weekend open thread – March 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: We Run the Tides, by Vendela Vida, about a teenage girl’s relationship with an attention-seeking friend. It perfectly captures what it’s like to be a 13-year-old girl — the shifting nature of reality, the blend of the ridiculous and the profound, and the precariousness of friendships.

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

{ 1,344 comments… read them below }

  1. PrincessB*

    Has anyone successfully solved a food allergy mystery? A month ago I ate a samosa with a million ingredients from a restaurant where I don’t speak the language of the proprietors. And my face swelled up and I needed prednisone for 5 days. Since then, periodically my throat will itch after eating, but no swelling incidences. Zyrtec stops the irritation.
    I’ve been tracking what I eat and eating simply, but haven’t found a pattern. I’m curious about allergy tests, but it seems they aren’t accurate? Anyway, if you’ve solved something similar I’d love to hear how.

    1. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

      I had the full workup of allergey testing a few years ago.
      First they start with blood testing, which is not accurate, but if enough comes up then they do the actual skin testing. I’ve had crap health my whole life, turns out that I’m allergic to wheat, soy, egg whites and a bunch of minor stuff. Removing it all from my diet has been a life changer.
      Besides physical reactions, wheat allergies/intolerance can cause depression (check), brain fuzz (check) and a whole host of other things.
      If you suspect that you have food allergies, and from your description I agree – push for it! Do not let your doctor refuse!
      Good luck!

      1. PrincessB*

        Oh wow. I’d only heard of skin testing by allergists, which I thought wasn’t relevant since my reactions are internal. Did you just push your doctor to refer you to an allergist?

        1. PollyQ*

          They test all kinds of allergies via skin test, and yes, definitely push your doctor for a referral. Anything that makes your mouth swell up can get worse and cause your airway to close, so it shouldn’t be that hard a sell.

        2. Anon for this*

          I have a lifelong severe allergy that wasn’t officially tested until I was in my late teens. I got a false negative with a skin test and a very obvious positive with the RAST blood test. My allergist said she’d never seen this combination before.

        3. Natalie*

          The effectiveness of skin testing is more about how your specific sensitivity works, not what symptoms you experience. Skin and blood allergy testing will catch IgE mediated allergies, which are the immediate immune hypersensitivity reactions that we tend to think of when we think “allergy”. There are other categories of hypersensitivity reactions, caused by different parts of the immune system. Often they cause a delayed reaction – I know a couple of babies with FPIES, for example, which causes vomiting hours to days after consuming the trigger food.

          The fact that your reaction was immediate and causes swelling does suggest an IgE mediated reaction, and I really encourage you to see an allergist soon, since those reactions are more likely to be life threatening.

        4. PT*

          I did skin tests when I was 18, then the sequence of blood > skin > food challenges when I was 25 or so.

          I know a LOT of people who had really good experiences with theirs, but mine were terrible. I got a ton of false positives that were all ruled out by the food challenges. I spent college and my early 20s afraid I was going to go into shock if I ate the wrong thing and it turned out I wasn’t even allergic to any of those things!

          I ultimately turned out to have one food allergy: it’s one that didn’t show up on either set of tests. Of course.

          1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

            Proving that food allergies can be utter a-holes. I’m so sorry you spent so much time frightened (been there, done that, its a thing) but questionable results, and as you’ve mentioned the one true allergy never showed up on tests, that had to be a nightmare to straighten out.

    2. Weegie*

      Yes – and it took me about a year! In the wake of medical treatment (chemo) I seemed to be allergic to everything, mostly food-related, and could eat only about 5 or 6 things that didn’t cause a reaction. Eventually got a referral to the allergy clinic, and only because I had experienced some breathing difficulties, throat closure and mouth ulcers.
      The blood tests were a bit useless, tbh – they showed a faint reaction to pears – and the dietician associated with the clinic was worse than useless. But! The allergy consultant was brilliant, and encouraged all her patients to try exclusion diets and gradually adding things back in. She shared what other patients were doing, such as writing to food manufacturers to enquire *exactly* what the non-specific ingredients were in their lists, and she believed us about our findings and allergic reactions rather than rubbishing them.
      Net result: after about 6 months of this, I identified rapeseed oil (canola) as the main culprit. It only caused problems if I consumed it consecutively over about 5 days (I knew this because I bought a packet of biscuits that contained it and ate one every day for a week), and once it had built up in my system it seemed to trigger almost all of my other food allergies. Removed it from my diet, and everything else went away.
      Trial and error – it’s pretty much the only way to isolate whatever is causing the problem, along with a sympathetic doctor and a bit of research; and why not throw in the blood tests, too, but don’t rely on them absolutely.

      1. Kt*

        I did elimination diets with careful record keeping and did identify my wheat allergy, but also some more subtle things: if I have a bunch of fermented things at once (say an evening with wine, fancy cheese, and cured meats, or a lovely lunch with a ton of kimchi and some seaweed stuff and other fermented condiments) then I get terrible sinus headaches within hours and all the symptoms of a hangover without the alcohol consumption necessary for a hangover. Some of these things are sneaky because it’s a confluence of triggers or consumption over a few days, rather than a single item in isolation. Good luck!

        1. Nic*

          That sounds like it might be an intolerance to monosodium glutamate. From what I remember of my own food intolerance imvestigation, fermented foods tend to build up levels of MSG, as do cured/aged meats and cheeses, and seaweed has quite high levels of it naturally. Do you also have a reaction to mushrooms (also high), or large amounts of tomatoes and/or onions (both fairly high)?

          1. Kt*

            Nope, no problem — I can eat tons and tons of tomatoes, mushrooms, and onions, and often do as sauce + a bit of pasta is a staple dinner (I try to overload on the veggies/sauce part and lessen the pasta, by personal preference, even though I know it’s not the Italian way, and I eat a lot of onion). Interestingly, histamine and glutamates are related in that histamine increases glutamine release. So I guess I’m not surprised to hear others have similar symptoms from a different problem.

    3. WS*

      Yes – my mother had a similar experience to you about 10 years ago, and solved the mystery via allergy testing. Unfortunately, it turned out she was allergic to a whole lot of things due to an underlying latex allergy, which is very common in older nurses. Nightshades, melon, mushrooms, sulphites…

    4. 00ff00Claire*

      Do you have a primary care doctor? You don’t mention if you have talked to your regular doctor, but if you have one, I would reach out to them as soon as their office is open. I don’t want to unnecessarily alarm you, but if your face swelled after eating something, then you really should get tested instead of trying to narrow it down via a diary. You may need a referral to be able to see an allergist, but I would make sure any doctor you spoke to knew that your face swelled because that’s a pretty serious reaction. The skin tests do identify oral allergies, but there is more than one type of oral allergy, so make sure the doctors know all of your symptoms. I think a food diary will be helpful if the tests are not conclusive. Hopefully they will be able to find the culprit via testing, but if not please push them to keep looking!

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      I have a couple of severe food allergies that didn’t emerge till I was in my 40s. I got a referral to an allergist and they diagnosed me via blood tests, skin testing and food challenge testing. Skin testing involves getting a sample of the exact food you had the reaction to, putting a sample on your skin and measuring your reaction. Food challenge testing involves being given progressively larger samples of something which you think could cause a reaction and then bring monitored (this takes place over a few hours.) You should try to get them to prescribe an epi-pen, but in the interim, I’ve headed off reactions by taking 2 Benadryl as soon as I notice an allergic reaction. If this doesn’t work after 15 minutes or so, go to the ER immediately.
      My allergist recommended taking 2 Xyzal or Zyrtec (or generic equivalent) daily to ward off allergies upfront and I haven’t had major issues since starting to do that. My advice is to get an allergist referral ASAP and try to determine which ingredients were in the food that gave you a reaction. Good luck!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I ended up just eating simply. No restaurants for this kiddo. Well, I do go once in a while but then I am careful afterward. If I eat in a restaurant once or twice a year that’s about it.

      I got pretty sick/run down. It took a few years to learn that:
      Deli meats make my ankles swell.
      Potatoes make me logy to the point I don’t care about stuff.
      Desserts/sugary stuff ramps up my joint pain, headaches and other problems.

      I could go on. But the observations started decades earlier when I finally figured out that others don’t feel the need to double over in pain when they drink milk. Young me thought that was normal. Things came to a head in my 30s when I could not even get out of bed because of exhaustion.

      So I ate only whole foods for about a decade. I did feel better and stopped having random problems. When I started loosening up my plan, I started really noticing what was going wrong. I learned I can have one serving of deli meat and probably be okay. If I ate another serving the next day- the ankles started swelling. It’s too much of a PITA to keep track of when I last had deli meat. So I just don’t bother with it much. Likewise with other foods.

      It’s only been with in the last five years that I finally figured out that gluten was helping my vertigo way too much. (Consider- I have been working at this since 1995.) I got rid of gluten through clenched fists because, Yet One More Thing. Now I see that my sense of balance is much better so it’s not the hardship it seemed to be initially.

      But it’s been just under half my life to get to this point. Of course, YMMV. I did learn that what seems benign today can be problematic next month or next year. The general idea is that at first I downshifted to eating simple foods. After a while, I tried things I used to eat. Since I only change one thing at a time (within a 7 day stretch) it was really easy to see how my body handled that.

      For me in my own setting, your biggest clue is when you said “a million ingredients”, I knew instantly that I would not do well with that at all. I googled to see how these things are made, and yeah, a million ingredients. My body just won’t do well with trying to break all that down. It almost doesn’t matter for me what the ingredients are, there’s just too many.

      1. pancakes*

        There aren’t typically a million ingredients in samosas, though. Potatoes, peas, cilantro, ginger, some spices. Of course any one of these ingredients might cause a reaction in someone with an allergy or sensitivity to it, but the question remains: which ingredient?

        Deli meat is very high in sodium.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          The spices will be the tricky part – there are easily about 20 different spices that could be in the filling, plus whatever’s in the chutney that often comes with it. And some of them, like asafoetida or amchur powder, might not be things you encounter regularly.

          I had a colleague who had what she eventually figured out was an extreme sensitivity to mold that cause reactions with all sorts of foods. She pretty much had to give up eating anything pre-made or that she hadn’t cooked herself from basic ingredients, because it was too hard to find safe food otherwise.

        2. Esmeralda*

          The dough will have wheat flour, salt, possibly some spices, ghee or oil or some other fat. The filling can also have chiles, onion, garlic. Spices in the filling: could be a few or a lot (typical are cumin, ginger, amchur, red pepper flakes; if there’s a spice blend like garam masala then that’s more spices and the exact spices will vary). Then they are fried, so whatever oil they’re fried in. If they’re from a restaurant, then there could be cross contamination at any point in the process of making them.

    7. Laura Petrie*

      I have a mustard allergy. I’ve never been officially diagnosed but I figured it out from reactions I had to food. It is pretty common in Indian food plus loads of other stuff you’d never think of.

      I kept a log on my phone of when I had a reaction and what I’d eaten just beforehand. I realised it was mostly curries, burgers and stuff with cheese sauces. I used to love American mustard with my fries so I’m pretty gutted.

    8. Stephanie*

      An itchy throat after eating is a huge red flag, and it could very quickly develop into a more severe reaction the next time you eat whatever it is that you’re allergic to. Food allergies are tricky that way–you can suddenly react much more severely than you have in the past. I highly recommend that you get a referral to an allergist ASAP. Food allergies can show up on skin tests. (I realize after reading comments that they don’t always, but it’s a good place to start.) At the very least, you need an epipen for potential emergencies, just in case you have a bad reaction. (My son was diagnosed with a peanut allergy when he was three, after having a skin allergy test. On the allergist’s recommendation, we had him retested again when he was older–maybe eight–to see if he had outgrown it or if the severity had lessened. His reaction on the skin test was much worse than the first time he was tested. He’s 19 now, and carries an epipen everywhere, and is very careful about what he eats.)

      1. Stephanie*

        Also, in the meantime, get some Benadryl to have on hand. Zyrtec and Allegra are great for managing seasonal allergies, but they take a week or so of daily use to build up to full effectiveness. Benadryl works much more quickly, and is the gold standard for food related reactions that need more immediate results.

        1. Anonymato*

          I second that – do your comparison. I am in the US, and Epi-pen was prohibitively expensive even with insurance. Auvi-Q was free/cheap and it tells you what to do in case of going into shock.

    9. Quinalla*

      One of my kids has food allergies – had a severe reaction when she was about 19 months – and we got her tested by an allergist using the scratch tests. They are not perfect, but do a good job with someone who knows how to read them. I would highly recommend a referral to an allergist – a good one is so valuable! And yes, they may have you do elimination diets, etc. but it is great to have a professional to guide you through that. For my kid, we knew what triggered the allergist reaction – peanuts which was confirmed – but we also found out she is also allergic to tree nuts and cats and lots of tree pollen.

    10. Chaordic One*

      I’ve told my story here before, but I’m going to repeat it. When I was in my mid-20s I had a whole bunch of “stomach problems” with bouts of cramps, gas, constipation, and diarrhea. I had just started a new job and it was fairly stressful. I consulted a doctor and was told that my problem was that I did not handle stress well and referred for counseling. The counseling sort of helped but, like Not So New Reader, I ended up not eating and I lost a lot of weight and was eventually diagnosed with an eating disorder. In retrospect, I don’t really think I had a classic eating disorder such as anorexia. I don’t think I really had body image issues. I wasn’t eating because it seemed like everything made me sick and by not eating I could have some control over my life and avoid having “stomach problems”. Things improved quite a bit when I quit smoking and I immediately began to put on weight I had lost and I went from being underweight to overweight, but I still had frequent bouts of “stomach problems”.

      More than ten years later I had a stable job and good insurance and was suffering from chronic environmental allergies (think pollen and hay fever). My sinuses were almost always swollen shut and I could not breathe through my nose. I found a competent Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor who did allergy desensitization shots and I made the commitment to undergo treatment. The first part of the treatment was to undergo skin testing. The results of the testing verified allergies to a number of environmental allergies, including allergies to the most common trees and grasses growing in the area where I lived (which I pretty much knew). They verified allergies to various animal danders such as cats and dogs and horses (which I suspected). (Fortunately, I seem to be O.K. with poodles and doodles and wire-haired dogs.)

      But the big “A-HA” moment was when I was informed that I also allergic to tomatoes, dairy and soy (and some related lentils). It finally explained my “stomach problems”. At the time that I was working in the stressful job, being pooped out at the end of the day and not feeling like cooking after work, I would often buy fast food on the way home from work or I might buy something packaged and frozen that I could pop into the microwave when I got home. I love food with tomatoes and cheese (dairy) in it and was often eating pizza or lasagna or spaghetti or cheeseburgers and fries drowned in ketchup, or mac and cheese, or milkshakes or tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. And these were the things that were making me sick. And soy. They put soy into just about everything. Soybean oil and soybean protein are listed as ingredients in almost everything. It’s so hard to find and buy mayonnaise without soybean oil in it.

      Before I was diagnosed with the food allergies, I did go into anaphylactic shock a couple of times. Once when eating a lunch with sandwiches made from deli meats. (It could have been the bread, the condiments, the deli meats. I just don’t know.) Another time when I had eaten anchovies and capers in soybean oil. (It was definitely the soybean oil). I also noticed that when I took a particular brand of vitamin pill I would get headaches. I later noticed that one of the main filler ingredients for this particular brand of vitamin pill was soy.

      I underwent allergy desensitization shots for 3 years which definitely improved my quality of life with the environmental allergies. (I also ended up having turbinator reduction surgery and my deviated septum corrected which helped me immensely.) I still have allergies to animals and foods. If I have a bad reaction to something Benadryl-type medicines help. But knowing what to avoid has been the biggest help. For a while I had an eppie pen, but they just got to be ridiculously expensive and so I don’t have one anymore, but I do keep Benadryl (or the generic store brand) on hand, just in case.

      I feel bad that it took me so long to figure it out. It seems so obvious now. Like, “Duh!” And, yeah, I really miss pizza.

        1. Chaordic One*

          Thank you for this. It is good to know. I will bring the subject up again the next time I see my doctor and get a prescription for one again.

    11. PrincessB*

      Thanks everyone! To answer some questions- I have a primary doctor but went to urgent care because my mouth swelled up so quickly and it was nighttime. I have seen my primary care doctor but she didn’t give me a referral, just told me to try to get the ingredient list from the restaurant. Based on the replies below in going to push much harder for a referral to an allergist.

      1. Anna*

        I have a kid with food allergies and the process of figuring it all out was hard. We first had a terrible allergist who just handed us a long long list of allergies for a toddler with no real recommendations, guidance, or follow up. After going back to our pediatrician practically in tears he sent us to an immunologist who redid all of his testing much more thoroughly with blood work to go along, and more specific information. Original testing had many false positives. Second doc was also the one to prescribe epipen, even though he has never had an anaphylactic reaction. Her explanation– you wear a seatbelt before you ever get in an accident.
        All that to say a)find a well recommended allergist/immunologist and b) get an epipen.

    12. Galloping Gargoyles*

      If you are open to natural tests and remedies, there is a test a naturopath doctor can do called muscle testing. It sounds crazy but I’ve had it done and it really was helpful. Mine was done in conjunction with acupuncture. Basically you hold something in your hand and the doctor pushes on your arm and if you have an allergy or deficiency you can’t hold your arm up. It sounds crazy and if you don’t experience it for yourself it is easy to be skeptical about. My doc used the acupuncture to help me deal with the intolerances as well as sugar cravings. Good luck! Food allergies/intolerances are no fun to deal with.

  2. McMurdo*

    I’m watching my little sisters for the next few weeks while my parents are on a work trip. They’re in high school, so they’re pretty self-sufficient, but we live in a rural area so they really just need me to drive them places.
    But they each have like three things a week (soccer practice, hybrid school, work, etc.) that they need me to take them to, and some of them are at the same time 40 minutes apart, and I have no idea how to keep it all straight and get everyone where they need to be and also attend my own classes. Advice?? Should I make everyone join a Family Google Calendar???
    (We have another sister who can help occasionally, but she’s working two jobs and is out of the area most of the day.)

    1. 2Teas*

      Is it possible they have friend’s families that are going to the same event? As a parent I would often meet other parents in the same boat. We would work out some ride share plan. Maybe your parents can share how they get it all done.

    2. Not A Manager*

      As a parent who used to do a lot of driving, first, you need to get everything onto one calendar. If their schedules are the same each week, that’s pretty easy, but in any case you need everyone’s week laid out on one grid. They have to be responsible for updating you BOTH on the calendar AND verbally if something changes.

      Second, you need to figure out who you can carpool with. Take turns with other families to drive several kids to the same event.

      Third, sometimes someone is going to be dropped early or picked up late. Tell them to bring their homework. Sometimes to get one person to their thing on time, someone else needs to get to their thing early.

      I don’t understand why whoever used to drive them didn’t leave all of this info for you. Also, why do they have so many in-person events anyway?

      1. Annie Moose*

        Given that two of the ones listed are school and work, I doubt they have much control over whether or not those events are in-person…

      2. Lizzo*

        Going to echo the “why didn’t they explain any of this to you before they left” comment. If they were hiring someone to come stay with your sisters, they would have done so…

        As @allathian commented downthread, if you’re asked to do this again, be assertive about asking what expectations are and getting the info you need re: those expectations. (Speaking from experience, this is good practice for professional life!)

    3. ..Kat..*

      Ask your sisters how this normally works. Ask them to find out if they can catch rides with reliable teammates, school mates, and coworkers.

      1. Juneybug*

        Also get names of your sisters’ friends and their parents as well as their phone numbers. You probably will never need the info but the one time you get a flat tire and can’t pick up a younger sister at a game, you will so glad you have contact info of someone who wait with them or give them a ride home.

        1. Esmeralda*

          Get your sisters to give you this info. They are old enough to take responsibility for assisting you. If they don’t get you the info you need, and don’t get their schedule on a shared calendar, and don’t update you sufficiently in advance when there are changes, then Too Bad So Sad. They’re in high school. They will either miss their event or find a way to get there.

          Yeah, that’s an old school perspective, but: 1.these are reasonable expectations for people their age, 2. If they don’t know how to do this stuff now, they need to learn it before they head off to college or work, 3. It’s the fairest thing for YOU.

          When I was a teen, dad had a car which he took to work. Mom had a car and there were five kids. So you better believe we didn’t have much luck with last minute oops I forgot to tell you I need a ride to my physics study group. Or I left my lunch…

          You’re working and going to school. Your schedule matters too. I work with college students and have some who are responsible for their younger siblings schooling as well as helping their grandparents, and their own classes and part time work. Of course family obligations are important, but you’ve got to meet the obligations to yourself.

    4. allathian*

      I would suggest a Family Google Calendar.

      You also have the perfect right to say as a temporary parental figure that you never signed up for the extracurricular stuff. The world won’t end if your younger siblings miss a few weeks of soccer practice if you can’t deal with it. Next time, before committing to babysitting them, be more clear with your parents what you are and aren’t willing to do for your siblings.

      1. Owler*

        I love a family google calendar, but if they don’t already have one, I’m not sure you will get them to sign on for just a few weeks. Figure out from your sisters how they normally get this stuff done. But by all means, if it helps you remember the times you’re needed, make one.

        In our small family, we basically have a family meeting Sunday night to walk through the schedule, especially carpooling and rides. And then nightly, we check in at dinner about what is needed the next day. I think you could do something similar and then set up your personal reminders (electronic on phone or Google calendar) to get in the groove. Good luck!

    5. Pennyworth*

      Ask you parents how you should manage it – they know you can’t be in two places at the same time and probably have a list of other parents who can help out. They might even set it up before they leave – or if they have already left, ask them to do it now.

    6. Maia*

      Shared Google calendar could work well but my suggestion would be sitting down as a group to go through it together and plan out your next few weeks. Or you could all do it on a physical calendar if you’re living in the same place. Given they are in high school I think it’s ok to put some responsibility on your sisters for keeping track of their schedules and letting you know what rides they will need.

  3. Bindswa*

    Has anyone traveled to Tanzania/Uganda/Rwanda? I’ve booked a one week safari on the northern Serengeti but I have 24 days total to explore Eastern Africa in 2022.
    PS-the trip is fully refundable and I’m responsible, not to mention already vaccinated.

    1. PrincessB*

      That sounds wonderful. Zanzibar in tanzania is definitely worth a few days. I haven’t been to Uganda or Rwanda but hear that seeing the gorillas is inspiring.

      1. Bindswa*

        A gorilla walk is definitely on the list. I was planning to just spend a couple days in Stone Town. Or should I branch out a bit?

        1. Joan Rivers*

          San Diego Zoo has vaccinated some primates after the gorillas got Covid, presumably from staff. Experimental animal vaccine.

          So I hope everyone is keeping this in mind. In zoos humans have always worn a mask w/primates for protection, before Pandemic started, yet some got the virus anyway.

    2. Puggle*

      What style of trip do you have in mind and what are you wanting to see? I’ve traveled to those countries but camping/hostel with a small group tour. One thing that comes to mind that if you are gorilla trekking, you’ll need long sleeved shirts and full length pants to avoid stinging/thorny plants. I got my gorilla permit for Rwanda, but regret not spending more time in Rwanda as it’s amazing.

      1. Bindswa*

        Excellent advice on the long sleeves. The gorillas are fast becoming a must do in my list.

    3. Grace*

      I went diving off the coast of Tanzania – even just snorkelling in the right regions lets you see some gorgeous reefs, but if you have a week to spare, doing the diving course that will allow you to go deeper for longer might well be worth it.

    4. Elizabeth*

      Just because you are vaccinated doesn’t mean it’s OK to travel. Vaccines aren’t 100% effective and even vaccinated people can get mild cases. Remember that like 30% of mild cases still result in long covid. Also vaccinated people can probably still spread the virus to others. You were privileged enough to get a vaccine before others including many in communities of color and need to think of others more than travel.

      1. Risk Manager*

        This is fair but I also think people should be able to plan travel and talk about travel as well. I would hope we should give the OP benefit of the doubt that when 2022 comes if it’s not responsible for her to travel that she won’t?

      2. Patty*

        Seat belts aren’t 100% effective, people still die in car crashes. Sunscreen isn’t 100% effective, people still get skin cancer. Nothing is ever going to be 100% effective. As long as you take reasonable precautions and accept the risk, live your life.

      3. Jim Bob*

        This is exactly the messaging that’s making things worse by depressing vaccine acceptance.

        If it will never be OK to do anything again, even another full year in the future, why take the risk with a new, unlicensed vaccine? The way we get people vaccinated is to give them hope for the future, not moralize at them.

        1. Bindswa*

          Thanks Jim Bob. I didn’t want to dignify that comment with a response but I’m definitely aligned with your perspective. Let’s embrace the vaccine and be hopeful but responsible while moving forward.

        2. Emma*

          To be clear, the vaccines that are on offer are licensed in the counties they’re being offered in. I can’t say for sure that this is the case in every single country, but certainly vast majority, including all the countries most represented among AAM commenters.

          1. Jim Bob*

            The vaccines are authorized for emergency use. They are not fully licensed, because long-term safety data doesn’t exist yet.

      4. Bluephone*

        The trip is in 2022, FFS.
        It is really snotty if you to assume that the commenter “stole” a vaccine out from under someone “more deserving.” They could be an essential employee (maybe even an ICU doctor GASP). They could be over 75. Or themselves part of a community that’s having trouble getting vaccinated. Or maybe none of those things apply. Either way, everyone would be better off if you got off your high horse for 30 seconds, especially about stuff that doesn’t concern you at all.

      5. Nancy*

        It is perfectly fine for someone to plan a vacation a year in advance and to talk about future travel plans.

        No vaccine is 100% effective. No clue where you got that 30%, do you have a source for your claim?

      6. The Other Dawn*

        Wow. It’s perfectly fine to be planning a 2022 trip–I am, too. By then, everyone who can and wants to be vaccinated very likely will be. There’s nothing irresponsible about planning a trip a year or more away.

        Also, people posting here, or really anywhere, about things they have done during the pandemic, are actually doing now, or want to do at some point shouldn’t have to add a disclaimer every time saying they’re being responsible, use PPE, wash their hands, will be vaccinated, etc. But I know why people do it: so they don’t get told they’re being a terrible person.

        1. Bindswa*

          Thanks for the vote of confidence. And that’s exactly why I added the postscript-to avoid judgement. It almost worked. Lol
          Good luck on your adventure too! It’s so exciting to plan travel again, isn’t it? My mental health has improved dramatically during this trip planning session. It brings me joy.

          1. allathian*

            I hear you. I usually enjoy planning trips even more than actually going on them.

            I’m sorry you got so much pushback when you posted about your future plans. I’ll be charitable and assume that most of the negative posters thought you were planning a trip for later this year, which I think would be irresponsible.

            An additional problem is that while COVID numbers in many African countries have been relatively low, the biggest reason for this is that it’s very hard to get tested, so a lot of cases don’t get diagnosed.

      7. RagingADHD*

        No, we don’t know that vaccinated people can “probably” spread the virus. There’s insufficient data one way or the other.

        And no, 30% of mild cases don’t turn into long covid.

        Misinformation and pseudoscience are just as destructive when you’re urging caution as they are when covid deniers talk about the vaccine containing mind-control chips.

    5. GoryDetails*

      I was fortunate to be part of a two-week trip to Kenya and Tanzania with a group of friends back in 2001 – absolutely stunning from start to finish. In Tanzania the high point was the visit to the Ngorongoro Crater, spectacular views and wildlife galore!

      We did have a pretty comprehensive tour package with a very able guide, which helped a lot with travel arrangements, getting through customs with minimum hassle, that kind of thing – not sure I’d have coped nearly as well if I’d tried to arrange such a trip outside of a group.

      One tip that I wish I’d paid more attention to going in: it’s a very long flight, and I didn’t stay as well-hydrated as I should have, which may have contributed to ongoing headaches and general not-feeling-well. I can’t be sure that was the only cause – the dramatic change in climate, altitude, and allergens could have been more significant – but more proactive self-care might have helped. I enjoyed the trip anyway, but would have had an easier time (and got more sleep) if I’d planned better re the hydration and antihistamines and, just maybe, getting more exercise before I went.

      Hope your plans work out, and the state-of-the-world allows you to have a safe and enjoyable trip!

      1. Bindswa*

        Ngorongoro Crater looks fantastic. I feel like I’m going to be weepy the entire time I’m on safari. I absolutely can’t wait. And thanks for the motivation to get in better shape. I want to be present for every moment. Lol

        1. Bindswa*

          Also! Thanks for the positive thoughts. I’m definitely going to be safe but it feels so so amazing to be planning travel again.

    6. PX*

      Try and spend some time around Lake Victoria if you can. There are high end places which look really decadent if you want to treat yourself, or other more affordable options, but it’s quite pretty and a different side to the region.

      If you want more than just safari, spend a few days in a capital city of your choice and get a feel for the culture and what life is really like. It’s easy to stay in a bubble if you’re just on guided tours (which is fine if that’s what you want).

      Eat all the fruit. Drink all the passion juice.

      If you’re into coffee, maybe visit a coffee farm. Rwanda will probably have more options but you can probably find one in any of those countries.

      1. Bindswa*

        Any recommendations for around Lake Victoria? Just somewhere to kick off my own research would be appreciated.

        Any other foods to try? I can’t wait to guzzle gallons of passion fruit juice. I love it so so much.

        1. PX*

          Just had a Google to refresh my memory but I think Rubondo Island which is on Lake Victoria is the place I had heard mention as being worth a visit – think its on the Tanzania side. The other place which is actually Lake Albert is Murchison Falls (Uganda). I’m not sure how much you want to do as far as your own research, but Abercrombie & Kent are a travel agency who have had offices/tours in that region for years, so might be worth looking at their packages for inspiration if you havent already come across them.

          As far as food goes. Gosh. All of it? I’m an adventurous eater with a tough stomach so I will generally try anything and dont get sick. I also firmly believe in eating street food as well – generally I’d always aim to eat what the locals eat :D Ask your guides for advice as well!

          But off the top of my head, if you head towards Zanzibar – all the stews/curry type things are obvious (its not referred to as spice island for nothing). Drink proper masala chai while you’re there as well. Mahamri/Mandazi (donut equivalent-ish). Achari (dried spiced mango) if you can get it. You’ll often find goat meat is the predominant meat in that part of the world, its delicious, enjoy it however its cooked. I know the rolex (omlette + vegetables wrapped in a chapati) is a Ugandan staple, I’ve personally never had it but it sounds good to me. Banana beer if you drink alcohol. Matoke (cooking bananas, similar to plantain) – usually found as an accompaniment to a stew.

          1. Bindswa*

            PX! You’re like my personal travel guide. I really appreciate the effort you’ve put in to your comments. You’ve pointed me in so many right directions. You sound like my type of traveler.
            My husband is excited to spend a little time on either lake and do some fishing…apparently not during a full moon, as I’ve just discovered. Lol
            You’ve really given my a lot of knowledge and confidence in the direction I’m taking this trip. Thanks again.

            1. PX*

              You’re welcome! I’ve spent a fair amount of time in that part of the world and just want more people to experience it and see how awesome it is, so always happy to talk about it :)

              I hope you have a great trip – come back and update us once it’s happened!

  4. Casper Lives*

    This was a really hard day. I had to say goodbye to my cat of 18 years. He’s been in my life longer than he wasn’t. It’s been a decline with some chronic illnesses, but I didn’t expect the vet to call me a few hours after drop off and recommend I let him go that day. He was such a sweet, gentle cat that the vet’s office put “prince” in his file. (His bonded brother of 12 years doesn’t have that note, let’s just say that).

