weekend open thread – December 19-20, 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: Hench, by Natalie Zina Walschots. Jennifer at Captain Awkward recommended this, and I loved it. It’s about a woman who works very boring temp jobs … for super villains. There are a lot of details that will be familiar to anyone who thinks about work a lot (a villain who is way too interested in how people are feeling, coworker tensions, worries about health insurance …), all of which become very amusing in a “working for villains” context, and you will be deeply invested in some surprising characters by the end of it. One of my favorites of the year.

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

{ 1,219 comments… read them below }

  1. Beth Jacobs*

    I’ve decided not to do a normal Christmas visit with my grandparents this year. We’re doing a walk instead, but considering the low temperatures, it’s bound to be short. Rationally, I stand by my decision, but I still feel super guilty. I know they would have preferred a large family gathering.
    I’m sure I’m not the only one. Anyone else struggling?

    1. MilitaryAnon*

      Yes! No grandparents in the picture for me but I know my parents are devastated to not be able to see all their sweet grandbabies this year. We try to keep up with pictures and FaceTime but life is just so busy right now. One thing I know others are trying:
      – Outdoor Fire Pit(s)

      If you have the funds, it’s possible to get some pretty toasty (and portable!) fire pits. We have a metal one that doesn’t even scorch the grass underneath somehow and can easily fit in the trunk. With a couple of those and some blankets, you could sit outside with warm tea or cocoa and chat. It’s not the same as a full meal in a cozy home, but it’s quality time together. Of course YMMV if there’s active snow on the ground.

      But even if all that happens is a short walk, you’re spending time together and staying safe. As someone with lots of friends and family in front line healthcare, thank you so much for making the harder choice this year!

      1. Maria*

        I do live where there’s snow and we’re doing an outdoor chili gathering with my in-laws. They bought one of those patio heaters and will have a couple crock pots of warm food/drink. Not ideal, but it’s been in the twenties the past week so it should be okay.

        1. Elsewhere*

          I’m widowed, live alone, have no relatives in-state, am self isolating like the majority of my friends, and will be spending the holidays alone

          On Christmas day I will be grateful for my own health and the health of those I hold dear, and for the fact that as a retiree I have a source of income and can keep a roof over my head and food in the refrigerator.

          I’ll Zoom with some folks, talk on the telephone with others, and continue to think that in the coming year will be better, even if not right away. I’ll remember past Christmas get-togethers and dream about future ones. I will even haul out the good dishes and glassware to eat with to make the day a bit more special.

          And I will continue to believe that somehow we will get through this and all be together again.

          Happy holidays to all.

          1. Knitter*

            My mom also retired and widowed thinks this way too. She is an expert at passive aggressive comments, but this Christmas she gave me the gift of just assuming I was not going to travel to her and not making any sort of issue of it. Travel never came up and she was proactive about sending gifts. We are incredibly grateful for not having to manage her feelings as we so often do.

          2. Marillenbaum*

            This sounds like my plans for Christmas. I live alone, my fiancé and I are long-distance because of work, and my family live in all sorts of places. Christmas Day, I will make fancy French toast and coffee, call my parents (and sister, and fiancé, and some friends), and then watch Bridgerton on Netflix.

    2. Jemima Bond*

      I am definitely struggling. My partner is going to his mum’s, just the two of them, as he hasn’t seen her since February. I am going to my mum’s. In both cases this is permitted within our govt guidance but we might still have not visited, to be on the safe side – but my father died unexpectedly (not COVID) a fortnight ago so I just can’t not be there for her. I am self isolating now the week before I go, to try to be safer.

      1. WellRed*

        I’m in the same boat but it is my brother who died, so off to Mom’s I will go. Haven’t been anywhere in a week and getting tested but I know it’s not ideal.

    3. Square Root of Minus One*

      I’m not going home this year. I know my mom is unhappy about it, even though she says it’s rational. I am really unhappy too (didn’t go last year already because moving to a new place) but seriously, the restrictions are too much. I’m rolling over my vacation instead.
      I live alone so I can make my home not Xmassy, but the Xmas spirit at work right now is killing me. I can’t wait for all the Xmassers to be gone on holiday. Even my favourite coworker, usually known as a Grinch, was partaking in a Xmas sweater contest.

    4. Oxford Comma*

      We decided a while ago there would be no gathering on Christmas. It is a decision I am 100% on board with logically, but I usually feel pretty low at this time of year and it’s going to be super hard this Christmas.

    5. Tacocat*

      Going through the same thing. Had to work really hard to convince my mom (in her 70s with multiple health issues) that going to a 15 person Christmas celebration with multiple kids in school wasn’t a good idea. Then everyone started calling her and trying to convince her to go. I’m really angry because I know she’s already sad about not going.

      1. Tired of Covid-and People*

        Where is the love? Pandemic deaths and infections are at their peak. I just don’t get the madness.

    6. Lucy Day*

      My daughter has special needs and we suspect covid would be extra dangerous for her, so we are not hosting or attending any family gatherings this year. We live far from family so there would be travel involved, which would make it extra risky. This is our baby’s first Christmas so it’s disappointing to not have her grandparents, aunts and uncles here the way we planned originally, but we all feel keeping everyone safe is the top priority. The whole family is sad, but we would rather us all be healthy and able to gather sometime in 2021 instead.

      I know my husband’s extended family took a walk with his grandparents over thanksgiving – it was a little chilly so they kept it short but his grandparents still enjoyed seeing everyone! I’m sure your grandparents will feel the same.

    7. Disco Janet*

      Yep. We’re going to drop off presents at my in-laws and chat for a bit, but with masks on and keeping our distance. I’m not looking forward to it, but my husband is really missing his mom and this was the compromise we agreed on. My in-laws are still going to act like we’re being ridiculous though, which makes the whole thing extra frustrating. They’re in the “masks are dumb/I’m going to live my life/taking precautions means you’re living in fear” group. Ugh.

      We will see my parents – I feel a bit guilty about the difference there between husband’s parents and mine, but mine help us with childcare on days my work must have me be in person, so we’ve been seeing them anyways. No big gathering like they usually have, which my mom is sad about but luckily knows it’s for the best and never even considered hosting a group this year. Honestly, I always find the big gathering to be a bit hectic (I never get to spend time chatting with my parents on holidays because they’re so busy hosting) and it’s hard for my son on the spectrum who gets overwhelmed with all the sensory stuff going on with so many people together – so I’m looking forward to it being just us and them. Trying to be conscious of my mom’s disappointment though.

    8. Canuck girl*

      It’ll just be me and my parents this year, which is not bad, hopefully we won’t get on each other’s nerves, they are good parents, but they can be a bit much sometimes. We usually spend Christmas with another family, who are family friends and they have adult children who I am friends with. It is typically a nice large gathering with good food and making gingerbread men with the kids. But, alas, not this year, it was hard for my mom to say no to the gathering, but what can you do. I’ll at least get to go on a Christmas walk with their oldest daughter who is like a cousin / older sister to me. To be totally honest I had been having mixed feelings about that gathering after the past two Christmases, because one of the adult children (they’re all in mid to late 30s, as am I), the brother is prone to making racist comments and no one says a thing, not even his wife…but that’s a whole other separate discussion for a different thread for another day. I’ll still miss seeing the rest of that family (other than the brother) and spending time with people other than my parents.

    9. Ali G*

      It was really hard on everyone when we cancelled Thanksgiving. We host my husband’s family and we hadn’t seen them since last Thanksgiving. We usually do East-Over in the spring, but obviously that didn’t happen either.
      We’ve been isolating and got covid tests so my in-laws can visit. They come tomorrow for one night. I know it’s not optimal, but it will do wonders for my MIL’s mental health. In-laws have seen my SIL and her family only twice this entire year and haven’t seen their son at all. They were in a big scary hot spot over the summer so they’ve basically been isolated the whole time, with few exceptions.
      My family cancelled all plans a while ago, so this is the only thing we are doing. It’s weird but for the best!

      1. Not playing your game anymore*

        I come from a long line of people who “went west.” They packed up everything that would fit in a wagon, or even just a cart and left everything behind, knowing it was unlikely they’d see loved ones again. Sometimes without even the comfort of a letter. I tell my self if they could do all that I can survive another zoom holiday. Mom is really missing her grand and great grandbabies. I miss so many family and friends too. But we’ve also lost several people and really don’t want to lose more. So here we stay.

        1. Beth Jacobs*

          So true! I’m going to reread the children’s’ book The Long Winter (Laura Ingalls Wilder, part of the Little House series). When the Ingalls family got snowed in for the entire winter, they made it through. Their parents saved a church magazine for Christmas so the girls would have something new to read then. People have managed not only to survive, but to thrive, in situations of far greater hardship.

          1. Natalie*

            A few weeks ago I was browsing at a book store that sells new and used and I noticed they had multiple copies of every Little House book *except* The Long Winter. Weird pandemic shortage.

    10. pancakes*

      I saw an interesting idea floated as a possibility, by the writer Zeynep Tufecki – she was responding to someone having a hard time getting their family to agree to postpone celebrating Christmas because they weren’t sure they’d have time off later in the year:

      “I’ve been hearing exactly this. That people get close to convincing their family to postpone gathering now, but the roadblock is they’re not sure if they will all have time off. What if [the President] proposed a Federal holiday—say around Easter in early April?”

      Other people suggested summer. Either way, that could be helpful.

    11. Might be Spam*

      My mother finally got a home care aide. This week I found out that neither of them wear a mask when the aide is there and I am flabbergasted. I don’t know what to do about Christmas now. I’ve been isolating so I can see Mom, but now I am worried about her infecting me instead of the other way around. Who knows what the aide’s other clients have exposed her to?

      We’ll have to do a phone call and I’ll drop off some presents at her apartment but not go in. It’ll be tough because she always has an excuse to need me to come in to help her with something. Now, I have to say no. She said that we have to come to her to get our Christmas cards because she won’t mail them. Yup, she’s holding our Christmas cards hostage.

      My daughter won’t come in my apartment either, but that’s because she works with the public and has been exposed to the virus twice by careless coworkers. So we’ll exchange gifts outside and go home to open them over Zoom with her brother who lives across the country.

    12. TechWorker*

      I’m struggling right now too. I’ll be spending Christmas with just my partner, which will be nice, but I’m used to big family christmases. I was looking forward to meeting my dad and most of my siblings just after Christmas for lunch, but that’s now very much against the rules that the U.K. just announced.

      My dad is keen to ignore all the rules, I am not. Trying to work out if there’s any way of doing an outside present exchange but urgh it’s just all such a mess :(

    13. Arts Akimbo*

      Pretty sure my mom and stepfather are COVID deniers. They just… don’t think it’s that big a deal! It’s very upsetting. So, she’s sad we won’t come down for Christmas, and I’m sad we’re in a deadly pandemic which some people think is not that big a deal. We’re just studiously avoiding talking about it and sending gifts through the mail.

      1. Vistaloopy*

        This is very similar to my dad and stepmom! They are having all of 4 of my step siblings (most of whom live out of state) and their partners/kids for Christmas and wonder why we aren’t coming over. It makes me sad to miss the gathering but lately all I want to do is stay home because it’s the only place I feel safe.

    14. Artemesia*

      We had planned for my daughter’s family to quarantine so we could do new year dinner/belated Christmas gifts, but they cannot do that due to an unexpected work issue that came up — and their youngest is in day care which is so far so good but an every present risk factor. So we are back to outside walks too.

      We are meeting at the firepit for a drink tonight — had Thanksgiving around the firepit and will do Christmas day games and presents on zoom. I decorated gingerbread houses with my granddaughter last weekend (dropped off a kit to her place, so we each had a house to do on line) and tomorrow I am decorating Christmas cookies with her and her toddler brother on zoom.

      You do what you can. I think making the effort is really important. Your grandparents know you care, you are doing what you can do — maybe talk t them on the phone or zoom more than usual to balance the misery of not being together.

    15. Not Australian*

      We won’t see anyone at all between now and 28 Dec when two local people with whom we are ‘bubbled’ will be coming in for a drink and a mince pie. On 2 January we’re hoping to meet up with at least one of the grandchildren on a windy sea-front, drink coffee and exchange presents … although as they have just come out of Tier Three and gone into Tier Two we might be able to meet inside somewhere after all. After that, we have no expectation of seeing any family members until Easter at the earliest.

    16. CTT*

      I’m having half of my normal Christmas; my sister/BIL/niblings are the only people I’ve really been seeing during all this, and the usually host Christmas. My parents won’t be coming, which I’m sad about, but I expected. I’m weirdly upset that we’ve decided to forgo our usual big four course dinner and do something simpler. Which I guess makes sense but 1) we usually start cooking at 9 am so now I’m worried I won’t have anything to distract me from being sad and 2) I want my elaborate dinner, dangit.

    17. JanetM*

      We will go to my husband’s parents’ house for Christmas Day dinner. He told me, “The way Mom sounded on the phone, I’m afraid she’s starting to think this may be her last Christmas.” (His parents are in their 80s.) Not that she said that, but the intensity of the request, especially since she was fine about our not coming for Thanksgiving. I trust his premonitions, so we’re going.

    18. urban teacher*

      My mom has had cancer 4 times so we’re not seeing her . It ‘s hard. And it’s really hard when my partner’s sister posts on the family text that she’s in Hawaii with her boyfriend. ” I got tested 72 hours before” Great, so now you can spread it in Hawaii. And I won’t be able to see my mom until summer.

    19. Moocow Cat*

      Nah! Mostly I’m relieved to be free of the overwhelming social obligations this time of year. Though it will be great to see family again soon.

    20. overeducated*

      Yeah, I’m sad about it. We live far enough away that an outdoor get together isn’t feasible. I’m sort of just ok with being sad. What bothers me more is the fear that even though I am not seeing family, some of the young adults who work in retail are getting together with the older generation; while I may be skipping the holiday gathering so we can enjoy many more, what if we can’t because others don’t make it?

    21. NapkinThief*

      Same. We were planning to spend a week with my parents for baby’s first Christmas – fought for the time off, and were going to rent a car (and drive 18 hours!) to minimize contact, but after lots of back and forth and consultation with his doctors, my dad called a couple weeks ago and asked us not to come. Rationally we all agree it’s for the best, but it still sucks. Especially because my dad hasn’t gotten to see the baby yet (mom was here for the birth) and it feels so unfair to miss out on these moments. But we miss it this year in hopes of having many more in the years to come.

    22. Beth Jacobs*

      Thank you all for sharing your experiences. It’s touching to know that despite all obstacles we’re finding a way to show we care while staying safe. Merry Christmas everyone :)

    23. Jules the 3rd*

      We’re doing a Zoom with the grandparents, like we did for Thanksgiving. I am deeply grateful that my parents are taking COVID seriously. It sucks not to be able to hug them, and eat my mom’s cooking (sweet potato biscuits… mmmmm), but it’s worth it.

    24. Choggy*

      I think too many older people are feeling incredibly isolated, especially if they live alone, they are willing to risk it but don’t really understand the true ramifications. My MIL lived across the street from a couple who had health problems, their son, who had Covid, visited them. They both got it, and ended up dying from it within a few days. My mother is flying from NY to FL on New Year’s Day, she was determined to go to Florida for the coldest months and will be staying in the same town as my brother. I hate that she’s doing this (she’s 85 and in good health), but she’s always done what she wants, and who am I do tell her she can’t? The only thing I can do is what is best for me and my family, and that’s what you have to say to anyone to tries to make you feel guilty about that. My husband and I were alone for Thanksgiving, and will be for Christmas. He’s a nurse, who works in a chronic-care facility, and while there have been only a few cases (staff) of Covid, and he gets tested weekly, it’s not something we are willing to take a chance with. I work from home, so I’m less of a risk, but I’m supporting his wishes. I haven’t seen my family in over a year, we connect over Facebook, phone, email, online meeting software. You could always make videos (I think Zoom has this functionality) and send them a link to it over email if that’s the easiest way to send them some cheer from their family.

    25. Marion Ravenwood*

      Yep. London (along with a fairly big chunk of the rest of England) has gone back into lockdown as of today, and whilst I’ll make the most of Christmas with my boyfriend and our flatmates I know my mum in particular is devastated that she won’t get to see me (though she can still go to my sister’s as originally planned under the new restrictions). I think it’s the fact that she’s upset more than anything else – I was mostly OK until we spoke on the phone earlier and then had a bit of a wobble. It sucks, but it’s for the best and I’m hoping that it won’t be too much longer until we can all be together again properly.

      1. Beth Jacobs*

        I definitely feel you. I’m a slight Grinch myself, so it’s not really about my Christmas, but I know how much it matters to my grandparents!

    26. Blackcat*

      I’m actually on the other side of things: As an adult, I’ve done Thanksgiving with my extended family and Christmas with my parents (as a kid, both were at home with my parents who refused to travel for the holidays with kids…. yet somehow expect me to haul a toddler to them for Christmas… ). I am actually really looking forward to Zoom Christmas, since AAALLLLL of us can make it. Me in New England, all the extended fam in the south, two cousins in OR, my cousin in London, etc. One aunt is the designated caregiver for our grandmother (she’s in a graduated living facility, still in the “independent living” apartments, but they restrict visitors to one regular person per resident), and she’ll be running the Zoom session for my grandmother. It’s nice to not have to choose which family to visit.

    27. Quinalla*

      Yes, we too are staying home with just the immediate family. 2 of my siblings and kids are visiting my parents, but are wearing masks and keeping the visit briefer than normal. My other sibling and I are not visiting to protect ourselves and our parents, he is a restaurant owner and his COVID pod is HUGE because of that. We are lucky enough to both be working from home and kids have been out of school for 3 weeks distance learning, but we aren’t wanting to take risks with my sister especially as her kids are in daycare and at school and she is divorced and no clue what her ex is doing safety-wise.

  2. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

    Best newish SF novels? I’ve enjoyed things by Rosemary Kirstein, Ann Leckie, Becky Chambers, RB Lemberg, NK Jemisin. What/who else might be in the general vicinity of those? & whereabouts are they on the spectrum from “science” to “inexplicable magic”? No spoilers please, but mention of themes/flavours welcome.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      If you like the fantasy end of things, Becky Chambers puts me in mind of The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison and much of T. Kingfisher’s works. The former has a political maneuvering heavy plot, but is somehow a total comfort read. Kingfisher’s stuff has a good sense of humour, a fast paced plot, and decent people doing their best when in over their heads. Maybe Sisters of the Vast Black (nuns in space…). I just finished Daniel Abraham’s Long Price Quartet – fantasy with an Asian inspired setting that combines good characters with a thoughful and wide-ranging plot, and a very interesting magic system. Each book is separated by 15 years, so you see the consequences of the first book playing out over many years.

      For Jemisin – Nnedi Okorafor has some good African inspired science fiction (try the Binti trilogy). It’s not new, but the Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons has complex, wide ranging, philosophically heavy plots (I just finished re-reading it, so it’s in my mind).

      And if you haven’t read them yet, check out Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth, which lie somewhere in between science fiction and fantasy, and are completely and utterly bonkers, but amazingly good. Necromancy based magic, space travel and an immortal emperor.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I think for the world building that NK Jemisin does then you might like The Expanse series, by James SA Corey that examines a future where humans have spread out into the solar system but it’s not the Star Trek utopia that we tend to imagine. I would say that it’s presented as science but there is a suspension of disbelief required when it comes to the main scientific thing that the series is anchored around, but I think it works.

      Then there’s Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler. Personally, this is the best book I’ve read in ages. I’m not sure it’s considered newish SF novels but it’s well worth a read as it’s about a Black woman who keeps accidentally travelling back in time and meeting with her slave-owning ancestor.

      The Power, by Naomi Alderman is fantasy dressed up as SF but is really, really engaging.

      Children of Time, by Adrian Tchiakovsky is definitely more on the science end of the spectrum and about a generation ship that encounters troubles on its way to a new world. The human story is running parallel to another story on the world that they’re heading to, and it’s very cleverly done.

      And finally, Sleeping Giants, by Sylvain Neuvel is on the science end as well. The format’s not for everyone and, admittedly, I bought it for its gorgeous cover but also enjoyed it at the same time. It’s the first of a trilogy I think but I haven’t got around to the rest in the series yet.

      Happy reading!

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Seanan McGuire writes mostly urban fantasy under her own name and sci fi under a pen name Mira Grant.

      Her flagship MG series is the Newsflesh series, which is a political conspiracy /murder mystery thriller that takes place in a world 20 years after the zombie apocalypse where the virus is still an ongoing concern and the world has adapted to it. Her MG mermaid books (2, a novella and a novel, one is called Rolling in the Deep though I forget which one) are fascinating and the True Story of what happened when that trashy mockumentary show went looking for things in the depths that they didn’t want to find.

      On her own name: Her standalone (so far though more books in the world are coming) Middlegame is amazing and I’m not even sure how to describe it. She has an ongoing series of novellas called the Wayward Children series that are portal fiction, about kids who went through doors and came back, that are good for both adults and teens and have really good representation for non-cis/het characters, if that’s a thing of interest to you. I really enjoyed her Indexing duo, though they’re kindle exclusive – the characters work in a government agency where their responsibility is to monitor and prevent the incursion of fairy tale tropes on the “real” world.

    4. Telgar*

      It sounds like you like very similar books to me, so here a lenghthy post:
      You have probably heard of the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells; if not: the title ist (mostly) ironic; it’s pretty hard SF Space Opera about a genderless cyborg who’s trying to find out where it fits in while getting into trouble.
      I just finished the second book in the Thorne Chronicles by K. Eason; the title of the first book is “How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse” the second “How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge”. It’s Science Fantasy with space travel, scientific magic and fairies (who might be aliens) with a subverted fairy tale vibe. Strong female characters; Rory Thorne is a young woman (well she’s 15/16 so teenager, but no teenage angst).
      Currently I’m reading the second book of the White Space Series by Elizabeth Bear. The first book is “Ancestral Night” the second “Machine”. Different Characters but same universe. It’s also mostly hard SF Space Opera with lots of representation across the board – gender identities, sexual orientation, race, disabilities. There are also a lot of different aliens and some philosophical conversations about a number of things. The center in each book is a cosmic mystery.
      Rather similar in some ways but darker is “The Last Human” by Zack Jordan. Lots of aliens, a lone tiny human among them and a big mystery in the middle.
      Another series in the same genre is the Finder Chronicles by Suzanne Palmer. First book: “Finder”, the second “Driving the Deep”. The main Character is a male human, but there is a very diverse supporting cast over various genders, species etc. Each book focuses on a unique environment: the first, a conglomeration of rust bucket space stations; the second, a claustrophobic underwater realm on Enceladus.
      And then there is Jim C. Hines’ Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse, a Space Opera where the janitors are the heroes. Female viewpoint character. A very fun read. First book is “Terminal Alliance”, the second “Terminal Uprising”.
      If you also like Superheroes: I very much enjoyed the Dark/Spark books by James Alan Gardner
      “All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault” and “They Promised Me the Gun Wasn’t Loaded”. Overlapping Characters but different viewpoint. It’s about four female students who become superheroes and it’s a lot of fun.
      I hope that helps.

      1. Autumn*

        Seconding Wells’ Murderbot series – the first four are long novellas published separately, and i just devoured them like candy, and then gave them to everyone I could, who also devoured them. I also loved her Raksura books, which are shape-shifting fantasy adventures, with great and inventive world-building. The Il-Rien books didn’t do it for me at all though, too much as you say “inexplicable magic”!

    5. Purt’s Peas*

      The Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. It’s a bit opaque in the beginning, but it’s a space opera where math is “calendrical math”—auspicious days and holidays celebrated on exactly the right date power the strange technology of an empire. It sounds a little strange to describe, but the characters are really vivid, and I found it incredibly gripping.

    6. Buni*

      Massively recommend ‘Invisible Planets’, ed. (& in many cases translated) by Ken Liu. It’s an anthology of new sci-fi short stories from exclusively Chinese writers. Really interesting to see the way a different even contemporary culture impacts on its writers’ visions of the future, very different in many ways from Western writing.

      1. Buni*

        Meant to say they’re mostly – but by no means all – along the Cyberpunk / Bladerunner type of lines. Not so much ‘fantasy in space’ as ‘this is realistically where we could end up’.

    7. Rock Prof*

      Thank you for asking this! I’m interested in all these recommendations too, as I’m currently finishing up the Wayfarers books. All the rest of the books in my “to read” stack are feeling too dystopian to tackle right now (non-fiction about climate change).
      I’d also recommend Exit West. It’s on the speculative fiction (fantasy?) side, set in the near future and focuses around immigration and sense of place.

    8. Natalie*

      Hopefully you don’t mind if I tag on a related question? My husband likes fantasy, two authors I know he enjoys are Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss. He has all their books so I’m curious about other authors that might be similar? Women, non-US, and/or people of color would be a big plus, he’s trying to expand his bookshelf.

      1. OtterB*

        Not new, but he might try Elizabeth Moon’s The Deed of Paksenarrion (three fairly short books available in omnibus form. ) There’s also a sequel set of 5, Paladin’s Legacy, beginning with Oath of Fealty.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            just fyi for other readers later – book 3 gets a trigger warning for rape & torture

      2. Telgar*

        – Zen Cho: “Sorcerer to the Crown”. About a black (the only one) sorcerer in Regency London.
        – Trudi Canavan: “Thief’s Magic” (first book of the Millenum’s Rule Series): multiverse-hopping fantasy
        – Robin Hobb: “Assassin’s Apprentice” and all that follows.
        – Also as recommended by AcademiaNut I second “The Goblin Emperor”

      3. Jules the 3rd*

        I love Rothfuss, so he might also like Lois McMaster Bujold’s ‘World of Five Gods’ series. Her scifi Vorkosigan Saga is also first rate. _Hallowed Hunt_, _Curse of Chalion_, _Paladin of Souls_, and several stories and novellas.

        I often dig into Hugo awards and nominees to find new authors; LMB won Hugos for both these series.

        1. Natalie*

          Great tip, thank you! We had an amazing bookstore here named after the same Hugo, which would normally be my resource, but it was destroyed during the uprisings this summer.

          I was able to find a T Kingfisher book locally and I’ll look for World of Five Gods as well.

      4. Ann O'nymous*

        I read an excellent trilogy this year by S. A. Chakraborty. The first one is called City of Bronze. I read it, my friend (who also likes fantasy) ready it and loved it, and a second friend (who isn’t usually a fan of fantasy) also loved it!

    9. OtterB*

      Have you read any of the Liaden Universe series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller? Space opera with strong romantic subplots. Traders in space, a culture with a strong sense of honor and etiquette expectations, the occasional alien (giant turtles!), some magic-ish in that there are people with mental powers. It’s still being added to – book twenty-something is just out. The first published book was Agent of Change but there are a couple of other on-ramps.

      I haven’t read them – the first is somewhere in the house, I need to find it over Christmas – but I’ve heard a lot of good things about Ada Palmer’s series that begins with Too Like the Lightning.

      Also Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire. Diplomacy and intrigue in the interstellar realm.

      1. Nicki Name*

        Seconding A Memory Called Empire! It won a Hugo and deservingly so. It’s very close to Leckie– space opera with a lot of Sufficiently Advanced Technology and a strong interest in how different societies work.

      2. Rock Prof*

        Thirding A Memory Called Empire! It’s one of the best books I’ve read all year. I’ve been recommending it to everyone I know, particularly those who like Ann Leckie’s work.

        1. Lady Alys*

          Fourthing! Can’t wait for the next one!

          (Also thirding or fourthing “The Goblin Emperor,” it is a *total* comfort read in these days, featuring as it does intelligent, kind, and competent leaders.)

    10. GoryDetails*

      Seconding T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon) and Seanan McGuire (aka Mira Grant). I’m also enjoying SLEEPING GIANTS via audiobook.

      Alison’s recommended book HENCH sounds pretty awesome as well, though I’m not sure where it lies on the SF spectrum. It reminded me of the anthology THE MAD SCIENTIST’S GUIDE TO WORLD DOMINATION, which features a variety of takes on mad scientist/evil genius tropes, with several of the tales featuring hench-folk of one kind or another.

      Not that recent, but a very enjoyable comedy/SF romp: EMPEROR MOLLUSK vs. THE SINISTER BRAIN by A. Lee Martinez.

