weekend open thread – February 27-28, 2021

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: You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism, by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar. This is two sisters, one of them a comedian, writing about the crazy racist things that have happened to the other, and I didn’t know that humor and horror and fury could be combined so effectively. It’s excellent, and if you’re white it’s eye-opening even if you thought you already knew.

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

{ 1,277 comments… read them below }

  1. Analog*

    Anyone have some advice about choosing a realtor to sell your home in a very hot, seller’s market?  

    I’m selling my home since I’m relocating for work, and so far I’ve interviewed a handful of realtors who’ve given me pretty similar comparative market analyses and proposed valuations, and I’ve currently narrowed the field down to two, who I’ll call Percival and Wakeem.

    Percival came highly recommended from a savvy friend who’s used him before several times.  He also seems very savvy, honest, well-connected, not pushy, and like he would advocate for my best interests.  When I interviewed him and explained I was interviewing several realtors before making a decision, Percival was the most generous of the realtors I talked to, and immediately started opening his phone contacts and connecting me with contractors and places in town he’s used for certain jobs, whereas most other realtors stayed pretty tight-lipped.  But on the downside, Percival is winding down his career, doesn’t have many clients right now, and is working mainly on a referral basis.  He isn’t using the latest and greatest in photography or the most modern staging (though Percival does pay for staging), and he doesn’t do videography, doesn’t do much beyond the standard online advertising, and doesn’t do much direct mail advertising/flyers.  I have some cosmetic damage in my home (nothing that impairs its functionality or that would make it fail inspection), and he has advised me to get bids to do repairs but not to invest them in myself (some of them would be very expensive and hard to do while I still live here — i.e., refinishing floors).  That way they can be included in the buyer’s agent’s materials so that the buyers have an accurate estimate of the cost of repairs should they choose to pursue them.  He was also suggesting other negotiation tactics, like saying appliances aren’t included in the sale, but then offering them in as a concession later. 

    Wakeem is with a “luxury” agency and also lives in my neighborhood, so he seems to have the best handle on how to market my home in particular.  He’s mid-career with a lot of active listings right now.  He offers the latest and greatest in photography, videography, and does fantastic, modern staging work, but that would come out of my own pocket (probably at least $1000).  Wakeem’s agency puts out beautiful printed material (I’ve received a lot of their flyers in the mail — that’s how I found Wakeem) and does great online marketing.  Wakeem has advised me to do pretty substantial cosmetic upgrades to my home myself before listing (which’d probably be several thousand dollars out-of-pocket, which is a lot of money for me right now), and thinks that would get me top dollar (but even at the lower end of Wakeem’s estimated sale price, which is where he thinks I’d land if I don’t do those upgrades, I’d still be making a substantial profit from the sale of my home).  Wakeem also seems like a pretty fierce negotiator who’d work for my interests if I signed with him.

    Does anyone who’s been in a similar situation have any advice?  Any realtors here want to weigh in?  Would your decision to pick Percival or Wakeem be different if this were a buyer’s market vs. a seller’s market?

    1. PdCL*

      Honestly – I might consider passing on both or getting another opinion. Photos and video are a really important part of selling a house right now. Some serious buyers are less likely to take a chance on touring a home if the photos/video isn’t great because of the pandemic. Really consider if the upgrades will get you a significant return on the investment. If not, it might be worth listing without the improvements or only some of them especially because it is such a sellers’ market. You can always say no to upgrades. I sold my house this summer – right when some of the covid restrictions were getting lifted. The original goal had been to do some improvements. I ended up not being able to do them because of the logistics and covid. The house still sold above asking.

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      My Mom and best friend both just went through this process (seller’s market, a lot of the process happening during COVID). My Mom made a ton of cosmetic changes to her home and paid for staging. It all paid itself back in the sale — but it was a months of stress and work. Depending on your situation, that might not be worth it to you. My friend prioritized speed so they didn’t make as many changes, but they were happy with the sale and ready to move on.

      I’d think a lot about what your goals are with the sale (ie: you want to sell for profit, but at what cost? How much more would you need from the sale to justify the effort of the house works? Do you value a quick turn-around or do you have all the time in the world?) and try to let those guide your decision.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        Agree. YOU say it’s “a very hot, seller’s market” — so if you don’t want to have to do a lot, go w/P. I worked for a realtor writing house profiles, etc. and know that it depends on how much you want to do. It’ll sell, the same group of buyers will see it.

        P. might be more there for you than W. — W. may spread himself too thin. For multiple offers you want your realtor’s attention, and judgment.

        If you’re up for more work, go w/W. — but do you know what changes your buyer will want? Some sellers guess at that and are wrong. Big waste.

        1. Joan Rivers*

          One of my homes was a duplex and I found it easy to rent the one I’d lived in because I had plants and mirrors and and tried to harmonize the house w/my furnishings.

          A well placed mirror can “punch a hole” in a wall and double the light — there are tricks like that a designer knows. It’s free. Study the decor magazines, don’t just spend a fortune on a contractor.

          Renters and buyers both can disappoint — you want the one who truly appreciates the place! They can back out or create problems, the goal has to be the one who WANTS IT.

    3. Forrest*

      Oh god, first one for me, no question. Wake en sounds EXHAUSTING and I’d just want to sell the house, not spend months spending money and getting tons of repairs done. Unless the potential extra money is going to make a massive difference to your lifestyle or what you can afford in the new city, I’d go Percival.

      1. twocents*

        This. And realistically, refinishing the floors is going to be a net loss. Despite what HGTV suggests, very few repairs actually increase the home value. People expect the homes they purchase to live in have functional floors, water, whatever.

        Also, if the area really is a seller’s market, the extra time and expense won’t be needed.

        1. Joan Rivers*

          “HW floors!” are a plus and if you stain them the “wrong” color it could turn off a buyer.
          Even a fancy backsplash could; who’d want to rip out a new one cause they hate it? And what if the work you have done gets botched? New area rugs and runners can camouflage wear and new paint always helps.

          I flipped 4 homes for a profit and my goal was — “neutralize.” Painted some cheap dark cupboards white so the kitchen looked fresh. Buyer may still replace them but they can see it looks clean and bright. You’re giving them the “picture” of what it can be. No “ewww” factor.

          Your taste and/or W.’s trendy ideas may not please a buyer. You’re selling LOCATION and setting and feel and the numbers as well as aesthetics. Keep a perspective on the total package and not just interior details.

      2. The Cryptozoologist*

        Disagreed. You want someone who will advocate zealously and energetically for your interests as possible, to maximize your value. That is not someone who is winding down his career and is uninterested in proper staging and marketing.

        1. Joan Rivers*

          Wisdom can be more valuable than ambition. W. may not have the judgment when it counts. If it’s such a hot “seller’s market” zealotry isn’t necessary.

          Be careful about trendy changes — expensive granite tops can look dated now.
          And if your house has a vintage charm but you fill it w/Ikea furniture, or it’s modern and you’ve got grandma’s leftovers, there’s a clash.
          Go WITH the house’s style, don’t fight it. Go neutral, maybe, but don’t fill it w/”what you have” — think about harmony. Buyers can imagine what they’d do but it looks sad to see a “character” house filled w/futons, etc., that clash.
          You’re telling a story. They may decide to take out a wall, but when they see the place it’s more inviting to see home and furnishings in harmony.

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      I would go with Percival, but this is because I place a lot of weight on recommendations from people I trust. This is a frequent issue. You need to hire someone for a one-off job, not an ongoing relationship. Often you aren’t qualified to assess what he is telling you. So how do you choose one? A recommendation from someone who has used them in the past and was happy with the results is a great way. This is true whether you are looking for a plumber or a lawyer.

      The main strike against Percival seems to be that he isn’t doing bells and whistles. How much do those matter? I honestly don’t know. I would think they matter less in a seller’s market. Might a potential buyer skip this one because there isn’t a video? I suppose it is possible, but I would worry a lot more about such pickiness in a buyer’s market.

      1. Quiet Liberal*

        Plus, most buyer’s agents will go to the home and do a FaceTime tour first. If people are serious about home buying, they aren’t going to need all the slick sales gimmicks to lure them in in a sellers market. As TOD says below, fancy marketing right now is probably attracting a lot more lookyloos, than serious buyers. Who here doesn’t look at real estate websites for fun sometimes? And, the ones with the drone shots and staged video walk throughs are certainly the most fun! Lucky you, it’s a sellers market!

      2. Quinalla*

        Yes, I would also go with Pervical for the same reason – a personal recommendation holds a lot of weight with me. I also personally don’t put much value in flyers, I think it being online is the most important thing. I do get that he isn’t as good possibly with taking perfect photos/video, but perhaps you can hire someone to do that if you think you need it.

        If you are happy with the profit you will make already, I personally would not do a bunch of improvements. If it is simple, inexpensive things this some repainting, new mailbox, etc. – sure, but redoing floors, big remodels stuff, don’t do it!

        Good luck! Selling can be very stressful, though hopefully with this seller’s market a bit less so.

      3. Imtheone*

        Good photography and video are important. You could pay for that and arrange for Percival to use them. Online advertising is also more important than ever. Does Percival work at an agency with younger realtors? Maybe you can get one of them to help Percival with the online advertising.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      Given it’s a seller’s market and you mentioned you’d still make a profit without making an upgrades/fixing issues, I’d go with Percival. And since it’s such a seller’s market right now, I don’t think the lack of video or high-end photography will make much difference. My friend just sold her home and she said the pandemic hasn’t deterred the serious buyers. My former relator said the same thing. It has only deterred the people that aren’t really seriously looking, or the ones that go to open houses just for fun.

      I think his advice the get estimates on what needs to be done and present them to buyers is good. People can see upfront what they’re getting into and decide if it’s a deal-breaker. If you’re going to make a profit anyway, I wouldn’t put money and effort into doing the work unless you want absolute top dollar.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I’d go with Percival also. Percival sounds level headed, ethical and fair minded. It’s a sellers’ market so I am not so sure you need all the gee-whiz features. But I am one to focus on substance, not flash so this leaves me kind of jaded when I think I am seeing a lot of flash. In short, I am guessing, just like you.

        What you could do is set it up with Percival that you want the house sold in x time frame. If it’s not sold you’d like to try other realtors.
        As far as pricing- it’s all trade offs. I was not willing to do a bunch of improvements on my father’s house. Yet, I wanted to unload it before winter. (It would be a nightmare going through winter with a 100 acre parcel that was an hour and a half away from me.) I did two small projects and I accepted a lower price just to be done with it.
        It’s nice to seek the best price possible, but in the end other considerations may take priority over price. My recommendation is instead of seeking the ideal outcome identify an outcome that you can live with. Then select your realtor accordingly.

      2. Clisby*

        I agree. My husband and I have bought 2 houses together, and both times we made offers for the house “as is.” We had no interest in finding things for the owner to repair – they have every incentive to do it on the cheap, while our incentive was to do it right/the way we wanted it. Both times, the sellers took our offer over others because it was so easy for them.

    6. bunniferous*

      It’s a seller’s market. I work in real estate and my husband did as well. I would choose Percival myself. While bells and whistles are nice, the experience that someone like Percival has is invaluable.

      If it were a buyer’s market I would consider Wakeem.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        Yes, P. has a track record and referrals.

        You’re HIRING someone, just like if you’re a manager, so P.’s great references mean more than W.’s fireworks.

    7. Morning reader*

      I would go with Percival also. He’s experienced and probably has all the right contacts in your area, and if he has only a few listings, he’ll be working them. Would Wakeen show your house personally or would it be assigned to a newer agent? This was my experience in a slower market a few years ago. The small agency realtor with just a few listings was more successful selling my condo than the prominent big agency realtor I tried at first.

    8. Call me St. Vincent*

      As someone who recently sold my house in a week with seven offers and a realtor I loved, I can’t overstate how important video tours and great photos are for selling your house quickly and especially during a pandemic! Also drone photography is really helpful too and very eye catching. Remember most people are using internet sites to find houses to look at! Definitely don’t go with someone who doesn’t offer both!

      1. Joan Rivers*

        It’s a “hot seller’s market” so the same pool of buyers find out about any house on the market.
        They can look on the MLS in their chosen area and compare price, size, prop. taxes, etc.

        A wise buyer starts w/LOCATION and the other numbers, then falls in love. You can change aesthetics but not sq. footage.

    9. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I would absolutely go with Percival.

      I know quite a few people who have sold and purchased homes recently. None have had videos or drone photography, and it made no difference. I’ve seen plenty of homes with bad photos sell, and plenty of homes with all the bells and whistles marketing sit. It is very much a sellers’ market.

      A couple I know had 5+ showings for their home scheduled before the photos were even posted.

      Also, it sounds like the investment for Percival would be relatively small. If he fails to sell your home, you can always change to Wakeem, but I wouldn’t invest that kind of time/money right now.

      1. Clisby*

        I don’t have any feel for the housing market in general – we’re not interested in selling our house. However, I have to think this varies considerably by area. Where we live, it’s common for homeowners to get cold-calls from realtors asking if we’d be interested in selling, because the demand for housing in my neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods is way higher than the number of people trying to sell.

        1. MagicUnicorn*

          Same in my “hot seller’s market.” Friends who put their house on the market had multiple cash offers over the listing price believe any photos were even taken, within three hours of the house being listed. This is not a one-time incident, either, but has been the norm in our market for about two years now.

    10. Not A Manager*

      I’m going to swim against the tide and go with Wakeem. Due to changes in my own circumstances and in those of close relatives, I’ve staged and sold several properties and I’ve looked at a lot of properties for sale. All of those bells and whistles matter for getting the most eyes on your property, and in a hot market a lot of interest can mean bids over asking price or even a bidding war. But you won’t get that if you don’t get that initial traffic.

      You mention the floors and you mention Wakeem wanting cosmetic changes, but I don’t share other people’s assumptions that Wakeem wants you to refinish the floors. This might be cynical, but in my experience the cosmetic changes that are useful for polishing up a property for sale are completely unrelated to actual, expensive structural repairs that the place needs. My strong guess is that Wakeem is fine with you leaving the floors so long as you artfully move furniture, etc. to show the rooms in their best light. My guess is that the changes he wants you to make are a new coat of paint, fixing any obvious dings in the cabinets, maybe upgrading certain details like door knobs or cabinet pulls or light fixtures, etc.

      My agent was fanatic about things like being sure that all the lightbulbs were the same temperature, removing any window screens so that the glass was unobstructed, paring cabinets and closets contents down to a “House Beautiful” minimum, etc. The place was truly unlivable by a normal person while we were showing it, but it showed beautifully. If this is Wakeen’s approach and it seems like a big pain in the butt to you, I would encourage you to consider it anyway.

      Also, take a look yourself at Percival and Wakeem’s marketing materials, not with an eye to “who is the biggest pain to work with” but as if you were an eager home buyer. Which properties are you more enthusiastic about, and why? I predict that your response has nothing to do with their roofs, furnaces, or wiring and a lot to do with whether all the hangers in the spotless closet match each other.

      1. Disco Janet*

        Your last sentence here threw me. As someone who recently bought a home…why on earth would matching hangers in a spotless closet sway me more than the actual bones of the house? They’re hangers. And I know me – the closet will end up a mess regardless of how nice the past owner got it looking for showings.

        1. Not A Manager*

          I can’t answer for you, and obviously you know yourself best. My experience with other people, and with myself, is that there is an intellectual calculus involving an awareness of how much repairs will cost and how I will actually utilize a space, and there is a visceral response of “ooooh shiny” to a beautiful, clean space – *especially* if it has what I call “aspirational” aspects such as perfect organization. It triggers an emulation response in me that goes “oh if I lived here MY cabinets would be neatly organized! MY clothes would be perfectly arranged.”

          I’m not saying that the “ooooh shiny” response would override my economic calculus and I would buy an unsuitable house. But it would – and has – absolutely gotten me in the door to look at spaces that I wouldn’t have looked at otherwise. It’s gotten me to have a second walk-through when I otherwise would have vetoed a place. And the issue isn’t that the seller needs to have EVERY person magically bid on their house when it’s not right for them. The issue is that there are people who are more on the fence than I personally was – who have a different economic calculus or who weigh other things differently – and then that “ooooh shiny” really can keep them in the process when otherwise they might drop out.

          If careful staging didn’t make an actual difference in outcomes, people wouldn’t do it. That doesn’t mean that all staging always maximizes your sale price, but there is a reason that it’s become the industry standard.

          Here’s a true story – my husband and I walked through an architectural gem in a lovely neighborhood. It was, on paper, half the size we needed for our family. But it was SO carefully designed and SO well staged that we spent about three days trying to convince each other that we could make it work. It was literally only when I started to list our child’s possessions and try to figure out how we could fit them into his room that we – reluctantly – gave up the dream. Now sure, you can say “show me the money. Your seller doesn’t care that it took you three days not to bid on his house, he only cares that you didn’t bid on it.” But if it was that hard for us to give up on an obviously unsuitable house, I have to imagine that there were other people, more at the margins, who decided that maybe that house could work for them after all.

          1. Not A Manager*

            And I think this works even more in the other direction. Even being very aware of staging as a technique, my husband and I had a lot of trouble looking PAST cluttered rooms and bad paint colors and tatty carpet to try to see the good bones of places that might work for us.

            We looked at places with good paint colors that were clearly slapped on, and carpet that looked good but was super cheap, and we looked at places with old bad paint and old cruddy carpet. In both cases we KNEW that we would have to repaint and re-carpet. No question. But it was easier to imagine a clean, pretty comfortable life in the place with the new staging than it was in the place with the old stuff.

            1. TechWorker*

              This is interesting because when I was house hunting it was almost the opposite? We viewed one house on the same road we eventually bought on that had been ‘done up’ but definitely on the cheap (bad painting, kitchen not in great shape, cheap flooring). They’d priced it at £20k more than the one that was not done up, but to us it was like ‘well either way everything needs doing so we’ll take the cheaper one’. I guess if they had been the same price it might have been a different call!

    11. Dan*

      As a soon-to-be prospective buyer (in a hot market, to boot):

      You focused a bit on the bells and whistles of marketing materials. My first thought was that in 2021, you’re worried about *printed* materials? Who is actually going to even see them?

      I’ve been browsing Redfin a bit, and here’s my thoughts. I recognize that some of this is personal preference, but TBH, I dislike video for a lot of uses. Mostly it’s because my mind works faster than the video is displaying, and if the narrator is spending too much time on something I don’t care about, I need to find the end of that segment and it’s not always easy.

      For me, all that’s really needed is carefully selected set of 12-24 pictures or so. The range needs to be balanced — I’ve seen listings where the 12 of 15 shots are of the outside, and only three of the inside. I’ve seen others where you’ll get six shots of the kitchen with the camera angle adjusted ever so slightly.

      That’s all to say, this buyer doesn’t need much for a listing to be effective. At least from the internet side of things, I need to know three things: 1) Where is the place located (online listings make that easy), 2) What are the costs? (Again, good online systems make that easy) and 3) Does this place excite me/can I see myself living there? The trick to #3 is effective delivery, which isn’t the same as marketing flash. Side note: I’m an engineer, and spend a lot of my day playing with hard data. If sales people (home sales or otherwise) are putting too much effort into the sizzle and not much into the steak, then my first question is what are they hiding? A good steak sells itself.

      This is all to say that if the only service that Wakeem is providing is flashy marketing, that’s just not compelling.

      So for you, I think the real question is how much effort you want to put into selling your place vs how much $ you’re trying to get for it. Only you can answer that for yourself, and if you’re leaning toward “less effort”, then Wakeem will probably be frustrating for you to work with, pushing you to do cosmetic stuff you have no interest in.

    12. AnnieG*

      Wakeen having a lot of active listings sounds like he’d have less time to spend on yours, esp if you don’t spring for all the upgrades and repairs (because that translates into a lower sales price and thus a lower commission for him).

      In a hot seller’s market I’d declutter and deep clean but skip the upgrades. Basic photos will be fine if you take them at the time of day when each room gets the best natural light and get all the junk out of the pics (clear the counters, remove the trash can and pet food bowls, close toilet lids, make the bed reeeallly neatly).

    13. Overeducated*

      It sounds like the choice is whether you want to focus on a quicker, easier sale or maximizing sale price. Frankly, if you stand to profit well either way and are likely to put a lot of money into cosmetic improvements up front, I’d go with Percival and the more painless sale process, unless you think the differences in likely sale price are truly substantial. Definitely wouldn’t go with Wakeen unless there’s at least a five figure estimated difference.

    14. Mstr*

      Are you restricted to one plan or another? I’m not sure you have to be so locked in to what each will do — for example, can you go with Wakeem but still choose not to do upgrades yourself & just provide work estimates? Some buyers might be fine with that as they can do the work to their own specifications. Alternatively, you could choose Percival & also get an outside photo/video/ staging service (which you’d be paying an additional, separate charge for with Wakeem anyway), couldn’t you?

    15. Analog*

      Thank you for your feedback, everyone!

      One piece of relevant info is that if I did all the upgrades Wakeem suggested, it’s probably going to be an entire month’s salary for me right now, or like 4 mortgage payments. Though my new organization will be paying for my move (either upfront or reimbursement over several months once I start), I also have several pricey non-real estate expenses in the next few months (probably ~3 mortgage payments’ worth) before I move that I will have to pay out-of-pocket. I have savings to cover everything if needed without having to put anything on credit, but I have no guarantees that these upgrades will translate into a higher selling price that would make back the money I put in + more.

      By comparison, the salary of the role I will be moving for is substantially higher than what I’m making now. I feel like the maximal gain from doing upgrades now would be *maybe* 1 month’s salary at my new job, but more like two weeks’ salary. Honestly, what I want the most is a minimally stressful selling and relocating process (since I’m still living and working from home during this whole process, and I have an easily-stressed-out furry housemate), so I’d rather price my home to sell pretty quickly when it goes on the market rather than spend the next few months moving in and out for renovations and being on the market for a prolonged amount of time if the “reach” market price is too high.

      1. Blurred*

        Spouse and I have sold our houses (with realtors) a few times and while we never got TOP dollar, we at least broke even and those houses went fast. For us, getting things locked down with minimum effort on our part was worth every penny.

      2. The teapots are on fire*

        Well, then, your priorities are very clear and Percival sounds like the knight for your quest.

    16. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      As someone who sold a house in June, and just bought a house (closing Friday), I would absolutely go with Percival. In a seller’s market, you don’t need lots of expensive cosmetic upgrades. If your house is not painted bizarre colors, and is not run down, all you really need to do is clean and de-clutter – make it look like you are ready to move tomorrow. I would argue that professional staging is a waste of money in this market as well. A realtor who wants to make slick brochures, hold open houses, etc. is more interested in marketing his/her firm than actually selling your house. We had to do some painting and a little cosmetic stuff that cost less than a few hundred dollars, and our house sold in 1 day. The house we just bought also sold in 1 day, and we had to go $25k over the asking price to get it. It sounds like Wakeem has his standard list of stuff to do, and is not paying attention to the current conditions. Also, the highest offer is also not always the best offer. You want a buyer who has a good down payment, and little or no contingencies. We actually got selected over a higher offer because we had a large down payment and no house to sell.

    17. MissGirl*

      My friend does staging and she says it’s shocking how much new carpet and a fresh coat of paint does to increase offers. Putting in a carpet allowance in the offer to let the sellers choose their own doesn’t help the house sell. People are very visual.

      1. Clisby*

        I’ve heard this before, and it really surprises me because I hate carpet. All I’m going to be thinking is, “What are the floors like under there, because if I buy this house one the first things I’ll do is rip out any carpet.”

    18. university minion*

      In my city, the only thing that matters is the price when the house is first listed.
      People who take an “aim high” approach end up with houses that sit, no matter how nicely designed or updated they are, and even subsequent reductions often don’t get them moving. They end up cancelling the listing and trying again after a few months.

      A lower asking price almost always results in multiple offers and a selling price over asking, very quickly.

    19. Cascadia*

      Hi there! I just sold my house in May and bought a new house in September in a very hot market (Seattle). A few thoughts – as a seller and a buyer – printed materials mean almost nothing in our market. I’m on redfin everyday as a buyer, and I don’t even bother to take the flyer when I tour a house because I know which houses I’m looking at. There are no open houses allowed here, which I think is what a lot of people use the flyers for – and the only people allowed to tour houses are people who have already been pre-approved for a mortgage, so every person who sees your house is serious about looking and has all your info on the web. For me as a buyer, it was all about the house and I didn’t give a hoot about materials. I did like the 3-d walk throughs, but it wasn’t the make or break for sure. I would say only maybe 50% of the houses had them, but we went to see every house that interested us, regardless of what their online materials were like. You also mentioned that you want someone who is going to do right by you in negotiation – just wanted to mention that your seller’s agent is LEGALLY required to do everything they can to get you the most possible money. They are financially responsible only to you. Plus, they take a percentage of whatever the house sells for, so it behooves them for it to sell for the max possible price too. I’m not sure if you need to do the work or not – I would say most places I toured at least did fresh paint – especially over weird colors – plus a deep cleaning and most places were staged. That said, you get to set your limits of what you’re willing to do. This past summer, most houses we were looking at in Seattle had between 10 and 40 offers! I think almost every market in the US right now is currently a seller’s market, but some are way hotter than others – can you try and talk to other people in your area who have sold homes recently and find out what they decided to do? The other thing to consider is asking Percival to see listings for other houses he has recently sold. Check out the quality of the photos yourself. Would you consider buying that house? How does it compare to other houses in your area? I’m leaning towards Percival for you at this point, though I think you’ll be fine with either. You are the homeowner, you get to decide what work you want to do no matter what your realtor recommends. Percival sounds like he matches up with your expectations, he pays for staging, and if the market is as good as you say it is then the difference between good and great pictures or lack of printed materials won’t really matter. Good luck!

      1. Not A Manager*

        “Plus, they take a percentage of whatever the house sells for, so it behooves them for it to sell for the max possible price too.”

        This analysis is slightly flawed. It behooves THE SELLER for it to sell for the max possible price. (Sometimes a seller is “motivated” – the way the OP seems to be – and they have other considerations like convenience or time, but in general they want the max bucks.) But it behooves the agent to sell for the optimal commission taking into account their time and effort.

        If I get an offer that’s 12% under my asking price, I might be better off to wait for another bid even if it takes a few more weeks and a bunch more showings. But it’s probably better for my agent to encourage me to negotiate. They get a guaranteed commission and they don’t have to put in additional time and resources to attract a new buyer.

        I saw an interesting study about this a few years ago. Real estate agents who buy and sell investment properties on their own behalf tend to keep them on the market for longer when they are selling, compared to how long they list their clients’ properties. One explanation for this is that they want to maximize their own investment return, and so they are willing to put in the additional time and effort to find the right buyer, but they want to optimize their commissions on other people’s sales. (There are other possible explanations as well, including that sellers are sometimes “motivated,” whereas when you’re holding property for investment you have less reason to need to sell it quickly, but the study was interesting.)

        I mention this not in any way to accuse real estate agents of being shady – I don’t think that at all – but as a client it’s good to recognize where your incentives and the agent’s incentives might diverge, especially when you’re considering that 12% lowball offer.

        On the OTHER hand, it’s also something to take into account when it comes to the agent suggesting pricey upgrades before listing. I’m a big fan of heavy staging. But if an agent were suggesting expensive repairs, I would for sure remember that the agent would benefit from any additional sales price, whereas all the repairs are coming out of my pocket.

    20. Percival!*

      If the market is really hot, I would go with Percival. Maybe get a few more realtors in to really get a sense of what your home could fetch.

      If after a certain time, your home isn’t selling with Percival, you can switch realtors. But in a hot market, that shouldn’t happen.

      How much more $$ does Wakeen think he can get out of the sale vs Percival? Listing a house that needs upgrades at $500k and a move-in ready house at $550k is probably not enough of a difference to make the hassle and time worth it (cost of repairs, hassle, then of course higher selling price = more commission so the profit of the repairs is likely not as good as it first looks).

      Without the latest tech you might not attract as many prospective buyers but this shouldnt matter in a white hot market. The good realtors will be lining up to show your house before it is even on the market.

  2. Come On Eileen*

    Have any of you purchased/used a fold-up kayak? I didn’t even know this was a thing! A friend bought one a few weeks ago and she loves it. She and I previously rented kayaks together. I’d love to get your thoughts on them – pros and cons. I don’t have a ton of storage space and I like how portable it sounds. She said the only downside she’s experienced so far is that when it’s windy, it can get blown around more easily than a traditional kayak.

    1. Pop*

      This is not quite what you asked, but my close friend has an inflatable kayak (Intex). They are significantly cheaper than a regular kayak (his double was on sale for $80, although he did buy one nicer paddle), and store pretty small. We have used it at least fifteen times over the last two summers, so it’s been a great investment. It is significantly more flimsy than a regular kayak and would probably not stand up to wind. We mostly use it to float down rivers (which we like more than lakes), which has been lovely. I would love a kayak but also don’t have the money or storage space for one, and this feels like a nice substitute, although it’s definitely not as nice as the real thing.

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      Not my own, but my friend who purchased one recently loves that it’s light and that she can carry it herself as a small older woman. She paddles only on sheltered flat bays and it works great for her. It’s unclear how it perform on open water.

    3. Girasol*

      I have an Oru and I love it. It replaced a canoe that we could no longer heft onto and off of the truck rack, even together, so it gathered dust for years while I wished I could go paddling. The Oru is made out of white plastic corrugate (like a mail tote box) and folds out from its luggage shape to its kayak shape held together with same kind of straps and snap latches like on a daypack. Mine weighs about 25 pounds. It takes me maybe ten minutes to set up and half that to refold. Folded, it fits inside the back of my compact car and I can even get my bike and camping gear in with it with room to spare. Mine is the Bay model, 12 feet long, sleek and fast and stable as a duck. It’s great on lakes and good on rivers up to a point; it’s not as sturdy as a solid kayak if you have roiling whitewater in mind. I’ve only once had it in a really challenging wind but I don’t think I had any more trouble with it than I would have had in any boat in such weather. I love to take it when I’m going somewhere so if I see some interesting water I can go paddle on it, but it’s also great to get up early and toss it into the car with a thermos of coffee and get my morning exercise on the water while watching the sun rise.

      1. Come On Eileen*

        Thank you! The Oru Bay is the one I’ve been eyeing since my friend told me about hers. It looks like the best fit for me, so your feedback is helpful. Thank you!

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My boss loves hers and has raved about it for a couple years, but I don’t know any details about it. /semi-useless comment :)

    5. Anonymath*

      My husband and I both purchased matching folding kayaks through a Kickstarter. I had been wanting a kayak for ages, but we didn’t have room to store a traditional one and we don’t have roof racks or a large vehicle that could carry them. The folding ones were affordable and after watching the video, pretty fast to assemble. I can lift, carry, assemble, and disassemble without assistance. They’re strong enough to hold both my husband and me in one, but with two we can take our son (and not fight over steering). Ours is made by Tucktec. We have just gotten it this winter, so our only paddling experience with it was in a nearby lake, but it handled well there.

    6. fposte*

      The one warning I’d have is that this is the kind of pandemic-relieving equipment that has featured in a ton of fraudulent online marketing this past year. So if you don’t buy it in person, make sure you’re buying from an established merchant with external confirmation if long duration and good reviews.

    7. Jean (just Jean) who maybe someday will do more outdoor activities...*

      No suggestions but thank you for giving me a brief and happy daydream, in which I was a proficient paddler & kayaker with adequate free time and no fear of deep water!
      Happy trails (waters?) to all of you kayakers. I’ll think of you while enjoying my Sierra Club Engagement Calendar.

    8. HamlindigoBlue*

      It would probably be OK for calm water, but I wouldn’t go out in any largish body of water where rip currents or undertows are common. They’re just too lightweight. We had a kayaker go missing near me one or two summers back. He ventured off in a folding kayak alone and never returned. He didn’t notice the caution flags on the beach, and they found the kayak not too far from his launch site, but they found him the next state down the coast line.

      1. HamlindigoBlue*

        Just to note, the family did release a statement that he was an experienced kayaker too. I just wouldn’t trust a foldable kayak in open water.

    9. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      Check out Tucktec! I have 2 thru a kickstarter campaign, although the company was there before kickstarter (the campaign was for fully recycled plastic kayaks). I love my yaks for recreational kayaking. I throw them in the back seat and DONE. Plus, waaaaaaaaaaaay cheaper than Orus :)

    10. Jayess*

      This is a question where the answer really depends on a lot of variables!

      If it helps at all, my bona fides are that I spent 3 years sea kayak guiding in the PNW, and teaching/TA-ing kayak courses, and worked at an outdoor store for a further 3 years after that. Doing sales made me realize how many different needs and wants there are when it comes to recreational boating. I don’t have a lot of experience with inflatable kayaks personally, but I am aware that there is a wide market of inflatable craft available.

      Here are some things I think are worth considering:

      1. Distance you’d like to travel in your kayak/time on the water. A lot of the garden variety, Walmart/Costco level inflatable boats are in the 6 – 8 foot range, and often do not have a skeg or rudder on them. What this means is that they don’t track (go straight) as well as a heavier, longer boat. This can be fine if you’re planning on short trips with lots of breaks, but if you’re wanting to paddle for longer than say, 30 minutes at a time, you will absolutely get frustrated.

      2. Seating. Kayaks are already not the most comfortable of seating situations – they require a lot of core strength, and they don’t have a lot of back support. Inflatable kayaks sadly often have nothing but a cursory nod to lower back support/seating. This is relevant to point one – how long are you going to be in there? If you have a chance to sit in your prospective boat, imagine sitting cross-legged and sitting ram-rod straight in it… do you get a modicum of support in that position?

      3. For lack of a better word, terrain. Consider your beaches, shores, and boat launches – inflatable material varies, but if you’re on super rocky/oystery PNW beaches, any boat you purchase is going to get the heck beaten out of it. With a solid boat, that’s frustrating and damaging to the hull but not a deal breaker – if you put a hole in your inflatable on a particularly nasty oyster, your day is done. Also consider how windy your region is – your friend is very right, kayaks are already easily bullied by wind, but inflatables even more so.

      To be clear, I’ve seen some absolutely boss inflatable boats, including a home-made one that somebody did a 5 day tour in, on rocky/oystery shoreline in an area known for inflow/outflow winds. My partner is also with a rescue organization, and they often use inflatable boats specifically because they’re light, easy to store, and easy to repair.

      This got long, but if you have any other questions about specifics, I’m currently sitting at the front door of my workplace screening people coming in, so I’ve got time to answer :P

      1. Come On Eileen*

        This is great, thank you! I do have experience in an inflatable and suspect I’d prefer either a fold up or a modular. My friend is going to let me borrow her fold up to see if I fit in it and how I like it, so I can make a better decision. I suspect most of my kayaking will be short (1-2 hours) on calm lakes, since that’s what I’ve been doing so far in life.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      All torties are beautiful! :) I love their coloring and they tend to be sweet, though they do tend to have the “tortie ‘tude.”

      1. puffle*

        My tortie certainly has it in spades- though she is also very sweet and cuddly. Case in point, she’s currently snuggled up to me on the sofa

        1. Seal*

          Mine is a diva and queen of the castle. My boy kitties get their food in the same place every day, but my girl goes and stands where SHE wants to be fed. But she’s also a very sweet and affectionate girl who squeaks and chirps when she’s happy.

  3. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread. What brought you joy this week?

    News of new Pokémon games have me joyful. And hot Earl Grey tea always is a small joy for me.

    Please share your joys!

    1. Scc@rlettNZ*

      I’ve almost finished two art pieces for an upcoming exhibition (in case anyone is wondering, I’m in New Zealand where we are very fortunate to be able to go about our lives with few restrictions).

      The theme of the exhibition is Miaow and as I love cats it’s right up my alley. I’m a mosaic artist and my studio is my happy place.

    2. Never Nicky*

      It was my birthday last weekend and we indulged in a cheese and cider tasting from an award-winning cheesemonger who specialises in farmhouse cheeses from very small scale British producers. It was glorious!

    3. HelloInsomnia*

      I love this thread!

      – Crusty bread with fancy olive oil
      – A warm bowl of pasta with tomato sauce
      – Borrowing a childhood favorite e-book from the library to binge read
      – Skipping work one afternoon to go sit in the sun at the beach with my mom
      – Changing the sheets and misting the bed with some soothing essential oils
      – Virtual game night with friends (jackbox is great!)
      – A mug of hot chai tea with cream

      1. Jay*

        A few years ago I treated myself and purchased the full series of two of my favorite childhood authors. I binge-read them when I need the book equivalent of a soft blanket and hot cocoa.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      I look forward to this thread! After using a deteriorating bedspread that I picked up at a yard sale many years ago, I ordered a handmade patchwork quilt online that recently arrived. It’s so beautiful and it feels good to support an individual craftswoman.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        A friend of mine is a quilter, and I am truly amazed at how much heart and soul she puts into her quilts. They are works of art. It means the world to her whenever someone buys one from her…that means she can buy more quilting supplies!
        Thank you for supporting a sister artist!

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          That’s great to hear. I specifically looked for an individual quilter that I could support. I generally try to support individual small businesses and it seems especially important to do so whenever possible during the pandemic.

