikes too. But I’m pretty sure I have been on hikes without a dog, but just don’t remember because it was no big deal.

      Overnight I have always brought a brother or brothers with me. Not to scare off bad guys but for companionship and in case I break a leg. Also because I have a lousy sense of direction.

      There a medium sized predators in my area, but they would definitely not attack a person. And I figure anyone with felonious intent who wants to lurk around somewhere waiting for a pretty girl to pass by is probably going to lurk around somewhere where he wouldn’t have to wait for hours to see even another human being.

      1. Summersun*

        Dogs are a big part of why I don’t feel safe on the local trails. People bring large breeds on retractable leashes and don’t control them. I don’t like dogs and I don’t want them jumping and scratching my skin open, or causing me to stumble and overturn an ankle. I’m cowering away as the owner creeps forwards, insisting “Don’t worry, he’s friendly!” I don’t care, keep it away from me.

        1. tangerineRose*

          I love dogs, including big dogs, but yeah, dog owners have a responsibility to keep their dogs from being overly friendly with strangers, especially now.

    7. fposte*

      I’m fine with it, but I’m not exactly disappearing into Yellowstone. I was okay before having a cellphone, and now that I can bring a phone (and I can get a signal just fine in the places I go) that’s an added layer of protection. I don’t think anything’s perfectly safe, but I think the areas I have access to aren’t much riskier than walking around town as long as I don’t fall off a ledge or something.

    8. Alex*

      I definitely go out into the woods by myself, but I have had moments where I have thought…I need to NOT try to scale this cliff, because if I fall, no one will find me for weeks. I once backtracked on a trail because it was just too difficult and I was alone and didn’t think it was safe for me to try myself.

      1. Reba*

        I’ve had similar thoughts. I do take precautions but psychologically there is also a fear and locus of control dynamic involved. It’s a very different calculation hiking on maintained trails versus wilderness or off trail hiking, and again different between the park nearest my home and the parks where they advise you to know how to rescue yourself.

        I hope this isn’t too grim (people are talking about murder here so… ;) ) I know that people do risky things and live all the time — and also that well-prepared people doing fairly safe things also have accidents or make simple mistakes. I think from time to time of the woman who died while hiking on the Appalachian trail, she got lost after stepping off trail to pee and ultimately died only about a mile away from the trail. But I also think about Grandma Gatewood, who hiked the AT multiple times starting in her sixties!

        On occasion I have had to convey to a hiking partner, “if you fall down that ravine I cannot get you out, you know!”

    9. KoiFeeder*

      I’ve never felt unsafe in the woods near my house, but there’s a minimum amount of people that actually hang out in the woods proper (and less now that the bears have been reintroduced), so that’s part of it.

      I’m not scared of the black bears. I am respectful of the bears and their personal space, and I wouldn’t want to get in a mama-and-cubs situation, but bears are logical. People are not.

    10. Anonnington*

      I used to hike alone all the time. A lot of people would respond with, “But you could be attacked by a person!”

      I realize the setting makes it easy for people to get away with this, and that it does happen. However, I think it’s statistically more likely in an area with a lot of people than, say, a steep mountain trail at 8am.

      My main concern was mountain lions. Even in the most remote areas, humans are the biggest danger. But since I hiked around sunrise, it seemed like a large predator was the main thing to worry about. (I learned enough about snake behavior to avoid venomous ones.)

      Easy fix. Hike with a dog. Don’t have a dog? See if you can borrow one. Most dog owners would be thrilled to have someone take their pup for a serious hike. It’s hard to give dogs as much exercise as they really need.

      If that’s not an option, just tell someone where you’re going. Try to hike in areas with good cell phone reception. You can also check in with park staff. Just tell them, “I’m taking this route. If I’m not back by this time, send help.” They tend to appreciate that. It makes their job easier.

    11. HamlindigoBlue*

      I feel OK with it now. I never thought twice about it before my dog passed. He was a dobe, and I felt very safe with him at my side. The first few times I hit the trails after he passed, I did feel not so safe. I have a Brutus self defense keychain that I’ll take with me if I remember (from my understanding, it might not be legal in all states). I have my Garmin watch set to have the app email my husband when I start an activity alone so at least there’s a time/date stamp and coordinates. I’ve also done quite a bit of martial arts training and feel fairly comfortable with the things I’ve learned. I’m not delusional about that, though. I just think that I probably know enough to give myself more time to get away from a bad situation and *maybe* do enough where someone might decide I’m not worth their effort.

    12. Nita*

      Actual woods? Sure, very safe. Trails in the city? It very much depends. Some of them are safe and beautiful, and some are great hiding spots for sketchy people, homeless encampments, or just very very dirty, which makes me really uncomfortable because who knows what germs are on those used tissues.

    13. lapgiraffe*

      Don’t know what is happening now with Covid but usually the AMC has outdoor safety courses of all kinds throughout the year, so maybe find an outdoor organization near you or even look at REI and LL Bean, both also do interesting classes.

      I do tend to choose “busier” trails to do when I’m on my own, and I don’t do any super early/pre-dawn hiking alone. I’d be more worried about backcountry, between the remote aspect and wildlife, but I think once you do it more it doesn’t feel as weird/unsafe. But I will say I always text my family where I’m going and expectations on when I’ll be back on the grid so someone knows I’m out there.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      No. I do not feel safe in the woods by myself. [Insert upsetting story from teenage years here.] I think I got lucky once because nothing happened that day but I don’t want to push my luck.

      I have thought about bringing my dog. But if something happened to my dog…….
      So, no.
      I do enjoy the woods if I have a friend along with me.

    15. Quoth the Raven*

      Not at all. I’ve always been a city woman, through and through, and the idea of woods makes me super uneasy, especially on my own. I’d probably go with someone else with more experience, but only during the day and in the more populated routes and areas.

    16. Sam I Am*

      If I’m going out alone, I’ll leave a note on my kitchen table listing the date/ time what I was wearing/ where I was going. The bike path here is great but has a few spots that are right up on someone’s solitary back yard. I also juggle my schedule around different spaces so I don’t get an easy to follow routine. I don’t use headphones. But after that… I forget about it. I’m often alone and I can’t let my solo status stop me from doing what I want to do. A couple of friends have expressed concern that I go some places alone, and I’ve begun to respond by saying “I love you too,” with a smile.

      For other remote spaces, I’m considering one of the personal locator beacons (PLB). Some of the spaces I go to don’t have cell coverage, and I prefer to ditch the phone when I can. These seem a good option in case of injury. I’ve been sifting through reviews, and the PLB’s don’t have subscriptions, but are simply one time locators. There are also sat. communicators that will offer limited messaging an/ or navigation, that come with a subscription. Probably not necessary if you’re taking a phone to a place with coverage.

    17. i heart salt*

      I have a friend that I’ll text, ” Headed out to hike . Should be back by ” & then text them when I return. That way, somebody knows where I am….

    18. WoodswomanWrites*

      As my handle here and for my blog implies, I spend a lot of time in the woods and absolutely love going alone. My outings range from local parks frequented by a fair number of other hikers to more remote locations in national parks. I feel more safe in these locations than I do walking around a city.

      For me, there are a few factors I consider. For a trail nearby where I’m going to see other hikers and find lots of other cars at the trailhead, I just toss my stuff in my backpack and go, including my phone. Although I’m not personally concerned, when I think about your question, I think these places close to main roads are where any weirdos would turn up but there are lots others around. The farther I get from main roads, the more I think about extra safety measures, but none of these have to do with being afraid of other people. I don’t think people looking for trouble are likely to drive long distances and pay entrance fees.

      My safety precautions when I’m alone on remote national park trails have to do with preparing in case I break my ankle or something. I tell someone at the park where I’m going and when I’ll be back so they’ll notice if I don’t return. I have a first aid kit; bring extra water, food, and layers; and since there’s no cell coverage, I carry an emergency beacon where I can push a button and it sends out a signal that I need help.

      When I was younger, I had a bush plane take me to a remote location in Alaska and pick me up a week later. I’m creakier now and wouldn’t do that alone now but I’ve never regretted it. I can’t imagine not having my solo time in nature. In fact, I’m taking two camping trips in September by myself and really looking forward to them.

    19. Dancing otter*

      No. I know the forest preserves in southern Cook county are not safe. There have been enough news stories about people – usually women – who disappear on hikes, and are later found murdered. One of them was a personal acquaintance.
      Maybe the preserves in the northwest suburbs are better, but just no. There are other ways to get exercise and fresh air.

    20. Quinalla*

      Yes on trails in my area for sure. There is very little dangerous wildlife where we live and I always have a fully charge cell phone with me and other precautions depending how long of a hike. My biggest worry is getting injured in a remote area, not getting attacked by people/wildlife, but everywhere I go has cell coverage so I feel good about it.

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

    I did something really stupid this week.
    Last Wednesday I opened my LinkedIn while I was having breakfast… and I was so sleepy that I sent a happy birthday note to my high school crush. I was too late when I realized what I did, and worse of all… he answered!
    I almost died of embarrassment right there.

    1. CJM*

      That doesn’t sound bad to me! I’d like it if somebody from high school wished me a happy birthday. I recently received an email from a high-school friend, and it’s been wonderful to reconnect.

    2. Anono-me*

      Lots of people are reaching out to people they haven’t spoken to in years right now. There are even lots of news stories about it. I’m sure if your high school Crush was surprised to hear from you, that he thought it was part of the great covid reconnect.

      He probably just thought it was nice and was pleased to be thought of and wished a happy birthday. Unless he responded rudely or told you to stop bothering him, I think the fact that he responded says he appreciated it.

      1. Anonymous for this*

        Yeah, this! Almost certainly came across as a friendly acquaintance thing. If it really was his birthday, he probably had a whole pile of messages to get through, too.

        (I understand, though. I am in my thirties and the last time I talked to my own high school crush was 13 years ago. I’ve moved around a lot, and been in and out of a very serious relationship with a completely different person from the opposite coast in a city nowhere near where I grew up. And yet I still sometimes have that ridiculous dream where I’m getting married to the high school guy?!)

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Ah… don’t sweat it. Really, that’s NBD if it was the more generic LinkeIn one. It’s more like saying “Hey!”

  25. Valancy Snaith*

    I do a lot of hiking and trail walking, always by myself. I am almost never afraid of having a bad encounter with another person, and I’m only minimally afraid of having an animal encounter. The only thing that does scare me is hurting myself somehow or getting lost alone, so to mitigate that I take my fully-charged phone (reception can be hit or miss but I’d rather have it), my small first aid kit, my GPS watch, maps, a whistle, and food and water. But that’s really only for hiking–if I’m just walking a nice trail in my neighborhood or town I’ll just bring my phone. Those trails I’ve found are well-traveled enough that I’m not concerned about either doing myself a mischief or encountering someone or something I’d rather not.