    It feels like I said goodbye to a person. Not a cat. I feel guilty and second guessing even though I’ve known it was coming. I was planning on getting a few more months and planning out a full day to love him first.

    Anyway. Sorry to get anyone down. I can’t seem to sleep yet.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      >It feels like I said goodbye to a person. Not a cat.

      Sounds like he was with you for more than half your life — that’s a significant chunk of time. Many years ago a friend, grieving the death of one of her own cats, said, “Love is love.” May this give you comfort. I’m sorry for your loss.

    2. Derivative Poster*

      I have been there and it is so hard. Wishing you the best as you get through this time.

    3. Jackalope*

      I’m so sorry. Losing a pet is so hard. Take care of yourself in whatever way works best, and be gentle with yourself.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I love that the vet put “prince” in his file. What a nice comment on your cat.

      I’m very sorry for your loss.

    5. Felis alwayshungryis*

      It doesn’t matter who you said goodbye to – love is love, and it hurts when we have to do it. It’s normal to second guess and wonder if it was the right thing to do, but I think it’s better to let them go a week too soon than a day too late.

      I’m sorry for your loss. He must have been a lovely cat.

    6. Analog*

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Casper Lives. I’ve lost two cats very suddenly too — one who was seemingly healthy up until about a week before he passed, and another who was perfectly fine that morning but gone by that evening.

      On the opposite side of the spectrum, I’ve had family members who have had much longer goodbyes with their beloved pets, where the boundary between when their pets are managing to cope and when their pets are constantly suffering is a lot more blurry. I’ve seen their agony as they go through the difficult decision process of when the right time is to let go — it’s a decision that really weighs on them.

      It’s so, so hard, no matter which scenario ends up happening. It sounds like you gave your cat a wonderful home and a wonderful life for many years, and his absence will be acutely felt for a long time, but at the same time it sounds like you did your best to act in his best interest, so please don’t feel guilty over that.

    7. Liz*

      I’m so, so sorry for your loss. I had to make the same call yesterday too and it’s heart wrenching. Not a slow decline in our case, but a sudden, unexpected cancer diagnosis in January followed by a rapid decline. I hadn’t expected her to fade so quickly but I realised over the past few days that she had reached that time. She was a young cat still, but her spark had all but gone, and the few glimpses of her old self were becoming a rare sight.

      It’s awful having to make the call. It feels like such a responsibility and there’s always that voice that wonders if it’s too soon. I was still asking myself “could we try this treatment? This shot? Would a change of food encourage her to eat?” But we reach that point where we’re buying time for ourselves, not for them, and it takes courage to say “it’s time”. There will never be enough time to let them know you love them, never be enough days to say goodbye, but I believe they do know we care, because we show it in all the days and years before.

      You’ve done the right and kind thing by your cat. It might not mean much, but I’m in the same boat with you today, and I’m sending solitary hugs your way. I haven’t slept much, I’m still crying. It will hurt for a good while yet. The other cats have barely left my side and I think they know.

      Many, many loving thoughts from one Cat Guardian to another. It’s awful to have to say goodbye, but so, so wonderful to share our lives with them.

      1. Quiet Liberal*

        Oh, Liz! We experienced the very same thing last April. I have a video of our dear cat rolling around on the grass playing with a leaf she found. Three weeks later she was gone from aggressive stomach cancer. I completely know what you are going through; I am so sorry. Our beloved pets are so much a part of our lives that of course we are devastated when they leave us. I’m going to go hug my dog and new kitten.

        I’m so sorry you guys are grieving your dear pets.

        1. Liz*

          Oh that’s awful, I’m so sorry! Three weeks is no time at all to come to terms. That must have been devastating.

          We at least had a little longer,
          but again only a matter of weeks. She was perfectly fine up until a couple of months ago when she developed a squint in one eye. I took her in expecting some eye drops, but they couldn’t find anything wrong with the eye, just a lesion in her mouth on that side, which they thought might be infected. But it didn’t respond to antibiotics, so a couple of weeks later I booked her in for a biopsy, and the vet was as shocked as we were that it came back as adenocarcinoma with evidence that it had spread to her lymph nodes (the squint was most likely a tumour pressing on a nerve). She was only 8. We chose to have further screening done to have an idea of how far it had spread, and the xray showed evidence of widespread masses on her lungs. Another 2 lumps appeared on her throat a few days later, and her weight dropped from 3.8kg in December to 3.05kg last week. She wasn’t eating and you could see her struggling to breathe. She was spending much of her time hunched over in this defensive crouch, a far cry from the playful cat we knew, and that was when we knew it was time. We were able to go in with her to say goodbye, and she fell asleep in my lap with her head on my arm.

          Cancer is such a strange beast. One of our older cats developed masses on her liver and kidney and is still going over 2 and a half years later when we expected her to fade. Her weight also dropped, but she eats well, and has stabilised and gained a little back. Aside from medication for her kidneys and a low dose of steroids, she is largely unchanged. She is old and frail and her legs aren’t too good, but she is still bright and mobile and is currently sprawled on my lap having a snooze. Even 2 years ago, we were amazed she was still with us, and we never had expected her to go this long, and certainly never thought she would outlive her much younger sister.

          My thoughts go out to all of you in the thread who have lost a beloved pet. It’s the sad truth that most of us will outlive our animal companions and many will have to make the tough call. But the joy they bring to our lives is more than worth the sad times, in my opinion. I wouldn’t be without them.

    8. Zooey*

      I’m so sorry. Pets have just as big a role in our lives as people, it’s so hard to let them go.

    9. sswj*

      Damn, I’m sorry. I have (and have had) many cats, but there are a few who have been so much more than pets, they were dear friends. More importantly, I was their person. They wanted my company, interacted with me differently, and it was very clear that *I* was *their* friend – they chose me. It’s an honor to be so loved by a cat, and it hurts like hell when they have to leave us.

      I lost my most recent Best Friend not quite 2 years ago and finally I can think of him without tearing up (well, except for now). I loved him beyond all things, and having to say goodbye was one of the hardest days ever. I truly feel for you, this sucks :( It sucks even more that doing the best thing we can for them tears us in two.

      I’m so sorry :(

    10. nep*

      Sending you love. There’s nothing like that pain, and I wish you didn’t have to feel it. That’s how big your love is for him.
      When our 17-year-old was ill and we were worried about bringing him in ‘too soon,’ not wanting him to suffer but not sure whether it was ‘really’ time, I came upon a line that really helped me–roughly: For the cat’s sake, better a week too early than a moment too late.
      Take the time to grieve. Wishing you peace and healing.

    11. Hotdog not dog*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Really, the only negative part of having pets is that we have to say goodbye too soon.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Bless the beasts and the children….
      When the darkness surrounds them;
      Give them love, let it shine all around them.
      — Karen Carpenter

      The innocence and sincerity of the being seems to ramp up the sense of loss and grief.

      Our pets become corner stones in our lives, they anchor us. Their consistency, even their bad habits, can be oddly reassuring especially in an uncertain world. They do serve us and they forever impact the course of our lives with their subtle comfort. We become something better because of them. We don’t ever lose that part, even when our little buds depart from our lives. They leave their mark on who we are and who we become. We get to keep that part.

      So very sorry.

    13. mreasy*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. It sounds like you gave him a wonderful long life, and that he was an exceptional fellow. Of course you’re devastated to lose a best friend. Sending love to you from a stranger on the Internet.

    14. Grim*

      I know exactly how you feel, as we just had Laps of Love give our precious Skouby cat his passing to the bridge 3 weeks ago.

      Still getting crying spells and hearing his calls inside the house. His older brother cat is still looking for him and crying when he can’t find him.

      Time will help, but you’ll always remember him. One day, your smile will come before the tears.

    15. Catten Mom*

      I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of your prince. Pets are beloved family, and it’s okay mourn the loss.

    16. the cat's ass*

      I’m so sorry about your kitty (or as May Sarton used to say, your Fur Person). Of course youre heartbroken-he’s been in your life for more time than many others! I wish you the best as you navigate through losing your little prince.

    17. Black Horse Dancing*

      Companion animal-human bond is as strong as person-person bond. I grieve with you.

      It breaks your heart every time. My deepest sympathies.

    18. Okay, great!*

      He sounds like an awesome cat, and like he got a lot of love. If the vets office marked him down as a prince, I’d bet he brought a lot of joy to others lives as well. Losing a pet is very hard, and i wish peace for you in the coming days.

    19. Canuck girl*

      I’m so sorry for your loss! I had two cats before and cried very hard after both, I feel for you. They were dear best friends and members of the family. I’ve had a new kitty for the past few months and he’s definitely like a lovely best bud already that I can’t imagine life without. Pets are amazing companions in life, take the time to mourn yours and take good care of yourself. *hugz*

    20. NoLongerYoung*

      sending you a hug. my heart goes out to you. They are never here long enough for us to fully express our love…..

    21. Clumsy Ninja*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. As a veterinarian, I would tell you that you made the right decision, but the hardest decision. And I think sometimes cats sneak up on us with how hard it feels, because they are often a quieter presence in our lives than dogs. But they’re just everywhere in our lives. Virtual hugs to you.

    22. noblepower*

      Thinking of you – losing a loved one hurts your heart, and the bond we have with our pets can be incredibly deep. I hope that you are able to cherish the happy memories and that they will ease your pain over time. There’s no “good” way to lose a beloved companion…

    23. JelloStapler*

      Oh that’s rough. Pets are such a hard thing to lose. He’s been with you for a long time, of course you’re grieving. I hope you are bring gentle with yourself.

    24. CSmithy*

      I’m so sorry. <3 This is always so hard, even when you know you did right by them.

      "…planning out a full day to love him first." This is beautiful, but remember that he had a whole 18 years of love from you! He was a lucky cat, I'm sure.

    25. Paralegal Part Deux*

      I’m so sorry. I had to do this last year with my cat of 16 years who’d had a stroke. I know it’s hollow comfort, but it does get easier with time. I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    26. LogicalOne*

      I am so, so sorry to hear about your fur baby passing. May his memory be eternal.

  5. Kuododi*

    My heart aches for you and your precious, beautiful kitty. DH and I had to say goodbye to our beloved Grandpa Doxie about 6 weeks ago. Needless to say, the tears have been copious. May the Holy One give you peace as you learn to navigate life with out your furry companion.

    Blessing

    1. Joan Rivers*

      Queen Latifah lived to 20 and it was so hard to have to choose to let her go, but it was very clear it was time and I couldn’t know how much pain she might be in.
      But the moment I saw her eyes close I actually felt a sense of peace, for her. And spirit never dies, I still see a flash from the corner of my eye sometimes and know it’s Latifah.
      We do it for them.

  6. Not my usual OP name*

    Wondering if anyone has had this or can offer advice?
    Woke up the other day with a pain down the side of my jaw and ear. It hurts to open my mouth to eat. Doesn’t seem to be anything in my actual mouth that’s sore. Help?

    1. not that kind of doctor*

      Probably an ear infection that’s inflaming the Eustachian tube too. Internet says to wait and see a doctor if anything starts oozing or if it doesn’t get better after a day or so.

    2. PollyQ*

      Not a doctor, but I do know that there are various bits of anatomy in that area that share nerves, leading to what’s called “referred pain” which can make diagnosis tricky. My advice is to call your primary care doctor or go to a walk-in clinic.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        Cheap dental clinic diagnosed that I had “ear pain” and not dental problem, and was given antibiotics that subdued it partly.
        Finally went to a better dentist that did x-rays and diagnosed a root canal needed!
        Which, despite its bad rep, was not awful — it felt better than the pain I’d been in.

        Don’t be afraid to get a correct diagnosis.

        1. Gray Lady*

          I have always said by the time I’ve needed a root canal, the procedure itself was cake compared to going through the pain I’d been suffering.

    3. Jay*

      I’ve had lifelong ear infections, and some of the really bad ones could cause that.
      Any pain, blockage, or unusual discharge from your ears?
      Another time, I managed so sleep in some way that my lower jaw was sort of open and tilted to the side. Sort of like if you waggle your lower jaw from side to side, but it stays to one side for like 8 hours with the full weight of your head behind it. I’m not describing this well at all. But it did stress the joints something awful.

      1. Grace*

        Yeah, I’ve slept with my jaw pushed to one side (I sleep with my hands tucked up under my chin, so clearly had my lower jaw resting on a hand instead of my pillow) and it hurt to move my jaw for a while, until I figured out what was causing it. Once I stopped doing that, it sorted itself out within a couple of days.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      Issues with the TMJ can cause that sort of pain, and difficulty opening/closing the mouth. There’s a ton of stuff online about it.

      1. Canuck girl*

        Yup – I had this in the summer – ongoing earache that wasn’t an ear infection. It was a TMJ issue from clenching my jaw too tightly that I had to get treatment for. My physio who treated me and my dentist told me a ton of ppl have been having these issues since covid started.

        1. Beatrice*

          Yes! I go to a massage therapist for some shoulder issues, and the first time i was able to go back after lockdowns started, she checked my jaw for pain also, and said tons of her patients have had issues because people rest their mouths differently when wearing a mask. I started paying more attention and realized she’s right…I often hold my jaw at an awkward angle or move it awkwardly to keep my mask in place without touching it with my hand.

    5. Skeeder Jones*

      Jaw pain can also be an unexpected sign of heart issues or a heart attack. I don’t know the rest of your health to say if that is a likely issue for you but it’s good to keep in mind. Outside of that. I agree with the other posters, there’s a lot of referred pain in that area, I’ve had horrible earaches following dental surgery and jaw pain with an ear infection.

    6. WS*

      Jaw pain can be a large number of things and should be checked out by a doctor in case it’s one of the serious ones. In the meantime, soft foods and damp heat (wheat bag, hot flannel) applied to the area can be very helpful.

    7. Helvetica*

      I tend to get that occasionally because I grind my teeth at night. It just means I am too stressed.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I’d start by checking with an experienced chiro. Something might be out of alignment. Have you hit your head on anything lately. Doesn’t even have to be a hard hit, to knock something off kilter.

      1. Sylvan*

        If you think something’s dislocated, please go to urgent care or an emergency department, if possible! Getting it put back into place quickly and correctly makes recovery sooo much easier.

    9. rkz*

      Do you have any swelling? I had an infection in my salivary glands about a year ago that started with some pain in my jaw and gums and then escalated to terrible pain and swelling in my cheek definitely one of the weirdest things that’s ever happened to me! You can also get stones in there apparently which can cause similar levels of pain and swelling. Mine seemed to be viral so just lots of hot compresses until it passed.

    10. Techie*

      Please go get checked out by a doctor. It’s not super-common, but jaw pain can be a symptom of something serious.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Especially if it’s the left jaw. But it could be any number of things including TMJ, ear infection or a jangly nerve that randomly acts up. OP should email the doctor with details on the symptoms and proceed from there. A trip to the dentist might be in order, too.
        I hope it’s temporary and very fixable!

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Google parotitis, if the symptoms match get a covid test–I read elseweb this morning a post that it’s turning up as one of the weird occasional side symptoms.

    12. ronda*

      I had side jaw pain and went to dr…. no answer, just recommended pain med.
      But later went to dentist and found out needed a root canal. said that pain may have been the tooth nerve. At the time it didn’t feel like it was tooth related.
      maybe try dentist if dr doesn’t seem like identifying problem.

    13. Sylvan*

      Could you see a doctor? Unfortunately, this kind of pain has a lot of possible causes, but a doctor can help you work it out.

      Also, just a thought. Have you seen a dentist recently or do you grind your teeth? Sometimes either of these things gives me a similar feeling. A dentist strained some muscles around my jaw* and they act up if I stretch them (like you do in dentist appointments) or grind my teeth.

      *I don’t 100% understand what happened lol

    14. Swift*

      That sounds a lot like what happened to me several years ago: in the middle of the day my left ear/jaw started hurting whenever I moved my head or opened my mouth. It gave me a headache bad enough that my boss told me to go home. Ending up seeing my dentist about it, they did an X-ray and diagnosed TMJ. Treatment was going to PT for a while (mostly posture exercises and head massages, it was great). It still flairs up sometimes but it’s never hurt as much as the first time.

      I hope you can get it checked out and that it’s not too bad! And that it stops hurting in the meantime.

    15. CatPerson*

      Pulled muscle. Do some careful stretching, slowly opening your mouth and holding, slowly closing, repeat.

  7. Princess Deviant*

    Could also be grinding teeth and TMD. Definitely go to see your GP or PCP who will recommend next steps. If you’re grinding your teeth, your dentist can make you a mouth guard for wearing at night which is very effective in reducing jaw pain.

  8. WoodswomanWrites, wondering how to shrink a video*

    I’ve recently started taking nature videos with my camera. They look good on my laptop and I’d like to post them on my WordPress blog but the files are huge. I’m not tech-savvy for video, and Google and WordPress forums both take me to multiple leads that I don’t understand. I know there are ways to shrink my video files to post on YouTube but there are so many programs out there that I can’t figure them out. Or is Vimeo more user-friendly for these things? I appreciate any advice. I’m willing to pay for whatever programs might work for a hobbyist, as long as they’re not crazy expensive. Any suggestions on how to convert my videos to smaller files I can share online?

    1. Not A Manager*

      What kind of laptop do you have? If it’s a Mac, then when you export your video you should get a menu with how much resolution you want.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      On the free and good quality end of things, HandBrake is great. It’s available for Mac, Windows and Linux.

      Once you download it, fire it up, open your cellphone video as input, then go to the presets tab and choose a web format (one of the Vimeo options would be good). Then hit start. It will convert your input video into something appropriate for a website, without you having to know what the settings mean.

      There are a ton of things you can change yourself, but the presets are pretty good, so you can ignore the rest.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        My videos are on my Nikon camera, not my phone. Would the program work in that context?

        1. Nela*

          In any case you’d need to copy them from the recording device to your computer before converting them.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            Yes – transfer to the computer fist. They’ll probably be a file with an extension of .mov (or maybe .mp4 .mpeg .avi .mkv) or something like that, but the program should read it in fine.

    3. chi chan*

      So some formats are basically more heavy than others. Consider converting it to mp4 format. You can do it in windows media player. That said how long are the videos? Too long and maybe you can split them up. No need to pay you can do it in windows media player. Look for videos on youtube for windows media player. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Rad7LwzZX8

    4. WS*

      Handbrake is a great, free program that will put video files into any format at any size you like. You just need to get them from your camera to your laptop then “open with” Handbrake and choose your format.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If you post them on YouTube you shouldn’t have to shrink them at all; YT adapts the stream based on the size of the active player, plus they’re hosting the file itself. The initial upload might take longer, but I think it’s worth it to allow people with bigger monitors to see a sharp rather than fuzzy video! (I’ve done this for clients before.)

      1. Nela*

        Yeah that depends on your internet connection speed and video length. Sadly I don’t have a choice but to reduce video size and quality because they regularly end up around 3–5 GB in size and take about the same number of hours to upload.

    6. WoodswomanWrites*

      I appreciate the helpful comments. The longest videos are 30 seconds and most are shorter. One other question–is there an advantage to using Vimeo over YouTube?

    1. Skeeder Jones*

      Hi! I collect Woodstock (from the Peanuts). I probably have close to 50 items, maybe more, I never really count them. I am also obsessed with trees, specifically birch trees, and have a ton of tree-themed art.

    2. Princess Deviant*

      I suppose I might call myself an eyeshadow palette collector. I have 31. I know others will have much more, but I like to use them as much as possible. I do think I have too much to use all of them regularly, so ideally I’d have less than, say, 20, but I also like to look at them, and swatch the colours, and mix and match with colours from other palettes so…they bring me joy and I’m not getting rid. Whenever I have some spare cash I buy another (all vegan and cruelty-free).

      And books.
      If my Kindle weighed as much as the books I have on there then I wouldn’t be able to lift it up. And then there’re the paper books too on my bookshelves.
      My tsundoku gives me much joy too; I’m not getting rid of any of them :)

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have collections of Funko pops, Disney trading pins, and “antique” Apple computers (1983-2001, currently, so not literal antiques by the general definition but def antique for computers). But I’m super picky about all three as far as what I add to the collection – all the computers still actually work exactly as originally intended. There’s only one style of old Apple that I’m still actively interested in adding – a Cube.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I have an old house (1735), so I’ve started collecting things like stone crocks from the 1800s, primitive wooden bowls and spoons, and furkins.

      1. Amity*

        Your collection and decor sounds very interesting! If you ever post them anywhere public please let us know. If you’re not comfortable doing so I totally understand, but if you do I think you’d have a ready made following. : )

        1. Amity*

          Err I meant if you ever post pictures anywhere public. Although I’m sure you figured that out!

        2. The Other Dawn*

          I keep a personal blog and have a few posts with my finds, if you’re interested. I have more items, mostly crocks, grain scoops, and candle sconces, but no pictures yet. One day we hope to replace some of the furniture, like the dining room table and bedroom furniture, with primitive/early colonial items. That will take a while though!

          Here are some of the vintage Christmas ornaments I’ve found (I buy those up when I find them): https://itjustdawned.blogspot.com/2018/12/merry-christmas.html

          And here are a few posts of some of the wooden spoons, bowls, and a few other things. Most of the stuff on or next to the desk are also flea market or antique store finds: https://itjustdawned.blogspot.com/search/label/antique%20store%20goodies

    5. sswj*

      Apparently I collect cats :p Not figurines, the real fur n’ claws kind. I have 15 and would have more if I could!

    6. nep*

      In the ’90s I collected matchbooks. I would write the date and the occasion and/or person I was with. It’s crazy looking at those today.
      Also in the 90s, I worked in an office that received mail from all over the world. I’ve got some cool stamps from that period.

    7. Doctor is In*

      Elephants. I have over 100 figurines, stuffed toys, art prints, etc. 45 years worth.

    8. Perstephanie*

      A small but epic collection of books on interior decorating written in the 1950s and 1960s.

    9. Llellayena*

      Teapots! I think I’m up to about 20 (small apartment limits adding more). I like ones with unusual shapes. I have an adorable one that I call “kissing Buddha face!”

    10. Nicki Name*

      I’m a lifelong gamer and I collect dice! I have all sorts of dice I can’t actually use because they have weird numbers of sides, or are pretty but hard to read, or use non-Roman numerals.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I collected dice as a kid! Totally forgot until I saw your comment. I wonder if I still have them somewhere.

    11. allathian*

      Moomin mugs. I’m not a serious collector and don’t have any very valuable pieces. They’re in daily use anyway, except a few that are worth a hundred or so euros, which I keep in our glassware cupboard.

      1. londonedit*

        Same! I don’t really collect anything in particular, but I do have a lovely collection of Moomin mugs.

    12. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m glad you asked this because it made me remember a bunch of collections I had as a kid! I knew I collected candles but thinking about it I also had piggy banks, novelty dice, and a bunch of souvenir spoons (the ones that have an image of a famous landmark on the handle). I think the only collection I still have is the 56 original Nancy Drew books – I was collecting them before the internet was a thing you could use for that, so it involved years of checking used bookstores, garage sales, antique shops, etc. My mom kept a list in her purse of the ones I already had.

      The only things I collect as an adult are a specific Hallmark ornament series and the little seasonal birds from Target (not all, just ones I really love – there are currently 5 of them that take turns being displayed throughout the year).

      1. allathian*

        As a child I collected stamps for a while, although never in any particularly serious way. I liked the colorful ones. I also collected beer bottle tops. My dad was a beer aficionado when I was a kid, and while the craft beer movement didn’t exist yet, he’d travel quite a lot on business and would bring me some exotic ones.

    13. MissCoco*

      I collect lab glassware, particularly small glassware.
      I have a set of vintage pharmacist measuring beakers, and a lot of tiny round bottom flasks And beakers, but my favorite is a 0.5mL volumetric flask – last commonly used in the days before micropipets!

    14. Generic Name*

      I collect rocks, gems, and minerals. I have a small (and illegal) collection of found bird feathers. You could say I collect Polish Pottery. I use it as my every day dishes, but it’s mostly my mom who buys it for me.

        1. Tortally HareBrained*

          In the US at least most species are protected under the Migratory Bird Act. This prevents collection of eggs, nests and feathers. Found feathers are protected since they are impossible to for law enforcement to separate from poached feathers later, since the feather itself gives no indication of how it was collected. Plus being able to sell found feathers creates a potential market, thereby leading to more poaching.

          Many people collect things they find and just keep it to themselves. For a private collection you aren’t doing environmental harm if only picking up things you find, but on a larger scale it’s easier just to protect them all.

        2. CoffeeforLife*

          You might never come back to see this but :) feathers are protected, as are all other bird parts including nests and eggs by the Migratory Bird Act 1918 to keep from killing birds to collect them. This protects native species (over 1000) but not European or domesticated ones (turkey and chicken).They can’t tell if a feather was collected from the ground or plucked from the bird. Indigenous Americans use them in ceremonies so they are allowed certain ones.

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        Ohh, I love polish pottery! Between my mom and I we have an extensive collection. All purchased in Poland. Sadly I lost half my dinner plates in a move. But I love to mix and match all the patterns! Honestly, I have too much including candlesticks, tea service, children’s tea service, decorative eggs, etc!

        1. Generic Name*

          I’ve gotten like 90% of my pieces from tj max, but I haven’t seen any there in a long time.

    15. Jackalope*

      I collect autographed business cards. I started this when I was in high school, and now I have a wide range of cards from all different parts of my life, including friends/family and random strangers (I’ve only ever had 1 person turn me down on giving me one). Most people are tickled to be asked for their autograph, and then I can look back later on the memory of the date/place where I got the card. I also have some “heirloom” cards from people I care about who have died, or who got married and changed their names, or who have now retired, so it’s fun to remember who they were at that moment in time. Plus, for a while I was moving around the world and couldn’t carry a huge collection with me, so a stack of business cards was the perfect size to toss in a carry-on or backpack if I had to move.

    16. Queer Earthling*

      I collect dolls, mostly Asian ball-jointed dolls. (My spouse does, too; our combined collection is 7 dolls with two more on the way.) I love that they’re customizable and I love making and buying things for them; therefore I also have a collection of doll clothes, doll wigs, and doll care equipment!

      I also seem to have developed a plush dragon collection without noticing.

    17. Chaordic One*

      I collect Barbie dolls and their related accessories. I have about 15 dolls from the 1960s and 1970s. I also have several of the more fancy collector dolls from the 1990s and more recently. And I collect a couple of the Hallmark Christmas ornament series (the little houses).

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have a collection of Russian lacquerwork boxes. I didn’t intend to start collecting them, but I bought one, then another, then I visited St Petersburg on a cruise and bought a few more.

    18. Barbara Eyiuche*

      I collect postcards, Christmas tree ornaments, movie posters, and books. I definitely have too much stuff for my house, but I’m hoping to get it all organized this year.

    19. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Does accidental collector count? I like buying makeup. shoes. clothes especially South Asian dresses that I’ll never really have much opportunity to wear esp nowadays. They used to bring me joy but I’ve been grappling with a shopping addiction for quite a while now.

    20. Yenda*

      Hubby and I collect LEGO. We’ve been building and collecting for a little over 7 years.

    21. Dancing Otter*

      I apparently collect yarn and fabric, as my stash grows faster than I can use it.

      1. SarahKay*

        I, too, collect fabric, along with dress-patterns and good intentions about making clothes. I have made some items, but my fabric buying is definitely in excess of my making.

    22. ThePear8*

      I obsessively collect keychains. It’s as though I’ve developed an internal radar to seek them out in every gift shop I pass. I link them together and hang them on my wall and it brings me a lot of joy.

      1. Lcsa99*

        I collect keychains too! We have them linked in a long chain circling our kitchen, and have 200+ (I would guess close to 200, husband thinks it’s closer to 500). Don’t know why, but I’ve been drawn to them since I was 10 or 11.

        It’s frustrating that you can’t always find them places you get other souvenirs. But we’re always looking!

    23. Heartlover1717*

      I collect hearts. I have heart-shaped hatboxes, pushpins, stones, tap lights, candles, etc. My favorites are ones that chime like Baoding balls. I’m always on the lookout for unique heart-shaped items…

    24. Beauceware collector*

      I only have a small collection, but I think of myself as a discriminating collector! :)
      I collect Beauceware. It’s a type of pottery made in Canada from 1939-1989. I mostly stick to the midcentury modern stuff.

    25. littlemoose*

      I’m a deltiologist — I collect postcards. I have postcards from every continent except Antarctica. My most far-flung ones are from Senegal and Bhutan.

    26. Might Be Spam*

      I collect clay cookie molds and cookie stamps. Most of them are heart shaped and some are animal shaped.

  9. Lizabeth*

    I’m thinking about getting a Wacom tablet to start learning how to use it. Anybody here have any experience with them they can share – good or bad?

    1. Anonymath*

      I purchased one of them at the start of the pandemic, but not for their primary advertised use. I needed a tablet that was more responsive than my iPad so that I could film lectures from home and have a whiteboard-like way to demonstrate mathematical examples. The tablet works well so far and was easy to set up and use. I purchased the Bluetooth enabled one and that works as well. Can’t speak about how well it works for art, but it works very well as a portable writing tablet.

    2. Nela*

      Which model? I’ve been using an Intuos model since 2007, never had any problems with it. It was pricy at the time, but considering that I use it every single day it has paid off. I don’t use a mouse at all, and I recommend any new users to forgo the mouse because you adapt to the tablet faster that way.

      I haven’t used any of their models with a screen yet, but several of my friends were very happy with them.

    3. ThePear8*

      My first tablet was a Wacom Intuos Pro and it’s fantastic! Absolutely love it. It’s not a display tablet so there is a bit of a learning curve to get used to watching the screen when you’re hand is moving over the tablet, but it’s a wonderful tool.
      HOWEVER, I urge you to research other brands as well – a lot of people aren’t aware there are other brands of tablet than Wacom and they are of equal or even better quality and significantly cheaper. I decided I wanted a display tablet so I could draw on the screen and just upgraded to a Huion Kamvas 13 and I LOVE it. It was half the price of an equivalent Wacome One display tablet. I looked up the comparison and they are pretty much exactly the same except the Huion tablet actually had even better pen sensitivity and was much cheaper, so don’t think Wacom is the only option!

      1. ThePear8*

        Basically, in my experience Wacom tablets are fantastic, but extremely pricey and there are options that are just as good or better than Wacom that are much easier on your bank account.

        1. Ey-not-Cy*

          My daughter, an animation student, bought herself a Huion Kamvas Po 24 this time and she loves it. She wanted a big one and this one is much cheaper.

    4. Selene*

      If you’re starting at the very beginning of learning to how to create digital art with a tablet, can I recommend a Huion 1060 plus? I got mine for around $60 USD ($80 AUD) and I absolutely love it.

      If you google ‘beginner budget tablets’ or something along those lines, you should get a list of some alternatives.

      I know people love the Wacoms but that they’re expensive, so if you’re not 100% sure it’s the way you want to go with your art, I definitely recommend trying something cheaper to start out with

    5. cyanste*

      I absolutely love my Wacom tablets, but the answer is really going to depend on you as a person and where you are with your art journey. I started off w/ a second-hand 12″ one with a monster of cables, then eventually bought a 32″ pro after trying an ipad pro and non-Wacom pen display between.

      The biggest downsides are really how expensive Wacoms are. I love my pro, but really wish it cost half the price to pick one of these up versus how much I spent on it. It serves as my main monitor because of the size so it’s dual-purpose… but still. It’s also a monster size-wise.

      The upside is that these are just reaaaally fantastic, and the only similar competitor (in my opinion) is the ipad pro. They have two different feels but capture art strokes and colors very well, with my only complaint about the ipad pro just not being big enough at times. I always recommend the ipad pro if the Wacoms are too expensive because it’s such a good alternative and good for beginners, plus it’s multi-functional.