    5. Might Be Spam*

      My mother got her first vaccine shot Tuesday and her 89th birthday was yesterday.
      Her new caregiver started this week. The previous one didn’t want to wear a mask and drove my mother without working seat belts in her car. Mom didn’t want to complain and so didn’t tell us. Apparently there were other complaints so the caregiver doesn’t work at the agency anymore.

      1. Quiet Liberal*

        My Mom just got her first vaccine on Wednesday! She’s 85 and has been holed up at home since March, when my Dad died. She’s doing great despite the crappy year it’s been. Can’t wait until we are all vaccinated!

    6. ..Kat..*

      Hot Earl Gray tea with lemon! I can’t drink it at work because of the logistics, but it is a treat at home.

    7. StellaBella*

      Once every 2-3 months I buy take away food from the Lebanese place around the corner. I enjoyed my falafel, hummous, pita, Beirut beer, and baklava this week for dinner. :)

    8. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      My toddler is finally starting to get old enough for picture books (as opposed to just board books) and I’m just really enjoying how lovely and moving they can be.

      I got to re-read my favorite one from when I was a child, and it was just as good as I remembered.

    9. Julia*

      I know, that Pokémon Direct was so exciting! I had already decided to buy the Snap remake (loved that one as a kid), and I’ll probably get the others too because Pokémon is the only game I play on the Switch anyway (and the only other game I play (on PC) is The Sims), so why not?

      Also love tea and had some nice cups last week, plus really good cookies from the awesome bakery we are unfortunately moving away from.

    10. Oxford Comma*

      I lucked into my first vaccine appointment this week and managed to get my elderly mom one for a whole month sooner.

      1. OtterB*

        I lucked into mine today. My young adult daughter has intellectual disabilities, which makes her currently eligible in my state. She had a clinic appointment today. Caregivers were eligible too, but only if they were 65+ or fit a couple of other categories none of which were me. So I took her, figuring I was still waiting a month or two – and she ended up being near the end of the schedule, and the organizers suggested I sign up for their waitlist in case there were doses left, and both I and the waitlisted gentleman who had brought his mother for her appointment got our shots.

    11. Grey skies*

      My baby only woke once overnight. And my husband took him in the morning so I could have an extra morning sleep.

      Sleep is the best thing ever

        1. Medical anon*

          I have sleep apnea and just got a replacement CPAP because the old one failed–and slept for over 9 hours.

          1. OtterB*

            My CPAP is the best thing. I had a telehealth checkup with the sleep doc earlier this week, and as he reviewed the data from the machine, he commented on my compliance. I’m sure there are people for whom there are issues, but honestly, at this point, I can’t imagine choosing to sleep without it. The only times I’ve skipped it since I got it were a couple of nights I stayed with my daughter in the hospital. I didn’t bother to schlep it along, and I was sitting up in a recliner anyway.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Ooooh yes. Sleeeeep. I strengthened my resolve to get more shut-eye and actually succeeded on two nights (not in succession)! Baby steps… It makes such a difference to start each day with a full tank.

    12. T. Boone Pickens*

      Work for me has been really busy lately, a bit stressful and my sleep for the past few weeks has been not great. I’ve tried melatonin with mixed results for me. These last 2 nights I’ve gotten incredible sleep like close your eyes and sleep like your dead sleep. It’s been great waking up fully energized these past 2 days!

    13. Detective Rosa Diaz*

      I just got my vaccine invitation, after two recent near misses. Second jab won’t be until the end of May but this is still great news for me ^^

    14. Dog and cat fosterer*

      It was World Spay Day on Tuesday, and we had 8 cats spayed, one of which is the eye-wateringly stinky tom at my place. He is smelling a lot better! We also finally caught a very sweet cat who has been living outside in our cold climate all winter. She survived coyotes and -20 nights and is now safe indoors. She was in heat so we need to get her fixed soon, and then she will be very popular with adopters. All my temporary cats will go to different foster homes in the next few days, which I look forward to.

      I also managed to wrap up a couple long-standing work problems which are more a relief than joys, yet I look forward to my few weekend plans with much more happiness.

      Sunlight. The warmth of the sun and the melting of the snow is one of my little joys these days! We still have at least 6 weeks of winter, yet it feels so good to be warm in a sunbeam.

    15. Hotdog not dog*

      My yard backs up to a nature preserve, so we get some interesting visitors. A few days ago there was a Bald Eagle in our poplar tree. This morning a fox ran under the shed. I’m just waiting for the bears to come out of hibernation.

    16. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We had a break in our cold — the ice dams have melted, my teen & I went for a long walk, and I am finally able to start getting down my Christmas lights!
      My car battery chose to die in a safe parking lot with WiFi access on a warm sunny day– waiting for roadside service was actually a pleasure.

    17. The Other Dawn*

      The Week From Hell has ended and I treated myself to pizza last night for the first time in a couple months.

    18. Newbie*

      i started a virtual internship back in January and this week one of my coworkers messaged me to let me know that the team has been really happy with my work and that they all think really highly of me – I wanted to cry happy tears!

    19. Bobina*

      Had a day off on Monday which was nice, but also because it meant I could have a proper sloth day on Sunday. Didnt get out of bed, read fanfiction for escapism, ordered takeaway – ideal.

      The sun has been out this week, spring is in the air and I am excited! It was so lovely and warm in the sun today as well.

      I had messed up a tax thing when I started my new job, so this months paycheck was where it was finally resolved and it was a lovely bonus!

    20. Slinky*

      Getting my car fixed! The battery needed to be replaced, but I wasn’t able to get an appointment for two weeks. Fortunately, we could use my spouse’s car and I stay home all the time due to the pandemic, so this wasn’t a *huge* inconvenience. However, getting my car back and having the freedom to move around–even if I don’t–has been a major load off.

    21. Dancing Otter*

      I finally got an appointment for my COVID vaccination, and the provider (Walgreens) actually called me to see if I’d like to come in earlier. Realized as I sat waiting that it was the first time I had been inside a store in at least four months. It felt strange.

      My cat had her dental cleaning and exam, and all her teeth are sound. No pricey extractions, yay.

      I finished a pair of socks for myself, the first I’ve made in about five years. I think they turned out great.

      Not so joyful – I started physical therapy for my knees, and was shocked at how poorly I did. But it’s a positive step, right? So I can be happy I’m doing something about the issue.

    22. Voluptuousfire*

      * The weather finally broke and was almost 55 degrees Wednesday morning.

      *Got a “save the date” card for my little cousins wedding in spring 2022 in Nashville. Looking forward to that, even if it may not happen. I also had started a little travel fund back in the fall and by next year, it would cover all expenses for that.

      * Also found a black jumpsuit that was on sale to wear to that wedding on sale for $20. I also don’t like heels/can’t wear them due to mild arthritis in my foot, so I found a pair of rose gold sequined sneakers to wear with it. The jumpsuit/sneakers combo is very Fleabag, which I like. The sneakers are more like a Keds/Simple/Jack Purcell type than a running shoe.

      * That I’m eligible for the vaccine in my state! Finding an appointment is hard, but at least I can get in.

      1. OtterB*

        I am not a shoe person, but rose gold sequined sneakers sound great.

        My older daughter is maid of honor in a friend’s wedding in May (rescheduled from last spring: they actually had a very very small let’s-make-it-legal wedding last year, but this is the celebration) and the bridesmaids and the bride are wearing sequined sneakers.

    23. MissCoco*

      I have the entire apartment to myself for a whole evening. I‘m reveling in complete solitude.
      Took a bath, and just ordered delivery for dinner. I love being alone

    24. TardyTardis*

      I just uploaded the sequel to DEAD MAN’S HAND to KDP and am waiting for the “It’s Alive!” email. It took me most of last year to whip the first draft into shape, because it’s pretty long, and oh, you know, this pandemic thing.

      And Monday I start the typing revision to a new book. (same world, sort of, but different characters).

    25. Joan Rivers*

      The question about real estate above gave me joy because I love real estate. Worked in publishing all my life and then when I sold my first house realized I loved the process.

      Bought a home, lived in it, found the perfect mirror for that dark corner w/a table under it, shopped at estate sales for those odd shapes that fill a space nicely. Enjoyed that process too. Bought things cause they’d solve a problem in that home. And went w/it.

      When I sold, sometimes people wanted the lace cafe curtains in the sunroom or all the plants.
      It’s a small price to pay for doubling your purchase price.

      My point is: As an English major, I knew my career should be publishing.
      But then in my 40s I realized my passion.
      You may think you know and then realize you have another career you love!

    26. SarahKay*

      Sunshine! It’s been so grey here in the UK for most of this year, but this week (and weekend!) it’s been sunny. Plus yesterday evening I went for a walk just after sunset, walking towards the beautiful red colours in the sky, then turned round to come home and in front of me was the most amazing golden full moon, not long risen.

  4. Aphrodite*

    What colors are your home? What do you like? What do you loathe? Why?

    I am a lover of all bright, clear colors but am particularly taken with emerald green. So my new home will be green and white. I actually have fairly little in emerald other than the sofas and a fabulous Murano glass bowl but they are super and are set off by the other greens. I chose white (Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace) as its counterpart in my new, first home because all my life I have lived in rental homes and apartments. And what I have come to derisively term “rental beige” has been for the most part an unfortunate part of that. I loathe beyond description any forms of brown, beige, tan and off-white (unless the latter is closer to the white spectrum). And so many people seem to love these. This new home has undergone major renovations because the previous owners just loved these earth colors. A friend in looking over the realtor pictures at the time it was for sale said, “There was so much brown!” Yes, yes, there was–and there will never be again as long as I live there.

    1. Never Nicky*

      When we moved in, the sellers had recently renovated so most rooms are white with grey carpets (grey lino in the bathrooms) and wood laminate in the hall and kitchen/diner.

      The living room is dove grey which I’m loving as a neutral. We’re accenting with mustard yellow as the room is sunny.

      The kitchen/diner is a restrained coral/salmon pink – wouldn’t have been my choice but it works in the North facing space.

      The other rooms have splashes of colour either from books (so many books), handmade blankets or soft furnishings and from results of 30 years of cross stitch which I try to display thematically – so bees in one room, seasons in another, samplers in the hall

    2. Scc@rlettNZ*

      You would have loved what my father did to the house I grew up in …. not. I don’t know what on earth possessed him but he decided that he would improve the decor by giving the interior a fresh coat of paint before selling. I kid you not, he painted the ceiling of the lounge in brown high gloss paint.

    3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I don’t have any colors that I loathe — but I would never paint my own home in a red/orange/yellow.

      I love color on walls. My living room is a dark grey, bedroom is navy blue and my daughter’s room has a green wall-paper.

      Kitchen is white, in part because the previous owners chose the weirdest beige for the cabinets and we cannot figure out anything else that matches it. I would love a forest-green kitchen.

      1. I take tea*

        That’s funny, because our living room has warm yellow walls and it feels like sunshine every day. I think it was one of the things that made us fall in love with the apartment.

        I used to live in an apartment with one wall in deep tomato soup red. I liked it, but it was a bit dramatic.

        1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          I do like the colors! My living room growing up had these deep red walls and it worked so well. But for some reason I never want it in my own space.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I am not big on yellow. However, I do have one room in butter yellow and I absolutely love it.

          Oddly, I do not like fall colors. They feel overplayed to me. Probably because my elders had them everywhere in the house. So I had a ban on fall colors in my house. Then when I redid my bedroom I wanted a den/safe space/low key. I ended up with pumpkin, olive green and egg plant purple. I absolutely love it. It matches nothing else in the house. I don’t care.

        3. CJM*

          We painted our main-floor hallway a soft yellow, and it’s a home run even after 20 years. It makes me happy to walk through there as the sunshine plays off the yellow walls. They glow with beauty. I haven’t had that experience with any other wall color. When we repaint that area, I’ll try hard to match the shade of yellow we have now. It’s glorious!

    4. Julia*

      Ooooh, if I could pick my own colors, yours would definitely be mine! Base color white, then some emerald or teal pieces, maybe some accent walls, and perhaps a few contrasting cushions or frills in pink.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Most of my house is fairly neutral, the seller repainted right before I bought it and I was fine with it. The colors are mostly taupe or a gold-y shade of cream. My office (which was originally the second living room) is a pale gold.

      I’ve repainted three rooms – two bedrooms and the kitchen.
      One bedroom was literally pepto pink, and that’s the only one we repainted pre-move-in :-P it’s now a nice medium blue.
      The smallest bedroom was a dark charcoal grey with dark wood trim, and I repainted that a pretty medium green and replaced the trim with white (it feels so much less claustrophobic now!).
      And originally my kitchen was the same pale gold as my office with off-white cabinets, very mid-80s – when I remodeled, I painted it bright peacock teal and all the cabinets are stark white, except for my small island which is red with white-teal-red-orange decorative “tiling” accents. Kitchens can be a good place for bright kinda crazy colors because most of the walls are covered by cabinets, so the paint is more of an accent that a full surround. I think the teal in a “normal” room might have been a bit overwhelming, but in my kitchen it looks amazing, if I do say so myself.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      My home office is Glazed Raspberry (Behr) with white wainscoting. My gym is Sonic Plum (Valspar) with white trim. Family room is a sage green, which I hate and plan to change. I don’t actually hate sage green, but I’d prefer it as the accent color, not the entire room. Bedroom is a light beige with white wainscoting. I plan to change that to maybe a gray tone, but I’m not sure yet. Bathrooms are white and I want to change them, too. The rest of the house is very busy wallpaper, which I’d like to change but it will be a huge task. The house was built in 1735 so a lot of the walls are still plaster, and my guess is that wallpaper is covering a lot of ripples and cracks. It’s not ugly–it actually fits with the age of the house–but I’d really like something different at some point.

    7. Susie*

      We have had so much fun picking colors for our home. When we moved it, it was filled with 80s pastels (lots of sea foam green). Living room is now moss green. Bedrooms are either a butter yellow or navy. Hallways are a pale yellow/cream. Bathroom is still a weird blue/purple, but it has grown on me. Our living room was blue until this summer when we painted it green.
      The most transformational change was painting the hallways—that was last place changed. It just makes the house feel so warm now.

    8. Jay*

      When we were doing our first house, I read an article somewhere that suggested choosing something you love – a piece of art, a rug, pretty much anything – and using those colors throughout the house. That way everything would work together and feel connected. We chose our china which has lavender and green and a bit of soft yellow. It worked well. We’ve used the same approach in our current home, this time using a wall hanging that has eggplant colors to guide choices in the public rooms and a quilt in our bedroom.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        Jay, I am going to try this. I was looking at the beach /ocean painting in my living room, and decided that’s my scheme for when I move from this rental into the place I am working to buy. Love that blue, the sand, the green of the sea grass…. calm and serene.
        Thank you for this idea.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          My mom’s biggest piece of advice is to pick the wall color last. There are 100,000 paint colors, you can find one to go with anything. Carpets, furniture, floors, throw pillows all have much fewer options. Much easier to match the paint to the couch than to find a carpet with exactly the right shade of blue in it.

          1. Jay*

            Especially true now that you can get paint custom-mixed (if you want to pay for that). Even without custom colors, there are zillions of choices.

    9. fposte*

      I love colors. My bedroom is apple green, painted by me, and the living room is a minty-sagey green that was there when I moved in. My movable stuff is preponderantly blue, and the wooden floor and some touches of orange and pink in art and pillows add warmth.

      1. Aphrodite*

        I thought seriously about painting the home green rather than white. But I couldn’t decide if that would be too much or if the green would become that unpleasant greenish (rather than green) in the light. In the end, it was easiest and also best if I went with white because (a) I do love it and (b) I could do white shutters and that would be lovely. The shutters, alas, did not work out but I am getting custom ($$$$) drapes in white: faux silk in the living room, linen in the family room, these handpainted white cotton with eucalyptus leaves for the guest room and leave the white silk drapes in the bedroom.They are all lined with blackout lining and I hope to be able to get each window covered in window film to provide a bit of privacy and keep the sun’s damaging rays out. My color will come in through my furniture, art and decor. I think it is going to be gorgeous.

    10. GoryDetails*

      I like monochrome schemes – and, yes, that includes browns: my bedroom has faux-stone-pattern wallpaper in tones of beige, and the woodwork’s a dark brown. I added cream-colored woven throws as curtains, and even after years, whenever I’m sitting in bed reading and I glance up at the tones of the room it makes me happy. [I did add some color in the bedspread, which is a dark-burgundy-and-gold pattern – but in winter that’s covered by a big fluffy white throw, so still monochrome!]

      My kitchen has dark woodwork and pale yellow walls – lovely and bright in sunlight, warm in artificial light.

      The main living areas all have off-white walls because, ages ago, I stripped the bizarre silky-striped-celery-green wallpaper and primed the walls and never could decide on a color {wry grin}. I use the rugs and curtains to add color, and one of these days I may put a bolder tint on the walls… or not.

      The computer room is monochrome blue – the wallpaper (came with the house) is a dusty blue with darker blue and white patterns, very small (as in a calico fabric), and I added a blue and white oriental-style carpet.

      And there’s one more room, also with the original wallpaper – a very dark red with green-and-gold paisley patterns, something I’d never have chosen myself but that works well for the library (as I’ve designated the room). I did remove the green shag wall-to-wall carpet, though! [The room’s also lined with tall bookcases, so the wallpaper only shows at the top and on two walls, making it less overwhelming than it might have been.]

      All the ceilings are painted white, btw.

    11. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      I sympathize! When we bought our current home it had just been renovated. For some reason that season’s ‘it’ colour was what my mother accurately described as cat-puke green. The whole was that color! Repainted as soon as possible and it is now a nice, soothing pale eau de nil.

      1. Aphrodite*

        OMG, that eau de nil color is stunning! I love it. I have bookmarked it, and when I am able to afford anything again I want to seam coat the faux wood paneling and paint the master bedroom that color. Thank you so much for recommending it.

    12. Usernames are hard*

      Congrats on the new house! Banishing the brown and painting colors that you like will really make it yours. After 40 years of living in my parent’s house, dorms, or rentals with white walls and beige carpets I bought a house and vowed to never look at white walls again. Now the only white in the house is the baseboards/trim and inside the closets. Colors in my house include: an orange similar to the skin of butternut squash, apple green, dark purple, aqua, cobalt blue and lavender.

    13. Ali G*

      Did I write this while I was asleep? Haha! We are the same. In fact BM Chantilly Lace was one of our finalists when we renovated in 2019. We went with Simply White. We also hate beige, brown, etc., unless it’s wood or leather. Our accents are also greens. We have a wall of green abstract wallpaper in our bedroom and our dining room is papered in a green -leaning sea grass. When I redo the kitchen, I will probably do the bottom cabinets in a deep green.
      Our greens are BM Garden Oasis and Ocean Mist (I think that’s what it is).

      1. Aphrodite*

        I too want to repaint the bathroom drawers and cabinets in both the guest and master bathrooms in a rich, darkish emerald green. I also have my eye on one of these sinks–https://www.wayfair.com/home-improvement/pdp/mr-direct-glass-oval-undermout-bathroom-sink-mrdr2375.html?piid=51047391&experiencetype=2&selectedvertical=7 or https://www.wayfair.com/MR-Direct–Glass-Rectangular-Undermout-Bathroom-Sink-UG1913-L588-K~MRDR2376.html?refid=GX434604289173-MRDR2376_51047400&device=c&ptid=979998377484&network=g&targetid=pla-979998377484&channel=GooglePLA&ireid=125860341&fdid=1817&PiID%5B%5D=51047400&gclid=Cj0KCQiA3smABhCjARIsAKtrg6JYRTC3TTKkgVMnBEG97EvqA4X5uPptFNtakceiU9n1iZuXZiLKt90aAjHKEALw_wcB&experiencetype=2&selectedvertical=7) for the white countertop.

    14. HannahS*

      My childhood home was largely shades of beige, but when I was a teenager, I repainted my bedroom to be a light minty-seafoam-y green (like Behr’s Tahitian Sky) with white trim and ceiling. My blinds and floor were a fairly light wood (well, laminate). I LOVED that colour scheme and still do. Someday when I’m not a renter, I hope to create a similar feel, which was light and airy, but without the severity of metal-and-shiny-white minimalism.

    15. OTGW*

      Heh, I painted my room at my parents’ house a bright lime green. Before it was an ugly butter yellow. I love bright, bright colors. The new place has all blue-y grey walls, and we’re keeping it that color for now but I’d love, down the line, to paint the second bedroom a lime green again. And maybe the living room a brighter blue.

    16. Overeducated*

      I like bright colors and warm colors. Most of my house is shades of blue and gray. Can’t wait to paint, but with small kids, no family help, and nowhere safe to take them this pandemic winter, I’m not sure when.

      The only colors I do like are the dusty teal that’s half the living room (the other half is gray, whyyyyy?), the weird mock-plaster orange and beige sponge treatment in the kitchen (cheesy but it works with the exposed beams), and the swirly blue and purple water design in half the bathroom (the rest is slowly getting a couple new coats of white paint).

      Thinking about repainting the bedrooms in various shades of green.

    17. Mary Berry*

      When we bought our house, there were tons of browns and teal. It made the whole house really dark – the ceiling was brown too!

      We still have rooms to finish, but we changed the kitchen from a dull green to a bright red (including painting the cabinets from a dingy brown to a light grey) and the rest of the downstairs and hallways to a lighter grey shade. There are a few cut outs in the wall as accent space so we used the same red in the kitchen in those-it really pops on the wall and continues our red theme in the downstairs space. Upstairs we continued the grey and used navy as accent walls in our bedroom and the office. Our main bathroom is the only one we’ve painted so far because that was a full reno, and for that we did a blue-grey to match the grey in the shower.

      Still have a spare bedroom and two bathrooms to do! Then touch ups. It never ends.

    18. Sylvan*

      My apartment complex is overwhelmingly gray and white, and my apartment isn’t an exception. But I’ve brought in a lot of blues, greens, and browns (via wood furniture).

    19. Ariadne Oliver*

      I’m with you, I loathe dark colors in my home. There is nothing brown and beige to be found anywhere around me. I love white and cream furniture and accessorize with bright colored pillows, drapes and rugs which change according to season. For summer I especially love pinks and corals and turquoise. I also have a collection of bright floral duvet covers for my bedroom and many pictures, collected on my travels, which bring color to my walls. Right now we’re living in a rented apartment so I’m a bit limited on how much I can express myself but when we owned our home, our bedroom walls were coral and our living room a golden yellow. It’s hard to be in a bad mood when you’re immersed in sunshine. The dining room was lilac with white wainscoting. It is also important to me to always have plants and flowers in my living space adding additional color.

    20. KittyCardigans*

      Painting a home was such a wonderful experience after 8 years of apartment beige! We have board and batten on the bottom half of most downstairs walls, painted semigloss white. Living room/kitchen/dining area have a sage green called “Ballroom Dance” on top (with deep green cabinets in the kitchen). In our bedroom we went with Benjamin Moore “Blue Danube,” which is SO pretty as a backdrop for wall art. Bathroom is a light peachy pink; guest room is a Wedgewood blue; kids’ room is white and “Palladian Blue,” which is a delicate blue-green. Also, I painted all my doors black. I really like the contrast.

      Your sofas and Murano bowl sound amazing! I bet they’re gorgeous against the white.

    21. Quinalla*

      I really love our light grey walls in the big open 1st floor of our house, I too loathe beige/yellow colors that I’ve been stuck with in apartments and houses (until repainted) in the past. We also have some nice darker blues in a few rooms (bathrooms, offices) and a really dark green in the bedroom (love it, makes it feel cavelike in a good way) and a fun orange in the girls’s bedroom and a lighter fun green in my boy’s bedroom. Our carpet is mostly from when we moved in, some beige, some white (!!) and some gold – we’ll be replacing it after COVID is over, we’ll see what color(s) we go with – not sure yet. We just redid our kitchen and did a really light floor offset with darker cabinets and a pretty marble counter in the middle more neutral grey marble against the walls and some nice tile that brings everything together on the walls.

      1. TardyTardis*

        Our son’s room was done up in Bland, because he had mental health issues. So when I converted it to a writing room, I swear I fell asleep back there! Now I have brightly colored prints up all over, including the original of a cover done for a fanfiction novel I wrote.

        It’s also a total mess, but that will be worked on this year.

    22. Spessartine*

      I love rich colors in a house! We just bought a new home last fall and it was entirely white and shades of beige, except for some dark LVP flooring. We’re keeping some of the neutrals just because it would be an inordinate amount of work (and/or money) to paint all of it, but we’re putting as much color on the walls as is feasible. The main bedroom now has an orange accent wall (Sherwin Williams Cayenne), and the decor is…I suppose I would call it “color-coordinated maximalism”. Lots of gold, red, yellow, brown, with both white and natural wood furniture. And lots of plants. I think the highlight is the yellow velvet curtains that make the whole room glow with an amazing warmth in the morning.

      In our living room we did two walls in a gorgeous deep teal (SW Blue Peacock). Our couch is gray because we couldn’t find a comfortable teal or turquoise couch, but we got a turquoise sideboard, a blue-green loveseat, and a velvet emerald accent chair, and have plans for copper-pipe bookshelves. The second bedroom was all white, and we added a turquoise accent wall (SW Splashy); decor is yellow/gold, teal, and peach. The office is a pale lavender (SW Potentially Purple) with a dark purple accent wall (SW Kimono Violet), with lightweight yellow patterned curtains.

      At some point we’re going to paint the kitchen cabinets white, add copper knobs and drawer pulls, put in a copper sink, and add a teal or turquoise backsplash.

      The whole house doesn’t necessarily coordinate or “flow”, but we love all the rooms individually. Our previous house was remodeled shortly before we bought it and had so much beige, the tile in the bathrooms and kitchen especially. It was beautifully done, so we didn’t want to rip it all out, but it was just…so very beige. We had the main living area repainted off-white and added red accent walls (I think it may have been SW Heartthrob, though it’s been long enough I can’t remember for sure), and got a red couch to fit the theme. I loved it but the red couch unfortunately showed every little bit of dirt and cat hair! There is something to be said for neutral colors on furniture that gets a lot of use.

    23. rear mech*

      ooooh I love it! do you have any malachite bowls or decor items? It’s such a beautiful stone that’s a rich multidimensional emerald green

      1. Joan Rivers*

        And, of course, there are disciplines that analyze colors and what they “mean.”
        Green’s word would be “growth” usually.
        Crystals, like pink quartz, also have “meanings.” So you can look at that if it appeals to you.

    24. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Everything is beige and cream and stark white and wood grain with black accents right now. I’m sick of it but my husband really likes boring, bland colours in the house because he finds it calming. We’re about to do quite a few renovation projects soon so I hope that we can change to a somewhat more interesting colour scheme. I have a few red and green accents here and there in different rooms but they are very subtle. I’m not much of an interior decorator.

    25. allathian*

      I can’t imagine having my walls in any other color except white… Anything else is just too dark for me.

  5. soontobephd*

    I’ll be moving to Boston soon from a small town in the Midwest. Does anyone have any tips for moving to the big city (finding an apartment, how to find roommates) or for Boston in general? I’m pretty nervous!

    1. Val*

      I’ve moved to many cities (europe), and the first thing I did was walk them : I took at very least a couple of weekends to go there and walk around (+public transport), check out neighborhoods, chat with service people/small business owners (I went at non busy times) and then I double checked with forums/rental websites I ‘d browsed.
      Renting an Airbnb for one month (negotiate the price) in an unknown city before settling in a rental was something my brother did. It could be a good idea to do that before joining a shared house.

      For roommates, I would join an existing functional shared house that’s looking for someone instead of starting from scratch (very risky). To evaluate “functional” ask about chores, pets, visitors, noise levels/party life (or right now, pandemic precautions), utilities, what happens if someone doesn’t pay rent, etc. and why the previous roomate left (+ how long everyone’s been there) . Bring your best authentic self like for a date and trust your gut^^.

      For rentals, check the local laws: how much owners can ask upfront, are they allowed to have a key? your rights as tenant etc. Be wary of any offer that looks too good or for people who ask for payment before a visit.
      Check what kind of info you need to give to show you’re serious (proof of employment? Last year’s tax documents? I have no idea how it works in the US).

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I moved from NYC to Boston, and it was a great walking city. So is NY, but that’s so much bigger, Boston was a good scale.

        It felt like a toy town w/a toy subway after what I was used to. Took the toy train a few stops to Cambridge and walked around there too. Lovely town.

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I want to second what Val said — walk around a lot in the early days. It gives you a feel for the life of the city in a way that you can’t pick up from a bus or train.

      With regard to roommates, I would strongly recommend prioritizing lifestyle compatibility over personal chemistry. The topics we naturally bring up when we meet new people (pop culture, occupations, hometowns) aren’t always relevant to what makes a good roommate pair. Make a list of some things that would be major dealbreakers for you (smokers, dirty dishes, whatever) and don’t bend on those, even if someone seems really cool. Similarly, maybe check with people who know you well on what you’re like to live with and be transparent about that.

      If you’re moving into an established home, try to find out what sort of turnover the roommates have, and why. If one room has been cycled through by four different people in as many years while the other two roommates have been there for five, that’s a worrisome sign.

    3. Erika22*

      Can’t speak to Boston specifically, but I’ve made the move to a new big city a few times now:
      – If you can, rent an Airbnb or something for a month while you get to know the city and find something long term.
      – If you don’t have a car (or even if you do tbh) make sure you choose a location with good access to public transport and close to grocery stores.
      – Also think about what you value most in your immediate living vicinity – restaurants and shops, or access to green spaces, or whatever – and focus on areas with those (or a maximum distance you’d want to be from those).
      – If you’ll be commuting to work or school, what’s the longest commute you’d be willing to deal with (realistically, not optimistically – and factor in bad weather or traffic, whether you drive or take public transport) and make sure you’re no farther than that.
      – Commutes also tend to be easier with as few transfers as possible, so see if there is a direct line from your place to your school/work.
      – On roommates, see if your program will be connecting all the phd candidates ahead of time, or if there’s a message board for students, and see who else will be new to the area – it may be easier to get a place with someone who will have similar timelines and routines as you.
      – Think about the building itself – how noisy will the other tenants be, is the building old or new, how hot will it get in summers or cold in winters, do buses use your street (meaning you’ll hear buses coming and going at all hours) or is the street busy in particular.
      – Finally, think about a priority matrix – what are your must haves that are absolutely non negotiable versus what would be a nice to have.

      New cities are really exciting to move to! Just remember if you rent a place that’s not perfect, or end up hating your roommate, you can move on once your lease is up, so don’t stress if it’s not perfect!

    4. Beantown*

      Welcome! I have like a grab bag of tips. I’ve lived here (almost) my whole life except for some time in Wisconsin and I love this city :)

      There’s a lot of Boston that feels pretty small—lots of triple-deckers (characteristically Boston buildings with three apartments) and smaller multi family homes. Highly recommend finding a group of roommates; living with them may be a huge pain but I know a lot of people whose social circles in Boston started with their roommate group.

      All prices rise when an apartment is near a T stop. People dunk on the green line—the trolley line—quite a bit but it’s honestly better than the red line, which is a bigger train that is constantly late and breaking down.

      If you’re moving from a much more rural area, your instinct may be that it’s safer when there are no people around—remember that in a city it’s the opposite. You’re much safer on a busy sidewalk, near a bus stop, than on an empty street. Boston is a pretty safe city overall, but I mention it just in case.

      There definitely are going to be social differences (once distancing is done especially). There’s much, much less small talk—an exchange between strangers is usually a single back-and-forth if it happens at all. This may feel pretty startling.

      Don’t do imitations of the Boston accent. I don’t know your situation, but it’s generally a working class accent, and middle/upper class Bostonians who do little impressions are being kinda nasty.

      Driving sucks around here. The roads are bad to navigate and everyone (including me) is an awful driver.

      1. Coenobita*

        Green line all the way! I lived in Boston for a few years as a new grad, near Brighton Center so I was closest to the B train. My friends who lived in “actual Boston” made fun of me but, you know what, I got where I needed to go and paid a heck of a lot less for my lovely duplex apartment. Though, to be fair, I mostly took the bus to get where I needed to go :)

        That brings me to my main advice, which is to forget the T and live on a direct bus line to your job (or wherever you need to go on a regular basis). The bus system in Boston is solid, especially the express lines, and you can save a boatload of money living farther from the T.

        1. Boston expat*

          Great point about the express bus lines. And seconding the sentiments about less small talk and the accent. Everyone loves to poorly imitate the accent but it’s very much a “working class” accent with some stigma attached. I’m often told I “don’t sound like I’m from Boston”, but that’s because of my social class. Also I’m not a caricature.

    5. AnonToday*

      I’m moving there too! I keep seeing recommendations for the “Boston Housing and Apartments (NO SPAM)” group on Facebook and craigslist. The bostonhousing subreddit is also somewhat active.

      I’ve been told to avoid Allston (unless you’re an undergrad) and Central Square + 2-3 block radius. I’ve also been told to not trust photos from the online listings and go in person to view the apartment before signing anything.

      Good luck! It seems like a good time to move there now with all the discount rent promotions.

      1. Susie*

        Yeah, lived in Allston as a recent grad and it made me feel old…I got so mad at the 2am partiers. Also there are frequent occupancy violations (too many people or unsafe fire escapes). However the restaurants are amazing, so definitely visit.

        I’m don’t know why you were warned off central square.

        1. AnonToday*

          I was told by someone who lives in Boston that it can be unsafe. I also read through a thread on the boston subreddit where several people mentioned being mugged and pickpocketed there. But that was reddit/the internet, so fair to take it with a grain of salt.

          I’m still willing to check it out though! It would be a good commute for me. I’ll likely take public transit, how safe is it for a woman to walk alone from the public transit stop(s) in Central Square to the nearby housing?

          1. team9to5*

            I’m definitely biased–I live in Central and love it. :) I often walk to the subway stop (I’m a woman), and it doesn’t feel any different from other stops. The entrances to the subway station are spread out over two blocks, though, so no two walks to the subway will look identical. There’s one block in Central that I don’t enjoy walking down, but crossing the street is basically a different world! If you’re looking to live along the Red Line and Central isn’t your jam, consider Porter Square, two stops away– it’s got a ton of cute shops, a grocery store, and zero tourists.

    6. Alex*

      I’m in Boston and lived here for 20 years, in several different locations.
      Without knowing more details about what you need, it’s hard to give specific advice. Boston is small, but during rush hour, it feels big. Definitely figure out if you are commuting and try to get the smallest commute you can, either by direct train service (living on the same color line you are working on) or by a short driving commute.

      If you have a car, make sure you know the parking situation for whatever living situation you are getting. There are plenty of apartments that don’t offer parking spots, but also have no street parking allowed. So make sure you are getting either a spot along with your apartment, or you are OK with the street parking rules.

      Craigslist is commonly used around here for roommate finding (and general apartment finding as well). It’s very active and how I’ve always found my apartments.

      Also know that “moving day” is September 1, so at this time of year you might find some sublet-until-September-and-then-sign-a-year-lease apartments. Many landlords want their lease cycles on September-September. This becomes less true as you move out of student-heavy areas, like Allston/Brighton/Somerville/Mission Hill, but I live in a suburb and my landlord still requires September-September leases.

    7. Susie*

      I moved to Boston from the Midwest after college. When my first roommate moved out, I used Craigslist to find a replacement. Now in the Facebook group for local alumni of my alma mater, I see people posting for roommates. If you liked your undergrad institution (I assume you have one b/c of your user name), maybe look for a local Facebook alumni group.

      Also, neighborhoods in Boston have very distinct personalities and frequently are judgmental about other neighborhoods. (Some of the less developed neighborhoods could help you feel like you’re back in a small town again, I’d that’s something you’re looking for). If someone tells you something negative about a neighborhood in which they do not live, take it with a grain of salt (or check with someone else). But your best bet is probably to find a place as close as you can afford to your school. Both driving and the T are needlessly slow. Lots of bike lanes are being built in Boston and in Cambridge/Somerville. Some parts of the residential neighborhoods are more walkable than others. So figuring out how you’re going to commute (and how long it will take) is important when picking a place to live. Right now there is very little road traffic so if you drive, the commute may be significantly longer once things reopen.

      Good luck! Happy to answer any questions.

    8. Choggy*

      I LOVED living in MA, though I lived outside of Boston (Cambridge, Somerville, Arlington) for 10 years (all of the 90s). I moved in with some friends initially and then found a place that I shared with roommates (who I did not know previously). I was fortunate in that I landed a job at MIT so made full use of their various bulletin boards to find places to live, I actually rented 8 different places due to circumstance or convenience. Of all of them, I liked the multi-family houses the best over apartment buildings. Boston is the best walking city, I liked it more than NYC (and I’m a NYer) because it was big but not too big and taking the T to most places was a breeze, and a good thing because I did not have a car. Not sure why you are moving, is it to attend school or take a job? Perhaps you could use those channels to get some recommendations? I am very jealous and hope you love Boston as much as I did when I lived there. :)

    9. lapgiraffe*

      Boston specific – it’s a renter’s market right now, so many students that didn’t return and people who have left, not quite NYC numbers but it’s bad enough that my friends who were trying to rent their respective places have had a tough go of it/not many takers. So you’re picking the best time, hooray!!

      Snow shoveling – in Boston proper it’s the landlords legal responsibility but many will try to get out of it. Stand firm, having someone else shovel is one of the best parts of renting so don’t pass it up!

