weekend open thread – April 10-11, 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: Parnassus on Wheels, by Christopher Morley. A woman in 1915 decides to escape her life as a spinster living with her brother by roaming the country in a mobile bookstore, selling books as she goes. It’s funny and charming.

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

{ 1,211 comments… read them below }

  1. General Organa*

    Hi! Does anyone have good recommendations for plot-heavy fictional podcasts? Long walks have been keeping me sane and I’ve recently started branching out from more journalistic podcasts. I loved Limetown, but when I tried Night Vale it was too meandering for me. Maybe the term I’m looking for is audio drama? Thank you!

    1. KeinName*

      yes! BBC radio 4 drama of the week, and RTE drama on one – they have short story type podcasts.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        If you were a reading rainbow kid like me check out Levar Burton Reads. Updates aren’t very consistent but the stories are always great

      2. pancakes*

        Good production quality on Radio 4, too. I listen to it often, more for non-fiction programming and the shipping forecast, but the quality of the dramas is generally impressive.

    2. sad cupcake*

      trojanwarpodcast (dot) com . If nothing else episode 1: the apple of discord is brilliant storytelling.

    3. Purt’s Peas*

      The Magnus Archives is short horror stories, with an overarching plot that starts to show up. I found the stories fairly predictable and not scary (and I’m a wimp!) but all the more enjoyable for that.

      You might also enjoy some d&d actual play podcasts, though those are always unscripted and often unedited. For comedy I really like Dungeons & Daddies, and have heard enough good about Rude Tales of Magic to offer a secondhand recommendation. Both are well-edited and funny. For drama there’s Critical Role, and there’s plenty of that!

    4. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I really liked “Dark Ages” (comedy fantasy type story) but so far there is only one season thanks to covid.

    5. Drtheliz*

      Last I checked they didn’t support streaming, but librivox is an online archive of free recordings for out of copyright books :)

    6. Libervermis*

      Myths and Legends retells myths and legends from around the world, and has a fairly robust back catalog by now. The same host also does one called Fictional, retelling stories from literature.

      1. Is it tea time yet?*

        My former coworker and I used to listen to Myths and Legends – it was one of our favorite podcasts, and we listened to some episodes twice because they were so much fun. I’ll check out Fictional!

    7. Halfway Vaccinated*

      The Bright Sessions is fabulous, and they’re starting to release spin-off shows on the same feed so there is still a lot of content coming out, whereas we haven’t heard from Limetown in forever.

      Voyage To The Stars is great for sci-fi, but it’s is very adult and gross in parts.

      If you don’t mind something more adult-ish, My Dad Wrote A Porno is hilarious. And plot does start to surface in the third season.

      The Black Taped Podcast had an excellent first season but I’ll admit that I didn’t like the second or third seasons at all. Got way too conspiracy theory heavy for me.

      I have Parkdale Haunt and The Edge Of Sleep saved but haven’t listened to them yet. Hope these help!

    8. Workerbee*

      Would you consider old time radio shows? Archive.org and others have loads of Lux Radio Theatre, Suspense, Jack Benny…

    9. Nacho*

      Try The Black Tapes, and its spiritual successors Rabbits and Tannis. All three have a lot of content, and plenty of lore. All of them are about fictional conspiracies and mysteries, starting out somewhat slow, but quickly becoming creepy as all fuck by the end.

    10. The teapots are on fire*

      “For Reading Out Loud” on Mixcloud. Classic short stories read in a warm, fatherly voice.

    11. Bumblebee*

      I’d highly recommend Wolf359, or Cabin Pressure if you’d like something a bit more light-hearted!

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        These are both excellent choices! I don’t think Cabin Pressure is available as a podcast, you might have to get it as an audio book, but it’s well worth it.

    12. Ali*

      I’ve been enjoying “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms” podcast, a re-telling of the 14th-century Chinese historical novel. I’ve been using it to keep myself engaged during my long daily PT sessions!

      1. Outlaws of the Marsh, too*

        Thanks so much for this suggestion! It lead me to his other podcast “Outlaws of the Marsh”. I’ve just listened to 3 episodes while doing housework, highly recommended! Great stories.

    13. Tenebrae*

      Seconding Wolf 359. I’ll also recommend Ars Paradoxica, This Sounds Serious, The Six Disappearances of Ella McCray, The Bridge and The Message.

    14. Chiropteran of Concord*

      The Magnus Archives just ended, but it’s 200 episodes. I love it so much.

    15. Call me Cordelia*

      If you liked LimeTown you’ll love The Left Right Game! Tessa Thompson (the actress) is one of the producers and stars in it. The audio drama is so good and creepy but “resolved“ in one season. I found it Spotify and binged over three weeks. Highly recommend!

    16. Gingerblue*

      Other people have mentioned D&D podcasts; in that genre I’m extremely fond of The Adventure Zone. It takes some patience to get into as they figure out where they’re going with it, but their first long arc (TAZ Balance) turns into something really special and about as tightly plotted as collaborative storytelling can be. Their second major arc (TAZ Amnesty) is maybe an easier entry point and also very good. Balance is swords-and-wizards high fantasy (mostly, kind of, it’s complicated) and Amnesty is urban fantasy set in a small town in West Virginia.

      Depending on your taste in stories and what you mean by plot, you might enjoy The Hidden Almanac. HA episodes are only about 5 minutes long and are probably best thought of as microfiction? The format is that of a gardening and this-day-in-history podcast, except for a fantasy world. You get a lot of extremely short stories about, e.g., fictional saints and historical events, which often leave more of an impact than you might think the length would allow. The whole podcast also develops a larger overarching plot involving the narrator and his colleague, some of which I find deeply satisfying, but if you’re not enjoying the microfiction elements it’s probably not going to be what you’re looking for.

    17. KAZ2Y5*

      My tastes run to SciFi/Fantasy and Mystery, so feel free to skip if you don’t like those. Right now I am listening to Tomorrow’s Monsters (produced by and starring John Boyega). Marvel has 2 stories about Wolverine out (I forget the names but you can just search Marvel on your podcast app). “From Now” (SciFi), “Outpost” (a star trek story similar to DS9). This one is not finished but has approx 80 podcasts so far so you can get a lot of story here (they are still active).
      I realize these are all scifi. I have listened to a few mysteries also, but can’t find the names right now.
      You should be able to go into your podcast app and search for story podcasts. Mine actually has an option for fiction, but I have also found some in entertainment tabs and movie/tv tabs.
      If you are interested in audio books, check out your local library and see if they rent those. If so, they will have an app that you can use to play them. Good, free way to listen!

    18. More Pizza*


      “Selected Shorts, a weekly public radio broadcast, has a simple approach: great actors read great fiction in front of a live audience. The acclaimed national radio program can be heard on about 150 public radio stations, attracting over 300,000 listeners each week through the live show and podcast.”

      1. pancakes*

        Yes! I used to listen to this every week and somehow fell out of the habit, or into another. Off to check out the archives. It’s on TuneIn.

    19. More Pizza*

      “Selected Shorts, a weekly public radio broadcast, has a simple approach: great actors read great fiction in front of a live audience. The acclaimed national radio program can be heard on about 150 public radio stations, attracting over 300,000 listeners each week through the live show and podcast.”

    20. Patty Mayonnaise*

      I also loved Limetown and couldn’t get into Nightvale so we may have similar tastes! Homecoming is REALLY good (not as good as Limetown but up there). It was made into a TV show but I thought the podcast was better.

    21. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I seem to have lost my post so forgive me if this turns up after I retype. There’s a family of podcasts for short fiction in fantasy, sf, horror, and YA (young adult) — from one you can get to the others, and see a description of their selections. PodCastle, EscapePod, PseudoPod, and Cast of Wonders.
      It’s new fiction, sometimes by new authors, so take each story on its own. (My family’s personal favorites are still the “Squonk the Dragon” stories.)

    22. DJ Abbott*

      It’s not fiction, but Darkness Radio kept me awake and interested at a very boring data entry job. It’s paranormal investigators talking about their work. I learned a lot!

    23. Rusty Shackelford*

      Have you tried the other Night Vale podcasts? Within the Wires and Alice Isn’t Dead are both very good, and somewhat more plot-driven.

  2. joanie the baloney*

    What habits from the pandemic do you think you’ll stick with even after things are back more toward normal?

    It seems like a lot of people have stopped coloring their hair or let their grey grow out and plan to keep it that way. I’ve realized I don’t need a monthly pedicure, which until the shutdown I’d gotten for every month for probably 10 years. And honestly, if I can have it my way, I will be going to a lot fewer social events that I was only attending out of a sense of obligation. Anyone else have new habits they’re going to carry over?

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Yes. They shutdown vehical traffic for a few commerical blocks on a nearby street so the restaurants could spread out their outdoor tables. It was wonderful and I really hope they keep it up after the pandemic.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Masks on public transit! I haven’t had so much as a head cold since this all began, and that’s without social distancing or any sort of lockdown/closures/work from home, just lots of mask wearing. Locally, flu and enteroviruses are also at historic lows.

      1. traveler*

        It’s gotten pretty common in some countries that went through earlier influenza outbreaks to wear a mask when they have a cold. I’ve also seen people put on masks when there’s someone nearby sniffling without a mask, usually on public transit when you’re stuck being near them for a while.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Yeah, where I live it’s standard etiquette to wear masks in public when you’re sick. In winter, that’d be about 10% of people on the bus or subway. It went up to 90% at the start of the pandemic (completely voluntary) and is now 100% by law. But the health difference between when you know you’re sick, and everyone, turns out to be pretty significant.

    2. allathian*

      Probably fewer social events for me too. I’m especially planning on skipping most of the parties organized by my husband’s group of friends. Most of his friends are either married, or divorced and dating. I feel like I don’t have anything in common with their wives and girlfriends, and I’d prefer to spend what little energy I have for socializing on people whose company I actively enjoy rather than passively tolerate… I was definitely attending these out of a sense of obligation.

      I’m probably going to continue to WFH more than I did before the pandemic. Even then, our policy was pretty inclusive and most of my coworkers who had jobs that could be done from home, did work remotely at least occasionally. Before the pandemic, I worked at our dinner table with just my laptop screen, but when we got sent home, we set up a proper home office for me to work in, and I plan on continuing to use that even after the pandemic.

      I’ve grown my hair long because I haven’t had a haircut in 14 months. I do plan to get a haircut when I’ve been vaccinated, but for the foreseeable future I’m keeping it long enough to wear in a ponytail or a bun. I’d been wanting to grow my hair a bit longer for a while, because I was sick of the expense of getting a haircut every month to keep it looking reasonably nice. But that intermediate stage always put me off and had me running to the hairdresser, but WFH during Covid provided the perfect opportunity, so here I am.

      1. allathian*

        I definitely hope that stores and restaurants will keep providing sanitizer for customers. Sure, I’ll carry a mini-bottle with me just in case. I also hope that the plexiglass barriers will stay, they’ll give some protection even when masks are no longer necessary.

    3. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Don’t think this qualifies as a habit but—as much as I hate this pandemic—I do like how people keep their distance. Even coming from NYC, I’ve always hated people invading my space. Months before the pandemic I stopped taking the subway to avoid the crowds. I can’t wait to see my friends and hug them but strangers can stay away.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Also I have to admit that going to the DMV (3 trips this month between the 2 of us) has actually been a somewhat pleasant experience with only mandatory appointments. Both times I’ve been, I was in and out well under 2 hours and not 4-6 like I would have thought.

        1. Dwight Schrute*

          Yes! I’m loving the appointment only system at the DMV. I’ve gone twice and both times I was in and out in 15 minutes, usually leaving by the time my appointment was supposed to start since they had us get there early. It’s so nice to not wait in long lines

    4. matcha123*

      I started making daily checklists and keeping a notepad with me to jot down ideas. I will have an idea pop into my head while I’m trying to work or read a book, and I would end up dropping everything to look up…”How to keep cut avocados fresh,” or something like that.
      With a notepad by my side, I’ll write down my question and come back to it at a later point.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        I really like this idea too- I often get sucked down internet black holes because I just need to google *one* thing immediately when really, it’s not of imminent importance.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Aha! I am not the only one with a book of ‘tails’–“Think about it later, Silly!”

    5. Llama face!*

      I’m hoping I can keep my spending down and be more conscious of what happens to my discretionary money. Being on a government support limited budget has made me significantly more aware of how much extra cash I was just frittering away when I had my regular paycheque and when COVID wasn’t preventing me from shopping as entertainment or drinking coffee shop lattes almost every day.

      Also, I learned I could do a decent job of buzzing my own hair which I will keep doing myself when I’m not switching it up for a longer ‘do. The more complex haircuts will still be left to the experts of course.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        I knew before how much I was spending on breakfast/lunch at work but the pandemic has really highlighted HOW much and it’s truly embarrassing. Definitely a change when I return to the office.

        1. Liz*

          For me, not so much on food, but stuff. I have a bit of a shopping problem, hahaha. and I’ve come to realize that I do not need half of what I have. So really trying to curb my spending and shopping and pay my credit cards off. At the same time, I’ve gotten two pretty decent raises, and that, coupled with a promotion about 6 months prior to the pandemic start, my salary is now about 20% higher than it was then. So by spending less, and saving more, I’m pretty amazed at how my savings is growing!

    6. Cedrus Libani*

      Grocery delivery. Online game nights with friends who live far away. Possibly masks on public transit / airplanes, though I don’t hate colds enough to wear them full-time, and I don’t know how much it will help when I’m still exposed to a household’s worth of germs from other sources.

      But the MOMENT my long-postponed wedding is over, I’m getting a haircut. I want my pixie cut back. I started growing it out when I got engaged…nearly two years ago at this point…because everyone and their dog apparently has feelings about what a bride should look like. I’m done. I’ve threatened to bring clippers to the reception.

      1. Everdene*

        Do you have to meet those hair expectations? Would you enjoy the lead up and day of your wedding more if you had the hair you want? Will future you, looking at the photos, feel happier with the style you want or that you met external expectations?

        It might be that you also want to be a long haired bride, but remember this day is for you and your partner more than the rest of the world. It’s ok to do something that will make you more comfortable and happy.

        (An internet stranger who resisted a lot of expectations around my wedding, but ultimately on the day nobody minded/or said, in face some wished they had also pushed back on certain things.)

        1. IrishEm*

          Definitely agree with Everdene. My hair has gorwn to shoulder length because no salons since Dec 2019 (I usually get my hair done quarterly) and every time I talk about how unhappy I am with long hair there’s a chorus of “NOOOOOOOO! Don’t cut your hair!” And I am sick of keeping it long for others’ comfort at the cost of my own. If you want a sweet pixie cut then have a sweet pixie cut! You’ll see your wedding photos ten years down the line and you’ll think about how happy you were with your hair looking sweet and funky and short.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            I completely agree. I keep my hair the way I like it always. For me that’s a cut that reaches the middle of my neck, and I let it grow for about 3 months before the next cut.
            I’ve had people tell me I would look good in one of those very short haircuts that highlights cheekbones. No thank you! I like my fluffy, wavy hair and wouldn’t feel right without it.
            From time to time I’ve had people encourage me to grow it out… the times I’ve tried the wave pulled out and the frizz got worse, and it was a mess. No thanks!
            You should wear your hair the way *you* like it because it makes you feel good about yourself. Other people should respect that, no matter who you are.

      2. LDN Layabout*

        It’s up to you, of course…but do you want to look like yourself at your wedding or do you want to look like how everyone wants you to?

        Can you placate them with some really sparkly hair jewelry if you go short?

