weekend open thread – November 28-29, 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: Saints for All Occasions, by J. Courtney Sullivan. Another epic family saga, this one told from alternating points of view and about two sisters who leave Ireland for America. Estranged for years after arriving, one raises a large family while the other becomes a cloistered nun. It’s about family, secrets, and how decisions when you’re young can shape the course of your life in ways you never expect.

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

{ 1,306 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A reminder: Comments on the weekend threads should ask questions and/or seek to discuss ideas. Recommendations or an update on things you received advice about in the past are also fine. But please, no posts that are just venting or blog-style “here’s an update on my life.” Comments that violate this rule will be removed. Thank you!

  2. PrincessB*

    How have you established a regular exercise routine? I have the Peleton app and have been using it every other day (except this hell week- I’m in retail). I used to work out a lot more, especially running, prior to having a baby. It’s heading into winter where I am. I find myself working everyday and then just wanting to lie on the couch. What are your tips that really worked for you to get moving everyday?

    1. That'sNotHowYouSpellThat*

      I started a running streak (at least one mile every day) and I’m also in an ongoing virtual race on a team where all my miles (running, walking, biking, or any other purposeful human-powered activity) helps my team move forward.

        1. That'sNotHowYouSpellThat*

          I found the virtual race and the teammates the same way: a running group on Facebook. So my teammates and I only know each other online, but most of us have known each other online for about a year (when a smaller fb group started as an off shoot of a larger one). Some of us were thinking of the team race and asked some others. It’s a “race around the world” (sort of) and it lasts a long time. You can sign up without a team too and find one. You can do a region (or more) of it instead of the whole thing.

      1. OtterB*

        My husband is participating in a virtual race also. His team is traveling Route 66. He found them through a group that was originally meeting in person, through the Galloway group, I think.

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          Is this The Conqueror/My Virtual Mission by any chance? I’ve done three races with that over the last few months (currently on my fourth) and find it really enjoyable. Plus the medals are beautiful!

    2. Lemonwhirl*

      I am a person who responds really well to streaks and maintaining streaks. Also to training programs and having goals. So I am good at something like Run a Mile a Day for a Year or train for a 5-K. I need goals and I need some kind of accountability, not necessarily to a group or an individual, but to a streak or a training program.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This. At this point I’ve completed my red circle on my watch over 900 days in a row and I keep it a priority now because it would take me almost three years to get back to that streak.

    3. Potatoes gonna potate*

      For me personally it’s mostly if not all mind over matter…..once I’m determined I’ll do it.

      Several years ago I went on a health kick after a few rough setbacks in the beginning of the year. I figured until I got a job, exercising would be my job now.

      When I was working, I’d wake up at 4 am and go before work. Maintained that for about a year or so. I still can’t believe I did that.

      These are just mind tricks that worked for me.

      My health has been meh this year with being pregnant and just generally out of shape from before. the only thing that helps me now is just reminding myself I need to get stronger because my baby’s getting heavier and I’m struggling to lift her/keep lifting. Im not at the same level I was 3-7 years ago but I also don’t feel as bad anymore thanks to physical therapy and supplementing at home and sometimes in the gym.

      Apologies in advance if I misunderstood the question….

    4. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Sometimes when I’m having a really hard time I couple moving activities with freetime stuff: so, for example, I’m only allowed to watch tv if I am moving in some way at the same time. So either I move more or watch less tv, which is win-win when I am feeling unmotivated. Or I get x any day I go running.

      Unfortunately, that all only works if you have free time, which is sometimes an illusion with small children. I think if you have small kids you should give yourself a little bit of a break. It’s exhausting!

    5. Zooey*

      I do the Mommastrong programme. It’s designed specifically to focus on the strength and function you need to cope with pregnancy, birth, and the wear and tear of childcare (they also have a Pappastrong programme which focuses on men). The core is 15 minute daily workouts – this is short enough that I find it a lot harder to justify not doing them, and then I’ll sometimes do other exercise on top, or more than one MS workout. I really like the ‘good enough’ ethos, and the workouts often include the teacher’s baby, cat, dog, general life – so it acknowledges that life with a family can be a bit messy!

      It wouldn’t be for everyone – because it’s very focused on mothers and on the specifics of the female body it might be uncomfortable for nb or trans folks – but it does what it does really really well.

      1. PostalMixup*

        Yes to MommaStrong! It’s the only way I get any intentional exercise, and even my on-again-off-again commitment is enough to make a noticeable difference in my posture and aches and pains. I really appreciate that the focus is on function, not appearance, and honestly it’s nearly as good as PT (and they have a PT on staff). The community is awesome, too!

      2. Ranon*

        It’s my go to too- the emphasis on just showing up and doing the the thing and the thing only being 15 minutes really works for me. And I’ll second it being nearly as good as PT- my body started giving me trouble due to work from home ergonomics and old injuries and the “Fix Me’s” really did!

    6. Effie*

      I use one of Leap Fitness Group’s free apps (Splits in 30 Days). There’s a daily reminder that motivates me, and built in rest days. I find that working out right after work gets me out of “work mode” almost immediately and into “me time”, and after that is dinner time, aka “roommate/family time socialization mode” so it’s a really nice transition for my brain. I feel way more sluggish if I don’t do it immediately after work so it’s a nice cycle to stay in.

    7. Bobina*

      Be realistic and honest with yourself about what works for you. For me, the hardest thing is just starting, so these days I’ve found doing it first thing in the morning works. I roll out of bed, use the toilet, change and then workout. I used to tell myself I’d do it in the evenings or maybe after breakfast or after work or whenever, but once I’ve started doing other things, its hard to motivate myself. So first thing in the morning it is!

      Also not pushing myself too hard, sometimes its a high intensity training kind of day, sometimes its a gentle yoga kind of day. The key thing is being consistent and just doing something.

      1. Washi*

        This is me! If I plan to exercise after work, I actually start to dread it because I spend all day knowing I have a willpower tussle ahead of me. And yeah, I also have the goal of just doing something. If I put on my shoes, run a block, and am just really not feeling it, I am allowed to go back inside, as long as I tried. And usually once I’m out the door, I feel great, and I try to really imprint that “wow, isn’t it so nice to be exercising” feeling so that it’s motivation for the next morning wakeup.

        If working out every day makes you want to lie on the couch, maybe vary your workout intensity? I know a lot of people run every day, but my body doesn’t like that. I run 4x per week and the other 3, I do a yoga video plus some extra pushups.

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          Another vote for this approach – I have found that getting myself moving first thing makes a massive difference to me. Even if it is literally going to the supermarket which is a 25 minute walk from my house (bonus – it is also pretty much deserted at 7am!). If I put it off until later in the day, then I’m far more likely to give myself an excuse to get out of it. And also the ‘do what you feel up to’; sometimes I’ll be like ‘oh I’ll just run to the park and then see how I feel’, and nine times out of ten when I do that I feel like I can do a bit more once I get there.

          That said, the one thing that does work for me in terms of exercising after work is if it’s a scheduled thing. It’s why in pre-Covid times I really liked gym classes and parkrun – if I missed the session that was it for the week, and that was really motivating for me. In the first lockdown I also regularly scheduled Zoom workouts with friends (one of us would pick out a video on YouTube, share their screen and then we’d follow it together) which was really good for the social aspect as well, though appreciate it’s not as easy when you have small children.

      2. My Brain Is Exploding*

        Yeah, the later in the day it gets, the less likely I am to exercise. I’ve also found that long, hilly walks are very good for me and I kind of like them. Finally, recently, just trying to incorporate more movement (v. exercise) into my day as Katy Bowman recommends – more getting up, more stretches, more sitting on the floor.

      3. violet04*

        That’s my philosophy too. I have to do it first thing in the morning and I don’t push myself if I’m not feeling like I can get through an intense workout.

        I also had to find something I liked and for me that’s online workout videos. We have an elliptical machine, but I get bored using it and like the variety of videos. Since March, I’ve been working out pretty regularly using FitnessBlender workout videos.

      4. Bostonian*

        How do you… actually work out if you haven’t eaten anything? I like the idea of doing it right away, but I’m worried the workout won’t be as productive without as much energy OR that I might pass out.

        1. Bobina*

          For a long time I was also very much on team “must have eaten before I do any exercise” but honestly, I’ve been okay. Some days if I do a particularly hard workout, I miiiiight feel a little bit lightheaded at certain moments towards the end (in which case you can just stop!), but often I dont notice it at all and dont feel like I’m particularly weak or anything (other than my general weakness!) If anything not having to eat and then wait for food to settle/think about what to eat that isnt too light or too heavy is a bonus.

          I think one thing that helped put the idea in my mind is seeing a few athletes and celebrities I follow on social media talk about either intermittent fasting (some of them have very long fast windows) while others specifically talked about fasted cardio (basically what I do – exercise first thing with your sleep hours basically being your fast period). I figured if a professional athlete can do a much harder workout when they havent eaten for 16 hours, then its probably feasible for me to do a bit of home workout before breakfast.

          Obvious caveat here is listen to your body and do what works for you! I’ve actually found there are days when I wont get hungry even after working out until 1-3 hours later. I’m also trying really hard to listen to my body and only eat when I’m actually hungry so maybe thats part of it.

        2. ampersand*

          I have this issue. I must eat before I work out or I don’t have energy. If I’m exercising (running) in the morning, I’ll eat a banana or something small beforehand then head out to run. My endurance/stamina is much better when I work out in the evenings, I think because I’ve eaten throughout the day, but it’s also difficult to commit to working out in the evenings for all the typical reasons.

          I thought eating something and then running or having a hard workout would lead to nausea, but interestingly it doesn’t. I’m much worse off if I don’t eat at all.

        3. londonedit*

          I have to eat something before I go for a run, and I prefer to run in the mornings (so it’s out of the way and I have the rest of the day to myself!) so I’ve come up with a routine where I take a small cereal bar with me when I go to bed, eat that as soon as I wake up, then get dressed and ready to go out. I leave it half an hour/45 minutes before setting out on my run, and that seems to work well for me during the week (I run about 4.5 miles on a weekday morning run). At the weekend I do longer distances and need to eat more before a run, so I make sure I allow an hour between my breakfast and my run.

    8. Sunrise*

      Before kids, I always did my workouts after work. I am not naturally a morning person so the idea of getting up earlier than absolutely necessary, and to workout no less, just didn’t seem possible.

      After kids, I was exhausted by the end of the day. And I wanted to spend my free time with them rather than working out. So I had to either switch to early AM workouts (before the kids got up) or not work out at all.

      Two decades later and I’m still a morning workout person. Not sure I’d call myself a morning person overall. But making the switch to AM workouts was the one thing that guaranteed, for me, that I’d stick with it.

    9. Rebecca Stewart*

      I just get up and put my clothes on and get on the bike for ten minutes. Then I do ten minutes after each meal.

    10. nep*

      I think the main thing that helps me is remembering that daily movement doesn’t have to be daily full-on, full-throttle, work-to-my-limit workouts. This way, I experience less of a mental block about starting. And while some days I might end up doing a brief session of some basic body weight moves and stretches, almost every time once I get started I get a great workout in.
      Work planks into your day also. Whether on the floor or hands on a bench or chair. Basic, can do them anytime, no equipment needed–and a stronger core makes everything better.

    11. Still*

      For me, it’s way easier to get started once I’m already dressed. I tell myself I’m gonna put on my workout clothes and get ready, and if I REALLY don’t feel like it, I can just get changed back to my normal clothes… But I don’t remember ever actually deciding to skip my workout once I’d gone to the trouble of getting ready.

      Good luck!

    12. Texan In Exile*

      My goal is to do some kind of workout every day. So even on a day where I don’t feel like doing something, I tell myself that taking a walk counts.

      And I don’t let myself listen to podcasts except during workouts. So the only way to find out what happens next is to exercise.

    13. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I got a dog. :-) Seriously, though, before he came along I always worked out in the mornings. When my alarm goes off, I’m up, so it worked for me. If I go after work, I end up talking myself out of working out, so better to get it over with.

      These days, in addition to my morning dog walks, I’ve been doing Nike Training Center workouts. They’re short (I generally do 20 minutes or so), varied, and you get “badges” for meeting certain milestones. I find that the more variety I can build in, the better I stick with it.

    14. TextHead*

      I have a DeskCycle that I use while working. Usually for an hour or so at a time several times a day. When I get up to go somewhere else in the house, I jog there. I’ve also taken to jogging in place when I’d otherwise be standing still.

      I also have a stationary bike and use that on the weekends when I wake up – aiming for 2.5 hours total across the 2 days. While doing that, I watch a show or play a game and the times passes pretty quickly.

      I have an Oura ring and it sets a daily active calorie burn goal depending on a few factors and I’m motivated to hit that goal.

      I’ve also purchased a few fitness related Kickstarters – none are here yet, though.

    15. The teapots are on fire*

      I get my SO to agree to work out with me (works most of the time) and we use Fitness Blender workouts. If you buy one of the fitness plans they go on a calendar on the site so your workout for the day is planned for you already, and then you own that $10-15 workout set and can use it over and over. They’re usually 4-8 weeks long so there’s variety. We swear at Kelly and Daniel together when we don’t like a workout, but we feel pretty good after we’re finished and we praise each other constantly.

    16. Mystery Bookworm*

      YMMV, but I’ve often found it can help to set really modest goals for periods when you’re feeling unmotivated and have to rely on willpower.

      So rather than setting the goal of working out 3x week, I’ll set the goal of putting on my workout clothes and walking to the gym 3x a week. And I’ll consider that a win even if I just walk in the door, turn around and go back home. It’s 100x easier to will myself to complete that comparatively small goal.

      (And, FWIW, in five years that I’ve used “just put on the clothes and go to the location” as my primary goal, I’ve only actually walked home without working out 3 times.)

    17. AnotherAlison*

      I have done different stuff off and on for years (running, classes, kettlebells, personal training, beachbody), but I have been extremely consistent this year. I started a triathlon training program in 2019 and skipped workouts all the time. I moved to TriDot in early summer. The coach I bought my other programs from had a beta group and I got in on that. It costs some money, but my skipped workouts are maybe 1-2 per month now. The coach reviews my workouts every day, so I don’t want to slack off. If you like the Peloton and running, something to consider. Lots of people are doing dryland swimming now because pools are closed, if swimming isn’t your thing.

      (The other thing that helped is my kids are mostly grown. Me time after 23 yrs.)

    18. Lady Heather*

      The hardest part of running is said to be: putting on your running shoes. (/leaving the house/ stepping the first step etc.)

      So.. make sure you put on your shoes. If you don’t feel like getting off the couch to run, get off the couch and put on your shoes (and the rest of your outfit). Then you’ve had the biggest hurdle.

      You’ll want to avoid this cycle:
      I’m tired/busy/.. and I don’t want to expend even more energy to get sweaty and running and showering takes time so meh.

      Instead, hack your brain:
      Putting on my shoes doesn’t take much time or energy and doesn’t make me need a shower so I don’t have a reason not to.
      Then when you’ve put on your shoes, go for a run.

      “Running” or “exercise” can be an intimidating thing (in general, or just when you’re tired) and most people respond to intimidating things with procrastination or avoidance. Do something non-intimidating: put on your shoes.
      Then run. Depending on how your brain works, you may have to “hack” it further and promise yourself “just five minutes, then I am allowed to go home if I want to” or “when I’ve spotted five red cars/five birds I am allowed to go home if I want to” or whatever works for you.

      Some people find it helpful to have “achievement goals” – running a certain distance, running a certain amount of time, running a certain speed, being as good or better than someone else. Others find it helpful to have “effort goals” – put on running shoes three times a week and run at least a little.
      The former get more attention, probably because it’s more a competitive mindset and a lot of things in life are focused on that – but the latter may be more helpful if you dislike competition or aren’t as motivated by objective achievements or bragging rights or whatever.

    19. Artemesia*

      What works for me is to have. routine — so I don’t have to decide. Since COVID I am not getting built in exercise by running errands etc. I used to do all my grocery shopping on foot and so many times a week since I could only carry a couple of bags. And I had exercise classes a couple of times a week etc — NOW I am a couch potato. So I have a routine — I go to the building gym every day when my husband does and don’t think about it — just do it. The second thing that helps is that I establish a rule that certain things I like to do may not be done until I have done my weight routine — I don’t have a lot of self discipline so establishing these rules is all that keeps me doing the more or less minimum amount of necessary exercise. This is all harder of course when you are working and have small kids.

      1. allathian*

        When my son was a baby, he napped best when pushed in his baby carriage, so I got a lot of walks that way. The only time in my life that I’ve had any muscle definition in my arms was also when he was a baby, and while I didn’t carry him around as much as some moms do, it was still a lot.

        My husband likes working out with weights and running, and I’ve started lifting weights again to get stronger. In the summer, we went on family bike rides at least every other day. I’m definitely not a winter biker, though. We have a stationary bike and a treadmill in our basement as well. Before Covid, I used to do tai chi once a week and it’s the thing I miss the most from before times. I have very poor coordination and body posture awareness, so I need an instructor in the same room. It was great for my mental health, though.

    20. TechWorker*

      I have started doing yoga/strength training in the mornings, via an online program. There’s a Facebook group for accountability and I’m enjoying it! The teacher is called Karin Dimitrovova – and I’m sure similar content is available for free but being told what to do when helps me a lot.

    21. LGC*

      In general, try to work out in the morning, although…you have a tiny human to take care of, and you don’t say what your childcare situation is.

      I think that’s probably one of the major keys – you need to find a good time for you to work out. I’m a runner, and I prefer running in the afternoon/evening because I try to leave my house at 6 for work. (Meaning, I’d have to get a run in at 5 AM or earlier.)

      Also…like, I’ll be honest, maybe now might not be the best time to start a routine (or to expect yourself to keep it up). Get some activity in when you can!

    22. MCL*

      My local parks and rec department does fitness classes and they are on Zoom now. They’re pretty reasonable, but you do need a little space for classes like Zumba.

    23. Not playing your game anymore*

      I used to go to the pool most mornings, swim a little, do some water walking, aerobics, etc., then I’d do a fair amount of walking and stair climbing at work. But since we been working at home? Nada. Now, without coworkers to distract me I find I’m still sitting where I was 4 hours ago… I need to get movement back in my life if not actual exercise. So I’ve ordered the ring fit with my birthday money and I plan to set some alarms reminding me to play a mini game or two to get moving at least a little. We’ll see.

    24. Person from the Resume*

      For me, it’s planning it in.

      When a trainer offered a 5:30am boot camp, I was consistent because (1) nothing else was scheduled against it (2) it was not offered another/multiple times during the day (I did badly with an exercise program that was offered at 4:30, 5:45, 7:00 because I’d be hungry or tired and skip the right after work one but end up too tired or busy for the later ones).

      When a friend plans a group ride and I commit to going and plan on it, I’ll go. I also usually manage that for a solo ride if it’s in my mind all day all part of my plans. “I’ll go at some point” means I put it off for dinner or a rest and inertia keeps me unmoving until it’s suddenly to late.

      Create a plan and try to stick to it. And if you NEED to lie on the couch after work, make the plan to use the app afterwards.

      The other part which might be easier is to have a commitment to use the app for at least X minutes a day where X is a small number like 5-10 minutes. You have permission to stop after the time is up. That helps me because I feel silly going for such a short ride (but I have done it) so I say to myself might as well do it earlier rather than a really short ride right before I get ready for bed.

    25. Zephy*

      I’m late to the weekend thread, but: I realized that if I planned to eat breakfast at work (not feasible for everyone, I know), I had 35 minutes available to me in the mornings – enough time for a workout and a quick shower. I’ve been doing that for two weeks and it’s been working out (hah) pretty well. I have a Planet Fitness membership but I’m not comfortable using a public gym again yet, so I’ve been using the iFit trainer videos on the app – they’re about 20-25 minutes each and very easy to follow. I think there’s a paid version of the app that has more of that kind of content available, but even just the ones available on the free version are good. I do strength/dumbbell training Mondays and Wednesdays, cardio Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a quick 6-minute isometric circuit on Fridays. I also do a full-body stretch on Saturday and Sunday mornings, just to maintain the habit (even if I do go back to bed right after, LOL).

  3. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I have a question about tournament brackets. I don’t follow sports at all so I’m not super familiar with how brackets work.

    We have so many nominees for worst boss of the year this year that I thought it would be fun to vote in brackets (instead of what we normally do where you vote once out of the whole list of nominees). I have 12 nominees selected, so I’m thinking we’d do:
    Day 1: 6 brackets of 2 each, producing 6 winners
    Day 2: 3 brackets of 2 each, producing 3 winners
    Day 3: vote on a winner from the final 3 choices

    People who understand tournament brackets better than I do, is that the best way to set this up?

    1. D3*

      That would work, but traditionally they start with something divisible by 4 so they narrow down to 2 finalists.

      1. Former referee*

        Agree – you essentially are having an 8-team bracket with an extra game for each of the entries. A web search of 12-team single elimination will help you seed the entries.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            Or can you have Worst Boss categories? (e.g. Worst Boss Remote Working Behaviour*, Worst Boss on Zoom/Webex, Worst Boss Employee Empathy etc), with a final shortlist for the vote.

            * The Bosses who think people aren’t actually working from home, and are encouraging people to return to workplaces

            1. The Time Being*

              I think breaking things down would be a good idea. If nothing else, in the past I’ve found myself torn between voting for the boss who is the worst human being versus the boss who is the worst at being a boss. Other possible categories include “Outright Bonkers” and “Cartoonish Villainy.”

          2. PollyQ*

            In a sports combination, seeding is done based on past performance of the competitors, to help guide the competition so that the #1 & #2 competitors would meet in the final, instead of, say, the opening round.

            IDK how you’d do that with Worst Boss competitors. I guess you could make a guess as to an original ranking, or just go with a random seeding and let the chips fall where they may.

          3. KiwiApple*

            Seedings could be done in date of the post in AAM.

            First worst boss letter, seed 1. Most recent worst boss post, last seed.

            1. Emma*

              If you’re doing it that way then you might as well assign brackets randomly – seeding by date doesn’t encourage more exciting match-ups, so I’d save the effort. :)

          4. BRR*

            Seeing would be who is up against who. In AAM that could mean the letter with the most comments goes up against the boss with the least and so on.

          5. My Brain Is Exploding*

            Like Chocolate Teapot said, another way is to do categories, like the academy awards, and then have the best overall winner from the 4 or 5 categories. “worst in dealing with COVID” could be one category.

            1. AcademiaNut*

              I’ve often thought that we need two categories, petty evil and cartoon villian. The “boss wants my kidney” posts tend to overshadow bad behavior of the more common sort. Maybe petty, cartoon and vivid, this year.

          6. Former referee*

            It does, and you can either randomly assign them or weight them in some fashion as others are describing. Adding 4 makes for a balanced bracket.

            If you have groupings of 4 (“biggest rule follower to their own detriment” “most unaware of boundaries”) , you could put those together so that the semifinals (the games leading up to the finals) are the matches between those groups.

          7. LibbyG*

            Sixteen might be fun because you could have the “sordid sixteen” “egregious eight,” and something that starts with “f”.

          8. gsa*

            Sports wise seeds are based on the past performance. In the beginning rounds, the best and the worst play. The idea is that the best of the best play in the final round.

            I guess in this case we’re talking about the “most God awful” worst and the “kind of bad but not bad” worst.

            I’m sure you already have your categories in your mind.

            I hope that helps,


    2. Data Nerd*

      From a decision analysis point of view, you want to avoid having the favourite option (worst boss) not chosen in situations where there are two strong options but a third (or fourth) option sways enough people away from one of the top options so that another one wins.

      My suggestion, FWIW, is to split them into 4 groups of 3. Then have paired decisions between the top 4. You can also do the 6 pairs and then choose 8 from those to compete as pairs by using the vote counts (choose the winning 6 plus the two losers with the most votes), but that would be 13 votes (as opposed to 7) and people might be bored of it by the middle.

      The rule of consensus decision-making is to never ever add options that are bad ones (“no throw-away COAs” as Doctrine Man would say) so I wouldn’t suggest looking for 4 more options if you don’t think they are truly terrible, but in this case you are looking to have a bit of fun so adding 4 more options would work too (although that will result in 15 votes).

      Typically we deal with more than 2 options by ranking them and deciding mathematically, but this is a fun distraction and there’s no risk of buying the wrong widget and bankrupting the company, so do what makes sense for being entertaining. Do you want to maximize or minimize votes? Have 2 or 3 options in the final vote?

      1. Blagosphere*

        I’ve read this twice and I’m genuinely interested, but unclear on what you mean. You have 4 groups of 3 and then what happens exactly? What do you mean by paired decisions?

        1. TechWorker*

          I’m pretty sure ‘paired decisions’ means ‘which is the worst boss out of a and b?’ where a and b is each pair out of the final 4. In sports tournament terms it’s like getting down to the final 4 and having them all play each other in pairs and scoring points, rather than a knockout format. I’m not sure whether in theory it ought make much difference to the winner (if there’s a clear outright winner they should beat everyone anyway) but it should make 2,3,4 more accurate. (For the sports comparison, it stops #2 being knocked out by #1 in the semi final).

          1. Data Nerd*

            I was thinking more pairs (A vs B) instead of a 3-way competition is better at the end because with pairs there isn’t the situation where C gets enough votes that B wins against A. (political examples of this are popular). But it’s AAM and order isn’t critical. I just like thinking about this!

            With 12 I think pairs at the end would be better:
            A B C -> winner 1
            D E F -> winner 2
            G H J -> winner 3
            K L M -> winner 4
            Winner 1 vs 2 -> Winner 12
            Winner 3 vs 4 -> Winner 34
            Winner 12 vs 34 = Final winner

            While Alison suggested
            A B -> winner 1
            C D -> winner 2
            E F -> winner 3
            G H -> winner 4
            J K -> winner 5
            L M -> winner 6
            Winner 1 vs 2 -> Winner 12
            Winner 3 vs 4 -> Winner 34
            Winner 5 vs 6 -> Winner 56
            Winner 12 vs 34 vs 56 = Final winner

            But as I said, this matters more for other topics. Ideally people fully rank every option and it gets sorted mathematically :)

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        This is what I ended up doing — 4 groups of 3, then 2 groups of 2, then the final 2 go head to head.

        Thanks, all! This was all very helpful. (And now I understand how sports brackets work!)

    3. *daha**

      Your proposal for 12 is just fine. It is different from standard in that there are three in the final vote, but that is just because the standard is based on games where you have two teams or two players head to head at a time. If you want to look like a standard bracket without having empty bits (byes) then pick a power of 2 for your total field – 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, etc.

  4. Finland*

    Alison, your cats always look so gorgeous and your home looks like a cat sanctuary. How do you keep them from destroying your things?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Well, they are systematically destroying the chairs in our living room! We replaced two armchairs they’d scratched up with two that claimed to have pet-safe fabric, and now they are destroying those too! We bought a special cat tape that goes on your furniture and prevents them from scratching and that’s working … but it looks horrible because now there’s tape on the chairs! We have scratching posts, etc. but that particular location really draws them for some reason. (Although it’s really mainly just Eve, pictured above.) Ultimately I love the cats more than the chairs but still.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Can you put the cat trees and scratching posts in the location that draws them the most? Like take the chair and put it somewhere else and replace it with a post. Sometimes that can work if it’s about the location and not the piece of furniture.

        “Pet-safe fabric”…yeah, I think that’s a myth. When I bought furniture years ago they pointed me to a certain fabric and said cats don’t scratch it because it’s smooth (they like to snag their claws when they scratch) with a tight weave (makes it hard for the cat to get their claws in). Nope, they destroyed it just like the previous couch. This time I went with a very cheap couch so it’s not a big waste if they claw it. This one they leave alone for some reason.

        1. mreasy*

          We have a leather sofa, which they aren’t meant to care about, because of the texture. Well, one of the cats doesn’t scratch it, but the kitten absolutely does. We put a scratching post in front of the arm she likes the most, and I’d say that’s cut down on scratching about 50%. So that’s…something?

          1. allathian*

            My parents’ two cats absolutely ruined their genuine leather sofas and easy chairs, but that’s cats for you. They had had them for 15+ years by the time they got the cats, so they figured it wasn’t the end of the world. The cats died 4 years ago and they’re still using the same furniture. I guess it reminds them of the happy times with the cats.

      2. Emma*

        In the past I’ve attached acetate to the areas the cats scratch. It’s transparent so doesn’t look as ugly as tape, and cats often really dislike the texture, so they learn to scratch elsewhere. If you’re lucky, you can then ditch the acetate and the cats will stay in the habit of not scratching the sofa.

        For the avoidance of doubt, I’m talking about this stuff, usually sold for use with old fashioned overhead projectors or for craft projects: https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/3UwAAOSwSjpcdz~z/s-l400.jpg

      3. SJ*

        I found sofa/chair protectors that are made of sisal — hard to describe but they’re basically a wraparound scratching post that goes directly on your furniture. I bought them on Amazon, brand is Navaris. Sold separately for left and right sides. They look better than that tape or scratched up furniture, which were my alternatives.

      4. Pucci*

        When my cats were kittens I put the Soft Paws nail caps on their claws. These need to be refreshed frequently, as the come off one nail at a time, as nail layers are shed. It was worth it because they meant that scratching on furniture was not satisfying for the cats. They needed scratching surfaces that caught the now-thick nail, like sisal scratching posts and cardboard scratchers. After two years I stopped putting the nail caps on, and the cats do not scratch the furniture. A note about the glue that comes with the caps – I found it so thick it was hard to use, especially with the kitten-sized caps. Just use regular nail glue instead.

        Not sure this would help with Alison’s older cats, but I hope it will for those with kittens.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      “How do you keep them from destroying your things?”

      It’s not always possible. When it’s not, it’s called “strategic picture taking.”

  5. Exhausted and Frustrated*

    I know we often say that we can’t micromanage the work our partners do if we want them to continue to work. But how do you handle it if they really DO need to improve the quality of their work? I am SO TIRED of my husband doing crappy cleaning and leaving me to take care of it. He *says* he believes in doing equal work, and if you made a list of what jobs we each do regularly, it would be pretty equal.
    BUT. When we take turns, he does barely anything but expects me to do a better job! Or he *technically* does what he’s supposed to do. But he’s like a 10 year old, and is very literal about what is and isn’t included!
    Some examples:
    – When he scrubs the bathroom, he doesn’t clean dried toothpaste out of the sink because “it’s really stuck on there!” We have separate sinks, thank goodness, but then he complains if it’s not cleaned off his sink when it’s my turn to scrub the bathroom. We alternate months, so by the time it’s my turn again, there’s a months worth of dried toothpaste in his sink. He also just spot cleans the mirrors and never, ever sweeps or mops the bathroom.
    – When he vacuums, he doesn’t pick up the floor first. He has literally vacuumed AROUND dirty socks and used kleenexes on the floor. They are **his own** dirty socks and used kleenexes, too!! He says “my job is to vacuum, not pick stuff up off the floor” If we’ve recently fought about it, or I’ve reminded him to pick stuff up, he does pick stuff up off the floors, but he throws them on a couch, chair or bed instead of putting them away.
    – Yesterday when I went to prep the turkey for dinner, I discovered he had put the turkey roaster away still dirty when he was assigned cleanup after the last time we hosted Thanksgiving. Three years ago. There was fossilized turkey skin the size of my pinky nail stuck to the rack and several large petrified grease puddles in the bottom, covering 1/4-1/3 of the pan. I asked him to wash it, he said “looks fine to me?” so I had to do it so we could have dinner. He hand washed the gravy boat last night. But only the inside. The drips on the outside are still there. And it’s still sitting on the counter when I asked him to take care of that before putting it away.
    I don’t feel like my standards are too high. I don’t feel like I’m nitpicking. My washing the dishes expectation is that I won’t be able to tell what was cooked on there or eaten off there just by looking at it. And he can’t even do that.
    This has always been an issue in our marriage, but has gotten much worse as our kids have moved out and now we are empty nesters. He has been angry and resentful that I’ve expected him to take some of the chores the kids used to do, just like I’ve had to take on more than the kids used to do. That’s just what happens when you teach the kids to carry the load and they grow up and leave. Someone has to start doing the things the kids always did. And I refuse to be the only one taking on that extra load. I’m exhausted. We both work FT and I’m chipping away at a masters in the evenings.
    I forsee counseling in our future, and maybe a housekeeping service, but in the meantime I’d love any ideas. I just want clean dishes to eat from when it’s been his turn to do dishes. And I want him to step it up to the level of cleaning he expects from me. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

    1. PollyQ*

      All of this sounds less like ignorance or lower standards and more like passive-aggressive resistance. I think your idea of counseling is a good one. Housekeeping service is also probably not a bad idea, but it doesn’t solve the problem of your husband’s attitude.

      1. username required*

        +1 – this isn’t about the cleaning – that’s just how the problem is showing up. Joint counseling is a good idea and if your husband won’t go you should still go to counseling on your own.

      2. Llama face!*

        Yeah, this is classic malicious compliance. He’s doing it badly because he wants his spouse to give up and just deal with it. If he just had lower standards in general or didn’t understand then he wouldn’t be holding Exhausted and Frustrated to higher ones. If he is that unhappy about the extra housework why isn’t HE making any effort to figure out housekeeper options or such? Exhausted and Frustrated* if you are also the female partner (trying to avoid assumptions about gender) then this is also a classic sexism scenario. Sorry, I know it doesn’t really provide a solution to say that but maybe it helps to hear that you are not being picky or nitpicky- your husband is being a jerk.

        1. Bobina*

          This. Malicious compliance is exactly what it is, and it is honestly one of the worst things someone in a relationship can do. Like, it usually takes *effort* to be maliciously compliant. So if someone is doing it, they are *deliberately and actively choosing to put more effort into doing whatever they can to go against whatever your request was*. Which…does not sound like someone I would want to be in a relationship with.

          I feel like the essay: “She divorced me because I left dishes by the sink” is perhaps somewhat relevant to this situation, and perhaps you might think about how much (if at all) you identify with the wife in that scenario…

          1. willow for now*

            Oh, this whole series of essays is amazingly on point, but this specific “dishes” one is a bulls eye.

      3. Washi*

        Yep. This is a strategy as old as time. It is probably hard to think about because it is very unkind and immature to do this on purpose…but he is doing this on purpose. And he’s not even pretending not to do it on purpose, since you say he is openly angry and resentful.

        This would honestly be a dealbreaker for me, unless counseling prompted an absolutely massive change of heart + major contrition for being such a sexist glassbowl.

      4. Clisby*

        Yeah, I think both I and my husband have fairly low standards, but we know how to wash a gravy boat, and to pick up stuff on the floor before vacuuming/mopping.

      5. Girasol*

        I’m not so sure. I clean most of our house but I leave my husband to clean his study and the bathroom he uses, his territory where I never enter. When we moved I had to go in and clean for house viewing. The study looked like it hadn’t been dusted in ten years. Everything was sitting wherever it was dropped, sort of an explosion of stuff. Not only was the bath a mess and in dire need of deep cleaning but he’d had a leak in the hot water tap years ago and solved it by shutting off the hot water and making do with cold. Keeping our home tidy, clean, organized, and repaired is a gift I give myself because it makes me happy to live like that. Being buried in a mountain of stuff and never having to clean it makes him happy. His tools are dropped wherever he used them last and it bothers him if I move them, so I outfitted my own toolbox so I can find the tool I need. It’s taken years for me to realize that it’s not that he’s refusing to do his fair share, it’s just that we have two radically different ideas of housekeeping.