      A landlord paying for heat and water is common enough that I’d be wary of ones that don’t. These old houses are (typically) not well insulated nor are the heating elements brand new and efficient. Not an exaggeration in the coldest months you could be looking at over $400 heat bills, and if the house is oil then that’s even worse for a renter, nightmare stories of $1500/2000 fill-ups. The trade off here is that sometimes this means the heat is set to a certain temp a la steamy radiators and windows open in winter to cope, so pick your poison I guess.

      I’d definitely do the rent an Airbnb for a month to check things out, figure out which neighborhood intrigues you, not put too much pressure to sign a lease you’re unsure about just because you need a room. May would be a challenging month for this because of graduations, not sure if they’re happening this year but hotel/Airbnb/short term rental rates go bonkers that month.

      It seems people still rely on Craigslist to find roommates, though some people have had luck on Facebook. Otherwise it’s word of mouth, which I know doesn’t help initially but once you’re here you’ll be able to find better places with better people.

      That actually makes me wonder if it would make sense for you to look for a sublet, ride out a few months and get to know the city a bit, could be a great alternative to the Airbnb thing.

      1. Susie*

        Good point about utilities. We lived with oil for two years in an old double decker and thinking about those bills still gives me anxiety.

    10. Washi*

      I’m not in Boston but have lots of friends there and one thing is that when comparing notes, it seems like almost everyone ends up going through a broker to get their apartment, and the broker ususally takes a fee equivalent to the first month’s rent (so you need to budget for broker’s fee + security deposit + first month’s rent.) I don’t know how that compares to other big cities, but I’ve never encountered that in DC. Something to keep in mind!

    11. Ali*

      Seconding being careful about utilities – heat included in the apartment cost is worth it, and avoid electric heat at all costs. Different kinds of heat can really be expensive, so do some research about that, and always ask to see sample heating bills from January and February.

    12. Sue*

      My daughter relocated to NYC for grad schooll. She moved into school housing, an apartment across the street from her school with a student roommate. They have 2 in a triple because/pandemic. She is probably paying a bit more than open market because of the current housing situation in NYC but she is so close to school, it has been a good choice. Not a problem to get to the library even with a foot of snow and some of her classes are in person. It also gave social connections to be near other students and she loves her roommate. If your school has housing options, I would consider them in the mix of choices.

    13. Joie de Vibre*

      It has been a few years, but Captain Awkward had an example of a “roommate agreement”. I’ll see if I can find it and post it here.

    14. team9to5*

      Welcome to Boston! If you’re a PhD student or postdoc, a lot of universities have Facebook groups (e.g., Harvard/MIT housing group) that are useful for finding existing apartments with spare rooms. Seconding the Captain Awkward roommate agreement suggestion!

      Bostonians get a bad rap for “impoliteness,” so be prepared to avoid eye contact with people in public! I came from out of state so I was used to making small talk with cashiers and smiling at people on the street; this doesn’t really happen in Boston. Generally speaking, eye contact means people think you want to talk to them (instead of just acknowledging their presence). My friend from Texas ran into a similar problem, where she was used to folks saying “hello” in passing; here, that’s catcalling. Folks are more direct here than the midwest as well. Bostonians are actually very kind, though; we just have different manners!

      There are tons of local coffeeshops, bakeries, and ice cream chains I adore; check out Flour for croissants, Darwin’s for general coffeeshop awesomeness, Bagelsaurus for bagels, Clear Flour Bakery for old-world breads, Gracies/Toscanini’s/JP Licks for ice cream. The public libraries and museums around here host tons of free events (the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum is a particular favorite of mine).

      1. soontobephd*

        Thank you for the restaurant recommendations! I just looked up the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum and it appears to be quite close to my new work location so I’ll be sure to check it out!

        1. Bluebell*

          So if you are working near the Gardner, I recommend you look at Mission Hill, Fenway, and Jamaica Plain for housing. Your commute will be way too annoying if you try for Cambridge/Somerville. Try an AirBNB first, if you like. When Boston opens up a bit more, there will be so much more arts/culture/lecture offerings. It’s a great town for author readings.

          1. MsOctopus*

            If you are working near the Gardner, and do want to live in Cambridge, check out the #47 bus line—it goes from Central Sq and has stops all around the Fenway/Longwood area. (If you are interested in Cambridgeport, ie, south Cambridge, it’s also a bikeable and even walkable distance —depending on how much you like walking, of course ;) I could walk from Cambridgeport to MassArt in about 35min, and once I biked it in 10! I was in better shape then, though, lol)

    15. soontobephd*

      Thank you everyone for the tips! I super appreciate it :) I’ll be moving at the end of the school year to start a year long postdoc which really complicates the Sept-Sept lease situation.

      This site has been so incredibly helpful! Allison’s interview guide and cover letter tips 100% played an important role in helping me secure my postdoc

    16. anon Bostonian in MN*

      I grew up in West Roxbury, my high school was in the Longfellow Medical Area/near the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum. I’ve since moved to the midwest.

      My 2 cents is to second what folks are saying about minimizing your commute. That is a really good starting point. I think getting an airbnb for a month or a couple of months might be helpful (or necessary, given Sept-Sept leases).

      I would also second walking around. Boston is a very walkable city. One idea: take the train or bus somewhere, and then walk to the next station. In pre-pandemic times it also is much less crowded in the summer, but those dynamics have probably changed with the pandemic.

      Since you mentioned postdoc-ing, I’m assuming you are an academic. Given this, go visit the Copley Library – go in via the ‘old’ entrance, not the modern one. Its a beautiful library.

      Oh, and don’t drive a moving van on Storrow Drive. Some new person gets one stuck on one of the low bridges every moving season lol.

      1. soontobephd*

        Thank you for the recommendation on taking the train and then walking to the next station. That’s not something I would have thought of doing but sounds like a great idea!

  6. HelloInsomnia*

    Any University of New Hampshire (UNH) grads? Long shot I know but we’re moving to the NH Seacoast area this summer and strongly considering Durham, NH for our young family (1 son and 1 fur baby).

    – Great schools (Oyster River)
    – Amtrak to Boston
    – Close to Portsmouth for restaurants
    – UNH sports and events

    – Not sure how much the town shuts down when students are gone

    We’ve lived in Chapel Hill, NC and LOVED it. Now that we’re moving to be closer to family, we’re trying to chase that feeling of a safe, diverse college town with a walkable downtown.

    1. Alissa*

      I have lived in the town next to Durham, NH (Newmarket) for 5 years and we love the area! We have a great daycare for our kids and a great doggie daycare for the fur baby. Durham definitely has less traffic and “bustle” during the summer but it is by no means “shut down”. Like the rest of the country, the real estate market is very tough for buyers right now. Durham has very high property taxes- all the towns in Oyster River school district do. Newmarket also has high property taxes and has a smaller, non-consolidated school district. My husband and I have been house hunting for two years (we are in our “starter home” still) and are actually contemplating moving to Midcoast Maine if we can find a more affordable house but we very much love the Seacoast NH region.

      1. HelloInsomnia*

        We’ve heard wonderful things about Newmarket as well (and most of the Seacoast honestly). The lure of another college town with good energy, good food, sidewalks, and the Amtrak was what got me

        Separately, TWO YEARS?!? I’ve been scanning the listings whenever they pop up but… they don’t pop up often. What has your experience been with house hunting? Is there a certain budget threshold you’ve seen where the frenzied competition settles down (or ramps up)?

        Any favorite places we’ve got to check out when we move this summer? :)

    2. NHer*

      I grew up in a different college town in NH but my dad grew up on the seacoast and one thing I want to note is that I’m not sure if Duhram really qualifies as diverse (just double checked the stats and it is 87% white.) I guess it’s more diverse than a lot of NH towns, but still pretty different from what diverse means in North Carolina! I think Manchester NH is the only city I would really call diverse.

      That said, I agree with everything else on your pro list, and Durham definitely doesn’t become a ghost town in summer! The campus tends to host a lot of summer programs (I went to band camp there) and stays at least somewhat active even during break times.

      1. HelloInsomnia*

        Growing up in a town that was 92% white I can (sadly) appreciate how non-diverse NH is overall. I’m hoping that the presence of college students will lend itself to different cultural events and experiences on campus and in the community.

    3. Susie*


      My husband is a UNH alum and he typed this response for you (he’s doesn’t read AAM)

      I’m a UNH grad and stayed an additional two years for grad school. In short, the Durham/Seacoast area is a great place to live. the town of Durham where the UNH campus is gorgeous, though the town is a little more rural and sleepier than some other towns surrounding the campus. It definitely has a cute college town vibe and is very walkable. If you have a young family I would probably avoid housing in the immediate campus area. I’m sure you’re aware that college students may engage in alcohol fueled shenanigans from time to time, so if you do purchase a house in town, I would recommend a houses on the periphery. When you visit Durham, it will be obvious what I mean by campus area vs periphery. That being said, plenty of UNH Professors live in Durham, so your son will encounter a ton of “kids of UNH Professors” at ORHS. Other communities to consider include Portsmouth and Dover NH. Portsmouth has a lot more restaurants, culture, diversity, night life, and kid friendly activities, though you will pay a premium in housing to live there. If you opt for Durham you will still have easy access to Portsmouth (it’s a 20 minute drive), but it depends if you want to live in a quieter community or want to live “closer to the action,” so to speak. Another place to consider is the “City” of Dover. Lot’s of UNH grad students live there…I lived there in grad school. I’d wager that Dover is more affordable than Portsmouth/Durham and has a wider variety of housing. Dover is 10-15 minute drive to the UNH campus. It also has a more vibrant night life and a nice restaurant scene, though not the the level of Durham. One last thing to remember: diversity is a relative term in NH. Overall, NH is not very diverse. That may be a culture shock coming from Chapel Hill. However, you are more likely to encounter a diverse community in Dover and Portsmouth as opposed to Durham. Either way you slice it, I thoroughly enjoyed my time living in the Durham area and do think it would be a great place to raise a family. Fascinated to hear where you end up, and best of luck in your move!

  7. WoodswomanWrites, nature thread*

    Enjoying a house plant or looking out the window counts.

    I heard a cacophony of ravens outside the window and stepped out to see what was going on. There were a good three dozen or more flying around over the street and neighboring houses. I looked for what I figured must be a hawk nearby getting them all stirred up. It turned out to be two turkey vultures. I felt bad for the harassed vultures, such harmless birds. Eventually the vultures flew past the invisible line to an acceptable distance, and the ravens settled down in nearby trees and it got quiet again.

    1. nep*

      Love this.
      Mine hasn’t happened yet. Later today, going to a nearby nature center with my grand niece, who gets to tap a tree. She’s been learning about where maple syrup comes from, so this should be fun. The nature center holds a special event where kids get treats (including some maple syrup, of course) and get to participate in sap collection.

        1. nep*

          Yes…I reckon a lot of nature centers around are all about the maple syrup work right now. (So labor-intensive, that process.)

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          That sounds fantastic! Growing up in Michigan, I wasn’t near the maple tapping region but we would get maple candy seasonally. It’s nearly impossible to find in California and I have ordered it online from Vermont in the past. It’s made a nice gift for those who come from the West Coast and don’t have that tradition. Now I’m craving maple candy, and you’ve inspired me to order some more this afternoon.

          1. nep*

            Yay. (I’m in Michigan.)
            I saw that one shop in Vermont has a sampler kit–four ‘nips,’ they call it–to try their different syrups.
            I bought some today, and they had a lovely gift bag for the kids with syrup, maple jelly, and maple candies.

    2. Filosofickle*

      The magnolias are blooming gloriously in my neighborhood, a lovely pop of pink contrasted with so many naked trees.

    3. OyHiOh*

      My partner is on a quest to photograph an owl so we’ve been walking in late afternoon this week. Last night, out at the state park, in a prime owl habitat area, we heard two calling to each other. Didn’t see them, though. We were shadowed by a trio of young deer who kept a healthy distance but more or less followed us.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I love owls and that sounds great. I recently discovered where a great horned owl roosts at dusk in a park not far from where I live. The first time I thought I was just lucky until I saw her/him again in the same spot.

  8. Skeeder Jones*

    So I think I’ve seen crafting threads in the past so I’ll get it started:

    How are y’alls crafting projects going?

    I’ve started crafting for an hour-ish after work and it’s been a nice transition between work and home (WFH for over 3 years) and I love making pretty things and using all those craft supplies Ive purchased. I learned 2 new crafts: Paper quilling and wool felt painting. I’m also starting to work with textile and embroidery. I took one scene and made it four ways and I’m really in love with the grouping. Will link to photos in a comment.

        1. Skeeder Jones*

          Thank you! I love the way they came out. I like each one individually but I’m gaga over the collection together. The embroidered one was fairly time consuming but it was so worth it.

          1. Anono-me*

            The embroidery one is my favorite. (They are all incredible, but there is something more about the embroidery one.

            Thank you for sharing.

    1. Virginia Plain*

      I’ve recently finished a large quilt and a skirt for myself so looking at my next project – in two minds about whether starting a coat now would be bad timing (I have the fabric etc and the pattern). Definitely starting an embroidery piece as a gift – have drawn the design (wisteria) and it will be a mix of normal stitches, couching, tambour work and some beads/sequins.

      1. Susie*

        I’m a knitter and used to cross stitch, but I’m super interested in embroidery. Do you have any beginner resources you’d recommend?

        1. Virginia Plain*

          I think the best thing to start with would be a kit. I’d recommend some but all my ideas are U.K. based so you’d be paying over the odds. Perhaps another commenter can think of nice embroidery kits for sale in the US?

        2. Greetings from Easterbubbleonia*

          Hook, Line and Tinker is a company that sells good beginner kits. Quirky designs, only a few colours to wrangle, fairly basic stitches and all the material is included.

        3. Skeeder Jones*

          I kept hearing about how hard a french knot was and stumbled onto this site for a tutorial. I have to say that it was so well written, it took all the fear out of trying the knot. By following her step by step directions, I was able to get it on my first try and then proceed to do a whole bunch more (as displayed in my image of the embroidered project, it’s the dark green section) and I actually felt myself saying “that wasn’t so hard”. She has other tutorials on her site. I haven’t tried any of the others but based on the success I had with the french knot, I would bet they are helpful. Here’s the link:

    2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I am close to finishing my first cross stitch project in 5+ years! It’s an initial for my friend’s baby, I’m doing some flowers around the edges but just ad libbing the pattern. I have really enjoyed watching old (pre-code Hollywood stuff) movies/trashy reality tv and stitching away my evenings.

      I’m also doing paper marbling,.and want to give lip balm making a go.

      1. Skeeder Jones*

        I’ve seen those initial projects and love them. I’m sure your friend will love it and appreciate all the work you are putting into it. It’s the kind of decor that will work for all ages so they can keep it as they grow up.

    3. Dr.KMnO4*

      My friend and I are painting Warhammer miniatures in the style of My Little Pony for each other. I’ve finished painting two- one has a Twilight Sparkle color scheme and the other has an Applejack color scheme. It’s been fun so far and I’m looking forward to doing the rest.

      1. Holly the spa pro*

        I adore Warhammer and would love to get into painting miniatures but i can see it getting expensive really really fast.

        1. Dr.KMnO4*

          It can. Especially if you like the bigger models, or an army that relies on small groups of very strong models. The hobby is often affectionately called “plastic crack”, with the caveat that actual crack is probably cheaper.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I pulled out one of my UFOs (unfinished objects) and have added an inch to my ‘random yarns’ lengthwise scarf.

    5. Holly the spa pro*

      I do resin casting and thus always have about a million half finished projects in different stages. I have spent the last several sessions painting engraved pieces with lots of tiny details and it has been very time consuming but also comfy and relaxing and ill be kinda sad when they are finished.

    6. twocents*

      Honestly a bit disappointed. I picked up mini painting recently and purchased some mini bases, but they’re much larger than I had envisioned. So now I have 20 mini bases that I don’t want to use for my minis… I also don’t really want to toss the package because waste, can’t return it because it’s opened, and not sure what to do with them. Stuck them on a corner of the shelf for now.

    7. Not A Manager*

      Today or tomorrow I will finish the afghan that I am making for a friend. Once again I didn’t have enough yarn to make it as long as I wanted, so I had to piece in some yarn of a different color. It’s nice, but I’m going to need to find a source that is less expensive and dyes in larger lots.

    8. OyHiOh*

      I just finished a huge quilled mandala suspended in a frame.

      Have a plan for a quilled landscape coming up next, but need to finish a beaded project first – I’m copying a Gauguin painting (Bathers in Tahiti) onto a foam model head, in beads. It is as complex and fiddly as you think.

      1. Skeeder Jones*

        How long have you done quilling? This was my first project and it was a lot easier than I expected and I’m really happy with how it came out. I’ve seen some incredible quilled projects and I can only aspire to that level but I know I’ll get better in time. The beading project sounds like it will take a while but I bet it will be gorgeous.

        1. OyHiOh*

          I was given a kit (paper, tool, directions) when I was 12 or 13. Kind of forgot about it after I ran out of pre cut quills. Picked up the skill again last summer, only using handcut quills from magazine paper. I’ve streamlined my process with a manual paper shredder that cuts 1/8th inch (.4 cm) strips.

          1. Skeeder Jones*

            That’s pretty smart to get a shredder to do the hard work for you! I’ll have to look in to that but I think part of what made it easy to get started was the fact that I had all those pre-cut paper. However, I did cut my own for the black because it needed to be sturdier to stand up. I haven’t figured out my next quilling project.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m making a book nook! I’ve been looking at ideas and tips for awhile and finally ordered some items which are scheduled to arrive today :) This one is going to be a relatively simple design (mostly just painting the walls and putting some stuff inside) but if it goes well I plan to do a more elaborate one where I’d be making little buildings too.

    10. HamlindigoBlue*

      I’m still working on my test knit cardigan. The deadline is looming, and I just need to finish it up.

      I signed my daughter up for a pop art class online. She’s going to be learning how to draw a comic version of pets. The course description says that you can either do digital drawing or go the traditional route. I think she’s going to use her iPad for this.

    11. The teapots are on fire*

      I’m practicing hand buttonholes for the joy of it and planning to do the next step on a jacket I’m working on (very tricky to match plaid and I’ve had to put the project in timeout multiple times) and I want to tweak the fit on a muslin for an 1860s corset (Redthreaded’s pattern).

    12. Dancing Otter*

      Knitting and patchwork
      I finished a pair of socks Wednesday and started the next pair, with ho-hum yarn from stash, yesterday. So of course my yarn order is delivered today.
      On Monday (eek, is it really March already?), I’ve got two knit-alongs starting, one for socks and one for fingerless mitts. I like things I can actually finish before getting totally bored with them. Too many big projects end up in permanent hibernation.
      A friend is organizing a quilt block exchange of Valentine/heart themed 6” blocks. She thinks there might be up to 20 participants. I ordered fabric already, and am considering block designs. Simple and show off the heart print, or complex and show off my skill but maybe not the fabric? Or maybe several different designs?

    13. KittyCardigans*

      Last week I finished a cross-stitch piece I’d been working on for a while, and I’m very pleased with how it came out. I have another to start (Disney Channel cartoon characters from the 80s and 90s—should be fun!), but first I’m taking a little bit of a break and trying out a knitting pattern for baby booties. Even though I’ve been knitting >15 years, I usually stick to dishcloths, so this pattern uses several techniques* I haven’t tried before. I figured that since booties are small, I won’t get as frustrated about frogging them twenty times as I learn new skills!

      *I mean, TWO pairs of circular needles?! Simultaneously?!?

      1. Skeeder Jones*

        Those booties sound complicated to this non-knitter! I took a knitting class over a decade and have to confess I never tried to knit after the class. Maybe someday I’ll try it again.

  9. anon for this*

    Has anyone tried a paid matchmaking service as an alternative to online dating? I am an introverted AND very busy person. In theory, I would like to add a partner to my life, but I have never liked anything about creating a profile for myself or looking through other people’s, plus that takes time that I don’t think I have. The idea of paying someone else to do the hard work for me is appealing, but I assume it is not cheap and I don’t know anyone who has tried this. I would like to hear about experiences good and bad, either with specific matchmaking services or in general. Secondhand stories are fine as well, because all I have to go on at the moment are advertisements in airline magazines, and that sort of thing. Thank you!

    1. Trude*

      Alison once interviewed someone who used to work at a paid matchmaking service! I think it’s filled under interesting jobs tag? Although it’s from a few years ago so maybe some parts of the service have changed.

      1. Val*

        The people i know who used matchmaking services had been looking for spouses in small communities (conservative ones) and the matchmaker knew most people in the community. Two out of three were successful (married and stayed married a decade at least).

      2. Jackalope*

        I looked into it once, but it was *so* expensive (or at least the ones I found). It was something like $500/mo if you were an “active” member, although you could be a “passive” member, pay them a one-time $100 fee, and then they wouldn’t be trying to put you in relationships but they’d have you on their list of matches so they could put you with someone else that was actively trying. I know this isn’t quite what you were looking for, since I didn’t actually try them, but the cost to me seemed prohibitive.

        1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*


          I looked into them before I met my now-husband (on OkCupid, so it was free haha). I can’t say 100% that my memory is accurate, but I feel like you had to pay almost $5k to even get started and then it was fees forever and a day.

          There was also clearly the expectation that as a woman, I would be expected to meet certain standards to be appropriate for these men. In addition to the cost, I simply didn’t want to deal with all that.

          Do you have any friends who were successful at online dating? When I still used the services, I would happily help friends create and refine their profiles, so you may have someone in your life who would help for the price of a bottle of wine or something.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Take this with a grain of salt.

      My friends tried it over 10 years ago now and had no luck. Unique situation is that she was a military doctor and looking for a similar professional, classy guy. That’s a small niche of interest especially if long term the guy follows you around for your career and can’t build his.

      But my impression is that since it is expensive it for wealthy people and “classy” people that go to fancier/high society events than I prefer rather than down-to-earth ones. And the match maker is working from a small subset of people either paying for the service OR people not paying but who would interest people paying (young attractive girls for wealthy guys).

      My suggested question are what kind of pool of candidates do they have? Where did they draw the pool? How many dates do you get? Later in the process after they go through their most likely candidates do they keep working their way down the list or wait for new guys to join their pool for a match? Because IIRC my friend stopped after later matches got less and less matched.

      I would love the idea of someone doing the work of online dating for me because it is a chore, but I’m doubtful of success for me. I guess the deep question is are these people going to be able to figure you out enough to send you on dates with guys you’d select for yourself even with you paying them for their time and expertise.

      I assumed you’re a woman looking for a man in this answer. Don’t know. I feel like that skews the numbers against you. More women looking for love more aggressively than men for all sort of societal reasons. I think het males would have an easier go of it, but I really don’t have facts to back that up.

    3. NoLongerYoung*

      Consider this as a project. I’ve been working on it for (insert time length) with a dip-the-toes in approach. I drafted a quick profile, a “looks like me picture” and put it up on match for 1-2 minutes – then hid it. Now they email me every day with recommendations (I use special email account for this). I can see their idea of matches and start to evaluate the market. (Sorry, brain works in competitive analysis….LOL). Doesn’t cost me anything, and I am getting a sense of what appeals to me- and doesn’t for someone else’s write up and profile.
      I also sat down with a few trusted friends and family. One is going to help with my photos; one is going to help me with my writeup; one has been working with me on hair and makeup. I’ve also been informationally interviewing friends who have found – or not- someone on how they did it.
      This has given me lots of great conversation with a younger group, in terms of what to expect, what to watch for, etc.
      I may find someone completely elsewhere (I’d prefer my church social group), but in the meantime, I’m actually having more entertainment than I did car shopping (which I spent 3 months researching!).
      I actually am not feeling any pressure around this, which helps a lot. I have a wonderful friends group and network, so someone new in my life to date would be a bonus, not fill a hole in my life. So I can take my time.
      I also feel that letting my network know I am “back on the market” is good. It opens the options for friend-of-a-friend introductions and expanding my social circle.
      Lastly? Not only didn’t I want to pay, but I wanted to be sure I was really ready. If I ease into it and learn to trust my gut (I ignored it last time – many of you know that tragedy from a couple years ago when I posted), and work with my counselor on my side of the equation… I continue to grow emotionally even if I don’t find someone. And that’s the current goal.

    4. Bluebell*

      I used a matchmaker long, long, ago, after a friend of mine had hired one. She bought the package of 6 introductions, and only went on 2-3 dates. I bought the package of 3 dates, only met one person, and reader, I married him.

    5. The teapots are on fire*

      One of my friends is married to a lovely man she met this way. They’re an adorable couple.

    6. Catherine*

      I went to an initial consult with one, and was interviewed very extensively about my family and educational history, etc. I chose not to continue with the service after the matchmaker recommended that I pretend that I didn’t have a brother or that he was deceased (he is alive, we are very close, but there are several reasons why his continued presence in my life renders me an undesirable partner to a decent member of society). I just do not have the brain space/energy/level of having my shit together necessary to sustain that big of a lie, or figure out a way to sneak around so that I can still see my brother.

  10. Val*

    I’ve moved to many cities (europe), and the first thing I did was walk them : I took at very least a couple of weekends to go there and walk around (+public transport), check out neighborhoods, chat with service people/small business owners (I went at non busy times) and then I double checked with forums/rental websites I ‘d browsed.
    Renting an Airbnb for one month (negotiate the price) in an unknown city before settling in a rental was something my brother did. It could be a good idea to do that before joining a shared house.

    For roommates, I would join an existing functional shared house that’s looking for someone instead of starting from scratch (very risky). To evaluate “functional” ask about chores, pets, visitors, noise levels/party life (or right now, pandemic precautions), utilities, what happens if someone doesn’t pay rent, etc. and why the previous roomate left (+ how long everyone’s been there) . Bring your best authentic self like for a date and trust your gut^^.

    For rentals, check the local laws: how much owners can ask upfront, are they allowed to have a key? your rights as tenant etc. Be wary of any offer that looks too good or for people who ask for payment before a visit.
    Check what kind of info you need to give to show you’re serious (proof of employment? Last year’s tax documents? I have no idea how it works in the US).

  11. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

    Question around neurodiversity and mental health care!

    A lot of evidence-based talk therapy approaches (for anxiety, OCD, depression) were developed and researched without an eye toward neurodiversity. And trainings for practioners haven’t always emphasised different experiences/perspectives on the world.

    I’d be really curious if anyone is aware of resources, or has personal experiences they’re willing to share — around being treated for anxiety/low-mood/OCD/PTSD, etc — while also identifying as neuroatypical. Especially if the treatment started before they were diagnosed.

    I have access to a lot of academic material around this, but not a lot of first-person experiences. Many of the materials I’ve found have been very focused on children. There seems to be gap around adult experiences, but I might not be looking in the right places.

    1. StellaBella*

      Would EMDR help? A friend of mine has used it for her child and he is neuro divergent, sufferes trauma from medical issues. From WIKIPEDIA: Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy developed by Francine Shapiro starting in 1988 in which the person being treated is asked to recall distressing images; the therapist then directs the patient in one type of bilateral stimulation, such as side-to-side eye movements or hand tapping. According to the 2013 World Health Organization practice guideline: “This therapy [EMDR] is based on the idea that negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours are the result of unprocessed memories. The treatment involves standardized procedures that include focusing simultaneously on (a) spontaneous associations of traumatic images, thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations and (b) bilateral stimulation that is most commonly in the form of repeated eye movements.” EMDR is included in several evidence-based guidelines for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with varying levels of recommendation and evidence (very low to moderate per WHO stress guidelines). As of 2020, the American Psychological Association lists EMDR as an evidence-based treatment for PTSD but stresses that “the available evidence can be interpreted in several ways” and notes there is debate about the precise mechanism by which EMDR appears to relieve PTSD symptoms with some evidence EMDR may simply be a variety of exposure therapy.

    2. Lobsterp0t*

      I have ADHD (diagnosed as an adult) and have had a variety of talking therapies for anxiety and depression.

      I also have a few ADHD pals who have had talking therapies from ADHD specialist clinicians.

      There isn’t really a type of therapy aimed at us, it’s more about the practitioner having an understanding of the stripe of neurodivergent that you are.

      So for me, I went to a specialist and asked for mentalization based techniques. I found that really helpful. I picked him because of his extensive background in child and adolescent as well as adult mental health, specifically working with ADHD and autistic spectrum conditions.

      I’ve had online CBT in the past and I didn’t find it totally useful – I prefer the resources from DBT (you can get a workbook and do these on your own).

      Another thing I found helpful was EMDR. I had this with a precious therapist who had a trauma specialism and it was probably the number one most helpful therapeutic intervention I’ve had. We only did about four sessions and it helped me connect the dots on a lot of past and emotional stuff. Which, although at the time I wasn’t diagnosed, I think is very connected to my ADHD.

    3. Liz*

      I’ve just been referred for autism diagnosis, and I’ve had various experiences in both medical and talking therapy models over the years. I’ve read similar things and I’m inclined to agree. I am also a trainee therapist, and while I have a lot of faith in many of the models I’m learning and beginning to apply, I’m also aware of the faults on both an academic and practical level.

      I’ve had anxiety from an early age, and PTSD from abuse in early adulthood. The difficulty I found during treatment was that therapists would often employ a lot of CBT techniques for these kinds of issues. CBT can be great, don’t get me wrong, but I had some major problems:

      1) Thanks to a lifetime of masking, I am conformist to a fault. When asked about what I was afraid would happen in an anxiety inducing scenario, I would simply deduce what a hypothetical person would be afraid of, and give that as an explanation. I didn’t even occur to me that I was doing it wrong – the model says anxious feelings come from our thoughts, and I couldn’t think of anything, but some thoughts are subconscious, right? I made the assumption that if I could think of it, then it must apply to me in my subconscious. Thus we spent a lot of time debunking beliefs I did not even hold, and my anxiety is not much better.

      2) The Intense World model suggests that autism can make the world seem noisy, unpredictable, and frightening. Unexpected things happen all the time, and I really don’t like it. It’s hard to unpick that kind of anxiety because it’s not a case of learning to recognise that [unpleasant event] is unlikely to happen – in actuality, unpleasant things are happening to me all the time, and are unlikely to stop. It’s about managing those reactions and being able to return to equilibrium afterwards, preferably in as short a time as possible.

      3) Therapy might also ask you to imagine what is likely to happen in the scenario you are imagining (so that you can describe how it’s all actually going to go smoothly and reinforce the idea that it will be fine, really) and one feature of autism is that planning or picturing the future is difficult (hence the unpredictable world). Again, conforming to the expected behaviour, I would describe an ideal version of events that I deduced was what they wanted me to say, but I can’t say I could rationalise or internalise what I was saying, because my fearful inner voice always said “but you can’t possibly account for all the variables here…” I didn’t believe my own account, so the exercise was meaningless.

      4) Some models of autism point to an overactive amygdala and highly reactive emotional pathways in the brain. In laymens terms, this means the individual will feel their feelings MUCH more intensely. Sometimes I’m not even afraid of anything happening beyond the feelings that occur – they’re that unpleasant. That circular fear is difficult to break. Also, when we are in an intense emotional state, we lose access to our higher brain functions (thanks to the wonderful effects of adrenaline) so if you are a person who feels those spikes of fear that much more powerfully, you’re going to have a harder time enacting any cognitive coping strategies than someone whose anxiety “spikes” at a lower level.

      5) CBT asks you to look for evidence that contradicts your fear and toss out evidence that supports it. My brain is VERY GOOD at noticing the patterns that reinforce my fears. Another feature of autism is difficulty filtering information into Relevant and Irrelevant. If the therapeutic process asks me to discount past negative experiences and favour evidence that points to positive outcomes, I’m going to have a hard time doing that, even if it ultimately makes me feel better. In my head, ALL information is relevant and important because that’s what makes the world less unpredictable.

      I realise this sounds like I’m dumping on my intended profession, so in the interests of balance, here are some things that I’ve found that have been positive in my therapy journey:

      1) Adapted therapeutic models that are designed for autism do exist. CBT has been found to be ineffective, until an adapted model was devised. You might have to pay extra and shop around for a more specialised therapist, but they exist.

      2) Get out of your thoughts and into your feelings. Cognitive models can be great, but learning how to be comfortable with your emotions in a safe environment can help to make them less overwhelming when they pop up in real life in all their intense, mind blowing glory.

      3) Mindfulness. I roll my eyes saying this, as it’s trendy as hell right now, but I’m finding a lot of evidence that it helps, both in research and in my own practice. Mindfulness can make you aware of bubbling emotions right when they start to surface, rather than when they get overwhelming, and practicing soothing techniques when you’re NOT in a state of overwhelm can make it easier to employ them when you DO need them. I was taught relaxation breathing techniques from the age of 10, and I’ve used them all my life. Now I use them with clients.

      4) Find a therapist you can connect with, and it’s magical. I’ve had a string of therapists, often for rather focused issues which I then fail to extrapolate to other scenarios. My current therapist, who admits has oftentimes felt he is chasing me around a more central issue while I try and evade him by bringing up little psychological side quests, has realised my ability to overrationalise, and has adapted to a heavily person-centred feelings-focused model. Over time, I have stopped masking, even if it’s just for brief moments. He recognises my authentic self, even when I cannot, because he’s seen the difference when the mask comes off. For the first time, I’m looking at the deeper roots of my problems: how easily I internalise negative messages, how my parents would punish me for my meltdowns and made me afraid of my own feelings. It took us a long time and a lot of work to get to this stage, but ultimately it’s worth it.

      5) Read. Knowledge is power, and the more you can understand how your own brain works, the more you can harness it for good. My therapist recommended Temple Grandin for a starter and I’m branching out from there.

      I hope this ramble has been in some way useful. I’m only recently starting this journey myself, although I’ve been in and out of therapy in some form or another for more than 25 years now. Feel free to ask questions, I’ll endeavour to check in throughout the day.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        This is very, very useful! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

        I work in mental health, and this personal research is in part prompted by the problems you’re describing re: cognitive models / CBT.

        1. Liz*

          You’re very welcome. I’m hearing similar things from people I’m supporting too, and it’s hard sometimes when you feel all the hard work you do doesn’t connect with people. But there are answers out there, and knowledge is growing all the time. Other, less common techniques exist. One client has said he found DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy) particularly helpful. Another found EMDR far more effective than traditional methods. And, as Jay commented below, the relationship between client and therapist can make or break the process. Psychology, I often find, is more art than science.


      2. Serenity*

        OMG… these insights are groundbreaking to me. May I share them with the therapists at my office (with such attribution as is available ‘Liz, a commenter at AAM’)? No one is specifically trained in working with neurodiverse kids, but many do. These would be VERY helpful ideas.

        Regardless, thank you for sharing what you’ve learned about yourself through your experience.

        1. Liz*

          I’m more than happy for you to share. There’s a huge lack of training within mental health regarding these issues. The field almost seems to treat mental health, neurodiversity, and learning difficulties as 3 entirely disparate things, when actually the overlap is huge because dual diagnosis is so prevalent. I came into the mental health field knowing very little about autism beyond the commonly discussed archetype, but I was immediately working with people on the spectrum and having to learn as I went along. I had never considered the possibility that I myself might have autism until people I know through work suggested I pursue a diagnosis, and lo and behold, multiple online dx tools flagged me as “extremely likely”.

          I’m still very much at the beginning of my journey, and I wish I had known all this as a child/ young adult (I’m 36 now, and this knowledge is transforming my understanding of myself and my own history of mental health) but we can only ever move forward.

      3. KoiFeeder*

        This is almost exactly what I was going to say! As a fellow autistic, CBT has not worked at all for me, and you nailed down why.

        From the perspective of someone who doesn’t mask very well, my version of point number 1 isn’t that I picked the Average Scenario, but I could throw out about ten or twenty catastrophes based on which variables went wrong, and not all of them are possible to prepare for (“plane falling out of the sky” was a big one with me in middle school, and it’s impossible to protect yourself from that!) and occasionally some of them were mutually exclusive to prevent. My poor therapist had to deal with a lot of goalpost-moving.

        1. Liz*

          Yes, I can relate so well to the variables game! My anxious brain “white noise” so to speak is “too many variables”. I get a kind of decision paralysis around certain situations where I can’t tell what’s going to happen because I can’t account for all factors, therefore I can’t pick a course of action. It’s not that I’m necessarily scared of something in particular that’s going to happen – just that any number of things MIGHT happen, and I can’t always prevent them. How can I know what to do if I don’t know the outcome? It’s like a get stuck on an incomplete computation, and then anxiety kicks in because I know I need to do SOMETHING, but there’s a blank space in my head where an idea should be.

      4. Bobina*

        I’m not even the person who asked the question but this is so useful to me! I have a few neurodivergent traits (although not enough that I ever feel the need to try and get diagnosed) and while the therapy I’ve had in the past has been useful, I feel like some of the things you’ve pointed out are good things to be mindful of (especially your point about conforming!)

    4. Queer Earthling*

      I was treated for depression and social anxiety in my early 20s, and it wasn’t until my late 20s that I started realizing I’m probably neurodivergent. I’m about 33 now, for reference. (I should note that I’m not professionally diagnosed because I can’t afford a diagnosis. My younger treatment was on my parents’ insurance. I am not interested in discussing the merits of self-dx versus professional.) It still gave me several tools that I was able to successfully use, and in fact that I still use in the day-to-day!