      3. The Cosmic Avenger*

        We live 5 minutes from 3 grocery stores, and 15-20 from our favorite, so I hope they all keep up curbside pickup! It’s liberating to pick out what we want at home, rather than wandering the store. Same with restaurants, I hope they keep up with online ordering, I don’t even mind masking up and running inside if I have to, but I **hate** talking on the phone, and I love getting an email that verifies the details of my order.

        I’ve also been online gaming, and Zooming with friends that I normally only see once or twice a year. I hope we can keep this up; as part of the generation that grew up without call waiting, much less cell phones, the habit just never stuck before, even though we were all on Facebook before 2010. Or maybe that’s why, we texted and stayed informed of what was going on in each others’ lives, but it’s no substitute for face-to-face conversation, even if it’s remote.

      4. Workerbee*

        They can have their feelings. You’re the one whose head it is, and the one who’ll be looking at those pictures ever after.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          Yep, this. Do you want to look at photos that look like you, or that look like someone other people wanted you to be?

          You’ll be gorgeous—and everyone will tell you so—no matter your hair length.

      5. Coenobita*

        Online game nights! I can see us keeping online game night as a thing even with local friends, because it’s just so much easier with everyone’s babies, pets, locations w/r/t transit or parking, etc.

        Also, you should cut your hair if you want to! Two years is TOO LONG. (When I got married in 2015, I grew my hair out “long” from a pixie cut to a not-quite-chin-length bob, which took basically no time at all. My mom hot-glued some rhinestones onto a plain black headband from the craft store and it rocked. This is just to say, if you are set on not having a pixie cut at your wedding for whatever reason, there’s a lot of space between pixie cut and, like, long flowing bride curls. Why not at least cut your hair medium-short in the meantime?)

      6. Voluptuousfire*

        Why not get it cut before then? Much easier to not have to worry about an updo falling out during the day.

      7. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I didn’t have a formal wedding, but I had short hair because that’s who I am. The few times I’ve let my hair grow even to shoulder length, I feel like an imposter and I HATE seeing pictures of myself that way. My hair’s on the thin side now and I don’t look like Dame Judi Dench, so I go with a very short simple bob instead of a pixie – and I cut it myself. I can’t do tidy layers, although I’ve managed a fun messy pixie in the past. I vote you go short and be YOU at your wedding and for all time!

      8. MF*

        While I agree with the other commentors that you should consider what makes you happy, have you thought about a wig or extensions for you wedding as a way to temporarily have longer hair?

    7. Retail Not Retail*

      I’ll wear a mask at work when I’m doing allergen-heavy work as long as it’s not too dang hot. I’ll also break it out for colds and cold sores (I had literally the easiest one I’ve ever had because it was protected and I couldn’t touch it!).

      One work habit I’ll definitely keep up is staying outside more often – I don’t want to sit in our tiny office for lunch in silence or trapped in a conversation. Even when it’s that dang hot, I just drink more water and go to the shade.

    8. Liz*

      Outdoor running. I used to run a lot but when I moved, I switched to the gym and bemoaned the fact that there wasn’t a scenic running spot near my new home (I used to live a 5 minute walk from one of the biggest urban nature reserves in northern Europe, so I was very lucky). The pandemic forced me look into some local alternatives when the gyms closed, and I found a good trail only a mile and a half from my new home, so I can drive there and do a nice little 3 mile loop before work. I will definitely be keeping that up.

      I’m also growing out 7 years worth of bleach blonde. I had a mid blond added to the roots during the summer reprieve from lockdown, so now I essentially have a “balayage” look going on. I think that’s the word? I’m getting used to it but I’m happy to leave it alone for now, and my friend who does my hair has said it actually looks good. Conversely, however, I have begun to contemplate visiting a beauty salon for the first time in my life once lockdown ends. This is not something I had considered until now but I guess lockdown has also made me think about new things I might like to try that I hadn’t given much thought.

    9. Jen*

      I started biking during the pandemic, as recovery from surgery. While it wasn’t directly related, the pandemic meant that I was able to work from home and spend an hour on my bike rather than commuting. It sounds like my company will implement hybrid work (2-3 days WFH per week), so I plan to continue!

      I’d also like the lack of social hugging and kissing to continue (I hate hugging people!), but I doubt it will.

      1. IrishEm*

        Good for you and your employer! That sounds awesome!

        Re: the hugging, I am extremely touch-averse and have literally 3 people that I will hug without qualm. I’m working on putting boundaries around hugs that may be pain/pandemic related but is really just to make my touch-averse self comfortable socially. Captain Awkward has some decent scripts but I think physically stepping back from an oncoming hug should get the message across without too much fuss.

        1. Not A Hugger Either*

          Putting your hand out to shake hands instead as they approach for a hug is a strategy I have used with much success. Unless you’re also averse to handshaking (I don’t like it much but in some cases it’s way better than a hug!)

          1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

            The EO where I worked would cheek-kiss the women at our length-of-service award dinners. I rebelled, apparently the first one ever, and stood back and stuck my paw out for a handshake as a glared into his eyes. It worked, but also put me on the permanent shit list.

        1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

          Oh no, they’ve regressed to the 1970s. Next they’ll be wearing platform shoes, polyester shirts with silkscreening, and thigh-hugging flair-bottom pants.

          Cue the disco sounds!

          (I started watching old tv shows on Youtube. Book ’em, Dano, I love Steve McGarrett!)

    10. IrishEm*

      I’m never going to stop masking when I leave the house. SUCH a relief not to have oul fellas telling me to “cheer up luv” or “giz a smile luv” and less hay-fever related sneezing messing up my back is a weird bonus.

      I was already particular about what events I went out to (yay chronic illness) but now? You’ll be lucky to get me out to things I actively want to attend. I’m hoping for a lot more livestreamed concerts to make shows accessible – my favourite concert venue has VERY limited wheelchair accessible seating but if they continue livestream concerts it means Mum can see them without worrying that someone who needs the spot more than her (she being a full-time wheelchair user somehow not needing a wheelchair accessible spot type of self-deprecation) won’t be deprived of shows she wants to see.

      Probably TMI but I will never wear a bra again – during the pandemic I discovered *why* they are so uncomfortable, in that I have 3 bulging discs in my spine right where the band sits which has meant that I have literally never felt good no matter how pretty they were. I am not going to make myself physically uncomfortable/actively in pain for society’s comfort again. Eff that noise.

      1. Generic Name*

        I started wearing bralettes and sports bras while at home and I unfortunately discovered that a “good supportive bra” really does help with breast pain associated with my menstrual cycle. :( I had resisted that remedy because I assumed it was nonsense from the patriarchy, but grandma was right.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Yes, I can’t go braless or in bralettes. I need some heavily engineered structure, otherwise I get back and shoulder pain, and a lot worse soreness right before the period.
          Side effects of a rather large size.
          So even at home on weekends I am in a bra.

        2. It's a fish, Al*

          I’ve gone the other way. I’ve only “had” to wear a bra a couple of days in the last year, and I will never go back to wearing one full time. Interestingly, I was working as an interim executive at a nonprofit, and I noticed that the bra wearing amongst female staff dropped below 100% while I was working there. Guess I wasn’t the only one looking for a reason to drop it from my wardrobe!

          1. Quiet Liberal*

            Me, too. I love going braless all day while WFH, however I once went out to do some research for a project and forgot to wear a bra. I was very self-conscious in just a t-shirt.

            1. DJ Abbott*

              That’s how I feel too. I’m small enough I might not need a bra for support but I’m too self-conscious to go without, especially since it could lead to even more of the wrong kind of attention from men.
              I also like that it makes me look a little more curvy and proportionate. :)

      2. Quinalla*

        I don’t know that I’ll go full braless, but I’m certainly going to “get away” with it as much as possible after COVID as for another thing I’m going to continue to WFH at least 3-4 days a week. I also want to keep being open when I choose about my home life. I always felt restrained about what I could talk about as a woman in a male dominated field – if I talked about my kids too much I could tell people were getting judgy thinking I wasn’t committed enough or something while when men talk about their kids or leave early to take them to practice or whatever, everyone’s reaction is just “Awe, what a great Dad!” With the pandemic, I’ve been forced to be completely transparent about what is going on with my kids and while I don’t want to keep going that far, it has been nice with everyone on the same page and expecting that transparency. Since I am in a senior position, I’d been trying to be more transparent anyway to set an example per-COVID, but now I’m going to fully embrace it.

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Grocery delivery. I was so bad at impulse buying and over-stocking just because something was on sale, switching to grocery delivery has reduced my grocery budget to half of what it was before even with generous tips.

      1. Voluptuousfire*

        Same! I’d rather do a large grocery delivery every few weeks than running to the supermarket every few days. I also like that one of the local grocery delivery chains has cases of my favorite seltzer and I don’t have to go to the store and heft it around. Delivery right to my front porch, please!

        I hated the grocery store. Moreso due to ill consideration of people not paying attention. Grocery delivery is a game changer

    12. The Other Dawn*

      Being forced to work from home this past year has finally allowed me to feel comfortable in public without makeup. I’d been considering not wearing it anymore for a couple years, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. I felt like I looked very washed out and my skin didn’t seem, to me, to look good enough to go without makeup. But having not worn it this past year, except for a couple special dinners out (birthday and anniversary) and my driver’s license renewal, has cured me of being self-conscious about it. I actually prefer no makeup now. I put some on a couple weeks ago and it just felt really heavy. But going without makeup has now made me realize I really need to start taking care of my skin, which I’ve started doing in the last several weeks. We got word we have to start returning to the office hybrid later this summer, so I’m hoping I still have the confidence to go to work without makeup.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        If you feel comfortable make-up free now, you can also explore products that are less heavy than traditional make-up if you don’t feel comfortable going fully face clean at work.

        I don’t wear make-up regularly at all any more, but for an interview or special occasions, I pull out a BB cream just to even my face out and concealer for my panda eyes. It’s a much quicker and less complex routine but is still a confidence boost.

        1. Drtheliz*

          Yep! A “just the eyes” makeup routine is a great way to look like you’ve “made an effort” without having to have a heavy face.

          (I almost never wear makeup, haven’t in more than a decade. The only concession I’ve made recently is a concealer stick because acne really “pops” on a video call).

      2. violet04*

        Same here! It didn’t feel like I was done getting ready unless I put on makeup. Now I’ve gotten used to my face without it.

        I put on makeup the other day and it felt a bit heavy. And then there was the whole process of taking it off at night.

        I’m never going back to the office and we don’t do video calls at work, so I won’t be wearing makeup very often.

      3. Texan In Exile*

        Yes. A co-worker and I were talking about how we want to normalize not wearing makeup. I don’t want to wear makeup anymore or getting manicures and pedicures or maybe even shaving our legs.

        But there is a price to be paid – women who do not put effort into their appearance suffer. In her (wonderful) book, Rage Bcomes Her, Soroya Chemaly cites a study that showed that women are rewarded for conforming to sexist appearance norms. The authors of the study found that for women, it’s not attractiveness that’s rewarded in the workplace, it’s effort.

        Few women, particularly those living in the United States or other industrialized countries, escape the press to be eternally dewy and lineless. Indeed, they are rewarded for conforming to standards, in other words, being “good.” According to a recent study in the journal of Research in Social Stratifications and Mobility, the more time and money a woman spends on grooming, the higher her salary at work, regardless of how well she rates on job performance. Prior theories have focused on the benefits of being attractive, but this study teased out the difference between attractiveness and investment in appearance. Researchers speculate that women who use makeup signal that they are responsive to social norms, gender stereotypes, and society’s greater propensity to police women’s behavior, “in ways that keep women distracted from really achieving power.”

        Here are the study highlights:

        * Physically attractive individuals have higher income than average individuals.
        * This relationship is reduced when controlling for grooming.
        * Surprisingly, the attractiveness premium does not vary by gender.
        * Grooming explains all the attractiveness premia for women, but only half for men.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          Ooops. “I don’t want to wear makeup anymore or getting manicures and pedicures or maybe even shaving our legs.”

          Yeah, I started in one place and ended up somewhere else. Oh well.

        2. Lizy*

          Ok but wearing make up and putting effort into one’s appearance are two very different things. I put effort into my appearance. I do NOT wear make up.

    13. GoryDetails*

      I do intend to keep up the masks-in-crowded-public-spaces and more-thorough-handwashing habits. And while it’ll be awesome to be able to visit restaurants with friends again, I’d like to keep up with the increased cooking-at-home habit, as well as better-planned supermarket visits. (I used to pop over to the store multiple times a week; have set that back to once every two weeks or longer. It helps my budget and my meal-planning when I know I won’t be hitting the store again for a while.)

    14. Jay*

      Making my bed. Seriously. I never did before. My study is adjacent to our bedroom so the en suite is the most convenient bathroom when I’m working in there. When we started WFH in March, I was in and out of the bedroom all day and the unmade bed started to bug me, so I started making it. I’m back to my regular schedule now and I’m still making the bed.

      Using cloth napkins. In the beginning when toilet paper and paper towels were in short supply, we thought paper napkins might be next and shifted to cloth. We have lots of them. Now we keep the cloth napkins on the table and the paper napkins in the closet.

      1. Yellow Warbler*

        I throw my covers all the way back when I get up. The idea that tucking in the night’s sweat and odors to fester is the “correct” way to housekeep grosses me out. Unmade beds forever.

        1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          Same here, I don’t want night nasties trapped in the bed. Of course, only the dog farts.

        2. allathian*

          Same here. Although in my case it’s the luxury of having a separate bedroom I don’t use as an office. When I lived in a small apartment where the bed was in my living room, I made it every day. I wouldn’t want to look at an unmade bed all day.

    15. Ali G*

      At the end of last summer when it became apparent we weren’t going back to “normal” any time soon Hubs and I had to come to grips with our lifestyle. Being home all the time, we treated every night like Saturday night. We were overweight and constantly hungover.
      So we started a 12 week diet and exercise plan that ended just before our Holiday staycation. I lost 15 lbs and him like 30+. The takeaways from that are:
      Fasted cardio first thing AM as many mornings as possible
      I prep our breakfast, lunch and dinner proteins and cooked veg on Sunday and we eat only on-plan Mon-Fri lunch. I used to prep us breakfast and lunch, and try to cook dinner at least 4 times a week. This is minimal extra prep on Sunday and frees me up weeknights. So it’s got 2 things going for it – keeps us on plan and less work for me. And I enjoy the other meals I do cook on weekends.
      I will also keep doing grocery pick up. I still do my own shopping when it’s something special and I want to weigh options, but I pretty much have a standard Friday pick up and it works out great.

    16. Oxford Comma*

      I am planning on wearing masks during cold and flu season. I like having things delivered. And probably to be honest, fewer social events where everything is packed like street festivals. I hated those before Covid and now I just don’t think I can deal with them anymore.

    17. RussianInTexas*

      Walking around the neighborhood more. My town has lovely trails and parks.
      Otherwise I can’t wait to get back to restaurant lunches, dinners, pub quiz, going to people houses, etc. Apparently I am a lot less introverted than I thought I was. And love restaurants and friends parties a lot more than I thought. Healthier breakfasts.
      Got a pedicure two weeks ago for the first time in two years and it was heavenly. Next – haircut and color. And I want to start using my pretty makeup that I love and wear nice clothes and shoes again.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        It’s now possible to eat and drink on terraces where I live, but the weather has been horrible.

        There is a cat cafe, which has been unable to open, but the cats are still in the window. Two of them were having a boxing match when I went past.

