weekend open thread – February 6-7, 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: The Chicken Sisters, by KJ Dell’Antonia. Two family-owned restaurants with a century-old rivalry battle it out on a reality TV restaurant competition that ends up bringing out plenty of family drama.

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

{ 1,445 comments… read them below }

  1. General Organa*

    I just moved in with my boyfriend, and it’s my first time living with a romantic partner. I moved into his apartment; I think we would have both preferred a new/larger space, but due to a variety of circumstances this made the most sense (and he’s been good about making space). Anyone have suggestions or things you wish you’d known before moving in with a partner? If it helps, we are both in our 30s and prior to this were spending 3-4 nights a week together—things are good and we are excited to do this, but as two very independent people I think we are both a little apprehensive.

    1. On that Academic Job Market Grind*

      I think my number one piece of advice for newly moved in together is “bring up the little things that annoy you now OR make your piece with them. Either of those are fine choices but it’s so much easier to say “I hate how you throw your coat across the couch” on day 5 than day 500

      1. Decidedly Me*

        So many times this! If it’s really going to bother you, then just bring it up. It feels horrible to be told that you’ve been doing something that really bothers/annoys/etc your partner long after you’ve been doing it.

        1. Joan Rivers*

          Yes. Throwing your coat across the couch? How long does it stay there? Who is going to hang it up? Those little habits get ingrained when single and more ingrained when moving in.

          Did the coat get thrown when you were first dating? That’s when you ask him or her to hang it — show him where but let him hang it. “I don’t let things get out of place when my apartment is this small” is a hint.

          Bring things up early on, to know each other better. Ask about his family’s household roles. In fact, learn about his family more, esp. his mother.

    2. Zooey*

      Have a conversation now about how you share household labour and what you expect for the house. This is especially important when you move into one person’s space as otherwise you can get stuck in ‘guest’ mode – it’s a lot different even if you were spending a lot of time there before.

      1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        Yes! Sort out the chores AND the finances now. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that it’ll all just magically fall into place because you love and respect each other. Spending 3-4 nights a week together is not at all the same as cohabitation. In time you’ll discover that you’re both different when it comes to what you consider clean, necessary and a fair and equitable division of responsibility. Doesn’t matter how similar or aligned you *think* you are, I promise you things get very different once you’re both settled and comfortable.

        Don’t wait till 12 months down the track when you’re forced to bring it up because you’re becoming increasingly resentful about always paying for the groceries or cleaning his beard hairs out of the sink. Have that talk now while you’re both in a good place. Be honest about your needs and expectations and work out a plan for who will contribute what and how frequently.

        Also, consider that your previous 3-4 nights a week were probably somewhat counting as date nights… but when you live together they just become regular nights. The novelty of moving in together wears off and mundane routine sets in. So think about how those 3-4 dates a week will translate. What’s the minimum each of you need in terms of time and attention in order to still feel loved and satisfied in the relationship?

      2. Dear liza dear liza*

        This. We basically ended up with a household chores chart. We divided up grocery shopping and laundry, each of us taking one.

        We also had to negotiate “alone” time- each of us was used to having an apartment to ourselves and it was rough having someone always there.

      3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        *THIS* is what we didn’t do the only time I moved in with a partner. (Now known as my ex-husband.) We had wildly different expectations about household duties and neither of us knew. Finding out in the process of living together and running a household together was not the best way to find out.

        1. Joan Rivers*

          It’s amazing how often people don’t discuss household responsibilities and money.

          They don’t even discuss if they want to have kids sometimes! As if in 2021 it’s still a mystery where babies come from!

          They don’t discuss how he had a mom who was very tough on him, but then she finds out she pushes his buttons in some ways. They don’t discuss their families and know where they come from. Even genetic issues!

          All this could be on a list they go down w/a therapist before moving in, but you can do it for yourself too, casually. People may not have great insight into issues but they’ll probably be able to at least bring them up.

          One thing I know is that when I have a man’s eager attention, before he’s sure he’s “got me,” that’s when to elicit information, because once he gets comfortable he may not be that forthcoming, and may get defensive. Better to play detective early on, casually, and get some clues, than to wait for a confrontation.

          Men aren’t always the ones who are less aware in a relationship w/a woman, but that’s been my experience.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            Totally with you on the “it’s REALLY IMPORTANT to discuss this stuff.” Especially on the kids issue – my now-DH told me on our second date that he was not interested in having children, and would have broken up with me if I’d said that I did. Fortunately, I didn’t; we’ve been married 22 years, and are happy with that decision. But if we had not discussed it early on, it could have ended very badly.

            It’s one of those things that I think some people just assume, and that’s a really, spectacularly, bad idea. And don’t assume “Oh, they’ll change their mind” if the answer is “I don’t want kids.” Maybe they will, but maybe they won’t. And a breakup now would hurt…but it’d hurt more and be more difficult after, say, 10 years of marriage!

          2. Scc@rlettNZ*

            I was absolutely dumbfounded to discover during a conversation one day that my partner and his now ex-wife never discussed the subject of children before they got married. Luckily for them they were both on the same page but seriously?

          3. Quinalla*

            Yes, discuss chores and finances ASAP and also leave open room to negotiate and bring up in the future because things will change. It doesn’t matter really how you do this, just so long as it is clear and if something isn’t clear, or doesn’t feel fair, or someone is overwhelmed and needs help, etc., you bring it up. I wish we had set up a monthly check-in or something at the beginning of our marriage as I think something like that makes it easier to have space to bring things up, but we manage.

            1. Joan Rivers*

              It’s tough because people DO change their mind sometimes about, say, having kids. Huge issue.

              But you can for sure make it clear that he has to “change his mind about tossing his coat down” as if the magic elves will hang it up for him.

              And it IS true that not all females are the “neat ones” but often as she settles in she may want and even need to create more order so that the household runs well.

              1. AnonEMoose*

                People do sometimes change their minds on the kids issue, it’s true. But it’s a bad idea to assume that someone will. I’ve heard too many stories of one partner saying “But I thought he/she would change his/her mind!” about a partner who said from the beginning they did not want kids. And it ends badly for everyone.

                And situations like finances do change, too – it happens that someone badly wants to change careers, or gets ill or injured and can’t pursue their previous career. Mostly, it’s important to keep those lines of communication open.

                1. tamarack and fireweed*

                  Agreed.

                  1. Never ever assume your partner will change their mind.
                  2. Never count on being able to change your partner’s mind – about anything. However good you think your arguments are, and however much you think experience will prove you right. If you can’t live in the long run with their current attitude it’s time to rethink the relationship.
                  3. Don’t assume your partner will never change their mind about anything. Changing-of-mind will surely happen about something you don’t anticipate, and it’s a bridge to cross when you get to it.
                  4. It’s possible to gauge how closely both you and your partner cling to attitudes once they’re formed. Are they someone who easily throws attitudes away and adopts new ones? Or who is pretty set in their values and judgements? It’s often good to have general conversations about how dear to our hearts our attitudes are, and what we consider pretty rigidly vs what we may be flexible about. But don’t expect the outcome of such a conversation to be set in stone. Life throws curveballs, and people surprise themselves.

    3. Jay*

      What everyone else said. Use your words. There’s a Paul Simon song that says “negotiations and love songs are often mistaken for one and the same.” I think he meant it cynically or ironically or something, but I think it’s actually true. Being clear about your needs is a gift to your partner. Unvoiced expectations are the land mines of relationships.

      If you decide something isn’t worth bringing up now, ask yourself if you will still feel that way in six months or six years. If that idea makes your skin crawl, then bring it up now, no matter how trivial it seems. There are always compromises. A true compromise does not leave one partner with resentment. A totally minor example: my husband doesn’t hang up wet towels the way I want. He hates my way and I decided a long time ago to let it go. I do not seethe with resentment when I see the towel hanging in the bathroom. I don’t re-hang it. On the other hand, I did seethe with resentment every time I saw the litter of tools and debris he left in the backyard whenever he was working on a gardening project. The projects went on all summer and he never cleaned up because “I’m just going to use all that again the next time.” My seething resentment made me unpleasant to live with and erupted periodically into fighting. Finally I picked a calm moment and said “When I see all that stuff in the yard, I can’t go out and enjoy it. It feels like it’s not my yard.” That got his attention. Now he picks up all the tools and debris and if I want the hose put away, I do it myself.

      Agree about going from “date night” to “ordinary night.” We lived 3,000 miles apart for the first three years of our relationship, so when we saw each other it was a special time and we spent all of the time together. Then we moved in together and didn’t set aside any time to spend together. That was a bad choice and we spent a long time figuring out what the problem was.

      1. Lady Meyneth*

        Gosh, this! It doesn’t matter if it’s something so small you feel bad even bringing it up; if it mars your enjoyment or peace, it should be in the open. If it’s small, odds are it’ll be small to your partner too and so not that hard of a fix.

        For me it was, no joke, the way he squeezed the toothpaste (yes, I do have OCD tendencies, under control now). I’d go brush my teeth and actually cringe, and try to arrange the tube to how I thought it should be, only to have it “ruined” next time he brushed his teeth. I didn’t mention it for a long time, because it seemed so awfully petty, but it drove me crazy. He eventually noticed, talked to me about it, and actually suggested separate toothpastes for each of us. Such a simple solution, and it made my life so much better.

        1. MissCoco*

          Excellent advice. And if you later decide you can’t keep the peace you made with it, act like it’s day 5 again when you bring it up. Remember they haven’t been throwing the coat *at you* for all those days.

          1. MissCoco*

            Whoops that was meant to be in response to Academic Job Market Grind!
            But this is excellent advice too.

            My Partner and I invested in separate tubes of toothpaste as well and it’s made me very happy

        2. Smirkpretty*

          Mine is crumbs in the butter. It took me nearly 2 years to say something. It turns out he was more concerned about not wasting. Like, what happens if he takes a big hunk of butter and he doesn’t use it all? So he was taking just a little then a little more. Crumbs ensued. Now after we talked, he might take too much and not worry about it, or take too little and use a clean knife to reload.

        3. Joan Rivers*

          I was about to say: Separate t’paste.
          Separate BR’s too, if you want. Or need it. Don’t be embarrassed, it’s fine.

          As for the “tools all over the yard” guy — that implies a shabby workman to leave tools out to get rained on. What doesn’t he get about this?

          1. allathian*

            BR? I assume you mean bedrooms? For sure. I’m a restless sleeper and if someone else keeps me from getting a good night’s rest, I’m not going to be very pleasant to live with.

            1. Joan Rivers*

              Yes. My cat’s 16 now and has taken to booping me on the nose as I sleep, for attention. Moving from one side to the other when I do. I’m affectionate but having a person there could REALLY throw me.

              And I love to read myself to sleep, when I’m alone.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Discuss organization clearly. Unnecessary arguments can escalate from differences in alphabetization of books, CDs and albums, or where things go in the pantry. Toaster on the counter vs. Toaster put away is only the most recent topic I’ve heard about.
      Second, that old adage about never go to bed angry? Drop it. Sometimes trying to submit something late at night can backfire because you are all just plain tired. I don’t mean drop the disagreement, just plan to take care of it at a time when you are not exhausted.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I suggested separate BR’s because I don’t like to feel taken for granted. It sets a standard.

          1. Joan Rivers*

            BR! Just my preference. It establishes that we’re always choosing what we do together. And can get away from each other.
            Plus, it’s a place to keep mementos and have a quiet place to go when you need it.
            But I’m very introverted.

            1. Filosofickle*

              My partner I each have our own bedroom even though we sleep together, in “my” bedroom. “His” is the guest bedroom. We also have a 3rd bedroom, our office. We’re renting now and in the past as we talked about buying we figured we might have to downsize to 2 bedrooms for cost reasons — not ideal but doable. But during the pandemic each of us having a space that’s all our own PLUS an office has proven to be invaluable. He absolutely loves having his own dedicated space and I don’t want him to lose that. Yet a bigger place is out of our price range. (That said, in the future he shouldn’t be at home all the time like now. I will always work from home but he definitely will not. So a large 2nd room that’s my workspace during the day but his room in the evenings/weekends might work? We also have separate bathrooms which we also love. No idea how we could pull off a 3BR/2BA without moving far away!)

            2. ThatGirl*

              Lol you answered with the same abbreviation which doesn’t help but you clarified bedroom elsewhere.

                1. Filosofickle*

                  They were responding to you, not me. In the beginning of this thread you said each partner should have their own BR, and Generic Name didn’t understand if you meant bed or bath room. That’s what they were asking about a few comments up, and when you responded BR! that didn’t answer the question but context did.

      2. Filosofickle*

        All our arguments have to be early in the day. We agree on that. That gives us time to process, emotionally regulate, and reconnect by evening. Super important for us.

      3. fposte*

        I love the Judith Viorst argument ender of “I won’t be mad if you won’t.” It allows for the possibility of peace without litigation.

      4. Jay*

        Totally agree. Bedtime is a terrible time to try and have any kind of serious conversation, particularly one involving a conflict. I’m a fan of taking a timeout during an argument anyway so I can catch my breath and get into a place where I can really listen rather than construct my own argument in my head while he’s talking.

        Take all advice with a grain of salt, probably including ours. I read an article early on that said happy couples slept snuggled together (and yes, I remember that “Friends” episode.) I was young enough to feel wildly insecure about our separate-sides-of-the-bed practice. That was a lot of emotional energy wasted….

        We fought about clutter and organization for *years,* long after we’d resolved the other major issues. Eventually I gave up on the spaces I mentally designated as “his” – the garage, the basement, his desk, his nightstand. I was just.so.tired of having the same fight over and over. I kept the other spaces tidy enough to suit me (mostly) and if I wanted to clean up and found a pile of his stuff in my way, I relocated it to his desk chair (where mostly he stuck it on the floor, but that was my designated Not My Space so I could live with it. Mostly). Amazingly enough, what finally started to move the needle was those home organization shows that played on HGTV or TLC about 1-15 years ago. He saw enough of them to realize that a) his mess wasn’t all that overwhelming – there were far worse 2) he wasn’t the only one who felt ashamed and c) things got a lot better when people got rid of stuff. It’s still a work in progress but we can now watch TV in the basement, see and walk across the garage floor, and he has enough room on his desk for his computer and an external monitor. I’ll take it.

        1. Ginger ale for all*

          If you go to the bored panda website and do a search for the terms bed side, you will see the second entry where couples each document their side of the bed. You can see where folks just let the other person have their own space to let it all hang out.

          1. Generic Name*

            That was so funny! The number of guys with baseball bats on their side was hilarious. (My husband has his training katan by the front door) My husbands side of the bed has clothes all over the floor and his nightstand drawer is filled with drill bits and carpenter’s pencils (he’s a carpenter).

    5. Not A Manager*

      Carve out private time and space for yourselves. Talk about what your expectations are about doing things together/being together.

    6. TX Lizard*

      Add your own decorations/knick knacks/furniture so that it feels like your home as well, not just his home that you moved into. It took me a little while to start feeling like I was in my home, not just a long term house guest. Adding your own stuff that is just yours helps speed that up!

    7. A Simple Narwhal*

      If you only have one bathroom, definitely coordinate planned usage/schedules. It doesn’t have to be anything formal, even a “hey I’m going to take a shower, do you need the bathroom first” can make a huge difference.

      When I first moved in with my now-husband, we definitely had some moments of annoyance when we both had a plan for the morning only to find it conflicted with each other’s plan. (Like if my morning rotated around my plan to be up and in the shower at 7:00, only to find out that the overlap with his morning and trying to share the bathroom slowed things down or there were moments where someone had to wait, making them late, etc.)

      Also be willing to interrupt/adjust a bathroom routine, I remember back when I had a lengthy hair routine I would get annoyed having to stop or pause to work around him getting ready, which was totally unreasonable I know, but it was an adjustment I didn’t realize I needed to make.

      This all falls under the “be sure to communicate” umbrella, but it’s definitely something I didn’t notice until we actually permanently lived together, even though I was more or less living with him at the end of my last lease.

      When we moved to our next place we made sure it was at least a 1.5 bath, never having to wait for the bathroom is so nice!

    8. GoryDetails*

      Congrats on your new living arrangements! Lots of good advice so far, much of which I dearly wish I’d heard before I first attempted to cohabit. One thing that leapt out at me when I was married: despite knowing each other quite well, we had vastly different expectations as to how involved we wanted to be in each other’s hobbies/chores/relationships with family, and it wound up being a deal-breaker. Much of this might fall under other posts about communication and boundary setting, but the specifics might make a difference: my ex had a parent who loved to get on the phone for long, chatty calls about nothing in particular – rather charming in itself, and even though I’m a phono-phobe I could enjoy some amount of chatting now and then. But he expected me to be on the line at the same time for the ENTIRE DURATION OF THE CALLS. Ahem. I mean, chiming in with “Hi, mother-in-law! How’s the weather where you are?” would be fine with me, but being expected to hang out for lengthy chats about people and places I didn’t know and would never see… not so much. I tried to explain this to him, he said his mother would be so hurt if I didn’t (she’d probably SAY she was hurt but I’m not sure she actually would have minded, though he got his ideas about faaaaaamily from her, so…), and I wound up getting on the extension in another room – where I could read a book while going “Uh-huh” every now and then, just to keep the peace. But I hated it with the fury of a thousand blazing suns, so… yeah.

      Turns out I’m vastly happier living by myself, but if I were ever tempted to cohabit again there would be a lot of discussion about boundaries and alone time and ability to veto!

      Side note: the ever-helpful Captain Awkward has a number of letters about roommates (romantic or otherwise), including advice about the dreaded chore-differential problem; she recommends getting a cleaning service if the roommates can’t come to terms about cleaning (and can afford it), and while it’s not a solution for everyone it could take some amount of the “irksome” off the table. Other advice deals with communication, guests (if/when/who/how long/advance warning/food-sharing/etc.), noise, alone time, and more.

      1. Washi*

        Ah, yes to discussions about spending time with each other’s family and friends! That was something I didn’t think would be an issue because we never fought about it before we moved in together…but then it was the only thing we regularly fought over for like, 8 years. Mr. Washi assumed that we would do everything together, and I assumed I could pick and choose and skip anything that sounded boring, and the reality is we both had to land somewhere in the middle.

        1. Joan Rivers*

          In-laws are a huge problem, in the “Dear Abby” columns at least. Not just parents but obnoxious SIL’s or even GF’s. I’ve usually liked parents but the siblings, not so much.

          Peoples’ chutzpah can be amazing.

    9. Achoos*

      Something else to talk about- are you on the lease? If not, how will you pay your boyfriend each month? Just the logistics- it was emotionally a lot easier for me to have money automatically transferred to a shared account than it was to write a check to him each month. One time I forgot to write the check on time, he was understandably upset, and I, sad to say, didn’t react well. We worked it out but it was a logistical bump I hadn’t anticipated.

    10. oranges & lemons*

      This might not be an issue if you’re both independent types, but I find it helpful to explicitly draw a boundary around what “alone time” looks like. Otherwise if you’re a people-pleaser like me, it can feel like you’re constantly on-call for when your partner wants something. Maybe you can put on headphones or go to a certain area, or designate a certain time of day for when you want to just do your own thing without interruptions.

    11. General Organa*

      This is all incredibly thoughtful, thank you so much! So much of this will be helpful, but I’m particularly struck by the chore conversation. We’ve been spending weekends together throughout quarantine, but I think I still am in some of the “guest” mentality and need to get over that–especially because contrary to traditional gender norms, he is the neat freak of the two of us (but I’m the better cook, so then again, it might be a win/win if I cook and he cleans). :-)

    12. Squidhead*

      Chiming in very late, but consider the idea that each of you might consider yourself an “expert” at something and may need to discuss or accommodate. Since it was his place first, logically he may know some things that you don’t (the toilet runs if you hold the handle wrong; the tenant upstairs gets mad if we put trash in the trash room before trash day so just don’t because I’m not dealing with it again). He probably *is* the expert on those things. And you are probably the expert on how to wash your grandmother’s china. And maybe one of you has strongly held beliefs about how to vacuum or chop onions or whether naps on the couch are okay or whether towels can be washed with clothes or when to pay a bill so it isn’t late. For some of these it could feel like “I’m 30 years old, do not tell me how to chop onions unless you want to chop all the onions from now until forever.” You’ll probably need to agree to disagree, or at least let whoever is doing the chopping do it their way. But other times one of you needs to defer to the other and wash the china correctly or whatever.

      I guess what I’m getting at is that by my mid-30s I was fairly set in my ways about many things and might not have realized that my partner was equally set in a different way (my spouse and I have lived together since our early 20s). In our house, there are tasks that each of us “owns” in large part because we’re unwilling to have them done differently. Others, we each do it our own way and leave each other alone, since nothing creates needless friction like trying to teach someone how to do something “right” when they were doing it just fine.

  2. On that Academic Job Market Grind*

    We just watched In & Of Itself on Hulu and I don’t want to spoil it because I think folks should go in cold but I need to know how he does the letter thing.

    1. N. Parker*

      My husband and I watched that the other day. SO GOOD!!! Honestly it gave me a the first real bit of otimism I’ve had for such a long time.

      We have been discussing it off and on – every so often one of us will pop up with “Do you think he [insert explanation]? None of what we have come up with has solved it.

    2. Rose*

      SAME. My cousin saw it live and said it seemed legit. I just like to accept it for what it was.

      Everyone who has Hulu, watch this ASAP!

      1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

        Yep, same, we watched it last night and then I dreamt about it. The letters…!?!?!?

    1. GoryDetails*

      Olive is gorgeous, isn’t she! The picture reminds me of my late, lamented fluffy tuxedo cat, who often took that pose…

  3. MistOrMister*

    Did anyone read Dreamland which was Alison’s book recommendation a few weeks back? I liked the premise of the story and the time period, but the lack of communication by the main character was rather absurd in my,opinion. And I didn’t feel like the ending really fit the story. It felt forced to me.

  4. Lemon*

    I’ve noticed that I start feeling physically sick – feverish, shaky, clammy hands – when I get nervous or when things are going wrong. Unfortunately stepping back from the situation isn’t always an option (i.e. at work or if an important decision needs to be made). I’d love to hear from anyone who’s experienced something like this, and what strategies you use to overcome it in the moment.

    P.S. this has happened to me in both personal and professional contexts – I didn’t think it was exactly on topic for the Friday open thread so I’ve posted it here. Please feel free to delete if it’s not appropriate

    1. Outside Earthling*

      Yes. This happens to me too. Rather than try to resist or combat it, I’ve come to accept that it is something that happens to me occasionally and that it will inevitably pass. I try to be kind to myself and not judge myself for reacting that way when I am stressed and nervous. I try to breathe slowly and deeply. I also had counselling and found that process illuminating in terms of understanding myself and my reactions a lot better, and accepting myself the way I am.

      1. MistOrMister*

        There are anxiety breathing gifs you can find online that you can follow when you get nervous. I would think that might be helpful to use.

        1. Dee*

          Agreed.

          Also, the absolute fastest ways I’ve been able to calm down from emotions affecting me physically is the dive reflex (probably not possible at work) and the app Mira (on Android, not sure about ios). If you are logged out you can still use it, and it’s quicker versus if you’re logged in where it’ll ask you how it went.

          1. MissCoco*

            I recently learned not everyone has the dive reflex.

            If you are someone who doesn’t have it (or if you can’t use it at work), gently pressure to your vagus nerve (basically your sternum) stimulates similar neural pathways.
            When I can I place my forearms up and down my chest and squeeze, but even just pressing with the knuckles of one hand is a bit helpful, and less obtrusive in a workplace setting

    2. Been there*

      In my job we have to frequently do presentations to the public and appear before judges. Pressure!!! I found out a few years ago many of my coworkers who seem to have it all together get just as nervous as I do — and they take short-term beta blockers or other meds. So I got one too. It just lowers my blood pressure a bit and it really really helps, takes about 20 minutes to kick in and I feel much more calm. No side effects to the one I take and I only use it once every so often, even though my doc said I could use it daily if needed.

      1. Batty Twerp*

        I got a similar recommendation for beta-blockers from my GP. I’d been getting increasingly more anxious about seemingly unrelated situations – I thought the initial trigger was serving jury duty, but rereading my journal (at my doctor’s suggestion) it was clear I’d been having problems for a long while before that. Then I had a panic attack on a motorway in Scotland at 70mph while on a supposed relaxing break. Adrenaline and square breathing got me to a services where Hubby Twerp could take over the driving.
        And it turns out the actual cause of all of my anxiety was something else altogether. Working that out (therapy), and I’ve not had to take a beta-blocker in over 18 months.
        Be kind to yourself, remember to breathe, and see if you can work out if there’s an underlying reason that can be addressed.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      For me, cutting out refined sugars helped and regular hydration helped. On the psychological side, being prepared for things that are foreseeable problems also helped.

      If you are a worrier, as I tend to be, taking care of things as they come up can be a huge help in lightening the worry load. Don’t let too many concerns stack up, it makes the next concern that appears to be so very, very hard. Concerns, even if unrelated, seem to have a snowballing feature and can really bog us down.

    4. nep*

      Making sure you’re well hydrated.
      In the moment, deep breaths–it can do wonders.
      Know that these are feelings/sensations, which are fleeting–they are not you.
      On a more ‘tactile’ level, sniffing peppermint oil helps me a lot with the clammy feeling and nausea that can sometimes come.

    5. PolarVortex*

      You can pavlov yourself a bit. I’ve trained myself to slow my heartbeat and anxiety to certain songs – Honor (Main Theme) from The Pacific is my biggest go to. Takes some time, but now whenever I start to feel that come on, I’ll play it. It’s short, so it’s a fast quick fix if it’s happening before a meeting. (You can start this by meditating or deep breathing while listening to the song every day, eventually it just becomes a thing.) I’ll loop certain songs for an hour or two when I’m working through something particularly anxiety inducing. (Also Marconi Union – Weightless can be helpful, although sometimes it causes me more anxiety.)

      Otherwise work on redirecting. Get anxiety > do x/y/z that is distracting and takes your full attention, then once you’re calm go back to the situation. Rinse and repeat.

      ((And, I used to visualize a hole in my head where I would box up my anxiety, and toss it through the hole. Kinda worked a bit just to acknowledge the anxiety and try to mentally get over it, even if it’s terribly silly to admit.))

    6. Silence*

      Pay attention to your breath. Shoulders back/wide not hunched and breathe in the diaphragm not just the chest. Inhale for 3 to 5 counts hold for a beat and exhale slowly for the same count as the inhale. Feet flat on the floor and weight even on both.

    7. Jenny*

      I’d also recommend regular cardio. This is going to sound weird but this comes from my therapist when I was having anxiety. Regular cardio trains your body to be used to your heart rate going up and helps you push through the physical symptoms of anxiety.

    8. Juneybug*

      This help me but check with your doctor first – If I am regularly taking my vitamins B and D, my daily anxiety level is 1 – 2 with stressful times going up to 6-7 (scale 1 to 10). But if I don’t take them regularity, my daily anxiety is 4-5 with stressful times easily hitting 8+.
      I am sorry you are going through this!

    9. Jenny*

      I actually got treated for anxiety this year. The symptoms were somewhat similar, I actually felt shaky in my arms.

      Things that were helpful were mindfulness exercises (the app Mindfulness Coach is free) and regular heartbeat raising exercise (anxiety symptims and the symptoms of exercise are similar, to the point people with anxiety sometimes avoid cardio, exposing yourself to the elevated heart rate can help you deal with the physical symptoms of anxiety).

      I also recommend tea when you can. I find a cup of mint tea can help a lot.

    10. Anonbeth*

      Agree about deep breathing. Breathe into your belly, not your chest (pretend your chest is a tunnel and the breaths are trains passing through). This will get more oxygen to your brain and help bring you down a level.

      If you can do these in the situation: play or hum a song that you find calming. Hold a warm beverage (warmth on the palms). Doodle something small and repetitive (a series of tiny squares). Get up and do some gentle squats or stretches to feel in your body. Keep doing the breathing. If you have to speak, sometimes deliberately speaking in a different register (lower, slower) will help. The response may not actually go away (it doesn’t for me), but if you can do what you need to do despite it, it’s fine.

      This one may or may not work, and is better in more prolonged situations: I imagine my thoughts as a little mouse (a cute cartoon mouse in an apron) who is overwhelmed. I visit her in her little mouse cottage where she’s trying to bake muffins or something and everything is getting out of hand. I gently take the mixing bowl away and tell her don’t worry, I got this, you go rest. My little thoughts-mouse goes to lie down with a blanket. I take over the baking, which it turns out isn’t that hard, and mentally exit the cottage and do whatever the stressful thing is. If I feel another burst of “aaa!” I tell the mouse don’t worry, it’s going okay, I’ll handle it. It sounds a bit nutty but I think it works because I’m giving my anxiety some compassion, and because I’ve promised to do something for someone (a hack for my brain that usually makes me perform better).

      1. I take tea*

        Oh, I need to try this. I’m a fixer and get really stressed out when I can’t just fix myself. I’ll try to outsource it.

      2. I take tea*

        Oh, I need to try this. I’m a fixer and get really stressed out when I can’t just fix myself. I’ll try to outsource it.

    11. Bibliovore*

      This happens to me. The best tool lately is the breathe app on my apple watch. Pulls me off the cliff everytime.

    12. Quinalla*

      What helps for me is acknowledging the feeling and also reframing it a bit, instead of “I’m scare and nervous!” I’ll say, “I’m scared and nervous but also excited about this presentation!” It sounds silly, but it helps to associate that feeling with more than just anxiety. Sometimes I’ll even be like “Thanks body, I know this is important and you are letting me know in your own way how important it is!” Also sounds silly but can help too.

      I also will tell myself based on past experience that it will pass in 5-10 minutes (or whatever is true for you), that I prepared well for this presentation, that most people feel something like this in this situation, etc. Sometimes a mantra can help too, I actually don’t have one for this situation, but they are helpful for me sometimes. Short lines you can repeat in your head (or out loud in the bathroom/in your car) a bunch of times to help calm you down.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        NEW AGE Tip:
        Because I’ve been in several car accidents, their fault, and drivers seem to drift into my lane or run stop signs, I have to do a ritual when I get in the car.

        I picture the car in a “bubble of light” that protects it from being hit or hitting anyone else.
        Now I also picture my body in one.

        And it works. If I forget, someone comes right at me. Started it after a semi totaled my SUV on the highway. Somehow I lived, but had nightmares, etc.

    13. Observer*

      You’ve gotten lots of good suggestions. I just want to say that the fact that you recognize what’s happening is very helpful in and of itself. Even pre-covd, it’s always been just a bit easier to power through when you KNOW that you’re not going to make anyone else sick and you’ll be ok at some point. More importantly, when you understand what is going on, you have a better chance of actually tackling it.

      Lots of luck with this. And thanks for sparking this thread, as I’m finding some of these suggestions really helpful even though my situation is a bit different.

  5. Foreign Octopus*

    I’m trying to cut all soft drinks out of my diet and want to know people’s opinions on fruit teas. Despite being British, I dislike normal tea and think that fruit teas may be healthier all round. If anyone has any suggestions, what’s a good tea to start the morning and then another to end the day?

    1. Lena Clare*

      I love redbush (organic is better) in the morning with (oat) milk, and fennel and chamomile in the evening.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Oh and when I tried cutting out caffeine from my diet I felt terrible. I have decaff now, so not completely free, but I would reduce intake over time rather than cut it out completely in one go.

        1. Quinalla*

          Yes, for most people cutting down slowly or at least cutting down to 1-2 cups first is much easier on the body.

          I like chamomile in the evening, something citrusy in the morning – usually a blend.

      2. Nela*

        Rooibos (red bush) is my favorite non-caffeinated tea as well, I usually drink it in the evening (because I love my vanilla flavored black tea in the morning). The mix I currently drink has bits of cinnamon and orange in it, it smells amazing.

    2. MistOrMister*

      I can’t speak to different teas for morning vs night as I just drink whatever and don’t seem to,notice any difference depending on the time of day. But I have been drinking Celestial Seasonings (Seasons??) Zinger teas lately. Cherry didn’t do much for me, but I enjoyed the mixed berry and raspberry. They have enough flavor that you don’t need to add sugar (I cannot drink black tea without sugar). I’m not sure teavana is still around, but they have any number of herbal teas that are amazing.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I found a brand named Traditional Medicinals. They do herbal mixes, and are available on Amazon for semi-normal prices. I first started drinking their Nighty Night tea for better sleep (they also have Nighty Night Extra, that they add valerian root to), then found their Organic Hawthorn with Hibiscus, that is supposed to be good for blood pressure, and that I drink during the day.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Oh that is good to know! I have an account with them and am on a subscription with them for my hair color! Thank you!

            1. pancakes*

              You’re welcome. I think I started shopping there for hand soap, which we can’t always get in refill size locally, but they have an interesting selection of teas and even some food products. My latest find there is German egg noodles!