      There were some minor misunderstandings between me and my therapist that were probably, in retrospect, due to being neuroatypical–I would say something in very precise language and she would read it as being tense when I only thought I was being technical and clear–but it wasn’t really enough to be an issue. It also might have been interesting to discuss how being neurodivergent may have influenced my social anxiety, which was pretty severe at the time, but I was still able to successfully implement many strategies for dealing with it.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Thank you for sharing. The situation you’re describing with misinterpretation is something I’m trying to better understand and be aware of.

    5. Jay*

      When I first entered therapy, I read an article (academic, evidence-based) that said the quality of the relationship is a better predictor of “success” than the modality itself. That was 25 years ago and the research has continued to support that idea. My therapists have used various approaches with me including CBT, mindfulness work, and now Internal Family Systems depending on my needs at the time. I don’t know of any literature specifically looking at work with neurodivergent folks. If I were looking for that, I’d rely on recommendations from other people in my community (in this case I mean the neurodivergent community more than the geographic community). I think comfort with and experience with neurodivergent clients will be more important that the type of therapy.

    6. B*

      Tapping (emotional freedom technique) is shown to have good outcomes. I’m currently trying to find a provider who offers this.
      Also cognitive processing is very focused shows good outcomes. There was an interesting episode of this American life following a person doing this work.

      1. Dee*

        I haven’t worked with an EFT practitioner but I use the tapping solution app and it’s pretty awesome.

    7. Dee*

      Something I have only recently realized is that apparently many mental health professionals have an idea of shorter term counselling being appropriate, which I’m sure makes sense for some people but not for me. I’m going to continue to be neurodivergent and needing some help after twelve sessions are over.

    8. A Beautiful Mind (ironic)*

      (Sorry, this got super long and personal–the TL;DR is: the very most helpful thing to me would have been if just ONE of all the (seven) therapists I saw in my 20s had seen the signs and helped me get diagnosed instead of thinking I was too smart to be autistic.)

      I’ve not yet pursued a professional diagnosis but I’m pretty sure I’m autistic (and sometimes think I might have ADHD too). Female, about to turn 30, academically gifted and of a quiet and sunny-ish disposition so my struggles never ended up on anyone’s radar. I developed extreme social anxiety/social phobia around the age of 11, and depression etc. as a result of that. Between the ages of 19 and 26 I tried to get help so many times, seeing a new therapist basically every year (because of moving, seeing therapists-in-training on limited contracts etc.–mostly I had 3-10 sessions with each person in a span of 2-5 months or so, then 6+ months “off” before the next crisis).

      Overall I would say I got something positive from most of these contacts–my issues were a bit like an onion where I needed help to peel off a layer at a time, and after that issue/crisis was resolved, as time passed another layer “dried up” and became a crisis that I needed help to “peel off”, again and again. Each therapist had a different perspective on what I needed (I often just presented with “I’m sad all the time” or “I’m having panic attacks constantly”) and how to work on it, but a lot of them based their approach on CBT. I think the comments you’ve already received on CBT are excellent–it’s not great for me as I’m very much a thinker, and a lot of my problems have not been things I can think my way out of. I think most of the therapists have realised that at some point and adjusted to bring in other elements. I’m not super well versed in therapeutic techniques so describing it from my perspective as a client, what I really needed was non-judgemental listening with an unconditional positive regard from which I could learn to trust people (a lot of my issues stem from bullying and from what I’ve read my experience is quite common among ND people–worst of all the thing where people are your friend and then all of a sudden they hate you and you have NO IDEA WHY but just have to adjust to being alone again OR forgive those little sh*ts and be “friends” with them again), as well as plain emotional support around doing things even though they scared the crap out of me–basically having someone walk me through the steps I needed to take, prepare tools for coping on my own as I did them myself between therapy sessions, and then being there to debrief and help me regain equilibrium after doing it. (Possibly something other people can have friends and family do, but I just don’t have close enough relationships for that AND find that the level of support I can need in these situations is far beyond what’s reasonable to expect from anyone who isn’t a trained professional I’m paying.)

      However, and it’s a big however, each of these times have also harmed me in very similar ways. With every single one of these therapists I’ve felt like my life and my choices and my very way of being was being examined and found sorely lacking. I didn’t have enough friends, I wasn’t close enough with my family, I was a weirdo for not having had any romantic relationships (and my family was soooo strange for not pestering me about it), my way of clothes shopping (!!) was strange, my non-interest in travelling was a moral failing, AND SO ON. Even the very best of these therapists (best as in my favourite, she was awesome and really really made a difference in my life!) made me feel like an aberration. With hindsight I think this is about my neurodivergence–I need a different kind of life than most neurotypicals and I don’t mind! These were mostly things I enjoy about myself and had already accepted–sure I’d like to have an easier time with friends and maybe date a bit but eh, that was small potatoes back when I regularly struggled with wanting to die or being unable to leave my flat at all.

      One specific common treatment I need to warn about is mindfulness and meditation. It came up often and I have tried it and maybe it would work for me now? But what ended up happening for me was that it broke down my mental barriers between the absolute CHASM of fear, grief, sadness, shame etc. and my active mental state. So when in a state of “ugh I don’t feel great”, upon trying meditative yoga or whatever to make it better I’d end up sobbing on the floor for hours. This is apparently a n0t unknown effect of meditation! Especially among ND people. So I’ve sworn off all yoga and meditation and would recommend proceeding with caution when anyone tries it the first few times.

      As mentioned, I’m still undiagnosed now and have stayed out of therapy after I quit a really terrible treatment plan in june 2018. Part of me thinks my mind is keeping itself stable just to protect me from needing to go into therapy again–it was that horrific. (But also I made some major life changes that have helped a lot so it’s not all subconscious or magical, heh.) I’m honestly kind of mad that so many people have been let into my mind like this and a few of them have been like “there are definitely autistic traits here but clearly you’re not autistic!” Some of them I’ve even told that I suspected it (I first started reading up on autism at 19) but the dismissiveness I’ve encountered has kept me from pursuing diagnosis. The level of baring-my-soul I’d need to undertake to prove just how many impossible things I’ve managed to accomplish anyway … these are my deepest secrets and shames and maybe if I’d had the courage to be really open about them, someone might have been like “hmm, maybe you ARE autistic but really good at masking”. I don’t know. And as a reasonably successful adult who has landed three different jobs by now (got my first job at 24, never thought it would happen at all) and done extremely well at each of them, I’m trying to decide between seeking a diagnosis now when I’m well or waiting until the next crisis and bringing it up then as a “before we start treatment, please know this and adjust your approach”. With the ease of procrastinating this super hard thing I’ll probably never make a decision and ending up at option 2, ahem.

  12. StellaBella*

    Question: If you miss a parent that has passed away, how do you honour their memory when the anniversary comes up? My mom passed >10years ago this weekend, and I was planning on a long walk in nature – super nice weather all week and today it is rainy and super windy so a walk is out. Normally I would walk or go on a little road trip but not now with this bad weather. Any ideas? I will call family, and will clean my apartment, but would love a few ideas, please.

    1. Medea*

      You’re post made me tear up. I lost my grandma last year. I’m dreading the anniversary but one thing I’d like to do is make food she used to make for us. It’s never going to taste the same but I have so many memories around food with her that this seems like the best way to honour her memory. Smells and tastes bring back different memories than pictures or sounds (music).

      1. StellaBella*

        Yes I am going to make some grilled chicken and broccoli tonight in her honour. I am sorry for your loss of your grandma, it is tough. Hang in there.

      2. Hotdog not dog*

        I put mine above in Small Joys…I love watching the visitors who come to my yard from the neighboring wildlife preserve. It’s a different show every time I look out the window!

      3. Hotdog not dog*

        I cook recipes from my grandmother and use her dishes (I was fortunate to get a few serving pieces before her things were shipped off to the rummage sale.) She wasn’t an outstanding cook, but she was A+ on presentation. Any time I see a paper doily under a fruit cup it makes me think of her!

    2. Not A Manager*

      I light a candle and say a prayer. If you don’t want to pray, you could think of a nice memory of your loved one. My prayer ends with a pledge to do good deeds in honor of my loved one. It’s nice because it translates my love and missing them into an action item.

    3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      One of my friends passed away when he was quite young. He loved hamburgers and used to do ‘searches’ for the best one. His family once went to his favorite burger place, set up camp at the counter, and bought a meal for every year he would have been (I can’t remember what birthday it was, but think they paid for 25 strangers meals).

      I think the idea of enjoying something your loved one enjoyed is a wonderful way to feel close. If your Mom loved moussaka, for example, you could make a nice meal of that. Or watch her favorite movie while drinking her favorite tea. Depending on your family dynamics, you could suggest others do the same, and at the EOD you could all share photos of your homemade moussaka (or whatever!).

      Passing along the love can also make things feel better — so if there’s a local charity that you’re fond of, making a donation. Or if you have some loved ones who’ve also lost a parent, taking the time to send them a card or fresh flowers. (I know giving things to other people when it’s your grief seems a little counterintuitive, but I have always found it to be very helpful.)

      This one can be difficult, depending on your relationship with grief (and with your parent) but it can also be really lovely: a nice way of honoring a parent’s love can be to take 30 minutes and really try to remember not just what you loved about them, but what they loved about you. Taking some time to really put yourself in her shoes and imagine what it may have been like for her to be expecting / preparing for a new baby. Thinking of how many hours she must have spent awake, holding you and caring for you. See if you can remember what she admired about you and how she most enjoyed spending time with you. Free-writing can sometimes help with this.

      I’m sorry for your loss. I hope that you find something that feels right to you!

      1. StellaBella*

        Thank you, such good ideas. I got teary eyed thinking how proud my mom would be because of my recent winning battle with some srious health issues. Trying to think of things that a loved one loved about you is a good exercise.

      2. Cj*

        This is a really good idea. I think the memories, even on the anniversary of their death, should be about their life not their passing.

    4. Lizabeth*

      I am planning a memorial garden in the backyard of their last house (decided to keep it for the time being). Mom was an avid gardener & birder and Dad was big on DIY outdoor projects. His last big one was building stone walls at the last house before this one. While that is a bit beyond me, planting bird friendly shrubs in the spring (for Mom) and a dwarf dogwood in the fall (for Dad) together in a grouping is the plan.

      Since the weather is not great, what about cooking one of their favorite meals?

      1. StellaBella*

        The garden idea is lovely. I may re pot two small oak seedlings I have been growing. And I will make a nice dinner of her favorite grilled chicken and broccoli.

    5. PeakTransmission*

      It varies but for both my parents I generally reserve a ‘me’ day so I get to do whatever I want with no commitments to anything else. This year I stayed home and listened to music my dad used to love, then cooked his favourite meal and had a solo celebratory dinner. For my mom I’ll do something similar, or go to the beach for the day as it was one of her favourite places. It’s different each year round but I do it with freedom and without pressure, so I just roll with what I want to do when the day comes around.

      1. StellaBella*

        A good way to take time for yourself and your memories. I am taking the day off from work emails tho I have to work half of Sunday. But so far today I have done my groceries and spoke to two close friends.

    6. Susie*

      This is a really helpful thread. The three year anniversary of my dad’s passing is coming up. If anything, it is getting harder each year. My daughters genetic condition was diagnosed days after my dad passed and we’ve had to spend so much time getting her the support she needs. Now that her health is more stable and she is making progress, I feel like I can give myself the space to mourn that I couldn’t 3 years ago.
      I haven’t thought about having a tradition to honor it, but that might really help.

    7. fposte*

      Would planning a road trip for later by doing it virtually now work at all? Or you could do that for a trip you did together and Google Street View sights that you enjoyed.

      I confess I’m not so much an anniversary-observing person, but my father’s ashes are beneath my flowering cherry and a Japanese maple, so I always think of him in spring when they bloom and leaf out. And then this winter the maple bore Christmas lights, which he would have gotten a kick out of.

    8. B*

      Stellabella I’m sorry for your loss. Moms are so important in the fabric of our lives. Yours must have been a great one for your careful tending of her memory.
      I love stories. Do you have a small group who could gather and tell her stories. Sometimes those opportunities to reminisce and remember things that we don’t talk about much can be powerful. And if I can volunteer for the group, I’d love to hear a good mom story.

    9. tab*

      I celebrate my father’s birthday, not the anniversary of his death. I post a photo on Facebook, and share a funny or sweet quote and/or memory. I try to feel gratitude for all the ways he lives on in me and the rest of our family.

    10. Missing loved ones*

      We do this on my father’s birthday. Everyone (no matter where we are, we live in different places) gets a milkshake (his favorite). Chocolate is preferable but it’s ok to get what you like. On the first Father’s Day street after his death, we donated to a specific charity in his honor.

    11. Coenobita*

      I am extremely secular/unobservant and some of the family members I’ve lost weren’t Jewish at all, but I find the Jewish yahrzeit ritual meaningful. You light a candle on the eve of the anniversary (it’s meant to be the anniversary on the Hebrew calendar but I will do it on secular/Gregorian anniversary too sometimes). You use a special candle that burns for a really long time and it’s lovely, it sort of carries you through.

      (As a child, I thought people talking about yahrzeit – which you pronounce sort of like “yarrt sight” – were actually saying the English phrase “yard site,” because you go visit the grave. That still makes sense to me!)

    12. Dancing Otter*

      Donate altar flowers at their church for the anniversary of their deaths and/or their birthdays.
      Of course, this year not so much, without in-person church services. Maybe by July?

    13. Voluptuousfire*

      My dad passed in May, the day before his birthday. I’ll get a few scratch offs, get some Wendy’s chicken nuggets, fries and a sugar feee or mange creme ice from the local Italian ice place.

      That’s what he’d do, so I’ll keep that up.

    14. Rara Avis*

      We have an antique ship’s bell my father in law gave to us (because I play handbells) and we ring it in his memory.

    15. Bumpjumper*

      My mom died 16 years ago, and after a few years of trial and error, I’ve found what works best for me is to have ZERO expectations of myself for that day. Some years I’m able to move through the day ok, other years I’m a mess. As long as I let the feelings come as they need to, and I have delegated or abdicated all responsibilities for children, pets, work, etc, I do what I need to do to get through the day. Sometimes this is staying in bed, sometimes it’s going for a walk, sometimes it’s angry cleaning the house. This past year I went kayaking for three hours and it was perfect.
      My husband usually takes the day off and takes the kids somewhere (it’s in July so they’re always out of school) and if I feel like it, I join them but always drive separately so I can leave if I need to. I always fall apart in a big blubbery crying mess sometime after I go to bed, and then I know I’m good for another year. We celebrate my mom’s birthday with yellow flowers and birthday cake and lots of stories, but the anniversary of her death is still a really hard day for me.

  13. Tear stains on light fur colored dog*

    I have a very old toy poodle (mostly blind, with some doggy dementia) who has a lot of eye tearing that leads to discoloration and build up. I try to clean the area under the eye daily with warm water and eye wipes but she HATES being touched there.

    She is normally sweet and loving but as soon as my hand has a wipe or wet towel and goes towards her face, she starts snapping. This behavior is recent but so is her sight loss.

    What can I do to keep her from getting so stressed during cleaning ? And what products do you recommend for cleaning the under eye area?

    1. Lobsterp0t*

      I’d say take it way back and work on some counter conditioning for this.

      If you look at Karen Pryor her training website has some really good videos – this is something that clicker training could be perfect for since the dog is visually impaired.

      I’d consider too – is this physically uncomfortable for her? Maybe it’s just very scary having something so near her face that she can’t really see too well.

      The key thing is not to plough ahead with it anyway. If it’s just cosmetic there’s no reason not to take it very slow and work on counter conditioning, and building up to removing that (ha) build up.

    2. sswj*

      It may actually be painful now, like a chapped nose from too much blowing and wiping.

      If you haven’t already, get her face trimmed really short. Then put a tiny dab or smear of vaseline at the corner of each eye where the discoloration is, you can do a very quick wipe off and re-dab every few days instead of every day.

      If she’s food motivated at all you can use this time to give her something ultra-special that she rarely gets. A bit of deli meat, maybe, first; then do one eye, then another mouthful, the second eye, and then one more delicious mouthful.

      Good luck, this is a toughie.

    3. Dog and cat fosterer*

      Does she like food? If she has a favourite treat then I would save it for washing her face. I have heard of smearing peanut butter on the tub or a lickmat so that you can keep pup focused in one place. That food is particularly useful as it takes time to lick off.

      If it is just discoloration then do you need to wipe it? Please don’t feel the need to respond, as I completely understand if you do, I just ask to ensure you have considered both options. Usually we worry about it when a foster dog licks their paw so that the fluffy white dogs get pink paws, because it means allergies or stress and both of those should be resolved. I also have a neighbor whose white poodle went through an intense bum-cleaning phase and they worked to resolve that because the bum became a big pink spot that looked very odd. I thought it was hilarious as I knew the reason for it, but the family really wanted to fix it as most folks would assume that the dog was either sick or they were trying to dye the dog’s bum.

    4. Kuododi*

      If her vet clears it medically, I would recommend CBD treats. I’ve been using it with my two daschunds and it was particularly helpful for my grandpa doggo with dementia and chronic pain. (May his memory be forever a blessing). Amazon.com is a good source for the treats.

      Best wishes

    5. Bucky Barnes*

      We have this issue with our dog. We do the wipes, which she doesn’t like. But we also got the go ahead from her vet to put eye drops in periodically. We use Refresh Liquigel, and it seems to help but not alleviate it completely.

    6. Dwight Schrute*

      You’d probably benefit from looking into cooperative care! Deb Jones has a cooperative care group on Facebook and it’s all about how to do handling with no stress from the animal. Good luck!

    7. ThatGirl*

      We have a very light colored Maltese poodle mix and every night I wipe his eyes and he gets a treat BUT…. I’m here to say it’s cosmetic and it won’t hurt your dog to not do anything, it just looks a little unsightly. But if it hurts your dog or can’t be done without stressing her, you don’t have to do it!

  14. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

    Has anyone rented a treehouse? I’d like to surprise my hubs – he absolutely LOVES treehouses. We’ve watched all the tree house building shows and we have quite often talked about renting one.
    So did you like it? Any tips? And can you recommend one in California?

    1. fposte*

      No, but I want you to report back if you do—like your husband, I love the things, and I look longingly at some of the fancy European rentals.

    2. Pop*

      This is not the same but my husband and I have gone to quite a few fire lookout towers. We absolutely love it! Airbnb definitely has a feature where you can search for treehouse stays, and I’ve run across several. Some of the cooler/high end ones (think with hot tubs) get booked up farther out, so if you have specific dates that will be a limiting factor. Besides that, other things to consider are the same with many Airbnb’s, especially more rural ones depending on the area – do you need 4WD to get to the property? Do you have to walk down steps to get to a (shared or private) bathroom, or is there a bathroom inside? Is there a kitchen, or will you be eating cold sandwiches for all of your meals?

      1. Wishing You Well*

        You asked my primary question: where’s the bathroom and is it a composting toilet (you have to read the directions before using it)!
        Oh, and nobody gets up at night half-asleep, right?
        Clearing that up, sounds like a blast!

    3. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I’m going in about 3 weeks. I’ll post about it afterwards (not in California though)

    4. treehouses rock*

      My partner and I stayed in an treehouse in Cork, Ireland for a night during our honeymoon, and we loved it! It helped that it was super clean, spacious, private, had a lovely balcony and view over the city, included a toilet and shower on the level below, and was well-equipped with cutlery/plates/bottle opener, tea/coffee and a kettle in the room itself. We will definitely go back. The only thing I can really think of in terms of tips is that we found it really helpful to pack a small overnight bag rather than try to lug up all of our luggage. Also, we made sure we had bottles of water with us overnight and used the toilet right before we went to bed (since it was a careful climb down some steep stairs, outside, to the bathroom).

  15. Perstephanie*

    Cell phones questions! I live in one of the spots in the US that does not get cell phone reception. No bars. It’s a small, narrow, wooded valley with only a few of us residents and honestly, I don’t see reception changing anytime soon. I’m self-employed, work out of my home, and generally only leave my house for civilization maybe every two, three weeks. It’s not a life for everyone, of course, but it’s heaven for me.

    BUT! I’m finding it’s increasingly impossible to live in the world without a cell phone, and so I (with resentment in my Luddite heart) just this month bit the bullet and signed up for the most minimal possible Consumer Cellular service. I figure I’ll bring my (flip) phone with me when I drive anywhere, in case of emergencies; and I’ll have it when I need to go to appointments (doctor, vet, etc.) during pandemic times. Plus, my internet provider (which also provides all my landline telephone services) recently had an outage in my area. Contacting them to let them know my service was out proved quite the adventure; my hope is that having a cell phone could make that whole nightmare easier if it happens again. (My plan: Drive to an area where there is some cell reception, park on the side of the road, and make cell phone calls to customer service.)

    I’m just wondering if there’s anyone else out there who’s in a similar boat? I know I’m not actually the only person on earth who has no cell reception in her home, but it sure feels like it sometimes…Any others out there? How do you cope with a world set up for cell users? Have any of you gotten a cell phone only for travel/emergencies, and has it been useful? So far my biggest problem has been remembering to bring the phone with me when I leave the house; I have no “muscle memory” for remembering the phone, so I never do.

    And truth is, I’ve built up a lot of resentment over needing this cell phone at all. I’d love to hear any tips, stories, solidarity, cries-from-the-wilderness if anyone else out there has been in my shoes. Help me not hate my new phone-I-can-barely-use!

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      You are a slightly more extreme version of me as of a couple of years ago. I am generally a late adopter of tech, letting others pay a premium to be beta testers. I held out for years on getting a cell phone, only relenting because my wife worried. She had a point, in that pay phones have gone the way of the dodo. Cost wasn’t the issue. A flip phone and a minimal pay-as-you-go plan is very cheap, especially if you don’t actually use it.

      Was it useful? Sure. I could call from the grocery store and ask if we need milk. Remembering to take it: This is a fair point. You might consider keeping it in the car, perhaps hooked into a charger to keep it fresh.

      Resentment: I feel your pain. In my case I finally broke down and got a smart phone, not because I wanted one but I was planning a trip with my daughter. Just as the removal of pay phones made a flip phone necessary, much of modern society is now built around smart phones. Just checking in to the airline would have been a major pain without one.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        It sounds like you have decent wired internet, so you can connect the cellphone to that using wi-fi calling. As long as the internet is on, you can use the cell phone. Your plan of parking on the side of the road to call sounds fine.

        It sounds like you have a good wired connection, if you’re working from home, and you have a landline, so people can get in touch with you that way. One of my siblings moved outside town to rural area with bad cell reception (could get maybe 1 bar by standing outside in a certain spot) and bad internet (via satellite!), so minimal to no connectivity, and to be honest, it was a pain in the butt, especially when they started having some health issues. I don’t think they really anticipated how bad the satellite internet would be. They found it very isolating because it was so hard to stay in touch with anyone, and ended up moving back into town a year later. But, this was different from you, because you have normal internet, and you are a hobbit who lives in the woods by choice.

        You ask about remembering to take it with you — unless you’re going on a trip, if you can barely use it, why do you feel you have to? You’ve survived this long without it, so maybe the cell phone is a travel-only thing, and you can just keep it in your purse when you do travel. What about the phone do you resent? Are you worried about privacy, security, that sort of thing, or is it the feeling that you’re practically required to use a thing you have no use for?

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            I figured that out, just before commenting that I have fantastic home internet. It’s not relevant. I am just gloating. Even better, it is absurdly cheap. How do I combine these apparently incompatible qualities? It is a municipal fiber network. It is owned by the municipality, who contracts with an ISP to operate it. It is treated like a utility. My local government also provides the water service, and does an excellent job. Neither the internet nor the water are regarded as profit centers. The goal is for both operations to come out even. Life is good.

            Why doesn’t everyone’s local government do this? In many cases, it is because the established providers of overpriced and lousy internet service have bought off the state legislatures, enacting state laws against municipal broadband networks.

            1. Sandman*

              I love this. Our city is working on expanding their municipal broadband, and I can’t wait until they get to my neighborhood.

              1. Richard Hershberger*

                It turns out that removing the profit imperative and being answerable to voters can produce better results than does working zealously to maximize shareholder value. Who would have guessed? Better for the customers, that is, which is the point.

        1. Perstephanie*

          One of the frustrations of being without cell reception: I’ve never had any reason to figure out the many complexities of cell phones. So I haven’t. I do okay navigating internet and TV, but … well, there was a time two, three decades back when all of society was just figuring out what cell phones were and how to work them. And I missed out on that introduction, and entering into the cell world now (even the bare-bones Consumer Cellular flip-phone cell world), I feel like I’m sitting in an advanced trigonometry class when my previous math education ended with “And here is the number 10!”

          I haven’t been able to find any sort of “Cell Phone 101” or even any resources that acknowledge my situation. I get a lot of blank looks, or suggestions for technical fixes that lose me after the first five words or so. I’m struggling on this thread to even know what questions to ask.

          But the world now assumes cell phones. I don’t have a lot of moments when I need one — but when those moments do come up, I REALLY need one. Options for people without cell phones no longer exist. My last doctor’s appointment was … so bad. “Do not enter the office!” signs said. “Do not knock! Call us!” Errrrrrm……

          Then my landline AND internet went out, and that was an even worse nightmare. I couldn’t call my provider. I couldn’t email. I drove to their offices where a sign said “We are not here, we’re all working remotely because of COVID, but if you need help, call us!” Errrrrrm……

          Hence my resentment. X, Y, and Z things used to be possible — but now they’re not. Cell phones have kind of turned into this 800-pound gorilla in my life, sitting there taunting me: “You fail at modern life!” SIGH.

          1. PollyQ*

            Re: cell phone 101, if you start with a flip phone, I think it won’t be that bad. Basically, it’ll be a portable phone that works pretty much like a home phone. There will probably be some features that you’ll want or need to learn — definitely voice mail, and maybe things like 3-way calling. The model you buy will probably come with a manual (in teeny print) that describes how to use these options, or if not, there will definitely be an online manual. You won’t have to worry about all the ins & outs of smartphones, although you may have a little of their functionality, e.g., texting capability or built-in calculator.

            TL;DR — get a flip phone, read the documentation, play around with it, you’ll be fine.

            1. WoodswomanWrites*

              I second a flip phone. Do some research before you buy one since some are simple to use and some are really complicated and difficult to use (avoid Alcatel phones, a real pain even after reading their instructions).

            2. Clisby*

              Agree – I had a flip phone for years. Mainly because the only thing I require of a phone is that I can call people and talk. I do not want to use a phone to surf the web, to read email, to play games – I do not even want to text.

              I’ve graduated to a $70 Tracfone smartphone and occasionally text or use the phone’s camera. Oh, and that flashlight comes in handy sometimes.

          2. Filosofickle*

            I remember when i first got a cell phone, the thing that tripped me up the most was that you punch in the number first, then hit a “go” type button to actually connect. With land lines, you listen for the dial tone to confirm you’re connected THEN punch in the number. Sometimes I’d enter the number and couldn’t figure out why it didn’t connect…duh, it’s because I didn’t hit the button to tell the phone to connect. It’s so basic, but for whatever reason that confused me frequently and I had some trouble going back and forth between kinds of phone.

            You’ll get it :)

          3. Cascadia*

            It sounds like you already have purchased a flip phone. I find youtube to very helpful for tutorials. Just type in “brand of phone, type of phone” tutorial into the youtube search box and see what comes up. Or just google it. So if you got a Nokia XC7900 just type in “nokia XC7900 tutorial” into google or youtube and then watch some videos and see what you can learn. Good luck! You can do it!

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Do flip phones have WiFi capacity these days? Mine never did, but I haven’t had one for mumblety years. :)

          1. Perstephanie*

            I don’t think so? I’m pretty sure mine doesn’t, and I do see that WiFi calling requires later-model Android or iPhones. I sought out the least-fancy phone available, but fancier phones no doubt have more options for usability. (Plus, for me, more ways to fail…..sigh.)

            1. Hopefully Helpful*

              Certain flip phones do come with Wi-Fi capacity and bluetooth. You don’t need a smarthphone (Android or iPhone) to get that feature. It may not be standard on all flip phones, but they do exist.

            2. Phones*

              As HH said below, some flip phones do have that capability, but I’m going to suggest you try smart phone.

              My dad has a basic flip phone and my mom has a (few models old) iPhone. I find the flip phone to be *much* more difficult to use, even for basic tasks like retrieving messages, and I’m pretty tech savvy.

              You might want to try this – buy a used smart phone and just turn it on and start messing around with it. Consumer Cellular has new phones but you can get older ones elsewhere. You can’t do much damage with the phone – just start poking around and see what happens. There are also lots of free articles and videos online that show people how to use their phones.

              Good luck.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have a friend who lives in the middle of a city with perfectly standard cell reception and he still does what you do – he has a flip phone with a minimal prepaid set of minutes and he only has it turned on and with him when he’s driving out of town. I don’t think any of his friends even know the number, though his family might. He leaves it off when he’s not using it so the battery lasts longer, and he plugs it in overnight every couple weeks and leaves a charger for it in his glove box. Just don’t leave it plugged in constantly, because unless the phone is designed for battery management (which I wouldn’t expect from a cheap flip phone), being plugged in constantly may kill the battery capacity much quicker than letting it drain naturally and recharging it when needed.

      1. Perstephanie*

        Red Reader, whoa, I never knew that leaving a phone plugged in could be unwise — thank you! I’ll have to experiment and see how long my phone holds a charge. If I could just keep it in my purse on the regular…that would solve my “forgetting to bring it” problem.

        I also did not realize that cell phone chargers existed for the car. This, too, is huge. Thank you.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          The fancier a phone is, the more likely the software is able to efficiently manage the battery so it doesn’t lose efficiency. Ditto a lot of modern laptops, because more and more people are using them as desktop replacements and just leaving them plugged in the majority of the time. But I wouldn’t expect a flip phone to have that as a feature. :)

          I know my smartphone, if it’s turned off, will only lose about 10% battery over the course of a week. So I would be really surprised if your flip phone, turned off, couldn’t go at least 2-3 weeks without still having enough juice to make a call if you needed it to, if not far longer.

          1. Something Blue*

            Tangent here: when you say modern laptop, how old/new do you mean? Like in the past year or five years?

            I didn’t know that about leaving it plugged in va draining and I’ve been leaving my personal laptop plugged in to make sure it’s always charged.
            But I’ve noticed it getting sluggish starting up and wondered if I was damaging it by leaving it plugged in. (Bought it around 2017)

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              I’ve been hearing about it, at least, in the last… 2-3 years? The problems I’m talking about wouldn’t be likely to be a startup issue, it’s more like, the battery capacity drops. When it was new, you got (for example) 5-6 hours use out of a full charge, but after leaving it plugged in for a long time, the full charge only gets you maybe 3-4 hours use. With an iPhone, you can check the battery capacity in the settings. I know Apple has added battery life control features to their last couple years’ laptops; mine basically limits the charging when it’s plugged in. It runs off the wall power, but won’t charge the battery until it gets below I think it’s 70% unless I go into the settings and tell it to (like if I’m going to take it somewhere, so I want it to charge to full ASAP). You can also turn these settings off, but since I use my laptop as a primary computer it stays at my desk the majority of the time so I leave them on.

              I don’t know much about how other computer manufacturers may have implemented measures like this though, I’m an Apple gal.

              1. Something Blue*

                Thanks! I can check the settings page and see if it offers any options about this.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Car charger is a little round tube with a USB adapter in the end. It plugs into the cigarette lighter. Sold at office supply stores, pharmacies, many gas stations, and I’m sure at all truck stops.

        3. Filosofickle*

          Definitely get a car charger! Even if you forgot to charge it or your home power is out, as long as your car can start, you can juice up to make a call. (Granted, a dead battery is a reason one might need a mobile phone, but that’s another problem.)

        4. Clisby*

          You can get USB phone chargers that plug into what I still call a cigarette lighter – but I mean those 12V connections that I assume most cars have.

    3. GoryDetails*

      I have a small cell phone – not a smartphone but a step up from a flip-phone; brand is Alcatel, it has a pushbutton keypad and teensy screen. I got it years ago when I was doing more traveling to visit my aging parents, and wanted a way to find my ride at the airport. (Also found it handy when meeting friends at restaurants or events; could text an update if I was late or (more usually) if I was early and could I order an appetizer for the latecomers.)

      I really hate talking on the phone, so I mainly use mine for texting, and that rarely. [Even more rarely in COVID times, as I seldom meet people; hopefully that will be easing up as the vaccination rollout continues.] I don’t even turn it on unless I’m planning to use it; the battery lasts a good long while that way, though I do have to remind myself to check the level if I think I’ll want to use the phone.

      I got a pay-per-use plan from AT&T, $2 for each day on which I make one or more calls or texts; minimum fee runs to about $25 every three months, with the minutes accumulating. For my purposes this works quite well, and it is comforting to know I have it in case I need to make an emergency call someday. [It has wifi capability and limited internet connection but it’s VERY limited, very slow, and the teensy screen can’t display much. But for texts and the occasional phone call it’s been perfect for me.]

      That said, I’m teetering on the brink of getting an actual smartphone to facilitate my internet-and-GPS-demanding hobbies. Took the trouble of buying a “Dummies” manual for smartphones so I can walk myself through the functions before deciding if that’s really what I want.

    4. Generic Name*

      The tiny hamlet my father in law lives in gets no cell reception. I actually went there for a few days around the election because I wanted to not be exposed to the play by play of election night and go “off the grid” for a few days. He has like 2 or 3 flip phones from different carriers he uses because sometimes one will get reception but another won’t. There’s a hill outside of town that people routinely park at to make phone calls.

      I wonder why you’re feeling resentment? You absolutely don’t HAVE to get a cell phone, but you’ve also described a scenario that makes perfect sense to get one.

      1. Perstephanie*

        More and more, I feel like I kind of do have to have a cell phone. I think that’s where my resentment comes from. Doctor’s appointments, for instance. Car service. Vet appointments. Food or merchandise pickup. A day when my internet and landline phone service crashed. In every case, the solution was always the same: Call from your cell phone. I know if I’m really all alone in having no cell phone, or if people just no longer are able to picture what it means not to have one, but I’ve never seen the situation addressed. The situations where a cell phone is necessary are rare, but they’re increasing, and when they come up it’s put me in a real bind.

        Aside from folks like me who live in rugged areas, I can’t help but think there must be a lot of low-income people for whom a cell phone isn’t even a remote possibility. We’re a weird little group of stragglers left behind by technology, and it bothers me that life is growing more and more complicated for us. Not to mention: I’m one of the lucky ones who can afford to get minimal cell coverage (granted, kicking and screaming all the while…). I don’t know what others are doing.

        1. Generic Name*

          That makes sense. It’s hard to feel left behind. I’m in my early 40s, and I’m starting to feel similarly about fashion and pop culture. If it makes you feel better, (in the US) there are government programs to provide cell phones and discount cell service to low income people. I’ve seen booths set up on the streets where people can sign up and get a phone tight then and there.

          1. Perstephanie*

            <3 Thank you, that does make me feel better! I'm in my early 60s and reaching the age where I'm becoming "invisible," so to speak (hard to describe, but I talked to a friend the same age about it, and she knew *exactly* what I meant).

            And although I'm left behind by tech these days, when I broke my arm last year a neighbor plowed my driveway and sidewalk for me all winter, refused to take money, there after every snow, because that's what folk here do.

        2. All the cats 4 me*

          Ugh….and don’t forget “two-point” authentication sign ins which are multiplying like fruit flies.

          I have a cell phone, but I only carry it when travelling. It makes me furious that I am expected to use my personal cell phone to be able to do my work in the office. FURIOUS.

          Why don’t I carry a cell phone? Because I do not want to talk to anyone!!!!! And I do not want to spend hundreds of dollars to carry around a device I have no interest in using.

    5. identifying remarks removed*

      If you have internet via wifi then you could try a virtual sim – I’m living abroad but need a UK cell number for a couple of things and just bought one via an app this weekend. I downloaded an app and will use my wifi connection for it.

    6. WS*

      I have poor-to-okay reception where I am in town, but all my colleagues have no cell phone reception at home. Some people also have no internet, so while schools were closed down teachers had to drive around dropping off and picking up worksheets. When we get an intern at work we have to explain in advance that they must have their own reliable car and their cellphone must be with one of only two providers because otherwise it’s no reception anywhere ever. I have to say I do like having a cell phone on drives – the first 30km or so I have no reception but after that I do!

      1. ampersand*

        I kind of love this. I can see how it might seem/be cumbersome, but it’s also heartwarming to know that teachers drove around to drop off and pick up worksheets. That’s kind! (Even if it’s the only option—it’s nice to hear.)

  16. Feeding time*

    My wife and I adopted a baby (our first) at birth. He’s 2 months old now. By pretty much all standards, he’s a wonderful baby. He eats well, sleeps well, and is generally calm and easygoing. We are very happy to have him in our lives.

    But, the issue is, I’m not sure I feel like I love him. My wife had said the same thing – we care for him, but we’re not sure that we have any specific attachment to this baby in particular, or if we just (after several years of wanting a child) love that we have a baby.

    Is this normal? Will it grow on us?

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      This is fairly common. In both adoptive parents and birth parents.

      Some people feel that ‘rush’ of heady love for a specific baby, but many don’t. Everyone will gush while the baby is new and you’ll scan yourself for that overwhelming feeling and not find it.