    18. Elle Woods*

      Meal planning is the big one for me. I spend an hour or so on Sunday morning planning out meals for the week and then head to the store to get what I need. It’s saved me $$$ in a big way as it’s cut down on my trips to the store. It’s also helped me stay focused during the day because I no longer have the “what shall I make for dinner tonight?” thoughts popping up.

    19. Might Be Spam*

      Zoom family dinners turned out to be a great idea. I get to see my kids more often, as some live out of my state. I wish we started this years ago. I’ve noticed that our celebrations are getting progressively less elaborate. At first, we all used the good china and coordinated menus. This Easter we ate leftovers. I still won on points though, because I melted cheese on my burrito and drank my diet soda from a wine glass.

      It was fun and our sessions are getting longer. We planned for 2 hours, and ended up spending almost four hours together. We are all introverts and I wonder if it has been helpful to know that it easier to escape from the zoom session than from a live event. We spend longer times together online than in person. It’s also been easier to discuss difficult topics.

      I’m keeping the mask habit, too. My allergies bother me so much less and I haven’t caught a cold since we started wearing masks.

    20. RagingADHD*

      After waaaay too much doomscrolling, I gave up Facebook and Twitter. When I need to do some book promo, I’ll go through Hootsuite or something.

      So much better without.

      1. Pam Adams*

        Yes- I gave up FB. I still do Twitter, but only go on once per day to see what people I follow- mostly writers- are talking about.

      2. The Dude Abides*

        Seconding, I ended up giving up Reddit. Gave up FB when my daughter was born (surprisingly painless despite having almost 15 years invested), but Reddit just became a cesspool of doomscrolling for me.

    21. Overeducated*

      I hope frequent telework! Commuting for my particular job just seems dumb now. Curbside grocery pickup. Online game nights and drop in Zoom brunches with relatives. I am also enjoying my first rpg!

      In general, I just like the sense of not being overscheduled. Working with small kids is exhausting enough. Fewer commitments is nice.

    22. I take tea*

      Online meetings for the different boards I’m on. It’s been much easier to find a suitable time for the necessary meetings when they are online, and it saves so much time on the travelling.

    23. Elizabeth West*

      Definitely wearing a mask if I’m feeling at all under the weather, or on public transport. I don’t care if anyone looks at me funny. Also, not bothering with makeup on weekends unless I’m going to an actual thing. I used to put some on if I went out at all.

      Other than that, everything will probably go back to normal.

    24. llamaswithouthats*

      In a similar vein, going to the hair salon and wearing makeup. I actually don’t enjoy those things that much. I will probably get a haircut when I get vaccinated because it will be almost 2 years, but I won’t bother getting it styled or anything. I WILL continue grocery deliveries. I don’t miss going to the grocery store.

      1. llamaswithouthats*

        Oh and leisurely walks! I only started doing this during the pandemic but definitely want to continue.

    25. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Now that I think of it:

      Not going to the mall as often.

      I got done with work a little early so I went to the mall to have a security tag removed from an outfit we bought for baby.

      It was so damn crowded, like it was 2019. We’ve gone to the mall a few times mainly to just get out of the house but always on a weekday so it wasn’t crowded. I dunno what it was, the crowds, the temperature or what but I was feeling very prickly and wanted to get out ASAP.

      Hopefully this is something that can stick, retail therapy/shopping addiction was a thing for me and suddenly being in quarantine without an income made that go away. It was a huge struggle and hoping I don’t fall down that bad path again.

    26. Anonnington*

      It made me rethink my social life and the way it fits into the rest of my life. I’m going to make friends in new and different ways post-pandemic.

    27. Aphrodite*

      Interesting question!

      When the pandemic really took hold, in March 2020, I was living in interim housing and had been since late August 2019. (In fact, I just bought my first place in December last year and because of necessary renovations didn’t move in until March 18 of this year.) So habits I might have picked up or changes that might have happened during those 18 months of living in a furnished studio didn’t happen.

      That said, now that I have nearly completed my move-in, I have begun to learn to re-cook. Using nothing but a microwave for a long stretch really put my culinary, and dishwashing, skills on hold so it all feels so new, weird and not yet comfortable. I am now living with my own possessions–books, art, furniture, and more–that is still new to me, and I am re-establishing my beloved relationships with them. (The reason I paid to put them in climate-controlled storage is because they are very beloved. But our “separation” needs rekindling and, thankfully, that is happening. Some things have gone out but most everything else is bringing me back the joy it brought into my life previously.

    28. KR*

      I want to keep wearing a mask out and about if I’m feeling under the weather at all, whereas in the US it was unusual to wear a mask if you didn’t have cancer or some other serious illness that meant you shouldn’t get sick. It makes me feel better as someone with semi-frequent respiratory stuff happening and like I won’t be potentially getting people sick with the smokers cough that I tend to get every time I get sick.

      1. KR*

        Also, I hope working from home becomes more widely accepted by companies. I love being at home with my dogs all day. Another thing is how every restaurant offers takeout. I love eating in restaurants but it’s so nice to get take-out and either eat at home, or find a nice spot to park and eat on the tail gate.

    29. Anonymous for this Post*

      Hoping for way less pressure to socialize than before the pandemic. I am a true introvert and do not like to waste my time on stuff I’m not interested in. I hate attending functions just for the sake of attending. I have my circle of people and am looking forward to spending time with them again, just not events where it doesn’t matter if I’m there or not. I absolutely hate having to show up for a marketing luncheon and try to make small talk, let alone try to get someone’s business. I leave that to true marketers. I am soooooo grateful my job is 100% WFH. I read a great article just yesterday that describes me to a T. Here’s the link.


  3. Laura H.*

    Little Joys thread. What has brought you joy this week?

    I got my first Covid shot this week and the vaccination location was really well handled! Easter dinner also went well and I did end up getting to attend all three parts of the Easter Triduum.

    Please share your joys.

    1. Llama face!*

      I transplanted a chunk of an established chive plant from my parents’ house to my place last summer and then there was a tragic lawnmower incident* only days after I planted it. It didn’t grow back too well after that. But… I just noticed today that two shoots have come up where it was planted. I think it may be resurrecting! :D

      *Somehow my elderly landlord mistook it for a patch of overgrown grass.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Chives are remarkably robust; some of mine have survived extremes of weather and significant garden-neglect on my part, and are still popping up. (I never gave chives much respect as a food item when I was young, but I’ve come to appreciate them for their lovely – and edible! – flowers as well as for the zip they add to food and salads.)

        1. Ali G*

          Oh yeah, I have a pot of chives I planted 4+ years ago that are basically annuals. They pop up every year!

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      My daughter has started playing in her cot when she wakes up in the morning/after naps instead of calling for us immediately.

      It is just the most delightful thing to be tidying the kitchen and then suddenly hear her chatting away to her stuffed monkey in the monitor. Yesterday I poked my head in and she had managed to grab a book from the windowsill and was “reading” it to her monkey. I’m really glad she’s developing a lively internal world.

    3. IrishEm*

      I got my confirmation from the courts that I am officially excused from jury service this time. I’m high risk but apparently at the bottom of the list to get the jab(s) and going to the courts in Covid Central is not for me. I do want to perform my civic duty, just… not in a pandemic where I could literally die.

    4. Jo*

      I definitely thought of something during the week but cant remember what it is now, so instead top of my mind is finding some quite hilarious clips on TikTok last night which made me laugh a lot. People are genuinely hilarious, and for all its ills, social media has definitely brought a level of accessibility to some things that didnt exist before and I, for one, am glad that people love to share their hilariousness with the world.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I posted below, but I got news yesterday that a surprise medical bill was reduced drastically. On top of that, I had to bring my car in for service (check engine light) and $3,000 worth of repairs will be free. Turns out I have extended emissions coverage for the car, which I’d completely forgotten about. :)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Isn’t that just a wonderful feeling when the warranty pays off?! I once had a car with weird electrical problems covered by the warranty. I didn’t even have to learn the total, because it was their issue not mine.

    6. nep*

      Got to hang with the little one on Easter and on her birthday a few days later.
      Heaven on earth.

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      The daffodils, hyacinths, lungwort, and hellebores are all in full bloom and looking gorgeous! There are green shoots all over the herb garden, and the trees and shrubs are budding. I love seeing the new growth every day!

    8. GoryDetails*

      Spotted a cute license plate today: “PFFFFFT”

      No idea if it was meant as a kind of “meh” to the world, or as the sound a cat makes when it wants you to back off, but either way it made me smile.

      1. Voluptuousfire*

        There’s a Plummer who owns a car with the license plate of “PLUMMAHH.” He does well since it’s a red Mercedes. LOL

    9. the cat's ass*

      My daughter had spring break this past week and i also took it off. SO nice to not get up at 345am. I mean, i still woke up but i rolled over and went back to sleep for a few more hours.

      My hubs got Phizer (sic) #1 on Wed and daughter is scheduled for the same next week.

      Did some direly needed cleaning and reorganizing but also did some family day trips here and there, all safe and masked and socially distanced. Hubs realized that he hadn’t driven a car on the freeway for THIRTEEN MONTHS>

    10. OyHiOh*

      My state opened COVID vaccinations to all 16+ last week. Every pharmacy within 50 miles of me immediately filled all shot appointment slots. The public mass site is being run by one of the health care conglomerates: Getting an appointment there first requires establishing a patient portal and if you’re not already a patient in their system, this can take up to three weeks. Spent the first part of the week getting on every possible “left over doses at end of day” list I possibly could, as well as doing the initial leg work for the mass vaccination site.

      And then Thursday, sat down to my work email to find a request for volunteers + plus flyer for a shot clinic next week. Miraculously, many appointments still available. I get mine next Friday morning. So happy to have this scheduled!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am disgusted by what I am seeing around me in terms of how difficult this is to do and how it is practically inaccessible to some groups of people, especially the poor and the elderly.

        1. Pippa K*

          And the randomness! Our county set up a sign up form a couple of months ago for people willing to get the vaccine when it became available, but also told people to sign up with individual local providers – a couple of pharmacies, two local health clinics, etc., all with their own lists, accessible to different people (patients, county residents, anyone) in different ways (phone, email, knowing a guy – it was all very opaque).

          And now the county is complaining that when they try to schedule appointments from their list, some people have already got the jab elsewhere, so it’s hard to fill appointments efficiently and there’s a lot of duplicate calling, etc. Well yeah, this is what you told us to do, and it’s the inevitable consequence of not having a centralised, accessible distribution system. Everyone’s exasperated.

        2. Quiet Liberal*

          I completely agree. My elderly mother had to sit online for a couple of hours every day for about three weeks to try to get an appointment, with no luck. Her doctor finally called her with info that a private clinic had doses and would she like one. How do people without such luck get their shot?

      2. Max Kitty*

        OyHiOh, from some of your past posts, I believe you’re in my state. Are you sure you need a patient portal for the mass vax sites? I’ve been looking for appointments for folks at mass vax sites and have never used a patient portal, just gone through the “drive up clinic” section of the conglomerate’s web site. It looks like there are appointments available for Pfizer at the State Fairgrounds site today and the rest of this week, if you don’t want to wait for Friday morning.

        1. OyHiOh*

          The mass site is run by CenturaHealth. When I went to register last weekend, I got the 1 – 3 weeks to establish a patient portal, after which you can make an appointment song an dance. It may have changed since I went in last Friday. I’ll check again!

          1. Max Kitty*

            On the Centura page, below the state-specific information (where it talks about the patient portal), there is a section for “drive-up vaccination events.” Click “learn more” and it will take you to drive-up vaccine scheduling.

            I saw on the news that FEMA is going to be taking over that site this week.

            1. Max Kitty*

              The vaccine site, not Centura’s website. :)

              The press release announcing the FEMA takeover still directs people to Centura’s website to sign up, though.

    11. WorkNowPaintLater*

      Came into work yesterday to find a Caramel Macchiato waiting for me at my desk – Boss said was ‘because it’s Friday’.

    12. RagingADHD*

      We were able to have Easter dinner with my dad and stepmom, who are 80+ and fully vaxxed. Hugs!

    13. Might Be Spam*

      My mother gave me a liverwurst for Easter. I’m the only one who shares her love of liverwurst. I couldn’t wait to get it home. Joy! I have a fresh loaf of bread! Fear! I can’t find the new jar of pickles. Resignation! I’ll have to go to the store for pickles. Renewed Joy! I found the pickles! Contentment! Liverwurst sandwich lives up to expectations. Followed by another sandwich and a nap. Life Is Good.

    14. Voluptuousfire*

      Got out today! Got a hair cut and went to the local mall to return a shirt. I was quick but I felt really good doing something more usual.

      Also getting a bike delivered on Tuesday! My work upped their wellness allowance and I kept saying to myself “I need to get a bike” since there’s a new park with bike paths near my house. I had originally given myself a week to research and pick one out, but I weighed myself and saw the number on the scale and said “nope. Bike gets ordered tonight”

      I like the fact that I can ride my bike to the supermarket or Target to pick up a few things outside of driving. I even plan on riding my bike for my doctors appointments at the end of the month, weather permitting.

    15. Elizabeth West*

      Yay! I just got my COVID shot #1 today! \0/

      Something that made me happy: the aux cable in my car was bad and I knew this was probably contributing to not being able to play music from my phone in the car without massive interference. But I also thought my speakers were going bad. Obviously, that is much more expensive to replace, and I’d resigned myself to quiet car rides.

      Today, I stopped by Walmart and got a new cheapo aux cable and . . . my speakers are just fine. I can have music again!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh, I forgot to post this last time, but I got one of those Dash egg cookers at Target (it was on sale). I LOVE it! The little song that plays when it’s done is kind of loud, but that just means I can hear it from the other room. :)

    16. Intermittent Introvert*

      Discovered a migratory bird refuge about an hour from home. Saw 2 different kinds of cranes, cormorants, ducks, pelicans, and some bright colored birds I don’t know – one red, one yellow.

    17. Potatoes gonna potate*

      The daily “hugs” and giggles and coos I get to hear from baby potato. she says mamammama and dadada.

      Also, I started working again, part time and fingers crossed so far so good.

    18. allathian*

      My son walked 15 km (nearly 10 miles) with his father for a sponsored walk organized by his school. All the kids were supposed to walk with a parent or other adult. I’m so proud of him!

    19. WoodswomanWrites*

      I discovered videos of performances by a favorite singer/songwriter (Claudia Schmidt formerly based in the Midwest, now in Connecticut) whose many LPs I listened to over and over. It’s been wonderful to rediscover not only her early live and recorded songs but that during the pandemic she’s been sharing a set every Wednesday night on YouTube. So wonderful to reconnect with her older songs and hear her new ones.

    20. Seeking Second Childhood*

      He came and checked out a tree while we were having dinner on the patio. I squealed and ran for my glasses. So so beautiful.

      1. Clisby*

        I’ve seen one of those only once, and I’m 67. Years ago, I was visiting my parents and saw a BIG bird swoop down into the back yard. I was like, WTH is that? Fortunately, it remained still long enough for me to realize what it was.

    21. Quinalla*

      My last immediate adult family member got their vaccine appointment! Some are already fully vaccinated, but most of us are in process and my oldest brother and his wife finally were able to snag appointments.

  4. tangerineRose*

    I’ve been thinking about maybe replacing the carpet in my house with something that’s easier to clean, maybe something that looks like hardwood floors but is much cheaper. I don’t want to do anything that would reduce the house’s value though. I’ve got kitties, and they sometimes scratch the carpet and sometimes throw up, so vinyl or something is beginning to seem very appealing. Suggestions?

    1. Nela*

      Vinyl or laminate, whichever you like better! Not sure what other suggestions you were looking for, but I’ve always replaced carpets and tiles with laminate. (I still have tiles in the kitchen/dining/living room and I can’t wait to cover up those as well.