      1. Not playing your game anymore*

        Same. I just added Hench to my Audible TBR pile because it was ringing all the THE MAD SCIENTIST’S GUIDE TO WORLD DOMINATION bells.

        I loved that one. I also feel like Vicious By: V. E. Schwab has kind of that vibe.

    11. Artemesia*

      I am not at all a fantasy buff but loved SciFi back in the golden ages. One space opera that I really enjoyed was Bujold’s Vorkosigan books if you haven’t already done those. She also writes a couple of series that are more fantasy/magic oriented but I don’t like that stuff and so can’t speak to those. If you haven’t done them and want to the first book is: Shards of Honor followed by Barayar.

      1. OtterB*

        I am a fan of Bujold in all forms; I like the Vorkosigan books but I also like her fantasies.

        Folks who like The Goblin Emperor (count me among them) may also like Bujold’s novellas about Penric and Desdemona, beginning with Penric’s Demon. It takes place in her Five Gods universe (also called the Chalion books) and it shares the Goblin Emperor’s bent toward valuing kindness.

      2. SpellingBee*

        Yes, yes, yes to Bujold – the Vorkosigan series is my favorite, have read them all a number of times; Chalion books are second favorite, and I actually just bought the latest Penric story and am saving it for Christmas Day as a special treat. The Sharing Knife books are okay but I didn’t love them and haven’t re-read.

        I also like Elizabeth Moon’s space operas – she has 2 series (Vatta and Serrano) both are excellent.

        Am I the only one who doesn’t like Anne Leckie’s Ancillary series? I want to like it and I’ve tried several times, but I just can’t. I do love Murderbot, though!

    12. PostalMixup*

      Have you read The Stars Now Unclaimed by Drew Williams? Space Opera set in the far future, in which some sort of super weapon has sent the universe’s capabilities back to pre-technology eras. Protagonist is collecting kids with superpowers that are the universe’s only hope to defeating the supervillain aliens.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      How about unfortunately overlooked excellent older science fiction? I’ve run across too many people lately who haven’t heard of one of my favorites: “The Demolished Man” by Alfred Bester is the best hard sf look at telepathy I’ve read. (Fans of Babylon 5 will recognize the author’s name because Walter Koenig’s psy-cop character was named after him.)

    14. Lady Alys*

      I don’t think he can be called “science fiction” by any stretch of the imagination, but you might enjoy Terry Pratchett (unfortunately deceased within the past few years after developing a rare form of early-onset dementia). He wrote a LOT of books, mostly set in the same world, which could be described as a cross between Monty Python and Middle Earth. The early books are entertainingly silly, but got richer as he got better. My favorite sub-group of the books are the ones about the City Watch (use and abuse of political power) but he adresses everything from rock ‘n’ roll to the invention of the internet in various other books. The last three or four, however, were written after he lost the ability to do the writing and revising himself, forcing him to dictate to others. His publisher did not do him any kindness by putting them in print. But read the rest! Especially if you like Ann Leckie’s and Becky Chambers’ humor, Pratchett might be right up your alley.

    15. Jenny F. Scientist*

      I just read “A Deadly Education” and enjoyed it more than anything else I’ve read all year! School fantasy, but kind of darker. Just barely not too dark for this year (for me).

  3. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone writing going? As usual, this thread is not limited to fiction writing.
    I went ahead and wrote those loose scenes anyway, and now I’m hoping I will eventually end up with enough of those to make a coherent whole ^^’

    1. river*

      I’m working on my second draft, and it’s a lot of work because I decided to change a fundamental aspect of the main character, so every chapter needs to be at least partially rewritten, even though the plot doesn’t change much. It’s so confusing sorting it out. I’m finding it hard, especially mentally.
      I use Scrivener. The project size is getting unwieldy. I’m worried about inconsistencies getting through. So far I’ve tried changing the colour of the words, green for new and black for old. It’d be easier to rewrite the whole thing, but so much of the old is good (my first drafts are pretty thorough), it’s a lot of work (100,000 words), and rewriting is much less interesting than writing it the first time, so I’m reluctant to commit to it.
      Any suggestions would be welcome, especially how to organise myself.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        Hmm. Often when I get bogged down and confused about my own writing, especially due to length, I do two things:
        1) Outlining. I made a short synopsis-like paragraph for each chapter with all the most important bits, like plot points, writing structure stuff, character development and/or whatever else. Depth and length depend on the need, how much trouble I am having and what my troubles are. But that way when I get myself confused, I can always refer back to a document that’s maybe 15 pages long instead of 150.

        Occasionally, I’ve made progress maps along the same lines, where I mark in a separate document what I’ve done for each chapter in a re-write. So the document starts out with the chapters listed, one line each, and then when I work on something, I write there what I changed or did. Sometimes I mark what still needs to be done. So it might read something like this:
        Chapter 10: Complete rewrite, added story about tunnel, cut joke about books, needs further edit, polish & double check that tunnel story isn’t anywhere else in the book.

        2) Printing the darn thing out. Might feel wasteful, but there’s nothing like actually moving pages physically, or going through and marking with an actual pen.

      2. saltedchocolatechip*

        Currently on a second draft too! Like Teatime I made a chapter by chapter outline about what *should* happen now in this snapper (three bullet points, one for each POV section per chapter) and I’m using that as I edit chapter by chapter.

        I’ve used Scrivener and loved that you could kind of focus in on a chapter so I came up with a Word doc system that allows for zooming in on one chapter (while keeping the rest of the novel together for easy ctrl-f uses!) and I think you might like it given your tracking question…

        Word Doc 1: my full working draft.
        Word Doc 2: “in progress” doc, which is the chapter (and only that chapter) that I’m currently focusing on. I have tracked changes on while I work on it and when I’m done, I copy without tracked changes to Doc 1 and WITH tracked to Doc 3, then delete from this doc and copy in the next chapter I’m working on.
        Word Doc 3: Tracked changes versions of every chapter I’ve edited so far, copied from Doc 2 as they’re finished.

        So at the end I’ll have a clean working doc and a tracked changes version — they won’t be exactly the same because I tinker a little in the working draft as I go. You could skip the third doc and just keep track changes on in your first doc? But for me I like knowing my working doc is “final” but if I ever think “hey did I drop something I didn’t mean to” I can go search the track changes one.

        Hope that made sense and was helpful!!

        1. river*

          Thanks Teatime is Goodtime and saltedchocolatechip for your ideas! I like the progress map and the “in progress” doc, both useful ideas. I will try to implement them and see if I can get a better handle on it. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, so I think dealing with more manageable pieces is important.

      3. RagingADHD*

        Are you using the Scrivener cards and tags? I find that very helpful.

        You can also split and re-merge documents very easily. So if you have a long scene to work through, you could split off each section as you finish it to keep track.

        Sometimes, for really detailed editing I break busy chapters down into “French scenes” like in a play – whenever someone enters or exits. That helps you get granular.

        I also like the revision “punch list” method from Writability. Very helpful.

        http://avajae.blogspot.com/2015/03/how-not-to-get-overwhelmed-with.html?m=1

    2. Beancat*

      I’m working on my second zine plus a fandom exchange and I’m frankly a little burnt out. I’ve been ignoring my burnout for a few years now and I’m not nearly as prolific as I used to be. It bothers me immensely :(

    3. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Stalled at the moment, unfortunately. I have so much to do! I also have too many hobbies and too many projects and don’t quite know where to start so that I can actually finish things and cross stuff off my list. Well, lists. And inevitably, if I start in on one thing, that inspires me and I beget another 10 projects and… argh. Which is all to say that my goal is to get my thoughts and feelings in order by the end of the year so I can start 2021 on a more organized foot.

      1. Artemesia*

        I was planning to catch my travel blog/photo journal up and have done a couple of new posts — but I should have been able to do 10 or 15 with the time I have.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Well, I got the cover made for Book 2. That’s about it. Mom’s home now and has to be supervised (she’s doing well but you have to sit with her while she’s eating and be handy if she needs to get up or go to the bathroom, etc.). I bought a 2-way baby monitor (I dubbed it the “Momitor,” lol) so if she needs to get up in the night or if I’m downstairs, she can call me and I can go “What?” Some family has committed to staying over, but I’m going to be waking up at night for a while, I guess.

      I can’t work when I’m upstairs with her; I can’t think while the TV is on and her TV is always on. Plus I have to study for that certification and keep applying to jobs. Applying I can do while I sit with her, but I can probably do some editing after she’s in bed. She goes to bed fairly early (always has).

      I’m pretty happy with the cover. It has a vintage vibe to it. :)

    5. RagingADHD*

      Got great feedback from the editor on the nonfiction manuscript for work, but she agreed that it needed some structural changes and made really useful suggestions on how to fix it.

      Fixed it, sent to client, waiting to hear back if they like it. (I think they will – I’ve been talking to them for a year now, I should hope I have a pretty good sense of their taste.)

      No writing planned now until after New Year’s – we are in full Christmas Elf mode.

    6. Nela*

      No work on my nonfiction book revision again, hopefully tomorrow? Partner has a working Sunday, and I’m staying home so I might as well “work” too…

      I started working on two small comics/illustrated essays/journal entries, not sure even what to call it. It’s an experiment with a different format because I want to integrate my drawing and writing more. Right now they’re almost entirely separate and it started to bug me.

    7. Mystic*

      Hey, I tend to write too. I write fanfiction on A03 and so far, I’ve been able to post almost every day for the past week. I’m hoping to keep it going!

      You’ll probably end up with a whole without even realizing it.

  4. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    As usual, this thread is not limited to video games or even “real” games (which is a meaningless term anyway).Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help tracking down a vaguely remembered childhood favourite.
    I’m still chugging along with Sherlock Holmes vs Arsène Lupin. Also played some Age of Empires 2 for the first time in about a year XD.
    I’m also sitting here watching the whole Cyberpunk 2077 thing go down and just…*le sigh* 2020 is becoming the year of “why you shouldn’t jump onto the newest shiny thing immediately” isn’t it?

    1. Gingerblue*

      I’ve been playing a lot of The Long Dark, a bleakly gorgeous Canadian survival game, and trying to get back to Cities Skylines.

      1. Squeebird*

        I love the Long Dark! I find I can’t play it in the winter though because I’m already cold and it makes me feel even colder…!

        1. Gingerblue*

          I tend to get really into it for a few days at a time, and then realize it’s affecting my mood and I need to play something more cheerful for a while! You can only be eaten by so many wolves before it’s a real downer…

      2. GoryDetails*

        The Long Dark sounds pretty cool! I don’t play a lot of online games but could get into a solo survival game like that.

        Am participating in a weekly Zoom FRP game with family, this one with a steampunk/fantasy-world/time-travel setting.

        1. Gingerblue*

          If that sounds good, I also highly recommend Subnautica, in which you’re a survivor of a spaceship which has crash-landed on an alien planet which is mostly water. You start out floating in your little ejection pod and catching fish by hand and holding your breath underwater, and gradually pick up the tools and blueprints and materials to build submarines and underwater bases. It’s beautiful and the progression is very satisfying.

          I wish my family could be convinced to play RPGs together! I hope your game was good.

    2. Beancat*

      I started this indie game called Calico and it’s super cute! You play as a magical girl rebuilding a cat cafe. There’s a lot of inclusiveness in the cast and adorable animals…but there’s so many glitches. Last night a giant cat knocked me out of bounds and into the water during a real time rendered cutscene, and there was no way for me to get back onto land with the invisible walls, so I have to start that day over.

      1. Beancat*

        Oops, hit enter too soon. But it’s an adorable game and it makes me very happy! :) I just hope we can get a patch soon so I can enjoy it even more!

    3. Just A Guy In A Cube*

      Got my parents Karuba and hoping this weekend to try out some FaceTime Karuba with grandkids

    4. DarthVelma*

      My partner has become completely consumed with Cyberpunk 2077. He has a really good gaming PC setup and hasn’t been having issues like the folks trying to play on older consoles.

      The down side is I’ve lost my gaming partner. I’m hoping to get in a little ESO with my secondary character this weekend and maybe by the week between xmas and new years, he’ll be ready to get back to helping my main character get that pot for his head. :-)

      I’m hoping to get some tabletop gaming in during that week off as well. It’s been a really long time and I think I’m about ready to fight monsters or eldritch horrors or even spaceships again.

    5. Aealias*

      I’m slowly, slowly working my way into WoW Shadowlands – I’ve been RPing the story-line with a friend, so it’s slow going but hugely more fun for me.
      I bought Diceforge better than a year ago, but hubby and I finally played it recently, and it lived up to my hopes. Unique mechanics but accessible gameplay, slightly reminiscent of Agricola in the competition for actions, but I find it less frustrating. We’re planning another game tonight, replayability is looking good.
      My D&D group cancelled our last meetup because local cases were climbing, and we’re now under pretty strict restrictions, so I don’t expect we’ll continue the campaign any time soon. Which is so disappointing, because I JUST finished making little figures for everyone.

      1. Jackalope*

        I know Zoom fatigue is a real and awful thing, so if this doesn’t work for you then ignore, but we started our D&D game on Zoom and have continued that way since April or May or something and it’s worked really well. Maybe youall could do that?

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Guild Wars 2 … my family is currently searching for the fourth hidden key in Troll’s Revenge for Wintersday.
      It’s a game type that’s been getting annoying — scavenger hunts for which we’re given almost no clue, so it’s far too tempting to just hop on the wiki and look for an answer.

    7. Belgica*

      I would love some suggestions for video games to buy as a Christmas present for my husband! He likes puzzle and adventure games mostly. His favorite game growing up was Puzzle Pirates, and recently he’s been enjoying playing Zelda (Nintendo Switch) and Ratchet and Clank (PS). I know absolutely nothing about video games so any recommendations would be super helpful!

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I hope you’ll see this in time, so here goes:
        1) When in doubt, most game stores (online and physical) nowadays have gift cards, so you can always go with those of necessary. In the case of PlayStation, do make sure you don’t accidentally buy him a gift card for a PS Plus subscription (unless he uses that service, of course)
        2) Psychonauts. It’s a puzzle game where you venture into the minds of people to try and fix their issues.
        3) Immortals: Fenyx Rising. This is an Ubisoft game that is not so subtly inspired by Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I haven’t tried this one personally, but I’ve heard good things.
        3) The Luigi’s Mansion games. You play as Mario’s cowardly brother who ends up in haunted mansions no less than three times, where he has to fight ghost using a vacuum cleaner. You’d think he’d learn his lesson after the first time, but you’d be wrong.
        4) Super Mario Odyssey. Mario has definitely come a long way since his NES days.
        Others may have other recommendations, this genre isn’t my forte. I also have some recommendations for puzzle games that are considered Visual Novels by many:
        1) The Layton series. It’s latest installment featuring professor Layton daughter is available on Switch.
        2) The Ace Attorney series. The original trilogy recently came out on pretty much every modern console. You play as a lawyer during some pretty zany cases that nonetheless manage to be heartbreaking (with some healthy doses of nightmare fuel). The main gameplay element is spotting contradictions to solve the case.
        Based on the examples you gave I think the first ones in the list should be more up his alley, but you know your husband best.

        1. Beancat*

          To be fair, E. Gadd pulled Luigi into mansion two. My boy was just trying to enjoy some well-deserved time off and watch some TV ;)

          But I’m here to second Luigi’s Mansion, Layton, and Ace Attorney! I’ll also toss in Murder By Numbers, which is a picross visual novel that gives me Ace Attorney vibes.

    8. Quinalla*

      Our twice monthly D&D game on zoom & fantasy grounds is still going strong! Playing a mix of Monster Train, DOTA2 (only with bots and friends), DDO, Frostpunk and This War of Mine on Steam/PC. Haven’t had the energy to play tabletop board games in awhile unfortunately, but my whole family has this week off, so we’ll be playing some this week, we have a stack of unplayed stuff so should be fun :) Really miss our monthly board gaming crew, but haven’t found a way to make it virtual, too many of the people have video conference fatigue :(

    9. String Theory*

      I went back to Skyrim after almost a year of not gaming. My husband is currently enthralled in Cyberpunk 2077. And after reading the comments I’m considering giving The Long Dark a try. Maybe ESO as well. I don’t have a lot of down time over the holidays and Skyrim is the comfort food of gaming for me, so I keep going back to it over and over.

  5. Lena Clare*

    I had a discussion on here a few months ago about feeling guilty because I’d decided to leave a uni course after people had invested in me doing it.

    Well short update, I passed my final-delayed-due-to-Covid-assignment which means I now have a Postgrad Certificate. Absolutely delighted!
    I still don’t know if I’m returning next year for a Diploma or even the Masters, but that’s another discussion.

    It has been such hard hard work and this year has been crappy, but this achievement has been a highlight for me.

    What has been your highlight this year?

    1. Retail Not Retail*

      My life is the same as it was this time last year – low paying job, living at home at 31 (now 32!). But i have changed some things medically so I mentally feel better and I got some experimental hip therapy although it still gives me problems. Maybe next spring we’ll be good enough to go kayaking!

      I also tried new part time jobs this year and hope one will return, covid willing. One was one day of canvassing. Good money, but I wasn’t comfortable with the lack of info and it was the first week of September AND my hip screamed after 8 hours. My other job was groundskeeping at a stadium for minor league baseball games! I love baseball! Hell yeah! In March, we got an email that said “anyone want to work tonight’s soccer game?” (We did light security) and then 40 minutes later, “nevermind, sports are cancelled we’ll be in touch”. I also learned new skills at my full time job due to the decimation of our regular and work release staff.

      So I guess I’m proud of my mental stability but I feel like I cheated at 2020 since my job didn’t change, no being stuck at home since March for me!

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        Congratulations!

        My big highlight was buying my own flat (which doesn’t look like it will go through in 2020 but will hopefully be a fresh start in 2021). And just getting through this year to be honest – I’ve had two house moves, been furloughed (and rehired), survived a restructure at work, had my divorce finalised, and have still managed to improve my performance at work, maintain my relationship (we celebrated our first anniversary as an ‘official’ couple on Friday!), save a bit of money and just generally managed to hold it all together.

    2. Just A Guy In A Cube*

      I started therapy this year specifically to deal with recurring frustrations that were leading me to lose my temper, and over the last couple weeks my toddler’s bedtime has been a multi-hour disaster, which has been really frustrating and demoralizing. And … in therapy we’d talked about feeling tension in my body being my trigger to notice and say “I need to do something about this recurring frustration”, and then I need to analyze the situation to figure out what the specific triggers are (she’s not cooperating with my plan, and it’s incredibly demoralizing to come downstairs to a bunch of dirty dishes), and then I need to change my approach. So the last week or so toddler bedtime has continued to be a disaster, but when it starts to go that way, I’ve just brought her downstairs to do dishes with me, then we’ve gone up for bedtime round 2, and it’s still not great how long and drawn out the bedtimes are, but I’m not getting at all frustrated or upset, and the dishes are still getting cleaned. So bedtimes are going better AND the thing I started therapy for has actually gotten better!

      1. (A different) Susan*

        Toddler years are SO hard. Congratulations on both doing the useful thing for yourself, and making it through this year with your child!

      2. Jean (just Jean)*

        Thanks for your post which inspired my own answer to the “what went especially well?” question.

        More to the point, many compliments to you! Your solution is genius! Standing up and cheering here as the parent of a formerly challenging toddler (and small child and larger child) here.

        Your solution gets you unstuck from being frustrated when you can’t move on to do the dishes. You also get your toddler unstuck from frustration when she can’t fall asleep. (It also stops escalating her distress because she’s no longer picking up on all of your frustration vibes.) You provide a powerful model of responding positively to a problem. You are retraining two brains, yours and hers, to find “what works.” Instead of insisting “we have to do it this one way because that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” you are saying “okay, we’re stuck here, what way of getting unstuck works best for us/ in this family/ in this time?” This is so great because you’re not just giving her the fish (magic bedtime) but teaching her that there are multiple ways to find a fish.

        I wish I had this world monopoly on total wisdom when our child was younger. I loved and love him dearly and he knows it (and feels the same way back) but at times it was a very hard road. With insights like yours the road will become easier much sooner, and then you get to enjoy each other’s company much more, and isn’t that the point of having children / being family?

    3. allathian*

      Congratulations on passing the certificate!

      I also passed a professional certificate this year. Originally it was supposed to be completed by May, but there were some Covid-related delays. It was tough at times, but I’m glad I did it.

    4. Sleepless*

      I haven’t been trapped at home, because I’m in an essential sector that can’t be done from home. It’s a little scary, but no scares so far. My entire profession has had to alter how we do a bunch of things, and for reasons nobody quite understands, we’ve been insanely busy. It has been an incredibly challenging year, but…it’s been really good too. I changed jobs at the beginning of the year and this job is superior to the old one in almost every way; I can’t imagine going through all of this at my old workplace.

      I learned a new and completely unrelated skill this year too! I’m a bookkeeper! I took over doing the books for my husband’s tiny company, and through a combination of some very patient sessions with our consultant who set up our Quickbooks, a bunch of searches on Intuit’s website, and one of their online classes, I’ve learned how to use Quickbooks and some basic accounting. My day gig isn’t anything remotely related to finance or accounting, so it was a big learning curve, but I feel so smart.

    5. Rebecca Stewart*

      We moved.
      We are a three person family, and my girlfriend has a ruptured disc in her lower back and really needed a house with a groundfloor bedroom. We found a slightly smaller but better laid out house for us, and our mortgage payment is less and we had enough extra to live on for quite some time between his layoff in July and now.
      The house is the opposite of open-plan, which we all like very much, and there’s a sunroom on the back the cats like. I have put bird feeders out so they can enjoy live Cat TV.

      Also we got a third cat. The Cat Jeoffrey is a pale grey tabby boy who is three months old, and very definitely all that and then some.

      So while this year has been hard, it’s had some very nice moments in it for me and mine.

    6. Paddling as fast as I can*

      2020 has been a year for me. I got a new job in January (yay and still working even better) Finally doing what I love (HR) Then well Covid came so we had to lay off and I survived that one. Helped people navigate unemployment (which fortunately I know very well in my state) Opened again very little but we did fine during that time in fact very well then we got shut down again this time I only survived being laid off as some one tested positive and had to stay home. We are open again and really looking forward to next year but this year. I got the job rewrote all the policies and saved my company 75K in spending!!! Finally a job I love with management that cares and I feel great

  6. perpetually unkempt*

    Friends of AAM, I need some fashion help.

    I can put together an outfit like anything. I look great when I am standing or sitting still.

    In motion, I am a disaster, and I don’t know why, unless the wind itself harbors a grudge against me.

    I have never in my life been able to get the hood on a jacket, cloak, or scarf to actually stay up on my head. It always billows up with air when I start walking and falls off. I’ve given up on hats because I can never find them small enough so they always fly off at the faintest gust. When I’m walking down the street my bangs fly all around, even though when I look at other people their hair is just fine. Hairspray doesn’t keep them in place, but it makes my hair visibly crunchy.

    My scarves unknot themselves no matter what fabric they’re made of, even wool and cashmere. If I pin the knot, the scarf itself will slide around my neck, and the pins big enough to hold a scarf knot are too big to put through a shirt. The ends come untucked from inside my jacket and flap around.

    My question is, how do I fix this? I don’t think it’s just an error of my perception because I watch other people when this is happening to see if they are similarly effected and their scarves and hoods are fine. I know it’s noticeable to others because my friends have commented on it before or reached out to try to fix my accessories. It feels like everyone else was given some kind of special instructions that I wasn’t.

    How do you get your accessories to stay decorously on you? Tell me your secrets!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I am chuckling. I gave up on umbrellas because I could seriously injure someone. As you say here, I watched others and they seem to have NO problem. Disturbingly, my umbrella would turn itself inside out, removing any hope of collapsing it back down ever again. It was really awkward to figure out what to do with this broken umbrella.
      All I could conclude is that people who are used to umbrellas teach others how to keep it under control.

      I like scarves. But they seem to be needless complexity. They end up in my way if they are part of my outfit. If they are outer wear I seem to lose them often. I wear a lot of turtlenecks when the weather gets bitter cold.

      I think larger hoods work better for me somehow? If the front of the hood reaches my eyebrows, there seems to be more weight there so it is less apt to blow off my head. I like headbands for my ears.

      When winter is at its worst, I opt for less and less accessories. What I like about this, is that it seems to be enough to take care of my car and get somewhere safely that accessories feel like MORE work and more things to keep track of. Maybe you just are trying too hard and less would be more for you?

      1. Jemima Bond*

        Ah umbrellas. A few minutes being a bit drier then ages wrestling a wet pterodactyl.
        Seriously tip though, try to point it into the wind and it should go inside out less.

        Perpetually – some ideas in case you haven’t tried them:
        Scarves – I usually put them on before my coat, just overlapping them in front then buttoning my coat over to hold in place, which usually seems to work. You could pin (to your clothes underneath) the overlap which would be flatter/thinner than a knot. NB if you have a short jacket and a long scarf with a wool fringe, beware of “scarf pubes” lol!
        Re hats or a knitted/wool headband, could you get a friend to knit or crochet you one to size so it’s snug? Or how about a cowl or mobius loop scarf so there are no ends to come untied?

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I wear pashmina scarves in the European style, which means folding the scarf in the middle, then placing it around the neck and looping the ends through the fold. It seems to hold in place.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Also, if you (oh help let’s see if I can describe this reasonably) put one end through the fold, twist the fold 180 degrees around, and then put the other end through the fold on the other side of the twist from the first end? you get a “knot” that sort of looks like a diamond-ways hashtag, it looks pretty and lays relatively flat.

          2. Purt’s Peas*

            I wear a pretty neat knot my pashmina scarves—start it in the European style as you describe, but the first scarf end goes under and over through the loop, and then the second scarf end goes over and under through the loop. It’s a pretty nice woven effect and gives amazing coverage.

          3. Dear liza dear liza*

            This is how I wear winter scarfs. I saw someone do that when I was 30 or so, and suddenly mufflers made sense!

            For pretty scarves, I like the infinity versions. Loop loop done.

        2. DistantAudacity*

          And also, there’s a great deal of quality differences on brollys. The ones I’ve paid a bit more for hold way better (sturdiness of the spines (?) and the mechanism) – I’ve given up on the cheap ones, as it just not worth the effort.

        3. Telgar*

          Also, if a wind gust does go under the umbrella, don’t try to hold it steady. Give a little and in the motion angle the umbrella so that the top is toward the wind.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, this. And it also ensures that the umbrella protects you from the rain. That said, I’ve all but stopped using umbrellas because I find them so awkward.

        4. Marillenbaum*

          I knit some, and for my nephews who are too small to safely wear scarves without strangling themselves, I do small cowls with a button and buttonhole to keep them in place. It works really well.

    2. DistantAudacity*

      I do not like scarves.

      However, I live in a cold climate, so they are a necessity in the winter. After quite a lot of experimentation and failed purchases, I have a few now that a) are in my colours and b) work with my coats. And stay put.

      I have a theory that it’s harder for me to find good scarves because I’m quite busty, so there’s already a lot going on in the chest area (don’t want to add more than necessary), and also my neck is quite short, so it can’t be too big or I’ll drown in it.

    3. Reba*

      Do you walk really fast? Do you have a secret magical breeze that follows only you? :)
      Maybe you would do well with an infinity scarf/ circle scarf. No ends to flap around. Or what about a snood? Or neck gaiter?

      1. Mella*

        I only wear infinity scarves, they’re great. No chance of falling into a puddle unnoticed–unless I experience decapitation, in which case accessorizing is probably not my biggest issue.

    4. Epsilon Delta*

      I can’t get hoods to stay up either. I think it’s because I’m especially short? That’s what I blame it on anyway. Not enough distance between my torso and the top of my head. The hood on my winter jacket has drawstrings that you can tighten, and that seems to have helped a bit (but I still feel like I am the only one who has to hold into their hood in the wind).

      Are you putting your scarf on under your coat? That should ensure the knot stays in place.

      1. pancakes*

        I’m pretty tall and they don’t stay up on me either! I live in a city where people tend to do a lot of walking, and the way the wind comes whipping around the bases of tall buildings, especially near the waterfront, makes me suspect that many of these garments are meant to be worn by people who drive to work. The wind thing has been studied – it’s called “the urban wind island effect.”

        1. perpetually unkempt*

          If I didn’t see the hood thing not happening to the other people near me I would blame the wind island effect–we do have a lot of tall buildings!