      But if you carry on, you may find that one random Tuesday while you’re changing a diaper he looks up at you and gives a little grin — and then you love him so much you feel that your heart might burst.

    2. Elf*

      Your baby is two months old. You could be experiencing any combination of 1) twilight zone surrelity, 2) sleep deprivation, 3) hormones (yes, even with adoption) 4) a dozen other things equally capable of messing with you. Having kids is really weird. Feeling almost any way in the world is normal, but what you describe is extremely so. Newborns are pretty boring and have limited personality (and at two months he might not even be smiling yet!). Around six months babies start to get a lot more individual, and they continue to get cuter and more interesting until about two, after which they get more interesting but not so intensely cute (and I have a two year old right now and boy is it good she’s at peak cute because she’s also at peak two).

      TL;DR Yes it’s normal (though not the only normal) and you will feel more of an individual connection as your baby becomes more of an individual.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      1. Not everyone equally likes all stages of childhood and that’s okay.
      2. Two month olds are still basically ear/sleep/poop. In only a short time, baby will be more awake and interactive. Baby will smile at you and giggle.
      3. Love is a verb – it’s what you do. Taking care of baby’s needs *is* love.

      1. Sandi*

        A friend knew that they didn’t really enjoy children under the age of 3, before they had their child. At least they were aware, and took very good care of their baby, yet they really delighted in their child as they grow older.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        #3 Has me all smiles. Yep, love is not an emotion, it’s a commitment. You both are following through on this commitment you have to this child. You already love this child.

        Think about it this way: you and your spouse probably have had points where you were not really happy with each other. You didn’t suddenly stop loving each other, though. A bit later, you both thought about your commitment to each other and got back on track. This is what love looks like. Love is what you choose when you are really “not feeling it”.

    4. Cambridge Comma*

      I felt exactly like this about both my children. One is genetically related to me and one isn’t. I found them very sweet and wanted to take care of them, but I didn’t have the feeling of love until we really connected with one another. They seem pretty oblivious for the first few months.

      1. Imprudence*

        We adopted two children in the UK, both less than a year old. (Both through social services so removed from birth families). First one, wham bang in love, especially my husband. . Second one, not so much. Took about three years before we felt he was ours. All very normal, it will come.

    5. Double A*

      I felt this way about my daughter who I have birth to. Newborns are kind of undifferentiated blobs. I thought she was really neat, but she felt kind of like a pet in the beginning.

      Think of how you fell in love with your wife. You probably we’re attracted to her and liked her a lot, but actual love came when you knew her. With my daughter, every stage has just been better. She’s 2.5 now and I love her so much and she’s just so cool.

      As someone said, love is a verb. The care you give him is both an expression of and will be the cause of the love you have for him.

    6. Not A Manager*

      Absolutely don’t worry about this. I think that your distinction between “loving that we have a baby” and “loving that we have *this* baby” is a good one, and it underscores that honestly, infants are somewhat generic. I predict that as your baby starts to show more individual personality (other than “is not a big pain,” which is a total bonus!) you will start to love that individual personality more fiercely than you do now.

      But also, try to ease up on the requirement that “real love” will just knock you over when it shows up. Maybe it will (reminds me of that Jack White song – he makes love sound very unappealing, tbh), but maybe your love is the gentle, fond nurturing kind. That’s okay, even if it’s like that forever.

    7. Parenthetically*

      NORMAL. And yeah, they start doing the most fun, cute things and it’s so much better.

      Some people just don’t jive with babies. I like babies fine, but I really love preschoolers (and teenagers, ha). Now that my son is that age, it’s so much more fun — really after he started sleeping through the night my life got a bunch easier, and when he started crawling and being able to explore his world, just interacting with him was so much more fun. He’s a person, and getting to know him is a rewarding process.

      1. Jay*

        LOL. I’ll take the babies, you can have the preschoolers, and we can share the teens. I loved having a baby – it helped that she was a champion sleeper and a very cheery kiddo. I was less fond of the toddler/preschooler years. It got better when she started school and I LOVED having a teen. I feel like one of my missions in life is to counter all the gloom-and-doom about parenting teens. It was a blast. She’s 21 now. I love watching her take on adulthood and I still miss the teen years!

    8. Jay*

      I’m a mom by adoption and one of the greatest moments of relief in my entire life was when a friend told me she didn’t “fall in love” with her bio baby for several months. We hear about the sudden head-0ver-heels infatuation; we don’t hear from the people who take a while to get there. It’s totally normal.

      I don’t know how your process worked. Our daughter was placed with us at birth. Her mother’s parental rights weren’t officially terminated for a couple of months. Once that happened I felt much more attached – I hadn’t been consciously worrying about losing her but clearly I was worried somewhere under the surface.

      When she was about four or five months old, I heard her wake from a nap upstairs. As I started to climb, I called out “Mommy’s coming” – and she stopped crying as soon as she heard my voice. I still tear up thinking about that moment. That’s when I really fully completely felt like “mom.”

      I hope you’re connected to a community of families and adoptees. Adoption is a journey and it helps to have companions who have walked it before. I’m jayell1727 atsign gmail if you ever want to talk. My kid is 21. She’s terrific, she adores us, and there are still adoption landmines all around.

      1. ampersand*

        I didn’t immediately love my baby that I gave birth to—I think it’s somewhat common but no one openly talks about it. It’s awkward to admit. Babies are strangers that you have to get to know. You can’t truly love someone you don’t know, IMO.

        Absolutely adore my child now—she’s two—but the first year of her life was very much “I love that I have this child and she’s very much wanted, but dear god when does this drudgery end?” The baby stage is rough. It got better at about a year, and kids are definitely fun by the time they’re two. Now she’s my favorite person!

    9. Serenity*

      The bigger mine get, the more I like them. They’re both teens, and sometimes (when they’re not looking) I roll my eyes at them harder than they roll their eyes at me, but the baby stage didn’t do much for me. Once they got interactive, they got interesting, and it just kept getting better and better from there.

      Self-reflection is a wonderful thing, and I think it’s great that you came to ask. Parenting is HARD (“the years pass fast but the days never end”). It sounds like you two are doing just fine.

    10. Lizy*

      It’ll grow on you. I didn’t “love” my daughter until she was months old – like 3-4+. Now that I really think about it, I think it probably took me a couple of months with each kid… (I have 4)

    11. D3*

      We hear so much about bonding and falling in love with baby as if it’s an EVENT. But it’s not. It’s a process. And you’re still in process, and that’s just fine. The process will continue, and one day you’ll look back and be able to see that your bond has been growing all along and will continue to grow and evolve.

    12. Cubicle_queen*

      I’m assuming you’re male, so with that perspective I’d say it’s extremely normal. My husband says he has a hard time until they’re around 6 months and can start to hold themselves up and move a little. Until that point they were just a crying squirt who only wanted Mama. They get more personality as they grow, and you learn to love them as a new person you can get to know.

      And I don’t know if your experience is like other adoptive parents I know, in that they find out on short notice that they’ll now be parents—and that can be hard to adjust to since you didn’t have 9 months to craft up a dream & begin to “pre-love” this specific baby with an expected due date.

    13. Sparkly Librarian*

      I’m coming in late today, but I agree with the comments that are reassuring you this is very normal. My daughter joined our family through adoption, and I felt similarly until 3-4 months in. (I actually took a picture of us the day I felt it change, so I can mark the date if I ever need to.) Some birthing parents can feel like this after a traumatic birth, and in our case I think the adoption complexities functioned in the same way. We didn’t know she existed until the day she was born; we’d had a failed placement exactly a year prior and had been grieving the anniversary; there were some complications with paperwork that meant it wasn’t “safe” to announce her arrival in case it fell through again; it ended up being a closed adoption when we’d prepared for an open one. It all felt very sudden (and yet we’d been waiting for years!) so when I realized that I didn’t feel bonded yet, I just kept doing all the things to take care of her and trusted that it would click sometime. When we finalized at 7.5 months, I was already deeply in love.

      Congratulations on your new baby! I hope he continues to adjust well to the world, and I think he’ll bring you a lot of joy.

    14. ampersand*

      I commented down thread about this, but just wanted to chime in to say: this is normal! It takes months to get to know your kid and get used to having them around, and you’re not even to the fun stage yet! Your feelings will likely evolve into love as your child gets older. I wouldn’t worry or feel at all bad about this.

    15. me too*

      With each of my kids (all biological, none adopted), they didn’t feel like they were really part of the family for the first while after they were born. Like I couldn’t imagine my family without whoever was already in it at the time, but I just didn’t feel the same way about the newborn. And of course now, I couldn’t imagine my family any other way. And it wasn’t that I didn’t love the babies – I did, while still feeling like I wasn’t loving them enough or correctly.

  17. PeakTransmission*

    I’ve been in therapy for about 18 months now (some old childhood trauma, my divorce and the death my parents) and in the last 3 months I feel like I’ve come to the end of the road with it and my therapist. She’s great but I feel like the sessions are sort of aimless now and picking over old wounds is in some ways stopping me from moving on with my life. When I’ve been in therapy before (twice, once briefly and once for about 6 months) there was just a natural end to it, i.e. dealing with a specific issue/set of issues that I overcame, but this seems to roll and roll. So, AAM, how do you ‘break up’ with your therapist?

    1. Nela*

      You don’t have to officially “break up”, but you can stop scheduling sessions and if/when they check in and ask why, you can respond that you don’t feel the need for counseling at the moment, but that you’ll get in touch if you feel the need again.

      If you want, you can clarify that the last few months didn’t feel productive or useful and that it may be time to see how you do on your own. I think therapists understand that people will move on when they’re no longer getting what they need.

      1. Nela*

        Any reason why my comments keep getting stuck in moderation? I don’t think I used any words that could trigger the spam filter?

        1. Coenobita*

          In my experience, sometimes the moderation filter just does its own thing! I wouldn’t worry about it.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              Did you post a lot kinda quickly? My understanding is sometimes it’s a random word or phrase it deems suspicious (not necessarily inappropriate; some terms the algorithm might just think make you bot-like). Or if you post what it considers too many times too quickly, it might also kick in. (Also sometimes it’s a complete mystery)

      2. Susie*

        This is what I ended up doing when I broke up with my first therapist. I told her I was going to be out of town for a few weeks (which I was) and I’d reach out to schedule when I got back. I didn’t schedule when I got back. She emailed once and I didn’t reply. It wasn’t necessarily intentional…

        That said, I have run into her since then. I think she recognized me but if she did she didn’t say anything.

        1. That'll happen*

          So this is a thing that many therapists do to maintain confidentiality. If you see each other in public, they won’t say anything to you unless you say something to them first or indicate that it’s okay to say something (waving etc). Even though she’s not your therapist anymore, she’s still maintaining that professional boundary.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      You can state you want a wrap-up session or simply tell her at the end of the last session you feel you’re ready to move on. If face-to-face is too hard, you can leave her a voicemail, email or text. Be sure to thank her for her help, if that’s accurate. PLEASE don’t just ghost her because she’ll never know why and will be wondering for a long time why you left. Therapists are human, too.
      It’s common to stop therapy when you’ve reached your goal. Congratulations on that!
      Good job!

    3. PollyQ*

      Tell her what you’ve told us, “I feel like the sessions are sort of aimless now and picking over old wounds is in some ways stopping me from moving on with my life, and I’m thinking of stopping therapy because of it.” You can spend a session or 2 discussing it, and if you still feel like you’re done, you can just tell her that and it’ll be fine.

    4. PeakTransmission*

      Thanks all. I had mentioned to her a month or two ago that I felt I’d really progressed and was moving forward in a positive way and she seemed to maybe not believe me if that makes sense? I know that I’ve been through a lot but I have also spent a lot of time working through it so it’s not a case that I woke up one morning telling the world yay my life is perfect. I also know that these things can be cyclical (which I imagine is why she might just think me feeling better is a phase) and when I’ve suggested spacing sessions further apart she says we still have a lot of work on. Where I am now in my life is going through stuff that everyone goes through and dealing with it pretty well, and I don’t feel like therapy is a necessity for me right now.

  18. Girasol*

    Thanks to all the folks who had info for me last week on the safety of getting covid vaccine! The little rural hospital called the night before my appointment to say they were moving due to inclement weather. They held the clinic in the town firehouse, moving three lines of cars through the engine bays with remarkable efficiency and safety. It gave me good hope that the vaccine could really could roll out to everyone relatively quickly.

    1. Chaordic One*

      So glad to hear this worked out well and that the clinic was so well-planned, even with moving the clinic to a firehouse. (I wish my state were as well-organized.)

    2. WellRed*

      My state just announced it’s going to switch to vaccinating by age group. So 60 and over in March, 50 in April, etc. it makes as much sense as anything I guess, though I won’t be announcing my vax since I don’t want to let on I’m over 50 to coworkers. I know it’s silly.

      1. Not Alison*

        Oh I wish I were in your state. My state is still doing over 65 and teachers. Then it will be under 65 with health issues. Everyone 16-65 will be lumped together and aren’t expected to be able to get the vaccine till at least May. I’m bemoaning the fact that I am 7 months too young to be in the 65+ group and probably won’t get the vaccine till the end of June.

    3. Double A*

      I was amazed at how efficient the clinic I went to. And big! Once supply scales, they will be able to process thousands of people a day pretty quickly.

    4. Dancing Otter*

      That’s where my hometown did polio vaccinations, back in the day, though on foot. The fire trucks kept the kids amused while waiting…and waiting…and waiting. I don’t even remember the shot, just getting close to the fire trucks.
      I imagine it might not have the same amusement value for adults.

        1. WS*

          It might have been either in 1960-1 – that’s when they were switching over from Salk (injected) to the Sabin vaccine on sugar cubes.

    5. Huttj*

      My mother was impressed with her county. Lots of National Guard helping, efficient, well communicated, competent doctors (for example, she had an allergy shot last monday so there was a bit of discussion on whether that might be an issue, consensus was “no, but you’re our guineapig”). The only issue was a parking lot full of old people trying to back out (my mother’s 72-ish).

  19. Loopy*

    Posting about volunteering and hoping this isn’t too close to school/work.

    I volunteer every Saturday morning at a place where I do light animal husbandry- think basic cleaning and feeding. So it requires what I consider very light manual labor. I’ve been doing this for four and a half years and it’s become a central part of my life. Unfortunately over the past year, I’ve been having on and off back problems and generally not being as active hasn’t helped. So I would say I’ve had to call out or ask to do limited tasks maybe 4-5 times since probably June or so. Today I simply slept weird and now have an aching area (wholly unrelated to the on/off back issues) and again am feeling like I need to take it easy to avoid making this worse.

    Should I be worried they are getting concerned that I may no longer be reliable/a good fit for this? I see a chiropractor as needed and he has no long term concerns. I suspect being drastically inactive is part of it as I’m wholly unwilling to go back to a gym until I’m vaccinated and thats the best way for me to exercise (trust me I’ve tried many other options but gym is really effective for me). I am so worried I am causing a headache for this place I love so much! Am I overreacting?

    1. sswj*

      Hard to say. It depends so much on the organization and those who are in charge of it and volunteers.

      I think the best thing would be to mention it yourself, acknowledge that you’ve been having some back issues because you can stay as limber right now and that you really feel terrible every time you have to call in. Say that you are working to fix the issue, it’s not permanent, you love what you do and want to continue long term. You could even offer to do other things that maybe get shuffled aside as lower priority until you get back to fully functioning again.

      I don’t know what your schedule is, or how much contact you have with the organization during the week, but you could also offer to fill in at other times because I’m positive you aren’t the only one occasionally calling out sick or having to limit the work they they do or a shift length. Since animals are a 365 day job, there is *always* stuff that needs to be done, and if you’ve been there a while and are trusted, I bet they’d be happy to let you branch out as necessary.

      Smart organizations don’t waste valuable volunteers!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t think calling out 4-5 times in an 8 month period is a big deal. Especially in the middle of a pandemic. I’d roll with it, if I were in your shoes. They aren’t complaining to you, so don’t worry about it.

    3. Anon for this*

      Why don’t you have a direct conversation with them instead of worrying about worrying about it?

    4. fposte*

      I know I’m evangelical about this, but that amount of back pain is something I’d take to a physical therapist; if you’ve got some bad biomechanics going on that may be harder to shift than just going back to the gym.

      1. Homophone Hatty*

        Absolutely agree, go to a physical therapist and follow whatever home exercises they give you diligently. It sounds like this is far beyond the capabilities of a chiropractor. You might be surprised at how much it will help!

    5. Reba*

      I’m not sure if your concern is more about reliability (having to cancel your shift) or about your capacity to do the work, physically. I do think you may be overthinking it! Orgs that use volunteers are used to availability changing; that’s just how it works. And as long as there is no safety concern associated with your physical changes (like idk you wouldn’t be able to open a gate in a emergency?) — everyone slows down with age! Please talk to the folks there about how you can stay involved even if you need to change your workload with time.

      My late grandad volunteered with Habitat until he couldn’t safely stand for long periods. But his duties had changed over time long before that: no carrying, then no power tools, but still swinging the occasional hammer, etc.

    6. Rara Avis*

      I volunteer at a cat shelter and usually am asked to mop the floor. Due to back problems, I can’t lift the mop bucket to empty it. They would rather have me mop and dump the bucket themselves than do it all themselves. I have also had to call out for various reasons (husband was sick — needed to verify that it wasn’t Covid before I went anywhere/last minute conflict, etc.). Do you have a contact person/volunteer coordinator that you can ask about how they would like you to proceed?

  20. Venus*

    How does you garden grow?

    I talked about starting seeds last week, but have everything ready for them now and will definitely start this week. The sunshine is starting to feel so good these days! Like winter’s cold grip will soon be behind us.

    1. Me*

      I finally started my tomato, pepper and ground cherry seeds last night. Usually I’d stagger them a bit more but I lost more than a week because of the storm/week-long loss of power.

      So I had to cram them all into one flat because I only have one heat mat. Some tomato varieties were doubled up within a 4” pot. I’ll be potting them up quickly this year.

      I’m quite excited to be trying new tomato and pepper varieties. I randomly met a tomato grower on a different (and non-gardening related) forum. They have a book on growing tomatoes even. Anyway, they sent me several varieties of tomato seeds and I’m quite looking forward to growing those.

      I’m also veering away from just jalapeño and fireball peppers, trying fish peppers and a paprika pepper.

      I was worried about my kale and mustard seedlings sitting in my dark basement for a week. I did have to cull some seedlings that popped up during that week but all the ones that grew before and after the week are just fine. I had to hit them with a bit of fertilizer but they seem sturdy enough.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I really want to get one of those portable green houses and try starting seeds again, but I seem to be bad at the hardening off part of it. I’m able to start seeds and get them to grow, but then when it’s time to harden them off, they die. I have lots of cats, which means there’s no good place I can start seeds unless I get one of those portable green houses. The small trays don’t work since they need to be near the sunlight and all my windows are very easily accessible to the beasts.

      I’m still dragging my feet on planning a new, large flower garden for the side yard. Even though I’ve Googled, bought some books, and visited colonial gardens in past years, I can’t seem to come up with a coherent plan, whether it’s plantings or the shape of the garden. I know I want pathways through the garden, but beyond that I have no idea!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Do the cats have access to your exercise shed? One heating mat and LEDs on covered shelves?

    3. fposte*

      I’m going to do some winter-sowing next month (which I guess is Monday, but I mean more like mid-March), so I’m amassing the containers.

    4. Aly_b*

      I planted a kitchen herb garden in the window box, and they’re sprouting and coming up. I haven’t done much gardening and it’s amazing to watch green plants coming up from bare dirt.

    5. HannahS*

      My last frost day is mid-April, so I still have about a week before I start my tomatoes. I’m trying to be restrained this year, because we’re moving in June, so I’m trying to limit myself to maybe 3 determinate cherry tomato plants with basil planted at the bottom and NOT get carried away. Besides, while our current apartment is wonderful for plants (south facing, Juliet balcony, high enough that there are no shadows from other buildings) and our next one might not be. So my grand dreams of loads of tomatoes, green beans, and herbs will have to wait another year. Sigh.

    6. Ali G*

      Can y’all help me out with a question?
      A couple of weeks ago I posted about a tree that had to come down…and now it is gone. Sad! But! I am realizing how sunny this little unused corner of our yard will be now, so I’d love to do a pollinator garden there. However, my husband is putting in a new shed, so I can’t really plan until the new foundation goes in, and then I can’t actually plant anything until the shed is built. So it would likely be mid-May (I’m in Zone 7) before I could plant anything.
      Is that too late to just spread a bunch of seeds or do I need to consider actually buying plants to have anything this year? I’d love to just cover the ground with seeds and see what happens, but if the only way to have actual plants this season is to buy them I would consider that.

      1. Venus*

        I am definitely not an expert and don’t have the energy to research the details, sorry!, but a lot of plants in my area only start growing in May as the ground is frozen until then. I think I’m zone 5? The zones are both a factor of the winter, so perennials need to be hardy enough to survive negative temperatures, but also factor in the length of the growing season. Seed packets for veggies talk about days to maturity, so maybe flowering mixes could be similar? It would be very reasonable to ask a gardening store about this, although your local stores might have limited options as they assume a specific zone, so online stores might be better. Can’t hurt to ask around locally, and see what you get!

      2. Cobalt*

        In May, you could plant zinnias and cosmo seeds directly and have good luck. You could also plant dill for swallowtail butterflies. The fall is actually a great time to sow native flower seeds, which are generally the best plants for pollinators. Native perennials usually need a cold period (winter) before they will germinate.

    7. Bobina*

      Planted the begonias on Monday which…may have been a bit premature. The instructions talked about 10C and I was like, yeah, its totally 10C out now, no issues. But I realised after the fact that it actually said when night time temperatures are 10C which…is not now. I could probably bring the pot indoors but I feel like it might be a bit late, so I figure I’m going to just treat this as the adventure it is and see what happens.

      Found a nursery online that was selling a whole bunch of the plants that I’ve had my eye on and which I had almost talked myself out of wanting so uh. Gonna get a delivery sometime next week and thus probably need to buy a bunch of pots because I think I’m going to run out of space soon!

      Started some seeds this week as well, so more germination adventures to follow!

    8. Jam lover*

      Too early to start seeds here for the most part – our last frost is mid-May – but this year we got some alpine strawberry seeds so I’ll be starting those this weekend! Very exciting.

    9. Sandman*

      I’m not much of a seed-starter, but I’m thrilled to finally be able to walk around our yard and see the first daffodils starting to poke through where the snow has melted. I planted a bunch of snowdrop bulbs last fall and am really anxious to see if they come up – I heard the bulbs can be fussy but it’s all I could find. Crossing my fingers on that one!

    10. Sparkly Librarian*

      It’s spring here in zone 10a! Some rain early last week, and then a whole ten days of sun. My tomato starts are peeking out of their seed tray, and zucchini and beans are in the ground as of last week. Carrots are a mostly year-round thing, so I pulled a few lingering ones and changed over the soil in that container, and also planted a few more (2 5-gallon buckets and half a raised bed). The 10ish days between sowing seed and seeing sprouts are the hardest for me, especially since some of the seeds are leftover from last year and I don’t know what I’ll get.

      I also used a garden planner to plot out the whole year (3 growing seasons) and figure out crop rotation over the next 3. We’ll just have to see if I can keep up with it, but it feels good to have a plan. Anyone have a favorite online planner or app? Or are you strictly pen and paper?

    11. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Finally warm enough that I felt like being outside the other day, so I got started on cutting things back and general weeding etc. I cut down a rambling rose that I didn’t like much and some other things that have started getting too big. I have a lot more to tackle and I haven’t even figured out when to start any seeds so I’m going to have to think about that soon. There is a spot where I want to put a raised bed but so far I haven’t found one to buy that is the right size and I think building one will be more expensive than it’s worth unless I happen to find an old pallet somewhere.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Outside is still fully snowy, but inside we’re starting to fight the insect wars. I’m do looking forward to spring!

  21. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    I’m likely going to be trading in a car for the first time in my life pretty soon. What are the norms if the car you’re trading in needs a fair amount of work? Do you have to fix issues to get any value at all from the dealer? My car is 14 years old and has: a sizable dent at the rear corner, paint damage from being keyed, a missing rear wiper, broken power door locks, and a check engine light on. It’s otherwise mechanically sound and has lower than average mileage for a car of that age (about 88,000 miles), but I’d imagine fixing all those things would cost me nearly what the car is worth. Any thoughts? 

    1. Me*

      It’s often better to sell on an open market to a private buyer.

      The dealer has to dispose of your car- they usually aren’t that interested in dealing with it. They’ll often have someone that will buy used cars from them; it won’t be the dealership making a huge profit on your used car. They just don’t have a big incentive to give you what you think is the value of your car.

      Do you want more than $500 for it? Sell it privately.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I agree.

        A dealer is going to have to put a fair chunk of change into fixing that car up to be in saleable condition so it’s very unlikely you’d get more than maybe 500.00/1,000.00, at most. Sell private. There’s always someone willing to buy, though you likely won’t get much considering the damage. And a Check Engine light is something a lot of people would walk away from (I would, especially with the additional body and mechanical damage), as that can mean so many things and end up costing a lot of money to fix.

    2. Loopy*

      My understanding is you’ll always get more selling privately, but it takes more time and effort. I’ve got a low tolerance for that kind of thing whereas some folks don’t mind it. I’ve done private selling twice and it’s been okay and I definitely felt good about what I got versus much lower dealer offers (I went around and got actual trade in numbers).

      That being said, I think it’s much less hassle to trade in and sometimes that appeals to me. I haven’t done it yet but I think there are times when it would be worth the loss of profit to just have it straightforward, easy, and done with.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, my husband and I both traded in our cars at the dealer when we bought new ones, and didn’t get much – but it was worth it to not have to deal with it. Prior to that I sold an old car privately and it was a pain.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      We traded in a 16 year old car with over 200k miles and God knows what wrong with the transmission. They gave us $500, which I felt was entirely fair based on its condition, and I didn’t have to do anything except drive it to the dealer and hand them the title. The last time we sold a car directly, we had to post an ad and deal with some odd characters. I was happy to avoid the hassle.

    4. 00ff00Claire*

      I did this about 10 years ago, so my info may be out of date. As others said, you generally don’t get as much from a trade – in as selling it yourself, but there’s also the time and effort that has to go into selling.

      When I did this, I really didn’t plan things to go this way, but it worked out really well in the end. Before I visited dealers about buying a car, I went to Carmax and they gave me what I thought was a very fair estimate. As another caveat, I knew I was going to purchase a small sedan as my new vehicle, but I really didn’t care which dealership I got it from. So my plan was to sell my old car to Carmax after I bought the new car, thus avoiding the trade – in. So, when I went to the dealers for my new car, I negotiated on the price of the car itself. The dealer wanted to negotiate on the monthly payment, at least in my experience, but if you do that, it’s hard to know how much you are actually paying for the car. So I negotiated on the price itself, and now I think that may have also been because I knew I could get a loan through my bank. Maybe this is regional or dealer specific – I don’t buy cars often, so I can only speak for my experience.

      I was also honest with the two dealerships I went to, that I was going to buy whichever car I got the better deal on. It was only after we had settled on the price of the car, that trading in my old car came up at one of the dealerships. I told them what Carmax would give me and they were able to match it and then some. This gave me a better deal at that particular dealership, which the other one couldn’t match, so I bought the car from them. There’s no way that dealership would have offered me as much for my old car if I had gone straight to them about a trade-in. However, I also recognize that there was a pretty unique set of circumstances I was working within, so I’m not sure how possible it is to replicate.

      That being said, if you have a Carmax that is convenient, it might be worth getting an estimate from them before you head to the dealership to purchase the new car. Then you will have a reference point of what someone else is willing to pay for the car.

      For a car that’s 14 years old, to me it makes no sense to fix anything except possibly the check engine light. And I would only fix that if it’s inexpensive. Sometimes that light can mean an issue with the gas cap (happened to me) or something similarly benign.

      1. Filosofickle*

        This is in line with what I’ve always heard — make the deal on the car and don’t even mention the trade-in until that’s done. Otherwise whatever they say they’re giving you for the trade-in will get tacked on to the price of the car.

    5. Choggy*

      If you will be trading in a car to purchase a new one then doing it at the dealership is probably the easiest method. My husband had a car he was going to sell privately to a coworker (which was in decent shape, and second hand), but when we went to the dealer, they were more than fair with the trade-in, especially because they wanted the sale. You can always call some dealerships to find out what they would be willing to pay. I think it’s a hassle to sell a car privately unless you know for sure you are selling it to someone who will take it lock, stock and barrel.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      What everyone else said!

      If you’re trading it in DO NOT FIX those things unless you are a mechanic or get an amazing deal from one. It will cost you more than it would cost a dealer and your value is unlikely to increase beyond the price to fix. You’ll get a really low offer. My 11 year old car was undriveable and I got $500 for trade-in.

      If you want more than the bare minimum then sell itself but costly repairs aren’t likely to add more value than their cost. And it’s a pain to sell it yourself.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      You can sell a car “as is, where is” meaning you don’t have to fix any of this. But the lower price reflects that. That said, I do not sell my own cars to private individuals. I just don’t want to deal with that.

      I sold my last oldie to a single-owner operation, out right and bought my next car somewhere else. The place I sold it to repairs cars and sells cars. I got $500 for it and ran. (I keep cars too long.) He had no problem selling it, it sat on his lot for 2 or 3 weeks and it was sold. My friend spotted the new owner of my old car and went over to ask the new owner about it. The new owner said it ran fine and they were very happy with it for the amount they paid. So it must be the repair shop fixed everything.

      You could sell the car somewhere else after you have purchased your new one.

      I suspect of everything you have listed the check engine light will be the main concern. But the low mileage is an advantage. They may work with you. Ask. If you don’t like what they are saying either go to another dealership or sell the car later to someone else. There are places here that will buy your car and tow it off your property.

    8. Anono-me*

      Check out the prices on CL and check to see what the dealer will offer you.

      3 Things to consider.

      How much time & energy do you want to invest in a private sale? How comfortable are you with how people are handling covid in your area?

      States handle car sales tax differently. Some states tax you on what you pay for the new car period. But I have been told that some states allow you to reduce your new car sales taxable amount amount by what you sell your old car for even if sold separately.

      If you are handy, you may want to see if you can find a replacement panel online in the same color as your vehicle. (We changed one out in an afternoon for about $175.)

    9. merope*

      One thing to remember about fixing the issues on your car: it will cost the dealer a LOT less to fix them than it would cost you, and they can do it as they want, as the car isn’t needed for transportation.

      As far as a private sale goes, I would definitely choose an “as-is” sale. You might be surprised by the amount of interest in a fixer-upper car; I had an older car which I didn’t think was worth much, but which we sold privately for a reasonable sum to a father and son who wanted something the son could drive after they had worked on the repairs together.

      If you do decide on the private sale, you might take the car to a mechanic and have them take a look at the check engine light to come up with an estimate to repair it.

    10. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

      Thanks, everyone. Ask a Manager is terrific — such a helpful community.

      I’m not surprised to hear that I wouldn’t get much from the dealer regardless of the condition of the car. I’m definitely not going to sell it privately. Haggling with randos is really stressful and I just don’t have enough spoons to deal with it this year, even though I might come out ahead. I also have this probably irrational fear of the car having a catastrophic failure right after I sell it (I’ve been really lucky in owning this car; everything in this car other than the catalytic converter is due to break) and the buyer coming after me.

      I didn’t consider Carmax — thanks for that. Unfortunately, Carmax is not a thing in my area; closest one is quite a drive away.

      The “door number three” option that I didn’t mention in my post is that I’m thinking of using Carvana for the swap to a newer car. I got a quote from Carvana just to see what I might get, and it was much higher than I would have guessed; think $3500, vs. $500. But that was before the check engine light came on, and they deduct for that; I don’t know how much. It sounds like it might be worth seeing how much it would cost to resolve the problem causing the light, and to not sweat everything else. (I don’t think it’s the gas cap; I replaced the gas cap after getting a “check gas cap” message, and 3 months and 500 miles or so later, light is still on; I’ve been told that “check gas cap” is often a red herring in Hondas that actually means a more expensive emissions system failure. But for the life of me, I can’t tell anything wrong with how the car is running.) In any case, I’ll think about all of this and we’ll see what happens!

      1. ThatGirl*

        You could go to an AutoZone or similar and get the code read for your check engine light – that will give you an idea of how expensive the problem is. I know O2 sensors are a common one and they’re not too pricy to replace.

        1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

          That’s my hunch. I’ve had O2 sensors fail in other cars (and in this one previously) and it takes a long time before I can feel an appreciable difference in the car’s performance. In my area and for this car, an O2 sensor costs about $400.

        2. Christmas Carol*

          I don’t know if it’s still or not, but it used to be that all cars from a certain well known domestic manufacturer triggered the check engine light auto magicalaly at 100K miles, it order to force you into replacing your O2 sensor as a mandatory routine maintenance procedure.

      2. Dancing Otter*

        I once had the mechanic forget to reset a warning light after doing the maintenance. So it might not even be anything really wrong.
        Seconding getting Auto Zone to read the code for you.

    11. Generic Name*

      I traded in my 12 year old car that had lots of exterior dings, and the hybrid electric battery was potentially on its last legs. I got $1500 for it. Sure, I could have gotten more money out of it, but I was a single mom at the time and I didn’t want to deal with the safety issues of meeting potential buyers.

    12. Two Dog Night*

      I’ve sold two cars to CarMax–they gave me more than the dealer offered, and I didn’t have to go through the hassle of selling it myself. I think someplace like that would be worth checking.

    13. Dan*

      So the reality is that many dealers will only try to resell a late model/low mileage car. Anything else will either get parted out or sent straight to the auction block. I’m pretty sure that the real reason they do trade-ins of old cars is more for the customer convenience, and to help facilitate the sale. As in, if you have to deal with getting rid of your old car, how motivated are you to buy a replacement car from that dealer *right now*? And so much of sales is about “right now.”

      I think it pretty much comes down to whether you have something the dealer can put on the sales lot and make some money off of without too much effort (which means it has to be something that someone wants to buy, and won’t cost an arm and a leg to touch up) or whether it’s going to auction, in which case you’ll get a flat $300-$500 for it.

      That’s all to say, don’t fix anything you’re going to trade in to the dealer.

      1. Imtheone*

        Check Edmunds and Blue Book for the value of your car. Figuring out why the check engine light is on seems worthwhile. I’ve always sold to individuals, who paid cash for the very old car each time.

  22. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual, this thread is not limited to fiction, any writing goes.
    For the moment I’m just writing down loose ideas that pop up into my head, as I don’t have the time to actually sit down and write for my own pleasure right now.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I finally finished a blog post my trainer asked me to write for an online fitness community and it’s being published Monday–I’m pretty excited about it. He wanted me to write about my weight loss surgery, what lead to it, and how I’m doing now…all in three paragraphs. I struggled for over a week to distill it into a small post, but still ended up with a bit more. Thankfully they accepted it because they liked the content.

      As part of writing that post I planned to mine the content of some writing I started several years ago about my weight loss journey (I hate calling it that). Reading it now? Yikes. Very flat and stream-of-consciousness. So I ditched that idea and started anew. I plan to go back to all those pages and edit, then maybe write some more.

      My own blog? I said I was going to post every week as part of this 12-week fitness challenge I’m doing, but I haven’t kept up with it. A lot of it is I had the week from hell this past week. I plan to sit down and write tomorrow, though.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      I’ve been proofreading as a favor to a friend who is writing her first novel. I’m checking for continuity as well as grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and so far I’m really enjoying it! This is nothing at all like what I do at the place we don’t speak of on weekends, I’m just someone who likes to read and gets frustrated with errors in published writing. It’s making me think maybe I should start writing again….

    3. Casey*

      [this starts out related to school/work but I promise it diverges!] I recently wrote 4800 words of a video script on a topic I’m passionate about for a small research project I initiated, and even though I still have to do some major rewrites (and tweak, and film, and edit, and) I had forgotten how much I enjoy writing in and of itself! I think it’s the most words I’ve ever written for one subject, and there’s even more I could add.
      I’m trying to think about how to keep incorporating writing into my daily life, and maybe taking on a larger project once I finish school and finally have some free time again. I don’t think I’m ready to write fiction right now, but maybe a deep dive into something I’m interested in?

    4. Whiskey on the rocks*

      I started writing letters to a very close friend who passed away unexpectedly in December. I’ve been wondering if I can turn them into a little book (just for me). But I find I cannot write around other people and I have literally no time on my own. So I write in my head and hope I can get it onto paper sometime.

  23. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    As usual, this thread is not limited to video games, so feel free to talk about board games, phone games, and anything else you might think of. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a certain game.
    I’ve fallen into a farming sim hole again. Send help.

    1. curly sue*

      I just picked up Return of the Obra Dinn on a friend’s recommendation, and I’ve gotten sucked in. It’s a ghost ship / murder mystery type of investigative game, done with black and white stills and excellent audio. The interface and controls took some getting used to (I got it for the Switch), but now that I think I’ve gotten the hang of it, the game itself is really intriguing. I’ve solved 15 deaths of 60 so far, so I’ve still got a very long way to go.

    2. Dr.KMnO4*

      I bought the Stardew Valley board game the other day! Can’t wait for it to arrive.

      My husband got me into Monster Hunter: World. We have a couple of other friends who play so we can (eventually) do high tier content more easily. I generally enjoy the game but find quite a lot of it to be unintuitive and overwhelming.