    2. someone*

      There’s some really nice looking vinyls/laminates now. My friend installed a wood grain one in their kitchen area and it’s held up pretty well to a toddler and dogs. Has a nice texture so it’s not slippery and not shiny.

    3. IrishEm*

      My cousin was able to install his own laminate floors in his house and then lay down mats/rugs where needed (e.g. living room, runner in the hall, etc.) for relatively low cost.

    4. WS*

      I have boards but they’re a thin surface of boards installed over concrete, not real floorboards. They stand up well to cats and cat vomit! In my previous house I had wood-like vinyl which was great. Much better quality and apperance than you’d think of with the word “vinyl”.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      We have a whole herd of cats and have vinyl plank flooring. It’s really easy to install, looks good, and wears well. All of ours are the wood grain. Wasn’t expensive, either.

    6. Green great dragon*

      Oak laminate for me. Dropping an iron point down on it will damage it, but it seems to stand up to anything short of that.

    7. Sooda Nym*

      Luxury vinyl tile (aka luxury vinyl plank). Might be more expensive than you want, but looks great, holds up really well, and even feels nice on bare feet. Also, fairly straightforward install, so if you can diy at all, you can save money there. We were able to buy a steeply discounted pallet of tiles at a flooring store and my husband did the install.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        +1 on the LVP. We put it in living room here (after replacing the carpet and less than 2 years later, doggies had again made the replacement beyond cleaning. ) 3 years after that, replaced all of the bedroom carpet with the newer LVP, and it is MUCH nicer.
        Two good resources – Houzz (lots of discussion) and YouTube – some reviews and how to.

        NOTE – a flooring contractor friend gave me a great hint, which worked – after the old carpet is pulled out, vacuum/ scrub/ dry and then roll on “odor control KILZ” primer on the floor and let it dry. between the horrible personal accident an elderly family member had (that ran into the subfloor) and what turns out to have been some former inhabitant’s dogs favorite corner – I was SO glad I did it. Not cheap, but so, so worth it. Entire house is much better. (There was no hardwood under the carpet – carpet pad, and subfloor…)

        I think that hint may be useful for more than LVP…

    8. RussianInTexas*

      If you are in a hot climate, like in the South, there is a huge tile selection nowadays. Any shape, color, finish you want. And it stays cooler than carpet.

    9. Texan In Exile*

      Don’t worry – your cats will still find carpeted surfaces for vomiting. Our house has 99% wood, tile, and concrete flooring, but the cats scratch and vomit only on the one percent of the floor that is covered with the rugs we brought from Morocco.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I’ll plan to buy inexpensive throw rugs that can go in the wash. I’ve got some now, and yeah, they do seen to need to be washed more than one would think.

      2. pancakes*

        Same here, but the rugs are Tibetan. In a recent thread here someone said cats like to throw up on rugs or bedding because their paws and claws get a better grip vs. hard surfaces. It makes so much sense!

    10. tangerineRose*

      I get headaches from the new carpet smell, and I’m concerned that new vinyl/etc. flooring might have that kind of smell too.

      1. Janne*

        I put laminate in my house when I moved into it 1.5 years ago, and it didn’t smell of anything. It actually smelled better in here because the floor underneath it did have a bit of a smell and the laminate blocked that out.
        If you go for laminate, you might want to look for the kind that is suitable for commercial use. (At least that’s how it’s called in my country, the Netherlands.) It can stand more wear and is more waterproof. The laminate is laid through into my kitchen, so I paid a bit more to have the more durable type just to be sure that it would hold up and it is doing very well.
        You cannot clean laminate with a steam cleaner, it’s not that waterproof. You can mop it though.

      2. Quinalla*

        It may have a smell, but it won’t be as lingering as the new carpet smell which can last a long time.

    11. More Pizza*

      I do not recommend vinyl or cheap laminate. Save up if you have to but pay more for good quality laminate so you don’t have to keep re-doing your floors.

      1. allathian*

        We have laminate in most of our rooms and tile in the kitchen, utility room, and bathrooms. We redid our upstairs office with vinyl, which was actually more expensive per square foot than the laminate had been. But it’s commercial quality and can tolerate the stress of office chairs on casters much better. I have a very sensitive nose but ours didn’t smell much even when we put it on the floor two years ago and now there’s no smell.

  5. Detective Rosa Diaz*

    So, my bid on a lovely house (with a small yard!) closer to work and friends was accepted. Now on to the task of selling this one. It is a huge seller’s market so I am considering doing it myself, and saying a good 5 grand on realtor’s fees.

    Anyone here have any experience selling a house? Any non-country specific tips and tricks? Or dire warnings?

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        Have you? What kind of things go wrong in those cases? Here it seems a pretty straightforward case of a notary helping you get the necessary documents and getting everything in writing (bids etc).

        1. Juniper*

          Well, a realtor is essentially a go-between if things go wrong. Buyers aren’t always reliable, and you may not be aware of important details that need to be disclosed. What zoning or usage laws come into play? Are there municipal utilities that will impact the house (like a sewer replacement project)? Do you have to worry about that neighbor that plays music too loud? You have to be 100% sure of the information you provide about the house. Most houses these days have gone through several rounds of some type of renovation and have minor issues. A realtor will know what is a big deal, what isn’t, and what needs to be disclosed. And if there is a mistake made, they have the insurance to protect themselves. You likely wouldn’t. Of course, many people successfully sell their house on their own. But for 5 grand as a first-time seller I’m not sure I’d risk it.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I agree. I absolutely would not go the route DIY selling. I don’t personally know any horror stories, but having bought a couple houses and sold one, I can see all the ways it can go wrong. There’s just too much to think about (lots of legal stuff that’s required) and I don’t think it’s worth the hassle for saving the realtor’s fees. They get that fee for a reason and their fee is worth saving yourself all the headaches and potential legal issues that might come up.

      3. Venus*

        Agreed but there are a lot of options compared to previous decades. I would ask around for agents that focus on the paperwork for a set fee or lower percentage.

        1. Quinalla*

          Yes, I think this might be a good compromise, one that does a lower fee and just handles the paper work/legal side, but you are the one doing the marketing. That’s the bare minimum I would be comfortable with personally when selling a house. I don’t want to get in legal trouble and not have a professional backing me up.

      4. Tib*

        A good realtor is worth their weight in gold plus twice their commission. You’d think this would be the best time to skip the realtor but a polished property will sell faster and for more than one that’s thrown at the market haphazardly. A realtor can assess your property and tell you what to fix now, how to clean and stage it, which buyers to take seriously and which offers are the best. They have a whole marketing arm and word of mouth recommendations they can use to sell your house. They know the market and the existing stock and can help you set a good price. They’ll guide you through the paperwork so all you have to do is show up and sign. They can recommend good, trustworthy contractors. You can research and learn all of this, but you’ll be spending a lot of time, money, and opportunity costs on learning things you may never use again and you’ll pay the price for your mistakes.

        Make sure the photos are really good. The photographer our realtor used was an absolute pro and he said some realtors just use cell phone pictures. The rooms looked huge, clean and bright. Get the windows professionally washed. If you decide to skip the realtor, absolutely hire a real estate lawyer for the closing.

    1. Juniper*

      Congratulations! Not too many warnings when it comes to selling, but staging is really important (at least where I live). There are a ton of cheap things you can do to de-personalize your home in a way that gives it broader appeal and makes it more attractive to a potential buyer. Minimalize and de-clutter, consider painting some soft grays and neutrals (and I say this as someone who hates gray and loves color), buy some more plants, and add some thoughtful decorative items. I also wouldn’t spend much money on anything cosmetic — don’t re-tile the bathroom, for example. If this is your first time selling, I might rethink not having a realtor. They are better able to anticipate potential roadblocks, can advise on what should reasonably be done before you sell, and can market your house in a way that gives it much more traction, even if it is a seller’s market. Our realtor was also a valuable guide when it came to the bidding process and what offer to accept. Good luck!

    2. Julkaco*

      A Realtor will check out buyers for you, and make sure they aren’t wasting your time. They provide the purchase agreement and related paperwork (but won’t supply those to someone not using their services). They also have access to a marketing network that you won’t have.

      If you do decide to go For Sale By Owner (FSBO), please work with a local title company. They’ll know specifics of the area and will guide you through the closing process. Some title companies will provide a generic purchase agreement, others won’t. If you use the internet to find a purchase agreement, read it very carefully to make sure it says what you want; there’s all kinds out there and a contract, once signed, can be hard to get out of.

      Disclosure – I am a title examiner. I work for a title company researching property histories looking for outstanding interests, old liens, easements, anything that might affect the sale or need to be cleared up before closing. Basically making sure that you are passing on clear title to your buyer.

      Obviously I have no idea how much you know about real estate, so this isn’t directed at you specifically, but the worst files I’ve worked on usually have a transaction in the history where someone tried to save money by not using a Realtor or lawyer or title company, and they missed something, prepared the deed incorrectly, etc. It can cost more to fix these errors than it would have to just pay the closing fee and owner’s policy premium.

      Besides, if you do it all yourself and something goes wrong, it’s all on you. If you have a title company involved and something goes wrong, it falls back on them.

      Good luck!

    3. Grim*

      Neighbors across the street sold his house without a realtor and saved $30K. He had a real estate attorney help with the paperwork and he advertised it using social media.

      His biggest problem were the daily calls he got from realtors trying to convince him that he’d never sell his house without their help. It sold within weeks and closed within 30 days.

      1. Clisby*

        I was about to chime in that hiring a real estate attorney can be a good alternative to a realtor, especially if you live in an area where demand way exceeds supply, so there’s no lack of potential buyers. I would never try to sell on my own without solid legal advice. (I’ve never personally gone this route since my husband and I have sold only one house, but I have known other people who did and said it really saved them money.)

    4. Ali G*

      I used Redfin a number of years ago to sell my condo. It was a very good experience. I also live in an area where it’s not “hard” to sell, but having a realtor to do all the work, and coordinate closing, etc. is necessary, IMO. They charged 1.5% or $5500 whichever is higher.

    5. Generic Name*

      I’ve sold 2 houses using an agent, and I absolutely would go with a professional agent. Unless you are a contract expert, know real estate law inside and out, and have time to manage the marketing and showings for your house, I think the risks are too high. Also consider carrying costs. You now have two mortgages. How long can you sustainably pay both? How many months would it take for your house to sit unsold for you to eat up the $5k in savings you’re hoping for. Also consider what will happen if a deal goes south. I personally would worry about being taken advantage of due to my lack of knowledge of real estate law. I also know that some agents refuse to show “for sale by owner” (or fsbo) houses, for whatever reason.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I’ve sold 2 homes and would not even consider FSBO. A good realtor who specializes in your neighborhood will sell it faster, and for a higher asking price that more than offsets the commission.

      They can give you good advice about low-effort curb appeal and staging that will draw more buyers and set higher price expectations. If repairs or painting are needed, they usually have contacts who are vetted and will give a fair price.

      They also deal with all the hassle of arranging viewings, fielding offers, organizing paperwork, making sure of legal compliance, negotiating the contract (like what repairs are included, what appliances or interior features are included) setting up escrow and closing, etc etc.

      As long as you pick a realtor who has good word of mouth recommendations, you will come out ahead in every way.

    7. Not trying to be rude, just good at it*

      A very good friend of mine who is a realtor with 100 million in sales yearly ( yeah, he’s loaded and I’m jealous ) repeatedly reminds me that selling is easy. Getting the money to the table is the hard part. That is why he is worth his weight in plywood (which at today’s prices is more expensive than gold).

      Unless you don’t need the money quickly, get a good professional to work with you.

  6. Jessi*

    Has anyone here moved to the cayman islands and has any advice for me? Im considering it as the next step. I would want to take my partner with me but I’m not sure about what I don’t know, if thats makes sense, or what I need to be asking about in order to ensure its the right step for us

    1. StellaBella*

      My colleagues lived and worked in Caymans. Do you have the right passport and visa? Work visa? Enough savings, it is costly for food and housing. Are they letting people in yet? Vaccines? Research movers too it is quite costly to ship stuff.

      1. Jessi*

        Ironically my partner works for a moving company! So thats actually the one thing I won’t need to worry about.

        I was under the impression that the job I get will need to supply the work visa (and its associated costs) but thats why I was hoping to hear from people who have done the process

    2. allathian*

      Make sure you can deal with the hot and humid climate. A coworker of mine took a year’s sabbatical from work because her husband got a really lucrative contract for a year (his salary in the Caymans was more than their combined salary at home, and that’s not counting the far lower tax rate). He loved it, but she said she hated being a housewife and had problems getting used to the climate. They had three children they enrolled in a local school, the two teenagers did well, but their elementary-age youngest didn’t know any English at first and stopped talking, in any language. When that had continued for a few months, my coworker and the youngest kid returned home while the two older ones remained with their dad. As soon as they stepped off the plane, the kid started talking again.

  7. Julia*

    This photo reminded me of how my family would accidentally step on our cat because she was blending in with the rug so well. It’s been 9 years since she moved on to kitty heaven this month, and I still miss her sometimes.

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I too had a dangerous cat/rug combination. We also felt so bad when we tripped over her, but she never learned not to sit in the most highly-trafficked area. She passed on 2 1/2 years ago, and I will always miss her (she was a great cat and I had her from 9 weeks until she passed away at just over 22 years).

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      My black cat meows any time we walk past him in the dark after a few too many incidents of getting sat on

  8. Parental narrator*

    Is it ok to ever use descriptors about people to a child these days? And if so, which words should you use?

    What I mean is, when you “narrate” life to a baby or toddler, you would usually talk about the world and people around them. For example “these bananas are yellow” and “that dog is very fluffy” etc. Before I had a child, I was conscious of people extending this to talking about the people they interact with, such as “that nice lady is smiling at you” or “that big boy has a red bicycle”. Now I have a baby of my own, I’m a bit worried about whether there is language I should avoid or even if I should not speak in this way at all. Some people might not like to be referred to as arbitrary binary gender and I’ve heard people say they feel old if they’re called lady rather than girl.

    What do you all think? Have you ever been bothered by this sort of parental narration, particularly if you are non-binary, trans or otherwise “othered” by society (wheelchair users, facial difference etc). Is there language you would like to see used?

    1. c-*

      Queer here! Great question :)
      Well, you see, many people use their outward expression to signal gender as understood by their society, so it is not inherently offensive to assume that someone wearing their chest flat, facial hair, short hair, no jewelry, straight-cut jeans and a white t-shirt uses he/him (unless you’re in a context where those rules don’t apply, such as queer spaces). What you need to keep in mind is that nb people exist and to adjust pronouns immediately if you get corrected.

      That said, I believe everyone benefits from acknowledging gender diversity, so if you could include terms like “kid”, “child”, “teenager”, “parent”, “adult”, and “person” as the go-to in your descriptions, that’d be great for your baby. As long as you’re not deliberately rude (i.e. don’t insult people, don’t disparage people’s bodies or clothes), I don’t think anyone will mind.

      1. IrishEm*

        This! I’m still exploring my gender and I present very feminine because I was afab and literally only began questioning it during lockdown. I’m starting to get really annoyed by media using “men and women” when “people” is right there and also inclusive.

        As long as you are being descriptive without judgement I think you should be okay. Might be worth looking for baba-friendly books about and by queer ppl (if any exist, no babas in the IrishEm fam so I have no idea).

        There’s also the option of, if someone is gnc describing them by their height/clothing/hair colour (“That person in the black top with brown hair is waving at you!”).