        1. TechWorker*

          This sounds different though – your husband didn’t expect you to clean his study then complain when things weren’t done properly. If his standards were just different that would be a different conversation.

      6. Artemesia*

        This. He is like a kid doing a crappy job so you won’t make him do it. If when you point out the dirty roaster, his response is ‘oh it’s fine’ ie. you do it, then that seems like kind of a big problem in the relationship. Your example of the toothpaste is horrifying — have you sat down and discussed this with him – the double standard, the mommification of your role where you have to basically be his mommy and have to clean up after him? He wants mommy to clean up his icky toothpaste but he doesn’t do the same for the woman he loves? Wow.

        I hope you have separated out the jobs that affect only him e.g. his laundry and he is fully in charge of those.

        One of the ways we deal with this sort of thing is that we do different things e.g. he manages bills and taxes and paperwork about 85% and I clean his bathroom when I clean mine. I don’t mind bathrooms but hate paperwork. But on the rest of it — like cleaning the kitchen we have agreed upon standards and we take turns doing it.

        If you both work, having a CTJ meeting about this and about how it affects your relationship is important. Nothing kills love like having to be mommy and nothing kills love like contempt. And then see if you can arrange to have the deep cleaning hired out. When we were both working and raising kids and could finally afford it, we had someone come in twice a month to do deep clean of bathrooms, kitchen and clean floors. That meant our routine cleaning was tidying up and superficial cleaning of the kitchen after dinner etc. And the toothpaste gets taken care of.

        It would drive me nuts to be treated the way he treats you, hope someone has good ideas to deal with it.

    2. Avid Reader*

      So, yeah. In the last two years I’ve developed a mobility impairment and haven’t been able to do the notmal housework. I rely on my husband to keep up with the basics. The other day he hauled 17 bags of trash out of tbe kitchen. 17. And when went into tbe kitchen to prep the turkey, I faced the great wall of garbage on the counters. Begging and yelling has no impact. We both work ft and I don’t have the energy to deal with this. . .

      1. Artemesia*

        I’d have given up and ordered take out and had him go pick it up. How depressing to be struggling and then face this kind of lack of caring.

    3. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Yeah, my husband is good about a lot of things, but we have very different ideas about what constitutes “washing the dishes”. He strongly believes that the dishwasher will clean everything (even if it’s been stuck-on and sitting in the sink for 2-3 days). I know from experience that this is not the case. Honestly if he was this way about everything, we’d have problems. I have tried pretty much everything from showing him the dirty dishes coming out of the dishwasher, asking him to handwash things that come out dirty, to if I find a dirty dish in the cabinet (which I do frequently because he also unloads the dishwasher assuming everything is clean) simply making sure to hand it to him to use. That last one is pretty passive aggressive, and I don’t necessarily recommend it.

      Basically, my recommendation is to come up with a standard of clean and really discuss in detail every little bit of what you think it means to do every single chore and get him to agree to it. That or develop a “you do your stuff, I do mine” policy. Then (at the very least) you never have to clean his toothpaste out of his sink.

      1. tangerineRose*

        How about each of you clean your own sinks. That way if he doesn’t do it, he can live with it as-is.

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      tl;dr: In theory it’s not too much to ask. But in real life it may be. Good luck to you. If you progress to counseling I hope you are able to effect change.

      Longer version: You might want to flip through Vivian Goldhor Lerner’s “The Dance of Intimacy” for her lessons on how one person’s small changes will force the other person away from doing the same old same old. It’s not easy to re-set expectations but it’s not entirely impossible, especially if you are calm and matter-of-fact about your new behaviors. (“Dear, I’m happy to go to the pharmacy, but next time please tell me 24 hours in advance that your prescription will run out, rather than 30 minutes before the store closes.”) It’s harder for the other person to be emotional (defensive, angry, pouting) when you’re being calm. After a while this does get easier.

      I spoiled my lovely spouse by doing way more than my share of chores over many years for various reasons that made sense at the time. Now that he’s hit a spell of seriously bad health, I’m just doing all the chores. Not fun, but oh well. I’m trying to do things differently with our college-student child who lives with us. Also not fun, because this obliges me to alternately encourage, praise, remind, nag, and express disappointment at undone tasks–but the progress so far encourages me to continue. Most people will eventually learn, especially when you persist and persist. It also helps to explain that acquiring these Life Skills will make life better whether it’s with roommates, a significant other, or solo.

      From my database of these two well-loved subjects I suspect that some–not all–menfolk just don’t notice the icky details like dried-on toothpaste, fossilized food particles, wadded-up tissues that didn’t reach the waste basket, discarded dirty socks, cast-off shipping materials, empty shopping bags, etc. etc. I could blame the patriarchy but I don’t have time or energy to change our culture plus care for my spouse and work from home during this pandemic. My life is simply less stressful, and these tasks are easier to face, when our place does not look like it was styled by burglars or hurricanes.

      I’m *not* being a martyr here. I’ve decided to balance my (sometimes high) standards with my ongoing obligation for self-care. If I need to sit down, take a break, or go to bed, I do so. My seven or eight hours of sleep aren’t going to happen without my participation; household chores can wait.

      1. Bluesboy*

        I think, from my experience, that you might be right that some people “just don’t notice the icky details like dried-on toothpaste, fossilized food particles” etc (although they don’t have to be menfolk, they could just be people)…and I have certainly seen cases where one member of the couple is demanding about cleaning to an excessive standard.

        But that really isn’t the case here. Because he complains if his wife doesn’t do the job properly when it’s HER turn. See the dried toothpaste in the sink. So their standards are the same, it’s just that he doesn’t want to do it.

        What’s more, with the dried toothpaste in the sink, it’s apparently too stuck on for him to clean it, but not too stuck on for his wife to clean it a month later?

        The simplest thing to do is a housekeeper, splitting the cost equally, if you can. Relatively stress free, and he assumes his half of the responsibility. Otherwise he needs to wake up, but you’ve been married many years, I suspect therapy would be recommended here.

        One proviso: you say that you both work full time, but does he have a job involving longer hours or more stress? I have a friend who normally gets home three hours after his wife, and he resents splitting the chores equally because it basically means he cleans and goes to bed, while she cleans, watches a film, reads, takes it easy and then goes to bed…could this be your situation OP?

        I wish you all the best, and I hope all works out for you.

        1. Bubblegum Blue*

          I completely agree that the easiest solution is to get a cleaner. However, I disagree with your proviso that the person working longer hours gets a pass on their share of the house work. If he didn’t have a wife, he would still face the same problem of having no time to relax after cleaning up at night. He would either suck it up or get a cleaner or some other creative solution. He needs to apply that to his current situation rather than resenting his wife for refusing to be his mother and do everything for him.

          1. Bluesboy*

            The person with the most hours 100% shouldn’t get a ‘pass’ under normal circumstances. The couple should ideally work out together the fairest way to distribute work at home. If for example, one person worked full time and the other part time, I think most people would agree that the part time worker should take on more at home.

            My point here is just that if one of the OP’s couple is full time meaning 40 hours a week finishing at 5, and the other is pulling 70 hour weeks then that should be taken into consideration in the distribution of chores. Do you think that housework should be divided 50/50 in that scenario?

            1. Dan*

              In this situation, I would hope that the person working 70 hour weeks is making enough money to pay for a cleaner. If one is working 70 hour weeks and does not have enough money to pay for said cleaner, there are bigger problems.

            2. Autumnheart*

              In that scenario, I would just work 75 hours and then demand that they be the ones to clean because “I work more”.

              Anyone can game their work hours to get out of home responsibilities. I can sit at my desk for 3 extra hours a night, or go out with my coworkers for “business dinners,” and come home to a clean house, right? Oh wait, I live alone and the dishes don’t do themselves.

              Nobody’s job includes free maid service from their spouse.

            3. Always Late to the Party*

              The best philosophy I’ve heard about this came from TikTok – the amount of *rest* should be equal, which would mean the 70 hours a week person could take on less (although not none) of the housework.

              I don’t think this addresses OP’s issue though. I don’t think the husband here is vacuuming around his own dirty socks because he works more than OP.

          2. Dan*

            Let’s stipulate that OP’s problems aren’t about cleaning, and this sub-thread isn’t about her husband.

            Speaking as the guy the who lives by himself… less people does equate to less mess, at least to some extent. Quite frankly, if a single person is creating so much mess they have to clean up every night and have no time to relax, they’re doing it wrong. As in… I need to spend an hour a week cleaning my place, not an hour a day.

            Also, I have full control over what does (and doesn’t) get done on a daily basis. I don’t cook “full” meals nightly (most meals get me three servings, so I cook one “real” meal and eat the rest of it throughout the week.) If I don’t want to clean the kitchen on cooking night, I don’t have to. TBH, that’s usually the way it works. The night’s dishes go in the sink, and on another night where “cooking” is just reheating the leftovers, that time is spent cleaning. I’m also the type where dirty dishes in the sink don’t bother me. Trash goes out when the bag is full.

            So if I were to live with someone who *is* bothered by dirty dishes in the sink, we’d have to come to an agreement. It’s not a moral or value judgement, it’s just a matter of priorities. If having a clean sink every night is important, than maybe that person has to clean the sink every night. Me? I appreciate good food, and when I was married, I did the cooking. I certainly did not demand that my spouse learn to cook to my liking.

            1. TechWorker*

              I think an hour a week (even per person) is likely lower than average if you include washing up + laundry in your list of household chores. Depends also on how messy you are of course :) and how big a space you’re cleaning. I suspect I am down the hour a day end when you include everything although it definitely got worse when we got cats.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          It sounds like the OP is the one putting in more hours, since they both work FT *and* the OP is also in graduate school.

          1. Bluesboy*

            I agree, and I suspect you are right. I just put the proviso because we don’t have that information and I might change my opinion if we knew that (for example) husband was working 50% more hours than OP.

            But my suspicion is that this isn’t the case, and the husband is just not pulling his weight

        3. Bostonian*

          The housekeeper isn’t going to pick up those dirty tissues and socks so they can vacuum there, though. Husband is still going to have to be able to pick up after himself.

        4. Artemesia*

          Having over the course of my career, I have usually had more flexible hours than my husband, both of us have been unemployed for a time, he retired before I did — and then raised kids. So we adapted how we managed the house hold. e.g. he retired at 63 and so was retired for a couple of years before I retired at 67 — during that time, he did most of the cooking. Once I retired we are back to more or less splitting it. Our rule was that each person should have roughly the same free personal time — so when he worked longer hours, I did more especially during the week, when either was unemployed we did more, and with kids he got Sunday morning and I got Saturday morning without kid duty. If one person works longer hours and commute longer then they do less in the evening — but it is also a good time to consider hiring out deep cleaning if both are working.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This enrages me — not that he sucks at cleaning but that he’s being such a jerk to you about it. I’m assuming the subtext of “my job is to vacuum, not pick stuff up off the floor” is … that it’s your job?

      Have you directly asked him why he asks you to clean stuck-on toothpaste in the sink but declines to do it himself? If so, what does he say to that? And have you asked if his expectation is that you’ll do more now that the kids have moved out but he won’t? If you haven’t explicitly asked these things, I think forcing him to state his assumptions would be useful.

      But ultimately I agree counseling is the way to go. At best, it’s something you need outside help working through because this kind of thing can cause resentment to the point that it kills intimacy … and at worst, it reflects larger issues of respect and unwillingness to be a full partner. (Speaking of which, I’m curious how things are in other areas.)

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

    6. Gada*

      Wow. He’s a jerk. I’m so sorry for you. He won’t clean your toothpaste, but he expects you to clean his?? What?? And your standards are definitely not too high. Is he this lazy in all areas of life??

      1. Not A Manager*

        You are mistaken. He won’t clean his own toothpaste, and he expects her to clean it. On alternate months.

    7. WS*

      Definitely counselling on this one. It’s not about chores, it’s about him not respecting your time and effort. Any attempt to spell things out clearly (e.g. “vacuuming includes picking things up off the floor”) will end in more passive aggression, as you see with the gravy boat. In the meantime, options might include each of you being 100% responsible for some things and 0% for others, so he can’t just let it slide until it’s your turn, because it’s always his turn.

    8. 30ish*

      That sounds incredibly annoying. I don’t mean this in a victim blamey way, but have you let him know how much this angers you and that what he is doing is BS? Some people need to be called out very explicitly.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I was kind of going along here until I hit the part about it’s YOUR job to pick up his undies and kleenex.

      Does he realize he has moved you from “wife status” to “mommy status”. Not saying there is something wrong with mothers, I am say that no spouse wants to be a mother or father to their spouse. You’re not mommy and he is not two years old. He needs to stop acting like a two year old.

      Has he always been like this or is this new?

      Unfair division of labor is one of the leading causes of divorce. Is being right so important to him that he is willing to lose his marriage over it?

      What is interesting here is the head games. What could be going on with him that he thinks it’s okay to play head games with his life partner, the one who is THE priority in his life?

      From my own experience I saw my husband change with his scripts. Some med definitely brought out the worst in him. I pointed it out to him and he eventually weened himself off the med. I got my husband back.

      I have seen this helplessness in women also. It’s not pretty on anyone.

        1. Artemesia*

          I put my first husband through law school while working full time and getting my masters evenings. And all housework was mine — he sometimes helped. The day he passed the bar I left him. Have been married more or less blissfully for nearly 50 years to someone who has always done his share and it is pleasure to have a real partner in old age just as it was when we raising kids. I don’t know how you can sustain love for someone who treats you with contempt and it is worth asking whether this is how you want to spend the rest of your life. I am so glad I made the decision to leave when I did.

    10. Rebecca*

      Hiring a housekeeping service will help with the physical cleanliness of your home, but the issues here run far beyond simply “he’s not cleaning things correctly”. He’s disrespecting you as his partner and being hostile about it (who puts dirty roasting pans away and lets them sit for years?) and no amount of cleaning services from an agency will fix that. You deserve better than this. I agree with the other posters about counseling, and please take a good look at all the other aspects of your life with him. I too divorced a man who refused to even try to participate in a partnership.

      1. Clisby*

        +100. My husband and I have a cleaning service come in every other week, but it’s not to solve any conflict over cleanliness. We both know how to clean, we have equal tolerance for postponing cleaning, we recognize that neither of us is going to keep the house in the state of cleanliness we like, so we hire someone to at least get us back up to a reasonable standard twice a month. It works for us. For OP, I feel like solving the cleaning issue is just going to lead to the conflict popping up somewhere else.

      2. Momma Bear*

        Agreed. I’d suggest that everyone do chores they like “better” but I suspect this guy would pick easy ones and still do them halfway and still expect OP to be held to a higher standard. So. Again, it’s not about the chores. I was a SAHP for a while and got really frustrated when I was holding down a PT job, watching the kid, and expected to do the lioness’ share of the household chores, too. That did not go over well. It’s a good way to erode your marriage when you don’t respect your spouse – and I think that’s the crux of it. He doesn’t respect her enough to do his share. I also wonder what else he doesn’t respect about her/the relationship.

    11. really*

      Make sure if you do counseling, you mention the turkey roaster being put away with food on it.

      And actually, I would urge you to just go to counseling yourself, not have: 1) pleading and begging him to go, and then 2) he reluctantly goes and acts like it is a tremendous favor to you (and maybe you should do a bit of extra cleaning for him to make up for this!) and 3) sulks the entire time and/or it devolves into what YOU need to do to fix things and how YOU can be a better more supportive spouse and how BAD and devalued he feels when YOU don’t appreciate his efforts.

      Go by yourself — and see what a counselor says.

    12. Generic Name*

      I have been married twice. One husband has very high standards of cleanliness and would tell me things like he expected the sink with the dish drainer in it to never have small crumbs in it (nevermind that I was home full time with a colicky infant), but at least he could clean to his own standards. The other husband has lower standards of cleanliness and is constantly tracking stuff in the house, but he usually cleans something when I ask him to, and if I say, “honey, you missed a spot” he’ll say “whoops!” and clean the spot.

      Your husband is like the worst of both worlds. Messy, but with high standards that only apply to you. While also being resentful and angry. I think it’s time for counseling. If he won’t go with you, get counseling for yourself. You deserve an equal partner in life, and at least as far as basic chores goes, this guy isn’t holding up his end of the bargain.

    13. Scarypeanut*

      The book “How to Not Hate Your Husband After Having Kids” has some suggestions for unfair division of chores which might help. One idea from the book that might help is to divide the chores by task-so instead of alternating cleaning the bathroom maybe his is always the bathroom and yours is always dishes, for instance. The author suggests dividing by the chores by the ones that would drive you the most nuts if they aren’t done well (those are yours) vs the ones that your husband cares more about (those are his).

      The author also writes about a technique where a friend piles on positive compliments for everything her husband does well and doesn’t even mention/nag/seem to notice the multiple ways he comes up short. At the end of the week, he takes on the task of cleaning out the garage, which she has been nagging him to do for a year. The friend says that it definitely works that also that there is no way she is ever doing that again.

      Your husband’s behavior would enrage me, but I think practically the best step would be to hire a housekeeping service. Even once a month or once every other month would help maintain a baseline level of clean.

    14. Dan*

      Cleanliness standards often devolve into gender wars, but as others have pointed out, this is not what’s going on here.

      It doesn’t matter the gender or the issue, but when one says to the other, “honey this is important to me” and the response given in return is “tough shit” (or some variation thereof) there’s a good chance that this is the start of a lots of trouble.

      Others have suggested counseling, and in general, I’m a proponent. However, in this case I wonder how effective that would be? I mean, he knows WTF he’s doing. He’s acting like a two year old, and does he need a professional to point that out? To me, counseling has the best chance of success when both parties are acting in good faith, but are talking past each other for whatever reason.

      Before my ex and I split up, I did a couple of joint sessions with her therapist. One of the big issues at the time was money. It wasn’t “saver” vs “spender” per se, it was “staying out of debt” vs “spending”. And my ex just Didn’t. Want. To. Talk. About. Her. Spending. (and she wasn’t working…) At one of the sessions, her therapist asked if it would be appropriate to re-evaluate the budget. I told the therapist, “I’m doing the best I can with the income and expenses we have. I fully admit that I may have gotten some things wrong and a re-evaluation may be in order. HOWEVER (and a big however), is that if I got things wrong, ex really, really needs to talk to me about this like an adult and we need to revisit priorities together. She simply cannot just do what she wants and expect me to pay the bills without a fuss.”

      1. Artemesia*

        I don’t think THEY need counseling. I think she does, to help her sort out how she wants to live her life and what she wants to do about it.

    15. Always Late to the Party*

      A lot of folks have suggested counseling, and I wholeheartedly agree. I think whether you’re able to do counseling or not, a renegotiation of household responsibilities is in order.

      In our house, my husband does the majority of the cooking and kitchen cleaning. I do all the laundry, including folding/putting away, and clean the bathroom. We aren’t systematic about other cleaning (mostly it’s whoever gets tired of looking at clutter, etc. first) but if one of us needs the other to pitch in, we ask and comply without complaint. This is the system that works for our individual personalities/strengths and has taken a fair amount of communication to make work for us.

      So I think you need to have a conversation with your husband. Lay out (calmly) the patterns of behavior you’re seeing and ask him to work with you to come up with a new system that works for both of you. What chores does he despise the least? Suggest he take those on as regular tasks. There’s no rule that says you must both do all tasks. And for goodness sake, make it a rule that he needs to pick up his own dirty socks.

      Also, I recently went from cleaning the bathroom once a month to once a week (for the most part). The transition was difficult but cleaning a weeks worth of dried toothpaste is sooooo much easier/less intimidating than cleaning a months worth of dried toothpaste.

      I wish you all the best!

    16. LNLN*

      Exhausted and Frustrated, you are NOT nitpicking or picky. Your husband is being ridiculous. I think malicious compliance way better describes his behavior than passive/aggressive. Reading and discussing together Harriet Goldhor Lerner’s book The Dance of Anger probably helped our (41 year) marriage more than anything else my husband and I did over the years, but I had a willing partner. You cannot save your marriage on your own. Personally, I would have a difficult time maintaining a marriage with someone who is acting as your husband is acting. When I told my husband about the gravy boat, he said, “What a d!ck! It’s more work to NOT wash the outside of the gravy boat than to actually wash it.” I hope your husband decides to be happy instead of being right (or long suffering or whatever else he is getting out of his bizarre behavior). I know my life changed the day I decided I wanted to be happy.

      1. Tabby*

        It took me several days to be able to respond reasonably to this. This guy is definitely maliciously complying in a bid to get you to stop doing things that aren’t all about taking care of him. Honestly, I’d move out and divorce him immediately, as I have no patience for this kind of rabid selfishness. Let him live in his squalor; he sounds truly unpleasant to live with. You aren’t required to be a mother to a grown man.

    17. annoying Mouse*

      Just some band-aid suggestions:

      1. Bathroom cleaning- you mentioned you had kids, is it safe to assume you have more than 1 full bathroom? If you do, just use different bathrooms, he cleans his to his standards you clean yours to yours. If you only have one bathroom, don’t clean his sink, just clean yours, he cleans his.
      2. There are multiple less than $200 robot vacuums out on the market. Buy one of those, his job is no longer ‘vacuuming’ its throwing away his dirty socks and tissues.
      3. It seems when it comes to cleaning up after eating, the problems you mentioned seemed to be things you can’t wash in the dishwasher. If that’s the case don’t use items that can’t be dish washed or use them knowing he isn’t going to help you. (Maybe to compensate he can cook?) If this is a problem that crops up on other times, buy a better dishwasher or stop cooking for him. Give him his own plates, silver ware and pots and pans. He can keep those clean to his standards and you can keep yours to your standards.
      4. Since your both working full time, and you have grown kids, it sounds like your older. It might be nice to higher a housekeeper to keep the house clean once a month or so, it will give you both extra time to relax.

      I wouldn’t so any of the above in a confrontational way , just say ‘ I think we’re both unhappy with the way the housekeeping is going, so how do you feel about doing it this way…?’

      My mom made my dad use a separate bathroom, because she couldn’t stand how dirty he got the bathroom, and how he never cleaned it. He also made his own food and would do the dishes after himself, and it worked for them.

      1. Jaid*

        Something I read about someone with executive dysfunction is how she couldn’t bring herself to wash the dishes and the dishwasher didn’t clean them properly without a pre-rinse.

        Her therapist asked her why didn’t she just run the dishwasher again?

        Would that help?

    18. Overbooked*

      While it may seem awful to use animal training techniques on one’s human partner, Amy Sutherland’s NYTimes piece “What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage” is worth a look. And Pat Mainardi’s famous 1970 essay “The Politics of Housework” is still great for overall righteous bolstering. Both are free online. I have to admit that this is me-the-librarian making these recommendations; in my real partnered life, now long past, these problems were pretty intractable. With hindsight, I think more Shamu and less appealing to fairness, ethics, and common sense would have been more effective though.

    19. Katrin*

      I agree with what some of the others commenters are saying about this really being the symptom of a bigger problem that requires counciling. However I have heard a lot from people with ADHD and some other disorders that they sometimes can’t see the mess or that some people just don’t really know what clean looks like. I still struggle with this with my partner, since he has a much lower mess tolerance than I do. When I used to live in a shared flat we got together and made a definition of clean. E.g. “clean the bathroom” means the shower has been scrubbed with bleach, there is no gunk on the pan or tiles, there is no hair in the drain, similar conditions for the sink and toilet. The window sill also needed to be wiped and free of chemical residue. The mirror needed to be cleaned and dried and free of streaks. All products needed to be back in their places afterwards. When we had issues with someone not pulling their weight, we could pull out our definition which we had agreed on and ask them if there were problems with it. We put it on a Google Doc so we could alter it as necessary and track who made the changes. Of course, this only works if you both want it to work. I think your husband doesn’t really feel like he is responsible for the upkeep of your house and therefore it’s fine to put in half the effort.

      1. Roci*

        I’ve been in a similar situation where we have different definitions of “clean”.

        But seems like the husband has different definitions of “clean” depending on who is doing the work. That tells me something else is going on here.

    20. TurkeyLurkey*

      As other commenters have said, there’s more here than just getting the chores done, but I’m going to focus specifically on the chores.
      Here are some things that have helped in my cohabitations:
      * Checklists. Only do this for things that come up often or where the stakes are higher. We have a bathroom cleaning checklist and one for preparing for guests. This is best if you build the list together and talk through each person’s process as you do it.
      * Watch some cleaning “how to” and “clean with me” videos together. This takes the pressure off one person being ‘right’ and the other ‘wrong’. We all learned tips to improve efficiency and were reminded that there are a myriad of approaches.
      * If your schedule allows, having joint ‘X minute’ tidy sessions. Set a timer, pick up things together. Even if it is short, it helps. If everybody is on board, this helps build a sense of teamwork and a joint sense of accomplishment.
      * When a job is done right (even if it is a dead simple, done right all the time), thank him. In our household, we thank each other for emptying the dishwasher, washing socks, etc etc. We also call each other over to admire a job (ex: “Doesn’t the kitchen counter look so much better?”)

  6. Finland*

    A few years ago I went to visit a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. My friend owns a very beautiful Maine Coon and, while I was already expecting this cat to be moody and temperamental, I was not prepared for this encounter. It stalked me, harassed me and, when my friend stepped out for a quick errand, it tried to attack me. I wasn’t hurt at all (maybe emotionally), but I was strangely terrified of this little creature. It lunged at me from a hidden spot in the dining room and proceeded to claw and hiss. I ran from room to room screaming as it chased me. It felt like a scene from a horror movie. Fortunately, my friend came back within half an hour to find me screaming and running around the house and, being so supportive, he burst into laughter. I did not find this funny at all. My anger was so high, I yelled at my friend demanding that he rescue me from this demon cat. Apparently, this cat is known for doing this. My friend’s cousins from out of town even asked me once we met, “So, did the cat attack you yet?”

    1. Bluesboy*

      Pretty unsympathetic! There is something weird about pet owners (and I say that as one myself) that we think our fur babies are ‘playing’ or being cute, or natural, when actually they are making someone else unhappy or hurting them. It isn’t ok.

      And Maine Coons, beautiful though they are, are big buggers too!

    2. allathian*

      Ouch! Tell your friend you won’t be spending any more time alone with the cat, ever. That behavior is simply unacceptable. In your shoes, I would seriously question the value of your friendship, he doesn’t sound like a nice and considerate friend.

    3. Effie*

      Aw! Sorry to hear that happened to you. Did your friend ever apologize?

      A friend of a friend of mine has three Maine Coons and they all hid in a bedroom so I had the opposite experience of yours when meeting them (I didn’t chase them, I just wanted to meet them and they hid).

    4. sswj*

      I’m so sorry you were put in that position, and I’m sorry for the cat. That’s a stressed and unhappy cat :(
      I’m also sorry your “friend” is an asshat.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        “That’s a stressed and unhappy cat.”

        I agree. I’m a cat owner and I also help a rescue. Cats typically aren’t naturally aggressive like that. They learn it, either from being taught to play very rough, being abused, ignored, not socialized at a young enough age, or neglected in some other way. Also, from what I know about Maine Coons, they’re not know for being aggressive. I’d say the friend’s cat has some big issues if it’s attacking like that.

        And yes, the friend is an asshat. He should have warned OP his cat is a jerk. Though it sounds like he doesn’t see a problem at all…

        1. Cat and dog fosterer*

          Agreed too. Undersocialized and ignored cats almost exclusively run and hide. One that stalks and attacks is extremely unusual. My first thought would also be a cat that was encouraged to play unusually roughly (typically younger male cats with younger male owners).

          If you plan to visit again then know that you can buy cat wands from the dollar store. Wave it around in front of the cat and hopefully it will be distracted. Although possibly not if your friend has encouraged it to specifically attack legs. But the $1-2 is likely a worthwhile investment.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I agree. My friend has a big Maine Coon and when I first visited after they got him, he walked up to me, stretched up, and started playing with the drawstring on my hoodie (I was bending over to pet him). They’re not inherently attack-ish.

        Most cats don’t act like that as a rule. I’ve never seen a well cared-for cat do that. In a playful manner? Yes, pouncing on my foot if I wiggle my toes, or whatever. But not aggressively. It’s objectively terrible to let it attack people. This person should not have a cat, IMO. I feel really bad for the animal.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      A cat scratch or bite can result in a big doctor bill, even if the cat is vaccinated. That he deliberately left you alone with the cat, knowing how the cat behaves sounds sadistic. This guy is no friend.
      Sorry you went through this.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        He’s no friend of yours, OP. But he’s no friend of the cat’s either. How does he know that you wouldn’t get ticked off and bring a shovel or whatever down on that cat’s head?

        When my dog was a pup, he had adult hair. He never had puppy fuzz. But he sure had puppy behaviors, omg.
        One of my fears was if he got a way from me, anyone who found him might not realize he was a pup. I was worried some random person would decide he was rabid/wild/whatever and shoot him. Protection goes both ways, there’s protecting people from our pets and protecting the pet from people who do not know the animal.

        This guy has failed you and that cat, big time.

        Running at the same time, I am wondering what he is doing to that cat that makes it act that way.

    6. fposte*

      I think some pet owners get blinded by their love of their pet to think that everything the pet does is adorable and others should love the behavior too, or at least put up with it. Those are generally not good pet owners.

    7. Ask a Manager* Post author

      A reminder to please follow the rules on top of this post. I don’t want to remove all the responses here since people took time to write them but I’m closing this subthread.

  7. Chaordic One*

    Over the last couple of years, several people here have commented about “weighted blankets” and they’ve said that the blankets helped them fall asleep quicker and sleep better. I’m considering buying one and I’m a bit confused because the weighted blankets seem kind of small.

    A regular blanket for a queen-size bed is approximately 86 to 88 inches wide by 96 to 100 inches long, while a weighted blanket for a queen-size bed is approcimately 56 to 62 inches wide by 62 to 80 inches long. Why is there the discrepancy? Does a weighted blanket just sit on top of the bed and not go over the sides? If you use a weighted blanket with other blankets, do you put the weighted blanket on the bottom or on top?

    1. Buzzbattlecat*

      I just bought one two weeks ago and yes I LOVE it. I bought queen size and it doesn’t quite cover the top of the QS mattress. There is apparently a reason, which is that they are designed for one person only. I’m single so it is perfect for me. They say that for couples, each person should have their own, (e.g. 2 singles) so the blanket cuddles around each person, also so each has the 10%of body weight as appropriate.
      Yes I just cover it during the day if I can be bothered. I used to have 3 blankets and a quilt but now just use the weighted blanket by itself.

      1. Buzzbattlecat*

        Also mine came with a washable cover, soft and fuzzy on one side and smooth bamboo fabric on the other, highly recommend.
        I got mine because I’ve started menopause and was waking up frequently. The first night I slept 10 hours straight!

    2. Effie*

      I have two from Sheltered.co – I bought one for my bed and I loved it so much I bought another one for the couch! They’re hand crocheted from deadstock and 100% worth it. No beads for weight so the weight spreads evenly as long as you don’t fold the blanket. Yes, they are smaller than regular blankets and I agree with Buzzbattlecat – it’s meant for one person. In the winter I put my weighted blanket on top of my electric blanket (I tried it the other way and the weighted blanket kept the heat from reaching me) and just stay under the part where both blankets are. Sheltered.co does have some Standard Plus size blankets which you could conceivably use for two people. And I hate to sound like a sponsored ad but they never have sales and they are doing free shipping today only (Small Business Saturday) with code THANKYOU so good time to invest in one if you’re on the fence!

    3. Purt’s Peas*

      I like my weighted blanket—I can use it as a sturdy body pillow when crumpled up or as a pleasant blanket.

      They’re not supposed to hang off the bed because they will succumb to gravity incredibly easily and slide right off, if given the opportunity.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        And even 10lbs of weighted blanket slamming into the floor at 1am tends to scare anyone else living in the house. According to my mom, it really does sound like a body hitting the floor.

    4. nep*

      I finally bought one and I love it. Same–mine just barely goes to the corners of the bed.
      For the rare nap or when I was resting when ill, I used it alone. If I want to use it at night, I put it over my comforter.

      1. Anono-me*

        I’ve Been looking into weighted blankets. (I’m definitely sold on the washable covers.) Apparently they are deliberately designed not to hang over the edge of the bed. Because the weight would pull the blanket down off the bed.

    5. LQ*

      Everyone else covered why they are smaller. But I put mine above the sheet, below the other blankets. Mine came with a washable cover but that cover wasn’t a breathable/natural material, and apparently, I’ve gotten real, real judgey in my sleep about that. So keeping it in the in-between I’m able to keep it clean without the cover on it making the bed 100000 degrees and then the top blanket is one I can easily wash. (Studio apartment so I sit on the bed a lot as a couch.)

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I got one the size of a throw for Christmas last year when my dad didn’t want it. It does help me sleep (and it’s warm, almost hot) but yeah, it is small. I just put it on top of my comforter, sort of in the center so it covers me. Unfortunately, mine doesn’t have a removable cover, so it’s spot-clean only. I would like a wider one; although it would be a lot heavier, I think that’s a fair trade-off.

    7. KoiFeeder*

      I put my weighted blanket on the top- it keeps the other blankets from sliding around.

      Mine does help me sleep, but I’m also autistic. Your mileage may vary.

    8. RagingADHD*

      They’re also small because the whole point is to have the weight pressing on you. Weights on the empty part of the bed, or hanging off the edge, aren’t doing anything and would just reduce the effective weight overall.

      I use a single-size on a queen-size bed. My husband hates weighted blankets anyway so that works out fine.

    9. Lady Heather*

      I love my weighted blanket. It also gives me back pain unfortunately.

      Solutions to that that I’ve found helpful:

      -“Roll up” blanket and put it across my hips, leaving my chest and most of my legs free. This also helps to make it feel more heavy, and it helps me have more movement meaning less back pain.
      Especially helpful when sleeping on back.
      -Put a nursing pillow across my thighs with the ‘arms’ pointing headwards, with most of the nursing pillow filling being in those ‘arms’. Keeps some of the weight off my hips/lower back meaning less back pain. Simultaneously offers more movement and less movement. Especially helpful when sleeping on the side.

      I don’t think small sizes are bad – unlike a duvet that covers you chin to toe, you’ll likely want the blanket off your shoulders and maybe feet. Also, for me, I prefer it mainly on my thighs-to-hips region. (When the weight is distributed too much across my body it’s too heavy on some places and far too light on others!)

      What is important is the size of the “squares” that the heavy filler is enclosed in. If the squares are large, filler will hang off you, and move to the lowest side and be uncomfortable (unless you have sensory needs that make that comfortable.. I don’t.) Mine are about 10 cmx10 cm I think, which works fine.

  8. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    So… today (Saturday) is my birthday. I’m 35 now. A few weeks ago, I was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes which has lead to a lot of anxiety and stress as I work to change my diet and get my numbers under control. I didn’t even ask for a cake this year because I feel afraid to even eat a piece. I haven’t told my parents about the diagnosis. I don’t even know why I have kept it a secret. I just don’t know how to tell them.