    5. Llellayena*

      As someone who’s head is between standard adult and kid sizing, I feel you on the hats! I actually found a hat that fits at a craft fair, so looking for a crafter that can make you something that fits is worth it. Etsy, maybe? Scarves I tend to go long, wrap it around a couple times and then hang onto the ends, because yes wind is an issue. I don’t bother with hoods, they’re usually too big on me and drop over my eyes and just catch all the wind. Oh and I have long, straight hair that loves to get tangled when it’s trapped under coats/scarves so my hair generally looks like a rats nest after the coat comes off if I’ve been walking around a while. Yep, not just you…

    6. Texan In Exile*

      I have been looking for (cheap) hatpins forever. I wear a hat when I am outdoors because glare and migraines and also I don’t need my face to turn into wrinkled leather any sooner than necessary.

      And the hat almost always wants to blow off if there is any breeze at all. These are hats that fit.

      I think it’s just the nature of the thing, which is why women 120 years ago had hatpins. (Which also, I have heard, double as self-defense weapons.)

      1. pancakes*

        You might have better luck with metal combs from a millinery supply shop. They’re small metal or plastic combs, small enough to be sewn to a thin hairband, but would almost certainly help keep a hat in place too. There are people on Etsy who sell small quantities of supplies like these.

    7. RagingADHD*

      I only do hoods on my sports parka with the drawstrings pulled. For hats, I wear something knit, or stretchy like a fleece cloche that pulls right down to my ears.

      For warm scarves, they get wrapped multiple times with long ends buttoned inside my coat, or I’ll use them as a “hood” with multiple wrappings. The ends come down to my waist. If yours are coming untucked, they’re too short.

      For hair, a good (pricey) haircut will always stay in place better than a cheap cut or an irregular, grown out cut. Good cuts have a shape that works with your hair texture, and the lack of split ends means less flyaways. I have made peace with the fact that I’m not willing to spend the money to have the kind of hair I really want. (And even if I were, I’m still not going to go into a hair salon in my area anytime soon. It’s bad around here.)

      For the rest, like hair or fashion scarves, I think you are underestimating how much “fixing” people do to themselves. Your friends aren’t just fixing you – they fix themselves all the time unconsciously, and they deliberately try to do it when people aren’t looking.

      And to a certain degree, our brains filter little gestures like that out because they are so common and meaningless. Think back to the spring when everyone suddenly became conscious of how often they touch their face! I even saw a public health person give a speech about safety that included “don’t touch your face” and she was touching her face *while she said it*.

      You’re not registering the fact that people zhuzz their hair and accessories so much, but they totally are.

    8. Not A Manager*

      It sounds like the issue is mostly keeping something on your head for warmth and also to keep your hair tidy.

      Here’s what I do, although it’s not “fashion” in any way. Before putting on my jacket: Put a wrap or shawl over my head with one long edge at about my hairline, and the rest hanging down my back. (Fold in half lengthwise if necessary so it doesn’t hang too low.) Loosely toss each end of the shawl over the opposite shoulder, with the ends hanging down my back. Now I put my jacket on and zip or button it.

      The closed jacket holds the shawl in place so it doesn’t unwrap. You can drape it as loosely or as tightly as you want for warmth or so it doesn’t fall back off your head. The light shawl keeps my head warm and protects my hair without mushing it into hat hair.

      If your shawl is very long, or if it still comes loose when the ends are over your shoulder in back, you can wrap the ends entirely around your neck and tuck them in front of your shoulders before you put your jacket on. I find a knot to be way too bulky.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yes, this is a good description of what I meant about using a scarf as a hood. Most of my warm scarves are more like shawls/pashminas.

      2. perpetually unkempt*

        This is similar to something I’ve tried! Is there any trick you use to anchor the shawl on your hairline? I’ve tried this and when I walk around the “hood” part of the shawl fills with air and blows off.

        1. Batgirl*

          In that situation I would use a very slim, stretchy beanie on my hair, and a coarse tartany shawl over it. This would create friction and hopefully prevent slippage. You would need to pull the shawl taut, also.

    9. Jackalope*

      I don’t know if this would work for you, but I use a fleece neck gaiter instead of a scarf. It means less extra fabric to deal with and does a good job of keeping my neck nice and warm.

    10. Mella*

      Regarding hair specifically, is there any chance you’re just fighting your natural texture and losing?

      I struggled with messy frizz for years, frantically flat ironing and using all kinds of expensive leave-ins to no avail. My unruly “straight hair” was actually fried extremely wavy hair. I quit heat styling, switched to CGM products, and now my hair is calmer (though not smooth and sleek).

      1. perpetually unkempt*

        I don’t style my hair at all, but it’s slightly fried from some old bleach damage that I’m growing out. Could that be it? For the last few months I’ve been religiously Olaplexing it and also doing coconut oil treatments.

      2. Marillenbaum*

        This is also why I strongly recommend silk or satin scarves to cut down on the frizz. There are also satin-lined caps available if you prefer a slouchier, beanie look.

    11. Jay*

      I had the same issue with my hair for years. The only thing that worked was having it long enough to braid or put in a tight ponytail. I finally got a haircut that works with my hair – the stylist noticed my cowlick and the way my hair has wavy spots and curly spots. As someone said below, this is not a cheap haircut. My life is SO MUCH EASIER. It’s a short cut, so I wash it, either finger-comb it if I want to emphasize the curls or brush it to bring out the waves, and I’m off. Saves me at least 20-30 minutes in the morning, no lie. Doesn’t blow around in the wind. Life-changing.

      I finally figured out how to wear scarves about two years ago when I was 58, so don’t despair. If I want to wear it without my coat, I wrap it around my neck starting with the ends in back and bringing them around over my shoulders, then knot them loosely in front. I have to occasionally adjust it through the day but it’s no big deal. If I want one for warmth, I wrap it around my neck and zip or button my coat over it so the ends are under the coat.

      I also finally gave up and started wearing a knitted watch cap when it’s really cold out. Yes, it gives me hat head, but since my hair is short, I can usually fix that by running my fingers through it. Before I got this cut, I used earmuffs to keep my ears warm without messing up my hair. I like the hat better.

    12. TechWorker*

      Maybe I just wear different clothes to you? Haha.

      Scarves I mostly wear with coats and tuck inside the coat (then it’s not going anywhere). Hoods are worn only for rain purposes in which I fully embrace that I’m going to look a bit silly and just tighten the drawstring (other hoods always fall down as they do for you). I don’t wear hats, I wear a little knitted earmuff/headband. These actually cover your ears so they’re warm and if you get one the right size I’d struggle to see it coming off in much less than a gale :)

    13. 00ff00Claire*

      For scarves, I learned a method of wearing them a few years ago that seems to be more secure and warm. It only really works if you are wearing the scarf for warmth instead of as solely as a fashion accessory. It was taught to me as a good method dressing children for warmth during cold weather (I am from a warmer region wear scarves are more for fashion than warmth). You need a longish scarf that can reach your waist or just past it when you drape the scarf around your shoulders and let the ends hang down. I have also only done this with a thick, yarn knitted scarf that probably has more friction than say, a cashmere one. First drape the scarf so that it is on “backwards” – the middle of the scarf should be going across your throat and the two ends hanging down your back. (The best I can compare this to for a visual is a doctoral hood, but with two separate ends hanging down the back instead of a hood.) Next, cross the ends behind your neck and bring them around over your shoulders to the front so they are hanging down over your chest / front torso. It will be more secure if you put the scarf on first, then your coat over the scarf. As a bonus, you can pull the part across your throat up over your chin, similar to a gaiter, for extra warmth on your face.

    14. OperaArt*

      Use hat tape to make your hats effectively smaller. Hat tape is a foam strip, sticky on one side, that you put between the hat and the inside hat band. I have some arriving today as a matter of fact.

    15. Trillian*

      I never, ever did. I concluded that most clothes for women were meant for posing in and not for moving in. Given my choice, I live in technical clothing (absent-minded people NEED pockets!) and won’t wear or carry anything that can’t be attached to me or my bag. No umbrellas, no scarves; gloves only if it’s cold enough that I’ll immediately notice their absence. Wide-brimmed, waterproof hats, with a chin strap and a carabiner.

      1. Batgirl*

        Especially if you buy women’s clothes from the stores marketing to very young women. If their ads involve women frolicking in a field like a horse: avoid. The skimpiness and impracticality they offer is truly scandalous. My mother always told me to buy men’s scarves and children’s hats (she’s a pea head, I actually get along better with men’s hats) but more mature shops, especially with the shawl fashion, actually do better than they have done in the past.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        My fall down is that I am always thinking about the Next Thing. This means small stuff like scarves, hats, mittens and such often get forgotten. I can really relate to needing pockets or things that clip to me or my tote bag. When I get to work, the first thing is to pack the hat, etc into the tote bag.

        Oddly, when I did use umbrellas, I never left one behind. Probably because the thing was so very irritating.

    16. Artemesia*

      I get the hood on my winter down jacket to stay up by doing the scarf over the jacket — ie I loop the scarf under the hood and then use the scarf tightened at my neck to hold the top of the coat closed and it also keeps the hood in place. The top snaps strangle me especially if I am wearing a turtleneck. I am not heavy nor is my neck big, and I still can’t use that top strap to get a tight closure — and the bonus is, that it keeps the hood in place as well.

    17. I take tea*

      I have a friend who swears by Buff Multifuctional Headwear. It can be used as scarf or headband or headcover, lots of opportunities. It fits pretty snug.

    18. Mr Jingles*

      Hats: I’ve sewn a rubberband inside the hat only on the front, on the backside the robberband is loose and i slide my braid through. That way its nicely tucked against my head and sits tight. The band should have the same colour as the hat for this and be really snug so buy high quality. When a breeze comes you should also bow your head towards the wind so the hat gets pressed on instead of flying away. If the breeze is very stiff nothing helps but holding it up there with your hand.
      I never wear caps, I prefer earmuffs when it is cold or snuggly headbands.

    19. Batgirl*

      My tips for low-wind:
      -Pay out for a decent brolly, a transparent one with good reviews you can dome yourself with. Don’t use any umbrella in high wind though.
      – If you don’t want to fold your scarf under your coat, simply drape a blanket style one around your neck and cinch it with your coat belt. If no coat belt, scarf rings are good to add tension and secure knots.
      High winds:
      Stick to things which can lie flat to your head so they won’t ‘sail’. Gaiters, bandanas, stretchy hair bands, silk scarves, snoods, can keep your hair tucked away. Infinity scarves with a very loose weave resist wind quite well as a hood. Ordinary sweater hoodies under your coat are more fitted and snug to your head.
      You can pop a coat hood over the top to keep your head covering dry, but it will fall down periodically; this happens to everyone unless it has a drawstring and toggle.
      Sometimes you can put a hood over a hat, and the extra filling pulls the hood taut and the hood protects the hat from winds, if you find the right combination. A scarf pulled tightly around the neck of the hood can also secure the hood more.

    20. perpetually unkempt*

      Thank you all for the advice! I will be experimenting a lot over the next few weeks, especially with the knots recommended. My main challenge right now is that my warmest scarf is apparently much shorter than recommended!

  7. New habits*

    Are there any new habits you’ve started due to covid that you think you’ll keep going with even after it is over?

    I’ve starting cutting my own hair and I think I might continue with it.

    1. Walk walk walk*

      My dog and I start our day by walking 4 miles. I do believe I will continue. It helps her drain ber energy (she could go 10)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        YES. My grocery bill decreased dramatically when I stopped being the one who did the wandering up and down the aisles going “ooh, that looks good.” (It also probably helped that I am no longer doing my grocery shopping right before lunchtime – in the before times, I did my shopping of a morning and picked up lunch for my family on the way home. Now I have both the groceries AND the lunch delivered.)

      2. Natalie*

        Definitely. We were already doing pickup, but the store that offered the best selection was very hit or miss on the actual fulfillment. During the pandemic so many other stores have really stepped their game up, and we save a ton.

      3. Lizard*

        THIS. One habit I do not miss is my pre-COVID routine of picking up something to make for dinner after work. Now I’m forced to plan my purchases with grocery pick up (which I tend to do only 1x per week) and my hunger induced impulse buys now are a thing of the past.

    2. nep*

      Applying hand sanitizer several times while I’m shopping–either at the supermarket or resale shops.
      And, not a habit per se, but I’ll definitely continue teaching my group exercise class online.

    3. StellaBella*

      I starting walking 4 miles a day on 26 March as we went into lockdown. Except for a handful of really bad weather days I have kept it up. I need it now too since I work remotely and eat more than before ugh. I cook at home all the time (since March have been out to eat 3 times only in summer, outside.). I also started to keep more cash on hand in the house just in case.

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      My husband and I walk 3 miles almost every evening. It has become a lovely way to connect and get me moving since no gym. I am sure we will continue that.
      I also cut his hair and mine. I plan to keep cutting mine but get professional cuts/clean ups once or twice a year. I was longing for him to get his cut by someone else but I think I finally figured out how to cut his so I am enjoying it more. Bonus is that if I cut both of us at the same time, he does all the clean up! lol
      I also started crocheting thanks to Alison and everyone here – I will keep doing that.

    5. CTT*

      I probably should have been doing this anyway, but: washing my sheets once a week. I started doing sheets and towels on Sundays and regular laundry on Wednesdays to give the days some distinction and I realized that changing my sheets every week was not that much of a pain, especially now that I live in an apartment with its own washer/dryer.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Mask-wearing when I have a cold or feel like I might be getting one. I always wondered why we didn’t do that in the first place. I’d like to see it continue. I mean, “I might be coming down with something” has a much more loaded meaning now, am I right?

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        I really like this! I may borrow this depending on if there’s a critical mass of folks who do it. By why not do this on planes and in the subway where it’s really crowded?

      2. Llama face!*

        I also plan to keep masking if potentially sick and I still need to go out. I wanted to start doing it for a few years already- ever since I started watching more shows from eastern parts of the world and saw it normalized there- but was too self-conscious to be the odd one out. Now I feel brave enough to keep doing it even if nobody else does.

      3. Thankful for AAM*

        I have a coworker who always did that, at least in the workroom. I will def keep wearing my mask as long as they let me in my public facing job.

      4. GoryDetails*

        Me too! Mask-wearing *and* better/more frequent hand-washing – habits that don’t cost me much time or effort and that should be effective in minimizing other illnesses.

      5. Retail Not Retail*

        I’m definitely breaking out a mask the next time a cold sore appears – the one that came last month was the fastest and least painful one ever. No touching!

      6. More Coffee Please*

        Totally agree! That’s the norm in places like Japan, and it makes so much sense. Plus, now that a significant portion of the population owns reusable cloth masks, I think there’s a chance people will actually continue this habit. I spent like $30 on 6 cute face masks – I want to find another reason to use them!

        1. Blackcat*

          I have spent a truly embarrassing amount of money on cute fabrics, and the entire family is decked out in awesome masks. It would be a shame to put them all away forever!

    7. another scientist*

      Baking my own bread! I came several months late to the sourdough game, but I’ve just branched out into rye flour and having so much fun with it.

    8. Not A Manager*

      Home fermentation, of all things. I’ve been making yogurt, buttermilk, and sauerkraut and it’s a lot easier (and less expensive) than buying it from the store and hoping to use it before it goes bad. I’ve been baking bread since the Before Times, but I’m still doing that also.

    9. Might be Spam*

      I’m going to keep wearing masks when I go for walks. My eyes are very sensitive to wind and I tear up so much, that I look like I’m crying. Tears running down my face. People ask me if I am alright. When I started wearing masks, the tears almost completely stopped. I think I was actually having allergic reactions. The mask keeps dust and pollen out of my sinuses that must have been triggering the tears.

    10. Erika22*

      More cooking experimentation! Though I cooked before, it was always so hard to motivate myself to cook something new, especially after work and then commuting home. Cooking something new has become a way to wind down after work, to be creative, and to have some time to myself! Plus, it’s a delight to have a craving for a food and think “let’s try making it” instead of feeling sad I can’t go to a restaurant and order it. For my week off work, I’ve actually made a list of the things I’ve been wanting to try making, and I’m genuinely excited to make a start!

    11. Quiet Liberal*

      We’ve realized we just don’t need to spend as much money as we did before COVID. It seems like I was going to get my hair colored and cut every five weeks only because the hairdresser prescheduled me on her calendar. I could have gone probably eight weeks between, but it just became routine. My hair is slowly becoming gray and it looks fine. I’ve trimmed my hair myself, but I really need a pro to do that. Like another poster, I’ll probably have a good cut done every six months or so, when it feels safe to do so again, but I’m done with color.

        1. Windchime*

          I stopped with color a couple of years ago and it’s finally all grown out. I’m a lot grayer than I thought, but I’m kinda OK with that. It’s just so freeing to not have to always be worrying about roots and my hair is so much healthier than when I was coloring it.

      1. Mella*

        Covid has made me up my color game, which is backwards from everyone else. My gray temples are so much more prominent when my face is covered, and my hair grows like dandelions. I’ve stepped up my coloring to every three weeks.

    12. Artemesia*

      yeah my hair is long and not thick anymore and I need it to be able to go up or in a pony since it is fine and frizzy and I am not willing to constantly ‘fix’ it and have the weather wreck it and a very short cut is not going to be good with this type of hair either. I was getting it trimmed but realized that I can do that adequately and it saves me 3o or 40 bucks every couple months. If I was getting an actual style cut it would be closer to a 100 but I don’t see that in my future. I always kind of hoped that by the time I got to be this age the style would be kaftans and shaved heads.

    13. Marillenbaum*

      Daily walks and Duolingo. I started learning Danish on the app–my dad grew up speaking it at home, but none of the kids learned it (neither his first wife nor my mom are speakers). I didn’t want us to lose it, so I’ve been going for a little over 250 days! We can have fairly simple conversations, and sometimes watch the same Danish-language shows on Netflix. It’s been a really lovely addition to my life, especially since I only do it for about five minutes a day, while I’m making my coffee or something.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Hej på dag. Hvordan har du det?
        I should reinstall Duolingo….we have friends in Denmark and their kids are learning English through our online calls better than we’re learning Danish.

  8. Loom?*

    Is anyone into weaving?

    It looks interesting and I’d like to start a new craft but for those who use a small loom like a 20 inch one, what do you make? I’m not into wall hangings and coasters. Do you make bath mats and small rugs?

    1. Dumpster Fire*

      My mom weaves, and has made beautiful chenille scarves; very nice placemats and kitchen-sized towels, table runners, etc. The scarves are wonderfully warm and cozy, and several more distant family members have asked when they’re getting their own.

    2. nep*

      This is yet another push for me…Glad you posted this.
      My grandma (long passed) used to make rugs. We’ve got her loom–in pieces, of course–in the rafters of the back shed. I have no idea whether it’s salvageable, but I am determined to take it down, study what we’ve got, and work on making it function again if at all possible.

      1. Dumpster Fire*

        Looms seem to last forever, and the “technology”, such as it is, doesn’t really change. If your grandma’s loom is structurally sound, you can probably buy the various parts that might have rusted (heddles, handles, etc) and get it working without too much difficulty.

          1. Dumpster Fire*

            My sister found a small table loom on the side of the road and picked it up. This one is probably 60 years old but the exact same model is still sold today. We looked it and it sells for $750 new. Someone else’s throwaway now has a new set of heddles (the dangly metal things that the lengthwise threads go through), a couple new handles, and is fully functional. It was actually a lot of fun to fiddle around with it and get all the moving parts, moving again!

    3. Keener*

      Ive seen people make beautiful cotton tea towels. They tend to be way more absorbent than commercially produced tea towels

    4. Can't Sit Still*

      I’ve just started weaving on a 15″ rigid heddle loom. It’s much easier on my hands than knitting. I regret buying the 15″, and I should have started with the 10″, like everyone told me to. The smaller the loom, the easier it is to transport, or use on the couch. At any rate, on a 20″ loom or smaller, you can weave scarves and stoles, placemats, towels and washcloths, rugs and pillows or basically anything that requires strips of fabric.

      I’m practicing on wool for now, because I have tons of really nice yarn I bought for knitting, like cashmere, silk, and yak, most of it hand dyed, some of it custom dyed to order, and I don’t want to use it on something I won’t be happy with. Once I’m confident in my weaving skills, I’m going to weave strips for a ruana, something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time.

    5. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

      I make hats on round looms and I’m working on my first afghan right now, using an infinity loom.
      It’s fun.

    6. Pippa K*

      Similar experience to some others here – I weave on a 16 inch rigid heddle loom and love it. It’s beginner friendly but versatile enough to be satisfying as you progress to more complicated projects. For example, there’s a way to weave things twice the width of the loom, which is how I made a regular-sized baby blanket on my little loom without having to sew panels together. I thought I might want a bigger or more complicated loom someday but have realized I’m pretty happy with my little rigid heddle. And just to add – I cannot knit, crochet, or sew, but weaving turns out to be the fiber craft for me!

      If you do try out the hobby, Syne Mitchell’s book Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom is great for beginners, as is Liz Gipson’s Weaving Made Easy.

    7. Shahiri*

      Weaving is great! And as others have said, you can easily make lots of square and rectangular fabric things like dish towels, napkins, etc on a small loom. One of my early projects when I was learning to weave was making some throw pillows which I really enjoyed.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One extra thought for you – if you sew two panels together, you’ve got a wider panel. Sew four in the right pattern and add pockets and you’ve got the long elegant vest I adored when I was in college …. I’m still annoyed that that item vanished in a shared household situation.
      Narrow pieces make lovely trim for other garments.

  9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Plant question! I potted the “baby” off my spider plant the other day but I left it attached to mom for another few days to make sure it was still supported while it settled in and got the hang of living on its own. (This totally sounds like a metaphor for kids moving out, but I promise, I really do mean plants.) When I cut it loose, what should I do with the vine thing it grew on? Leave that attached to new plant, old plant, or cut it off from both of them? Will the old plant use the old vine again or just grow a new one next time? And how close to whichever plants I cut it from should I cut?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Also, tips for encouraging them to have more babies? I have no idea when I turned into such a plant person. Six months ago I was a black thumbed plant killer. Now I have 12 that are in various stages of doing really well. (Two of the air plants have babies too.)

      1. DistantAudacity*

        Starve’m a bit (no water), and then go back to treating it well seems to work for me (this happens naturally, ahem).

        It may just be seasonal/cyclical, though.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Haha, I had to set myself regular reminders on my phone for watering, because otherwise, yeah :) I don’t water all of them every time, but I check them all and see if they need it.

    2. Janne*

      I think you can let the vine thing be attached to the plant, and if the plant doesn’t need it anymore the vine will die. The plant can get nutrients back out of the vine when you let it die attached to the plant, so that’s an argument to not remove it before the vine is dead. I do this with leaves too, except when I think there’s a disease or something in the leaf (hasn’t happened yet, fortunately). I think it doesn’t matter much where you cut, I’d cut in a place that looks kind of good, so probably closer to the baby so that the baby doesn’t have a long vine sticking out.

      My approach for getting the spider plant to make more babies is to care for it as well as I can, and then hope. Good care includes lots of water, a new pot when it gets too big for the old pot (I look for roots sticking out from the bottom of the inner pot), good light (not direct sun) and house plant fertilizer once in a while. :)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am not sure how true it is, but I can remember a long time ago someone saying spider plants will have babies if they get pot-bound. I think I never followed it too closely because my plants seemed really good at making babies.

        1. Grits McGee*

          My parents live in South Louisiana where it’s warm enough to plant them outside in the ground, and they put out babies like you wouldn’t believe. Maybe it has more to do with good growing conditions (which would lead a plant to develop to the point of getting pot-bound)?

    3. Blue wall*

      When I cultivate the babies from my spider plants I pull the baby off and put it in atlas’s of water (just the base of the plant in water) to let it root this will take a few weeks. Once it is rooted, then I plant it in its own pot. I let the baby vine do it’s own thing.

  10. Home for the Holidays*

    I could use some advice. I’m off work this week and was really looking forward to giving myself some holiday cheer after this year.

    However, my spouse is seriously struggling with untreated depression and is also off work most of the week (not an optional thing unfortunately). And it’s majorly affecting my own moods/emotions as someone who is struggling with anxiety. I know the answer is always a therapist but I can’t make that happen in the next week.

    Does anyone have tips for how I can take care of myself while we are both trapped in the house? It’s NOT that I don’t want to be supportive, but right now he doesn’t want to talk, doesn’t want to be bothered, and I end up trying not to burst into tears all day feeling helpless, miserable, lonely, and frustrated. The loneliness feels selfish but it’s there. Due to covid I feel so trapped in the house and out of options and I’m beginning to really worry about myself.

    Just looking for ways to keep myself well while being in the same space.

    1. LNLN*

      My husband and I are both retired, so we are home together a lot. Things that help when I am feeling lonely include: calling friends and family, even/especially friends you haven’t been in touch with for a while, writing notes of gratitude to relatives, teachers, bosses or coworkers who have been supportive of you over the years, doing something kind for a friend or neighbor (I am baking cookies for a friend who has an ill relative staying with her while he has medical tests done), research volunteer work that can be done at a distance (I am looking for a “friendly visitor” program that is done telephonically), listen to an old favorite book in audio version (my library system has loads of audio books for borrow-I am listening to books from my childhood like The Secret Garden, The Princess and the Goblins, The Door in the Wall, and A Wrinkle in Time). Things like that make me feel connected to others and less lonely. Meditation also makes me feel more connected to the world, if that is something you are into. I wish you well!

      1. jotab*

        Oh my goodness, I have been driving home late at night from work and seeing one light on at the top of an apartment building in the darkness. I finally just googled “princess following a string by moonlight” to find out the title of a book I couldn’t remember, I also couldn’t remember anything else from the story. So great to see mention of the Princess and Goblins here!

      2. Home for the Holidays*

        Thanks so much. I do have some cookie baking lined up and yesterday spent a lot of time on the phone with family and friends too. I hope I start feeling better soon!

    2. RagingADHD*

      Can you go outside at all to walk? Fresh air, natural light, and exercise do good things biologically for your brain, on top of the time away.

      Can you connect to friends or family by phone or video?

      Got any good books?

      Do you have a spiritual tradition? It can be a good time to do some extra study or journalling, or see if there are ways to participate or do socially distanced volunteering (soup kitchen, etc)

      Other than that, projects. Something constructive & satisfying that keeps you busy – whether that’s housework/deep cleaning, learning a new skill, cooking/baking, or something creative. Something challenging that requires research or tutorials can be very engrossing.

      1. Home for the Holidays*

        I really enjoy walks outside. I’m going to try and get out quite a bit this week, I’ll invite him to come but I know I feel guilty for going out and being out of the house and leaving him behind- so it’s always a bit of a struggle to find a balance between support and self care. Today it’s raining so it’s a bit of a bust for now unfortunately!

        I’ll try to be outside this week though. I’m also putting some cleaning and baking on my to do list!

        1. Marillenbaum*

          If you struggle with feeling guilty, remember you have to put your own oxygen mask on first. You can’t help anyone if you’ve burned out. Also, being kind to yourself matters because you matter! It isn’t your job to pull him out of this slump, but taking care of yourself to prevent falling in is a net good for the household.
          Also, a suggestion: light! Open curtains, turn on lights, light candles. It makes a huge difference. This is also why going outside is so important: even a grey, cloudy day will get your body so much sun that it needs.

    3. DustyJo*

      Paying it forward: First time with a therapist, I basically cried for the hour. At the end, she said to make a list of things I like to do for next time. Next week, she said, Now, do some of those things. Ten years later, I do the same, as needed. Walking, listening to music, sewing…

      1. Home for the Holidays*

        I know exactly how I’d like to fill my week if on my own- and doing these things really does work! It just seems like a struggle to go about my life like nothing’s wrong. I guess I’m realizing the struggle isn’t what to do, it’s how to go about doing it in this type of situation.

    4. slmrlln*

      If he doesn’t want support, then accept that for a day or two. What do YOU want? What would make YOU feel happy and festive? Then find a way to do those things. If needed, you can remind yourself that a little self-care will make the situation better for you both. What I like most for a festive winter atmosphere is twinkly lights (candles, lights on a tree, lights on a wreath, lights in the window, whatever I can manage), mulled drinks (cider, wine, etc), and baked goods. You don’t have to do all the holiday things, but if you had to pick one or two, what do you know will make you feel good?