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          You used “baba” in a context that isn’t “grandma” or Baba Yaga, can you explain? You used it twice so I’m pretty sure it’s intentional, and it’s new to me. Thanks!

          1. Sparkly Librarian*

            Funny, in the context of this conversation I at first assumed “baba” to be referring to a gender-nonconforming parent; it’s a common parent name in my queer family circles. But given that the username, it’s probably Irish slang for “baby”, like “bub” or “kiddo” might be in other places.

            There are children’s books by, about, and for queer people and families! Here’s a great database to explore: https://mombian.com/database/

    2. Jen*

      For what it’s worth my kid describes strangers by their clothing right now (particularlythe color). “Hi yellow shirt, bye bye yellow shirt”. Or if they have a dog (“hi big doggy, bye bye big doggy”).

      3 and 4 year olds will say weird stuff. You just have to be prepared for that.

      1. IrishEm*

        Kids’ filters are only developing at this point, ime.

        Also I am 37 and I will say hi to the big doggo XD

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Oh yeah, no kids here but even I know that sometimes they say very embarrassing stuff. I’d recommend reading some “Embarrassing things my kid said” articles, both because they are extremely funny, and so you’ll be prepared when it happens. At least the bystanders and recipient of the remark usually think it’s hilarious, while the parent wants to sink into the floor.

    3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Just being mindful of the language you use can often help you identify assumptions – and then being willing to correct when you’re wrong is more than enough for most people, I think.

      Personally, I’ve found being self-aware about all my little verbal quips and asides to be a lot harder than I thought, but also so revealing! Hardest habit for me to break right now is little disparaging remarks about my eating habits / my appearance. I did not realise how much I made those!

    4. Parent*

      I just say “person” or “kid” for my child. “The big kid has a red bicycle! Wave hello to that nice person walking by! Let’s say hi to our neighbours!” We have since they were born. It’s not a big deal. Kid is six and did go through that awkward “WHY IS THAT PERSON IN A CHAIR THAT MOVES?” phase around age three, which we dealt with by saying it’s generally not polite to remark on people’s appearance in public except to compliment them, and if they have questions about how people look they can ask us privately at home.

      1. Laura H.*

        Just my two cents on gor the chair that moves thing… I understand it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, but as someone who uses a walker and has fielded a lot of instances of that question, a response I like using is “My legs work a bit differently than yours so I need to use this.”, and always with a tone that conveys that the fact that they asked me (at all) matters so much.

        To modify this for the parent to talk with the child and more device-inclusive rather than specific , it could be something like “We are all different, and need different things to help us enjoy life.” (Or “function” but I tend to be positive with kiddos).

        How you frame it matters, but addressing it and addressing it graciously in a way kiddo can understand matters more.

        1. Parent*

          Our family doesn’t include a wheelchair user but does include someone who uses a walker, so we just said “that person uses a chair to get around, just like Auntie B uses her walker to get around. Different people have different ways of moving.” We have a family that includes a pretty wide range of physical abilities and differences, so that was an easy sell. Kid was just very curious the first time they saw a chair :)

      2. Cambridge Comma*

        Yeah, I go for person and parent all the time. My two year old is currently calling everyone ‚ladies‘ (not in my language so didn’t get it from me). We went past a building site today and he shouted to the (male) builders ‚nice wall ladies, well done‘.
        So in the short term at least it isn’t working at all.

    5. Jo*

      Interesting question. This tends to differ a lot per person, but I am in the camp of factual descriptors are fine as long as they are presented non-judgementally, maybe with some explanation, and you are willing to be corrected. For example, I’m black, and I’ve definitely had the experience of being the first black person a child encounters. Its fine to acknowledge that! As I think has been widely discussed in recent times, the whole “color blind” approach doesnt actually work that well.

      Similarly, there was a post going around Instagram recently about a child remarking on someone with a wheelchair (I think? Could have been crutches) and how the mother simply said some people have legs that dont work so well, so they need help sometimes – and the person in question said they really appreciated that as an answer (factual, explains the difference in appearance, non-judgemental, actually answers the childs question and doesnt make it a “big deal”).

      1. Jay*

        That’s how we handled it. Kid said “oh” and moved on. If we’d shushed her and said “don’t say that!” I think she would have stared longer and asked more questions.

        Kid is now 21 and I wasn’t aware of non-binary or genderqueer folks when she was a baby, so I said “woman” and “man.” It’s a great question. Thanks for making me think this morning!

        She did learn about trans people by the time she was 10. Our rabbi’s husband was trans (still trans, no longer husband, she’s no longer our rabbi). He was pregnant for the last part of her time with us. We explained, she understood. No issue.

      2. OtterB*

        I think that’s a good approach, not to make the child feel like there’s something that shouldn’t be discussed about a person who uses a wheelchair or a person who’s black.

        When my daughter was in kindergarten, there was a girl in her class with cerebral palsy who used crutches. At one point, at home, my daughter was referring to the other girl as “the one who …” and I winced, waiting for the crutches part, and she continued “has those light-up sneakers.” Identify by the important characteristic. :-)

    6. Tib*

      You can say things like, “I see someone waving at you.” “I see that person has a red bicycle.” “I see a family.”

      Slightly off-topic. As the parent of a queer kid, I’d also encourage you to use generic and inclusive language when talking to your child about their life. The unconditional love conversations are important, but the every day language you use shouts even louder. So don’t ask if they have a girlfriend (really, just skip that sort of questioning altogether, but for the sake of the example) ask who their friends are, who they sit with at lunch, etc. If they say they have a crush, don’t assume genders. If you’re elaborating on things they’ve learned in health class, don’t say when you really like a boy, say someday you might really like someone… All my examples are for older kids because my days of parenting littles are long gone, but you get the idea. The odds are low that you’ll have a child who identifies with many letters in the Pride alphabet, but the odds of that kid needing that sort of subliminal messaging are 200%.

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      I mostly use neutral terms (kid, grown-up, person, construction worker) to talk about people with my kids. I wouldn’t narrate/observe about strangers in public unless they are already engaging with your child or vice versa – so “that person waved to you” or “do you like that green hat?” (that they’re obviously staring at already) is fine but “look, that person is buying apples! how many apples?” would be weird. Comment on clothes/things a person can choose, not their body.

      It’s also a good idea to have lots of diverse books at home, that way you can introduce these ideas in private rather than using a real person who can hear you as a learning opportunity. “Look, this baby has brown skin. That kid has long hair and this one has curly hair. The dad has a wheelchair, see? It helps him get around!”

    8. Anonnington*

      I think it’s best to avoid gender when possible. There are usually other ways to refer to people. (“That neighbor is friendly!”)

      And I don’t think you can always go by gender signals. And the signals aren’t always obvious. Someone sending a mix of signals could be any gender. Someone who appears to be one gender might just look that way due to their circumstances.

      I’m afab and I have trouble binding. My chest doesn’t compress well. I get tired from having my breathing slightly constricted. It doesn’t feel that healthy. I often just wear a normal bra because it is the most comfortable. (I want a reduction, but that means a higher income level or getting my insurance to cover it.)

      I also think there’s just too much emphasis on gender. We shouldn’t be using it to completely divide and polarize people. And I think that talking to kids about gender in a healthier way is a way to make a positive difference in the world.

    9. Just an idea*

      If you can avoid assigning gender when it doesn’t matter (“oh, there’s our neighbor” vs “downstairs lady”) it’s better. At some point my (now six years old) nephew was repeatedly addressed as a girl by strangers (like in a park by parents of other children) and he got very confused and sometimes upset. He could have been just “the child with a yellow shirt” or whatever.

      1. Kt*

        While I agree as an adult, my kid is apparently at a developmental stage where the assignment of gender is important to her, and it’s sort of not ideal that she’s picked up on weird auxiliary rules for gender (all people are guys, but all adults are “her” and kids are “his”, and she’s definite that she’s a boy because all kids are boys but she is also a “her”….) We are finding we need more explicit discussion of gender (and more books with female children to show that they exist!!).

        I think we can prepare as adults but we can’t take our prejudices into these discussions, because our prejudices are born of decades of different experiences and often ‘unlearning’ gender rules, but the kid does need some sort of structure to understand what person is being referred to in a story book, etc. I’m finding it very complicated, as I don’t want to emphasize gender but the rules this kid is making up on her own are pretty weird.

  9. Car advice needed*

    First time car buyer here… thinking about taking the plunge this summer into ownership… literally know nothing about purchasing a vehicle. Would love any insights you have to share!!

    – what online resources are trustworthy?
    – should I buy directly from a person or go through a dealership?

    I’m looking for the following:
    – used car under $10k (Canada)
    – needs to be automatic
    – easy to drive, as I’m a nervous driver :/
    – preferably a small hatchback easy to park
    – ideally a back up camera but that seems unlikely with my budget

    In my neck of the woods the following seem to be the most likely options. Any contenders here?

    I seem to really like the look of the Nissan Micra and keep going back to those ads.

    – 2007-2009 Toyota Yaris
    – 2005-2010 Toyota Matrix
    – 2008-2010 Nissan Versa
    – 2008-2014 Nissan Micra
    – 2005-2009 Honda Fit
    – 2012-2015 Miata 500
    – occasionally a VW golf pops up

    I’ve seen mini coopers and love the look but from my research seem to be money pits. I very much dislike the driving experience of the Mazda so have scratched that off my list.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My housemate has a Fiat 500 and he says maintenance on it is a bear – having someone else do it is expensive because the parts are less commonly available, and doing it himself is a pain in the butt because the parts are fiddly to find AND the tools needed are wonky sizes.

        1. pancakes*

          Years ago someone told me Fiat = Fix It Again, Tony. I’d love to have a restored 1960s Fiat 500 Jolly someday, though.

          1. HBJ*

            Fwiw, I’m pretty sure there are those acronyms out there for just about every brand.

            -Found On Road Dead and/or Fix Or Repair Daily, or if you like Fords, First On Race Day.
            -Cheap Heavy Equipment Virtually Runs On Luck Every Time
            -Gotta Mechanic Coming
            -Had One Never Did Again
            -I Sues You for selling me this car

            And that’s just the ones I’ve heard! My farmer relative says they’re out there for tractor brands, too.

            1. pancakes*

              Ha, thanks for these! They’re nearly all new to me. I’m in NYC and many people don’t drive, so talking about cars at all is pretty esoteric here.

    1. Everdene*

      I love the Yaris. Unfortunately it’s a bit small for me so I currently have an Auris. My sister had a Yaris and I’m pretty sure it was her favourite ever car (but not suitable for her 6’3 husband and 3 young kids!). She is also a nervous driver but felt very comfortable in the Yaris. Both of us drive automatics and the Toyota mechanisms seem to be pretty good.

      It’s not on your list but my favourite car of this size was a Ford Fiesta. Again it was an automatic, lovely to drive, comfortable inside and surprisingly roomy boot. Not sure if that is a good option in Canada but was good for me (mine was an 09 model).

      1. Other Duties as Assigned*

        +1 to the Yaris. My sister bought her 2007 Yaris the same month I bought my 2007 Prius and never had a lick of trouble with it. Good mileage, easy to drive, etc.

        I’ll also mention the Prius. Mine has 310k on it now, I still have the original hybrid battery and have averaged about 48mpg since I bought it new. It’s amazingly roomy and has lots of cargo space, even if you don’t fold down the rear seats. The only odd repairs were a leaky water pump at 44k (under warranty) and a road hazard punched a large hole in the exhaust system (covered by insurance). Otherwise, just oil, filters, tires, brakes, tuneups and one starting battery (not the hybrid one). Cheap service, too: the regular oil change at the dealer runs me under $50. Special note for the Canadian OP: I live in Wisconsin and this is by far the best car I’ve ever had for driving in snow. I think it’s because of the weight distribution on the tires: the engine is over the front axle and the battery is over the rear axle.

        1. TL -*

          I’m still driving my 2007 Yaris and the only problems in have are the ones I inflicted (rear-ended someone, broke a key off in the door – twice…)

          Engine and all the fixin’s work great still. It’s a great little car.

          1. NoI'mNotIrish*

            Sadly, they’re discontinuing the Yaris. My lease is ending, and the only alternative they could offer was something larger. I’m buying my current Yaris out – I don’t need anything larger, and I do like the wheels I have.

    2. sad cupcake*

      In canada, get the lemon-aid car buying book. Dealership will likely be less time-consuming. Maybe find a good mechanic and if you’re buying from a private person have the car checked out? Figure out if your province will make you pay tax if it’s a private sale. I’m under the impression mine does, but I’m not 100% sure.

      1. Colette*

        Seconding the Lemon Aid books – they will help you know what to look for and how to compare them.

    3. mreasy*

      I love my Fiat 500. It’s like heaven to park (and in the city being able to fit into spots other cars can’t is a dream), and is a really fun zippy drive. I’ve driven other small cars that don’t feel safe or solid but I never feel that way driving long distances in the Fiat. I’m in a big city where they’re reasonably common but I could see if you’re somewhere they aren’t, like a Mini I could see the maintenance being more challenging. (I ended up not going with a Mini because the Fiat is smaller, but also because they are legendarily difficult to maintain, and I didn’t find that for the Fiat.)

    4. mreasy*

      Oh and I bought from Carvana which I know has had some mixed reviews from folks here but I absolutely loved the experience.

      1. ronda*

        my friend has bought a few cars from caravan and really likes it. One of them had some mechanical problems and they returned it within the time period for that with no issues.

    5. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      Good luck! Re: buying online, I don’t recall if Carvana is an option only in the US but my experience was also pretty positive. Way better than dealing with a used car dealer. However, I didn’t see any cars older than 2009 when I used it.

      I’ve had a 2018 Fit for a few weeks and love it. It’s the easiest car I’ve ever driven, with its small size, good visibility and excellent handling. As a plus, gas mileage is phenomenal and it’s as roomy inside as a much larger car. All of the same things should be true of the 2007-09 generation.

      I rented a Nissan Versa from that time period once and my impressions were similar to the Fit. The only thing I didn’t like about the Versa was a noticeable lack of power (none of the other cars are likely to win drag races either).

      One of my coworkers had a Yaris and it was a bare-bones car with no luxuries, again short on power, but it was an absolute tank as far as how it held up over the years, and she was a nervous driver who found it very easy to drive.

      I’ve heard secondhand that the Fiat 500 is extremely unreliable, which is too bad as it’s a sharp-looking car!

      In the US, back-up cameras were only required by law from 2010 model year on. Not sure if the story is different in Canada.

      1. FitLover*

        Seconded. Had my 2008 Honda Fit for 11 years. Sold it when I moved to NYC (it still worked perfectly). Regretted not having a car during Covid and got … a 2020 Honda Fit.

      2. anon today*

        I drive an 09 Fit. 160k miles in and I still love it. Don’t get a blue 09 one though, there was a paint issue so mine looks grungy. But it has great milage, I almost never have to make a 3-point turn, and it has way more space than you’d think. You can fold the seats down and camp in the back!
        The only reason I’m not getting another Fit when I get a new car is that I’ll be moving to Houston and need something with more ground clearance for flooding/Texas pickup drivers who don’t look down.