    3. Sarah*

      I am fond of Twinings ginger tea (not their lemon and ginger) one, I sometimes drink it to soothe my stomach and it is a nice one to have in the evenings.

      I can’t really help on the morning one because I need my morning coffee :D

      I tend not to like the fruit ones but I have also liked Pukka’s liquorice, ginger and honey one, and Twinings liquorice I liked for a while (it’s pretty sweet-tasting, not as bitter as liquorice you buy as sweets).

      Peppermint tea I drink for stomach-soothing and it’s ok as an after-dinner tea.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I loove orange tea and peach tea is good too. I keep ginger tea on hand for days when I feel less than optimal. I think those are my favorites so far.

    5. Regular Reader*

      UK Reader here. Strength of flavour varies greatly between brands so it may take a while to find what you like. Heath & Heather and Taylors of Harrogate both do some excellent teas/infusions.
      H&H – lemon and ginger and Taylors Spice Apple to name just two.
      If your soft drinks have caffeine in them do cut down slowly. Caffeine withdrawal is real as are the headaches.

    6. nep*

      I generally don’t like flavored teas, and the only one I’ve found that I like (love it) is Celestial Seasonings Cranberry Apple Zinger. I drink that once in a while when I want the stronger flavor–it’s mostly plain green tea all day.

    7. Coenobita*

      I really like hibiscus teas – either just hibiscus, or with a fruit flavor (like the celestial seasonings “zinger” ones). I usually drink them in the afternoon when I need a pick-me-up, so maybe they’d work for you in the morning? A neighbor recently gave me a bunch of Tazo “passion” tea, which I really like – it’s hibiscus and citrus and maybe rose hips? I’ve also been drinking a “hibiscus spice” blend, I think from Ten Ren.

      1. Sp*

        Yes – hibiscus! I love the Tazo one you mentioned but also get a plain hibiscus version from a company called Hey Ru – I am sure there would be varieties where you are.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      At the risk of sounding pedantic, do you mean tisane? Or do you mean caffeinated tea leaves covered with another flavor?
      If it’s the former, all I will suggest is to keep in mind that if you have pollen allergies, you might want to avoid chamomile and other flowers.
      If it’s flavored tea, I’m a big one for black lychee from an Asian market. And I’ve also found myself craving Genmaicha–it’s a Japanese green tea made with roasted brown rice. Very very different flavor. Sometimes served with or after sushi.

    9. PolarVortex*

      Look for a tea shop to go to (particularly once covid is over). Most of the goods ones will make individual cups to try and let you smell the tea before buying. My local one has made me fall in love with several kinds, although I tend towards black teas, I really enjoy the peach, lemon, cranberry blends they have. Also herbal Chais are a game changer.

    10. Anono-me*

      Giving up soda pop is a challenge. I do it periodically, but have not yet been able to give up soda pop forever. (I’ll probably try again this summer, but I am not ready to tackle that in addition to everything else right now.)

      I love mint tea and mint tisane . I start with actual mint tea for the caffeine and gradually switch to just mint. I usually drink it from morning to late afternoon. After dinner, I don’t drink much tea, but occasionally I might have a chamomile tea or an orange and honey tea.

      Couple of non tea quiting soda pop thoughts for your consideration:

      The other thing that I do when cutting soda is to drink sparkling water with juice. Usually I start at 3 parts carbonated water to one part juice and gradually back on the juice. I miss the cold fizzy part of soda.

      Sometimes people can be weird about somebody else quitting soda pop. I think that they can feel ‘judged’ because you are making a healthier choice and committing to it in a big way. So with casual acquaintances you may find it easier “to feel like ___'”, rather than to be “drinking ___ because you gave up soda pop”.
      Good luck with it all and have fun finding new liquids to ingest.

    11. Helvetica*

      I love fruit teas! Rosehip is something I really enjoy, whether on its own or in a blend, it has that perfect fruity tang that I prefer over overt sweetness. I don’t know if Heath&Heather is available in the UK but I loooove their selection -they even have a tea called “Morning time” which has a good rosehip, apple, hibiscus etc combo.
      And mint tea is excellent and refreshing so would work well for a morning tea, though it isn’t a fruit tea. I also enjoy sage tea a lot, Heath&Heather has a sage and lemon myrtle one which I think is a nice evening tea.

    12. SJNB*

      UK reader here – I like Pukka’s three cinnamon or three ginger in the evenings, and I like Twinings range of fruit teas – you may be able to find a selection box so you can try a few types before you commit to a whole box!

      1. Bluebell*

        I’m also a huge fan of Pukka teas. Where I live in the USA we don’t have it in most grocery stores. Fortunately there’s a health food store one town over that carries it and they do curbside pickup. I usually buy 4boxes every month or so to stock up. I usually drink a turmeric tea every day and a chamomile choice every night, as well as something else from time to time.

    13. Chaordic One*

      I love “Tazo” brand “Wild Sweet Orange ” tea.

      Its ingredients are: lemongrass, blackberry leaves, citric acid, rose hips, spearmint leaves, turmeric (for color), riboflavin (for color), orange peel, hibiscus flowers, natural flavor, rose petals, natural orange essence, ginger root, licorice root and licorice extract.

      It’s caffeine-free and tastes fruity and sweet. If you didn’t know better, you’d think sugar had been added to it. (I don’t add any to it.) I like it in the afternoon and to end the day, although you might want an herbal tea with chamomile at the end of the day to help you sleep.

    14. LQ*

      I love mint teas in the morning. They very much feel like a morning beverage to me. I’ve been also enjoying a chocolate tea (cacao husks as tea), in late afternoon. Both of these I think are good when they cool a bit too, which is sometimes really important for me. My new favorite has been a chocolate and lavender tea, which…took several mugs before I was really like I love this, before it was like…I’m suspicious I like it but not sure…

    15. MEH*

      I really like raspberry tea because it’s bracing, but also refreshing. I get the Traditional Medicinals brand. I also like peppermint for a pick-me-up. Peach is good for relaxation as is blueberry. I make ginger (fresh), lemon (a few squeezes), and honey tea when I’m feeling a tickle in my throat. It’s also just really tasty! These are all caffeine-free.

      For a caffeinated punch, I recommend green tea with pomegranate by Bigelow. Hey, I’m Taiwanese. I drink lots of tea!

    16. I take tea*

      Lots of good suggestions. I’ll add fennel. Very good as a digestive, I drink it sometimes in the evenings. It’s part of a lot of Pukka’s mixtures too.

      A little warning: if you have problems with high blood pressure, watch out for liquorice root, Pukka at least have it often in their herbal mixtures. Makes it sweet, but can be bad for the blood pressure, I’ve understood.

    17. LemonLyman*

      Have you tried kombucha? It’s fermented tea and naturally carbonated so it still gives you the fizz of a soft drink. And because they are fermented, there are good gut benefits to drinking them. You can buy different flavors. Personally, I find them a bit sweet (they are naturally sweetened) so I like to cut them with some carbonated water from my Soda Stream. I also enjoy drinking plain carbonated Soda Stream water.

    18. Iced Tea Enthusiast*

      Honestly, look for Polish teas. We have Loyd’s here in the US, which is a Polish brand and they do a TON of tisanes that are tasty and cheap as heck. If you want a black tea with fruit flavorings, look around for Hyson. Their peach, raspberry, strawberry, and black currant teas are great, both iced and hot.

      If you want to jump into the (for UK people) TERRIFYING world of (delightful) iced teas, get a pitcher that will fit in your fridge, fill w/water, and dump in 3 tea bags and leave in the fridge over night. Cold brew iced tea is easy, and it is pretty difficult to overstep it.

      1. Scc@rlettNZ*

        Lol. Iced tea is so not terrifying. I discovered it when I worked a ski season in the US and now I make and drink it all the time. I like mine unsweetened though, which has been the cause of many a good hearted debate between myself and a friend from North Carolina who now lives in NZ.

    19. Fizzy water*

      A slight bit off topic, but worth an ask – do you think you’ll miss the carbonation/cold of soda? I flavor bubbly water, and am 100% off sugared drinks and caffeine. Fresh mint or fruit is great, but a few drops of orange bitters (like, what you’d use in an alcoholic drink) makes carbonated water surprisingly delightful.

    20. not always right*

      I use Celestial Seasonings Peach flavored tea. I used to use one half cup of sugar per gallon (I live in the south in the good ol’ USA, so I drink iced tea) but now, I use one quarter cup. I am slowly weaning myself from the sugar altogether. I hope to be at that point by mid year.

    21. Cambridge Comma*

      I can’t quite empathise with the not liking tea but if you have a Mercadona nearby they have a roibusch/citricos tea that is nice. Just leave the bag in throughout if you want it to taste of something.
      Otherwise you could try loose leaf white tea, following the timing and temperature instructions exactly. It’s quite a different taste from black tea.
      Twinings teabags are available all over but are very high in microplastics apparently, so I don’t get them any more .

    22. oranges & lemons*

      If you don’t mind a small amount of caffeine, I really like green tea with toasted rice in it. It has a nice malty flavour, kind of like beer but lighter. I’m not a big fan of fruit teas or sweet drinks in general, though.

    23. BetsCounts*

      I like mint tea in the morning & evening, and white tea during the day.

      Also, I love sleepytime as much as the next girl, which is why I was FASCINATED by Food + Wine’s story about the “conspiracies, eugenics and aliens” behind Celestial Seasonings. Def worth a read!

    24. with a comma after dearest*

      I started drinking this herbal tea a few years ago when I had bronchitis and it is so delicious I drink it now just because – Throat Coat tea, which is apparently made from slippery elm leaves from Kentucky. It has a sweet licorice or fennel taste, you’d swear there was sugar. And so soothing to the throat!

  6. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    I’ve been busy, so I don’t have much to report other than I got some research done.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I’m gearing up to start posting weekly again on my personal blog. I’ve really trailed off in the last year, posting maybe once a month or so. I recently started a fitness challenge and part of it is submitting updates, photos, etc. Given my huge lack of motivation this past year, I’m going to use the blog postings as a way to keep myself accountable and interested, even though my trainer is overseeing my nutrition and workouts and tracking me everyday. Plus it will help me get back to writing regularly, even though it might be a short blog post.

      Also, he’s asked me to write a blog post about my experience with weight loss surgery for the company’s website (the company is running the challenge and he recently joined as one of their trainers). I’ll need to start going through all the pages I wrote a few years ago (I was wanting to write a book) and see what I can pick out and elaborate on. I’m pretty excited about it, because I like sharing my WLS experience, warts and all. What’s even more exciting is he’s going to interview me afterwards.

    2. Laura H.*

      I updated a fic on Sunday but haven’t gotten a review, so I’m feeling a little down and scared I wrote a bad chapter (It’s not impossible).

      Rationally I’m sure folks are just busy. Doesn’t help you NOT consider worst case.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Ever since yesterday’s touch typing question, I have been remembering a problem my daughter and I have with many video games. We don’t like death by infinite speed up. Both of us find it really nerve-wracking. I remember in second grade, she would not play the math game based on Space Invaders. At the time SHE said she wished it would go as fast as they want her to do and stop. Out of the mouths of babes: include a mode that defines a WIN as success. Or just plain pattern it on Angry Birds (“play until you win”) instead of Space Invaders (“play until you lose”).

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Oh heck, I lost my comment to an internet glitch and on reload I managed to reply to the wrong thread. This is for the gaming thread.

    4. KristinaL*

      I’ve got to spend more time working on self-publishing a picture book I’ve written, but I keep getting distracted by painting pages for a new picture book I’m working on. Painting is much more fun!

    5. AMD*

      I’ve been participating in the NYC Midnight Microfiction and Short Story Competitions the last four months and that has been fascinating. Highly recommend. Figuring out how to get a story down to 250 words was a great challenge, and I’m much, much better at that than at actually writing a whole, 2,500 word short story, not to mention better than any of my failed novel beginnings.

  7. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    As usual, this isn’t limited to video games, feel free to discuss anything here. Also feel free to ask for recommendations and help identifying vaguely-remembered games.
    I’ve gone back and played some Freddi Fish again – I spent so much of my childhood playing the first game, and still remember most of the lines and songs. Heh.

    1. riverbflat*

      I’ve been stuck on Animal Crossing: New Horizons since it came out, lol. Been thinking lately about trying to find a way to play some of my old nostalgia computer games though. Descent, Jill of the Jungle, Helious, some others. Seems like a tough prospect though.

      1. Usually a lurker*

        Archive.or has tons of old games that you can play on the site. I play Jill of the Jungle on there a lot.

        1. LimeRoos*

          Thank you! I haven’t seen Jill of the Jungle since some random emulator in college. We used to stay up super late in middle school playing and waking up the parentals lol

    2. Brittle Bird Bones*

      I just finished playing Bioshock 1 and 2 for the first time. I loved these games, they’re awesome! Fantastic story and immersive setting! Very excited to jump into Bioshock Infinite.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Bioshock 1 and 2 are literally like, art. They are perfection. especially that little sister scene in 2.

        I never did finish Infinite sadly.

    3. Beancat*

      I finally picked up Breath of the Wild after almost four years – I’ve been off for two weeks to recover from surgery and finally have the time to play. I’m so disappointed that I’ve avoided it for so many years, because I’m having a fantastic time. I’m a few hours away from challenging Calamity Ganon and I’m pretty excited. This will be my first Zelda game I’ve ever finished! (Started many over the years, never quite finished any of them for one reason or another…)

      1. Purt’s Peas*

        That’s one of my absolute favorite games :) Seeing the lightning dragon for the first time and going to fly next to it through the storm—so beautiful.

      2. Office Grunt*

        I’ve beaten Link to the Past and Link’s Awakening hundreds of times.

        Finding the Randomzier variants has re-kindled my love of the games, and watching runners on YouTube made me realize how much room I have to improve.

      3. LimeRoos*

        Breath of the Wild is amazing. I’m never going to finish it – hate boss fights, love exploring – because all I care about is finding those damn Korok seeds :-)

    4. Regular Reader*

      Lockdown has seen me become far, far too involved with Game of Thrones Winter is Coming. Never played a multiplayer before and now I’m messaging during battles and goodness knows what.

    5. Aqua409*

      It’s my birthday tomorrow and have a long weekend. My family and I played Wingspan last night, Gloomhaven will be played today and I picked up a new board game with some birthday money that I have kept my eye on and going to try out Quacks of Quedlinburg.

      1. DarthVelma*

        Happy Pre-Birthday!

        Love Gloomhaven. The partner and I definitely need to get back into our campaign soon.

        I’ve heard good things about Quacks of Quedlinburg. Hope you’ll let us all know how it goes.

      1. Dee*

        “include a mode that defines a WIN as success. Or just plain pattern it on Angry Birds (“play until you win”) instead of Space Invaders (“play until you lose”).”

        I’ve never thought about it that way but it makes a ton of sense that those two things could feel very different to players. I love thinking about game design and what makes a game feel a certain way so your comment is so interesting to me!

      1. Fish*

        I love Three Houses! I’m about 2/3rds of the way through a Blue Lions Maddening run (new game +, because I don’t hate myself), and I’m having so much fun. Who are your favorite units?

        1. PolarVortex*

          I’ve been working through a Blue Lions where I’m collecting every dang person I can. (I may be regretting this choice when it comes to leveling them up because I’ll be damned before I leave some at lower levels.)

          I’m hard pressed to pick favorites, depends on the day, but currently I’d say Balthus, Hilda, and Mercedes for their ability to never die. But I literally just named my new dog after Ferdinand so, I might have to say that. (He looks like a Ferdinand, there was no other choice for him.)

      2. Jackalope*

        I’ve been spending a LOT of time on FE3H; I’m 125 hours (since Christmas!) in on my first run-through, chapter 15. I’m playing the Black Eagles Crimson Flower game, and just spent a few days when I had free time leveling up my “benched” characters. I was trying to get everyone up to level 40, but did finally lose patience a bit and a few of them are still level 38 or 39. I’m kind of looking forward to being able to get back to playing with my regular battle favorites, but it’s been fun getting to know the strengths of the other characters too. My run is on casual mode because I was in no way going to consider it acceptable to let any of my characters die (especially not as members of an opposing army….), and I recruited *all* of the characters that I could. So I’m trying to level up…. (goes and counts) 28 characters including my Byleth. Now that I’ve finished my lengthy battle run, I’ve probably got 3 *hours* of support videos to make it through (if it’s anything like previous lengthy battle runs). So… there’s that.

          1. Jackalope*

            I’m enjoying it a lot. I’ve heard that your feelings about the game are really affected by whether you start with Crimson Flower (like me) or whether you start with pretty much any other route, and I believe that’s going to be the case. (I will have to wait awhile before I play one of the others because I don’t know how I will handle having one of my main peeps become the villain!) I was happy that I didn’t have to kill the head of one of the other houses (although I did have to kill one of their housemates, which was hard); I let them go.

        1. Torrance*

          You might be a little spoilt for choice actually. In general, you could start looking at the D&D Beyond forums (the LFG section is pretty active) and obviously there’s also Roll20 & its database. There’s also various Reddit, Facebook, and Discord communities that might be helpful if you want to get into the weeds.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            An old gaming group is trying to set up a new game across the internet. Our DM had us try Roll20 and now we’re trying Tableplop. There is *so* much interface I’m missing plain old tabletop.
            I haven’t talked my tech-loving crew into trying just plain old videochat and honor-system for rolls.

        2. Jackalope*

          My friends and I have been doing a Zoom D&D game since April or May. We don’t use minis, and so it’s fairly easy to do everything over Zoom. D&D has definitely been the game that adapted best to a video format….

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Are you willing to talk more about this, maybe next week? Especially interested in the DM’s point of view.

            1. Jackalope*

              I’d be happy to. Any specific questions? I can say that it makes it easier logistically that our DM has been playing over Skype for several years now with some friends in another state so has worked out the bugs.

      1. Hello Sweetie!*

        Same! Although we missed this week, some of my friends and I started a new game for 2021. Playing in Icewind Dale. It’s fun, and we’re doing well through zoom!

      2. Putting Out Fires, Esq.*

        I’ve been DMing my first D&D campaign (not a new player) and I’m having an absolute blast. My players are too. They’re big into reading every book they find, so I’m having a great time making up lore and fairy tales and pompous academic articles for them to find.

    6. Decidedly Me*

      My partner and I bought the board game Mystic Vale and played for the first time. It was a lot of fun! He won by a lot and we haven’t played enough to know if that was luck or skill lol!

    7. Nicki Name*

      I’ve finally gone back to Fire Emblem: Three Houses to play the two routes I haven’t done yet. My favorite FE game of all time is Fates, and I was disappointed by how little difference there was between the routes compared to it. I’d still kind of like to see the different endings, though.

      1. Holly the spa pro*

        This x1000. Fates is my favorite FE game too! I am having a really hard time getting into 3H as much because i just loved fates so much. Im not very far into 3H but it feels kind of stale so far. Maybe i need to get further into it?

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            Also can I just say how much I love finding people who don’t hate of Fates? Admittedly I have some problems with it too, but damn, the vitriol gets out of hand sometimes.

        1. Nicki Name*

          The battles never get as interesting as in Fates. The number of things you can do inside the monastery grows over time, and on later playthroughs you can leverage the renown you got the first time through to do more earlier, so that gets more interesting and less grindy. It’s like for this installment, the focus is on the stuff you can do inside the castle that was introduced a couple games ago.

          As I said above, the main thing that’s keeping me going is the hope of seeing the pieces of the story that are unique to each route. I’ve also found that bumping the difficulty level up to hard this time is helping. Usually I play through the FE games in easy mode, and then come back and tackle hard mode later.

    8. CatCat*

      Plowed through Outlanders on iPad/Apple Arcade. This kind of town building, resource allocation game is my jam!

      Any recs for similar such games for iPad?

    9. Grace*

      There’s been an Avatar: the Last Airbender tabletop RPG announced for release this time next year, and I’m simultaneously incredibly excited and slightly concerned about the timeline. Hopefully it’ll all be well-balanced and stay true to the source material!

    10. MEH*

      I’m playing two games with black cats (my fave, I have one) in them. Divinity: Original Sin 2 by Larian Studios because I’ve been interested in D&D for a few years, but have not played it yet. Div 2 is about as close as a video game can get to it, I’ve been told. I like it, but I’m already paralyzed by too many choices such as who to keep in my party. I also have half a dozen side quests that I want to do before finishing the main mission.

      The second is Tales of the Neon Sea by Palm Pioneer. It’s an indie, colorful, cybperpunk point-n-click about the friction between man and robot, but also, there’s a stray cat colony that I absolutely adore. One member is William, a black cat, who becomes my friend and follows me around. I got to play as him for a bit as well, which sealed the deal for me. There’s also a mystery involved and I’m hopeful that I’ve finally found a detective/mystery video game that I actually like.

    11. Quinalla*

      Played Codenames online (board game) – it is in beta but free and worked with no issues for us, need 4 players minimum and plays just like the original Codenames boardgame. I recommend being on at least voice chat for a better experience.

      Also picked up the video game Valheim, it is a survival game with a viking theme that makes it really fun. You can play with up to 5 people, recommend 3-4 at least if you can!

  8. riverbflat*

    So, ever since the first time I got to spend more than half an hour in New York City, I’ve wanted to live there. So late last year, I decided to put a plan in motion that will hopefully end up with me living in NYC. Timeline is like a year or two, but I’m comfortable with that. Over-prepper that I am, though, I’m trying to learn as much as I can about what things will be like.

    The question that I’m stuck on presently: how does the actual “moving” part work? As in, logistically speaking? I’ve seen reference in my research to moving companies that specialize in moving to NYC, but haven’t found any. I can’t afford to just jettison everything and start over (nor do I particularly want to, especially in the case of things like my instruments). I could probably bear to pare down to what will fit in my vehicle, and DIY, but I plan to sell it when I go, and Do Not want to drive in the city.

    Potentially relevant info: I currently live a couple of hours drive/train ride from there, so getting there will not be the hardest part. I also live close to my mother right now, and could theoretically leave some stuff with her and have it shipped over time, which is an option I’ve considered, but would prefer not to use if there’s a better one.

    So…. anybody been there, and have some advice for me? Or see something obvious that I’m missing?

    Thanks!

    1. Legalchef*

      I’m a little confused. If you live a couple hours drive from NYC why wouldn’t you just call some moving companies and get a few quotes when the time comes? There will likely be an additional fee for the distance, but if you don’t want to drive in the city (and therefore wouldn’t want to rent a uhaul) that’s your only option other than a “person with a van” situation, which you’re less likely to find for longer trips.

      1. riverbflat*

        Good point, I was unclear. From the research I’ve done, there appear to be pretty complicated parking rules, especially for large trucks, so I’ve seen it said that it helps to get a company experienced with that specifically.

        1. mreasy*

          Good news! Nobody, least of all moving companies, follows the parking rules here. Do not worry about that – just make sure your movers are willing to handle the number of flights of stairs that will be involved. And welcome! It is a wonderful-terrible place to be (I’m at 18 years.)

          1. riverbflat*

            Ha! Thank you! That’s how things are in my current city, too, but as I’ve never driven in NYC, I don’t know how it rolls there

        2. HarvestKaleSlaw*

          Your movers will double park, so don’t worry about that.

          I’ve done DIY U-Haul moves in NYC . For those, you just have to get lucky with parking. If you’re moving to Manhattan don’t even try it. Get professionals. You also have to remember, if you are driving into the city, that you will get a very expensive ticket if you drive your UHaul on a parkway. There is a “commercial truck” setting buried in Google Maps that will tell you where you are okay to drive.

          Depending what building you are moving into – if it is a doorman building especially or you are renting in a coop – your movers will need to be bonded and to supply a COI to the management. Sometimes your building will even have a list of approved moving companies that you will need to choose from. The building might ask them to lay Masonite down on the hallways and put up corner protectors. The nice buildings won’t let you just drive up with a Budget truck.

          Are you all good with finding a place and signing the lease? That’s the part that gets complicated here.

          1. riverbflat*

            Ooohhh, more good info, thanks! I’m still researching the “getting an apartment” step….. The actual act of moving is just where my brain happened to get stuck right now.

            This is one of the reasons I’m totally fine with this being a long-term plan, lol!

            1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

              Totally! Um… at random, some pearls of wisdom I have picked up:

              I am sure you know, but living here is expensive. Spend a lot of time looking at StreetEasy to get a sense of what your dollar buys in different neighborhoods. When you narrow it to a neighborhood, visit that neighborhood at different times of day, not just middle of the afternoon when everyone is at work.

              Always ask about bedbugs. Legally they have to tell you. If it has had an infestation within a year, walk away.

              City government also has a rat map that will tell you about your building and block. Check it out before you visit a building. Learn what to look for to identify a rat problem (rub marks, chew marks, bunch of rat traps, all that).

              Things are more tenant-friendly with COVID, but in normal times, have your documents ready to go and be ready to put in an application right there and then if you find a good deal. You will need 3-5 years of W2s, possibly tax returns, references from past landlords, several months of bank statements, a credit check, a letter from your job, a year of pay stubs, and a human toe. I am joking about the last one, but not the others.

              If you freelance, landlords get nervous and can’t deal with a stack of 1099s. They might just ask for a guarantor. You will also need a guarantor if you don’t make 40x monthly rent. There are guarantor companies that you can pay to do this for you, if you don’t have family you can ask.

              Rent reforms made it illegal to require more than one month’s security deposit. Lots of places are still going to ask you for first and last month’s rent plus security, and you need to decide whether that is worth it to you. If you push back, you will lose the place, but you are also getting solid evidence that the landlord is shady, and you will know what you should expect from them if you rent.

              “Key money” is also not legal, but decide whether it’s worth it to you. If it’s more than you can afford to be scammed out of, don’t try to play the game.

              Meet the super, if you can, and try to meet a neighbor.

              Brokers will cost you 12-15% of the annual rent, on top of what you are already paying the landlord. I have never been able to stomach that, but it could be worth it for you. This is changing, but it used to be they had a line on the best places. A broker is definitely worth it if it gets you a rent stabilized apartment – but that’s a whole other ball of wax.

              Oh. And then there’s the landlord’s broker, who will charge the same fee, but provides zero value to you as the tenant. If you don’t want to drop three months of rent on some schmuck who just unlocks the place and gestures vaguely around, keep your search to “no fee” apartments. If you have your own broker, I think they split the fees with the landlord broker – I’ve never used one, so I’m hazy on all of that.

              A lot of NYC landlords are great – I have a great one now – but that’s not the norm. Believe nothing they or their agents say unless it is in writing on the lease. “Oh yeah that’s going to be fixed before move in” is always a lie.

              Brick Underground is a good website to learn more. Curbed is okay too.

              That’s all I can think of!

              1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

                Oh yeah – most “two bedrooms” in Manhattan in the vaguely-affordable price ranges are “wing two bedrooms.” Basically there is a kitchenette with a bedroom on one side and a living room on the other, and the living room is one of the bedrooms. If you are looking for a two bedroom with a roommate, you may want to look for “true two bedroom.”

                In brownstone BK, the affordable two-bedrooms tend to be railroads. I’ve lived in a railroad apartment, but I wouldn’t do it with roommates.

                What neighborhoods are you looking at?

                1. riverbflat*

                  Still working on that research, ha. Nowhere in Manhattan, for sure. Maybe in the Bronx? Going to schedule a trip to explore when it’s safer.

                2. HarvestKaleSlaw*

                  Cool! I have a decent number of friends who live in the Bronx, but I can’t say I know it. Bronx apartments are not listed as often on Street Easy, unless you are looking around Fordham or in Riverdale, so you may have to go there and put boots on the ground more than in another borough.

                  When you do visit the Bronx, stop by Arthur Ave for cannolis. It’s a really cool area, but it has a rep for housing discrimination — zero clue if that is merited though and don’t let it stop you if you like Belmont when you visit.

                  Back ten years ago, we almost moved to Parkchester. Maintenance is an issue in the towers, but you get a good amount of space for your money, and it is a decent place for families.

            2. pancakes*

              I’ve lived in NYC since the late 1990s. Agree with others that the move itself will be the least of your concerns. Things like parking and building rules for which elevator to use are a one-time concern and mostly the moving company’s responsibility. Figuring out which neighborhoods you want to look at is going to be key. I was a frequent visitor before I moved here, usually at least weekly, so I had a good sense of where I wanted to be.

              1. riverbflat*

                I’m a little too far out to be a weekly visitor, but I definitely plan on visiting to get a better feel!

          2. Voluptuousfire*

            Yep! I live in NYC and certain expressways and such don’t allow commercial traffic, I think over a certain height. A lot of the expressways have overpasses and trailers over a certain height can get stuck. I’ll listen to the news radio traffic reports and every so often truck will get into those expressways and get stuck and cause a huge traffic thing.

            1. riverbflat*

              Oooohhh, I’ve heard of that from friends in Boston (“someone got Storrowed again!”) but not in NYC

        3. Observer*

          there appear to be pretty complicated parking rules, especially for large trucks, so I’ve seen it said that it helps to get a company experienced with that specifically.

          Any moving company that works in NYC will have the experience you need. Instead of looking for a statement of NY moving experience, look for companies located in New York or with branches in New York.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      When I first moved to New York I had no furniture (moved into a partially furnished room and went from there) and I rented an SUV one-way to get it there. I realize you don’t want to drive there, but if you’re OK with a one-time option that doesn’t require keeping a car, that’s a simple one. If you want to hire movers, just call around to long-distance movers in your area and ask them for estimates. Yes, there are some companies that won’t move to NYC, but there are many that will, especially for a premium. You can also ask a friend or relative to help you with a U-Haul.

      But the key is that you will really need to find a place first. The difficulty of your move will very much depend on your neighborhood. It’s not even as simple as, “Brooklyn is easier than Manhattan,” it’s closer to, “Bay Ridge is easier than Jackson Heights.”

      1. riverbflat*

        Thanks! I was getting that idea about the neighborhoods, but wasn’t sure yet if I was right. That’s good to know.

    3. alex b*

      I’ve lived in NYC since 2006. Wonderful-terrible is exactly the right description (from mreasy above).

      I moved here from another state and have also moved a few times within the city (between and within boroughs). Frankly, the movers/moving plan are among the easiest things to organize. It’s basic research, decision-making, a LOT of money, and one really crappy but necessary day. You just arrange it a few weeks out. I think you’re kinda stressing on the wrong thing.

      MUCH more salient things: money and apartment-hunting.

      You’re going to drop thousands simply to move here. Then your monthly expenses will be high, whether or not you have roommates and no matter where you live. I’d recommend saving like a miser for the next year; I always plan for my savings to evaporate almost completely during nyc moves. Also be sure you are realistic about your salary and expenses.

      Then there are the neighborhoods and the areas within the neighborhoods. Mere blocks can mean the difference between safe and unsafe, relatively convenient and INCREDIBLY inconvenient. Same with individual buildings (laundry, groceries, amenities– easy stuff elsewhere varies from annoying to extremely hard here; you have to figure out your deal-breakers vs. must-haves vs. nice-to-haves). If you’re a year or so away, know that neighborhood qualities change quickly even in normal times, and it will be interesting to see what drastic stuff happens in the next year or two. I recommend ultimately picking 1-3 neighborhoods and enlisting a well-reviewed broker; they simply find you better places even though, again, it’s expensive.

      I don’t mean to be a downer; it’s exciting!! It’s not great right now, but New York will definitely be back in time for your arrival. :)

      1. riverbflat*

        I’ve already been making notes on some of that, but there’s some good stuff there to add to my research list. Thank you! This is such a huge undertaking! But I decided since I’ve literally never changed my mind about moving there, it was worth it to try at least!

        1. alex b*

          That’s awesome; go for it!

          I fled my bad family at age 20 to come here. I didn’t have any lofty aspirations or anything; I love the anonymity the city offers, and it just felt right. I still love it. Now in my mid-30s, it’s a matter of personal pride to have made a good life for myself, by myself, in NYC. SO maudlin, but true. I’m even one of those who’s obnoxiously proud to have stayed through the pandemic lol. Most people dip their toes in and then leave, which is fine. There are different ways to experience the joy of living in one of the greatest cities in the world.

          Anyway, don’t let people scare you away; just be realistic and come in knowing that it’s not glamorous, and you will have to make many compromises and sacrifices. You will curse and love aspects of the city every day. :)

      2. CSmithy*

        “Then there are the neighborhoods and the areas within the neighborhoods. Mere blocks can mean the difference between safe and unsafe, relatively convenient and INCREDIBLY inconvenient.”

        This is a REALLY good point. When I lived in Brooklyn, I lived in the same neighborhood for six years in two different buildings. One building was right on the subway and getting everywhere was easy; the other building was a ten minute walk from the subway, which SOUNDS doable but gets old fast when it’s 90 degrees or raining or you’re hauling groceries/laundry.