      1. Home for the Holidays*

        I had a whole list of things I wanted to do this week! Baking and reading and walking outside! The issue is it just feels so hard to do them now, like I’m ignoring the elephant in the room. I really believe in self care- especially because I get get very depressed as a result as well. But…I feel like an unsupportive or even cruel spouse for carrying on like nothing is wrong. That’s the struggle. Then I don’t enjoy whatever I’m doing as much because it’s tinted with anxiety and guilt.

        1. Telgar*

          A bit late, but:
          Caring for yourself is the best thing you can do right now; not just for yourself, but also for him! I bet he hates that his depression makes you sad. I know I did. You’re not helping him by limiting yourself. Instead make yourself happy and leave him the option to join in if he wants, without pressure. Don’t feel guilty – you didn’t cause the depression. I know it’s hard, but acting normal is helping him.
          Good luck!

        2. Mr Jingles*

          Make yourself aware: your spouse is an adult. And while depression is a serious illness that befalls people like a vampire sucking out their happiness, the only thing that helps is making a conscious decision to work against it and that decision is your spouses to make and not yours.
          I understand how you feel. I struggled with depression myself and I saw my husband struggling with it. But you can’t help him. He has to help himself. But by caring for yourself and battling your own depression you can show him how it’s done!
          Invite him! Let him know that you care and outright ask him for help if you need it. But if he refuses don’t try to take responsibility for his feelings and depressions or you’ll be dragged down too and that won’t help either. It’ll make things worse if he sees how his condition impacts you. And if you don’t care for yourself and stay strong you won’t have the energy to be there for him when he finally reaches out. So for the sake of both of you: do what you can to stay sane and healthy so when he is ready to fight the cloud of doom that is named depression you are there and can help him find joy. Look at it as a research on methods to improve your mood so you have some ideas if he needs them too and asks you what he could do when the time comes. If he’s a decent person, seeing that you carry on will take some of his burden away and might even help him escape the gloom. After all, don’t we all hope to see our loved ones being happy even if we can not be happy ourselves?

    5. Juneybug*

      When you take care of someone, it becomes hard to imagine what you would like to do during your free time because all of your current free time is taking care of them. I would suggest you take a take a few minutes to dream* – what would be some fun activities you could do while he’s at work? Read? Try a new hobby? Take a walk around an area you have never explored before?
      *you might have to practice at this a few times because your dream muscle has been put aside for awhile. Don’t worry, it will come back to you.

      For your spouse, what are the next steps for their mental health? Sometimes anxiety is at its worst when you don’t know what is coming up. So if you know your spouse has an appointment with his doctor to review his health and get him started on treatment, then that is one less thing to worry about.

      I wish you luck and a happy, healthy new year!!

      1. Home for the Holidays*

        Fortunately, I am still totally able to dream about what to fill my time with! I know exactly what I’d like to do. The problem is my spouse has been resistant to talking about the issue or any feelings really- so I need to figure out how to handle that. And it’s getting to the point where I can’t just ignore the fact that there is no acknowledgement of a problem…and no interest in making a plan.

    6. Double A*

      My husband’s depression is treated but he still has pretty frequent episodes. We both think of it like he has the flu. Just no energy, needs to be left alone, might need to sleep all day. I just do my own thing, and we still have dinner together and all that.

      I’m not a very empathetic person (in the sense that I don’t take on other people’s feelings) and it still makes me feel sad and lonely sometimes. But I don’t take it personally, and thinking of it more like a non-mental illness has helped us both have fewer feelings and narratives around it that would feed into making it worse.

      1. Home for the Holidays*

        I think I could do this too if he was being treated. Unfortunately, after posting yesterday I realized that it’s at the point that it’s very very concerning that it’s untreated and leaving it alone may be dangerous- which was not really in my original post. I really think I could use this approach if I knew someone else was working on it with him but right now since there’s nothing in place, it’s scares me too much to treat it like the flu and do my own thing. I hope one day we are in a place where I do feel that’s an option though.

        Plus, I am really empathetic, and his episodes can send me spiraling badly- so it’s harder in that way too. But I really appreciate your perspective, it sounds like a really workable system.

        1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

          I think being very worried about the wellbeing of someone you love is similar to being ill yourself. So you might feel better if you can take a step towards finding out options for help for him.

          Might there be a helpline you could call about mental health stuff, where someone could help you think through what’s possible, and perhaps suggest resources you didn’t know about? Or is there a friend you’d trust to talk it over with?

          In your position, I think what I might do is go for a walk and take my phone, and call from a park, or somewhere there were few enough people I didn’t worry about being overheard.

          Wishing you luck, anyway – it’s a hard situation to be in.

  11. Beancat*

    Any fellow endometriosis sufferers? I just found out I have to have my third surgery (fourth if you count the nerf football-sized ovarian cyst I had to have removed as a teenager). I’m definitely used to it at this point – it’s stage IV endo so it’s had a hugely negative impact on my life – but this is the third time in three years which means it’s not managed well. I’m finally seeing a new doctor for it and I’m hoping he’ll be better than the other one (who told me that if I wanted relief, my new husband and I should start working on having children – despite me telling him MULTIPLE times we are not interested). But even the new doctor told me that in an ideal world, this surgery plus the ridiculously high dosage of birth control I take plus a medication plan with a pain clinic might buy me five years at best before the next surgery. I can’t even take hormonal birth control because of a blood clotting disorder, so I’m already at a disadvantage.

    What are some things you do to cope with your symptoms? I cracked a little at the thought that this is going to be a lifelong thing with five years between each surgery at best. Either advice or just commiseration so it doesn’t feel quite so lonely would be great.

    1. Julia*

      I have suspected endo (doc could feel some, but I haven’t had surgery yet) and mine is mostly “only” bad during my actual periods. I had it under control with Visanne for a few years (a progesterone-only pill, not sure if that’s also out for you, IANAD) but went off this spring to see if some emotions I was feeling were me or the pill.

      My periods are very painful. They also like to start a) suddenly at night so by the time I wake up from the pain, it takes pain killers (only naproxen works for me, not ibuprofen) forever to counteract the pain and it never quite goes away or b) announce themselves for a week with increasingly bad cramps that give me no idea when to start with pain killers, as I can’t just take something for one week every month without worrying about my liver. (Doctors don’t seem to care, but I’m very concerned.) “Luckily” I only work part time this year (yeah 2020…), so I can often tough it out (= cry and moan) at home, and I try to treat my period as a sort of home vacation where I give myself permission to just hang out in bed all day and read or play games.

      Some months my periods are actually okay, and I’m trying to figure out why. I have done self-trials with melatonin, which seems to have some evidence wrt/ endo treatment. I don’t seem to react to any food stuff (I did try vegan and gluten free before going on Visanne, because no doctor wanted to treat me and I was desperate) and just found it more stressful to watch my diet that strictly, and stress definitely makes things worse for me. I’m sure people will tell you that if only you ate/didn’t eat XYZ you’d be fine, but those people are most likely wrong.

      Taking magnesium/calcium/vitamin D in higher (but safe!) doses seems to help a little, or at least I think it does, as it’s hard to say why I get the occasional bearable period. People on r/endo have also mentioned body position – if you’re very tight and hunched over due to the pain, it tends to feel worse, so trying to relax in the hot tub might help, as might gentle stretches. I also like applying heat to my stomach and/or lower back, with a hot water bottle or a stick on heating pad, and I have also recently tried a hot compress kind of thing that is sold here in Japan as 温湿布 (if you google it and then have the results translated, you might find something similar in your area) that is a stick on hot compress with some pain-killing substances, and it seems to help a little when I feel like I can’t take any more naproxen.

      In my experience, and I think a lot of endo sufferers will agree, the above things won’t do a lot because endo is a devastating disease, not the common cold or anything easible curable, but I do think that they take maybe 5 or 10% off the pain? Sometimes that plus taking pain killers at the right time (which is what I struggle with) can make the difference between it being bearable or not.

      I’m really sorry you are struggling with this. I know how hard it is to feel like no doctor takes you seriously (which is another reason why I’m currently without treatment) or only cares about you as a walking incubator. I also have no intention to give birth, and it seems to be a real obstacle when it comes to treatment.

    2. NerdyPrettyThings*

      I’m so sorry. Yours sounds so much worse than mine was. This night not be an option for you if you can’t take hormones, but I had a total hysterectomy at 38. It was the best decision I ever made. It was truly life-changing. I hadn’t even realized how much the constant pain was affecting my life until it no longer was.

      1. Julia*

        I’m glad you are pain-free now, but I feel obligated to point out that because endo is endometrial tissue growing outside the uterus, removing the uterus is not usually considered a good treatment for it in most cases.

        1. NerdyPrettyThings*

          They also removed the ovaries and cleaned out the extraneous tissue (which is what they do in the other surgeries I’d previously had). It worked for me.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          “Total hysterectomy” is usually layperson shorthand for “hysterectomy plus double oopherectomy plus…” now I’ve forgotten the rest of the terms but they take out the uterus, ovaries, falopian tubes (and in my case cervix although that may not be standard for endo; I had a high risk of cancer which is why that was removed at the same time for me). It is thought that removing just the ovaries might solve it since if you’re functionally in menopause, the cycle of hormones that causes the endometrium to grow stops. So the lesions stop. You’re right that removing only the uterus doesn’t really help. But removing all of that is in many cases considered good treatment.

    3. Squirrel Friend*

      Hello. Fellow blood clotting disorder person here.

      Now I have never had endometriosis (at least no doctor has ever said that about me). However, I had fibroids. Between being on a lifer on anticoagulants and having fibroids that were both creating painful periods and threatening to have me hemorrhage at any moment (or never at all, no doctor could tell me), I had 3 options given to me: 1. Keep the status quo (not recommended by the MDs), 2. Have a invasive surgery to just cut out all of the fibroids, or 3. Have a partial hysterectomy (kept ovaries and cervix as I am years/decade(s) away from menopause). Options 2 and 3 were the recommended, but option 2 would have been worse for me due to the anticoagulants. Therefore, two months ago, I had the partial hysterectomy. I didn’t reclot and the doctors took precautions to make sure I wouldn’t while I was in the hospital.

      Truthfully, while I wanted my own children and I cried many nights over losing that option, I have now been period free for almost 3 months, and I feel so much better. Sure two weeks post-surgery really sucked as I was in pain, but that pain went away. I’ll never have to worry about hurting or bleeding heavily at work, on vacation, etc. I had to think of me first. Furthermore, the chances of me having my own children was pretty low because of my blood clotting disorder; it would give me a very high rate of stillbirths (over 20 weeks along), and it would also be difficult getting pregnant to begin with.

      If you’re not interested in having children, could this be a possible route for you? I cannot commiserate with endo so I don’t know if this would alleviate everything for you. But it’s certainly not a commitment to simply ask your doctor all the questions.

      Look at it this way:
      -Take care of yourself first and foremost. Is your endo creating a quality of life issue? (My fibroids certainly were.) For example, do you plan your days around when you suspect your period is due? Do you calculate when your period will be so you’ll know if you’ll get it while on a vacation? Do you stay home from work sick as a dog – when periods shouldn’t be making you feel as such?
      -Is it causing other health issues? Do you have thyroid issues? Or are you becoming anemic from heavy periods?

      Stay well.

    4. udon the day away*

      I discovered I had stage IV endo after a surprise trip to the emergency department: I had a massive endometrial cyst rupture, my pelvic cavity was full of lesions, and the endo diagnosis explained so many things about my awful, awful periods throughout my 20s. It also brought SO MANY women out of the woodwork; it turns out friends, relatives, coworker – and their friends, relatives and coworkers – all had endo, but nobody every talked about it! I was put on Lupron shots with add-back hormones which helped. However, not wanting to be tied to very expensive shots every 3 months for the next 15+years, and being very clear in my desire to not have children, I eventually had a total hysterectomy in my early 30s. Initially my (male) gynaecologist wouldn’t do it, but I got second opinions from two other (female) gynaecologists, who were both very supportive and enthusiastic. For me, it has worked wonders and although I still have to take add-back hormones, the pain and intense emotional mood swings have been eliminated. I realize it’s not a cure, and that it’s not an option for everyone, but my quality of life over the last decade has improved significantly.

      1. Beancat*

        Depending how this goes, I might seek a female OBGYN. I had an appointment with one but her office called me to cancel pretty unceremoniously, and I’ve had no luck getting anywhere since. There’s apparently a network of endometriosis doctors in my area, but I had no luck getting in :( I’m glad a hysterectomy helped you! This surgeon won’t currently even consider a hysterectomy/oophrectomy/etc. because he says that the hormone issues will wreck me hard.

        I’m more okay with that because the first doctor only refused “because baby”. This guy isn’t considering it because he’s concerned about long term effects on my health, which I can appreciate.

        1. Deanna Troi*

          I had a hysterectomy, but kept my ovaries so that I wouldn’t go into menopause. I understand that this isn’t the right decision for everyone, but it made all the difference in the world to me. The surgery to remove the endo essentially did nothing for me and it got bad again almost immediately, so I decided to go with the hysterectomy. Good luck – I know how hard it is.

          1. Deanna Troi*

            Should have clarified – because I kept my ovaries, I haven’t had any hormonal issues. But I don’t know if that is always true, depending on your specific symptoms.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      Lupron depo worked for me. Huge improvement in my quality of life. But once I went off it (you can’t stay on forever), the endo came back within 2 months. I had a full hysterectomy. If you don’t intend to have biological children, it’s probably worth considering. I know it’s a very personal decision and there are many factors to consider, but for me, it improved my life significantly.

      1. Beancat*

        Yeah, I got a single shot of lupron this week to get me through until the surgery. (I’ve had a migraine and ringing ear since, sigh.) This surgeon won’t currently even consider a hysterectomy/oophrectomy/etc. because he says that the hormone issues will wreck me hard.

        I’m more okay with that because the first doctor only refused “because baby”. This guy isn’t considering it because he’s concerned about long term effects on my health.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Bummer. I was on the lupron a couple years. I tolerated it VERY well though. Since it was so long the doc had way less concern about the hormonal effects since I’d basically been in a forced menopause already for quite some time, and they’d been monitoring me, etc. I am on add-back though.

    6. Observer*

      It sounds to me like you have been seeing doctors who are doing ablation rather than excision. Unfortunately, most doctors to that – it’s much easier. But it doesn’t work as well.

      Find a surgeon who does excision – and who does a LOT of these surgeries.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        It does also depend on where the endometriosis is, to the best of my knowledge? Most of my endometriosis is inside the lining of my intestines, and it’s difficult to ablate or excise without basically removing chunks of intestine. But I also don’t have any huge endometriomas, much less ones the size of a small football!

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Mine went in with the clearly stated and agreed to by me in advance plan of: -ectomies I mentioned above, plus excise everything excisable and only ablate anything in a location where it would be unsafe to do anything else. I was lucky though and they were able to excise everything. There was some very very close to my intestines and kidneys that was juuuuust in the right spot to be excised. If my surgery were three weeks later, it probably couldn’t have been. I felt very lucky.

        2. Observer*

          Yes, it does matter where it is. Obviously if it cannot be excised, that’s that. But a doctor who does a LOT of these surgeries will give someone the best chance of success – and if they are good they will also recognize when it’s not an option.

      2. Beancat*

        This new doctor is actually planning to do excision I think! He wasn’t happy to hear that my first one just did ablation. (The first do to also didn’t send over ANY of his surgical notes when I paid for records…nothing in my record says the world “endometriosis” so the new doctor is basically starting from zero. They didn’t even send pictures.)

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Gah that first one sounds so frustrating! I got photos of my surgery. All the lesions they removed. I have before and afters pretty much.

        2. ElsieD*

          Honestly, a female gynaecologist would be my recommendation, she might at least listen to you. Best wishes.

          1. Observer*

            Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily true. I’ve heard too many stories of women who SHOULD know better just not getting it, to put it kindly. When it’s the doctor who is supposed to be treating you….

        3. The teapots are on fire*

          So sorry you’re going through this! The hospital where you had your surgery will probably have the surgical notes though they may not have pictures.

        4. Jean (just Jean)*

          Oooh, that is horrible when doctors (or their office staff) will not send records. Sending you moral and medical support. May you find complete healing in a matter of months, not years.

  12. Retail Not Retail*

    How is your region handling current cases? Mine is doing terribly, it’s inspiring seeing my state so high up in the rankings! We’re never in national news, aw.

    Our governor released a gibberish statement that boiled down to theoretically you could do the right thing – masking, staying apart – because you care about your neighbors, so I won’t release anything requiring you to do the right thing. Because you could do it of your own volition. Any minute now y’all. Would be great.

    There are rumors of another mild shutdown next week but it’s closing the barn door after the horse has run. Schools are closed for Christmas break and our transmissions aren’t exclusively happening at open restaurants. “Oh no eating out for our holiday party? We’ll just order takeout or cook and everyone can come over! Merry Christmas!”

    1. AnonForThis*

      I think you might live in my state. :/ I work in a public school, and it’s awful. It’s definitely spreading here, regardless of what the governor says. A parent told me on the phone last week when I called her to pick up her kid that he hasn’t gone anywhere but school. What can I say? We’re doing the best we can, but only 27% of our students are virtual, and our building is old with small classrooms.

      1. Retail Not Retail*

        Our region’s schools are so terrible with this virtual hybrid nonsense. However, the biggest district in the area (since most are municipal) has stayed all virtual all year and will probably do so until next year. Parents pulled their kids out for waivers to the town schools but like. As hard as virtual is, doing one thing the whole time is easier on everyone. And they don’t have to randomly shut down every other week. (My mom is a staff member with health problems – they work at school but well distanced and no kids!)

        My sister works for a military base school and they reopened because of their isolation but cases are spiking. One kid tested positive and 130 people had to quarantine. They’re not messing around even as the CDC guidelines weaken for the rest of us.

    2. DistantAudacity*

      My region (non-US) is improving, thankfully.

      We were getting the second wave, and especially in my city, so the government (and the city) enacted a harder lockdown; closing some services again, mandating masks in all public spaces, limiting sales of alcohol etc. Also stronger WFH mandates again. They did this late October, so that it has had an effect now, and we get to have reasonable, max 10-people holiday celebrations.

      Erna says to stay at home, unless very necessary! (Erna Solberg is our prime minister).
      (Overall our numbers are quite good in general, though, both in cases and in fatalities)

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      My first thought was, that is my state except we are often in the national news for idiotic behavior. And then I got a sad feeling that a lot of governors are saying similar things. Ours is saying we will not have a shut down again no matter what and also that we are not going to be getting enough vaccines. But its all good, he says.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        And I just saw a news headline: Governor urges dining in restaurants!!
        He also said he will stand in the way of cities and counties who try to close restaurants.
        He says he has the server’s backs but what he really means is he is encouraging them to risk their lives for low wages.

    4. ThatGirl*

      We’ve had increased restrictions since late October and things are getting marginally better – our positivity rate is below 10% again – but it’s still not great. Our governor is doing his best, I think, but trying to balance too many interests. And transmission by and large wasn’t happening at restaurants or bars anyway, it’s at nursing homes and warehouse settings and in homes. I don’t think indoor dining should’ve been allowed anyway, but it’s a bigger problem than that.

    5. RagingADHD*

      We have a mask mandate that got extended into January, and schools went on staggered schedule (2 days in school/3 days virtual, alternating groups) back in November.

      But we’re in bad shape because there’s no enforcement. Lots of antimaskers. They are calling RN’s out of retirement. Some counties (not mine thank goodness) have 50% positivity.

      I have to go get groceries today and I’m dreading setting foot in stores now, but I missed out on a pickup order slot and we need stuff.

    6. Llama face!*

      Our region (non-US) is prioritizing “The Economy” in its restrictions. Light on businesses and tough on personal life. They’ve ordered harsh restrictions on personal gatherings to the point where any household of more than 1 person can’t have anyone in their home or on their property (single people can join a family of less than 5 people so they aren’t completely alone) until mid January. They are finally planning on further reducing capacity in stores but made the order to start on Xmas so as not to lose all the shopping dollars. Most businesses, especially big box stores, still aren’t enforcing the mask order (although I’d say closer to 80% of people are actually- badly- wearing them now). And they keep recommending anyone who can work from home should but are not making it an order so certain employers (mine) just ignore it, even though one of our higher sources of transmission is between coworkers. Authorities have been begged by medical professionals to lock us down and/or enforce on the current orders all through the fall as our hospitalization and death toll is climbing a lot but our head honcho believes in “compliance not enforcement” so we have antimask rallies happening regularly with maybe 2 people out of more than 100 getting any fines and the rallies not being broken up by police for hours.

      Oh and we are second highest percentage for rising cases in our entire country even though we have a puny local population.

      We did get our first tiny shipment of vaccine recently so a few people in specialized areas got the shot. It will likely be closer to Summer 2021 before ordinary people like me get a chance to be vaccinated.

      1. Aealias*

        Hey, sounds like you’re in my jurisdiction! I suppose it could be worse, we could be next door. I’m torn between frustration with Mr. Economy-Over-All and the absolute certainty that I cannot care for my kids and work from home again. I don’t understand why we’re not doing a two-week post-Christmas shutdown to catch all of the inevitable transmissions over the holidays. (Because the laws restricting Christmas gathering came way too late, and are way too limited, and a lot of people aren’t going to change their plans at this late date.) I think the government talking so long about how we can get by with the fewest restrictions possible has convinced a lot of people that restrictions are unnecessary. And no-one is willing to accept greater restrictions on their PRIVATE lives than their public/economic lives.

        I work in schools, and a lot of teachers are either struggling with anxiety or panic attacks, or they’re fatalistic/depressed. “We’ve got to be here, the kids honestly need in-person learning. Welp, hope we don’t die!”

        1. Llama face!*

          Well if your jurisdiction is western and north of the US we may be neighbours. But I’ll keep it that vague for non-doxxing purposes.

          I know a lot of teachers here are struggling terribly both with the risks and with the massive work overload of having to do both virtual and classtoom work while becoming increasingly short-staffed.

          And I hear you on the “welp, hope we don’t die!” I don’t work in a school but all my coworkers are all basically at that state in our workplace since our bosses refuse to do anything COVID-wise that isn’t strictly ordered or fought about for months on end. And current rules aren’t enforced (obv that attitide comes from the very top since we- indirectly- could be said to work for the head honcho).

    7. KiwiApple*

      Well my country will go into a mainland lockdown beginning Boxing Day for 3 weeks. I’m meant to emigrate in 4 weeks…

    8. IL-region 6*

      IL here (region 6) https://www.c-uphd.org/champaign-urbana-illinois-coronavirus-information.html?fbclid=IwAR2yoDr9O8AWb8GVpvIyrYBbbU3hEQPAQZoYD1LtGK0kw5dVwWR8QtTFeUA
      I feel lucky to live (and work) at a major university that has the saliva testing (2/week for us staff, it was every other day for undergrads, but now is back to 2/week for them over the winter break).
      Compared to other regions we’ve been doing OK so far, had a bit more restrictions (no dine in in restaurants) but other than that I think we’re doing as well as we can.

      1. Retail Not Retail*

        My city has really been pushing free surge testing for literally anyone who wants one, no appointment, decent turn around. Not enough people are taking advantage of it, but our positive percentage rate is dropping though still incredibly high.

        My job is affiliated enough with a government body that we got in on free weekly testing – no questions asked! – starting last month. I went this week and last and it took less than five minutes which is great personally, disheartening macro.

    9. Bluebell*

      RNR- pretty sure we live in the same state. I’m getting less and less happy with our gov, though they were great at the beginning. Many people think this gov is bulletproof, but who knows by the next election.

      1. Retail Not Retail*

        Our gubernatorial election isn’t until 2022 and memories are short. He’s also pushed most responsibility to local governments who are sadly angering everyone – they’re doing too much for the vocal crowd and not enough for the rest of us.

        (I suspect we’re not since you say they were doing a good job at one point!)

    10. Gatomon*

      We had a horrible fall spike (my state is adjacent to the Dakotas) but it seems to be falling and not spiking further post-Thanksgiving. The test positivity rate still has me worried though. We had some new restrictions placed in my city, and my office voluntarily sent everyone home about a month ago due to the snowballing business impact, but things are more or less business as usual for the COVID era in my state. I think most of our decrease is because we finally reached the point that so many people were getting sick/quarantined that schools and businesses just couldn’t stay open consistently.

      I’m trying to avoid going in store anywhere as much as possible until the holiday season is over (the crowds are awful and the stores are crowded with product, which makes it even harder to maintain distance) but now mail and shipping are jacked up so I’m just sitting tight until the new year. I’ve done one post-Thanksgiving fill-the-trunk event and I think I will do another when I pick up my Rx this week, and that’s it. I wish I had a bigger freezer.

      I can’t get a good read on our incoming governor. He’s indicating he’s going to follow the recommendations of the science community, but he basically bought the governorship with his own money and clearly is just using our state as a stepping-stone to a presidential run. I think his big priority is decimating the state government apparatus, so I’m hopeful he decides to leave the current guidelines more or less in place while focusing on the legislative session and his agenda.

  13. Not So NewReader*

    Got snow? Who got dumped on and how are you/your area doing with the mess?

    I guess our county had more broken plow trucks than working plow trucks. The problem in part stemmed from plowing UP hill. The weight of the snow was too much for the truck.
    I got about 40 inches here, maybe a bit more. Other communities definitely got more. People are looking for bucket loaders because blowers, tractors and pick-ups with plow blades are not working that well.
    By some miracle we never lost power here.
    We have to watch the weight on our roofs also.
    Things got a little better yesterday, probably they will continue to improve.
    Is anyone seeing the beet juice pretreatment in their area? How’s that going?

    1. LGC*

      I don’t know if you’re lucky or unlucky! Out in New Jersey, we slightly undershot our snow totals. Which is nice because we can do stuff (although it’s currently a balmy 13 degrees and as a Just Outside The City kid, that is way too cold for me), but I’d have enjoyed getting a couple of feet of snow. Snow’s pretty for a few days.

      (I also don’t have to shovel, so I can just enjoy the snow.)

      My town didn’t do beet juice, I don’t think. We just salted our roads ahead of time…way ahead of time (like, in the morning), and the snow didn’t start until 5 PM. NJ Transit ran a weekend schedule – which made the commute to work terrifying, since I was on the first train of the day and it was the most crowded train I’ve been on since March – and stopped service entirely from 7:30 PM Wednesday to 10 AM Thursday.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        We were told something like 6-8 inches. Not a big, big deal. Except when 6 inches suddenly turns into 40.
        Interesting that you have the same temps we do. I about 5 hours outside of NYC, and probably the same rough amount of hours away from the Jersey boarder.
        It looked like you guys got a lot of ice- freezing rain crap, that we did not get though.

        1. LGC*

          Yeah, it looks like it shifted a bit north like it often does. It feels like literally every storm in the past few years has been “NORTHERN NEW JERSEY WILL GET RECORD AMOUNTS OF SNOW” and then in the end we get a “reasonable” amount and it’s upstate New York that gets three feet. I’ve seen the pics from Binghamton. It’s INTENSE.

          I’m not too far from the NY/NJ state line, so we did get a fair amount of snow here (and I work in Jersey City, and they got snow down there as well). It was just crunchy, which…eh.

        2. Blackcat*

          You’re in NH or Upstate NY? I definitely saw in the forecast that a lot of NH was in the 2-8in ranges… then got 24-40in dumped on them. Over 2ft of snow is just a huge PITA, even if you’re in an area used to a lot of show.
          Here in greater Boston, we got ~14in, which is enough to make urban parking painful, but not so much that it takes days to dig out of. And it was spot on the forecast (8-12 a few days out, then upped to 12-16 the day before), so at least we knew what to expect.

          I was in Philly in Feb 2020, and man, it was awful. It was an amount of snow Boston can handle (I was here in Boston for the blizzards of Feb-March 2015, we did okay until the 3rd blizzard), but Philly just like… breaks with over a foot. I watched plow after plow get stuck, because the only plows available were the ones on the front of pickups. A pick up truck can’t plow 2 ft of snow! It just can’t! And it was so much worse that they tried, rather than waiting for big trucks, because then in addition to all the snow blocking roads, you had random abandoned pick ups everywhere. It was 4 days after the second storm that the street I was on finally got plowed.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have heard nothing but good things about it. But on the logical side of my brain, I know there has to be some limitations. Someone was saying that because of Covid less people were available to harvest the beets therefore less beet juice available. (I think i know what to do with my large front yard now.)
        Last year was the first year I heard of anyone using it around here. I heard of counties south of me, near the city and Jersey using it for over 10 years now.