        1. Scarlet Magnolias*

          I drive a 16 year old Scion-XA and love it. Surprising high sitting and roomy, cutest shape like a cobalt jelly bean. Unfortunately they no longer make the XA and the other Scions are boxy

      3. Coenobita*

        My parents bought a Fit new ca. 2005 and had it until maybe last year or the year before, when they decided they didn’t need the extra car. I drove it one summer when I stayed with them and loved it. It’s small enough that you can usually just pull into street parking spaces front-on instead of parallel parking! (And my brother eventually took it to college with him so it withstood a lot…! As far as I know there were never any problems with it.) Someone in my neighborhood has one in a lovely dark plum purple color and I’m so jealous, I want it. If we ever need a second car, that’s what I’m getting.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      For me, tires can make or break my opinion of the car. On my last purchase, I spent a little less than I had planned initially so I could get really good tires on it. NO REGRETS. I am pleased as punch about that choice. I probably spent all total around $1500 (US) on tires. (I wanted rims to mount the winter studs- that added to my costs.)

    7. migrating coconuts*

      I don’t know if you can access Consumer Reports in Canada. It is a company that does testing of all kinds of things, including cars (which they are known for). They accept no ads of any kind, are totally independent. They publish yearly a list of good used cars, based on price ranges. I always look at that when looking for a used car. And we have found that used toyotas are the best cars. We got my daughter a Toyota Corolla 8 years ago that was already 10 years old and it still runs like a dream with no major problems.

    8. Kage*

      I had a 2006 Toyota Matrix for 12 years. Loved loved loved that little hatchback. The seats folded flat (including the front passenger) so you could easily haul big things – including like an 8-foot ladder. It was reliable, we had no major mechanical issues, and the few repairs we had didn’t break the bank. We miss that car greatly (had to replace it when our family got too big).

    9. BlueWolf*

      My partner had a 2005 Toyota Matrix. It was a good car and had quite a bit of cargo room when you fold the seats down. My sister has a Honda Fit, although a more recent model and it’s a good little car too. I think you can’t really go wrong with Toyota or Honda as far as cost of ownership and longevity.

    10. UKDancer*

      I have a Nissan Micra. They’re brilliant little cars. Mine is 2012 I think (I am bad at car years). I got it second hand and it’s lovely. They’re not exciting or glamorous and my 2 petrol head colleagues laugh at it but I don’t care. She’s got a lovely turning circle and is very fuel efficient.

    11. Oxford Comma*

      I don’t know if this is a thing in Canada but in the US for used cars, I have always but always had a mechanic look over the car before I bought it.

      1. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

        I’d imagine that it’s universal, and this is a good idea. When I got my used Fit recently, I made an appointment with my mechanic to have it inspected stem to stern. Your mileage may vary but my mechanic charged just $65 to do this, which was worth it for the peace of mind.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My family has had good luck with certified pre-owned vehicles from the dealership. Yes it is probably more expensive then getting a car from a individual seller, but the accompanying warranty has saved us a lot of money.
      Of three purchases we have made from individual sellers, 2 went well, and one there was a really quick AC failure that would have been covered by a dealership. And it would have been an expensive repair so no AC in the truck we bought for AC.

    13. Jo March*

      We just bought a Versa and I don’t have any complaints. We found a 2014 for $4500 (US) so you may be able to go newer than you think. I will agree with what someone else said about lack of power. I usually drive a Camry and the Versa is noticeably slower to get up to speed.

    14. Dan*

      I’ve been driving Nissans since 2010. The ex and I had a 2010 Versa and I have a 2010 Altima now. I didn’t recognize the Micra, so I had to google it, and apparently they sell it in the UK and Canada but not US.

      Auotrader had an article about cars that you can get in Canada but not the USA. They said this about the Versa: “Not surprisingly, the Micra is tremendously popular in Canada — except in the extreme northern parts, where a regulation-sized moose could eat a Micra in one sitting.”

      I really liked the Versa. I’m 6’1 and well north of 130 kg, and the Versa was a good car. I’d get another one without hesitation, even at my size. As for the power, I live in the suburbs of a major metro area, and am not a Formula 1 driver. I don’t do the kind of driving that warrants the extra oomph, and the Versa being “underpowered” never bothered me, and I don’t think I even noticed.

      If you have a small car with good sightlines, you don’t need to worry about a backup camera, I don’t think. If you’re driving an SUV, that’s a different story. But I like small cars for city driving.

    15. Redhairedrunner*

      I have a Hyundai Accent hatchback that I love. It’s super easy to drive and park. Mine is a 2016 and it has only needed regular maintenance since I bought it.

    16. Toyota = Tardis*

      I vote for the Toyota Yaris. It’s easy to drive and park, doesn’t seem to have any bigger technical issues, it’s easy to get spare parts, (at least where I live in Europe) and despite its small size, it’s a space wonder. I swear it’s bigger on the inside! It’s also reasonably comfortable in the back seats, if you have passengers.

    17. A Cat named Brian*

      My son loves his 2008 Yaris. Has over 150k and still going. Bought it used with 60k.

    18. Girasol*

      I’m crazy about my 2009 Fit. It has upwards of 200,000 miles now and my mechanic (who I take it to for regular maintenance) predicts that it’ll live forever. It hasn’t needed anything yet but fluids, tires, brake pads, and one flat tire sensor. It can put in my bike and my fold boat and my camping gear and close the hatch over all of it, or if I’m not carrying much stuff, fold the seats back up and it fits four people (snugly, but it works). As old as it is, it’s getting about 40 mpg. I think it’s lovely to drive, a wraparound car that fits me perfectly rather than a boat that I have to pilot. It’s automatic. No backup camera.

    19. noahwynn*

      I don’t remember when, but starting with a certain model year the Toyota Yaris is just a rebadged Mazda 2. So if you dislike Mazda’s might be something to look out for.

      I know a lot of people love the Honda Fit, and it seems very practical and has the Honda reliability. I just can’t get over the way it looks and would never own one personally.

      Otherwise, I don’t have much advice. The only car on your list I would buy would be the VW Golf. However, based on your list I think we have a very different taste in vehicles.

      1. noahwynn*

        Oh, one more thing. The Pontiac Vibe is the same car as the Toyota Matrix and at least where I live they are usually less expensive. So you might be able to get one with lower mileage or with more options for the same price as the Matrix. Not sure if the Vibe was available in Canada though.

    20. It's a fish, Al*

      I own two 2005 Toyota Echos (precursor to the Yaris) and one 2013 Honda Fit. We’ve had all since new. They’re a little off the year ranges you’re talking about, but I’m guessing my experiences won’t be too far off.

      Firstly, I love them all and they have all been absolutely easy to drive and low maintenance, even as older high mileage vehicles. Now that we have big kids, I appreciate the extra size and configurations in the Fit more, but whenever I am driving I will preferentially grab an echo unless I don’t fit into it – it’s more comfortable, in my opinion, plus I find great satisfaction in parking in really tiny spaces.

      Things we have noticed: insurance is higher for Hondas. They are more expensive to fix, take longer to get parts in, and require more expensive maintenance. It’s also harder to find generic things (like bike racks) that fit.

      The echo is so cheap to drive. So, so cheap. I have to log maintenance costs for taxes and every year I think I must have lost receipts, but nope. It’s just that cheap.

    21. KR*

      I’m not sure if Consumer Reports is available or applicable for Canada, but when I was buying my car (2012 Honda Civic Sedan) it was very helpful. My grandfather had a subscription and coincidentally, my aunt had just bought a car so she forwarded me the pages I needed. It lists out all the different models and years and rates their maintenance costs, safety ratings, etc. and it helped me decide against a Ford Focus hatchback (lots of recalls and issues for the 2012 year) and choose my car instead. I am not sure you will get a backup camera at that price point and model year, but keep in mind if you get a good enough deal you could pay a shop to put one in aftermarket. A Honda or Toyota will go forever if you take good care of it – my Civic just turned 140000 miles recently and she’s still trucking. The only thing to ever go wrong with it was when we overcharged the AC and had to replace a part. VWs are great but the parts can be expensive.

      1. KR*

        Oh – the other thing to “go wrong” with my car was a tire pressure sensor that went bad and needed to be replaced. I forgot about that. Some Civics are hatchbacks and I can’t recommend them enough. The 2012 year is great (though the LX doesn’t come stock with bluetooth).

    22. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      Most of this has already been covered, but a few more thoughts:

      I have a VW Golf GTI (the performance/sporty version of the Golf). I love that car. I am never buying another one, and plan to replace it with something boring and Japanese. In my experience, when German cars break, they do so in a very expensive manner. As a friend of mine put it when fixing his German car, “Why use one cast part when 11 finely machined parts will do?” I wouldn’t buy one used.

      My husband had a Fiat 500 Abarth (again, the sporty model). He sold it before it started having major maintenance issues, because getting the minor issues dealt with was such a headache.

      Hondas and Toyotas have a reputation for being ridiculously reliable, and that will generally be reflected in the price. (I.e., more expensive than a similar Nissan or Mazda.)

      In addition to your list, I’d throw in the Mazda 2 and the Mazda 3. I believe the 2 was only available as a hatchback, while the 3 is available as both a hatchback and a sedan, so check the listing.

      As far as your easy to park requirement, look at the car’s turning radius/turning circle. (This is the radius/diameter of the smallest circle a car can turn in. Some manufacturers list the radius, others list the circle.) Generally, the smaller the number, the easier it is to maneuver your car in tight spaces (like parking lots). Toyotas tend to have a very small turning radius. A sport/performance model will usually have a larger turning radius than the standard model of the same car. Since you’re looking used, you’ll probably have to search the internet, but it’s a standard spec so it should be easy to find.

    23. Katefish*

      Used to sell cars. In the $10K price range, you’re most likely to be buying from a private party. If you do go to a dealership, though, it’s a myth that month end is the best time to buy… Doesn’t normally make a difference in price. A weekday is probably best… Not as crowded, should be quicker. However you buy, always get a mechanic to check out a used car before buying. Used cars tend to go quickly so if you find something you like that’s mechanically sound, buy it right then. If you run your finger along the seams of the hood/door panels, rough paint indicates that the vehicle’s been wrecked and repaired… The car should feel smooth as to the paint/metal itself. Carfax or the Canada equivalent will also help with used car history.

    24. twocents*

      Just my experience: my Mini Cooper has only needed basic maintenance that any car would need. I also bought new, though, because I was tired of buying used cars that constantly needed something fixed on them.

    25. The Time Being*

      Highly recommend the Honda Fit. It won’t have a backup camera, but it’s small, maneuverable, surprisingly roomy inside, and they’re absolute tanks. I’ve had mine going on a decade now, and it has only had one incident of non-routine maintenance being needed. They’re fantastic beginner cars.

  10. Amber Rose*

    Our 10th wedding anniversary is coming up fast. Followed shortly by his birthday. I’m the worst at buying gifts.

    Help me comment section, you’re my only hope. ;_;

    He wants a good quality hoodie for his birthday so that’s probably fine, though I’d love suggestions on reliable sources of geek culture hoodies. His one true love (me aside) is Godzilla, though that’s just one option.

    The bigger issue is that anniversary. I’m really struggling. He’s come out gender fluid so non-gendered gifts are what I need, but its hard to think of a romantic yet neutral gift that is also thoughtful. My original plan was fubar’d by Covid. Anything involving going anywhere or doing anything or seeing anyone is impossible. He works at a hospital. Even if we could legally meet others, he’s not cool with being a hazard to them.

    This is so hard. He’s gone through some really miserable crap lately so I want to make it special if I can.

    1. Maree*

      Art? Hard to get right but perhaps there is something that speaks to your relationship? A painting of a special place for example? My partner gave me print by my favourite cartoonist for a milestone birthday and I love it.

    2. Juniper*

      Is he a cook? My husband loves the Japanese knife I bought him. They’re expensive enough to be special and one-of-a-kind, but not so ridiculous that it seems overly extravagant. I also bought my husband jumper for those especially lazy days when you want your Hoodia to be connected to pants.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        And if they have a good knife, what about a pro grade diamond stone sharpener? DMT brand has ones that last decades, our is 25 years old and still putting a razor edge on our knives. Still has the wooden storage case. (Ours is red, not sure I’d that’s fine or extra fine.)
        On a totally note, is there any clothing/jewelry they’ve talked about but not been willing to splurge on? (Cashmere sweater, utilikilt, flashy earring, leather jacket or messenger bag… you know your partner I’m just thinking things I’ve overheard mentioned as subtle hints or hinted at myself.)
        Tenth anniversary nickname “tin” leaves me at a loss, unless you can find a vintage tin toy Godzilla and that’s your kind of thing.

    3. c-*

      I think personalised gifts are the way to go, if you have the time to make or commission them. For geeky clothes, get thee to qwertee.

      For inspiration, here are some examples of gifts I gave my partner (also experimenting with his/their gender, so I gotcha), all gender-neutral, partner-specific, and well-received:
      1. For his first birthday we shared as a couple, I knitted a reversible, fox-eared hat for him. It is a dark red hat with black and white ears on top, which get hidden if you turn it inside out. I made it because I know they loves foxes, wolves, and cute things, but he feels self-conscious wearing cute clothes in public. They love it.
      2. For another bday, I saw a glow-in-the-dark t-shirt with a white wolf print in a shop. I lost my bus getting it, but so worth it! He squeed when I gave it to them. :)
      3. For Christmas one year, I sewed his favorite band logo onto a pair of their slippers he had mentioned were too plain for him. Again, success!
      4. When I ask them to marry me, I plan to get them a pocket watch with the date of our anniversary engraved on the inside cover (nobody tell him!). They love pocket watches and Full Metal Alchemist, so I think it will be well received. :)

      The common thread to all these gifts is that they are chosen or made with my partner’s tastes in mind. You know your partner best, so you can totally do this. Forget about impressing him and just aim for expressing your love and care for him in a way you think he will like. You got this!

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      If you want to lean into the traditional, the classic gift is tin.

      Which could be:
      * fancy olive oil and canned fish
      * hip flask
      * camping vintage tin plates
      * dog tag type necklace
      * tin storage bin for jewelry or baseball cards or odds and ends
      * vintage tin lunchbox in a geek friendly design (my favorite!)

      Etsy would be a good place to look.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        I love these ideas! Our most recent anniversary was copper and my MIL gave us a set of copper, interlocking puzzle piece keychains with our initials & date of marriage engraved on them, from Etsy. So cute, so thoughtful.

        Haven’t looked at it in a while but for sweatshirts you might check out Threadless.

    5. LDN Layabout*

      Is he a food person? I’ve been sending fancy hampers for people whose birthdays I’d usually mark with a nice meal out and they’ve been appreciated because they just feel like a special gift. If you wanted extra romantic, go for something that allows you to do a romantic picnic style set-up.

      For less romantic, you could put a geek-themed one together yourself, based on whatever his geek interests are.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Self-care items that would be of use to anyone such as a foot massager, if he gets tired feet.

    7. Forensic13*

      Subscription boxes can be fun! Even if the interior items aren’t perfect, they’re a really fun surprise, especially right now.

    8. Gifty*

      Godzilla! Yes!! I have a wonderful digital print of Godzilla that I love and have given as gifts and everyone else loves it too. I’m adding a link but if it doesn’t work search for 3fishstudios dot com. It comes it three sizes and is really vibrant, better than it looks onscreen. Of course the subject matter (Godzilla taking down the Transamerica Pyramid) really resonates if you live in San Francisco, but even my non local friends love it. Here’s the link, I hope this works:

    9. Gifty*

      Well, my post didn’t show up (maybe because it had a link in it?), so I’ll try again. There’s an artist who does fantastic Godzilla (and other) prints. There are three sizes. I have one and have given it as gifts to several people and everyone loves it. Mine is Godzilla taking down the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco, but there are others too. Look at 3fishstudies dot com. The photos aren’t great — the prints are much more colorful and vibrant in person.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, if you post a link it goes into moderation, so you just need to wait a bit for it to be released and show up!