    1. nep*

      Interesting. Thanks.
      We saw many, many deer the other day on this one trail (and bunnies)…For me it’s definitely about a bad encounter w a another person. But same–this trail is definitely well-traveled (but not so crowded one can’t get some solitude); also it was reassuring to see many women walking alone.

  26. CoffeeforLife*

    Extended stay packing help!

    My partner transferred jobs and will now have long term travel. We will pack up the and move cross country for 6 months. We are looking at staying in an extended stay hotel (travel points!) because work (govt) doesn’t pay for airbnb. This will be an ongoing thing and hopefully we’ll get to sell our house and gtfo this town :) that we moved to for his work.

    We are bringing two dogs and my workshop needs but are racking our brains on what “home” items to pack?

    The hotel will have a small kitchen and serves breakfast. We’re bringing our excellent coffee maker (Jura), instant pot, and assorted small tools but what else would make things easier?

    We’re going to Southern California so no winter clothes needed!

    1. acmx*

      A laundry basket? I used a foldable vertical one.
      if you mean the room will have a small kitchen, I’d look at other kitchen items you like bc their stuff is basic. I’d bring food storage containers.

    2. Nervous Nellie*

      If you have a couple of good knives, bring them with you. Extended stay housing usually has pretty crappy tools in the kitchen drawers.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yeah, I was going to say this — bring any kitchen gear you wouldn’t want to do without for an extended period. For six months I can’t imagine only having crappy lightweight pots and pans, nylon cooking utensils, etc.

    3. Not A Manager*

      We’ve done some extended stays, and we try to strike a balance between bringing what we need but also being willing to duplicate purchase some inexpensive items rather than trying to pack everything.

      That said, we usually travel with:

      Coffee set up
      A few good knives
      Favorite pot, favorite frying pan
      Sourdough starter
      Assortment of basic herbs and spices that we don’t feel like purchasing a second time
      Specialty cooking ingredients, as above – dried mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, etc. that might be hard to find or you just don’t want to pay for a bunch of them.
      Favorite pillows
      For a six month stay, I would consider bringing my own bed linens and maybe bath towels. Sometimes the extended stay ones just aren’t very nice.
      Lighting is important to us. For a six month stay we would expect to go to Target or similar and buy some lamps. Sometimes my husband brings small cans that can be used as up-lights.
      He always travels with small speakers that connect to his phone/computer for streaming music.
      We pack our car by folding down the back seats and then covering the luggage with a blanket. Since we’re bringing a blanket anyway, I pick one that we’ll enjoy using in our rental. Either on the bed, or as a throw on the couch.

      1. pancakes*

        Bluetooth speakers & lights are very good suggestions. For me, reading lights / task lights and maybe a relatively dim evening light or two. I have a Wonderboom speaker that’s a few years old at this point but still sounds good, and a book light that’s tiny, very light, and plugs into a usb charger.

        For the kitchen, my pepper mill & collection of salts, a few favorite spices, good olive oil, cooking oils, a chunk of Parmesan or grana padano and a grater, knives, and parchment paper, plastic wrap, etc. Corkscrew, bottle opener, and a 9” cast iron skillet.

        I haven’t don’t extended stays for work but these are things I’d bring for a week or two in an unfamiliar rental cabin. Our favorite place to go has a set of cast iron pans and plenty of wine glasses, some of which we’ve contributed over the years, but that’s not the norm.

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      I follow some minimalist blogs. One thing I would do is find a way to note all the items you use over the course of a couple of weeks. Some people do that by packing everything and then unpacking what you actually use. So if that works, it might help.

      If you cannot pack, maybe keep a notepad to track what you use?

    5. Deanna Troi*

      Some of the extended stay hotels I’ve stayed in for work did not have an oven. You might want to check on that and if they don’t, bring a toaster oven.

    6. CoffeeforLife*

      Thank you everyone for the tips! We’re packing a truck bed/camper shell so we’ll have enough moving space. Our concern is space once we get there. I don’t want to bring unnecessary things but I don’t want to have duplicates of our actual home either.

      Thankfully we have a month-ish to figure it out.

    7. Victoria, Please*

      Bring a few winter clothes, not too much. I moved to SoCal from the east and was shocked as hell to find that it really gets quite nippy. You’ll want a little something.

    8. willow for now*

      Buy some house plants once you arrive. I do that if I am staying for more than a few days. Put some on the balcony if you have one, that will ensure you get outside to enjoy the view at least every few days.

  27. Oliver Boliver Butt*

    I have a question about coparenting with a spouse.

    The short version: is it better (fairer, more equitable, preferable in some sense) to aim for each spouse to end up with a similar amount of time free of kid-wrangling to use for fun stuff, or to aim for each spouse to wrangle the kids solo (thereby allowing the other to use the time for whatever) for a similar amount of time? Should a couple aim for equality of outcome or equality of input?

    A more specific example: We have chores that can’t be done with little kids around. We also have various self-care things that need to be done (a nap if you slept poorly, PT exercises when there are injuries, etc etc). But it feels crummy to have your spouse take the kids off for a couple hours and spend the whole time doing Useful Things, and to know that when you take the kids off your spouse is going to be having fun. OTOH, it’s not really fair to say “you take the kids for four hours so I can take a much-needed nap and then read a book, and later I’ll take the kids for two hours so you can read your book.”

    So how do you balance this all?

    1. Ranon*

      We lean towards equal amounts of fun time if possible, but also try to do a lot of things on your list with the kiddo around – if one person is doing a kid free chore the other does a kid friendly chore with the kiddo, PT can be done (if poorly, sometimes) with kids around or during bath time or another time that is naturally a one parent kid supervision time. Chores are highly structured in our house on a weekly cycle so everyone knows what needs to get done when and we’re all used to making time for each other to get it done.

      We also try to schedule solo time for the “easy” periods of kid watching- so my husband does his bike rides in the morning when my kiddo is still in puttering mode, I do my workouts in the evening after bedtime during the bedtime shenanigans “I need to use the potty” “I need a hug” etc. phase.

      And then we try to have some post bedtime time where the kids are asleep and we can both have simultaneous fun time

    2. Book Lover*

      I do the boring stuff with the kids. Changing filters, laundry, etc. then when I have me time it is for me.

    3. Parenthetically*

      The book Fair Play by Eve Rodsky deals with exactly this question — the bottom line is that every couple needs to divide things like child-caring and chores and self-care/free time in a way that feels equitable to them. I highly, highly recommend getting it and working through it with your spouse!

    4. RagingADHD*

      We sit down about once a week (or more frequently if something changes) and talk about logistics of what’s happening that week, who needs to be where, what’s going on with the kids, and what transportation etc, needs to be planned for. If one of us wants to start a new routine or go to a special event, we just talk about logistics.

      Honestly, it’s impossible to completely balance everything on a daily or weekly basis. You have to look at long-term trends and talk a lot about your needs and your feelings. Take care of each other, and put each other’s interests first.

      I’m sure there are a lot of people who are able to approach relationship equity in a transactional way, but it’s just entirely foreign to my way of thinking. What happens if one of you gets the flu, or throws your back out? Do you then “owe” a certain amount of time to your spouse to “pay back” the extra time they worked?

      Does vegetable gardening or sewing clothes count as “chores” or as “me time”? How about washing the car? Grocery shopping? Doing homework for a graduate class? If you had fun doing it, does that mean you “owe” the other person an extra hour?

      It also changes as your children get older. Spending time with the kids is less manual labor and more just part of life, you’re being a family together. Everyone is doing their chores. Everyone is hanging out reading. Or everyone is doing a bit of their own thing.

      You have to trust each other, that you have each other’s backs, and are each doing your best. If you feel like that’s not happening, that’s a larger conversation about what’s going on in the relationship. It’s not about time tracking.

    5. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I love Carolyn Hax’s answer to this: You give 100% and your spouse gives 100% and then you see where you are at. What I like about it is that it’s not about any given metric, e.g. time, but about the amount of effort you put in. That makes it flexible for any given week: Someone is sick? Someone is short tempered? Someone is well slept? Well, you give as much as you can. And then you don’t have to worry so much about how much sewing pants for the little one counts as free time and how much it counts as working for the family.

      On a practical level, we do generally aim for similar-ish amounts of free time, but we do NOT nickel and dime each other! Some weeks my spouse has more, and some I do, and that’s how things shake out. Sometimes I NEED more and sometimes he does, and that’s how things shake out. Or sometimes one WANTS more, and the other has capacity and it works out–or not, and then we deal.

      Basically, the only thing that worked for us was to have a talk about it, make a general plan and then try it out. Did one of us feel more drained than the other after a few days or a week or two weeks? Were there things that needed to be tweaked? Maybe thing X worked last week, but it wont work this week because ___. Just try stuff out and check in with each other regularly.

    6. Laura H.*

      I think my parents did pretty well but my mom was far more obvious with her Me time than Dad was (And it’s still this way). Also this is recalling from 8 and up- if yours are younger this obviously changes things…

      She’d clearly be reading or quilting or something like that. Dad seemed to have his time always combined with something that needed doing- dishes and car things prominently.

      But they made it work. Parenting doesn’t split evenly. It’s a team effort, just like your marriage (I’m presuming here that you’re married). And quantifying things and having that quantity mindset doesn’t seem like it would lead to good things.

      Communicate about this frequently at an interval that works for you both. Things change and activities add and drop sometimes. Good luck.

    7. Double A*

      I think this is so individual to each couple! A big variable is what feels more like a “chore:” childcare or doing chores. Sometimes when my husband takes the kid, I do chores even though it’s “me” time because it feels good to do the chore at whatever pace I want. But I also know I could be choosing to do something that was more totally “for” me. It also changes as the kids get older and you can do some chores while also watching them.

      Due to our varying work schedules, the pandemic, and how much a toddler changes week to week, we have yet to fall into a particular routine and really just adjust on the fly.

  28. Baby question anon*

    My husband and I are thinking about trying to have a baby in the next year or so, but I keep running in to the same mental block. I want to have a baby so bad that my arms sometimes physically hurt when I think about it. But at the same time, I’ve never understood why people say that the childfree are selfish, when to me, having a baby is the most selfish thing I could do with my life. The world doesn’t need more people in it, and environmentally, the occasional plane ride (which I already felt guilty about) isn’t even close to the cost of creating a whole new person. I’ll have less time for people who already exist in the world, my family and friends, less money to donate to charity, and less bandwidth for my work (I work in social services and could imagine taking some time out beyond maternity leave.)