      2. pancakes*

        I didn’t know what it was either. It seems like it could be problematic in NYC considering how many problems we already have with slushy salt-heavy water (when the snow starts to melt) entering spaces with very old, outdated electrical wiring and causing stray voltage. The meltwater seeps into manhole covers, grates, etc. Look up the death of Jodie Lane in 2004 for more about this. There are dogs electrocuted what seems to be every year as well. It’s maddening enough in itself that this happens, but now more than ever – we have infrastructure badly in need of updating and many thousands of people in need of the thing we don’t talk about here on weekends.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          OH MY! I had not heard of this case. What a tragedy.
          Part of a much longer discussion I have often heard how NYC is a hot mess with their underground wires, pipes, sewer, etc. There is not enough money in the world to fix all that is going on there. I don’t understand why we don’t have government programs putting people to work fixing as much as they can.
          One of the articles did say that salt could have caused the insulation to wear which in turn caused this terrible loss. I know first had that rats eat insulation too so all the problems there are mind bending, for sure.

          But that is a good point you have, how do you apply a liquid to an already overloaded system. Now you are making me think because we have clay soil here. Although we are far from the problems NYC has, it’s good to think about where this stuff is going to run off to.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            It’s a hot mess.

            The outer boroughs (Bronx Brooklyn etc) fare way worse IMO than Manhattan in terms of street cleaning and all. Now-I’m not sure if this falls under infrastructure or just my own klutziness but all the times I’ve stepped onto the snow covered street only to realize it was a very deep slushy puddle or ice….it’s a miracle I’ve not been injured. That’s never happened to me in the main city, only outside.

            1. pancakes*

              It is. I was injured one year, several years ago at this point – I slipped on an icy metal plate in the road and broke my wrist! Ugh. Maybe sand would be better than salt here.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Thank goodness it was so light, right? If this had been wet and heavy we would have been in serious trouble- like call the National Guard Trouble.

    2. Mimmy*

      I’d heard some places got 40 inches!!!!

      By chance, does anyone know how much the Boston area got? My sister lives there and forgot to ask her when we did a Zoom family call last night.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It looks like a foot or a bit more. The Boston Herald has an article that seems to have a good description.

      2. Blackcat*

        just over a foot in the city, 14-16 in most of the metro area. Light fluffy stuff, mostly, except right on the coast.

    3. GoryDetails*

      Got about 8-10 inches in southern NH, drifting deeper here and there. Very light and fluffy, thank goodness.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s amazing to me when places north of me get LESS. Eight to ten is still not a lotta fun, though!

    4. Potatoes gonna potate*

      We got a lot on Wednesday. My husband was shovel ahovelling when he came home and the snow plow trucks dumped the snow right back where he had shoveled. We’re parking the car on the street until it melts. I went out to Walmart & Target and couldn’t find salt. Amazon is selling them for really expensive.

      In our old neighborhood that we just moved out of (about 1.5 h north from where I am now) garbage trucks didn’t bother to come.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Oh no, they put the snow right back after he shoveled. That is so discouraging. I hope you find salt, maybe a neighbor would sell you some of theirs?

    5. urban teacher*

      Here in SE PA got 6. However, as a CA native, dealing with snow is a new thing. My partner and I realized that you have to have a shovel to dig out your car. I was glad horseback riding was cancelled today because I need another month of practice to feel comfortable driving in 20 degree weather.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        The car creaks, the tires creak, it’s all very odd, right? Sometimes the steering gets really stiff, too. Supposedly I am used to it because of living in the NE for so long. But I still drive along gingerly and slowly.

      2. Blackcat*

        I’m a CA native, too. The first year I had a car on the east coast was in Philly in 2010. A very kind neighbor from upstate NY offered me “driving in the snow” lessons, which were tremendously helpful.

        Pro-tip: In addition to a house-shovel, get a tiny one and a good brush to live in the car in case you’re ever out and about when it dumps a few inches.

        1. urban teacher*

          Thanks to an awful principal when I lived in New Mexico who told every other teacher in Albuquerque to stay home after a snowstorm but me. I drove 20 miles on a unpaved snowy highway so my snow driving experience is all right. My issue is possible ice.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Only 7-10 inches here (it drifted) but it was packing snow so even our big snowblower had a hard time with it. (AND I can’t find my snow pants so I was ridiculous in the ones I borrowed from my much bigger husband.)

  14. nep*

    I was helping an elderly relative ask her internet/cable company some questions about her bill.
    I reckon it might vary by region, but I’m interested to hear what people pay monthly for internet and cable (the cable is sort of middle tier–more than local stations, but not the max number of channels possible). Hers seemed quite high, but I could be wrong.
    (My impression with this company, also, was that the ‘bundle’ choices are quite limited; she’ll never, ever use a lot of the things included in the bundle she has, but there’s not really an a la carte option.)

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We pay Comcast/Xfinity about $120 a month for internet only – we opted to pay the $50 extra for truly unlimited data, because two of us work from home full-time and the third will be before too long, plus two of the three of us are online gamers and all three of us stream various online media pretty consistently. When I called up to add it, the CSR was like “Well, are you sure? Only about 1% of our customers actually go over the terabyte data cap with any regularity.” I said “Take a look at our account history.” She paused, and I heard some clicking, and then she said “Right. I’ll get that added for you.” (I think this month we hit the terabyte at like, the 16th.) We don’t do any cable TV, but we have several streaming subscriptions – Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime as a household, plus my housemate has a couple more specific ones, Crunchyroll and a couple horror channels, that nobody else uses so he pays for them himself.

      Once my husband starts working from home too, I might look into switching to a business plan instead of our current residential. I’ve hesitated to do so far because without doing the in-depth research, my understanding is that the pricing will be fairly similar, but we’ll have to enter into a contract (which I’m not SUPER keen on, so con) and we’ll then get priority for fixing outages (which is nominally a pro, but we don’t get many outages, knock wood; I think we’ve had like three in the last two years and none of them more than a couple hours).

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        (Apparently since covid they’ve dropped the unlimited option to $30/month, so my bill is exactly $118.90, including my internet for $72 and change, a speed upgrade for $10, the unlimited data upgrade for $30, and the taxes and such.)

      2. nep*

        Thanks. She’s with Xfinity also. The actual internet+cable ‘bundle’ is $133, then with all the service and equipment fees, the monthly bill comes to $193. Seemed super high to me, but I really don’t have a frame of reference so maybe it’s normal.
        (One of the issues was the bill shows two additional boxes she doesn’t have; they account for only about $16 on the overall monthly charges. Xfinity is to remove them from the bill.)

        1. nep*

          (And can we just talk about how much it sucks that Xfinity is dropping Norton Security for its customers at year’s end? And fees will all be going up…)

          1. nep*

            Yes. I was trying to get at whether she was paying for some bells and whistles she didn’t need to be paying for, but it seems the ‘bundle’ options are limited.
            She is going to see how they handle the current error on her bill, and whether they give her a refund of some kind, which the agent said is possible. If they handle this well, she’ll probably stick w them; if not, she’s going to shop around.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          We also don’t rent our modem/router equipment from them — we wanted higher quality equipment than they hand out, because we have at least 40 devices on our network (not always actively in use, but still) so we bought our own. The outlay was higher up front, but we’ve had them long enough that they’ve paid for themselves in saved rental fees. I’m not sure that’s a good way to try to save though, if you don’t have someone in the house who’s comfortable getting into the settings and poking it if things start to misbehave – I expect for most average users the stuff they hand out is probably fine.

          I did some looking after my previous comment, based on my own address (so YMMV), and while the current intro price for second tier internet (100mbps download speed) and second tier (100+ channels) TV is $70/month together, it looks like that includes $71 in discounts, including a “two services” $20 discount and a $10 paperless billing and autopay discount, and the other $41 discount ends at the end of the initial 24 month intro agreement. So the normal price for those services would be about $140, before any discounts or equipment fees.

          1. Reba*

            Yes we also bought our own modem/router! They wanted like 12 bucks a month for renting, so it quickly paid for itself. The most IT support we have to do is to turn it off and back on again. Make sure to get one that your ISP supports if you go this route.

        3. Old and Don’t Care*

          That’s about what I pay for Spectrum. I have one TV with a DVR, and no premium channels. It makes me crazy how much it costs.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I am paying $70 for Spectrum, I own my own modem and I only use it for my computer. No tv. I am lucky to have internet in my little area at all.

          2. Gatomon*

            Sounds right. Spectrum just seems expensive even compared to the other cable companies. And there’s no savings from buying your own modem (though I guess I save $5/month by having my own wireless router.)

    2. Retail Not Retail*

      Local company – the big ones aren’t available in our town – and it’s $60 for internet. I don’t know the gigs but we’ve never gone over. Neither of us work from home though.

      1. Juneybug*

        Sounds like us in rural Washington ($60 plus tax for internet). We don’t have Comcast cable (not available on the street I live on).
        We have Hulu at $66 monthly. Note that Hulu just increased their price to $70 plus tax, starting Dec 18 (honestly, Hulu you couldn’t wait until after Christmas?!).

        Hey Nep – first of all, it’s so sweet of you to help your elderly neighbor. The world needs more people like you.
        Second, if she will let you, also ask what other bills she is paying (maybe look at a few different bank statements since some transaction happens quarterly). My elder mom was paying for Yahoo when she already had internet; magazine subscriptions that she didn’t want; food supplements that she didn’t care for; and so on. We reduced her monthly expenses around $300.

        1. nep*

          She’s a relative. Anyway, thank you.
          Appreciate the tips. It’s clear that she was paying for some things she isn’t using; I’m hoping after my call w Xfinity she’ll have a lower bill and possibly get some kind of refund.

    3. Llellayena*

      I have Xfinity, as basic as I can get depending on which package is cheapest when I call every couple years to complain that my bill went up. Base package for internet/cable is $109, total after fees is $148 (I really wish they’d let you opt out of some of the fees, the “regional spots fee” is useless for me, I never watch sports). Like I said, I call as soon as my current plan is running out to ask what the best deals are. Sometimes the triple play is cheaper than the double play, so one year I had a phone line too. I never connected anything to it (in part because I couldn’t find a phone jack). The one thing I’ve found with that is sometimes I’ve ended up with a plan that doesn’t get a couple channels I like (two fewer channels to find Law & Order on).

      1. nep*

        Thanks.
        Yeah–I asked the agent about that ‘regional sports fee’; he said it was just one of the fees that come with having the cable package she has. (She wants more than just the local channels, but I still think there should be something more basic than what she’s getting.)
        Appreciate the infos.

      1. Lore*

        In my area, Fios has a $30-a-month equipment fee on top of their service price. That made it come out to way more than $65. Do you not have that where you are, or is the base price just much cheaper?

    4. Generic Name*

      I pay roughly $60 a month for high speed internet from centurylink. No cable or phone. Cable/satellite TV is extraordinarily expensive.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I have Comcast for “cable” and internet (basic, no Infinity in my area) and my bill is $108 a month. The cable is a very basic TV package that Comcast doesn’t advertise on its site because it’s only about $10/month. With that I get my local channels, 5 PBS channels, and a few random channels (C-Span). I use a few streaming services so I don’t miss all of the cable channels.

    6. Zona the Great*

      $90 per month for crazy fast and high gigs. Internet only. Cox is a Local service I think…? It’s really good.

      1. anonlurkerappa*

        the only service we are paying for is internet, and I make sure and call each time the bill goes up to bring it back down. We are also in an area where there is centurylink, so I often threaten to switch when I call.

    7. IL-region 6*

      Xfinity/Comcast here: basic internet : $25 (with autopay, otherwise it would have been $30).
      It was 50, then was going to go to $75, but I called and got a promotion in September of this year that brought it down to $25.
      Midwest, south of Chicago, if that helps.

    8. Comcast Hater*

      comcast/xfinity in NJ: Standard+ package $80 (incl. Limited Basic TV, Expanded Basic TV, HD, 20hrs online DVR, and Performance Pro internet), $5 tv box rental, $14 modem rental, $20 broadcast and sports fees, $2 taxes and gov fees = $121 monthly total.
      Make sure you know what options they offer in your area, how they differ, and what is the absolute minimum you can live with. Then call their CS line and tell them your bill is too high and you’d like a bundle discount. If they can’t do anything (or enough) for you ask to be transferred to customer retention team. Tell them you are going to cancel everything except for the most basic bundle unless they reduce the fee. I play this game at least once every 2 years and get either a discount on an existing service or higher internet speed/more channels for the same price. I wish FiOS was available in my area because my previous experience with it was superior to Comcast (plus you can play them off against each other). As it stands I’m forced to deal with the Comcast monopoly.
      Modem rental is a rip-off and you can break even in one year if you buy your own. BUT! You are then on your own if anything goes wrong or the modem doesn’t connect – they won’t help you troubleshoot. So it’s a trade-off.
      Good luck!

      1. nep*

        Cool. Thanks.
        She’s been w Comcast>Xfinity for decades. She said she’ll look at alternatives if they don’t handle the current situation well. (They’re looking into a refund and they MUST take the two additional boxes off the bill; she has and uses only one.)

    9. Lady Alys*

      Comcast/Xfinity
      Internet-only, no TV
      Performance Pro+ Plan / 200 Mbps (I’m sure there’s a cap, but my husband and I have been working from home since March and haven’t had any problems – kids are grown and moved out)
      $60/month
      We purchase our own modem/router/etc
      Twin Cities MN

    10. Gatomon*

      My bill to Spectrum is about $145 including all the taxes and fees. That’s for internet (100/10), basic package + digital tier 1 channels* and 1 DVR box. This is still an introductory rate, it’ll go up about $50 when it expires around February or March. Spectrum isn’t known for giving discounts out again, so I’m not sure what I’ll do at that point. I don’t have realistic alternatives for internet, and internet only service is $75 I think. I’m okay with some increase, I’m happy with my service overall, but $200/month is a bit much.

      TV is the sore spot. I’m a sports fan, so my biggest issue is two regional sports network that none of the streaming carriers (YouTube TV, Sling, Fubo, etc.) carry – my team isn’t even carried on these networks, but if they play the teams that are and it’s not nationally broadcast, I get blacked out. I think my only realistic alternative is having satellite TV installed.

      *This combo basically makes it their mid-tier package without having the HBO and Starz that are normally included in that, which saves me $18/month.

  15. WellRed*

    If you have two laptops, one quite old and one newish, but one doesn’t connect to the Internet (more specifically, Teams) nearly as quickly as the other, where might the problem lie? The old one connects just fine, the new one I’m wondering what the heck is happening. I got mansplained, so trying to find the right language to point them in the right directions.

    1. DistantAudacity*

      Is it generally internet connectivity, or just Teams? I mean, is there a difference if you open a browser and surf to AAM?

      Is there a difference in peripherals between the machines? Might the new one try to do more in with camera/microphones?

      Is it when you are starting the Teams application, or when joining a video/audio call? How’s the chat functionality?

      1. WellRed*

        Hmm, I did connect to a dock recently and a mouse. For teams, honestly, it’s that I can’t open word documents easily. I keep getting a spinning blue circle.

        1. WellRed*

          And overall, I can use Internet though it’s slower than other machine. The slow one often shows its connecting at like 12 Mbps.The other will say 80 mbps.

          1. DistantAudacity*

            Hm. You should do a check to see if all drivers related to the network card is up to date. Locate the «device manager», find the network device and check for updates.

            You can also check with the network card manufacturer if they have more drivers available.

            Also, google «why is [laptop model] slow to access internet»

          2. dashingtonv*

            Not all WiFi are the same.

            You have 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz. The former is more reliable and the second is faster.

            Then you have different wireless standards, too.

        2. DistantAudacity*

          Hm – so it’s when accessing the file structures (it’s underpinned by a Sharepoint setup).

          Have you tried «open in Sharepoint», and see if it’s easier to open the file from there? When you are in the file area of a Teams channel, there should be a menu option somewhere, to show the file area in Sharepoint.

          1. LQ*

            Agreed. Try the Open in SharePoint function. I’d also try pinning the documents to word and opening directly from word to see if there’s a delay when you open that way.

            I had some issues with teams and one drive (which is also sharepoint under the hood) and it ended up being a conflict with the antivirus and require fighting to get the good tech guy and then he spending like 4 hours pulling all of the little bits and pieces and uninstalling and reinstalling EVERYTHING.

            Do the word docs open ok when you open them in the browser? is it just word the desktop app? If so I’d maybe give a go to repairing office.

            Looking at the overall slow internet note, I’d definitely look to see if you have any resource-hogging anti-virus stuff going on.

  16. Lizy*

    Anyone have experience pulling a high schooler and home schooling them? I’m not talking covid-school but legitimate home school with a homeschool curriculum. Advice? What did you think you did right? What would you change if you did it again? How do sports come into play? (Ha)
    We know this is what we’re going to do, and now just need to implement it.

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      My mom pulled me out in first grade and I was homeschooled through high school.

      The logistics of pulling your kid out will vary greatly from state to state. I always reccomend HSLDA for their legal tips on this. They are a very conservative Christian org, but they’ve been around since the 90s. Sports in my state are handled on the district level. Some of the bigger support groups put together teams that competed with local private schools.

      My parents did some things wrong and some things right, but overall I was more prepared for college study than many of my peers.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      We were homeschooled from the beginning, so no advice on that. Sports stuff my family did (from the elementary age, so some of it will be for smaller kids but will give you an idea): homeschool org soccer team, neighborhood swim team, YMCA summer swim team, year-round swim team (my brother got quite serious in highschool), little league baseball, YMCA basketball league, and an adult short term volleyball team. Also, my dad does pickleball.

      If you live in a big homeschooling area, you might find some some homeschooling org sports options, which will likely be fairly low skill but great if you just want some fun exercise. Check out the local YMCA or whoever owns any non-school basketball courts & soccer fields etc, there will very likely be some sports stuff going on. Probably mostly for elementary kids, but the adult geared stuff is an option too. Also, you can play too instead of sitting on the bleachers waiting for practice to end because you are the one with the driver’s license (unless your kid is already old enough to have their own).

      For more serious stuff, a lot of the high school level travel teams aren’t school affiliated, so you can join them like any other family (try-outs etc). Also, in some areas public school allow (or are legally required to allow) homeschoolers to participate in extra curriculars, so be sure to check that out. That’s probably your only option for football & track and field, or at least I’ve never heard of a team not attached to a high school or college.

      Asterisk for all of the above: Covid.

      Speaking of college, the community college is a great resource for homeschoolers. Any classes you don’t want to teach or lack the resources for, send the kid to community college for. It’s kind of expensive, but should be transferable credits for real college, so it’s a savings in the end. I did chemistry, my brothers did chemistry and physics. Might be able to do sports with them as well, come to think.

      The Teaching Company’s Great Course are a great tool. (Always buy on sale! They are like 1/4 price.) They are college level lectures originally designed for adults who wanted to continue to learn, but homeschoolers found out about them too. My mom would often center a history course around them. Add in assigned reading (library books are great) and an appropriate amount of research papers, maybe a museum (or visit museum websites, you can see a lot of cool paintings that way from a continent away) or a battlefield, and some discussions, and you’ve got a pretty solid course. Also, you can listen to them in the car. We often did a lot of learning on the way to and from vacations. Cars are pretty great places to discuss school topics as well.

      Speaking of museums, it’s best to time your visits for the first week the local school is back in session. They’ll be gloriously empty. Going to anything while school is in session is one of the delightful fringe benefits of homeschooling.

      If you have specific questions, I’d be delighted to answer, though my perspective is from the homeschoolee rather than the parent.

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      Congratulations, this is very exciting!! I have a lot to say, long reply!, but most important is to remember that you can figure this out over time, you don’t have to get it right, right away. And you can go into it with one idea and switch it up when you realize you want to go in a different direction.

      There are likely some local homeschool groups in your area you can connect to. It helps to find the locals as they have done much of the work in understanding the specific laws/documentation you have to create and keep and in local resources. In my area, they are almost all religious groups and that is not our thing but I homeschooled my elementary age son for a bit and we did things with those groups to access sciency stuff and sports.
      There are also some online curricula you can buy/follow but you can also create your own. In my area, high school homeschoolers can dual enroll in local colleges. My friend’s daughter earned about 2 years of college credit that way for free. Now my district also allows homeschool students to join after school sports and activities. So finding what yours offers can help a lot.

      I think the key thing is – what does your homeschooler want to accomplish? Are they very focused on something specific they want to do/learn, in getting into college, in math or politics or writing above all else, or in working and gaining experience while they learn? Do they want to recreate school at home or something closer to unschooling? Do they want to take the lead, do they want you to, how do they envision this? And what do you hope to get out of this?

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      Funny story, my son entered public school for the first time in middle school.
      He was completely gobsmacked that:
      1. you had to ask for permission to go to the toilet or to move around in any way. IDK why but that was not something I thought to prepare him for.
      2. on the first day he heard a kid say, “ive had enough of this sh*t, I’m gettin me a hall pass to get out of here.” It was an abrupt way for him to learn that other kids did not want to be there or to be learning.

      Just like he had some adjustment to do when entering school, there is an adjustment period when leaving school. School is so much about external rewards and when you are not in school, those drop away. You have to do things because you are internally motivated. Even if you are leaving school because you are motivated to learn more, when the formal structures drop away, you can need some time to adjust and make school your own.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Libraries are starting to pay more and more attention to home schoolers, so you might want to check there, also.

    6. OyHiOh*

      I
      I’m going to assume you are not thinking about homeschool for religious reasons; if you are, skip my comment completely, it won’t apply.
      Slightly different perspective:

      I was homeschooled until the start of 8th grade, then attended a pair of rather conservative religious/lutheran schools for 8th grade, high school, and 2 years of college.

      Unless you live in a good size community (at least 100,000, but size definitely improves your range of possible options) that is reasonably homeschool literate (in many states, homeschooled students are allowed to participate in public school extra curiculars and sports but many school districts do not know this, or fight it as much as they can), and you’re prepared to make sure your student is out and involved in their community socially and otherwise, I would absolutely not recommend a true home school program.

      If you use an online charter school for curriculum, that’s one thing and your student will probably be fine academically. I’d still worry about social and culture but at least they’ll be college/vocational school ready at the end of it. However, most high school homeschool curriculum is written for the people who homeschool for religious reasons and the high school curriculums are academically substandard in about every way you can imagine, plus heavily afflicted with American exceptionalism and rah rah white savior/yay colonialism!!! mindsets. If this is what you want, look at Classical Conversations or Abeka – they’re not amazing but they’re better than the rest.

      What really concerns me about homeschooling in general, having been through it myself, is that the program of study can be very good for a certain kind of student (me! I’m a terrific book learner and test taker) while also being very damaging and isolating at the same time. There’s a lot said about the negative influences of a peer social group – and not often do we talk about the positive impact of that peer social group. I didn’t learn how to talk with peers. I didn’t have any of the normal and typical experiences of a classroom and peer social group and that has literally followed me through much of my adult life. Decades out of high school, I have learned how to navigate peer groups. I feel pretty awkward sometimes but it’s helped to learn that lots of people feel awkward for lots of different reasons and I manage well, most of the time. But I don’t think people should just “manage” and “figure it out” when they’re forced to as adults in the workforce. I think that our school years are a training ground of sorts and the more people, teachers, and experiences a teen has opportunity to interact with, the stronger an adult they will be. I’m assuming that the school is a safe place for the student, of course because bully students and bully teachers erase any advantage the construct of “school” offers.

      So, if you’re going to do it – and there are good reasons to get some students out of traditional classrooms – I would use an online charter school for curriculum, and prioritize a couple out-of-th-house hobbies and/or extra curricular activities so that they either maintain relationships or have opportunities to develop new ones.

      I would stay out of homeschool organizations, unless you can find one that is explicitly secular and enforces boundaries around religious conversations. For the same reason, I would steer away from HSLDA – they are virulently Christian and fear driven in their approach.

      1. PT*

        “I think that our school years are a training ground of sorts and the more people, teachers, and experiences a teen has opportunity to interact with, the stronger an adult they will be. ”

        You say this because you did not go to a traditional middle and high school and see what brutal, savage monsters “peers” can be. Many students are lucky to graduate alive and in one piece.

        1. kt*

          Kids are different and places are different. I am a total nerd and was lucky enough to go to public schools that basically did alright by me. I was the only person I knew, though, at my engineering college that actually liked school and had friends who understood me (it was a small and very selective engineering school). Many of them had terrible school experiences; I feel like the foundation of my understanding of diversity in people, talents, personalities, everything was laid in my public high school, where I hung out with everyone from stoners and car thieves to people who are now professors at Yale (and these were not mutually exclusive ;) ). So, check out your own community.

          I did a bunch of extracurriculars with homeschoolers and people in non-traditional schooling. It was interesting, & useful for them.

        2. Sometimes things just suck*

          I had a brutal experience through all my years of schooling and I agree with the poster you’re responding to. I barely made it out in one piece AND it made me a stronger adult. Just my experience/opinion.

          1. Observer*

            That’s one of the strongest condemnations of public school I’ve heard. There are many ways of raising a strong and resilient adult that does not include a years long “brutal” experience from which a child “barely made it out in one piece”.

            The fact that you think that this is still the best way to ensure a child’s social education says that while you may be stronger, you are lacking in some other significant areas.

            1. Sometimes things just suck*

              I actually didn’t make any of the arguments you’re attributing to me; I related one aspect of my own experience, without drawing any conclusions, in order to suggest that there might be some complexity there beyond “high school bad.”

              Of course I would have preferred to develop resilience in a gentler and more measured way. I also would have preferred that for the other experiences in my life (surviving a serious illness, for example, or living with PTSD) that have given me strength and perspective. But sometimes it doesn’t work out that way, and it’s OK to see the positives in surviving difficult things even though we wish things were better.

              But thanks for telling me I’m wrong to feel how I feel about my own life. Extremely helpful.

              1. Observer*

                You get to feel how you feel about your own life – that’s not my business.

                But when you tell someone that they are probably making a bad decision for their kid and your basis is that your “brutal” experience, that you are lucky you “came out of in once piece” is still a better choice, it’s perfectly reasonable for others to weigh in.

                I’m not attributing anything to you that you did not say – there is a reason I quoted your own words back to you.

        3. Harvey 6'3.5"*

          As always, it depends. Two stories. My sons’ public middle school also mainstreamed ADHD kids, so all of the other kids were given peer training on how to support fellow students and resist bullying. One son was undiagnosed but probably on the spectrum, the older wasn’t, but both had good experiences because the kids were trained to be nice (and it took). It was a wealthier community.

          My daughter always went to private religious school and many classes were not as nice. It does happen that my daughter’s class was a fantastic group of kids, where even at prom, the “queen bee” girls literally made a spreadsheet of who had a date, and if a kid didn’t have a date, they arranged an appropriate match, which my daughter really appreciated. So everyone had a prom date and had fun (at the very heavily supervised prom and post prom party, surrounded by parents all night).

        4. TL -*

          Kids do bully but of all my friends and acquaintances who went to public school, only one was bullied (and though not acceptable, it wasn’t on the extreme end; the worst of it was someone dumped a slushy on her head when walking by) and one was a bully/mean girl (reformed by the time I met her.)

          I will say, talking to my homeschooled friends and relatives, there are a lot of experiences they missed out on that they didn’t even really know existed. It’s definitely a tradeoff.

      2. Observer*

        For a lot of kids the “typical” school experience is soul crushing and / or damaging. And for a lot of others it’s not bad, but it doesn’t really add anything.

        The idea that homeschooling is bad or doesn’t give kids an opportunity to learn social skills is simply not the case. I’m not arguing that your experience was good. But that doesn’t make this a universal, or near universal, experience. And, I’m wondering why there was no one in your actual school years to help you out, either.

      3. Elf*

        I agree with you that explicitly secular is important, but I think you may overestimate how much difference being in schools would have made in your ability to have peer interactions. I certainly didn’t learn how despite being in public schools all the way through. I think awkwardness around peers is much less a product of environment than people think.

        In any case, the kid here is already in high school, so she either already has a group of friends she can continue to see or is in a bad social situation that would not be improved by remaining in the school.