        I had started paying for laundry pick-up and all that not long before I moved out of the city because I was exhausted with the day-to-day out there. I don’t regret living there at all — it was awesome in many ways — but it is -not- easy unless you have money to blow on conveniences.

        1. riverbflat*

          Yeah, the parking at my current place is such that that’s pretty common for me as well, to get from my apartment to my car. It does get old, you’re not wrong, ha. I’ll keep that in mind

          1. CSmithy*

            Good luck! I had a 5 minute subway walk at my last place and I felt like that was perfect.

            I hope you love it there; New York is an amazing city and I can’t lie; I think about it and miss it at least once a day.

    4. Green Snickers*

      What is your budget for the move? Are you needing to do it for a few hundred dollars or could your potentially spend a few thousand?

        1. Observer*

          Do that – your sanity will thank you.

          Also, in the long term it’s actually going to cost you less to pay that fee than trying to do it yourself or on the cheap.

      1. riverbflat*

        I can (and plan to) get a few thousand together between now and moving time. Another in a list of reasons it’s a ways out, for sure

        1. Green Snickers*

          I moved to NYC on the cheap from Philly 3 years ago. I rented a one-way Uhaul, packed it myself, drove it up and hired a Task Rabbit to help me unpack. I think it was like $220 for everything incl gas and tolls. I had never driven in NYC before and was moving to Gramercy- I had to transverse the entire island west to east and it was a little scary but I got the hang of driving about 10 mins in so by the time I got to the city, I was good. I just drove really slow and allowed myself to take a little longer/take a less than ideal path so I didn’t have to take any big risks.

          You will pay an arm and leg for someone to drive a truck for you. If you are really nervous about driving, I’d see if you can get a family friend to drive and take the train back. All personal preference but you can save a lot by driving yourself.

          1. riverbflat*

            Oh, nice, that’s a good point, any money I save on the move can definitely be used for other things

    5. Mstr*

      I recommend Alpha Moving & Storage as a fast & thorough service that’s somewhat local. Haven’t used them for Manhattan specifically but maybe give them a call.

        1. Joan Rivers*

          You’re lucky you can leave things w/your mom and move it in gradually; presumably you’d visit her and maybe can take something back w/you. It doesn’t have to be all at once.

          1. riverbflat*

            Yeah, I did that some for my move to where I am now. It’s not my preference, but definitely an option, and potentially the best way to handle it

    6. Nonprofiteer*

      One thing to consider is that some close-in suburbs are more convenient to Manhattan than outer parts of the outer boroughs. I lived in lower Westchester for several years, and could catch a train to midtown in about 30 minutes. I assume you are wanting to move for big city life, but do keep in mind commuter trains and ferries are pretty good (except for NJ trains).

  9. Anna*

    Are there any shows that you initially dismissed, but when you decided to go back and give it another go you actually found it enjoyable?

    I recently started watching the sitcom ‘Superstore’, and found it surprisingly amusing. I’ve never even heard of the the show before coming across it on Netflix, and only gave it a go because it had America Ferrera on it. I wouldn’t have thought a show set in a superstore would be anything but depressing, but it’s actually been great for just some light-hearted entertainment, and the characters are mostly likeable without being bland.

    (Plus, I’ve never been to the US, and even though I’ve heard the jokes about Walmart basically supplying everything you’ll ever need for your entire life, the sheer size of that place is weirdly fascinating to me.)

    1. MistOrMister*

      I refused to watch Psych when it first came out because I was a huge Monk fan and felt like Psych was just trying to cash in on Monk’s popularity. I finally watched it a few years ago and realized it is an absolute gem! Especially the later seasons when they really let Shawn and Gus both be quirky. I felt like Gus was a bit too buttoned down at the beginning of the series.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Oh I love Psych! If I’m having a lousy day, that’s my go-to pick me up. There are also YT compilations of all the ways he introduces Gus that are fun diversions. :D

    2. CJM*

      When I initially watched “Fleabag,” I didn’t like how the main character talked to the camera, so I quit about ten minutes in. In time I forgot I’d ever watched it, and I tried again and absolutely loved it.

      A friend raves about “800 Words,” but I tried it a few years ago and didn’t like it for the same reason (if I recall correctly). It’s time to try it again because of my good “Fleabag” experience and because I recently learned that a favorite actress is in it.

      1. Voluptuousfire*

        Just rewatched the first and second seasons of Fleabag the past few days.

        It’s refreshing to see a female character who isn’t a nice person.

    3. Aqua409*

      Shameless is my show that my parents absolutely loved and dismissed for years. My husband and I have been slowly watching it over time and loving it.

    4. Msnotmrs*

      I loved “Star Trek: The Next Generation” as a little kid, but then tried to watch it a few years ago and tapped out after about 2 or 3 episodes. Now I’m watching it with my husband and we are enthralled. It’s so good! Interesting characters, plot-heavy, with way less of the hamfisted moralizing of the first series. And the special effects have held up surprisingly well.

      1. Dee*

        I grew up with TNG and it was sooooo amazing. Nowadays? I’m trying to watch it from the beginning and I bailed halfway through the Ferengi episode.

        I can’t decide if I’m going to try again or just skip to season 2!

        1. NeonFireworks*

          First two seasons are really uneven and awkward – things get much better after that. I never rewatch the Ferengi episodes.

          1. Coenobita*

            haha, I feel the same way about Deep Space 9. I prefer the show after Sisko has no hair + a beard.

        2. Msnotmrs*

          We’re almost done with season 1 and I’m actually already really impressed. But people said similar things about the last show we watched (Schitt’s Creek), that it doesn’t really get going until season 2 or 3, but I liked both shows from the get-go.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I bounced off the first episode of The Mandalorian like four times (much to my Star Wars nut husband’s dismay) when it first came out, but about a month ago, I sat down and binged through the whole first two seasons in one weekend.

    6. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      Not a series, but I rolled my eyes at Hamilton when it first came out, it sounded so gimmicky. Then I listened to the soundtrack and watched it and did a complete flip, Hamilton’s 100% earned every good thing anyone’s ever said about it.
      Also, the British show No, Honestly (from the 80s maybe?). I thought looked pretty bad but watched it anyway and now I just kind of love it. It’s not amazing and yet it somehow is! I can’t put it any better than that. People have mentioned most of the others that came to mind.
      In the opposite direction, I used to LOVE The Good Life and watched it over and over again (the Tom and Barbara one, not the Paris one) but Tom is so awful I just can’t watch it any more. And they’re both so mean to Jerry and especially Margo, even though they do so much!

    7. ThatGirl*

      Not me, but last year I convinced my husband to watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and he thought it would be a wacky sitcom with music, and then he got extremely invested and loved it and we still sing the songs all the time.

      1. I take tea*

        I’ve heard Crazy Ex Girlfriend is good, I just really dislike the name. But maybe I should try it.

        1. ThatGirl*

          It’s really good! The name is kind of misleading because it upends a lot of the stereotypes and examines some of the misogyny behind the term. I don’t want to spoil it but definitely worth the time.

    8. MCL*

      It took a couple episodes to get into Bob’s Burgers, but it’s a favorite now. I like that it’s about a family that loves each other, and their wacky adventures tickle me!

    9. Decidedly Me*

      Blindspot seemed right up my alley genre wise, but I just couldn’t get into it. I think I tried a few times (I really wanted to like it as I thought the premise was interesting). Recently started it again, got hooked, and am on the final season (no spoilers please!)

      1. Chilipepper*

        Ooh, I also thought Blindspot was right up my alley but I could not get into it. I will try again!

    10. LemonLyman*

      Chuck.

      Figured it was a show for overgrown 12 year old sci-fi nerds and that I’d hate the “hot chicks fighting hot chicks” element. It is a show for overgrown 12 year old sci-fi nerds and it does sometimes have hot chicks fighting hot chicks but it’s SO much more than that.

      It’s really sweet and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Zach Levi is adorable and the whole cast is a lot of fun.

    11. CatCat*

      Adventure Time. My spouse and kid watched it and I was like, this is a weird kids show. Then I started paying more attention and realized this post-apocalyptic surrealist tale is not a kids show. Not even sure how a kid could enjoy it when it gets into some truly bizarro existentialism. I found it fascinating, funny, nostalgic for some reason, and disturbing. I quite enjoyed it.

    12. Maggie*

      I was going to comment Superstore after your first sentence. Its so funny! I thought it would be stupid but the jokes are funny!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Same here. I especially like the little random bits where they focus on a customer either doing something weird or gross, or finding something odd in the store. :’D

        Usually, I give a show three episodes before I tap out. That’s enough for me to know whether I want to continue or not. Shows I really love will almost always get me right away.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        For some reason it just never really appealed to me despite a lot of friends with similar taste loving it. I finally gave it a try out of boredom/not having other ideas and liked it, not as much as most fans seem to but still pretty good!

        1. LemonLyman*

          It definitely grows on you! It’s about a super sweet and supportive family. Who doesn’t love that?

      2. All Monkeys are French*

        I’m with you. It felt too cringey and like it was punching down. I finally took the advice to skip season 1 altogether and now I’m hooked.

      3. The Rat-Catcher*

        This is good to hear because I eye-rolled my way through season 1 because I heard it would get better and I just started season 2.

    13. Potatoes gonna potate*

      The Office, took me about 3 tries to get into it but a random episode was on at my Phys therapists office (pre COVID) and something Michael Scott said reminded me of my boss (LOL) so I got into it.

      1. Lilith*

        I’m embarrassed to admit how many episodes it took me to get Rolland Schitt’s name. What a doofus I am.

        1. Mstr*

          Not to mention his wife “jostle in” and son “mutt.” I’m disappointed they named their newborn Jr. and missed the opportunity for another joke.

        2. BetsCounts*

          It is just now reading your comment and saying Roland Schitt out loud that I got it, so you are waaaay ahead of me!

    14. not always right*

      For me it is Leverage. I had zero interest in it but one day, I was home sick. Wouldn’t you know it but the batteries died in the remote and I was out of replacement batteries. My TV does not have manual controls, so it was stuck on a channel that was having a Leverage marathon. Turns out, it is quite entertaining. There is someone in the commentariat whose name is Damn it Hardison! It makes me giggle whenever I see it. Another one is The Librarians (tv show).

    15. Melody Pond*

      The Expanse. My husband had been a huge fan of the books and begged me to watch it with him for probably three years. Somewhere in that time, I did watch the first episode with him, and it just didn’t grab me. It was a little too offbeat.

      Fast forward to the year of the final season of Game of Thrones. Like many others, I was so disappointed with the ending, and I’d been so invested in the show up to that final season. I remember four or five weeks later that I still had this lurking feeling of being unfulfilled/unsatisfied – and something clicked in me and I decided I wanted to give The Expanse another try. (Funny enough, George R. R. Martin is apparently a fan of The Expanse books.)

      Thank god I gave it another try! It’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen! It helped that I was watching with a spouse who is very well-versed in all the real world science that the show deals with, because he had great commentary to add that really enhanced my experience. He also is a veteran and spent time in the navy, so he would explain to me how realistic the space battles are, and how they rely on weapons and technology that we mostly have today. It was just fascinating, and all that was on top of an incredibly compelling story set in the midst of political tensions between people living on Earth, people living on Mars, and people living/working in the Asteroid Belt (mainly mining resources in incredibly dangerous conditions for the economic benefit of Earth and Mars).

      It’s on Amazon Prime. They just wrapped up season 5, and it was phenomenal.

      1. Sleepless*

        I love The Expanse. I’m a long term sci fi nerd. The CGI is the most beautiful and detailed I have ever seen, and the characters and their relationships are so real.

    16. tacocat*

      Schitt’s Creek for me. I’d heard it was a “slow burn” kind of show, watched two episodes and was like “why bother,” ditched it for like 2 years. Then a few people told me to give it another chance and after a few episodes I was so into it and watched the whole series in about 3 weeks. Comedic genius.

  10. Loopy*

    Lately I’ve been agonizing over something and hoping the group can maybe give some opinions. I started going on early Sunday morning hikes at a popular state park. The first few times it was very, very empty the first hour and I found such peace and comfort in being utterly alone in nature. To the point where when more people started showing up right at open with me, I became irrationally annoyed by having others on the trail, though everyone was perfectly quiet and respectful. I know I am being super weird about this sudden need to be *perfectly, absolutely solitary in nature*. But it was just surprisingly healing and I’m craving it again.

    I really want that alone in nature experience again but it’s a popular spot and that’s just not practical. There a few other nature preserves but they are much less well known and are not staffed on weekends at all. I know I could likely get exactly the experience I’m looking for but also worry about how safe it is as a woman to go out alone to these other places. These areas are in much more unsettled areas and likely if anything were to happen, no one would hear a scream or be out at the preserve to assist if something were to occur (I’m talking about being attacked by another person). I have pepper spray but that’s it.

    I also don’t know how much being nervous would ruin the experience. Have any other women in particular grappled with situations like this? I’m sad that I don’t feel like it’s a good idea.

    1. PX*

      How founded is your fear?

      I think thats a good question to ask yourself in situations like this. For instance in a situation like yours, I would be more afraid of hurting myself (eg falling and breaking something) than someone attacking me (fewer people typically mean less crimes). What are statistics like of crime or incidents in the area you want to go to? If the more likely threat is an animal attack for example – how does that change your response?

      I’m assuming you are American here, but I do have to say I see a huge difference in fear culture between America vs other parts of the world sometimes. I see it as a combination of things like your history, the way your media cover things etc – but I find it really interesting. In other parts of the world I know, the question would be more around making sure you are being safe and practical with respect to things like having the right equipment and making sure someone can find you if you get injured, and the thought of being attacked would literally never even occur to someone.

      For me personally, I make a fairly conscious effort to not let fear run my life. Which might sound very trite, but I’ve had lots of good experiences in situations which would probably sound incredibly risky to many on here – but I generally try to make an active choice to believe and trust that most people in the world are decent human beings. I try to be smart about the decisions I make and am extra cautious when I’m in unfamiliar surroundings or possibly sketchy areas, but I think there’s a difference between being cautious (and prepared!) but still doing things vs not doing things because of “what ifs”. But thats me and my own personal comfort level!

      1. mreasy*

        Guns are very common here. And so is sexual assault and other violence against women. Statistically low overall, but I don’t think it’s fair to characterize this fear as unfounded.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Sexual assault and random shootings are not common in nature preserves and national parks.

          City parks? More common.

          The question is about assessing risk, to see what is realistic.

          1. mreasy*

            It’s also unlikely I’ll be mugged at my front door at gunpoint, statistically, in my safe neighborhood, but it happened to a good friend – right outside my door. Everyone has a different level of comfort for risk, and it can’t be ignored that women alone are physically vulnerable. Men as well, but given that women tend to be smaller and less strong than men, women have a higher population of “predators” to potentially deal with in the wild.

            1. RagingADHD*

              Yes thank you, I am a woman and I have been coping with the concept of physical risk for several decades.

              Have you stopped leaving your house because of the robbery? Would you consider that a reasonable response, because some risk exists?

              True awareness of risk includes a sense of proportion.

              1. mreasy*

                You’re right. And I am a sometimes alone hiker. The point I was trying to make (not very effectively) is that fear and anxiety about the real, albeit relatively small statistically, threat of violence, should not be dismissed out of hand, not because it’s likely, but because the fear and anxiety itself is real. I don’t think that’s what you were doing – but it’s common for women’s fears to be dismissed (as I’m sure you’ve experienced) even though they are based in some reality.

            2. Joan Rivers*

              Thank you for saying this. Women want to believe they’re safe, or we wouldn’t get into an elevator with a stranger. We want to think when we unlock our door we’re safe cause we don’t want to think someone has already broken in and is waiting for us.

              Many years ago a stranger did break into my place, at 7 pm. He beat me up, threatened to kill me, robbed me, raped me, held me captive 2 hrs. — and then came back a few nights later. He was my worst nightmare.
              He had been stalking me apparently, though I never realized it.

              Commenters will talk about their desire to feel free but they won’t want to hear about this. It IS rare that someone breaks in, but it happened.

              So if you choose to hike alone, what safety measures do you take? In case you break your leg or run across a predator, human or otherwise?

              Educate yourself about the options. Don’t tell yourself nothing can happen. Then live your life.

        2. Natalie*

          Not to freak anyone out or anything, but the vast, VAST majority of violence (including sexual violence) happens between friends, relatives, and other people known to each other. Random violence is not particularly common.

          1. TL -*

            And random violence is far more likely to happen to men than to women.

            Stranger assaults still do happen, but they’re by far not the biggest risk to women, they just get a disproportionate amount of attention.

            1. mreasy*

              Absolutely, and of course as a culture we focus on random attacks on white women as news stories. I didn’t do a good job making my point – I was trying to say that the fear & anxiety that could ruin the hike experience shouldn’t be dismissed just because it’s statistically unlikely (which it is), but recognized as real and based on reality, even if the potential for experiencing violence is vanishingly small. But I did not express this well! It is for sure extremely unlikely to be attacked (by a human) on a hiking trail, however remote, but feeing physically vulnerable when isolated also makes sense.

              1. Joan Rivers*

                One issue w/violence against women is: Opportunity.

                Men may be randomly violent to each other but often seize an opportunity w/a woman. Like a burglar who also sexually assaults, but that wasn’t the main goal of breaking in.

        3. Jackalope*

          I didn’t understand PX’s comment as saying Loopy’s fears are unfounded. I understood it as a question: are her feelings founded? If so, what are the concerns and what can she do to make things better? PX mentioned looking into crime stats in the area, considering the danger of animal attacks, etc., and figuring out how to deal with the different possible threats, not dismissing concerns as unlikely.

      2. MissCoco*

        This is very similar to how I feel, and I think it’s a good question to ask where your fear is coming from.
        Is it logical, where does it come from, and what can you do about it?

        I often run and walk alone in the woods, and that sometimes means after dark (since by the time I finish work in the winter, it’s already dark). Many people tell me how dangerous that is, but *statistically* I am safer when I’m in the woods taking reasonable precautions than I am driving to the woods, walking to and from work, or (this is the saddest one) living with a male partner.

        I carry a compass/bear whistle combo, and text someone on arrival with my route and an alarm time. There are also some apps that will monitor your progress and can automatically send an alert if you stop moving more than X minutes if that’s something you want to look into.

        I found a lot of not being afraid when alone was doing it, and deciding I wasn’t going to buy into my fear. There can be power in fear, but there can also be a lot of restriction, especially when it comes to the absolute pleasure of being alone in nature.

        I’ve been spending time alone in the woods since I was in high school, and the scariest moments have been getting well and truly lost (found a road, kept walking till I found another road, got home and memorized all the roads surrounding that nature preserve), and being caught in thunderstorms.

      3. Yellow Warbler*

        As a loner who likes to walk in the woods in NE, my experience is that it’s very realistic to fear large unleashed dogs. There’s a big demographic in my area of people who want to seem cool/tough with a problem breed, but aren’t willing to restrain/train appropriately. I never walk without a blade (which I have trained with) because those dogs just do not stop once they start.

    2. peasblossom*

      I’m a woman who hikes alone on the regular! A couple of thoughts:

      For the less well known spots, have you hiked in them before or are they new to you? If you’ve never done them alone, take a friend with you once on a scouting mission to help you get familiar with the space. There’s a huge difference between hiking in an isolated area you’ve never been to and an isolated area you know. In terms of being unsafe, the more you hike alone, the more you start to hone your situational awareness and feel less general anxiety and can hone in on anxieties that tell you specifically “this is not a safe space.” While you’re getting used to that I’d: a.) try shorter trips, b.) let people know where you’re going and when, c.) go only to places where you can make a call if you get in trouble.

      For the popular spot, it might be worth exploring other times of day or less visited areas in the park. You might be amazed by how much variation there is in people on the trail if you go at sunset rather than early morning, or if you go on the second entrance trail rather than the first. Ask a park ranger; they should know what the busiest times/sections are.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I agree with you and I don’t go.
      I thought about bringing my dog, but some how that made it worse.

      But I know of women who do go. I wonder if there are times where we feel more vulnerable and this is why our interest in going just isn’t there because of increased feelings of vulnerability?

    4. mreasy*

      I hike alone and sometimes get nervous, but I always make sure my husband and a local-ish friend know where I’m going and when I expect to be done – and that I will text them at the end of the trail. It is probably not entirely safe, and I wonder if I should be doing it! What if you try a relatively short trail on your own and see how you feel? That way if you’re too anxious to enjoy it, you’re only in that mode for a short period of time.

    5. anon24*

      Could you go with someone first to scope it out and see how safe it feels? I’m a woman and I’ve hiked alone, but I like to check out a new place with a partner first. Solo hiking doesn’t bother me at all, I’ve spent many hours in the woods and feel far safer there than anywhere else. I just trust my gut feeling and never hike with headphones on (which sounds counterproductive to your goal of peace anyway) and if a trail gives me a bad feeling on a certain day I don’t hesitate to turn the other way. I’ve also learned to walk quietly and pay attention to the wildlife behavior and generally know about other hikers on the trail well before they know about me and have inadvertently scared several with how quietly I come up down the trail. While the chances of being assaulted in the woods are not zero, the chance of being assaulted by someone you know are far higher and I refuse to live my life in fear and missing out on opportunities to relax and do the things I enjoy.

    6. Anon for this*

      This sounds like an anxiety problem, not to armchair diagnose. Why don’t you plan on the state park for the first hour, and enjoy it, and then leave when people start filling in?

    7. Dwight Schrute*

      I’m a woman and I’ve solo hiked twice. One time I took my dogs and didn’t get any creepy vibes from anyone I saw on the trail. The other time I went to a different place that I’d been to before with friends but with no dogs and there was a man who definitely creeped me out the entire time I was hiking. It felt like a rush to get back to the car and other people on the trail. I don’t know how to describe it but he seemed to pop out of no where repeatedly on the trail and just had a creepy stare anytime I did see him. I haven’t solo hiked since

      1. Joan Rivers*

        Security expert Gavin de Becker’s book, “The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence,” talks about the gut feeling we can get.

        If I had a dog I’d always want to take her w/me.

    8. lapgiraffe*

      I hike alone, and like PX said I’m more concerned with safety/not getting hurt than I am about stranger danger or anything. I grew up in a rural Mountainous area and it’s only been in the last couple years that I’ve become aware that the woods scare people. To me they are a comfort, but I guess if you grew up with scary movies and the news then you could develop some scary ideas about them.

      I know places like REI and LLBean offer intro courses to outdoor safety, local outdoor orgs also offer similar programming, and they’ve all done great virtual programs this past year as well. Maybe taking one or two of those would help put you at ease?

      It sounds like you choose Sunday mornings in particular, but I often pick “less desirable” times on purpose to avoid such crowds, especially this last year. This includes going out when it’s really cold or when the weather is meh, I often get excited about a cold but sunny day midweek because I know trails will be relatively quiet.

      Branch out from this popular path, find other parks, I use apps like AllTrails which is good not great, but having the pro version to download maps which are GPS enabled is wonderful when I’m on new trails. I also search through the comments to see what people have been saying lately – is the trail overgrown, is it well marked, is it too popular and everyone is bringing their dogs snd not cleaning up after them, etc. I also try to comment as well to pay it forward even if all I have to report is good news.

      But I think the online hiking resources available are still not as robust as getting good trail books and physical maps. Perhaps this state park has a gift shop or visitors center, always chat up the rangers for their advice and maps.

      Lastly I do always let someone know where I’m going, trail info and time I expect to be back on the grid (and I give myself a wide buffer on this because if my phone dies or I can’t get service as quickly as I expected or it just takes me longer I don’t want someone freaking out, basically if they don’t hear from my by nightfall then call help).

      I usually hike big, popular trails, but with everything last year I opted to go more off the beaten path, less strenuous (for safety), and I was really rewarded with some lovely secret gems and a lot of peace and quiet.

    9. Forrest Gumption*

      I always carry pepper spray and/or a large walking stick when I (female) go on solo hikes. Here in the hills of Northern California there are bears, mountain lions, and the occasional weird/creepy person. Please protect yourself , but don’t live in fear. The chance of something bad happening is small, but knowing you have some form of self-defense can be reassuring.

    10. Quadra*

      I’m similarly craving solitude in nature recently and am also a woman walking/hiking alone. I almost always feel safe, though that’s an acquired skill. My best piece of advice is to go to established parks, but find the areas that are less utilized – side entrances, walking on mountain biking trails (be alert!), and going an hour or so before dusk when it’s less crowded. I do always tell my partner where I’m going just in case.

    11. Generic Name*

      I’m a woman and I wouldn’t hike alone in my area because mountain lions are known to use the area. Frankly, I think it’s unwise for anyone to hike solo in this area, but being a biologist I’m probably hyper aware that there are wild animals living among us that we never see. What is your concern about being alone in a different place from the one you were alone at and enjoyed? Is it just fear of the unknown? Maybe you could hike there a few times with friends to familiarize yourself with the area before going solo.

    12. PolarVortex*

      Have you considered other ways to commune with nature too while still sticking with the trail you enjoy? I’m talking finding a scenic place to stop and take a break, or put up a hammock, or something.

      Look into safety whistles and such if you don’t have that yet.

      But in reality, your regular path is just as likely to have someone do something as a less common path, since it’s about many things more than opportunity. Change up your routine, routine is the biggest thing that can cause you problems if someone is actually staking out an area looking for a victim.

    13. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I agree the odds of running into a serial killer or rapist at a state park are similar to the odds of being hit by lightning. And in an isolated setting, you would hear anyone coming from a long way off. The bigger concern is how strenuous the terrain is and how good the trails are – are you talking a walk on a well labeled and cleared trail or backcountry? You’re more likely to twist an ankle then to be attacked by animals or humans, but if I were in a standard park with labeled trails that was a couple miles from my car (so I could hobble if I had to) that would be safer for being alone. I’m a woman in the US.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I didn’t expect a stranger to break in any more than you expect to be hit by lightning, but it happened. And then he came back.

        If women are assaulted in the city, they for sure can be in isolated parks. Just be prepared.

    14. ten four*

      I hike alone regularly (woman in her forties). One of the basics of outdoors solo safety is to tell someone where you’re going and how long you expect to be out, and text them when you get down from the trail. Remember that dummy who had to cut off his own arm because he didn’t do that? Don’t be that guy!

      I have passing anxious thoughts on the trail about safety, but I try to let’em go by. In 20+ years of hiking all over the US (including a few years of backpacking as a professional) I have never encountered a threatening person. I did get too close to a moose once, and that was scary!

      I agree with the poster who suggested hunting up safety stats in the area you are hiking in. I would bet that it’s actually really safe, and that you will feel more confident once you have the facts in hand.

      Getting out solo in nature is very important to me too, and I hope that you can get to a place where you feel comfortable with it! Remember to take a water bottle and a snack :P

    15. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I’m a woman that got into hiking in the late 00s and started hiking alone around that time, still do it on occasion. I’ve always felt safe. (The closest I came to feeling unsafe on a hike was last spring, when everything shut down for Covid and everyone suddenly had nothing else to do but hike, and people showed up on my usual trails in large numbers, maskless – but that’s not the kind of unsafe you’re asking about!) Maybe I’ve been lucky, but I’ve had zero issues. I suspect the more advanced/difficult trails are probably safer than the beginner/easy ones, but that’s just a gut feeling, who knows? Everyone I’ve seen on the trails were mostly concerned with their own hike or run, and not interested in attacking people. (having skimmed through the comments) I *would* be afraid of wild predator animals or aggressive dogs, but I’m fortunate to live in an area that has neither. I mean people here probably do have aggressive dogs, they just don’t take them hiking. All dogs I’ve seen on trails have been happy social balls of fluff.

    16. All Monkeys are French*

      I am a woman who enjoys hiking alone. Like many others here have said, my biggest fear is injury or getting lost. I worry a little about wildlife because bears and mountain lions are a thing here. I only worry about humans if I might accidentally trespass on their land/weed grow/houseless encampment. If you stay on marked trails and follow the other good advice here, I hope you can safely and peacefully enjoy hiking alone.

    17. Chance of thunderstorm*

      I would add my voice to those more concerned about injury than stranger danger. Not to dismiss those feelings but people encounter risk reward scenarios every day – is it worth the risk to drive to a destination knowing how many car accidents occurred daily etc. Consider what steps you take to mitigate risks and if concerns such as being in an unfamiliar area are influencing your perception of risk. Also, nervous is not necessarily bad! It’s a normal reaction to the unfamiliar and knowing you can push through that to complete something is amazing.

      In terms of hiking alone there have been some great suggestion. I would add spare power for you cell phone, but don’t rely on being in cell service. Know how to look up your coordinates on your phone if you have a compass app. Have appropriate clothing and extra clothing if it rains or you fall in a stream. If you had to sit on the ground for three hours to wait for help – for you or some other hiker- are you going to be warm enough? (Large plastic garbage are very versatile!) Food and water – so important. I make terrible decisions when hangry.

      All in all I would encourage you to keep exploring your local parks until you find a place or time of day that gives you the quiet you crave. You might have to put up with some people who are likely just as annoyed that you are in ‘their’ space but I think the rewards will be worth the effort. Good luck!

    18. Loopy*

      Was all set to sit down and reply individually this week and my laptop totally is kicking the dust and keep freezing. So I’m on my phone but a few quick notes:

      I’ve actually done solo hiking before quite a few years back and it’s gone fine! I have a few thoughts on my recent fear: in general I’m more anxious these days but also have had a somewhat anxious MIL for a few years now. I usually tell her I do things AFTER the fact and she’s always a bit worried and expresses concern over what ifs. I didn’t think it bothered me but now I realize I may have to try and cut that down as I’m possibly internalizing her reactions more than I thought.

      Also some folks realized this is likely general anxiety and it probably is part of it. I am finally seeing someone and will mention it.

      I was feeling up to going to a place I’ve been once before but feel pretty good about (easy hiking, no rough terrain, well established trails) and was pretty excited about it. It’s 45 minutes away though and with all the rain we are getting today and overnight I decided to put it off since it has enough marshland that flooded trails are a concern. I was really getting excited about it but I don’t want to waste 1.5 hours round trip if fifteen minutes in I can’t keep hiking. I’d like to have the first more remote experience be positive so I don’t start making excuses.

      I am feeling better about it though and hope I get out there soon. Bummed about the rain but I do think tomorrow will be just clearing up around 6 AM and likely the rain will have caused some serious trail issues.

      Also, the place I go now isn’t big enough to find more remote areas there. I do know the less traveled trails but unfortunately you can hear road noise from a nearby highway and man, does that grate on me!!!

    19. lobsterp0t*

      I think of it this way.

      It seems unlikely something bad will happen.

      If something did happen – to a man – people wouldn’t suddenly philosophise about how he took an unreasonable risk by walking a trail alone in the daytime. And wouldn’t insinuate he had invited it.

      Which says to me, the risks are less than the social fear instilled which is about gender, not actual risk. There’s always a risk. Surely you’re more likely to slip and sprain something than be ace murdered? I say that not to be flippant but to say that in considering your biggest fears when it comes to solo hiking, it could be easy to discount actual risk.

      How you mitigate against those things really looks quite similar to suggestions here.

      Why not drive out and just take it a little bit at a time? See how it feels. Don’t go far the first time and build your confidence on the less familiar trails.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        Men get sexually assaulted, you just don’t read about it in your newspaper. Some crimes have been deemed “not family friendly” and haven’t been covered but that doesn’t mean they haven’t happened. Or they’re not described graphically.

        As a survivor of violence, I don’t know why women don’t drive to the park together and then go on separate walks. With a cell phone and/or alarm to contact each other if they sprain an ankle or get assaulted.

        1. Jackalope*

          Do you mean driving in the same car? Right now that might be more of a risk than going on a walk alone, if they aren’t in your household or pod.

        2. Geraldine*

          I’m sorry that happened to you, but it’s not reasonable to live life expecting danger around every corner. You were much more likely to be attacked by a partner than a stranger, yet you aren’t recommending no one ever has a partner, I’m sure. I think you are responding out of care, but it’s concerning to me how fear driven and alarmist your comments here are. Have you had therapy? Did you get help with dealing with what happening to you? It doesn’t sound like you’ve been able to process your experience and heal, sadly. I’m so sorry and I hope you will seek help. (And if you won’t, at least please stop trying to impose your fear on others, it isn’t actually helpful, despite how I’m sure it feels to you.)

          1. Fern*

            I don’t find Joan River’s comments “alarmist”or “imposing fears on others”. The OP brought up her specific fear of being assaulted by a stranger, and Joan has added their relevant, lived experience to the discussion. Joan Rivers opened up to us about an incredibly violent trauma. I find it inappropriate and dismissive that you would tell them to “process and heal”. Even decades of therapy and healing don’t just erase such trauma. Many commenters have piped in with “nothing bad has ever happened to me” and I think Joan’s comments about something bad that *did* happen are just as valid and needed in this discussion.