  10. AnonForThis*

    (Anxiety/Depression in loved ones)

    Anyone have tips for how best to support a loved one (husband) with anxiety and depression stemming from a terrible childhood? He has an ACE score (adverse childhood events) of 5 or 6 depending on how you classify things. Primarily emotional neglect and abuse plus mental health issues in both parents. He’s been unpacking the damage over the past few years and has made wonderful strides but it’s… a lot. He’s waiting for another new med to try which we are hoping will help.

    We talk openly, we’ve established strong boundaries with his family of origin, we are planning to move away from his home state this summer. All things considered he’s extremely high functioning at work and at home with our toddler. I just know that he’s struggling because, well, he’s my spouse and I see the stuff everyone else misses. He only has a couple of friends left. His pre-college crowd is pretty immature and more or less dumped him as he became too successful. He wasn’t supposed to be the one who “got out” and built a good career and stable family. We’re investing in those two friends and they’re actually whisking him off to a cabin next month.

    Still, I just wish I could do more when he gets lethargic or self critical or has nightmares. Open to any ideas or just to hear that I’m not alone and need to hang in there. He’s an incredible partner and father even though his jerkbrain lies to him.

    1. AnonForThis*

      Edited to add that we’re both in our early 30s and big fans of Captain Awkward. He’s read Karyl McBride’s “Will I Ever Be Good Enough” among others. I think we’re doing all the right “stuff” (therapy, meds, family boundaries, regular exercise). This forum has been so valuable in the past for ideas and solidarity and kindness that I’m hoping to stumble across other things I can/should be doing as a caring partner.

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      You sound like a very loving partner.

      Two things that come to mind, although obviously speak to him about how they sound.

      – Camradarie around theraputic techniques. It can be isolating for people to feel like they need “remedial” help while others don’t, so I know some people feel less alone to see others using these tools as well. So, for example, if he practices grounding techniques learned in therapy, or he has a self-compassion workbook, doing some of that yourself.

      – Being kind to yourself and aware of your own needs. It’s easy to set aside our feelings when other peoples’ needs feel more ‘pressing’ or serious, but that’s not sustainable. (and if we don’t communicate our feelings proactively, they sometimes force themselves out in less-than-ideal ways…)

      1. AnonForThis*

        Had a comment but it got deleted. Booooooo.

        Short version – thank you for the wonderful tip on workbooks! I just bought a self compassion one. When we started unpacking this a few years ago I started reading everything I could get my hands on and the tips and tools were as much if not more amazing for my relationships than they were his. Many of the tools work magnificently to smooth out the bumps with work colleagues or spot some of the weird patterns in my own family. His entire clan is committed to their particular dysfunction so I don’t think the techniques are as satisfying for him which is pretty sad.

        He’s been a great partner to me when I’ve struggled so I try to remind him that I’m doing what he would do for me. Depression tells so many lies.

        Thank you again for the kind words and advice!

          1. AnonForThis*

            Ah sorry I should’ve specified. Got deleted *by my browser* (I was on shaky internet). Thanks for clarifying!

    3. Myrin*

      You sound like you’re already supporting him very much so first things first, please don’t beat yourself up if you find that you can’t do any more than what you’re already doing.

      Second of all, my younger sister also has depression and anxiety with roots in her childhood/adolescence, as well as PTSD (any chance the latter has its hooks in your husband, too? It can be kinda hard to spot and/or lumped in with depression but there are some distinct coping mechanisms which my sister has found extremely helpful).

      What very important in our relationship is that I very often ask her what she wants me to do/how she wants me to react. Should I let her mope around the house for a few hours or would she rather I distract her by watching a funny video together? That kind of thing.

      It’s also that you (general you) shouldn’t always allow the jerkbrain to go wild and untamed. Sometimes my sister can’t get out of bed but I really need her help with something regarding our whole family – often chores-related – and then I’ll have to basically “force” her to do the thing and it actually ends up helping her because it re-calibrates her sense of normalcy. It’s a bit of a trial-and-error thing but over the years I’ve developed a pretty good feeling on when it’s best to leave her completely alone and when her episode is more “superficial” and a simple “can you please peel the potatoes for me?” helps her getting out of her funk.

      All the best!

      1. AnonForThis*

        This part of your comment x1000:

        “ What very important in our relationship is that I very often ask her what she wants me to do/how she wants me to react. Should I let her mope around the house for a few hours or would she rather I distract her by watching a funny video together? That kind of thing”

        Even after knowing each other for over a decade, I still have to remember to ask. In my family, we handle some of the stress of mental illness with jokes. It has been such an effective coping mechanism for me that it took me a looooong time to realize that while it worked sometimes for him, other times it was just too painful.

        Trauma, it’s the worst.

    4. Jay*

      You’re not alone. Hang in there. I mean that in all seriousness. You are doing everything you can to support him and he is doing very hard work, which you know.

      It’s so, so hard to watch your partner struggle emotionally. I have been both the partner and the depressed person. The hardest lesson I’ve had to learn is to detach from his moods. That doesn’t mean I don’t care – it means I don’t get on the mood roller coaster with him (this will also be vital when your toddler becomes a tween and teen). And I had to seriously, deeply, invest in my self-care. That means, among other things, that I get enough sleep, exercise regularly, meditate or pray almost every day, and spend time connecting with friends. It also means I say “no” to things that other people want me to do, which is hard hard hard. I was not raised to put my needs first. I was raised not to have any needs and certainly not to have any needs that conflicted with the needs of my male family members. Turns out my male family members are fully capable of taking care of themselves. Huh.

      What do *you* need in order to hang in there? A therapist of your own to process everything and focus on your? A weekend away with your friends? A dartboard with a picture of your mother-in-law taped to it? That would have been my choice for a few years….

      You’re doing great. This is marathon. Self-care is how you stay in shape for it. Gentle hugs, if you want them.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        >A dartboard with a picture of your mother-in-law taped to it?
        I don’t have mother-in-law issues, but thank you for the laugh! Much appreciated. (It’s not the cruelty of causing pain but the cartoonish delight in offloading one’s anger…like scrubbing the bathroom floor while imagining that I’m cleaning the evil intentions of [Fill In The Blank: cancer, pollution, dictator du jour…].)

        You lightened my load on a difficult morning.

      2. AnonForThis*

        Thank you for the reminder that it’s a marathon (and for the gentle internet hugs, gratefully accepted)!

        Over the past few months I have been investing in my health. Drinking more water. Eating more vegetables, exercising at least every other day. I’m actually out of the house for this weekend to recharge my batteries (vaccinated, driving distance trip).

        I’ve decided on this trip to block a few of his family members. That probably seems dramatic but I just had this epiphany moment of pure clarity that these folks made my husband suicidal not once but twice. Even if we could do more somehow. Even if their dysfunction and harm wasn’t to the level of broken bones etc etc, we still get to leave. I think the expectation of family closeness is so deeply ingrained that I forgot that we don’t actually owe anything to the people who hurt us. And we don’t need an airtight legal case to be “allowed” to leave. It’s almost like divorce. We don’t need to have “tried everything” before pulling the plug. Especially with abuse. Who cares what other people think? You’re always allowed to leave.

        1. allathian*

          Good insight. I hope you can help your husband realize that he can go no-contact with the people who hurt him.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I think it’s super important to understand that once we reach “safety”, a whole bunch of stuff can come flooding forward. Kind of like a flying brick wall. ouch. This is only happening because now it is safe to look at what was going on.
      With this in mind, you can say things such as, “You are safe now and it’s okay to finally look at this stuff.” Where you have openings you can say, “Those things will never return to your life. You have resources and autonomy now that you did not have back then.” Eh, just having the vocabulary to say, x or y is happening is a huge change from childhood.

      To me, the hard part was each decade of my life just reveal another layer of my mother’s failures. As I went along I watched what other women took for granted and I never even saw. That was hard because I wanted the revelations to just stop. I wanted to stop having reinforcements that I got the short end of the deal. But even on into my 50s I found new things that I did not realize a good mother does. Then one day, I said to myself- this is just how it’s going to be. I will always notice things that other mothers do and my mother never even thought of. I just decided to accept it- it was exhausting the other way.

      I think taking charge of filling in my own knowledge gaps helped me. Encourage your husband to read. Read on subjects that he feels his knowledge or insight needs to be increased. A neglectful parent can skip things like how to budget, how to take care of your own body, how to be a good friend to people and so many other skills. Tell him to pick an area that he feels is sagging and read. Even googling and finding good sources online can be very supportive in filling in those knowledge gaps.
      I read some where and I just so appreciated the concept that we need to be good parents to our own selves. This can mean making sure we have food and clothes. But it can go beyond that, it can be making sure we figure out the answers to our own questions about life stuff.

      It was not long for me and I started to actually enjoy googling for the answers to my questions about life stuff. It turned around from being a sad/angry thing to a total feeling of empowerment. I am always looking up something. And I often see links here in the comments section that I check out because I want to know what things interest other people and why. What was once a sad thing turned into one of my joys in life. That’s odd, who’d thunk.

      Other than that my suggestions are to load up on fresh fruits and veggies as the emotions can drain the body of vitamins and minerals. A fortified body, means improved brain function, which in turn means a person can process their circumstances better. Hydration is important. It’s so easy to forget about water intake. But proper hydration encourages proper organ function, which goes back to a body that is working correctly supports the brain in the work that the brain has to do. I like soups and veggie drinks. They can be comfort foods but they are also loaded up with nutrition that the body can easily absorb.

      Never underestimate the power of taking walks together. Walk together on a fairly regular basis. Even if you just go for 15 minutes a few nights a week. Couples who walk together routinely can strengthen their marriages and each other. Talk about the day, talk about life, talk about your hopes and dreams. Walk and talk.

      1. AnonForThis*

        I read your comment to my husband because it struck such a chord with me, especially the word safety.

        Once our son was born, everything changed. And we knew that we would do ANYTHING to protect him from the dysfunction and cruelty my husband experienced. We originally thought we could stay in this state (which we love) but we just can’t risk getting sucked back in. So we’re moving not quite across the country, but a 15 hour drive away. I get it now why people need to leave not just their home town but even their home state and sometimes their country.

        I can 1000% vouch for the walking together. And long drives. It’s when we’ve had some of our best and most difficult conversations.

        I’m going to try and prioritize getting more veggies for both of us. We love roasted veggies but I don’t always make the time in the evening. We do bagged salads even though they’re more expensive because we actually eat them. I’ve been eating a bit of junk food while on vacation and it’s kind of fascinating how quickly my body protested to the rich fare! I’ve actually be craving fruit and greens in a way that I didn’t think was possible.

        I’m so sorry about your mother. My grandmother was a bit like that. She had severe mental illness and could be quite cruel and I remember feeling so jealous of the classmates who had the cookies and hugs grandma. I love the way you’ve reframed your story to find joy in treating yourself to new knowledge and self kindness.

    6. ThatGirl*

      Hi, so, not the same roots but my husband has struggled with anxiety and depression since long before we met. You’re not alone, but I had to realize that there was only so much I could do. I encourage my husband to take care of himself and his mental health, we’ve had talks about how I can best support him, but I’m not his counselor. I can’t take that load on, and neither can you.

      So: talk to him. Make sure he has a Team Him, that he stays in touch with his friends, has a therapist, regular med checkins. And then make sure your needs are being met, because you have to take care of yourself to be a good partner to him.

      1. AnonForThis*

        This. We had some really hairy conversations before I finally broke down and said that I’m not a therapist. He needed someone with professional training to handle some of those conversations. He deserved to have someone with expertise to hear him and help him. I told him cost was not an issue and I would pay any amount to support him. Love does not make me a master plumber/electrician/carpenter. Why would it make me a psychologist? It’s ok (better!) to pay for an expert. Now I can still listen but know that if it gets too complicated I can have him make a note to bring it up with his therapist.

        1. allathian*

          There’s also the point that therapy often requires a neutral third party, and someone you’re in a romantic relationship with simply can’t be that person by definition.

      2. AnonForThis*

        10/10 on getting a therapist. Love can’t make me a master plumber/carpenter/electrician, why would it give me psychology credentials? It’s ok to bring in the experts. Experts cost money. It’s worth every single penny.

      3. AnonForThis*

        My comments keep getting eaten but YES. Love does not make me a master plumber/carpenter/electrician. So how could it possibly make me a medical and therapy expert with years of training? We pay for experts because they’re worth it. And he’s worth it. Took a while to convince him but I think he gets it now. And now I can listen but know that there’s a professional on hand for the big stuff.

        1. ThatGirl*

          There’s a synonym for counselor that I’m pretty sure gets flagged by the filter every time, I have seen my own comments get moderated because if that. The software used to show me it was pending moderation but doesn’t anymore so you think it got eaten.

          Anyway, I’m really glad you’ve gotten to this point. Just remember ultimately you’re there to be his spouse, you can love and support him but his health is his to deal with. And I hope that he offers you that, too, and takes care of you when you need it.

    7. AnonWithPTSD*

      It sounds like your husband and I had really similar childhoods. I agree with a lot of the other advice given here and will add:
      -Be sure your husband knows he can take some time/space in a separate room when he needs it. Having a direct conversation about this, like “Do you want to be alone right now? If so, that’s okay and know that I love you.” can really help.
      -Consistently check-in with him about when touch feels safe. For example, ask before you hug him, rub his back, etc. during his moments of distress. It may feel very counterintuitive to resist physically consoling your husband when he’s anxious/stressed, but for those of us with childhood trauma our bodies can misinterpret gentle touches in those stressed moments (even though we may rationally understand that we’re safe).

      You sound like a loving, supportive person! Good on you for figuring out how to help him :)

      1. AnonForThis*

        We’re living in a 3bd/2ba with my parents (pandemic childcare) and our son so that’s a really good reminder on space! I know he does sometimes need to just zone out and decompress and that’s really only possible in our room.

        For touch, funny enough he’s the total opposite. He needs to be touched and it brings him a lot of comfort. I can probably do a better job of random hugs and cuddles since they’re good for him.

        Thank you so much for sharing your experience and for the kind words! I didn’t expect such a lovely outpouring of ideas and warmth but it’s been so restorative.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah. I’m fortunate enough to have been raised in a loving, if not very touchy-feely household. From an outsider’s perspective, I can imagine that sudden touch would be more distressing to a person who has experiences physical abuse rather than neglect or mental or emotional abuse.

  11. Princess Deviant*

    This has been asked before, I know, but would like some up to date answers.
    How do you get everything together in life?! Like cooking healthy stuff, shopping, looking after the house and pets, working, & exercising, if you’re on your own? I don’t think these are impossible things to do reasonably well on a regular basis but I struggle.

    I feel like at least 1 of these things has to give. I always take care of the cats, it’s me I let go. If I’m working, I struggle to get exercise and fit healthy eating in. If I plan my meals and get some exercise I’m not working. If I do my hobbies after work I’m usually too exhausted to cook something healthy or clean up, so just heat up a ready meal.
    Then the next day I’m cleaning up so I don’t have time to do something nice like read or exercise.
    I feel like this should be easy… But it’s not?
    I do have problems with executive functioning, so one of my coping strategies is to shop for food everyday, which doesn’t help, but there’s no way I can plan a whole week’s worth of meals.

    1. WS*

      In my case, moving to a rural area where I have to do a weekly shop was very helpful – I cook a healthy meal base and eat it all week. (If it’s protein based I’ll add different carbs, if it’s carb based I’ll add different proteins, but it’s the same base meal.)

    2. TechWorker*

      Be kind to yourself? Re: work I think it’s important to remember how much you’re actually getting paid for and what breaks are reasonable to take. Can you fit 30-40min exercise into your lunch break for Eg? (Might even make you feel *more* productive at work?).

      For healthy eating – cooking and planning absolutely does take time and energy, so again I don’t think worth beating yourself up about it. Could you find maybe 1-2 meals that you could cook each week that will give leftovers and then manage the rest of the time on ready meals or ‘freezer food’? Or buy stuff that just really involves assembly or sticking in the oven vs any actual cooking? I’m veggie so for us that might look like veggie chicken bits, rice in the rice cooker and some green veg, or frozen pastry thing, sweet potato fries and some spinach/tomatoes.

      Cleaning is hard and I’ve struggled with it since getting our cats because I feel like they make everything a bit dirtier (hair everywhere, and some litter tracked). Honestly for that I just accept that the house is going to look a bit gross on a Friday and I need to dedicate a chunk of Saturday to cleaning. Post pandemic we are probably going to look into hiring a cleaner but I know that won’t work financially for everyone. Good luck!

      1. Princess Deviant*

        This is so lovely, and has really helped me think about some things a bit differently. Thank you.

    3. Quandong*

      I live on my own with just one cat and I work longer hours during the week than I’d like.

      It may be that your feeling that this should be easy just doesn’t reflect the effort and time it takes to do everything. From what you describe you are doing more than me! Later in the week I need more sleep and downtime, and have to let a lot of tasks fall by the wayside for the weekend. What you describe sounds a lot like my experience.

      Ready meals and quick, no-cook meals are something I am eternally grateful for, otherwise I’d be missing out on foods that are good for me to eat. I’ve ended up with a minimal effort cooking routine so I don’t need to think too hard about food on work days, or take time to cook from scratch when I’m exhausted.

      Anything you can do to minimise food shopping and preparation gives you more time to do other things. As food preparation always needs to happen somehow, I wonder if it’s a worthwhile use of your time and effort to get help to make a food plan. Are you a person who would try getting pre-made food delivered? One of my friends has found this suits her needs and she can make large orders, stock her freezer, & literally not think about buying meals for weeks.

      On the whole I love living on my own but the repetitive cleaning, laundry, and food preparation gets to be a drag at times. Please be kind to yourself, you’re definitely not alone in making trade-offs so you can get necessary work done & some recreation and exercise for your wellbeing.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Thank you, it’s very good to know I’m not alone! I have been thinking everyone has got it together except me.

        1. the cat's ass*

          OMG, that is SO not the case. Rotisserie chicken was a lifesaver for me when i lived solo (could give a little to the kitty, too)! Also got a rice cooker ages ago so that made starches easy, then a box of salad. I sent all my laundry out to a local laundry. My apartment was pretty small, so cleaning was easy. I look back on those days with longing because my life had so few moving parts, and i still did not have my shit together. Fast forward 30 years, and i still don’t. Rotisserie chicken and trader joes premade meals still save me at the end of a long exhausting day (I am married to a terrible cook but he does house clean, so breaking even there), and i do have an inhouse washer and dryer. And I still feel like it’s more important to take a walk after work than vaccuum. Mental health is far more important than crumbs in the rug. You are more than okay!

        2. Jean (just Jean)*

          >everyone has got it together except me

          Oh hell no! Stick with me, let me show you pictures of my living space, and you’re gonna look like Martha Stewart.

          Modern life is overdemanding. It’s all too easy to end up in Crud City by the end of the work week.

        3. Sylvan*

          They don’t. They have at least one relaxed are that’s where you can’t see it. Or they have an SO or someone else and they’ve shared responsibilities so each of them does what they’re good at.

          1. Sylvan*

            There’s a typo in my second sentence, but it’s also not a very good sentence. Here’s a rewrite: They have at least one part of their life at a managed-but-not-expertly level that’s simply not noticeable. It could also be something that you’re not inclined to judge or something that’s typically private.

        4. tiasp*

          HA HA HA! I do a LOT of volunteering, so I get a lot of comments about how do I do it all. Well I don’t work full time and I do NOTHING in my house, that’s how. Try to have clean clothes for everyone (and a couple of them just do their own laundry, bless their hearts) and lots of dishwasher loads (and PILES of stuff that doesn’t go in the dishwasher), and that’s about it. I have groceries sitting on the floor that aren’t put away that I bought months ago. It’s been a year since I’ve seen the surface of my kitchen table. I could not tell you the last time I swept a whole floor opposed to a little spot where something spilled.
          There are some people who have it together, but I’m convinced that most of us are just hanging on the best we can.

        5. Roci*

          OMG noooo this is why millenials and everyone talks about “adulting is hard”. It’s virtually impossible to prepare and eat 3 healthy meals + snacks, commute and work a full day, exercise properly, care for pets or dependents, do a hobby like reading, regular cleaning of your house/dishes/laundry/your body, and sleep 8 hours. It’s just not possible in one day!

          I think most people aim to do one or two big chores, alternating days, and just little maintenance on the rest. And lowering your standards because no one lives like they claim to on social media.

      2. Emma*

        At the beginning of the pandemic, when supermarkets were empty, my partner and I signed up for one of those recipe delivery services – they deliver a box every week with pre-portioned ingredients and recipe cards for a week’s worth of dinners. At the time we did it because we didn’t want to slog round three supermarkets trying to buy pasta when my partner has athsma and, back then, we thought that made her super high risk.

        It’s been really good, though. We’ve struggled before because I have to eat lots of fruit and veg to function, but my partner struggles with executive function and on her own isn’t often up to more than frozen pizzas and pasta bakes. In the past this has meant that when I’m exhausted and stressed and struggling, she takes on more of the cooking, and then we don’t eat properly and I get progressively more wiped out until I realise what’s happening and force myself to start cooking again.

        The delivery service, though, makes life a lot easier. There’s no real planning – just picking items off a menu once a week – and no big shop or big online order that I don’t have time to do. My partner finds it much easier to cook from scratch this way because it’s all laid out: you open a paper bag and there are quite ingredients, you follow the instructions on the card, bam. It circumvents a lot of the things she finds difficult re. executive function. And it’s pretty nice food with plenty of fresh fruit and veg, which is what I need.

        The big downsides are cost and packaging waste. The company tries to user recyclable packaging etc but it’s inevitably more packaging than you’d use buying from the supermarket, and it is pricier. So I’m currently writing an app that will hook into the API of one of the big supermarket chains here, so I can randomly generate a list of recipes for the week and then automatically order all the ingredients online. It’s going to be amazing if I ever finish it.

        1. KittyMom*

          Ooh, what a fabulous idea! I would be interested in something like that. Are you planning to make it available on Android or Apple app stores?

    4. Well...*

      I so feel this. I think habit can he really helpful. I have one healthy lunch and a few healthy dinners that preparing has become something I don’t think about. Tbf, these are very easy prep things to eat, but at first it was a drag for me. I also don’t need variety in food, and if I crave something decadent I can always order in every once in a while, and not feel bad bc I eat healthier on the regular.

      Also my husband and I are stuck living apart right now due to jobs (hello, two body problem +covid) and when we are together the routine is completely easier and different. Living alone is just more grunt work in my experience, so be kind and patient with yourself. It’s also less emotional/intellectual labor bc you don’t need to factor in anyone else’s preferences, and you really don’t need to be as flexible and reactive. It’s way easier to stay consistent and build habits. So yea, habit has been my lifeline to stay a functional adult in this current situation.

    5. Jessi*

      I don’t. Mostly I end up dropping a ball somewhere. I work 46 hours a week and outsourced half the shopping (meal delivery kit for 3 nights) and the cleaning by having a cleaner come once a week for two hours.

      I’m trying super hard to look after my body so exercise is my first priority, in terms of shopping I order groceries every other week or so (with a plan for what to make with the ingredients) or i pop in every few days on my way home from work and grab top up ingredients.

      It helps to have time on my schedule for exercise, so maybe you could do that with other things you need to do?

      1. Princess Deviant*

        They are good coping strategies for sure.
        I want to prioritise exercise too, so building it into my day makes sense, as in “it’s in my diary”. I like both Tech Worker’s and Red Reader’s tips on that.

    6. Anonosaurus*

      For what it’s worth, I struggle with this as well. I think part of the problem is the mental energy involved in criticising oneself for not being superhuman. For example, this last week I have had to work very long hours temporarily, so the house is really untidy, there’s something horrible happening in the fridge, and I haven’t done very many steps and feel very unfit. I am sitting here trying not to beat myself up about it. I am not a total slob, I just had to prioritise other things this week. I can clean up and go for a long walk today and next week we go again and try to balance everything, maybe a little differently if I have to do less work.

      If one works, has a physical body and a home, wishes to do self and animal care, and to have a social and cultural life, and also to sleep occasionally, I just don’t think it’s possible to do all of these things perfectly all of the time, but does it really matter?

      I also think many of us assume that everyone else is doing all of this effortlessly, and they really aren’t, even if it looks like it on Instagram.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yes – I remember a quote, though not where I saw it, that’s something along the lines of “Using social media as your benchmark results in you comparing everyone else’s highlight reel to your own blooper reel.”

      2. Princess Deviant*

        Well, I don’t think I’m not superhuman and I definitely don’t use Instagram :) but I do compare myself to what I think others are doing, and falling short in my own head so it’s good to know I’m not alone!

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      I’ve never found it to be easy, I count it as a win if I can get 2 or 3 today, then maybe a different 2 or 3 tomorrow. One thing that does help is that I have a high energy dog who absolutely MUST be walked daily, so I can check the exercise box and the pet care box with one activity. Try to give yourself some grace, and know that nobody really has their whole entire game together.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        This definitely helps me think about it a bit differently, thank you so much :)

        1. the cat's ass*

          If i get half of my errand list done, it’s like basebll-I’m batting .500! Perspective!

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I find that some things work better for me if I break them up. I am INCREDIBLY unlikely to go work out for an hour. 20 minutes is about my limit before I, frankly, get bored. But if I go take fifteen minutes to walk around my block 3-4 times a day, then by the end of the day I’ve walked just shy of 3-4 miles (it’s about 0.9 miles around my block) and the time wasn’t a huge interruption to my day. Similarly, I almost never clean for an hour. I clean something for five or ten minutes, three or four times a day. It’s an improvement, but it’s not a lot of time commitment, and then I can go do something else. (Every once in a while the brain snowballs and I end up with a daisy chain of cleaning that goes on longer than usual – I go to put the widget away, realize the widget storage needs some tidying, find a whatsis, go to put the whatsis away, oh gosh the whatsis desperately need dusting, etc etc – but not usually.)

      I do think that you’re right, the food shopping every day probably doesn’t help, but I’m not sure whether “there’s no way I can” on the meal planning means “I’m open to suggestions as to how to change that but I haven’t been successful at managing it on my own” or “so please don’t suggest that because I’m not willing to change that.” (Either one is totally valid – I do have some suggestions on ways to make meal planning much less onerous, I just don’t want to start throwing them out if you really don’t want them.)

      1. Princess Deviant*

        That’s such a good point; I am open to suggestions on the meal planning thing :) thank you!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I was a terrible meal planner, and for me, the problem was that I would just buy EVERYTHING in the grocery store that sounded good, and somehow STILL not have all the ingredients I needed for stuff. When I started planning, my grocery bill went down by like, half. :P So here’s what worked for me:

          I took a stack of index cards and wrote down on each one a main course that I can make for dinner, and a list of the groceries I need to make it happen. I didn’t include things like butter or spices, the stuff I always have to hand, just the things I would need to grab either out of the pantry or from the grocery store. Example: SLOPPY JOES – 1 lb ground beef, 1 can manwich sauce, one packet of buns. I wrote up cards for things ranging in complexity – sloppy joes, BLTs, omelets, tacos, sous vide pork chops with mashed potatoes, crab cakes, “a heat and eat meal,” “frozen pizza”. Basically, if I was willing to eat it for dinner under general circumstances, I wrote it up. Now I have a deck. I ended up with about 30 cards, but whatever – I’d aim for at least 15 though if you can. I don’t cook for just me, but if you do, you might also note for yourself something like “this makes enough for two nights” or such, where appropriate.

          Saturday mornings (which is when I do my grocery shopping), I pull enough meals out of the deck to cover the nights I cook dinner, which is usually 4 – we do takeout one night a week and I mostly make the boys fend for themselves on the weekends :P For you, it might be two or three or four, whatever. Put them on your schedule when they work for you – if you pull the frozen pizza, you can put it on a busy night, and if you pull the prime rib with slow-roasted whatever, obviously put it on what you anticipate to be a slow night. :) Then you fill in the blanks with “leftovers”, and until you have the hang of it, maybe keep sandwich fixings on hand just in case :) plus now you can make most of a grocery list from your cards and not be going “Oh, dammit, I forgot the sloppy joe buns again” or whatever. I put the cards I pulled this week at the back of the deck, and I won’t shuffle them back in until after I pull next week’s, just so we get a little bit of variety and don’t pull the same thing twice in a row, but that’s just me.

          It takes a little bit of prep up front to create the deck, but once it’s done, it’s pretty easy to work with. You can always create new cards, or if you want to plan ahead to try something new or whatever, you can tweak it, but if you just want to follow the whims of chance each week, all the effort is gone. And if you pull a card and go “you know, I’m just not feeling bacon sandwiches this week,” you can put it back in the deck and pull something else.

        2. Catherine*

          I don’t ever meal plan exactly, but I have a bunch of things that I tend to buy each week as I know I can usually make something out of them. So if there’s certain meals you tend to eat, then maybe ensure you always have the basics?
          For example, I get aubergine, courgettes, pepper, some sort of cheese – feta or mozzarella – and some salad things. At home I always have onions, garlic, tinned tomatoes, coconut milk, rice, pasta, spices. So with those things, depending on mood, I can make soup, pasta, Indian, Thai, stirfry, salad etc. Occasionally I will need to get some extras mid week (I always seem to forget something) but usually I’m covered – and it can be a nice challenge to find new ways to work with what you have! I think this has really come to the fore during the last year as I have been minimising my shopping outings.
          Also – with the exercise, I use an app called Classpass to pre-book sessions – I find it helps me be accountable as I feel bad if i cancel or miss a class, and if I miss the cancellation window I have to do the class or else I feel I’ve wasted money!

        3. Rebecca Stewart*

          I do five week menu plans.
          I eat the same thing for breakfast every day, and we have a rotating list of lunch dishes, since everyone is home now. (Monday is always chicken quesadillas, Tuesday is always hamburgers, etc.)
          Dinners have vaguely categorical themes. Monday is what I call “Slab”; i.e. the slab of meat on a plate with sides, as opposed to stirfries or things on noodles. Tuesday is Chinese, Wednesday is “Special”: this is the day where I have time to play extensively in the kitchen and produce barbecue, etc.

          So I set up a table and put dates in the lefthand column, then the columns to the right of that are (for us) Theme, Lunch, Dinner.
          Then I come up with five dishes that I like that are of the “slab” variety. And I put them each on Monday dinner. Five different Chinese dishes I like on Tuesday. And so forth, and once the table’s populated, there we go.

          Every week I sit down and make a list of everything I would need to cook those meals that week, including condiments. I print this out. Then I go round to the pantry and the freezer and the fridge, and check things off. To this list I add whatever might be written on the whiteboard downstairs (this is where people put things that need to go on the grocery list) or upstairs (health and beauty items, usually.) At this point I also add the tea I drink every morning, the coffee they drink, my English muffins, and check the supply of cat food (wet and dry) and the supply of bags of litter, and amend the list on the computer accordingly, and print out a clean copy to go to the store with.

          1. Rebecca Stewart*

            I’ll add that this works even if you are getting premade stuff from the store or doing semi-homemade things. Even if you want to order in pizza every Tuesday.

    9. Jack Russell Terrier*

      What do you like to eat for dinner? Do you like beans and a veg? Do you like a meat and two veg and rice or potatoes etc? Do you like a big salad and a hunk of cheese and some olives – like a tapas? Go from there. A rotisserie chicken is golden.

      Beans and a veg are easy – you have canned beans, add some seasoning and frozen veg. You can even put some frozen veg in a mug with a bit of water (you can add a blob of butter) and some seasoning to cook in the microwave to reduce clean up.