        1. Lizy*

          Exactly. While the kids aren’t bad, necessarily, he’s definitely being influenced in ways we’re not ok with.

          1. Red Sunglasses*

            How is your child feeling about the decision/how much were they a factor in the decision making process?

          2. allathian*

            Influenced in what way? Is he being taught things at school that you’d rather he didn’t learn, or is he spending time with other kids you’d rather he didn’t spend time with? If the latter’s the case, good luck. Kids will find ways to spend time with people their parents disapprove of. I hope you’re not planning on isolating him socially.

            I always figured that doing a decent job homeschooling meant that one parent had to become a full-time homeschool teacher.

            1. Lizy*

              Essentially, the latter, although there’s much more too it. We’re definitely not planning on isolating him – tbh it’s an accountability thing more than anything.

  17. Laura H.*

    Little joys thread.

    What brought you joy this week?

    I got my toes tamed with a pedicure at a place close to where I work, and while I think I’ll stick to my usual place (because I like them- this new to me one was just closer) I happily don’t have toe claws anymore. Sadly, my mother paid for my manipedi at my usual place… I’m gonna suggest she see if she can get it instead.

    And someone apparently paid for my dinner last night at the Mexican Restaurant also close to where I work.

    Please share your little joys and I hope y’all have/ had wonderful holidays.

    1. Retail Not Retail*

      I can’t say work stuff without completely outing myself – redacted did redacted and then i saw 3 redacted do redacted but no one else did so i felt special!

      Pokemon go, ha, just hit level 41 this morning.

    2. Mimmy*

      -Being told by one of my students that she’ll miss working with me when she finishes my class in a couple of weeks

      -Finally having some time to do a jigsaw puzzle

      1. fposte*

        God, I love jigsaw puzzles. I’ve been doing them on my tablet in an app that lets you upload your own images; the piece-cutting is horrendously weird, so it’s really hard, but something about the tablet makes me slightly less obsessive than a table of unconnected pieces.

        1. Mimmy*

          I’ve thought about doing an app in order to save on physical space, but I’m old-fashioned and prefer the real thing lol.

    3. Queer Earthling*

      We don’t usually let the cats sleep in our room, but we decided to try it last night; Spouse and I sleep in twin beds, and we have two cats, so we got one cat per bed almost all night, just purring gently and being Very Good Boys. My cat only got up for a few minutes to check on my metamour (who sleeps in a different room) when he heard him get up, then came back to sleep on me. Both cats are usually pretty loud, but I think they recognized the opportunity because they both tried to be extra quiet all night.

      I feel a little bad because Metamour usually gets both the cats, but he seems to be coping.

    4. I edit everything*

      We got our Christmas tree up and simultaneously enjoyed the streamed Christmas concert of one of my favorite choral groups, Chanticleer. It was nice family time, which we’ve been having trouble with recently.

    5. Frankie Bergstein*

      My small joy this week is playlists! I made one for exercising and one for starting up the day.

    6. Bobina*

      Some Youtube chefs were quite entertaining, and now I have a recipe for sort of fried chicken that I’d really like to try!

    7. Thankful for AAM*

      I’m only being a little sarcastic that it made my day that the man I asked to cover his nose actually kept it covered when he walked away to the back of the building and he still has it covered as he is walking back to the exit.

    8. GoryDetails*

      Had a lovely snowstorm here – the light, fluffy kind, relatively easy to shovel even for me {wry grin}, and very pretty to look at. (I didn’t have to go anywhere so I got to enjoy it while sipping cocoa and petting the cats. And yes, it made me very, very sleepy; barely woke up in time for today’s family roleplaying game via Zoom!)

    9. cleo*

      I made cookies over the last 2 weekends and dropped them off to 2 different friends.

      And I saw the sunrise.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      A friend noticed my driveway was not cleared and sent someone with a bucket loader to start to clear my driveway. I definitely would have broken my tractor if I had tried to do it on my own. Tears of joy, just tears.

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

      After nine months, I finally saw my workmates again. We’re really close and I really missed being with them.

    12. NRG*

      I found a pound of butter in my freezer that I thought I’d used. It was like finding 4 little sticks of gold.

    13. Clisby*

      After fearing that every single live Christmas tree in Charleston had already been bought, I scored one at a place that was down to its last 3. And our grad-school daughter with adorable tortoiseshell cat will be with us for a couple of weeks (we all covid-tested negative before she came.)

    14. Tabby*

      Watching The Mayans on Hulu. I don’t know why, but watchg Danny Pino go over to the dark side is giving me the giggles. I normally do not like drug cartel/gangbanger shows and movies, but the guy does a really good job of being creepy, bugged out, and slightly unhinged while looking like some kind of bespoke, kind of pretty gentleman. It’s weird as hell, and im here for it.

  18. Funky Hair Thread*

    I’m slowly working up the courage to dye my hair a funky color at home. Since I have dark brown hair, I’d have to bleach it to get a fun color. I’m thinking of using the Manic Panic bleach kit with a Limecrime color— apparently Manic Panic colors bleed and stain a lot, and I don’t want that. Soooo tips for this? I’d bleach it, blow dry it, then add the color? Do I do a conditioner in between? I’ve only ever done box dye before & those were just one or two shades different. But I really want magenta hair!

    1. Lena Clare*

      I’ve got dark brown hair and I recommend bleaching it at a salon professionally. You may need more than 1 visit to get the base you want.
      Bleaching it at home will give you orange hair…ask me how I know!

      1. R342*

        My hair is also dark brown. I bleached it at home then put electric blue dye on. If you’re putting a bright colour on top it’s likely to be fine.

        1. R342*

          (forgot to say the crucial part which is that my hair was bright orange after the bleach but was the promised shade of blue at the end)

      2. pancakes*

        I had good results bleaching my brown hair myself and going fire engine red in the 90s, but it’s not quite dark brown to begin with, more of a medium brown that goes dirty blonde in lots of sun. It was fine, though red is more high maintenance / tends to fades faster than other bright colors. Do a spot test with all of this stuff before applying it to your full head, even if you haven’t had allergic reactions in the past.

    2. Disco Janet*

      Watch a LOT of tutorials. If you want to not fry your hair, you’re going to need to do some research on developers, olaplex, and how to section your hair/order of application, etc. it’s honestly WAY more than I could type in a comment and is easier to understand when you’re actually seeing someone do it. Buy more bleach than you think you’ll need.

      I also have dark brown hair and I’ve had lots of fun colors over the years…but I won’t attempt it at home anymore. It’s just so easy to damage your hair when you’re lightening it that much. I now go to a stylist who specializes in funky colors. Once it’s dyed, I recommend Viral shampoo and/or Overtone conditioner to keep the color – fun colors don’t get into the hair follicle as well, so they wash out much more quickly if you don’t do some upkeep.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have red hair that totally blows off ANY hair dye if it’s not bleached first, and after one horrific bleaching incident at home (I cried for a week), I have the bleaching part done by a professional once every 12-18 months and then do my bright funky colors at home with touchups as necessary. (I have butt-length hair and do my funky colors from the shoulders down, so over the course of the year the level of the color drifts down my back as it grows, then when I have the bleaching done it goes back up to shoulder level, but I never have to worry about roots.)

      The last several years, I use Arctic Fox for my colors, and it holds up really well. Very little bleeding after the first wash, and the purple in particular fades in such a manner that I can legit go six to eight months or more between touch-ups — it starts out a gorgeous deep dark purple, and gradually fades to a beautiful wine shade.

    4. Loafing Around*

      I did this earlier this year! Watch a ton of tutorials, bleach then tone then color. Ideally you should do lots of deep conditioning leading up to the bleach step, then between the bleach and toning steps (waiting a week or two between those), but I did it all in one go and it was okay. I used manic panic bleach, wella toner and Arctic Fox dye. My best tip (besides watching tons and tons of videos on how to do this) would be to start at the ends and maybe do just the bottom couple inches of your hair the first time, just so that if anything goes wrong, a quick snip will fix it.

    5. gendervoidkillua*

      Yeah, if you bleach at home your hair is probably going to end up more yellow/orange than white. For me it’s never been an issue, I do use the manic panic colors as well and it just means the first time I dye my hair it ends up more green than the color I wanted (I usually do mine blue). I *personally* have not had any issues with my hair bleaching it at home, even with leaving the bleach on for a solid hour (my hair is jet black), but my hair tends to be pretty forgiving in general and I also don’t use products/blow dry it on the regular. I’ve also never done conditioner before color, but I leave the color on for a super long time and try to avoid washing it for as long as possible afterwards. I also don’t bother blow drying it in between, just towel dry and then add color. You’ve already bought your bleach, but if this is something you want to continue doing, I recently switched from the manic panic bleach kits to a bleach with the toner built in and I’m really liking it so that may be something you want to look into as well.

    6. Queer Earthling*

      Manic Panic does bleed a lot, although the colors are nice and the dye smells really good. I do want to note that LimeCrime is kind of a terrible human being. (Attempts legal action against negative reviewers, dressed as Hitler one time, among other things. You can google if you’re in the mood to get outraged.) Arctic Fox is supposed to be super good though! I’ve also had surprisingly decent, if short-term, results with L’Oreal Colorista, which I can buy at the grocery store, which might not be a bad idea if you want to just try it out? They even have colors you can do over darker hair without bleach, which work fine although are not as vibrant.

      I bleach and dye my dirty blonde hair at home* without too much difficulty, though obviously your mileage may vary. In my experience, my hair is happiest if I bleach one day, condition it (NO shampoo) that night, and then dye the next day. This was especially true when my hair was curly because not conditioning would literally knot it up overnight, but this last year it straightened itself somehow and that’s less of a concern; this method still seems to work okay.

      I also find my color lasts longer if I use a conditioner in the appropriate color. You can either buy conditioner in your preferred shade, or mix a little (very little!) bit of your hair dye with a bottle of conditioner.

      *important footnote: my spouse (who was once a license beautician) does it or at least oversees it, and I already have a short queer/punk hairstyle so if it gets messed up I don’t mind buzzing it all off. You may not have these advantages.

      1. Funky Hair Thread*

        Thanks for the headsup about Limecrime— if thought that was Jeffree Star and didn’t remember they’re also bad. Definitely don’t want to support that company now!

    7. RagingADHD*

      If you’ve never bleached before, I highly recommend doing just the ends to test the effect before doing your whole head. If it’s terrible you can trim it off.

      Yes, definitely condition the heck out of it. I’d advise letting it air dry and waiting at least one day (a couple would be better) before putting the funky color on. The more processes you do (including heat), the more damage. You can spare your hair a bit by skipping the blow dry.

    8. Nerdling*

      I took the plunge on this back in May or June. I have naturally very dark hair, so it took two rounds of bleaching. One of the best tips I picked up from watching lots of tutorials first was to moisturize my hair overnight with coconut oil under a shower cap immediately prior. One round of bleach, then toning. Then I waited about a week before bleaching and toning again. Still doing LOTS of conditioning, especially with coconut oil. Then I dyed it purple. Its since faded and washed out, so I’m a really nice blonde except where I have about three inches of roots from sheer laziness. Hahaha!

      For products, I went to Sally’s and got Ion brand powdered bleach, a 30-volume developer to mix with it, and the nice WELLA T14 ash blonde toner. I used an Ion Brights purple dye with 10-volume developer. Also an Ion color sealer. Then it was all cold washes to preserve the color as long as possible.

      Whatever you decide, good luck!

    9. ....*

      Bleaching your hair at home is nothing a good idea at all. It’s not going to turn that bleached white color in one or even two sessions If it’s dark. You will end up with orange overprocessed cotton candy for hair! Definitely want to bleach at a salon only and even then it will be a lot of work to prevent damage.

      1. Lizzie*

        Another thing to consider is how you will deal with the dark regrowth; it will be tricky to bleach just the regrowth by yourself without bleaching the already bleached and dyed part, which will be hard on your hair. Obviously hairdressers know how to do it! I am sure there will be YouTube instructions on it, though.

    10. Cedrus Libani*

      I have dark brown hair, and as a graduation present to myself, I did the funky hair thing. Went neon pink.

      That was fun. But a month later, I was blonde with 3/4″ dark roots, and I was an unemployed former grad student who shouldn’t be dropping that kind of money at the salon. So I did it myself. Two cycles of bleach later, the roots were still orange. Three cycles later, the roots were blonde, and the rest of my hair was coming off in clumps as I washed it. Long story short, I was rocking a white-blonde 3/4″ clipper cut. Which I thought was awesome, and I kept it that way for awhile on purpose…but if this scenario sounds like a disaster to you, do not bleach your own hair!

      Some things I learned: It’s basically impossible to do a targeted bleach on your own roots. I was able to simply massage the bleach mix into my scalp, after adding baby shampoo to make it thinner, but that bleaches the whole hair. My hair (average Caucasian texture) disintegrates like clockwork after 5 bleaches. I bleached every two weeks, which is about how long the vivid colors last, so my hair was always between 8-10 weeks of growth long (so around 1.5″ all over). I never used shampoo other than for the bleaching, as it strips color and fries the hair even worse, I just washed with conditioner.

      I had good luck with the Pravana Locked-In color series. Like it says, the color stays where you apply it. It still fades over time, but it doesn’t ruin your shower or your linens. Be advised that darker colors are more forgiving of uneven and incomplete bleaching. I once made the mistake of going pastel gray – the roots were brown, the ultra-bleached tips were steel blue, and most of the rest was a Swamp Thing grayish-green. I looked like I had Spanish moss growing on my head. Not cute.

  19. Washi*

    I have a question about HBO’s Gentleman Jack, if anyone has watched it: why does everyone except Anne Lister have a northern accent? Is it a signal that Anne is more cultured and well-traveled? I assume it’s intentional but being from the US, I’m not sure what it means.

    1. Jemima Bond*

      Guessing, but it could be a class thing – until fairly recently it was considered more educated, higher class, “better”, to try to speak in a more Received Pronunciation way, rather than use any regional accent. I think Anne Lister was a landowner so would have had money and been rather middle class at least so would have been brought up to speak more RP or made an effort to do so. I haven’t seen the series though so if other characters that are of similar class sound very northern then that’s odd!
      I’m pretty sure that the actress playing Lister used to be in a soap called Coronation Street so she either has or can competently do a south Lancs/Mancunian accent – not exactly the same as Yorkshire but a lot closer to it than RP. So it’s not an actress ability thing, like Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves lol.

    2. DistantAudacity*

      Yes, it should be a very clear class marker (I haven’t seen it – it’s on my list). Anne Lister would have been landed gentry-ish. Interesting what Ann Walker has. She would be of similar status, but with a more provincial background.

      Note: class here is not tied to economic status! Think Austen, and «Emma», where you see this quite well.

      1. Washi*

        So my follow up question is why her sister Marian also has a Yorkshire accent? Marian doesn’t own the land but isn’t she the same class as her sister? Now I’m thinking that it might be because Anne Lister is a bit of a class snob, so maybe she’s cultivated it on purpose whereas Marian hasn’t bothered.

        I definitely recommend the show! The costumes are gorgeous and I love the soundtrack, as well as the show itself being good.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I haven’t watched the whole thing, but my impression was that Anne had traveled and been involved with a more cosmopolitan social set, while her sister stayed home? Is that right? (I may have my stories mixed up).

          People’s accents change when they live away from home, particularly when they are trying to fit in with a different crowd.

      1. udon the day away*

        They’re filming it right now! Some fun behind-the-scenes pics on Suranne Jones’ Instagram page.

  20. Kong’s Biggest Fan*

    Here’s a long shot question but I’m hoping someone might have an idea of how to track this down. In 2009, the author Stephen King came to a Maryland Walmart for a book signing because it was the Walmart that sold the most of his books in the country. My mother, HUGE Stephen King fan, went and was interviewed by a news crew while she stood in line. She made it onto the news for their story, with the newscaster joking she was his biggest fan, Misery style. Anyway, we recorded that bit of the news on our DVR.

    However my mother has recently moved out of her hone and the DVR was wiped before I could save the footage. Now it’s gone and seems to be nowhere online. There are plenty of brief articles talking about Kong’s visit but none with actual video clips. No luck in YouTube either. And I can’t even recall which specific Maryland news channel it was. Any thoughts on if there is any way to track down this footage? Other than blindly writing all the local news stations and hoping one responds, I have no ideas and am worried it’s lost forever.

    1. Dizzy Belle*

      I work for a local television station, not in Maryland. Few local television stations keep full archives of every news broadcast for 10+ years; the ones that do, may have only a rudimentary indexing system that may not have the right key words it would take to find it. In this day and age with staff reductions and dropping ad revenues, there is no one there whose time is well spent trying to look up an old news segment that admittedly probably aired on a different station. But writing to all the local news stations is absolutely your only option – nobody else would have. Bummer but this is the truth,

      1. pancakes*

        Video clipping services might have it, though, if they still exist. A quick search suggests that some do, though I can’t vouch for any one in particular. These are basically what companies and people that monitor their own press used to use to keep track of their publicity before Google alerts were a thing.

    2. WellRed*

      Any chance The Walmart is still there and maybe has a manager or other longtime employee who taped it and saved it. Real long shot, I know.

    3. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

      Your instinct to contact the TV stations if a good one; they might have the clip in their morgue/archive. You might find a sympathetic staffer by waving the “little old lady who might die soon” card. Might.

      Also, track down Stephen King fansites and see if someone else may have recorded it. I once got backstage passes to an Aerosmith show because I had saved a print ad for a Joe Perry solo show, and the management company wanted it for a potential lawsuit against the promoter. Hardcore fans sometimes save the weirdest stuff…. :)

    4. Red Sky*

      A quick google search shows the signing took place in Dundalk MD, I would start by emailing the local news stations there basically stating what you posted here with a bit more identify details such as your mother’s name. I tried searching the local news station’s websites, but it doesn’t look like the results go that far back.

      You could also try a Baltimore County Public Library reference librarian, I’ve found them extremely helpful when researching all manner of things. Good luck and I hope you’re able to locate this for your mom!

    5. Dizzy Belle*

      Oh if you can nail down the exact day that it happened, from the newspaper articles and other sources, that will definitely help a bit when you write/call the TV stations.

    6. Michelle*

      I’m not sure if this link will be helpful or not. It is a news clip of the event done by WBZ News where several people are interviewed, but I have no idea if one is your mother, or if this is the right clip.

      https://archive.org/details/WJZ_20091111_230000_Eyewitness_News_at_6/start/1140/end/1200

      The page opens weird (on my computer). You need to use the scroll bar at the bottom of the page to move through the news stories. The Stephen King one begins at 6:19.

      1. King’s Biggest Fan*

        Sadly no, that’s not the clip with my mom but thanks for digging it up! At least I can cross that news channel off the list to write to.

    7. internet nerd*

      I posted a link but it must be caught in moderation. Google: Stephen king Walmart Dundalk Maryland fans line 2009. Click on the video tab of google results. There are two Internet Archive results from November 11, WJZ Eyewitness News at 5 and the same at 6:00. Any chance that is it?

      1. King’s Biggest Fan*

        Sadly no, that’s not the clip with my mom but thanks for digging it up! At least I can cross that news channel off the list to write to.

  21. Casey*

    I asked for personal experiences with antidepressants here a couple weeks ago and a couple days later managed to get a last minute appointment with the psychiatrist, so ya girl is now on Zoloft (generic)!

    I started taking it while I was preparing for finals, which, in hindsight, maybe I could have waited? I was having a hard time telling side effects of stress from side effects of the SSRI. And even now, I finished my finals at 11:30 pm last night so that could be an explanation for why I feel so much better.

    Butttt I am feeling better! The psych and most of you said that meds aren’t a get-mentally-healthy-quick solution, they just make it easier, which I’ve found to be the case. Before I would have a thought like “I’m going to fail all my classes” and that would spiral into despair and lethargy that really put me on track towards failing, and none of my coping mechanismd seemed to help. Now I have that thought and it’s way easier to push it away, like “okay, well, let’s try and only fail half” or talk to someone. I am cautiously optimistic that the spring semester will go better than this fall!

    Some side effects I did experience: upset stomach that makes it hard to eat sometimes; headaches; dry skin that caused a pretty bad breakout but I am religiously applying CeraVe; more acute fatigue — I was tired all the time before, but adjusting to the meds meant yawning every five minutes all day. I’m still ramping up the dosage to see what’s right for me, so I’m not out of the woods yet, but I wanted to thank everyone who shared! It really helped calm my nerves.

    1. mreasy*

      Headaches and nausea tend to be the type of side effects that go away once your body adjusts. It’s so lovely to hear the meds are helping!

    2. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      I agree that the headaches and nausea should go away (I always get nausea when stopping or starting a med).
      Also want to add that if they don’t, don’t hesitate to go back to your doctor! I was on Paxil but it made me sweat terribly and caused really bad restless legs, and my doctor switched me to Celexa which worked just as well for my depression without those side effects. Paxil also made me more tired then Celexa. My brother on the other hand, had side effects with Celexa and had good luck with Zoloft. Never hesitate to advocate for yourself, and ask lots of questions during appointments.
      Glad you are doing better!

    3. JC Books*

      I am taking generic Zoloft. I started on smallest dose. I am now on a higher dose.
      To minimize the side effects, I take it at night. Hope you feel even better in the next few weeks! It really made a huge difference.

    4. Notthemomma*

      Horrible, horrible analogous, but I’m sleepy so you get what you get :-). Finding the right dedication is similar to finding the exact right pair of shoes. Some people will swear by and only wear brand A, others brand B. But you need to be self aware enough to know what does and doesn’t work for you by the medication, the dosage, and delivery.
      I’ve been on several because the weren’t right or the effectiveness changed over time. The important thing is you took that first step!!!
      Knowing the dumb stigmas some people hold, I want you to know my friend, I am giving you a virtual hug for the strength in simply making that call. Pat yourself on the back and take care.

  22. nep*

    Hope OK for this forum–If not, please flag/delete…
    Has anyone been following the troubles surrounding the NY Times Caliphate podcast? NY Times published a report of its review yesterday, but apparently the reporting has been a source of controversy for a good while. As a (former) reporter, I find this all fascinating to read.
    I put ‘former’ in parentheses because once a reporter/journalist, always a reporter/journalist.
    A great line I saw in a piece in The New Republic yesterday: ‘Journalism suffers when it dramatizes its own construction.’

    1. DistantAudacity*

      I’ve seen it. It’s always good when there’s transparancy about what has happened around things like this.
      To me, this is similar to when there have been authors/writers/reporters lying about their backgrounds or work, and getting the fake stuff published. Good to get it out in the open when it is discovered.

      I’ve not paid enough attention to the why’s and the how’s it slipped through all the checks, though.

      1. pancakes*

        This isn’t quite transparency. People have been pointing to big ethics problems with this journalist’s work for many months. I’ll link to something in a separate reply.

        1. DistantAudacity*

          Thanks! I must admit I just skimmed the headlines.

          Yeah, that’s not great, is it. A proper clearing up is def needed.

          1. pancakes*

            They don’t have a good history of doing proper clearing-ups, is the thing. The way NYT handled its 2018 half-apology for publishing loads of dodgy articles demonizing “crack babies” throughout the 1980s and 90s is a good example, I think, of how it tends to handle big problems: Decades later the paper admitted to what many, many critics observed while it was happening, with no indication whatsoever about what it plans to do, if anything, to prevent it from happening again. In 2018 the editorial board admitted that much of the 1980s and 90s reporting on this topic was based on “totally unsubstantiated” research and figures “clearly drawn from myth,” without delving into how, exactly, it came to be published in the first place, let alone what they’re doing to prevent it from happening again.

    2. Reba*

      Yes, in fact I remember rolling my eyes about out of my head several years back at the reporter’s story of her epiphany about Arabic in Mali.

      Several journalists and academics have done great threads about how much this is revealing of the basic islamophobia and orientalism in our culture/media that this whole mess reveals (links to follow).

      1. Reba*

        Alia Malek
        https://twitter.com/AliaMalek/status/1340045572015796225

        The Mali thing is discussed in this post by Alex Thurston
        https://sahelblog.wordpress.com/2020/10/02/rukmini-callimachis-broken-clock-moment-in-timbuktu/

        And the whole idea NYT is floating that because it was a podcast something something something… the writer’s work before the podcast was bad, too. !!!!

        I’m mad about this because it has to do with regions of the world where people I care about live. And her reporting has impacted policy and people’s lives, not for the better.

        1. nep*

          Just getting to look at these links. In the Alex Thurston piece, he cites an article that has her saying (in Mali): ‘Because I couldn’t read them, I didn’t think they were very important.’
          My head hurts. I can’t even conceive / produce any words to describe my reaction to that.

        1. Reba*

          One of the links I posted that will pop up, explains it in some detail as a “stopped clock moment.” In summary, she saw a document in Arabic when she was in Mali in 2012-2013. Her “epiphany” was that since Mali is officially francophone, any Arabic document was necessarily from the outside, i.e., from the Islamic State. This is a wholly incorrect premise, although she did report some IS stuff from the documents.

          The eyeroll is her basic ignorance that somehow went uncorrected, because it was an exciting, scary-islam narrative. If she had known *anything* about Mali–and as a reporter for a prominent newspaper assigned to that area, she really should have–she would have known that there is a long tradition of Arabic education in Mali and its neighbors (many people are educated in Arabic and Quranic recitation who don’t learn French), that indeed one of the world’s notable libraries of Arabic manuscripts is in northern Mali, and finally that there are actual Arabs in that country. Like, Malian journalists were able to read the document for her, therefore they read Arabic, yet Arabic is foreign Islamist code???

          1. nep*

            Right. How much deference is a reporter giving to people on the ground (as journalists MUST do) in such instances? Kind of unbelievable.

          2. nep*

            (We were in the region at the same time and I ran into her/was in contact w her a few times. Not going into detail about it, but this all has me doing some interesting reflection.)

            1. Reba*

              !!!!

              I really hope more people, not only journalism people, do some reflecting on this!

              Thanks for starting this thread, nep.

              1. nep*

                (I mean personal as well as professional. Agree, though–always good to reflect on so many aspects of this.)

      1. Reba*

        The sole source for the podcast made it all up.

        “Troubles” is really understating it! The NY Times is issuing corrections and discussing it, but not actually retracting this podcast downloaded 30 million times or something. The reporter has developed the Islamic state as her beat, and there have been ethical issues raised about her work several times, the podcast being the latest and most explosive.

          1. Reba*

            Sorry, didn’t mean to nitpick! Just to say, it’s pretty bad and complicated. So yeah, “troubled.” :)

    3. pancakes*

      Yes, I’ve been following it. Have you seen the tweet pointing out that they also didn’t disclose an odd conflict of one of the authors of the article about the investigation? A journo with the Globe & Mail pointed this out:

      “It is…very strange? to me? that a publication would run a long investigation into what it admits is a failure, but not disclose that one of the investigation’s authors is married to the second-most-powerful politician in a country where the story is set?”

      (He is referring to Graham Bowley, who is married to Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland).

      1. fposte*

        Tangentially, I didn’t realize there was a Canadian MP named Candice Bergen, whose politics seem quite different from the Murphy Brown Candice Bergen.

    4. nep*

      The very thing of starting the podcast with this big fanfare before the reporting and fact-checking were complete–that seems like one of the big issues here.

    5. Dear liza dear liza*

      I also hate that the NYT will bounce back but has given the conspiracy/Fox News types another rallying cry as to why you can’t trust the “lame stream media.” A free press is essential to serve as watchdog over those in power, and attacks on it are heart breaking. (When I point out that trustworthy media admit when they are wrong, I just get eye rolls.)

  23. Kiwi*

    So my husband and I got COVID (he brought it home from work right in time for his 30th). Any ideas of stuff to do now that we’re super isolated? I’m running a D&D game today with friends and he bought a new videogame but we’re quarantined til the 30th…

    1. WellRed*

      Reading, streaming whole tv seasons, organizing the closet (if you feel well enough), paint the bathroom. Up your cooking or baking skills.

      1. Kiwi*

        Oooh I have 4 whole closets that need organizing, I think that could keep us going for a while. I still have work but the husband’s gonna need a job to do!