    1. Might Be Spam*

      Happy birthday. I’m sorry about your diagnosis. Do your parents generally get upset and expect you to comfort them even though you are the one with the illness? It may be easier to tell your parents once you get used to your new diet and get your numbers under control. You have a lot to deal with right now and don’t need to talk about it with anyone until you feel like it.

    2. Contamina743*

      I went through this diagnosis at 26, so what I am going to say co es from experience.

      First and foremost, I am sorry for the metric load of conflicting and scary information that is going to get dumped on you in the near future. There is going to be a whole lot to sort through, and a whole lot of information to work through to find what is best FOR YOU and YOUR BODY. So let me give you a few bullet points that helped me a lot.

      – This is a medical condition and not a moral judgement. That is going to be hard to keep an eye on, especially with the really moralistic view the health industry has re: food and health. Food is not bad. Food you eat is NOT BAD. It is food. YOU are not bad for having diabetes. You are not a failure either.

      – Ask firmly for a referral to diabetes education courses and for a dietician. NOT a nutritionist. Getting dumped head first into this is tough, and educating yourself is a good way to take some active steps towards control. Nutritionists don’t have to be licenced, or go through actual training to claim the title. Dieticians DO and generally have a more educated approach.

      – Experiment with food that works for you. I can have corn products all day with zero spike in sugars, while a friend vaguely LOOKING at a bag of tortilla chips has a spike. But they can eat wheat pretty comfortably with minimal raises. Your body is your body and reacts differently to different stuff. That is normal and fine. Experiment and see what works for you.

      – You are going to screw up. Period. We all do. We’re human. This life and its challenges is a marathon, not a sprint. This includes this disease. Yes, you have just been handed the GENETIC crap pancake of a chronic illness, and that SUCKS. It is okay to hate it and be scared. It is ok to eat a piece of cake. More than anything, this diagnosis demands moderation rather than instant change and restriction. It’s ok to ask for help and get educated and have good and bad days. YOU didn’t fail, your body works different.

      – Take some time to grieve here. You aren’t weird or strange for being shaken and sad. It is NOT weird to be circumspect about disclosing your illness to others, even those close to you. I honestly wish I had not been as open with my diagnosis. Mostly because I had to listen to health and diet advice from EVERYONE. Wait until you are ready. And if someone pushes back about you waiting a while, just remind them you needed time to deal with it yourself.

      Remember, you are not a failure. You are not a bad person. You have a treatable medical condition that is not always controllable. It is ok to be scared, but I am now 40. I promise your life isn’t over. It’s just kinda different.

      Lastly, be careful if you get assigned a b-vitamin, those can destabilize blood sugars in some cases, so if you do take one, monitor it along side your doctor.

      1. M*

        I was diagnoses with type 2 about 2 years ago at 40 and I just want to echo everything here.
        Most especially, the part about NOT seeing a nutritionist. If your local hospital has Certified Diabetes Educators and seeing one is an option for you, I highly recommend it. My primary care doc sent me to a nutritionist upon diagnosis and things got a lot worse.

        I was in a random checkup like 8 months later with the nurse practitioner in the office and she told me about the local hospital’s diabetes self-management program and gave me the referral. That program included regular individual meetings with the CDE as well as some group classes and a support group. It made everything so much easier to manage and although I am the opposite of a support group person, it really helped to have some people to talk to about things.

        Finally, I really recommend seeing an endocrinologist if you can. Although many people don’t think it is necessary for type 2, mine changed my life completely. He knew about medication in ways my primary doctor did not and could see patterns in my test results that were subtle but meaningful. He made changes to my treatment plan that increased my quality of life dramatically.

        This diagnosis and this disease suck! But you didn’t cause it and you don’t deserve it. Take care of yourself!

      2. lapgiraffe*

        What excellent advice, I developed non alcoholic fatty liver a few years ago so similar situation of learning (and relearning all the time) that it’s not a moral failure, to take life day by day, that what works for my friends doesn’t always work for me, and to listen to your body.

        On the telling your family – I’m unusually close to my small family and my mother trained as an RN so despite being out of the nursing game for over 25 years at this point she still considers herself an expert on health matters and we’ve always had a rather open dialogue around our health. That was fine and good when the stakes were lower, but sharing the fatty liver situation with them has totally changed the dynamic and caused some serious stress and anxiety. They want updates way too often, they judge anything and everything that goes into my mouth, they send me diet info all the time, they tell me about so and so who got whatever weight loss surgery and how amazing they are, and basically they unravel all the mental and emotional work I do, which will negatively impact my physical work as well.

        I know not everyone’s family is going to be this way and some people find great comfort in having their family as a support system, but I mention it because until this situation I would have told you my family is a great support system and didn’t think twice about sharing my diagnosis, and boy do I regret it. So if you want to hold off and not tell them, that is totally fine. There’s such a negative gloss to the idea of “going through something alone” but honestly when it’s your body, it doesn’t have to be shared with anyone.

        Having some trusted people in your life who maybe have gone through the same, whether a friend or someone you meet in a support group or online forum, I find it much easier and helpful and a positive support in my life. I was able to afford a personal trainer in my lifestyle changing journey and she was also a great support because she witnessed just how much hard work I put into reversing my diagnosis. She pushed me, but she did so with a positive, encouraging energy, she was the necessary cheerleader who wouldn’t let me get bogged down in negative thinking and made it her job to make me realize how strong and resilient I actually am.

        Good luck and know that this does not define you nor is it an unfixable, unchangeable disease.

        1. osmoglossum*

          hi lapgiraffe,
          i’m curious to know what you’ve been advised to do – if anything – for the fatty liver. i was diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver about 13 years ago, during an ER visit for what turned out to be a gallstone. the doctor who told me about the fatty liver was very matter-of-fact and i asked if there was anything i needed to do or keep an eye on or if there was any danger or something, anything. he said, no. just wanted to inform me. so i wondered why the hell he even bothered to tell me if there was nothing to worry about. but now, reading your post, i’m kinda sorta worried. i appreciate any information you’re willing to share.

      3. 00ff00Claire*

        I will also chime in to say see if you can get a referral to a good dietician. They can be so helpful and will not “put you on a Diet” (a good one won’t anyway – don’t stay with one who does). They will help you find what works best for you. If you are in the US, your medical insurance might even have dietitian coverage. If I remember correctly from what my RDN friend told me, diabetes is one of the few medical conditions for which insurance in the US can be required to cover dietitian consults. Wishing you a happy birthday and the best with managing your health!

    3. nep*

      Sending you love.
      Maybe the moment hasn’t come yet, and at some point you’ll just feel it’s right to tell them. Or maybe you will want to keep it to yourself.
      You can do what you need to to set things right with your body. I wish you peace.
      (I don’t observe my birthday, but I will share that today’s my birthday too.)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Figure out what it is you think your parents will say and prepare some type of answer for it.

      My husband was diagnosed around the same age. He stayed off of any meds for a long time. Part of the reason for that was his enthusiasm for biking.

      I think once you see some differences in yourself, this will get easier. For example, you might notice that you don’t tire as quick, or that you feel less sluggish during the day.

      Two things that you can work at on your own that are good helps is hydration and rest. Set a bedtime and get there each night. I am not a diabetic but I do measure out my water for the day each morning. That way I know I am taking in similar amounts each day. Proper hydration done on a steady basis helps with so many smaller concerns. In my own life, I have found it easier to watch what I eat if I am rested and hydrated. Will power and logic go down with lack of rest. And often we can feel hungry and our bodies are actually thirsty.

    5. *daha**

      It’s like a tripod to support this illness. The three legs are medication, exercise, and food intake. I’m messing myself up right now because I was spending 40 minutes on the elliptical at my gym until the virus closed it down, and even though they opened back up I’m afraid to go in and pant. When I was exercising steadily it showed in my A1C and daily fingersticks, and in my weight, and in my appetite, and in my general feeling of well-being. I need to at least take daily walks.

    6. Kuododi*

      Oh sweetie… that’s the kind of news which really sucks.. I’ve been T2 for approximately the past four-five years. Everyone here has posted excellent practical ways to manage the circumstances. I definitely want to encourage you to read through it all. I’d particularly encourage you to followup with the exercise, diabetes education and by all means get a referral for a good endocrinologist ASAP. As far as exercise is concerned…look for a physical activity which you find to be fun and coincidentally is a good source of physical activity. (ie… martial arts, dancing, hiking group in your area.)

      Most of all, remember that you are still the same bright, lovely person you were before your diagnosis. Neither food or diabetes are a poor reflection on your worth as a person. Food isn’t sinful, bad or any other moral judgement. Food simply is what it is. With a bit of help you can have BDay cake if it’s what you want. Until you’re able to get into local diabetes education I would refer you to the American Diabetic Association website. Their education material is quite thorough, particularly regarding food and nutrition. My very best wishes for your bright future. Kuododi

    7. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      I want to thank everyone so SOO much for all the advice. I was seeing a dietitian a couple years ago just to… help my relationship with food and I really liked her, so I may reach out and see if she’s doing virtual visits. With Covid, I don’t really want to be going into an office anywhere if I can help it.

      The more I think about it, I believe the reason I don’t want to tell my parents yet is due to other unrelated issues I’ve been having with them lately. Normally we’re very close, and they know about most things going on with me (and I’m usually fine sharing those things). My mom has gone a bit cuckoo lately claiming that “all of the news is wrong” and refusing to watch/believe any of it. So there has been some understandable tension as she refuses to believe what is going on in the world, and I have tried to tell her that not everything is a conspiracy.

      I do think it would be a good idea to check out some (if not all) of the resources you all have provided. And I really want to thank everyone who said that this isn’t a moral judgment and that I’m not a failure. It is something that runs in my family, and I have NO control over my genetics, but it really REALLY helps to hear it. Thank you all so much!

    8. Barbara Eyiuche*

      If you are taking metformin for the diabetes, please have you B12 level checked during your regular blood work. Metformin depletes B12, gradually over years, so you may need B12 shots.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. My husband ended up taking a B supplement in a dose that for me would be similar to 6 pots of coffee. I would be bouncing off of walls and ceilings. He just went about his day.

  9. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual, this thread is not limited to fiction writing.
    I got absolutely nothing done due to being super busy, but I’m hoping to get back to some small things now that things have calmed down.
    NaNoWriMo participants, how’s it going now that the months is almost over?

    1. StellaBella*

      I can finally reply to you! I submitted a short biography of 2500 words to a group effort book of 30 women that is being coordinated by 3 story teller coaches. We are aiming to have it published next year. It was tough to be so concise.

    2. Liane*

      My friend I was beta-reading for, hasn’t done any more Na No Wri Mo, so left hanging on his tale, which I was enjoying. :(
      I had wanted to to get all of my weekly blog articles (some of which included RPG character portraits by me) through early January done before my surgery a couple weeks ago. Not just because of the surgery but because we may be moving in a couple months. Got pretty close, and even finished all of January’s slots. The only ones I had left were a couple holiday themed ones for mid-December. Fortunately, my hand healed fast enough and I got on a roll, so those got submitted last week. Yay me!

    3. Nixologist*

      I have journaled occasionally!
      I haven’t really wriiten since grad school, but I’ve been doing a before bed journal some nights as a way to get my anxieties out instead of absorbing more in through my phone.
      I hope that the physical act of writing will trigger something good in my lizard brain.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I was working on a short horror story before Mom’s emergency; the deadline is Nov 30 and I’m not sure I should bother to submit it. The person curating the submission call already has 150 stories (they said). Technically, I still could, but it’s unlikely to go anywhere. The barrage of family texting has slowed down now, so maybe I can finish it this afternoon and try to clean it up a bit tomorrow. I’m not great with scary so I just went with gory, lol.

      Regarding Book 2, my editor had some technical difficulties and had to redo some of the edits, but I told her to take her time. With the election and now this, I haven’t finished my worldbuilding so I can use a little extra time to get back in that fictional universe.

    5. Spessartine*

      After a very late, slow, and painful start (thanks Laura H. for the encouragement when I posted about it a few weeks ago!), I finally caught up to the on-track word count last night! I’ve had a couple days where I managed to crank out 4k words which is pretty unheard of for me. I’m optimistic that I can hit 50k tomorrow. My story is not good but I’m persevering anyway, which is enough for me.

    6. MEH*

      First time commenting on this thread, but have read it for some time. I did NaNo Rebel this year (making up my own goal) and I managed to hit it yesterday so I’m stoked!

      I’m working on the third book of my trilogy about urban grimdark (I guess) fantasy and my personal goal is to finish the rough draft by the end of the year (I started it in October after finishing the second book). Which is daunting. During NaNo Rebel, I realized that I needed to do a major overhaul of the second book, but that will have to wait until I’m done writing the third.

      I was in a rut before I decided to focus on this trilogy and to finish it by the end of the year. Now, I feel refreshed and renewed. I tend to get in a rut while writing so the best thing for me to do is set an ambitious goal in order to focus my mind.

  10. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    As usual, this thread is not limited to video games, so feel free to talk about board games and phone games and any other games. Also, feel free to ask for recommendations or help trying to track down a vaguely remembered childhood favourite.
    I haven’t played much this week due to being very busy, but holy guacamole that PS5 launch was uh…a disaster (one scalper group even managed to get 3500 consoles… yikes. Please let this be a reminder to just be patient and not support these practices).
    Also apparently two billion dollar companies duking it out over how much money they get from little kids is like fighting for civil rights according to Tim Sweeney which uh…is an interesting take, I suppose?

    1. Moeg*

      I have very strict rules about when I’m allowed to buy a new console. There needs to be 5 games that I want to play on it, and I never buy the first release because it always seems to have some kind of issue that gets fixed in subsequent batches. Suffice to say, I am watching the fallout of the PS5 launch with envy, plus a tiny bit of smugness.
      I’ve not been playing much myself recently, instead acting as “co-pilot” while my partner plays. “We” just finished with Hollow Knight after he gave up on the last two pantheons (I don’t blame him, but 111/112% completion…gah!). He lets me backseat game, and I act as memory, scout, and usually have the game’s wiki up on my laptop to give spoiler-free directions or relay strategy tips. It’s a nice way of turning singleplayer games into quality time.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Same, honestly. Reminds me of the Switch shortage during the first lockdown, too. Not to mention I’m definitely beginning to feel like paying for a console is not really worth it anymore, which hurts my collector/hoarder heart but what is the point of getting something physical if the data on that physical disk requires a massive day one patch to function somewhat properly? Not to mention with companies beginning to focus more on streaming I feel like the console wars are going to turn into the streaming service wars which…I’m not opposed to streaming in principle, but honestly I hope it remains complementary to buying the game instead of being whatever Google Stadia thinks it is.

      2. Holly the spa pro*

        Your method is honestly pretty genius. Its easy to get wrapped up in the hype of a new system but you are absolutely right that it is usually best to wait for subsequent batches to fix potential issues. Im most excited for the reverse compatibility with ps4 games since the disc drive in my ps4 is starting to go out but there is no way in hell im buying from a scalper. Retailers really need to come up with a way to block bots from online purchasing.

      3. Quoth the Raven*

        I’m honestly the same. I know I will get a PS5, probably in a year and a half or two down the line. I know I can play most of my PS4 games in it, but that’s precisely why I have a PS4, I don’t need a new gen console for that.

    2. TX Lizard*

      I managed to get a Switch for my SO’s Christmas gift (had to drive several hours for store pickup) and it is taking significant willpower not to either give it to him early or just open it up and play with it myself. He’s also getting Breath of the Wild from my parents, which I’m looking forward to playing after he’s finished.

    3. anon24*

      Finished The Room on VR, also played a bunch of Beat Saber and Synth Riders (my usual VR games). I just started Assassins Creed Odyssey on Thursday. I’ve never played any of of the AC games and I’m enjoying it so far.

      I don’t game on console, but the PS5 launch is going about as well as NVIDIAs graphics cards launch this fall. I’ve been patiently trying for about 2 months now trying to get my hands on a specific MSI RTX 3080 and its getting real old waking up every morning and checking all the websites and seeing the familiar “out of stock” message.

    4. Holly the spa pro*

      Im going to crack into fire emblem three houses this morning. Ive been chipping away at Sakuna and have gotten a good grasp of the combat and systems but I think im ready for a change of pace.

      Do any of you cycle through multiple games or do you tend to stick with one before moving on to the next?

      I usually try to stick with one at a time because i have a hard time managing controls for two different games, especially on different platforms. Thanks nintendo and sony for putting your “confirm” buttons in a different spots, you monsters.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I tend to cycle between games too (sometimes you want an epic, 100 hour story that breaks your heart and stomps on it at the end, and other times you just want to sit back and farm pixel turnips), and I definitely feel you on the muscle memory for controls. Or, as Dara Ó Briain once put it: “Oh no! I’m in a gun battle! Which one of these buttons isn’t crouch?” It usually comes back to me pretty quickly though. I usually can’t tell you which button does what in any specific game unless I’m holding a controller, too.
        As for confirm buttons…If you ever somehow end up with a Japanese region console, be aware that Sony also puts the confirm button in a different spot for their Japanese consoles vs the Western ones (O vs X). That one leads to a LOT of confusion.

        1. Holly the spa pro*

          Thats a fun fact about the japanese consoles. Im sure it does cause a lot of confusion because WHAT IS THE POINT OF THAT?? lol

          There should be some sort of gentleman’s agreement between companies in terms of general controls. Like, a king size mattress has the same dimensions regardless of which company you purchase from. Can we just all agree that X (or the bottom most button respectively) is confirm so that i stop backing out of every menu on the switch? Rant complete.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            This is just a guess but…if anything, the American controls should match the Japanese one, not the other way around. It came first. Plus a circle would be considered the “correct” marker in Japan (like marking an answer on a test, whereas in the US it’d usually be a checkmark), while an X means “wrong” in both contexts. So the Japanese controls make sense to me. However if there is a reason for them being flipped, I wonder if it’s because Japanese vertical writing goes right to left, but English goes left to right? So rather than picturing the buttons like a compass, with X at the south, picture it as two rows of two on a slight diagonal. X is left on the bottom row. O is right on the bottom row. I don’t know if that’s actually why, but it could be.

            1. Roci*

              I believe the western way of X=OK O=back is to match Xbox and Nintendo’s A=OK B=back placement, so like you said, it’s about the placing of things rather than the symbols on the buttons.

        2. Roci*

          Sony has actually just changed their policy on this–PS5 and on, X is confirm and O is back, just like in the west.

          Various Japanese games still have it the other way around though.

      2. Jackalope*

        I tend to try finishing one game before moving on, although sometimes if I get bored with a specific game I’ll switch it up for a bit to see if a break helps or if that was just not the game for me.

      3. MEH*

        I play one game at a time because it’s my personality to fixate on one thing and wring every ounce of enjoyment out of it that I possibly can. The upside is hundreds of hours from one game! The downside is that finding another game I click with like that can take months.

        In addition, I have a comfort game that I can play at any time to take my mind off things. Usually, it’s Dark Souls III, which has carried me through many months of no-new-game-interests-me syndrome as well as being something I can pull out when I just want to let my mind wander for a bit.

        I also have difficulty with switching from game to game because of controls. Currently, I’m playing Hades (a brilliant rogue-like-lite) which uses RB for accept/talk and X & Y for attack. Dark Souls III has A for accept/talk and RB & RT for attack. It’s really hard to switch back and forth between the two. My muscle memory for Dark Souls games kicks in pretty quickly, though.

    5. LQ*

      I’ve been playing the new zelda game, I’m not enjoying it nearly as much as I did breath of the wild, but it’s mindless fun enough I guess. (This is not a ringing endorsement, but it’s not bad, it’s just I was blown away by how much I loved playing breath of the wild and it was the first zelda game I’d played so it was a very very high bar.

      I am interested in recommendations for a phone/tablet (ios) tower defense game. The ones I have loved are the Bloons Adventure time one, and it’s Bloons siblings and plants vs zombies. I’ve played these to death and am looking for something new. I’d love something beautiful or cute, not really super keen on the gritty reboot style these days, I’m willing to pay for something if it’s worth it.

    6. Liane*

      :( Not much gaming for me in November, as 2 of our Saturday online Mutants & Masterminds (superhero RPG) sessions got cancelled. Two weeks ago the gamemaster had no power, in Canada, in a cold snap for 3 or 4 days, and it hit when his phone’s battery was low–we were so worried by the time he got power back Monday & could let us know. Then he had to cancel tonight’s session. And of course last Saturday’s game ended on a big cliffhanger.

      My son got the new Zelda game (Age of Calamity?), so brought his Switch over on Thanksgiving (he’s in our pod) so me & his Dad could watch some gameplay. It was entertaining.

    7. Jackalope*

      I’m still working on Final Fantasy Tactics; there’s a fight scene early in the game where you get a chocobo companion and I kept it around. Monsters multiply if they’re in your party, so I’ve had waves of chocobos and finally decided that I’d have 1 of each color (red, yellow, &… I think they’re officially called black, although they look more purple to me). I’ve been fighting with them and having so much fun! I love the red chocobo’s choco meteor attack (pretty good damage, too), and the choco esuna and choco cure for the other two have made good support features (although the yellow one is pretty weak otherwise). I’m having a hard time with the story line; I can’t remember the names of most of the characters outside of my party, and as far as I can keep track the whole plot line is everyone betraying and backstabbing everyone else, with (*hand wave*) political stuff going on. But grinding has been really fun, as well as building up my characters and deciding what they’re best at and who I want them to be. Definitely way more invested in my “generic soldier” characters that I fight with than with the regular plot line.

      Also, this year some friends and I started playing D&D. My new-ish husband (a year and a half!!) is super into DM-ing & agreed to DM a newbies game for me and some good friends of mine; it gave us something to do that we can play fully by Zoom (he’s been playing for ages with friends from his old hometown by computer, so had the online D&D bugs worked out already). A couple of us have gotten super into dice as a collector’s item. Now I want to take it to the next level. In D&D the majority of the time when you roll it’s a D20 (20-sided die for those who don’t play), but you have all of these other dice (D4, D6, D8, D10, & D12) that you use much less often, and I have decided that I want to use them in other games. For example, Jenga with dice – whenever you pull out a block you roll a D8 and then have to use a silly voice (giant’s voice, talking like a cat, whatever) based on the roll while you place the new block. Or pull a block, roll a D12, and then take a word from the pre-made list that you use to make a silly rhyming sentence while placing your block. Things like that. (My personal favorite is for the game Pandemic; something like roll a D10 and the number you get is the number of pandemic tokens you take off the board. Roll a D20 and if you get an even number the pandemic ends automatically; if you roll an odd number half the pandemic tokens are removed. Or something. I have NO ISSUES this year with playing the game Pandemic and having the rules TOTALLY cheating in favor of destroying pandemics. NO ISSUES WHATSOEVER.)

    8. Nynaeve*

      I’ve been playing Secret of Monkey Island – so, pretty old-school! I think I’m ready to fight the sword master, if I can just find her…

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Guild Wars 2 … I’m closing in on my skyscale but boy is it a slog.
      I’m the envy of my 14yo because I did get the underwater skimmer. How she missed me getting it a few weeks ago I’m not sure, but at least now she understands why I can’t do the mushroom bounce yet.

    10. Quoth the Raven*

      I got a Switch Lite two weeks ago. I’ve been playing through Yoshi’s Crafted World (it is so adorable), as is my mum. I’m also playing Breath of the Wild, which was the main reason for me to get a Switch. I am enjoying it a lot, though there’s been a few things I’m not too crazy about, like that one shrine, Myahm Agana. It was a pain to use the motion controls for the puzzle when I had to flip the whole console over AND try to look at the screen at the same time to get it done.

      The other game I’m slowly chipping away at is Blasphemous, an 8-bit Metroidvania game. A lot of people seem to think it’s unforgiving in its difficulty, but I haven’t had much issue with it. Some of the platforming can be awkward or hard, but it’s nothing I haven’t faced before.

      1. TX Lizard*

        I love Slime Rancher! You might also enjoy Stardew Valley! Very different gameplay, but a lot of people who like one like the other!

    11. Nott the Brave*

      I just finished up a Pathfinder (think D&D) adventure my spouse runs for me and a few of our friends! It’s been two years since we started this adventure so it was super fun to wrap it up!

      We’re starting our next one on Wednesday and I am so, so, so excited.

    12. MEH*

      Ok, I have to give a shoutout to Hades by Supergiant Games, which I mentioned several weeks ago. I’m still playing it and I can say that once you beat the final boss, the game opens up in an interesting way. Supergiant deals with endless runs (after the initial win) by adding a Pact of Punishment that has different pain points you can add to make the game harder. It’s innovative and interesting, and it keeps the game fresh.

      In addition, the lore is my favorite part of the game. I love Greek mythology and SG’s take on it is fun and fresh. At this point, the combat is a bit meh, but I put up with it to get the lore bits that come from talking to NPCs throughout the runs.

      It’s a fantastic game with the caveat that it has a very steep learning curve. Beating the final boss for the first time was nearly impossible for me and I came close to giving up several times. But if you like tough rogue-like-lites, snappy dialogue, and gorgeous graphics, check out Hades!

  11. Might Be Spam*

    As usual, I made my turkey on Monday instead of on Thanksgiving. I also decided to boil the whole carcass to make bone broth. Unfortunately, between wrestling with the turkey and the large stockpot full of water I think I damaged my shoulder.
    It’s been getting worse all week. I just now, put it in a sling so I remember not to use that arm for a while. I’ve had rotator cuff surgery before and this seems like the same spot. I hope I am wrong. At least I have experience coping with only one arm, so I can manage taking care of myself. And I have plenty of leftovers so I don’t have to cook.
    Now I can’t put away my Thanksgiving decorations and put up my Christmas tree this weekend as usual. (Also, I can’t get the gravy container open.)

    Anybody else have a turkey caused injury?

    1. TX Lizard*

      Not turkey, but my SO injured himself on sweet potatoes a couple years ago. He was making sweet potato casserole to bring to my work’s holiday party. While he was chopping the potatoes I told him, “Please be careful and don’t cut your finger off, I really want to go to this party and I don’t want to spend the evening in the hospital.” Less than five minutes later I hear “Uhhh..TX Lizard…” from the kitchen. He had sliced his finger (deep enough they were worried he had chipped the bone) and I had to drive him to get stitches. We still made it to the party, and the sweet potato casserole survived unharmed and uncontaminated. I make fun of him every time he mentions making sweet potatoes now though >:)

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Well, I mentioned in a different thread that I had divorced a guy who refused to help pull his weight with any cleaning, and at some point in that back-and-forth I had basically gone on strike and stopped cleaning up any mess that wasn’t mine (in my defense, I was 19, I wouldn’t exactly recommend that tactic at this point), and the frosting globs that he had left on the counter had been there long enough to well and truly petrify. And they were jagged. :P

    2. TextHead*

      I have a small cut on my thumb from the plastic leg holder piece thing on the turkey. I think it happened while getting it out of the packaging.

      I hope your shoulder feels better soon!

    3. Jackalope*

      Only vaguely turkey-caused, but I was panicking about getting the turkey in the oven and was doing a rush chopping spree of veggies to toss in (our family puts a bunch of carrots, potatoes, and onions in with the turkey so we can have lovely turkey-flavored roast veggies as one of our sides). It had been a hard morning and as I said I was in panic mode, and… panic mode with a knife doesn’t often end well. I ended up slicing off a little bit of skin on one of my fingers which doesn’t sound too bad but since fingers have a lot of nerve endings (and you use them for EVERYTHING) it hurt a lot. I had to retreat from cooking for awhile and let someone else take over the veggie hacking until I could manage to stop the bleeding. (And then I took a longer break after that so I wouldn’t do anything worse to myself.)

    4. NorthOfTheWall*

      Not turkey related but….I once dropped a pan of scalloped potatoes on my foot when I was working at a camp kitchen.was taking them out of the oven and it slipped. 2nd degree burns, ended up with my foot in a cast so it wouldn’t move and so the burn could heal.

      1. Mimmy*

        Apologies as this is probably a stupid question but, how did it burn your foot if you’re wearing shoes?

        Either way, OUCH!!

    5. GinnyDC*

      Not me but my mother. Our turkey caught fire in the oven one year (no idea why–I was a kid and not paying attention) and my poor mother singed her eyebrows/bangs trying to get the turkey out of the oven before my father sprayed it with the fire extinguisher. She put the fire out quickly with a towel, finished cooking the rest of Thanksgiving dinner, and trimmed her bangs before our guests arrived!

    6. Zephy*

      My office (6 people) had a little potluck lunch last Tuesday. We’re a pretty diverse group so we decided to bring dishes reflective of our respective cultures. I made chicken paprikash – sliced up a bunch of onions, a bunch of chicken thighs, no problem. Until right at the end, when I went to open the tub of sour cream, and chose exactly the wrong spot to run my finger under the lid. The tab on the foil seal had gotten scrunched into a pretty sharp point and I sliced the very tip of my finger – you know, exactly the worst place to try to put a band-aid. The paprikash was delicious and uncontaminated and I’m fine now, but damn.

  12. Lady Heather*

    Can we (as a society) please – please, please – stop referring to women and men as females and males?

    I’ll stop ranting now.

    The German justice ministry proposed a new law last month. They used exclusively female pronouns and female-gendered words – after all, if women should feel included in a law that uses male pronouns and words , there is no reason men wouldn’t feel included in a law that uses female pronouns and words, right?
    Men kicked a fit, the law proposal is being revised, and I’m still smiling.

    Link to follow.

      1. tiasp*

        One of their objections is that it could be interpreted to only apply to women? Pretty easy solution to add some definitions at the start of the legislation.

        1. Lady Heather*

          And it’s “unconstitutional”. Now I’m not a German constitutional lawyer, but I wonder what the ECHR thinks of a constituion that says “Women are male but men are not female” or whatever.

          This is not a fight I think they’re/we’re going to win but I applaud Christine Lambrecht for making a point. That took ovaries.

          1. Workerbee*

            And thank you for using ovaries versus balls.

            I know, we should move away from genital-based accolades, but until then, there are aeons of parity to catch up with. I am sick of balls being lauded as something powerful when one evil look causes the owner of said balls to curl up in agony. And “humans being bros “ and all the other coding that makes it only too evident that people want so desperately to believe there can be only one worthwhile gender.


  13. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Decor/google help. For some reason google is failing me or I am failing google idk. Can someone help me figure out the correct search terms to google? Or point me in a diff direction?

    I have a bathroom that’s all white. I want to decorate it in teal and gold. The fixtures and walls are white and will not be changed so I am just looking for decor ideas. Yet Every search term I’ve used brings back pictures & articles that involve retiling or wallpaper or painting which I am not doing.

    My favorite aesthetic is white with any color on it so I am not sure why I’m having such a hard time just envisioning something but I would like some pix for inspiration….I just can’t seem to find any that don’t involve renovation.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        They are alll soooo pretty and I wish I could but jusr can’t right now. This would be more of a “$100 and one afternoon” type of thing which I don’t think paint/wallpapering would be as quick or cheap?

    1. Lady Heather*

      You can add a – before a word, like “tiles”, to remove all websites that include that word. That will also remove websites tgat say “No need to remove the tiles!” though.

      Have you looked specifically for cheap ideas? I think “budget bathroom decorating” won’t usually included tiling and fixtures.

        1. Lady Heather*

          Renter’s decoration tips probably won’t include fixtures and tiling either. Or if it does, find a website produced by a country where it doesn’t. (Landlord/tenant rights and responsibilities vary widely between countries – in some countries landlords are responsible for providing you with a fridge and tenants aren’t allowed to paint the walls, in other countries landlords don’t have to provide a toilet bowl and tenants are expected to paint the walls.)

          1. Caregiver grateful for comic relief*

            >in other countries landlords don’t have to provide a toilet bowl and tenants are expected to paint the walls.

            I read this twice while trying to puzzle out how painting the walls could compensate for not having a toilet bowl. Is it therapeutic to put up graffiti saying “we need a toilet?” Do the tenants then invite the landlord over to read the walls?

            Clearly I need a lot more sleep. Thanks so much for the smile. I really needed it.

            1. Lady Heather*

              ;-) I meant “expected to paint the walls” as in “allowed to paint the walls, and expected to want to”, not the voluntold-expected kind. But I do think I implied lacking a fridge is similar to lacking a toilet and eating canned beans having a place to dispose of them in a sanitary manner, is nowhere near similar to having milk and meat for dinner but to have to.. eh.. hold on to them forever or litter.

    2. Sandra*

      Then I searched:
      white, gold and teal bathrooms
      on Google. Then I hit Images and got lots of pictures.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Those are the first terms I used and they all show tiling and painting etc. I’m not looking to make any major changes, just want to decorate it a bit.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Search for gold and teal thing you actually want. So if you’re not painting, or tiling, or replacing fixtures, what are you replacing? Shower curtain? Towels? Trash bin? Light switch plate? Soap dish? Soap dispenser?
          I’m not clear on if part of the problem is you didn’t have specific items in mind, and needed the search to pull those up, or if you were just hoping to find more general bathroomey stuff without having to itemize. But I think part of the reason you’re getting the results you are is when most people talk about color schemes for a bathroom, that means the room itself, not accessories in it.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            Yeah I couldn’t really articulate well what I’m looking for. Just Pinterest style pictures but with decor items instead of bigger changes like wallpaper/paint/tiles (yes they may be easy for everyone else but it isn’t for me so….)

      1. DistantAudacity*

        (Replying to self)

        Which showed up some awesome things, and some truly spectacular shower curtains! Almost makes me wish I need one – I don’t, since I have glass shower doors…

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Heh, I saw a curtain and rug (wondering if it’s the same one you like, is it a geometric print from society 6?) and planning the entire bathroom around that one piece lol.

          I’m brand spanking néw to home decor so relying on lots and lots of pix to get a sense of what I like (and can afford). Never ever been able to decorate any space in any place I’ve lived in so really excited to start

            1. Potatoes gonna potate*

              Yes, we do. Thank you! We’ve had to put off moving twice but finally doing it next month!

          1. DistantAudacity*

            There were several!

            And then I fell down an Etsy rabbit hole, and had to forcibly remove myself from the interwebs after finding 5 new stores to set as favourites.

            But – could I actually manage to justify those cute little concrete-based toothbrush holders, available in multiple colours..? (Including teal, if that’s your esthetic?)

          2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            Finding the one cool fabric piece you love and going from there is the best way to decorate. Much easier to find paint that matches your fabric than fabric that goes with your paint.

            1. Potatoes gonna potate*

              That’s what I lean towards. I’m eyeing that curtain and trying to figure out what will go with it in…

    3. Not Australian*

      I recommend Alexandra Gater’s videos on YouTube; they’re mostly aimed at renters and anyone on a tight budget – so no massive rebuilds – and the products she recommends are Canadian, but she’s a great source of ideas and you can often just start a Google search with the terms she uses and come up with a local equivalent for where you are.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      If you’re not looking to replace fixtures, or do painting, tiling or wallpaper, you’re basically left with adding some pictures or art, changing out light switch plates and outlet covers, adding some colored towels, and maybe a new rug or shower curtain. I say just go to a store either online or in person and see what they have and if you like any of it. You may need to visit several stores.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        That’s fine that’s what I’m lllkkng for. I just couldn’t figure out what to google to get a vision of everything put together. Like I want to see an all white bathroom with teal decor/accessories and couldn’t find that

        These are great ideas… thanks all.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      “bathroom fix ups for less than $100”.