    3. cabbagepants*

      My husband and I have been playing Ascension, a deck-building card game. I recommend it for a short (30 minute) game that has some strategy to it but that is not too intense!

    4. Jackalope*

      Still playing Fire Emblems 3 Houses, which I’m still enjoying (although I’ve backed off a bit because I’m almost done with this round and I don’t want it to stop!). We also started our D&D campaign back up (speaking of which, a few weeks ago someone asked to pick my brain about virtual D&D; are you still there and do you still have questions?), which was a lot of fun. It had been awhile since we played bcs our DM had gone through major burn-out, so we had a session where we backed things up a bit and everyone picked an encounter in a town we were visiting, and then went and did that thing (not a fight, but say going to the market to find a specific thing, or going to get in a boxing match, things like that). Things were left on a terrible cliffhanger at the end, though, so not sure how we will survive until the next round!

      I’m also hopefully going to start playing Monster of the Week with a group of online MotW fans. We’ll see how it works; the person putting it together has gone through a lot of grief trying to get things put together (lots of people dropping out, scheduling issues, etc.). I think we’re on for starting tomorrow, but we’ll see! (There was previously a start date that fell through a couple of weeks ago, so….) I’m trying to be cautious in my excitement since I don’t know for sure if it will happen, but I think it will be fun.

      1. Jackalope*

        Oh, random question: a few weeks ago someone recommended the game I Love Hue, and I recently tried to get ahold of it, but couldn’t get it on my laptop. Is there a way to have it on a laptop, or does it have to be a phone/tablet? I don’t really want to play something that involves minute color differentiation on my phone, and I’m trying to do more stuff off my phone anyway since the screen is so small.

    5. Holly the spa pro*

      Split screen Stardew Valley has finally arrived so my husband and I started a farm and it has been so fun! Turns out we naturally gravitate towards different activities in game which was a satisfying surprise and possible proof of soulmate status?

    6. twocents*

      Picked up Pikmin 3 Deluxe. I played the original on the WiiU, but I don’t have that system anymore and felt the itch to replay. Otherwise, kind of feeling in limbo until New Pokemon Snap comes out in April.

      Today is also D&D night. We’re getting near the end of the campaign so I’m interested to see how all the threads start to come together.

    7. HamlindigoBlue*

      I started playing Pumpkin Jack this week. I haven’t gotten too far into it, but it’s been fun so far.

    8. Liz*

      I completed an exciting lockdown project this week! I’ve designed a card game for a friend, based heavily on Munchkin. I’ve essentially adapted it so it’s all inspired by our favourite TV show, and I designed the cards so they fit the branding of the show, with all the characters, items and incidents from episodes and with relevant images for each. I’m really proud of it! I designed branded boxes and everything and posted it out to her a few days ago. I’m super excited! Now I’m going to print a set for myself so we can play over zoom.

  24. Home Rental Thread*

    Need advice for renting our house!!

    Bought a condo. Two years later, we’ve both gotten new jobs an hour away. They’re remote for now (COVID) but the commute won’t be sustainable in the post-Covid world. So, having bought this place, we’re now faced with the prospect of moving and renting it out. We don’t want to sell because we expect it’ll increase in value, and the amount of work you have to do for getting it ready to sell is tremendous. It’s not urgent for us to rent it out, but we’ll want to move before life returns to normal (by end of summer?)

    However… we’re overwhelmed. If you use a rental management agency, how does that work with the condo management agency? Do we have to repaint? (The thread above re: house colors would be proud. The first thing we did was paint the entire house bright sky blue and kelly green. We’d let the tenant repaint.) What about all the weird little things — one of the interior doors just latches into the doorframe directly, there’s no metal piece, because when we changed the doorknobs it didn’t line up, so we just didn’t get to it. We got some paint on the carpet when we painted, but we figured we’d get new carpet before we sold in 10 years. Didn’t anticipate renting it out so soon. I feel like we have to fix all of those because we’ll be charging so much for rent because it’s the Washington DC area.

    We have a recommendation to use the Cozy app (linked to apartments dot com) to find and vet the tenants. So the current plan is to fix up some stuff ourselves, move out, have all the contractors come in and fix all the things while we’re not there, and then open it up on the app. But that means if we can’t find a tenant quickly, we’d be paying both rent on our new place and our mortgage. We can manage that for a few months, but obviously we’d prefer not to do that for too long, and my risk-averse brain is like D a n g e r!! Especially because we’ve had bad luck with contractors before, so we don’t even have one in mind. Would a general handyman work for some of these? Thanks so much in advance for your advice.

    1. cabbagepants*

      Best of luck! Whatever option you choose, you should get really familiar with local landlord-tenant laws and best practices. In your description you seem optimistic that having tenants will mean that the house pays for itself, and that definitely can happen, but there are so many pitfalls, too, so just be sure you’re covered in those circumstances, too. Think through the worst-case scenarios. Which agency will protect you best if a tenant stops paying rent, trashes the place, squats? If e.g. the hot-water heater stops working, do you have to put up your tenants in a hotel?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        “Which agency will protect you best if a tenant stops paying rent…”

        Given the moratorium on evictions has been extended again (not sure if that’s a state- or fed-level thing), I though June, I’d be wary of renting it out right now, especially if you’re feeling like the rental will pay for itself and you wouldn’t be able to handle two housing payments until you can get non-paying tenants out. Many people lost their jobs due to the pandemic through no fault of their own, and people are still losing jobs. What happens if your tenant(s) lose their job and can’t pay, and you can’t evict them like you normally would?

        I’ve been a landlord twice before and it was horrible (had to evict both times for non-payment, damage to the house, trash left behind, etc.) so I have quite a lot to say against it. Even with using an agency to vet tenants, etc. things can still go wrong.

        1. Dancing Otter*

          One tenant left owing two months back rent, with over $1000 in damages, and had the nerve to threaten to sue for her deposit PLUS INTEREST.
          Never again.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            The second set of tenants ran the oil tank dry. We had to run to the gas station at 11pm the night they left and get 20 gallons of diesel to throw in the tank until the oil company could make an emergency delivery the next day (and they didn’t tell us they were already gone that day–they texted they were leaving and by the time we got there 45 minutes later, they were gone). They also left windows open and it was roughly 35 degrees out. And since the oil tank was dry, the heat couldn’t kick on. They also left the faucets dripping enough to be a small, steady stream. They left a load of laundry in the washer…and the washer was full of water! Apparently the washer died mid-cycle and they didn’t tell us. Just left it there to stink. We couldn’t restart the washer. They left so much crap–as in BIG furniture–we had to pay someone 600.00 to haul it away in multiple trips. They also let their dog dig huge holes in the backyard. They smoked in the house for months without us knowing (we think they started that once we started eviction). And then finally they dumped a whole bunch of literal garbage and personal belongings they didn’t want behind the garage where we didn’t see it that night.

    2. Aly_b*

      As a tenant I would probably personally really like the paint colors (particularly with permission to repaint if needed) but you would be limiting your pool of potential tenants somewhat. See paint thread above re hatred of rental beige. There’s probably some value to just anything that’s not that, as long as it’s not totally tacky. Personally I wouldn’t worry about paint on the carpet, as a tenant that’s not something that I would expect to be absolutely perfect (and then I would know that in the event that I spill some coffee or something I’m probably not going to upset anyone too much.) The door thing I’d probably fix – stuff that affects function is always way more annoying than a little paint on the carpet.

      The biggest thing is for you to be prepared for stuff you know will happen – sure, there’s some worst case scenarios and as cabbagepants noted you’ll want to make sure you know local landlord tenant laws. But most of the worst cases are fairly unlikely. Two things that will definitely happen are that you’ll need someone available to repair the unit as things happen, and that tenants will move out and you may have a gap while you find new ones. If the potential future appreciation of the unit is worth it to you, you need to be prepared to make the investment on an ongoing basis in the meantime; all investment carries some risk.

      From what you said above, yes, I think you just need a general handyman for a few minor things right now. You will want to have a list handy (before you need it) of repair people specializing in different areas for when the tenant calls you with a leak or something. It never worked as well as the landlord thought it did when they send the general handyman to do plumbing.

    3. Reba*

      I don’t think you need to worry about fixing every little thing. Make sure the place is functional and photographs well is all. I wouldn’t wait to start screening tenants until contractors (!) are all finished. You can post with availability in 6 weeks or whatever. OTOH contractors as you know can be hard to get these days so idk. But the examples you list sound more like “handyman” to me.

      Your condo management company probably offers rental management service, so that would be a logical place to start looking.

      Maybe they can also advise on a handyman service.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I would talk to a rental agent. You can find them by word of mouth, or look at rental listings for your area and especially your condo and see who’s listing the bulk of the units. Like real estate agents, certain rental agents “own” certain neighborhoods or property types and they can have up-to-date, specialized knowledge.

      They will be happy to do a consultation walk-thru with you and give you a sense of what you need to do to get the place reasonably ready for a tenant, and they can give you advice about being a long-distance landlord. You can also walk though with several agents, just like you would if you were selling the place, and compare their approaches.

      If you have a good condo management company, you might not need a rental management company on top of it. For Reasons, I own a small studio in a city I no longer live in. I’ve had two tenants in it, and the condo management is good about letting them ask for routine repairs that the owner isn’t charged for. If something arises that I would need to pay the building for, then someone contacts me for approval but the building does the repair.

      So far we have not had any issues that would require me, as the unit owner, to hire an outside contractor but that could happen. I have enough contacts in my old city and (in the before times) enough ability to return in person if necessary that I don’t feel like I need to pay someone to be my agent in abstentia.

      It’s galling to have to pay the rental agent a fee to find the tenant (in my city the landlord pays the full fee, there is no charge to the tenant), AND I have to pay a fee to my condo as well. But the agent does give me good professional advice about renting, and she has a stable of sub-contractors that she can recommend when she suggests small repairs or changes, and she coordinates credit checks and background checks (although I pay those companies separately), and she keeps me up to date about my legal requirements regarding security deposits and statutory interest rates and the like, so it’s worth it to me.

      If you can offer a concession in order to get the tenant to sign a two year lease, or an 18 month one, it can be well worth it because you avoid having to clean and repair the place between tenants, you don’t have to pay additional fees, and you don’t have any lag time between tenants. A good place to offer that is if a prospective tenant asks you for a lower rent. You almost always come out ahead if you can give them the concession they ask for in exchange for a longer lease term.

      One suggestion: Do read the contract that the agent presents to you. I negotiated a few terms that have been irrelevant so far, but if they came into play would have cost me a lot of money. Neither of them had to do with the standard fee for a one-year lease. The first was a clause that if the lease is renewed with the same tenant, the agent gets a second (smaller) fee, and the second was that if the unit is sold to the tenant within a certain timeframe, the agent gets a realtor percentage. You can make an argument for both of them, but you can also make an argument against them and my agent was perfectly happy to eliminate them from our contract.

    5. RedRope*

      Unless you’re really willing to become a landlord, I’d sell. The laws can be complicated, and management companies are expensive. You could easily end up losing money every month; would that be ok with you in order to keep it? Also, condos, at least in my metro area, do not appreciate the way houses do, so that’s something to keep in mind. Are you okay with it not increasing in value to be able to hold on to it? I’m assuming your condo building allows you to rent your unit out; some don’t. What if there is a large assessment expense for the building and you need to pay your share? And because of COVID, there have been moratoriums on renters having to pay rent if they are unable. I don’t know any details of who that applies to or how it works, though, and I’m not sure if it would apply now and in your situation. At any rate, your mortgage would still be due. Up until several years ago, we owned several small apartment buildings and it sometimes was A LOT. We were both commenting recently that we are so glad we aren’t having to deal with that any longer.

    6. Rain rain go away*

      I rent out a condo in NJ. I started renting it out when my partner and I moved in together. I hired a realtor to rent it out on my behalf. She had some suggestions on some small repairs, but honestly, she also suggested we do less than we thought we should (think re-doing the bathroom). The tenant paid the realtor fee which equaled 1 month rent. This is common in NJ. We required a background check, which was run by the realtor. Because we lived so close, we didn’t have a management company. This was 4 years ago or so, and have had two tenants. The first tenant wasn’t a nightmare, but was not neat. She left the place pretty dirty (not trashed, just not clean). We hired a cleaning service and it was ready for rent again. My partner and I have since moved out of state and we hired a management company. The management company is there to be there to facilitate any issues the tenant or condo has, however, we pay for repairs. For example, our condo association requires a dryer vent cleaning and inspection. When we lived there, we would hire the company to do this and plan to be available to let them into the condo, etc. Now the management company does that. Some management companies collect rent, our doesn’t. Our tenant just pays us directly.
      On the flip side, when we moved out of state, we rented vs buying. We had a realtor to helped us find a rental. We overlooked a lot that as a buyer we probably wouldn’t have wanted or been pickier. But honestly, it’s a rental so were way less picky. For example, it probably needs a fresh coat of paint, but just not worth doing.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Hit “submit” too quickly. Here’s a link for general info about taxes and rental real estate income: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/tips-on-rental-real-estate-income-deductions-and-recordkeeping

        Other thoughts come to mind: One, check your condo declaration and by-laws to make sure that your rental arrangement accords with those documents. Two, depending on the age of your building — if it was built before 1978 — you may have to make lead paint disclosures. In some cities you have to have an assay done as well. Your municipal government should have this information.

        Finally, you should have a lawyer draw up your lease, or, if you get it online, have a lawyer review it with you.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, definitely. That’s something that didn’t occur to us at all when we rented out our old house. All that rent coming in is counted as income.

        Also, you may need to change your homeowner’s insurance to a rental property policy, which I found is more expensive.

        1. Clisby*

          Another possible issue is property taxes. I live in SC, where owner-occupied homes are assessed at 4%; rental property and second/vacation homes at 6%. To add insult to injury, owner-occupied homes aren’t taxed for school operations, while rental property and second/vacation homes are. My property taxes are less than half what they’d be if I were renting out this house instead of living in it.

      3. Epsilon Delta*

        Yes, and in addition to hiring an accountant, be prepared that you may need to set up a small business account to do things correctly. When my in laws inherited a house, they rented it out to my husband (this was all before we were married) and they ran everything through an account separate from their regular one with a “dba” (doing business as) name so they could run it like a business and deduct maintenance costs from their income taxes. Even though it was family and they were very flexible on everything with my husband in terms of making changes to the property and being a day or two late on rent occasionally, they still needed to be organized about the financial side.

        Also, keep in mind that selling a rental property is treated differently for tax purposes compared to selling your primary residence. Generally I believe you owe income tax on the profit when you sell a rental, which you usually don’t when selling your primary residence.

    7. Think it through*

      Don’t forget that the rent you charge doesn’t just have to cover the mortgage and property taxes; there are other expenses. If you’re also setting aside 10-15% for maintenance and another 1-5% for improvements, you should make sure your rent cost isn’t going to balloon beyond what people will pay. And if you want to set your rent at a point where it will defray vacancy or non-payment costs, that’s something to consider, too – every month of vacancy cost you want to build in to the rent raises the monthly cost. Plus the cost of insurance, property management (are the tenants going to be responsible for lawn care/snow removal, and if so, how much are you willing to let those things slide? What utilities do landlords typically pay in your area?), marketing, etc. So just make sure you don’t need to price yourself out of the market to cover your initial costs. (If everything goes as expected and your tenants don’t trash the place or refuse to pay rent for six months.)

      I would also suggest you explore your liability as a landlord and make sure you’re appropriately insured, as well as your legal responsibilities to your tenants, and plan for what that might mean financially. And consider that if your plan is eventually to sell, your tenants are unlikely to take as meticulous care of your house as you would, so you will almost certainly have either some running costs or a big lump sum when the time to sell comes, to regain any lost property value.

      Finally, being a landlord is a job. You have legal and ethical obligations and a responsibility to your tenants. Do you want another job? If the answer is “no,” do not be a landlord.

      Good luck!

    8. The Other Dawn*

      I think the easiest and most sensible approach, in my own opinion, is to think about the worst possible scenarios coming to fruition and base your decision to rent out the house on those. Is it a non-paying tenant whom you eventually have to evict? Is it massive property damage? If you can’t, or don’t want to, weather whatever you see as the worse possible scenarios for a bit, don’t be a landlord.

      Also, I think putting the work into it to make it palatable to renter is probably among the lowest on the list of priorities when deciding to do something like this. All the other stuff is way more important: insurance coverage (you’ll likely have to change your homeowner’s policy and the premium is usually more expensive); ongoing maintenance and unexpected repairs–sometimes huge and/or expensive–you’ll be responsible for; tax consequences; non-paying or late-paying tenants; structuring the lease to spell out what your tenants can and cannot do, as well as what they’re responsible for; and charging the right amount of rent. You can’t just charge the amount of the mortgage payment. You need to consider the cost of upkeep, whether you’ll include anything, like heat, among other things. You also have to keep in line with what the market will bear in your neighborhood. If the mortgage, taxes, insurance, estimated cost of monthly upkeep, etc. costs $2,500, for example, and other housing in your area rents for $1,500 a month, you’re not going to be able to rent it out for $2,500. You could try, but unless you have a fabulous house that makes it worth $2,500/month to a renter, no one is going to rent it.

    9. AllieMiles*

      I rented my condo out when I moved to another city 2000 miles away.

      First, I used no rental service and found friends of friends. One moved out and stopped paying and the other thought that meant she could just halve the rent. Then left big items out so I was charged by the condo HOA for large item trash hauling. They also stained with tiles in the bathroom with hair dye. And of course, I was already out on rent, so lost out on having to pay for the repairs for that and a cleaning.

      Then I used a rental service. They typically charge something like 10% of the rental price monthly or $100, whichever is greater (or at least that was the rate in Chicago). They advertised the place, found tenants, held the security deposit and were well versed in eviction and tenant protection laws. However, they also hold some of your money for possible repairs, and hire their own people for the services. You, of course, pay for this. However, you don’t have to deal with midnight phone calls. We ended up having renters that mostly paid only 2 weeks late each time and then were fine otherwise, but left the place in a really nasty state.

      The issue with renting the unit was that no matter what, I still had to pay that mortgage, that property tax and that HOA fee (as well as my own rent). So when I didn’t get paid rent AND I had to pay fines, garbage fees, and other special surprises, I was just out that money. However, the rent wasn’t enough to cover all those expenses in a good month anyway. So I would take a hard look at what you’d get from the rent money on a good month, and see if it’s enough to cover most of the surprise costs as well. Sometimes, I would have been better off not renting the place at all…

  25. Teapot Translator*

    What’s cooking? thread!
    Sorry for not organizing one last week. I was still reeling from the doctor’s news.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I don’t know what to cook this week. I feel overwhelmed by salt. I’m thinking of just buying pork chops and cooking some potatoes.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Ok, I have an idea of what to cook.
        If I want to cook chicken or turkey pieces that will go in other dishes (like a quesadilla or in the oven with pasta and vegetables), should I cook it in the oven or boil it?
        And if I boil it, what should I put in the water? I can’t put salt in.

        1. Ali G*

          I would either cook it in the crock pot or poach (simmering water, not boiling) it. Either way you can use a combo of chicken stock or water + aromatics, if you have them. If you don’t have aromatics, you can use dried herbs. I think you are less likely to over cook them in the crock pot on low for a few hours.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Honestly I’ve never put salt in the water, even before we started going low-salt. I use Mom’s Thanksgiving trick of putting in carrot & onion & celery and going light on the water. Sometimes garlic as well.

        3. Anono-me*

          Initially when I got a dietary restrictiom, I would find a few workable meals. I would make those few meals over and over at first and then add new meals to my rotation as I found them.

          Here are instructions for a few my ‘go to’ simple and healthy low sodium quick dinners. (We have dietary restrictions in addition to sodium, so these meals may be a little bland. )

          -Diced Tomatos ( fresh or no salt canned)
          -Onion or fennel bulb cut into big chunks.
          – 3 or 4 chicken breasts
          -no sodium broth or white wine
          – ground black pepper to taste.

          Add the veggies to a big deep frying pan with a lid. Lay the chicken on top. Add the wine or broth to the pan about 1/2 way up the side of the chicken. Season with black pepper. Poach the chicken on medium, flipping after about 10-15 min. (Cook time is size dependent, usually about 1/2 an hour). Serve over rice or quinoa.

          Chicken and carrots in apple cider reduction.
          -Chicken breasts
          -Apple cider – 1/2 to 1 cup per breast.
          -Black pepper to taste
          Soak chicken breasts in apple cider for up to 8 hours. Remove and dry the chicken. Cook the chicken in a frying pan with a little bit of healthy oil. Remove the chicken and add the cider to the pan. Reduce the cider to about 1/2 volume. Boil or microwave the carrots while the cider is reducing. Add the chicken and carrots to the cider glaze and reheat. Serve. Rice or quinoa optional.

          Baked fish or poultry with starch and a microwaved vegetable.

          -Couple of teaspoons of olive oil
          -Sodium free spice mixture
          -Fillets, poultry (breast or thigh).
          -Rice or quinoa or potatoes

          Mix a little bit of the spice mix in with the olive oil right away. Preheat the oven to 375°F
          Rinse the vegetables and put in a microwave safe bowl with a teaspoon of water. Cover with plastic wrap. Start the water to boil for the rice or quinoa or put the potatoes in the microwave for the recommended time less 2 minutes. Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet with a lip. Once the oven is hot enough; Brush your protein lightly all over with the olive oil. Season more to taste. Bake for 7-20 minutes each side, depending on what protein and cut you are making (check Google.) Once the microwave is done with the potatoes, finish them in the oven or continue with your rice or quinoa. Microwave your veggies according to your microwave’s instructions. (Please be careful of the Steam when removing the plastic wrap.)

          * Check the sodium levels of your proteins , many of them are packaged with salt; especially poultry.

        4. Don't boil that bird!*

          I frequently roast chicken breasts to use in other recipes. I mix garlic powder and paprika together on a plate (or if I know which recipe it’s going in, with the herbs and spices from that recipe), dip the chicken in it to coat, and put it in a 400 degree oven until 165 degrees. No salt. Tastes great.

          I would advise against boiling meat. Poach or simmer, maybe. Braise, sure. But boiling is going to make it tough and tasteless. If you’re going to cook in a liquid, make the liquid as flavourful as possible – for example, cook the chicken in (low-sodium) salsa for the quesadillas. Or you can cook chicken en papillote (in a parchment paper parcel in the oven) with aromatics to add flavour.

        5. Aealias*

          I want to recommend roasting a chicken for your pre-cooked meat. Mix unsalted butter and your spices (we favour sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, black pepper) and spread it under the skin on the breast. Stuff the cavity with a couple of garlic cloves and a sectioned onion. Roast at 425’, breast side down. After an hour or so, flip it breast side up, and butter the top. Keep cooking till the legs fall away from the body.

          When you carve the bird, strip off as much meat as you can and throw the bones straight back in the roaster. Also the skin, onions, garlic – all the detritus. Add a couple of stalks of celery, 2-3 carrots, about 8 peppercorns and a bunch more of your preferred spices. Fill the roaster with enough water to cover the bones, and put it back in the oven at 200’ overnight. In the morning, strain it through a colander and put the broth in the fridge. After work, skim off the fat, which will have congealed into a 1/4” layer on top. You now have delicious salt-free broth to use in any and all recipes.

          Roasting a chicken makes a lot of meat, but it sounds like you have plans for the meat anyway! And the broth is such a win.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      I got tired of cooking, so it’s been salad week. So far my favorite has been arugula and baby spinach with Farro, mandarin oranges, almonds, and a light oil and cider vinegar.

    3. Queer Earthling*

      We had some leftover lamb bones, so we made a lamb/rice/lentil casserole in the crock pot, seasoned with curry and garlic, along with cheese biscuits. Very good and left tons of leftovers! Except for the biscuits. We ate all those.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        You have inspired me, I dug out the marrow bones (long story) and ground lamb and lentils will go on soon. Thanks!

    4. ten four*

      Sorry about your news. :/

      I am also v. tired of cooking and it’s been so cold! I made a Spanish tortilla, basically a potato and onion fritatta. So good! Also excellent sandwich filling with crusty bread.

      I also tried out Cook Unity, which is a meal delivery subscription service that’s employing a bunch of cooks/chefs who have been hit so hard by the pandemic. It’s really tasty and easy – I’ve tried several of the services that give you recipes and ingredients, but that doesn’t solve for just not feeling up to it. Lot of packaging though.

    5. The baker's technical writer*

      tldr: Low-sodium thoughts & recipes.
      Going anonymous so I can share the link with people at work. ;)
      -Watching for any canned things is an easy way to cut sodium. US grocery stores are starting to carry no-sodium added canned goods. Frozen vegetables usually are almost no sodium. Canning your own isn’t as hard as it seems — and even if you don’t can them, prepping them from dried means you control the sodium. We use our InstantPot a lot, for canning 3 medium sized jars at a time, and making no-so chickpeas for hummus.
      -Commercial bread is high sodium. This whole year’s focus on pandemic baking has made it easier to find DIY instructions, just drop out the salt and be prepared for rise times to be different than the recipe says. My family’s no-sodium-added bread info will be at the bottom.
      -Ask your doctor if you can use the commonly sold salt substitute potassium chloride, because there are some medical conditions & meds that don’t react well with it. As long as you’re asking, ask if the meds you’ve been put on have any issues with grapefruit – some can be deactivated by grapefruit.
      -Boxed/canned broth – no-sodium is available in the US. It’s also easy to make yourself. Instantpot is as good a tool for broth as for beans.
      -Watch sodium on fresh meat too. Chicken & turkey is often treated with salt water that can double the sodium levels. Friers, roasters, and boneless can be very different levels of sodium in the same brand.

      We work in English measurements, I’ve added google metric conversions.
      Yeast started from a commercial yeast packet, which we’ve now kept going for a year so it’s starting to get hints of sourdough. Home brewers may taste beer in theirs.

      Pick a jar at least 25oz (740mL) and able to fit in your refrigerator. Add 10oz water (295.74 mL), 10oz/283.5g flour, yeast packet, tsp of sugar. Mix, lightly cover, and refrigerate.
      Note: Don’t fill past 2/3 of jar because it’ll expand after feeding. I suggest putting the jar on a bowl or plastic container just in case.

      Note: We bake twice a week, you can go longer & you can cook more at once by increasing proportions & rise times.
      1. Pour out 2/3 of the jar into a bowl.
      2. Feed the starter immediately. Add equal proportions of water/flour and a scant tsp (4g) of sugar. Stir thoroughly, lightly cover, refrigerate. Note: Dough inevitably gets onto the jar. Just wipe it down if it’s on the outside, and transfer to a new jar if the lid isn’t closing easily.
      3. Go back to the bowl of starter. Add 4tbsp (~50g) sugar, 1/2 cup (125 mL) or a little less canola oil, 1.5 cup (375ml) warm water, 5 level cups (575g to 650g) of flour. Note: US flour is measured by volume, so conversion depends on your flour. 650g is US white flour from Gold Medal.
      4. Stir/knead until smooth & elastic. It’s about 5 minutes on my Kitchenaid’s dough hook on slow, plus a few minutes of kneading by hand. Don’t over-knead because this will sit longer than the usual recipe. The definition of “overkneaded” is personal taste — try it a few ways to see what you prefer.
      5. Proof until it doubles in volume. We have access to a proofing oven — the ideal is 100°F (39°C) with water in oven, takes about 4 hours. In a winter house, it can go overnight.
      5. Punch it down, quick knead, portion into rolls or loaves or pizza and let rise again. Probably 30-60 minutes.

      1. Rolls: 2.5 oz (71g) rolled into 2″ (5cm) circles, spaced evenly in a 12×12 pan (30cm, not sure if that’s a standard pan size in the EU sorry!) Bake at 350°F (176°F) for 12-15 minutes.
      2. Fried dough: 1oz (28g) balls rolled flat, and deep fry, ideally at 350°F (176°F) . Can go sweet or savory. Sometimes it will puff out like pani purri.
      3. Long skinny bread, 10 oz (285g), 12″ (30cm) long on a cookie sheet, 350°F (176°F) for about 15 minutes.
      4. Bread in a loaf pan – maybe 45 minutes.
      5. Pizza – 8 oz (227g) dough for a 12″ (30cm) circle. We use an oiled 12″ (30cm) aluminum pan, and proof a half hour before adding toppings & baking. Pizza needs 450°F (232°C) for 15 minutes. Bottom rack to get a crispy crust.

      -Thump bread before you cut it, becaue it sounds different at different levels of cooking. That will let you learn to wing it and get the “doneness” you like.
      -Bread’s very sensitive to pan type — aluminum sheet & pan helps crust get crispy. If you like a soft crust, experiment with different pan or temperatures&time. Parchment paper on the cookie sheet keeps it from sticking.
      -We’re starting to experiment with stuffed breads & steamed buns, but the fillings make the timings too variable. Use cooked fillings to avoid concerns about food safety vs bread texture.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      Sorry for the doctor’s news. Internet hugs, if wanted.
      We were going to go to stock up at the grocery store for the first time in 3 or 4 weeks and the car conked out. Now we’re eating really interesting meals (barley, split peas, etc.). Really digging into the back of the pantry!
      Not to worry, we can have groceries delivered but – sheesh!

    7. Ali G*

      It’s a slow weekend for us too. Apparently I cooked too much food + we under ate this week so we have lots of leftovers. I did make a pretty good cross between a muffelata and a pannini last night with some leftover roast pork loin.
      Mrs. Dash actually makes some really good no salt added seasonings. We use them for a lot of the food we prep.

    8. Mary Berry*

      Made meatballs for the first time ever and they turned out great! There were so many I froze most of them, but just pulled a few out for a sandwich for lunch and they reheated perfectly in sauce.

    9. GoryDetails*

      I’ve had my second Hello Fresh box, three meals in each (or six servings, as it’s just for me). I like the way the kits nudge me to make full meals rather than my usual one-dish option; am hoping it will inspire me to do a little more meal-planning in future, as it really isn’t that hard to have some nice veggies along with the protein. [But it’s easier to eat the veggies one day and the protein the next {wry grin}.]

      Of the meals I got in the kits, the big winners for me have been the Soy-glazed Meatballs with Bell Pepper, Carrot and Green Bean stir-fry, and the Sweet and Smoky Pork Tenderloin with Apple Carrot slaw, mashed potatoes, and cherry sauce. In both cases the added spices/marinades really helped add flavor, but they weren’t so exotic that I couldn’t do something similar myself – and I found the preparation so easy and the results so satisfying that I’d like to try making the dishes again, with my own ingredients this time. [The kits are charming though, with the teensy little glass jars of cherry jam and the wee bottle of vinegar and all…]

      1. Sandman*

        We started Hello Fresh a few weeks ago, and I’m loving it. It’s a little pricey, but I’m finding that after a year of pandemic I just don’t have the bandwidth to plan and shop for meals so it’s saving us a lot of takeout and pizza. I kept the recipes, too, because I think they’d be easy to re-do on my own, but right now I love that someone else is doing the planning for me. (We have a family of 5 – kids 14, 12, and 9 – and use the 4-person. It’s enough but we never have leftovers.)

    10. Dancing Otter*

      I have a pot of carrots simmering in beef bouillon to mimic the effect of cooking them with a roast. It works very well so long as I don’t let the pot boil dry. Low sodium bouillon or soup base is available.
      No idea yet what I will have for protein, but something I can cook directly from the freezer.

    11. Voluptuousfire*

      Chicken vegetable soup in the crock pot.

      I’m going to make it a point to make a crock pot of soup once or twice a week. I don’t enjoy cooking generally and am not great at it, but I love soup and it’s easy to do. My soup today is chicken thighs, two cartons of broth, seasoning, asparagus, carrots, green beans and potatoes. I threw in the potatoes when a pizzeria I would order chicken soup from had them in and they would break down and make the soup almost stew like, which I love.

      I want to get an immersion blender so I can make my own blended soups.

    12. Filosofickle*

      We’re doing crispy shrimp tacos tonight, a Cook’s Country recipe that we’ve done once before. I thought it was good, he thought it was amazing, so this is a treat for him. This week I think a mushroom broccoli grain bowl is on deck plus grilled chicken in some form and a white pizza with arugula salad on top. Feeling a burned out on planning and making food, so I’m trying to make things that are either easy or fun.

    13. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Missed you last week! :-) hope you’re doing alright!

      Monday was broiled salmon with broccoli and garlic “smashed” potatoes. The potatoes were a hit, definitely something I’ll make again.

      Wednesday I had kalbi with rice and scrambled egg. I’ve had K-BBQ with friends (in the before times!). This is my go to meal for Whenever I’m missing the old life.

      Thursday was a home made vegetable tomato sauce. I found a random recipe for making your own sauce at home. Paired with fresh pasta from the grocery, it was so yummy. I’m not normally a cook from scratch person but this was a nice meal.

      today I made a tres leche cake wit fresh cream and fruit. That was a disaster in many stages but I’ve never been great at cake decorating. I visited Michael’s last week and walked down the cake supplies aisle and was sorely missing the time I had started baking and cake decorating, which I had given up on.

    14. TechWorker*

      The recipes I tried from last week were:

      Sheet pan gnocchi (basically just gnocchi, tomatoes, red onion, butternut squash on a tray, with some hard cheese at the end) – went well except it said to put the oven on at 240c and I just didn’t believe it, the veg were fine but the gnocchi could have done with a bit more time!

      Sheet pan quesadilla – basically one big quesadilla you make in an oven tray and use a second oven tray to squish the top down. I didn’t use as much cheese as the recipe, sort of to make it healthier but also cos I didn’t have any left! My partner thought there wasn’t quite enough veg to tortilla ratio, but I enjoyed it and the leftovers were great for lunch.

      Both recipes were pretty easy and would recommend though :) I’ll be tweaking and doing again!

    15. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

      I’m going to experiment with chicken fajitas minus the tortillas — so essentially chicken and rice; think a chicken biryani but with peppers and Mexican spices instead of yogurt and Indian spices. This may be a disaster. Wish me luck!

      I’m making apple muffins now — at least I know those will be good.

    16. lily*

      I cook dinner two nights a week, sometimes an extra, depending on schedules. I made smoothie bowls using a bunch of little bits of frozen fruit, topped with blood orange sections, strawberries, chia pudding, granola clusters and candied nuts. I didn’t feel like cooking, so they worked perfectly. Other dinner I made was pizza. One kale, caramelized onion, and romano cheese, one cherry tomato, zucchini, caramelized onion, and pesto.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I’m exercising too much. I think there’s a part of me that thinks that if I do all the exercise in the world, my health issues will go away. And that’s not how it works.
      I am however looking forward for the first time in my life to daylight saving time. More light in the evening will mean I can enjoy the sun after work.

    2. nep*

      Not really trying any new exercises, but working on getting my core strength and mobility back. Used to be able to do side planks w dips (on forearm) for longer, and used to be able to sit on floor from standing and get back up no problem. Much work to do on both right now.
      Grateful I’m healthy and able to work out. Also so happy warmer weather’s coming–more walks/jogs outside.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Your wisdom always calms me down.
        I tried a pilates class this week (too advanced for me), and the teacher could do that sit on the floor and get back up thing. I laughed alone at home and said, “No.”

    3. Just A PM*

      I’m trying to get into exercise. Started Couch to 5K as my Lent goal (instead of giving something up for Lent, I always try to develop a positive habit instead) because working from home for a whole year has turned me completely sedentary and input on 40lbs of COVID stress/depression/couch potato-ness.

      But I do have one question though, for any runners out there. How the heck do you breathe when you’re running? I get winded fast so am trying to figure out a breathing pattern to help with my stamina.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Caveat: I am not a runner.
        Is the Couch to 5k an interval training? E.g. 2-minute walk, 30-second run? When I tried running years ago (hello, shin splints!), I don’t remember having had trouble breathing. So maybe you’re progressing too fast?

        1. Just a PM*

          I should probably qualify that by “running,” I mean a “slow jog.” I do it on a treadmill since it’s still kinda icy so walking is at 1.7mph and jogging is at 3.5mph, and cooldown is from 1.7mph to 0.6mph (the lowest my treadmill goes).

          I haven’t “run” or “jogged” since PE in high school, and even back then I used to get in trouble for how slow my jog is because it meant a 20-min mile and the PE teachers hated it because it wasn’t within the standard for the Presidential Fitness whatever thing. The Presidential Physical Fitness program is why I hate exercise. Thanks, LBJ.

          1. Helenatroy*

            I’m no longer a runner, but when I was, I was able to greatly increase speed by interval training. I would do this on a track: 1/4mile as fast as I could, 3/4 mile at regular pace. Do that 3 or 4 times a session, once or twice a week. I got a 15-min mile to sub 9 in several months.

      2. Purt’s Peas*

        Slow way, way down or walk! When you’re running for any length of time that’s not a sprint or a “run fast” interval you should be able to talk as you run. If you can’t, it’s unsustainable.

        This might feel unbearably slow, but it takes a lot more time than you’d expect to build up that cardiovascular ability, especially if you’re starting from a true “couch” position like I did.

      3. Washi*

        I’m a longtime casual runner, but I don’t think it’s really about a particular “pattern,” just that it will take you some time to build up your endurance. If you work out your legs with strength training but haven’t done much cardio, it’s quite possible that your legs are more fit than your lungs, so your lungs are feeling tired first.