    2. Michelle*

      -Holiday baking or making a special meal together (if you can get groceries delivered).
      -Tackle an organizing project that you have been putting off–go through your closet, clean up your computer files, wipe out your kitchen cabinets and drawers, weed your paper files at home.
      -Go through digital photos and create a photo book (or two or three!)
      -Download Duolingo and start learning a new language.
      -You mention D&D, but there are a number of board games that have apps that you can play with others (or alone, if you wish). Among Us is a huge hit right now.
      -Update your resume (whether you are looking for a new job or not). Likewise for LinkedIn, if you use it.
      -Brainstorm a list together (or apart) of all of the things you want to see and experience (travel, restaurants, etc.) when this pandemic finally comes to an end.
      -“Window” shop online for actual or dream remodeling/redecorating projects.
      -Create some new playlist themes.
      -Movie marathons or binge watching a TV series is always good to fill a few hours.

      I hope you are both feeling better soon.

    3. beth (another one)*

      Jigsaw puzzles? I keep seeing really cool ones in online ads. They definitely can keep you busy for a long time.

  24. Disco Janet*

    Anyone else have a devil’s advocate relative who thinks you’re being unreasonable when you refuse to debate with them? The politics job you don’t want tot discuss with family letter form the other day made me think of my brother – different dynamic than the one in the letter since it’s not someone older than me and it’s happening on the phone (and in non-Covid times, in my house), but this kind of thing drives me CRAZY.

    Basically it boils down to he enjoys engaging in debates and I don’t. He also has the very annoying tendency to constantly judge me and basically call me a sheep for things like not voting third party in the election, having a 9-5 job, being married with kids, liking some popular music/movies/shows, etc. Like I get it dude, you prefer an alternative lifestyle – that doesn’t mean you have to constantly criticize mine for not being that way. Do what makes you happy and I’m going to do the same.

    Anyways, whenever he picks fights my script is pretty similar to Alison’s. “Let’s not debate – I know we disagree, but I just want to catch up.” Then I change the subject. Then he gets all heated, we spend five minutes arguing about the fact that I don’t want to argue (oh, I don’t), and then he calls my mom to complain about how he can’t talk to me because I’m always shutting down things he wants to talk about. Ughhhh. Has anyone ever actually managed to get through to a relative like this and got them to stop doing the whole devils advocate/let’s debate thing?

    1. Ins mom*

      What a pain! Actions have consequences, dude . You aren’t going to change him . Just disengage/avoid. Sorry, OP. You can’t fix him

    2. Reba*

      Leave him on read?
      Ask your mom not to convey his complaints to you?

      IDK, I guess I’m feeling pessimistic but I don’t really think you can get this person to change. They are a douche canoe, at least about this. Your boundary is super reasonable!

    3. Workerbee*

      Since it’s on the phone, what would happen if you said, “I’ve told you repeatedly I don’t want to get into the exact same arguments with you, including arguing about arguing, so since you can’t do the basic courtesy of listening that you expect me to do with you, I’m hanging up”—and do it? (By all means use a shorter script, I just was feeling salty thinking of my own dear brother).

      Then let him run and cry to mom. If she enables this, that’s on her. If she calls you to try to make it your problem that he’s being an ass, you can shut it down, or return awkward to sender, or calmly state how it’s sure funny how he thinks his feelings are the only ones worth consideration, isn’t it?

      But above all—
      You’re not obligated to play these games with your brother (or mom, if she’s involved like that), just because he seems to have a mighty jealous streak about your stable and happy lifestyle. He can go find other grown-ass men to grump to.

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      Another thing Alison says to do sometimes is to say things like, that’s an odd thing to say. I feel like some version of that can work here? Just saying things like, “you really want to debate that,” or “I know, I like that movie and you don’t,” or “how odd, you expect me to vote the way you want?” All said with a flat, bored voice.

    5. Natalie*

      Well, I stopped talking to my mom entirely a few years ago, so that’s one option…

      Assuming you aren’t interested in estrangement, I think there are two places I’d work on setting boundaries here – the argument about not arguing, and your mom relaying his complaints to you. There are lots of different strategies you can use, it depends on what you think you can consistently do comfortably. With someone like you’re brother, I’m a fan of being a complete broken record, because I don’t have to think about what I’m saying. I can just repeat “I’m not arguing with you about this” a few times and then hang up/leave/hand him his hat as relevant. Unless he’s physically in your home, you don’t need his cooperation to end the interaction. For your mom, I’d probably try communicating once or twice that you don’t want to hear brother’s complaints anymore. Then if she starts relaying them again, you can remind her you don’t want to know and change the subject.

      Whatever exact method you chose, remember you don’t need the other person’s co-operation. I have gotten caught up with basically trying to get the person to understand and agree with me that I’m right, which is rarely possible, always unnecessary, and a huge waste of energy.

    6. Canuck girl*

      Hi there…so I don’t have a relative like this, I wish I had more/better experience to share, but I had issues with my parents back when I moved out and I had to work on setting boundaries because my folks had many demands / ideas on how I should live solo, and that caused arguments so I can draw on that a little bit. My therapist at the time taught me assertiveness techniques on how to refute my dad when he wanted to draw me into a long debate on why what I wanted was wrong. And it’s pretty much what Alison’s advice is…the “broken record” technique of “I understand this is what you want but that is not what I want. I will do a, b, c.” and then move on to a different subject. It was all more emotionally charged, my dad would behave like your brother, more heated up at first, but then he would eventually stop and leave and he accepted what I wanted, he had no choice. I think if you stay consistent in using Alison’s script and not get draw into these debates, your brother should eventually get the message and adapt, just maybe accept that it won’t be an immediate adaptation.

    7. Notthemomma*

      When on the phone, silence. No response no sound. Simple silence can make people uncomfortable. When he asks if you are still there “oh yes! I was just remembering that time when …”. Repeat as needed. Responding that you don’t want to argue is seen to them as an opening to argue.
      When in person, same silence with a blank face, perhaps looking just over their shoulder.

      1. fposte*

        Totally agree with this. Getting sucked into a trap about the trap is still getting sucked into a trap. It seems like the subject matter is secondary and that what he really wants is to argue. You don’t, so don’t. You could ask him about a nonpolitical subject he can’t resist, or redefine him as a great listener (“Why won’t you talk to me about the corruption inherent in the system?” “Work has been weird since they painted the walls beige; I miss the taupe. I’m thinking that they were going for cream but missed; I think I would have preferred cream, as long it was a warmer tone, you know? Not like a bone but more like a pale butter. But not too yellow—nobody likes that”) in emulation of every droning bore you’ve ever been trapped by.

      2. Thankful for AAM*

        This is great! The phone really makes it easier to just do nothing. I find it much harder in person when it is just the two of us. Also, I can do other things while I am not really listening.

    8. Wishing You Well*

      One idea for you: I restricted a problematic relative to email only. Setting that boundary improved my life significantly. Sometimes you have to restrict certain people’s access to your life.
      If you want to keep talking on the phone with your brother, set limits. Once he starts in on you, I recommend telling him you have to go and hang up. Redirecting the conversation hasn’t worked and he’s escalating by complaining to Mom. Setting boundaries is a normal and necessary part of life.
      I hope things improve for you.

      1. Notthemomma*

        Yes! I have several email addresses and people have to work their way up from, say, hotmail to yahoo, to gmail. If they start with the forwarding garbage, the go to the bottom tier again which is one I rarely check. I Think of it as the junk mail sorting for relatives

    9. Not A Manager*

      I’m going to suggest something else that works with my similar relative, BUT it depends on the dynamic behind your brother’s behavior.

      I have a relative who truly enjoys debate and very fine-grained argumentation. He’s not actually trying to get under my skin or judging me (which is why this might be different in your case). He’s also SUPER negotiation- and rules-oriented.

      So, for this relative, first we had a conversation about why some of the debating made me uncomfortable – that he felt that everything was judgment-neutral and up for discussion, but that some things made me FEEL attacked and judged. Because he has good will, and because he accepts that feelings are real, he understood why some things are debatable and some things aren’t.

      So now when we talk, some topics I just won’t get into, and I’ll remind him that they are off-limits. Other topics that are more general, I will debate with him sometimes but I’ll give him a heads-up when I’m running out of steam. I’ll say “I only have about five more minutes of this in me,” and then I let him get the last word.

      This is someone I love very much, so it works for me.

    10. RagingADHD*

      Yep, have them. So the missing step here is that you have to let him get heated and ride it out. Just don’t engage, don’t disagree. Wait it out and ask about the other (safe) topic.

      Probably he doesn’t actually care about the things he’s arguing, he just feels the need for a reaction because reaction = engagement. Does he have any other interests or enthusiasms besides politics? Can you get him to talk about that stuff – music, sports, work, his relationships, whatever he has going on?

      Does he not have a relationship with your kids? You can always put them on the phone, unless he’s awful to them. Of course, if he’s awful to his niblings cutting him off may be the only option anyway.

      I had to block my brother on FB because he was always picking fights on my posts and they always turned nasty. We always had a good relationship otherwise (tho we both have enjoyed a vigorous debate in the past).

      I was just honest – “Hey, I’m exhausted with all the negativity this year. I love you and I want to have a pleasant conversation with you about positive things. I miss having fun with you, and this isn’t fun.”

    11. ???*

      I have family members like this. My suggestion, be the world’s most boring debater. Simply agree with everything he says. ‘yes, that third party candidate is now the person I will vote for.’, ‘you’re right I am a sheep.’ since he can’t debate with himself, hopefully you’ll be able to move unto a different topic.

      BTW, if you’re a sheep for having a family, what does he want you to do? Get rid of them?

    12. Oh Snap!*

      Isn’t it funny that someone so proud of being “different” is trying to insist that everyone be like him?
      Anyway, just do not engage. Nope yourself out of the room. My brother-in-law used to say awful, horrible, small minded things that he justified by saying he’s “playing devil’s advocate”. We started to just leave the room when he started in on something. Or turn and talk to someone else. Or turn up the music and dance around the room. Yes, it’s awkward as hell to have a room full of people actively ignore one person but after a few times he stopped. He’s a great person to talk to otherwise but he likes to rile people up and when he realized we wouldn’t play his game he stopped.
      I realize I’m lucky that my family was willing to do this with me but it took time and some coordinating. I had realized at some point that he was targeting me and one of my siblings with his aggressive arguments. One particularly bad night while I was cooking (for him!), he tried to loudly argue fundamentals of my profession that I had been doing for 20 years and instead of politely debating I rage yelled a complete takedown of his argument complete with all the swear words while slowly walking toward him making eye contact, in front of all the kids and parents (Look, Ma! Auntie dropped an F bomb!) until he hid behind a book. We hate drama in our family so over the next several days I talked to the rest of the family, pointed out all the times he interrupted my sibling and I to advocate for the devil and that he was doing it just to get a rise out of us because does he really think he knows better than me about my own job? I said that I wouldn’t put up with it and if he did it again I would leave the room and I would appreciate if they supported me setting boundaries. They wanted to avoid any future outbursts so the next time he came over and got out his Shit Stirring Spoon (his arguments were never thoughtful or rational or even things he actually believed they were just contrarian), I said “nope!” out loud and went up to my room. A few minutes later my husband came up too. My husband said that after I left BIL just leaned in to it more so my husband walked out of the room too. When we came downstairs later there was just one lone sibling still trying to debate. That sibling eventually came around and stopped engaging with him too. After that any time he would try to pick an unwinnable fight we just changed the subject as a group or ignored him. That was several years ago and he can still be kind of a jerk at times but at least he no longer argues for argument’s sake.

      1. ShinyPenny*

        That is a beautiful story! It seems so rare to have a group coordinate (and actually all follow through on) an intentional response to a Missing Stair. Especially when ‘the group’ is family, since usually in a family if there’s one MS, there’s several (or a majority).
        It’s nice to hear that it can happen!

    13. Not So NewReader*

      He doesn’t want to talk, talking would be conversation as in a back and a forth.
      He wants to argue, basically sledge hammer his points home. This is not talking and it’s not conversation.

      My latest thing with handling that has been to say, “Okay. You win. Next topic?” And, of course the topic does NOT change, so I repeat. “I just said you win. Let’s move on shall we?”

      But your bro seems well entrenched in what he is doing so you could probably just go with, “You’re right. You win. Okay have to hang up now. Talk to you later.”

      Until he decides to change what he is doing there is not much you can do. See his goal is to be right all the time. You can ask yourself what could be driving this need to be right all the time and maybe find some insights that help you keep your cool. Or maybe you can work it into something such as saying, “I know you like to be right all the time, so I agree, you’re right. Happy now?” I can almost promise you he will NOT be happy.

      Of the arguing people I have known most of them have been drinkers- I mean heavy drinkers. If this resonates with you, keep in mind you are arguing with alcohol not a human being. You won’t win.
      One of the drinkers also worked into having heart issues. Baaaddd heart issues. Once the surgery happened the person became much more tolerable and then moved to becoming QUITE likeable.

      Meanwhile, develop some one liners such as:
      “Your recording seems to be stuck. You have already said that.”
      Or “You know, constipation can really hinder mental processes. You seem to want to argue all the time. Have you been drinking enough water?”

      One person I was talking with actually very much loved her arguing person and was very concerned about the arguing person. I suggested to my friend that she sit down with her arguing person in a calmer moment and talk about getting a full check up at the doctor’s. This assumes there are calm moments, which my friend did actually have with her person.

      Of the two arguing people in my own life, it did not go so well with the other arguer. I do believe there was also drugs involved there, so between the alcohol and drugs there was no hope of finding new footing. I didn’t cut the relationship off, I just let it drift away. I let it die from lack of participation. This was easy since this person did not call me anyway. I just opted not to call them.

      I have to chuckle, because these people who love to debate would not actually survive on a formal debate team. If you look at the rules for formal debating, you would see that your bro is breaking most of them. You can’t be judgmental and you cannot call people names- that’s two big missteps right there. What your bro is doing is called “bullying”.

    14. ....*

      Sounds exhausting honestly I’d probably stop calling him or inviting him over because it sounds genuinely unpleasant

    15. I'm A Little Teapot*

      He’s not a devil’s advocate relative, he doesn’t enjoy debates – he’s a jerk. Just call it what it is. If he wants to be a not-jerk, then he can change his behavior. In the meantime, talk with other people who aren’t jerks.

    16. Batgirl*

      I’m always amazed by people who pick up the phone to awkward relatives. That’s my idea of hell. The phone is for good conversationalists. Anyway, I think you should relegate him to WhatsApp, so you can disengage at will. Make him wait 24 hours for the world’s most boring grey-rock answer. People are also more careful about what they say in writing, especially if you make it a group with a few relatives (you can check mate him by making your mother your prevention rather than his cure). I would certainly put a stop to his snitching to your mum; that’s just enabling colossal immaturity! “Mum, just tell him that you won’t be passing on his comments to me and then live up to your word and don’t. We arent five.”
      I’d also reframe “thinks I’m being unreasonable” as “wants a lot of my attention” and he’s willing to wind you up and take the piss to get that kind of attention. Some people (very young men usually) see piss taking as affectionate but I give my brother a world of no if he tries. Women get enough of being talked down to for it to ever be a game. If he dismissed my no (he actually never has) I would stop all conversing and probably move to a small-talk and cards relationship.

    17. Esmeralda*

      Nothing you can say will get through or change his mind and behavior.

      Say this: Name, I don’t want to argue
      Then do this: walk away. (Or hang up the phone. Or turn off the zoom )

      Every time.

      Eventually he may get tired of having no one to hassle.

      If he complains to your mom: that’s his problem. And hers, I’m guess. But not yours. If she gets on your case about it: “Mom, if brother has a problem with me, he can discuss it directly with me. I’m not discussing it with anyone else. “ If she continues to get on your case? See above…

    18. Mr Jingles*

      Doesn’t sound like a devils advocate to me, your brother sounds like a bully who can’t accept a no.
      With my brother I became totally unresponsive whenever he tried to pull me into arguments. I just said no and nothing else. I just stayed quiet and stared at him.
      When he tried to pull my mother in I simply told her ‘no’ too. The word ‘no’ is a complete sentence. Don’t explain. Don’t change the subject, don’t react. Just ‘no’ and silence.
      With a very annoying ‘friend’ (of a friend) with whom I didn’t have to keep any boundaries or pretend to be civilised I used a different technique: I recitated my favourite poem by Rainer Maria Rilke over and over again whenever he tried to draw me into an argument. Drove him nuts. After a while it drove him away. When my real friend asked me why I did so I told him: he’s started nonsensical arguments I’m not interested in. So I thought it’s nonsense time and nothing is more nonsensical than Rainer Maria Rilke’s poems! But at least Rilke’s poems are amusing which is more than I can say about our ‘friend’s’ choice of argumentation.
      Oh I so burned the bridges with that person! But I don’t regret it.
      I think what I want to say: if you don’t want to argue, don’t argue. Just don’t response until he gives up. Those types don’t care for arguments or facts or how you feel. They are bullies who want their argument just for the arguments sake and to annoy you. Every response beyond ‘no’ enables them and gives them the pleasure they seek: needling you to see you suffer. Don’t give them that. Stop engaging till they give up.

    19. Juneybug*

      This might sound weird but your brother might be “deflecting”. For example, I had a relative who trapped me in a car on the way to a family event and then proceeded to tell me how my marriage was bad, how I needed counseling, etc. It was quite a horrible ride. It took two days to recover from the emotional attack. But then on another ride to different family activity (where I brought my wonderful husband as a buffer), same person confessed her marital problems, talked about the stress she was under, etc. I realized that my life was great but her life, not so much. Knowing that it’s her problems or issues she is really talking about and that she is deflecting (and not changing her situation) has given me freedom to ignore her words. Now when she start talking about my decisions/work/marriage/life and how I could do better, I smile sweetly and change the subject. #livingthebestlifeaslongasIignoresaidrelative

  25. Hotdog not dog*

    My family is working on a plan for our big post-covid bash (obviously the date is TBD). We’re thinking potluck, assign each person a different holiday that we missed in 2020, bring a dish appropriate to that occasion. We’re doing it at my parents house and Mom is planning to pull out decorations for all the seasons. We’re undecided about gifts, though. I’d as soon skip them. For me the gift would be time spent with my whole family and the chance to pair Irish soda bread and Christmas cookies! One of my relatives suggested drawing names, kind of like Secret Santa, and another one suggested a Yankee swap. The point from that perspective is that we missed birthdays, anniversaries, holidays…so let’s go as big as possible. What say the commentariat?

    1. WellRed*

      Hmm great question. If this were a Christmas celebration, I’d say go for it. But as an all around celebration, the idea of gifts feels a little … extraneous? I also don’t see the point of yankee swap or secret Santa if these relatives really just want to open gifts. So much of that stuff is typically useless crap.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      How fun! I might say, have everyone bring a decorated box with their name on it and a stash of “stocking stuffer” type goodies to distribute into everyone’s boxes, maybe also including birthday/anniversary cards and such. That way people who want to go big can bring extra stocking stuffers, or slightly nicer goodies, and people who maybe aren’t quite able to do that can stock up on the post-holiday candy sales and fill in the cracks and still feel like they’re participating.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        I like that idea! It has the bonus advantage of being a good way to use up my stash of craft supplies…we could get the children to decorate shoeboxes for everyone. I have a teenage niece who loves to oversee group craft projects with the littles.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Depends on what the people want. It’s not like you have to follow any rules, right? If people are excited about buying people presents and getting them in return, and if it’s one of the things they regretted missing out on, go for it! If people are like “eh, let’s not bother,” don’t! If some people are each way, go with the group that is larger/cares more, or make it optional or a smaller deal.

    4. Canuck girl*

      I think I would just focus on the party, what food and drink to bring / cook. Personally I think gifts would be a bit too much to add to everything, esp if it’s a big gathering. At most I would probably opt for Christmas crackers – they’re inexpensive, and it’s a lot of fun to open them…even though the stuff inside is usually useless and silly, it’s fun to wear that paper crown.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        That’s my thought too…although after this year I TOTALLY see the point of going big! My brother suggested that anyone who wants to bring a wrapped (generic, reasonably priced, but nice) could do so and those people could participate in a gift swap. One concern I had was that some of the family will also have travel costs and we’re not the Rockefeller family, so may be less financial pressure without gifts.

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Maybe you could lean into how bad 2020 was and each being something meaningful to donate? Eg, winter coats, business clothes for women just getting into the workforce, prom dresses for teens, books or toys for hospitalized kids, long shelf life foods. You can show each other what you picked out as part of the party.

      1. Anon5775*

        I love this idea. But another one could be gifts in the form of a game for those that want to participate. For ex, get a roll or two of Saran wrap and start rolling it into a ball and inserting small toys, money, new toothbrushes, candy, other small things, etc. and then keep rolling more wrap until you have a huge ball about 14-18 inches in diameter. Then get a pair of mittens or gloves and have everyone sit in a circle. The 1st person puts the gloves on and starts unrolling the wrap. They keep whatever gifts they reveal but while they are doing this the rest of the people are shaking dice. When someone gets doubles or 2 sixes or whatever you’d like, they pass the gloves and ball to that person and you just keep going until the ball is totally unraveled. It’s a fun activity.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      “Merry thanks-fourth of Hannu-ween!”
      My grandfather used to say that….and now it feels new again.

    1. Alex*

      I’d probably just make the dough, and refrigerate for a while before rolling out and cutting cookies.That said, I’ve never used that product so I’m not 100% sure of the texture.

      1. Nicole76*

        Based on what I remember from previous pouch mixes, it’s a little too wet for cutouts, although refrigerating it beforehand may help. I’ll give it a shot; the worst that could happen is I have to make regular round cookies.

        I tried Google but I couldn’t seem to find a discussion about this. Even Pillsbury’s site points people to their cookie dough tubes for cutout cookie recipes so that wasn’t helpful either.

    2. ThatGirl*

      It’s gonna be soft; you can add a little extra flour and roll it out if you want but the shapes will puff up as they bake.

      1. Nicole76*

        That’s exactly what happened, although not so bad that you couldn’t tell what the shape originally was.

  26. Canuck girl*

    Hi all – I wanted to give an update on my new kitty, about which the many nice people here calmed down when I got him two weeks ago. He is eating and drinking super well now, follows me around like a shadow, meows at me and races around the apartment. I took him to the vet a few days after I posted here because I found a ton of black wax in his ears and then learned he also had tapeworm and the ears likely had mites sometime ago. Thank goodness for my great vet. Kitty is in good spirits. I will need the vet’s advice on how to portion the bugger’s feeding lol. After eating half a can of food, he ends up following me around and meowing and then leads me back to the cabinet door where I keep the dry and wet food. At the shelter where I got him he just had a bowl of dry food all the time, but I’m working on getting him on a meal schedule.

    Now, if any cat owners here who lived in small apartments with their cats have any tried and tested tips on keeping the cat entertained, I welcome your advice :) . I worry quite a bit (probably too much) that he’ll get bored in my no too big apartment (been reading a lot, maybe too much on how to prevent cat boredom), but got him quite a few toys that he enjoys chasing, a scratching post, this circular thing with a ball in it and when the Christmas tree is gone, I’ll get him a small kitty condo. Oh yeah, the cat also meows at me in the evenings when he gets more active and wants my attention and wants to play, and when he wants me to follow him to my bedroom so I can cuddle him. He’s been very vocal this week..it quite adorable.

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      I had 2 cats in a small apartment years ago, and after about a year their favorite entertainment was to sit in the front window and watch the neighborhood! Before that, they behaved just like your sweet new kitty! I gave them plenty of toys and attention, which helped with that kitten energy.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband free-feeds his cats and they’re both lazy and a little overweight — our vet suggested enrichment toys. One of the ones I found that looked like a lot of fun, but would totally not work in my house because we also have dogs, was a set of three plushy mice, each of which has a little plastic food cage inside. You put part of the cat’s daily dry food allotment into the three plastic food cages, then put them around the house, and kitty gets to HUNT HIS PREY! The inside parts were dishwasher-safe, the outside plushy parts were machine-washable, and suitable as toys even when they weren’t stuffed with meat cereal. I saw them on both Chewy and Amazon. :)

    3. beth (another one)*

      Get one of those hammock things to put on a window! My cat loves his- windows are like tv for cats. They just love seeing what’s going on outside.

    4. Maria*

      We free feed our cats, but with puzzle feeders. It keeps them from just eating because they’re bored (since they have to work for it) but also prevents the begging for food.

    5. Queer Earthling*

      For activities–make sure you switch toys out fairly often, because some cats do get bored with the “same” toys all the time, but if it’s hidden away for a few months, it’s magically a brand new toy again.

    6. Flower necklace*

      My cat loves chasing ping pong balls. It’s an easy way to keep him entertained. When he was younger, he loved chasing the laser pointer. Now that he’s an adult, he won’t chase it, but he will chase the little speck of light reflecting off my watch or my cell phone onto a wall. I have no idea why. Cats are weird :)

    7. Canuck girl*

      Loving all your suggestions and super grateful for them. Interesting point about the cat getting bored with the same toys, because I think that might be happening with some of the balls with bells already. I might get a second set of different coloured/textured balls and switch them out and see how he likes it. I do agree…cats are weird. Mine got excited about a shoe lace but ignored the wand toy with a sparkly tassel at the end haha.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        They seem to like stuff with our scent on it. That pencil was way more interesting than the $10 toy from the store.

        I’d suggest paper bags, cardboard boxes, things that roll- like a towel tube or tp tube, things that dangle like a shoe lace or old belt. My caution warning is I only gave them this stuff when I would be home and IN the house to keep an eye on how things went. And I only gave them stuff that I never expected to use again.

        Someone gifted me an $18 battery operated cat toy. I felt so bad, but what could I do when the cat did not like it? I stopped buying expensive toys for them myself after seeing this. They were fine with out the toys.
        One of my girls ate spiders and the other ate spider webs. They’d bat around the crickets when they found one. Sometimes they would sit for hours and stare at the birds outside. One was a climber. I found her on the top shelf of my clothes closet. She got up there by digging her claws into the sleeves up the garments and yanking herself up. She also go on the top shelf of books in another room. The Web Eater, was fascinated by large font newspaper headlines and tried to push the letters off the paper. She did the same thing to the design on the linoleum in the kitchen.
        They amuse themselves and in turn amuse us.

    8. PT*

      My cat was free-fed at the shelter and it took awhile to get her on a schedule. One thing I found helpful was just portioning her daily amount of food into however many meals worked best for her at the time. So sometimes she’d get breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and sometimes she’d get a larger breakfast and dinner and no lunch.

      Sometimes she’ll get hungry here or there and if she can’t be distracted from begging, I’ll give her a little extra, but if it starts to become a habit I’ll just shuffle her feedings around so she keeps her daily calories about even.

    9. I take tea*

      So nice to hear that you are getting along. Lots of good advice here, I’ll add that if the space is limited, remember that your cat doesn’t need floor space. We have a bookshelf that goes around the room. We emptied the top shelf and added a cat tree at one end and a drawer to jump on at the other. It’s been a hit. The cats race around on the shelves, or just lie there and watch. Cats usually like high places where they can se what’s going on. Try to arrange such spots.

  27. Teapot Translator*

    I need recipe ideas, but cookware-specific.
    Context : I found a ceramic baking dish at my parents that I’m going to use to make focaccia bread. I’m wondering what else I can make in it because I won’t keep it if I can’t use it for different things. I haven’t been able to find a picture of what the baking dish looks like on Google. It’s round (maybe 8 or 9 inches? I can’t find my measuring tape), around two inches high, made from glazed terra cota and it has a lid in the same material.
    While I was googling, I did figure out it could be used to make clafoutis and hot dips.
    I’d love to have more ideas, though!
    I’ll post as a reply a link to a Twitter video where you can see a baking dish. It looks like non-stick metal, but maybe it will help someone figure out what I mean!

    1. Natalie*

      It sounds similar to an enameled dish, in which case you can make basically anything that bakes and is the right size. Most casseroles can scale up or down pretty well.

      I use our enameled bakeware to roast vegetables as well, it’s easier to toss them in oil and salt in a dish with sides than on a sheet pan.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I googled “enameled dish” and it does look similar to the round one with the lid.

        You’re right about the vegetables! And I need to eat more vegetables (but I’m not a fan). :-(

        1. Reba*

          Sounds like it would be good for a gratin, which is a nice way to eat vegetables (with cream and cheese :) ).

          1. Teapot Translator*

            Mmmm, cream and cheese.
            You know what? It always feels like “cheating”? Like, I should eat vegetables raw and as healthily as possible? But if the choice is between no vegetables and vegetables with cheese, I should just eat vegetables with cheese. ;)

    2. Michelle*

      I have a pan like that, and I use it for lots of different things.