    I don’t feel like I can fully talk about this with friends with kids because I’m basically calling them selfish. But I want to be selfish like that too! Did anyone else go through this thought process regarding kids?

    Also a note on fostering/adoption: We’re interested in doing this as well, but I also really, really want to have one biological child and have both experiences. Having a bio kid makes more sense to do first while I’m still relatively young.

    1. nep*

      The world doesn’t need fewer people as much as it needs more of those already here to be mindful and know the power of mindfulness and compassion.
      No particular advice–just to say that it’s not only in producing fewer people that we can make the world a better place for future generations.

    2. Amaliee*

      I’m childfree and plan on staying that way forever (have taken permanent steps in that direction.) I understand the whole thing about how having a child is bad for the environment and you will have less time and money for others.

      However the reason I’m not having any children is not because of climate change or because I would have less time and money for those already in my life (although helping the climate and having more time/money will just be a perk for me), the reason I’m not having kids is because I have no desire to have children. Literally I have no desire to have a kid and when I think of having a kid, I feel low key faint and or sick. I actually don’t feel this way when I consider adopting or fostering so for me it’s more like I have an adverse reaction to having a biological child hence why I took permanent action to make sure that will never happen in my life.

      I think if you want a child and your husband wants a child and you can afford to give a child a good life, you should have one. It’s your life, you only live once and it sounds like you would really like to be a parent. If you can do the things it takes to be a good parent, then go for it.

      I believe climate change is a huge issue but to be honest, you not having a child isn’t going to completely save the world. I think giant corporations, laws, and collective action overall needs to change if that makes sense.

    3. Llellayena*

      The view of childless being selfish is based on the child free being able to do what they want without planning around the needs of a child. The child free can go on vacations during the school year, go out in the evenings without a babysitter, pick up an move without worrying about school districts. Therefore child free is seen as more “me” oriented. You aren’t wired that way, which is fine! Your joy comes from providing for others (children) which society sees as selfLESS, rather than selfish. It’s just a difference in perspective.

    4. Ali G*

      Try re-framing it. The world doesn’t need just “less” children, the world needs less unwanted children. People who had kids when they didn’t want them/couldn’t properly take care of them are a bigger problem than you and your husband choosing to have one biological oh-so-wanted child. You have nothing to feel guilty about! Go raise a loved and wanted child!

    5. Asenath*

      I”m childless, and selfish/unselfish doesn’t come into it. For personal reasons, I never had children and never will. Neither my choice, nor the selfish/unselfish dichotomy has anything to do with your choice. I would suggest you reconsider “there world doesn’t need more people in it”. Unless the world is destroyed in the immediate future, there are going to be people in it long after you and I are dead. This will happen whether or not the world population increases, stabilizes or declines. If your child or children are among those people, they will have as much chance as you or I had to lead a decent and useful life helping others and the planet. Maybe they’ll have a better chance, depending on the changes that will occur during the next generation. That chance to contribute is beyond price. It’s not selfish to have children who, with any luck, will grow up to contribute to the world they live in.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        On some level, everything we do is selfish, in that altruism makes us feel better, and that’s a lot of why we do it. So what? There’s an old Jewish riddle: “Which is better: to give 10 shekels with a willing spirit, or to give 25 shekels grudgingly and with resentment?” The answer, which is usually not expected by first-time hearers, is “25 shekels buys more beans, and your feelings are not the point here.”

        So be selfish, so long as you’re not actually doing anyone damage! No one child, born to parents who can support them and will raise them to understand and do their part to repair the damage we’ve done our planet is going to be a significant problem to the world just by existing. Heck, your kid could be the one who grows up to figure out the science of how we can repair the climate after all. You don’t know.

        Don’t go crazy about it and have fifteen… but don’t beat yourself up because you’re doing with your life something you really want to do, and which you ultimately don’t know whether will be good or had for the world as a whole. That doesn’t help anyone.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          I’m sorry, Aesenath! I meant to link my response to the original question in the top level comment. Didn’t mean to be tacking it onto your answer — sorry to be confusing.

      2. Reba*

        I have never thought that “selfish/selfless” tracks onto the children decision at all… it is so complex — and also so fundamental a desire for some folks, like you Baby anon — that those terms just don’t even capture what is going on IMO.

        I hope you can completely banish them from your thinking about this!! (The idea that you are calling people selfish by talking to them about their lives is… absurd, although I see how you could get there when you are worrying this issue internally so much). I know it’s hard because both paths are so fraught with pressures and judgments and tradeoffs. And I hope you can find some friends to talk about the decision with, who don’t give you that blowback or the sense that you need to tread gingerly on this issue.

    6. fposte*

      I feel like this is buying into a contemporary binary that seeks to punish people–okay, let’s just call them “women”–whatever they do. What if neither direction was selfish or unselfish but just a life that you think will work for you?

      1. Dan*

        My personal take is that those who *really* push the notion that the child free are selfish are those with children who regret having them.

        Me? No kids, probably going to stay that way. And I couldn’t care less what other (responsible) adults do with their reproductive choices.

        Along those lines, if someone called *me* selfish for not having kids, I think I’d look at them funny and ask why my reproductive choices are of *any* concern to them at all. The reality is, though, I sympathize to some extent with the “selfish” argument. I grew up pretty broke as a kid, and realized at a young age that I wanted to spend my money on myself and give myself the life I didn’t have. So yes, wanting my money for myself is very much a selfish choice, but it’s never been clear to me why that’s anybody else’s business.

        1. Choggy*

          Totally agree, my husband and I are child-free by choice due to our own experiences. I have never, not once, ever thought about having a child of my own. My childhood was not that great (though not traumatic or anything), so I’m all about just taking care of myself (and hubby) now that I’m an adult. People can and will be judgmental about choices that differ from their own, I don’t let it bother me. I do hate the thought of people having kids due to external pressures and not their own true desires.

        2. fposte*

          And as noted upthread, both of them can be treated as selfish choices. I just think it’s a way to shore yourself up about your own life–it’s pretty rare for somebody to say “It was selfish of me to do A, so I think you should do B”; instead it’s “I did A, and people who do B are selfish.”

        3. Not So NewReader*

          I so agree with Dan that when people mention being selfish for not having children, I hear them as saying, “I had kids and, boy, do I regret it.”

          Their own unhappiness leaches through their accusations.

          I am childfree, first by choice then later confirmed by a doc that it just wasn’t going to happen anyway.

          I do see that childfree couples tend to find each other and hang out together. I tend to think this is because of how their lives are similar, they find they have things in common with each other. No different than parents finding things in common with fellow parents. We had a lot of childfree friends.

          Since I was that unwanted child, my heart goes out to the kids of that judgmental parent on a very knee-jerk level. I know the parent regrets their kid and I also know first hand that on some level the kid KNOWS. Kids pick up way more than some adults realize. But I can go the opposite way, I can be over the moon happy to see a parent enjoying their kid and doting on their kid. It really makes me smile. It’s so good to see that.

      2. RagingADHD*

        *Ding, ding, ding* we have a winnah!

        You feel stuck because you have let the bastards get inside your head. There is no right answer that will placate the pervasive irrational guilt that you are “doing it wrong.” You will always be doing it wrong, so screw it.

        Having the children you long for is a good thing.
        Not having children you don’t want is a good thing.
        Taking care of yourself is a good thing.
        Taking care of your children is a good thing.
        Taking care of others is a good thing.
        Taking care of the planet is a good thing.

        There is an abundance of good in the world. More than enough to go around. It’s not a zero-sum game.

        1. Pippa K*

          That last sentence…wow, that’s a very nice perspective. Easy to lose sight of that. I’m going to write it down.

    7. Cambridge Comma*

      Being childfree is a fine decision for an individual but an impossible for a society. Someone has to have children. Why not you? If you are worried about sustainability, do it thoughtfully, but it’s OK to want it and OK to do it.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Most decision making has a selfish basis to it, or should IMO – maybe I’m strange, but a key factor in most of my life decisions is “How will this further my goals for my own life?” And you know, if wanting my decisions to further my own happiness wrong, I don’t need to be right. :-P

    9. Mimosa Jones*

      You could argue that having a steep decline in population would actually be more harmful to the economy and environment than a more gradual decline. The baby boomers are still in the process of retiring and getting older and our economy depends on current workers to help fund things like social security and medicare. Countries with below replacement birth rates are really struggling and will continue to struggle to support their populations. You can always raise your family to respect the Earth and work towards living as environmentally sound a life as possible. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I also firmly believe that it is never selfish to bring a child in to the world who is loved and educated. Love is always a multiplier and your child/children will bring love and joy to you and your friends and family.

    10. anon 4 this*

      I feel this way too, and the main thing holding me back is simply that I need more career stability before I can really grapple with this up close, and am hoping to figure out how to add a new partner to the mix as well. (I love my job, but my line of work is very fast paced and so heavily based on travel that I’ve heard of a few people who basically live out of suitcases. Things are paused right now while no one goes anywhere, but they will start up again and keep being bananas.) I completely support the childfree people in my life, because everyone should make their own best decisions about kiddos, and I’m not interested in projecting my own desires onto anyone else. I really want children myself, though. I think about it all the time. Some part of my brain wonders why it hasn’t happened yet, and there’s a bit of a yearning.

      One thing that helps me is the idea that kids don’t have to be hard on the environment. 100,000 or 200,000 years of human history went by before we invented plastic and anthropogenic climate change, and that’s a lot of generations of lifestyles that had to be sustainable, because the alternatives didn’t exist (there was always the possibility of driving the local edible fish to extinction, or cutting down all the trees on the island or something, but none of that reaches the scale of modern problems). Whether we solve these issues is going to come down to science funding and international cooperation, not whether two particular people have a kid or not. (I mean, I understand, since – I hope – no one wants to leave a mutilated planet to the next generation. Still, while humans sometimes suck, we can also be remarkably resourceful, and the point of crisis didn’t happen before we came up with modern science and engineering and tools to disseminate awareness. My alma mater recently divested from fossil fuels – and as recently as three years ago they were being regressive on the environmental front, so I’m feeling a lot more encouraged than I was. [The turnover rate for the top job has been high. President Biomedical-Engineer came up with an excellent green plan, which President Business-Executive decided to kibosh. But now President Computer-Scientist is undoing the damage, thankfully.])