        That said, it can help to make sure you keep up good form when you’re running – it’s natural to start to slump forward but try to keep your head up and your back more straight than curved. A long time ago, I took an exercise class where we were taught “A” and “B” skips (lots of youtube videos) and practicing those really helped cement decent running form into my muscle memory, particularly the B skips.

        You could also try just slowing down. Personally, I’m someone who prefers long slow runs, even though I know interval workouts are really good for me. When you’re first getting in shape, you may find that slower is more enjoyable and leads you to keep going with it more.

      4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I get super winded if I’m running on my own because I’m not great at moderating my speed so I wear myself out super fast, but if I’m on a treadmill and can set the pace and forget it, then I do much better. At a ~4mph pace, I tend to aim for inhale through the nose four steps, exhale through the mouth four steps, and so on. That gets dodgy at higher speeds and also starts to fall off a bit after 10 minutes of straight running (less if I’m doing intervals), but that’s how I start, at least. :)

        (If anyone has any suggestions on how to get better at pacing myself without the treadmill to do it for me, I’m all ears!)

      5. Emma2*

        A few thoughts on breathing (from personal experience rather than any expertise) – you want to be breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Once you start breathing in through your mouth you will become much more breathless.
        If you want a breathing pattern – I sometimes breathe in for three steps then out for three (breathe in – left/right/left, out right/left/right, repeat – I just count the numbers in my head 1,2,3,1,2,3…). Years ago, I would sometimes breathe in through my nose and then blow out twice through my mouth, repeat.
        Also, you may need to slow down a bit – it is probably better to run at a slower pace that you can handle while running for your target time than to go faster but run out of steam before you get to the end. It may be that you feel that you are running too slowly, but you will get there. You can build your speed once you have built up your endurance.
        Hope it goes well!

      6. The teapots are on fire*

        Slow way down and also make sure you inhale as much as you exhale. There’s something about working a little beyond my capacity that can get me panting and I feel as if I’m not harvesting the oxygen out of the air before I blow it back out. This is not at all a scientific explanation.

        Also if you haven’t been exercising vigorously before , and you’re struggling, I’d do each week of Couch25K 2-3 times before you go on to the next week. It may well be that you won’t really be running 5k in the allotted time at the end of this because you may be a slow-ish runner. This is fine. You are much faster than the vast majority of people who are still at the Couch part.

    4. Helvetica*

      I just got back into pilates after years, even bought a mat and proper activewear. Chose a beginners’ 20 minutes routine on Youtube and can already feel that my muscles will be sore tomorrow. But can feel the endorphins kick in too :)

    5. CatCat*

      I’m planning to get back into running. I am going to do the “None to Run” plan where you train to be able to run for 25 minutes total rather than training to run a specific distance. I’m excited about this option because I’m the slowest runner ever and this will therefore not make individual runs take as long as when I’ve trained for distance in the past.

      The plan was to get fitted for shoes this weekend and start this coming week, but I pinched a nerve yesterday that got worse last night and I’m basically going to be inert today. Hopefully, that tapers off by tomorrow or I’ll need to delay the plan.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Weather’s finally letting me get a walk again. I’m trying to get the hang of knitting on the exercise bike to make myself stick with it longer. (So far the results are mixed, and it will be a long while before I do that on anything where you can see individual stitches.)
      I’m also forcing myself to stretch my frozen shoulder. Three or four years ago when I fell and hurt the right side, I was told it might come back on the other side. After a year without lap swim, it did. I’m trying to make up stretches that mimic the swimming motions that helped so much. Just ordered a simple pulley for the basement ceiling so I can use one arm to lift the other.

    7. rkz*

      I’m doing some run/walks (sometimes with baby in the jogging stroller) and focusing on physical therapy exercises to strengthen my hips and core. I’ve been enjoying going out to run/walk because I ran races (5K,10K, half marathon) before getting pregnant and going out with the sole goal of getting some fresh air and getting my heart rate up knowing I can stop and walk whenever I want has really helped me remember that running is fun!

      It sounds like I’ll likely be done with physical therapy in the next month or so as my back pain has improved so much, so it’s a little exciting to think about additional strength exercise routines I might incorporate at that point.

    8. LNLM*

      My community pool reopened this week, so I am swimming laps again. It is glorious! Locker rooms and showers are closed, so after swimming I dry off a bit and run out to the car to shower at home. I realized that I had not only missed the swimming, but also the swimming community.

  26. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    What are good, reasonably priced gifts I can get delivered for:

    – a new set of parents
    – a recently bereaved friend

    I’m in London, my budget is around £30 for each. I’m usually good at gifting but defo over thinking these ones. Any ideas appreciated!

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      New parents: maybe look-in to a COOK delivery, if they have the freezer space? We found those helpful in the early days.

      Friend: no gift recommendations, but I strongly recomment putting the anniversary of the loss on your calendar with a reminder for yourself to send a condolences card again in a year. The anniversaries can be hard.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Bereaved friend. I have received stuffed animals (I like stuffed animals.) cards, books, religious statues (I am actively connected to a church). Cash is also good if the person has had funeral costs or other costs to pay out. OTOH, a gift card lets them pick what they want, which is nice also. If they are a plant person, that’s a lovely gift. If the plant is an outdoors plant, make sure it is hardy for their area.

    3. mreasy*

      If they are coffee, tea, and/or chocolate fans, a selection of one/some of these from local makers with a nice gift note? This is my go-to because nothing expires, it will be used, and it’s a nice gesture without being too pricey. Plus maybe you can introduce them to eg a local coffee-roaster that they’ll like.

    4. Anono-me*

      Fruit basket. It is cliche, but it really is a nice practical gift .

      Easy to eat healthy food that requires no maintenance or prep other than a rinse off is a huge convenience especially when you are tired.

    5. Buni*

      Friends of mine just moved London –> Newcastle, so in lieu of a traditional ‘housewarming’ gift I packed up a box full of snacks – sweet & savoury mix, chocolates and bags of salty things – plus a few bits like good-quality easy-cook noodles and rice flavouring sachets. I figured they didn’t need any more ‘stuff’, whereas the chances of an Unpacking ‘Mare Snack Attack were quite high…

      For both new parents and the recently bereaved I suspect the focus would be on not having to leave the house and not having to worry about food prep, so something similar or things like takeaway vouchers suitable for their area.

      1. Oh Brother*

        Seconding this. I sent Uber Eats vouchers to a bereaved family member and they were so helpful… for catching rides to the funeral home. (I didn’t know they could be used for rides as well as snacks, but there you go.)

        You can send it right to their email and add a wee note. (I said: ‘sorry I can’t be there, pretend this is a casserole.’)

        1. TechWorker*

          This is such a great idea – I feel like either bereaved person is struggling with you know, life, and would appreciate being able to feed themselves without hassle.. or even if they’re not, it’ll be a nice treat that isn’t a bunch of flowers

    6. HannahS*

      Consider just sending them the money and saying “Have dinner on me,” allowing them to get whatever takeout they want.

    7. Susie*

      I agree with above commenters suggesting food. I’ve been in both situations and food is helpful.
      One food adjacent thing—maybe some compostable plates and utensils? Helps eliminate the chore of washing dishes.

    8. Charlar*

      As new parents in London we’ve really appreciated fancy ready meals – we got given Gourmade frozen ones. We were also sent Pasta Evangelists and Shoryu Ramen meal kits, which involved some light assembly (about 10-15 mins) but were a delight.

    9. Virginia Plain*

      Lots of ideas for then parents so I’ll weigh in as a recently bereaved person. Cards with written expressions of sympathy and offers to chat (followed up with a text etc) were welcome. Cliché but flowers are nice. And one friend just went on Amazon and send me a bottle of my preferred tipple (gin) which I also loved. An old friend sent me a little care package with relaxing trabags, a face mask (the beauty kind not the plague kind), some chocolate; that sort of thing. I think it was from a company and you do a pick and mix of what your friend would like – I’ll find the box and let you know the company.

  27. The Other Dawn*

    Anyone here have osteoarthritis of the hips? I’m curious as to what I can expect in terms of the speed of progression.

    I had an MRI on both hips last week due to ongoing hip pain, which started not long after the lumbar fusion last year. I have bursitis and mild osteoarthritis in both hips and something about tendinosis in one of them. I was pretty frustrated with the doctor during the appointment (kind of felt like I wasn’t being listened to), so I didn’t think to ask about the progression of the arthritis. The doctor also seemed very unconcerned with it, kind of like, “meh, this is nothing”. My understanding is it WILL progress, but it depends on lots of factors, like exercise, weight, etc.–the usual, in other words.

    I’m 46; have had weight loss surgery and lost a significant amount of weight, though I’m still considered “obese” (gotta love those height/weight/BMI guidelines) because I gained a little back; work out five to six days a week; and I’m getting my nutrition back under control to lose the pounds I regained last year.

    (And yes, I may try to find a new doctor since I’ve only been to him a couple times so I’m not invested in staying with him.)

    1. ten four*

      My Dad has bursitis, and that biz is Not Fun. I don’t know enough about it to give any advice on the progression but I am STRONGLY in the camp of “find another doctor.” You’re not invested, and the doc couldn’t be more clear that he/she isn’t interested in solving for the quality of life issues you’re experiencing.

      I just this week met with a specialist for a condition I’ve been dealing with for ELEVEN YEARS and she was like “oh yeah, this isn’t okay” and put me on a plan that I think will actually work? And even if it doesn’t it was such a relief to meet with someone who took it seriously. Plus she answered all my questions and explained what we’ll try next if this current intervention doesn’t work.

      For day to day pain/quality of life issues it’s definitely worth looking around for a doctor that you have confidence in as a partner. You’re going to be living with this for a long time, and the earlier you get good interventions/treatment the better it’ll be for you. Good luck!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks! Yes, today I asked a friend and my trainer who they use for their orthopedic needs so I have a couple options. The friend said her doctor has no bedside manner but is an excellent surgeon. I know how I am and I don’t think I’d do well with someone who has no bedside manner.

    2. Cyborg now*

      I have osteoarthritis of the hips. Just had a replacement. It was 10 years from a diagnosis of mild arthritis to replacement. But ….. big but …. you might be different. The activity you do is different, your body is different etc. It could be 3 years or 20 for you. My advice is for you to see a physio when you have pain, learn to do exercises for your glutes/abs and yoga for stretching out. Doing that delayed my replacement by 4 years. Again… you can’t be too strong going into replacement surgery.

    3. Cyborg now*

      And to address the other points…mild arthritis is not something that docs can do much about. Something like 30- 50% of women have arthritis by 50. If you’re having pain see a good physio. I had to try a few before I found one I liked,and was 47 at diagnosis. In the 10 years from diagnosis to replacement I saw physios and massage therapists every year.

      1. Imtheone*

        And every year, they are getting closer to real treatments to reverse the arthritis— such as getting the cartilage to regrow.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Oh I know they can’t really do anything about it. It’s more than the doctor didn’t even explain the diagnosis or offer any information about how to manage it, what progression might look like, etc. I should have asked, but I was frustrated with him and he seemed to be frustrated with me, so I just didn’t think of it.

    4. OxfordBlue*

      I’m 56 and have pretty much the same issues with my hips as you along with other joints too.
      One big question that you haven’t covered is whether you have hit menopause yet, if you haven’t do take that into account when choosing your new doctor and read up on it because that is a major trigger for arthritis in women and you may need to consider hrt etc. (I just realised I’m assuming you have ovaries, if you don’t ignore this)
      For what you can do now, in my experience, every ounce of weight you can get off your joints is worthwhile and noticeable to you, I’m 5′ 5″ tall and now weigh 125 lbs and that has really reduced the severity of my pain.
      Move your joints every day without fail, I find if I miss a day’s exercise I really notice it. See a physio and take the advice, strengthening the muscles around your joints really helps. Improve the quality of your diet so that you are eating the best grade of fruit and vegetables at their freshest, this has made a noticeable difference for me.
      Make your bed and your shoes as comfortable as you can and wear support garments to keep the sore joints warm.
      Look into and try supplements that have had clinical trials for efficacy, here in the UK a charity called Versus Arthritis have a useful online database of these that you can filter by type of arthritis, there may be something similar for the US but I don’t know about it, sorry.
      I’ve also been on a physio-led multi-disciplinary course for chronic pain sufferers which I found hugely helpful so you might consider looking for something that would give you the chance to meet others with the same condition and try a lot of different techniques and exercises with expert guidance and support.
      And yes you’re right that this condition will get worse in the future but the progression can be very slow if you take action. In my experience, the pain is always there but it can be made to live in the background of one’s life by good management and that way it won’t stop you doing anything you want to do.

      1. The Other Dawn*


        No, I haven’t hit menopause yet. I’m working to take off the weight I regained last year, so I’m working out regularly and I’m on a good meal plan for me (very high protein, low carb). I have a Sleep Number bed and I’ve topped it with three inches of memory foam and a one inch pillowtop, which I did last year when the bursitis set in. I think what makes this really difficult to ever feel free from some form of pain is that I have a desk job and now work at home on top of that. I use my standing desk and get up a couple times an hour to move around, but I feel like it’s still not enough. And when the workday is done, I’m usually pretty sore and sometimes stiff, which makes me not want to work out. I do it anyway most of the time. And it’s not like I can quit my job, since anything I’m qualified for is still a desk job.

        The doctor said he doesn’t think my hip pain is due to the arthritis, but due to the bursitis. I’m definitely thinking of going elsewhere, though. I feel like he didn’t listen to me and was frustrated with me, as I was with him. He also didn’t offer any information at all about OA, like what it is, potential progression, how to manage it, etc. Yes, I could have asked, of course, but I was frustrated with him and didn’t think to ask more questions. And typically a doctor will say, “here’s what to expect.” He didn’t.

        1. Retired Accountant*

          I think I would agree to treat the bursitis symptoms and you can evaluate after that. What shows up on an MRI isn’t necessarily what is causing pain, and I wouldn’t get too worked up about it.

          Anecdotally I had a bout of lower back pain a few years ago; to the point where if I dropped something on the floor I would think about if I should pick it up or wait to see if I felt better the next day. I assumed it was muscular and didn’t feel the need to spend money on a doctors appointment so went straight to pt for treatment. After a couple weeks I asked “So what do you think this is, anyway?” She replied without hesitation “Arthritis”. I said I thought at 43 I was far too young for arthritis and she looked at me and said “Noooo”. (I checked with a pharmacist I knew who concurred.). Anyway I did what the pt told me, the pain went away and hasn’t come back. So whether the “diagnosis” was correct wasn’t important. If it does come back I’ll worry about it then. But I’ve heard too many stories about people getting MRIs and getting treated for something that wasn’t what was causing their pain to want to go that route unless really necessary.

    5. Blomma*

      I’ve seen rheumatologists for 20 years now for conditions other than osteoarthritis so I can’t speak to that condition. However, I do think it’s worth seeing a different doctor. For better or worse, I’ve found that my feelings about my health issues can definitely be influenced by the attitudes of my doctors, so it’s important to see someone who has a bedside manner that works for me. I strongly recommend checking out the Arthritis Foundation’s website. They have tons of info available. (Also, when I looked their site just now, their main story is about osteoarthritis.)

  28. Jack*

    This is probably a stupid question but I’ve never run into this dillema before. When you agree to do a favor for someone, you’re under no obligation to follow up to make sure you do the favor for them, right? And you can change your mind about doing the favor after some time has passed?

    I’m wondering because someone I swapped novel manuscripts with about a year ago (to critique each other’s work) asked me over social media if I could critique a new manuscript for them. I said I’d be happy to and told them which e-mail address to send it to. I let them know I didn’t have as much free time as before right now, so I couldn’t do a super quick turnaround again, but thought I could still get it done pretty quickly.

    They said that’d be great, to only do it if I had time, and to get to it whenever. That was last weekend. I’ve been checking my e-mails everyday and haven’t gotten anything from them. I’m not sure if they changed their mind, didn’t have time to send it yet, forgot, or if they were waiting for me to reassure them I have plenty of time to do it.

    I haven’t been getting much sleep the past few months, and am going to be getting even less sleep now for reasons beyond my control, so I’m regretting agreeing to take on work for someone else. So…just don’t say anything? Tell them I don’t have time now if they do send it?

    1. nep*

      I think it would be best to email the person, referring back to the earlier exchange…something like, ‘I said at the time I’d be able to do it but I wanted to let you know, in case you still planned to send your manuscript, my situation has changed and I won’t be able to do it.’ Just in case the person still has as part of their planning that you’re going to critique the manuscript.
      My take.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, speak up and don’t let them embarrass themselves or be otherwise uncomfortable. Express regret and wish them the best with their project.

        I took on a sewing project for a family member. It took me way too long. Part of the problem was the project kept growing in size. Finally I finished. (took years) And I told the family member I had a learning experience, I would never be taking on projects that large again. And I don’t. Part of my problem was I was giving away WAY TOO much work for free. I did not say that out loud, but lessoned learned most definitely.

    2. Anon for this*

      No, you DO have an obligation to tell them your circumstances have changed. You’re suggesting ghosting them, which is uncool after you offered your help. Just say your circumstances have changed, you’re sorry, and you hope you can connect in the future. Blowing them off will sever the relationship and harm your reputation.

    3. Cambridge Comma*

      Because it’s via email and they don’t always arrive I would say something to avoid misunderstandings.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      “Hey, I’m sorry to do this, but I realized I’m really swamped and won’t have enough time to devote to your manuscript. I’d love to read it in the future! Sorry about that, things are just nuts.”

      Don’t ghost, that would be really rude. If you agree to do something for someone, you are not obligated to move heaven and earth to get it done, but you are very much obligated to communicate if the situation has changed. Which is fine! Life happens! But don’t leave people hanging.

    5. twocents*

      I’m not sure why everyone thinks you’re “ghosting.” They’re the one who asked for a favor and never bothered to send you the manuscript required to do the dang favor. That’s not YOU ghosting them.

      That said, I think you could follow up and say “Hey, I’ll only be available to do this if I get the manuscript by X date.” And if they send it, they send it, and if they don’t, they don’t. I don’t see why you need to babysit them over their request.

    6. Ellyfant*

      You have a right to change your mind at any time. I don’t know why other people think you’re ghosting – the onus is on this dude to send you the manuscript, you shouldn’t have to hold his hand and follow up with every step. My husband was in a similar position when a couple of graduates asked help to find work in his company – he asked them to email their resumes and they never followed through. He just dropped it since it wasn’t his job to chase up. You’re not responsible for other people’s irresponsibility.

      Even if you did receive the manuscript quickly, you are still allowed to change your mind.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I agree. If someone asks a favor, it’s on them to say, “hey, I’m ready” or “here’s the thing I want you to review.” I’m not going to chase the person down. If they don’t follow up then I just assume they no longer need the favor. I don’t see it as ghosting or rude at all.

    7. Jack*

      Okay, so I guess an update. I just sent a message over social media letting them know I’ve been checking my e-mail but never got anything from them, and unfortunately didn’t have time to do a critique for them anymore because other things came up. They replied that they e-mailed me “a few days ago,” so I checked my e-mail account yet again. They sent it late last night. Is it actually possible for e-mails to get delayed for a few days? I’ve never had that problem before.

      1. Salt Water*

        In this day and age I can’t imagine a few days delay in receiving an email. Even if they had sent it a few days ago, you’ve told them you’re not able to do it right now. You could reply and let them know it arrived and reiterate that you no longer have time to do the critique.

        1. Jack*

          Yeah, you’re right. I looked at the more detailed version of the e-mail header, and it says it took 13 seconds to deliver, so there wasn’t a delay. I’m annoyed that they would say they sent it “a few days ago” when it was really less than 24-hours ago. Will definitely reiterate that I still can’t do the critique.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            It’s possible the delay was on his side. There have been a couple times when I’ve sent something and didn’t realize it’s sitting in the outbox due to a server glitch or something. Rare these days, but it happens. But it’s also possible your friend dragged his feet or forgot and doesn’t want you to know that. Could be either.

  29. Washi*

    Ok, so I love period dramas and I’m finally watching Bridgerton and I’m feeling….confused? I love the racially diverse cast and am definitely not here to complain about historical accuracy on that account. It feels like something that was very intentional and thought out.

    But a lot of the other choices are so weird to me! Like I just watched a scene where a character is putting a busk into her corset/stays, so clearly someone did a little research, but also she is wearing the corset directly on her skin! And all the scenes where Daphne is like, bleeding from her corset….that was the whole point of wearing a shift underneath, to prevent that exact thing (well, also washability). Plus the tightlacing…there’s no point in cinching down your waist in a empire-waisted dress! And it’s other little things, like why do they keep pronouncing Cowper as COW – per, why is there the implication that Daphne has to get married the same season when she comes out?

    It’s not that I think everything has to be perfectly historically accurate – I like quite a lot of the costumes (especially Daphne’s mom and Marina) though some of Daphne’s dresses scream JC Penney prom dress to me. I can forgive stuff like the walzing and overuse of the word debutante. But it’s confusing to me that the show seems to have this agenda to show how bad things were for women in this historical era, while being totally illogical and inconsistent about how things in that era worked.

    Maybe I’m just not into Shonda Rimes’s style of storytelling. I also tried to watch How to Get Away with Murder at one point, and even the amazing Viola Davis could not make up for how illogical and unrealistic it was. Why set something at a law school when it doesn’t work for the plot? Why set something in the Regency era if you’re not really interested in historical research? Every time I start getting into the story, some other weird thing will happen and I’m just like…what??

    Have you watched Bridgerton? What did or didn’t you like about it?

    1. Jen Erik*

      I think that first of all I wouldn’t know a lot of the stuff about corsets, so I just wouldn’t notice – but also the books are not humongously careful about these things – there’s an early non-Bridgerton book where Quinn has the heroine upset that her brother may not graduate from Eton, and her heroines are familiar with intersections, and calculate distance in London by blocks – so, in a way, it’s true to the source material that it’s unrealistic. There’s a P.G. Wodehouse quote in the front of some of his books: “I believe there are two ways of writing novels. One is making a sort of musical comedy without music and ignoring real life altogether; the other is going deep down into life and not caring a damn…” and I think Bridgerton is the first kind of thing.
      I’ve always thought that Quinn’s real talent is for comedic writing.

      1. Washi*

        It’s a good point about the source material. The thing it reminds me of is Poldark, which I found similarly annoying (why are all the women wearing their long hair down for manual labor???) so maybe I just shouldn’t watch “historical” things based on “historical” romance novels. I really don’t like that genre of fiction so it makes sense I wouldn’t like it adapted for TV!

    2. L*

      I haven’t seen it nor do I plan to (too much sex) but either Bernadette Banner or Karolina Zebrowska on YouTube called it a period fantasy. It is not meant to be realistic. Perhaps you can enjoy it better looking at it like that? Though everything you say about it here makes me go whatwhatWHATwhy.

      1. DistantAudacity*

        Yes, I agree – it is a fantasy.

        Also, check out the Frockflicks dot com post on the costumes (thanks to whoever here mentioned that lovely site in an earlier weekend thread!).

      2. Reba*

        That’s great. I read a Q&A with the designer and an essay called “Bridgerton: in defence of ‘inaccurate’ costumes in period dramas” on The Conversation that helped formulate my thoughts on this (and other period shows, as I haven’t actually watched Bridgerton!). The costumers are doing something expressive — it’s artwork to evoke a certain emotional response in an audience seeing the work now, not a museum exhibition to teach “how things were.”

        A comparable if trite example might be how “flapper” dresses are shown in film as like tight, semi-sheer mini dresses (or see Catherine Zeta-Jones in Chicago!). To today’s audience, a straight-silhouette, knee-length dress doesn’t read as daring or scandalous at all.

        1. Roci*

          Yes!! I am shocked by how many people always come out of the woodwork to critique costumes in period pieces and not things like, why does everyone have such nice teeth and skin. Especially in something like Bridgerton which is CLEARLY not supposed to be historically accurate. The score was instrumental covers of modern pop songs, there were people of color in positions of power in Regency England, like… why do you think “historical accuracy” is a goal of this show? It’s about the aesthetic!

    3. Femme d'Afrique*

      I loved Bridgerton because it was such escapist nonsense. I didn’t take any part of it seriously; I was just there for the ride!

      And I’m confused: how do *you* pronounce Cowper?

    4. WellRed*

      Omg. How to Get Away with Murder. It’s like they decided if they just kept introducing twists and surprises they didn’t need to bother with an actual plot!

    5. ten four*

      Okay real talk the corsetry stuff made me SO NUTS. And I LOVE historical romance and historical fiction, and I’ve read tons of it (including all the Bridgerton books).

      I’m trying to accept that it’s just a visual shorthand for “trials and tribulations of historical ladies” at a level that works for teevee, since the true horrors of that era are either too unpleasant to depict (marital rape) or too complicated to show visually (wives were property and had literally zero rights).

    6. lemon meringue*

      I will say that I’m normally a big Shonda Rhimes fan, so I am not opposed to high drama or lack of strict realism, but I thought the writing of Bridgerton was a bit of a mess. The characters’ motivations seemed both shallow and inconsistent, and turned on a dime for what seemed like pure plot convenience. And I didn’t really care about them much.

      I thought Ineye Komonibo and Kathleen Newman-Bremang’s Refinery29 review was a good summation of how that lack of depth translated into the racial representation on the show. I’m all for having a racially diverse frothy period drama, but as Komonibo and Newman-Bremang mentioned, the Black representation was all pretty surface-level. If the writers had engaged with the characters’ race more thoughtfully, it would have really given more nuance and interest to the show as a whole (particularly the relationship between Simon and his dad). As it was, it mostly read to me as a racially blind casting of characters who were written to be white (as they were in the source material) except for one throw-away line that is never mentioned again. It just felt like lazy writing to me. I also thought the show’s depiction of gender roles at the time was a bit all over the place. I realize it is not meant to be realistic, and I accept that, but a show with this kind of budget behind it should really be written more consistently.

      1. TechWorker*

        So sorry, I managed to miss your comment so have just like repeated half of it. Thanks for pointing out the refinery29 review will check it out!

        1. TechWorker*

          Also on the gender roles stuff I wonder if part of that contradiction is trying to be true to the book (which I’ve not read but according to my friends treats the sexism pretty much as expected rather than showing characters rebelling) whilst also being aware of like, the world now (so some characters are written as more obviously against gender roles). Idk

      2. Roci*

        Khadija Mbowe has a great video on YouTube about this as well. The show pretends to be racially diverse and revolutionary, but actually perpetuates some common issues like almost no Asian representation, colorism in how light/dark-skinned characters are depicted…

        …And also we can’t gloss over the scene where one character sexually assaults another and the story focuses on the perpetrator’s pain and suffering, ignoring the victim. If the gender roles were reversed and a man intentionally impregnated a woman it would be clearly not OK, but I guess since the man is the victim it’s fine…?? Really made me unhappy to see this.

    7. TechWorker*

      I feel like it is very much a series where you have to totally suspend belief, but as ‘light enjoyment’ I liked it.

      (Also agree with other commenters that I know multiple people with surname ‘Cowper’ pronounced COWper so possibly you’ve just met someone with different pronunciation rather than that being ‘normal’ ;))

      Mild spoiler: The one thing I did find odd was the (singular) reference to race partway through. The first few episodes are sort of ‘colourblind’ casting (bad description, because they’ve still cast families who look genetically related, but it’s not really referenced and there’s no obvious connection between race and social standing – great!). Then.. there’s like a single line about how the white king marrying a black woman has made such a difference for black people, and then it’s just totally… ignored for the rest of the series.
      I am white so would 100% defer to how this came across to people of colour, but to me it felt a bit strange, like ‘we’re going to acknowledge race but in a really vague way and then ignore it again’

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who was the subject of the film “The Duchess” and played by Keira Knightly, used to speak Devonshire House Drawl, with odd pronunciations. Cucumber was pronounced “cow-cumber” so Cow-per, isn’t unusual.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          And since watching Bridgerton, I have been re-reading the books, and there are some differences. Daphne has been out in society for several years, so she is in her early twenties. From what I gather, not all young women married during their first season, so it wasn’t a desperate rush to find a husband before everyone left London for the summer.

          I must admit to a sense of unease with the scene towards the end of the book, when Daphne takes matters into her own hands with Simon. I won’t go into detail here, but I know some reviews were uncomfortable with it on TV.

          On the topic of costumes, the V&A did an exhibition a few years back with examples of period chemises and stays/corsets. The ones which go under empire line frocks have a different shape to ones for gowns with natural waistlines.

    8. aarti*

      You should check out the Hulu show Harlots! It’s set a bit earlier than Bridgerton. Very accurate costumes. And correct corset usage as far as I remember.

  30. Choggy*

    I highly recommend the All Creatures Great and Small series on PBS, it was so enjoyable to watch and a nice escape from the current reality. I always loved James Herriot’s books and re-read them recently so was tentative about how it would translate to the “small” screen but was so pleasantly surprised. Even my husband enjoyed the series so that was a plus.

    1. L*

      The old or the new series? I loved the old, used to watch it with my mum, but have only seen the first episode of the new one. Loved that they started with Herriot in Scotland. I need to go watch the rest!

      1. Ins mom*

        We watched the old one on Sunday nights in the 70’s on PBS. It was our standing date! We have only seen one episodes of the new one but I love that the housekeeper is so much more assertive.

      2. lemon meringue*

        Ooh, I need to see this new series. I loved the books and the original series so much. It did always bother me a bit that James was not Scottish in the show though.

      3. Marillenbaum*

        They’re both so good! I love the new version, but I have a soft spot in my heart for the original, which is available on Britbox.

    2. Choggy*

      I never watched the old series, too young to be watching anything other than Sesame Street on PBS in the 70’s and did not discover the books until my teens. I found out there will be a second season, and given the number of books he wrote, hopefully a third, fourth, etc. It does help that the actor playing James Herriott is very easy on the eyes, and that Scottish accent! My husband has a hard time understanding what anyone is saying at times, but he never was a good listener! ;)

    3. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I just finished the first book for the first time. I LOVED IT. Not super interested in more screen time at the moment, nor do I have the time, but I’ll keep that in mind when those constraints lift. :) Thanks for the tip!

    4. allathian*

      I loved the old series to the point that I’m not sure I want to watch the new one…

    5. Inconspicuous manuscript waste*

      Oh, thank you for this! Love the books and the old series. Just watched the first episode of the new one and I think I will love this one too.

  31. Anonnyforthis*

    Vaccine question. I am overweight. I don’t look like it, but according to BMI, I am. (Technically I straddle the line between overweight and obese.)

    Found out this week that I am qualified to get the Covid vaccine in my state because of my weight. Should I get an appointment? I have no other pre-existing conditions and am not an essential worker. I am happy staying home till my age group (early 30s) gets called up. If I got the vaccine, it wouldn’t change anything about my routine – still working from home, not really going anywhere other than grocery shopping, medical appointments, and to pick up take-away food when I’m tired of cooking at home.

    1. Xavier Desmond*

      Yeah I would get it. The important thing about vaccinations is that the more people that get vaccinated the better so getting it done as soon as you are able is not remotely selfish. The only way it would become selfish was if you were dishonestly jumping the queue which you wouldn’t be.

    2. fposte*

      There is a whole cohort of people who crossed the relevant BMI line as a result of life under the pandemic. I heard about that possibility from a friend who got a shot as a result, and I’m in that category too, so I’m mulling as well. I feel vaguely guilty, like I chocolate-chipped my way to the front of the line, and also I think I was hoping that the appointment system would become easy by the time it was my turn. But I’m starting to think that I should trust the system and go ahead.

      1. BRR*

        Prudence had a good response to this question recently (or someone from a live chat). The wording was better but basically there’s a reason you are eligible.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Dear everybody who asks this question: If someone says “You are eligible for a vaccine” and you don’t have any health-related reasons to not be getting it, GO GET YOUR VACCINE. The more people who get vaccines, the better off we all are. You skipping your vaccine because someone else might be “more eligible” for it doesn’t actually guarantee that someone who’s “more eligible” will get it instead.


      (Seriously, every open thread, work-related or weekend, someone is like “I qualify, should I get my vaccine?” And in NONE OF THEM has there been a comment that says “Nope, you should skip it and let someone else go instead.” And if there was, they would be wrong.)

      1. ThatGirl*

        I forget if it was this thread or Friday but I’d posted something kinda similar, only in my case it was “am I wrongly classified” and it turned out, yes, my state is differentiating between actual manufacturing plant workers and office workers for a manufacturing company. So I’m not 1B but I am 1C.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I just told my husband (who has been a Hamilton nut forever and I had to ban the soundtrack for a while because I didn’t want it to get to a point of annoying me before I got to actually see the show) that I was just going to start responding to every “should I get my vaccine” with a dramatic rendition of DO NOT THROW AWAY YOUR SHOT (complete with hand thrown up in the air victory pose) and he almost fell out of his chair laughing. Hah.

      2. Coenobita*

        Yes! I was an early-ish asker of this question on here (my volunteer work puts me in 1A so this was back around the new year) and here is something that helped me: separate your feelings about your (un)worthiness from actually getting your shot. A commenter (maybe even you, Red Reader?) basically told me not to let my guilt issues get in the way of herd immunity, which sounds a tad harsh when I write it out but it was EXACTLY what I needed to hear!

        We can feel weird about our eligibility, and that’s fine! The vaccine rollout is legitimately a mess and there are all sorts of inequities. It’s a *good* thing to interrogate your feelings about that, and maybe see if you want to do something to help (e.g., by volunteering to help people navigate the appointment system). But that is different from whether you should physically go and get your vaccine.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I think that part of what is happening is outside/off-line and the other part happens in the weekday thread. This is where people comment, “Younger cohort who is working on going to the Good Health Olympics got the shot and I didn’t. I am upset.”

        This stuff weighs on people’s minds days/weeks later.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          I can’t speak to the discussions here but yeah someone said to me that their mother couldn’t get it but I did. Fortunately I know the person and we’re in diff states so diff requirements. And no hard feelings on either end.

          But I am seeing social media posts about how super healthy person got it and of course the post here and there about someone who lied to get it? (Perhaps I am misremembering that)

    4. WellRed*

      I posted above that our state has just switched to age group only. Seeing this question makes me realize That will help eliminate this sort of confusion and doubt and “should I?”

      1. Masked Bandit*

        My state did that too (or same state?) and that does seem to be the rationale–the goal is to get as many shots in as many arms as quickly as possible and aged-based distribution, while it may mean that some people who are “more deserving” have to wait longer, may be the best way to achieve that goal. We can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

        1. Old and Don’t Care*

          My state has mostly been age group, healthcare workers and teachers are the only job-based exceptions, and a very, very limited set of health conditions. Every question about this has been answered with a version of 95% of the deaths in the state are people over 60, 98% people over 50. So they wouldn’t even frame it as some people who are more deserving have to wait; if you are older you are much more likely to die from COVID and are who is being prioritized in this state. It’s certainly interesting what approaches the various states are taking.

          (Actually I should replace “healthcare workers” with “people who work for healthcare organizations.” But that is a very hot topic with me and best that I not dwell on it.)

    5. ThatGirl*

      I’m in roughly the same boat as you, just a little older. I had this debate with myself and went ahead and signed up under 1C in my state. But nobody on that list is getting vaccinated yet, so I figure I still have lots of time. And honestly in a month or so I expect supplies to be much bigger and they’ll get through all the groups faster. So take it when you can get it.

      1. Nicki Name*

        Yes, my state just released an updated schedule but noted that with (1) steadily increasing supplies of approved vaccines and (2) another vaccine probably being approved in the US this weekend, the eligibility dates will probably move forward soon.

    6. Purt’s Peas*

      Here’s my non medical, absolute layperson way of thinking of it.

      Say you knew the future perfectly: you could make a list of names of people who would die if they got COVID, and therefore they need vaccinations first. Joe in the nursing home needs it, but his roommate Jim wouldn’t die so he doesn’t get it, and so every person who would die in an alternate future gets it.

      So obviously we don’t live in that world. The phases have instead been split into risk categories. Joe and Jim each get the vaccine because—as far as we know—they’re at equal risk of dying of COVID.

      You’re in a risk category for a reason. No matter your feelings—whether you’re sure you’d do well or sure you’d be debilitated by the illness—there very well may be an alternate universe where you’re one of the people on the “must get the vaccine” list.

      Again of course we don’t know who’s on that alternate world list. I hope you’re not on it. But we don’t know, we don’t know if you passing up the vaccine means that the person who takes your place is on that alternate world list.

      We do know that there is a risk you’re on that list. AND, we do know that one more person getting vaccinated helps everyone else. So go get that vaccine!!!

      1. sequined histories*

        I think Purt’s Peas just offered up the clearest and best summary of the way I think about this issue that I’ve seen, so seconding everything PP said.

        I am in my early fifties and I’m fatter than you. My weight qualified me and I was incredibly blessed to get the first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Thursday.

        When I first became eligible, no appointments were available—none at all. I registered through both state and county portals, and within a week or two, I did get an appointment time through the county portal, on a Saturday several weeks later. I specifically requested that Saturday appointment because I teach (all remote for now, thank God) and didn’t want to cancel class for this. Then the winter weather disrupted the supply chain and I was rescheduled for Thursday. I took a sick day to get it because I did not have a clear sense of how much longer I might have to wait otherwise, and I’m currently scheduled to go back to teaching teenagers in person on April 12th, and as much as I love my job, I’m not eager to die for it if that outcome can be avoided.