      This gives you a chance to see what other people did but you can just put your own colors in where they put their own colors in.

      If you don’t want to tile/paint/paper then that leaves you with rug/towels/curtains. There’s not a lot of stuff you can do with a bathroom. My bathroom has sea stuff in it. If I had a second bathroom, it would be black and white with penguin stuff.
      You can put up shelves with knickknacks or add a colorful hamper or storage unit. I have a chair in mine, so maybe play with the color of a chair?

      You did not mention stenciling, that might be an option? There are also those peel-and-stick things you can get for the walls, that have a scene or a saying on them.

    6. Potatoes gonna potate*

      TY everyone for the help. I caved and think I will go for peel and stick wallpaper. Although I saw the room again today and the walls are raised. I’m not sure of the proper term for it but they’re not flat and smooth and I don’t think a wallpaper will stick :-(

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’ve also seen peel & stick decals designed to go on top of the tiles. Entirely likely they won’t stay through intense cleaning but…could be fun in the meantime.
        I’m thinking teal towels with gold embroidery would be lovely.

      2. acmx*

        Might be ‘knockdown’ texture on your walls. Check the wallpaper site to see if it adheres to textured walls.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        That’s where I found my favorite curtain! Found that one piece and want to build everything around it.

    7. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

      For my gold and teal bathroom, I got a bunch of inexpensive picture frames from Ikea and some scrapbook paper from Michaels, and I created a gallery wall in my colour scheme. I wasn’t looking to do actual pictures, but to play with texture and colour. Add towels and shower curtain in the right colours, and my bathroom suddenly felt a lot more designed and less haphazard.

  14. CatCat*

    I got an Apple Watch (series 6) and I’ve never used one before. Enjoying it so far, but mostly have been just playing around with the watch faces and taking my heart rate. Became positively giddy when I realized if I double tap the Mickey Mouse watch face, Mickey tells you the time out loud.

    I need to learn the icons I don’t recognize because there’s no text on the app screen that says what they are. I can see what they are in the Watch app on the iPhone. Any tips, fun things, or must-have apps?

    1. ALM2019*

      In the Apple Watch app on your phone under App View you can change it to list. This means all the apps on your watch will be a list with the names instead of just the icons. I recently upgraded from a 3 to the 6 and this makes it so much easier to find what you need on the watch.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I like the watch faces with complications, and the apps I use the most are on two separate watch faces so I can just swipe back and forth between those two rather than go digging for those apps in the menu.

      These aren’t exactly hidden, but still useful to call out: on the menu you get when you swipe up, the button with the mask on it is Theater Mode, which means you still get notifications and haptics, but the screen won’t light up unless you specifically tap it (and I think it silences too, but I’m not sure, my watch is always silenced), so that your watch doesn’t light up a dark theater when you move your arm. It’ll stay that way until you go back in and turn Theater Mode off. Also, tapping the whole watch screen with your palm will make the screen go dark immediately (rather than waiting the 30 seconds or whatever your settings say) until the next time you do something to make it light up.

      You can put music on the watch via your phone by selecting a playlist, and can connect bluetooth headphones to it for music listening or for taking phone calls. (I don’t do phone calls often — it used to really kill the battery, with earlier models, so I just never developed the habit, but I do use the playlist on my watch when I mow the lawn so I don’t have to carry my phone with me.)

  15. Holiday gift giving*

    For those who celebrate end of the year holidays by exchanging gifts, how will you handle it this year?

    Usually we get together at the in-laws’ house and do a 4 household gift exchange with maybe 12 people. This year that will not happen.

    Will you be ordering online and having them shipped to the recipients? If you buy 3 smallish things per person and order them from various websites their arrivals may be a pain for the recipients to track.

    Or having everything shipped to your home and then repackaging them so that all gifts for family A arrive at the same time? This seems like a waste of delivery and will you find a box that fits everything for a family?

    Will you be forgoing gift giving?

    Or will each family get 1 gift? Like a specialty food item for them to enjoy together?

    1. Amy*

      My family is spread across the country and we are not getting together for the holidays because of COVID, so I’ll be shipping everything. For most things I am having them shipped to me so I can wrap them and bundle them in one box, but for items that are backordered or may not arrive in time, I’m shipping directly to the recipient. I may end up regretting my approach, though, because I’m not sure how I’m going to ship everything without going to the post office (we aren’t doing indoor public spaces). I’m going to cross that bridge when I come to it…

      1. Effie*

        I’m also shipping everything – you can schedule free package pick-ups with USPS if you use USPS materials (flat rate/priority) and you can also get said materials for free from the USPS website! This is assuming you’re in the US though, sorry if you aren’t.

        1. SunnySideUp*

          You can schedule a USPS home pickup even if you’re not using their Priority packaging. Your carrier will pick up, for example, a single first class package if that’s what you’re shipping.

      2. pcake*

        We had a wonderful zoom Thanksgiving with my son and his GF, so what we want to do for presents is open gifts with each other via zoom or a similar live service. Our postal carrier will pick up packages for free if scheduled online, and UPS will do so for a price. We leave outgoing boxes, packages and mail in our locked entry hall and buzz our carrier in, so we never meet up with him in person. I do yell “thank you” through the door.

    2. Might Be Spam*

      This year we are ordering online and having things directly shipped to the recipients. Then I only have to deal with shipping cookies and stocking stuffers. We will open gifts in a group video call.

    3. Lcsa99*

      My family lives on the other side of of the country so every year I order stuff for them, have everything delivered to me so I can wrap it nicely, then package it up and ship it. We normally save the Amazon (or whatever) boxes. Then whatever won’t fit in usps priority mail boxes we will put in the reused boxes. If you can get stuff that fits in priority mail boxes it will cut down on costs.

    4. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I’m having items shipped directly. I let the person know when it ships and that it’s a present from me and who it’s for if applicable. They won’t be wrapped this year but it’s 2020 so it’s not the worse thing that’s happened this year.

    5. TextHead*

      We’ll be shipping everything this year. The current plan is to ship directly – probably using the “this is a gift” settings where possible.

      However, for one household, I’m also helping to buy gifts for one to person to give others, so I may need to wrap and tag those here. Or, still use the gift settings – that can work.

    6. fposte*

      Shipping directly, with probably one or two dropoffs followed by Zoom. I think also my recipients who are simpatico on this will be getting some gift certificates to local businesses/restaurants we like; that’s a way we can support the business as well.

    7. Aphrodite*

      No gifts this year. That’s not due to finances as I have a stable job but more to the “enjoy Christmas without bothering with gifts” thing I am feeling this year. My siblings are getting nothing; maybe a card if I can be bothered but my dear friends are getting handwritten letters with memories, gratitude and amusements we have shared over the years. It feels so freeing!

      Since I am buying my own home and have had the help of three people who have been fantastic they are each getting a gift box, all the same: Pretty black and white with six different rechargeable lights from a lantern to a tiny keychain flashlight. Each will say the same: You light up my life. (These will come in handy as we live in earthquake country.)

    8. OtterB*

      We’re pretty low key anyway.

      I always have things shipped directly to my brother.

      My older daughter, single and in her late twenties, lives out of state and we’ve decided she shouldn’t travel here this year. I have a few small gifts for her that I will repackage and mail. I bought things from the same vendors for my husband and/or younger daughter and didn’t bother to split the deliveries. Her main gift will be a check anyway. I expect we’ll talk on Zoom some time during the day, don’t know if we’ll open gifts online.

      Since she was setting up her own tree for the first time, I ordered a few ornaments off Etsy and had them shipped direct to her. Ceramic T-rex in a holiday sweater FTW.

      We already quit exchanging gifts with everyone else when the kids got past gifting age.

    9. Jackalope*

      My current plan for people in town is to do a porch drop-off (although just got something in the mail for some friends nearby that I’m super excited; they picked it up this morning, and are also excited!), and for people further away to have it mailed to them. That takes away some of the fun of wrapping it myself and seeing them open it, but seems more feasible. Also, the last few years my dad and I have gone in together on gifts for some of my nephews (he sees them a lot since they live close to each other, but I live a few hours away and normally only see them a few times a year, so I let him buy them something he knows they’ll want and then just give him money), so I’ll probably send him a check for that. The one exception to all of this is that I have a young niece and nephew that I may go get presents for myself and then wrap and mail them.

    10. ...*

      I will be shipping gifts, but it will be 1-2 gifts per person and I won’t be repackaging them. I won’t be doing the lots of little stuff this year.

    11. Colette*

      I shipped everything to my mom, who is wrapping and making sure they get delivered. I think there may be a “meet halfway to swap gifts” meetup.

  16. Sara*

    Would you make this a “thing,” or just let it go?

    My father cannot (does not?) pronounce my last name. My husband, who I have been with for more than ten years, is the son of immigrants from a non-European country and his last name, which I took when we got married, is from another language. My family is white and only speaks English. It’s not a terribly difficult name to pronounce, but it’s long and uncommon (even in the country my in-laws are from) and 99% of the people I tell it to ask me to spell it and/or help them understand how to pronounce it. That’s not a big deal to me, but it really grates on me that my father has never learned how to say it correctly. He generally either avoids saying it or says it as fast as possible. And it’s not just one vowel that’s off – he really butchers the whole thing.

    For what it’s worth, I have tried to teach him and give him tips on how to remember the pronunciation, but it clearly didn’t stick. My mother, siblings, and friends are able to say it properly. It’s honestly kind of embarrassing to me that my own father can’t say the names of his own daughter and grandchildren. Should I just give up on this or escalate it?

    1. Bluesboy*

      Does he normally pronounce other foreign words ok? I live in Italy and my (English) Dad on occasion has asked me “how do you say x in Italian?”

      I say it in Italian, and he literally repeats it wrong…every time. Repeatedly. He just can’t do it, he’s trying. BUT he also does it in general with foreign words. And he’s trying so hard!

      So if your father is ALWAYS like this with foreign words/names, I would encourage you to try to let it go.

      If on the other hand he’s absolutely fine with foreign words that he WANTS to say, like ordering food in a foreign restaurant…then it would drive me crazy and I would want to do something about it.

      Personally I would sit him down quietly with a cup of tea, and tell him that I would really like him to make an effort to try and get it right, it’s your name, it’s your family’s name, and it’s important to you. Without judgement, just asking him to work at it. If then he doesn’t make an effort…well at that point you know it’s a choice not to work at it and you can respond more firmly.

      1. Zandt*

        Seconding this. If your father is bad with other foreign words as well, then that’s just how he is.

        I learnt Arabic as a child, and even with the advantage of starting early and some private lessons, I still butcher the pronunciation regularly. I can hear how it’s supposed to sound like, I just can’t make my mouth make that sound.

        You can sit him down and ask him to make an effort, as Bluesboy said. If he still doesn’t get it right, let it go.

      2. Helvetica*

        Yeah, I agree with this. I have a really good ear for foreign words and pronounciations, so I am also good at repeating things back. But for some people, it is really, really difficult because their ears can’t hear it so their mouths can’t replicate it. So, do think of whether it’s just this name or other foreign words in general.

    2. Josephine*

      Have you talked to him about this yet? If not, I think it might be worth it to sit down with him when you’re both feeling calm (i.e., not when he just messed up your last name in front of a bunch of people) and say something along the lines of “I know it can be really tough to pronounce [last name]. It was tough for me too, at first,* but it’s really important to me that you pronounce it correctly because [reasons]. How about we work on this together by [actions he can take, like maybe listening to a recording of you saying your last name and repeating it back]?”

      *You don’t need to say this if it isn’t true, but for a lot of people I know, adding some softer/more empathetic language really helps in matters like this.

    3. allathian*

      Many people never learn to pronounce foreign names correctly, no matter how hard they try, because they contain phonemes that don’t exist in the language or languages that the person speaks. I know I would never be able to learn to pronounce a name that contains click sounds or whistles correctly. I’m also almost tone deaf and tonal languages baffle me, so I’m certain that whenever I try to pronounce, say, a Chinese name, I’ll get it wrong and won’t get it right no matter how many times people try to correct me, because I literally can’t hear the difference. When faced with a foreign word, what does your father do? Does he try to say it properly or does he butcher the word? Are your mother and siblings simply better at learning unfamiliar phonemes than your father is? If that’s the case, I hope you can accept his linguistic failing for what it is and let it go.

      I’m bilingual from birth and my name is one that exists in both languages and is pronounced differently in each. That’s why I’m used to my name being pronounced differently by different people and I’m not offended by any of the versions I hear.

      However, do you suspect there’s more to it than that? Do you ever get the feeling that your father disapproves of your husband because he’s from a different culture and that he would have preferred you to marry someone more like him? If that’s the case, it’s certainly understandable that his mispronunciation of your married name would feel like a rejection of your choice of husband and become a bigger deal than it otherwise might be.

    4. Traffic_Spiral*

      Unless you think he’s doing it on purpose, I’d let it go. Some people just can’t pronounce some foreign words, and there’s no helping it. Also, how often does your family use your last name, anyways?

    5. Washi*

      As the other folks say, I think it makes a difference if he generally has a hard time with foreign words, or if there are other indications that he is biased about your husband’s ethnicity/nationality. Ten years is a long time to butcher a name though…

      Have you tried teaching him not the real version, but an anglicized version? For example, the way that most English speakers say Khrushchev (krushev) is not technically totally correct, but it’s understandable and close enough.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yes, like how people say “Van Goff,” because that’s as close as they can get to pronouncing “Van Gogh” the way it really sounds in Dutch. (If you look up Van Gogh on Wikipedia, there’s a little speaker you can click to hear the pronunciation.)

        But I think if he can, then he should be making some kind of effort.

        1. Felis alwayshungryis*

          It’s better than ‘van Go’, which has always seemed to me very ‘hard, so pretend not there’.

    6. CatCat*

      I’m agreeing with the others that if it’s not just a matter of being malicious or lazy, but genuine struggle with the pronunciation, there’s nothing really to escalate here.

      If it is a struggle issue and your tips have not worked, can you ask for coaching tips from others familiar with the sound of the last name? There may be a perspective that you haven’t thought of that may break through this barrier.

      I suggest this because for about a year after I got married, I struggled with my new last name. My husband’s family is from a different country and cultural background than me and the last name had a sound in it not used in English. It’s not a big deal to pronounce it not quite perfectly and it certainly didn’t bug my spouse, but it bugged me. It was my name now, dang it! I wanted to get it right. He tried to explain making the right sound, but no dice, it just wouldn’t click.

      Then, randomly, I was chatting with a new acquaintance, who said she’d been close to a family with the same last name growing up. Like me, she was not a native speaker of the original language. She pronounced the name effortlessly. I asked her how she did it and she explained it to me in a different way than my spouse had. It was a really simple that she gave me and BAM, I could do it.

      1. Bluesboy*

        Ooh, this reminds me of a friend who couldn’t pronounce her own surname after she got married too! In Italian double consonants are pronounced differently from single consonants and she couldn’t hear the difference. Honestly, even now she doesn’t pronounce it perfectly – fortunately it doesn’t bother either her or her husband…

      2. allathian*

        I got to know someone on a course once who couldn’t pronounce her own birth name properly because she had a serious speech impediment (she pronounced both l and the rolling r as w and her names contained both l and r).

    7. AGD*

      I’m a college professor, and doing this to students is something we’re overtly taught is an excellent way to alienate them. It’s one of a lot of ways in which international students and/or BIPOC are made to feel like they don’t really belong in a college classroom. We are encouraged to practice ahead of time so as to avoid perpetuating a system in which super-European names get pronounced correctly and other ones don’t. Your kids are likely to pick up on this eventually if it isn’t dealt with. I would recommend sitting down with your father and talking him through it, matter-of-factly but encouragingly.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, and then, if it’s literally a matter of phonemes, to let it go. Given the environment the kids are growing up in, they’re going to have to learn that lots of people are going to mispronounce their name. If it’s done out of disrespect or dislike, it’s okay to be upset, but it won’t help them in the future to get angry at people who aren’t able to say the name properly in spite of their best efforts.

    8. Lizy*

      I think it depends on if he’s deliberately doing it or trying and just… not quite there.
      I’ve been married 13+ years and my dad still addresses things to Lizy MaidenName MarriedName. It wouldn’t bother me, except he has a bad habit of not acknowledging my husband at all. I choose to let it go because I don’t have a close relationship with him (read: no relationship). But yeah – it’s annoying. It’s not my name, asshat.

    9. The teapots are on fire*

      If you get the sense he really tried, I’d let it go. There’s a lovely interview with Anne Bancroft describing the time she spent with a linguistic coach trying to learn two lines of “Sweet Georgia Brown” in Polish. The coach would say it, Bancroft would repeat it back, thinking she’d said the same thing, and the coach would sigh and repeat it, and … it’s hard. Your father may just not have the ear for it and now he’s rushing through it as best he can and has given up because he’s embarrassed he’s the only one who can’t do it.
      If there are other ways he makes your family feel excluded, that’s the fight to fight. Not this.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Surrounding context is important here.
      My own father had a hearing impairment because of aging. But I think he had some hearing impairment right along, he very seldom used words that were more than three syllables long. And it took a while for the listener to catch on. He was a very intelligent person who could explain complicated things in a simple manner. So it was easy to assume he knew the big words that went along with the explanation. Yet he never used them.

      It took me quite a while. But one day I read something that made sense. People of his era were taught to read by memorizing words. I was born 40 years later and we were taught the sounds of letters. The difference is I could sound out a word and figure out how to kind of pronounce it. My father, OTOH had to “look” at his list of words he had memorized to see if that word was on the list. You can only memorize so much and then you are done. So Latin expressions, or botanical names skated right by my father- totally lost on him. He struggled most of his life avoiding unfamiliar terms, but he could grasp the concept behind the term. For example, he knew what ventricular tachycardia by concept was because he had it. But he could not say the term and by then his hearing really got worse. Yeah, he did not even try because he knew he was just not going to figure it out.

      Just as a point of curiosity you might ask your dad if he remembers how he was taught to read in school. If he had to memorize long lists of words, then maybe he might not be able to sort out your married name. It’s pretty well know that this way of teaching kids to read greatly limits those kids later on in life.

    11. Courageous cat*

      I would probably let it go if you’ve already told him it’s important to you to get it right. Ultimately I cannot remember the last time my dad had any occasion at all to use my last name though.

    12. Observer*

      Do you know WHY your father is doing this? As others have pointed out, it really is possible that the name is genuinely hard (or even impossible) for him to pronounce correctly.

      Or it could be that there is something about this name that creates discomfort that has nothing to do with you / your husband.

      Or it could be that your father is being a jerk and / or trying to send a message about your husband and relationship.

      Each scenario gives you a different starting point for your decision making.

      The other question is what is your end goal? What you do with the information you have depends on what you are trying to accomplish. For example, If your main issue is that it just looks bad but your father really can’t say the name, then you need to adjust your attitude. On the other extreme, if you are pretty certain that your father CAN easily pronounce the name but is just being a jerk about it to embarrass you and your husband and communicate that “this stranger has no place here”, and you want you, your husband and your relationship to be treated with respect, you definitely think about escalating. (Those are not the only two possibilities, just the far corners of a spectrum, and the easiest to encapsulate a response to.)

    13. Roci*

      I know many people have said “maybe it’s just too hard for him” and maybe that thinking is helpful for you if you choose to let it go.

      But also you can say, “I know this is really hard for you, but it is really important to me that you can say our family’s name correctly.”

      I would also see if maybe there is a way you can compromise on the “correct” pronunciation, like maybe he doesn’t get the phonemes that aren’t in English exactly right, but he has the right vowels and consonants in the right places. Think the standard US English pronunciations of “Mao Zedong” and “Ho Chi Minh”… certainly not accurate to Chinese and Vietnamese, but better than “Mayo Zingding” or whatever, you know?

  17. Amy*

    For those of you with 2+ children, when in your pregnancy did your subsequent child arrive, relative to your first? I’m nearly 38 weeks pregnant with my second child and feeling very ready for him to arrive. My first child was born at 38 weeks + 5 days, and if he follows suit he’ll be here in a week! He’s measuring quite a bit bigger than my first child was, for whatever that’s worth.

    I’ve heard some people say it’s usually consistent from one birth to the next, but my mom went weeks longer with her second, so who knows?

    Curious about your experiences!

    1. HBJ*

      Generally speaking, first pregnancies are longer. But it can really vary, and there’s no telling at the individual level. My pregnancies keep getting longer. 1st was four days early. 2nd was a day early. 3rd was a week late.

        1. Double A*

          My first measured a reasonable size and she came out a giant; those measurements can be pretty off.

          I’m pregnant with my second and really hoping this one is smaller (and earlier…first was also 9 days late, though I suspect my due date was a bit late to begin with because I ovulate early, so she was really like 2 weeks late).

          1. The New Wanderer*

            Same, my first was 10 days after the due date and over 9 lbs which was unexpectedly big – the predictions were all closer to 8 lbs. My second was a scheduled c-section due to the first becoming an emergency C, and he arrived a few days before his due date and a full pound lighter. The nurses thought I was kidding when I called him “tiny” but compared to my first healthy sized baby, he was!

    2. Curly sue*

      Kid #1 was exactly on her due date (and has never been on time for anything of her own volition since…) and kid #2 was four days after his due date. FWIW, they were exactly the same size at birth, to the cm and the oz.

    3. Aunt*

      Nephew arrived 40 weeks +5 days (emergency c-section after 20 hours of labor), niece (5 years later) 40 weeks 1 day (scheduled c-section, she was breach the last 2 months of pregnancy) . Both over 7 lbs.

    4. Analyst Editor*

      My second arrived right on time. I was also So Ready by 38 weeks. I helped it along with some strenuous activity around the due date, lol. The only thing is, my body was in worse physical shape the second time and older, so I got more tired and pulled more muscles and had more trouble getting around by that point than with #1.

      Delivery went much easier all around: went faster, no pitocin necessary, the PPD was less, physical recovery was easier, injuries down below less bad. Breast feeding was about the same – less panic, but I had to power through one or two weeks of misery before settling into it; but this time armed with learned coping strategies, home remedies, and much more chill about formula supplementation and everything else in general.

      Congrats and good luck!

    5. The Rat-Catcher*

      Baby #1: induced at 39 weeks (was a terrible experience, would not recommend unless medically indicated)
      Baby #2: 41 weeks even. Bigger baby but significantly easier L&D

    6. Stephanie*

      My daughter (my first child) was born 3 days after her due date, and my son (second child) was eight days late. I think it depends on so many factors that it’s difficult to know, honestly. The baby will come when the baby is ready, or when your body is ready, or both.

    7. PostalMixup*

      1st: 40w1d
      2nd: induced at 39w0d (elective, and unlike the above poster, a fantastic experience)

      Part of the issue is that dating a pregnancy is really finicky, and hardly anyone knows the exact date of ovulation and/or conception. So your due dates could be a few days off in either direction.

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        My mom had a great experience with it too! But for me the Pitocin created a markedly worse experience than delivering without.

      2. Natalie*

        Due dates are always a guess – I conceived by IUI so I can tell you the point of conception down to the hour. When I had a complication at 37 weeks and went in to get induced, they could see contractions happening while I was being examined/triaged.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Baby 1= 40w + 5 days, induced for low amniotic fluid.

      Baby 2= 39w + 6 (one day before EDD), labor started naturally.

    9. Sandman*

      Baby #1, 40+5
      Baby #2, 41+1
      Baby #3, 41
      By baby #3, I’d given up on the idea of going early and told everyone my due date was a week later than it was. My first was born in Japan where very early ultrasounds are the norm, so I’m 100% confident of that date and had a pretty consistent trend going. Each of my babies got a little bigger, with my third coming in just shy of 10 lbs, but that was also my easiest birth, so go figure!

    10. Fellow Traveller*

      #1- emergency c-section at 33 weeks
      #2- 39 weeks
      #3 – 40 weeks
      But I have a bicornate uterus, and my OB says it’s common for subsequent babies to cook longer because the uterus gets stretched out and more roomy with each pregnancy.

    11. Jaxom of Ruth*

      First: 40+2, induced due to water leak
      Second: 41+4, induced for concern of baby
      Third: 40+3, on her own

      My second was smallest by about a pound and a half.

    12. Wilde*

      I’m in exactly the same boat! Thanks for asking this question.

      My first was born at 41+1, and I only felt like I was at the “whale” stage a few days.

      Today I’m 38+4 and have felt like a whale since 37w.

      May our babies come smoothly and safely!

    13. Might Be Spam*

      Both of my babies were 10 days late.
      Baby 1 came after 24 hours of labor.
      Baby 2 came after 15 minutes of labor. Yes, minutes! Luckily I was already at the hospital for a test.

  18. Zooey*

    I’m looking for suggestions for good new baby meals!

    A friend is due her first baby any day now, and I’d like to make some meals which can be stashed in her freezer to make her life a bit easier. (And I’m due a baby in March – so also looking to make some stuff ahead to stash in my freezer!)

    Any suggestions for good recipes? I’ve seen a lot of people say that with a baby, you want food that you can easily eat with one hand, but the kind of food that works well as freeze ahead feels like – not that. What worked for people in those early weeks?

    My friend is far away from family and it looks like we’ll still be in fairly strict Covid lockdown when her baby arrives, so I really want to be able to make her feel supported. Any ideas for other Covid safe things I could do to help her gratefully received.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      When I filled a pre-baby freezer, the family in question was going from six to seven and they were a three-adult polycule, so I was less worried about easy for one person to eat and more about making it easier for them to get the other kids fed easily when they were down hands.

      But I did homemade mac and cheese (three types- pizza mac, taco mac and plain with ham and veg), precooked meat loaf patties, lasagne, beef stew, sloppy joe filling, spaghetti meat sauce, and five pounds of bbq pulled pork.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        For the freezing: I put most stuff in either rectangular half size disposable foil pans (oven safe, no cleanup) or round reditainers (very easy to empty into a crockpot for reheating, even straight out of the freezer, if you run some hot water over the outside, and reusable). The round ones are my preference, but they don’t Tetris quite as nicely in limited freezer space as the brick-shaped foil pans do.

        But pasta bakes especially take forever to heat through in the oven if you don’t thaw them first. The mac and cheese especially does way better if you can reheat it in a crockpot.

        1. Zooey*

          Thank you! That’s given me the inspiration of using my oversupply of veg box squash for some nice squash Mac and cheese! And the freezing / thawing advice is very handy too.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I think I did chili too. If not, I meant to. Heh.

            Also, if you crock some boneless skinless chicken thighs or country style pork ribs in salsa (I like the black bean and corn type salsa for this best personally) for a few hours and then shred them, you can pack that up in one-pound packets and have it all set for nachos, tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, etc.

            Shepherd’s pie also freezes well. I do a variant that’s basically layers of mashed potatoes, taco meat and cheese. Depending on your squash type, you could do some sort of squash-and-protein bake as well :) Stuffed peppers?

            (If you are not meat-eaters, I am probably less useful. My house is full of carnivores.)

            Someone else suggested quiche — egg muffins are basically crust-less quiche baked in muffin tins with your toppings of choice, dirt easy to make, reheat in 30 seconds and can be eaten as-is or mashed up with a fork and used in breakfast burritos. Beat a half dozen eggs, spray your muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray, divide the egg mixture among the cups (I find 6 eggs does about 8 muffins, with a standard sized tin), sprinkle toppings/cheese and salt/pepper into each cup, bake at 350 for about 12 minutes. Let them cool just a minute or two in the tins, then pop them out and let them finish cooling before you put them in the freezer.

    2. Healthcare Worker*

      I make quiche and freeze it, sometimes pre-sliced and individually wrapped so they can heat one slice at a time. Chowders are also nice, but more challenging to eat with one hand. Corn chowder, potato soup, butternut squash, white chili are all delicious. I freeze them in quart size bags, easy to defrost. Casseroles, espescially chicken work well. When cooking for a new mom I try to avoid/minimize onions and peppers as some babies can’t tolerate those if mom is breastfeeding. Your friend is so fortunate to have you!

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        Quiche is a great idea because having a big breakfast is great when you’ve been up half the night!

    3. Jemima Bond*

      Off the top of my head; bolognese sauce, curry (Indian or Thai), casseroles (with the meat in bite size pieces obvs), tagine, meatballs plus a tomato sauce, that sort of thing. Anything you could put with rice, pasta or those little potatoes you don’t need to peel.
      Also, how about small pizzas? Fish cakes? Substantial soups, homemade bread rolls. Another thing that freezes well is ratatouille which makes an easily reheated vegetable dish.

      1. Zooey*

        Thank you! Fish cakes would work especially well for my friend I think and not something I’d ever think of!

    4. Anona*

      Any food is better than no food, but I agree that one handed is most appreciated.

      Our new go-to for people with kids (we were actually talking about this last night, since some friends are about to have a baby) is Nebraskan Runzas- a pillow soft bread stuffed with a ground meat/cabbage/cheese filling. They’re delicious and freeze beautifully. We have a bunch frozen that we then heat in the microwave for about 3 minutes. The recipe we use is from Shauna Sever and her book Midwest Made.

      The filling in this recipe is kinda bland, so we’ve been adding more garlic/worcestershire. But you can easily do a different kind of filling.

      This is the original recipe:

      And this is an adapted recipe (which I haven’t tried), but this blog has more pictures so you can see what they look like:

        1. Anona*

          Aw, I hope you like them! I didn’t feel like cooking tonight and almost had one for my own dinner.
          It’s so kind of you to help your friend and I hope you’re able to stock your freezer in the process.
          When we make this recipe we often double it because if you’re already going to the trouble, why not?
          Have a great weekend!

    5. Hi there*

      Smitten Kitchen has a nice recipe for breakfast burritos that freeze well. I also use the same method (roast lots of vegetables, season and mix with beans) to make burritos for freezing with whatever other protein we happen to have (leftover chicken, or, these days, turkey).

    6. Knitter*


      This is my go-to since it is so easy.

      I might make some dal if one of the new parents is a vegetarian. This one is my favorite: https://food52.com/recipes/25419-a-simple-homey-coconut-y-red-lentil-dal.

      I put the food in a gallon bag for easy freezing.

      Easy to eat both in a bowl with a spoon while the other hand holds baby (who hopefully doesn’t get food dropped on them)

      When I was approaching the due date for my second, we made a lot a freezer friendly meals for dinner and doubled them. Half was for dinner and half went to the freezer. We still do this 3yrs later— make too much so we can freeze half.

    7. ...*

      Id probably give a delivery gift card so they can pick out what they want and not need to worry about defrosting and heating up.

    8. B*

      For covid friendly instacart delivery could be nice. Costco is great too.
      My fav when we got meal train was the full meals. Having salad and bread just made us feel a little human. Also cookies.

      1. Zooey*

        We live close by so full meals are actually a reasonable option – I’m thinking a mix of freezer stash and stuff we can drop off that is ready to go.

    9. Melon*

      Just something to keep in mind if your friend is planning to breast feed – high calorie foods are helpful and some moms end up cutting dairy (among other allergens, but usually dairy first) if the baby seems unhappy or extra fussy. It might be nice to have a dairy-free dish – most of the freezer stuff I had was cheesy, creamy, etc and it sucked not being able to eat it.

      1. Zooey*

        Thanks – I knew that about dairy often being a problem but hadn’t actually followed through the implications. She will be giving breastfeeding a try I think so this is good to have in find!

  19. Detective Rosa Diaz*

    I quickly mentioned this in the Thanksgiving thread, but thought I would ask for your advice here once more.
    The big news: I got a call about a possible (very first) long-term foster placement. He is a 6-month-old boy who has been in care almost since birth. Now they have decided a return home is not for the near future and are looking for a longer-term home for him. I don’t have more details yet.
    So! On Tuesday I have a meeting with the agency to hear all about him, the situation, and practical details. They told me if I agree visits would be almost daily for two weeks and then the placement.

    My question: what practical and other questions should I ask? I made a note about:
    – allergies & other medical issues
    – motor development i.e. is he sitting up yet etc
    – lenght/weight and clothes’size
    – sleep pattern
    – What he eats now (solids or just milk)
    – What care products and diapers he uses

    Anything else? (Obvi besides all details about reason for placement & visitation)

    Any other tips so I am well prepped for the meeting? Thanks so much!

    1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      Not exactly about the baby himself, and maybe you know this part already, but for me, something I’d want to get as clear as possible is what help was available to me and how exactly I’d go about accessing that. If you have a key worker, can you ring them any time? What happens if they’re on leave, or it’s the middle of the night, or a weekend? If the main contact route doesn’t work, what fallbacks do you have?
      And relatedly – under what circumstances would they want me to check in with them, versus decisions they’re happy for me to make unilaterally.
      Wishing you luck!

    2. Teresa*

      Favorite toys and what soothes him when he’s upset
      Any routines he is used to, eg bedtime, daily schedule, etc

      You might want to change some stuff eventually but in the beginning keep as much the same as you can to lessen the impact on him, even if it’s hard for you or not the way you’d do it. Moving is traumatic, no need to add more hard things on top of that. (I had a very young child stay with me briefly whose soothing tools were ice cream and youtube. Not how I would’ve done it but it wasn’t worth the stress to him to change it for the length of time he was there. If he had become a semi-permanent or permanent household member I would’ve tried to move away from those after the adjustment to our house was complete.)

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        As a child welfare professional, I love hearing this. Stability is so much more important than things like screen time and junk food limits in most cases. Those can be the focus later on, as you said.

    3. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I have no idea how fostering actually plays out, but here’s some things I would ask a parent if I were going to suddenly be taking care of their child:
      -What’s the established routine right now? As in, when does he and his caretaker(s) usually (ish) wake up, eat, play, go back to sleep, etc. Maybe you’ll figure this out with the visits, maybe not. It also changes regularly, so that might not be useful to know.
      -Does the child have any notable preferences? I’m thinking things like sound (music? white noise? humming? singing? quiet?), holding positions (one arm? two? on a hip? on the chest?), playing positions (bouncer? blanket on the floor? sitting on a lap?) and so on.
      -Does the child have/will the child have any favorite items coming with them? E.g. pacifier, stuffed animal, snuggle blanket, bottles, etc. I’m thinking keeping up some level of continuity will help the child. Things like pacifiers or bottles: consider having extra of the same brand on hand, if you can.

    4. Natalie*

      Some specific things I might ask:
      -diaper size (you can’t necessarily extrapolate from height/weight)
      -bottle nipple size and, if he isn’t coming with his own bottles, what brand he uses
      -if they have started solids, what foods he’s tried (if known). It’s recommended to start one food at a time in case there are reactions so it’s helpful to know what he’s eaten without issue before
      – vaccination details. This is probably in his chart but I would want to familiarize myself with it – did he get flu shot 1 or 2 yet, did he start the hep B series at birth or at 2 months, does he tend to get a fever after vaccines, etc.