      Meat and veg – cook up several chicken breasts or what have you, take one and heat up with frozen veg or have rotisserie chicken with the veg. If you want a starch like rice or a grain like barley, then cook in advance or do a jacket potato – slick some oil on and pop in the microwave, potatoes microwave really well.

      If you really like veg raw but don’t like chopping it up – just get it ready cut. It’s more expensive but you’ll eat it, it won’t sit in the fridge until it gets thrown out.

      Basically think of it as an assembly line. Anything that takes a while – cook several. If you just do this once with protein, it can take a few minutes to pop say four chicken breasts in the oven and then take it out when the timer dings. You then have four meals that only take adding the rest either at room temp or quickly heated in the microwave. It doesn’t take long and clean up is minimal.

      The planning is: get protein – eg chicken beans, get frozen veg, cook up protein. The rest is ‘what’s for dinner’. Would it help literally to make a list of proteins you like and frozen veg you like. Then add to list potatoes, rice etc if you like to add them and check how much of them you have before you go the store? You checklist could be:

      Before heading out tick those I need:
      potatoes
      rice
      barley
      frozen peas
      frozen spinach
      frozen corn
      frozen broccoli
      cut up bell pepper
      grapes
      apples

      Chicken thighs
      Chicken breast
      black beans
      rotisserie chicken

      Just keep it simple

    10. Oxford Comma*

      I have found that it helps to have a routine. Every Sunday morning I sit down and plan out meals which takes me 30-40 minutes. I usually have a few go-to easy recipes that I can get multiple meals out of, like maybe I make a casserole or a stir fry that I can get 4 meals out of. The rest I fill in. I like to cook so I’ll try something new. But if I don’t feel like doing that, it’ll be something easy like eggs or pasta. And I treat myself to takeout once or twice a week. I have one of those magnetic pads on the fridge and I keep a running shopping list on that. Like you, I have done shopping for food everyday, but it cost me so much money and with the pandemic, there’s no way I’m going into all those stores that many times a week.

      Exercise…I chunk it out. I live alone and even before the pandemic, I wasn’t interested in going to gyms. But I take walks. I’ll get up and take a 10 minute walk a couple of times a day. I have been borrowing audio books from the library and as I walk around the neighborhood I have those playing. I have them playing when I clean too.

      But if all of this is overwhelming, maybe just do one extra thing and see if it works out. As at least one other commentator said, be kind to yourself.

    11. Pond*

      This all is stuff I’m figuring out.
      Food: I usually do a couple big shopping trips at a time (BJs/Costco and local grocery store) to get as much food as I can fit in the refrigerator/freezer, and then don’t have to go shopping for 1-3 months except for the occasional small trip for fresh veggies. I usually spend several hours 1-3 times/week on making on really big meal – either something like chicken pot pie (which includes meat, veggies, etc all in one) or something like individual components in large quantities (ex. 4 lbs meat, 1 box pasta, 1 package frozen veggies). This way all my cooking time and thinking is in one set chunk of time ex. Sunday afternoon, and then I don’t have to spend time on it the rest of the week – just take out a big dish, scoop the portion I want onto my plate, and stick it into the microwave for 1-3 minutes.
      Shopping:
      food/groceries – one big trip every 1-3 months, with a small trip for fresh veg roughly once/month
      one-off clothing/presents – only if I need something specific, always plan a half or whole day to be taken up by shopping – not often, usually in clusters around holidays
      lots of clothing – always plan to take multiple full days, usually spread out over a few Saturdays – not often, 0-3 times per year, usually around change of seasons (ex. if summer clothes no longer fit or need different style clothes for a new work environment)
      looking after home – still figuring this out; I tend to let things (ex. dishes and laundry) pile up and then deal with them all at once, which takes several hours and is exhausting. It be better to do little chunks at a time and not let a big pile form, so not sure if I’ll change.
      working – whether I’m in office or remote I have very specific set hours, so I go by that. While working remotely I mostly eat while working and use my lunch break for other things (ex. cleaning, personal meetings, relaxing). Is possible, I’ve found it really helps mentally to have set hours to only work then, and not have to think about whether or not I should be working at other times.
      exercise – I haven’t figured this out, other than that finding a friend to walk and talk with us the only sure way to get me outside/moving.

    12. mreasy*

      This is possible but it is by no means easy. I’m 41 and I only feel like I got somewhat of a handle on all of this on a daily basis a few years ago – and even still I have days and weeks where it just doesn’t work. (I have 2 cats, no kids – I literally cannot figure out how my friends with kids manage.) Ironically I think a big part of it is finding ways to ease the pressure on yourself and any negative self-talk. This took years of therapy for me, and I still have plenty of these habits, but it has loosened with time and work. And seconding the commenters below who recommend cooking in bulk, it helps!

      1. allathian*

        When I lived alone, I had issues with getting things done. At times, my apartment was a dump. I could leave dishes unwashed for a week when I was living alone and only washed them when I ran out of plates or the sink started to smell. Now that would be unthinkable. Of course, it helps that we have a dishwasher.

        With a kid, especially a baby or toddler, I was like “okay, I need to take out the trash when I go shopping, or it won’t get done”. As a parent, you learn quickly to do fairly unpleasant things simply because they’re necessary, so the excuse “I don’t feel like doing this” doesn’t carry as much weight as it might when you’re the only one living with the consequences. I mean, when my baby son had diarrhea and his diaper leaked so that his whole back got covered in excrement up to his hairline, I cleaned him up and enjoyed a sweet-smelling, happy baby. I didn’t go “oh, that’s gross” and leave him dirty.

        I was on maternity leave for two years and then I was primarily in charge of cooking, cleaning, and shopping, or at least of planning what to buy and writing shopping lists. When I went back to work, my husband was great at doing a bigger share of the chores. Now that my son’s almost 12, my husband probably does more chores than I do, because he has much more energy. He’s also great at noticing when things need to be done, so I’m not the sole project planner in our house. This seem to be unusual, I’ve heard many women say that their guys are great at doing things on request, but don’t seem to see what needs to be done without prompting.

        I do have limits, though. I decided early on that I don’t want to be a soccer or hockey mom. I guess I’m lucky in that our son isn’t interested in team sports. He takes after his father and likes cross-country skiing, running, and riding a bike, although only for exercise, he isn’t at all interested in competitive sports.

    13. mreasy*

      Oh and another note. Remember that “getting your s**t together” is a myth! It’s all a process, there’s no point where it’s all figured out. No longer thinking this way helped me enormously.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      I think we can go our whole lives trying to figure this out.
      I think it’s helpful to realize our needs change every 7-10 years. This encouraged me to just accept the fact that I will need to change/modify what I am doing on a regular basis. In other words, this sh!t never ends.

      Things related to health get done first. This means my kitchen and bathroom should be relatively clean and organized. In the same vein, my bed and bedding need to be reasonably comfortable. This can mean clean bedding, making the bed so it is neat and ready to crawl into at night and ensuring it has covers that actually keep me warm. If I regularly do not sleep well, not to much else is ever going to get done.
      Eating is part of health. I read some where that good health is 80% what we eat and 20% exercise. I do the food part well. The exercise part- not so much. Sometimes just getting through the day is an exercise as I run from one thing to another.

      I also realize that I had unrealistic expectations. I cannot be away from home 10 hours per day and have numerous hobbies, numerous projects and several pets. Something has to go. (It wasn’t the pets.) I used to enjoy craft sewing, until I realized I had to wash and maintain that completed craft item. It did not help me, it make MORE work. Now my sewing projects are practical ones- such as making curtains or drapes for pennies on the dollar of what they would cost in stores.

      I decluttered and I am still getting rid of stuff. I stopped collecting things like ceramic shoes and what not. I don’t have time to take care of it. And I no longer want to put money into this stuff.
      Paper is a huge issue for me. The problem started with doing my father’s estate. I had 18 cases of paper from his house in one room. The other rooms were not better than that. Now I have all the paper in one room. If i stacked it up it’s probably 2.5 feet high. Compared to what I had, this is nothing but I am TIRED and that last bit of paper is just sitting there. It’s been years to get this far.

      Streamline things as often as possible.
      Purge stuff regularly- especially paper. A good rule of thumb is to just get rid of the stuff (and paper) that you know for certain you are done with. I keep a donation bag in my room and I add to it randomly. When it gets full I drop it off on my way to work and I start a new one immediately.
      On any given day I have not moved any mountains or made any miracles happen. It’s just that I do something most days no matter how small. And that is what adds up.

      I had to walk door-to-door to do a survey in this community. I was surprised to see that at least 50% of the homes I went into looked like mine (lived in) or worse (little paths through clutter). Most homes were not what I imagined. Maybe 5% of the homes looked like something out of a magazine, that’s it. A good number of people are struggling with their surroundings, you are not alone by any stretch.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        That’s interesting. What is it that changes every 7-10 years? Is it our energy levels or our mental perspective or something else?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Just about any aspect of life can change and new needs, new priorities come along with it.
          Life is not as stagnant as it can feel. Work can be a real hamster wheel and we get so involved in getting to work, working, getting back home that we can forget how life is marching on anyway.

          Just some random examples:
          When my husband was diagnosed diabetic, we made a bunch of changes in what we were doing. We started packing lunches for work. We needed lunch containers and lunch totes, for example. I added to my cookware because I needed to beef up what I was doing. (Changing health needs.)

          When my mother died, we wanted to include my father more. We made sure we had a guest room and spare linens. (Changes in family structure.)

          When we changed jobs, invariably we had to make household changes. One time my husband’s new job required he provide his own vehicle designated for work use. We shifted around finances, the way we used vehicles, etc. We also took on equipment to make sure his vehicle worked every day- air compressor for pumping up the tires, charging devices for the battery, etc. (Changes necessary to remain employed.)

          Then there are changes that happen by our own choices. I wanted pets. I ended up with four of them before I decided I had to put the brakes on. We had lots of toys, tools, accessories, crates, carriers, and piles of vet records, shot records and so on for these critters. (Changes for hobbies and interests and choices.)

          That’s the build up side. Then there is the tear down side.
          My father passed and we got rid of stuff we kept just for when he came to visit.
          My husband passed and I got rid of that work vehicle and all the work clutter that was laying all over. Likewise the stuff related to diabetic care.(Changes due to loses.)
          I decided with the reduced income, I would go down to just having one dog. As the cats left my life, I did not replace them. Then I got rid of the stuff for taking care of cats. (Changes due to shifts in priorities and choices.)

          The part that gets mind-bending is how we run these build up and tear down changes at the same time.

          My father passed just after we bought our house. I got rid of some Dad Things and acquired New House Things. (That shift was super chaotic.)
          As I was getting rid of some of my husband’s stuff that I would not need/use, I was acquiring new tools and equipment that I would use so I could stay in my home with some self-sufficiency.

          If I think of my life in blocks of 10 years, each decade had major shifts. In reality some of those shifts came up very fast and very close to the previous shift. Now at 60, there are things that I will never, ever use again, because of age/lack of interest/lower resources/etc. Actually that is okay for the most part. I have to admit that I do enjoy finally just getting rid of stuff that I will never deal with such as that unfinished antique crochet bed spread. It can go and I am good with that.

    15. Chilipepper*

      I am watching my adult son figure this out; I am reminded that it is not easy! I can remember not getting it all balanced when I was starting out on my own and with our family but I am a pro now. It really does take time to make it work for you and, as others said, be kind to yourself, this is normal.

      One bit of advice I got from a wise person was that routine and “bright line” rules help because you don’t have to make decisions constantly. That is exhausting. He said not having a routine, which means constant decision making, is like trying to stand/swim at the beach where the waves are breaking right at the shore. It is much easier to go all in, to go deeper in the ocean where the waves are not breaking. If you finish work and then have to decide what to do, exercise, make healthy food, do a hobby, clean, you are making a lot of decisions. Then you do eat and have to decide all over again. Instead, he says to pre-decide with a routine – that helps you actually do all the things.

      At various times in my life I have balanced things in different ways. For example, when our son was little and I was a SAHM, I made Friday cleaning day and did a deep clean so we could do fun things on the weekend and because I hate cleaning most of all so only the bare minimum during the week. Now spouse and I are older and it is just the two of us, we don’t make much mess and we clean the kitchen every night and the rest of the house about once a week.

      As for meals, I can eat the same meal for days so I batch cook on the weekends or an evening when I feel like it. I freeze some and eat the rest for days. We also have a lot of routine in our cooking. We eat pretty much the same light meal for dinner (vegan so its a big kale salad or lettuce salad with tons of beans and veggies) and have the food I cooked on the weekend for lunch.

      Exercise does not come easy to me but routine helps. I walk 3 miles after work every day. I don’t have to think about it, it is just my routine. So I’m all in at the ocean past the point where the waves break (lol). I don’t think, I just come home, change, and walk. I cut my brain out of the whole thing!

      Again, it takes time to make this all work for you, I wish you the best!

      1. Lizzo*

        This is incredibly helpful, and is an excellent description of what I’ve been trying to explain to my husband for years about the importance of structure/routine/planning. Thank you for sharing!

      2. Princess Deviant*

        This is an absolutely brilliant explanation, thank you so much! When you say “bright lines”, do you mean something like clear boundaries?

        1. Batgirl*

          I think it means hard rules and habits. Occasionally, you’ll find one that works really well for you. Mine are: 1) even if you don’t have time to clean, keep the sink clear, 2) make your bed every morning and 3) if you’re making something useful and freezable like tomato sauce or meatballs, make a batch so you don’t have to cook the second or third sitting 4) always take the stairs and 5) only try to develop one habit at a time or it won’t take. Start with one that will make a big impact and give you a boost.

        2. Chilipepper*

          You can google bright lines, it is a concept used by many to express clear lines in the sand.

    16. fposte*

      I lowered my expectations on this well before COVID. There just is no world in which I shop, cook, exercise, see friends, and work with only the hours in a week.

      Wherever you can, find shortcuts. I’m lucky enough to have cleaners, currently once a month, which means also before they come picking up gets prioritized. I am a big fan of doing a big batch of a freezable food like soups or stews, freezing them in portions, and then just microwaving during the week. A good bean soup, with or without sausage, is a great dinner, and fruit makes a great dessert. Dirty dishes that can’t go in the dishwasher don’t always get washed the same day, and it’s fine (though in a cat household you might need to be a little more careful). Sometimes the pasta pot just gets washed before I use it again, and that’s somehow faster and less annoying anyway.

      Wherever you can, make it easy to do what you want to do. I leave relevant clothes for the exercise in the easiest spot—I’m likelier to use my ancient elliptical if I don’t have to find workout clothes and then hit the machine, so some workout clothes hang on it. Walking shoes are by the back door.

      I sometimes find day by day to do lists to be a help because they allow me to have things *not* on the list, rather than having every day be about all those things. But then I can start accruing items and have to toss the list because it’s stressing me out, so that’s definitely a YMMV.

    17. Techie*

      A lot of people have some great thoughts on routine. I agree with all of that, and would also like to offer a few concrete suggestions
      1. I have a pair of cats & for me, a small roomba-style robovac has been huge (cost is roughly $250). It keeps cat hair to a dull roar & forces me to do a daily quick check from stray toys. The model I have allows an option to start a cycle automatically when you leave the house (based on smartphone location), so it’s a two birds, one stone sort of thing for exercise, errands, etc. If this is in your budget, I highly recommend it.
      2. A small air purifier. This doesn’t clean per se, but makes the air feel a lot nicer. May be psychological, but it works for me
      3. An instant pot. This really cuts down on meal planning. It lets you make a big freezable batch of something with minimal effort
      4. Schedule workouts (walks, YouTube videos, etc) on your work calendar. I’ve found just before work, or immediately after are great ways to throw some borders around your day.

    18. violet04*

      I’m 43 and I feel like working from home the past year has finally allowed me to get my act together, so to speak. I’m married, no kids and my husband has a pretty standard 9-5 job where he has to go into the office.

      It took a few months, but I found a routine that works for me. I have five cats so getting up and feeding them and scooping the litter boxes is the first thing I do in the morning. After that I work out, shower and get dressed for the work day. I have to exercise in the morning otherwise I won’t get to it later in the day.

      The food thing is more difficult, because I don’t like cooking. I try to plan dinners for Mon-Fri and we wing it on the weekends. Last night I didn’t have anything planned so we ate McDonald’s.

      I actually don’t mind cleaning, so in the evening I make sure all the dishes are done and the kitchen is clean. Once a week, I’ll vacuum.

      I also use a habit tracker to keep track of things I want to do each day.

    19. Stephanie*

      The only way that I’ve ever been able to sustain a regular exercise habit was to do it first thing in the morning. Pre pandemic, that meant that sometimes I would get up very early to get to the gym before work. I hated getting up so early, but I knew that I always felt better if I worked out, and that was enough most dark, early mornings for me to get out of bed. During the pandemic, it’s been a bit of a struggle to exercise, but I schedule it, so I see it as a thing that I must do. It helps.
      We recently started to use a meal delivery service (Hello Fresh) for two dinners each week. It’s not as cheap as shopping for the ingredients yourself, but it’s cheaper than takeout, and it takes all of the planning and sourcing out of cooking. I also LOVE leftovers. If you make a big pot of soup, you have lunches or dinners for several days. If you get bored eating the same thing twice, soup generally freezes well. I put a serving in a ziploc bag and lay it flat in the freezer. It thaws more quickly when I freeze it that way as opposed to in a deep container.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I found a great trainer that offered an outdoor class within 5 minutes of my house at 5:30am. I went regularly because if I missed it the opportunity was gone. He disappeared and I tried something else jazzercise but jazzercise didn’t work because they offered multiple classes a day and I could talk my self out of the early morning before work class but between being tired and hungry I didn’t go the evening classes. So I workout best before work with a commitment of some sort.

        But I also like to bike and if the weather is good ( to include low wind) I enjoy to bike during daylight hours. I’m looking forward to the time change when I think I will start biking more.

    20. Not A Manager*

      Are you okay with the process of cooking, or is that an unpleasant chore for you? I’m terrible about planning a week’s worth of meals, and I like to have a bit more spontaneity about my meals anyway. But I also don’t mind the process of cooking and I’m comfortable improvising.

      For me, when I lived alone, I shopped once a week for a combination of “listed ingredients for a planned meal” and “general ingredients that I can use to make something edible that I feel like having.”

      If you maintain shelf-stable or freezer-stable items (like rice, pasta, canned beans, small portions of frozen protein, maybe some frozen vegetables), and you keep some stuff in your fridge that you would use for most any homemade dish, then you can decide whether you want noodle soup with chicken and vegetables one night, or if you want scrambled eggs on toast. (For me the “must have in fridge” list is eggs, cheese, bread, dairy, and basic cooking veggies like onion, garlic, carrots, celery, parsley.)

      I don’t live alone now, but I have in the past, and even now there are foods that I like to have available to me that my spouse isn’t interested in. I love soup, for example, and I always have a soup or a stew in my fridge for lunches or snacking. When I make a pot of soup, it’s always a lot because (1) I’m not going to put in the labor of fixing it if I’m only getting one meal for one person out of it and (2) to put in a variety of ingredients (canned tomatoes, several kinds of beans, etc.) you’re going to have a big pot at the end.

      What I do is make the soup up to the point of adding things that don’t freeze very well (mushrooms, some fresh veggies, most greens – which are usually quick cooking things anyway that you add last). I portion out half of the pot into small containers and freeze it as a “base” for later. Then I add my quick-cooking, poorly-freezing ingredients for the soup I’m going to consume now. This is a hybrid of “prep for later” and “only cook what you feel like eating.” I’ll do the same for sauces or broths, etc. I’m not so big on freezing actual completed dishes.

      I also have a stable of pretty fast, not very difficult one-person meals that make me happy to eat and that feel healthful to me. Egg drop soup is very fast and easy to make, and I like it. Many veggies roast up easily and with a lot of flavor in a 425° F. oven. I line the rimmed pan with foil and usually don’t even have to wash it afterward. Etc.

      Between leftovers, prepped food in the freezer, and super-quick things I can make whenever I want, I’m not usually thrown back on packaged convenience food. I do like some packaged convenience food, but it feels less good in my body and I prefer to plan it out and have it as a treat because I want it, not because there’s no other option.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        I enjoy cooking, it is the prep and the shopping that bamboozles me a lot. I have 3-4 dishes that I cook over and over again before moving on to something else. I like a lot of the food prep tips here, they’ve very much helped me reframe certain things in my head and I am in a place where I can try 1 of them at a time to see what works for me.

    21. Inefficient Cat Herder*

      When I lived alone (with cats) I used to cook huge batches on some weekends, and freeze things in single-portion sizes. That way I had a variety of foods and wasn’t eating the same thing for leftovers all week. I would blend up a bunch of frozen fruit and some tofu in the evening, stick the blender jar in the fridge. I would pack a gym bag with my work clothes and lay out my gym clothes before bed. In the morning I would get up, pee, throw on my gym clothes, give the smoothie a 5 second re-blend, pour it in a big travel mug and drink it on the way to the gym. Shower after workout, get dressed for work and go straight to work (yeah, I had long hair, and either it was just not washed after working out or I would braid it. Too thick to dry). I often had leftovers for lunch. I also had a whole lot of litter boxes, so the cats always had at least one that was to their standards. I was working super long hours (more than 80 hours a week, so when I had a rare weekend off one day was for sleep and fun and one day was for cooking and errands and such).

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Yeah, pre-covid I would frequently go to the pool (now closed) before work. I miss that a lot.

    22. Llama face!*

      I also have what I believe to be executive function issues and also tendencies towards demand resistance. There is never a consistent or long lasting period in my life where I have all the balls in the air without dropping one. If something changes in my life that breaks my routine, my systems devolve into chaos and I have to slowly pick up the pieces and try again. But I’m learning not to judge myself for it and just give myself as many fresh starts as I need. I accept that my pattern is always going to be very up and down.

      A few things that have helped me:

      -Looking at where stuff piles up in my home and what kind of stuff.
      I noticed that my coffee table kept getting covered with paper garbage so I added a garbage can in my living room. It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing option but I can toss stuff while sitting on my couch and I actually do it. When I have to take the paper to another room to discard, it doesn’t get done. Maybe that’s silly or lazy but why make self-judgements? This works for me so it’s all good.

      -Using a meal service during difficult to feed myself periods.
      I have SAD so during a few previous years I would get a meal service delivery once a month during the fall and winter. It came with 3 2-person meals with all the ingredients ready to use and a recipe card for each. That way I knew that at least one week of the month I would have some good substantial meals that I didn’t have to figure out shopping or whatever. This actually ended up priming the pump for me and I now am doing better at planning 2 or 3 “proper” meals in a week.

      -Using Habitica as a positive reinforcement tool.
      Because of the above mentioned demand resistance I don’t do well with “consequence” strategies for getting things done. But the gameified reward system in Habitica seems to work reasonably well for me if I only use the positive side of it. And there’s a timeout option (the tavern) so if I’m having a rough week I can pause my daily goals.

      I still struggle. Right now I don’t have any consistent exercise routine (COVID ruined my previously well-working option: zoom classes were not doing it for me so I temporarily dropped out of my martial art class). But taking it gradually and trying to build in little bits at a time, and giving myself room to fail and start over, have been a big help!

    23. Generic Name*

      I believe you’ve said you’re on the spectrum, right? Before I got to the part where you mentioned executive functioning, I thought to myself that it sounds like an executive functioning issue. :) Reducing trips to the grocery store will give you more time for other things like exercise and hobbies. I’d rethink the idea that there’s no way you can meal plan.

      My son is on the spectrum, and I know how important schedules and routines are. Can you make a new routine around planning your eating for the week? Sit down on say Sunday and figure out what dinners you want to eat. If you don’t think you can do this, write down what you had for dinner for a few weeks and when you sit down to meal plan, pick something from what you wrote down. Write down each day what you’ll have. It doesn’t have to be made from scratch every day. It can be like:

      Monday- canned soup and bagged salad
      Tuesday- tuna casserole and green beans
      Wednesday- spaghetti with sauce from a jar
      Etc…..

      Then look in your kitchen to see if you have all the ingredients. You may need to write down the ingredients of each meal and then cross off what you have. Anything that’s not crossed off gets added to the weekly list. You can do the same for lunches or you can plan on having leftovers or make sure you have ingredients for sandwiches on hand to make lunch with. When I lived alone, I made sure I had frozen stuff (usually from Trader Joe’s) on hand to have for dinner when I just didn’t feel like cooking. I have a hard time remembering to take out stuff to thaw, so flash frozen chicken that you can cook without thawing has been a lifesaver for me.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Yes! That is very sweet that you remembered, and thank you for saying “on the spectrum”. I appreciate your insight; all the comments about routine have been very helpful. Covid and lockdown have definitely messed up my routine a lot, although it is a lot better now than it was this time last year; plus I had just been officially diagnosed this time last year.
        The level of detail you’ve provided is something that I do need to be able to do something like planning the meals. I can try it :)

    24. Dan*

      Hah.

      As someone who lives alone, I feel. Let’s just say that cleaning is the last thing on my “what I want to do today” list, and because I live alone, I can let it slide :D

      As for food, I place a value on eating (and cooking) well. That doesn’t mean going “all out” for every meal, but I’m not satisfied with rice and beans either.

      Here’s what you can’t do, and maintain any sense of sanity and balance: Shop for *and* cook one or two distinct meals *every* day. (And clean up the resulting kitchen catastrophe, too.) It’s too much of a time suck to do all that *and* take care of the other things in your life that you need.

      I can also say as someone that lives alone, planning for a week’s worth of meals isn’t as much work as it sounds. The reality is, everything I make I get at least two servings/meals out of. Almost any recipe I get online is going to be of the “serves four” variety (and I’m a big guy, so “serves four” is probably three meals for me.) On average, few recipes are economical to scale down. I mean, you can do it, but if you bought say a 15 oz can of tomato sauce for a “serves four” recipe and want to cut it in half, unless your store stocks 8 oz cans of that thing, then you’re still buying that 15 oz can. Protein sizes are easier to manage, but for lots of what I buy, cutting a recipe in half is minimal savings. It’s far, far more efficient to make the whole recipe and eat it throughout the week or freeze some of it.

      So for me, one recipe gets me three meals in general. I can then shake it up and do “fast casual” or make some other stuff out of a well stocked pantry/fridge/freezer. I also have a supply of frozen meals in the freezer, which are often lunch with all of this WFH. I don’t have the time/energy to prepare two real meals every day.

      There are people who “hate leftovers”, and in many ways, I guess I would like something different every night, little of what I make isn’t worth eating twice. Most of what I make is worth eating three times, although if I did get four meals out of it, the fourth night isn’t all that appealing. But this is all in the context of the time it takes to prepare a fresh meal. Would I rather have leftovers *or* prepare a new meal from scratch? Years ago, when I was first married, I tried cooking something new every night and it wasn’t sustainable.

      1. allathian*

        My husband is our main cook, and for our 3-person household, he often doubles up on recipes. So instead of making a pasta bolognese that serves 4, he’ll make one that serves 8. It does mean eating a lot of leftovers, but they’re very handy for a quick lunch during the week, although on the 3rd day, I’ll tune it with a bit of chili sauce as likely as not.

    25. Person from the Resume*

      It’s not easy. I think that number 1, your expectations are unrealistic. Doing it all is hard or impossible.

      OTOH I can’t believe you shop everyday. I live alone and cook 2 “big” meals a week usually on the weekend when I’m not working. I freeze some and on weeks that I don’t cook or don’t cook two things I pull already cooked meals from the freezer. The rest of the week I eat those two items with fresh salad kit or easy to prep and cook veggies. I mix it up with sandwiches or take out, but I’m not cooking every day.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        And for shopping prep before I keep a running list staples that I’m about to run out of and before I go shopping I pick 2 recipes I’m going to make this week and add the ingredients I don’t have to the list.

    26. Princess Deviant*

      Thanks so much to everyone who has responded. I’m sorry I’ve not answered everyone individually but I am reading everything and loving the replies – good to know we are not alone! <3 <3 <3

    27. ez*

      I live alone, I’m in my early 30s, and I’m still working on this. I’m a full time student right now so I have more flexibility in my schedule which helps. If I were to start working 9-5 M-F I don’t know if I could maintain what I’m doing now, especially since I have the most energy (and get the best results) for exercising around midday.

      It’s hard to try to incorporate all of these things into your life at the same time. What helped immensely for me was to focus on building the habit for ONE thing at a time. I like exercising, and it’s important to me so that was the first thing I was able to build a routine for and incorporate. It’s even easier now that all my workouts are done at home or in my neighborhood (walking). I don’t even think I’ll even go back to the gym when things settle down.

      Meal planning was harder to tackle. Before COVID, I would only really plan for one or two days at a time and so I was shopping multiple times a week. Now I go ~10 days between shopping trips, really just whenever the milk runs out. To tackle this one, I got kind of lucky. I stumbled upon a recipe website that has a lot of easy to make (if you have basic cooking skills), budget friendly, nutritious options. The website also offers 4 week “meal plans” for a small fee, and they include recipes and weekly shopping lists. Since I just cook for myself, the meal plan covered my lunches and dinners for 8 weeks and allowed me to stash a lot of leftovers in the freezer. Freezing leftovers has been the BIGGEST game changer in feeding myself. I banked enough leftovers that I now only have to cook 1-2 big meals per week, and everything else is just some version of heating up leftovers. Soups, stews, and tomato sauces generally freeze really well. I also like to make a big batch of meatballs that I can freeze uncooked and then just throw in the oven for 20 mins when I want them. I do grocery pickups now, so I can build my order online and then someone brings it out to my car. It’s a free service as long as you meet the order minimum of like $40, and it’s so much easier than shopping in person. The tradeoff is you don’t get to pick out your produce, but for me it’s worth it.

      I’m also terrible at keeping things clean. I just have a high tolerance for mess and feel like there are so many better ways to spend my free time than trying to keep things spotless. I’ve tried scheduling cleaning tasks before (different small things on each day of the week) and could never keep up with it. A few weeks ago (I think) I saw multiple suggestions on this thread for the Tody app. I downloaded it and it’s AWESOME. It has chores broken down by room into very small tasks. You can choose which tasks you want and how often they’re “due.” Then you can see a checklist of things that need to be done. I like to only look at “Today” (even though you can see tasks coming up to a week out) because it keeps things from being overwhelming. If you don’t get to something when it’s due, it just stays on your list until you do it. So you don’t feel like you have to clean EVERYTHING, you can just pick a few tasks you want to do and slowly chip away at the list. And if something is overdue, it only gets rescheduled once you complete it, which was a huge issue I had when I tried to do my own cleaning schedule. It was only yesterday that I fully cleared my checklist (after a few weeks of using the app), and that was a nice feeling, but I also didn’t feel bad when I had uncompleted stuff on there, as long as I was doing some of it. I also got myself a cheap robot vacuum, which has been great.

      Anyway, that was a lot longer than I intended. But my biggest advice is to not try to learn how to do everything at once. Build up habits around ONE of these things at a time. Once you feel like you have a handle on that, move on to the next one. Like I said at the beginning, if I went back to working full time right now, it would still be hard to maintain all of these things, but they also wouldn’t completely fall apart because I’ve been practicing each one. I would suggest starting with food or incorporating small, regular amounts of exercise, since I think that has the biggest impact on quality of life, but it’s totally your call.

    28. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I haven’t read through the other replies yet so hope this isn’t a pile on or anything of teh sort. I too have EF issues as well.

      So for exercise, what helps for me is thinking about it like a second job. When I was jobless, I considered that my first job and primary goal. I prioritized going to the gym, exercising and making better food choices. When I lost weight again while working, I considered it a “second” job. Waking up at 4 AM and consistently doing it. I stopped because my dad died and life got rough for a bit. Job because, while it may not pay in cash, it will pay in better health and feeling better. 