    11. Nita*

      It’s absolutely selfish! I’ve been a mom for almost 8 years. Now whatever happens in the world, I cannot drop everything and run to help. I’ve got to consider child care first. And since we have very little child care help (especially now), the world may be crushing and burning and I’m still here changing diapers and playing with toy trains. Do I ever feel selfish. But I also understand this need for being a parent – for me it felt like I was missing someone important in my life, and they were meant to be there, and I’d feel incomplete until I’d meet them.

    12. Summersun*

      As a childfree person who doesn’t GAF who thinks what, I encourage you to do whatever it takes to stop worrying about society’s opinions of your life. If you think you’re tied up in knots now, just wait until every decision you make as a mother is “wrong”.

    13. Nassan*

      I recently had a child and was thinking about this (along with the feminist questions of motherhood). Some random thoughts:
      1. I think we humans are inherently selfish. We wouldn’t survive otherwise. And we make choices like that all the time. Yes, having a child is a decision with more impact than a decision whether to buy a quick lunch (packaging!) because I’m really hungry vs. or which car to buy (diesel is cheaper in the long run but worse for the environment). And you cannot make a perfect decision when you don’t quantify everything you do over your lifespan (how many home cooked lunches for that diesel car) so at the end you weight how important something is to you vs. what’s the impact.
      2. Environmental impact cannot be fought individually. Yes, we should all do our best (and I do a lot to reduce, repair, reuse and recycle) but significant change can only come from governments.
      3. I also think having children is a selfish decision. You have them because you want them, not for any higher reason. But when I was thinking of having children I was weighting it against other selfish thoughts (more demands on my time, what if my child becomes a person I don’t like, how will this change my life, my free time). So in the end I didn’t make a decision that was less selfish, just the one that made more sense to me.
      Good luck!

    14. It's the almond milk*

      I have a child and I think it was a selfish decision! So I will not be offended if you want to discuss how self-centered I am. :)
      I don’t know if you’ve ever watched The Good Place, but (slight spoiler alert) the main characters discover that entry to The Good Place or The Bad Place is based on an impossible points system where every decision you make is weighted against you. For example, buying a t-shirt made in a sweatshop (i.e. any t-shirt from the mall) would net you negative points. To live by this set of rules is an impossible way to live a life (traps you into doing almost nothing at all) and the characters argue that it is fundamentally flawed and unfair. Maybe you would be able to do more net good if you lived a childless life and devoted yourself to acts of service. Maybe not having a child would prevent tons of carbon emissions from being released. But is not having a child the MOST effective thing you can do to better the planet? Maybe you can be a mom and still donate to charity and then teach your child why you do so. Maybe you can be a mom and volunteer and show your child why it’s important.

      Also, Your Happiness Matters. I mean, it’s not great if your happiness requires you to have a golden fountain in your home and a pet tiger, but this is a big decision that will have repercussions for the rest of your life. That probably doesn’t feel very helpful, but you really do have to make this decision for YOU (and your partner), not anyone else.

    15. Analyst Editor*

      This philosophy is fundamentally anti-life; maybe it’s a side effect of high civilization, I don’t know. If you need a reality check, ask anyone you know who is from another culture not raised in the West.

      Also, yeah it’s a clever word game. “Feels good” and “I want” does not mean something is evil and selfish. Saying so doesn’t make it so; it’s just word games. The environmental chart comparing a plane ride to a child is honestly bull. Who are you preserving the planet for, if everyone’s supposed to stop having kids? And who better to bring in kids – accidentally and unwantedly, or with lots of love and support?

      Bringing a loved, wanted child into the world is, in my opinion, an unalloyed *GOOD*. Not doing so isn’t BAD, but doing so is good. It’s hard work and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be drudgery unless you make it so, and all good things are costly. It’s such a fundamental human experience. It’s also how you perpetuate your values and morals into the future, which you probably believe are right. It’s hard for me to articulate this argument because it boggles my mind that it needs to be made.

      Finally, I see this ideology as a vicious cycle. People my age (30s) and younger aren’t around kids, they don’t know how to behave around them and aren’t used to them; so they don’t empathize with the needs of kids or parents in any aspect of public life, be it work or leisure; and – if they DO have kids – they pay a higher cost, because they don’t know how to do it without going completely nuts and sacrificing their entire outside lives. And the fact that their workplace, and friends, and other areas where they derive their identities, also have no idea how to accommodate kids, isolates them still further.

      So have your baby and enjoy them without guilt, or if you feel like you must atone, raise them to be honorable and upstanding and to do good in the world after you no longer can.

    16. Baby question anon*

      I just want to say I am so touched by all of your responses! I don’t know if you can tell, but I am definitely one to be hard on myself, so the kindness here is so appreciated.

      I think fposte and RagingADHD pinpointed the issues with this kind of thinking particularly well, and it’s true that this mindset is “anti-life” as one person put it, which pretty accurate does indeed reflect some of my guilt for existing. Also, I know I sound like a bundle of pure anxiety, but I am a pretty happy person in my day to day life! It’s just that having a child is such a huge decision that I’m finding it very easy to take certain principles, such as care for the environment, to a logical extreme, to the extent that maybe they don’t even reflect reality, if that makes sense?

      Anyway, thank you so much. There’s a lot to think about and I appreciate the lovely thoughtfulness of these comments.

      1. Analyst Editor*

        Hey! I made the “anti-life” comment.
        I think it’s great that you have the perspective to see where what seems like a sound principle can be taken to the extreme (at which it may no longer be accurate). At some point you gotta take the plunge; there’s no time when it’s “perfect” to have a baby, and waiting too long makes it harder later, not least because the opportunity costs kind of pile up, plus all the biological clock stuff.

        Maybe one thing you can do is, you can take a “man proposes, God disposes” approach. Don’t use birth control, just do it when you feel like it, and if it happens, it happens – but don’t be in the mindset of We Are Now Trying. :D

    17. Incessant Owlbears*

      The only way we will be able to mitigate climate change is by creating smart, passionate, motivated children. I find it very troubling that there’s a persistent narrative that humans are guilty and irredeemable and we should all just cease to exist! I think humans bring value to the world by serving as the consciousness of the universe. At our best, we do amazing things. The solution to anthropogenic climate change is not for smart, caring people to just give up and leave the world stranded without a new generation to fix things.

  29. Overeducated*

    Yes. I have two kids. I’ve thought about this. I guess i just accept that I made two selfish decisions, which maybe reflects that altruism has not been my driving motive in all my major life choices. I’d be up for another but stopping here is a compromise.

  30. beancat*

    Crunch time thread! Do you have any projects with hard deadlines that are scaring you? How are they going?

    I’m almost completely done sketching my manga! I’ve been jumping back and forth between sketching new pages and finishing older ones when I got stuck so as not to risk losing interest in one aspect or another. My deadline is September 1st and I THINK I’m going to make it…but whooooof is that date scary right now!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have a goal to complete two specific professional certification exams before the end of this year. I just took the first one this morning (fingers crossed but I’m feeling pretty good, 7-10 business days for the results :-P ), and now I have to get studying for the second. :)

    2. Square Root of Minus One*

      Scaring seems too big a word, but I’d like to submit a lyric for a songwriting competition, I have until September 30 and I’m not sure I’ll make it. There are still a few lines that don’t sound right. The thing is, forcing writing leads to lame rhymes, unnatural turns of phrase, and generally mediocre texts. So I need to let it simmer a bit.
      I don’t expect anything of the competition, but if a good result could motivate me to pick up songwriting in earnest again, I’d welcome it.

      1. beancat*

        I know what you mean about forcing writing, at least from a fiction perspective. I’ve never done songwriting but I can absolutely see forcing it being a problem. But hey, good luck regardless! I hope it sparks what you’d like it to :)

        1. Square Root of Minus One*

          Thank you! As a writer you’re getting it I’m sure ;)
          I’m sure you’ll make your deadline as well. Good luck.

  31. MechanicalPencil*

    Health question.

    I’m in my thirties and am wondering if I’m at the start of arthritis. It runs in my family, and my grandmother had RA quite severely that started around this same age.

    I don’t even know where to start with the doctor thing. This could just be normal aging, but given family history I’m afraid it isn’t. My research into RA and osteoarthritis seem like those are quite likely. Any guidance? Things I can do in the meantime?

    1. Anxious cat servant*

      Talk to your doctor but also look into if it can be food related. I get arthritic if I eat too much wheat and sugar. Also, if it’s only in the larger joints, see if a week of stretching helps. I’m still a bit salty from being told my knee was “just arthritis” and sent home with instructions to take Motrin when it turned out all I needed was to stretch it more.

    2. Lena Clare*

      See your doctor first, and exercise. Especially non weight-bearing like swimming (when the pools open) or stretching and strengthening like Pilates or yoga. Walking is also great.
      If you’re overweight, losing weight can help ease the pressure on joints. This is something I find hard because when my joints hurt I can’t exercise as much, and I put weight on. Plus right now I can’t swim, which is so hard because it’s really the only thing I like.
      I agree with checking your diet out too. Different things work for different people. I do well with minimal processed foods, low sugar, no caffeine, no dairy, and lots of veg except for tomatoes and potatoes which don’t agree with me.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Reducing inflammation is always helpful: natural, minimally processed foods. Reduced sugar and salt. Lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Regular moderate exercise. Lots and lots of water. Good sleep.

      Make sure your feet are well-supported and your shoes aren’t worn out. I’ve had knee, hip, and back problems that all wound up coming from bad or worn-out shoes. Check your posture and ergonomics. Your joints can become chronically inflamed from repetitive strain that is invisible to you, because it’s posture rather than a specific activity.

      Actively manage your stress (diet, exercise, water, sleep, emotional support, mindfulness). Stress can trigger an inflammatory response or even increase an autoimmune response if you have something autoimmune going on.

      After my mom was in hospice, I had terrible pain and was given a preliminary diagnosis of potential RA because I had the blood markers for it. My doctor put me on a very strict physical regimen and ordered me into therapy. In six months, my bloodwork was clear. It was stress exacerbating my (relatively minor) autoimmune disease, and it had started attacking me systemically.

      I hope everything turns out well for you, and you’re feeling better soon.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have a similar experience. I had minor arthritis pain in stupid places like my toe. I cut out the sugar, I measure out my water and drink that amount every day and the pain went waaay down. I was upset because I was pretty young for this crap. But once I found ways to fight back that were effective, the upset went down.