      1. Natalie*

        Also, if he doesn’t already have a “transitional object” (aka lovey, blankie, etc) that could be a good thing to introduce, especially if there’s a chance he won’t stay with you for years. You can find baby-safe versions at any baby store, Target, etc and the internet has instructions on how to introduce one. Check w his pediatrician about whether he’s developmentally safe to nap/sleep with it, otherwise you can let him call asleep with it and then take it out of his crib when you leave.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      How exciting! I’ll add ask if he has a snuggly comfort item yet.
      (It was pure joy watching my daughter fall in love with her best blanket & favorite stuffie. Although we learned the hard way that we should have bought two of each because wow she lost them everywhere. Thank you ebay!)

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        Thanks, everyone! Adding these to the list!
        (Absolutely 100% agree on the importance of stability so will start off with as much continuity as possible!)

  20. Loopy*

    Warning: corona talk ahead, please feel free to skip if you need a break or corona free space!
    So, I’ve been trying very hard to manage my covid anxiety being in an environment where folks are more lax than not. It’s been very hard but I’m particularly struggling way more with post Thanksgiving. I have to be at work and in a few stores with no option for curbside/telework over the next few days and I KNOW a lot of folks have not followed guidelines for a safe Thanksgiving (from coworker chatter to seeing many extra cars outside of houses to seeing crowds on Black Friday at stores from inside my car).

    I have something hugely important to me next weekend (involves preparing food for a fundraiser, no gathering, only ordered deliveries) and I am so, so anxious about getting sick in the week ahead because I don’t have the option to isolate. So can folks give me their best tips for managing covid anxiety particularly when you have to be out in the world in an area people are mostly not following guidelines? And please also any tips for more safety beyond mask wearing, hand santizing, trying to social distance (which can be so hard when no one else will respect it!)?

    1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      A well-fitting mask does make a big difference. There have been situations where the virus was definitely going around, and the people who were wearing masks didn’t get infected, while some of the people without them did.
      One thing you didn’t list is ventilation. If you’re visiting somewhere, you might not have much choice about that, but maybe you can be near a window, or choose to stand “upwind” of others. Best analogy I’ve seen for how the virus drifts in the air when someone breathes it out is that it’s similar to cigarette smoke. This is why outdoors is so much safer than indoors – a breeze stops the virus building up.
      A load of aerosol scientists made an FAQ, which I’ll stick in a follow-up link.
      As for managing anxiety – that is indeed tricky to get in perspective in covid times, because the fact is some of the “anxious” people are actually just being sensible! Once you’ve thought through the precautions you plan to take, maybe it can help if you say to yourself “I’m being sensible”, “I’ve done the best I can”. Yes the virus is dangerous, but it isn’t magic. It can’t just teleport into you. You can give it obstacles.

      1. Loopy*

        Thank you, this was incredible helpful. I am often in an office with no openable windows, and even worse- in smallish conference rooms for hours, so thats unfortunate, but I’ll make sure my mask game is strong. I guess it’s frustrating because I am unable to take certain precautions I’d like to and often get frustrated because I’m put in situations that are less than ideal. I really appreciate focusing on the idea of obstacles though!

        1. The teapots are on fire*

          Can you add a face shield to protect the mucus membranes in your eyes? It helps keep you from unconsciously touching your face, as well.

          1. Loopy*

            I’m not sure, I’m often already told I’m muffled with a mask (I still keep it on). Do glasses help even a little?

            1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

              Glasses would help to protect your eyes yes! But honestly I don’t think the “via the eyes” route is all that likely anyway, even though in theory it wouldn’t be completely impossible. From everything I’ve read about situations where people did or didn’t catch it (like the choir rehearsal), it looks to me as though breathing in other people’s tiny floating breath-particles is the most likely route for it to get a foothold. Masks and fresh air are my top 2 precautions, then distance and time-limits. (Time limits because even if you breathe in the odd whiff of virus here and there, it may still not actually give you the illness.)

              1. Name (Required)*

                The eyes (membranes) are an easy conduit for the virus – because people tend to touch their eyes with their fingers/hands multiple times a day.

                You can’t control what others do around you so do the best you can to protect YOU. Quality mask (not a cloth one!), plus a face shield and long-lasting hand sanitizer (the stuff that kills the virus if you unknowingly touch it).

                If others fail to take precautions, it’s okay to say “I can’t help you unless you put on a mask/use hand sanitizer, etc.”.

                More people need to understand that healthcare works are not frontliners. They are the last line of defence. WE are the frontliners and should act as such. Embrace that role and know you are doing it right.

    2. TX Lizard*

      I don’t have any tips to offer, but sympathy since I am in the same boat. On Facebook I saw my coworker (that I have to work very closely with and for non Covid safety reasons cannot always wear a mask) gathering with friends and family for Thanksgiving. I am planning to take a couple days off next week and WFH the rest- is that a possibility for you?

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks! Unfortunately, not as much as Id like. I took this past week off so I have to work next week. I am hoping to telework 3 of the 5 days, praying more in person work requirements don’t arise. I’m most nervous about having a case come up at work!

    3. Purt’s Peas*

      I think it’s similar for managing anxiety in general—you’re just extra aware of how little you can control (anxiety catnip).

      Things that help for me:

      – make a decision tree and plans. “If this, then that.” “If I start to feel sick, I get tested, I call so-and-so, I delay the fundraiser.” “If I have exposure, I do X, Y, Z.” “If I do not feel sick or get exposed, I do A,B,C.” This gives me a greater sense of control, *and* future-me knows that the decisions have already been made—she just has to follow the decision tree.

      – If there’s a time when the Thing I’m anxious about will be done, I tend to hunker down and get through it. You don’t know what will happen, you just have to pass the time, and accept that you will feel anxious feelings.

    4. Chaordic One*

      When I go out to shop, I try to time it so that I can do it when the stores are not as full of people. I will go out on week days after work if the store parking lot isn’t very full, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are best after work. I never go on Friday after work. I do most of my shopping on Saturday and Sunday, although it means getting up early to be at the supermarket or the big box stores at 7:00 am and then as early in the day as possible, when the stores first open. I can usually get everything before 10:00 am when the stores get busier.

      And then, just be patient, because many of the other shoppers are just clueless, if they aren’t downright rude. Don’t be in a hurry to get your shopping done. You need to wait for other people to do their things so you can social distance. It is just the way it is.

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks, I am heading out momentarily to hit a store that doesn’t offer curbside the second they open the doors. Hopefully it pays off!

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      If you really want to be safe, N95 mask (they are more available now and you can get a reusable one at hardware stores, but they mostly have expiratory valves so you need another mask on top to protect other people – would preferentially get a construction one and save the medical grade for hospitals) and eye covering (face shield or safety glasses). Hand washing before meals or touching your face. Disinfection of surfaces is generally unnecessary. Changing clothes etc or wearing an over layer is also unnecessary. (ICU doctor)

    6. LGC*

      I’m really sorry about this!

      You don’t say what kind of area you’re in – whether urban, suburban, or rural. I’d honestly opt for delivering raw ingredients if possible, since I’ve found that at least in my area grocery delivery has become MUCH easier to set up. (In the spring, it was nearly impossible to get a delivery slot unless you picked one for the max time out and woke up right when the slot opened. Now, I’ve been able to get slots for the next day.) Barring that…I think the biggest factor by far is social distancing – which doesn’t just mean staying six feet apart away from others, it also means spending as little time physically near people as possible, and going at times and to locations where you’ll be around fewer people.

      Plus, social distancing isn’t all or nothing. It seems to me that a loud portion of society thinks that unless you can cloister yourself at home at all times, you’re directly responsible for spreading COVID (and even that you might deserve to get COVID because of your actions). But whatever actions you can take to manage your risk – barring any support, which I don’t think is going to be forthcoming – helps.

      1. LGC*

        And because I realized I just jammed my entire foot in my mouth right there: That last paragraph was meant to say that you yourself don’t need to be perfect! Control the things that you can. The stuff you are doing really does help!

        It sounds like your work exposure only has a limited amount of control. But honestly, in some ways it’s better to be in an office with one other person and no windows instead of an office with lots of windows and eight other people.

        IDK. Ideally you would be able to stay home. And it sucks that you’re not able to. But it doesn’t mean that you’re inevitably doomed to the ‘rona.

      2. Loopy*

        Thanks so much- I am probably mostly suburban. I areally ppreciate the reminder it’s not all or nothing- I have family that is firmly in that camp and I always feel awful in comparison (I simply don’t have the ability to stay home to the extent they do- they are in the best position to follow every guideline to a T- and they do).

        1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

          Yes, it really isn’t “all or nothing”. There’s actually a theory, which I think is plausible, that if you do catch it, having only a small initial “dose” of virus is likely to give you a milder version of the illness, because it gives your immune system longer to respond before the virus gets a chance to build up in your body. So masks & distancing & time limits don’t only help you not catch it, they could also help to limit it to a mild version.

  21. Valancy Snaith*

    I haven’t been around lately as I’m halfway through basic training, but a situation has come up that I’m in uncharted waters on. My mom died last Halloween, which means this year has obviously been not the best. In the past couple of months, my dad has mentioned a “friend” of his, who from context I’ve gathered is a woman he’s seeing. He hasn’t mentioned so much to me directly, and I’m struggling with the idea. My mom has only been gone a year, my parents were married 37 years, this is all pretty wild to me. But it’s my dad’s life, he’s alone, and I do want him to be happy. I would love any suggestions or thoughts or resources on how to feel, because I’m lost!

    1. Not Australian*

      I think the big question here is how your mom would want you to respond. Since she can’t be with your dad any more, she’d surely want him to be with someone who could make him happy? I completely understand that it will take you a little while to get used to the idea – and you can tell him that, without hurting his feelings; “Sorry, dad, I’m going to need a little time to process this but if you’re happy then I’m happy.” Then get to know the lady herself and be absolutely sure in your own mind that she’s right for your dad and he’s not just rushing headlong into something for fear of being alone. [If he is, that’s another conversation.] On the whole, though, there is no reason you can’t all be very happy going forward, without a single one of you feeling that you’ve betrayed the memory of your late mom.

    2. Claire*

      I would try very hard not to feel like there’s a right way to feel or think about this. Your feelings are valid, whatever they may be. You are allowed to feel however you feel (and I recommend finding an outlet to express and explore your own feelings, in therapy or with an understanding friend or in a private journal, or whatever helps).

      But so is your dad. People react to loss and grief differently, what is right for one person won’t be for another, and what’s most important (to me, anyway) is to be kind and recognise that. It sounds like your dad is trying to gently float this development and test the waters, so maybe it’s worth having a conversation to make sure you are right about what’s happening and let him know how you feel (it’s absolutely ok to say you are conflicted and finding it difficult, but that you want him to be happy and are working on it).

      1. Reba*

        This comment made me think of part of the issue here is how they have *not* talked about it. I agree with this idea of getting it out in the open. I don’t think the Dad is being unkind (he’s probably trying to be sensitive) but I think I would be annoyed with his approach, in part because it doesn’t leave you room to have a conversation about your feelings, worries, and where you both are at in your grief. It just leaves you with more questions, as you are experiencing! But a lot of times people are not in the habit of having these emotionally vulnerable conversations and it’s easier to “float” the idea.

        Valancy, I’m so sorry about your mom.

    3. My Brain Is Exploding*

      I’ve been there. So sorry about your mom. You feel what you feel; it’s how you act that counts. My dad meet a lovely woman in grief support and they married two years after my mom died. He waited to tell me they were dating until I was home visiting. They talked very freely about their late spouses. There is room to love your late spouse and to love someone else. Remember, your dad isn’t dating AT you, he is living his life. It is not disrespectful to you or to your mom. I also found it freeing to know someone else loved and cared for Dad and was looking out for him.

    4. Workerbee*

      I am so sorry for your loss.

      All I can think is that your dad has found some measure of emotional support. Maybe it’s morphing into something more, maybe not. Grief is intensely personal and society may want us to wait a measured amount of time, but it just doesn’t always work out that way. He may be feeling all manner of guilt and confusion, too.

      I don’t know what caused your mom’s passing. For what it’s worth, I have been in situations where the person was on a long road down, and in retrospect, the ensuing months/year before their passing felt like a long goodbye. One unexpected effect was that you can find yourself moving on more quickly than you expected afterward. Not because of any lessening of love or respect, but because the grieving was already happening while the person was still alive, even if you didn’t realize it.

    5. SunnySideUp*

      I’m sorry for your loss.

      This going to sound gendered, because it IS, but I think older men who’ve been married a long time struggle more with being alone/single than women do. A broad generalization, but for men whose long marriage lives have been managed by their wives, they may be seeking someone to take over that role.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Older widowers who remarry may not be seeking a domestic assistant but rather seeking to avoid the loneliness of living alone. Older women are more likely to have been socialized into the mindset of taking comfort from having everything in order domestically (dishes washed and put away, bathroom clean, other areas tidied up). It gives a person something to do and a sense of accomplishment, even if the mind and spirit are still lonely.

        1. Jackalope*

          Women are also in our society more socialized to invest in friendships and other relationships. This is obviously a broad generalization but if a woman becomes widowed she’s more likely to have good friends, significant investment in a church or hobby friends, closer ties to the community in general, and men often just…. don’t. Again, this is a broad generalization and not true for everyone but something to keep in mind.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Really great observation here, Jean.
          A friend who works with older people noticed that men who are widowed, either travel a lot, remarry or get sick. Just a generality. However, I found it helpful framing for thinking about people who partner up quickly after a loss.

          I had a relative who used to say, “Good love makes us want to try again.” I have a problem with this because not all of us, nor all the time. However, it is a nice thought and a nice way of framing things if the situation comes up.

          I told my father to go find someone. I think he almost dropped his dentures when I said that. I think he did eventually find someone for casual yet steady company. Not a big romance, but more about companionship. He never told me. I have no clue why. A woman called me after he died. “Stop by and see me”, she said. I never did. Not out of anger or upset, but because of total exhaustion from all the problems with his final illness, his passing and his estate. NO regrets. I am glad I pushed him onward and I am okay with the fact that I never got to meet her.

          In the end, you have to do what you think is right for you and your setting. I don’t know your relationship history and a bunch of other factors that could possibly sway me one way or the other way. So what do I know, really.

          I pushed my father out on to the dating scene because he needed someone his age, who knew his era and cultural references for that time, and who was willing to spend time with him just talking about life stuff from the perspective of a peer. I was so very keenly aware that I was not my father’s peer. I could continue on as his daughter and I could be a good daughter to him. I was very relieved just to play the daughter role and not have to be his only connection to the world.

          1. Jean (just Jean)*

            Confession: I learned this observation from my mom. I hope this doesn’t violate the rules for the weekend thread but I felt too guilty about taking credit for the comment!

      2. Workerbee*

        I agree, even if only due to my own observation. My mom divorced my dad for excellent reasons. After awhile, she felt ready to start looking for companionship. She was then in a long-term relationship with a gentleman who was wonderful and who unfortunately developed a terminal disease. He stayed at home and she learned how to tube-feed him and other skills, because he didn’t want to go into assisted care. After he died, I could see a couple of his widowed/unattached male friends come sniffing around. They, too, were older, and had lauded my mom as a saint and an angel* during the course of her companion’s disease. I practically saw the wheels turning in their heads, that this was a woman who would take care of them, too!

        Fortunately, she had had enough of first catering to my narcissistic dad for more than 30 years and then being a 24/7 caregiver. She’s nearly 80. It was time to take care of herself now. She’ll accept dinner invitations but no obligations!

        *It is an unfortunate corollary that living people who are praised as being saints often get no actual help from the people doing the praising. The praisers can feel good about stopping by for a visit and then going back to their lives; the saint is left with the cleanup.

    6. Dancing Otter*

      A year is not an unreasonably short mourning period. Yes, even after 37 years of marriage. He’s not rejecting the past by starting to look forward.

      If your father knows you’d be upset, that may be why he hasn’t told you. Or his relationship with the new woman may not have reached the “meet the family” level yet. Or they may really be just friends — my MIL just wanted someone to go to the theater and art exhibits with her instead of going everywhere alone.

    7. RagingADHD*

      My dad started dating a couple of months after my mom died, which was incredibly wierd. He even pulled some crappy stuff like asking me to help him order flowers for his lady friend during our first Christmas without Mom, and suggesting that my husband and I “double date” with them. I managed not to go off on him, but there was definitely a lot of “Whoa, no! Too soon!”

      So, good for your dad for being discreet.

      I dealt with it by
      a) Pushing back frankly on boundary issues as needed.

      b) Reminding myself that he was grieving, and there was a lot of uncharacteristic behavior going on (drinking too much, drastic changes to his wardrobe, extreme weight loss, etc.). The identity he’d had for 40 years as part of a couple was suddenly gone, and he was trying to figure out who he was, like a teenager.

      c) Recognizing that he was terribly lonely. Dating so fast wasn’t about tossing Mom aside. It was a coping mechanism to deal with her loss.

      Eventually he realized that the first couple of women he’d picked were not great relationships to be in (because what person with healthy boundaries wants to get serious with the freshly bereaved?)

      He settled down, recovered better, and after about 3-4 years met a very nice lady and married her. And of course, there’s always something lovely and charming about a pair of 80-somethings getting married.

      That first couple of years are just rough on everyone. Hopefully your dad has the good sense to take things slow.

    8. Sandman*

      I had a dear friend who was widowed when we were very young, in our early twenties. One thing I’ve learned from watching her grieve (over many, many years now) is that grief isn’t linear and doesn’t follow a calendar. She remarried within a couple years of her first husband’s death and I know that was hard for his parents and close friends – but it wasn’t that she’d finished grieving, she had just chosen a living relationship that could exist along with her memories.

    9. ...*

      When you’re older and have less life to live I think people wait less before jumping into things. Hes presumably over 60 so Im sure he feels like he shouldn’t stay on hold forever.

    10. WS*

      The year after a spouse’s death is one of very high mortality for the surviving spouse, so your dad finding support and making connections is an extremely good thing for his well-being. Do you have someone other than your dad you can talk to about this? Obviously you’re not going to feel the same way about your dad dating as he does, but it’s unfair to him to expect him to help you work through it.

    11. SnappinTerrapin*

      A few thoughts:

      Each bereavement is unique, because each relationship is unique. You and your father, and any other members of your family, lost the same person, but a different relationship. Your grief is different, and moving forward in life will be different for each of you. Some of your loss is shared, but part of it is different. You can support each other, to some extent, but you also have to walk your own path.

      My wife and I are both widowed. We are also friends of 40 plus years. What works in our life doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone.

      Your loss and your pain is real, and will never fully end. The same is true for your father. His delicacy in handling his new relationship may reflect respect for your grief. It is also possible he doesn’t yet know what he wants, and is taking life a step at a time.

      Being widowed is different from a broken relationship. There is a strong need to preserve memories of a deceased spouse that coexists with the need to build the new relationship. Each couple has to navigate their own course through this unknown territory.

      We are working hard to support each other’s needs, and we appreciate the loving support of our children and grandchildren.

      On the other hand, my great grandfather lost his wife at about my age and lived about 35 years after that. I respect his decision, but can’t imagine living that long without someone to share the rest of my life.

      We extend our sympathy to you, your father, and rest of your family and friends who mourn the death of your mother. We hope you are successful in navigating this unknown future.

  22. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

    Minor craft fail this week. I have this cheap MDF filing cabinet with an ugly, damaged fake wood finish that I wanted to cover with contact paper. Finally got around to it last night and discovered that I didn’t buy enough contact paper, and I cut the pieces a little too small so they don’t stick all that well where they wrap around the edges. So I have a dismantled filling cabinet on the floor until I can order more contact paper, with slightly wonky edges. On the plus side I pulled out half the contents to get rid of them.

    1. Not Australian*

      Minor craft fail for me, too; I ran out of some fabric I need for a quilt project and the shop is currently closed due to lockdown (in the UK). I’m hoping it will open again round about the end of next week and I can go back and stock up. The most annoying part is that if I’d cut the fabric more carefully I’d’ve had enough, but I was a bit slapdash about it and ran out *just* before the end. But it’s worth doing this right as it’s intended to be a gift, so I just need to be patient and work on something else in the meantime.

    2. Anono-me*

      That sounds so frustrating. Can you do a contrasting border with something fun like colorful duct tape or are you doing a more elegant version?

  23. Reality Check*

    I need a reality check on if I’m being selfish or not (basically an AITH from Reddit, if you know that reference).

    My parents have been divorced since I was 2 and I’ve known my stepmom, Emma, since I was 3. We have a wonderful relationship, her grateful that I was an easy kid compared to my terror siblings and always having a great time together. TMI but she taught me how to use tampons when my own mother wouldn’t so yes we’re on very close terms. She is definitely my third parent, a solid fixture in my life. So here come the holidays.

    My younger siblings, both recent college grads, stayed near their respective out of state/country colleges last year around the holidays due to new internship/careers. So my dad and Emma only saw me for the holidays, since I’m local and could get the time off. My stepmom was a little bummed but not overly so since they had plans to visit my half siblings in 2020. Obviously Covid threw those plans out the window. They were able to do a long drive to visit my brother a month ago but my sister is out of the country so they haven’t seen her in over a year.

    So I go for Thanksgiving (we have the same quarantine bubble, we’re safe) for the second year that I’m the only kid they see and Emma won’t stop talking about not seeing my siblings. We had a plan to video chat with them (only got a hold of my brother, my sister did not answer for some reason) but even before the call she kept going on about how much she wants to see them in person. Which I totally get, because I miss them too, but there’s nothing we can do to change it and I’m just glad we’re in the technology age that we can video chat with them. A few comments sire, but it was the main topic of discussion while I was there. Additionally, I helped with house projects for their new house, one of which was putting family photos on the walls. My dad does not care about the photos; it’s all in my stepmom’s hands. So as I’m framing the photos Emma prints off, I can’t help but notice there are half of my photos for each of my siblings, though I sent her plenty (not just they each have 6 and I have 5, I mean they each have 8 and I have 4). And one photo I really like of myself and two childhood friends, Emma told me she didn’t want on the wall because she didn’t know my friends (she has met them several times), while she’s still trying to justify hanging photos of my brother with his ex-girlfriend because she really liked the girl, and has a full spread of my sister with her boyfriend like they’re engagement photos.

    I’ve never had any reason to doubt that Emma loves me like one of her own kids (she typically introduces me as ‘her daughter’!) but the whining about the lack of my siblings and the imbalance of my photos is making me feel a little unappreciated, when I’ve taken time out of my life to spend the whole week with her and my father, rather than just Thanksgiving day, because I knew they’d be lonely without our typical big gathering and without my siblings. Please give me a (gentle) reality check if I’m being bratty and self-centered about all this. I don’t usually feel in competition with my brother and sister, but listening to Emma go on about missing them made me feel invisible this week. I could have spent the time with my own mother instead and left them with no kids to see, but I was there for them and felt overlooked for my efforts.

    1. Disco Janet*

      NAH. It’s reasonable that she misses them and is thinking about it a lot during the holidays. It’s also reasonable that you feel a bit hurt and would like to refocus on appreciating that you are there with them. Talk to her about it!

    2. The Rat-Catcher*

      Agree with NAH. Everybody’s feelings here sound justified. That said, I’d encourage you to look at the next holiday a bit differently. If you want to visit your mom, visit your mom! It sounds like you feel responsible for ensuring that your dad and Emma feel appreciated by making up for your siblings’ absence and unresponsiveness, but you can’t really do that. Your parents have been divorced a long time and splitting holidays is pretty standard. It sounds like you need a bit of distance from this, and you’re entitled to take some.

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        Reread that and it sounded a bit judgey on my part of the siblings. I get not being able to take time off from a new job and not being able to do international trips for every occasion.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      My MIL did this, also. My husband and I were thinking we were chopped liver or something…

      I think this happens a lot and I think that parents don’t realize how hurtful it can be.

      Maybe you can say something like, “I am here. Do I count?”.

      For me, I ended up telling myself that MIL knew she had us, but she was not so sure about the others. Yeah, it was a real drag and it made the holidays into real work as the decades rolled by.

    4. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Aww I’m so sorry that’s happening to you. I can’t speak from personal experience but I definitely do not think you are TA at all here nor are you being bratty and self centered.

    5. Tamer of Dragonflies*

      Im not a mental health expert of any kind,just a layperson with a thought that hopefully helps.
      I dont think anyone is an AH here. It looks like stepmom is missing your siblings and thinking of them alot,causing her to speak of them often. The picture thing may even be a subconcious manifestation of her missing them. I dont think she is trying to snub you,but that doesnt make it hurt any less. You have my sympathy and all the good vibes I can muster for you. My maternal grandmother has always favored her other grand and great grandchildren over me, my spouse and child to a greater extent than what you mentioned in your post. (Examples include taking them on vacations, offering childcare for nights out and in one case buying them a REALLY nice used luxury car…) So I think I can understand how your feeling. Please, dont let the resentment eat at you. In your case, it really seems to be a subconcious thing. If it gets too bad, maybe you can gently bring it up in a non accusitory way. From your description,you and your stepmom have a good relationship and when she realizes whats happening and how its making you feel, hopefully you and her can get past this.

    6. Observer*

      I think what’s happening is two things. On the one hand, she has you in person so she doesn’t need as many pictures. On the other hand, you seem to be thinking of your visits more transactionally and about relative duties, rather than primarily about your relationships.

      So, when Emma keeps going on TO YOU about how she misses your sibs, you can tell her that you miss them too and ask her is she doesn’t take some comfort in having you around?

      Also, do you WANT to spend your holiday with your mother rather than your father and Emma? If so, do that. Not in “you don’t care enough about me, so there!” But because you love your mother and you want to spend some time with her.

  24. Bobina*

    Crafty people: has anyone here ever painted glass? Is it hard and how effective is it?

    Context: I got a vase when I had some flowers delivered a few months ago. Its green glass which…I’m not really into. I’m trying to figure out if I can do something with it rather than just donate it and wondered if painting it would work? Google says glass painting can be done, but I think the assumption is starting from non-coloured glass. If I put another colour on top how effective is it?

    1. Lcsa99*

      I think it depends on what look you’re going for. If you wanted to paint a design all the colors would have a green tint to them. If you just want it a different color you would just have to make it a shade that blends nicely with the green. Like I don’t think you could make it a shade of yellow or orange, but blues would definitely work, maybe a shade of red if you want something more of a rust tint. You just have to calculate the green into your final color.

        1. StrikingFalcon*

          Glass paints are usually meant to let the light shine through them, so yes, the green will show through. If you add blue, you’ll get something in the teal/blue green range. If you add yellow, you’ll get a yellower green. If you add red, you’ll get something in the brown to black range (hard to judge without seeing it). I would recommend blue if you go this route – yellow won’t make it look much less green (yellow pigments tend to be weaker than other colors), and red + green is kind of unpredictable.

          If you want to completely cover the green color, you’ll need to look for a specialty paint that is both opaque and will stick to glass. A metallic color would likely be opaque, since the metallic effect comes from reflecting light.

          With a flower vase you’ll want to be able to wash it, so keep that in mind too. I’d search for a “dishwasher safe glass paint” and see what your options are. Hope it turns out well!

          1. Bobina*

            Teal-ish would be lovely! Thanks for all the useful info. Unfortunately most craft shops where I am are all shut so might be a while before I can get to it, but I’m definitely a lot more motivated to try!

    2. GoryDetails*

      Your question about painting glass brought back memories – though I don’t know if they’ll be of use to you. My mother went through lots of different craft phases, including one for tole painting – and after she’d worked on more traditional surfaces like the metal breadbox, she segued into painting on our drinking glasses. [Big glass mugs formerly containing peanut butter, small juice glasses formerly containing jelly – detecting a pattern here? {grin}] The results were attractive, but they didn’t hold up well to dishwashing, and I don’t remember what kind of paints she was using – opaque ones, definitely. She also had a phase where she’d use glass beads and adhesive leading-in-a-tube to ornament glassware – those were really lovely to look at, but definitely had to be hand-washed.

      Anyway, if you’re looking for a way to change the entire color of the vase, I’d say just donate it instead, but if you’d like to play around with paints and/or gems – or perhaps etching, something I’ve tried with moderate success – it could make an entertaining little project. [The etching requires a special cream that will etch the glass, and yes it’s toxic and hazardous, so precautions must be taken. You can apply it over stencils to etch a pattern, or free-style it for more fluid designs.]

      1. Bobina*

        Hah that sounds amazing. Normally I’m the least crafty person but lock down means I’ve got excess energy and the will to try things so thought I might give it a shot. I think the real challenge will be can I get the bits I need for not too much money!

        1. Lcsa99*

          If you do a search for glass paint or stained glass paints I am sure you can find several affordable options. Unfortunately it looks like the set I’ve used in the past is discontinued.

    3. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      Craft stores sell paint that can be applied to glass (and washed if you follow all the instructions) Most of it will be translucent to some degree so look for ones that say they are opaque. I’m pretty sure a metallic one will be more opaque so if you want a gold or silver vase that may be the way to go.
      Another option would be a spray paint – you wouldn’t use that on glassware but since it’s a vase that doesn’t need to be washed often, it may work ok.

      1. Bobina*

        Ooh metallic options. Interesting. I think spray paint might be the way to go actually – thanks for the idea!

      1. Bobina*

        Oooh that looks like so much fun. More commitment in terms of materials than I want for one vase, but definitely pretty!

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

          There will be similar products in most other places – in the UK Rust-O-Leum and Plasti-Kote are two of the brands for example, but I know they have comparable things elsewhere.

    4. Coco*

      Depending on what you want to do with it, you could watch something and go over it with Rub N Buff Metallic Wax to give it little bit of color. I’ve had some success with it and there are plenty of tutorials online a to how to use it

  25. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Reading thread! What’s turning your pages this week?

    I just finished a prequel trilogy for Dune, the one about the Butlerian Jihad and the war against the machines, and I have concluded that I think Frank Herbert’s son writes way better Dune books than his dad did.

    1. CTT*

      I just finished The Magpie Murders, which was quite bad! It was set up as a book-within-a-book; editor of famous mystery novelist is reading his latest book and then finds out he committed suicide (or was! it! murder!) and the parts with the Christie-esque novel were fun – old-school mysteries are like pizza for me, even when they’re bad they’re still good – but the parts with the editor investigating what happened to the author were so bad! She had no personality, suspected everyone for no reason, and there was this weird several-paragraphs long tangent about how this south Asian lawyer couldn’t possibly be local to this English village (I found out at the end the book was written by the guy who created Midsomer Murders, which has its own race issues, so that explains that).

      Anyway, I am apparently still really mad about that. I have a few other books I’m dipping in and out of. I’m hoping to finally finish my reread of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell this week.

    2. Buni*

      I’ve just restarted The Eyre Affair books. I hadn’t read them in ages, partly because I thought I knew them so well, but there SO MANY little details I’d forgotten – loving it!

        1. Nynaeve*

          Yes, they’re so great! Maybe I should reread them.

          I also enjoyed the Nursery Crimes spinoff series.

    3. Blue Eagle*

      I read Saints for All Occasions thinking it would be a fiction book but with emphasis on saints. Turned out that it was not about saints at all. Because of the difference between my expectation of the book and what it was actually about I didn’t enjoy it. But if you start out with the expectation that it has nothing to do with saints but rather about the relationship between two sisters, then you might enjoy it.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re fiction about saints – kinda-sorta: check out BEAUTY SECRETS OF THE MARTYRS, by Verity Holloway. It’s a very strange novel set in a flooded, post-apocalyptic world – where the “incorruptibles”, the preserved bodies of saints (and others – Lenin’s here too) maintain some kind of existence and sentience of their own. Unusual, memorable, sometimes funny (imagine jewel-encrusted skull-icons comparing notes and, yes, makeup tips, with wax effigies of possibly-fictional saints and mummified political leaders), oddly poignant…

    4. GoryDetails*

      Several in progress as usual, including:

      THE TORTURER’S APPRENTICE by John Biguener, marvelous short stories with a variety of themes and tones – really enjoying this one.

      HOW TO INVENT EVERYTHING by Ryan North, a humorous non-fiction book about the various technologies needed to kick-start civilization, presented in the form of a how-to guide for time travelers stranded in the past. It includes many examples of inventions that could have occurred much, much earlier in human history if only somebody had though of them, as the required technology was in place long before the actual invention. Good mix of history, science, and humor.

      I SHOT THE BUDDHA by Colin Cotterill, another of his “Dr. Siri” novels about an elderly ex-coroner in 1970s Laos, where Siri and his cronies (including his wife, a redoubtable ex-freedom-fighter and noodle-making diva) cope with life under the troubling and corrupt regime with inventiveness and humor. And a touch of the supernatural, perhaps more in the forefront in this book than in others, as Siri’s gift/curse of seeing the dead (and of occasionally vanishing entirely) complicates his attempt to help a monk evade capture.

    5. WellRed*

      Just started Golden Cage by Camilla lavkberg. We’ll see. So far none of the characters are likeable. Also picking up latest Jennifer Weiner at library today.

    6. LQ*

      This is really interesting, after I read Dune I kind of went, eh I’ve had enough, that was fun but…But I liked the world so maybe I’ll add those to my list to give a shot. I have a wonderfully weird memory of listening to the audiobook for Dune and going, huh, this is why everyone says it wouldn’t work as a movie after what felt like an hour that was entirely …unspoken inaction. All inside the heads and describing things. It was an interesting hour, but it was a long, long time with nothing happening except unexpressed thinking and feeling.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Oh, that’s absolutely where I was. I read the original series by Frank Herbert (all six, I think there were) and I was like, these just get less and less comprehensible, what even is going on?

        And a friend of mine said, try the House trilogy (House Corrino, House Atreides and House Harkonnen, though I forget offhand what order), they were written by his son from his notes and there’s way more story and character development. I did, and she was right, and I’ve been plowing through all the Brian Herbert Dune books like gangbusters. The world is fascinating, but I think FH had a similar problem to JRR Tolkien – more interest in creating his world mythos than what his characters could do within it.

      2. PhysicsTeacher*

        Have you watched the 1984 Lynch movie? I read Dune recently after seeing a short clip of the movie, just because after seeing the clip I had a powerful need to see what the hell the rest of the movie was and I wanted to have some context and the best possible chance of understanding when I watched the movie. Bizarre.

        I’ve become kind of obsessed with the idea of the new upcoming movie and how it will work. Truthfully like 60% or more of Dune happens inside characters’ heads.

    7. Girasol*

      Just finished The Doomsday Book from the library ebooks. I did not realize that it was about two epidemics until I got far enough in to want to find out how it ends. The author was good; although it was written in the 90s she had it right down to the toilet paper shortage. It was sort of creepy to read it just now.

    8. CatCat*

      I’m about 2/3 through “Fingersmith” and it has been a WILD ride so far. Twists and turns everywhere. Loving it.

      1. Nynaeve*

        I love that book! If you like it, you should check out the movie The Handmaiden, which is an adaptation of the movie set in Japanese-occupied Korea in the 1930s.

    9. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I am re-reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erickson. It’s a 10 book fantasy series. So long, but all the books have their own story arc. First book is Gardens of the moon. I highly recommend this series.