      My biggest food weaknesses are carbs and sweets, both of which are dangerous for me as I’m diabetic. I find as long as I reduce/eliminate those I’m good. Sometimes it’s easier said than done. 

      For cleaning….here’s where I falter, my standards for cleaning are very low, funny given where I come from (my mom is a huge clean freak and hates clutter). Seeing my stuff around brings me calm. I’m glad that my husband is on the same level, so neither of us fights with each other about our levels of cleanliness (or lack thereof). 

      I truly don’t think we’re meant to do it all at the same time. A friend of mine was talking about this in regards to being a working mother. She said you can’t have it all all at the same time, at some point something has to give. I think this applies here as well. Pick a few things that are priority (i.e. work and cats) and have hte other stuff fall into place. Don’t be ashamed of eating out every day or taking shortcuts with food or not exercising (unless those are things that bring you joy and you want to)

      1. allathian*

        It seems to me that often people will either find themselves keeping house to their parents’ standard, or going in the opposite direction entirely. My best friend in high school had an awesomely clean room, while the rest of the house was a mess. She cleaned her own space as a way to rebel against her sloppy mom, but I guess it didn’t occur to either of us that she could’ve cleaned the rest of the house as well… After she moved out, she relaxed a bit but she’s still very houseproud. Did your mom nag you a lot about cleaning when you were a kid and a teen?

    29. WoodswomanWrites*

      I live alone, and I agree with others that this situation is so common. I know it can be a challenge for me to manage everything.

      I’m fortunate that I’m a pretty repetitive eater who doesn’t require a lot of variety. I don’t particularly like cooking, so much of what I keep in the house is easy to prepare and minimizes my need for frequent shopping. My meals are usually centered around adding boiling water. For breakfast, that’s soft-boiled eggs and a bowl of instant oatmeal with a banana. Dinner is often steamed vegetables and tofu, with or without a grain or pasta. Lunch involves crackers/bread/rice cakes with canned or smoked fish or peanut butter/jelly, etc. And I supplement with prepared foods or takeout. I also keep easy things to snack on like fruit and cottage cheese for the times I don’t feel like cooking anything. And treats like cookies.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Also, if you want to have healthy snacks around that don’t require prep, I like to munch on crispy raw veggies I can dip in hummus, like carrots and green beans.

    30. Double A*

      I don’t think I’ve seen other people mention this, but one thing that has helped me is to change my timescale. “Balance” doesn’t have to happen every day. You don’t need to eat perfectly balanced meals 3 times as day, exercise daily, give time to your hobbies, and do your best at work day in, day out. This was especially helpful for me to think about in terms of eating. We did not evolve in an environment where we got our exact RDAs every day; so even if you have a month of not eating great, it’s fine. If you have a couple of meals a week that are especially nutrient rich, great! Look over the course of the week for nutritional balance. Also, embrace things like frozen broccoli and peas if you like them. Easy to keep on hand. I’ve also been doing apple slices as a side fruit.

      Same with cleaning; it’s not clean every day, but there are some things I’d like to do on a regular periodic basis. If it’s not time to do it, I don’t feel bad it’s not done. I’m married with 3 cats, a toddler and a pretty big house so it would be impossible to keep clean without having staff. So I just kind of have a sense of how frequently I’d like certain things to get done; some day I’ll get it together even write it down, maybe.

      I’ve been procrastinating dealing with a bunch of adult junk like taxes and opening my mail, so I finally decided to designate one Sunday a month as Business Day. I will open my unopened mail, review my budget, take care of bills, etc. and I’m not going to feel bad tossing things in my business pile in between then.

      This all being said, this is very much a work in progress (this weekend is my first Business Sunday in fact).

    31. StrikingFalcon*

      When I lived alone, I didn’t. I certainly couldn’t food shop and cook every night. Honestly shopping and cooking at all was struggle, so I just focused on making sure I was eating enough, and that what I was eating included vegetables and protein. I ate a lot of frozen meals and pasta and take out, but I ate. There are several brands that make reasonably heathy frozen meals. They aren’t inherently evil just because they were made in a factory. When I did cook, I cooked a big enough amount that it fed me for several nights.

      Cleaning I tackled a little at a time. I also focused on reducing the effort involved in starting the task. If I couldn’t be bothered to go downstairs to get the cleaning solution, then that meant I needed a second bottle in the upstairs bathroom. That way I could just wipe down the sink real quick when I up there, rather than make cleaning a whole task I had to plan time for. I just tried to clean *something* every day. Some days I did a more intensive task, but some days I just wiped the sink and called that my task for the day.

      I was in grad school at the time, so honestly hobbies didn’t happen except during breaks. But I did get exercise in a couple times a week.

    32. Amtelope*

      Honestly for us using a meal kit delivery service has been a huge help. We’ve tried HelloFresh, HomeChef, and EveryPlate; right now we are doing EveryPlate because it’s cheaper than the other two, plus HomeChef was having trouble reliably delivering for a while this summer. Generally you have to order at least two servings, but if you’re just cooking for yourself and don’t mind leftovers (or cooking the same meal twice in a week), getting three meal kits delivered each week can take care of most of your dinners. I like to cook but am using 100% of my executive functioning ability to deal with other things right now, and picking the week’s dinners from a list and having them mailed to me is about the meal planning capacity that I have right now.

    33. Laure001*

      Princess Deviant, you got a lot of great advice about food… But maybe also get a cleaning lady (or a cleaning gentleman) once a week. Yes, it’s money, but the peace of mind that comes with it is priceless. Or, to be exact, it has a price, but it’s worth it.
      With someone who comes clean once a week the only thing you have to do is the dishes, and suddenly, here ends all the guilt and the worry and the “I should” about your apartment. Seriously, it will be a HUGE progress for your mental health.

    34. justabot*

      I keep it pretty simple with meal prep, but still try to eat mostly healthy – for example, I will just buy steamable bags of broccoli or Brussels sprouts or green beans for veggies, a bag of steamable sweet potatoes, heat them up once, then throw in a container in the fridge and can just grab them all week, 60 second microwave cups of brown rice, etc. Bags of already hard boiled eggs. Sometimes I even buy the already grilled strips of chicken, or something like cooked salmon from the Whole Foods Market. I’m not doing a lot of cooking, but I buy things like that to keep on hand so I can throw together a quick, but nutritious meal – think lean protein, healthy carb, veggies, etc. Doesn’t make a whole lot of mess in the kitchen. It keeps me full too.

      I make sleep a priority… I feel like when I get a good night’s sleep, I’m a whole lot better at dealing with the rest of life. I go early to bed, early to rise. Having those extra few hours in the morning also gives me more time to throw in a load of laundry, run the dishwasher, hit the gym, or make up my lunch for the day because after work, I’m exhausted and useless. Hope any of that helps at all! It definitely is not easy to manage it all.

  12. Myrin*

    What has been the most thoughtful gift you have ever received?

    I turned 30 yesterday and while I’m not a big birthday or gifts person, we still always do gifts in my immediate family (just my mum, my little sister [who turned 25 last week what is time], and me; my grandparents always send money).

    What you need to know as background for this is that I have “half a doctorate”, as I am wont to say. I’m a medievalist and my dissertation was supposed to be an edition of a late-Middle-Ages manuscript written in a lovely Swabian town a couple of hours from where I live. I abandoned my dissertation (still don’t know how to correctly say this in English; I officially stopped the process, is what I mean) one-and-a-half years ago but the manuscript will probably always mean a lot to me – I wrote my master’s thesis on it and made a lot of discoveries around it no one ever knew of before and I just… I’ve spent so much time with it and it’s just really important to me.

    And these absolutely madpeople – my mum and sister – got me a gift card for a weekend trip to that same Swabian town where “my” medieval manuscript guy came from and I just… I never would’ve expected something like this. I’ve been meaning to visit there myself anyway sometime in the future but this was just so thoughtful and lovely to me and has worth much beyond the actual money they will have to shell out for this. Obviously we don’t yet know when we’ll be able to go – maybe in summer 2022? – but there’s of course no date of expiry on stuff like this and while I’m not particularly emotional normally I was really, incredibly touched by everything that went into this.

    1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      My best friend knows I love making silly lists (and that I loved the proto-internet Book of Lists when I was a kid) so she wrote me my own, full of lists about my life, with contributions from my mates. So lovely!

    2. Anima*

      Who is your Swabian manuscript guy? I would love to know; maybe I can go visit the town when everything is opening up, too! (I live in a badisch town. ;) )

      For gifts: my engagement ring. It is so pretty and exactly my style and I love it so much! My ring also made me want to marry my guy more, it was so thoughtful and we’ll picked by him!
      (Sadly I almost never wear the ring, it’s so delicate and precious and expensive and I’m kinda crafty and fear I would ruin it….)

      1. Jay*

        Mine was a ring as well – it was a 15th anniversary gift from my husband. It’s engraved with a Hebrew verse from Song of Songs that translates as “I have found my beloved.” It was a total surprise and it still chokes me up to think about it 20 years later.

      2. Myrin*

        I can’t say, unfortunately, because this is one of the only things that can pretty reliably identify me because I’m the only currently-alive person who has dealt with him in any significant manner and there’s several mentions of that on the web. But it’s in Bayerisch-Schwaben and has a beautiful medieval Altstadt – even if you can’t find that particular city, there’s several of those around and I’d say they’re probably all well worth a visit!

        1. Anima*

          Ohh, okay, I understand! I will pick one of those towns and go there, ok? Maybe it’s the right one maybe not, anyway, have seen a beautiful town! :)

    3. Reba*

      That’s so special and thoughtful!

      (I would probably say “dropped out of PhD program,” but in a way I like how you put it, I imagined your dissertation making a new life alone in the woods somewhere :) )

    4. TX Lizard*

      The campus where I went to college has gingko trees that go bright yellow every fall. It was one of my absolute favorite things. During my last year I got unexpectedly sad when the leaves turned, because it marked the end of my time there. I moved away but my SO stayed in the same city. Almost a year later he visited me and brought me pressed leaves from the gingko trees on campus. I had never specifically told him how happy those trees made me but he figured it out, made the hour round-trip drive to collect them, and figure out how to preserve them. I definitely cried and I had them framed.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        That’s lovely!! I also have a fondness for yellow gingko leaves. They’re so cheery. Once when I stepped out of a theatre in Berkeley, there was a little pool of leaves on the sidewalk under a street light… no trees around, just the leaves.

      2. Myrin*

        Aaaaw, that’s making me really emotional. I can definitely see why you had them framed!

        1. TX Lizard*

          He said he’d been doing drive-bys every week for like a month to make sure he got them when they were the right color. My heart couldn’t take it

    5. GoryDetails*

      My best friend and my sister conspired to buy me a new version of the stuffed toy leopard I’d had since I was 3 (and which was destroyed by my college housemate’s boyfriend’s dogs, whom they left locked in the house over Christmas vacation – I’m still furious about that). It was a Steiff leopard cub – the originals are collectible and quite pricey if in decent condition, but the company re-issued them in the ’80s (still pricey but not nearly as bad) and that’s when the conspirators pounced. The bag had a tag on it with “Grrrr” written on it, and when I opened the bag and saw the reincarnation of my favorite childhood stuffed toy I totally lost it. [And am getting a bit weepy now, remembering the moment. The leopard has pride of place on my bookshelf, in company with some of my favorite books, and still makes me smile whenever I see it.]

    6. Batgirl*

      My favorite gift came about two years after a break in. When my house was broken into, I discovered the mess in the dark. I didn’t actually turn on the light because my spidey senses could smell the pine trees, implying the back door was open. I just fled in case someone was still there, returning only when I had help.
      A good while later, I meet the man I’m going to eventually marry and tell him how I want to quit the newspaper game and that I hate coming home at all hours, especially in the dark, particularly because of that experience. One day he texts me to not be surprised if I come home to a lighted up house because he will be using his key. When I get home, not only has he made me dinner, he’s arranged for all these lights across the house to come on every day using timers. It looked so… homey.
      Whenever I would come home to a lighted house after that, I felt wonderful. I kept noticing, too, that he would randomise the pattern all the time, and it made me feel really cared for. He’s bought me more expensive gifts than that, but this one had a daily effect on me.

      1. Myrin*

        I’m so sorry you had such a scary experience (although you also sound like a super cool investigator – you could smell the pine trees and as such knew where the person has entered/left!) but what an attentive thing to do of your husband!

      2. Scarlet Magnolias*

        My husband proposed to me (in 1979!) on Elvis’s birthday, January 8. Neither one of is a fan, but he has created a ritual where sometime during the year he buys me the cheapest, tackiest piece of Elvis nostalgia he can find (this year it was an ornament found in an antique barn in Maine that plays Half of “I’ll be home for Xmas”) He then gives it to me on January 8th. Even better when he leaves the price tag on.

    7. MinotJ*

      Omg I love this thread so much. I’m tearing up at almost every gift. And it makes me laugh that I probably wouldn’t enjoy any of these gifts, but they were so thoughtful and made each specific person so happy.

    8. WoodswomanWrites*

      My then-partner and I were experienced backpackers before we met. Our first backpacking trip together was to a favorite place I loved to go for my birthday week, somewhere he had not previously visited. On the day of my birthday two or three days into the trip, he pulled out a tiny birthday cake that he had managed to keep uncrushed and hidden from me, even with storing our food at night away from animals. Although we separated years ago, I kept the candle for a long time and this memory still makes me smile.

    9. StripesAndPolkaDots*

      A dear friend made me a set of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies cards as a wedding present. She hand-wrote each card and cut them to the perfect size for a tiny wooden box. Really a perfect gift.

    10. SarahKay*

      My ex-partner (who I was still on good terms with) remembered how much I’d wanted to go on a bird of prey experience day – basically a day at a bird sanctuary, seeing and holding different birds of prey and actually getting to fly a falcon.
      He got together with a group of mutual friends and they bought a gift package for me plus a friend for my birthday. This was about a year and a half after the breakup, and I was just so touched that he’d still remembered and organised it. I was phoning round the relevant people to thank everyone and I think I sobbed (happy tears) down the phone at all of them.

    11. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      What lovely, thoughtful gifts people have listed! Mine came just this past Christmas. I’ve been married for decades, and Hubby is hit or miss – some great gifts, some “What the hell was he thinking?” But this year was special. We’ve always worked to pay for our vacation travel, which are usually long road trips – sometimes new places, sometimes old favorites. When he handed me my gifts, he said “We couldn’t travel this year, so I brought the vacation to you,” and my sweet Luddite had called gift shops from some of my favorite places, and they were kind enough to help him find very special items for me instead of just sending him to the web site. That was about ten years worth of thoughtfulness from him all in one day.

    12. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      My partner had a ring made for me out of one of his used guitar strings. It’s beautiful and it has his music in it.

    13. KittyMom*

      What a completely lovely sub-thread! The love and thoughtfulness behind each gift is simply beautiful.

  13. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    My good news for the week: put a deposit down plus first month’s rent on my first solo apartment, and I got my first vax jab this morning. I was amused by the signs up on the doors: Today is AstraZeneca/Oxford Vaccine

    Felt like a restaurant with a Catch of the Day or soup du jour. Anyway, I got it and the whole process was like clockwork, bless the NHS.

    1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

      Congrats!! I also got my first AZ jab and am so happy. Feels like progress. Now for a 12-week wait, but just knowing the approximate date is so much better than before.
      Did they tell you to take a paracetamol tonight? Loads of people are pretty sick the day after. I myself only have a slight fever.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Congrats on your first apartment and vaccine!
      I hope everyone who wants a vaccine can get it soon!

    3. MissCoco*

      Congrats on the apartment and the vaccine!

      When I went for my first everyone was given labels to put on for “Phizer” or “Moderna”, which I was amused by.

  14. Hair tangles*

    As I’ve grown older my hair texture has changed from thick and straight to thin and wavy. I never had problems with knots and tangles but now a walk outside when it is windy , sleeping, just whatever happens during the day results in tangles.

    Does anyone have any recommendations for products they use to help keep their hair tangle free?

    Currently I use Shea Moisture and Verb shampoo and conditioners. And they seem to not help but I feel like I need to finish the bottles. I cowash half the time. Rub a few drops of marula oil on my ends after showering.

    Thanks

    1. Catherine*

      My hair is noticeably more manageable if I give it a little Olaplex oil after washing–I apply from about midway down my neck (the home of most of my tangles) to the ends. Wind will still ruin everything, though, so I keep my hair twisted up in a claw clip when it’s windy.

    2. Disco Janet*

      I’m having a similar issue – with age/having kids my thick straight hair is now wavy and coarse. So frustrating having to relearn how to care for your hair! I’ve been using the Olaplex line, as mine has some damage from me learning how to deal with the coarseness. But for tangles/general frizz, what has helped me the most is their hair oil. Just work a little bit through the parts that see the most tangles and frizz. I was skeptical about adding oil to my now-thin hair, but it works nicely.

    3. pancakes*

      My hair has gotten longer than I’ve ever kept it during lockdown and I’ve had problems with tangles, too. I’ve had good results with Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Hair Masque. I noticed, too, that the tangles were at their worst when I was sleeping on a flannel pillowcase. I know people recommend silk but just going back to cotton percale helped.

    4. Reba*

      I recommend the tangle teaser brand of brushes. And, like others say, restraining the hair when it’s at all windy is critical! I usually plait it for sleeping.

    5. MissCoco*

      Hair tangles are my middle name – I also have fine hair.
      I usually buy cheapish shampoo and spend the savings on conditioner and styling products.

      I always use a leave in conditioner – finding a good one that works for your hair can be a bit of a process, but I personally have good luck with living proof’s products.
      I also use Its a 10 leave-in spray daily
      If I’m really going to be out in the wind I either need to get it contained or put a lot of styling product on.

      I never towel my hair, I wrap it in microfiber cloth or an old tee shirt.
      I never brush my hair dry either, use a wide tooth comb or brush (not bristle or wire)
      A spray bottle with a few drops of conditioner mixed with water is a cheap detangling spray.

      Also keeping my ends trimmed (which was easier before COVID) is a big deal for my hair

      1. MissInMS*

        After a particularly dry windy day I use Redken All Soft shampoo. Sometimes I use only that, sometimes I just mix a little in with my drugstore band. It’s the only shampoo with a true alkaline pH, says my stylist. It smooths the cuticles and seals them down, making hair smoother and locking moisture in. I can’t use it every day or
        it will begin to weigh my hair down. There’s also a Paddle Brush by Aveda that I love. It was $17 but I’ve had it for years and love it. I also wash mine under the tun faucet so I can do cold rinse, this also helps the cuticle to lie down smooth.

      2. I take tea*

        Seconding the keeping the ends trimmed. I’ve had much more problems with tangling now that I have a lot of split ends, usually I trim it quite often (like every two months or so). I can’t do it properly myself.

    6. Batgirl*

      I’ve always had wavy and coarse hair and have never expected to go untangled on a windy day! That’s what braids/baker boy hats and the collar of your jacket are for! Or tuck it under your scarf!
      But since you asked, the hair product that’s given me the most detangling and ‘slip’ would be homemade flax seed gel. Whether I use it as conditioner or a gel I end up with hair that’s almost laminated. In fact it relaxed the curl right out of my swavy 2c hair, so I stopped using quite so often; I actually prefer a little coarseness and grip. It was sliding right out of my hair pins. (A youtuber called Naptural can tell you how to make it) One product I can’t do without is a shea moisture conditioning masque. Much better detangling than their ordinary conditioners.

  15. No Tribble At All*

    [ Admiration of Alison’s cats thread ]

    At first I thought there was something weird with the gray cat’s back legs— and then I saw it was a whole other cat!! And they’re spooning!!!!! The cats are best friiiiends!!!!

    Are any of the cats super food-motivated? Do you have to separate them at feeding time if they have different dietary requirements? Or do you just sit them down and give them clear, stern instructions?

    1. Dancing Otter*

      My old vet told me the only way to put two cats on different diets was to have two houses.
      We settled on “old fatty” formula for both, with extra treats for the more active kitty.

  16. Janet Pinkerton*

    Hi all! I have a question about post-surgical recovery. I had a laparoscopic procedure on Thursday and I hadn’t realized earlier that I would be intubated for it. I tell you, my throat has been the worst part of recovery so far! My actual surgery has been totally fine but goodness this sore throat. Has anyone here dealt with this? How long did the sore throat last? Were others coughing up phlegm? At this point I’m a tiny bit concerned I’m actually sick. But it’s just the throat and I really do assume it’s from the intubation.

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      My sore throat lasted about a week, although it got a little better each day. Sipping ice water and regular old throat lozenges helped a lot in the first few days.

      1. StellaBella*

        Yes, sadly have had 8 surgeries since 2004 amd had this twice. Warm tea, cool water, no dairy and some lozenges helped me. Lasted a week. Once had jaw pain too for a week ugh.

    2. Lore*

      Yes! The sore throat and the shoulder pan from the gas were actually worse for me those first few days than the surgical incisions. Advil helped a lot—the anti inflammatory aspect rather than the pain aspect, I think.

    3. Corkey's wife Bonnie*

      Keeping your throat lubricated is key. I’ve always found lukewarm tea with honey after surgery and just constantly sipping at it. Don’t drink things too hot or too cold. Stay away from acidic food and drink, and gargle with warm salt water before bed. It’ll get better, it just takes time. Feel better soon!

      1. Chaordic One*

        I recommend the “Throat Coat” teas from “Traditional Medicinals”. There are three varieties, Eucalpytus, Lemon Echinacea, and the original Slippery Elm which I like the best. I get it at my local Kroegers or Walmart in the tea section.

    4. Squidhead*

      I (inpatient nurse) give patients popsicles (if allowed) in addition to lozenges or chloraseptic spray. Ibuprofen may help with the swelling but it is contraindicated after some surgeries (risk of bleeding) and is inappropriate for certain chronic medical conditions, so I’d consult your doctor before taking it unless they already gave it a green light.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Second the recommendation for popsicles. These really helped for the sore throat when I was recovering from having a tube in my throat after surgery. Truth be told, I still eat popsicles as a treat as a result!

    5. Laura Petrie*

      I ate a lot of Starburst and boiled sweets (hard candy??) to try get my mouth to feel less dry. I also made sure I drank plenty, especially peppermint tea as I had pain from the gas they used.

      Hope you feel better soon.

    6. Reba*

      Oh man, I have had a nasogastric tube before and in some ways it was the hardest part of that medical ordeal! So painful. I remember using a numbing spray quite a bit (I needed help to get it aimed down the throat) and lubricating by drinking warm water or tea.

    7. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      All laparoscopic or robot surgeries require intubation. It’s impossible to do otherwise. The pressure from the gas in your abdomen can make your stomach acid reflux, and the breathing tube protects your lungs from the acid. You also have to be paralyzed for the abdominal insufflation as well which requires a breathing tube.

  17. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    I promised myself that I would start seeds last week, but I didn’t. But I will definitely put them in water and get them going today! At least I was able to buy all the supplies (pots and dirt) so I’m ready to plant them as soon as they sprout.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I haven’t really done any planning yet, but I’m starting to think about it. Last year I had a landscaper come and overhaul the big garden (flowers) so there’s nothing to do there really. But part of that was taking all my huge herb plants and moving them from the two raised beds over to that big garden. This year I’ll need to weed out the beds, add some good dirt, and then I’ll likely use them for veggies.

      As far planning a large flower and shrub garden in the side yard, no definite plans but I’m at least starting to look at plant catalogs for ideas. I found scented mock orange shrubs in one of them, so I’m thinking of ordering. There was one in that big garden I mentioned and I was sad to see it go (it was filled with too many random vines and some poison ivy), so I’d love to use them in the new garden. I’m not sure if I want just a few or if I want to make a large, dense border around the garden with them. I’m not sure what else I want since I’m not good at planning (not too sure where to even start), but I’d love it to have some heirloom-type flowers and shrubs. I’d love some peonies maybe. Roses. Maybe some daisies. I’m guessing I should come up with a basic shape first and figure out where I want pathways.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Forgot to mention, the new garden would be in full sun all day, from about 7am until almost sunset, so if anyone has ideas I’d love to hear them.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Oh, my goodness. I think half my to-do list this weekend is plant related, and it’s still only barely above freezing here. :P

      Houseplants: I have to repot Red Anne (tangent for funny backstory: my housemate has four snakes – Charlie Charlize Charlene and Carlos – and a cat, Annie. The only plants of mine that have names are the Creeping Charlie and the Red Anne Fittonia, neither of which I actually picked, they came in a random assortment. Sometimes the universe laughs.) because she’s doing beautifully and getting too big for her baby pot.

      Aerogarden: I actually got a second one this weekend, along with the seed starter insert. I’m not setting it up yet, but I thought that being able to plant wee plants when I start trying to recapture my yard would be more likely to be successful than trying to plant seeds, and then when I’m done with that, I can switch it back to normal use with the other one. The lettuces and herbs are going like gangbusters, I need to harvest the thyme and probably dry it this weekend. I want to seed my purple peppers into the “grow your own seeds” pods and put those in the Aero this weekend too.

      Outside plants: Not too much yet, but I need to plant my shamrock bulbs in their two pots – I meant to do it last weekend and got sidetracked. I have a general plan for how I want to till up the thistled-out section of my yard and redo it, but that will probably wait til early April to make sure the ground is soft enough to make that work. There’s another section where I want to plant raspberry bushes, but again, that’ll probably have to wait another month or so. (April weekends are gonna be busy, I think.)

    3. Never Nicky*

      I’ve set a heap of vegetable seeds off, including heirloom tomatoes and chillies. The little gem lettuce and lollo rosso have already sprouted!

    4. MinotJ*

      Ha! I promised myself that I would NOT start seeds last week but I did. So now my kitchen table is covered with trays of pots and I’m panicking because (of course) the lettuce started germinating at two days and the raised beds aren’t actually ready to host plants yet. I got some thick plastic sheeting to turn the beds into pretend greenhouses to keep the seedlings safe for the next month or so – but the roll of plastic isn’t even out of the box yet.

    5. Me*

      My tomatoes and peppers seeds are all sprouting. Next year I’ll do one variety per pot; I felt rushed and combined some tomato varieties and some are slower to sprout than others.

      My greens – kales, mustard, lettuces- are all out on the porch, nearly hardened off.

      Getting a load of gravel today to haul out to the garden as the base for the new garden beds. I’m hoping to set those up this weekend/early next week. I got my onion sets this week from the seed company so I’m going to need to get those in a bed soon.

      I’m hiring a friend to help clear some stuff – my herb garden was destroyed in the recent storm. I have a ton of alpine strawberries that are out of control that need to be pulled. He doesn’t work but likes odd jobs. Also, a high school student that sometimes does some work will be coming by this week so between the two of them I’m hoping we see some progress.

      Still clipping up branches from the storm. I needed some wood debris for the bottom third of my 30” raised beds, and the storm certainly obliged.

      Quote to take out the now leaning huge oak tree was $3k, so that sucks. It’s a danger to the roof so it has to come out. That means it holds up our fence project which means I have to deal with temporary fencing along my perennial bed for an extra month into the summer. I guess the tree will provide (expensive) firewood at least.

    6. TX Lizard*

      I had some garlic that had started to sprout, so I stuck it in the little windowsill pot with my green onions, and it took off! I also suspended one clove in water avocado seed style, just so I could watch the roots grow and be curious! Green onions and garlic are the only plants have the bandwidth to care for these days.

    7. HannahS*

      I’ve ordered my tomato seeds! I had hoped to start this weekend, but they haven’t arrived yet. I’m thinking that once they’re established, I’ll plant them in grow bags instead of pots–it’s a balcony garden, and I think that grow bags will be easier to store in the off season than big pots. Has anyone used grow bags before? Anything I should know?

      1. pancakes*

        I’ve successfully grown cherry tomatoes in grow bags on my fire escape in a previous apartment, but last summer and this summer I’m using white food storage containers, 22 quart size, from a restaurant supply shop. Grow bags always seem to come in dark colors and I worry about the roots getting too warm in the sun. The bags also often seem to be wider than necessary and not deep enough. The food storage containers come in white (which doesn’t absorb as much heat), the shape seems more suitable (relatively narrow and tall), and they’re sturdy. I drilled a few holes in the bottom for drainage.

    8. GoryDetails*

      My holiday-season amaryllis is on its final stem – not bad, two months of bloom-time! This one’s the very-dark-red variety, with four full blooms on the stem now.

      Seed catalogs are piling up next to my chair. I should probably look at them. Ahem.

    9. CatCat*

      The Aerogardens are still going gangbusters. We have a special salad we’re making Monday from our bounty of lettuce. I’ve been sprouting broccoli seeds immediately adjacent to the Aerogardens and we’ve enjoyed them in salads and stir fries. I’m starting a “Kratky”/passive hydroponic style planting in a container immediately adjacent to the Aerogardens this weekend.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The lentils I started for beansprouts and then decided to put in dirt we didn’t like the taste? They didn’t survive the transfer to pots. It was a fun experiment and gave me the idea to use them as ground cover in the terrace we’re slowly restoring — they’re nitrogen fixers, and that soil needs a lot of help coming out from under landscaping cloth. And as we’re able to do patches of rock removal, we’ll turn under the lentils.
      Some of the overwintering plants are perky and showing spring growth, but I’m worried about our citrus. I’ve increased watering but leaves are dropping–those spiders might be hiding spider mites again.

  18. The Other Dawn*

    I just wanted to say thank you to those who answered my question about osteoarthritis of the hips last week. I ended up switching doctors and even though he told me the same thing the previous doctor told me (nothing to worry about with the arthritis yet, as it’s very mild), the big difference was he sat down with me and showed me the x-rays, explained what I was seeing, what I might expect in the future, etc. Big difference from the previous guy. He and his PA also sat and listened (given that it was a big, frustrated brain dump on my side, I thank them for their patience :D) and really got it when I said, “I can’t have any NSAIDs at all because of gastric bypass, Tylenol no longer works after taking massive doses for 3+ years, and that X, Y and Z pain meds are the only ones that work.” The last guy was clearly frustrated with me when it came to that part, which is a really big factor in my frustration with him. I feel like a lot of doctors either don’t understand weight loss surgery and the post-op med limitations, or they just don’t agree with the surgery to begin with and they’re biased when they hear it. I felt really weird going there and having them know I was switching doctors, but it was fine. I’m guessing lots of doctors see that happen.

    Also, the doctor have me cortisone shots in both hips on the same day for the bursitis (Thursday). I’m happy to report the right hip is very nearly pain-free. The left…UGH. That shot really hurt and I’m still feeling the aftereffects. Generally they last for about a day, but it still hurts today. Though definitely not as bad as yesterday. Yesterday was rough! Didn’t matter how I sat, laid down, reclined, walked, or stood, it still hurt like an SOB.

    If you’ve managed to read this far, has anyone used Voltaren for joint pain? Or generic Voltaren? He prescribed it for me–five tubes!–and I’m just curious if anyone has found it helpful. Since I can’t take oral NSAIDs, this is what I’m stuck with for any joint pain I might have.

    1. Oxford Comma*

      First of all, you have my sympathy and my admiration. I was suffering from undiagnosed bursitis for nearly two years and it took way too long for me to realize that a) I was seeing the wrong type of doctor and b) I was seeing a bad doctor.