    4. Dr. Anonymous*

      Start with your primary care doctor, and track your symptoms closely. Look for redness, swelling, whether pain is worse with activity, worse with rest, if there’s morning stiffness, if the pain wakes you at night, what makes it better or worse. For pain that comes and goes, there’s a lot of value in a good history of the illness.

    5. StrikingFalcon*

      Go see your doctor. Tell them about your family history and symptoms. Be specific about: which joints, what time of day is better/worse, does exercise help, does stretching help, and do your joints ever get swollen or red or warm to the touch. The more specific you can be about how much it hurts (is it just a bit achey, does it keep you from doing anything) the better. The rheumatic diseases can cluster in families, so your doctor should also ask you about rashes and whether you have any digestive symptoms. They can run bloodwork and do scans also. If your primary doesn’t give you a thorough screening, consider seeing a rheumatologist.

  32. Red Sky*

    Any Tripod cat owners here? I have a 6 month old foster kitty who is scheduled to have her left hind leg removed tomorrow due to an injury that occurred pre-foster. I’ve done some online research but am hoping to hear from anyone who has experience caring for a tripod cat with back leg amputation both post surgery and longer term. I know she’ll need to be confined for a while and wear a cone for 10-14 days (which I’m dreading because she’s super feisty and she hates it).

    I’m making some carpeted ramps for her to access furniture and windows. I’m also getting/making a litter box with a low entrance and higher sides in case she’s wobbly while going. I’ve got rugs in the room she’ll be recovering in and am raising her food and water dishes up a few inches.

    She also has a little buddy, 3 month old foster kitten who needs socialization, and I’m wondering if I need to keep them separated. I’ll ask the vet tomorrow, but the little kitten is very reassured by bigger juvenile kitten, so I’m hoping they can be in the same room together.

    Oh, and she’s also getting spayed at the same time as the amputation. Anything else I’m missing?

    1. TR*

      I have one who is about 10 years old. We adopted her that way, so didn’t have to deal with the immediate post-op needs. She has needed essentially no accommodations. She is also tiny (5 lb full grown), but she can get on almost everything the other cats do and run just as fast. We joke that if she had all her legs, we wouldn’t be able to keep her out of anything :) I really wouldn’t worry about the height of the litter box.

      Sometimes she does need extra help with ear/face scratches though. You can see her trying to use the missing leg, and then you get in there with some really good scratches. Very important.

      1. TripodOwner*

        We joke that our tripod would be unstoppable in his quest for world domination if he had four legs!

      2. Red Sky*

        Ha! She luuuvvs when I clean her left ear since she can’t use her left back paw to scratch in there anymore.

    2. Senor Montoya*

      We got a trey as a kitten — he’d already been healed up when we adopted. We have done exactly zero to help him get around (no ramps for instance, most of the house is wooden floors). He’s very capable of getting into and onto most everything –stairs, chairs, beds, bookshelves, window ledges. He can’t get up onto the kitchen table or kitchen counters, but that’s a feature not a bug hahaha. (He’s 12 years old now and still very active, can take down and chomp on the four-legged cat unless she gets onto the kitchen counter…)

      The vet did encourage us to keep a good eye on his weight since that back leg will work harder and could get painful if he gets chunky. Go easy on the treats…

      1. Red Sky*

        I’ve heard that the recovery is the hardest part, but once they’re healed and up and about it’s pretty much cat business as usual.

    3. TripodOwner*

      I adopted a cat ~1 month after a front-leg amputation that was performed at about the same age as yours. He never needed any kind of assistance jumping onto/off things, and I even found him on top of the refrigerator (which involved a 3-4 ft diagonal jump from a counter) within my first week of having him. The physical impact is most noticeable when he is walking slowly, because his head sort of dips down with each step. This was most extreme when I first got him, and over time his other front leg has become very strong (he’s 11 now and can truly pull things out of your hands with it, even when you brace for it). The long-term concern is managing his weight, along with the potential for arthritis, as they may be prone to arthritis in their remaining joints which can be exacerbated by being overweight.

      1. Red Sky*

        Omg, the refrigerator, dang! It’s really good to hear that he got back to normal so fast at that age. This particular foster cat is very sassy and rambunctious, even with the bad leg, so I’m hopeful she bounces back quickly.

    4. Four-legged fosterer*

      A friend fostered a cat who was like yours: prior injury, back leg amputated, older kitten. The cat was totally fine! They adapt quickly. My friend was new to fostering and found it was straightforward. You can get a soft cone which makes a big difference as they don’t get it caught on things.

      The only new problem was that the cat is long-fur and needs the bum shaved as otherwise he sits a bit too low when he poops and can get bits stuck. But it’s not an issue when the longest fur is shaved off, so would be fine with a short-haired cat.

      1. Red Sky*

        Fortunately, she’s a short-haired ginger, so hopefully there’ll be no shaving of the bum necessary. I looked at the soft cone/donuts on amazon and have one coming tomorrow, thanks for the rec!

        1. Tripod Companion*

          I adopted my tripod immediately after her back leg amputation at eight weeks old. She was struck by a truck, and the driver dropped her off at my vet-friend’s clinic to be euthanized (!), which my vet-friend refused to do. Instead, he amputated her leg at the hip and encouraged me to take her home. She didn’t miss a beat. She never needed a cone, but took a one-week course of liquid antibiotics to prevent infection. She was running around at full speed two days later, acting just like any kitten would. Five years later, she’s still a feisty, active cat. I give her portioned meals to keep her weight in check, and she gets a daily glucosamine supplement to avoid arthritis, which my vet recommended she start when she was three years old. I forget she’s missing a leg most of the time, except when her ear itches. She bends herself into the most adorable comma trying to scratch it with her phantom limb. All I have to do is put my hand down and make skritching motions and she’ll line up the spot that itches with my fingers!

    5. Inefficient Cat Herder*

      We have a 17 year old tripod. Until hip arthritis started slowing her down a couple of years ago not much did! She always would come over to the sofa to cry to be picked up, yet somehow when I got home from work she would always be sleeping on the back of the sofa. Guess the house fairies must’ve lifted her up :D.

      Kitty will be more prone to arthritis so you will have to keep her slim.

  33. D3*

    Where do you keep the AC set in the summer?
    How about the furnace in winter?

    My preference is AC at 75 in the summer, furnace at 68 in winter.
    My husband wants the AC at 83 all summer! Usually we compromise at 78 but my poor menopausal self cannot handle it this year, so we are having constant battles with the thermostat. We both have the Nest app on our phones, so it’s a quiet, unspoken tug of war.
    (He also wants the furnace at 62 in the winter. Finances are not a concern, he just doesn’t like using it much.)

    1. NerdyPrettyThings*

      This made me laugh because we used to compromise on 78 in summer, and I was the one who wanted it higher. Then came menopause, and I jumped on the 72 train with my husband! In winter, we keep it on 68.

    2. Ranon*

      78 day (with ceiling fans), 74 at night for cooling

      64 day/ 60 night for heating

      I like to be able to go in & out in the summer without an AC headache and in & out in the winter without having to put on many layers besides a coat so this keeps us as close to the outside temp as is still reasonably comfortable inside

    3. Deschain*

      71 during day, 69 at night for ac. 68 during day, 65 at night for heat. But I’m in VA, so maybe that matters? I need to be cool when I’m inside.

      1. CJM*

        I’m in Michigan, and that’s about where we keep our settings too. If I’m sitting in one place for a while, I try to tweak my immediate area rather than the thermostat (by running a tabletop fan toward my face if I’m warm or bundling up if I’m cold).

    4. Stephanie*

      Oh, boy. I could absolutely not stand it if the AC were set at 83. Even 75 is too warm for me.
      My family all prefers much cooler temps, so we’re all on the same page. We keep the AC on 72 during the day, 69 at night (my son would actually set it lower than that–like, 66–if we’d let him). Heat is usually set at about 68.
      I’m chuckling a bit picturing your temperature tug of war.

    5. Enough*

      I always find this argument funny. My husband and I also like different temps but we’re talking only a degree or two. We generally keep the temperature at 70 all year long.

    6. ThatGirl*

      76 during the day, 72 at night. I like it cooler. I can’t imagine 83, 78 is usually considered the upper threshold for sleeping comfortably. Is your husband actually comfortable at those temps or is he just a cheapskate? My husband back in grad school had this idea that he should never use his AC, because his parents were paying his bills and I had to convince him it was ok to use it and sleep decently.

    7. Alex*

      I’m with your husband–I don’t like conditioned air, either heated or cooled. I try to minimize use of the heat in the winter, even though I’m cold, because it makes the air so dry and I find it uncomfortable. I don’t even have an AC so that’s not an issue.

    8. Parenthetically*

      83?! I would be an absolute puddle — not just because of the temperature, but because the AC dries the air out and it would be a CLOUD of humidity in here.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Oh, and we keep ours on 72 day/65 night in the summer and 68 day/off at night in the winter — we live in a third floor condo and AC and heat are included so we could keep the AC at 60 if we wanted. We both tend to run a little warm and I HATE sweating.

      2. J. f.*

        We tried it once and everything in the basement grew green mold. It took a week to clean up.

    9. No Tribble At All*

      Oh my god, even 75 is warm for me, and the only way I cope is by having a fan going constantly. I think we do about 68 winter / 74 summer. I’d like it to be 72 because I like to be snuggled up with blankets, but my spouse’s desk is right under the vent. He’d prefer 83 all summer too! What a monster.

    10. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      For AC, it’s set for 76 and if my menopausal self gets hot, I’ll turn it down to 74. Luckily my husband doesn’t think it’s too cold – but if he did, I still think me managing the hot flashes would take priority. He can always put on more clothes – I can’t take any more off.

    11. BRR*

      76 for ac (77 now because it’s been a heat wave and we’re trying to save on the bill a bit) and 68 or 69 for heat.

      Does your husband not run hot or cold? 63 and 83 are far outside the norm and it’s genuinely surprising he’s on with two temps so far apart.

      1. D3*

        It’s not so much that he is comfortable at those temps as it is he can tough it out at those temps, if that makes sense. I’d rather be comfortable.

    12. Esmeralda*

      OMG, same here!

      I pointed out that he can put on a shirt with sleeves to stay comfortable if it’s set at 76 during the day, whereas I can only sweat and stick to the furniture when it’s 78 or higher.