            1. Roci*

              I’m honestly not sure Joan Rivers’ experience is relevant. The OP is asking about safety hiking alone, Joan was attacked in her home. So is the home not safe? Should women never be alone lest they be assaulted? What does this have to do with taking safety precautions when out in the wild?

              I think the relevant lived experiences of other women who hike alone in nature, and the precautions they take, are much more helpful than sharing a cautionary tale about a woman in a totally different situation.

    20. Jackalope*

      I have done a lot of solo hiking over the years (I’m in my 40s) and haven’t had any problems with it, although I know my experience isn’t universal. I find it helpful to think through the different possible issues and figure out a plan beforehand, so if any of them happen, I’m prepared. That of course shows up in things like carrying essentials with me (extra food & water, a map, emergency blanket, etc.), but I also think of it in terms of safety from other humans. For example, in the area where I go on the most regular basis, I have a general idea of what I would do if I were attacked, depending on which part of the trail it is, or if someone is acting sketchy but not openly threatening. I won’t say I’m never nervous, but for the most part I can enjoy it.

      (I will add that the further you go from society, the less likely it is to be a concern. Joan Rivers made the valid point below that sometimes assaults against women by men are crimes of opportunity, and it’s not impossible that some men would be out for a hike, see a woman, and attack her without having planned it. On the other hand, for someone who intends to commit assault, it’s less likely that they’d go so far out of their way instead of going for a victim in a more accessible area.)

    21. oranges & lemons*

      Personally, I’m not too worried about other people in remote wilderness areas. Chances of running into another person are pretty slim as it is, and they are likely to just be other hikers going about their day. There are tons of wilderness areas in the region I live and I’ve never heard of anyone being attacked by another person, and for what it’s worth, everyone I’ve met on remote backpacking trails has been pretty friendly and helpful. I’d be more concerned about running into a bear or twisting my ankle, but those aren’t prohibitive either if you plan for them.

  11. Elf*

    Did anyone read My Dark Vanessa from Alison’s list of book recommendations? I will put my thoughts in a reply for spoiler reasons.

    1. Elf*

      I did think it was well-written, but I was disappointed about the lack of nuance in the situation.

      I had been really anticipating it because from the description (had a relationship with the teacher at 15, now she’s an adult and someone else has accused him, has to reevaluate) I had thought it would be more a situation where she had a relationship with him that she enjoyed and was in some ways good for her, and that in retrospect given the new info she has to reevaluate past details and her own feelings. I was especially looking forward to this because I (and every woman I’ve actually talked to about it) have various things from my own past that I felt the need to reevaluate (or avoid reevaluating) in the wake of Me Too.

      The reality of the book was just unsubtle. There wasn’t anything good about the relationship; there’s relatively unambiguous rape, she doesn’t really find him physically attractive at the time, it’s portrayed as pretty unequivocally icky and damaging. She is very damaged by it. I think it also pathologises him to a disturbing degree; being only attracted to young teens to the point where he can’t perform with a grown adult is – a narrative choice.

      I can understand that the author might have wanted to avoid glorifying student-teacher relationships (it’s certainly been done), but I think that the book was lacking a lot of subtlety and interest it could have had if the situation had been more ambiguous.

      1. Observer*

        but I think that the book was lacking a lot of subtlety and interest it could have had if the situation had been more ambiguous.

        I’m not sure why this is a problem. I think that exploring more ambiguous situations is valuable and even necessary. But I think that it is also CRUCIAL for us as a society to truly grapple with the less “interesting” situations. Because while this happens to be a work of fiction, it explores something that is a REALITY for too many young people. The long term effects of these kinds of situations may not be “interesting” to readers. But they are real, and painful.

        It’s ok to be looking for a light and interesting read. But that doesn’t speak to the quality of the book – it’s not intended to be a light read. It’s intended to grapple with a serious problem. I don’t know how well it does that, as I have not read it. But the issues you raise do not address that question at all.

    2. Workerbee*

      I had it on my Libby list, but then removed the hold after a friend’s review revealed some triggering things.

    3. Ciscononymous*

      I read it and while I never experienced that exactly, I did find Vanessa’s characterization of herself as a willing participant to avoid calling herself a victim, and by extension him a rapist, all too familiar. I stayed up all night finishing it.

    4. Taxachusetts*

      I loved it. a lot of the characters were unlikeable and there were no real moments of catharsis. But to me that’s real, these felt like real people. It was painful to read, seeing how much she devalued herself. And the way that the abuser gaslit her so much into always feeling badly for him. It’s such a poignant encapsulation of how many women when we get into our teens want to be confident and like sex but still feel such intense shame in our bodies and sexuality. I still think about it!

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I’m eating breakfast before going for an easy hike. This week’s been the usual: dance, yoga, dumbbells exercises. What I’ve had to work on is the self-imposed pressure to perform. Even though I’ll never be the kind of person who’ll do an ironman (I have stuff to do! also, too much running!), I always feel like I’m not doing enough. One voice says, “According to science, any kind of exercise that gets you moving is good,” while the other one goes, “If we’re not doing any HIIT two hours a day, we’re losing our time!!!”
      I don’t want to do HIIT; I’d hurt myself. But the voice is there.
      What do your voices say?

      1. nep*

        I know how consistent I need to be to have that great sense of strength and well being all the time. When I’m not consistent, the difference is huge.
        I lead Zoom workouts and I’m constantly reminding participants that it’s truly their workout alone–intensity level varies from person to person, of course, and in one person even from day to day, depending on history, hydration/eating, rest…
        What gives you the sense that you’re not doing ‘enough’?

        1. Teapot Translator*

          I think I have this internalized false idea that if I’m not drenched in sweat and out of breath after every single exercise, it was a waste of time?
          I’ve been exercising from home and I’ve had injuries in the past, so I’m careful (what if I fall down and hurt myself?!). So I often choose safe, easier choices. Which my rational mind tells me is the right thing to do because I will get a better, bit by bit, over time. I just need to be patient. But part of me is judging myself for not being miraculously better at this exercise thing.

          1. nep*

            If you are moving your body and doing what’s reasonably challenging but prudent for you, you’re nailing this exercise thing.

    2. CJM*

      I tend to be a couch potato but am trying to exercise more. Lately my daughter and I are using a buddy system: We text every few days to set up a time to exercise “together” in our separate homes. We try to check in afterwards (positive reinforcement), but that may not happen if she’s busy getting ready for work. She does Tae Bo with Billy Blanks, and I play energetic music and dance. Having an exercise buddy is about all that’s ever worked for me, although I did go for an impromptu walk the other day when the sun was out and I had just returned from an errand (and so was already dressed). Baby steps!

      1. Teapot Translator*

        An exercise buddy is super important! Now I can exercise on my own, but I used to go to the gym with a friend or join up classes. Now, my friends and I talk about what we’ve been doing during the week and I get a similar feeling of community. Which is why I post this thread every week! To feel like we’re all moving together.
        I like walking. And sometimes, depending on the time of year, of where I’m walking, I’ll hear the birds singing while the sun in shining. Great feeling.

    3. Workerbee*

      We had major snow shoveling to do, so I skipped the elliptical that day! Today is housecleaning morning so I may do the same. Though I’m always a little dismayed that despite what feels like a lot of activity and effort, I don’t track as many steps as I think I’m taking when I’m chasing around the vacuum cleaner and contorting to get in the corners and under things.

      1. fposte*

        I am back on my elliptical and I missed it so much! new and I were talking the other week about avoiding rear-view mirror looks at what you used to be able to do, and it’s very true (I find it hard to imagine how I did the speeds I did a few years ago, and they weren’t even that fast). But it feels so good.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I didn’t do well. My 54yo knees aren’t liking the exercise bike & hill walking, I haven’t managed to work up a sweat with gentler stretches & calisthenics, and, well, I’m really missing the pool. (Boo hiss pandemic that means indefinite closure of public sessions at the school pool.)

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I keep coming back to this thread hoping someone will mention an activity that I haven’t considered that will be the magic bullet.

          1. Teapot Translator*

            :(
            I don’t have a problem with my knees, although I am avoiding jumps because of past foot problems. I did find a Healthline article called 6-Low Impact Cardio Exercises in 20 Minutes or Less; I’m going to try their exercises to see if it helps with my cardio.

    5. Office Grunt*

      USARugby is using a #fitrefraffle contest to get refs geared up for when the pandemic is over.

      I’d been doing 15-20 minutes of jogging on a treadmill 2-3 times a week, but due to potential peer pressure I’m up to 30-40.

    6. Generic Name*

      I’m really proud of myself. I did yoga with Adrienne 4 out of 5 work days, and I’ve gotten back into walking around the lake on weekends. COVID has been really hard on me mentally and physically (I don’t think I ever got it, but just the never leaving my house part), so I’m glad to be moving again.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Glad you’re moving again. Some people say to get out and exercise when we’re not doing well mentally, but in my case, I’ve found the opposite. Once I felt I had more or less a handle on my GAD issues, then I was able to focus on my physical well-being. Same thing when the pandemic hit, I had to be in a relatively good place to have the energy to exercise again.

    7. The teapots are on fire*

      Kept up Fitness Blender two straight weeks. I dropped down to a slightly easier workout plan that I”m more willing to do and I’m calling it a win.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I’ve been exploring Fitness Blender. I used their stretching exercises twice now. I like them.

    8. CatCat*

      I’ve been really keeping up regularly with barre3. Usually 30 min videos, but sometimes just 10 min videos when it’s just not going to happen otherwise. I love that there are 10 min videos. I also like that the modifications are available and clearly shown with plenty of mods for troublesome knees or shoulders.

    9. RagingADHD*

      I have found a run/walk training program that is less aggressive than Couch to 5K, and so far it looks like I’ll be able to follow it without getting injured.

      I love running for the mental benefits but have temperamental joints. I have started C25K more timrs than I can count, but it’s been a number of years since I’ve been able to complete it and sustain a jogging routine, because something always goes sproing when it shouldn’t.

      I’m hoping if I take it slow enough, everything will get acclimated in sync.

    10. Lady Meyneth*

      For those in COVID hotspots, or still afraid to go out for exercise, the Down Dog apps are pretty awesome. I’ve tried the one for high intensity training and the one for yoga. Both are easy to follow, have clear instructions and great music, and let you set the time and pace of your exercise. It’s also temporarily free during the pandemic (but not too expensive anyway).

    11. Hi there*

      This was an unusual week for me since I did snow shoveling and went snowshoeing instead of running. I was thrilled. I also kept up with the additional strength program from my online running coach, which is about 10-15 minutes of strength every weekday. Next week will be more hectic but hopefully I am on a roll and will keep it up.

    12. Rebecca Stewart*

      I have exercise intolerance due to my chronic pain disorder, which means I can’t do any sort of formal thing on a regular basis, and it’s not possible for me to start something and get sore and tired but be okay in a little while. If I get sore and tired I’ll be barely able to get out of bed for a couple days. So the exercise I do has to be just slipped in and barely there, and it has to be nearly every day. And I can’t go to the gym right now because although it’s open, I don’t feel safe going what with COVID going on. This is really frustrating because I feel much better when I go every morning and shove some light weights around. I was actually to the point where I started to increase the weight a tiny bit when COVID came in, so I know that works.

    13. MedievalProf*

      I use the app Aaptiv, have for a few years now. I think it’s $11/mo or $60/year? Highly rec this app if you can afford it — classes from 5 min to an hour +, something for everyone (including yoga, pilates, and barre).

      During Covid I have enlisted a long-distance friend to be my workout buddy. We report what we’ve done and suggest classes to each other. Sometimes we do one of the “challenges” together.

      The trainers are hit-or-miss, but Ackeem is always great (he has some more low-key beginner options too, for both strength and running). Kenta is amazing for abs especially. Wes and Rochelle have some good outdoor running routines. Mary O will kick your butt into the next county!

      I have two sets of dumbbells (5 and 12), a yoga mat, and running shoes and I make it work! I think I’ve stayed about as fit as I was during quarantine, and in normal times I’m a group exercise junkie.

    14. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I lapsed a little this week. Usually I do at least a 20 min strength workout 5 mornings, but this week was rough. Usually I walk the dog to daycare on Mondays, but last week the weather was terrible so we drove for drop off and pick up, then I just wasn’t feeling it. Then the dog wanted extra long walks this week. So I exercised but not the way I wanted to. I pushed through a trainer-led workout today and it was challenging but good.

    15. JobHunter*

      I started doing Seven Daily Moves. I do reps of 15 or about 4 minutes of each activity to get a half hour per day. It doesn’t require much space, so it’s perfect for getting some activity while cooped up due to snow.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I have no idea what to cook this week. I intend to make “fried” chicken. I have buttermilk I need to use. I say “fried” because I read on the Internet that I can just fry the chicken a little bit in a pan, then put it in the oven to cook.

      1. pancakes*

        Maybe try the recipe for Judy Hesser’s oven-fried chicken. It’s terrific and I’ve been making it for years. It doesn’t call for buttermilk, but I bet you could use it in place of the brine with good results.

      2. CoffeeforLife*

        I can speak for John Legends fried chicken- quite tasty. I read it performs beautifully in the air fryer. I like to pan fry thighs in ghee (nomnompaleo) recipe and they are so good.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        It’s not chicken but it’s a favorite… do you like raisin bran muffins? There was a 1970s fad for making them with buttermilk and a box of box of cereal. There are variations all over the web. One nice thing for a busy human is that the recipe is designed to let you make a huge batch to refrigerate — and cook a few muffins at a time over a few weeks. (They never last that long in my house.)

    2. Bobina*

      I am contemplating making cookies this weekend. I usually do cakes/fruit bread type things, so cookies are venturing into the unknown really.

      There is a recipe for chicken adobo (NYT) that I’ve been wanting to make for a while now, but I feel like there are other things I need to finish first. A beef stew to use up this can of stout thats been hanging around for months. I also have a lot of dried beans/lentils I kind of want to go through because they’ve been in the cupboard for a while. But not sure I’m in the mood for that kind of food. I feel like I’m already over my stew/curry phase, but its not warm enough for salad-y things!

      I made a lentil recipe this week that was too rich/acidic for me (something about the red wine and tinned tomato’s didnt work for me) and now I’ve got those leftovers I need to do something with (adding cream helped, but now need to decide whether to freeze them or just finish it during the week).

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        I made Levine Bakery’s chocolate chip cookies and they were great! Huge if you follow the recipe so for the second batch I made them regular cookie size.

      2. Anonymath*

        DoubleTree hotel revealed their chocolate chip cookie recipe at the beginning of the pandemic, and that has become our go-to cookie recipe here. I make mine a little smaller than suggested, so one batch makes about 33 cookies.

    3. CJM*

      I’m gearing up to make Lithuanian bacon buns! They were a family favorite when my in-laws were alive; they’d bring home a few dozen when they visited friends in Toronto. We called them “bulkutes,” and they were fantastic. (I liked to briefly reheat them in the oven.) I’m not much of a cook, but it’s past time to try making them myself. The grocery store was out of frozen bread dough the other day; that’s been a hot item during the pandemic. Next week I’ll put yeast and flour on the grocery list and make the bread part from scratch. The inside is simply bacon and onion, so that should be easy, and I have a few recipes on hand.

      1. Might Be Spam*

        We always had these for holidays. As an adult, it’s now my job to bring them and everyone always reminds me so I don’t forget. Or they’re afraid I might change my mind.
        I’m going to make some this week. Thanks for the idea.

        1. Might Be Spam*

          I just searched for “bulkutes” and everything came back in Lithuanian. I used Bing and Google and both of them switched my language to Lithuanian. Hilarious.

        2. CJM*

          Another fan! I love it. Do you have a favorite recipe you could share? I found one with a photo that looks exactly like what I remember, and that’s the recipe I plan to start with. It’s by A Coalcracker in the Kitchen. I found it by Googling “Lithuanian Bacon Buns.”

          1. Might Be Spam*

            It’s the same as Coalcracker’s recipe except I don’t use sugar. When it’s not a holiday, sometimes I get lazy and use frozen bread dough. From scratch, seems better to me.

    4. Anonymath*

      My son’s school had a dried pasta fundraiser instead of wrapping paper or chocolate, and now we have a box of strangely shaped (flamingoes, pirates, etc.) pasta in the pantry. So Sunday dinner will be strangely-shaped Mac n’ Cheese.

      Our pink grapefruit plant made two fruit this year, and they’re destined for a Grapefruit Merengue Pie (got the recipe for an easy lemon one off Allrecipes). And the garden is full of mustard greens and turnips, so I’m making storage batches of greens with bacon and onion for the freezer.

    5. Ali G*

      Last weekend I pulled some frozen caramelized onions from the freezer and used it on a naan pizza with mushrooms and spices, and I decided I need caramelized onions on hand at all times. So today I am caramelizing 5 lbs of onions in the slow cooker.
      For Superbowl Sunday we are having: oven nachos with all the fixings and pickled red onions, chicken wings, and a caramelized onion and bacon dip for chips.

        1. Ali G*

          I googled! It’s easy – just slice and dump (I used the food processor), add some melted butter and salt. Cook on low for like 10 hours. I’ll let you know how it goes!

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Lunar new Year approaches! This week will be all about the food my former housemates taught me to cook. Annoyingly, I can’t find the sausage grinder though, so I can’t use the pork loin I had intended to turn into dumplings. Hi ho hi ho to the grocery store I go.

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        Do you have a food processor or even a small electric food chopper? I use those instead of a meat grinder. Works perfectly for the big Costco loin I turn into ground pork

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Alas our food processor was on its last legs so it is still in storage at my fatherinlaw’s place. I fear that may be where my Kitchenaid sausage grinder is too….because it turns out the sausage grinder my husband was telling me he knew we had is the hand grinder his mom gave him. And our grocery store had no ground pork either, my choices are shovel my way to the storage unit, drive to the Asian market, or make dumplings from beef, turkey, or lamb. Choices choices :)

    7. A Simple Narwhal*

      I’m trying gluten-free for a week to see how my body reacts to it, I’d love to hear any recipes anyone has or meals they’ve liked!

    8. DarthVelma*

      Not sure it’s technically “cooking” but I made my first ever homemade liqueur this past week. Coffee liqueur to go in espresso martinis for my partner. He said it was good. :-) A couple weeks ago we made our own Irish cream. So a big chunk of his drinks are homemade now.

      This coming week is going to be green apple infused vodka. I’m craving apple martinis for the first time in years, but I really don’t want to use any of the super-sweet mixers I used in the past.

    9. Sister Michael, Judo Blackbelt*

      Making cheesesteaks and fries today, which I’m so looking forward to! Tomorrow we are having a selection of appetizers while watching the Puppy Bowl.

      I also made cinnamon chip scones with coffee icing this week and am looking for something different to bake. I’ve been on a scone kick so I’ve made a bunch of different flavors.

    10. The teapots are on fire*

      I made my first batch of Meyer Lemon marmalade last week and it turned out really great! I used a recipe that has you blanch the lemons to soften the skins and it was really easy to shave the pulp off the skins. There’s no bitterness (so if you like your marmalade bitter don’t do this). It’s basically lemon jam. I have PLENTY more lemons so I’m planning another batch this weekend.

    11. wingmaster*

      Bún bò Huế (Vietnamese beef soup) in the Instant Pot!
      Other than that, probably take out for this weekend since it’s Superbowl weekend.

    12. Nela*

      I tried something new this week that I loved, it’s very quick and easy to do.
      – Chopped some veggies and put them in a steaming basket (cooking or sautéing works too) – I had carrots and zucchini, I wish I had mushrooms too that would have tasted even better
      – Made a thick “pancake” mix with 2 eggs, a can of tuna, flour and seasoning, spread the mix across a pan and browned on both sides
      – Filled the pancake with steamed vegetables and rolled it, though that part didn’t work out 100% because my pancake was a bit too small
      – Eat with both hands :) it was tasty, healthy, and pretty low carb

      I found the tuna pancake recipe on some Korean guy’s YouTube, he has some amazing recipes but I’ll need to order some Korean sauces and spices first. This one worked with basic spices.

      1. Loubelou*

        Ooh this sounds yummy! I have just started keto and am struggling to find interesting recipes that aren’t a big hassle or require ingredients that I have to order specially. I will try this.

    13. CatCat*

      Going to harvest my Aerogarden lettuce and the broccoli sprouts that I sprouted in a jar and make them into a salad this weekend. So excited!

    14. adk*

      Making chili tomorrow. Contemplating trying my hand at cornbread too.

      Apparently the chicken wings at the store didn’t look good, so husband didn’t pick up any. Though now he’s thinking about making Korean Fire Chicken instead. It’s only the two of us for the Superbowl, so we don’t really need all that food, but leftovers are always delicious.

      Last night I made Spicy Mexican Pork Chops from a recipe from food dot com. Pretty good, needed to be spicier.

    15. Sparkly Librarian*

      Chicken soup is on the stove right now. The last few batches have been with cabbage and rice or with greens and potato, so my wife asked for a standard chicken noodle. I couldn’t get wide egg noodles in the delivery, so I’m going to try it with a fresh fettucine and hope it doesn’t go all to mush.

      I made an unsatisfactory bean dip the other day, not realizing it was Super Bowl season. I just had some yogurt to use up. It separated; next time I’ll use sour cream. Or just eat cheesy refried beans.

      Atakilt wot (Ethiopian veggie dish with carrots, cabbage, sometimes cauliflower, and usually potato) in the Instant Pot was well seasoned, but overcooked. Next time only a minute or two cook time, not five! And add potato (the recipe my wife found omitted it, and I was kinda put out).

    16. fposte*

      Omelet fans, tell me your favorites! I’m a recent convert and I’m mostly just sautéing lying-around veggies (usually some combination of peppers, tomatoes, and onions), adding chopped spinach to the batter, then adding some grated whatever-I-have cheese before I fold up. Then I add salsa verde on top. What others do people recommend?

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re omelets: if I’m going to throw in lots of ingredients I generally go for a frittata rather than an omelet, as that seems to hold up better against tons-o-veggies. For omelets, I usually stick with plain or cheese – but the “cheese” variations are endless, depending a lot on whatever odd bits of cheese I have on hand and want to use up. A nice little goat cheese with some herbs, or a heartier Manchego grated to help it get melty, or the last of a bag of multi-cheese-shreds that I got for a different recipe and forgot about until it was almost too late… [Funny how often *that* happens!] Might throw in random herbs, and when I have the Aerogarden pumping I’ll often put several leaves of lettuce on the plate and plop the omelet on top, so it softens but doesn’t quite cook the greens.

      2. zaracat*

        I’m cooking just for one and freeze all my leftover cooked vegetables, adding successive batches to the same container. Then when I need an easy meal I just defrost a tub, lay the vege on the base of a small cast iron frypan and pour over a couple of beaten eggs, top with grated cheese and cook in a hot oven for 15-20 minutes.

    17. Filosofickle*

      I am really struggling with food this week! I usually love to cook for us (me + partner) but he has Covid and has lost his sense of taste/smell. So there’s no fun in cooking for someone who can’t really taste! And if if I approached it like what would I cook if it were just for me, then honestly I’d rather make a sandwich or order a pizza. I wouldn’t bother cooking. But he wants super healthy fresh foods so he can get better, so that’s a monkey wrench. Since we’re quarantined I ordered grocery delivery today so we have loads of good things (and a few junk snacks for me), and he can make himself salads or snack on raw veg or whatever floats his boat. My strategy is going to be big pots of nutritious soups, stews, and grain/legume salads. This week I cooked a quinoa vegetable white bean soup and a vegetarian lentil shepherd’s pie. (Which, technically makes it a cottage pie I realize. But that’s the recipe name.) A couple weeks ago I made a beet & farro & greens salad that was a huge hit so I’ll make that again.

    18. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I frankensteined two recipes together last night to make chicken pot pie with cheddar biscuit topping. I was originally going to make some chicken soup but eh, its going to be cold and crappy here the next week and something heartier was necessary. It turned out fantastic with homemade roux that I lightened up with some dijon and lemon juice so it wasn’t so stodgy.

      This week on deck I have got Budget Bytes Southwestern Cabbage Skillet and a Greens Filo Pastry Pie Ive made before from the Washington Post.

    19. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I found a Lidl next to my gym which to me is very similar to Aldi and they had lots of veggies and readymade salads. I bought a few and plan to use those. Not cooking anything fancy this week but making use of those salads, some veggies and adding protein. really trying to cut out eating candy on a daily basis but seems that hwen I cut candy out, I crave potato chips even more. 

    20. Rebecca Stewart*

      I do five week menus.
      We always have the same breakfasts; I have toast and fruit, because I can’t eat heavy in the mornings, and Boyfriend and Girlfriend have a slice of quichecake. This is a hybrid between a savory cheesecake and a crustless quiche. This week’s is chicken bacon ranch; next week’s is steak with mushrooms and onions and cheddar cheese.

      Lunch is the same week to week. Mondays are always chicken quesadillas, etc.
      Dinner is where we have our big variety. I cook from scratch. This upcoming week is as follows:
      Monday is Steak Diane with mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts tossed in bacon drippings with black pepper and sea salt.
      Tuesday is General Tso’s chicken, with steamed broccoli and rice.
      Wednesday is personal pizzas, so we all get what we want.
      Thursday is baked cheese tortellini with pan-roasted zucchini chunks and garlic bread.
      Friday is tacos, hard or soft to suit preference, with Spanish rice and refried beans and flan.
      Saturday is tandoori grilled shrimp, with jasmine rice, saag aloo, and naan. I will probably make rice pudding if I get around to doing it.
      Sunday is beef stroganoff with green beans and homemade rolls.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        can I come over?
        That all sounds amazing.

        I’m missing the before times when I had free reign of a kitchen and endless time to cook.

  12. Brittle Bird Bones*

    Is it possible to ask your doctor if a full appointment is actually necessary or if we can just follow up over the phone? I have a new orthopedic doctor to go over bone density issues I’m having. I had my first appointment, where we discussed my history of bone issues. She said that she thought I was just calcium and vitamin D deficient, not full Osteopenia, and had me get blood work to confirm. She also gave me a list of things to do (diet, strengthening exercises, supplements) before we turn to drugs.

    After my blood work, she has me make another appointment. At the appointment, she pulls up my blood work results, says ‘Yep, it’s what I thought; just keep doing what we talked about last time and we’ll follow up in six months’, and gives me a referral for blood work in a few months. And that was it. I spent $60 on a co-pay (a big deal when I’m furloughed) and a lot of time for something I feel could have easily been a phone call. Even the referral, I could have gotten through my email in 6 months. I’ve never felt like I had a doctors appointment that was a waste of time and money before but this one truly did. I’m wary of my follow up in 6 months just being ‘yep, looks like this is helping, keep doing what you’re doing’.

    So is there a polite way to ask a doctor if a phone call will suffice rather than a full appointment?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I get so sick of how many times we get dragged back to the office for something close to nothing.
      What I would say here, is “I have a $60 copay every time I see you. Since I am on furlough right now is there a more cost effective way of reviewing my results such as a phone call?”

    2. Teapot Translator*

      I would imagine that because of the pandemic, doctors are taking appointments over the phone? We’re not in the same country, but mine does.
      Maybe when the clinic calls you to fix an appointment, you can ask if it can be a phone call?

      1. CC*

        Just be aware that telehealth appointments generally still have copays.

        You may be better off contacting your Primary care provider & see if they will take over the management now that the ortho gave you a plan, since the primary care copay is typically less than a specialist copay.

    3. Doctor is In*

      Family Practice physician here. Definitely push back on paying for an appointment just to go over test results that could be conveyed in a phone call or email (unless something very important/life changing like cancer). Just ask.
      And good idea to see if your family doctor can manage going forward. Very reasonable.

    4. fposte*

      I think it’s fine to ask even if the answer is no. It doesn’t sound like there’s a prescription in the mix or an unstable situation that might require closer monitoring.

      What I’d do is ask if you can wait to see the lab results and then go another six months without a visit if they’re good. Six-month followup is a pretty standard plan so she may not even be thinking about other possibilities.

    5. TL -*

      For my thyroid meds, I came in for the first bloodwork results and everything else has been over the phone/via the online messaging system.

      So ask? She may just do the first one as an appointment in case you had any additional questions or concerns.

    6. Chaordic One*

      My parents’ doctor is doing video consults for these kinds of things. It meant having to get my tech-challenged parents set up to use Zoom on their PC (which was was a completely different hassle). He only has them come in if he do a more thorough physical exam or wants to run tests.

      1. JustEm*

        FWIW video visits currently get billed the same as in-person, so that wouldn’t help OPs problem. (I’m a doctor who does both televisits and face to face).

        For OP, definitely ask! I almost always suggest my usual follow up frequency, but am happy to push it back if the patient has concerns about copay etc and will do brief things via Mychart.

    7. saf*

      I recently changed endocrinologists as mine would only give results in person. His reason? “Insurance won’t pay me for phone calls, and I need to be paid.”

      I know he needs to make money. I also know that a 5 minute “All as expected, come back in 3 months” is nothing BUT a moneymaker.

  13. Bobina*

    Gardening thread: how are all the plants doing?

    I had said I’d follow up from a few weeks ago now that the germination time for the heuchera seeds is up (60 days) and unfortunately no success. About a month ago there were definitely some tiny (and I do mean tiny, like maybe 2mm) shoots that had appeared, but they all seem to have died. One is hanging on for dear life but thats about it.
    But I’m still happy with that result because conditions in my flat arent really ideal – pretty sure it was slightly too cold (18-27C is ideal according to the package and I was probably just at the lower end) and there was definitely not enough light. So I’m going to try and sow the other half of the packet in a few months (April maybe) when its warmer and there will be more light.

    Other than that, bulbs have been coming up which is exciting to see (Dutch Iris and Ranunculus) and I really need to do something (ie repot) the very floppy peperomia I have, but its meant to be very cold this weekend and I really dont feel like spending the 20 minutes on the balcony that it would require, so it might have to suffer for another week.

    1. Elf*

      I’m starting planning for the raised beds I want to put in. I’m planning asparagus and rhubarb, anyone have experience with those (or advice on where to buy)?

      1. Venus*

        They are both perennials. I wouldn’t bother putting the rhubarb in raised beds, but it also depends on your other options.

        Asparagus seems to be hit and miss. It thrives in my yard but others haven’t had any luck. I started mine from seed, which is less than ideal when starting out because you can only start to pick it in year 4.

      2. Anonymath*

        I didn’t have any luck with rhubarb, but that’s probably due to my location. My asparagus crowns went in the ground on the side yard since I didn’t want them to take up a whole raised bed. They also aren’t really supposed to grow in our area, but no one told these crowns that! They’ve been producing for almost 7 years now and I can’t get rid of them. If you do plant asparagus, I’d recommend putting in more than you think you need, because a harvest of 3 stalks every few days isn’t going to go very far.

      3. RagingADHD*

        Asparagus likes a lot of manure, so dig it deep and feed it well. Ours has been going in the same bed for about nine years.

        When the spears are thinner than a pencil, don’t cut them. Let the fronds open out. You want the fronds to stay all season until they brown out or get frost-killed, because that strengthens the root. They can get quite tall – over 6 feet in my area – so take that into account when you’re planning where to put them. They are pretty and fernlike.

        When they are brown and dead, cut and compost them, but — this is important — don’t add them back to the asparagus bed. Use them somewhere else, and mulch the asparagus with leaves, straw, pine needles, etc – something fresh.

        Asparagus beetles lay eggs in the debris, and if you let them stay you’ll get an infestation. They don’t eat other plants, so it’s safe to use elsewhere.

    2. allathian*

      My Christmas amaryllis in a pot is still blooming! The first stem faded before the New Year, but there was a second one.

    3. WellRed*

      Does anyone know anything about orchids? I received one in September and it bloomed until December. Do they bloom again or is it a one shot deal? Also my house is chilly, which may affect it?

      1. Workerbee*

        Mine just bloomed again, and it seems to be on at least a twice a year routine.

        I have it in a pot with orchid potting mix, and it sits on a low stand in front of the east window, which goes almost all the way to the floor. There is a baseboard register beneath the window. I have a couple plants in front of the orchid and there is a lacy window covering. Occasionally I remember to spray its leaves with an orchid spray for flowering times. Otherwise I splash water in it once or twice a week and mist it with regular water when I mist everybody else. And early on, I removed the plastic stick in the pot that the orchid was tied to. I wanted it to be free to stretch out and do what it wanted. :)

      2. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        They will have a rest and then bloom again. I’ve found that they bloom reasonably frequently when they’re young, but a lot less once they’re a few years old.