      Ask your doctor what they think about physical therapy. I have been dealing with bursitis in my hips and while the cortisone shots helped, it was PT that has made the biggest difference. I still have pain but it’s down to an acceptable level.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        The previous doctor gave me a prescription for PT, but then I found out the copay is 50.00 each time, three times a week–that’s steep. The new doctor said we’ll try the shots first and in the meantime, I can work with my trainer (he sees the same doctor) on some exercises to help stretch and strengthen the muscles. If I need some more work after that, we’ll do PT. He showed me some YouTube videos of exercises while I was at the office and also have me a few handouts to review.

    2. Jay*

      Hi! I’m a doc myself (primary care/geriatrics) and had gastric bypass three years ago. I had a knee replacement 18 months later and had to get very firm with the orthopedists about the NSAIDs, which surprised me. I cannot be the first bariatric surgery patient he’s operated on. He kept insisting I could take them. And of course the following is not actual medical advice because I would not give medical advice over the Internet.

      I’ve used topical Voltaren for intermittent hip pain with some relief. It took several days of twice-a-day use before I got relief, but then I was able to lie on that side comfortably. I used it for maybe two weeks and the problem seems to have resolved – I think I overdid it hiking (this was last summer when it was warm out).

      The other thing that helped after I had my knee replaced, much to my astonishment, was CBD oil taken orally. The orthopedist recommended it. I was seriously dubious so I checked with my network. One of my friends did a research project on CBD in her fellowship and she encouraged me to try it. I went to a reputable health-food shop that’s locally owned and was recommended by another friend who practices integrative medicine. I used it twice a day for two months after surgery and I definitely noticed more pain the days I missed it.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’m quite skeptical of CBD oil myself, though I have tried it from time to time. I don’t feel like it helped, but maybe I didn’t give it long enough.

        Yes, the whole pain meds thing after gastric bypass is such a PITA. I’d love nothing more than to pop a couple 800mg ibuprofens a few times a day, as they used to work very well for me. But those days are gone. I don’t regret my WLS at all, but the pain relief thing does sometimes get to me, especially now since Tylenol no longer works after 3+ years of taking more than the daily max dose (yes, I know that’s not good).

        1. Jay*

          I was pretty worried about it. I had lost a lot of weight a few year before (and put it back on, hence the surgery). With that weight loss, my knee pain had pretty much resolved, so I was hopeful that more permanent weight loss would do the same thing, which it did. I was also hoping I could avoid the replacement, but no dice. The recovery was hell for two weeks. Absolute hell. Now, 18 months later, I am so glad I did it. Took a while, though! After that I decided I am definitely not doing plastic surgery. I never want to go through surgical recovery again unless I absolutely have to.

    3. fposte*

      I used Voltaren for a period when I had migrating joint arthritis. I definitely found it helpful, though I don’t know what the protocol would be for an under-clothing joint like the hip—the stuff’s pretty goopy. Probably there’s a cover you just slap on it or you have sacrificial underpants.

      Have you tried Lidocaine patches? You can get them OTC. They’re not anti-inflammatory, of course, but I’ve found them surprisingly useful for pain control.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’ve used the patches from time to time, but they didn’t help. Although I was using them for my back, which eventually needed fusion, so I think the pain spots were just too deep for a topical.

    4. Alaska_Blue*

      I’ve only taken Voltaren orally, so can’t help you there. However I did have a cortisone shot into my hip once and it definitely hurt for about 4 days, which wasn’t what it was supposed to do. I kept on with my gentle exercises- short walks, PT exercises that didn’t hurt, icing or heat-whichever felt best. And then on day 5 of so, my hip felt better and then it just continued to be better from there. So don’t give up hope on the recalcitrant hip, it might just be taking it’s own sweet time. ;)

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I had these shots last year (first set worked, second didn’t) and I remember the pain from the cortisone lingered for about four days. That didn’t happen when I had them in my back, so maybe there’s just something in the hip that makes it linger. The right hip was good yesterday (day after the shot), so it’s just this stubborn left! But it definitely feels way better than it did yesterday.

    5. WoodswomanWrites*

      It’s so frustrating to have a doctor who dismisses your concerns and what you know are facts. I’m glad to hear you’ve found a doctor who is more responsive.

      I’ve had an excellent experience with Voltaren for an arthritic joint, my big toe. It was getting difficult to walk pain-free. I now apply the gel twice a day when I get up in the morning and before bed and it works really well. If I’ve gone for a long hike, it’s sometimes a little sore and I’ll apply it when I get home. I can’t speak to how it would work for a much bigger joint, but I know that you can use it more times a day than I do. I hope the cortisone shot pain diminishes and that you find a solution.

    6. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I have shoulder pain that wakes me up at night, and the one thing that works, and fast, is Biofreeze. I just roll it on and in a minute or two the pain starts subsiding.

    7. Rusty Shackelford*

      I tried OTC Voltaren for my arthritic knees and it didn’t help at all. However, this was before I knew I actually had no cartilage left. I don’t know if that makes a difference. Obviously it works for a lot of people.

  19. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    If anyone owns a 2015-2018 or so Honda Fit, HR-V, Mazda 3, or another similar small hatchback, what do you like/dislike about it? Curious to hear some real world experiences with those cars as I’ll soon be in the market for a new used car. Thank you!

    1. MinotJ*

      2015 Mazda 3 hatchback. The visibility is atrocious. I’m used to it now because I’ve been driving it for so long, but if I could send a message back in time, I’d be driving something else. From the driver’s seat, it feels like I’m in a tank with six tiny windows surrounding me. I have my seat cranked up as high as possible to see better (and I’m not short).

      Also, and you might have to Google this to find somebody who can explain it better than I can, the radio has no “off” button! I have my car hooked up to my phone via Bluetooth, and it works fine that way. But if I ever forget my phone(or I get into the car with Bluetooth turned off) here’s what happens: the car starts up and the “infotainment center” starts waking up, it has various startup messages on the screen for maybe 15 seconds, then it tries to connect to my phone, then it gives up and blares at full volume whatever radio station was on last time this happened months or years ago. During this time, there is no way to stop this process. If I’m lucky, I remember to hit the mute button – which is the closest the car has to an “off” button for the radio! If not, I’m startled and embarrassed as my car starts blaring a random song or commercial and I slam my hand down on the mute button and start searching for my phone. I wish there was just a way to have it off. The only way to listen to nothing is to make sure it’s always hooked up to my phone and then not play anything. I can’t even keep it on mute when I get out of the car, because the car turns the volume back up when the car is turned off/on.

      1. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

        Thank you. I’d probably be able to live with the stereo issue, but poor visibility is not good.
        Too bad. It’s such a sharp-looking car and the one friend I had with a Mazda 3 got about 250,000 miles out of hers.

        1. Ramen Enthusiast*

          I had a 2015 Mazda 3 for a three year lease and loved it! We got a bigger vehicle after that but I still miss it and may go back to Mazda for my next car. I didn’t find the visibility to be a problem, although I definitely relied on the blind spot indicators when changing lanes. And the stereo thing is a nuisance, but not unique to Mazda (my current Nissan does something similar). I’d recommend test driving and seeing how you feel about the visibility. Ours was really reliable and I liked driving it!

        2. The teapots are on fire*

          The visibility out the back of my Mazda three is awful, but the reverse camera is amazing, so I don’t care. I thought I’d care. I have a 2016 and it’s noisy. The newer ones may have addressed this; I’m getting ads that mention “quiet”. I do overall love the controls. I find the seats in the lower end model I have a bit hard and I didn’t want the fancier one because I live in California and the fancy one only comes with black leather, which I won’t do in a hot, sunny climate. I kind of regret it now.
          It’s been very reliable and overall no regrets at all.

    2. Holly the spa pro*

      Idk if this is helpful but i own a toyota prius and a newer prius c (the small version of the prius) so two small hatchbacks and they are both awesome. My OG prius is older (2009) but it is a beast, has made several cross country trips and once fit all of my worldly possessions (more stuff than i ever thought would fit in a hatchback.) Having the smaller prius, i definitely feel the lack of space if i buy lots of groceries or make a costco run but it gets even better mileage and i have a long ass commute. Ive hardly had an issue with either car despite years of abuse and because of that, i cant imagine not buying another toyota, even if its not a prius specifically.

      1. Annie Moose*

        I have a 2017 Prius and I love it even if I look very hipster, ha. It’s a really sturdy car and I agree that it has way more space than you’d expect! (my mom and sister still talk in reverence about how many IKEA boxes we fit in that thing) And the gas mileage is hard to beat. I’m a total lead foot and I still get high 40s gas mileage on average.

      2. fposte*

        Ooh, I’m thinking about a Prius this year, and might prefer the c (I’m not firmly focusing on new or used, and obviously the c would be used). I’m mystified by the reverse Tardis effect that seems to be happening in cars, though, where they’re getting bigger on the outside but smaller on the inside.

        1. Reba*

          The new Pri-i definitely look smaller, as well as feeling smaller, than the old ones. We had a much beloved 2010 Prius and recently got a 2019 Prime (plug in option). I like driving the new one (for me, visibility seems to be better) but still sometimes miss the space the old one had. We can still get everything for a longish road trip into it, though! The cargo volume claimed for the C is almost as much as the new-body Prius.

      3. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

        I’ve driven my brother’s 2010 Toyota Prius and overall liked it a lot. Really smooth driving car, very comfortable, surprisingly good acceleration, and it obviously gets great gas mileage. I think a newer one with low mileage is going to be a bit out of my price range, though, unfortunately!

      4. Generic Name*

        I loved my Prius so much. I had a 2005 model, and drove that thing until 2018. It’s a great city car.

    3. Cecil Beeber*

      I have a 2015 VW Golf. It’s my second golf, and it’s a 2 door, 5 speed manual transmission.

      My likes: it has a small turbo and a surprising amount of pick up and go, but gets good gas mileage. It’s fun to drive!
      The back seats lay down pretty flat, so you can pack a large amount of stuff. If you’re careful, 8 ft lumber fits.
      It’s great in the snow, but a manual gives me a little more control.

      My dislikes: while it uses bluetooth for handsfree driving, any other phone/car connections are for Apple only. I use Android, so I don’t even know what features I’m not using.
      The voice commands for handsfree are a little slow.
      A dislike for me, but probably a like for tall people: it has a lot of head room. So much so that the sun visors are too high up to be of much use for my 5 ft 2 in body.

      1. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

        Thanks for this. How has your reliability been? I’ve heard horror stories about VWs. (Mine would be automatic; I’m curious about a manual but definitely don’t want to learn in NYC traffic.)

        Turbo engines in general make me nervous. I’m a 1980s kid and my family had a bunch of Chrysler LeBarons when I grew up with first-generation turbos. All of them eventually lost their turbo power, became very noisy and were gas guzzlers even though they soon were no more powerful than a regular engine. I assume they’ve improved a lot in 35 years, but…

    4. Squidhead*

      2016 Fit, purchased new with the keyless entry package (which I mostly love but sometimes the sensors bug out and I need the key fob). We’ve only ever had to take it in for oil changes and other routine maintenance…very reliable so far(35K miles). I like the flexible rear seat…being able to flip up the bench and create a space across the width of the vehicle is handy (in addition to the more-typical 60/40 seat back split). We put a toddler’s carseat behind the passenger and it makes the front passenger space a little tight. I find the front windshield visibility a little limited…the column between the windshield and the driver’s door is kinda large (I’ve missed seeing whole cars at intersections!), but this has a lot to do with my posture and preferred seat position too. We don’t use our phones in the car (not for the hands-free Bluetooth or to stream music or for directions) so no comments there but we do keep a USB drive plugged in with some music on it which is handy. I’m in the northeast US and we do put snow tires on each winter…they help a lot! On the highway, we get mid 30’s for mileage, sometimes better. City (especially with a lot of short trips in winter) is more like mid 20’s. Happy shopping!

      1. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

        Thanks! Reassuring to hear about the reliability, and that gas mileage sounds about right. If I try out a Fit, hopefully the visibility issue would be better for me, but we’ll see.

      2. blue wall*

        I also have a 2016 Fit! I love this car; super cute, fits a ton (well a metaphorical ton)– people are always surprised by what I fit into it. I get about 44 mpg highway, 35 mpg city driving. I just replaced my car battery in the fall, have had work done on the brakes a year ago, etc.

        Dislikes- I’m tall (5’8″) and I wish the front seat went back a little further.
        Also I think it takes a bit longer than I want to get to speed.

        1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

          Thanks — acceleration is a bit of a concern since it has a small engine, but I am not a speed demon. My first car was a 1996 Saturn with 124 listed horsepower but about 30 actual horsepower. The Fit couldn’t possibly be slower!

          1. Squidhead*

            We drive in Eco mode all the time so we are accustomed to it feeling that way. I do notice that when we are both in the car (his weight is 1.5X mine) the pickup is a little slower than when I’m driving alone. OTOH, when I’m alone I’m probably driving to work which is a short and stop-sign filled trip, so very inefficient!

            I’m also about 5’8 but I like to sit closer to the steering wheel and more upright than anyone else I know so I think my position in the car is not typical.

      3. Susie*

        I have a 2010 Fit and it is still going strong. I might have to replace the AC this summer, but I’ve had no other major issues with it.
        The only thing that I’ve found annoying is the tires. They are a specialty size that not every place seems to keep in stock. Getting my new tires is always a bigger to do than it needs to be.

        1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

          That’s excellent. I come from a family that’s owned about 10 Hondas, and every Honda we have had except one has been basically bulletproof. I’d hold onto my current one (CRV) except it’s getting pretty long in the tooth and most likely due for some major repairs.

    5. Llellayena*

      2015 Nissan Versa Note: Overall I love it, it’s small enough to fit in “city” parking easily but dad to day has enough space for what I need to move (though trips with a lot of luggage can be tricky). My primary issues are that it’s a bit of a kite (very light so wind pushes it around) and the heat is not fantastic. I really miss variable intermittent wipers, but that’s a product of which package I picked. Apparently they only come if you get the touch screen display (which I did not want).

      1. Jess Day*

        Yes, I forgot in my response that it is very light and it can move a bit in the wind!
        I also love the tiny nosy up front for turning! Very easy for parking! I live in FL so I can’t comment on the heat :)

    6. Jess Day*

      I own a 2016 Nissan Versa Note! I had originally wanted the Fit, but after seeing that one, verses what I have, I enjoy mine a lot more! I feel like it has more visibility upfront than the Fit, as well as more space upfront as well. I really don’t know a whole lot about cars, so take this with a grain of salt!
      Likes:
      -Cute. Obviously this doesn’t matter but I really enjoy how cute this car is lol.
      -Pretty good gas mileage.
      -Larger trunk space than I expected, and the back seats can be pushed down for more room.
      -Four cupholders, and they aren’t in a little thing that folds down in the back, there’s two up front and two in the middle.
      -I really have only had to get oil changes, tires (get this car in November 2015), and air filter changes so far. Probably coming up on a bigger tune up soon tho.
      -Relatively good amount of space for the back seat.
      -Bluetooth for music, but I think most cars now have that feature.
      Dislikes:
      -It has five seats, but if you fill the car with people it will whine and it will take a long time to get up to speed.
      -It has little horsepower. I have no idea what the actual number is, but every other car I have driven accelerates much faster lol. This doesn’t affect me too much, but I may look for a little bit more power in my next vehicle.
      -There’s a Captain’s Chair (I think) upfront with an armrest, but the passenger side doesn’t have one, which isn’t that serious but I really like armrests aha.

      1. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

        Thanks for the comments on the Versa Note! I will look into this car as well.
        I rented a Versa sedan once, probably around 2010, and now that I remember it, I was impressed overall. It was definitely short on power, but quiet. As long as there’s enough power to safely merge onto a highway, it’s something I’d live with. It was really roomy for a car of its size, and the gas mileage was amazing (it used less than half a tank of gas over a 250-mile drive). Thanks for reminding me of this car.

      2. Grits McGee*

        When I was shopping for cars, I went in thinking I would get a Honda Fit but found I like the Versa Note much better. Test driving the Fit felt like driving a tank, including way less visibility than I was used to both on the sides of the windshield and the back window. It just felt heavy in a way that the Versa Note didn’t.
        I agree with what everyone else has said- it’s a super easy car to parallel park, is pretty low maintenance, and gets good gas mileage. It definitely has a less powerful engine than my old 2006 Honda Civic, but I’m a pretty gentle driver, so it hasn’t made that much of a difference. It does well on the highway, though it does get buffeted by the wind. Definitely enough power to merge on the highway, though it might take a heavier foot on the gas.

        1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

          Thanks very much. I will most likely look at both the Fit and Note. The more solid feel of the Fit might not be a negative for me. I do want a car with good visibility, though, and it looks like the prices of Versas are substantially less than those of Fits right now. We will see.

    7. Pregnant during COVID*

      I have a 2018 Honda CRV. Sharing because I went to the dealer wanting the HRV but the cargo space was so small and I didn’t like the rear visibility. The CRV is not much bigger and has a low profile – which is good because I’m only 5’2”. One other thing, and I may be misremembering the dates slightly but at the time the HRV was due for a refresh in 2019 so the 2018 model didn’t have as many newer features as the CRV, which was updated in the 2018 model. In case things like being able to sync with Apple through Bluetooth are important to you.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I was super disappointed in the HRV design! It has so little interior space and lousy handling/performance. I love Honda and this car type (CRV is too big for me), and am hoping they sort this out before I’m in the market again.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I love my CRV. I was just saying yesterday, he feels huge on the inside, but doesn’t drive like a big SUV, he feels like driving a normal sized sedan to me. But the HRV seemed weird, like they’d tried to cram the body of a CRV onto the chassis of a Civic or Accord and really just got the worst parts of both.

      3. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        My current car is a CRV. It’s great! The main reasons I was looking to move downward was that the newer generation CRVs are a bit too big for me and a bit too expensive. Also, I’d rather not have a turbocharged engine. But the HRV might be too much of a compromise, and you’re right, not much of a difference on price from what I’m seeing. Hmm.

    8. Girasol*

      My Fit is older but I have to pop in here and say I love it. It’s my tardis: bigger on the inside than on the outside. At over 200,000 miles it’s needed hardly anything but checkups and my mechanic says it’ll be around forever. I get about 40 mpg now, a bit less than when it was new. It doesn’t burn any oil and the oil is still pretty clean when the computer says it’s due for change. The biggest downside I can think of is its underwhelming “feet” setting on the heater, much cooler than the Civic where I could turn it on and smell hot sneakers in thirty seconds. But if you’re not looking for a rolling foot warmer, the Fit is tops.

    9. HBJ*

      I had something similar but older. Get. The. Hatchback. Hatchbacks are amazing. So much space for a four-door car. We fit our mountain bikes in there with the seats flopped down and the front wheels taken off. I loved it so much. I would drive one of those forever except I really needed something bigger.

    10. Mary Berry*

      I have a 2018 Honda Civic hatchback, and I love it! It fits a good amount in the back even before putting the seats down (partner is a music teacher and regularly takes large instruments to school). We chose the hatchback option because it was better spacewise. The main negative for us with this car is that it doesn’t have a CD drive, so we got a basic iPod in order to connect to bluetooth to play our music.

    11. GoryDetails*

      I have a 2017 Subaru Impreza hatchback and – mostly – love it; it’s small and nimble, good for parking, and the hatchback gives me more haul-space when I need it. I’ve been a Subaru owner for over 20 years now (my last one got to 200,000 miles before it reached the stage where I didn’t want to pay to have it repaired anymore), and like them a lot. [The quibble I have with the 2017 Impreza is that the ground-clearance is less than it was in the 2001 Impreza Outback I had before. I only notice it when trying to back out of my driveway over not-plowed-yet snow ridges, or on the occasional too-steep driveway, so it doesn’t really cause me problems, but I was so used to the clearance on the older model that I was disappointed in the change. That’s what I get for not doing any car shopping for 17 years I guess!]

      I have a friend who’s devoted to her Prius, and I’ll certainly look into hybrids next time I’m car-shopping, though with luck that won’t be for some time…

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Thanks – I forgot that the Impreza was available as a hatchback. I’ll look into that. Every Subaru I’ve been in has had a slow and rough-running engine, so I never considered it. But the last Subaru I was in was probably more than 15 years ago.

    12. Pentapus*

      2016 Honda fit. I hate that the struts on the side of the windshield are so large that if you’re turning the car slowly and someone is in the blind spot due to the struts you really will not see them till you nearly hit them. I’m not the only one with this problem. Also the back window on both the fit and the Mazda are useless for backing out – can’t see much out those windows.

        1. Pentapus*

          On the other hand, has > 50,000 miles on it, and the only thing I’ve done is change the oil, and summer/winter tires. Super reliable, and once you’re aware of the strut issue you learn to wobble your head back and forth. So: there is a learning curve, but definitely a low-maintenance car. And, can definitely fit 4 adults, all beach-going supplies and two (deflated) paddleboards. So, not all bad.

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        I see a number of Civic hatchbacks in my neighborhood. I didn’t consider them because they’re a bit *too* flashy for me. But they are really sharp cars. Sounds like poor visibility is a fairly common theme with these small hatches. Maybe that’s part of the reason why SUVs have become so popular.

    13. Ranon*

      2013 Subaru Impreza hatchback- great visibility, really good road “feel”, good handling (really good for heavy rain as well as the usual winter conditions), good head clearance (without a sunroof). Cons- lower gas mileage because of the awd (although CVT helps some), outrageously bad road noise (different tires may help, we haven’t experimented much). I have the basic knobs only dash, the “high tech” interface in that model year range was atrocious.

    14. The Time Being*

      2012 Honda Fit here. I love it! It is startlingly roomy for its small size, maneuverable, visually distinctive enough to be easy to find in a parking lot, and in nearly a decade of ownership, the only work I’ve had to have done on it besides routine maintenance has been getting the rear struts replaced, which was a bit of a saga for reasons that are entirely not the car’s fault. It drives well, sits high enough that I don’t have every oncoming car’s headlights directly in my eyes, and is just overall a really great fit (har har) for my needs.

      There are some downsides, though: part of the roominess is that it is not well insulated, either for temperature or noise. The battery is apparently kind of a specialist item; when the battery died, I had to go to a couple different places before I found one that had the correct type of replacement. And at 5’8, I’m about as tall a driver as can easily fit in the driver’s seat. I have it pushed all the way back and could be comfortable with another inch or two of leg room, although it’s fine as it is.

    15. saf*

      I have an 07 fit, bought it in 06. It is a wonderful car. I have the sport model, manual transmission. They hold up well – I did have some leaking around the hatch seal that resulted in a lake around the spare tire at one point, but that was fixable. Maintenance costs have been low, and gas mileage is quite good – MUCH better on the highway than in town though. Also, the cargo space and flexibility is amazing.

    16. Selene*

      I’ve got a Honda Jazz 2012 (which is a Honda Fit as far as I understand) and before I got it, I looked at a bunch of other small hatchbacks. The biggest considerations for me was space and visibility.

      What I like about the Honda is it has these windows in the side panel that reduce the blindspot caused by the frame of the car around the windscreen. Similarly, I like that the seats in the Honda can fold completely flat, meaning that if I need to do an Ikea run, as long as nothing is longer than the car, I can usually fit everything into it. Lots of people are surprised by how much space there is inside it, my best friend is over 6 foot and heavy set and he was surprised to discover he fit better in it than he did in his old car (part of why he ended up getting one of his own).

      My dad had a VW Golf that I personally found a nightmare to drive, because it was a turbo and it was damn near impossible to get it to just crawl forward, it liked to jump forward. Not a problem if you’re living somewhere with no traffic, but in a city with bumper to bumper traffic, no thank you.

      My best friend has a newer Honda Fit and his main peeve is the lack of android play/apple play compatibility, but I’m fairly sure that’s specific to the ones we get here from what I remember.

      In terms of reliability, both my Fit and my friend’s have done a lot of miles with little problem and mine has survived an interaction with a kangaroo and with a major hail storm.

      Ultimately though, the main thing is to work out what is important to you and to try before you buy.

  20. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    One more question, for those who use Facebook: The “one year ago” posts are making me sad and driving me crazy and there’s no way to shut them off. Everyone is posting them. If I simply stop using Facebook for two weeks, until the year anniversary of the plague passes in my area, will my feed start with the day I restart (or close to it) or am I going to be flooded with posts from this March 6-13 period I want to avoid? Thanks.

    1. Hamish*

      I’ve been staying off Facebook most of the time for about the last 6 months, but whenever I do sign in, my ‘feed’ is all stuff that people have posted recently.

    2. Fran*

      I have unfollowed a lot of people on social media and keep unfollowing whenever I get triggered.

    3. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

      This is reassuring. Thank you. Re: muting and unfollowing people, out of ~150 friends or so, I’m actually down to following about ten people’s posts, if even that. Any more muting and I’d not be on Facebook at all, which is the direction I very well might go for a couple of weeks.

    4. Grapey*

      There is a way to hide date ranges and/or certain people.

      On desktop (haven’t tested this with mobile), go to facebook (dot) com (slash) memories.

      WARNING that some memories might appear (since this is the main page where you will definitely see memories, but keep your eyes on the left side and click “Hide Dates” to set a range to hide.

      1. Natalie*

        I think that only hides your own “on this day” posts though, the OP seems to be talking about other people sharing their “on this day” posts.

  21. Extending family*

    Question about known sperm donors! My spouse and I (both cis women) are interested in having a baby soon and are preparing to ask a friend if he would donate sperm for us.

    If you’ve asked someone you know to donate sperm: What advice do you have for reaching out, conversations leading up to their decision, and collaboratively determining logistics? If the person donated, how did the process go? How did your relationship change during the course of this?

    If you’ve been (or been asked to be) a known sperm donor: What do you consider when making your decision? What advice do you have for the conversations leading up to the decision? If you donated, how burdensome did the process feel on your end? If you declined to donate, how comfortable were you being open about the reasons for your decision? How did your relationship change during the course of this?

    If you’re a queer or trans person whose body produces sperm: Is it on your radar that queer egg-producing friends of yours might someday ask you to donate sperm? How would being queer or trans affect your thought process or decision?

    Any details or reflections from your experiences that you’d like to share are welcome! That said, I’m not interested in discussing the relative merits of known donor vs. unknown donor this weekend, and we’re lucky to live in a state that has a simple process for establishing legal parentage in the courts (sucks that this is uncommon and so many queer parents have to adopt their own children). Thanks in advance!

    1. Hamish*

      I don’t have a lot to contribute – my partner and I are both trans men and went through a sperm bank – but just wanted to say best of luck from one future queer parent to another. :)

      1. Extending family*

        Thank you! I remember your pregnancy from a previous comment- wishing you and your family the best of luck and smoothest of journeys as well!

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I don’t have any advice but I want to wish you and your wife the best of luck as you begin your parenting journey. I hope it’s everything you want it to be and more.

    3. Janet Pinkerton*

      My wife and I ended up going the unknown-donor sperm route. (Still no pregnancy yet.) We considered asking my best friend but when we looked into it, known-donor sperm actually ends up being way more complicated than sperm bank sperm. (If you’re not doing an at-home insemination, that is.) The sperm has to be frozen and quarantined for six months before a doctor will do an IUI with it. You very often have to involve lawyers.

      For this reason (and for emotions reasons which I will get to) we went with an anonymous donor. Emotions: I love my best friend with my whole heart and we have been close for over a decade but an entire lifetime is a very long time to commit. And that’s what it would be. Plus like, I didn’t want anyone other than me or my wife to have any possible claim on him whatsoever. Not even legally, just emotionally.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I think you need to involve lawyers so that the sperm donor signs his/her parental rights away. But also do the the donor is assured that you cant legally ask for child support later.

        1. Extending family*

          If you have personal experience involving lawyers for this purpose, I would love to hear about how those interactions went and if you have advice to someone going in. Otherwise, please rest assured we’ve researched the legal aspects of the process thoroughly and are familiar with the benefits of legal counsel.

      2. One of two mothers*

        My wife and I had a similar journey and ended up in the same place with an unknown donor (and now with two children). We considered asking certain friends but never found anyone who felt right so we never broached the subject with anyone.
        What might be relevant to you is that our clinic told us that success rates with known donors are much lower (because unknown donors, at least in our country, are screened) and mentioned the psychological burden if your friend discovers their infertility by doing a favor for you, and the burden on a friendship if the process takes a long time to work.
        The one person we considered asking went on to donate to other friends of his and it was successful. The relationship between the two mothers broke down because the non-gestational mother felt like she had no role, as the ‘father’ was in the picture, so it’s definitely a dynamic that needs careful handling.

        1. Extending family*

          Thanks for pointing out the possibility of the donor discovering unfortunate information about their own health, we’ll definitely keep that in mind and bring up for discussion when the time comes. I think we’ll be fine on the other two points- thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    4. Erin*

      My wife and I have one child (and hope to have at least one more) via a known donor. We tried at-home inseminations first, and when that didn’t work, we sought out a fertility doctor. Our child was ultimately conceived through IVF.

      When we asked our dear friend if he would consider being our donor, I think I just said something along the lines of “[Wife] and I are ready to start trying to conceive and we wanted to know if you would consider being our sperm donor” – basically wanting/expecting only an answer to whether he would consider vs was it out of the question. He was very flattered and excited and said he wanted to think and talk about it with his partner and with us. We had several conversations over the course of a month and by the end of that we felt we were all on the same page and ready to move forward.

      As another commenter notes below, there are more regulatory steps when working with a known donor (basically you’re having to individually do the legwork that the sperm bank would otherwise do) but it’s not insurmountable. One thing I would note is that it is worth it to locate a fertility practice that works with known donors early in the process, even if you plan to start with at-home inseminations. Not all practices have the infrastructure in place to maintain compliance with the additional regulations that come with using a known donor. We were not able to use our first choice practice for this reason. Also, regulations vary by state, so while the 6-month quarantine mentioned by another commenter is common it is not universal.

      Happy to answer any follow up questions!

      1. Extending family*

        Thank you for all of this, and for your willingness to answer follow-up questions! Would you mind sharing what you and the donor discussed before he made his decision, and what his donation role/process/duration looked like? Did any of you express limitations on how much effort you were willing to put in to donate or become pregnant? Also, how has your relationship with him changed as a result of going through this together?

        1. Erin*

          We discussed what he/we saw as the role he would have in the child’s life to make sure we were all in alignment (including preferences for what we would tell the child about his role in her conception). We were all clear that he would have no legal or financial obligations toward the child and also no parental or custodial claims or rights (this is also spelled out in the contract we executed). We also agreed that we would cover any and all costs he incurred from the process (dr appts, travel, etc). He is from a different religious background than we are and I made sure he was okay with his religion not being a part of her upbringing (not that we plan to keep that part of her genetic heritage from her, but we won’t be raising her in that (or any) faith). I asked what (if anything) he would be sharing with his extended family about the process, not that I needed a particular answer, but just because I wanted to be aware of what they would know.

          As far as the process, at first we tried at-home inseminations. When that didn’t work he traveled (at our expense) to our fertility clinic to do the health screenings and to donate sperm. He did that twice during the whole process. We all agreed that anyone could decide they’d had enough at any point and stop the process, but even though it took years longer than we hoped, that didn’t come up.

          Our relationship is closer than ever and really a beautiful unexpected side benefit of the whole process. He is just delighted by her (he doesn’t plan to have kids and hasn’t really been around a lot of small children) and has been able to visit twice since her birth a year and a half ago. I’m really thrilled with how smoothly things have gone. I thought they would, or we wouldn’t have done it, but it’s the sort of thing that you can’t really know how it’s going to go until you’re actually doing it, you know?

          Happy to try to answer anything else you’d like to know. Best of luck to you!!!

          1. Extending family*

            Could you share a bit about the fertility practices- the infrastructure needed/to ask about with regard to known donors, and the hoops (both expected and unexpected) you were required to jump through with the practice you used?