      Also, I’m in a bad mood when I;m that hot and uncomfortable, I’m not happy with the person who made me that hot and uncomfortable, and I don’t want to have anything (anything, wink wink nudge nudge say no more) to do with that person. So if I’m home, the thermostat is at 76 during the day.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My Nest lets me set a range – most of the time it’s set to stay between 68 and 75. When my husband is at work, the top of the range bumps up to 78 (housemate and I are both cold blooded). If the temp drops below that range the heat kicks on, if it rises above the a/c does. Very handy for those midwestern spring and fall days when you’d otherwise be switching between heat and AC for weeks on end :)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I actually got the Nest in part because I was tired of my husband turning the manual thermostat down to 65 in the summer without telling anyone, then disappearing off to work for the day and leaving it there so housemate and I were both bundling up in blankets and running space heaters because we didn’t realize he’d dropped it so low. We agreed on an acceptable range and I told him if I caught him changing it out of that range without discussion then I was going to put a passcode on and lock him out :-P

      2. D3*

        Yes, we have this too, and I realize that. It’s not so much a range as two points, one for AC (the higher one) and one for the furnace (lower one) I’m just talking about the two different points. The higher point is where it turns on the AC and the lower point is the furnace.
        We’ve been 90+ for months and months so the lower point hasn’t come into play for ages.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Sorry, I didn’t catch that you had a Nest when I first read your original post — every other thermostat I’ve had, you had to manually flip it from heating mode to cooling mode, regardless of what temperature it was set at. :)

    14. Capsicum*

      Haha! I was recently talking with some coworkers about this. They were astonished that we keep the A/C at 80 in the summer (turning it down to 77 at night, if we remember). Honestly, we mostly run the A/C to keep the humidity down and for the air filtering benefits more than for the temperature – we have fans and good windows/insulation. The one thing I am enjoying about this work-from-home summer is that I have never ONCE been freezing cold sitting at my desk!!!

    15. Chaordic One*

      As I’ve gotten older I seem to be turning into one of those people who is usually cold. I tend to be a pretty sedentary person. During the summer I have the air set at 80 which is just a bit warm but I’m usually wearing something sleeveless and have bare legs. If I have to do something more physically active such as some heavy duty cleaning that might last for more than half an hour or so, I’ll turn the air down to 78 or even 76.

      During the winter I usually have the heat set at 75 and I’m usually wearing long sleeves and have my legs covered (long pants). Again, I’ll turn the thermostat down if I’m doing something that’s physically active and that cause me to feel warm.

      Before I started working from home I was one of those people who complained about my cold office, but I’m finding that when I’m sitting at my desk, either at home or at work, my feet get terribly cold in the morning no matter where I am. It’s like clockwork. I think it’s probably more of a circulation problem than anything else as it doesn’t not seem to be related to the room’s temperature. At home I have a small space heater under my desk that I actually use. (It’s the one I bought for work, but had to bring home because they’re no longer allowed. Fire risk.)

    16. Buni*

      Nothing helpful to add except that this whole discussion is making me weep. I’m in London, I don’t have AC, nobody has AC, our houses are *specifically designed* to keep the heat IN, and this whole week it’s going to be in the 90s (with the humidity mostly over 50%). It is…85 in my flat rn; I’m living vicariously through all your discussions.

      So not that it’s relevant outside of Winter, but my heating is set at 62.

    17. fhqwhgads*

      77 in the day (with ceiling fans)
      75 overnight

      That said, if we’re feeling super hot during the day, we’ll turn it down temporarily. The above are what it’s scheduled to do.

    18. Anonymous for this*

      I have Raynaud’s phenomenon, and am cold all the time.

      AC on only if it’s above 95.
      Furnace at 75 or 80 in the winter (if I leave it at 70, even if I wear a lot of warm clothing, I’m miserable).

      It’s 81 degrees both inside and out here right now, and I’m thinking of putting on another layer.

      I’ve never been to Arizona, but keep wondering if I should move there.

      1. ...*

        You probably should actually! Except that all the indoor buildings are FREEZING with AC. I mean shaking with a sweater on freezing. But you’d be comfy outside and in your house!

    19. ...*

      76-78 daytime summer AC
      72-74 nighttime summer AC

      I could not do 83. I could do 80 probably but that would be my max. Winter honestly I hate being cold and our bill seems to be the same no matter what so I keep it at 70.

    20. lapgiraffe*

      Just to skew the numbers, reporting from my meat locker:

      66 in summer, central air, heaven

      60-64 in winter, often I’ll turn it down to 58 while I’m out during the day cause I’m cheap. But I do have radiators so it gets warmer than the thermostat says when they heat up

      1. BeadsNotBees*

        I’m glad I’m not the only one looking at these numbers and getting sweaty! In the Summer we keep it 65-70 and it rarely goes above 65 in the winter (I may get wild and bump it up to 67 or so for a few minutes if I get a chill)

      2. Deanna Troi*

        We like it cold too! In the summer we have it at 69 during the day and 66 when we go to bed.

        In the winter, 61 during the day and 58 at night.

        Truthfully, I would not have married or even seriously dated someone who preferred it much warmer than I do. I can’t stand to be hot.

    21. Dr. Anonymous*

      My take on this is that menopause blows and I would tell him he’s absolutely right (whatever “right” means) about the intrinsic moral value of whatever number he wants but I just can’t stand to be that hot so he has to deal. I hate hot flashes and being hot seems to set them off.

      I have this clear memory of my mother having hot flashes and my dad getting up from whatever he was doing to get a rather large fan and plug it in wherever she was to supplement the air conditioning (which was on 72-75) because he didn’t want his wife to be uncomfortable.* It sounds like your husband doesn’t really mind making you pretty physically uncomfortable as long as the compressor doesn’t go on so much or the thermostat is on the number he likes, and I would just want to ask him if that’s how it sounds to him and if that’s how he really wants things to be. It may be he thinks if you just put your mind to it you’ll be fine with the temperature because HE is, and it sounds like you really already gave that the old college try.

      *Just adding my mom did not treat my dad like her personal servant and they were both kind to each other; this was just a nice thing he did.

      1. Reba*

        This is so sweet!

        People often dig their heels in on something or other and I think this reframe can be so helpful — don’t you want your person to feel better? (For some people the answer is no, which is really sad.)

        In this case, I wonder if the husband’s apparent uncaring is compounded by an unexamined belief that women’s pain and discomfort isn’t real, or that women exaggerate things, whatever she says you should downgrade it a couple levels in seriousness. This is common.

        D3, the image of the two of you moving the dials on your phones in furious silence is making me smile. I hope you work out a compromise.

    22. valentine*

      My husband wants the AC at 83 all summer!
      Nobody is stopping him from living outdoors!

      Usually we compromise at 78 but my poor menopausal self cannot handle it this year, so we are having constant battles with the thermostat.
      He should be supporting you on this. Would you consider living separately? You’re not only not environmentally compatible, but he’s happy to deny you a physical, medical need.

    23. PseudoMona*

      The bedroom AC window unit is set at 76, unless it’s been an extended streak of unbearable high temperature/humidity, then I bump it down to 75 or 74. Thr choose temperatures are a function of me not wanting a high eletric bill.

      The heat is set to whatever my landlord chooses. I live in an older apartment building with old radiators and I have no control over the boiler. Sometimes it’s 65, sometimes it’s 85. I usually can keep it around 70 by regulating the radiators and cracking a window.

    24. Thankful for AAM*

      South florida here, we keep it on 78 or 79 year round.
      I did not have menopause symptoms but if I had, I’d be sorting it out with him that this is temporary and for this period of time, I need to be driving this bc I cannot get comfortable any other way. He can put on a sweater!

  34. NerdyPrettyThings*

    This is a weird time to become an empty nester. With a lack of other things to fill my time, I’ve decided to take up the violin. I bought a full sized beginner’s instrument at a music store’s closing sale :( and found a YouTube series of lessons for beginners. Any advice from later-in-life musicians out there? I already know how to read music, can play piano (mostly by ear), and played trombone twenty-ish years ago.

    1. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I’m not a later in life musician, but I play in a group full of them and they’re awesome. I also started with the piano (and clarinet) before taking up the violin. Because of that, I think in piano, and play by ear which means when I’m playing a tricky phrase for the first time I’ll take it to the piano to get the sound and rhythm right before playing it on the violin. Your biggest challenge is going to be intonation, but having played the piano, you’ll better understand what in tune sounds like. Choose music that makes you happy and makes you want to practice. Also, you’re going to sound like a cat with its tail caught under a rocking chair for a while…embrace it. You’ll get better pretty quickly.

      1. NerdyPrettyThings*

        Thanks, that is excellent advice! And the fact that you play with others like me makes me feel less silly for doing this.

      1. NerdyPrettyThings*

        Ha! It’s not really ambition, just an attempt to find something to do with my free time/mind so I don’t go completely crazy with anxiety.

    2. NeonFireworks*

      Fantastic! I played piano and violin/viola for years. I was only ever an amateur and haven’t gone back to it in a long time so I might be making this up, but here goes.

      Enjoying it is way more important than some imagined idea of perfection.

      You may need to experiment with different kinds of shoulder-rests (between the bottom of the instrument and your left collarbone), depending on what feels comfortable and how long your neck is. :)

      Bowing technique is something that even professionals struggle with or may decide to overhaul. Lots of patience here. This is offhand, but I’d say keeping the bow parallel to the bridge and not letting things get too tense in your right wrist/arm/shoulder are the most important things.

      It takes a while to get a feel for exactly where the notes are on the fingerboard, especially since you never have to worry about that on the piano (unless your piano is ridiculously out of tune, but never mind). That’s okay! Practicing makes a lot of it unconscious.

      Re-rosin-ing the bow regularly helps it grip the string. At least once a week if you’re practicing a lot. If a gazillion horsehairs have fallen off it, get it re-strung by a professional.

      I found that my wrist and forearm muscles actually changed shape to the point of being visually noticeable. Don’t be alarmed if that happens. They’re getting some good use.

      There are a lot of possibilities in terms of techniques that deviate from the baseline, and some of them are advanced/unnecessary. I learned pizzicato pretty early, but didn’t even think about trying to do vibrato for about four years after I started (mind you, that might be more period appropriate for Baroque music). Shifting, tremolo, trills, double stops and that kind of thing took me even longer. I’d say build a foundation of the basics until they’re second nature, and more advanced techniques can all depend on what you want to play.

      And once possible given current conditions, I encourage you to look for community orchestras in your area! They can be really warm and welcoming even to newcomers.

    3. Anony-Mouse*

      I found stickers for the fingers/notes helpful when learning. You can put thin strips across the neck. Eventually you will pick up the intonation (piano will help) and gain muscle memory and not need them anymore.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      Congratulations! If you’ve already played another instrument, you’ve already got a big advantage for learning something new.