    10. Dark Macadamia*

      I like browsing Uncommon Goods – even if you don’t buy from them it can spark interesting ideas (and a lot of their stuff can be purchased directly from the vendors, sometimes with better prices or more varieties).

      Fancy/creative versions of something he already likes can be fun, like cocktail/cooking kits, specific food type subscription box, craft/hobby he’s wanted to try, etc

    11. DC*

      I usually go for practical presents. If he’s into that, Lug has lots of bags, luggage, totes, etc. with great organization in prints and also gender friendly neutrals. Maybe a carry on bag for future travel? Or a bag to bring his essentials to the hospital each day?

    12. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      For Christmas, my spouse ordered gifts from places we’d visited in the past that I really like. One item was from a museum that we enjoy so much we’ve planned long trips around it, and another item was from a souvenir shop in a town I love. When he handed the packages to me, he said “We couldn’t travel, so I brought the vacation to you.” So anything that ties into a favorite place or memory might work.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        That’s beautiful. I’m tearing up just reading it. (I too am a travel fan.)

    13. LibbyG*

      My mind went to a cashmere sweater as something indulgent and sort of sensual and sort of feminine.

    14. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I know someone who sells embroidered hoodies, many in a fantasy/sf/geekish direction. The one I’m wearing now has a cat staring at the moon; my partner’s has a stegosaurus and bright-colored flowers.

      If that sounds interesting, look for UnusualFrequency on etsy.

  11. AnonforThis*

    I am wondering if I can get some perspective on this. It has some work stuff but is really more personal. My spouse was offered a rare 3 month assignment in Hawaii and is super excited about it, but I’m honestly just devastated. We have a 2 year old and his daycare finally fully reopened and he’s supposed to start back next week. My friends and family are getting vaccinated and I was excited to finally see them. But we’re supposed to now be gone in a month.

    I could technically work from Hawaii (my job went fully remote, I do have to schedule a few phone calls a day on EST time) but I know finding a daycare that would take our kid would be nearly impossible, so I’d be continuing to work late/early hours around childcare, something I was looking forward to ending. I also know my spouse would likely be working very long hours and it’s not like you can do the beach or hikes by yourself with a 2 year old. I just see myself feeling even more isolated and alone and tired than I have for the past year.

    I guess I should just suck it up, but I feel like I’ve been sucking it up for the past year and I just can’t do it anymore. Even the thought of flying out for a week or two and dealing with long flights and jetlag with a kid (and then spouse still having to work) sounds exhausting. Of course solo parenting for 3 months isn’t going to be great but at least I have childcare.

    I don’t know if my anxiety is clouding my judgment here but I just feel like the timing on this couldn’t be worse. I just was so excited about getting my routine and normal hours back. Spouse keeps telling me we can find a solution but he’s frustrated I don’t want to go as other people have taken families on this rotation. My family acts like I’m turning down a Hawaiian vacation.

    Anyone have experience with something like this?

    1. Juniper*

      Oh, this sounds tough and you have every right to be feeling anxious and overwhelmed. My initial reaction is that this isn’t something you should turn down, but I don’t think “just suck it up” is the right answer either. There are things you can do to make the prospect of a move more bearable and to ensure logistics are manageable once you get there.
      First, I’d try to separate your feelings about wanting to return to normal after the pandemic from your feelings about the move itself. Under normal circumstances would you have been more excited? Of course nothing about a move like this is normal after a pandemic year, but if this is an opportunity your old self would have relished, try to connect with that.
      Second, when your spouse is saying that you can find solutions, ask him to sit down with you to figure out what that actually looks like. It’s easy to be solution-oriented in a general way when you’re not the one who will bear the brunt of the logistical issues. Does he have ideas for daycare? What about a part-time baby-sitter? What are his plans for trying to maintain a predictable schedule so you can also plan your time?
      Third, I might try to reframe what you think you can do with a two-year old. I also have one, and though I don’t relish the though of spending all day every day alone with her, she’s at an age where you can be more active together. You definitely can go to the beach, or hike, alone (with appropriate precautions, of course). Those activities made some of the long lockdown days more bearable for me. I’m guessing that there is a really good chance that you will find other moms (and even dads) in similar positions to hook up with though. Although I’ve never lived in Hawaii, my feeling is that it’s far enough removed from the mainland that you might expect an expat-type community among the mainland Americans living there. It will be so much easier to pass the time in fun and exciting ways once you’ve found a group.
      Finally, it sounds like you sort of defaulted to the “not wanting to go” position. And although I totally get why you wouldn’t, and your worries are perfectly valid and deserve to be heard and adressed, I can also understand why your husband might feel frustrated if he really is trying to talk about solutions. If this isn’t an opportunity that can be postponed, he might feel like his wants aren’t being fully considered either. If this isn’t an accurate read though than disregard :)
      I guess at the end of the day, you’ll both have to make compromises for the best of the family unit. It won’t work if he gets to go on a dream gig to Hawaii where all bets are off when it comes to working hours and maintaining work/life balance, and it also won’t work if you unilaterally put your foot down and decide not to go. Good luck, these decisions are tough!

      1. AnonforThis*

        He suggested a nanny but he wasn’t prepared for how much it would cost when I made inquiries (especially since we would have to keep paying for our daycare here or lose our spot). For what it’s worth we’d also have to find pet care for an elderly cat and a house care here. His work covers things like the car rental (but just one) and housing but wouldn’t cover these other costs.

        1. Juniper*

          Ok, so it sounds like he made a general suggestion without doing any research, and you were the one to actually go and look into the details and do the analysis. Seems like he’s a bit pie I the sky right now, and if he’s serious about getting you on board he needs to come up with a concrete plan. This is his dream, not yours, so you definitely have grounds to push back here. Has he prepared a budget at all?

          1. o_gal*

            This. It sounds like he’s expecting you, and you alone, to make it work. Honestly, if it was me, I’d wave goodbye and say see you in 3 months. You have to keep paying for childcare here, you have an elderly cat who can’t move temporarily, and you have to take care of a house here. 3 months is not long enough of a stint to make it worth it for me. Your childcare here, which you already know and trust, is opening up and you have vaccinated relatives who can help out with childcare and (assuming) housecare. Also, living expenses in Hawaii are generally a lot more expensive in Hawaii, so your husband isn’t considering that the costs will go up for 3 people, not just 1.

            I’d focus my energies on how to make it work being separated for 3 months, and how to arrange a 1 to 2 week visit in the middle of the experience.

            1. Juniper*

              Yeah, the fact that it is only 3 months almost makes this more trouble than it is worth. If spouse lays out a solid, practicable plan for addressing all her concerns, then ok. But if not, well, see you at the end of summer.

            2. SoloKid*

              ” Honestly, if it was me, I’d wave goodbye and say see you in 3 months. ”

              Same. Next time someone suggests it’s a Hawaiian vacation can take the role of cat/housekeeper.

            3. Double A*

              I have a 2.5 year old and I 100% agree with this. In some ways I find solo parenting to be a break because then I just have to deal with the logistics of 2 people rather than 3 people and I don’t have to take another adult’s preferences into account (talking about things like what’s for dinner).

              If you go for 2 weeks, it’s a Hawaiian vacation. Going for 3 months and having to run 2 households, one from thousands of miles away is a burden.

              Honestly, I adore my husband and we frequently talk about how there’s no one else we’d rather have gone through this weird purgatory of a year with but…after a year a few months apart would be a welcome reset.

        2. c-*

          Imho: pet care + house care + child care + you having to live jet-lagged for 3 months (if you work remotely, you’ll need to keep US mainland hours while in Hawaii to coordinate with your colleagues) + your not wanting to go + his working long hours while there = nonsense for you to go. You all will pay a lot of money just to get a lot of unnecessary stress after an already stressful year, and have to do it all again in 3 months. Not even remotely worth it.

          Put him on a plane, let him enjoy this while you enjoy seeing your loved ones, and maybe go visit for a week or 2 as a true vacation, as suggested by others. That’s not being selfish or overreacting, that’s being practical and realistic. If he tries to guilt-trip you into going, that gets him massive side-eye from me.

          Seriously, what’s up with men thinking that logistics magically work themselves out?

        3. Jessi*

          Hope this isn’t too out of line but you might be able to get a cat sitter from trustedhousesitters.com they are the platform I use when I house and animal sit and you don’t actually pay the person. They receive free accommodation

      2. the cat's ass*

        I wouldn’t be thrilled or want to go, either, and i adore HI! This just sounds like a massive amount of logistical/emotional labor as well as lots of extra expense for a 90 day temp gig. Hubs should go, you and kid and cat stay home, and you visit for an actual vacation the last week or two.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I don’t think you’re over reacting – you’ve just hit the light at the end of the tunnel regarding childcare, and suddenly you’re facing doing what you’ve been doing for the past year (looking after a kid full time while trying to work), but without your familiar routine or any family support, while living in some sort of short term rental. It would definitely be different if you weren’t so exhausted right now – still a lot of work, but less dread inducing.

      When your husband says “we’ll find a solution”, what does he have in mind? Or is it just to calm you down, knowing that once you’re there, you’ll have to live with whatever you’ve got? Or is he thinking a babysitter for a couple hours a week is enough?

      Personally, I’d be inclined to say that I’ll go if there are solid arrangements for full time childcare, in the sense that you’ve got a spot at a daycare, or a full time, reliable nanny or babysitter, but until that’s been arranged you’ll stay behind. However, consider flying out for a week or two at the end, for an actual vacation.

      FWIW, I’ve done work stints with long hours in Hawaii. The beaches looked really nice from the airplane, but I didn’t get anywhere near them while I was working, and once I came off the long hours, I was too tired to want to do anything else. For colleagues with families, the families came out at the end for an actual vacation.

      One thing to consider is transportation – if you’re sharing a car, either you’re stuck at home while he’s at work, or you’ll have to drag the kid out to pick him up. Another thing is the attitude of the locals. Right now, people flying to Hawaii tend to be the kind of people who think plane travel to a vulnerable area during a pandemic is great because the flights are cheap – ie, people who aren’t great at being safe, considerate, or polite. So you might not get the most pleasant response from the locals.

      1. Juniper*

        Seems like a solid compromise — if there are firm childcare plans that are lined up (and budgeted for) then it could work, but if not, you stay behind and visit at the end.

    3. Still*

      I’d sit down and try to get really realistic about what either of these options would look like, day to day. If Spouse is right and there is a workable solution for childcare, now would be a great time for the reveal! I definitely wouldn’t go without a solid plan and an idea of how you’re going to get through every day.

      In theory, spending three months in Hawaii sounds great, but to be honest I was already exhausted halfway through your post. I don’t think you’re under any obligation to go if you don’t feel up for it. Spouse has clearly made a choice to take this assignment, now you get to make your choice, and 3 months isn’t that long of a time to be apart.

      I also think your family should respect whatever decision you make. This is between you and your husband.

      I would try to get a really clear idea of what staying vs. going would look like, and try to figure out if it’s an “I can’t be bothered going but I’ll probably have a good time in the end” kind of a situation, or a “I really don’t wanna go and I’ll be miserable, but I feel guilty for saying no” kind of a situation.

      Hope you’ll find a solution that works for you and your family!

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I don’t know if they have availability or will take you for 3 months (and really hubby should research as it is his dream) but you could look into preschool availability at the nearest YMCA in Hawaii. They tend to be more open to short term and emergency daycare than a lot of other daycares.

    5. WS*

      I suspect that there’s two issues here: first is that you’re just getting your routine back with daycare and second you’re getting excited about the end of this hellish year-and-a-bit. The first part should not be negotiable, but I think the second part is.

      You should put the daycare research on your spouse. If other people have gone with families, they may have daycare suggestions – spouse can ask them. If that was sorted, it sounds like you’d have more energy to deal with things like being in Hawaii and not seeing your people for a bit longer. But going there without long daycare should be a dealbreaker.

    6. Kestrel*

      For just 3 months? While your husband works long hours? I would 100% stay put with the kiddo. It will be better for your relationship if you don’t have to suck up this level of inconvenience for him and if he’s solo he can make the most of this work opportunity.

      1. Square Root of Minus One*

        It’s not anxiety, it’s you carrying the mental load. Get uprooted and having to reset up everything for you and kiddo, leave your home and still pay fees to keep your spot warm, with a toddler and a cat, just for 3 months? Talk about taxing. I’m exhausted just reading it.
        That’s not a vacation, that’s a chore. It would only be fair he sets up a rock-solid plan to take care of everything, and for the family, if they think it’s so awesome they can just help him do that. But from what you say, I don’t think it’s going to happen, sadly.

    7. Jo*

      Honestly, for 3 months I’d seriously question if its worth it for you to go. I’m not sure how much time you had to prepare for this (from your comment about leaving in a month, that sounds like quite short notice?) – but personally, 3 months is not long enough to upend your life given what you’ve said.

      I too would quite happily put them on a plane and wave goodbye, especially if they arent making any serious effort to help you figure out practical solutions!

    8. L6orac6*

      Stay at home, it’s only 3 months. You will have a better time at home with your son and getting your son back into a routine with child care. Going with your husband will not be a holiday for you. If you can visit for a few weekends that would be nice. These 3 months will go by quickly.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I was just thinking the same thing. OP, even if you went once at the half way point (6 weeks into his stay in Hawaii) that might be enough.

        To me, three months is not worth this level of upset OR even this level of WORK. Yikes! The work involved here. I wouldn’t do it, especially if I knew from past experience that the heavy end of the planning and day-to-day stuff would be left to me. nope-nope-nope. I’d say, “Oh, we can Skype.”

    9. allathian*

      It’s only 3 months, so in your shoes I’d stay at home. Honestly, it sounds like far too much work. Ask your husband if he’d prefer you to be reasonably happy at home or visibly unhappy and frustrated in Hawaii. If he says the latter, start divorce proceedings because he doesn’t care how you feel, only how your choices look to others.

      Ignore your family, they don’t get a say in how you live your life.

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely. I’d say stay home for 3 months. It’s not long enough to uproot for.

        You can do the long distance thing for that length of time far easier than trying to move. If it were for a year you might feel more incentive to move. If your family say anything just say that it didn’t work for you given the childcare issues.

        When my father was 3 my grandpa went from the UK to Atlanta for 4 months for a very prestigious posting. Everyone expected my grandma (who was a peripatetic teacher) to go with him and take my father. She made it clear to everyone that she had her pupils to think of and was not uprooting herself and my dad. This was quite the family scandal 60 years ago but she did not care and put her own needs and my father’s needs first, and quite right too. Also unlike my grandmother, who depended on letters, you can zoom and facetime your husband on a very regular basis so he can see how you are both doing.

        1. allathian*

          Smart grandparents! Of course, in the 1960s it was far more common for married women, especially mothers, not to be working, or for their jobs to be something extra that could be given up fairly easily if the husband’s career made it necessary or desirable to do so. It was far less common for a married woman to have a career that needed to be protected and prioritized on (more or less) equal terms with her husband’s career.

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes. I’d love to say it was her commitment to her career that made her do it. I think it was probably that she just didn’t want to go abroad and leave her nice house and comfortable social life and used the pupils and my father as justification. My grandma was very good at getting her own way and rather self-centred but I loved her dearly for all her flaws. I learnt from her that it’s ok to put yourself first sometimes.

            Interestingly she was not what you’d call a career woman and she worked because she wanted to earn what she called “pin money”. She was of the generation that put make up on when her husband came back from the office to welcome him home and always matched her shoes and handbag. That said she was always very proud of what I achieved in my career even if she never understood it.