    10. Clisby*

      Just started The Geometry of Holding Hands, the latest in Alexander McCall Smith’s Isabel Dalhousie series. These books always make me want to move to Edinburgh.

    11. Deborah*

      I’ve been chewing through books this year at a ridiculous rate, due to the pandemic, because I keep deciding it’s not worth the trifle to find something to watch on TV and just reading another book (I’m at 157 for the year). So *today* I’m reading The Demon and The City by Liz Williams. It’s very good, but one should start with Snake Agent, the first in the series. A couple of weeks ago I read Alien Influences by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, which I quite liked. I’m also working on Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: an Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown which not nearly as much fun but useful knowledge.

    12. Workerbee*

      I read “Ready Player Two” the other day, and…

      **trying not to be spoilerific here**

      …it did not grip me nearly as much as “Ready Player One.”
      Lot of narration to slog through. More than a little WTFery in the plot. It felt like the author lost the joy that was so present in the first book (that is, I could easily imagine he enjoyed writing the first book. This one, not so much).

      1. HamlindigoBlue*

        Aw, that’s disappointing. I’ve heard other people say the same thing (Goodreads reviews). I ordered the book through Book Depository (I love that I can get a paperback copy of new releases that way!), but it probably won’t be here for a few weeks. I also read that some people got halfway through before they started to get into the story. I’m sure I’ll still read it, but it’s probably going to slide lower in the to-read pile priority.

    13. Alucius*

      Just finished Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, which is her first book in about a decade. It has the same weird something-strange-is-going-on-here vibe as her most popular work, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, but it’s much much shorter and lighter.

      You could see most of where it was going about 1/3 to 1/2 way through it but it was so well-written that that didn’t much matter.

    14. PhyllisB*

      I’m reading Christmas themed books right now. I’m still in the “I don’t want to cope with real life, give me fluffy escapist literature” phase right now.

    15. The Other Dawn*

      I just finished The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett. It’s the prequel to the King’s Bridge series. I really enjoyed it and I can see the connection between the two main characters in this book and the ones in Pillars of the Earth. It’s 900+ pages long and I’m so disappointed I blew through it so fast.

      I just started Edinburgh Dusk by Carole Lawrence. It’s about a detective in the late 1800s.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          My only quibble with it is that it doesn’t cover nearly as many years as the other three books do individually. It covers 10 years. I also would have loved to see an epilogue at the end that more firmly ties the characters into the ones in Pillars of the Earth. But I still really enjoyed it. And you’ll learn how King’s Bridge got its name!

    16. HamlindigoBlue*

      I just finished the audiobook of Matthew McConaughey’s memoir (Greenlights). I don’t typically do audiobooks, but I needed something to do to while finishing up a knit baby blanket project. Celebrity memoirs work OK for this because I don’t care if I miss details, and the stories are kind of mindless listening. It was kind of funny because I tend to listen to audiobooks at 1.5X, but I couldn’t do that because the author is also the narrator of the audiobook, and I couldn’t listen to 6 hours of a Chipmunk-esque Matthew McConaughey.

    17. allathian*

      I’m reading The Fall of Terok Nor, the first book in the Millennium series by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens. DS9 is my favorite Star Trek show and I’m enjoying immersing myself in that world again.

    18. Chaordic One*

      The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley. I’m about halfway through and I can’t wait to read what happens next.

  26. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    Does anyone else here have a song they can’t stand for a totally irrational reason?

    Two different companies are using “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night in their holiday commercials this year. That song grates on me beyond words not because it’s an irritating song… but because of the line “Joy to the fishes in the big blue sea.” There’s no such word as fishes. It’s fish! Fish!

    I know, it doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense. What song drives you bananas for no good reason?

    1. MommaCat*

      That “Free Falling” song, can’t remember who sings it, but they have a line, “and all the good girls are home with broken hearts,” and it’s so clunky! I also get really annoyed by the whole concept of “bad boys” and “good girls,” but that’s a whole other issue.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Tom Petty! It’s a classic! (He wrote it about himself, and bad boy/good girl is kind of ironic.) But it’s ok if you don’t like it :)

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I just heard “Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx the other day for the first time in probably 20 years. I remember when I was young thinking it was so romantic. At three weeks shy of 40, I spent the whole thing yelling at my radio that if she wants to be on the other side of the ocean from you and keeps breaking your heart, BREAK UP WITH HER AND FIND SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO BE AROUND YOU AND ISN’T MEAN TO YOU TO DATE, JESUS WEPT.

      1. Wisco Disco*

        I have the exact same feeling about that song! Probably because when it was popular I was trying to extricate myself from a very clingy boyfriend and it cut a little too close to home.

      2. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Ha, I never thought of that song that way. I thought it was a long distance relationship or she was on a business trip or something and would eventually be coming back.

        In a similar vein, an ex-girlfriend couldn’t stand “Lovefool” by the Cardigans — one of my favorite songs at one point — because she was a psychology major and she kept diagnosing the woman in the song. She insisted the protagonist of the song had borderline personality disorder.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I could’ve been okay with the distance, it was the parts where she kept breaking his heart and he was just gonna do whatever it takes to make her love him that ticked me off.

          In fairness, my husband also was previously married to a woman who randomly decided several years into their marriage that she was going to move overseas and never live in the US again because it was terrible for women, and it STILL took him two years of her living in China and Saudi Arabia (because the US is terrible for women … ) without him to finally have the “look, this isn’t working, let’s call it a day” discussion.

          I also hate Cake’s “Short Skirt Long Jacket” purely because I hate the aesthetic of the eponymous combination. Heh.

        2. EvilQueenRegina*

          Ah, Lovefool… it was one I had never thought much about until it happened to come on the radio one day about four years ago, and it got to “Love me, love me, pretend that you love me,” and I suddenly thought “That…does not sound like it would ever be a healthy relationship that would work.”

      3. Jackalope*

        The Train song “Oh I Swear to You” pushes a similar button although the singer comes across as creepier than Richard Marx. He sees the girl he had a crush on who “moved to LA or New York or Santa Fe or wherever to get away from me”. He’s convinced that if he swears his undying love to her then they will jump back into a wonderful, happy relationship, and I’m always thinking, “Dude, don’t know where you leave, but at least one of those cities is thousands of miles away from you. If she moved THOUSANDS OF MILES AWAY to get away from you, she does NOT want you swearing your undying love right now. Just…. trust me.”

      4. Traffic_Spiral*

        My “GET OVER IT!!” romantic song is ‘Rude’ by Magic. He’s basically singing about how he’s asking a man for his daughter’s hand in marriage, the Dad keeps saying ‘no,’ and so he’s like ‘why you gotta be so rude about this?’ It makes sense if you know that the singer/songwriter is Palestinian-Canadian from a community that still takes things like this seriously.

        My beef with it is, well, basically, No Means No (which the Dad actually says). If you accept that you need the Dad’s permission, then you gotta accept that he can say no. And ‘Rude?’ Buddy, the rules of courtesy and hospitality require you to be offered tea, coffee, and maybe some sweets when you come to visit – daughters are not included!

        I think my main pet peeve is because it’s such an earworm that I can’t ignore it.

    3. Lcsa99*

      Live and Let Die drives you husband crazy. To be honest it bugs me too. “The world in which we live in.” Just, ugh. Was he trying to get a minimum word count or something?

      1. Not Australian*

        FWIW I always heard that as “the world in which we’re livin'”, which is fractionally better…

    4. amaliee*

      My old housemates used to play one song from 10pm till midnight on a projector in the living room. When I hear the song on the radio, I shudder and have to change it as fast as possible while thanking the universe that I no longer live with them.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        I can relate – when I was dating my ex, he and his friends always liked to go to the same pub, and there was this one guy who was always there and always played Summer of 69 on the jukebox all the time. It took a while before I could listen to that song again after breaking up with that fool.

    5. WellRed*

      Fishes bothers you because there’s no such word but you have no issue with the concept of a wine drinking bullfrog? ; )

      1. WellRed*

        Oh and a song I hate is What’s Going on. She over sings the whole thing. Christmas song I hate is Wonderful Christmas Time. What the hell was paul McCartney thinking?

        1. Workerbee*

          I had the misfortune to catch a live version of that song on TV, and she was incapable of hitting the high notes, and her face showed that she knew it. I never liked that overproduced song in the first place, but that cemented my irrational ire. :)

          1. Pink Dahlia*

            The song was about her problems with hard drugs and mental health. It’s meant to be melodramatic, OTT, and messy. Not saying you are required to like those things, but…the presentation is not an accident.

        2. nep*

          Oh, man–Wonderful Christmastime. Same.
          (What’s Going On–by which artist? Love Marvin Gaye doing that song. Is it the same song?)

            1. Jean (just Jean)*

              Jingle Bell Rock is the earworm from Hell in my opinion. Likewise Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.

              1. nep*

                All three of those–you can keep. But hey, some might love them. To each his/her/their own. Variety and all that.

                1. curly sue*

                  Worse yet – Michael Buble’s desperately “no homo” version ‘Santa Buddy.’ Full-body cringe every time.

          1. WoodswomanWrites*

            Yes, What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye is a fantastic song. Truth be told, I love nearly everything Motown but Marvin Gaye’s Heard It Through the Grapevine is among my favorite tunes by anybody in any genre.

          1. Tabby*

            Curly Sue, you made me lol. Like braaaah, try not singing Santa Baby instead of changing the lyrics in a desperate bid to appear straight. Nobody with any sense cares whether you are or you aren’t gay! And most of us will just be like. Why are you singing such a lame song?

            I also hate Santa Baby because it’s so cringe.

      2. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Oh, I have a problem with the bullfrog too. But the fishes is what inexplicably raises my blood pressure. No disrespect to Three Dog Night, a good band (I love “Mama Told Me Not to Come”), but that whole song is pretty much a trash fire.

    6. Blue Eagle*

      Fish = plural of one kind of fish (e.g. there are 8 bluegills in my freezer = there are 8 fish in my freezer)
      Fishes = plural indicating many species of fish (e.g. joy to the bluegill, the largemouth bass, the salmon, etc in the deep blue sea = joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea)

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Interesting. That makes the getting-on-my-last-nerve quality of this song even more irrational than I thought!

    7. Caterpie*

      “Drops of Jupiter” by Train is so grating to me! It makes my teeth hurt just thinking about the eyhhh eyhhh eyhhhhyyhhhyhhhh parts haha. Someone frequently played it in the communal bathroom at my college dorm, which, while annoying, enticed me to speed through my morning showers and make it to class on time.

    8. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Any song with bad grammar. Also “Little Drummer Boy” and “Dust in the Wind.” IDK why. And I get the occasional song that becomes an earworm for a while, enough so I have a hard time going to sleep, but I am trying NOT to think of what the last one of those was!

        1. Wishing You Well*

          Ah, mondegreens!
          “There’s a bathroom on the right.” always sounded a lot more comforting than “There’s a bad moon on the rise”. *chuckling*

          1. curly sue*

            My kids like to change over Imagine Dragons’ “Whatever it Takes” chorus to “a barrel of snakes.” I can never listen to the song without hearing it.

          2. allathian*

            Mondegreens indeed, they’re fun!
            I always hear the line “I don’t care if we make it or not” in Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer as “I don’t care if we’re naked or not”…

          3. EvilQueenRegina*

            My ex’s friend once said she always thought it was “Relax, don’t do it, when you want to suck a Chewit”. For years afterwards that was all I could hear.

        2. WoodswomanWrites*

          As a wordsmith, I enjoy the website Kiss This Guy that features people’s stories of misheard lyrics. It cracks me up. For example, there’s Elton John’s Crocodile Rock misheard as “I remember when Iraq was young.”

      1. tears of the mushroom*

        “Little Drummer Boy” is the reason that I dislike listening to Christmas music. If I could erase one song…

    9. All the cats 4 me*

      For me it is ANY Christmas music.

      I have been a vendor at craft sales for years, and naturally, there are lots of sales at Christmas time. And naturally, the organizers want to get shoppers into the Christmas spirit by decorating and having Christmas music playing.

      All well and good if you spend two hours there shopping and then go home.

      If you are a vendor, and are basically trapped in the same 10×10 space for three or four days…..

      One memorable such event had only ONE album of Christmas music and played it on continuous repeat. Every day. For three days. Including set up and tear-down times.

      It was …. difficult.

      1. Reba*

        This gets to me because so much good or at least pretty Christmas music exists! and yet, we get Mary did you know 20 times a day.

        Store soundtracks are an underappreciated aspect of why retail is hard.

        1. All the cats 4 me*

          Oh, yes – retail Christmas music! Shudder.

          My husband and I jokingly compete to be the first to report the dreaded appearance of Christmas music in the grocery store or large-chain-mart.

        2. Jackalope*

          I personally like Mary Did You Know? but was really amused recently to read a Facebook post referring to that song which said #Mansplaining Yes, she did know. Totally cracked me up.

        3. Autumnheart*

          Seriously. I worked at the same retail store for 5 years in HS and college, and the whole time, they had one soundtrack for the rest of the year, and one for holidays. To this day, I cannot STAND listening to The Beatles or Paul McCartney, nor any Christmas music that isn’t classical or at least instrumental.

          “Walkin’ on Sunshine” can also DIAF (goddamn it, I can hear it playing in my head now), oh and “IN THE ARMMMMMS OF AN ANGELLLL” if I have to hear that ONE more time. I really liked Sarah McLachlan’s music before that *f-ing song* got used for every sapfest imaginable for an entire decade.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        When I figure skated, we used to start working on Christmas programs toward Halloween or so, mostly because you had to claim a song early and some skaters needed extra time to work something up (like me). So we’d end up listening to Christmas music for two months solid. By the actual holiday, I didn’t want to hear it any more ever.

        Some coaches had go-tos they’d use for very young skaters and they’d recycle these every holiday. I skated at that rink for fifteen years, and I do not care if I ever hear “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas” or “Suzy Snowflake” ever again, in this life or any other.

    10. Nicki Name*

      Mr. Name plays a game with his friends called “Whamageddon”, where the object is to get through the entire Christmas season without hearing Wham’s “Last Christmas”, which is popular for in-store Muzak. I’m guessing the game is a lot easier this year.

      1. Astoria*

        I like the tune of “Last Christmas,” but it’s only tangentially a Christmas song. Could just as easily be “Last summer, I gave you my heart…”

        Agree on “Blue Christmas” being annoying. Sorry, Elvis.

        Most power ballads – looking at you, Aerosmith – make me change the station.

      2. Fish Microwaver*

        The year George Michael died (on Boxing Day ), I was somehow extra intolerant of “Last Christmas” in the lead up to the holidays. I said to my friend that I was going to lose it if I heard it one more time. Then I felt bad when I heard poor George had died.

    11. Llama face!*

      Two Christmas songs I absolutely can’t stand are Blue Christmas (yes, even the Elvis version) and I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. The first just sounds like a giant whine-fest to me and the second is all “haha childhood trauma of thinking your parent is destroying their marriage and family”. Not a fan.

    12. Everdene*

      Natasha Bedingfield’s ‘These Words’. I hate her voice, the tune is bad and the self referencing words are awful. ‘I wrote these words, by myself, these words are mine, I wrote them.’

      I’ve left shops before because they started playing it and I cannot be around 3 minutes of that and keep my sanity.

      (Some people think my dislike of this song is irrational and extreme. They are wrong)

      1. Bobina*

        Lol. While I dont have the same strong feelings about this song, I can totally see where you’re coming from

    13. Dinoweeds*

      I have an irrational hatred of Tennessee Whiskey – it’s just such a stupid analogy to me. Also, it reminds me of the hellish days I worked in catering lol.

    14. Jackalope*

      I dislike the Barbie Girl song. In college someone down my wing would play it over and over again for…. weeks? Months? I disliked it to begin with, but that totally cemented it for me. Although ironically I still hate the song but now whenever I hear it I have nostalgic feelings for college.

      Also, there’s this contemporary Christian song “Lead Me With Strong Hands” is what I think it’s called, which to me is the perfect example of a specific type of evangelical Christian toxic masculinity (this is a community I grew up in and so am familiar with). It starts off with his wife (who of course has one single characteristic, namely that she’s beautiful) longing for a strong man to lead her, fight for her, and basically be in charge of her life so that she can know that he loves her. I feel that my dislike for this song is understandable, but the white-hot rage I feel when it comes on is perhaps over the edge. Even as I’ve stopped being evangelical I’ve still enjoyed some of the music, but this one song is almost single-handedly responsible for me no longer listening to Christian radio stations.

      1. Smol Book Wizard*

        Oh, good heavens above. I listen sporadically to the Christian radio stations and regularly snark at them as well as enjoying some of their music, and yes, Lead Me is an automatic switch-the-channel. I’m disappointed but not surprised that it doesn’t improve past its initial lines and conceptual material.

    15. Alucius*

      “I hope You Dance” by Leanne Womack. It’s a pretty normalish country song but one Spring Break my friend and I went with his dad and uncles on a 20 hour trip to Myrtle Beach for a golf vacation and the drivers just kept the car radio bouncing from country station to country station. Pretty sure we got that song 6 times on the way down and another 5+ on the way back.

      This was a long time okay, so prior to everyone have phones/mp3 players and noise cancelling headphones

    16. Black Horse Dancing*

      Mine and my spouse’s are Lips of an Angel by Hinder and Run to You by Bryan Adams. Like, just break up already and stop cheating on your SO! And stop glorifying the cheating.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Oh, god, I had forgotten how creepy that Hinder song is. I read an interpretation once that he had gone back and kidnapped his ex that he had been stalking and had her tied up in the closet and had to be quiet so his current GF didn’t know she was in there and rat him out to the cops, and I could never hear it as “just” garden-variety cheating again.

        … as if you didn’t hate it enough, sorry to share the EUGH :P

      2. The Rat-Catcher*

        Agh! I should have read the replies first! I said this one too down below, as well as Unfaithful by Rihanna for the same reason.

    17. RagingADHD*

      I always thought it was “fishies,” as a diminutive.

      One Christmas season when I was working retail, the store played a Motown holiday album on repeat. So like, 12-hour shifts, one album, November to New Years.

      If I never hear the Jackson Five doing “I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” again, it will be too soon.

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        I don’t blame you. No offense to Michael Jackson, an amazing artist who can’t defend himself anymore, but the Jackson 5 is basically nails on a chalkboard. Young Michael Jackson’s voice is basically the same voice as Elmo from Sesame Street.

    18. Chaordic One*

      I still have a bit of Halloween hangover from “The Monster Mash.” I just think it is so insipid. Argh.

    19. Pink Dahlia*

      The Boys Are Back In Town. The melody is grating, the “nah nah nah nah nah” makes me want to screech, and the lyrics are bullshite. An entire song about a bunch of worthless hoodlums, who just rolled back into their old ‘burg, and we “have to” let them start violence and harass women? How about no? How about their asses go to jail, where they belong?

        1. Astoria*

          Probably. I see Black Dahlia‘a point about the violence in the lyrics, but am sentimentally fond of the song. And the Boys’ “nah nahs” are blissful compared to their counterparts in Journey’s “Lovin, Touchin, Squeezing.” Blech. I do not understand the appeal of that whiny song.

    20. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Does it help to know that the song wasn’t complete when Three Dog Night wandered by and heard Hoyt Axton messing around with it in the studio? The way I heard it, he had the melody and was singing random phrases that had the right emphasis to get comfortable with the chording and start brainstorming lyrics. But the band members were slightly stoned and loved it.

    21. The Rat-Catcher*

      Unfaithful by Rihanna. The whole song is a diatribe about how guilty she feels about cheating on her partner. Like…have you considered…not doing that? (I also hate Hinder’s Lips of an Angel for the same reason.)

    22. Hardly Anon*

      Evwryone I know sooner or later hears me mention “The Bad Day Song” – the one song that if I hear it, means that serious bad juju is in the air, sh!t’s about to get real, horrible days are coming. Its You Give Love A Bad Name. The moment “Shot through the heart!” rings out, I dive for the remote/phone/radio. I can’t hear it and not panic and freak out. I’m not sure how the original relationship between Bon Jovi and serious trauma came up, but I can’t listen to that song, ever. Incidentally, at the risk of sounding like a raving lunatic, I also have a song that has to be played to undo the damage – Roll the Bones.

      1. NRG*

        Chocolate heart, you’re to blame,
        You give me a migraine

        I hate that song so much I hurt my finger stabbing at the car radio buttons one time.

    23. allathian*

      I absolutely detest the Titanic theme song, “My Heart Will Go On” by Céline Dion. When the movie came out, it was overhyped here and I got simply sick of the song to the point that I’d switch channels when it came on the radio. I also refused to watch the movie until about 2005 when I met my husband. When we were dating we talked a lot about movies and he was amazed that I hadn’t seen Titanic, since I told him that James Cameron was one of my favorite directors. We did watch it and it was definitely worth seeing, but I still hate the song!

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Ha, I own a face mask with a picture of two cats doing the Titanic pose, and much as I love the mask it doesn’t half get the song stuck in my head. I don’t know if you ever watched Supernatural, but there’s an episode where the character Balthazar hates that song so much that he goes back and saves the Titanic so the movie and song never get made. Sometimes I understand where he was coming from.

    24. Thankful for AAM*

      If it helps, grammarly says fishes is the plural for many species of fish and for the zodiac sign.

      “When referring to more than one species of fish, especially in a scientific context, you can use fishes as the plural.
      The zodiac sign Pisces is also often referred to as fishes.”

    25. Kuododi*

      I’d have to say that wretched 70’s tune “Having my Baby.” For all the lyrically obvious reasons.

      I additionally don’t respond well to anything by Neil Diamond (on principal)


  27. Teapot Translator*

    Do you have podcast recommendations in Spanish? I lost my father recently (after losing my mother a few years ago) and it occurred to me this week that I have no one with whom to speak Spanish anymore. :-(

    1. Jackalope*

      I don’t speak Spanish, but one thing I’ve found helpful with one of my languages that I don’t get to speak with others much is listening to a) a news station online and b) a radio station with all of the music in that language. I find that helpful to have as something in the background while I’m, say, puttering around the kitchen, that still gives me language practice and helps reinforce with my brain that These Sounds Are Important and To Be Remembered. Don’t know if that helps but thought I’d offer just in case.

      So sorry for your loss.

      1. Fiona*

        There is a great site/app called Radio Garden – you can find radio stations around the world. Maybe that will help? I’m sorry for your loss.

    2. Quoth the Raven*

      I’m really sorry for your loss.

      I’m from Mexico. What kind of podcasts / topics do you like? I might be able to suggest something.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thank you.

        I’m not sure what my podcast genre is. I like listening to the news, I like humor (I listen to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me) and shows that explain science and social issues. History is interesting, too.

        1. Quoth the Raven*

          If you like history and social issues, you might like El Dollop (available on Youtube and Spotify, along with other platforms). It deals mostly with certain events of American history, in the format of “one of the hosts tells the other host about it” kinda thing. That podcast is a spin-off from another called Leyendas Legendarias, which deals with true crime and the supernatural. I would not immediately recommend that one because the humour can be too much for some (it’s in the vein of Last Podcast on the Left, but a lot more respectful) and I don’t know if you particularly care for those topics either, but I figured I’d mention it.

          There’s La biblioteca de la historia (available through a platorm called ivoox), which comes highly recommended.

          For science, there’s Ciencia UNAM. It’s made by the largest university of Mexico (you’ll find it on Google by searching for podcast Ciencia UNAM). The University has several podcasts available for several topics, in fact.

          For news, off the top of my head, BBC Mundo offers an episode on Thursdays every week. Most Spanish speaking newspapers and newscasts have podcasts these days, but some of them tend to lean very local. If you want further suggestions, I’ll try and give you more.

          Finally, for general interest, there’s Puentes (available through ivoox). They talk about a scope of issues ranging from social matters to cinema with different hosts and guests (I actually took part in two episodes of this podcast about The Simpsons), so there might be something you find interesting there.

          If I can think of anything else, I’ll add to this list (even if it’s throughout the week). Let me know if there’s anything else I can help with.

    3. ..Kat..*

      I like News in Slow Spanish. Also, you can listen to a regular Spanish podcast at half speed.

      I am sorry for your loss.

    4. Woolly Jumper*

      I like NPRs “radio ambulante.” Hosted by Daniel Alarcón, who is a fantastic author, and it’s like of Radiolab-esque in that it tells interesting stories about interesting people. I love the one about the Argentinian amateur astronomer- I listened to it twice- I’ll comment the name if I can find it!

  28. Hi there*

    Cross stitch question here. I enjoy doing counted cross stitch and have made lots of napkins and little towels. 15 months after my pal/colleague’s baby’s birth I am finishing up a birth announcement type piece. How do I give it to the family? Flattened out so they can do as they wish? Framed? That seems a little presumptuous.

    1. CTT*

      Is the piece just on cloth and not part of a pillow/blanket/etc.? If so, I think you should frame it. It’s definitely not presumptuous, especially for something like that which will be hung up; it would seem like an incomplete gift otherwise. Or if it’s small enough for fits on one embroidery hoop, you can sew up the back and give it to them that way. But I think it needs some sort of finishing.

    2. Valancy Snaith*

      Framed is the way to go if it’s that size! Not presumptuous at all. It would be very odd to give an unfinished fabric gift. 99% of the time a piece like that would be framed (as opposed to being finished as a pillow or something else) so I wouldn’t think twice about framing it properly for them. Likely they will be thrilled!

    3. Buni*

      I compromise by framing mine but just in a plain stiff card (usually double bordered). If they want to leave it as is then it looks perfectly passable, but if they want to upgrade it to a ‘proper’ frame then it’s just card to rip out.

    4. Grapey*

      Absolutely framed. No question. Giving toddler parents a task of framing a 15 month old birth announcement would almost certainty go to the very bottom of their to do list.

      It might be “presumptuous” w/r/t style, but making a birth announcement you expect to be displayed in the home is already personal and involved. Don’t make the recipients do extra work – just get a simple frame that matches the piece.

      (Also, getting something framed well is expensive. It could be a white elephant at that point if you put that cost on people that don’t normally “get things framed”.)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Adding even if you do it yourself you can still end up spending hundreds. I wanted to frame something I made. I picked out something from the custom framing department of a well-known store, then looked at the price, $140 just for the frame. The rest of the supplies would be additional.
        I ended up with a little cheapie frame for $12.99 and learning to like it. When I painted it to match the one of the more common colors in the piece I really liked it.

        You could consider making it into a pillow or a wall hanging (hang it from a dowel).

    5. All the cats 4 me*

      The way i see it, is that the whole point of a cross stitch birth announcement is that it is meant to be displayed. I mean, what else would you do with it?

      Either have it framed before gifting, or include a gift certificate for them to get the frame they want, otherwise you are giving them a floppy piece of cloth and the ‘obligation’ to get it framed so they ‘show their appreciation’ of the gift.

    6. Always Late to the Party*

      I “frame” my pieces by gluing them into an embroidery hoop, which I usually paint (before gluing).

    7. SunnySideUp*

      If you live near a Joann or Michael’s, you can pick out an inexpensive ready-made frame (they often have 50%-off sales) and take it to the custom framing desk for them to mat and assemble. Far less expensive than a true custom piece.

  29. Financially Illiterate*

    How does one go about finding a good financial advisor/planner? I’ve been putting this off for years, and it’s time. Mostly I’m looking for advice on things around retirement planning, like the tax implications on selling investment property to fund retirement vs holding on to it.

    I grew up government cheese poor so never really learned any of this or even how to find someone who can advise on this stuff, preferably without trying to sell me anything.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Ask around – we share ours with my in-laws. But also look for a fiduciary (they’re required to keep your best interest in mind) and make sure you understand fee structures up front. Interview them first, make sure you get good vibes before giving them access to your money.

    2. Lady Alys*

      Make sure you find a fee-only financial planner, not someone who can sell you a product that benefits them without telling you that’s the case (“fiduciary” is the magic word here). Will share a link to a national (US) association below.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Find a CERTIFIED financial planner. In the U.S., anyone can call themselves a financial planner. (There’s no law against this. So look for letters behind their names and know what the letters mean.) You can get a referral for a fee-only planner from National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, the XY Planning Network, the Alliance of Comprehensive Planners and the Garrett Planning Network. You should look for a tax expert or retirement specialist.
      I did very well myself by taking personal finance classes and reading books but everyone is different. Some main points are: start now, avoid paying commissions and don’t invest in anything you don’t understand. When I get closer to retirement, though, I’ll need a Social Security planner because S.S. retirement will be very complicated for me.
      Interview the person first. I had exactly ONE meeting with the “financial planner” at my bank. She wasn’t even that civil! Oh and don’t hire family or friends.
      Best of Luck :)

    4. Friedeggplant*

      You could also get involved with an online personal finance community. I know this is not quite the question you asked, but I’ve found the subreddit on personally finance actually very very helpful in coming up with my own retirement plan. They have lots of resources to read, and if you have a specific question, you can ask them and petite give pretty good answers.

    5. Phoenix from the ashes*

      Our advisor is part of the GAIA network of independent financial advisors and we’re very happy with them.

    6. Financially Illiterate*

      Thanks, I think y’all have given me some good places to start looking and good questions to ask, especially fiduciary, didn’t know this was a thing!

  30. Jessie*

    I have a very general question. How do you tell someone that they are rude, but in a nice way? Because you can’t just say, oh you are rude, stop it. People don’t react well to something like that. Nobody wants to be told that they are rude. But I live in a city where people can be really rude and I tend to freeze and not say anything. I actually have a specific situation this week. We’ve had a new cleaning lady for about four months. She’s super at her job and very polite. Being polite is very important to me, because the cleaning lady we had before her was so rude. However, I’ve noticed that she has started becoming a bit rude the last two weeks. I thought I was being sensitive or something, but my husband said she is being rude to him too. So, in a situation like that, what are you supposed to say without being confrontational. But also generally, is there a nice way to tell people in every day situations?

    1. MMB*

      I’m very curious about what you mean by “being rude”. Could you give an example or two? Different situations sometimes call for different responses.

    2. Workerbee*

      Yeah, I’d love to hear an example of an actual exchange.

      I’m wondering if she’s just missing some of the polite social constructs of addressing you.

      1. Jessie*

        She hasn’t said anything rude. But just the general demeanor. An unpleasant tone of voice, snapping, walking away while I am still talking. It’s all passive aggressive right now. But I would like to stop it before it escalates.
        But generally I live in a city where people tend to be rude, especially sales people. I think we have the worst sales people in the world. It’s like they are almost annoyed that you are in the shop trying to buy something. And I always freeze and back away. But I wish I could just let them know that they are being rude, without the situation escalating.

        1. WellRed*

          What happens if you simply say “you’re being rude”? Followed by exiting the store. Also, why are you tolerating a rude housekeeper? Fire her.

        2. Ins mom*

          How about an “I” statement. I feel as if you aren’t hearing me. Is something wrong? It’s taking on more than you should but addressing it without being confrontational

        3. Sunflower*

          YMMV but this is behavior that I’d be a little annoyed with but I’m not sure it’s a hill I’d want to die on. I live in the US so might be different but generally, as long as my cleaning lady does a good job and is respectful of my space, I’m going to be happy with her. It can be really difficult to find cleaners who do a good job and are reliable so this isn’t something I’d risk losing someone good at their job over.

          On another note, it seems like you’re talking to your housekeeper kind of a lot? I say hi and bye to my cleaning lady unless there’s something logistical I need to communicate. I don’t interrupt her while she’s working- I used to clean houses and I had an amount I had to do by end of day and I got paid per house so I needed to be in and out. If you have something you need to specifically talk to her about that is going to take more than 5 seconds, I’d suggest doing it as soon as she comes in before she gets started.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Hm, yeah I wonder if Jessie and her husband have made it a habit to chat with her while she’s trying to work.

            I mean, I get this; I’m very chatty too and I like to be nice to people doing service work. But she likely has other clients and is trying to finish up so she doesn’t get behind or have to rush, and she doesn’t want to be confrontational. This may also be why the other housekeeper seemed unpleasant; sometimes people do that so you will leave them alone.

          2. lazy intellectual*

            This is a good point. It’s important to not ask service people to do too much emotional labor. Just be nice and as long as they follow instructions and meet expectations, leave them alone. Honestly, even if they are a little rude or behave strangely, as long as they do the job, I just pay them and leave it.

          3. Jessie*

            We barely talk. She’s not chatty at all and I’m fine with that. We have a few exchanges every day about work stuff and that’s it. The other day she rolled her eyes at me because I asked her if my son’s school uniform has been ironed. Why on earth would that annoy her?
            She’s a good cleaner and I don’t want to die on this hill either, but this can’t escalate.

            1. Traffic_Spiral*

              For that, I’d go “I’m sorry, did I say something wrong? I mean, you’re rolling your eyes at me, so I’m assuming something’s wrong?”

              I broke a co-worker of swearing at his computer with this technique (he was right across from me in an Open Office). Every time he yelled, I went “is something wrong?” Eventually he decided that the annoyance of having to explain the outbursts to me outweighed the fun of making them. That and most people don’t realize they’re doing something until it’s brought to their attention, repeatedly.

              1. pancakes*

                I’m not sure why that would need to be phrased in the form of a question rather than saying something along the lines of, “please don’t roll your eyes at me.” The fact that she did roll her eyes (or that anyone does, for that matter) does not establish that someone did something wrong.

                1. Traffic_Spiral*

                  Because it makes the other person actually have to think about what they did and why they did it, which helps them figure out why they shouldn’t do it.

                2. pancakes*

                  I’m very skeptical that being so patronizing would achieve the desired result in these circumstances or most others.

        4. Not So NewReader*

          There is a honeymoon period where bosses and employees can get along very well. This sounds like a very short honeymoon period.

          She sounds like a tired person to me. I think the one thing I would address is walking away while you are still talking to her. First, as others have said be sure it’s not chitchat. Be very careful of using up a person’s time. She may have another home to go to or she may need to be somewhere at a particular time. Second is to start to tackle this by using humor. Unfortunately, I am that person who walks away prematurely. I did it to my own crew of people- omg. Finally, they said, “I am still talking to you but you are gone!” They made their point and to this day I am more aware that I can assume a conversation is over when it’s not. You could try saying something like that.

          As far as the tone of voice or the snapping, you could say, “You don’t sound like yourself today. Are you okay?” And when she says yes, then you can say, “I prefer we use a gentler tone here in the house. I understand that there are people who are unpleasant and snappy all around us, but we don’t need to be that way with each other here. If you are having a difficulty with the work here, I’d like us to talk about it and perhaps find new ideas. I am willing to do some things to make the job easier for the person who helps me. Do you have any concerns you would like us to talk about right now?”

          IF this goes well, she will pick out something small to see how you react to it. If you react poorly she won’t do this again with you. If you react thoughtfully, she may try again in a little bit. On the second attempt you will also need to watch your response, to make sure it’s thoughtful.

    3. PT*

      I am inclined to think you are the one being rude here. You are imposing on other people’s time with your expectations that they perform politeness according to your culture, not the local one, in some sort of “dance, monkey, dance!” power play over low paid service providers (house cleaners, sales clerks.)

      It is your job to adapt to the local culture when you travel outside of your home zone.