      I play two instruments that I had abandoned for years. With being home so much these days, I was motivated to pick them back up again and dusted them off–literally, they were stored in cases under my bed for years–and I’m loving it. One is the mountain dulcimer that I was accomplished at, and I was pleased that it all started coming back to me.

      My other instrument is the banjo and I was self-taught and a perpetual beginner. So I decided to learn for real how to play now. I found an actual class online, a place that typically offered them in person previously. It turns out that the teacher lives in a reasonable driving distance, so in addition to the online class, I went for a lesson in person. We sat outside about 10 feet apart and it was great.

      The other thing I’ve discovered is that this is the season for music festivals that offer workshops, at least for the instruments that I play, and a whole bunch are being offered online and they’re really affordable. For example, I’m learning how to play the blues on mountain dulcimer–an instrument for which that is not a tradition. I just googled “violin festivals classes” and it looks like there might be something out there for violin.

      Have fun!

  35. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Anyone have their favorite hacks (or websites did such) for microwave/frozen meals? With the exception of one particular one that I love and can/will not replicate, I avoid most of them as “I can make that myself”. Except I’ve no time/energy to do more than microwave now. I eat veg/non veg just no pork and avoid beef.

    1. Lena Clare*

      If buying ready made, chuck in a handful of frozen veg when heating up, which helps reduce overall sodium content by increasing potassium.
      When cooking yourself, cook extra and freeze for your own ready meal later on.
      Cook big portions of rice and veg and freeze in bags. Ditto pulses.
      I save old plastic tubs for for freezing purposes.
      Freeze leftover wine in ice cubes to add to sauces and soups for extra flavour.

    2. Lady Heather*

      Microwave food in a donut shape; that way it heats more evenly as there is no middle that stays cold

      When you do cook, make extra large portions so you can freeze a part. Freeze in bags and use the malleability of the bag to your advantage: you can make the donut shape in the bag, or you can press a + sign (it doesn’t hold for all foods) so that you have four portions that you can break off easily depending on how hungry you are.

      I’m a big fan of frozen veggies. The ‘twelve Italian veggies with basil perfect for pasta!’ boxes can be on the pricy side (and often have salt added), but the ‘green beans and more green beans’ are about the same price as fresh, or cheaper if the veggie isn’t in season.

    3. Altair*

      Cook a large batch and refrigerate/freeze it in individual portions. Then you can microwave them as needed. Also, cook things that mix up quickly and spend a bunch of time cooking without supervision, since you don’t have much free time for cooking right now.

      Some recipes I’ve made both in the past and recently:

      turkey or chicken meatloaf (cooks without supervision, can be sliced and individually wrapped)

      chicken pot pie filling without the crust (it’s basically a light stew and can be put away in pint containers)

      beans and rice with salsa (cooks without supervision, can be put away in pint containers)

      Creole-style red beans and rice (cooks without supervision, etc)

      Macaroni and cheese (put in pint containers with chopped frozen broccoli underneath, for a complete meal once microwaved)

      Good luck!

    4. Anony-Mouse*

      I did pasta, frozen peas and broccoli, and frozen lean turkey meatballs the other day. Microwaved the pasta first in a big bowl of water. Tossed the veg into the bowl during the last few minutes of cooking time and added a lid for those last few minutes. The meatballs only needed a minute so I microwaved them on a plate by themselves afterwards.
      I tried cooking it on the stove today and it was so boring standing there having to stir constantly lest the pasta stick to the bottom and I felt had to be more careful about when to add the broccoli and peas.

  36. Confused Single Mom*

    Hey everyone! I am just starting to date again after my divorce last year and met up with the first guy yesterday for a socially distanced walk. He seems really nice, has a steady job and lives a quiet life. He’s happy to take it slow which is perfect for me. But he’s 36 and has always lived at his parents house. His reason is that he didn’t want to spend the money to move out even though he has had good jobs and saved plenty of money. He’s also never been in a relationship and admits that it’s just never really happened. How big of a red flag are these issues? I’m torn between understanding and giving it a try and thinking it’s pretty weird. I’m not sure I’m interested in developing a relationship with someone who has never lived on their own and admittedly doesn’t have friends or any ex’s, but I don’t want to miss out on a good guy even if he’s a bit quirky.

    1. CoffeeforLife*

      Living with family isn’t uncommon in a lot of cultures so I would examine his relationships with his family and their boundaries before seeing that as a red flag.

    2. Anon for this*

      Why not just see how it goes? Those could be major red flags or just weird quirks but there is is no way to know without getting to know him better.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Why don’t you hang out with him a few more times for some low-key dates? You’ll probably have a better sense of whether he’s just quirky or really neurotic after you spend a bit more time with him.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I wouldn’t necessarily consider those red flags. I think of red flags as being things that indicate he’s a potential abusive partner. That said, even if everything works out, those two things would most probably be challenges in your relationship to work through. Someone who’s never been in a relationship won’t have learned from those failed relationships, so will have to learn those basic things in your relationship. And if he’s always lived in his parents’ house, he may need to learn living-on-your-own stuff potentially with you.

      That said, this may seem super judgmental, but until 36 seems a really long time to be living at home just to save money. I mean, maybe one of his parents has chronic illness that costs a lot of money or had a ton of gambling debt the whole family needed to bail that parent out of? Just to save money, you could stay there until 28 and save plenty of money under “ordinary” circumstances.

      1. Myrin*

        I mean, he could also just have a good relationship with his parents and like living with them and use the “save money” thing as an excuse that sounds “cooler”; I don’t know how to phrase that better but I’ve met several people who somehow think it comes across as childish to genuinely like your parents and enjoy their company (although 36 almost seem a bit too old for that kind of mindset already).

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I guess I just don’t see “I enjoy my parents’ company” to necessarily mean the same thing as “I’m going to live with them for 36 years.

          1. Confused Single Mom*

            This is where I’m at. I love my mom, she and I get along fantastically and I lived with her while going to college for a few years, but never moving out? That’s giving me a weird vibe. He will supposedly be moving into a family home that his family is remodeling, but he’s making no effort to pack up his things and move even though the place is done minus a bit of paint. I have a 3 year old so we are definitely a long ways away from moving in together!

          2. Myrin*

            I totally see your point, but I also guess that this depends a lot on culture and, maybe even more so, personality. It’s not strange at all in my subculture to live with your parent(s) even as adults and I actually know many couples who live with one partner’s parent(s), but it’s also not the norm. It’s more like an inbetween where neither is socially expected and whether you do it or not depends in a not insignificant part on how well you get along with your parents, so that might be where my perspective comes from.

            (As for “personality”, I’m 29 and live with my mum and sister. I definitely consider them the people closest to me and while there is a financial factor – I definitely don’t make enough money to be living on my own, and neither does my mum – I could’ve gone and lived with non-related roommates, but I chose my family because we have a fantastic relationship and enjoy living together. The thing is, though, that while we are my mum’s children, we aren’t her kids, if that makes sense – my sister works a lot and earns the household’s lion’s share while I do 80% of the housework, 95% of the cooking, and handle most financial stuff. (And as a minor point, I’m asexual so I have no interest in a romantic relationship in any case.) All three of us like it that way and I don’t think there’s anything wrong or weird about that. But it could be uncomfortable if we had a more “childlike” relationship with our mum, where instead of three adults living together it’s one mother and her kids.

            So I definitely think that that’s the more important angle to consider, not the objective fact of “living together” but rather what exactly this “living together” looks like. And, of course, CSM can always decide to not take things further anyway if she gets an uncomfortable or weird vibe from this guy, no matter what things look like on paper! You definitely don’t need a “rational” explanation if you’re not feeling it!)

        2. ...*

          Well I love my parents a ton and enjoy spending time with them, but I’m 30 and employed so I don’t live with them.

          1. Myrin*

            And I would say that there’s no “so” relation between the two. There can be – and maybe even is for the majority in that situation at least in many western countries; I’d love to read statistics on that -, but there doesn’t have to be.

      2. Colette*

        I think it depends what relationship he has with his parents, since he lives at home. Does he cook? Clean? Do laundry? Pay bills? Maintain things around the house (unasked)? I’m other words, is he acting like he’s an adult, or like he’s a kid whose parents take care of him?

    5. T*

      Although I don’t live with my parents, I am in my early 30s and have never been in a relationship; I know I’m unusual, but it makes me so scared to date because I know there are a lot of people who will think there’s something wrong with me. He was a lot braver than me to tell you that upfront, so I hope you’ll take that into consideration.

      1. Confused Single Mom*

        I do appreciate his honesty and told him as much. I think it’s just throwing me because our conversations via text started out really balanced and fun but have felt kinda awkward as time has gone on. I’m just not sure how much is his lack of history with women or if it’s just how he is. I don’t think something is wrong with him at all!

        1. Generic Name*

          Honestly, the fun to awkward trajectory of your texts is more concerning to me than who he lives with. You may decide that you’re okay with being in a relationship with an awkward dude, but it’s also okay to decide you’d rather be in a relationship with someone who is socially well-calibrated. After I divorced my awkward antisocial (oh yeah who was also emotionally abusive) husband, I decided I wasn’t up for dating awkward dudes. I was tired of carrying all of the social interactions for our while family and wanted someone who would talk to waiters at restaurants. Keep dating this guy while it’s still fun, but listen to your gut/instincts. If you feel like you’re not having fun, listen to that feeling. You don’t owe anybody chances or a relationship if you’re not enjoying yourself.

          1. Confused Single Mom*

            Thank you for reminding me of this! I think I am feeling like I owe him a chance because I don’t want to let his lack of relationships or living at home all this time stop him from having the chance to get that experience. But you are right that it doesn’t have to be me to help him figure that aspect of his life out if I don’t want to. Thanks!

      2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        Agreed. I haven’t had this experience but my brother in law is in his 30s and as far as I know has never had a relationship. He doesn’t talk about it but I think he had a traumatic experience when he was young and after that he just never met anyone he clicked with. I suppose it’s a yellow flag of sorts as I’m sure he has a lot of baggage now, but he’s not a bad guy.

    6. Anonforthis*

      I’m 38 and just starting to think about dating for the first time. There are Reasons.

      I don’t think I was ready to be in a relationship before, and now I do. I think I could be a great partner to someone.

      Do I have a bit of baggage? Yeah. Is there anyone in their 30s with no baggage? No. Mine is just a little more unusual but it doesn’t mean it is a larger obstacle.