            Thank you again for sharing your experiences, I appreciate it so very much–especially because it sounds like our approaches (and what we’re hoping for should we be lucky enough to have a child with this route) seem very similar. These are the last questions I have at the moment, and I’ll confer with my spouse to see if we can think of any others before this weekend thread closes. :)

            1. Erin*

              As far as the fertility practice, you should just be able to ask if they work with patients who want to use a known donor; it should be a straightforward yes/no answer. In our experience, the bigger the practice, the more likely they are to be able to accommodate a known donor.

              If I’m remembering correctly, the steps included lots of consent forms for all parties, a signed contract between me, my wife, and our donor, health screening and genetic testing for him and for me, a one-hour consult for each of us with a therapist (I think that was state-mandated and intended to ensure that we were considered psychologically capable of consenting to the arrangement)… not sure if I’m forgetting anything, I absolutely could be.

              For the legal contract, I would consider starting out by googling “known sperm donor agreement” and look at a few different templates to see if you can put together a rough outline of what you want included before you seek representation – that way the attorney does not have to start from scratch and they can still advise you if anything else needs to be added or considered. If you don’t yet have an attorney in mind, I would look for a practice in your area (or in a big city within your state) that specializes in LGBTQ+ family law.

    5. Anon here*

      Hope you get more responses soon, but I’ll chime in as someone whose friends did this. My friends A and B were very close with another couple C and D, and they had a lot of deep discussions together and C and D agreed to donate sperm. They decided to try to co-parent as well. A lot of things have worked well; the kids have a ton of family from all sides and that family support has been really useful. There have also been tensions: while the guys are certainly trying and do contribute, the fact is they live a child-free life on a day to day basis and so they have nice things at toddler level in their house that they forget to put away, they still plan adult-style dinner parties and expect the kids to behave and be quiet, just stuff that if you were ultimately responsible for children daily you wouldn’t do. They get to be the fun dads. I think all parties involved have worked really hard and done therapy together etc, and there’s lots of love, but the realities of living with babies and toddlers are just different than not living with them. Anyhow, I was obviously not party at all to any of the initial conversations you discuss, but a few years down the road I’ve seen the push and pull of two couples who thoughtfully and intentionally took this step together.

      1. Extending family*

        That’s a really intriguing arrangement–not one we’re going to enter into, but I appreciate hearing about it all the same!

    6. Anon for this*

      My wife and I (both cis women) pursued the known donor route first, although never got to the stage of insemination that way. If I remember, we asked both people very straightforwardly, in email first, and then discussed in person. One was my brother and we got all the way to starting to go through a contract (I think we found a model online? Or friends who had done the same gave us theirs as a model. Not legally binding where we were, but still recommended). Then he changed his mind (I’m still not sure why). The other person declined after an initial conversation, but that was more of a long shot. It didn’t change our relationships with either one, but tbh, I’m still sad and wonder about why my brother backed out (totally his right to do!). I will say the whole asking process did take a while, so I would be prepared for time on that end

      Best of luck!

      1. Extending family*

        Thank you for sharing this! I have been curious about cases where the person declines. If you return to these comments- is there any advice you’d give, or anything you wish you’d known or thought of, going into the conversations you had with these two?

    7. queer mom*

      My wife and I (also both cis women) ended up not using a known donor for reasons of cost–at-home insemination was not an option for us medically, and my wife is a carrier for a fatal genetic disease, so we would have needed very comprehensive genetic testing in addition to paying for all the other stuff a sperm bank would normally do; we were also committed to paying for separate legal counsel and a family counselor for ourselves and the donor…it was going to add up. We ultimately went with an ID disclosure donor from a sperm bank.

      But we did approach our friend about it before making that determination, and my advice based on that experience would be to think a lot about timeline and be very transparent with the donor about that. In our case, our friend had offered casually before we asked more seriously, so it didn’t feel out of the blue (I’m sure our incredible awkwardness gave him a clue for what was coming.) The major points of discussion were: What level of closeness did all of us want, and what did that mean to each of us specifically? We’d been throwing around the term “uncle,” but for me, that meant “I see you once a year, maybe,” whereas for my wife, it was more like “once a month and occasional babysitting.” We talked about ways that our lives might change both specifically (What if someone moved far away? What if we get divorced? What if he chooses to have kids later down the road?) and generally (How will we all feel if we end up growing apart, or if the kid’s level of interest in a relationship changes in either direction?) We also talked about other friends and family members–how transparent would we be about the fact that this friend was our donor? Would his parents want a relationship with the kid, and would we all feel ok with that?

      Obviously, this was all a lot to figure out, and our donor (very reasonably) wanted time to think about it and talk to other people (particularly other gay men in his case) who had donated for friends. Where tension crept in is that it took him several months to make the decision (which, again, reasonable!), during which time the money started to add up as we got further down the path medically. Eventually, he said yes…and then we had to say no. In retrospect, I’d have made sure to do the medical workup stuff first and then set a timeline (6 months? a year?) for his decision–enough to give him a real amount of time to decide, without postponing the decision indefinitely.

      Also, I’d make room for grief if it doesn’t work out with a person you have your heart set on for whatever reason. I was surprised by how gutted I felt when we realized that using our friend’s sperm wouldn’t be possible for us — it reminded me (in some ways–obviously, I know these are different experiences) of the grief some straight cis couples feel when they are diagnosed with infertility. I’d already started fantasizing about our future family and what it would look like, and realizing that fantasy would never come to pass was really hard. Our relationship was more distant for a few months, though it’s since recovered.

      Also, final advice! It might be worth looking into therapists/family counselors who work with poly and/or queer couples and can walk through some questions and hypotheticals (with all three of you as well as individually) to help make sure you’re all on the same page. We have friends who’ve done this and found it really helpful.

      1. Extending family*

        Thank you for writing all of this out! A lot of what you said is adjacent to what we’ve been formulating, but it is so so helpful to hear these specifics. If you happen to return to this and have anything else you’d like to share, I would love to hear it!

  22. Mo*

    For people who became fluent (or highly proficient) in a new language as an adult *without* moving to a different country or having family or friends that speak the language … how did you do it? What were your methods, techniques, and daily/weekly habits?

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      One of my students (I’m an ESL teacher) has just completely changed his input language outside of work/study from Russian to English. He no longer reads books in Russian (he’s just finished Station Eleven and has started the Expanse series this week), he doesn’t watch anything in Russian (Netflix is the key here) and he has lessons with me twice a week for an hour a time were we discuss various topics. He doesn’t focus so much on the grammar and writing as listening, speaking, and reading are more important to him right now.

      And, as I tell my students, the more you engage with the language through listening and reading, the better you’ll be when you come to speak it. If you’re a beginner in the language, start with children’s books and shows, then move onto young adult, and so on and so on.

      I disagree with the premise that you need to move to another country to learn a language as I live in Spain and my Spanish is nowhere near as good as my Russian student’s English who has never left Russia.

      Consistency and finding things you enjoy to do are more important than anything else.

    2. Yenda*

      I’ve recently begun learning Spanish, I’m only about 2 weeks in. I’ve been using Duolingo, and I’ve approached it like I study in college. I block out X amount of time during the day to just use the app, and I write out my mistakes. (I’m a kinesthetic learner.) They also have a podcast that’s entirely in Spanish. Once I get a little more experience, I want to try to find children’s books in Spanish for additional practice.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I don’t know if they still do it, but about 30 years ago, Highlights for Children had at least one full page of Spanish facing the same information in English. You could cover the English page while reading the Spanish one, then use it to check your fluency afterward.

    3. Qwerty*

      Not fluent yet (I don’t really have enough time to dedicate) but I was the best at Spanish when using LingoDeer. I bought the lifetime membership so I can use it offline and because they really put effort into constantly improving the lessons and thoroughly explain the grammar. They recently added speaking lessons and practicing conversations, which really helps the info stick.

      Check if your library has children’s books in the language, and start with the picture books just like when learning to read as a kid while working your way up in difficulty. Children’s movies/shows can be surprisingly difficult since there is more vocab than you would think in there, so I used to practice translating Disney songs to expand my vocab. The act of writing it out it (rather than typing in an app) seemed to help me remember the words better too.

    4. Buni*

      Without moving to the country, your best bet is still ‘as much immersion as possible’. Is there a [language] communnity where you live, where you could hang out in cafes or ask at a community centre? Can you get tv programmes? Can you watch English tv but put the [language] subtitles on?

      I know France has a program where they match you up with a person in a French seniors’ home and you zoom chat to help your language and their loneliness, maybe see if there’s anything like that about…

    5. Cambridge Comma*

      I grew up monolingually and have learned 5 languages well after childhood, one to the extent that native speakers cannot tell that I am not a native speaker. What worked for me that is perhaps not the advice you usually see was (a) really understanding all the fine grammatical details of my mother tongue. (b) ignoring all grammar teaching I ever encountered. I deliberately tuned it out if I couldn’t avoid it. (c) Have an internal monologue in your head in the language you are learning, always. It will be very simple at first but will get more complex. (d) never care about making mistakes.

      1. Cambridge Comma*

        Internal monologue always…when you aren’t doing anything you need to think about that should have said. Obviously not while you’re giving that big quarterly presentation.

    6. Worked in IT forever*

      I’ve been doing language courses through a university’s continuing studies department for a few years now. (I also did language classes in high school and as an undergrad, but that was a million years ago and I became super rusty.) These courses are my main approach. For me, these courses (which are no longer in-class but are now virtual–I can see and hear the instructor and other students) work well to give me a good basis (reading, writing, speaking, and listening; grammar and vocab). I am definitely not fluent, but I’d like to eventually be fluent in French and maybe Spanish.

      A bunch of other things I’ve done/used:
      –I have “cheat sheets”: summaries of grammar, verb conjugations, and vocab that I made and that I go through on my own.
      — The hardest thing for me is understanding rapidly spoken language. I have tried to do things like watch movies and TV and listen to radio in my target languages. I’m in Canada, and it’s easy to find TV, movies, and radio in French, even though I’m not in a primarily French-speaking area. Also, even if what you’re watching was not originally made in your target language, you can often switch the language in things like Netflix. I think it can help to watch something where you have some familiarity with the subject or story already (e.g., the news or TV or movie you’ve already watched in English).
      –There are tons of YouTube videos that can be useful. One nice thing about YouTube videos is that you can slow the speech if it’s too fast.
      -I’ve also tried going to news websites in my target languages (e.g., the Spanish version of CNN).
      -The Reddit “languagelearning” forum can be useful. You should be able to find lots of ideas for learning techniques and resources there. Also, there are Reddit forums for learning specific languages.

      Also, I have not tried this myself, but there are websites like iTalki where you can hire language teachers.

      There are a ton of language-learning and translation resources on the web, but here a few that I’ve particularly liked (to avoid going into moderation, I haven’t provided links, but you can easily Google the names):
      -Forvo: you can search for words and listen to how native speakers pronounce them.
      -ThoughtCo: covers tons of language-learning topics for several languages.
      -SpanishDict (for Spanish only, of course): lots of translation, grammar, and vocab resources.

    7. Public Sector Manager*

      Both my former Russian teacher in college and my wife did the same thing: foreign language tv shows. My former Russian teacher learned English from watching reruns of easy to understand shows–Gilligan’s Island, Brady Bunch, etc.. My wife moved to Germany without knowing any German, and although she was learning German from the locals, she also used to watch Wheel of Fortune and game shows at night to help with proficiency.

      I keep on jumping in and out of learning German and I found YouTV useful–there is a free version and you can stream German TV shows and US shows dubbed back into German. I’ve found that shows like CHiPs and Knight Rider are really easy to follow. If you’re in the US and want to pick up Spanish, finding Spanish language tv shows is easy. Also, for any show on Netflix, Hulu, etc., you can see if they have a foreign language audio track.

      I have another friend who takes it one step further and recommends kids shows in foreign languages, especially shows designed for very young kids, like Sesame Street. If you think about it, that’s how kids learn languages–from just listening to the words around them!

    8. Language learner*

      I speak fluent Spanish and Portuguese and learned both as an adult. I started studying Spanish 5 years ago and Portuguese 2 years ago. Here are my best tips :)

      – I took a ton of classes with native professors through a website called Italki. You can find professors to teach you any language. This was way helpful, as every class I’ve ever taken is 100% in the target language. So you’re immersed from day 1. And of course, I couldn’t understand everything they said at the beginning but it’s very important to hear the language spoken by native people and step outside of your comfort zone and begin speaking.

      – Speaking is the key to fluency. If you never speak, you’ll never practice those skills. It’s like learning to play an instrument. Could you learn to play the guitar by only listening to people playing and studying music theory?

      – Re: above. It’s also important to practice all of the other skills if you want a well rounded high level. Vocabulary, listening, reading, writing and grammar.

      – The website Italki also allows you to find language partners to practice with (those that want to learn English). I also recommend Tandem to find friends to practice with!

      – Don’t waste your time with language learning apps. You can learn so much more on your own vs wasting time on an app. I’ve tried them all, and none of them will truly help you learn the language and learn to speak it fluently. It’s also addicting, which is what they want, so you spend more time on it.

      – Allow yourself to fail, language learning is a frustrating but gratifying process. It’s not easy, and if it were, more people would speak more languages. Unless you’re a magical unicorn, you’re not going to speak fluently within a year. I took classes 2-4 times a week + studied on my own and I felt like I could speak Spanish fluently within a year and a half. It also depends which language you want to learn. Romance languages are easier than Germanic languages, and languages like Mandarin or Japanese are very challenging.

      – You should watch movies and shows in other languages with subtitles for fun, and not focus on trying to understand what they say without having to read the subtitles. It’s very challenging for a lot of reasons, like background noise, emotional speech, people interrupting, and the fact that people aren’t speaking directly into a microphone or directly at you. I always recommend listening to podcasts or YouTube videos of native people speaking to practice your listening skills.

      That’s all I can think of for now! If you’re learning Spanish or Portuguese, let me know and I’ll send you my resources :)

  23. Anonymous today*

    My spouse is a hoarder and I’m about at my wits’ end. Any time I try to throw anything away there’s an argument. I can toss some actual trash, but not receipts, original packaging for non food items, anything that is broken, or anything they think might be repurposed. (Nothing ever actually gets repurposed.) I can’t sell or donate anything because “it’s disrespectful” to whoever originally bought the item. I really want to clean our place up- there are entire rooms in our house we can’t use because they’re full of stuff- but my spouse gets so agitated when I even mention it that I’m concerned for their mental health. Has anyone ever experienced this and come out the other side? I don’t want to divorce them (for many reasons I won’t go into, me leaving isn’t a viable option.) I’ve been trying for years to get them to go for therapy with me but they refuse. I’ve come to accept that the only thing I can change is myself, so I’m hoping for some suggestions.

    1. WellRed*

      Are you yourself going to therapy? If not, start there. Sorry but if you won’t leave the hoarder and the hoarder won’t respect your needs, you’re probably stuck in this pattern. I use “respect” intentionally here since that’s come up for you and the hoarder. The hoarder is concerned with disrespecting some random person, but not you. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

      1. fposte*

        Absolutely nailed it with that sentence about who the hoarder is focused on disrespecting.

        As somebody who has had hoarding tendencies, I would say that the reasons are often second to the anxiety, so refuting the reason doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. Even if I said, for example, that I was worried about the people who gave me the item, having them appear before me and tell me to get rid of it would just have made me switch to another reason.

        1. Anonymous today*

          Yes, I go to therapy. And yes, I absolutely believe that “disrespect” is not the true reason, since there have been times where I am the original purchaser as well as the person who wants to get rid of a thing, and in those cases a new excuse appears.

        2. Christmas Carol*

          I would say it is more disrespectful to prevent the object from getting into the hands of someone who can make good use of it, so selling or donating is actually more respectful, to both the original buyer, and the object itself.

    2. Holly the spa pro*

      My mother and my in laws are hoarders and i don’t know if i have actionable advice but i just wanted to say that im very sorry you are going through this because it is so hard.
      Without intervention and/or therapy its really hard to change those behaviors. Something that sort of worked for my family was a “6 month rule” since a common excuse is that things could be repurposed. If a use for an item hasnt been found in 6 months its ok to donate it or let it go. This wasnt 100 percent successful but it did help some. For my in laws they each have their own space for their hoarding (they dont call it or see it as such btw) but they have managed to keep it in their own spaces which equates to one room for each of them, absolutely packed with stuff. Its helps it from spilling into the rest of the home (mostly).

      If he doesnt want to pursue therapy, is he open to having candid conversations about how you feel and the effect this is having on you? Would he be open to coming up with compromises so that you can both function in the space? The hoarders in my life are very sensitive to judgement or perceived judgement on their hoarding but if your approach is “i hear you that these things are important to you for these reasons, here is what is important to me, how do we meet in the middle?” That is the approach that has been most effective for my family.
      Im sending you all the best.

      1. Anonymous today*

        We tried having a designated area for the stuff. For a long time it sort of worked, but the last few years there have been some life events (normal things we all experience if we’re fortunate enough to get older) that seem to have had the effect of making them hold on tighter to all the stuff. I’m not sure how to even have a conversation that they won’t perceive as non-judgmental. At this point, me not being able to find an item often results in a defensive verbal tirade accusing me of being too critical.

    3. sswj*

      My spouse is a borderline hoarder too. Not anxious or angry about certain things being thrown away, and his is fairly focused on electronics and weird internet finds. He also likes to buy me random crap that he thinks I’d like, but it’s more stuff the HE likes. It’s a LOT and it will take over the house if I let it.

      We finally had a sit-down talk where I said flat out that all that stuff he keeps, all the little “presents” he thought were fun and interesting didn’t make me happy, it all stressed me right the eff out and made me not enjoy being in my own house. Just talking about it got me so agitated that I think he finally saw ME, not his assumption of me.

      So he does try to rein in his buying for me, and he has agreed to keep his collection to his office and closet-room, and to his work shed. Anything that sits out for too long and starts to attract other clutter I put in one of his spaces. There’s some of his electronic stuff out and about, and I don’t hide everything of his, but he’s come to understand that a not-cluttered space can be comforting too. (Brought fairly forcefully to his attention when he kept sitting at my computer in my work area because ‘it was so nice here’. Yes, because I WORK at keeping it reasonably tidy!! Hrmpf …)

      Anyway, I think some ground rules need to be set out that you both can abide by. Good luck, this is hard, I know.

    4. Serenity*

      My community has a resource called the Hoarding Task Force. You might have something like that where you are. Ours does assessments, workshops, and other kinds of assistance. Best of luck to you (both).

      1. Anonymous today*

        I’ve never heard of anything like that, but will definitely be doing some research today! Thank you!

    5. twocents*

      I wish I had advice to offer you but I can only share my experience. My grandparents are hoarders, my grandfather more so than my grandmother. There is just simply a pathway through their house through the walls of stuff. they know they have things that you can’t find My grandmother wasn’t happy with it, but 50 years of marriage later and it’s still there. My grandfather passed away 4 years ago, and although my grandmother never wanted to live like this, the mountains of stuff are still so overwhelming that that is still where she is at: in a house surrounded by walls of stuff. Without therapy and a real willingness to change, I don’t see how your future will be different honestly. I suppose you could go “f— it” and just rent a dumpster and start tossing it, but something must be stopping you from doing that.

      1. fposte*

        It’s almost always advised against—the hoarder will refill the space ASAP and have a damaged relationship with the person who threw the stuff out.

        1. twocents*

          Right: I just meant from a standpoint of OP won’t leave, spouse won’t change. Unless OP takes upon themselves to decide they want to not live in a dumpster heap anymore, f— the consequences, this will be their life.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, I agree with that conclusion; it’s just that tossing the stuff out probably won’t be enough to get them to never living in a junk heap again unless it drives the spouse out.

        2. RC Rascal*

          It eventually gets to the point where it has to go if they like it or not. The home will start to experience structural issues & repair issues. The hoarder won’t let workmen in because they are embarrassed. They cover the windows with their clutter & then there is no egress in case of fire. The odor builds up. For a while I thought my mom was going to need to go to assisted living. Those facilities flat out told me they did not allow furniture to come in from a hoarder house.

          Vermin come in. Bugs, mice , and snakes. The kitchen & bathrooms become unusable from the clutter. As they run out of closets & spare rooms it goes into the main living areas of the home. If the hoarder rents the landlord kicks them out. If there is a mortgage the house is now under water because the clutter & associated damage to the house devalue the home.

          1. fposte*

            With high level hoarders, yes. Most hoarding doesn’t hit that level.

            More to the point, it’s not likely to be a solution to the “I don’t want to keep living this way” problem, which sounds like the problem the OP wants to solve.

            1. RC Rascal*

              Hoarding tends to get worse over time. One theory is that is had some triggers in trauma. it’s wrong to think it can stay at the level it’s at now. Plan for it to get worse.

              I had to clean up the aftermath & would never have dreamed the pack rattedness would ever get to that level.

        3. Batgirl*

          I couldn’t agree more; the only success stories I know of focus on the cause rather than the symptom. My in-law had this with her parents and everything she tossed was replaced in duplicate. The social workers told her to instead draw boundaries about her own behaviour: “I’m not coming in to any rooms with stuff on the floor” and asking her mother to decide what stuff to keep that fit, to meet that boundary.

    6. Girasol*

      I read the other day that some people feel calmer when their home environment is neat and organized, while others feel more reassured if they are surrounded by lots of stuff. My husband grew up poor so tons of “might need that someday” stuff appeals to him, the more disarray the better. (I think that makes the heap look bigger.) I grew up moving so I feel tense when the amount of disorganization I’d have to handle if we moved looks daunting. The only thing that sorta works is that he gets a big bedroom for a “workshop” and has all the bigger closets and shed space for his stuff. I try to ignore those spaces and we can close doors if company visits. I get a small room for a neat study and one small closet. I keep the public areas of the house tidy for company, so stuff he wants to keep vanishes from those places to be squirreled away safely in his space. It’s not a perfect arrangement but it sort of balances how he should respect my need for a clean orderly home, but I ought to respect his need for visible abundance.

      1. Dan*

        I understand a lot of this. I grew up rather poor as well, so “might need it some day” is my sub-conscious excuse for holding on to things that other people would be more apt to toss. OTOH, I live in a not-huge apartment, so there’s true limits as to how much I can keep on hand, which does stop me from acquiring new stuff without being intentional about it. I used to be way worse about not throwing things away. (And at one point, I wasn’t parting with college text books… less because “I might need it some day” and more about “I spent hundreds of dollars on these, and I’m not tossing them until they’re truly worthless. I can’t throw them away as long as I think I’m throwing $100 bills in the trash.”)

        As for the how home environment affects mental reassurance… you know, I didn’t think about this as much until I started my current job. At my office, we all have designated office spaces, no cubes. Some people keep a bare bones office, such that they could throw all their stuff in a box and be out in a moment’s notice. Other people’s offices feel *lived in*. (I don’t mean messy, just like some expects to be there for awhile.) FWIW, this is a company where people spend decades there, so it’s not like “temporary” is the expectation.

        Anyway, when I walk into a bare-bones office, I get a totally different feeling than I do when I walk into a “lived in” office. Bare bones feels to temporary, and it’s a tad bit unsettling to me. So I get how peoples’ home environments can reflect a similar sense.

    7. Yellow Warbler*

      I secretly throw things out constantly, my parents help me by taking bags of trash. I don’t subscribe to the whole “you can’t do that because it breaks trust” nonsense. I’m drowning in crap to the point that I’ve fallen and hurt myself. I’m not coddling his feelings at the expense of my own safety.

      It seems to work okay. He asks where certain (useless or broken) things are, I shrug and point out the mess, he lets it go. I think we have an unspoken agreement.

    8. Not A Manager*

      If living separately isn’t an option, and if your spouse isn’t willing or able to make any changes, then can you literally divide up the house? Negotiate with your spouse some spaces that they can fill up/use however they want, and negotiate some spaces where you get to remove any unauthorized items. Easier said than done, I know.

      Hoarding is a terrible compulsion and can be so hard on everyone. I’m sorry you’re going through this, and that you feel that your options are so limited.

      1. WS*

        Yes, this was the case for a couple I knew. They literally divided the house so that the kitchen (apart from one shelf), one bathroom, and one bedroom belonged to one of them and the hoarder had their own bathroom, bedroom and a small study. The line was drawn at anything that would rot or cause disease, but in this case the hoarding was mostly clothes and paper.

    9. RC Rascal*

      My mother was a hoarder. After my dad died she wouldn’t let me in the house. I found out several months before she died. It took 4 dumpsters & 6 months to clean out a not very large house. At a certain point the stuff will get to be so much you can’t clean. Also , vermin will move in. My moms house became infested with snakes living in her clutter.

      Get therapy for yourself. It will not get better. Hoarding is poorly understood and it leads to a very dark place.

      1. RC Rascal*

        Also— the clean out in this is expensive even if you do it yourself. I just finished doing my taxes & here is the breakdown:

        $4k on dumpsters, junk hauling & trash bags.
        2,500$ for removal of invasive landscaping. She had let ornamental Ivy grow over the house. It was growing in through the windows.
        $1000 for snake abatement.

        Total of $7500 on hoarding related costs. Then I took a $70k loss in the sale of the house due to the condition.

      2. Eff Walsingham*

        Hoarding also sometimes comes from very dark places. Due to family connections, I have experience with “the war against possessions,” and I’ve received helpful guidance from many sources over the years. Here is some of it:

        When childhood issues such as emotional abuse or abandonment lead to a feeling that the world is a hostile place, some people barter their way to being able to work, have friends, or otherwise function in it by surrounding themselves with walls of useless stuff. In the case of my own family, alcohol abuse by one member was the cause of some of our ongoing issues. It may always be hard for some individuals to feel safe when their parent was out of control. One simple sentence I read on a message board once — maybe this one? — “How could it be otherwise?” gave me chills, because it’s true. If you have ever seen an otherwise rational and functional person driven to hysteria by someone else cleaning out the fridge, you may know what I’m talking about. This is not a happy place for a person to be in, and they are generally not acting this way to cause hardship to their loved ones, even when that is the outcome.

        Now, I don’t want to suggest that the OP should just be content to live in a chaotic mess! But in my experience the most constructive long-term approach is the following. (1) Do not broach the subject when the hoarder just got home from work or is otherwise stressed or tired. Try to find a calm and unhurried time to talk. (2) Focus on specific effects of the behaviour, such as “the mess depresses me” “we can’t have people over” or “I’m afraid it’s a safety hazard.” Avoid hyperbole, and don’t make threats. (3) Ask the other person about their feelings, and listen. What are they afraid of? Maybe they actually hate the thought of having people come over? Be a safe person to confide in. (4) Be honest about your own feelings. How close to the end of your rope are you? And what does that look and feel like? Don’t baby the hoarder, or downplay the effect it’s having on you. Just don’t rant or exaggerate. That’s why it’s best not to leave these conversations until things get so bad that you snap.

        In order to have an ongoing, productive relationship, you need to be a collaborator and not a combatant. “It’s you and me against something that’s bigger than both of us.” Because it is. The stuff is, in most cases, the tip of the iceberg. That’s why, if it’s purged, more stuff is usually acquired to fill what the hoarder perceives as a void.

        I do strongly recommend therapy for this because it’s incredibly hard to deal with even with expert help. But I also know that some people categorically refuse it due to cost / there’s no one available nearby / had a bad experience in the past / just don’t believe in it.

        YMMV, of course. But my personal advice is that, if you still love a hoarder, try as hard as you can to communicate your love and support, without enabling them. Easier said than done, I know! (But seriously, *don’t* give them tangible objects as gifts! Take them out for dinner, or bring them food if they don’t go out. In my family, there is a real problem with mixed messages: “You should downsize! Now here is a set of adorable figurines!” Argh.)

    10. Turtlewings*

      This is secondhand advice, but I read some kind of article once wherein a woman let her hoarder brother move in with her (his own home, unsurprisingly, had been condemned) on the strict understanding that his stuff stayed in HIS room, and anything left outside his room for more than a couple hours, she would throw away. No mercy, no exceptions. And she had to follow through on that more than once. But it was working for them. So maybe you could both agree that he has to confine his stuff to a particular part of the house, and any overflow gets ruthlessly tossed?

    11. Anonymous today*

      Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. Our house is actually at the beginning stages of disrepair because there are things that need fixing which are blocked by piles. No vermin that I am aware of, and most of the hoard is “clean” in that it’s mostly paper, clothing, electronics, toys, and “collectibles”. My therapist and I agree that it’s just reaching the tipping point. My fear is that I will be old and trapped in an emergency. Part of the problem is that I own the house (it’s been in my family for generations) and I pay all the bills. Spouse isn’t able to work anymore due to poor health. Financially and physically they can’t live separately, and the house cannot be sold in its current condition. (At different times during our marriage, we’ve taken turns at being the breadwinner, so it’s probably evened out over the years.) I’m going to try some of the suggestions, and in some cases re-try, and will keep chipping away at Spouse about therapy.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Please be extremely careful/vigilant about clothes and paper. Rodents & cockroaches are attracted to both. They can also harbor mold/mildew, and you don’t always smell it before it starts affecting your health.

        Pretty much any substance, including leather, wood, and metal can get mold growing on it, and pretty much any items that don’t get moved or dusted under regularly can become a shelter for spiders and other insects.

      2. RC Rascal*

        Look into the mental health condition called Self Neglect. Hoarding is a symptom. While not all hoarders are self neglectors, all self neglectors are hoarders.

        Self Neglect was my mothers issue. The hoarding was only a symptom. My mom actually died from medical neglect. She refused to go to the doctor for 45 years and it finally killed her.

    12. Juneybug*

      I am sorry you are dealing with this. I left a good friend over this situation to protect my physical health. I am sharing my story because I want you to know hoarding could destroy a relationship.
      My friend Holly was a hoarder but I tried to look past that. She was funny, smart, and interesting to talk to on our walks. As we got to know each better, she asked if I could watch her school age kids while she took late afternoon college classes, which I was happy to do. Her hubby was in the military so his hours were crazy long. I knew her rental house had mold, water damage, trash everywhere, mice problem, etc., but I thought I could be a good influence and help change things. We talked about her house, it’s horrible condition, what she wanted out of life, and so on. But she was fine with her life and didn’t want to change (I was still hoping I could provide some positive influence).
      While her kids would play video games after school, I would wash dishes, clean out the kids’ lunch boxes, dust and vacuum, take out the trash, mow the yard, do laundry, etc. My hubby wasn’t thrilled with the situation. Not because I wasn’t getting paid (we are both retired military so this is one of our ways to give back to the military community) but because I started getting sick quite frequently (headaches, sinus problems, etc.).
      Over time, her hoarding and messy house was getting to me. I hated the fact I had to take a shower immediately after being at her house cause of the smell. I hated cleaning her house when the place got worst over time instead of better (it seem to be a passive-aggressive move on her part or her husband – vacuum the house on Tuesday and on Thursday, someone had spilled a plant on the floor without picking it up. Do laundry and put it away to come back few days later and see the clothes on the floor with the pets laying on them). Holly stop hanging out with me on walks and only seem to need me for babysitting.
      Two things that broke the camel’s back. Holly subscribed to a daily newspaper delivery (she said it was cheaper to get the daily rate than only Sundays for the coupons). I started taking the newspapers to the recycle bin after two months of them being on every surface in the house (I was the only person who used that bin!). Holly called me at home to chew me out for throwing away her reading material. I pointed out that she reads the news on the internet, the info would be outdated by the time she got to reading, and she never wanted the daily papers, only the Sunday edition, but she was still quite upset and I was told to never get rid of her newspapers. She actually took the old newspapers I had already recycled out of the bin and brought them back into the house.
      Because I was not getting any appreciation for my efforts and rather not get yelled at for a doing a good deed, I stop doing chores. I still watched the kids but now I brought a book to read until she got home. She never said anything about me no longer cleaning her house or mowing the yard. Since we were no longer walking so there was no chance to discuss this tension. I was so ready for her college class to be over!
      With the two weeks remaining for her semester, Holly decided to get two cats, one hamster, and a dog because “the kids wanted them”. I begged her to wait until summer when her classes would be over so she could give the pets attention, training, and make sure the place was ready for them but she choose to get them anyway.
      Because she and hubby were gone all day, there is no one to let the dog out so of course he had accidents. So now there is poop and urine all over the house with a lovely hamster odor. When I arrive to babysit the boys, the very high strung dog needs to be walked on a leash because Holly and hubby had not fixed the fence. So now I am a dog walker and babysitter. I am coming home sicker and sicker, even with me sitting by an open window while I am at her house. I can’t seem to get the smell out of my hair or clothes.
      When her classes were done, I too was done with the relationship. I had tried to talk to her about her house. At first, I gently suggested counseling and later on, point blank told her she needed to go. But Holly didn’t see the damage she was doing to her marriage, kids, pets, or house. Few months later, Holly moved to a different city so I was happy to let the friendship go. I hope your spouse works on this problem before you get to the point you are done.
      I wish you all the best!