      I make this Magic Crispy Baked Shrimp recipe quite often: https://12tomatoes.com/magic-crispy-baked-shrimp/

      It is also good for Ina Garten’s Overnight Macaroni and Cheese recipe, though I would suggest skipping the sprinkling of half of the cheese over the top (so stir 1 cup of Gruyere and 1/2 cup of cheddar into the cream and pasta, but don’t add cheese on top). It is waaaaay rich enough without it. https://barefootcontessa.com/recipes/overnight-mac-cheese

      It may be big enough to do cornbread in. There are so many cornbread recipes and mixes, but this one could get you started. https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2015/01/moist-and-tender-brown-butter-cornbread-recipe.html You might have to try that and may end up with a small muffin amount on the side.

      This recipe for chicken, broccoli, and bacon worked well in mine: https://www.kyleecooks.com/freezer-meals-chicken-broccoli-bacon/

      There are a lot of recipes for making rice in the oven (as opposed to stovetop), which you can look up online. Some are directions for making plain rice (which would require the lid), others are for rice casseroles.

      You could also make a quick pot-pie filling with leftover meat and vegetables–again, lots of recipes online for variations, and then dot the top with biscuits (either homemade or from a can, cut into quarters) and get an all-in-one meal.

      I use my pan often enough, that I figure it is one of the few items in my kitchen that I wouldn’t want to be without, especially now that there are only three of us left at home and we don’t need huge portions anymore.

      1. Michelle*

        If it helps, for reference, the baking dish that I have is the Le Creuset Stoneware Covered Round Casserole, 9.5-Inch. I’m not sure if yours is similar or not.

  28. Bibliovore*

    Irritable and unreasonable and I know it. That said.
    Mr. Bibliovore and I are in hi-risk groups with multiple risk factors. We have been except for Dr. visits, sheltering in place since March. We are both grateful that we have family and friends socially distant visits outside at least once a week. We have all of our needs met and can give to others.
    I am at a loss for the holidays- I am a not practicing person and did not grow up in a home that celebrated holidays. We agreed on new phones for each of us for Christmas.
    His birthday is in the first week of January. I have been recovering from shingles (pain /fatigue)and have made NO birthday plans. or a present. (I was thinking of donating money in his name to a cause)
    Would it be nuts to do a massive zoom party for a half hour? Hour? (I am all zoomed out due to work commitments) Should it be a surprise? Its not a significant one. (one the other hand is every one past 70, a significant one? How would I know? I didn’t celebrate my 50 or 60 by doing anything.)

    1. Reba*

      Maybe you could organize friends to record a little video, or just a write a birthday message, and compile those in lieu of a Zoom? I think free-form social zooms are the kind of the worst.

      Hope you get well soon!

    2. The teapots are on fire*

      It sounds like just a bad time to try to make this work. What if the two of you talk and negotiate a later date for Mr. Biliovore’s Birthday, Observed? I move the celebration date of holidays around all the time to make them more convenient for me.

      Maybe around the time when weather starts getting nicer where you live. You’ll have more time to recover from shingles and make a good plan for his birthday. He’s 70+ years old, so he should be able to tell you how big a deal he wants his birthday to be and you can plan accordingly.

      1. Bibliovore*

        oh, I so appreciate this. I guess I just needed permission to do nothing. Of course- I will cook him his favorite dinner.
        I will try to have a sense of humor when he wakes up Christmas morning and says where’s the tree?

    3. Anono-me*

      Seconding Reba’s writting suggestion. And if you want to make it a bit more “Let’s celebrate Mr. B.” you could ask your friends each to please send a postal letter with a fun shared memory of Mr. B. and possibly a picture. After the actual birthday, you can put everything in an album.

      P.S.

      I’m glad to hear that you are doing better.

  29. Kali*

    I’ve been thinking about the term “passing” recently and I’d like to discuss and unpack it. I’m not describing a problem I’m having and looking for solutions, though I know that’s normally the point of this blog! Right now, I’m more feeling out the subject and getting outside of my own head, getting some external viewpoints in there. The goal isn’t solution, just thoughts. I realise “how we categorise other humans” is a controversial topic, and also how we think about race and the terms we use are very culture-specific and change very rapidly. As far as I know, I’m using terms which are broadly fine in the UK (where I am from) but I might have missed an update, and the terms may be read differently in other countries. I will assume other commenters are well-meaning and discussing a difficult topic to the very best of their ability, and I hope everyone can assume the same of me and I have never given them cause to suspect otherwise.

    Specifically, I am mixed race but can be read as white, and so I am “white-passing”. I’ve come to realise I don’t really like this use of the term “passing” because it implies that I am purposefully trying to come across as white and most of the time, that isn’t the case. I – and presumably, other racially-ambiguous people – are mostly just going about living our own lives. It implies trying because in other contexts where we use the word ‘passing’, i.e., to pass/fail a test, we are trying to pass. “Passing” is also used for other ways we categorise people, like for gender or sexuality. When a trans person is able to socially transition and begin presenting as their true gender, they might use the term “passing” when they are read as that gender, which is what they are generally trying to achieve. LGBTQ people might also want to “pass” for straight in certain circumstances. There are definitely times, both historically and in my own day-to-day experience, where passing as being part of the majority in terms of social race, has been an advantage, sometimes life-saving. White-passing IS something people have intentionally done, often for very good reasons, but I don’t think it describes my day-to-day experience.

    There was a recent small controversy I saw, when one person described others as “white-passing”, to mean she had mistaken them for white based purely on appearance, but acknowledging that this might not reflect their actual lived experience. Some people felt like whether you “pass” as white or not was a matter of identity and it was Not Okay for someone to tell you if you were or not. That sounds like nonsense to me. Passing IS in the eye of the beholder. I know I pass as white because some people (not everyone) will say something that gives away what category they think I’m in. I’m not talking about racism (mostly). ‘Race’ is a way we categorise other humans to make predictions about them, like: is your day-to-day experience the same as mine? Do you face the same systemic violence I do? What cultural touchpoints are you like to have? What languages might you speak? What holidays might you celebrate? It’s an imperfect system, that breaks down when you start looking at individual people, but it does have a purpose. It’s a way of detecting “like-me” and “not like-me”. That’s why representation is important – I can see a mixed race woman in power and think “you probably faced the same struggles I do, and you made it”. Obviously, most people don’t think it in those words, but that’s the feeling. It’s been hugely problematic when people have assumed they can make predictions about things like intelligence or honesty based on what race they think someone is, and when they don’t realise they’re making predictions. Some people have taken their assumptions as facts and insisted reality is wrong in the face of new evidence, i.e., attributing the achievements of a person of colour to their white ancestry. Sorry, tangent. I was saying, the way I know I’m white-passing is people will say something that implies “like-me?” and I will have to reveal “not-like-you” or vice versa.

    Being white-passing does make my life as a person of colour easier. Passing-privilege is real, and it is useful to have a name for it so we can have conversations about it. Right now, I think I’m okay with the term “passing privilege” but there might be a better term out there, either now or soon. I’m going to spend the rest of this paragraph briefly unpacking the difference between white-privilege and passing-privilege, but you can skip this bit, it’s a tangent. Note that privilege, as I understand it, doesn’t mean any individuals life is harder to easier, because we all have different traits people react to differently, but means that, as a group, there are some things trait X people aren’t really affected by and trait Y people are. “Unpacking the invisible knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh (not linking because links tend to delay comments posting, but easy to google), has a list of 26 things she does not have to worry about, as a white person, that other, non-white people, are affected by. The benefits I get from passing are 2, 3, 4 (apart from being a woman), 10, 23, and 24 (from a list of 26). I get half of 6, 16 and 21. 8 and 13 depend on topic, and 10, 12, 13, 17, and 19 depend on whether other people know I’m mixed or not.

    A big part of passing-privilege, which affects the question of whether I (very specific to me, not talking about anyone else) am “trying” to pass is that I come from a society where a lot of traits associated with beauty are white. We even have the word ‘fair’ which implies both. If I dye or highlight my hair blonder to make it pretty, I can’t ignore the fact that maybe I think it’s pretty because blonde hair has been held up as “pretty”, in part because it’s linked to whiteness. Being blonde makes me more likely to be read as white, in my experience. I tried to look pretty, but did I try to look white? I don’t think I did, but we’re all influenced by our society and culture in so many ways we don’t even notice. I can also change how people read me with make-up – am I trying to look white if I don’t use bronzer? Or if I wear make-up to make me look more like my mother, who is pale and blonde?

    1. Reba*

      In recent years have read/heard the term “coded” in lieu of passing. I think it suggests some of what you are saying — that it has to do with how you are read by others, not necessarily your own intentions or identity. It would seem to also address some of the entanglements you are getting at with your blondness example. You can like blond for blond, because it’s flattering, but not wholly escape or control the cultural meanings attached to blondness, the signals it sends as part of the code of appearance or presentation.

      I’d also recommend Tressie McMillan Cottom’s book “Thick” for her essays on beauty, appearance and identity.

      1. Kali*

        I’ve not heard the term ‘coding’ used in that way, that’s interesting. I’ve heard of code-switching, which is about intentionally fitting in. I’ll have a look at the book, thanks!

      1. Kali*

        Thanks!

        I’m familiar with one of the editors named on the cover, I’ve watched some of his lectures on writing on Coursera.

    2. NewBee*

      Have you read The Vanishing Half? One of my favorite books of the year, and it’s about this very subject (someone who deliberately passes as white). And of course Nella Larsen’s Passing is a classic.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Hey, I’ve seen you post a number of long things lately, and I’m wondering if you could try and include more line breaks?

      Particularly on mobile, it’s very hard to read when it’s a solid wall of text.

      1. Kali*

        Yes, I’ll try to remember.

        We’re experimenting with the dose of my ADHD meds atm, so the new focus is great but it does mean I have suddenly started having the attention to pull together all these things into Giant Walls of Text. I normally wouldn’t have the attention span to write that much!

      2. Kali*

        Just to check, I read that as “shorter paragraphs” but should I also figure out a way to create more breaks between paragraphs?

    4. Sparkly Librarian*

      I’m mixed, but for various reasons (adoption assimilation in a prior generation, my particular phenotype, family of origin cultural practices) identify mostly as white and am coded as white by mostly everyone except a few people with my same mix of heritage. Instead of “white-passing”, I have seen “white-presenting” or “read as white” used because those terms focus on what other people assume rather than what the person in question is projecting. In other words, it’s on them for making unfounded assumptions. I’m also often read as straight (incorrectly) but I am not straight-passing! I am an out and proud queer femme. I do acknowledge that I get “passing privilege” because of how other people read my presentation, so I think it’s fair to use that term. I also use that privilege on behalf of others who do not get the same, but then there’s the question of whether I’m seen as a member of the group or an ally (and how to behave accordingly).

      1. Kali*

        >I also use that privilege on behalf of others who do not get the same, but then there’s the question of whether I’m seen as a member of the group or an ally (and how to behave accordingly).

        For me, it does sometimes feel like a “card” I can play, despite not having to deal with the experiences of someone who isn’t read as white as often. Revealing myself as ‘mixed’ reframes what I’m saying in discussions where that’s relevant, because my opinion is now perceived as “in group”.

        That said, there’s definitely a line you can overstep. For instance, I’m not personally offended by, for example, Matt Lucas dressing in brown-face in Come Fly with Me. I recognise that brown-face is wrong and it would be better if people just did not, but…I don’t have an emotional reaction to it. I don’t find it upsetting*, and I suspect part of that is my passing-privilege. It would be disingenuous and misleading of me to say “I’m Indian and I’m not offended”, despite those statements being true, because the reasons for me not being hurt or offended by the portrayal aren’t because it isn’t hurtful or offensive (which is what that sort of statement implies) but because I’m not the target, in the same way anyone who isn’t south-Asian isn’t the target.

        *I DO find Vicky Pollard – Matt Lucas pretending to be a stereotypical “chav” – to be upsetting, and I am also working-class. I think a big factor there is that firstly, I am more strongly coded as working class than I am South Asian, and, secondly, Taaj felt like a real character, while Vicky feels more like a spiteful caricature. Both exist for the purpose of comedy, but I felt like the joke was on Vicky, in a way it wasn’t on Taaj. None of this is intended to argue that brown-face is okay, I just find it interesting to unpack those feelings a bit.

        Another thought I had about being read-as-white – which I do like better! – is that all the terms are phrased as if it’s a Yes/No, 100% rate. It’s not binary though, it’s a rate. Just to make up some numbers, I’m read as white maybe 65% of the time (that I’m aware of, some people don’t signal), which is a different experience to people who are read as white 0% or 100% of the time.

    5. oranges & lemons*

      This is a bit of a side note to your comment, but I just wanted to mention that trans people don’t necessarily want to pass as cis either. Some do, and sometimes it’s a strategic choice to avoid transphobia, but some trans people prefer to be visibly trans. I think there is some commonality between the experience of “passing” in a gender, race, disability and/or sexual orientation context, since it all has to do with the intersection between identity, public perception and discrimination, and everyone is going to have a slightly different experience.

      1. Kali*

        Thank you, that’s a good point to raise.

        I have definitely related to the stories of people who can pass/not pass in categories other than race, so I agree there is commonality. The example that comes to mind is in what to call us, and who decides, and what’s okay, and what isn’t. I’ve heard of some older trans people being happy with the label “transsexual” and not wanting to change it for themselves, even if they know the language has changed and other trans people don’t like the label and don’t want it used. As a child, I was taught to call myself “half-caste”, but that became unacceptable when I was about 4-5. If I were older, I might have similar feelings about identifying with that label despite its flaws. I can see how you’d just get sick of being told what you are and just pick a label and stick with it. If “mixed” became unacceptable…I would probably still think of myself that way.

      2. Batgirl*

        My gay friends say there is something inherently … repressive? about being presumed straight as though that’s the default and it makes it seem like being gay is aberrant. I wonder if that’s Kali’s objection (the default aspect) to being presumed white or why some trans people dislike being presumed cis?

    6. I can never decide on a lasting name*

      English is my second language, so I may ve wrong here, but: I have always thought of “passing” not as in going to an exam, but as coming to an entrance or roadblock where some are let in and others not. White people are allowed to pass through the gates to a number of privileges and if a person passes as white, they have also gotten the possibility to pass through those gates. Does that make sense?

      1. Hrodvitnir*

        Oh, I like that. Because that is how I think of the word “passing” in this context but wasn’t sure why I felt like “passing” as a success was… if not incorrect, not the main way I think of the concept.

        I grapple with this a little, because I am not willing to call myself a white-passing Maori person despite being basically that (light skinned, features Maori and IME a number of black African people easily ID as Maori but white people don’t really register), because I’m *so* culturally white.

        I’m about 1/4 Maori, which means I am very close to the measureable, inter-generational damage white colonialism has caused, my grandmother was dark skinned and felt those impacts pretty directly; but I personally experience neither the direct impact of interpersonal racism nor the structural impacts of ongoing colonial actions.

        I have the most tenuous of connections to my iwi (tribe), and it’s not core to who I am as a person. But it is still part of who I am as a person and it can still be very uncomfortable to be surrounded by a blinkered white perspective and assumed to hold the same.

  30. violet04*

    I would try to engage him in a couple of play sessions during the day. Mine love Da Bird toy or similar wand toys with some type of feather or mouse attachment.

    I’m WFH permanently now, so when I see them get a case of the zoomies I’ll pull out a toy. In the evening, I’ll have a play session with them before feeding. What I’ve read from cat behaviorists is that cats have a hunt, eat, groom, sleep cycle. So after hunting their toy, they eat groom and then sleep.

    Sheer Fun for Cats is a fun toy. Mine love to pounce on toys I drag underneath it.

    Sounds like you’re doing a great job with him and glad he’s getting medical treatment!

    1. Canuck girl*

      Thanks so much for the toy suggestions complete with names and play timing ideas. Yes, I too am WFH for the foreseeable future, which basically feels permanent…uggh, anyway, but the cat loves me being home so at least there is that benefit haha.

      1. violet04*

        You’re welcome! Yeoww catnip toys are great too. Although I don’t remember at what age kittens start reacting to it. They are a little expensive, but they are completely filled with catnip, no filler. I have to keep them hidden otherwise the cats will rip them open.

  31. Blue Eagle*

    Reading thread
    What is everyone reading this week? Two books that have been on my reserve list at the library for a full year finally cleared early this week and I’ve already read them both. The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (who also wrote The Family Fang). Recommend them both but will add that if you liked Family Fang you will probably like this one, if not, then you probably won’t.
    One other book – John Cena wrote a couple of little kid picture books about a team of trucks, the main character is Elbow Grease. Each teaches kindness, sharing etc and would be a good gift for little kids.

    1. Retail Not Retail*

      Can we be negative about a book? If not, nevermind but lordy that book was bad.

      Just started Trust Exercise in physical book form and I’m reading Solutions and Other Problems on my kindle. I’m liking the first, loving the second obviously!

      I’ve been on a criminal justice reform kick lately and I really recommend Charged by Emily Bazelon. Picking Cotton is a good one as well about one case from the victim’s and wrongly accused’s perspectives. Just Mercy of course is great.

    2. WellRed*

      Not reading anything because the book I got last week I realized I already read! Going back to exchange it today, hopefully for something else.

    3. Kali*

      I’m having one of those weeks where I’m not really settling to read books, especially new ones, so fanfics and rereading romance novels is where I am right now. This week I read a harrowing Recess fanfic where they’re all adults and no longer friends due a traumatic event which is haunting them. A little bit like I Know What You Did Last Summer. It’s really well-written and does seem like a natural continuation of the series, which might seem surprising due to the change in genre and tone. But, I watched recess as a child when it was appropriate for me, and now I’m an adult and the characters have grown with me. Plus, the writer understands why Hustler Kid is the most attractive character, don’t @me, that crush was age appropriate at the time.

      I do love when I find a really good fanfiction that functions as an amazing sequel to the original work without being constrained in the way actual sequels are, like by having to be profitable or having to appeal to the original audience (i.e., children). 90% of what’s out there isn’t this kind of diamond, but some of them are. There’s an amazing Harry Potter one where Dudley grows up to be a gay social worker and acknowledges the familial abuse he and Harry went through as golden child and scapegoat, and they make up when Dudley’s daughter ends up being a witch. There’s open discussion of Harry and Ginny’s PTSD and the years of therapy and other treatment they’ve needed (and even know, all their children know to announce their presence and not risk creeping up on Harry and triggering a panic). The story even legitimately redeems Snape somewhat though it takes a LOT, including lots of details of him protecting students at Hogwarts during Umbridge’s year (and since the book is for adults, an increased explicit mention of just how awful it was, which makes his protecting the students stronger, emotionally speaking), his invention of a potion which saves the students from nerve damage from repeated torture spells and posthumously (for Snape) improves Neville’s mother’s mental state to the point where she can recognise her son, his absolute refusal to feel sorry for himself and accept forgiveness and his [spoiler] reincarnation as a new child to abusive parents, with his old-Snape-soul functioning as a guardian angel by taking over and/or healing his new child-self when needed. He thinks of as the child as a different person until quite late on, that’s part of the mystery, why he’s in this kid’s head. Harry ends up fostering ‘Tim’, and it helps to heal them both. ull disclosure, I had abusive parents myself, and I found the story so soothing. Some people, like Harry/Snape/Tim (and me) need to ‘find’ their family, as it openly points out. I know Snape isn’t a hero, but I sympathise with him because I know a lot of children from our backgrounds do end up in cults or otherwise harming others, and I know I could have had a similar story (of abusing others, not of being a wizard) if I’d been less fortunate than I have been. It soothed me, to see him rescued, and, in the story, Snape being rescued in that way was important for his healing. It was also important – and more applicable to a non-time-travelling audience – that both Harry and Snape saved Tim, and that saving was also important for emotional healing. You can’t save yourself, but you can make things better for other children. The story’s written by Paganaidd. It’s in multiple partners, but googling the author’s username plus “dudley’s memories” brings up her author’s page, with all the parts. Another writer, Call-Me-Cassandra, wrote the memoir Dudley wrote in Paganaidd’s universe (‘Fortunate Son’), which is definitely worth reading as part of the whole.

      The bonus of fanfiction here is that, knowing what we know now, I don’t want to give any money to JK Rowling and I’ve become suspicious of the subtext in her newer works, but I do still want to retain my enjoyment of the original books. That’s working out for me so far, but I do sometimes wonder what will happen if I have children, and would I want to share the original books with them? Or better for a full boycott there? Has anyone else pondered this? Purely theoretical, I don’t have children and, if I did, this would be several years away, so I’m not really looking for an answer, just exploring how people think about this issue and maybe what decisions they’re making.

      Oh, for romance novels, I really like stories where RomanticLead A has an abusive family or ex, but RomanticLead B loves and admires and supports A so much that A is able to realise that everything her (used for convenience, but open to non-het romance and/or men being the ones with this arc) family told her wasn’t true and there is a very satisfying scene where A stands up to them and tells them she never deserved to be treated like that, everything they said about her was untrue, and they can all go to hell. Any recommendations? The Dragon Finds Forever by Kirstin Painter is one of my favourites, and Marshmallow by Dane Griggs hits the same notes. Olivia’s Luck is kind of similar, in that the main character has the scales fall from her eyes and realises her (ex)-husband was never good enough for her, not vice versa, which isn’t as satisfying, but the book is 576 pages, with multiple plot points and extended character growth rather than JUST the romance, which is great. My biggest complaint about romance novels is that, even if they hit the emotional spot, they’re a bit thin, there’s just not enough to really sink your teeth into, so it’s great when you find the ones that do both.

      1. gendervoidkillua*

        Ooh, that Harry Potter fic sounds really interesting, mind linking it? On the fanfic side, Ive been really enjoying the ever upward series by stranglerfig, which features Harry leaving the Dursleys as a kid and growing up parented by the basilisk as well as other various magical beings. Lots of worldbuilding, especially for things like the merfolk/centaurs/acromantulae that weren’t really touched on in canon.

        For romance, I don’t read a ton of it but I did recently read Hunger Pangs: True Love Bites by Joy Demorra which doesn’t quite hit the notes you mentioned but does have a scene where Lead A realizes his abusive partner has Crossed A Line and throws her out. It’s book one of what I believe is to be a five-part series. Speaking as someone who isn’t a huge fan of romance, I found it to have some good meat to it as well so maybe you would enjoy it?

        1. Kali*

          Sure, the only reason I didn’t is links can get stuck in the mod queue.

          Most stories are here: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/1930591/paganaidd

          The main story is Snape’s Memories, but there are prequels (including one written by another author) and a short sequel. If you wanted to read all of them, I’d suggest: Severus’ Dreams, Fortunate Son (Dudley’s memoir: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/6486190/1/Fortunate-Son), Dudley’s Memories, Snape’s Memories, then Lily’s memories.

    4. GoryDetails*

      Among others:

      THE RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES 2 – a hardcover collection of Holmes-era stories about other detectives and/or arch-criminals, presented in facsimile form featuring the original layout and illustrations from the magazines where the tales first appeared. Some are still well-known – Hornung’s marvelously dark “Raffles” tales among them – while others have faded into obscurity, but I enjoyed nearly all of them one way or another.

      IRON MAGICIANS: Search for the Magic Crystals: this one’s fun, a choose-your-own-path graphic novel in a steampunk kind of setting, with subplots featuring zombies, demons, mad scientists, spies, and more. Well-designed and very entertaining. One can play it as a legit roleplaying game complete with stats and battles, or just romp through the various paths assuming a win at each battle – I tried some of each.

      THE RETURN OF CAPTAIN JOHN EMMET by Elizabeth Speller is a post-WWI mystery featuring lots of intertwined subplots; in the end there were a few too many coincidences for my taste, but overall it was entertaining.

    5. Anon5775*

      How the penguins saved Veronica by Hazel Prior was a delight! I highly recommend to those that liked A man called Ove by Frederik Backman.

    6. Bluebell*

      Just finished The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal. And also in the middle of Our Time is Now by Stacey Abrams. She is such a good writer.

    7. Tortally HareBrained*

      I read Piece of My Heart by Alafair Burke and Mary Higgins Clark this week. It’s potentially the last in their co-written Under Suspicion series. It was enjoyable in the way I find many of her later books, comforting and familiar. Not blow you out of the water mystery, but well paced and moved forward the cast of familiar characters.

      I’m also reading The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker. Not my usual fare, reading it for professional development but I’m enjoying it and finding useful tidbits to think about.

    8. allathian*

      I’m rereading The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley. I first read it as a young teen, in the mid-80s when the TV-show that was based on the book was popular. Interesting take on the race and gender relations in East Africa before World War I, seen through the eyes of a child.

    9. *daha**

      I’ve got two science fiction anthologies sitting on my desk at the top of my to-read pile. They just came from the library. They are Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora, and the follow up Dark Matter: Reading the Bones. They are both edited by Sheree Renee Thomas. Thomas has just been named the new editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I’m completely unfamiliar with her work, so this will be my introduction.

    10. udon the day away*

      I’ve been knitting up a storm, which means I’m unable to read, so instead I’ve borrowed audio books from the library. This week I’m finally reading/listening to ‘Catherine, Called Birdy’, which I’ve wanted to read for years and which I’m really, really enjoying. Prior to that it was a slew of books by Alan Garner; Boneland made me cry, and I listened to it twice in a row.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Hi! Welcome!
      I remember when I first found AAM. I read and read and read. Then one day I actually made a post. I don’t usually post online because what happens next is usually not worth it. Alison does a great job of setting rules and not tolerating nonsense. And most of the time, I read something that I can apply to what I am doing RIGHT NOW. It’s very relevant and useful. My life is better because of reading here.
      I hope you enjoy!

    2. Notthemomma*

      Welcome Mystic!
      I hope you have the chance to peruse past posts; there is a lot of good info about work, life, weird stuff. You’ll get to recognize some posters; Allison has built a great community here which we so appreciate. Glad to have you in the community.

  32. GiantPanda*

    @Alison, do you also get commission for your book recommendations from other Amazon sites? This is not the first one that sounds very interesting, but my books come from amazon.de instead of com.

  33. Stressed COVID Mover*

    Requesting tips for moving during the time of COVID! We had been thinking about buying our first house and originally planning to do so this summer-ish but then COVID happened (and we have been in the super cautious category of reacting to COVID). Our rental is lovely and so we decided to delay until things were better. The house owners told us a few months ago that they were thinking about selling the place we’re staying in so we started low-key moving towards a house purchase, but then they backed off and said they weren’t sure, they were still thinking about it, etc. Yesterday afternoon we finally got the mortgage pre-approval, and then about half an hour later, got a call from the landlord saying they’ve decided to sell and they want us out by March 1st. (I will confess that I’m a bit annoyed with them on this one; they did let us know beforehand that they were thinking about it, but it still feels like a crap move to call us a week before Christmas and tell us they’re kicking us out in 2 months in the middle of a pandemic.)

    So…. now I’m freaking out a bit. I have a great real estate agent that I called last night and we are going to work on that end, but this all feels so overwhelming. We’ve never done this before, and aren’t 100% sure what we’re even looking for, which makes this feel like an impossibly short turn-around. The market around here is really tough right now (another reason we’d been waiting), and trying to figure this out while being pandemic-ally responsible is tricky. And then I’m not sure how to move; basically all of my adult moves have involved some version of a group of friends coming and joining a moving party (which I have also done in return – this is how my friend group rolls), but COVID. On the other hand, having random movers coming into the house whose precautions we don’t know is also not a good thought.

    Anyone have any ideas, thoughts, suggestions? Anyone else managed something like this and have tips?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We’re moving apartments in a few weeks (I cannot WAIT) and having our movers pack us as well. We chose them because their reviews are stellar, our new building recommended them, and they have clearly outlined COVID policies on their website. That’s really all you can go by, barring a personal recommendation from someone you trust.

      I would rather have professional movers in my home right now than my friends. People who are paid to be efficient and safe and whose tip depends on my satisfaction with their service. Plus they’re insured.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Emphasis on the insured. When I moved, the movers accidentally put the leg of a couch through a wall. The repair and repainting to bring my wall back to a suitable state (rather than dented and patched and obviously not quite the same shade of taupe) was a