    4. fposte*

      I think you have to address a specific behavior rather than using a general term.

      However, I also think PT has a point—it sounds like you’re considering the usual accepted behavior of your city to be rude when it’s perfectly fine by the standards of the area. So it’s not so much that they’re rude as there’s a local practice that makes you uncomfortable. If you really don’t think you could ever adapt, that’s how I’d phrase it—not “You’re being rude” but “Sorry, where I come from that would be really curt—could you wait until I finish talking? Thanks.” Or even just the last request. The point isn’t whether they’re rude or not—it’s what you want them to do instead. Ask for that thing.

      1. Jessie*

        She was actually really nice. I’ve only noticed this behavior the past two weeks. I did ask her if she’s ok and if she has any problems. She said everything is ok. But I need to directly tell her that she is being unpleasant. But I don’t want a big fall out.

        1. fposte*

          Again, I would be more specific about the *behavior.* This is a classic management situation, so some AAM posts might be useful here. I would also avoid value judgments like “unpleasant” and “rude” given what you’ve said about local practice. “Hey, I’m not done talking. Please don’t walk away yet” rather than “You’re being unpleasant.”

    5. Generic Name*

      Are you living on the east coast and are from the south or Midwest? I’m from the Midwest and I find the directness and general mannerisms of people from the east to be shockingly rude, but I can’t imagine flat out telling someone “you’re rude”. Maybe if someone says something rude, you can say “wow” or “what do you mean by that?”. I think policing random strangers’ tones will get you nowhere, but if you are employing someone who you feel is rude to you, you can always find someone who is less rude. (Surely? I hope so)

      1. Jessie*

        No, I live in the Middle East :). The city I live in is very congested and stressful and so people are often short fused. I’ve been here most of my life and should be used to this, but I’m not and get very rattled. My cousin knows how to stand up for herself and just gets very aggressive right back. I get startled. I have no idea why. I should be used to it by now. It’s the survival of the fittest here and you need to be able to stand up for yourself, which I struggle with.
        By the way, people here are very warm and friendly if you get to know them. But superficially, there is a lot of rudeness.

        1. Claire*

          It sounds like you consider stuff rude that isn’t culturally considered rude in your location. I don’t think you can accuse people of rudeness when they are behaving in ways that are normal and acceptable to them and others around you. You might need to work on how you react to these behaviours, since you can’t change the culture to suit your sensitivities.

          You can ask people you hire to behave in certain ways, such as not walking away during a conversation. But you can’t accuse them of rudeness – rudeness isn’t universal, it’s cultural. Your culture doesn’t perceive this as rudeness. You are the outlier and will need to approach the issue accordingly.

          1. Jessie*

            Believe me it’s rude and everyone knows it’s rude and everyone complains that it’s rude. There are entire reddit forums dedicated to the rudeness of the people here. Nobody thinks it’s normal. You either stand up for yourself or you get rattled like me.

            1. Mx*

              I agree Jessie. Walking away when someone speaks to you and rolling your eyes is rude.
              Could you have a honest conversation with her, mentioning the changes that you have seen in the last 2 weeks and asking her what’s going on ?
              Are you someone who is generally very (or even too much) nice and people pick up on that? Don’t forget the power is on your side in this relationship.
              I can’t help wondering if you are in Paris lol.
              I am from Paris and spent most of my life there. Parisians are notorious for being rude, not only abroad, but to other parts of the country. And it’s true….

        2. Carla*

          It sounds like you consider stuff rude that isn’t culturally considered rude in your location. I don’t think you can accuse people of rudeness when they are behaving in ways that are normal and acceptable to them and others around you. You might need to work on how you react to these behaviours, since you can’t change the culture to suit your sensitivities.

          You can ask people you hire to behave in certain ways, such as not walking away during a conversation. But you can’t accuse them of rudeness – rudeness isn’t universal, it’s cultural. Your culture doesn’t perceive this as rudeness. You are the outlier and will need to approach the issue accordingly.

          1. Carla*

            Sorry, that was me double-posting – autocorrect changed my name from Carla to Claire and I tried to correct it before it posted but it went through twice.

      2. lazy intellectual*

        I’m curious what about east coast people you find rude? I’ve only ever lived on the east coast, so I’m curious about regional differences.

        1. RagingADHD*

          As a Southerner, I definitely saw a difference in how quickly people move, speak, and get right to the point without preamble or social chat, especially in work/business interactions.

          I didn’t mind it, but to folks with more indirect social norms, it comes across as brusque and impatient. Which, in those places, would signal hostility.

          It took me a while after moving back South to get in the habit of asking, “How are you?” when I call to make a routine appointment, for example. Doing that kind of extra courtesy with a complete stranger on a business call seems odd and time-wasting in the Northern/East coast mindset.

          While in Southern ways, that’s a bare minimum of civility to not seem cold and aggressive.

        2. Generic Name*

          It’s mostly the directness and bluntness. I can’t come up with an example right now but folks in the Midwest are very indirect, especially saying no to things. Like I remember someone I was on a committee with kept making a ton of suggestions for programming and when I suggested she take the lead on one idea, she said “no”. Which I suppose isn’t in the face of it rude, but I was very taken aback at her flat no. A Midwesterner would have said something like “let me took into it” or there would have been a bit of back and forth before admitting that she did t have time. Not a great example.

          1. lazy intellectual*

            Did she just say “no” and stop or did she follow it up with an explanation?

            I will be honest, Midwestern/Southern characterizations of east coast behaviors confuse me because they don’t usually align with my own experience. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone here just say “no” to an offer or a suggestion. They will at least say “no thanks”, and in a work setting, definitely try and justify it with “I don’t have time” or “that isn’t a priority”. Maybe they aren’t as indirect as people from Midwest but I don’t find people rude. But my experience is only one data point.

            1. Thankful for AAM*

              As a northeasterner, my experience is that Midwestern or southern folks (where I live now) tend to hear only the “NO!” when a North eastern person thinks they are saying, “no, I’m not able to do that.”

              I find Midwestern and southern preamble and checking in disrespectful of my time. I am used to it but hate that those folks tend to continue to see north easterners as rude and aggressive instead of recognizing regional differences.

              My coworker’s daughter has her first job and it is in a Midwestern city. She is constantly regaling us with stories of hour long or more meetings that are just talking politely around a topic. When she finally says, it sounds like you want to achieve x and y, they are astonished she could so quickly hit the nail on the head. Yet they tell everyone, Susie is a little aggressive but if you want something done, she will get it done.

          2. The Rat-Catcher*

            I’m in social work in the Midwest and just rejecting an idea with a flat “no” would seem curt. It’s more like I have to validate the idea before I reject it. “That would address the X issue but still leave us with the problem of Y, and we’ve been told we can’t have Y, so I don’t think we can do that.” I can see where someone who is used to more direct or brusque communication might take that to mean that I am still thinking about it, but I’m not.

    6. Anono-me*

      I don’t have a similar background so please excuse any misunderstandings.

      Could it be that the new housekeeper was on her ‘best stranger with power over me behavior’ initially, because she was starting a new job? Now that she feels more comfortable and secure, she has relaxed and reverted back to her ‘normal’ and more brusk behaviour. It sounds like the change might not be to be rude or because she dislikes or is unhappy with you , but because that is how people talk in your particular shared social environment.

      If my guess is right, researching “code switching” might be helpful. You probably don’t want her to switch back to “I’m scare my boss my fire me” mode, but maybe you can create a safe space for a different kinder mode.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Taking another look from a different angle, what’s the covid situation in your area? I have friends who like to stand very close for conversation — and right now that would be very uncomfortable for someone who must go between homes and who will lose 100% her income if she has to quarantine. Think about the walking away — could it be trying to keep 2-meter distancing? Are you wearing masks when talking with her? You’re in your home so I’ll guess not — but if you’re maskless and she’s masked, she’s more at risk from anything you encountered in the rest of your life than you are from her.

    8. ...*

      What did she do that was rude? Just fire her I guess there’s plenty of cleaning people out there. But you say your live in a city where “people are really rude” and now your cleaning lady is rude… so what do you mean by rude??

      1. Tabby*

        Hm. Im in the other side of this — people insist on trying to talk to me rather a lot. I appear to be very cuddly and gentle and warm, so people want to have these super long convos with me. Meanwhile, I have fifty internal things going on that need my attention more, or Im dead exhausted and need to listen to my audiobook, rather than Yet Another Request from anyone. So i try to cut to the chase by using short answers, walking away, or just plain ignoring people. Mostly because people tend to not want to accept gentler ways of saying no. Or they will try to argue with it.

        My suggestion? Back off and leave her alone to do her job without interrupting her to ask questions. its jarring to have that happen.

        1. Jessie*

          We don’t talk to her. I keep saying that.
          Actually, with our apartment layout and the division of house duties between me and her, we barely see each other. I’m not bothering her at all. But if I need to talk or ask her about a work issue, then she needs to be nice.

          1. Tabby*

            Jessie, maybe your idea of nice and hers are very different — I think she’s fine, actually, to just answer quickly and move on. Im still at, “Let her be.” Ask your question quickly, expect a quick answer, and be done with it. Don’t go into a long story, and let it go. I really do suspect you want more from her than she wants to give.

          2. lazy intellectual*

            Because she is your cleaning lady, I wouldn’t spend energy on telling her she is being rude. What you really want from her is to listen to your instructions and carry them out. As long as she is doing that, it’s fine. She’s not someone you need to teach manners to – I wouldn’t take that on. If it were a friend or family member, then I would have this conversation, but not someone you hire to clean your house.

            Like people said above, if she’s not listening to or following instructions, address that explicitly: Last time I told you do do x and you didn’t, please do it this time.

            If she doesn’t follow through, replace her with someone else if possible.

  31. Holly the spa pro*

    Does anyone here live in Arkansas?

    We are considering relocating to a state with a lower cost of living. We live in Phoenix currently and while we still like arizona just fine, the value of our house has gone up considerably and we are considering cashing out and using the profits to buy a house (or most of a house) outright so that we dont have to worry about a mortgage anymore.

    We are looking at places with four seasons but mild winters and low cost of living and arkansas has come up in our searches a lot but we’ve never been there and with travel being what it is right now, we are reluctant to go on a scoutint trip as yet.

    So for anyone who lives or has lived there, what are some things you like ir dislike about it? What are the best cities to check out?

    1. MMB*

      My husband and I have also been looking at Arkansas! We’ve visited nearby areas and I can tell you that the humidity is pretty high – cold days feel colder and hot days feel hotter.

      1. Holly the spa pro*

        Im definitely concerned about the humidity since ive lived without any for the last 10 years here in the desert. Though 120 degree summer days vs humidity might be a fair trade. Good luck in your search!

    2. Deborah*

      I live in Memphis, Tennessee which is at the same latitude as the northern half of Arkansas. I have friends who came here from Phoenix and they hate it here, but that’s because they feel it’s backwards and there’s nothing to do. That would be worse in Arkansas because Memphis is a much bigger city than you will find in Arkansas (the population of Little Rock is 200,000 vs 600,000 here; the metro area of Little Rock is about 600,000 as opposed to about 3 million here. But that isn’t what everyone cares about; it’s just something to consider.

      This area of the country is extremely humid. Currently, on November 28, it’s 54 degrees and 33% humidity, if that gives you an idea. However, it’s been my experience that Memphis is about 10 degrees warmer than southern Missouri and Nashville TN, so that could be the same for parts of northern Arkansas also; I don’t know for sure. 100 degree heat (which you are probably used to) with 70-90% humidity is pretty overpowering in my experience (I just stay inside).

      Now as to the 4 seasons…well, sort of. We have had 75-80 degree days here up into November. We sometimes get about 3 weeks of fall, and then it’s cold. Southerner cold, which is 40s and 50s. Allowing for the 10 degree difference with Memphis, that might be 30s and 40s in other parts of the region. Many municipalities in this area do not own snow plows, because it rarely snows, usually only once or twice per season, if that. They have salt, and most things including nationwide trucking companies like FedEx, just shut down for a day till it’s over. Winter is certainly mild. We do often skip spring though. We often go from Southerner cold in February or March to air conditioners in match or April and it stays hot until October or November. I just looked outside, and while there are some leaves on the ground, the trees and the bushes are all still green. It’s a little less vibrant of a green than it was a month or six months ago, but green.

      It might also bear mentioning, given the hellplague we are all living through, that most of the rural areas around Memphis, including in Arkansas and Mississippi, don’t have hospitals and rely on Memphis for any serious or emergency care. I imagine that holds for other parts of Arkansas having to go to Little Rock (or I’m not sure where else).

      All that being said, Arkansas is a beautiful place (I’ve driven through it many times) and I have been happy with the move I made to Memphis about 11 years ago. It all depends on what you are looking for.

      1. Holly the spa pro*

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply! The humidity is coming up a lot in these comments haha. That is a good point about the rural-ness. We originally moved to phoenix, in part, because we wanted to be in a more urban area after having lived in kansas for a while. Now we are sick of loud neighbors and city congestion so the grass is always greener! Thanks for your insights!

    3. Coco*

      I used to work in Springdale, AR. As a vegetarian POC it was difficult to find restaurants I could eat at (other than cobbling together side dishes as a meal in some places) and there wasn’t a whole lot of diversity. There was also not much to do. So it depends on what is important to you outside of weather and cost of living. But there were some scenic areas and the cost of living was def less expensive than what I was used to

      1. Holly the spa pro*

        That is an interesting insight! We are home bodies so not having much to do many not be much of an issue but I realize i do love living in a diverse area. I didnt realize how much it adds to the feel and culture of a city until i moved here. I take for granted the art, food, people etc that i enjoy from the diversity here so thanks for pointing that out.

    4. Grits McGee*

      I’ve lived and spent lots of time in central and northern Arkansas and loved it, but it is 100% not for everyone. Deborah is right about there not being “cities” in Arkansas as much as “city” (Little Rock); Arkansas is pretty overwhelmingly rural, which can be a positive or a negative.
      Things I Love
      -Spring and fall in northern AR are the most beautiful of any place I’ve lived, and it feels like they last twice as long as anywhere else. I don’t find the humidity that bothersome, but I did grow up in Louisiana so take that with a grain of salt.
      -There is a ton of natural beauty in the state, especially as you get into the mountains, and you don’t run into the crowding and resource issues (water, space, etc) that you get out west. If what you want is a little patch of woods to yourself, AR is perfect.
      -In my experience as a cis-het white woman, people are the most friendly and open of any place I’ve lived. (Non cis-het white people that I’ve had friends with have had less positive experiences though, and openness to non-cis-het-white-ness varies wildly from community to community.)

      Things that you may or may not like:
      -In my experience, outside of Little Rock, most communities are focused around church and family. I don’t know what your household is like or what you are looking for, but I could see there potentially being issues making connections with people if you don’t belong to a faith community or already have ties to the area.
      -There isn’t a lot of “urban” activities outside of Little Rock. If museums, performing arts, festivals, etc are important to you, then that will really limit your choices.
      -What kind of employment would you be looking for if in AR? That’s also really going to limit your choices of locations.
      -34 out of 75 counties in AR are dry. Most of the towns and cities have workarounds, but it’s still a hassle to deal with.
      -Most of Arkansas is pretty far away from everything else, and plane tickets are expensive. The only significant airport is in Little Rock, though the Bentonville area has some air traffic due to the presence of Walmart headquarters.

      If you have any more specific questions, I’d be happy to answer! I haven’t lived in Arkansas for several years, but half of my family lives in Yell County so I still visit frequently.

      1. Holly the spa pro*

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful and detailed reply!
        I definitely know what you are talking about in terms of the rural-ness having lived in places like kansas and west virginia which have the same feel. In my 20s i craved more urban amenities and i still take many for granted here. Now that im in my 30s im a home body and sick of loud neighbors and congestion and kind of want to be a mountain hermit. However, we do like to travel and go out on dates (not that either of those things are really things we are doing right now in this current hellscape) so it might mean that we should stick somewhere close-ish to little rock so i appreciate you making that point.

        Luckily in terms of jobs, we both have careers that are easy to pick up jobs most anywhere. You do make an interesting point about faith-based communities. We are not religious and though we are cis-het-white, we dont exactly blend in (heavily tattooed, “alternative” looking) so we (mostly me) would definitely stand out in most rural communities though i did grow up in Utah as a non-mormon so im pretty practiced in being religious community-adjacent.
        Thanks so much for taking the time to give me all that info! A lot to think about!

      2. ten-four*

        Popping in because I used to fly in and out of Bentonville regularly for work, and those flights are expensive AF because they are priced for business travel.

        Arkansas is certainly VERY lovely for the outdoorsy folks. The hot summer weather is not my cup of tea – very hot and humid.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I lived in close proximity to it for a long time, although not in the state itself. Parts of it are absolutely gorgeous (the Buffalo River area in particular). Yes, the cost of living may be lower, but Arkansas, like Missouri, is humid in summer and does experience violent storms. The latter would be something to consider when purchasing homeowner’s insurance.

      Also, it’s a red state. Very red. Harrison in particular has a reputation for being very racist; while they claim to be moving beyond that, I have my doubts. I turned down an interview for an editor job in 2017 because it would have required me to move to Conway (nope). I know an awesome author in Little Rock who grew up there, so there are good people. But like Missouri, and as Alison likes to say about bad bosses, the legislature is an ass and is not going to change.

      1. Holly the spa pro*

        I take it you live in Missouri then? How do you like it there? We lived in Manhatten, kansas for a couple of years so kansas city was the closest “real” city and missouri is beautiful.

        I somehow find myself in lots of places that have ass legislatures so this may be a universal frustration that i cannot avoid though Arizona did vote blue for the first time in over 70 years so maybe change is possible, if not soul-crushingly slow.

        1. voyager1*

          Have you considered New Mexico?

          If you are looking at the deep south though. Mississippi could be a option.

          One great city in the south is Birmingham AL. Way more affordable then Phoenix and has lots to do. Especially if you like the outdoors.

          Arkansas would be pretty low on my list of I was looking to relocate.

        2. Natalie*

          Have you looked at central/southern Ohio at all? I went to college near Dayton and have friends in Columbus and it might have a good mix of what you’re looking for. They have winter but it’s short and mild, although I am from MN so YMMV. Low cost of living, more diversity than you would expect, and your within a day’s drive of half of the US.

    6. Female-type Person*

      I’m a native. The cost of housing is very reasonable, and the natural beauty and “things to do” if you are outsdoors inclined are excellent. We cannot believe the hiking/walking/bike trail and so on recreational opportunities close to our home in central Arkansas. Do you like water? In the summer, everyone “goes to the lake.” K-12 education varies from really excellent to barely adequate, but test scores are highly corelated to socio-economic status, which is generally low, particularly in low population, rural areas where you honestly wonder what on earth people do to earn money. (Answer: Chickens. Not lying.) This is a red state, politically (but with purple dots) and in the buckle of the Bible Belt. The most common “getting to know you” question will be about church affiliation. Air conditioning is necessary starting on warm days in April and sometime as late as October, and I’m pretty sure there is no month in which I have not used it. If we get snow and ice, we just stay home until it melts.

    7. WoodswomanWrites*

      I have no experience living in Arkansas, but in the last few days I read about a town in Arkansas offering people $10,000 to move there as well as a free bicycle. I can’t remember where that was, so you may want to look it up.

    1. Puffle*

      I occasionally re-read the comments on that post, and every time I forget just how fantastically chaotic that comments section was… Kudos to AAM for responding so calmly, I wouldn’t have been able to restrain myself.

  32. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    Is anyone else dealing with huge anger around Covid? I have been a model Covid citizen. I am in several risk groups, the greatest being I take a medication that turns off my immune system, and so have not been in a building other than my apartment or a doctor’s office since March. I am able to work from home, for which I’m truly grateful, do curbside pickup for groceries and things, mail order other things I need….but I am furious I’ve had to do this for this long. I live in a “Don’t tramp on muh RIGHTS!” state, and I just want to scream at the people who won’t “live in fear” that they’re ruining my life, and if they’d just stayed home or worn a mask, maybe I’d be able to get a hug from a friend by now. And after all the selfish Thanksgivings out there, it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. If it ever gets better. I’m so sick of hearing “It’s only people with pre-existing conditions who die” or “People with pre-existing conditions should be the ones who just stay home.” That’s me. And I’m not so slowly losing my mind. I’m LIVID and it’s eating me alive. How can I let go of this? I have to for my own mental health.

    1. SunnySideUp*

      I’m sorry. I know how stressful it is. People are ignorant AF. That’s our current reality, and it sucks.

    2. Reba*

      I don’t know. I’m in much of the same boat as far as my health, high level of caution. I have been able to see family members a couple times, with a lot of careful preparation and before cases started climbing again recently. I feel angry despair a lot of the time at how avoidable all this was, just how stupid (sorry, I can’t think of a better way to say this!).

      Leaving aside the fact that this disease harms plenty of “healthy” people, the callousness of the unending chorus of “pre-existing condition” any time any outlet writes about a death is really painful. Like anytime there is a published remembrance of like, a promising 29-year-old teacher, someone pipes up like “Well she had asthma and ate PopEyes one time!!!1! Pre existing condition!!” I know it’s about denial, wanting to know the supposed reason that person was sick, so you can keep thinking it won’t happen to you.

      But that’s me! I don’t deserve illness just because I have a slightly wonky body! And who has a normal body anyway? I’ve complained about this on here before, this suggestion that people with “pre-existing conditions” are the only ones who need to worry or change our lives… the ableism AND the denial are both spectacular. It’s been estimated that as many as HALF of the non-elderly population has some pre-existing condition (including the range from serious illness to common less-severe conditions like high blood pressure). As many as SIX in TEN Americans inclusive of older adults have a chronic disease. So ironically, a lot of these folks opining about “those people who are sick” — who should, the implication seems to be, stay at home and really why don’t you just keep out of sight all the rest of the time anyway, it’s better for everyone — are actually among that group!

      (and let’s not even get started on the fact that “pre-existing condition” is a health insurance industry term, a concept invented as a tool for denying people needed medical care…not exactly a scientific or unbiased, let alone moral standard! just something to keep in mind)

      1. fposte*

        I saw a statistic that nearly 40% of the US has comorbidities before you even get to age categories. That’s not a tiny group of the frail.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        My FIL told me that one of his friends had died of COVID, followed by “but he had a pre-existing condition”. I just about choked. HE HAS A PRE-EXISTING CONDITION!!

        There’s a ton of ableism, along with morality judgments about health/illness, etc. packed into this statement, and it needs to be challenged – both because it is SUPER horrible to people who are ill/have health issues, and because letting people go on assuming that they’re fine because they don’t have a “pre-existing condition” is how you end up with people not complying with masking/social distancing, etc. Granted, it’s pretty darn selfish to be compliant only because you’re worried about your own health, but I’ll take compliance for any reason, over people foregoing common sense measures like masking and social distancing.

    3. Red Sunglasses*

      An option that may make you feel more in control is to try re-directing your anger at authority officials and turning the anger into action. I live in a state that has been taking this seriously since the start and almost everyone I see is abiding by the rules and cases are still going up. The government is giving completely mixed messaging (don’t eat inside with others at your house but it’s OK to eat inside a restaurant) and it’s creating a lot of distrust which is why people who were previously taking the situation very seriously are now rejecting guidance- some of it all together. I understand some people have been like this all along but it’s very clear that a a large amount of people who were completely hunkered down in March are now waving off the same logic that was presented to them 6 months ago because the messaging no longer makes sense.

      If you have an interest in educating people of the risks, that’s an option that might make you feel more in control as well. I see a lot of frustration from epidemiologists that the country isn’t using anything they learned during the HIV crisis. What’s happening right now is not a public health strategy. The country needs to clearly explain the risks to people and help them with risk-migrating activities. Canada just released a fantastic guide for cities of inexpensive ways to get people outside and low risk activities for them to do during the cold season. IMO, you can’t make people do anything but if people are determined to socialize and you can present them with easy, low risk options, they might be more likely to chose that than the basement party.

      I completely understand your anger at people but there was no way this pandemic was going to be over in a few months. A big reason it continued to spread in March in locked down states was because essential workers have minimal sick leave or worker rights. As people lost their jobs, they had to turn to gig employment which also isn’t covered by benefits. That’s 100% on the government and why other countries are doing better in this than the US.

      I know this is awful and long and frustrating.

      1. Natalie*

        Well said. “Hope everybody does exactly the right thing” never has and never will be an effective public health strategy. The failures here are systemic and structural. I don’t know that you can eliminate your anger, but perhaps it will help to direct it at the right target.

        1. Double A*

          This is especially true when there are such inconsistent messages about what “the right thing” even is and, most importantly, a complete lack of support that would enable people to even follow safety protocols (basically, money so people can stay home and stay housed). This support really must come from the federal government, which can just print money; state governments can do some but must balance their budgets.

          I’ve been so angry at the federal government. And now I’m angry at the people who voted to continue the stalemate and lack of support for average people.

          This being said, even with prexisting conditions, you can leave your house. You can go for walks. Outdoors and masked just passing by other people, the risk of transmission is so, so low. Lower than the risk of getting hit by a car. So, I do think even in the thick of things, you can do some things that are good for your mental health.

          1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

            I so wish I could! I live with chronic pain which impinges on my mobility. I love my urban neighborhood, but an obviously vulnerable woman walking alone with a cane isn’t someone I’m comfortable being at this point.

            1. Natalie*

              Is there a friend who’s COVID precautions you trust who could walk with you? My best friend and I were pandemic walk buddies in the spring and now that it’s too cold here to hang outside, we’re reviving it. It helps a lot.

            2. ten-four*

              Ugh, I’m so sorry! The chronic pain piece of this sounds so dreadful.

              I don’t know if this is an option for you, but I have seen a big upswing in my mood since I got an indoors bike. I have a sit-on one that goes under my desk; they also have some that you can pedal while you’re sitting on a regular chair. The thing I like about the biking is that I can do it while I’m watching teevee or even in a meeting as long as I don’t have to talk much :P

              I read a great piece in the Guardian the other day about how people who engage with communities through gaming are finding lockdown much easier. I’m not much of a gamer myself, but I can see what a difference it makes for my daughter to play Minecraft, and I have colleagues who spend a lot of social time in Animal Crossing.

              For what it’s worth my fury goes in waves. I try to ride it out, then focus inward on exercise, friends and books and then outward on helping people where I can (writing letters for GOTV, donating to local groups working, even participating in citizen science!)

              The reality is that this sucks real bad any way you slice it, and it sounds like you’re playing on hard mode :/

        2. Reba*

          Oh yes, this is exactly where my anger is. I’m not particularly mad at people who are going to restaurants — I know most people don’t guzzle the news like I do, and their state leaders are telling them it’s ok to go to restaurants! Must be safe, or at least it’s good to support the business, so they’ll go for it and do what they see other people doing.

          I’m in an area where most schools are still full time remote, and yet bars, gyms, restaurants are open. The priorities! We could choose to pay bar owners and workers. We can’t pay children back what it’s costing them (not to mention their parents, and the disparate impact on female parents!).

    4. Wishing You Well*

      I go on long, people-free walks (with a mask, just in case) to help cope with the emotional fallout of Covid. It really helps. Try any exercise you’re willing and able to do. It really helps.
      I don’t confront scofflaws. Everyone is highly stressed and people have been hurt and killed for speaking up.
      We’ll get through this. It won’t be forever; it just seems that way right now.
      Sending good thoughts

    5. Girasol*

      A neighbor here: We live in Ammon Bundy territory, so people here sneer at “fear of covid” and “fake news” and share conspiracy theories. We’ve been nowhere in public but crack-of-dawn monthly grocery trips since March and my neighbors think I’m a silly scaredy cat. To keep cabin fever at bay we try to get out as often as possible to places where we can walk or ride or drive distanced from people. We play computer games with friends across the country so we “get together” in virtual space. It helps to keep us from feeling so deprived and they tell us how people in sensible states are dealing with covid. We see our neighbors still having crowded parties. I worry about them. How many of them will end up dead, or aware that their carelessness killed a loved one, or living with compromised lungs and hearts and brains? I think of some healthy young neighbor a year from now saying, “Wow, was I ever wrong about…oh…I forgot what I meant to say” because covid left him with dementia, and I feel more sad than angry. Some will get through it okay and believe that the nonsense was right all along, but I suspect a lot of my neighbors will have had a sad change of heart by spring. I would be angrier if I were a grocery clerk, doctor, delivery worker, cop, or any of the others who have to suffer these folks’ attitudes and behavior for the good of us all. I am so grateful that we can stay safely isolated that I don’t much care what anyone thinks of it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I do agree there comes a point where we have to find peace in knowing that we have made the right decision for ourselves and screw what everyone else is doing and saying.

        Additionally, it’s my belief that anger is NO GOOD for the health. If you cannot find any other mindset to use, this is The One. Anger will pull down health just as fast as Covid or maybe faster. And just like Covid, anger can cause permanent damage in the body. Again, just my belief from what I have seen around me. Anger also fills our minds so that we don’t have the brain space necessary for our own lives. It becomes easier to make simple mistakes that work into serious problems later. Decide that you cannot put energy into anger because you need to mostly focus on staying safe.

        If you think about this you can see it’s part of a pattern of people doing whatever they want. How long has there been DWI campaigns and yet we still have plenty of DWIs. How many people do we know who get told to see their doc and yet that does not happen until the ambulance comes with a stretcher. We have always had that section of society who does whatever-whatever. If you frame it as this is more of that, you may find some grounding in this thought. Some folks are contrary just to be contrary.

        And yes, these folks end up dead or they kill someone in the process of being contrary. And this is why it is so important to keep our own thoughts on things and keep consistent with our own thinking. All it takes is one misstep. You decide you will not ride in a car with someone driving drunk. So you say no 20 times. Then one day you get sloppy and you get in the car. My friend said no at the last minute years ago. Everyone in that car died, my friend would have died also if he had gone with them. You know there are plenty of careless people around you, so take the steps you need to avoid them. Find your satisfaction there.

        As to your anger, stop watching/reading the news so much. *Some* media gets a big kick out of writing things that provoke or even enflame our anger. It’s their idea of a good time. Decide not to play that game. The little news you do watch try to figure out what the reporter/media company wants you to feel or believe. Really analyze what you are hearing.

        To effectively lower the amount of angry thoughts you may need to add something new to fill your brain space with. This could be a hobby, a craft, or an online course. Perhaps you decide to get out that 20 year old calligraphy kit and finally start working with it. Understand that anger is excess energy, we can channel that energy. Notice I am not saying it’s easy, because it’s so not easy. It takes practice and it takes repeatedly returning to that calligraphy kit/online course/whatever for results to kick in.

    6. Laura H.*

      I don’t know if you can kill those feelings completely.

      While I’m not able to stay home 24/7 for my mental health (or at least inside- porch time often fills that need to be outside if the weather is nice) When it’s more than porch time I need, I take the needed precautions, mask up, wash hands, and try to do everything I’m supposed to so that I can safely go out. For others and for myself.

      Seeing folks who have their noses exposed from their mask irritates me in ways that I shouldn’t be. I don’t confront them or bring it up, because I don’t trust myself to be courteous about it- as I would want someone to be to me if I had a mask incident that I didn’t notice or catch. (There are enough jerks in the world and I don’t need to add to their numbers by assigning intent- it’s not my problem to fix anyone’s attitude but mine.)

      I don’t like the folks who are blasé about this at all. (Or any other disease, COVID is just on the forefront of society at the moment.)

      I’m not in the major risk classes, but I still don’t want to get it due to my own negligence. Nothing is 100% but you have to do what you can to not catch it. Putting that brunt on others is just ick and I’d be irritated as well.

      You’re doing the best you can for you. Let that be a source of solace. All the airhugs if you want them.

    7. MEH*

      I could have written this a few months ago as I was seething with rage on a daily basis. I’m in almost the exact same situation as you, only leaving my house once a month to get my meds. I have a terrible immune system and live alone, so I need to avoid getting Covid if I possibly can because there’s a high probability I would have the worst-case scenario if I get it. I live in a state (MN) that was quite proactive back in March, but eased up over the months following. Now, our state has exploded again and the governor is doing half-measures. I understand why he’s not going more hardcore, but it’s still frustrating. It’s harder because my parents live in Taiwan, which has been the platonic ideal of how to handle the pandemic. What works there, however, would not fly here.

      What helps? For me, practicing taiji (tai chi) every day takes some of the edge off it even though I miss my in-person classes. Specifically the weapons. I’m taking private Zoom lessons from my teacher and it’s something that I have to look forward to and that excites me along with my three Zoom classes a week. Snuggling with my cat, Shadow, helps. He’s on my legs as I type this. Venting to friends also helps. Not for prolonged periods of times, but just five minutes here and there. I’m also doing NaNo Rebel (coming up with my own goal for NaNoWriMo), which gives me something to focus on for the month of November.

      Honestly, though, I just feel the anger, though mine is laced with resignation these days. I acknowledge that it sucks and that it’s not fair I seem to be doing more than my share during this pandemic (on the keeping yourself safe part. Not on the being on the frontline part). It especially sucks to be told over and over again that my life is less valuable because I am higher-risk than most people. I work it out with my taiji weapons and I write about it in my blog. Talking about it with others helps. Just knowing it’s a valid feeling mitigates the anger. Sometimes.

    8. Deborah*

      I understand. I’m also immunosuppressed, with other risk factors. I was being forced to come into the office – after working from home successfully for most of several months – for no reason except…idek, the convenience of being able to holler a question across the room to be? The micromanaging worry of not being able to see me? I fortunately got another job, and they let a lot of people work from home but wanted me to start in the office. They’re being careful, where the other one wasn’t…I am afraid to ask, now that I’ve been there 3 months, if I can work from home because I don’t want to rock the boat. I do everything else remote. I learned how to buy clothes online! I’m fat and I’ve always insisted that I really had to try everything on but I couldn’t go and do that. (I used ThredUp, which a lot of stuff is so cheap that it is ok if some of it doesn’t fit, and they have actual measurements which helps a lot). I’ve learned to do grocery delivery, which can someone’s be a pain when the shopper picks up rotten produce, but most of the time it’s fine.

      But I think mostly what I feel is fear, not anger. I am afraid of getting the virus. I’m afraid my co-workers will think I’m no fun because I won’t go to lunch with them. I’m afraid if I ask to work from home my boss will be mad at me. I’m afraid someone I care about will get sick and die. I’m afraid I will somehow be a part of a chain that infects someone who gets sick and dies. Fear and anxiety are just the emotions I’m more prone to feel rather than anger…I think all are valid.

    9. RagingADHD*

      If schadenfreude makes you feel better, there are going to be a whole lot more people who find out they’ve got pre-existing conditions by the time this is over.

      Of course, that’s probably not going to take you to a good place.

      Spending time outdoors whenever I can, listening to uplifting music, and we just decided to get the kids a guinea pig for extra cuddles.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I know, believe me. This may sound horrible, but I’m almost to the point now where I don’t GAF if stupid people die. The problem with that is, they take others with them.

      It’s because of those people I’m staying away while my mother is in the hospital, because if I get sick when she’s ready to come home, she can’t come home. Plus, I have no health insurance. I have no money. I cannot afford to get sick.