      1. willow for now*

        Ugh, the newspapers! My ex acted as though he was going to find the meaning of life in the local newpaper, he just had not yet gotten around to reading it. So there they sat.

      2. RC Rascal*

        The smell ! When I first started cleaning out on my mothers house, I had just adopted a cat from the pound. Kitty is high strung.

        I would come home from cleaning out the house ( at that point it was so gross I couldn’t stand to be there for more than a few hours). Kitty would get a terrified look and run and hide from me because I was so gross and smelly.

      3. allathian*

        This is awful, especially for the kids. As many horror stories as I suppose all of us have read about children who’ve been taken into care with unhappy results, I would have called CPS. At least in my area, you can do it anonymously. Granted, sometimes people do it out of pure malice and because they want to get someone else into trouble with the authorities, but in the vast majority of cases, the kids really do need help.

    13. Girasol*

      I recently read some really clever advice for hoarders: when gifts and memorabilia are burying an older person in stuff, but they can’t bear to part with such treasures, elder movers recommend taking photographs of those things. Then the things themselves, if still of value, can be passed on to others, if not by giving then by donation, and the original owner can treasure the photos. Seems like good advice for anyone.

    14. Batgirl*

      I wouldn’t get into it over individual items, I would set broader guidelines which will be easier for you to enforce and give them some control over their possessions (and hopefully less anxiety and powerlessness). You have as much right to the space as his stuff does. The guidelines you choose will be up to you but some examples could be he can keep whatever can fit into proper storage spaces, (even if you buy some extra trunks or caddies) or he has to throw out anything that piles unsafely (he still has control over what is properly put away), or that you can relax a certain guideline or table an argument while therapy is happening. I appreciate that you don’t want a divorce and that it really isn’t worth it as things stand; but as a divorced person I would say: you always need to be thinking about what line would need to be breached before that changes and how slowly or quickly you are approaching that line. I only say that because no one saves up for a divorce, and it sounds like the hoarding will have its own costs on top of that. The other thing that people don’t do when behaviour “isn’t bad enough…yet” is clearly spell out that any worsening of the behaviour will have consequences on your feelings that you probably won’t be able to prevent. In other words, spelling out consequences (honestly, not as an idle threat) can at least forewarn, and at best nip behaviours in the bud.

    15. Anonymous packrat*

      Coming in late, but here’s my perspective. I’m not a hoarder directly (or maybe I’m in denial), but am definitely a pack rat and have a really hard time letting go of things. This causes a lot of tension in my relationship and is the main thing we quarrel about. In my case it’s mostly text based materials, but other stuff too. We have had many, many discussions and tried many systems, and the ones that work somewhat put a lot of work, both practical and emotional, on my partner, I’m sorry to say. And it requires the hoarder to be aware that it is a problem and be willing to work on it. It’s hard, and definitely coupled with anxiety. But this is a deal breaker and I do try.

      Things that tend to work are
      – The deal that my partner gets to throw away newspaper and journals of a certain age, even if I haven’t read them, because if I try, I’ll always end up reading an interesting article. W only have weekend paper, a compromise between my wanting a daily paper and my partner preferring online only. I’m not allowed to pick up brochures, or if I do they go to recycling. Random notes go either directly to trash or maybe on my keyboard, if they look important. I try to keep notes in a mini moleskin instead of on paper. (I need the tactile stimulus, so just electronically isn’t good enough.)
      – My books need to be on the shelves, if not actively read. The shelves need to be straightened regularly. We have a lot of shelves, and they are bulging. I try to keep to what A slob comes clean said about containment. If it doesn’t fit, I need to do something.
      – The house is divided into small areas. Each week we have one focus area, where we do a little extra, go through some of the piles or boxes and throw stuff away. The idea is that keeping it small keeps it from being overwhelming, and the rota means that we’ll return some time later, it hasn’t all got to be done now. We work on this area together. This includes lots and lots of pushing, cajoling and reassurance from my partner. And hugs, many many hugs, as I tend to cry from stress. I threw away old tapes. I haven’t listened to them in ages, but they represent a piece of me. It feels as if I throw away a piece of my identity. And dear me, remember mixed tapes? You did them yourself, or maybe a friend did them for you? If I throw them away, I throw my friend away! As I said, anxiety, not logic. Keep discussing: what is really important? What would I save in a fire? Not those, right?
      – Taking photos of the mementos help! I have a lot of pictures as well, but the hard drive take up less space.
      – Some kind of reward is good, because I easily get caught in a feeling that if I try do clean or de-clutter it takes up all my time and I never get to do anything nice. You can discuss if reward is time together or alone time, but it needs to be there.
      – One space where my stuff gets unceremoniously thrown in when my partner is fed up. It’s also one of the areas mentioned above, so it gets checked on regularly.
      – Related to this: some specific areas are to be kept de-cluttered, or at least easy to de-clutter. These get extra focus. Not to big or too many, but for example the kitchen worktops must be accessible.
      -Personally I have found Dana White’s blog A Slob Comes Clean and her book How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind a big help, because it makes me feel less alone. I do admit I’m better at reading about cleaning than too do it, but the “do the dishes” and the five minute pick up are easy enough, and they do make a difference. (The container thought is harder, working on that.) Thank you AAM for that tip.
      – Not as constructive, but huge rows about the mess and how I just don’t want them as much as my worthless stuff. I do tend to step up a bit more after a quarrel. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true. I’m an avoiding nature and if it’s uncomfortable enough, I do things to reduce it. If the quarrels are worse than the anxiety of throwing things away, I will clean.

      Good luck. I’m sorry, I would like to be a better partner about this, but it’s hard. I hope your partner gives you joy in other ways. Personally I’m in therapy for other reasons, but we touch on this sometimes. I know where it’s coming from, it helps a little.

  24. Pregnant during COVID*

    Thanks for everyone’s kind words and advice a couple of weeks ago when I was feeling down about not seeing or hearing much from my family. Taking your advice, I asked one of my sisters if we could do a happy hour zoom call together. That Friday, my sisters dropped off snacks and presents for me and that evening we had a virtual baby shower. It was so nice catching up and sharing stories. It was exactly the boost I need to get through the next few weeks until I give birth. Thank you again for the push to get out of my head and ask for what I needed vs expecting people to just know.

    1. mreasy*

      This is so great to hear. I’m glad your support system engaged when you reached out! It may seem like a small win to you but it sounds like a big one to me.

    2. Sleepy*

      Good for you! It sounds like you took control of the situation and I’m so happy you got what you needed.

    3. Fellow Traveller*

      This is so lovely. I feel like it’s especially important to celebrate pandemic babies because new motherhood is already so isolating but throw in having to social distance and it’s all the more so. I have a friend who had a baby in October and she says sometimes she feels as if the world doesn’t know that her baby exists.
      May you have a very routine and boring next few weeks!

    4. allathian*

      Thanks for the update, sounds like you had a lovely time!

      Congrats again on your pregnancy.

  25. Kensington*

    I’m in a crappy situation with a friend and am paralyzed by indecision. I’m making up the situational details to try to stay anonymous, so sorry if this isn’t totally accurate.

    My friend writes articles for magazines professionally. I’ve been involved in writing my whole life, and dreamed of writing for magazines too, so I spent a ton of time researching the profession and slaved over an article I planned to try to get published. I asked my friend to read it over before I started sending it around. She said she’d be happy to. After a few months of repeatedly promising to read it and then coming up with excuses for why she hadn’t, I finally just told her I was going to submit it without her feedback. I know she didn’t owe me the feedback, I wasn’t entitled to it, etc. but being “strung along” for a few months was frustrating.

    Discouraged, I abandoned the article for a few months, then recently edited it and started submitting it to magazines. My friend reached out wanting to know if my article got published and offering to read over it for me if I was still working on it. So I sent her my edited draft, followed up after a week of radio silence, got a promise she’d read over it by Wednesday at the latest, and now it’s Saturday. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to put my article on hold indefinitely for feedback I’ll probably never get, but I’d feel soooo stupid if I sent the article to all the potential magazines and then she e-mailed me the next day with game-changing feedback.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Honestly, I’d move forward without your friend. If there’s any feedback then whoever you submit it to can give it to you if they’re interested in publishing it. If you’re comfortable with what you’ve written so far and you think it’s promising, just send it out and don’t mind your friend.

    2. WellRed*

      You’re friend us being weird but if you are happy with the article and have started submitting it, I’d stop getting hung up on having friend read it. Own your work.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Move on without your friend’s approval/critique/whatever.
      Vow never to ask her to review anything again. It’s way too much drama and upset. It prevents you from moving forward with your own activities. There are other sources for learning and for help, your friend is not the only source.

    4. twocents*

      I don’t know what her motives are and if this is a “can’t” vs “won’t” but for whatever reason, it’s not happening. Don’t send her more articles, don’t follow-up with her on the ones you have sent her. Just assume she will never be able to provide this support because that’s what she’s shown you.

    5. fposte*

      Go ahead without her. There are lots of people,who might give game changing feedback that you won’t be hearing from. I can understand why you’d felt it reasonable to wait to hear from somebody in the know, but it sounds like you got into a sunk costs fallacy on the wait.

      What would you have done if she said, “Oh, I’d really like to get to this and I’ll try, but work may be too much for me. If I don’t give you feedback in a month, you should go ahead without me”? Because that’s what you should do now.

    6. GoryDetails*

      First, congrats on submitting your article – whether you hear back soon or not, it’s a big step!

      As for the reviewing… yeah, your friend may have meant to help but hasn’t prioritized it, and it might be best to just move on. If you ever do get comments you can see whether it’s something helpful or not, but don’t wait on it.

      Side note: there’s a marvelous Captain Awkward post on “friends promised to review my novel” – not quite the same scenario as yours, as your friend has specific experience in the article-publishing area, but it might be of interest to you anyway:

      https://captainawkward.com/2015/05/20/708-my-friends-promised-me-feedback-on-my-novel-but-then-never-came-through-what-now/

    7. Yellow Warbler*

      Maybe I’m just naturally suspicious, but my first impression is that she’s shopping it around herself. Why else would she ask for the rewrite when she refused to give feedback the first time?

      You should submit immediately, in case she beats you to it.

      1. Anon for this*

        My first suspicion is that the article is no good and Friend doesn’t want to be the bad guy.

        1. Olive Hornby*

          As an editor, this would also be my suspicion (and I think it’s tremendously more possibility than the idea that your friend is going to steal your work—generally speaking, people with lots of freelance credits to their name already don’t need to submit finished articles, only pitches.)

  26. Foreign Octopus*

    Has anyone had their wisdom teeth removed?

    I’m off to the dentist on Wednesday to see about a cavity in one of my wisdom teeth and the location of it is difficult as it erupted oddly, so I believe they may suggest a removal. I’m not particularly bothered about that but I am concerned about potential pain and recovery time as I work as a teacher and need to be able to speak clearly. If anyone could tell me their experience, I’d be grateful.

    1. Oxford Comma*

      It’s been a while but I had four out at once which required general anesthesia. I was around 30 at the time. I needed the day off after the procedure (if you’re younger or fitter and/or they aren’t putting you under, you might not). Speaking was fine. Eating was limited for about a week to soft foods give or take a few days. Other than being wiped out the day after the procedure, I was okay.

    2. CTT*

      I had mine out almost 10 years ago/when I was 22. Like Oxford Comma, I also was put under, so I was really loopy afterwards. I didn’t have any issues with talking, but I was on the longer side of the recovery curve and it took me about 2 weeks to be able to eat normally again.

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      I had mine out when I was in high school (it’s common in the US for health insurance to only cover wisdom tooth removal for minors, and dental insurance not to cover it at all).

      I was put under general anesthesia, and I was still kind of loopy the next day. I had a lot of swelling in my tongue and cheeks post surgery that lasted several days, but no pain (I did take the prescription painkillers). Most people don’t swell like I did though!

    4. Kensington*

      I got all 4 out in my early 20’s. My appointment was in the morning. Felt groggy from the anesthesia for the rest of the day, and just took Tylenol once or twice for the soreness. I don’t remember having any problems speaking. It wasn’t at all as bad as I thought it’d be, and I think I was fine the next day (aside from soreness when eating). I didn’t have a job where I had to speak a lot though.

    5. Dwight Schrute*

      I had mine removed about 3 years ago. Super quick procedure, I went under for it because I hate dental work. Recovery was pretty fast and easy. I had them removed on Friday and went to work on Tuesday. Stayed home Monday because of swelling and some pain but by Tuesday I felt pretty much normal. I suggest moving your jaw regularly after removal so it doesn’t get stiff. Good luck! It wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected it to be

    6. Max Kitty*

      My DH recently had one out because it cracked. His mouth was swollen the day of, but he seemed back to normal the next day. No trouble understanding him. He said he didn’t feel as much pain as he thought it would. He definitely had pain, but it wasn’t huge and prolonged. He did not have any general anesthesia (took himself to the dentist and took himself home).

    7. Dumpster Fire*

      I think it really depends on whether the teeth are straight and accessible, or impacted. I had three of them pulled in one day because they had come in straight and unobstructed, and I actually played softball that night! The fourth was impacted so it involved an oral surgeon – I didn’t need general anesthesia but it was definitely more than the local I had for the first three! So the pain and recovery time will completely depend on what procedure needs to be done: if they can be pulled, it’s relatively minimal; but actual surgery has much more potential for a longer recovery.

    8. Colette*

      I had all 4 of mine out when I was 19. It wasn’t a big deal in any way- I had bowed out of an activity that night, but ended up going because I was fine.

    9. Lcsa99*

      I had the two uppers removed together and one lower one removed later when it had a cavity. From my experience, the uppers were much easier in terms of recovery. I only used painkillers once after whatever the doctor gave me wore off, and it was fine. Had to be careful with eating in both cases but that was fine. I don’t think in either case I spoke funny once I could stop packing it with gauze, but I also did it on a Friday in both instances, so I had the whole weekend to recover.

      There was a lot more pain with the lower one. I didn’t have to use more than otc pain killers after the first day, but it was really tender and getting the stitches out REALLY hurt. Enough so, that I was worried it was infected but I think it’s just because the lower jaw moves while the upper is stationary. Hope that helps

    10. Nicki Name*

      I had the same situation as you– tooth came in at a weird angle and needed to be pulled. There was no general anesthesia, just a whole lot of novocaine. General anesthesia is only used when they have to go digging for the tooth.

      Recovery instructions were to take an ibuprofen when I got home and not drink through a straw for the next 24 hours. I don’t recall any pain after the novocaine and then the ibuprofen wore off.

      –CW: Squeamish people, skip the rest of this post–

      If you’re wondering how the extraction actually works: Once the area is fully numbed, they do it the old-fashioned way. The tooth is just grabbed with a tool and twisted back and forth until it’s ready to come out.

    11. pancakes*

      I had all four removed in my late teens and was blissfully, painlessly zonked on Percocet for a couple days afterward.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      I have had all four removed. I think I did them one at a time. I took lots of vitamin D and K that really knocked back the pain. I think I ended up taking like 2 ibuprofen after each removal. I did ice pack it and I did nap after I got home from each appointment. My preference was to have someone drive me, that was supportive for me.
      You have to be careful to keep the “holes” clean and free of food particles. And everything goes through a straw for a short bit after the surgery.
      For me the critical part was the doc had to make sure the novicane took hold before he started working. And he was very aware about that.
      I did go on antibiotic while I was having teeth pulled (seven total). Then I ate yogurt after the antibiotic ran out. It felt like there were a few steps to the process.

    13. fposte*

      My removal was NBD. If yours are exposed enough to get a cavity that may be a good sign for ease. Tenderness to foreign particles is a much longer issue than speaking, by which I mean any speaking impairment was mild and gone after the first day but it would hurt to get solid food back there for a few more days.

    14. Myrin*

      Oooooh, I had a horrible time with my wisdom teeth – please don’t read this if you (general you) feel like a negative story might actually be bad for you mentally! Also, even though I will tell this story whenever I get a chance to, it’s actually pretty graphic and gross, so please don’t read if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing!

      I had all four removed at once during the summer of 2011 (this is important. Remember it!). I do well with surgeries in general and with mouth stuff in particular because I’ve been dealing with teeth things ever since my first adult tooth came in, so I was just under local anaesthesia. The doctor was a bit of an arse but the surgey itself went completely fine BUT he did very poorly with the aftercare which I didn’t fully realise at the time but which came back to bite me later. Sit tight!

      I had horrible pain for about a day but then it subsided pretty quickly. However, a week later while opening my mouth wide to eat a bun, a felt I weird… crack-y sensation in my jaw. It was kinda uncomfortable for two days but I didn’t really think anything too bad of it, until I forcefully pulled my cheek aside on a Friday evening and saw a small river of pus flow out from behind my teeth and slowly fill my mouth. I was rushed to an emergency clinic more than an hour away because our local hospital doesn’t have a dentistry ward (go figure!). They jammed a huge tube into my cheek and sucked all the pus out and there was a lot of blood and discomfort – surprisingly little pain, though!

      And then the same thing happened a week later on the other side only that it was a Saturday morning and I could go to what would eventually become my current dentist because he was tasked with emergency services for our county that day. Same procedure – only much more sensibly – and I had to go to my dentist every other day for like three weeks afterwards so that he could disinfect and clean and care for my mouth.

      I thought that was finally the end of it but I keep feeling kinda strange on one side of my cheek regardless. It felt a little heavy and when I’d put my tongue on the (former) wound the… gums? I guess? above it always felt weirdly squishy and squiggly and just not normal.

      On Christmas Eve I shone a light inside my mouth and saw that the place in question look strangely veiny and like it was wobbling around.

      In the first week of February 2012 (!), I went again to the dentist who had helped me out with the second infection and they basically had to perform the same surgery as the extraction surgery again (only without an actual tooth in the mix) and found that my until-then regular dentist had, during one of my many, many visits, overlooked that there was still one of these absorbent little strips in the wound and it had with time grown into my gum and made a little capsule around itself and they had to cut a 5 cm long cut into the back of my cheek to get all the dirt and pus and blood that accumulated there out.

      I had the same bruised hamster cheek you get immediately after wisdom tooth surgery and when I had a final oral exam a week later I was glad that it was immensely cold and I could wear a thick scarf all through it with my professor none the wiser. Never heard anything of it again afterwards.

      So, yeah. That’s a thing that can happen.

      (My sister, on the other hand, had all four of hers out last year and although she was in pain for about two weeks and had some strangely flappy gum parts which then kinda miraculously re-attached themselves after some time (which is apparently normal), she hasn’t had any further complications whatsoever, so there’s that.)

    15. Foreign Octopus*

      Wow! I did not expect such a response to my question and I’m so grateful to each of you that have taken the time to respond. Hearing that it was a NBD for most of you (looking at you, Myrin, you poor sod) is pretty comforting and puts me more at ease for the appointment on Wednesday. If it needs to be done, I’ll see if I can schedule the removal for a Friday so that I’ve got the weekend to recover before work, just in case.

    16. Ellen Ripley*

      I had my top two taken out first and they were already through the gum and not at a severe angle, so it wasn’t a huge deal. I was woozy for the rest of the day and had stitches so had to be careful of those for a few days and eat only liquid for a day or two.

      When I had the bottom two out it hurt a lot more. One wasn’t out yet so there was more of an incision and of course the bottom two don’t ‘drain’ automatically so you have to constantly be cleaning out the sockets. Still it was a couple days of discomfort and a few more days of fiddling with keeping everything clean and limiting my food choices.

      As far as speaking goes, if yours are fairly simple you might be able to take off Friday for the procedure and be OK if a little sore by Monday morning. But that’s pretty aggressive and if you have to talk/move your jaw all day for work, you might plan to be able to take a few days off.

    17. HannahS*

      I had my all four wisdom teeth removed when I was about 21. I went with the highest level of sedation offered (not a full-blown general anesthetic like they’d use for abdominal surgery, but I opted to be “asleep”) because I knew I’d panic if awake. All four of mine were below the gums, but none were impacted. I had some bleeding for a few hours after (as expected), had some aching for a day or two, then the sites themselves were tender for a while. I was barely swollen, diligently kept the sites clean, and I healed quickly. It was very much not a big deal.

    18. Yellow Warbler*

      I heard “Oh shit, she’s awake!” in the middle of having a tooth broken for removal, so a big thumbs down to my anaesthesiologist. The recovery was much less difficult than when I got an implant, though.

    19. Vega*

      I got all 4 out under general anesthesia in my 20s… and despite following all the directions about what not to eat/no straws, I got dry sockets on both sides of my bottom jaw. My advice is that if the pain suddenly gets WORSE after a few days or strong pain meds aren’t being effective, go back to the dentist/oral surgeon because they can stuff the sockets with dressing soaked in clove oil. Clove oil worked like a miracle for me. I did have to get the dressing changed out a couple of times, and could not stand the taste of cloves for years, but I was completely functional after that.

      1. Catherine*

        I remember I had this weird taste in my mouth in the week following the surgery and I started getting paranoid there was an infection or something wrong – when I mentioned it at my check up the dentist was like, “oh that’s just the cloves in the dressing” – I would have appreciated a warning!
        Although, I do find it kinda cool that something so old fashioned is still used these days.

    20. RC Rascal*

      2 impacted lowers when I was 40. While I had an excellent surgeon it was difficult & I had pretty much all the complications possible except dying. Double dry socket , cellulitis, & nerve damage. I also developed TMJ afterwards. I was extremely sick for 3 months after the procedure & missed a ton of work.

      1. Voluptuousfire*

        Did they remove them completely? I have an impacted wisdom tooth that has a little cap of gum that occasionally bothers me. Nothing major, just annoying. I visited an oral surgeon a few years ago and they told me it could only be removed if it was infected since I’d have a lot more complications due to age. I had another consult with another oral surgeon and she said they could just cut the top off the exposed tooth and sew the gun cap over it and remove the top wisdom tooth to make sure the bite is not off.

        1. RC Rascal*

          Yes they removed them completely. My roots were wrapped around the nerve in the jaw. It was a difficult procedure.

    21. PollyQ*

      I had all 4 removed at once, and it was very simple & straightforward. I barely had any pain or swelling, and no other side effects. I took the prescription med for maybe one day? (it was a long time ago), and was 100% fine a day or two later.

    22. Clisby*

      I had all 4 out when I was 18 or 19. The only painkiller was about a zillion shots of novocaine, but the procedure itself wasn’t bad. The aftermath is the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced (and I’ve had 2 children – childbirth didn’t compare, and I was high on Percodan for about a week.)

      However, it sounds like this tooth has already come through the gum? (Mine were all growing sideways into the gum). Last summer my son had 3 wisdom teeth taken out (1 of the 4 just never developed), and had a pretty easy time. Two of his teeth had come through the gum, and those seemed more like regular tooth extractions; only one required minor surgery. He was eating a Big Mac the next day. He took a few of the prescribed Vicodin to help him get a good sleep at night, but other than that did fine with ibuprofen.

      Adding – he had IV anesthetic, which I have to think is a big advance from when I had mine out. The novocaine meant I didn’t feel any pain during the procedure, but I’m sure it added to the pain afterward. Even now, just having novocaine to fill a cavity will leave me with jaw pain for 2-3 days.

    23. Eff Walsingham*

      I had the upper and lower on the same side out when I was around 40. The lower one was sideways and impacted, so I was with the oral surgeon rather than my regular dentist. A general anesthetic is usual where I live but I get the equivalent of a terrible hangover from it, so I opted for local. My surgeon was amazing! She warned me (accurately) that the worst I’d feel during the procedure was when the third and final needle went in; and that the sound – like someone emptying a gravel truck next to your ear! – is awful, and there’s nothing they can do about it.

      Anyway, it went swimmingly. I had to travel 5 hours away the next day, so I was given a prescription for antibiotics, a prescription for acetaminophen with codeine, and a third prescription for some big scary pain pill which I was to fill if necessary and then report back immediately after my trip if it was that bad. I took the aceto-codeine pills (one at bedtime) for a couple of days, and the antibiotics of course; but otherwise it was fine with regular Tylenol, no side effects whatever. Never did fill the in-case-of-emergency prescription. Unfortunately I can’t say if talking would’ve been an issue because I was working mostly alone on that trip. I was pretty paranoid about the aftercare because several of my old friends had scary stories of things going poorly, but the weirdest thing for me was getting used to the Big Empty Space that felt like you could park an SUV in it! And the gum comes up to a kind of point, which took some getting used to when brushing.

      So, basically no fuss, no muss. I don’t know why I put it off for so long? But then I think, maybe those ‘old’ roots were weak, and it would have been worse when I was younger? ;)

    24. allathian*

      I only had wisdom teeth in my upper jaw, no buds in the lower. They were fully extruded and in fairly good condition, so much so that when I got a cavity in one of them, they fixed it once. That said, I had them out when I was about 35. I had local anesthetic and a simple extraction on both sides, it was all over in less than 20 minutes, most of the time was spent waiting for the local to take effect. I had the swabs in for a few hours and had to wash out my mouth with disinfecting mouthwash for a few days, because I wasn’t allowed to brush my molars until my gums healed. When the local wore off, took one pill of something stronger than the usual paracetamol or ibuprofen, probably codeine, and for a few days, I took the maximum OTC dose of ibuprofen, and that was it. After the wisdom tooth extraction, I had the procedure in the morning and had the rest of the day off, but I went to work the following day. I admit that I ate mainly lukewarm soup for a few days. For lunch, I took a thermos flask of creamy vegetable soup to work and it was just the right temperature when I ate it.

      A few years later, I had to have a molar extracted in the upper jaw. I’d had a root canal done in my early twenties, and the tooth just broke and was unfixable. I didn’t need a general anesthetic for that either, but I remember that it was a lot more painful for longer and I needed more codeine. At the time, my son was still eating baby food, and I just ate the same thing he did, although I admit I ate it at room temperature and put a bit of salt in mine…

    25. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      My dentist told me that unless they are impacted or infected, wisdom teeth are actually easier to remove than molars because the roots are shorter.

    26. RagingADHD*

      I had all 4 out at once when I was in my 20s, because they were never going to come in properly and my dentist recommended having them out before they grew closer to my facial nerves. It was a pretty significant surgery, I suppose, since they had not erupted at all—one was growing down into my jaw, one up into my head, one forward toward my other teeth, and I don’t remember the other one. Maybe backward?

      I was semi-awake but doped up and didn’t feel anything. I don’t recall any significant pain afterward. I could not have done much speaking for a couple of days, because there was a good bit of bleeding and I had to keep the sites packed with cotton as much as possible.

      My issue was that it was the first time I’d had any anesthetic beyond Novocain, and discovered that I don’t react well to whatever they used. I was violently ill for the first 48 hours.

      As others said, it’s really going to depend on whether it’s more like an extraction or a surgery. If yours has erupted, you probably won’t need something as extensive as I did.

    27. School Psych*

      I had all 4 wisdom teeth out this year because 2 of them were getting cavities and my dentist thought it was best just to take them all out(I’m in my 30’s, so I was having this done much later than most people). I booked my procedure on a Friday and was fine to go back to work on Monday. I was sore the day of the surgery and day after, but mostly fine by the 3rd day. I only had to take the stronger pain killers they prescribed for one day. Make sure you ice during the days after the surgery and take Tylenol and whatever anti-inflammatories/anti-biotics they prescribe. If you’re able to book your surgery, so you have the weekend to recover, that was helpful for me. I’m an educator also and did not notice this surgery affecting my speech, although I was definitely groggy the day after.

    28. The Time Being*

      I had three of mine out just a couple years ago. For mine, there was no need to put me under; they came in straight, and the dentist just shot me up with novocaine and then pulled them out.

      Recovery was rough: for the one upper removal, which was quick and initially painless, I spent about a week eating soft foods before I was confident in trying to chew even just on the other side of my mouth. I didn’t realize how much I moved food back and forth while chewing! For the other, when both top and bottom had to come out, I was too tender for foods that needed much chewing for nearly two weeks, and brushing my teeth was an exercise in accidentally smacking the healing craters.

      I didn’t find any complication to my ability to speak, except for maybe the few hours immediately following removal. After that, I was fine in that regard.

    29. SarahKay*

      I had a bottom wisdom tooth removed after it developed a cavity. Dentist advised it’d need a filling, I asked about a white filling, dentist said “not on the NHS” (i.e. white fillings have to be done privately and are expensive), I looked disappointed, at which point he suggested an extraction. Great idea, I thought, solves the problem of cavities in it for good. I’d had a couple of baby molars extracted to make room when I was a child, so I thought it’d be fine.

      I had it done under local anasthetic and found it to be in the top three nastiest events of my life. It took about fifteen minutes, and while it was mostly pain-free (except where he was gripping my jaw to get leverage) I just became totally freaked out by the process; at one point my whole body was shaking.

      The next day I felt distinctly under the weather, but not really ill enough to justify phoning in sick (worked retail, so I cover is always an issue) so went into work. I met my manager on the way in and she asked how the dentist visit went, and told me later that I turned totally white and she thought I was going to faint. She sent me straight home; I did not argue and I very gratefully went home and climbed back into bed.

      Sleeping the day away definitely helped, but then despite following all the dentist’s advice unfortunately it became infected. Luckily one of my co-workers had previously been a dental practice receptionist and when I mentioned to her about five days in that I was counting the minutes before I could take more painkillers she told me to call the dentist back pronto. One cleaning of the socket and round of antibiotics later and the pain cleared up.

      If I ever have to get another wisdom tooth extracted ( in fact, probably any teeth at all) I’m going to want either a general anasthetic or some really good sedatives if they want to use a local.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yeah, if I’d been more than half-conscious it would have really freaked me out because it’s quite physically aggressive. And I’m not generally very nervous about medical stuff.

  27. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

    Tapestry stitchers – I’ve got questions!

    Last week in a fit of boredom I ordered a tapestry kit (amongst a bunch of other craft stuff to try). I used to do cross-stitch and needlework in my teens, but have never worked in wool before. Its a fun pattern and I started it a bit this morning. I’m using tent stitching (as I want to make it into a cushion when I am done).

    Questions:

    1) When I reach the end of a row and need to stitch the next row down, do I then go left to right, or do I cross under the canvas and start again from the right side?

    2) This is an image on a white background. Is it best to do all the white at the end to keep it clean? I could see doing all the white at the end could be really dull, though.

    I have to get a frame today for tension and protection, but I can manage fora few more days without it.