        Tip I recently learned: orchids HATE being moved. I had one settled into a spot and moved it somewhere similar (in terms of light) where I could enjoy the emerging blooms. It just noped on out of that idea and almost died on me. Moved it back, fast forward a few a months and it’s back to happy. Freakin’ divas they are!

      3. Venus*

        My orchid blooms yearly, in the winter. It sits next to a window, so cold actually prompts it to bloom.

        I put it in the sink once a week and pour ‘old’ water over the leaves and roots (water from the dehumidifier or that has sat for a week). I don’t feed it. I have also heard advice to water them with 3 ice cubes each week.

    4. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Shame about your heuchera, hopefully you have better luck in April! Ranunculus are gorgeous too. I saw some dark almost black ones at the florist a while back that were just incredible, but I haven’t seen that colour available for sale as bulbs yet.

      I’m on a repotting mission this weekend to see if I can placate the older plants who are still sulking with me over the liquid feed from a couple of weeks ago. Based on what you said last week about peperomia preferring poor soil, I’m also planning to mix up a coarser, sandier medium to repot the sadder looking ones into. Will see how they like it!

      1. Bobina*

        No sure if they ship to the US or how expensive or feasible it is for you, but Farmer Gracy is where I got mine from and they seem to have an amazing variety available and I’ve definitely seen some really dark ones available before.

        Thanks for the kind words, I’m enjoying the adventures of gardening so happily I’m not too invested in outcomes (yet!)

        Let us know how the repotting goes – would love to know if that solves it the issues!

        1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

          I’m in Australia, but I’m sure I’ll be able to get them in autumn/winter. I just haven’t looked that hard yet as I’m still in a rental atm and focused on my indoor jungle. Plus, the local wildlife tend to destroy whatever I plant in the garden so I don’t put anything out there that I know I’ll get really attached to. I have many dreams for Future Garden, and bulbs, a veggie patch and a pest-proof fence are most definitely in :)

          I repotted 3 of my peps and 2 philodendrons today. One of the philodendrons was horrendous: gross-looking spent mix, fungus, the roots all balled up together despite being in a big pot. I’m pretty confident it’ll come around though, the erubescens are pretty tough. The other seemed fine under the surface, just not so much above, so it has fresh mix and I’ll wait and see if that helps.

          The 2 peps that were looking sickest hadn’t escaped their seedling plugs yet and were bound up in some perlite/fabric/peat moss garbage that seemed to be trapping all the water around the roots. I tried my best but the roots were very shallow and fragile so I’m not sure if they’ll survive the repot. I’ll let you know how they go though!

          Gardening is indeed a wonderful adventure that is good for the soul… and the next best thing to being out gardening is talking about gardening :) None of my peeps are really into it, so I love coming here to share updates on our little piles of dirt from all over the world :)

          1. Bobina*

            Ah, you had mentioned you were in Oz before! Yeah, I’m gonna guess ordering bulbs online is out of the question then – I know your country is not happy letting foreign plants come in!

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I repotted the peace lily (her pot was almost a solid root ball) and the pothos (ditto, no signs of root rot!) and they’re both doing great! The lily is still a little floppy but I assume she’ll get over that.

      I ordered some containers from Costco for my outside stuff this spring – a five-pack of 13” “rain barrel” looking planters. The oxalis bulbs are en route, and they’ll go into two of those. Not sure what I want to do with the others yet!

      I have a chunk of my backyard that’s mostly shaded and kinda clay-y in the soil. So far nothing seems to grow there except thistles and other unpleasant weeds. :-P I’d really like to try and get mint and clover and alpine strawberries to take over back there instead of the thistles, but I have no idea how feasible this is.

      1. Never Nicky*

        Mint and clover will race away – mint generally has to be restricted to a pot unless you want a bed full! Lemon balm is a similar spreader and is doing well on my clay soil in shade.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            My mint wandered over to the neighbors’ yard. I was mortified. The neighbor said that it’s no big deal, but then they sold the house two years ago and I haven’t had the guts to tell the new owners yet. “Hey guys the mint that you may see taking over your backyard actually came from me, oops, sorry”.

            Mine was initially in a pot, but I had a rough month and didn’t check on it for a month, and it escaped from the pot and planted itself in the flowerbed the pot stood on. That was in 2011 and I’ve gotten it under control now (turns out mint really doesn’t like when you plant a lot of parsley next to it!), but now the neighbors have it and I don’t think they have realized it yet – it’s in a far corner of their yard.

        1. fposte*

          A relative makes lemon balm pesto! It’s so widespread here that it never occurred to me it would be useful, but now I’m looking forward to trying that.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Fantastic – a bed full is exactly what I want! I’ll look into the lemon balm too — mostly I’m just looking for something to aggressively grow back there that isn’t an attack plant, since my dogs like to wander off into that area of the yard and then carry thistle bits around on their fur with them and spread them everywhere.

          1. Natalie*

            There’s all kinds of ground cover in the mint family, I’m sure you can find something that will thrive there. I have lamium (dead-nettle) in a bunch of different tough patches in my yard.

    6. Anonymath*

      My passion fruit vines were very unhappy to have their supporting fence replaced, and only one has started leafing out again. I gave them both a hard cut back and if the first one doesn’t start growing again, I know where I got the original plants from and will order again.

      Mustard greens are growing well and will get trimmed today along with my turnips and whatever was eating my kale (and only my kale) has finally stopped so I might finally get some kale later in Spring. Carrots will get checked today to see if any are ready to come up. I reseeded the lettuce as it was uninterested in growing earlier. Last year none of my selected lettuce varieties grew, but the one pack of “thank you” mixed lettuce the seed company threw in for free grew beautifully and I didn’t need to buy lettuce for a couple months. My cover clover is finally starting to grow and my cover favas are growing well. A few random dill plants are growing, but I don’t think I’ll have a dill forest like last year.

      Shrubs have all been cut back and a neighbor is going to come take a good short trim of both my lemongrass plants any day now.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The most heartening news I have is that the iris start that never got planted is overwintering well in the garage with the fig. It’s still firm and has a bit of green on one leaf, so I’m hopeful.

    8. CatCat*

      At less than 3 weeks, my Aerogarden lettuces are ready for their first harvest. This is really exciting. I’ve got broccoli sprouts in a jar next to the Aerogardens that are ready to be eaten. The dill could already use a trim. I’m going to incorporate all those into a salad that I’m super excited to make!

      I ordered a “grow anything” Aerogarden kit and some seeds for other kinds of greens. I’m also going to attempt to do a passive hydroponic in a jar adjacent to the Aerogardens and grow some teeny hot peppers in it. Having so much fun with the Aerogardens and learning about hydroponics.

    9. RagingADHD*

      For the tiny seedlings dying, it coukd be damping off (a fungus in the soil).

      I’ve had success overcoming it by dusting the seedlings with cinnamon. If you have one baby left you could try that.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I miss having my plants in the same room with me. They’re upstairs in the sunroom. I want my own space again and I want them in the room with me. Plus, my twin umbrella plants died because we put them too close to the AC vent in the floor. :(

      Now I only have four plants. I’ll save that big planter the two dead ones were in, though, and hopefully if I get an apartment with a balcony or a terrace, I can have a tomato plant.

    11. Llama face!*

      My pot with spider plant seeds has sprouted a second seedling. It made me so happy when I discovered it that I actually jumped for joy. They are both growing taller although they look like grass atm with just a single blade each.

      I am also sprouting another ginger root. It has 4 shoots started and is growing some thick nubby roots. I still have it in a translucent plastic grocery bag (works like a makeshift greenhouse) and haven’t planted it in soil. I’m waiting until the shoots are a bit taller.

    12. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

      My gardenia has started blooming and I am so very delighted! I just wish that the cut flowers lasted longer – the start turning brown so quickly.
      One of my very favorite smells <3

    13. Natalie*

      I took your suggestion of a terrarium for my dying fittonia and bought a bell jar to keep it in. Just what you want to introduce into a house with a 10 month old, of course, so the plant had to move to our “will never be childproofed” room with the piano and the big plants. The bell jar seems to be helping! The soil is staying damp and it hasn’t done its usual weekly dramatic wilt.

      Next on my houseplant docket is the space with zero light – someone mentioned that peace lilies need basically no sunlight, so I’m going to try one of those.

  14. allathian*

    Little joys thread.

    Please share what’s brought you joy this week.

    My son is reading! He’s finally graduated from only reading picture books and comics to chapter books. He’s 11 and I did the same thing at about his age.

    1. Laura H.*

      That’s wonderful (and apologies for the duplication below, but maybe that’ll mean double!)

      I get to hang with peers this weekend (safely). More below.

    2. Bobina*

      I did my bed linens last weekend, and all this week – getting into bed and it smelling nice and fresh has been really nice.

      Re-watching Justified (a show that never got as big as it deserved) and loving it all over again.

      Had a few sunny days this week and so excited to see the sun again and days getting longer!

      1. Bluebell*

        Hub and I are watching Justified. We also like watching an episode of The Unicorn afterwards, or as we call it- “let’s watch Walt Goggins be nice and normal.”

    3. WellRed*

      This isn’t quite a little joy thing but I was very proud, during my annual check up this week to tell the doctor how drastically I’ve cut my weekly alcohol intake (pandemic improvement).

    4. CJM*

      That’s wonderful! Has your son read “Encyclopedia Brown” books yet? I was a big fan at his age (or thereabouts), and I think the problem solving helped me to develop critical-thinking skills.

      My little joy has the usual source: my three-year-old grandson. When I arrived at his house last weekend for a short, masked visit, he wasn’t at the front door. But he heard my voice from the other side of the house, and I heard a loud “Naaaaaaaaaannnnnnnaaaaaaa!” (I’m Nana) as he came barreling toward me. Never mind that he probably just wanted the three new wind-up toys I always bring. :) I felt so loved when he said that.

      1. allathian*

        He hasn’t read the Encyclopedia Brown books yet, but then, neither have I. I’m not sure they’ve been translated to either Finnish or Swedish (his English is amazing, he can follow shows like Star Wars Rebels with English voices and subtitles). On the other hand, I want him to enjoy reading for fun for now, because it’s so new. He always used to begrudge any time he had to spend reading books for school, whether textbooks or fiction.

        I’m just happy that he’d rather read than watch youtube videos or play computer games. He hasn’t quit doing either completely, but that used to be what he’d do whenever we allowed him to pick an activity…

      2. Ali*

        I love Encyclopedia Brown! I am reading them to my 7-year-old nephew (we have a weekly video chat reading date on Wednesdays before his nap.) From a 2021 vantage point they are quite old-fashioned, but we are enjoying them.

    5. Never Nicky*

      My foster-to-adopt guinea pigs are always a source of joy, but especially this week as the younger, more nervous one is getting much more comfortable during lap time – or he’ll settle on me instead of jumping into the back of the sofa and running up and down it!

      1. MissCoco*

        My guinea pigs give me so much joy.

        This week we had them sleeping next to each other – still a few inches apart, because they are boys and personal space is very important to them, but it was lovely, since much of the time they seem to mostly grouse at each other.

        1. Laura Petrie*

          My new rescue guinea pig started wheeking today for the first time. I’m so proud of how well he’s settling in. He is being castrated tomorrow so he can move in with my sow. She was bereaved a few weeks ago and is sad and lonely. I hope they’ll be very happy together when they can finally meet!

          1. MissCoco*

            Oh I bet they will! Good luck to him and you tomorrow – I’ll be rooting for a speedy recovery!

    6. OyHiOh*

      How wonderful for your son!

      My oldest has speech apraxia (mostly resolved) and dyslexia and the one remarkable, genuine good thing about the pandemic year is that between my efforts and his grandmother’s, a rising 6th grader who read level 2 primers with tremendous effort is now reading comfortably at grade level.

      I don’t know what you mean by “comics” but finding age appropriate graphic novels helped my son a lot. The illustrations helped fill in narrative without words, and reading a couple sentences at a time was/is easier for him to track. You son might like The Bad Guys – it’s a little bit comic/graphic novel with illustration and lots of fun with fonts, but formatted closer to a traditional book in its flow from left to right and top to bottom.

      1. OyHiOh*

        The book series I recommended is probably not available in Swedish or Finnish. I hope your son finds books that bring him joy :-)

      2. Kitty pawes*

        I don’t know if this will help, but when my dyslexic daughter was that age installing the fonts opendyslexic or dyslexie helped a lot.

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      I decided to use the fancy soap and lotion gift set that I was saving because it was “too fancy” for every day. It finally dawned on me that there is no reason to save it for a special occasion, I can decide that Saturday is a special enough occasion! I’m feeling rather pampered and fragrant today.

      1. Kate Daniels*

        Oh, I love this! I have a couple things in my bathroom cabinet that I should just let myself use already. You’ve inspired me!

    8. Voluptuousfire*

      That the trick I learned about spraying your shovel with cooking spray to keep the snow from collecting on it works. When shoveling earlier this week, it made a difference.

      Also had pumpernickel bread with really good butter and strawberry preserves for breakfast with some really strong Barry’s tea. I may have an orgy of bread next weekend and order pumpernickel AND pumpernickel rye marble bread next Sunday from the local bakery. Thst and some crumb buns and a few other things. I worked there years ago as a teenager and one of the girls I used to work with still works there on weekends. I’ll give her a call and out in my order.

    9. Sparkly Librarian*

      I get joy from planning something, even if it’s hypothetical or really really far out. Last night I FINALLY found a calendar template I like and could get my computer to work with, and printed out the first 3 years of academic calendar I created for homeschooling my first kid… who isn’t yet 2. Guess we can plan family vacations in advance!

    10. L6orac6*

      My Dad found the $200 dollars he thought he had lost, it was in the pocket of his shorts. Taken those shorts off at night and in the morning put on a new pair!

    11. WoodswomanWrites*

      I attended workshops at at online music festival and learned some amazing new ways to play my acoustic instrument. The instructors also gave concerts in the evenings. It was inspiring to be creative and learn, and I felt good about supporting professional musicians who are unable to tour right now.

  15. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

    Nothing can send me into a juvenile, belly-aching, tears-streaming laughing fit like a good story about dealing with something inexplicably gross.

    Last week, fposte told a story about exploding fermented fish emulsion in the gardening thread that still has me snortling. Anyone else got one to chime in with?

    I’ll nest mine so those who don’t appreciate this kind of humour can easily skip past this thread!

    1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      It was the annual kitchen deep clean. Had it been up to me, I would’ve given everyone fair warning and then whatever was left would’ve gone straight into the bin as is. But Eleanor didn’t want to throw out perfectly good Tupperware, so she spent the day diligently emptying and washing everyone’s containers.

      Some of the content was pretty rank. Every now and then you’d hear an “urghhh!” emanating from the kitchen and the concerned voice of someone trying to convince Eleanor that she should give it up and throw the containers out. Nevertheless, she carried on.

      Then she got to this One container. One that had been left, unrefrigerated, on a shelf for months over the summer. No one knew what it originally was, but I’ll never forget what it had become.

      The smell didn’t just ‘hit’. It detonated with enough force to knock your breath out. Eleanor ran shrieking from the kitchen. Someone immediately threw up. Between that and the stench, the sympathetic spewers started dry-retching and most of us had to leave. When I did finally return hours later I had to plug my nose with tissues. That smell climbed into the wall paint and lingered for about a week.

      As for what it smelled like, I can’t even describe it beyond… otherworldly. I’ve dealt with rotten seafood, a cat with GI issues, shellfish juices that oozed in the car during summer, and a burst sewage pipe that flooded the garage. None of those comes even close to it.

    2. WellRed*

      I had a coworker that used to, I don’t know what, some sort of Eastern European casserole or something that she would warm up in the microwave. It was liked microwaved body parts. Retch! I had to run out of the room.

    3. IntoTheSarchasm*

      House addition and kitchen remodel, moved the fridge into the dining room and plugged it in as there was stuff in the Bottom freezer. We were living in a camper on-site during but didn’t go in the house much and did not realize the crew unplugged the fridge to plug in power tools. Everything in the freezer turned into this foul liquid which we had to remove by soaking it up with old clothing scraps and throwing it in garbage bags as our shop vac stirred up the stench too much. Did not feel clean for a week and had to throw out two pair of nice rubber gloves as they even picked up the smell. Horrible experience.

      1. Hamish*

        I would have been SO PISSED at that crew. Who unplugs the FRIDGE for their tools? This is what extension cords are for! And then to not plug it back in… holy crap.

    4. Wind on Grass*

      One day the house started reeking of death. We looked all over, but couldn’t find the source. Turns out one of our cats had killed a mouse, and not being hungry at the time, decided to stash it under the freezer where she saw us put our food. Stank for months. Nasty but hilarious in hindsight.

    5. Generic Name*

      My husband opened a jar of salsa that wasn’t expired, it had somehow begun to naturally ferment. It was fizzy. Not exactly a knee slapped, but we’re both baffled as to how it happened so quickly.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      So this one isn’t disgusting so much as vibrantly messy.
      STAGE SET: my mother’s pristine white kitchen.
      I was in junior high, a distractable kid who had trouble waking up but packed a salad for lunch every day because those school lunches were terrible. I was very late but managed to get everything cut up and put into the box without spilling anything. I started to put the lid on and remembered I’d forgotten the salad dressing. Got the lid off without spilling things. Got out my beloved Wishbone French dressing. Remember to shake it. Did not remember to check the lid first.
      For those of you who don’t know this American Standard… It is gooey, it is oily, and it is honking orange.
      It was now all over my mother’s kitchen. Including the ceiling the white patterned wallpaper, and the curtains.
      “MOMMMM!” I wailed. “HELP!”
      She came in fearing I’d cut myself chopping veggies semi-asleep, and burst out laughing at the arc of orange splotches.
      “Lucky for you I decided not to replace the wallpaper yet!” She was wheezing with laughter.
      FOLLOW UP MONTAGE: We cleaned up together, she drove me to school because I wouldn’t make it on a bike after all that, and she got her long-postponed new wallpaper.

      1. Generic Name*

        That’s hilarious. I remember trying to make a pan of jello “jigglers” when I was a teenager, and spilling the pan in the refrigerator, where it instantly set. It was red. My mom was so pissed, and it took forever to clean up.

      2. MissCoco*

        Similar vein, not gross, but hilarious.

        I got my mother an espresso maker (one with very high pressure and the portafilter and everything) when I graduated college. The portafilter has a little mesh basket that goes in it to contain the grounds when hot water is forced through them at high pressure.

        One morning was going to make a quick americano before heading to work.
        She grinds her espresso into the portafilter and tamped it down. It squashed down really easily, so she added some more ground beans and tamped those down as well. Still squashed down more than usual, so she put another scoop in, and tamped really thoroughly.

        She clamps the filled portafilter into the machine, and hits the button. She’s left the basket out.

        Water and espresso shoot out from the base of the portafilter at 17PSI and in all directions. She shrieks as she’s covered with wet finely ground coffee. By the time I got downstairs she’d already stripped out of her work clothes and was standing in bra and underwear in the middle of the kitchen. Her face was covered in bits of ground espresso except her eyes, where her glasses protected her from the spray.
        Our entire kitchen was covered in a fine mist of espresso, except the counter she’d been standing in front of, where there was a mom-shaped outline that wasn’t coated in coffee.

        She bought her coffee on the way to work that morning.

        1. Venus*

          You reminded me… I used to have lunch at work at a table with maybe 6 people. One of the sides was against a wall. Someone opened a can of something fizzy and it had clearly been a bit shaken up because it sprayed all over them yet managed to mostly miss everyone else. Yet there was the most memorable effect on the wall behind them, where a circle of brown liquid had the outline of a person in the middle. We had a good laugh!!

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Our entire kitchen was covered in a fine mist of espresso, except the counter she’d been standing in front of, where there was a mom-shaped outline that wasn’t coated in coffee.

          I AM WHEEZING :’D

      3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Similar story here too. This past fall, one of my (adult) sons, who was living with me at the time, was on meds that cannot be mixed with alcohol, so we decided to have a dry Thanksgiving dinner. To that end, I bought a 3-pack of sparkling nonalcoholic wine at Costco. Opened the first bottle and it was indeed sparkling, fizzed a bit, got out of the bottle and on the floor, kind of like champagne would if you aren’t careful. Everyone liked the wine. Fast forward two weeks, I am in the kitchen on a Saturday morning enjoying my coffee, look up, and there are red splashed across my kitchen ceiling. Turned out, son had opened a second bottle and that one was WAY fizzy. Shot out of the bottle and all over the ceiling. I want to put the house on the market as soon as I can (like in the next few weeks), and was not amused. I was able to get it out with bleach though. And made sure I was the one to open the next bottle of the wine.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          HAH my husband just did that with a bottle of sparkling grape juice a couple months ago. Amazingly it was coming off just fine with just a damp washcloth, not even any cleaner or anything, but my concern was the thrice-damned textured ceiling getting damaged in the cleaning attempts. (Luckily, everything survived.)

      4. allathian*

        This happened when I was a kid, and when glass bottles that were made from a glass tube with a separate bottom stuck on were a thing. Anyway, I’m in an area where people traditionally brew mead in the spring. It’s made from sugar, water, lemon juice and some baking yeast. It’s mildly alcoholic but safe for kids to drink in moderation, and fizzy.

        You brew it in a saucepan and also a while in the bottle. The idea is to put a few raisins in each bottle and when they rise to the top it’s ready to be chilled.

        Our bottles were almost ready, but my mom had put them on the kitchen counter. Unfortunately they were in a place that got some afternoon sun, so one day when my sister and I had come home from school but our parents were still at work, one of the bottles exploded, just the bottom was left on the counter. The mess was indescribable. I was probably 10 at the time and my sister was 8, so we decided to start cleaning up. We had got the worst of it cleaned, when the second bottle exploded. We were lucky to avoid getting hurt by the flying glass shards. We were in the middle of cleaning this up, when our mom got home.

        Eventually we finished cleaning most of the sticky stuff, but I suspect we didn’t get everything because that kitchen was invaded by ants that summer.

    7. Pippa K*

      I noticed one of the horses had a bit of a bloody nose (probably from a minor nasal irritation, it turned out). He was a great tall fellow, and I was standing in front of him, looking up into his face, with him looking down at me. “Hey, buddy, what happened, your nose is bleeding”…and he sneezed. A huge ACHOO, with 1300 lbs of equine power behind it, coating my face with a layer of blood and horse snot. Even in my memory, I see it in the cartoon version, my hair blown back with the force of the blast. It was gross, but hilarious.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Good one! (Though I hope the horse was OK.) Had a similar situation in college in a Western-style riding class; my mount was a shaggy, rawboned critter, rather sweet but with a very rough trot – and, apparently, with a runny nose. On a very cold winter day he had a snot-sicle hanging from his muzzle, and decided that the best way to get rid of it was to nuzzle it onto my shoulder while I was tightening the girth…

      2. MissCoco*

        HAHAH good grief! What is it about horses blasting snot in faces? Or wiping a big green booger alllll up a white sleeve? They must have some kind of 6th sense for when humans really don’t want to get snot blasted

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Long, long ago, when I first attended college (music), I worked for a time in the office of the apartment complex where I lived (it’s still there, btw).

      The place rented to a lot of students. Many young people out on their own for the first time, particularly young men, don’t know how to care for their living space. When some people move out, they often don’t clean even if they expect to get a security deposit back. We would usually do a quick paint job due to normal wear and tear even when the tenant had been scrupulously tidy. The first step when someone moved out suddenly or broke the lease was to send maintenance in.

      The maintenance guy went to check the apartment of a tenant who had a part-time gig as a local DJ and was being evicted, for non-payment, I think. He came back to the office in shock and told us there was a problem with the freezer and we had to see it to believe it. So we schlepped over there to have a look.

      The tenant hadn’t picked up his stuff yet and the place was an utter trash pile. It wasn’t hoarded, just really, really messy. Fast food wrappers everywhere, like the guy just ate his food and threw them on the floor. I’ve seen college dude apartments primarily decorated with old pizza boxes, but this was something else entirely. We waded through the garbage to the fridge, opened the freezer, and lost our minds.

      It was packed full of warm, rotted meat. The fridge had either stopped working or he’d unplugged it; I don’t recall which. All I remember was the red, slimy mass of death crammed into it and the oily miasma emanating from it. The entire thing looked and smelled like a crime scene. I think at one point we wondered if it actually was!

      Obviously, they could not salvage that fridge. I don’t know if the guy did it deliberately or not, but the memory makes me extra cautious about applying for jobs in residential complexes.

    9. Grits McGee*

      *TW for dead animals in a lab setting*
      In college I had a work study job as a assistant in my school’s biology labs. 99% of the time it was pretty easy- organize the glassware, safety test the eyewash stations, water the plants in the greenhouse, etc. On my very first day, however, my boss told me I had a “special” job- the refrigerator used to house dead animals for the zoology lab had broken, and someone (me) needed to clean it out. The fridge had broken and been taped shut in April. It was now September.
      I pulled the earthly remains of half a dozen species out of that refrigerator- frogs, partially dissected cats, roadkill, someone’s pet iguana that they froze but never got around to using. Everything went into an industrial waste barrel, to be sealed and left in the building basement for “pick up”. It was still there when I graduated 4 years later. It may still be there to this day.
      The smell honestly wasn’t that terrible. It wasn’t too hard to take a deep breath, hold it, open the fridge, grab a carcass, stuff it in the barrel, and then shut the lid. One of my other recurring jobs was far stinkier- sterilizing and washing test tubes of agar+e. coli colonies. The whole process from autoclave to drying rack was hot and wet and steamy; after 2 hours of washing, every permeable surface was saturated with what can only be described as distilled essence of funky stank. Years later I was at a fancy grownup party in the Bay Area and took a big bite of a Cowgirl Creamery soft cheese that tasted just like those test tubes smelled. Blech….

      1. Finland*

        Here’s one…
        (Gore galore on this one, a warning…)

        I’ve visited my mom’s house to clean out the refrigerator because it needed, desperately, some attention (I’m the neater one in the family). The refrigerator itself was pretty old and was badly maintained. The plastic trays that lined the door had gotten brittle and started to stain from the food spills over the years.

        I grabbed a scrubber and soap and I decided to just get to work and get it done. I was scrubbing and scrubbing and cleaning and very happy about the progress I was making. My hands were covered in soap and oil and grime, when I noticed that my hand started tingling. When I looked down, I saw blood on my hand. Apparently I sliced my hand on one of those trays in the door and I didn’t even realize it until it started to sting. My hand was nothing but soap, oil, grime, and blood. I try to tell my mom what happened, but as soon as I mentioned blood she left the conversation.

        I cleaned my hands and I lived to see another day. I also bought my mom a new refrigerator.

    10. Virginia Plain*

      Ok I’ll go. Working in law enforcement many years ago, searching a flat after the arrest of the occupant. Financial crime so bits of paper with numbers on need to get seized as they could refer to transactions or accounts etc. One poor soul had to have the kitchen bin out and go through the contents. Muggins here was the most junior officer so i got to it. The occupant was of African heritage and had not too recently had a meal of his traditional cuisine – as well as various lamb/goat bones and connective tissue, nicely rank, there were clods of this goo, some kind of porridge, possibly cassava. I was heaving away but I got through and secured a TV magazine with a string of digits on the front. Cleaned up and tried not to retch just thinking about it. It was over fifteen years ago and I can see it now.
      And the digits? Did they identify the account where Mr Big stashed his ill-gotten gains? No they were the previous week’s lottery numbers.

    11. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Just wanted to express my appreciation for all these… some absolute classics in here :-D

    12. Tamer of Dragonflies*

      Oh….oh…If I had time,oh the stories I could tell. Tales to make the strongest stomach retch. But there would have to be so long of a set up that I would be typing for an hour. But here’s a little tidbit so I don’t seem like a tease.

      A guy was cleaning out a 12 inch sewer line clogged with sludge. It had been unused for awhile and I guess the sewer sludge had…fermented? Anyway, guy stabs into this pipe with a steel rod to loosen the clog.He was looking into the pipe while doing so to see if there was progress, and POOM!! the sludge explodes from the pipe and splats this guy square in the face. Looked like he got hit in the face with a cream pie, only instead of whipped cream, it was thick, black, fermented, sewer sludge. It took days for him to get the smell and the stain off his face (sewer sludge will stain your skin) and his clothes were burned.
      And that’s my best one,abridged version.

  16. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week (or is this weekend)?

    I’m at a small group gathering for a conference this weekend, and it’s nice to be around peers and have discussions and listen to some wonderful folks talk (safely and virtually from their own areas) and then to break it open further.

    Please share your joys.

    1. wingmaster*

      I finished my Whole30 yesterday, so made myself some Bún bò Huế (Vietnamese beef soup) as my first meal off Whole30. I cooked it in my new Instant Pot, which was also exciting to do!

    2. Anon5775*

      My parents got their 1st covid-19 vaccine! And I got yummy Chinese takeout the other night and will have leftovers soon.

  17. Something Blue*

    I’m interested in trying to do aerobic dance classes at home instead of the gym. I looked on YouTube and there are so many!

    Does anyone have any favorites? I like Zumba but I’m open to any kind of aerobic dance.

    1. Something Blue*

      Thank you! I will check all these out.

      And I’m not fussy about old vs new! As long as it’s fun!

  18. mreasy*

    I would really like to divest all money from Amazon. Quitting Prime is easy, and we almost never order from them, but I do my weekly grocery shopping at Whole Foods. My local markets are okay, but there isn’t a trustworthy source of fresh produce and the staples I need – and unfortunately I have a lot of food sensitivities and have to be on no fodmaps so I don’t have a lot of room for substitutions. I also am able to find locally made products at Whole Foods more readily than at a lot of local grocers (ironic, I know, but having worked at a local CPG company, WFM is a big customer and can place volume orders individually whereas many smaller markets rely on distributors who don’t carry as much variety). Farmers markets are good for produce when they’re open, but that’s only half the year, and I can’t rely on them for pantry. Does anyone have ideas? I would rather not rely on a delivery service as I’ve had a lot of issues with them in the past (missing and incorrect items, plus annoyingly our address is hard to get right). I know I’ve got to let something go here but I’m not sure what to do. Add in my general food anxiety and it’s a whole miasma of trouble. I would love your input! Thank you.

    1. Ranon*

      Co-op grocery stores if there’s one at all in your general vicinity would likely cover you for pantry needs- ours doesn’t have as many types of a thing but they usually have at least one of each and mine has a very comprehensive variety of things for various diet sensitivities. And if there’s something you use a lot you can look at ordering it directly from the manufacturer in bulk (we’ve started buying our peanut butter 9 lbs at a time, it’s surprisingly handy)

      In produce, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good- farmers market when it is open is better than Whole Foods always for your goals. It may be worth doing a cycle through your other local stores on the produce front- a good produce manager can turn things around even at local stores with less purchasing power.

    2. WellRed*

      It’s hard to say without being in your area but in addition to food co ops, have you got any small ethnic grocery stores in your area?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Limited use of Amazon might be your best option right now. You’ve got yourself in a rock and a hard place situation here, it may not be possible to have the ideal set up. To my way of thinking, health comes first. Do what you have to do to keep you up and running. Times will change and things will change eventually you will be able to fully let go of Amazon.

      2. Hotdog not dog*

        That was my first thought too. We have an amazing Korean shop near us that has great quality produce at very reasonable prices. It’s owned by a very nice family so I get to support local small business. They’ve even been able to special order things for me when I was looking for something a little off the beaten path. You just can’t get that kind of service at a large chain.

    3. Anon for this*

      I mean, look. Amazon sucks and I get divesting from it. But if it doesn’t work in your area or because of your health needs, just let it go. Take care of yourself and do your best. Looks like doing your best is shopping at Whole Foods and healing.

      1. LDF*

        I agree, and I’m saying this as someone who also made the concsious decision a few years ago to stop buying from Amazon. Shore up your activism elsewhere if you can and want to.

        1. mreasy*

          It’s one of those things – I know my company used AWS and I know it’s not possible to get out entirely. But giving them my money on a weekly basis is something I hate the feeling of, even if it’s a drop in the bucket overall. I try to donate about $350 or more per month to worthy causes, and given my grocery budget is that or more…it feels like it cancels out. Even though I know that’s not the case! I admit this is about my feelings more than actual impact.

          1. Grits McGee*

            Apologies if you are already doing this, but could you direct some of that towards orgs supporting Amazon workers’ unionization efforts, or other causes that directly combat the things you find problematic about Amazon?

            1. pancakes*

              That’s a great idea!

              I agree with the rest – do what you can, but don’t make this punitive for yourself.

          2. Observer*

            No it doesn’t cancel out. Reducing your spend matters, even if you don’t totally cut it out.

            Perhaps you can look at having multiple accounts. So, order what you can at other vendors, and the only put the things that you REALLY need Whole Foods for on that order. Yes, it’s less convenient than just doing all of your grocery shopping in one place, but you need to make sure that you can get what you need.