      1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

        I hear you. My mom is in a memory care facility across the country, and was put on hospice three months ago. They are locked down tight, so even if I could get on a flight, I wouldn’t be able to see her. I’ve had to try to make peace with the fact that I won’t be seeing her again.

        1. Observer*

          This is an example of why people are tuning out the guidance they are getting. Why can you not see your mother?! She’s in hospice care, for crying out loud! I mean, sure they should require that you take precautions, but at this point, it’s really hard to make the case that your visiting her is really going to create a risk for anyone (again, assuming appropriate precautions are taken.) Maybe the traveling – MAYBE – but that’s not the issue since they won’t let you in anyway.

          This is NOT science based and it’s cruel and it really, really destroys credibility.

          I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this.

          1. pancakes*

            People who work in hospice care facilities aren’t themselves dying, for starters, or aren’t meant to be, and the people in fragile health they’re caring for aren’t, for the most part, trying to hasten their own deaths. So of course there are going to be restrictions on visitors during an airborne pandemic. It’s absurd to speak as if care facilities all over the world are excluding visitors in an effort to be cruel to the families of their patients.

            1. Observer*

              No, they are not doing this to be cruel, but – IN THE BEST CASE – they are simply ignoring the cruelty involved.

              At this point we have a fair bit of evidence of where the threats are coming from, and the reality is that the real threat to both patients and staff don’t come from a limited amount of visitors taking reasonable precautions, but from the policies of many facilities – under-staffing, failure to provide adequate PPE, refusal to hire full time staff, so they are working at multiple facilities etc.

              North Dakota has just allowed staff who test positive for Covid to continue working. They claim it won’t put other staff at risk, and the CDC is fine with it.

              So which is it?

              1. pancakes*

                Why on earth would it have to be one or the other? Facilities that are under-staffed, under-equipped, etc., would not be doing their patients a kindness by allowing more visitors in; they would be encouraging the spread of a deadly virus. That is also a real threat, whether you want to acknowledge it or not.

                1. Observer*

                  It’s not what I want – it’s what the evidence shows. Allowing some visitation has not turned into a vector of disease spread.

          2. pancakes*

            The idea that people are wearing masks under their noses or chins (or not at all), going to crowded bars, etc., because they’re angry about not being able to visit hospitals and hospices is absurd, too.

            1. Observer*

              That’s not what I am saying. It’s often not a matter of people being angry so they are throwing a tantrum (although there are people who are stupid enough to do that, I’ll admit.) It’s more a matter of people saying “This [for whatever the particular “this” is] makes no sense, so why should I believe the other things you tell me?”

              1. pancakes*

                Whether you want to admit something has no bearing on whether or how frequently it happens. More importantly, if people are “often” child-like in their thinking in the particular way you describe—and I don’t disagree that many people are—it doesn’t follow that the rest of us are obliged to relax our standards to suit them.

                1. Observer*

                  I didn’t tell anyone to lower LEGITIMATE standards. I AM saying that when you put in place “standards” that have no basis in science, you lose the credibility that encourages people to listen to you.

                  That, by the way, is not “child-like”. It’s reasonable behavior, because by and large if someone is providing on piece of bad advice, they are far more likely to be giving other pieces of bad advice in that realm. In addition, any competent epidemiologist or public health expert will tell you that part of modeling disease spread (and making useful plans) is understanding how people tend to react to things. And one of the key things that can create problem is messaging that is messaging that is not credible. And one of the things that destroys credibility is messaging or standards that are not consistent.

                2. pancakes*

                  No one is or was defending or recommending inconsistent messaging.

                  Changing the subject and reaching for the caps-lock key don’t suggest credibility to me.

      2. MEH*

        I’m at this point as well. My empathy/compassion is almost exhausted when it doesn’t feel as if it goes both ways. I’m not proud of it, but there you have it.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Even with out emotion in the picture, it’s a fact that people who take high risks can end up dead. Here the sadness can be not so much that they died but that they failed to understand the level of risk.

        My husband used to talk about cause and effect relationships. He’d say “If you yank a chain on a toilet, you cannot blame the toilet for flushing.” The toilet (without a sensor) did not flush on its own, someone moved a lever or pressed a button. A good number of folks have problems with cause and effect relationships they do not see how their own actions lessen their quality of life.

      4. allathian*

        Yeah, I hear you. I’m already at the point that I don’t care if stupid people die. Unfortunately the world isn’t that neat and they’ll almost always make someone more sensible sick as well. I’m also worried about overworked healtcare workers. I’m lucky in that I live in a country where everyone has access to healthcare, but overloading our resources is still an issue.

    11. D3*

      Right there with you, the selfishness and lack of respect for others is making me so angry. The complete lack of leadership on this makes me ragey.
      I went on a 4 hour drive, a big loop, just to get out of the house earlier this week. Didn’t stop anywhere or interact with anyone. And it felt really, really good at the time, but has made staying in even harder since then.

    12. Observer*

      Will it help to recognize that it’s highly unlikely that the pandemic would be over now if people would only have done what they should have?

      Don’t get me wrong – things would definitely be a LOT better if people consistently had acted the way they chould have. But, there was so much we didn’t know – and we’re STILL learning, and there were so many mis-steps by organizations and government that pinning it all on people being jerks really is not accurate. (And this is not just a matter of Blue stated vs Red states. NY is as Blue as you get, and looking at it here on the ground, the handling of things has been abysmal.)

      Given the nature of this virus, even if all people and all organizations had responded as well as possible (given how little we knew), we’d probably still be dealing with the pandemic.

      That doesn’t get you back into society, unfortunately – I think that only a successful vaccine can really do that – but maybe this will help with the anger. (Or maybe not – it’s infuriating to think about how much much suffering was engendered by institutional stupidity, ineptness and ego.)

    13. Ali*

      I relate to this so hard. Thanks for posting it. I read this thread yesterday, and then I got so mad after my daily bike ride today and running into people in my apartment building hallway brushing by me while unmasked that I had to come back and read it again. I have no idea how to let go of it either, but I’m going to take some of the tips on the thread. Less news, keep up the exercise and remote socializing, focus on hobbies.

  33. Jade*

    Recommendations for the best site to purchase and actually download tv shows and movies to watch on a computer, please! My Internet provider sucks on a regular basis and so would like to have some things downloaded for when streaming is impossible. Thanks!

    1. TextHead*

      I use Amazon Prime Video. There always seems to be a download button next to what I get, though I typically stream.

    2. CTT*

      Amazon and Netflix both have download options on most shows and movies. Purchasing is harder; with something like Amazon, you’re purchasing a license rather than the show/movie itself. So if Amazon loses the rights to host episodes of “Veep” because HBO only wants it shown through its proprietary streaming service (as happened to my mom), those episodes will disappear even though you “purchased” them.

  34. Sunflower*

    My family loves giving each other stuff. These items aren’t sentimental- in fact, I’ve even received gifts that they know I won’t like or don’t even FIT me because it was a good sale and they thought it was cute. My mother asks for a list of items I want every year and rejects anything that isn’t a piece of clothing, big electronic or homeware item and then will be buy me 4 bottles of nail polish for no reason. I live in a small apartment in NYC with too much stuff already. I’ve made it clear over the last 4 years to stop buying me CRAP and have asked for gift cards or $$ for medical bills or life experiences if they insist on giving me something and never receive them.

    Any suggestions? The usual tactics (experiences, gift cards, etc) don’t work and I’ve made peace that my family will never understand my lifestyle(there’s a lot more issues than just Christmas presents as you can imagine) and that’s fine so I’m really just looking for a workaround here as it’s been 4 years of this. Should I just ask for items at places with great return policies? Last year, I took everything I didn’t want to Goodwill but honestly, even that made me feel wasteful as I could do a lot more good with $80 than an $80 sweater.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Maybe try this: “Mom, I know you love picking things out, but I don’t have room in my apartment for more stuff. So what I would really like for Christmas is for you to pick out stuff that I can donate to (the humane society, a local DV shelter, teens association, hospital charity, whatever makes you happy). Because anything you give me that doesn’t fit in my wallet is going to get donated this year.”

      Tweak the wording as you like, of course, but if you can focus her wanting to pick things into a direction that keeps the things out of your house and serves a population that is important to you, that might be an opportunity. (And if she doesn’t listen and you still follow through, then maybe she’ll be so mad she won’t do it again in future years. :-P )

    2. Reba*

      Yeah, I think accepting the way they do Christmas is not going to change, and looking for return policies is the only thing that will work. A lot of places are making extra generous return policies these days, so as long as you can get the receipt or know where it came from, you should be good. And, I know that it can hurt when people show you they really don’t get you or honor your requests, but remember it’s clearly not about you, it’s about them!

    3. Generic Name*

      Ugh. I feel you. My mother loves giving stuff. Especially clothing. I’d ask for clothes at a store with a good return policy where you know you you could find something you like. The second part is key. One year I really struggled to find a single thing I liked from one particular catalog to get in exchange for some stuff my mom bought for me but didn’t fit and I felt really bad about it.

    4. LQ*

      You can try great return policies places. You can also try good exchange policy places, where you get credit rather than cash, sometimes it’s hard to get folks to shop at a good return place, but an exchange place is doable and then you can use that credit in a way that works for you (the place you have to buy toilet paper and laundry detergent and the like are).

      The other thing to do would be to ask for re-giftable things or gifts for other folks. Don’t tell them you’re asking for someone else, but don’t feel bad about swapping the gift tag and sending it to someone who will love it.

    5. Anono-me*

      Is there anything in your home that you would like to upgrade? Sheets, chair, coffee maker, lamp etc.

      I would guess that your Mom a little bit feels that the difference in your life choices = a pulling a way from her and wants to have a tangible presence in your home. So shared experience gifts might be more successful than just an experience gift. For example, a gift certificate for both of you to get your nails done vs 4 bottles of nail polish. Right now, maybe a ebook that you could read together or a movie that you could zoom watch together.

      There is always food and nice shampoo/soap/conditioner also.

    6. Sandman*

      I know that my family feels like gift cards aren’t real presents; like they’re cheating or a little cold-hearted maybe. You can try to keep explaining what works for you, but ultimately can’t make decisions about what other people are going to do. The good returns policy and food ideas are good; also, I started using Giftster this year to do an online gift list that lets me select from anywhere (not just Amazon). You could try asking for things that you do need or would like to upgrade, or for smaller items or books. In the end, though, when some people gift shop it’s more about them and how they feel about giving a thing than about what the recipient wants or needs. That’s kind of crappy, but if that’s what your family is like then making your peace with it might be the best you can do.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      –Send them pictures of your place. Tell them before they buy anything they have to figure out where you will put it. Be sure to show pics such as the closet that cannot hold any more clothes or the drawer that won’t close because of all the nail polish and jewelry etc.


      –Tell them this is the last year of buying Christmas presents for you. You cannot house what you have and you do not want any more. Any further gifts will go to Good Will.

      Expect nothing to change. I ended up sorting as I unwrapped, I had keepers and I had a donaters. Guess which pile was larger. sigh.
      I watched people. I swear they did not care if I used the gift or not. Their obligation to shower me with presents was filled and they were content. And all that mattered was that they were content. You really are not going to be able to reason with this logic because it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. All they know is that they owe you plenty of presents. I suggest you make sure you are not reciprocating to match their level.

      So one year I said no more coffee mugs (I had 49 mugs) and no more ornaments (I could decorate three trees.)
      I got NINE coffee mugs and ELEVEN tree ornaments. The gifts were not about me, it was all about them.

      1. allathian*

        We have two sets of Christmas tree decorations, one is mainly red and gold and the other is blue and silver, and we usually use them on alternate years. We have some decorations that go with both, like the clay “gingerbread” figures that my son made in daycare and our tree lights.

    8. ...*

      Return anything you can, then regift what you can’t return, and donate anything else. I bring in bags of unwanted (new) makeup from subscription boxes to work and people go NUTS for it.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Are there any hobbies you have that they could contribute to? Find a way to be very specific — this idea from a friend of mine who did historic costuming. She used to ask for “black cotton velvet” because you could never have too much in her hobby. Velvet is something even grandma understood was fancy. Black was an easy color to find. Cotton because it eliminated polyester. So a cook might ask for real vanilla extract, fancy spices, or edible glitter powder. A knitter might ask for some specific brand of yarn and make preemie hats for the local NICU. And all of the above become something that a mom fixated on “homewares” might find acceptable.
      Also, I know it’s a pain in the neck, but you could consider selling things online. (Not FB marketplace if you’re selling an unwanted gift of course.) Or see if the neighbor’s kids might do chores for free nail polish. (MINE sure would!)

    10. Blue Eagle*

      My Mom didn’t like shopping but she also didn’t like the idea of giving cash or a gift card because she wanted to see me receive something fun. So we compromised. She gave me cash for Christmas and after using it to buy what I wanted, I sent her a photo of either me using the item or me in the middle of the experience that was purchased. Any chance this would work for you?

    11. GinnyDC*

      Another option (at least I haven’t seen it mentioned) is to ask for one thing that’s really expensive that you could resell (craigslist, consignment, etc). I’m thinking small (high end) kitchen appliances, video games (if you have a store near you that buys them), nice jewelry, or whatever seems reasonable given your interests. They get to buy you a gift. You (eventually) get cash. Everyone is happy.

    12. Observer*

      I think that the people who say your family is not going to change are right. Ask them for stuff that you can use that they might want to give you (eg if it’s time for a new phone, let them get it for you.) And either way, guide them to places with good return or exchange policies.

      My experience with Target has been excellent and it’s a place where they are likely to find something they would like to give you. Even if you don’t get cash back, they have a wide enough variety of stuff that you should eventually be able to spend the credit on something you genuinely need. I’m sure there are other stores that have good enough policies to be useful to you , as well.

  35. No Longer an Introvert*

    How are you keeping your energy up while being stuck at home for almost a year now? I feel like I’ve been in a year long winter and haven’t had the energy to do anything for months now. I basically work and then collapse on the couch. I used to keep some positivity by doing the occasional outdoor dining or hike for socializing, but it is too cold for that, all of the parks near me are closed, and even walking around my neighborhood isn’t recommended because my little area has the highest covid rates in the city and state (and tiny broken sidewalks). I used to think I was an introvert but apparently I only enjoy my solo activities when I’m avoiding people! I thought I would really enjoy being stuck at home with my books, crafts, and puzzles, but instead all I want to do is sleep. Has anyone else run into a complete lack of energy and your brain just wanting to hibernate until it safe to go outside again? How are you handling it?

    1. nep*

      I find that deep breathing and stretching does wonders for my energy. And making sure I’m drinking enough water, keeping a regular sleep schedule, and taking my B-complex and vitamin D.
      Wishing you all the best. It’s tough tough tough.

    2. Purt’s Peas*

      Yes—it’s one of the secondary pandemics that follows in the shadow of covid. Your “immune system” for depression is being suppressed.

      Certainly talk to your doctor to get a screening, and see if they have any recommendations for getting through this.

      Also, it sounds corny, but get moving, get outside, and get regular sleep. If you can’t get outside, then definitely get moving inside the house, and maybe try chilling in the sunlight like a cat (plus vitamin D, esp if your doctor recommends it).

      1. Purt’s Peas*

        For me personally—I’m doing that stuff Plus digitally socializing Plus trying to get stimulation by learning new stuff (it sucks to get started but I feel way better if I’ve done language practice or drawing practice or whatever that day). It’s working pretty well but I still hear the black dog knocking at my door.

    3. Puffle*

      The biggest help for me has been scheduled online exercise classes that I can do indoors, combined with doing some stretches and simple exercises like starjumps and press ups on my own. I’m also doing a weekly hour-long call with a lady who lives in another country so we can both practice our language skills- we do 30 mins in her language and 30 mins in mine. It helps with keeping my brain active outside of work and provides an extra layer of routine- as well as making me get out of bed on Sunday morning! (I am a slug on weekend mornings and find it really hard to get going or find any energy unless I have something specifically scheduled)

    4. Bobina*

      Hah, I too was very convinced of my introvert ways, and really didnt mind lockdown during the summer – but winter has been hard. I also started a new job with much less social interaction than my old one, and for me personally, that’s really what has made the difference. Not having to interact with people during the day absolutely means I have a lot more social energy to go round and alas, no one to share it with.

      Phone calls with friends and family, forcing myself to do regular exercise, vitamin D and meeting my allotted 1 person outdoors (UK rules) have definitely helped a lot.

    5. willow for now*

      I am getting tested this week for COVID because I sleep 10 hours, wake up unrefreshed, eat something, take a 3 hour nap, wake up, eat dinner, go to bed again, lather, rinse, repeat. I have NO energy, No desire to do anything but watch TV or do my puzzles. They are saying that fatigue and general malaise are some of the long-term effects from a bout with COVID.

  36. Gada*

    I’ve been to several countries where shopping malls contain supermarkets. It just occurred to me thst I’ve never seen this in the US. I’m not talking about strip malls, I mean actual malls with Macy’s etc. I’ve never seen one with a supermarket. Has anyone?

    1. nep*

      Good question. I haven’t in the US, but yes–in malls I’ve been to in West Africa, big supermarket. Interesting observation.

        1. Reba*

          Yes, some do! I posted a comment about that with a link, so it will be up later.

          I wonder if there is not only a regional thing but a prestige or atmosphere thing, the image the mall seeks to create — enclosed malls that are thriving are heading in either luxury or deep-discount directions. Meanwhile I think of strip malls as places that tend to have actually useful businesses.

          1. Batgirl*

            I think you’re right; where I live in the UK there’s mostly big malls with focus on fashion and luxury. The Trafford Centre and Liverpool One have designer brands and Selfridges alongside high street names, and theyre seen somewhat as commercial meccas where supermarkets would be out of place. We also have an indoor mall called St Johns in Liverpool, nowhere near as much of a draw but much more useful; boutiques, independent businesses, cobblers, dry cleaners, and a supermarket on the ground floor alongside some high street fashion. St Johns started off (and still has) an indoor food market though.

            1. londonedit*

              It’s the same in London – we don’t have many big shopping malls (really only the two Westfield ones in Shepherd’s Bush and Stratford) and they’re focused on fashion and luxury and making it an ‘experience’ to go there. I’m less familiar with the Stratford one but the Shepherd’s Bush one has a Waitrose supermarket as part of the complex (a higher-end supermarket, for non-UK readers!) and the Marks & Spencer there has a food hall which is basically a small supermarket.

      1. DistantAudacity*

        Hm, I haven’t seen it in the US either. I think I kinda mentally chalked it up to the strong car culture in the US, where you often have to drive everywhere (including short dustances due to lack of pavements/pedestrian access)

    2. Bibliovore*

      yes, I loved shopping for groceries at dept. stores. in London and Tokyo, never saw that in the U.S. Macy’s used to have take out and prepared food in NYC.

    3. Reba*

      Yes, it’s still not common but it’s been growing slowly in the US. I’ve seen this in California for sure and it’s happening in other major markets, too. I think the Westfield Mall chain has been the main body trying this strategy since the financial crisis, and I imagine it will accelerate following this downturn (in those malls that survive, that is — even Macy’s is trialing a strip-mall concept). Hybrid stores like Target expanding their grocery departments, but also specialty grocers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. The big department stores going under leaves the physical space for these large tenants. I don’t think I’ve seen what I would think of as a mainstream grocery in a mall property, though. The high rents in indoor mall properties are probably a challenge for supermarkets.

      Here is a possibly interesting little essay about strip malls and enclosed malls and their possible futures

    4. ThatGirl*

      I live near a mall that used to have a grocery store, and honestly, the area could use one again. But it’s not too common anymore.

      (Also I like to think about the mall car chase in Blues Brothers, that mall had one!)

    5. Felicia*

      Not American so can’t really answer but every mall in my part of Canada that I can think of, plus malls I’ve been to in other parts of Canada have all had major grocery stores in them

    6. Chaordic One*

      When I was a kid there was a mall in a neighboring town that had a supermarket on the very end of it. The town suffered serious economic problems when their major employer stopped operations and a lot of business went under and a lot of people moved away. I googled the mall to see if it was still there, and it was, but there’s no longer a supermarket there and there were a couple of news stories about how their last “anchor” store, a J.C. Penney, left the town a couple of years ago, along with ads for retail space for rent.

    7. PollyQ*

      American here, lived in the Northeast & CA, and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen an indoor, enclosed shopping mall with any kind of grocery store. I suspect it’s partly because of the mall’s desire image/ambiance, but also because when you park in a mall, you might well be quite a long ways from your store. So shlepping all the way through the mall and then the lot with a grocery cart full of temperature-sensitive purchases could add quite a bit of time to a weekly errand.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I’ve seen a few malls across the US with grocery stores, but it’s usually due to having a Target or similar big box anchor store with a grocery section. One of our big local malls put in a grocery store for a year or two but it didn’t last – the mall is generally pretty upscale so the grocery store was too, but the people shopping the mall are there to browse for fashion or go to one of the fancy restaurants, not stock up on food.

        It will be interesting to see how the retail spaces change though, when more big department stores shut their outlets and go more online (or go bankrupt).

    8. fhqwhgads*

      Indoor malls in the US are dying a painful death. I’ve seen a few with supermarkets that have recently moved in – because they pretty much have a baked in audience. But before their progressive downfall, it wasn’t as common. Then again I’m also seeing a lot of other not-standard-mall stuff in malls, like Real Estate offices, etc.

    9. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      The Staten Island Mall in suburban NYC has a bizarre German discount supermarket chain whose name I am struggling to remember now (Lidl?). It’s not totally unheard of. I’ll always remember the scene from the Blues Brothers with the insane car chase that went through a mall (in Illinois?) with a supermarket.

      1. Anima*

        Maybe Aldi? I know they are present in the U.S. But could be Lidl.
        Here in Germany a mall *without* a grocery store is weird. They usually are more expensive (looking at you, Rewe) and specialize in ready-made food like salads, clearly advertised to the people working in the proximity as food for the lunch break, but one can still get all you need there. Cultural differences… Even in grocery stores.

        1. LGC*

          It probably is Lidl! I think they just recently made the jump across the pond, and I think I’ve seen a couple of flyers for them.

          I kind of detailed the situation stateside as well – when I’ve seen that setup, it’s either like a Whole Foods or a Fairway (both more expensive chains), or a specialty grocer (like Eataly). Lidl is an odd fit – it’s a bit “exotic,” but it’s also a discount grocer.

      2. ThatGirl*

        That mall was in the southwest Chicago burbs and closed before filming, but sat there empty for about 30 years.

      3. pancakes*

        There’s also the Whole Foods in the Time Warner Center, and the Eataly in the mall downtown I forget the name of.

    10. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      There’s a mall near me (suburbs outside Boston) with a Wegmans. And a mall in Honolulu had a Foodland. But it’s not common, true.

    11. Sandman*

      I haven’t seen one in the US, either, although at least locally our shopping malls are pretty hollowed-out at this point. But in Asia, yes, every mall/department store had a grocery store on the lower level.

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        Late to this, but related: there are a couple malls with grocery stores in the basement in Chinatown/Flushing.

    12. Wilde*

      Kiwi here! This is very common in NZ where most of our malls are dominated by chain stores. Supermarkets tend to be the end of the mall and have exits internally, into the mall, and externally, into the car park.

      1. allathian*

        The same thing is true in Finland. Some bigger malls have two competing supermarkets on the ground floor and boutiques and restaurants on the floors above. Some big hypermarkets have an adjacent corridor with boutiques, usually including a liquor store and a pharmacy, both of which are separately licensed by the authorities. Ordinary stores are allowed to sell alcohol up to a certain percentage, and some OTC medication like vitamins and nicotine products like chewing gum or sprays to help people quit smoking, but not things like pain medication.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      The tiny mall where I went to music school used to have a supermarket attached to it. It wasn’t in the actual mall, however. It had separate entrances so you didn’t have to go through the entire building. The mall is still there, along with the movie theater, the deli where we used to eat, and even the arcade* (more than thirty years later!), but the supermarket is not.

      I’ve seen them in strip malls where everything has an outdoor entrance. There was a supermarket next door to the cafe where I worked in Santa Cruz. I think there’s a Trader Joe’s in there now. The cafe is still there but it moved locations.

      *Off topic but fun fact: I went back a few years ago for a college reunion with some friends and we met at the mall. Most of the games in the arcade are gone except for skee-ball, but I think it has the same carpet from the 1980s. Not just the same pattern, but the exact same carpet.

    14. DistantAudacity*

      Here in Norway too, a mall will have a good supermarket, it’s one of the anchors. You go to do your grocery shopping, and everything else you want/need to do. The supermarket is usually near one of the exits, so that you can pop in and out, or you do the grocery shop at the end of your visit.

      It would be very inconvenient to have to drive to another location to get your groceries if you are already here!

    15. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Oh that’s interesting! I’ve seen these in Pakistan & Dubai. Now that I think about it the only one I’ve seen which is similar around here is Square One mall in Ontario, Canada, only because of the Walmart which I consider a supermarket.

      (Now that I mention it I am soooo missing our annual thanksgiving road trip to Canada)

    16. LGC*

      It’s unusual, but…I’ve seen it, mainly in more urban/inner-ring areas. And in more recently remodeled/newly built malls.

      IIRC, part of that is because when the US built malls like wildfire in the 50’s-70’s, we heavily zoned everything. So, there are specific areas where specific things happen, and you’re expected to drive from one to the other. With newer malls and remodels (especially in the past 10 years), there’s a movement towards mixed-use development, so it’s a bit more common now. It’s also more common in cities, where there isn’t available land to have one area devoted entirely to fashion shopping and another to staple shopping.

      Thinking off the top of my head, I know at least one full-fledged mall in my area that actually has a supermarket – but it’s a high-end supermarket. (Whole Foods.) But you’re right, it is pretty uncommon in the US.

  37. Lifelong student*

    Crochet thread (or should that be tell me your crochet yarns)-

    What’s on your hook this week?

    I lost at yarn chicken last week but waited for the sales to order more. It arrived late yesterday so I am on the 65th of 69 rounds of an afghan. It is going to be HUGE. Over 22,000 stitches in all- I have done about 19,500. Hope to finish today or tomorrow.

    1. OyHiOh*

      Still working on the same two projects (knitting needles in this case, but still yarn). In my defense, I’m also working on two complex art pieces – one with thousands of seed beads and the other with hundreds of paper leaves and copper wire – so knitting is currently my relax with the TV at the end of the evening.

      Purple lattice scarf in superwash merino wool, and on the other set of needles, blue ombre throw blanket in double seed stitch, using alpaca wool.

    2. Lifelong student*

      Update- Finished it- except a few ends to weave in tomorrow! Now to find my next project. Suggestions always welcome.

    3. Grits McGee*

      I’m making a baby blanket for my brother’s friend that’s patterned off of the end zone for the Tennessee University end zone (checkerboard of light grey and bright orange). I think it took me longer to find a line of baby safe yarn that included both Kraft macaroni orange and the specific shade of grey I needed, than it will to actually crochet the blanket!

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I couldn’t get the mesh shopping bag to work — after the third time of having to frog large chunks, I decided I was just too distracted and frogged back to the base. THAT I tied off and will sew buttons onto for a mask extender.
      I’m twitching to pick up the floppy storage basket my daughter took over, did 6 inches of, then stopped, because I think her grandmother would find it useful and sweet. Instead I’ll probably dive into a lap blanket, since grandma is now in a wheelchair.

    5. HamlindigoBlue*

      Not crochet this week. I am (still) trying to get through this Shadow Checkerboard Baby Blanket (pattern from Kramer Yarns). I need to have it done in the next few days because it’s for a baby shower next weekend. I’m close to being done. It’s going to turn out super cute, but I am going to be so glad when it’s done. Knit blankets using DK weight yarn is kind of tedious, and I really don’t like purling so much. I’m a continental knitter, and I never really got a good purling technique down. For this project, I learned Norwegian purling, which was really helpful because at least I don’t hate purling anymore and it gives a consistent tension.

    6. Violetta*

      I’m chrocheting a mandala on a metal hoop to cover the window in my grandma’s apartment’s front door. She requested it and I’m not sure why of all the grandchildren I was picked (have never shown much aptitute at crafts) but I love her so it’s worth the hours of frustrated and hitting the -10sec button on Youtube tutorials. Hopefully it’ll look half decent when mounted on the hoop!

  38. Batgirl*

    I’ve been gifted a sourdough starter by my very kind colleague and I have no idea what to do with it. She and I are both gluten free and I think she made it with either rye flour or doves gf blend and pickle juice. Her English is not great when she’s giving unfamiliar instructions so I didn’t really pick up on her advice, she’s included some written instructions but I can’t follow those either! Intriguingly shes also included some pickles in murky liquid. Something about it being the polish way of doing it. She’s also said the starter needs one more feed. What do I do?

    1. moo moo*

      I hope she didn’t make it with rye if you are both gluten free: rye contains gluten. You’ll need to feed (ie add grain and water/pickle juice ) regularly – 1 to 2x/day. You can refrigerate or freeze the starter and it should come back to life with feedings. are you planning on using it soon? The “it needs one more feed” is weird to me: starters are ongoing ecosystems that need a regular input of nutrients (grain/water).

      1. Batgirl*

        Probably not then; her daughter is celiac whereas im just wheat intolerant. Shes way more up on that stuff than I am.

        1. moo moo*

          either. Look at it this way: if you have a cup of starter, and you add 1/4 cup per feed, after 4 feeds you now have two cups of starter – so the 1/4 cup of new grain is not as much food – per starter- as you were originally giving it. So,if you don’t use any/discard some starter, you’ll need to increase grain with every feed. If you want to keep the same amount of starter, then discard some before each feed. Does that make sense? I find it helps me to think of a starter as an ecosystem that needs feeding.

    2. Zooey*

      I’m guessing she meant it needs one more feed before it’s ready to use – they take a bit of string going but then once properly live they easily replenish. I’ve found they are fairly forgiving tbh – I just dump out a couple of spoonfuls and dump in a couple of spoonfuls of flour and water till it looks the right consistency. But lots of good recipes online for more precise care.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Just give it away – starters are not easy for new bakers to get going from scratch without a contribution.

        1. Batgirl*

          This is true , I’ve tried and failed to get my own starter going in the past.
          Well, hers is working. Thanks to zooey, moomoo and lifelong student I just decided to aďd some flour and liquid (the pickle murk juice was just brine with some flour in it), as that seems to be s.o.p., and it got all bubbly like a mousse. It raised up, is a good creamy white colour and smells sourdough-ish already. I’m going to try using it today.

  39. Lifelong student*

    There are recipes on line for sourdough starter. The last one I made called for being fed with 4 oz of flour and 4 oz of water. I would ask Mr. Google for gluten free sourdough recipes.

  40. Puppy!*

    okay- so I examined the exercise time. Well, each dog is their own person.
    She is 14 weeks now. She is a Wheaten terrier. If she doesn’t get what seemed like an excessive amount of exercise, she becomes a bit hyper, non-attentive, mouthy (which is a nice way of saying bitey)
    Other than that she has been a super sweet companion and we are learning a lot together.
    Things she knows and does consistently- sit, stay, come, touch, drop it, trade, leave her (when she is harassing the other dog)
    I’ve been making pupsicles for her crate training- frozen plain yogurt/rice/chicken
    She did sleep through the zoom puppy class.
    I’ve been under the weather and she has been the one bright light.

    1. Lucette Kensack*

      You may want to talk to your vet about the exercise; she can give you good advice about what is safe for your pup.

    2. Natalie*

      Keep in mind that physical exercise isn’t the only way to deal with a dog’s energy. It often isn’t even the best way – dogs will develop increased stamina just like a person would, and can then require ever increasing amounts of exercise.

      Activities that require them to use their brain, whether that’s training, scent work, puzzle toys, etc can help. Some dogs also have to be taught to calm down, basically. Karen Overall’s relaxation protocol is a common method for that, but you can find others.

      1. Data Nerd*

        Someone adopted a very busy puppy from me, and by 6 months old the pup was doing every fancy trick that I could imagine.

        My understanding is that the joints are the worry with exercise. So a puppy can run for an hour with a friend, but shouldn’t be taken on a long run with the owner until it is a year old and the joints are developed. More yet shorter walks (5mins per month of age was the rule I was given) and games like fetch might be something to consider.

        1. Puppy!*

          ok, I did some reading. I was super worried about the too much exercise thing but I realized a few things.
          I am physically disabled- I like to say that on a good day I am capable of an 8 hour mile. So our walks are 10 to 20 minute stretches with a lot of down time. She has two playtimes a day for about 10 to 20 minutes fetching a ball.
          We have been working tricks.
          I have read Karen Overall’s article on relaxation protocol and started that today.
          Thank you all for your advice. I will check in with the Vet this week.

      2. ShinyPenny*

        +1 Natalie!
        I agree 100%. I think of it like this: puppies have energy in a number of different buckets: the big movement bucket, the fine motor bucket, the scent/smell bucket, the obedience-work bucket, the CHEW bucket, the SEEK/HUNT bucket, the dig-in-the-dirt bucket, the snuggle bucket, the water bucket…
        Too many times people are told, “Take your dog on a 5 mile run twice a day and then it will behave well!” But, no. Because that hasn’t touched all the OTHER buckets of unused energy at all. So, the dog might be tired but also… cranky? Unsatisfied!
        And the (adult) dog will become accustomed to however much mileage you provide, and will expect and require that.
        As a physically disabled dog owner, happiness is more easily achieved by making sure I am creating opportunities for my dogs to use up the energy in ALL those buckets.
        (And FOR SURE explicitly teach calming skills, aka boredom practice!)

      1. Anonymous proud auntie*

        Tasks too. A friend taught her energetic working dog to carry groceries from a basket in the garage to the kitchen pantry. Only the stuff in that basket, after one bad experience with bananas. :D
        I’ve mentioned this book before but don’t remember if it’s since you got your pup: “Play Your Way to Good Manners: Getting the Best Behavior from Your Dog Through Sports, Games, and Tricks” , by Kate Naito & Sarah Westcott.
        I’m related to one of the authors so I’m biased…. but it’s well written and has some great ideas.

    3. Puppy!*

      Last update- thank you all who took the time to write and give advice.
      The verdict-
      Fewer walks was not the answer last week.
      Shorter walks were- I took the advice of her age in months times five.
      Eliminated 1 walk.
      Shortened all to 15 minutes or less- 2 ended up being only 5 minutes.
      AND we have been training- she could sit, stay, come when called (touch, treat) down.
      I read and started the relaxation training- I believe THAT has made a huge change in her and my behavior.
      She IS much calmer and less bitey.
      I also made some games for her to play for kibbles out of used yogurt containers.
      And I will buy the recommended book.
      Will still talk to the vet next week but the dog sleeping by my feet seems to show that the AAM dog people know how to raise a pup.
      Now someone has to get rid of the phrase “a tired dog is a good dog”

  41. Unicornucopia*

    I’m wondering if anyone had good recommendations for where to purchase gifts online, specifically small/women or minority owned/ethically produced (but they don’t have to fit all of those categories) in an effort to stay away from Amazon and other big businesses this year. I have some local favorites but can’t cover everybody with those so if you have a favorite site, please drop them down below!