        I tell my rather tedious little story to make the point that there may well be weeks or months of waiting between becoming eligible and seeking out an appointment, and actually getting your first dose, which doesn’t offer even the tiniest bit of protection to you until another two weeks have passed. In the same way that you can’t look into the future and see if you’re one of the people who “really need” the vaccine, you can’t look into the future and see how long it will take you to get your first dose even if you start the process of looking for an appointment TODAY. Which I would encourage you to do. START TODAY.

        And yes, I do feel guilty. I have loved ones in other states who would be ahead of me in any line that made sense. Plenty of other people in my neighborhood are probably at greater risk than me. It’s a densely populated, high-poverty area and people were dying like flies in the spring. But I wouldn’t change my decision if could. Me waiting around is not going to help any specific person who’s definitely higher risk than I am.

        Just get it done as soon as you reasonably can—without unethical or obsessive behavior—in the context of this all-American debacle.

        1. pancakes*

          Yes – I became eligible under my state guidelines Feb. 15th, but was only able to make an appointment for my first shot today, after numerous attempts daily. My appointment is for early March and the only other days the site was showing me time slots for was March 26 and April 1.

    7. Choggy*

      Another perspective on getting the vaccine is that you don’t know what life will throw at you so it’s best to be prepared. Even if you are being careful, you can still contract the virus with having an additional risk factor. And now there is the more contagious variant that adds a cherry on top of the pandemic sundae. Additionally, if you get vaccinated, you won’t be able to contract and give it to anyone else, so look at it as being a part of the overall solution to eradicating Covid. My state is opening up vaccinations for my age group soon and I have minor risk factors, work from home, go grocery shopping infrequently, but you can bet I’m getting mine.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        (Dr’s are still scrambling for data to know if vaccination prevents transmission –they are pretty sure it reduces it. But they’re still telling people to stay masked & distanced after vaccines until they’re sure.
        Masks&distance also prevents all the other seasonal infections that could confuse&complicate treatment.

    8. Double A*

      I felt vaugue quandary about getting my vaccine as an educator because my job is permanently remote, but I’m also pregnant and vaccines will open to pregnant people in my state mid March. However, getting the Covid shot now works better with the timing of my pregnancy because of when I should get other vaccines during pregnancy.

      I basically decided you know what, when my number is called for whatever reason, I’m stepping up. It’s a difference of a month maybe. And for me, a difference of my baby maybe having more immunity because he definitely can’t get his own shot anytime soon. So I did it and feel good about it.

    9. Texan In Exile*

      Take it take it take it.

      I know my husband and I – under 65, not essential workers, otherwise healthy, are going to be at the very end of the line and I am fine with that. We can wait while others who might be more vulnerable get their shots.

      And it’s not like we’re going to be able to get close to normal until almost everyone is vaccinated, so this is just a timing issue.

      Get the shot.

    10. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I am technically morbidly obese.

      When I initially signed up, I simply didn’t put it down for similar reasons. But I talked to my therapist and some trusted loved ones, and they were insistent I update my application. I did, and as expected, am now eligible. In my case, I also have chronic health conditions, but my weight is actually the deciding factor right now in my state.

      In the end, I changed my mind for two reasons:
      1.) Being overweight means I have dealt with criticism for my entire life about my weight, my health, etc. etc. If I have to deal with all that badness, I’m going to take advantage of the one good thing to ever come out of the fact that I’m fat.

      2.) One more person getting the vaccine is one more person who can help build a safety net for those who can’t get it.

      Go get your vaccine!

    11. Wishing You Well*

      GET the shot!
      Or try to get it. In my state, many are eligible, few are actually getting their shots. It’s chaos. I’m not eligible until July 1 but Spouse is eligible earlier due to weight. You bet I’ll try to get Spouse vaccinated!
      Best Wishes for a Shot!

    12. HannahS*

      Take the vaccine. The public health principles behind who gets the COVID vaccine at what time is about allocation of resources. Regardless of your willingness to wait and allow others to go first (and your efforts to do that as safely as possible), the powers that be looked at the stats and decided that you’re in a group that’s at risk of using a hospital bed for longer and possibly requiring more intensive care if you become ill. They have judged that offering the vaccine to you at this time is in the interest of the public good, because if you are less likely to get sick, then those hospital beds remain open for people who are more likely to recover faster. Take the vaccine. Public vaccination campaigns are about the individual benefit, but they’re very much about the collective good, too. And anyway, no one should be changing much about their living until a much larger percentage of the population is vaccinated.

    13. Nicki Name*

      Yes yes yes get the shot. BMI qualifies you because it’s associated with a higher risk of life-threatening covid. You’re getting earlier access because you need it, even if you’re otherwise generally healthy.

      Plus, if you’re going to get it anyway… might as well take care of it when you have the chance!

    14. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      Do it! BMI is a bad measure of health but herd immunity is good – the more people who get vaccines, the sooner, the better for everyone.

    15. Anonnyforthis*

      Thanks, everyone! I was leaning towards “do it!” but needed a final push. I felt funny taking an appointment away from someone who would need it more but everyone is right–we all have to do our part.

      Happy to say I signed up and am now on the waiting list. I qualify for Phase 1B in my state. What I didn’t realize about the way my state is doing this is you qualify at the state-level, but then you register with your local health district, who coordinates the shot-giving and appointments. I live in one of the more populated counties/health districts in my state so I think it may be awhile before I get off the waiting list. My state had a botched initial rollout and finally seemed to get their act together with a better plan last week so I imagine it’ll be awhile before they clear out the backlog from the botched rollout.

      And I am totally stealing “do not throw away your shot”!

    16. lemon meringue*

      I think it’s helpful to think of getting vaccinated as another public health measure you can do to support the rest of the community, much like wearing a mask. It’s not selfish–it’s in everyone’s interest! If every single person who doubted whether they “deserved” the vaccine decided to wait, it wouldn’t help anyone, it would just clog up the system.

    17. Chaordic One*

      To be blunt and borderline rude, even though you don’t look it, you are overweight. Technically you are at a higher risk than a person of normal weight (whatever normal is) of experiencing serious medical complications and possible death from COVID-19 if you should contract the virus.

      Get the vaccination!

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Take it. Consider it planning for an emergency. If you slip on the ice and have to go to the ER you’re protected.

    19. Similar Question*

      Hope it’s OK if I add my own slight variation on this question – I have a similar situation and would love others’ input, though the answer may be the same.

      My workplace (a university) has its own small vaccine supply, and we were asked to fill out a survey to determine priority. I truthfully answered that my BMI was 30 or above. However, due to medically necessary dietary changes (breastfeeding baby has allergies) I lost some weight and my BMI is now 29.5. I’ve been trying to contact the health center to update this so I am downgraded in priority, but can’t find a contact # or email. Should I let it go and accept an appointment if offer, or keep trying to get in touch? Looks like we’re still a ways away from the relevant phase and I’m fully WFH until Fall 2021. Thanks!

      1. sequined histories*

        I would not worry about this. You were honest about your situation and tried to get in touch with the authorities already. It’s quite possible your weight will rebound before your appointment anyway. When and if you receive an actual appointment, you can make another good faith effort, but please don’t no show if you are never able to contact anyone.

        In my experience, efforts to communicate with . . . whoever is out there running this thing . . . will be utterly futile. They are not set up AT ALL for any kind of back-and-forth. They are fully consumed with trying to make sure people receive second doses in the recommended time frame while also delivering as many first doses as possible while also making sure no gets infected at a vaccination site.

        And those priorities make sense! This is a situation where fine-grained, nuanced evaluations and revaluations just aren’t worth it in terms of resource allocation. It’s a mass vaccination campaign, in the context of mass death.

        1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          Definitely this. It’s such a small change and a relatively subtle nuance that it’s more trouble to re-evaluate your position in the line than it is to just give you a shot a little bit early. The goal is to get as many people vaccinated as possible as soon as possible, not to do it in the most perfect order of priority possible.

    20. Sylvan*

      Go for it. The more people who get vaccinated, the better. And while it wouldn’t change anything about your routine, the knowledge that you could possibly be helping protect the people you encounter might feel good.

    21. Courageous cat*

      Y’all need to get your shots. The more people who have their shots, the safer it is for the rest of us who can’t yet – period. I see this sentiment a lot here but like, it’s not only you who benefits from being vaccinated. Go get it.

    22. Sandman*

      That’s me, too. Commenters here a week or two ago got me thinking that maybe I should take the appointment… I think I’m just a little embarrassed that I let things get to this point.

    23. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Get it when it’s offered to you. There’s no sense in denying yourself care out of some nebulous idea that someone else will be deprived.

    24. allathian*

      Get the vaccine when you can.

      In my area people with high BMI aren’t given priority. Being fat isn’t considered enough, but if you have hypertension, diabetes, or other illnesses that can increase your risk of being hospitalized, you get priority. They vaccinated healtcare workers first, the over-75s after that and now they’re vaccinating younger high-risk people as well.

  32. Kittleskittle*

    I rent a house with one roommate, Mary, who is also one of my dearest friends. She’s been going through a really rough time lately with her family who lives very nearby. Her grandmother passed in December, her mother and aunt are both dealing with high risk health issues (not Covid), and things recently came to a head with her father about some underlying family issues. All this, while doing a customer service job that requires frequent face-to-face contact with the public during this pandemic.

    Understandably, she’s had frequent breakdowns in our house. Mary will go from chatting happily with me to suddenly sitting on the floor sobbing her eyes out. I do my best to comfort her but honestly her breakdowns freak me out. She doesn’t just cry; she makes very loud sobs, almost screaming and yelling. It’s seems the only thing I can really do is give her tissues and let her get it out of her system. Between Mary’s volume and our small house, I can hear her even if she’s in her room with the door closed and I’m in the basement. She sees a counselor every two weeks but she can’t immediately get in touch with them if she’s having a crisis.

    If we were just two friends not sharing a house, I’d have a much easier time checking in with her. But since I live with her, I’m front and center to everything. It’s a daily toss up if she’s going to come home from work in a good mood or bad mood. In normal times, I’d plan to be out of the house more to give her solo downtime but there’s only so much I can do when we can’t travel anywhere. This is all affecting my own mental health because I feel like I’m walking eggshells around her so I don’t say something that might upset her; plus I’m a very empathetic person and her depressed mood rubs off on me.

    Any ideas for juggling the being there for a friend and roommate, while also taking care of yourself?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      You’re not a doc, so it’s not reasonable to assume you can handle this stuff. I’d suggest in a calm moment you ask her to help build a plan of what the two of you will do when these crying jags hit. This could mean she has to have a conversation with her counselor to bring a plan back for the two of you to use.

      Yeah, I don’t think I’d do well with that either. I think over the longer term, I’d probably run out of sympathy. This why I suggest building a plan now.

    2. WellRed*

      Not diagnosing but I gotta wonder if she needs a medical work up. At any rate, this sounds awful and I want to walk on eggshells just reading this.

      1. WellRed*

        Sorry, advice: I think you need to sit her down when she’s not in crisis mode and lay it out how it’s impacting you, you want to be supportive etc but something needs to change.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      If you’re in the U.S., I suggest you call NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) at 1-800-950-6264. They also take texts when there’s a crisis. They can help you deal with Mary. Please give NAMI or equivalent a try.
      I’m sorry you’re going through this. I hope Mary’s problems are temporary. Internet hugs for both of you, if they’re wanted.

    4. Serenity*

      I really like the idea of talking with Mary when she’s not in crisis mode. You could google “Mental health crisis plan” for ideas of what to talk about, but it really should be something she does with her therapist to develop such a plan. However, if you’ve seen some of what they consider, it might give you ideas of how to talk about what can happen (including considering what *you need*), and perhaps space to suggest that she develop one in concert with her therapist. Good luck! You’re right to take care of your own mental health, too.

    5. Ellyfant*

      My sister has severe mental health problems too and after years of trying to be her support person I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s best to step back and let her deal with her issues on her own.

      You’re not a mental health physician. Even if you were, you would not be *her* physician in charge of caring for her health. There’s only so much you can do as a friend. You cannot cure her, you cannot be her crisis hotline. Not only is it ineffective, but you will end up damaging yourself too. Mental health episodes are very different to just needing a sympathetic ear when you’ve had a bad day at work. It is a medical event and laypeople cannot cure or treat it. Just as you can’t expect to treat Mary’s broken leg if she fell down the stairs in your home.

      I say this as someone who’s also in the throes of bad mental health right now. When I go through my depressive episodes there isn’t really anything my family/friends can do. When I talk to them it often makes me feel worse because they don’t know how to deal with this. What I find helps most is talking to my actual therapist – since she’s trained on how to treat this very issue – and learn ways to self soothe (meditation, going for a walk, yoga, etc.)

      Speaking of self soothing, learning to self soothe is a part of Mary’s healing. You will not be there to hold her hand 24/7. She needs to learn how to manage her own emotions and grief. Again, this is best done with an actual therapist. While you may have the best of intentions, you will be doing her a disservice to try and cure her when you don’t know what you’re doing.

      The best thing you can do right now is treat her with kindness and respect. But to the extent possible, get on with your day. Don’t feel like you need to hush up and be on standby to hand her tissues. This is not a problem you can resolve.

    6. Mstr*

      I’d 100% pretend I cannot hear her when she’s in her room with the door closed (and invest in some earplugs). Not because I don’t care but to respect her private time to mourn (& let go of the feeling that you’re always on comforting duty).

    7. PspspspspspsKitty*

      Mary needs to see a professional, especially a medical doctor. There is nothing wrong with saying that she needs to sort this out with professional help and that she needs to make her therapist fully aware of her breakdowns. I know everyone grieves differently, but this isn’t a normal reaction. Mary needs to be responsible for her own mental and emotional health.

  33. Kay*

    Does anyone have advice on a good tablet to get for a non technology savvy senior? Mostly to be used for accessing online news and info.
    Unfortunately I’m not that tech savvy myself but although I manage it’s through stumbling around…. So I’m at a loss.

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      I’d go with an iPad. They’re user friendly and don’t seem to be as glitchy as a lot of the android ones

      1. Kay*

        The only thing is that I’m totally ignorant about Apple products… So I’m afraid I’d be less than useless in any way of assistance.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          My mom is not only amazingly not tech savvy, but her phone is an android. I was worried that she’d have a hard time when she got an iPad, but told her to let me know if she needed help with it — it’s now been two years, and I think she’s asked me one question, and that was related to photoshop. (My mother photoshops! This is new and awesome!) They really are fairly intuitive as long as you don’t start mucking around with like, third party browsers.

        2. Aurora Leigh*

          Yeah, skip the iPad! Hubby and I are both android/windows users and someone gave his mom an iPad. . . We were both stumped by the thing and we don’t usually have tech trouble.

          My mom uses a Kindle Fire — cheap and pretty intuitive if you’re familiar with Amazon services.

    2. Llellayena*

      Does the person have any familiarity with standard computers? Getting a tablet that matches a set up they’re already familiar with might be best in that case. So if they’ve previously used Windows computers, maybe a Surface Go? A tablet that can handle a keyboard attachment would also be more familiar to someone who had previously used computers. The pop-up screen based keyboard can be frustrating (especially filling out online forms).

    3. tab*

      We gave my 90 year old MIL an iPad mini. She’s not at all tech savvy, and she does great with it. I’d get a cover with a keypad to go with it.

    4. Choggy*

      I helped my MIL purchase a tablet and she ended up with a Chromebook which she really likes. I have an iPad and prior to that had a Samsung Galaxy. I think all three are viable options for a non-tech savvy senior but with any new gadget there will be a learning curve! Might be best, if you will be the designated tech support to get something you are familiar with? And with anything, it does take practice, and if you are willing to contact tech support or just Google any questions/issues that arise, you’ll be fine.

      I am an IT specialist but can still appreciate user-friendly interfaces which I think the iPad and the Galaxy both have. The Chromebook might be the way to go if she’s only accessing the Internet, I’m sure there are apps that can be downloaded, but probably more limited than the other two platforms.

      1. Choggy*

        My iPad is the latest model mini (5), I upgraded my previous mini (2) and am loving the new one even more! I don’t think I’d go back to an Android.

    5. Generic Name*

      iPad. So easy to use, and the best part is as long as you’re set up with iCloud backup (which they can set up for you in the store) you don’t have to worry about losing your apps and pics when you upgrade devices of something catastrophic happens to your current device.

      All the tech-heads I know seem to prefer android devices, and I think it’s because they turn their noses up at the ease of use of the iPad, and the fact that it’s really not customizable at all.

      1. Old and Don’t Care*

        This. The obsolescence factor is the biggest drawback to the iPad for me. I love my iPad mini and don’t want to replace it unless I drop it or something.

    6. Grace*

      My grandma’s phone is a Nokia brick from a couple of decades ago – my parents got her a Kindle Fire for general pandemic communication and receiving baby photos from family members.

      I think the only app that’s been added to it is WhatsApp and maybe BBC News, but she’s adapted really quickly to it and after a few months is comfortable making video calls via WhatsApp, taking and sending photos etc.

    7. AcademiaNut*

      I’d also go with iPad.

      The issue with Android is that there isn’t one single Android operating system – every table and phone make has its own slightly different variant with stuff added on, and each tablet has different on button/volume controls/camera system. For tech types, the customizability is a feature, for the non savvy, it’s a headache, because you have to google instructions for that particular tablet model and os release.

      I’d also go for a full sized iPad rather than the mini for a senior (makes larger fonts easier).

      If you live close to them, I’d take the brand new iPad and get it set up for what they want to do – install apps, set up accounts, arrange the home screen, bookmark news sites. Work out everything yourself, then make a printed how to guide with pictures for the essential stuff, and sit down with them to walk them through the basics.

      My non tech savvy mom (although she sounds more capable than your senior) does well with her iPad, mostly used for email, Skype, Zoom, and some games. She’s gotten help from the Apple counter at the store where she bought it when she runs into trouble as well, as none of us live close enough to physical help with issues.

    8. ShinyPenny*

      I am not amused by or talented at tech stuff, but I am an elderly family member’s main helper with tech stuff.
      I bought the cheapest device possible, as ‘proof of concept’– since we knew she might hate it! I found a $100 smart phone with month-to-month service. But, I got two. (This is the only reason I have a smart phone, lol)
      Then I did all the set-up stuff, and putting on the security codes etc so we’d both have that info (!) and then I dropped one off on her doorstep.
      We have had a lot of coaching sessions (via the landlines) and it has gone really well. It only works because I have the identical model in my hand.

      Next we are going to tackle tablets.

      Another relative bought her a Kindle Fire right befire Covid hit– but I have a Galaxy tablet. Sad fail! I’m not good enough to coach her bc I don’t know that device, and the giver doesn’t have time to. Therefore that tablet has just been a source of frustration, and not useful to her at all. Soon I’ll be buying us a new pair of (really cheap) tablets, and go through the whole process again.

      If there’s a chance your relative won’t be able to learn to use a new device independently, this is an alternative that worked for us.

  34. Cambridge Comma*

    Apple seems to be the simplest to me. My heart sinks every time my MIL shows up with her android tablet because at least the one she has is so unintuitive (and I am usually good with stuff like that).

  35. Lonely Aussie*

    Thanks to everyone who responded to my comment last week with support.

    Things haven’t really improved, I tried really hard to keep things civil with my mother for a day and then my sister (who was visiting) and I had a massive fight with her over a family trip my sister wants us to take. She did what she’s always ragged on me for doing and stormed into her room, staying that she was done with us. Dad arrived home and went to cool things down with her. Despite the fact I’d asked him not to, he told her why I was so upset with her and eventually they came out of their room. He warned me a little later that day that he’d told her saying that he’d done it because she’d said I was a horrible person and he’d wanted to let her know how much she’d hurt me and upset him.

    I feel really betrayed by him as well, I wanted to handle this on my own terms and the way he talked about it it was as much about him having a go her as it was about my own feelings. He said all she’d really said was “some things needed to be said” and, while not unexpected, she has not apologized in the week that has followed. He did however give his word he wouldn’t let her kick me out. I really don’t want to get between their marriage like that.

    Since she knew why I was upset and since looking at her makes me feel like there’s a knife in my chest, I just ignored her for a week. She’s apparently been bugging dad for info on what Dr’s appointments I’ve been going to but he’s been telling her he doesn’t know. Every day I’d come h0me from work (working reduced hours due to a back injury, pretty sure I’m going to be fired when I get off WorkCover, because I had to fight to get my company to follow the law and have basically burnt all my bridges) and she’d ask me how my day was like nothing was wrong.
    Dad pulled me up yesterday and basically said he’s sick of all the stress this is causing him, that she’s never going to make any attempt at apologizing and while he gets I’m upset, he’d like to come home to a peaceful house. So, I’m keeping things very shallow but civil with her. Not having any access to my medical info has got to be killing her, so I guess that’s a win.

    Even if she does apologize I’ll still always know how she really feels about me, written right there on the facebook, honestly, there’s been a few really rough times where I’ve been angry the PE I had back in Nov didn’t kill me. I’d have never had written confirmation that she felt like that and she’d have been able to play the grieving mother and getting all the likes and sympathy, while no longer having to deal with my damage. I’m not going to do anything stupid, but there’s a part of me that wishes I’d not been to see the GP when I did.

    Therapy was something that was suggested a few times, it’s something I need but am also resistant too, my childhood therapists were carefully vetted (and at least one was a friend of hers) by my mother and they told her things that she’d then use against me in an argument or tell them I was making things up. I’ve tried to get back into therapy a few times but really struggle to trust and connect with the therapist even if logically, I know that as a grown adult they can’t and won’t tell her. I need therapy to get over my distrust of therapists.
    I don’t know how to get out of this hole.

    1. Nicole76*

      I’m really sorry you’re dealing with this. It’s very unfair of your father to imply you should bend to your mother regardless of how she treats you in order to keep the peace in the house. I hope you can move past your distrust of therapists so you have someone reasonable to speak to about all this.

    2. mreasy*

      I am so sorry you’re going through this. Your mom’s behavior is unacceptable and you should not be subject to this for any reason. I truly hope you can keep your job or find a new one and get out of that house. You will get through this. Please call the suicide hotline if you’re having thoughts about hurting yourself. We are pulling for you.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      I am very sorry you’re going through this.
      Can you call a mental health hotline like NAMI for support? You need someone to talk to who will be on your team. Family members are too involved to be good, impartial support.
      Don’t give up. Sending good thoughts.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Not everyone is untrustworthy like your parents. Yes, I include Dad here because he values peace over solutions. All he’s made is a lull between skirmishes.

      But anyway, ability to trust. You seem to gravitate here, so you found an ounce of trust for people here. My suggestion is you can do it again because you did it here already.

      Let me frame it this way: Do you trust YOU to pull yourself away from a bad therapist? I think you probably do and the actual problem is identifying a good therapist. You know there are videos on YouTube that discuss how to pick a person who might be a good therapist. You could start there and see what you think.

    5. sequined histories*

      The dynamic of the father enabling the mother’s crazed abuses because he doesn’t like conflict and just wants a superficially peaceful atmosphere in the home is one I’m intimately familiar with.

      If he’s doing this now, I would bet my bottom dollar that he did it countless times when you were growing up, and, especially during your childhood, it was a serious betrayal of his duty as a parent to care for and protect you. My own father, who died quite recently, actually spontaneously apologized to me back in 2011 for not protecting me from my mother, and then did so again about 2 years before his death. I appreciated those apologies, although my brother pointed out that he acknowledged this failing only after our mother’s circumstances had changed in such a way as to make unlikely that he would ever have to face the unpleasantness of actually standing up to her.

      Reading this update reinforces my sense that it is your parents who are the “damaged” ones in your family. For reasons having absolutely nothing to do with you, they were both unequal to the challenge of being “good enough” parents. It has nothing, nothing, nothing to do with you. It is all about their troubles, difficulties, limitations, and dysfunctional coping strategies. They would be this way no matter how perfect, brilliant, beautiful, or successful you were.

      I work with minors. As a matter of law, parents are very much entitled to medical information about their children. I do not know how in the world a therapist who works the children of parents like your mother could navigate that without causing further harm. It must be a nightmare.

      I very much understand where you’re coming from in resisting getting a therapist. Once I feel betrayed or mistreated by any person, profession, or organization, I never ever trust the same way again.

      But your intellectual understanding that the dynamic would be completely different now because you’re an adult is worth leaning into. You say it in joking way, but it’s perfectly reasonable to start out therapy by telling the therapist you need therapy to get over the therapeutic betrayal you have experienced. I think it’s worth a try, and I wish you the best of luck.

      1. Venus*

        To add to the second-last line:
        there are therapists who specialize in this. My friend got one and has been improving their mental as well as physical health, now that they can find trustworthy individuals in the medical system. Not every therapist is going to be the right match, but please know that you can look for someone who helps people who have been hurt badly by the medical system.

        Also agreed with the first part too. All of this would resonate with my friend. Please know that things can get better!

  36. Dwight Schrute*

    This is both work and life related. Has anyone had luck changing their startle response? I startle very easily and one of my responses is to smack whatever startled me. I do not want to smack a co worker who has startled me by mistake, how do I change this? I also yelp which I’d like to change too but I’m more concerned about the smacking

    1. Slimer*

      I have the same reaction. I did smack a VP who came up behind me and touched my shoulder (because I had headphones on). He was lovely about it, and recommended that I get a mirror for my computer monitor. I do see most people coming now, which has helped a lot.

        1. tangerineRose*

          If you have some old CD’s around, you can hang them up on the wall with the shiny side out, and that can make kind of a low-key mirror.

    2. Former Screecher*

      In high school people would startle me because I would scream :( I think it was related to general anxiety I had at the time. Getting cats helped because I became less concerned about odd noises. I also worked to consciously change my “alarm” sound from a screech to just saying “JEEZE!” loudly. Honestly I think the biggest change was after going on Zoloft for my anxiety, but I wouldn’t suggest that just for being startled.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Probably more answer than you want/need: My jumpiness/startle response started to get better once I got into eating better and resting more.

      For me I had to super concentrate because I was tired/worn down. It was too easy to make a mistake. With that high level of focus I shut out the world around me. Not a reach to see that someone standing beside me could make me jump out of my skin.

      I started eating whole foods and set a no-exceptions-allowed bedtime. It took a while, but I did find that I was more aware of my surroundings and I did not have to have that drilled focus to accomplish things.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Interesting! I do already eat fairly healthy and I have a set bedtime but I’m not always sleeping even if I’m in bed with lights off by my bedtime.

        1. KeinName*

          How is your hearing? I startle because I cannot hear my boyfriend approaching sometimes if there are other noises present.
          Sorry no advice on changing the response, I scream so loud that I startle myself even more. But I wouldn‘t worry too much about the coworkers, they will be able to tell that this is involuntary.

          1. Dwight Schrute*

            I have horrible hearing. My boyfriend teases me about my inability to hear him approaching which inevitably startles me. When he makes a conscious effort to walk loudly or make a noise I’m not startled but if he walks normally and appears and says something he’ll startle me

            1. KeinName*

              Yeah, so this seems to be part of the problem. Same thing for me. Maybe once our hearing is bad enough to warrant hearing aids we will hear everyone approaching and startle less.

    4. WellRed*

      Interested in responses. Both my roommates have a startle reflex and I dread walking into the kitchen at times as a result.

      1. MissCoco*

        We are sorry! I hate startling others as much as I hate doing it myself.

        My best bet to avoid being started is if the approaching person is noisy enough to *gradually* disrupt my concentration. Approaching footsteps, playing a podcast or music at a low volume on your phone, or talking on the way into the room all help. All of those gradually increase in volume so I’m alerted and have information about when the person will arrive in a space.

    5. MissCoco*

      Definitely tell people. I’d usually give a disclaimer on first introduction if it was someone I’d be working closely with, or once someone startled me more than once.
      I’d say something like “I have a really extreme startle response, can you announce yourself/knock on the wall of my cubicle/open doors slowly.” None of those actually keep me from getting jumpy, but they do help a bit, and more importantly, move my reaction further away from any potential victims of my flailing limbs

      It did help me to consciously try to change my startle response. For me I mostly worked on suppressing my scream, and now I usually just gasp loudly. But I’ve also brought my response in a lot tighter to my body. Now I flinch away from the startle rather than moving towards it.

    6. Sylvan*

      I don’t know if this is relevant for you at all, but I have panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. When my mental health is better overall, I startle less easily — when it’s worse, I get spooked by little things. It might be helpful to consider your overall stress level and what you can do to lower it.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Ah yes I think there is some correlation there for me as well. I’m on lexapro for anxiety and see my therapist regularly, but I think because of the current world situation my overall stress level is still higher than I’d like and that’s playing a role for me

  37. Newbie*

    don’t think there is already a thread for this but if there is sorry! Looking for thriller/suspense book recommendations I just finished sharp objects which was really good (tho the ending felt a bit rushed) looking for something similar! also really liked My Sister the Serial Killer and Sometimes I Lie

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      I enjoyed The Wife Between Us, The Woman in the Window, The Woman in Cabin 10, and Then She Was Gone!

    2. CTT*

      I would recommend Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series (starting with “In The Woods” – even though it’s not structured as ‘let’s follow this specific group of characters through their lives,’ they do build on each other). I know the end of the first book made some people angry for reasons that involve spoilers, but I loved it.

      Also, AGREED on the ending of “Sharp Objects.” It was borderline anticlimactic. Real “And then they were saved by, oh…let’s say Moe.” vibes.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Would you say in the woods picks up as it goes or if I wasn’t interested in the first quarter of the book it’s probably just not for me? I’ve tried and couldn’t get into it

        1. CTT*

          I’m not sure how to answer that. I read it while on vacation in, like, two sittings, so that was weird “woohoo, I can sit and read all day!” circumstances. I think it does pick up a little, but her work is more about buildup/dread. I’d say give it another try, but if you’re not into it, you’re not. (And definitely don’t try The Witch’s Elm, even for me loving her books I thought it was ponderous.)

        2. GoryDetails*

          Re In the Woods: I loved it, but yeah, if you aren’t caught up in the story by that point it may not be for you. But you might like some of the later books in the series, such as Broken Harbor; the actual crime-solving bit kicks in earlier, and the focus is different. [Indeed, the whole “series” switches to different protagonists in most of the books, so while the general setting and style is the same the viewpoint characters are different.]

    3. Coenobita*

      Since the pandemic started I’ve been reading this kind of book like I’m eating M&Ms – it’s very enjoyable but I find they all kind of run together after a while and I forget which ones I’ve read :)

      Basically I just go to the Suspense section on my library’s overdrive page and download anything with the word “secret” or “lie” in the title. (I know My Sister the Serial Killer doesn’t fit that pattern but I really liked that one too!)

      1. Newbie*

        totally relate to your comment about it being like eating M&Ms – fun but not substantial! For the moment, I’m okay with that tho, I recently graduated from college during which I was always so swamped with class readings I never read for fun so this year I set a goal to read a book a month and I just find these thrillers keep my interest and I can knock em out in a weekend so it works for me!

        1. Coenobita*

          Oh 100%! In between reading thrillers I have been reading super frothy romance novels so the thrillers are not even the “least substantial” books I am reading. I have a selection of books – even some fiction! – that are relevant to my job that I really should be reading but I just don’t have the attention span. So, thrillers and romance it is! Enjoy your pleasure reading :)

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If you’re a Kindle person, Kindle Unlimited is positively dripping with romance, thriller and suspense novels of varying quality. I call them potato chip books, similar to your m&m books :)

        1. Coenobita*

          Ooh yes! I’m lucky to have access to several libraries’ ebook catalogs, and one even has a “collection” (basically a pre-loaded search) for exactly the type of silly plotless queer romance that I prefer. It’s fabulous.

          I actually prefer eating potato chips to candy in real life, but I like my M&M analogy because while the books may look different from the outside it’s all the same tasty, nutritionless chocolate under the cover :)

    4. Fellow Traveller*

      An American Spy by Isabel Wilkerson- more of a spy novel than a thriller/ suspense novel, though I felt like it can be described as suspenseful. An FBI agent is sent to an African Country on a mission to help take down the dictator.
      The Secret Patient, though I didn’t love that book, was certainly a page turner.

    5. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I always make this recommendation but… Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household is so gripping. I also like Denni Lehane (but some of them get quite gory, be forewarned), and the master, John Le Carre. Nicola Griffith’s Aud Torvigen series are super fun, and have a LGBTQ angle sorely missed in the genre. A Fatal Inversion by Ruth Rendell, The Scold’s Bridle by Minette Walters, and In a Dry Season by Peter Robinson are three modern classic Brit thrillers.

    6. I take tea*

      Maybe Carol O’Connell’s Judas Child? I think they have somewhat the same intensity level and remind me of each other. Warning, the plot is about kidnapping and torturing/killing children, but it’s not extremely graphic, I think, I’m pretty sensitive.

    7. Just a PM*

      Thirteen, by Steve Cavanaugh. Here is the plot (it’s part of the tagline for the title): A serial killer is on the jury for the death trial of one of his victims.

      I read it just after it came out in 2019 (found it in the “Lucky Finds” section of my library) and it was so good it’s stuck with me after all this time. It is the third book in series but I found it to be a standalone read and didn’t really need the first two books to know the characters. I think about buying it off Amazon to have for re-reading, I enjoyed it that much.

    8. GoryDetails*

      I’ve enjoyed Mo Hayder’s novels – though I should caution that they get very, very dark, with plots involving child abuse and some truly brutal slayings. But if you like riveting suspense and interesting characters – and very strong writing – they might be worth a look.

      More recently, I’ve enjoyed some Nordic noir, including Mads Peder Norbro’s The Girl Without Skin, set in Greenland and involving new crimes that seem to be of a pattern with unsolved murders from decades past.

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        Oh, this reminds me to give Poppet a re-read. It’s my favorite, and is quite suspenseful!

        I am hit or miss with Ruth Ware, but loved The Turn of the Key.

    9. Casey*

      Pretty as a Picture by Elizabeth Little, anything by Lucy Foley
      Also, if you’re willing to straddle the horror/paranormal line, I loved The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

    10. Sami*

      Harlan Coben. Has a series with a particular character: Myron Bolitor. Plus many standalones.
      Jonathan Kellerman
      Sue Grafton

    11. HamlindigoBlue*

      Lately, I really like John Marrs for thriller/suspense. His book, The One, will be a Netflix series this spring.

    12. allathian*

      An oldie but a goodie, Agatha Christie’s …And Then There Were None. This is a thriller rather than a mystery. It’s tense, but not too gory. I can deal with some gore, but I definitely don’t want to read books where the victims of abuse are children.

  38. B*

    Tbh I have had poor experiences with the big tech online counseling (betterHelp). To be clear it’s very different than true virtual counseling where you have a direct working relationship with your mental health provider.
    I tried twice once while struggling with pregnancy loss and once during 2020 for obvious stressors. I just didn’t feel I had autonomy in who I was paired with and it takes time to get a new person assigned and scheduled.
    Did anyone have good (or bad) experiences with this type of service. (Others include seven cups, talk space, etc)?
    Thanks for your input!

    1. No Tribble At All*

      I’m using a therapist I found through ThriveWorks, and we’re 100% online right now due to COVID. I think Psychology Today might have a filter for online? I like my therapist, and she’s a fully LCPC, so I recommend that agency. They’re US only and in about half the states.

    2. More Coffee Please*

      I saw a psychologist in person for about 4 years, stopped, then a few years later tried BetterHelp. It was okay, but I didn’t love it. I chatted with the therapist primarily via text, and it never felt like I developed a trusting relationship with her. Recently, I reached out to someone local who is doing virtual appointments during COVID, and I find it more helpful. It’s hard to describe why, but I think just having regular weekly scheduled appointments is nice.

    3. Marillenbaum*

      I have been using virtual counseling, but not through one of the big tech companies. I live outside of the US, but I am an American, so I’ve been using the Truman Group–I’ve largely benefitted from the experience. We video call for weekly sessions, and occasionally I email my particular therapist. I don’t text her, mostly because I don’t think I’d benefit from it.

  39. WellRed*

    I’ve just learned the landlord plans to have asbestos removed from pipes in basement. I’m on the first floor and frankly it’s not exactly air tight. Process to take about 2 weeks. Any questions I should be asking? Concerns?

    1. Llellayena*

      I’d ask what company he’s using for the removal and call them directly. The company can walk you through exactly how they’re containing the product during removal, what the airborne risks are and whether you should ask your landlord to put you up in a hotel during the process. It will also give the company important info about the connection to your apartment in case your landlord didn’t share that with them. As I understand it, asbestos around pipes is much easier to handle than floors or walls. The problem comes when asbestos is sanded/cut and becomes airborne particulate. Pipe wraps I think come off in whole pieces, no real need for cutting.

    2. Ranon*

      If your landlord is using a licensed abatement crew you shouldn’t have anything much to worry about – that would be my first question.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        This is true but I’d still really try to be scarce for those 2 weeks. Do you have furnace vents you can close, if you want to? Are there laws about tenants and asbestos removal? Is the landlord required to provide alternate accommodations? Just a thought.
        Hope it goes well!

    3. Serenity*

      You can also buy a HEPA filter and tape it to a box fan, if you have one. Just run it constantly during and after the process. It will just circulate air, but pulling room air through it will clean the