    4. Not A Manager*

      Maybe the thing to let go of is the “all or nothing” stance about divesting? It sounds like you’re facing a lot of inconvenience, more expense, and possible effects on your health in order to make a 100% principled stand that isn’t going to especially impact its target.

      I’m not saying that you’re mistaken to want to take this stand, or to think about ways that you could do it. I’m just saying that if it turns out to be untenable, try to be gentle with yourself about it.

      As a compromise, maybe you could buy everything you possibly can elsewhere, and then make one short trip for the few items you can only get at WF?

    5. Dino*

      Amazon likely makes way more off of you through Amazon Web Services than from whatever you’re spending at Whole Foods. It might be worth getting a better picture of how much AWS has embedded itself into your digital life and trying to make changes there/agitate others from that angle.

    6. Analyst Editor*

      Consider looking at your hotel as “reduce by X%”, which is much more reasonable.
      It’s like, if walmart is the only store in your area, you have to go there.

      I tried to “divest” from a big conglomerate once,I think proctor and gamble. In the process I am learned just how many household brands they owned, and what they didn’t own was opened by Unilever.
      Until you stop using a lot of commercial household and food items, you will not did yourself of bigcorp ownership. And I’m not there yet financially or in terms of off–grid self sufficiency, and am unlikely to be. So I reduce and do what I can, which sounds like what you need to do.

    7. NeonFireworks*

      I’ve been in a nearly identical situation lately. There are alternatives, but they’re more out of the way and I don’t have a car. Still trying to figure out what to do about this one myself, so I wanted to say that I appreciate you bringing it up.

    8. Janet Pinkerton*

      I went through the same process over a year ago and here’s how I do it. I have my local grocer where I can get about 80-90% of my groceries. It’s an independent store and I love them. Then, most but not all weeks, I drive to Wegman’s 30 minutes away to supplement. Yes, Whole Foods is 5 minutes away, but it’s worth it for me.

      Also, we have a few year-round farmers markets. If the co-op grocer were more convenient, I’d go there instead of my independent store.

      1. mreasy*

        Thank you everyone! I really appreciate the feedback. Also I could get to Wegmans or Fairway in a similar amount of time so that is a good option! My major issue is produce since it’s so uneven locally but I think that can be managed. Meanwhile I’m on delivery from local markets anyway til the snow mets enough for me to shovel out my car anyway lol!!!

    9. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I decided I’ll try it after the pandemic is over. I’m good on the groceries, we have decent stores in the area that meet my needs, but the stores where I used to buy my household stuff and such are not safe at all right now. I just ordered toothpaste from Amazon because I was having a really bad feeling about the store I normally get it from. Hopefully soon this won’t be an issue. Until then, all is fair in love and war, I guess.

      1. mreasy*

        This is a good way to look at it. Another Covid-preventative reason it helps me to shop at my nearby WFM is that I know the layout like the back of my hand so can zip through in 15 or 20 minutes rather than trying to locate things in an unfamiliar store!

    10. Maggie*

      I try to shop there as little as possible but I still go to Whole Foods for product and some bulk meat purchases. I refuse to pay for salad that’ll be rotten in 2 days as opposed to fresh, good organic salad that lasts 10 days. Produce at a lot of other markets just plain sucks. Also I need my organic apples.

    11. Fellow Traveller*

      We find the produce at our Costco to be surprisingly good. Caveat that we are a family of five, so Costco portions are on the bigger size, but manageable. We do have to meal plan and be more meaningful about what we eat to use it up- it’s not a big issue with fruit since we eat a ton of fruit, but I do have to have a plan for the veggies or it doesn’t get eaten in time.

    12. anonlurkerappa*

      I know you said you’d rather not rely on a delivery services, but I’m going to pitch Dumpling.

      Its a way for you to connect to a personal grocery shopper. If you are looking to pay people what they are worth and move away from exploitative shopping systems, might be worth seeing if there are any shoppers on Dumpling in your area. Each shopper sets their own rates and is their own small business. Plus, you would be hiring someone to help you get groceries in a potentially recurring business relationship, so I think there might be less of a chance missing/incorrect items, and once they know your address, they know your address. It is very different from a random different Shipt/Instacart shopper each time you place an order.

      1. anonlurkerappa*

        full disclosure, I haven’t tried Dumpling, but I’ve been considering it since a friend mentioned it a couple weeks ago.

      2. pancakes*

        I’ve seen people recommend Dumpling as a more ethical alternative to some of its competitors, but I don’t quite trust it yet. Have a look at a Feb. 1, 2021 article at Motherboard titled, “‘Ethical’ Instacart Alternative Shut Down Facebook Group Where Workers Protested Pay Changes.”

  19. Anon runner*

    I have large boobs, have done since I was a teenager (independently I’m losing a bit of weight, but I’ve been a G cup since I was 17 and skinny). It’s been a long journey towards something approaching self-acceptance – I no longer *hate* my body but I still find clothes shopping depressing.

    I’ve recently got more into running and in particular have done a few slightly longer runs. I find if I run too much or for longer than say half an hour I rub my sports bra starts to rub skin off my collarbones and in the elastic at the front. I guess I can try other sports bras but all the ones I tried before this were *worse* so not convinced that will solve it… all of this has got me coming back to thinking about a breast reduction.

    Anyone here who’s had one and would recommend it or otherwise?

    (Other than the fact it’s major surgery, one thing that genuinely puts me off is colleagues reactions. Close friends I don’t care and would just tell them if they ask, but I have ZERO desire to talk about my boobs at work (or with acquaintances). I’d kinda hope people would notice and politely ignore but my partner reckons there are some people, for Eg our lovely but a bit clueless office mgr, who might bring it up in a group of people, the idea of which makes me feel super panicky. Guess that body hatred isn’t totally gone).

    1. AnonBoobs*

      Ha I literally just posted about this! What are the chances! From what I have heard a lot of people can tell something is different but can’t quite tell what it is and they usually chalk it up to weight loss, particularly if you usually wear more loose fitting clothing.

      1. Anon runner*

        Best of luck with your surgery!! Yeah I’ve heard the same RE: weight loss, and I don’t tend to wear super tight clothes at work (though have worn fitted smart dresses to socials etc), but I am so out of proportion now that I feel like at least my female colleagues will notice.

        1. AnonBoobs*

          Thank you! I’m a runner too so I really look forward to running more easily. When I do long runs I’ve also have issues with raw patches. One thing that helped was using body glide on my shoulder and back straps. Good luck on whatever you decide is right for you!

    2. Doctor is In*

      I have had several patients who have had it done (one woman in her 70’s). Their only regret was not doing it sooner.

    3. Schmitt*

      Had it done, would do it again! It’s F*CKING AMAZING not to have to sling the extra poundage around. I had about four pounds removed, I think (it’s been a few years). Like night and day.

      There have been a lot of good threads about the subject in the past years in the open threads, try a site search.

    4. Dwight Schrute*

      Until you can get it done if you decide that’s what you want to do, use body glide! Seriously, it’s a life saver. I used to lather my body in it while marathon training or I’d chafe from my sports bras and underwear in the most uncomfortable places you can imagine.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Ooh body glide is so good, definitely recommend. For me, body glide eliminates chub rub and makes wearing shorts and dresses on a warm day so much more pleasant!

    5. Jessi*

      Can’t help you with the surgery question, but you may find wearing a shirt UNDER your sports bra helps with reducing the rubbing

      1. Silmaril*

        Yes, this – a thin, close fitting tank top or T-shirt, sports bra over that, loose T-shirt on top. Went from really bad skin chafing (even if only wearing sports bra for <60 minutes) to quite comfortable.

    6. Hotdog not dog*

      They make sports bras for horseback riders that are much more comfortable than the ones marketed to runners. They’re pricey, but worth it!

    7. PolarVortex*

      My sister did the reduction – family line is extra blessed when it comes to boobs – and she’s been 100% happier and more confident since it. She navigated it during high school, which quite honestly was terrifying for her, but ended up not being a big deal.

      Me, I’m saving for a full removal (fuck being trans and insurance not covering it) and I could not be more excited even though I know I’m going to have to deal with comments from work.

      Quite frankly nothing looks better than a raised eyebrow and if that doesn’t work, asking them utterly gobsmacked “are you seriously asking me about my breasts at work?” in the loudest normal tone you can manage. Bonus points for every person who overhears and looks to that nosy af person who is now likely turning bright red in embarrassment.

    8. Helvetica*

      This might be a bit of a tangent but I also used to have big breasts and they didn’t really change in size with weight loss or gain. Until I spent a year cycling because I lived in a cycling country. I wasn’t doing it for sports but just to get around and I swear to you, my breasts got smaller and have stayed at a reasonable size ever since, even with a bit of weight fluctuation. Maybe it was just a fluke but it did change my body to the extent that I no longer have to get special bras.

      1. Anon Runner*

        I cycled everywhere for 4 years during uni and cycle now (though more like long weekend cycles in the summer rather than every day). So sadly I don’t think this would make a difference for me :p I’m glad it helped you though!

    9. CatCat*

      G cup here and I use Enell. That works for me doing more active exercise and that was what I wore when I was into running.

      I’ve heard good things about SheFit in a women’s hiking group I’m in, but haven’t yet tried it myself.

    10. Maggie*

      My co worker had one and is so so happy with it. Its your entire comfort compared to a couple minutes of maybe (but not even for sure going to happen) uncomfortableness with colleagues. If you want it you should look into it. If someone asks you can always just say “Yes got a reduction but I’d rather not share more.” Another colleague got implants and it wasn’t a big deal either, though she was very open about it and boy were they obvious

      1. Anon Runner*

        Lol literally this is good wording because then I don’t even have to say ‘breast’ :p I’m glad it went well for your coworker!

    11. MistOrMister*

      I am probably in the D range right now so I don’t know if what works for me will work for you. I find I usually need 2 sports bras. Or one sports bra and a tight leotard. Currently I prefer the sports bra and leotard b/c I have gained some weight. The leotard helps keep my stomach flab from distracting me by flapping in the wind while I try to run. And its tight enough to help keep my chest under control with another bra.

    12. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I had one at 22. Best decision of my life. All of a sudden bras of a normal size fit, and I could choose cute underwear. Shirts fit, and for the first time in 10 years I finally didnt feel self-conscious about them. Prior to surgery I had lost something like 40 lbs as I had joined the bike team at college. I lost the weight, but the boobs had stayed. So insurance was ok to pay for the surgery, which was done to alleviate back pain.

      My surgery was about two hours, and they took a lot of tissue out. I healed well and after six months was back to prior levels of activity, no problem. My mom then had hers done to for the back/shoulder problems she was having, and then my aunt had hers for the same reason.

      Absolutely would recommend to anyone interested to explore the option.

    13. Natalie*

      I know a couple of people who has reductions, but I only know because they told me. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to specifically tell what was different.

      Also, it sounds like something you really want! Which means a couple of awkward conversations may well be worth it.

    14. mreasy*

      I am 32E/F and am looking into breast reduction. Reddit can be a minefield but r/reduction has been a great resource for me. (Also have you tried Enell sports bras in the meantime?)

    15. Observer*

      Two thoughts:

      1. If you decide to go with the surgery, plan for dealing with the people who open their mouths when they shouldn’t (pretty much anyone who opens their mouth uninvited.) Plan some scripts and decide which one you will use in which situation. eg If Clueless OM makes a comment you might cheerfully reply “Oh, meetings take so much time I don’t think we want to bore them with a conversation about my shape. What’s the timeline on Project X?”

      2. Keep hunting for a better bra. Yes, you’re big. But you still should not be having this kind of problem. Perhaps you need a different style of bra. I don’t know, but I do know large sized women who do manage to not have this problem. So, there SHOULD be something out there that you can wear comfortably. Even if you decide to do surgery, it’s not going to happen in the next few weeks, and no matter what you do really comfortable bras are a good thing, so I think it’s worth your while to look into this.

      Lots of luck with this, whatever you decide!

  20. AnonBoobs*

    Has anyone ever had a breast reduction? I’m scheduled for one in March and would love to hear your experiences, what you wish you knew beforehand, etc. Thanks!

    1. Doctor is In*

      Be aware you may have to jump through hoops to get it covered by insurance as medically necessary. It is NOT cosmetic. Be persistent with your insurance company, they often drag their feet.

      1. AnonBoobs*

        Thank you so much for the warning! I’ve had a good experience with my insurance company but I have heard plenty of nightmare stories about getting it covered.

    2. Schmitt*

      It took longer than I anticipated to fully heal. I had the surgery in October 2014 and it wasn’t comfortable/painless until, I want to say January?

      Sleeping on my back was annoying. If you have pets that like to sleep with you, find a footstool or small table that will fit over your chest. An Ikea Poang footstool worked for me.

      For the scars, once I was allowed to, I religiously massaged in Bepanthen cream morning & night & also while watching TV.

      “Dissolving stitches” is a bit of a misnomer. I was picking bits out for ages. Gross.

        1. AnonBoobs*

          That’s good to know! If you don’t mind sharing, when were you comfortable wearing a normal bra? I ordered some surgery bras for the first few weeks but I’m not sure what to wear after that initial healing is done.
          Also thanks for the pet advice, my corgi likes to snuggle so some sort of barrier is definitely a good idea!

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            What about temporarily adding a co-sleeping crib to the side of your bed for the dog? You might be able to find a secondhand one on free cycle or buy nothing.

          2. Schmitt*

            Ooh, I really don’t remember. The surgeon had a post-surgery timeline, underwire bras came in fairly late.

    3. university minion*

      Haven’t had one myself but have had several friends and roommates who have.
      All of them wished they’d done it sooner.
      Follow the scar care regimen religiously.

    4. PolarVortex*

      Do you have someone about to help you? My sister had it happen years ago and I remember the extra hands were very helpful in the initial days when everything was sore. I also recall her living in rather tighter tank tops for support as a replacement to wearing bras for awhile because it was more comfortable when not out and about and having to wear a bra.

    5. Doctor is In*

      Patients who had it done only regretted they didn’t do it sooner. One lady was in her 70’s when she finally did it.

  21. Coenobita*

    Anyone want to chat about covid vaccines? I’ve been volunteering at a big vaccine clinic for several weeks now and also recently got my own second dose. I’m happy to share my experience and/or commiserate about issues!

    1. nep*

      Thanks for the work you’re doing, and for this post.
      What side effects have you experienced, if any? (I know it’s different for everyone, but curious anyway.)
      What is the latest we know on whether the someone who’s vaccinated can transmit the virus to another? Maybe the research there varies by vaccine?

      1. Coenobita*

        I had Moderna. After the first dose, I had some arm soreness – more than the flu shot, more like a tetanus booster, but still not too bad. About 12 hours after the second dose, I had some chills, aches and pains, and a headache. It was kind of unpleasant but I took some ibuprofen and that helped, and everything resolved by the next day. Honestly I’m kind of glad that I got those symptoms because it made me feel confident that my immune system was rising to the occasion!

        I haven’t been following the research all that closely but, yes, the data on transmission varies by vaccine. Recently there’s been some news about how the AstraZeneca vaccine cuts transmission. My understanding is that it’s less certain for Pfizer and Moderna, mostly just because of the way the big vaccine studies were designed.

      2. OyHiOh*

        My partner is in line for his second shot this morning. His first shot, his arm was very sore for about five days, and the injection site was intermittently itchy for another week after. He had significant fatigue for three or four days after the shot as well.

        1. Coenobita*

          I hope he has an easy time with the second shot! (I feel like this is Yom Kippur and I’m wishing people an easy fast, LOL)

        2. OyHiOh*

          I was thinking the same comparison to Yom Kippur, LOL! So far, just the expected sore arm. If first shot is anything to go by, fatigue will start to kick in tomorrow afternoon.

      3. Jenny*

        My parents and sister have had it (dad and sis are healthcare workers, mom based on age). My dad got achy more from the second dose, he had the Pfizer. My sister was super tired from her first dose and tired and achy from her second (Moderna). My mom had some gastric issues from her first dose and her arm hurt. She only had her first dose and is getting the second this week (Moderna).

      4. Jay*

        I’m a doc essentially practicing geriatrics at the moment. “We can’t say for sure that it prevents transmission” is not the same as “We know it doesn’t prevent transmission.” For respiratory viruses, every effective vaccine prevents transmission. It makes sense that this one will as well since we know both the Moderna and PFizer vaccines are excellent at preventing illness – like REALLY excellent. Better than almost any other vaccine I know of. Essentially no reports of serious illness/hospitalization. Those who did test positive afterwards had very low viral loads, which markedly reduces the risk of transmission.

        I think the public health messaging is seriously underselling the benefits of the vaccines. I kind of understand why. I’m still frustrated since that combines with vaccine skepticism to make people less likely to get immunized.

        I had my second (Moderna) shot on Thursday. It was supposed to be Tuesday but was postponed because of the snowstorm. I was off on Wednesday and I’m on call this weekend, so I was a bit nervous. I had mild chills on Thursday night and a bit of a headache all day yesterday that was still there when I woke up this morning and has since resolved. My arm was swollen and sore yesterday – way worse than the first shot – and is better today. And the sense of relief I feel is almost indescribable.

        1. Coenobita*

          The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence! :)

          I’m glad you got your shots and that you’re feeling healthy and relieved!

        2. Observer*

          I think the public health messaging is seriously underselling the benefits of the vaccines

          Totally. I actually do NOT understand why. It’s perfectly possible to be completely honest and transparent while also being more positive. The constant drumbeat of negativity coming from the people who should be twisting themselves into knots selling the vaccine(s) is making me nuts.

    2. Pharmgirl*

      Curious to know what side effects you experienced, and if they were different or more severe with your second shot? Did you receive Pfizer or Moderna? Also, did you schedule your second shot exactly 21/28 days later , or is there some leeway? I believe a few days later is better than a few days earlier from what I’ve read. My first shot is tomorrow – happy to report back as well for those that are interested.

      1. Coenobita*

        Congrats on getting your appointment! Mine was going to be exactly 28 days (Moderna) but clinic was canceled that day due to a snowstorm so instead it was a couple days more. My understanding is that as long as you wait the 21 or 28 days, some time after that is fine – I believe the current CDC guidance is to get your second dose within 6 weeks if at all possible.

      2. Buni*

        There must be some leeway without affecting efficacy, because in the UK at the moment they’re saying 12 *weeks* between 1st and 2nd shot.

        I was told it’s because they want to roll out as many firsts before anyone starts on seconds, which makes sense and is fair, but I assume they wouldn’t do it that way if it meant reduced efficiency.

        1. Coenobita*

          Yep, the UK is taking a different approach! It’ll be interesting to see if that makes the roll-out more effective. Originally, our CDC was saying there was no maximum wait time between doses, but as of late January they are now recommending <6 weeks.

        2. Observer*

          but I assume they wouldn’t do it that way if it meant reduced efficiency.

          Bad assumption. We do have evidence that there is definitely some leeway. But the UK’s decision was not completely science based. I recall that when the suggestion was first raised a huge stink was raise because of the lack of evidence that was presented.

          Now, lack of evidence does not mean that it can’t work. But they were actually pretty clear that they didn’t entire care – they basically said that even one dose is useful, so better get more first shots in than worry if we reduce efficacy by delaying second doses.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I am glad you mentioned this. On the work thread people were talking about taking time off from work because of the second shot???? What’s up with that?

      1. Coenobita*

        It’s more common to get symptoms after the second dose. I know at my location, they are recommending that you get your second dose at the end of the day when you’re not working the next day, just in case (to minimize staffing issues/call-outs). I personally had some symptoms but would’ve been ok to work the next day.

      2. MissCoco*

        I’m in a health profession school, and several of my classmates have already had their second dose.

        A lot of people felt tired, achy and even had low-grade fevers. The fever in particular makes sense that people are taking off for, since so many places do temperature checks these days, not to mention I would personally not like it if a coworker came in with a well documented COVID symptom and dismissed it as “just the vaccine.” Though it’s of course more likely that such symptoms are vaccine-related, it’s not a guarantee that they are.

        I have my 2nd dose (phizer) next week, and I have my fingers crossed I don’t have a lot of symptoms, but I’ll be glad to get a bit of immune response so I know it’s worked!

      3. No Name Yet*

        I got the Pfizer vaccine, and I had mild flu-like symptoms starting when I woke up the day after – joint pain, overall body aches, fatigue, and fever. It happened to be my day off, but I felt that if it had been a work day, I would have been able to work. By that afternoon the symptoms all got more severe (fever of almost 102F an hour after taking Tylenol), and if I had been working I absolutely would have needed to go home. I considered what I would do if I still felt bad the next day (my work offers 2-3 days of ‘free’ leave for post-vaccine symptoms), but the next morning I felt totally fine. And I had a coworker who had no symptoms at all. So my encouragement to people is to be aware of what they have the next day, and maybe don’t schedule anything super important.

    4. Trixie*

      I had the Pfizer shots and no side effects. Arm slightly sore after first shot but that happens with flu vaccines as well. My mother (73) is nurse and also had both shots, no side effects.

    5. Chaordic One*

      In my neck of the woods, they are still only giving it to first responders and the elderly. Eligibility will probably filter down to people my age in April or so. My 80-something year old mother was fine after her second shot, but my 90 year-old father had disturbing side-effects following the second does. Nausea, tiredness and weakness for a week afterwards. The doctor gave him a prescription for nausea and that medicine had side effects that reactivated a different problem. And he was just a whiney miserable person to be around the whole time and he drove my mother and my sisters crazy.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Mom and I both signed up, but my state isn’t getting a lot and isn’t well organized so it will be a while. She’ll obviously get it before I do, since she’s elderly and has health issues. (Update: she is recovering well from her stroke; she’s even back at work.)

    7. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I got my first Oxford AstraZeneca last week here in the UK and it floored me for a good 36 hours. Chills, aches, spiked a solid fever, and a headache that wouldn’t quit, with the hot eyeballs and everything. I saw my specialist on Monday and let her know the response and she mentioned they had data in house suggesting that those who had already had Covid were having similar reactions, compared to those who hadn’t. I thought potentially I’d had Covid just after Christmas, but it wasn’t presenting as we all hear its supposed to (heavy head congestion and swollen lymph nodes under my ears, no fever, no cough). I tested two weeks ago and it was negative, but I wouldnt be surprised if I’d had it.

      Next shot isnt until end of April. I am not happy about what the UK govt is doing with this, and I really preferred the Pfizer shot but it was more important I got some sort of protection given some other medical issues. Im sure there will be a top up in the fall anyway, and if this comes through as private then I will pay to get Pfizer or Moderna.

      1. lobsterp0t*

        Oh this is interesting. We had Covid in March. Then I had a positive test in August. So I wonder if I will have more unpleasant side effects when I do eventually get my jab. That won’t be for a while though!

        1. Grammalammadingdon*

          My daughter, a nurse, had covid back in March. She has had both Moderna shots. Definitely had moderate to severe side effects (very sore arm, fatigue, headache, body aches) with both shots. Surprisingly worse with the first one.

    8. Xela*

      I got the Moderna vaccine and after the first dose I had arm soreness that lasted a solid 2-3 days. It was definitely worse than after the flu shot, but I didn’t really have any other symptoms. After my second dose I had a fever and chills starting about 12 hours after my shot. I was also really fatigued for a couple of days and had some arm soreness too.

      We’ve all been comparing notes at work about the side effects after the second dose, and there’s been a huge range in experiences. It seems like the majority of people have experienced fatigue at the minimum with a number of people also experiencing other symptoms as well. I would definitely recommend taking the next day off from work if you can. You might feel fine, but I was glad I took that day off because working through my symptoms would have been really unpleasant.

    9. anon24*

      I got my second shot of the Pfizer last week (EMS). The first shot I got in the morning and by dinner time felt very flu-like, achy, mild headache, chills, sore throat. I hardly got any sleep that night because I was in that weird borderline hallucinating/fever dream state. By morning I felt almost 100%, just some soreness in my arm when I pushed on that muscle.

      Second shot the effects were less severe but longer lasting, I felt very achy and fatigued for about 2 days. I was at work for those 2 days and took Tylenol at regular intervals and while I felt awful I knew why and I was still able to do all the extremely physically demanding things my job requires me to.

      Some interesting things I read: They recommend Tylenol rather than ibuprofen because it doesn’t suppress the immune response the same way and so allows your body to react to the vaccine properly. Also, younger people are more likely to have more severe symptoms because we have healthier immune systems and our bodies react stronger to the perceived invader. And one article I read was encouraging people to call it an immune response rather than a side effect because it’s not a side effect, its our bodies doing what they are supposed to do in reaction to it (sorry, I dont remember which one it was so I can’t link it). Science is amazing!

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, this. When I get the vaccine at some point, I’ll be worried if I don’t get any reactions to it. I usually get a sore arm and low-grade fever from an ordinary flu shot, so I’m hopeful. But I’ll certainly schedule some time off afterwards just in case.

      2. Grammalammadingdon*

        I’ve gotten my first Moderna shot & the only response I had was a slightly sore arm, less than my flu shot this year. I am actually hoping for something a little more significant when I get the second shot so I know my body is responding properly! I am over 65 though, so I guess I have a less robust immune system.

    10. Choggy*

      My husband is a nurse and he received the Moderna shot. The first dose he had arm soreness, but not much else. During the second shot which he received this past Wed, he was told to take Tylenol *before* any symptoms started. His arm was sore the first day, especially when he tried raising it to reach for something. The arm soreness abated on the second day, but he did have muscle aches which were managed with Tylenol or Motrin. So a couple of days of light discomfort and he’s been fine ever since (and feeling less stressed about it because his job is stressful enough).

      We are seeing cases and hospitalizations go down in our state (CT), so I can only hope this is actually working. I did read a recent article about how this virus is here to stay, so does that mean yearly immunizations might be in our future?

      1. Jay*

        Yes, it’s entirely possible that we will end up with annual – or at least periodic – boosters. If we can turn this into the flu, I’d be THRILLED.

  22. IntoTheSarchasm*

    House addition and kitchen remodel, moved the fridge into the dining room and plugged it in as there was stuff in the Bottom freezer. We were living in a camper on-site during but didn’t go in the house much and did not realize the crew unplugged the fridge to plug in power tools. Everything in the freezer turned into this foul liquid which we had to remove by soaking it up with old clothing scraps and throwing it in garbage bags as our shop vac stirred up the stench too much. Did not feel clean for a week and had to throw out two pair of nice rubber gloves as they even picked up the smell. Horrible experience.

    1. Square Root of Minus One*

      Orange and chocolate just like you.
      Mint in pretty much any food (IMO, mint is perfect by itself, in water or in a tea, that’s it)
      Lemon on fish, especially smoked salmon.

  23. TX Lizard*

    What common flavor pairings do you just not get? I can’t stand chocolate and orange together, but I see chocolate bars with orange in them all the time. To me, those flavors just don’t go together at all.
    Curious what other people feel that way about!

    1. Pharmgirl*

      Curious, have you tried it and not liked it? Or just something you can’t imagine going well? I love the combo personally, and in general I think chocolate and citrus go well together. I’m a fan of lemon and white chocolate too.

      Peanut butter and jelly is a common flavor combo I just don’t get! I know this isn’t a common flavor outside the US, but I’m American and still don’t understand it.

      1. TX Lizard*

        I’ve tried it! My SO likes it, so I’ll try a piece of his every once in a while to see if my tastes have changed or if there’s some version that I’ll enjoy. I can eat a tiny piece of high quality dark chocolate with orange and not dislike it, but not like it per say. Milk chocolate and orange is a hard no.
        I’ve never heard of lemon and white chocolate together, for some reason that sounds more appealing to me!

        1. Pharmgirl*

          I do agree that dark chocolate tastes better with orange than milk chocolate! Definitely recommend lemon and white chocolate, it might be more to your taste.

    2. DistantAudacity*

      I do not like putting jam or fruits in my cereal or porridge.

      Each on their own is fine – why ruin perfectly good strawberries by dumping them on the Weetabix?

    3. GoryDetails*

      Good topic! And it’s so random… Your example about the chocolate and orange is one I might have mentioned, as I don’t care for orange-creme chocolate candies – but I do like the dark-chocolate-oranges, where the orange has its own slightly bitter notes to go with those of the dark chocolate. So more of a flavor/texture balance for me than an out-and-out “no”.

      One that I run into fairly often: lemon and poppy-seed! I love both flavors individually, but I prefer my poppy-seed cakes without lemon flavoring, just the poppy seeds themselves and a hint of vanilla.

      1. TX Lizard*

        Oh I love lemon and poppyseed! I have never tried poppyseed on its own, I didn’t know it had much of its own flavor. And its funny you mention dark chocolate, I just commented up thread that dark chocolate+orange is somewhat more tolerable than milk chocolate+orange. The creme based ones are my least favorite.

    4. nep*

      I could live on bananas. And I love the taste of peanut butter (though I don’t eat it because it wreaks havoc on my stomach). Not really a combo I don’t ‘get,’ but I cannot stand banana and peanut butter together.

      Savory oatmeal, anyone? I mean, I do put a pinch of salt in the water; it really tastes better that way. But I was at a friend’s once and we were having oatmeal with his mom. She asked for the Maggi; apparently that’s how she eats oatmeal.

      I like orange and chocolate together, by the way–but it’s got to be very dark chocolate for me. Definitely prefer only chocolate without flavoring though.

      I don’t get coconut oil in coffee, and I use coconut oil for a million things.

      1. mreasy*

        Savory oatmeal was such a trend awhile back and I tried it hopefully and just…canNOT. It’s a texture thing! Though I love over easy eggs & veggies on rice, keep those flavors away from my oatmeal. Give me pecans and a splash of maple syrup any day.

        1. nep*

          I remember (before I went vegan) trying an egg stirred into my oatmeal while on high heat (as a way to get in some protein)…the egg cooked thoroughly, but it ruined the texture–one of the things I really love about oatmeal.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Weirdly I like haggis (friends make it every year or so) but that’s using the oatmeal as a filler. I still don’t want primarily oatmeal to be anything but buttery & sugary or fruity.

          1. mreasy*

            Now that you say it, Ive had other sausages that use oatmeal and a filler and did like it. Must be the texture of a bowl of it.

      2. allathian*

        Savory oatmeal is definitely out for me, just the thought of it makes me dry heave. My husband likes his with just a bit of margarine for flavoring. I’ll eat it with frozen berries and add honey or maple syrup as a sweetener.

        Sweet things for breakfast are a big no-no for me. I might put marmalade or lemon curd on toast, but not sweet jam. Nutella’s fine for an afternoon snack, but not in the morning. I usually put cheese or turkey/ham on my breakfast sandwiches.

        I absolutely cannot stand sweet popcorn, with the sole exception of chocolate-covered popcorn. When I was growing up, the only flavoring that was available for popcorn here was salt, and I guess that stuck. I’ll eat chocolate with basically anything, the weirdest chocolate flavor I’ve tried was garlic. I adore dark chocolate with chili, though.

        1. CoffeeforLife*

          Maggi is a liquid seasoning. Comes in a little yellow bottle shaped like the queen chess piece.

        2. pancakes*

          Asked for Maggi sauce, I think. I’ve seldom seen it in the US and then only in powdered cubes, but it’s frequently used as seasoning in many other places.

    5. Ali G*

      I’m with you on the chocolate-orange! I actually do not like any fruit with chocolate. I am a purist. The only thing I like with chocolate is more chocolate :)

      1. nep*

        +1
        Another thing I can’t indulge in too often as the sugar does a number on my stomach. But man it’s such a great experience.

      2. violet04*

        Same here! I don’t like the fruit and chocolate combo. I don’t like chocolate and peanut butter or any type of peanut butter dessert. I can do peanut butter in savory dishes.

      3. oranges & lemons*

        I’m the opposite! I like fruit and chocolate together, but I find chocolate a bit cloying on its own (sacrilege, I know). I find the fruit tends to brighten it up a bit.

        1. allathian*

          And another one, when going to a fast food restaurant was an option, I loved dipping fries in chocolate sundae…

      1. Paris Geller*

        I don’t know how unusual it truly is since stores sell it, but many of the people around me find it gross, and I love a sweet goat cheese. There’s a common goat cheese brand that sells blueberry vanilla goat cheese, and I’ll often go through a whole little log for dinner with crackers + honey.

        Also, perhaps not that unusual because sweet + salty combos like chocolate pretzels are popular, but one I love that I don’t see as often is potato chips + chocolate.

      2. Decidedly Me*

        Haven’t tried it since I was a kid, but my mom used to make us a bowl of Cheerios (with milk) and add bacon on top! It was really good, though not sure if I’d like it now.

        1. Filosofickle*

          I grew up with PB & pickle sandwiches as an special treat from Dad. (Mom was grossed out by it.) Haven’t had it in decades…even though I know rationally that I loved it, it just sounds weird too weird to try again now!