      If you enjoyed his company, why not just see where it goes?

      1. Parenthetically*

        Do I have a bit of baggage? Yeah. Is there anyone in their 30s with no baggage? No. Mine is just a little more unusual but it doesn’t mean it is a larger obstacle.

        Well said. My now-husband had never dated or had a girlfriend when we met in our mid thirties. He’s fairly normal, and a great partner and dad. His baggage differed from others’, perhaps, but we do indeed all have it.

        1. Another late bloomer's wife*

          Agreed. My now-husband had never dated before, and while I did have to be patient with the insecurities that put him in that situation, he’s a good man and a good partner.

    7. lazy intellectual*

      I’m of two minds about this. On one hand, living in multigeneral households is the norm in a lot of non-Western cultures, and doesn’t *necessarily* mean the person living with their parents is not self-sufficient or a deadbeat. (I come from one of these cultures.)

      …BUT…men in these arrangements are typically coddled. Even if they have good jobs, they tend to be useless when it comes to domestic chores and any other responsibility that isn’t their primary job. When living with parents (especially if Mom is still in the picture) who are already used to taking care of you, there isn’t much incentive to do your own cooking, cleaning, etc. And a lot of mothers, in say, South Asian cultures, expect that their son will marry a woman who will pick up on the labor they typically do, continuing the cycle of their son not knowing how to take care of themselves. Obviously, not EVERY guy in this situation fits this scenario, but I would look out for that.

      1. StellaBella*

        I agree with this, and also come from one of these cultures. For Confused Single Mom, date him a few times but be sure to find out if he is self-sufficient, too: can/does he do laundry, can/does he share cooking responsibility in the home, can/does he contribute to bills, home needs, can he fix basic stuff, does he have experience with basic adult things (planning groceries, etc)? But honestly if he has zero friends, and still lives at home, I would wonder about this. What do his parents do? Does his mom work outside the home? What kind of job does this guy have and how does he get on with colleagues? Agree on the social awkwardness too, being a possible challenge.

    8. heckofabecca*

      These are flags, just not necessarily red ones! What stood out most to me was “admittedly doesn’t have friends” because that’s a really big thing! I don’t know many people with no friends. Is he cool with having no friends? Are you cool with it?

      I agree with the others that if you like him, see how it goes! I’d just keep these things in mind. Enjoy!

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I missed the part about him not having friends. I took the “relationships” bit to mean romantic relationships, not that he has no relationships of any kind.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Now seeing the part about not having any friends.

          Yeah, that’d be a huge red flag.

      2. Long drives*

        No friends would be a deal breaker. I’ve been the “only” attachment in my partner’s life, and it wasn’t healthy for me, them, or our relationship.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Agreed. I’d be done.

          I was 18 when I met my husband-to-be. He later said one of the things he looked at in considering marriage was my long term relationships. First, did I have any? (yes) And second, how were these relationships going? (life was hard for my people but I kept hanging in there with them and their settings). With these answers he concluded, that I could probably do the long haul of “life stuff”.

          A few years ago, I read an article that pointed out one of the first few places we learn about marriage and learn how to be a long term partner is through our friendships. We learn how to compromise, we learn how to take interest in things that are not our own primary choice and many other things.

      3. Generic Name*

        Dude, this is a huge red flag to me as well. Do you really want to be this guy’s only social outlet/ relationship other than his parents?

      4. ...*

        Yeah I kind of glossed over that too but has no friends and has never dated, lives at home. so he never hangs out with anyone aside from his parents? Uh…..

    9. Grim*

      Potential mama’s boy warning here. I would dig into his home life and see how things are going for him. Does he share in the responsibilities and housework or is everything taken care for him? Does he cook?

      I’d also be worried how he interacts with your child due ue to his sheltered upbringing.

      1. Confused Single Mom*

        That’s my concern as well. He won’t be meeting my child for a long time, but he made the comment that it was wonderful that I had someone(my child) who would always be there with me and that it was great I had a kid. He says that he helps out around the house, but also that his dad has been doing most of the work on his new house so I’m not really sure what to believe.

    10. fposte*

      My problem with red flags as a shorthand is that they don’t tell you what they’re flagging *for*. What’s a red flag for a huge problem for you may be a trifle to me, and vice versa. In this case also the questions I’d ask about somebody in that life position will be pretty easily answered by your experiences with him. Does his not having friends mean that he’d rely on you too much for all his intimacy needs? Does it mean emotional intimacy isn’t a big thing for him, and are you okay with that? Does sexual expertise matter to you, and if not, is he willing to learn from you? If you’re his first experience with negotiating partnership, is he an active, thoughtful, fair-minded partner in small things–do you have to plan every single thing about the walk, or, conversely, is he okay with doing something other than he planned? While it doesn’t have to happen on a 2nd date, can you talk about these things or does he clam up or just insist it’ll all be fine?

    11. Esme*

      I’d be very cautious. The fact he doesn’t have friends either is pause for thought, if I’m honest.

    12. Ronda*

      me and my sisters all moved out and got our own places.

      the brothers lived with mom. Mom did everything for them. It made their lives easier.
      both brothers are also kinda cheap…. one looked at getting his own place and saw how much it cost, and decided to continue living with parents.

      Mom would have done lots of stuff for me too, if I stayed, but it seems like the girls were motivated to have their own space and the boys were not.

      I do think my brothers are nice guys and would be OK to date, but I wouldnt want to live with them… they are quite helpless in some areas of housekeeping.

    13. Dan*

      Adding a bit to what others have said, and even taking the gendered component out of this to some extent…

      What you need to figure out is whether he is functioning as an *adult*. (And I take the gender out of it, because it cuts both ways.) My ex never lived on her own, and never held down a full time job for very long before we got married. Her money management skills were *always* an issue. (That is, she didn’t have any. My job was to pay the bills, she felt she didn’t need to worry about it.) So I can’t tell you what particular life circumstances were clear indicators of problems, but the overall package was that of a child.

      That said… I sort of bristle at “relationship history” as a barometer of dateability. My one honest-to-goodness relationship was a marriage that ended in divorce, and let’s be honest, that relationship was so f’d up that is of almost no consequence to the next one. But somewhat ironically in this day and age, “divorced” makes one more dateable than “never had a serious relationship.”

      1. Dan*

        One side note on the “no friends” thing: It’s funny, on the one hand, people complain about how hard it is to make friends as an adult, and then OTOH, people judge you for it too. My social circle is small for a couple of reasons. After I split from my ex, well, I joined the club of “gee, how do I increase my social circle after divorce because making friends as an adult is hard” and “I’m introvert. I spend all day dealing with other peoples’ sh!t, and when I’m off the clock, I just want to do my own thing on my own time.”

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          But there’s a difference between having a small social circle and having literally zero friends…

          1. Confused Single Mom*

            I agree with that. I’m an introvert, have a small social circle and spend most of my time with my daughter. I have no issue with that whatsoever. But he stated that he doesn’t have any friends and he works pretty much solo in an office all day. Something just seems a bit off and I can’t put my finger on it right now. I’ll keep talking to him and hopefully time will help me clarify things.

            1. Dan*

              So… the thing with dating after a divorce is that (IMHO) it doesn’t matter too much what “normal” is (or what have you) but whether the relationship works for you or not. You need/want whatever *you* need/want out of a relationship, and you’re either getting it or you’re not.

              I’m an analytical type, and TBH, I’ve found that if one is thinking too hard about a relationship, it’s probably not the right thing. Post-divorce, I’ve dated people who are really great catches on paper, but all in all, there just wasn’t the spark I needed. And yet, I’m seeing someone who on paper isn’t the greatest catch, but well… it’s someone who I want to continue to see and I don’t think much at all about “on paper.”

              Which is why my advice to you on this guy is, if you’re not feeling it, you’re not feeling it, and “why not” is pretty much irrelevant. That said, this guy doesn’t seem like the greatest catch, and if he’s not fun and interesting to be with, it’s sort of obvious why.

            2. Nita*

              “Something seems off” is a very important point for your thoughts. Intuition is a powerful thing. It may take you a while to find out what’s putting you off, but chances are that little voice is telling you to be careful for a reason. If that’s the gut feeling you’re getting, maybe he’s not your person…

            3. amaliee*

              Personally if something seems a bit off, you don’t have to wait to figure out what it is, you can just end it now. Usually your gut knows.

      2. fposte*

        I also think a lot is dependent on his thoughtfulness and willingness. If it’s never occurred to him that he needs to do half the work, or if it’s never occurred to him that a lot of the time he has to go along with what somebody else wants, that’s not good; but, as you say, there are plenty of people who *have* had relationships that suck at that, and if he’s got the idea and just needs to get up to speed when it comes to putting it in practice, that’s not terrible. Mind you, I speak as an academic where a lot of people hold off on social lives until they’re older (and being odd is part of the landscape), but what’s important here is what Confused wants. For me I’d be wary about the fact that he hasn’t done any moving prep. If it looks like that only happens when somebody else nags him, that’s a big no for me.

        1. Confused Single Mom*

          I think you nailed it when you said “If it looks like that only happens when somebody else nags him”. He and I exchanged basic life stories and all of the reasons that he made changes were because something else happened, not because he worked to make them happen. I’ll have to see if that is how he is or just how he described his life. I’m not interested in nagging someone to make the changes in their life that they want but won’t actually do anything about. Thanks for your reply!

          1. Dan*

            I think there’s two things that popping out… first, if one talks about things they want to do but never get around to it — and that’s a running theme in their life — that’s a big hard pass. I think for this guy, it’s the difference between happy living with his mom, vs being miserable but not doing anything about it. If he’s miserable, why isn’t he taking steps to fix it? (This is a hypothetical to make a discussion point.)

            The second is whether they take responsibility for their own sh!t or if they always try to blame others.

            Those two things are very, very sucky things to bring into a relationship and make someone deal with. It’s very reasonable to screen out romantic partners based on either of them.

      3. anonymous for this*

        I had almost exactly the same experience, with the genders flipped. Why was someone so emotionally mature and solitary living with his parents at the age of 32? I thought it was just because we all lived in a region with very few job openings. But it turned out he didn’t care about finances, job searching, chores, or hygiene. I spent 3 and a half years of cohabitation gently cajoling, to no avail. Called up his parents, left town on my own for two weeks, and told them to come get him while I was away. They did. He’s 39 now, and still living with them.

        I wouldn’t judge someone for not having been in a relationship; that might just be chance or shyness. But yeah, looking for signs that someone can function as an adult is a good idea.