      3. Coenobita*

        Mixing diet coke (or whatever your preferred cola is) with apple cider, as a sort of mocktail. I have no idea why I ever thought to try this, but I love it.

        1. Ginger ale for all*

          Diet coke and blue Powerade from the soda fountain is a good combination. The slight bitterness of the diet coke is masked.

          1. Coenobita*

            I can see that! It’s not too different from diet coke + lemonade, my mom’s soda fountain go-to. The blue must make for kind of a weird color, though!

      4. CoffeeforLife*

        I love smoky paprika on my fruit and feta on watermelon-with a dash of paprika. Or the trader joe’s chili lime (like tajine but better)

        1. GoryDetails*

          Feta and watermelon is a match made in heaven! (My father used to salt his melons and I never understood it as a kid – I just wanted more sweetness. But when I grew up I discovered the joys of salt on melons, and feta adds its own salty/creamy/tangy note.)

      5. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Sweet & salty! There was a diner where I grew up that served Monte Cristo sandwiches with a pickle or maple syrup… and I would ask for both.
        Even weirder, vanilla cake frosting on salty tortilla chips.
        I keep meaning to try the southern combo that made into an 80s country song: putting peanuts into Coke.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          My daughter reminds me of the unholy concoction (my words LOL) she creates when I make Thai tea. She mixes it with powdered hot chocolate.
          Tea and chocolate…. her thing not mine.

      6. *daha**

        I used to go to CiCi’s pizza buffet every so often. The policy was that you could ask them to make one up the way you wanted if they didn’t have one you liked sitting ready. I always asked for Pineapple, Onion, and Anchovies. The salt from the anchovies added to the acid from the pineapple and the sweet from caramelized onion. Bonus: It was always hot fresh and nobody ever competed with me for it.

      1. Paris Geller*

        I agree! Mint chocolate chip ice cream is an unholy combination that ruins one of my favorite things (my favorite thing being the ice cream)

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Mint ice cream tastes like Milk of Magnesia to me even before I get to the cold waxy bits of chocolate.

      2. Yellow Warbler*

        I taught myself to love this combo, because my husband hates it. He is a locust, and it was the only way to have a treat that doesn’t disappear when my back is turned.

        1. Coenobita*

          hahaha, I’ve done something similar with coffee flavor. Coffee ice cream is the only ice cream that lasts long enough in our house for me to eat it.

      3. Frally*

        Same here! I hate mint with chocolate.
        I like mint toothpaste, mint gum, mint sucking candies, and that’s it!!

    6. Generic Name*

      I hate fruit and meat together. Like pineapple on ham, or mango salsa and whatever meat they like to throw it on. I’m a Midwesterner, and meat should be savory, dammit.

      1. Coenobita*

        Me too! I don’t eat a lot of meat but when I do I want it to taste like, you know, meat. I feel similarly about pumpkin beer – I enjoy beer and I enjoy pumpkin (both the actual squash and the pie spice), but why would you mess them both up by mixing them?

    7. Sunflower*

      I don’t really like bacon on anything. I LOVE bacon by itself but the obsession with bacon on everything- I think it ruins it the main dish. Ketchup on any sort of breakfast dish- eggs or potatoes. Of course, ketchup on French fries is acceptable but it being paired with my breakfast food just feels wrong.

    8. Mx*

      Peanut butter and jam. I like them both, but separately !
      Any combination of sweet and salty. Pineapple on a pizza or apple in a vegs salad for instance

    9. OyHiOh*

      Same with the orange/chocolate combo. Just don’t get it. It’s something about the ability of citrus juices to curdle milk proteins – obviously orange or lemon flavor in chocolate isn’t curdling anything but in my brain, it doesn’t work.

      Mint in coffee is another big no go for me.

        1. OyHiOh*

          Mint oil used the flavor beans, or mint flavored syrup in espresso coffee drinks. I’m guessing those are peppermint.

          I like peppermint/spearmint/wintergreen candies. I like peppermint/spearmint/wintergreen tisanes. Mint flavor in chocolate is ok, though not my favorite. But not in coffee.

    10. Sister Michael, Judo Blackbelt*

      I also am not a fan of the orange/chocolate combo, but my spouse absolutely loves it. For me I think it’s the artificial orange flavoring. I made dark chocolate orange biscotti last holidays and liked those because it used fresh orange juice and zest.

      I also don’t like the pumpkin/pumpkin spice flavor in everything. I once saw pumpkin spice cheese curds and that was too far.

    11. Yellow Warbler*

      PB with chocolate is gross. PB should be salty, it doesn’t belong in desserts. This is an unpopular hill I will die on.

        1. fposte*

          I won’t die on it, but I’ll definitely stand firmly until it seems inadvisable. Fortunately, people who do like peanut butter in sweets are usually happy to have mine, and I’m happy to have a “safe” category that I won’t just plow through.

        1. Myrin*

          I think that’s very typical for Europeans – except for my sister, who sometimes bakes cookies with it which I immediately ban into an airtight container because I hate their smell, I don’t know a single person who doesn’t find PB at least mildly disgusting.
          Which I think is a very interesting topic in general, what kinds of food a people as a culture find acceptable simply because they are everywhere and what everyone grows up with/is used to.

    12. Llama face!*

      Ketchup (catsup for you americans) on scrambled eggs or omelettes. Blech!
      Also any berry flavours (particularly raspberry) with chocolate. Love them individually but not together.
      Peanut butter and jam on sandwiches. The only thing I like that’s close to it is peanut butter and ginger marmalade (I know it sounds weird but don’t knock it til you’ve tried it!).

        1. Llama face!*

          Good to know! I’d seen the catsup spelling mentioned online as a U.S.-specific variation so I had the impression it was the default down south (like all your words missing the letter U ;) ).

        1. Three Pines Visitor*

          ANYTHING with ginger marmalade! Alas, it is no longer available in the US — everything listed online has been “out of stock” or “no longer available” for several years now. Anybody here from Scotland who knows what happened to James Keiller & Sons of Dundee, who made the preserves and also some wonderful orange marmalade?

          1. pancakes*

            Myers of Keswick (NYC shop for imports) carries ginger marmalade. It’s local for me but they might do shipping.

          2. Llama face!*

            Aww that’s too bad. It is hard to find here too (I’m in Canada) but a few stores do sell one that is an imported UK brand: Robertsons. I stock up when I find it!

          3. D'Euly*

            Trappist Preserves is still going strong! Delicious. You can order online via Monastery Greetings if you don’t have a local store which will stock it for you.

    13. Helvetica*

      Chocolate ice cream. I like chocolate and I like ice cream but I don’t think chocolate ice cream is a good flavour combination because it doesn’t taste like either of those things but something inbetween.

      I find a lot of fruit flavours unappetizing because they are so far removed from the actual fruit taste. I like strawberries but nothing flavoured like strawberry and I like blueberries but fx blueberry juice tastes like soap to me, even if mixed with other juices.

      1. Emily*

        I’ve come around to chocolate ice cream, but I used to dislike it for the same reason! I feel similarly about some chocolate cakes – I prefer my chocolate to be fairly chocolatey, I guess.

      2. Pharmgirl*

        Same! Chocolate ice cream just doesn’t have a good chocolate flavor. I will say Jeni’s DarkestChocolate is the best one I’ve found, but I will never go for a chocolate based ice cream.

    14. Maggie*

      Haha I love chocolate and orange! Its amazing! Peanut butter and banana I dont like really. Or anything with pickle. Why are we putting pickles in everything! Stop!

    15. WellRed*

      Broadly speaking, I don’t think every fruit flavor needs to be brewed into beer (pomegranate? Blueberry?). For that matter when does a margarita stop being a margarita and become a fruity tequila drink?

      1. Yellow Warbler*

        I worked at a microbrew bar for years, so I feel qualified to opine on unusual beers as a whole.

        Most fruit-flavored beers are just regularly-brewed beer with added fruit flavor. They tend to taste artificial. Sam Adams Cherry Wheat in particular tastes like cough syrup.

        But, actual fermented fruit, like a lambic, is a whole other ball game. That stuff is divine, but it’s expensive. Instead of adding a particular chosen yeast to a sealed recipe, brewers leave the vats open and let chance do the work. The result isn’t always drinkable, thus the price. Some brewers try to bring the price down (and the consistency up) by adding syrups instead of actual fruit, but the result is inferior.

        TL;DR: Drink an actual Belgian lambic, like a framboise, if you’re into fruity beers. Avoid the weird US fake lollipop crap.

        1. Generic Name*

          I love raspberry lambic! Interesting about different batches tasting different based on the yeast that decided to settle into the vats. I’ve definitely noticed a flavor variation from bottle to bottle over the years.

    16. Chaordic One*

      I’ve never really understood cranberry sauce. It seems fine by itself, but it doesn’t really go with anything. I see people mixing cranberry sauce with turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, and eating it in the same big forkful. Similarly, I don’t really like fruit salads or most sweet jello salads with most meals. They seem more like desserts than part of the meal itself. It seems strange to me, mixing of sweet and savory flavors at the same time.

      Lastly, I find it odd that “chicken and waffles” is a thing. When I lived in So Cal there was a popular chain of restaurants, “Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles,” and it still seems bizarre to me.

      OTOH, my mother has this strange obsession with peas. She serves them with everything, with hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, barbecue. My sisters and I have teased her about serving “inappropriate vegetables,” but she doesn’t seem to take the hint. “Would you like some peas with your pizza?” “Um, no thanks, Mom. I’m good.”

      1. Filosofickle*

        I also do not enjoy chicken and waffles. For me it goes with the above thread about not wanting sweet stuff near my meat — no syrup touching my fried chicken! Or my bacon or sausage or anything else that comes on a breakfast plate. Gross.

      2. Pharmgirl*

        This may be weird, but I actually really enjoy cranberry sauce on a breakfast sandwich – homemade cranberry sauce, a good sharp cheddar, and an egg. My favorite part of thanksgiving leftovers!

        1. pancakes*

          It’s not quite my favorite part of Thanksgiving but I do like it with a good cheddar too. Also like chicken and waffles. For a couple years I lived dangerously close to Amy Ruth’s in Harlem, which makes a particularly good rendition of it.

    17. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Many of my food dislikes I can link to illness. Since were talking combos… I loved mint & chocolate until I came down with a nasty stomach bug shortly after overindulging on York Peppermint Patties.
      And coconut flavored coffee just smells like someone spilled Ban de Soleil into the pot…I am not a fan.

      1. TX Lizard*

        That’s how I am with olive oil! As a kid I once ate an ungodly amount of plain spaghetti with olive oil. It made a very dramatic reappearance and now I don’t like the smell of olive oil and can’t eat plain pasta. I still cook with it, there just needs to be other flavors and smells with it.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          My daughter had coffee smell ruined for her because when she was a toddler we travelled with an empty coffee container in the car for when she got carsick. And she tells me we used it by her bed too.

    18. A313*

      I knew someone who insisted that jelly belonged on an Egg McMuffin and Sausage McMuffin with Egg because the McDonald’s employees would always give you jelly with your order. The jelly-and-egg thing makes me nauseous to think about even now, and back then I really liked (unjellied) McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches (now, my digestive system isn’t what it once was, so either way, they’re out).

    19. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Lamb with mint sauce is a classic combo in the UK and I find it utterly revolting. I’m not averse to fruit and meat together in general so it’s not a sweet and savory issue, but the mint is just yuck to me. But I’m ok with mint and chocolate.

      1. Virginia Plain*

        Have you ever had the mint sauce home made, or just shop-bought from a jar? The latter is revoltingly sweet imho but home made is much nicer. A big handful of chopped fresh mint, a small spoon of sugar and a splash of water from the kettle. Then a good glug of malt vinegar. Much fresher tasting.
        This is a deeply held belief for me, along with the evil that is packet stuffing. Paxo can get in the bin!

        1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          My in-laws are major foodies and they have made what I’m sure was a beautiful homemade sauce with fresh mint from the garden, and yeah. I felt so rude but I did not like it one bit. Fortunately my husband doesn’t either so I felt less bad saying that it wasn’t for me.

    20. anonforthis*

      I’m also not a fan of chocolate paired with fruity flavors. (Also see: chocolate and raspberry.) Though I can see why other people might like it. Chocolate and orange is really weird now I think about it since orange is citrus, and citrus doesn’t touch anything dairy in my books.

    21. Virginia Plain*

      Sweet chilli sauce! It’s everywhere, even as a flavouring for crisps. And it’s like…spicy jam. Ick. It’s so sugary, way too sweet for me to use with any savoury food. (And too harshly spicy to go with anything sweet, had that ever occurred to me).

    22. NRG*

      Orange and banana together. There used to be “pine-orange-banana” juice that was the worst drink ever. I don’t know if it still exists because I don’t buy orange juice of any kind.

    23. oranges & lemons*

      I think mayonnaise ruins most things it comes in contact with. I do like chipotle mayo on a taco, but most of the time it overpowers whatever it’s supposed to be seasoning. Egg salad: worst culinary invention of all time.

  24. Autumn*

    I’m listening to the audio of “You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey” by Amber Ruffin and her sister Lacey Lamar and I think AAM readers would – not exactly enjoy it, it’s horrifying – but appreciate it. Amber Ruffin is a comedian, so it’s funny, but the stories of racism in the workplace (and out too, but mostly at work) experienced by just one woman are really excruciating. If you’re into audiobooks, it’s worth the listen but the book has some (described in the audio) visuals that I want to see as well. Link to the publisher’s website with a couple video clips of the authors in reply.

    1. fposte*

      I bought that book! It’s a great read. I wish I’d thought of the audiobook, though, because I bet it’s at its best that way.

      1. Autumn*

        It really is worth it. Maybe your library has it? The only thing is, they are sisters, so sometimes it’s hard to tell which one is speaking. As someone who sounds exactly like all her sisters, I found it charming though!

        1. fposte*

          Amber has such a distinct voice that I heard it in my head while reading, but I bet hearing it aloud would be even better. I’ll definitely look for it from the library.

    2. Bluebell*

      I bought the hardback and have reserved the audiobook at my library. I also bought a copy for my sister, who works in HR. It’s so funny, but also uncomfortable.

  25. fposte*

    In case anyone was on tenterhooks, I went to the doctor that included the functional medicine forms in intake, I didn’t fill out those forms, and I never heard a peep. Everyone was very nice and while she did rattle on about her interest in functional medicine, I had a mask on so I didn’t have to stay poker-faced and honestly I find it kind of soothing to hear somebody ramble about stuff.

    On another note: Google Maps navigation went seriously haywire. It was slow, telling me too late on turns, and it kept thinking I was on surface streets near the interstate instead of being on the interstate (I’d be driving along on the interstate with 30 miles till my exit and it would suddenly tell me “Turn right on Bitter Apple Lane”). Anybody familiar with this problem? I don’t know if it’s Google Maps or the GPS in my phone.

    1. Incessant Owlbears*

      That Google Maps thing happens to me all the time. I’m always chastising it, “I’ve been on to freeway for miles and miles now, and you think I suddenly teleported next to the freeway?? You’re drunk, Google Maps; go home.”

      1. fposte*

        “Drunk” was the very word I used. I even obeyed it the first time it hauled me off the interstate, since there is a bit of interchange drama at that spot and I thought it knew about construction. Nope–that was just the harbinger of things to come.

        1. Generic Name*

          Oh no! I hope you weren’t late! I like to use my navigation app because I appreciate knowing what time I’ll get to places, even if I know how to get someplace. More than once the app glitched in the same way. It’s also happened the other way around. Like if I exited the freeway early (to get gas or something) and the app thinks I’m still on the freeway when I’m on the road next to it.

          1. fposte*

            No, fortunately I’m too time-paranoid for that, and I knew the general area enough that I couldn’t go too far wrong. But it was funny how the rot slowly started to set in, and only on the way back did I realize I’d performed an entirely unnecessary detour.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        It once told me to turn left in the middle of the highway. Only thing to the left was the concrete barrier and oncoming traffic. Yeah, no.

      3. Girasol*

        We used to have voice directions on a GPS device in the truck that would say, “Turn right in 100 feet. Turn right NOW!” as we were driving through the desert on a long empty road with twenty miles of continuous barbed wire fence on both sides and no side roads anywhere, not even a wide spot for a pull-out. We’d keep going. Then it would panic and try to turn us back to that point in the middle of nowhere where it thought we should have turned. “Turn left then left again. TURN LEFT NOW!” And when we passed that point, it would try another time or two to circle us back around. At last it would give up and say calmly, “Continue on route.” I imagined its little electronic mind was thinking, “I give up! I tried to help you but no, you wouldn’t listen. So you just go your own way and do whatever you want to do. See if I care.” I always thought I detected a passive aggressive tone in its mechanical voice.

    2. RagingADHD*

      With the Maps were you in a location you’d never been before, and is it possible it wasn’t mapped well?

      I had a lot of freaky GM experiences when I was in a small rural town visiting relatives – including being told to turn on roads that didn’t exist, roads in another town, roads in my hometown, and exits on the opposite side of the freeway.

      I think they just didn’t have a lot of users there and didn’t have good records. It was like being in the Bermuda Triangle.

      1. Ya can't get there from here*

        Small roads in Maine omg… we have friends whose stretch of road does not exist according to Google. The road goes between two towns and Google refuses to acknowledge the numbers restart at the border. Their standard directions to visitors are to follow Google Maps until you get to XYZ, after which you turn off Google and follow these turns.

        1. WS*

          Yeah, I’m in a rural area in Australia and the directions to my house are totally wrong. And I’m in town and everything!

    3. Observer*

      I would try a different map app and also a different phone.

      It could be either or a combination of both.

  26. GoryDetails*

    Reading thread! (There are a couple of posts up-thread about specific books, but this one’s about anything you’ve read/are reading.)

    Most recently I really enjoyed REMEMBERING THE BONES by Frances Itani; it’s from the viewpoint of an 80-year-old Canadian woman who, on her way to England for a breakfast with the Queen (whose birthday she shares), has a car accident – and ends up lying injured at the base of a ravine not far from her house, but invisible to passers by. Sounds grim, and sometimes is, but most of the book consists of her recollections of her life and family, unfolding in touching, funny, sad, hopeful detail.

    On audio, I’m listening to WINTER WORLD by A. G. Riddle, a science fiction novel – first of a trilogy – that starts out with attempts to find out if a strange new artifact spotted in the solar system might be contributing to the onset of a global ice age, and escalates to efforts to strike back. (It does have some flaws – the hero has a Dark Secret that most of the world knows already but that for reasons I cannot fathom he has yet to tell his curious-but-patient love-interest, despite their having months alone together. Seems out of character as well as vastly frustrating. If he tells her and she leaps to conclusions I will virtually hurl the book across the room.)

    On the lighter side, TOUCAN KEEP A SECRET by Donna Andrews is another rollicking mystery featuring blacksmith-turned-sleuth Meg Langslow and her increasingly-extended group of family and friends. This one includes a “let’s reconstruct the crime!” bit that – given the characters involved – turns into a full-blown production complete with director, huge cast and crew, and special effects.

    1. Sister Michael, Judo Blackbelt*

      I’m currently reading The Rival Queens by Nancy Goldstone. It’s a history of the relationship between Catherine de Medici, Queen of France, and her daughter, Marguerite de Valois during the French Wars of Religion. I really appreciate the truly funny footnotes scattered throughout.

      I also just got Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America 1619-2019, edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain, which I am very excited to dive into.

      1. Blergh*

        Eep, I had a much different experience with The Rival Queens – I found that the “Marguerite was AMAZING and did SO MUCH and we are not going to investigate the negatives at all” tone got old really quickly for me. Although that was also my issue with her book “Four Queens” as well – I find that she gets very protective of her subject in a way that irks me.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I recently listened to the audiobook of “Gods of Jade and Shadow” and it was fantastic, the type of book I was excited to make time for and disappointed when I realized it was over. I love a fairy tale based on less well-known lore (Mayan) and familiar tropes done differently. I’d love to see a movie version because I think it would be visually stunning, but also I’m worried they would mess it up lol

    3. Jen Erik*

      Best book I’ve read recently is ‘Eat Like the Animals’ by David Raubenheimer, which my daughter was given for Christmas. It made me buy an ice cream maker: not sure that was the author’s intention.
      It was a fascinating read – the sort of thing that you keep reading bits aloud to whoever else is unfortunate enough to be in the room at the time. And it has changed the way I think about appetite and healthy eating.

    4. violet04*

      Currently reading Naked in Death by J.D. Robb. It’s about a detective named Eve Dallas and takes place in NYC in 2058. I think the book was written in 1995 so it’s interesting to see how the future was envisioned back then.

    5. CTT*

      I’m almost done with the English translation of Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann. It takes a medieval German folklore trickster character and sets him in the Thirty Years’ War. It’s not what I expected, but in a good way – instead of staying with Tyll, it jumps around different times and different characters’ perspectives (the exiled King and Queen of Bohemia, a Jesuit scholar, an earl). I had read the New Yorker’s review of it when the translation came out, and then I saw that the creators of “Dark” had optioned the rights to make it into a series for Netflix (who knows if that will happen now – I’ve heard that the pandemic has created a backlog in the production pipeline, but I can dream!).

      I’m also about to go on a solo/distanced vacation and I’m bringing so many books with me, I cannot wait!

    6. RagingADHD*

      The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz. It’s not what I expected, but I love it. He is sooooo good at creating “hooks” and serving up twists.

    7. lapgiraffe*

      I read two great things this week, first Mill Town by Kerri Arsenault, couldn’t put it down! I’d use my own words to describe it, but I did that in a text to a friend yesterday, then I sent her the author’s website, and while there read her synopsis and was like “this is so much better than how I just described it.” So from the author’s website:

      I grew up in the rural town of Mexico, Maine, where for over 100 years the community orbited around a paper mill that provided jobs for most people, including three generations of my family. I had a happy childhood, but years after I moved away, I realized the price I paid for that childhood. The price we all paid. The mill, while providing community, work, and stability, also contributed to the destruction of the environment and our health.

      Mill Town is a book of narrative nonfiction, investigative memoir, and cultural criticism that illuminate the rise and collapse of the working-class, the hazards of loving and leaving home, and the ambiguous nature of toxics and disease with the central question; Who or what are we willing to sacrifice for our own survival?

    8. lapgiraffe*

      The second book I read and thoroughly enjoyed was Make Your Move by Jon Birger, which is a follow up to his first book on dating, Date-Onomics. The first book is apparently a cold hard look how gender ratios of college educated people have skewed over the last three decades and, if you are a college educated woman looking for a college educated man, well good luck to you because there are not nearly enough of them to go round. I didn’t find it to be that cold hearted – I felt something akin to relief that it is not necessarily me but rather the odds just aren’t in my favor – but I guess he got a lot of feedback that it didn’t offer up enough “solutions” and left readers (straight single women) rather disheartened.

      The follow up outlines some thoughts on women taking charge of their romantic pursuits, kinda an anti-The Rules minded philosophy. Along with throwing away the playing hard to get nonsense, he lays out reasons why online dating should only be used in very specific circumstances but is otherwise useless, why college educated women shouldn’t discount “blue collar” men as potential husbands, why being the active “chooser” gets you better results than being passively chosen, so to speak, among other ideas. It’s preaching to the choir with me, but I am hoping it will inspire my good friend to ditch Hinge and be bold. And fwiw, I’m not into self help books or dating books ever, and I appreciate a little more of an “economics” take on interpersonal relationships, not just romantic.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My family is reading The Lord of the Rings out loud–it’s the second time my husband and I have done this, and the first time for my daughter. Reading it out loud, you can hear that every single thing Tom Bombadil says is in verse. It makes cleaning up after dinner something to look forward to.

    10. Anono-me*

      Thanks to Nacho and a post asking about Fan fic recommendations two weeks ago; I am reading the Alexandra Quick Harry Potter Fan Fic series .

    11. Anon and alone*

      I’m currently reading “Saving Justice: Truth, Transparency, And Trust” by James Comey and I just finished 4 W. Bruce Cameron books “A Dog’s Purpose”, “A Dog’s Journey”, “A Dog’s Promise”, and “A Dog’s Way Home”. All are from my local library.

    12. not my real name*

      I am currently re reading the series of Undead books by MaryJanice Davidson. I know vampires. Am I right? The books are hilarious. The main character is Betsy Taylor who, before her death, was attacked by animal like vampires called fiends. Several months later, she dies and wakes up as a vampire. Turns out she is special and becomes a vampire queen. She is totally irreverent, has a potty mouth and can be a bit of a trial at times. The first book is Undead and Unwed. That one has a semi graphic sex scene in it but subsequent books doesn’t get into great detail which I appreciate. They are not for everyone, but I do suggest that you at least try it. You just may like it.

    13. Bluebell*

      Two recent reads I recommend- The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg. Woman travels to Cuba and thinks she sees her dead husband. Really eerie and I enjoyed the Cuba setting. I also just finished Rodham by Curtis Sittenfield and it was fantastic. Her reimagining of Hillary’s life if she hadn’t married Bill totally sucked me in, and I loved the way she used actual words that she and Bill and others used, and just changed the context.

  27. Ali G*

    So I have a definite First World Problem.
    Here’s my question: If you are a person that outsources the cleaning of your home, do you just have to accept that the people cleaning don’t care about your stuff as much as you do?
    We have cleaners that come every other week. As for actual cleaning, they do a good job. I am rarely finding obvious dirt, or things they’ve missed. But, they continually mark up our walls with their black vacuum, we have a black line around the entire perimeter of the house on the baseboards and on the riser of every step. They’ve used our good tea towels to clean and ruined them (we now put everything away), and I just figured out that they’ve been using our rags and taking them away when they go. They are just ripped up old shirts, but they are supposed to bring all their own supplies, and not only are they using our stuff, they are removing it from the house.
    There are other things like banging up the kick plates in the kitchen, too. We’ve texted the business owner (her English isn’t great, so test or email is better than calling), but it keeps going.
    But, these are not our first cleaning service. We had a different service before and they broke things all the time and didn’t tell us, so we stopped using them.
    Are these things we should just put up with because we choose to not clean ourselves? Or is it possible to have cleaners that don’t break stuff and mark up your walls? I don’t want to put in the effort to find a new service, if this is just par for the course.

    1. nep*

      Oh my goodness, it can’t be that you just have to accept this as part of having a cleaning service. I’ve never had anyone come in and clean my house (while here in the US), but I can’t fathom that’s in any way acceptable. Sounds sloppy and careless to me–and I imagine you’re putting out some considerable money for it.

      1. nep*

        (I wonder whether I’m way off base because no experience w this…I’ll be interested in responses here.)

    2. Green Snickers*

      My parents have a cleaner and have never experienced something like this before! It sounds like you might be going through some sort of larger service which makes it more likely their workers are short term or maybe just aren’t as concerned with the quality of work.

      I’d try to find someone who works for themselves and runs everything themselves. Check with neighbors or friends for references.

    3. Jessi*

      Maybe get a one person service – so it’s always the same person?

      We have a cleaning lady, always the same person who comes and she does a great job and none of our stuff has ever been broken

    4. Never Nicky*

      I’ve had a couple of cleaners, and both have probably taken *more* care of my home than I do.

      “A” once broke something (a vintage pot lid) and was mortified and was all for sourcing a replacement on eBay. She brought her own equipment.

      “S” uses her own cloths, but our vacuum, steamer and consumables. I think she’s taken cloths away with her by accident a couple of times but returned them washed.

      I wouldn’t say you have to put up with shoddy service because you choose not to clean yourself. Would you put up with terrible coffee from a coffee shop or a shop bought jumper full of holes because you could have made it yourself at home?

    5. lapgiraffe*

      This is NOT normal in my experience, on so many levels. Yes they bring their own things unless they have let you know of an exception ahead of time (my gals require a roll of paper towels and a trash bag). Mistakes happen, but what you’re describing is way beyond a mistake. I would straight up never use them again and I would tell them their complete lack of care and concern is why.

      I had luck with a service years ago but it was truly luck. We loved our cleaner but anytime she went of vacation we were never pleased with whoever filled in. I’ve had much better luck with referrals for women who work for themselves and/or run a very small operation. I also feel better that more of the money is going directly to the cleaner herself (I used to tip outrageously for the woman from the service). It’s likely the service you’re using requires a rush, and therefore careless, job in order to get on as many homes in one day as possible. No matter the reason what you’re experiencing is totally unacceptable.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Time for new cleaners. Seriously. I do my own cleaning and I am a klutz. Yet, my walls are not scuffed up. If I can clean without scuffing the walls, then most people should be able to do that. I don’t think that is unreasonable at all.
      As far as taking your stuff- I don’t care if it’s cleaning rags they are still YOUR rags. Not acceptable. Probably they will use those rags on other jobs and make money doing so. Nope, nope, nope.

      I had a contractor here who took a couple of my tools home with them. As part of the confrontation he was told that those were my late father’s and my late husband’s tools. Instead of showing upset and remorse, the contractor LAUGHED. Done. That contractor will never come back here. You know screwdrivers are like pens and pencils, people pick them up and forget where they got it. It’s an easy mistake to make, just own it. Don’t laugh at the owner of the item. smh.
      So now I am really on it about people taking my stuff. If they bring it back then okay, that’s fine. If I have to point it out to them and they seem upset by their error then we are okay. But just blatantly ripping me off is not acceptable.

    7. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Not normal in my experience. I’ve had the same cleaner for about 9 years, and haven’t had any real issues. The only slightly annoying thing that she does is put the cleaning supplies back in the wrong place, but I’m not going to complain about that. It sounds like you either need to address the issues with the owner, or look for a new service. I would try to resolve it first, because they probably don’t realize that these things are bothering you (and they should; all of those things are super annoying).

    8. fposte*

      I’ve used a few different cleaners and I would agree that’s not normal. I’ve supplied material for cleaners *by agreement*–they never just grab my non-disposable stuff and use it. I’ve only had one thing broken and it was a pre-broken mended thing that I actually warned the person about because I didn’t want her to get hurt on it.

      What you describe with the vacuum marks sounds extreme. However, I’ve had some of those, especially from the cord, with both cleaners who used my materials and the cleaners who brought their own. I don’t know how the kickplate is getting banged up but that might fit under the same umbrella. I think in general “Please do this thing more carefully” may be a harder message to convey than “Can you do the stairs with this tool instead?” Or, alternatively, tipping generously for the times things don’t get banged up, since it’s probably a result of time being money for cleaners.

      I do think there are tradeoffs with cleaners, and you’re never going to be paying somebody to do things the exact way you do. It’s a question of figuring out what your dealbreakers are and finding a good fit for them.

    9. Asenath*

      I think it’s like any work situation – you point out what is unacceptable (and, yes, what you describe is unacceptable), state what you require, and if the other person cannot or will not provide service at that level, you find a replacement. I don’t hire cleaners myself, but a couple of my family members have done so or are doing so, and did not have those problems. One had to fire a cleaner who turned up late or not at all at increasingly erratic intervals without notice (or rather, stopped calling her to schedule new dates and time) and then went with a service which was better, at least back when they were still coming in the house. She’s still paying them since it’s not their fault they can’t do in person cleaning, and they sometimes run an outside errand or so instead. Taking your supplies, ruining good towels that they think are cleaning rags, and damaging the walls is not acceptable to my mind.

    10. Texan In Exile*

      When I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile, it was cheaper to have a cleaning lady come to the house I shared with another volunteer and wash our clothes by hand than to take them to the laundry service. Plus, I thought, we would get a clean house out of it.

      I was home sick one day so watched her work.

      And discovered she was using my vegetable brush to clean the toilet.

      (I actually wrote the entire story for my blog for tomorrow’s post! https://wisconsin101.home.blog/)

    11. chopsticks*

      I’ve had the same cleaners for almost four years. They come every other week with their own cleaning supplies. They are very careful in our house – they’ve never left any damage, marks, etc. They are a young couple running their own business and they clearly take pride in it.

    12. Fellow Traveler*

      I completely echo the above-this is not par for the course. At all.
      Also- if they are breaking things, or damaging things they should have insurance that covers remedying the situation?
      We’ve had the same cleaner for eight year since and she is respectful of our things (she doesn’t even throw out the little bits of paper she finds around the house- just smooths hem out an neatly sticks them for us to go through ), brings all her own supplies, and when we got a new kitchen griddle, she left us a new cleaning scrub that she says works really well on that kind of thing.
      Find new ones! You are paying them too much money to be unhappy with how they leave your house. I mean, even if some of this stuff were “normal”, if it makes your unhappy, you should not have to live with it.

    13. Ali G*

      OMG thank you all! I was going crazy, since I seem to have only had bad experiences! I really appreciate it. I will start looking for cleaners that are the same person every time. I think that might be the trick.

    14. AnotherRedHeadedOne*

      This is neither usual nor acceptable. Owing to health issues have had housecleaning happen since 2018. Nothing broken or taken. Just sparkling clean. My best suggestion to find a new service is word of mouth via local email lists. Hope you get it settled soon.

    15. Maggie*

      No thats all unacceptable, you should find a new service. Marking up the walls? Theyre suppose to be cleaning. You’re not a dick for wanting the service to clean instead of marking up your walls and taking your rags. Lol though I might let the rag thing go.

    16. Chilipepper*

      I have cleaners now and none of this happens. I don’t think this is something you need to live with!

    17. Jenny*

      No, this is completely unacceptable. I used to do some cleaning when I did some nannying and would have never done any of this.

    18. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Noooooooo absolutely not, I would not continue to use a house cleaner that did … like, any of those things, let alone all of them.

    19. Melody Pond*

      I actually worked for a small housecleaning company several years ago – for like a month, I wasn’t actually good at it. :-P

      But I remember all of our trainings and the major standard practices we adhered to, and WOW none of what you’ve described would fly. Fire those cleaners.

    20. saf*

      I have a housecleaner. She would never. I mean, things break, but not often, and they are rarely things that surprise me. She’s generally pretty careful.

      But I had a service before. And they were truly bad about putting things back where they belong, and they used scented products even after we asked repeatedly, and paid the premium, for unscented. They got fired.

  28. Green Snickers*

    Are you living (or do you know anyone who lives) what someone would consider an ‘unconventional life?’ aka not in line with what society tells us will make us happy? Are they happy, financially secure? What are the trade-offs? Had you ever considered it and decided to stick with what you know?

    I turned 31 last year and have spent the last year really re-evaluating what I enjoy, value and find important in life. I decided about a year ago that I don’t think I want to have kids- which set off a series of reconsidering ‘what other things has society pushed on us as ‘normal things to want/do’ that I don’t actually want’. I’ve always been a bit of a workaholic, thinking I’d be generally rewarded with promotions and $$- finally realizing after 7 years that’s not the way it always goes. I see the life a lot of people my age are living and that doesn’t feel right to me. Living and working in NYC, it’s such a grind and I’m starting to realize why people do a 180 and move to an extreme opposite when they leave.

    I know a few people who make their income off a seasonal job and spend the rest of the year kind of doing as they please- yet my friends and others I know shame them for being ‘peter pans’. I understand the value a stable life and job has- there’s a reason so many people do it and it works for them but I’m just wondering if we are quick to discredit those who take a different path and why?

    I’m not up and out tomorrow (and I certainly don’t want to derail into work!) but I’d like to hear some perspectives from people who have considered this and the path they ended up going down.

    1. nep*

      Such a great post, interesting line of thinking.
      I live a life many would find irresponsible or lazy. But I choose not to have a life that causes me artificial/unnecessary stress.
      You have to do you and find your true peace. I know it sounds trite, but it’s true. How much does that ‘shaming’ by others really matter in the end? (Who knows what’s behind it anyway? Do they wish they could do the very thing they’re condemning? But anyway it doesn’t matter.) How much weight does that shaming have and why?
      Of course, if your actions affect another (a dependent, say), that’s something you have to consider.
      It’s great that you’re looking into how much of all this is conditioning–we are drowning in conditioning. It’s good to examine it.
      Bob Marley was born 6 Feb 1945–putting a link below to a video clip I posted this morning.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Some of it boils down to what you consider normal. My father had a white collar job and worked 5 days a week. You could set your clock by his at home arrival time. He was home at the same time every night. This is what I grew up knowing. Gosh, I was naïve.

      I spent a summer working at an amusement park. I remember talking to the carnival workers there. It was a very different life style. I remember a mother-daughter team that were both bald on the top if their heads. The daughter explained that was from doing head stands on her mother’s head. Their oils mixed and stopped the hair growth she said. I was 18. I thought to myself, “What else don’t I know about life?” And I have never really stopped asking that question.

      My friend is a carpenter. Most of his work is seasonal. So there is that wintertime lull and that can be hard. Added wrinkle he did not want to make a ton of money. He so very much undercharged people, his prices were incredible. And he got stiffed, people would not pay him. I told him he had to move to $20 per hour. “You have to charge a price that demands respect,” I said. (He was charging $15/ hr.) And we ARGUED. You would have thought I was trying to attack him or something. Finally he moved to $20 per hour. A few years later, I started on him again, “You are worth more than $20 per hour!” This time the argument was not so long or intense. Fast forward, to now, I think he is getting $35 per hour. The guy simply does not want to make a lot of money.
      I think he is happier with the higher pay rate. He works less and he can be choosey about the jobs he does and the people he works for. He has control over what his work life looks like. And I was right, people pay him, he does not get stiffed any more. The guy is very talented, he can take scraps and make a room look like something out of a magazine.
      He hunts and fishes. He does his own butchering. He collects fiddlehead ferns, dandelion leaves and so on for his food. Yeah, he does grocery shop, aging (and lyme disease) causes this to happen. But he still has a very different life style. I can’t do it but he can’t do my life style so I guess we are even?

    3. fposte*

      I think “unconventional where and to whom?” is a relevant part of the question. I’m a single woman with no kids living on her own. I like it a lot. It’s not at all uncommon in academics, so I’ve never felt the kind of societal push you’re talking about. I don’t see any problem with making enough of a living without working the whole year, either (again, academics); it may be that you’re in a particularly judgy circle or region. Now, if they’re talking about this when they’re deciding whether or not to romance or live with such a person, I think that’s a legitimate question–not because somebody who works seasonally lesser, but because it can be a challenge to map different work intensity schedules onto each other, same as when somebody retires and the other person’s still working.

    4. Decidedly Me*

      Couple of folks I know:

      1. Her and her fiance saved enough money to quit their jobs and travel around in an RV for a year. They were just dating when this occurred and got engaged on the journey. Part way through, she realized that she enjoyed working and got a remote account management job (prior life: lawyer). They’ve been going for over a year now and are deciding when/ where to settle down.

      2. Digital nomad – she lives in different Airbnbs in different places (sometimes countries) for a few months at a time.

      3. She found a country she loved, but the pandemic necessitated a move back home. However, she recently got herself a camper van and is driving back to that country to find a place to camp and live from her van.

      All of these folks are happy with their decisions. I’m sure they get some naysayers, but it doesn’t change what they want :)

    5. Ali G*

      I always knew I didn’t want to have kids, but in my late 20s, I was single and realized I was fine with that, too. I did end up meeting someone and getting married, but specifically remember feeling at peace with the fact that I might not. I very much get what you are saying, both personally and professionally. I think as long as you can feel good about the choices you have made for your life, it doesn’t matter what others think.

    6. Helvetica*

      I work for the foreign service of my country (not the US) as a diplomat which means I’ll have to move every 3-4 years, between my country of origin and other countries. When I came into this career path, I thought about whether I’d be okay with such moves as they aren’t optional and I realized I would be, having lived abroad previously for an extended period twice before.
      But I know so many people who couldn’t fathom ever moving abroad, even if the process was made as easy as possible by their employer. They often ask if I don’t miss my country or family and while I do, at the same time…I don’t. I love going back to visit and I love my family but I have not got homesick and I’ve realized that I adapt really well to my circumstances, i.e. I don’t spend time thinking “oh X is so much easier in my home country” because that just breeds misery.
      Trade-off is that it is harder to find a partner who would be willing to do this with you but even there I am unconventional I guess – being partnered isn’t a priority for me and neither is having kids.

    7. Nela*

      I have a friend I hadn’t seen in years because she and her partner have been traveling the world, working remotely and running their own business. Her insta feed is full of beaches in remote locations and artsy city districts. But I think they’ve settled in London at the moment because she’s studying in an art program. (She already has an art degree from our country.)

      My career is not super unconventional, at least on the outside, but I think if people knew what my day to day is like they’d be surprised. I work from home in my freelance business, but I work fewer hours than the average person and spend more time writing, drawing, making videos, crafting… Those other creative endeavors are not lucrative, but they’re important to me and so I am satisfied with earning less money so I can use the free time. I don’t have the energy to sit and work for 12 hours like I did in my early 20s. I wish I did, but the reality is I need more rest than I used to, and I like to live slowly and with less stress. I grew up with workaholic parents and I was always resisting to them even as a student, I just didn’t want to have the kind of life they did.

      1. Spearmint*

        “I work from home in my freelance business, but I work fewer hours than the average person and spend more time writing, drawing, making videos, crafting… Those other creative endeavors are not lucrative, but they’re important to me and so I am satisfied with earning less money so I can use the free time.”

        I would love to have a life like this. I often feel resentful of the fact that I need to be on my work computer from 9-5 every weekday. I’m curious, how does one get to the point where they can make enough freelancing that they have a livable income while working less than 40 hours a week? It seems like a lot of freelancers end up working more than normal workers and have to deal with financial instability.

        1. Nela*

          I did it by increasing my pricing. I used to work many hours and barely making ends meet, because I was undercharging, but I felt bad about charging more. And then I found industry pricing guidelines and it blew my mind. I adjusted my prices and started raking it in by working normal hours.

          2020 was a terrible year financially because I had very few projects, but I had enough savings from the previous year so I didn’t have to worry about it. Only 4 years earlier that sort of thing felt unimaginable.

          And if the question is well how do you get away with charging more, the answer is find a clientele that can pay more. I no longer work with certain types of businesses because my pricing seems outrageous to them, but the companies I work with understand the value.

          That’s the short story anyway, there’s lots of stuff I did to raise my profile so that I’m not just another freelancer doing X, but an expert that gets invited to speak etc.

          It’s not easy, but it’s worth the effort.

    8. Spearmint*

      I have a friend who has spent the past few years working seasonal jobs with the forest service (being paid to hike and survey the land for research purposes) and then spends the offseason traveling or living with friends and family. It seems to work well for him, though he does have the safety net of a good relationship with his affluent parents and his lifestyle might be harder for people who don’t have that. He seems happy. He’s only in his mid-20s, though, and I wonder how sustainable this will be for him long-term, particularly if he ever has health problems and/or once he can’t be on his parents’ health insurance anymore. He’s not really saving much for retirement, either. That said, he can always change his mind if it becomes a problem so I don’t worry about him that much.

      I sometimes toy with the idea of saving up money and then working a part time job while going back to college for a second BA or an MA (with the possibility of a PhD program afterward) in a humanities or social science field for personal growth and development rather than professional development. I want to live a life the mind, etc., etc. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel comfortable enough to pull the trigger on it for financial reasons, but I don’t see anything wrong with it even though some might judge.

    9. RagingADHD*

      I expected to have a very unconventional life, but then found that I wanted marriage & kids, and to be there for aging loved ones, more.

      Right now I do fairly unconventional work, but the day to day pattern of my life is pretty staid.

      One aspect that made me slightly less unconventional even before meeting my husband, was considering how to meet my long term needs rather than immediate needs. This was long before the ACA, and I was doing creative and freelance work that didn’t come with health insurance.

      I realized that if I got hit by a bus, my parents would wind up paying my medical bills, because they would never leave me to deal with Medicaid or debt. So that made me think differently about my own needs and plans, what kind of income I needed, etc.

      I think that one thing that might cause some “squares” to be negative toward unconventional types is that they may have known people or been related to people who failed (or refused) to think long-term and then became a burden on others when they got sick, hurt, or too old to work.

      There are people with unconventional lives who are well provided for future needs. There are also a lot who live close to the bone and thrive on risk – but don’t consider who else they might be impacting with that risk.

      1. pancakes*

        A lot of people don’t have the privilege to be choosy about using Medicaid or taking on medical debt for reasons that have nothing to do with preferring creative work, though.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Of course, that is true.

          There are also people who don’t have the opportunity to live an “unconventional” life at all, for thousands of reasons.

          But since the thread is about choosing an unconventional path, I’m not sure how it pertains.

          1. pancakes*

            I’d push back on the idea that people who use Medicaid and people who have medical debt are a burden to others in just about any context, because I think it’s a pretty terrible way to talk about health and healthcare. Likewise the idea that only people who are “well provided for” should live unconventional lives.

    10. Wishing You Well*

      I decided very young not to have kids and I didn’t. It was more unusual when I was younger but it’s not that rare now.
      I hope everyone is very thoughtful and proactive about big life choices – not just about kids but also work. “Peter Pan” jobs sound idyllic, but time is relentless. The shaming you’re hearing might have a big undercurrent of worry. People wonder if their unconventional friends and family are going to stay solvent and what will happen if they don’t. Still, it would be better to keep those concerns to ourselves.

    11. nep*

      I’ve mentioned this on here before and while it’s not altogether relevant, it does go to the issue of we can never control what people think of us…
      I had someone who thinks he’s a friend email me he’s worried that I’m bordering on psychosis (yes, he used that word) because of what he heard from a mutual acquaintance about my COVID-prevention behavior. Yeah.
      One of my favourite sayings: ‘I used to worry about what people thought about me, till I tried to pay my bills with their opinions.’
      (I like Wishing You Well’s observation that perhaps friends are worried about a person’s financial situation. But in the end, nope, doesn’t matter.)

    12. Anon. Scientist*

      One of my closest friends is an itinerant writer/yoga instructor who spends a significant chunk of time in a poorly winterized cabin with a composting toilet and no running water at all in winter. When not there, she’s in ashrams or little month to month artist residencies. She makes enough money to live independently and support her travel, but she’s acutely aware that she doesn’t have a safety net. And she has a really hard time finding romantic partners who are good with her lifestyle. She always wanted to have kids, and it makes her sad that this lifestyle doesn’t really work with the sort of life she would want to have for her kids. She’s in her 40s, so this is not a passing thing.

    13. pancakes*

      I met a number of people who worked seasonal jobs and spent the rest of the year traveling while doing a study abroad program in rural northeastern India in college. One woman, for example, would work a few months on fishing boats in Alaska – grueling and dangerous, though fairly well-paying – every few years to fund her very inexpensive lifestyle over there. Whether this sort of thing is worthwhile depends entirely on what a person wants from life.

    14. Rescue Dog*

      I spent my twenties living an itinerant life I was very self-identified with. I moved all over the country, lived out of my car sometimes between gigs, met lots of random people, hung out in lots of random places, and I have a lot of funny and incredible stories from those times. I also realize I was scared out of my wits a lot of the time and just pulling it off with bluster. I was a cute white girl, so it was easy for me to slip in an out of jobs and situations. I didn’t come from money, but I grew up lower middle class (does that exist anymore?) and not worrying about money. I think anyone without that blase attitude toward money would do such a thing.

      Around 30 I finally got a stable job and stayed in it, moving up through the ranks, for a decade, finally moved on, and created a good career just sort of by accident. Now I’m a going-toward-matronly middle aged woman and when I see young people with lifestyles somewhat like mine was, I always wonder if there is a little fear behind the IG smiles. I don’t know! It could have just been me. My best gal friend freelances creating websites and bought a really very fixer upper cottage on a bit of land and lives paycheck to paycheck very happily. She’s my age and doesn’t show any signs of changing. She’s loving her life. I think the difference between her and me is that I am something of a recluse whereas she has developed a huge community of neighbors and friends around her, and they all watch out for each other, trade services and commodities like chicken eggs and chickens. So I guess my takeaway is that it takes a village. If you have the support of those around you it may feel a lot more comfortable and safe than if you go it alone.

    15. ronda*

      I have listened to some podcasts about solo living that I find interesting. you might too and see that you are not alone in this idea.
      look for Solo – by Peter McGraw.

      Also some of this comes up quite a bit in FIRE blogs (financial independence/retire early).
      People are rather judgy of people who dont have jobs. The Post-Fire Forum on the mrmoney mustache site has some people talking about these kind of experiences and what they do rather than working full time.

      1. ronda*

        and personal stories about cousins
        1. one became a ski instructor when he was out of high school. He had tried college but didnt like it so went with ski instructor. This didnt last too long but I always thought that it was the right time in life to do stuff like that. He now works in construction.
        2. Another cousin in LA worked laying carpet, but liked to keep his hours reasonable cause he wanted to spend time at the beach, etc. He got married in his 40s has a daughter and now has a “regular” job with the city.
        3. for myself.. I had very conventional jobs and some people do seem to worry that about what I am doing since I retired early. (the answer is “not much, and I like it”)

        I do think life is short and doing what you want to do now is an important thing. You can always try something else later if you find it is not working for you anymore.
        But making sure you have enough money to live is important too, so do balance that with it.

    16. Grits McGee*

      Back when I worked for the Park Service, there were a number of people who were basically itinerant rangers- they would work seasonally and have a “summer park” (ex-Yosemite) and a “winter park” (ex- Joshua Tree); or they’d have a gig for the academic year and work for the NPS during the summer; or they’d get a 1 year position as a ranger, work it, then do odd jobs until they could secure another 1 year position. Some people absolutely loved it, and had been doing it for 20 years, but it definitely wasn’t for me. I actually ended up leaving the Park Service after being diagnosed with a chronic illness and not being able to get competent medical care in the remote area I was based out of. I do think an itinerant, mobile lifestyle requires a certain level of able-bodyness and health in order to be sustainable.

    17. Frankie Bergstein*

      I’m honestly very surprised to find myself living an extremely conventional life — house in the suburbs, cat, dog, husband, stable 9-5, meeting with the financial planner quarterly, etc. But it feels like an anchor that’s helped me to feel peaceful and safe. Within this container, I can be creative, savor moments, and find my way to thriving. (It might be b/c I have weathered a lot of big health issues and crises so that I need a very calm, risk-averse life to feel okay – but that’s what this question is about right – finding what works for you?). Maybe if I’d have more of a safety net, I’d feel better, but I see myself as the safety net for others.

      It took me awhile to accept this very cookie-cutter life, but I see it as a container or foundation for the things I really care about (being part of a community, activism, etc.)

    18. allathian*

      I’m so conventional it’s funny, although I didn’t take the most common path to get here.

      I’m in Finland, so all of my options aren’t necessarily applicable to you, but I graduated high school in 1991, just before the big recession of the early 90s. I got accepted and started college on a 4-year (in theory, most people took 5-6 years) Master’s program (at the time they didn’t offer a Bachelor’s degree except as an intermediate equivalent-knowledge diploma for studies abroad that required a Bachelor’s), but due to a bout of depression caused by a bad relationship, I didn’t graduate until 1999, so I spent 8 years as a college student. This was possible for me, because college tuition up to a Master’s degree is free here, although obviously you have to pay rent etc. I never got a stable job in my field and ended up working in retail and entry-level office jobs and in call centers and living from one paycheck to the next, with some periods on unemployment in between. Then I decided to switch fields, got a chance to do a project for my dad’s employer, and this job gave me enough experience to get me my current job, 13 years and still going strong. It’s possible I’ll stay in my current job for the rest of my career, a maximum of 20 years until mandatory retirement, although they may remove the upper limit by the time I get to that age, assuming I don’t have to retire early because I get too sick to work. I work for the government, and several of my coworkers have spent their entire careers working for this organization, one person I know started at 19 (delivering interoffice memos and mail) and retired at 68 (office master, he was in charge of security at our office).

      I met my husband when I was 33 when he was working in another city so we had a LDR, we moved in together 3 years later, and pretty soon afterwards I got pregnant. We built ourselves a house and now I’m living a pretty ordinary suburban lifestyle, with a kid and two cars. But because I took such an unusual route here, I have no time or energy to even attempt to keep up with the Joneses. In fact, I don’t even know, or care to know, where the Joneses are. I’m just happy with what I have.

      I strongly suspect that this way wouldn’t have been possible in the US, or at least it would have been harder, because you don’t have the social safety net that we have. I’ve benefited from it for much of my life, so I absolutely don’t mind paying high taxes to maintain those services.

      My sister is a childfree academic, and because she’s chosen that field, I think she’s avoided much of the commentary about her lifestyle that people in other fields have to live with. Probably with the sole exception of our extended family, she actually went no contact with a few relatives who wouldn’t stop pestering her about having children. She lived with a guy for ten years in her 20s, but they broke up once he finally realized that she wasn’t going to change her mind about kids and that he needed to find someone else if he wanted them. She’s in a long-term relationship, but she values her me-time even more than I do, so she’s decided that she’ll never live with another person again. Luckily her SO agrees, and they spend weekends and vacations together and weekdays apart.

    19. Avasarala*

      My life doesn’t feel very unconventional to me but it seems to have that impression to others.
      After college I moved to Asia and have done a variety of different jobs here for a decade. I travel frequently (prepandemic anyway) and couldn’t imagine moving back home. Not sure where I will move next but I would like to try a third part of the world next. I used to interpret for the governor and now I do HR stuff.

      Along my travels I have met many other people who have lived “unconventional” lives. I learned to ski from some snowbird Australians & Kiwis who travel between hemispheres to follow the snow.
      I met a couple with two different citizenships who left a third country and traveled the world for a year, now they’ve settled in a fourth country for now. He made a shower curtain that changed colors when water touches it, apparently sells a ton of red ones to haunted houses.
      I have a friend with 3 passports who was in the armed services, knows all about engineering and computers, and now teaches English in Asia and has traveled to over 40 countries over school vacations.
      One of my good friends I met here in Asia, now she is in the US and has worked in all kinds of jobs from traveling sales to retail, also she is a wonderful artist and sells money from her art as well.

      I think it is so so important to collect these kinds of people and stories in your life so that you have a fuller picture of what life can look like, what happiness can look like. We get stuck in one narrative and compare ourselves to fictions that we can never measure up to.

  29. Hamish*

    Small thing prompted by the letter earlier in the week; it would be cool if folks could default to talking about “pregnant people” instead of “pregnant women”.

    Not everyone who gets pregnant is a woman. I’m a trans man who’s currently 4 months pregnant. I realize we’re a tiny population and I’m not mad at people talking about only women in discussions of pregnancy, obviously. But it makes me not want to take part in discussions or even read about pregnancy because it’s SO heavily gendered. It’s been a problem, honestly.

    Yep. Thanks.

    1. nep*

      Interesting timing–I heard an NPR report this past week (can’t recall the exact report at the moment) and all throughout, reporter and anchor used ‘pregnant people.’ I was pleased to hear that.
      Wishing you the best of health in your pregnancy.

    2. Julianna*

      Yes! I noticed pregnant people too and mentally applauded. My friend is a wonderful father to two boys he gave birth to, but talking about his pregnancy to other people has made me hyperaware of how gendered the language around pregnancy is.

      (Good luck with your pregnancy, hope its an easy one!)

    3. PolarVortex*

      A good call out! And I think you also have earned the right to be frustrated if you want, pregnancy is rough enough to go through even without adding in being trans. Give yourself some leeway wanting to check out and I hope you have a good community around you to support you.

      (And congrats on the kid and I hope the pregnancy goes well)

    4. CBE*

      I teach childbirth classes and have made the switch to using “pregnant people” and the pronoun “they”. I have gotten a shocking amount of pushback. But I carry on.
      My personal “protocol” is to use “pregnant person” when talking about the generic or collective. Like “Pregnant people need more iron because your body needs more blood in pregnancy” When talking about individuals, I use whatever fits them. So if I’m telling a story about a woman I will use “pregnant woman” in place of her name “I once worked with a pregnant woman who experienced ( the story of that happened)”
      I’m having a harder time figuring out a balance with breastfeeding/chestfeeding – it feels clunkier and there’s not as simple a substitution. Working on figuring out something.

      1. fposte*

        I hadn’t heard the *feeding thing; that’s interesting. Given that breast cancer is the technical term in all people I could see breastfeeding working regardless of gender, but I can also see that the gendered elements of the term could hit trans people particularly hard.

        1. Hamish*

          Yeah, personally I’m okay with “breastfeeding”. “Chestfeeding” does sound clunky and weird to me and like… you know… if I’m doing breastfeeding it’s because I do in fact still have breasts to do it with. I’m not a pregnant woman or a mother, but I am a guy who has boobs, you know? I mean, if I don’t have to have a Caesarean, I’m not going to call it “genital birth”.

          But I’ve talked with other guys who hate the word, and I understand that too. Like many things in this area, there’s not really an easy or one-size-fits-all answer.

    5. Rescue Dog*

      Thanks for pointing that out. I really hadn’t thought about it, and I appreciate the education. And congratulations!

    6. allathian*

      Congrats on your pregnancy and may it be an easy one. Life is hard enough for trans people without us cishets making it any harder, so I promise to do better on this than I have.

      That said, in a world where many childfree women face pushback and are told that “you aren’t a real woman until you have been pregnant and given birth to a child”, I do think that it’s somewhat understandable that some people are unwilling to grant men, who have pretty much every other privilege in society, the very thing that *to them* defines what womanhood means, the ability to get pregnant. That said, I sure hope this attitude is on the way out, as it’s particularly unfair on women who are involuntarily childless. It’s not fair on childfree women either, for that matter, because it implies that women without children are somehow less-than.

      It also depends on where you are. I’m in Finland, and although we’re pretty progressive in many ways, we lag behind on trans rights. For now, a trans person will have to confirm that they are “unable to reproduce” to get their legal gender changed, although for trans men, T treatments count and the sterility doesn’t have to be permanent, so trans men have been pregnant even here. I think it’s unfair to demand that someone goes on T treatments to get their gender realigned and then has to go off them again to get pregnant. I can’t imagine what that would do to a trans man’s mental health, not to mention having menopause twice when they go on T again. Our current government is trying to change the law, and for the sake of simple human rights, I sure hope they succeed.

      1. Dee*

        The attitude you talk about does affect cis women as you say, but if you don’t mind me asking about some of your wording – I assume from the rest of your post that you recognize the unfairness to people who aren’t women, and just didn’t mention?

        1. Dee*

          I’m sorry, I think that might sound sound passive aggressive. I just wanted to question the centering of cis women in your second paragraph while acknowledging the trans-supportive spirit of your post in general.

      2. Melody Pond*

        That said, in a world where many childfree women face pushback and are told that “you aren’t a real woman until you have been pregnant and given birth to a child”, I do think that it’s somewhat understandable that some people are unwilling to grant men, who have pretty much every other privilege in society, the very thing that *to them* defines what womanhood means, the ability to get pregnant.

        I’m highly skeptical that this is comparable to what trans men go through. I also don’t think it’s rational to assume that trans men largely enjoy all the same privileges of cis men. I’d like to point out that this comment is taking a conversation about a marginalized group and re-centering the experiences/narratives of the dominant, more privileged group.

        1. allathian*

          Fair points, thanks. I’m sorry I didn’t state it unambiguously in my post that I don’t support or agree with the views in the second paragraph. Just that some people hold them and it may be a reason why some people object so strenuously to any gender-neutral references to pregnant people. Surely it’s OK to mention this as a part of the conversation?

          And no, I’m neither naive enough nor deluded enough to think that trans men benefit from all the privileges society gives to cis men.

          1. Melody Pond*

            I think in other types of conversation on totally different topics it would be fair to take that “devil’s advocate” type of approach (switching your frame of mind to the perspective of “the other side” to explain why some people might hold the views that they do). But in the context of a conversation about inequality between a marginalized group and a dominant group, I understand this approach actually has a harmful, or at the very least problematic, impact for the marginalized group. Because I think marginalized groups are ALWAYS hearing about how they shouldn’t expect to have equal rights or treatment or even understanding of their experiences. And they experience a huge imbalance where people typically are way more quick to take up the dominant group’s perspective instead of the marginalized perspective.

            This is why “re-centering” the conversation on privileged perspectives has become such a Thing. I think it also tends to perpetuate the idea that the marginalized groups shouldn’t expect anything to change – an underlying message of “stay in your place” if you will. My understanding is that this is a pretty hurtful experience if you’re in the marginalized group, to the point that even if someone like you, @allathian, IS following it up with a call for action to improve equality, that may not cancel out the “triggery“ harm someone experienced from hearing you defend the dominant perspective.

            Of course others may argue that it’s totally fair to take the approach you did, since you clearly and specifically DIDN’T end on a note of “and this is why you marginalized groups shouldn’t expect anything to change.” But I personally advise avoiding it altogether, as a best practice. The dominant/privileged culture very rarely suffers from a lack of people defending its perspective. But marginalized groups always need more allies.

            1. Hamish*

              Because I think marginalized groups are ALWAYS hearing about how they shouldn’t expect to have equal rights or treatment or even understanding of their experiences.

              Yeah, thank you for saying this. I mean honestly, overall, I am an extremely privileged person despite being trans, so I try not to get mad about it – if I don’t have the energy to engage in a polite and educational way, I just don’t engage.

              But it does get tiring when I’m saying “Hey, here’s a thing you do that is uncomfortable for me on a daily basis and would take no effort for you to change” and get met with theoretical discussions of why some people might think I’m wrong. Okay, I know, I’m glad you’re enjoying this theoretical thought exercise, but in the meantime it would be great to be able to talk to people about my pregnancy or even read necessary medical information without being constantly misgendered. Thanks. Yeah. Just deeply exhausting.

          2. Hamish*

            Honestly, I haven’t heard any objections when I point out that not only women become pregnant. It’s more that it just doesn’t occur to people.

            If someone did push back against it because their view of womanhood centers solely on childbearing… I think that person and I would have other problems anyway.

    7. Jules the First*

      Given how much hassle I get from my medical team on every single interaction (I’m a solo mum with a sperm donor and baby doesn’t *have* a daddy – it’s *right* at the top of our notes, folks…no remembering required, just a little basic reading comprehension!), I am seriously impressed by your patience and stamina in navigating your pregnancy. I hope your remaining months go smoothly and baby is well and wonderful. (Do you have any suggestions for answering all the questions about baby’s gender? I find that really hard to deal with…I want this baby to be healthy and happy and I don’t give a crap which set of genitals they get. I eventually settled on “I’m hoping for a brontosaurus!” with friends but that feels a bit snarky for work colleagues, who are about to join the ranks of the curious…)
      I asked my work last week to change the wording in our parental policies from pregnant mothers to pregnant people, on the grounds that not everyone who is pregnant is a mother, though I will confess I was thinking about surrogacy rather than trans parents. I’ll make sure I add that to the reasoning if I get pushback.

      1. Hamish*

        Hey, thanks for pushing on that regardless of reason! That kind of thing has really bugged me – so much of it is worded in ways that don’t apply to anyone who isn’t a cis het couple having their own baby.

        But yeah, the whole “we’re two trans dads and one of us is pregnant with the other one’s egg” thing has been hilarious with some of the medical staff. Mostly the IVF staff, actually (lots of confusion and “lifestyle choices” talk there.) So major solidarity. It’s frustrating for all of us who aren’t Barbie and Ken.

        But I’m very lucky that I was able to find an affirming OBGYN who started our first appointment with “This is so fucking cool!”, ha.

        Figuring out talk about the baby’s gender has definitely been A Thing for us too. We want to be surprised, and we’re also intimately aware that genitals do not equal gender. My approach has been starting with “Oh, we’re excited to be surprised!” and if people get annoying going up to comments like “Why are you so fixated on my baby’s genitals?!”

        My partner, who is more aggressive, goes straight to that comment, lol.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          Ha! Yeah, I keep thinking/hoping I’d say, “We don’t expect to know their gender for at least a few years. …Oh… were you asking about my baby’s genitals? Isn’t it so weird how basically the first thing people ask about a new human is the shape of their genitals, and somehow we’ve become used to it? Anyway, everybody’s healthy so far, we just have to get the crib put together now.”

          Congrats on your pregnancy, and I hope most/all of the other medical professionals you encounter along the way are similarly affirming!

    8. NRG*

      I like this also because some people could use a reminder that people who can get pregnant are also people. Ok, just deleted a rant, wow I didn’t realize I was still mad at that doctor from 30 years ago. Anyway I hope you have a good pregnancy.

  30. Sunflower*

    Calling experienced Aldi shoppers- what are the best and worst items to buy at Aldi? Both cost and quality wise. I’m in the US

    Best- I love their trail mixes and the cost of nuts and pantry snacks (chips, popcorn, pretzels) are super cheap. Frozen fruit, energy/fiber bars, fake girl scout cookies and pre-mixed salad bags are my regular buys. I scored $4 3 wick candles there over the holidays also.

    Worst- Most of the candy (even non name brand) and some of their canned soup is randomly pricey? Frozen pizza’s aren’t a great deal and I had the worst turkey bacon I’ve ever purchased from there.

    1. Nicole76*

      I love Aldi! Especially their bagels, sourdough bread, Mexican cheese, toasted ravioli, most of their canned products like tomatoes and beans, and their Baker’s Corner mixes, particularly the Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie Bar mix. In fact, I’m planning on making some this afternoon.

      As for dislikes, I used to love their Caesar salad mix until they swapped the romaine for iceberg, and I don’t care for any of their refrigerated or frozen pizzas. I’m not really a fan of their Little Salad Bar line of products either.

      Incidentally, you might find this site interesting – https://www.aisleofshame.com/