            1. allathian*

              Gotcha! But at least she didn’t sacrifice everything she wanted to do to please her husband.

    10. Purple Cat*

      Wow. I can honestly say “heck no, I won’t go”. That is such a huge upheaval and risk for very little reward. Since he’s working extremely long hours, you’re not going to “enjoy” Hawaii. See if he can take time off during his stay, visit for 2 weeks and call it a day. 3 months really is such a short period of time to be apart.

    11. Meh*

      From Hawaii here and I can address a few parts.

      If your partner is going to Oahu (Island with Honolulu and Waikiki Beach) there is a very large and easy to navigate bus system and Biki bikes all over down town (rentals). There is also a popular car share program if you need.

      If you were to live in Town (Honolulu) then there are a lot of walkable neighborhoods. I’m from Kailua, a popular beach town with a small city center with yoga, whole foods, etc.

      There is a large MeetUp presence that has so many different groups, from hiking to female entrepreneurs, mommy groups, run clubs, etc.

      You can go hiking and the beach with a 2yo. Plenty of paved “hikes” or easy hikes that feature water falls, ice ponds, fruit trees, light houses, whale watching (not in summer though) giant turtles, monk seals.

      You seem against going (which is reasonable and you have plenty of valid reasons) but some of the “in Hawaii” hurdles aren’t that tough.

      Make the decision that is best for you, your family, and your sanity. Aloha!

      1. pancakes*

        Yes – There are many millions of single parents around the world who take their kids places like the beach. My mom had me at 21 on her own and I know it was really hard in many ways, but it’s not at all uncommon, either.

    12. AnonforThis*

      I put my foot down and said I wasn’t going (it’s also stupid little stuff like I just planted tomatoes). He’s going to try to shorten the rotation to 4 to 6 weeks.

      My mom can be a bit backwards about this stuff because she was a stay at home mom. She doesn’t understand that work from home means I actually have to work, so she keeps questioning why my kid has to go back to daycare.

      1. Not A Manager*

        I’m late to the game, but I also was going to say “stay home.” But if he’s excited about the rotation, is it necessary for him to shorten it? Three months sounds long in advance, but it goes by pretty quickly. If he prefers to do it for 3 months, it sounds like you have a much better support system and infrastructure at home alone than you would in Hawaii. I’d try to be generous about allowing him to have the full rotation if he wants that.

      2. Generic Name*

        Oh, moms. It sounds like putting your mother on an information diet would help your relationship with her. Her opinions about childcare for your child just don’t matter, so I’d stop discussing it with her. “Thanks I’ll think about it” is a great way to deflect unsolicited advice. Actually, since she thinks caring for a toddler is such a breeze, has she volunteered to do it for you?

      3. Jean (just Jean)*

        Yay! Not trying to take sides here but it sounded like your experience would have been a steep uphill climb both coming and going. Life’s too short to have to arrange for one’s own discomfort and annoyance, or worse.

      4. RagingADHD*

        I’ve got a great idea – you can leave the toddler with Grandma and go to Hawaii for a 2 week vacation at the end of the assignment. She can keep him on routine and do all the gruntwork that is apparently such a breeze.

      5. Another in HI*

        Overall with everything you shared, I like the suggestions to stay put, enjoy your peace and quiet and time with other loved ones, and visit for a true vacation at some point if at all, especially if he expects you to handle all the logistics, which is a ridiculous way of thinking by the way. Three months will go by quicker than you think. It sounds like you just really do not want to go and that he may be seeing this as a rare most expenses paid Hawaii vacation without fully considering the reality of your situation. I would not ask him to shorten the rotation. I’d let him do the full three months if that’s what he wants, assuming your childcare is taken care of and you have the help you need on that front.

      6. ronda*

        is there a friend or relative that could also go with you to help with child care and someone to do stuff with? Sounds like maybe your mom is not that one :)

        If that doesn’t sound appealing…. then yes, stay home.

    13. Generic Name*

      Have you told your husband how you feel about it? If so, what was his reaction? I don’t think that you just have to suck it up. You get to have needs too. And your concerns sound very valid and rooted in reality. While living in Hawaii sounds like a dream to a lot of people, it’s very expensive, and I agree that it sounds like it would be isolating to you. Honestly, if he’s going to be working long hours while you also work and handle childcare solo with no local support, going with him doesn’t sound so great at all.

    14. Dark Macadamia*

      This sounds miserable and exhausting, and it seems like your spouse’s idea of “we can find a solution” is to just let YOU figure it out on your own, when you’re not even the one who wants to go. 3 months is such a short time it doesn’t seem worth the amount of logistics and stress it would require, especially if you’re somehow responsible for none of the deciding but all of the planning.

    15. RagingADHD*

      I wouldn’t move the whole household for a 3 month work assignment, no matter where it was. With an older child who would be able to remember the trip, it would be a great opportunity — and less disruptive. Jet lag with a toddler/preschooler is no joke. You’ll lose at least a week on each end just trying to get him to sleep at normal human times again. Then there’s the fact that your husband will be working long hours- so you’ll be nearly solo parenting, in a strange place, with no childcare and no friend/family support?

      This is not a vacation for you, and anyone who thinks it is has completely forgotten what parenting a toddler is really like.

      Six months to a year, yes. But you’ll barely get the little one used to the new place before you have to upend everything again. Not worth it.

      On top of that, your desire to see people is completely valid. We’ve all been white-knuckling for a year, and adding three more months of isolation from anyone you know is a big ask.

      I hope your husband can take some time and see this from your point of view. It’s a terrible time and would just be too much for a lot of people.

    16. traffic_spiral*

      I feel there’s not enough push towards making the husband figure it out. I mean, either he dumps all the childcare on his wife for 3 months while he swans off to Hawaii, or he dumps all the logistics of managing the move and childcare on her? How are these the two options?

      I’d say press him harder to find a way to make it work – either by finding childcare in Hawaii, or finding childcare back home to make up for his absence.

      1. Lizzie*

        I want to add more emphasis to the fact that YOU HAVE A JOB! The idea that working from home is something that women can just do, no bother, while doing everything else as well – that is the cursed side of the opportunity WFH has offered to many people.

        I think that you staying home and getting on with your job and family life, while your partner goes and throws himself into his job for just 3 months, is a recipe for a much happier relationship on his return. The alternative looks like many people struggling and a lot of unhappiness. YOU are the lynchpin of the family. You need rest and rejuvenation, as much as you can possibly get. Best wishes to you!

    17. KR*

      I am moving to Hawaii next Tuesday so I am in a similar situation. I had to quit my job – they weren’t willing to let me work from Hawaii even though my job can be done fully remote. I have to fly my dogs and cat and that is an (expensive) ordeal. I know it’s going to be really difficult for me. My spouse is military so I am going to be alone for long amounts of time and most of my family lives on the east coast of the US, so it’s not like I can easily visit anyone. I’m a workaholic and I know it’s going to be hard finding a job there, so that will be an adjustment both financial and in terms of finding an identity outside of work.
      Everyone I talk to thinks I’m going to love it once I get there, and it will be one big long vacation, and I’ll just be sitting on the beach enjoying myself – which I probably will get to have some fun – but it just feels like I’m going to a tropical prison sentence for 2ish years until he can get orders elsewhere.
      If you’re on an island with military bases, I know a lot of military spouses do childcare and nanny work, so that may be a good option until you find a daycare you like. I understand it isn’t ideal though – I feel like my whole life is being put on hold against my will and everyone just expects me to be thrilled about it.

      1. allathian*

        Ouch, I’m sorry. But this is also one of those things you do because you’re a military spouse and I suppose you knew that when you married him that his career would always have priority and he would have very little say in where he’s posted.

        If it’s that unbearable, you can always come home in the middle of his assignment and leave him to it.

        When you get there, I suggest trying to research jobs that you can do remotely. What’s your field? Is it something you could do as a freelancer? That way you’d have some control over your working hours. Good luck!

      2. Meh*

        You probably won’t see this, but I hope you can make the most of your time there. I have long history with the military, military spouses, and being uprooted. Some spouses are quite glum and refuse to enjoy/make the most of their new circumstances. Hawaii isn’t perfect, but Oahu isn’t small. If you live in base/post you’ll have the luxury of air conditioning, a large home, and a yard. If you live off base then you can join your local community. There is so much to offer. Look into MeetUp I wish you the best of luck in finding remote work and continuing your career.

    18. Analyst Editor*

      So, several things. I think first, he should go because it’s only three months and seems like a great opportunity.
      As for you, I think it depends on how much the chores are taken care of, and whether you guys can take a vacation for an extra week or three at any point tacked onto or in the middle of this rotation.
      Basically, if meals and cleaning are more or less taken care of, and all you have to worry about are laundry and childcare in addition to your job, and you can work out a way for your husband to take your child too sometimes plus find things like a gym day-care, it could work. If you can find paved areas to walk your two-year-old, until he starts napping, then hop on a bench and read or relax (and he might sleep longer outside in the nice weather), maybe that could work.
      And a nice long vacation at the end could be worth it.

      OR you can fly out to meet him just for the vacation at the end. It would cost extra money perhaps but could be worth it.
      I would probably be inclined to just let him go on his own, but eh, I also like adventure and new places.

  12. Juniper*

    Congratulations! Not too many warnings when it comes to selling, but staging is really important (at least where I live). There are a ton of cheap things you can do to de-personalize your home in a way that gives it broader appeal and makes it more attractive to a potential buyer. Minimalize and de-clutter, consider painting some soft grays and neutrals (and I say this as someone who hates gray and loves color), buy some more plants, and add some thoughtful decorative items. I also wouldn’t spend much money on anything cosmetic — don’t re-tile the bathroom, for example. If this is your first time selling, I might rethink not having a realtor. They are better able to anticipate potential roadblocks, can advise on what should reasonably be done before you sell, and can market your house in a way that gives it much more traction, even if it is a seller’s market. Our realtor was also a valuable guide when it came to the bidding process and what offer to accept. Good luck!

  13. IrishEm*

    Guys, gals, nonbinary pals, I have a bit of a dilemma.

    My Very Favourite Back Heat Wrap died in the microwave in Feb and the replacement developed holes and so both had to be binned. I can’t remember the brand name of my fave, but it had velcro and could be word around the waist to ease back pain and it stayed warm for hours after a minute or two in the microwave. I bought it in 2016 and used it many times a day since.

    Does anyone have any recommendations of long-lasting heat wraps? I’ve had several from Aroma home but the heat doesn’t last that long and they tend to develop holes after about a year of constant use. The one I got in Feb being an exception. Any other brands y’all would recommend that stay warm for ages?

    1. Schmitt*

      They make electric ones. I was given one for Christmas that is meant as a shoulder/neck one… and I have it behind me for back pain right now. It. Is. Glorious.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        Second this. I just bought whatever the top rated one on Amazon was and I use it for EVERYTHING

  14. The Other Dawn*

    I wanted to thank those who weighed in on my question late last year about an enormous medical bill my insurance refused to pay.

    I had two back surgeries last year and my insurance refused to pay for the doctor that did the nerve monitoring during both surgeries–this bill was about $70k!–because he was out-of-network and my insurance plan at the time had no out-of-network coverage. Insurance denied it twice and then the doctor’s practice started calling me, saying they need my help in getting the bill paid. Someone here suggested I check into “surprise bill” laws for my state and then check with the state’s health advocate to see what can be done. (fposte, I think? I know there were others I can’t remember.) It turned out that this bill does fall under the surprise bill law. So I contacted the health advocate and she started a case last November.

    Yesterday, after months of waiting (she was waiting on the insurance company), the health advocate called me to tell me that the insurance company reprocessed the two claims and will pay them. I will owe about $2,300. So, I’m ecstatic that I won’t be responsible for $70k!! Is $2,300 still a lot of money? Sure. But it could be so, so much worse!

    While I was talking to the advocate–she’s such a nice, friendly woman–she told me her previous call was to a woman who had neglected a medical bill for FOUR YEARS and it went to collections. The woman was really angry that she had to pay $130 out of more than $10k of medical bills and couldn’t understand why the advocate couldn’t get it down to zero. The woman also have her a long lecture on the state of the healthcare system. (I know how that it–I’m in banking and I get to hear all about how banks steal people’s money, etc.) She told me she was worried about calling me, that I’d also be upset, but I told her no, I’m thrilled I’m not on the hook for all that money and I’ll gladly pay the $2,300.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Congratulations! That must be such a relief to you. I know that $2,300 is a lot of money but compared to the $70k (seriously, I’m British, what the actual fork?!) they wanted you to pay, it’s a definite victory. I hope you feel better having it sorted now.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        It’s seriously mind-blowing how much doctors, hospitals, etc. bill insurance. I assume they do that knowing insurance will only pay them a very small amount, so they bill as much as they can to up the amount they ultimately get. I’m just guessing, though.

        1. Dan*

          They don’t bill the insurance companies whatever and then cross their fingers, the reimbursement rates are set contractually, based on “usual and customary, and reasonable” rates… which are way less than the billed amounts.

          What is really whacko is that if you didn’t have the insurance, you’d be on the hook for the full bill.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Nonprofit hospitals (which are most of them) almost always have an entire department of people who’s entire purpose is to reduce the patient financial responsibility of people who are un- or under-insured, whether by getting them hooked up with insurance options, grants or other programs, and if all that fails, they will discount the bill heavily as a self-pay. The prices the insurance companies pay are set based on contract, yes, but the hospitals are legally required to bill every patient the same price for the same service, regardless of their payer — all the adjustments have to come after the bill is issued, whether that’s a discount equal to 10% per the contract with LlamaCare Inc or a 45% self-pay discount.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am so happy for you.
      I recently heard a story of a couple who had staggering medical debt. Rather than accepting advice from others and doing some homework, they just decided to pay the debt. In the process of doing that, they lost just about everything they had. Angry and broken does not fully describe their current emotional state. I doubt they will ever recover from what happened.
      I hope people see what you have written here and decide that they, too, should investigate to see what help is available. Nice job on that, TOD. Congrats.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      I didn’t have an experience nearly as bad as yours, but back when I was living in the US, I got billed $300 for an annual check-up that should’ve been free due to an admin screw-up at my doctor’s office. Luckily, I was able to get assistance through my EAP at work – they had a contract with an organization that could contact insurance companies on your behalf and it was so much easier than trying to do it myself. If you can’t get hold of a health advocate, it’s worth checking to see if your EAP offers something similar. Their #1 piece of advice was to let the insurance company know about billing issues ASAP, because once it goes to collections, it’s a lot harder to fix.
      I am so glad to be back in the UK and to (hopefully) never, ever have to deal with insurance companies again!

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Once I got HR involved, my overbilling situation was resolved. I had spent eight months fighting with Blue Cross of Michigan, possibly the worst insurance company in the world, to no avail.

        HR knew the right people to talk to and they handled it.

        But I am still angry that it had to be handled at all. BC did it wrong.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Congratulations and Thank Goodness!
      A close relative owes $80,000 for medical treatment. Their insurance company wouldn’t pay, declaring the treatment was “experimental”. The relative is on the verge of bankruptcy. What a wonderful health care system!
      I am thrilled you were able to find a solution!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        As someone told me last year, check with the state’s healthcare advocate to see what they can do. Assuming they’re in the states, of course.

      2. Jean (just Jean)*

        +1 to The Other Dawn. Some states have a department (or Office, Section, whaterver) set up to help people work out problems with insurance companies. Or you could try the state attorney general.

    5. OtterB*

      Glad you got a good resolution. I got a similar (not nearly so large) bill when I had a benign tumor removed from my spinal cord several years ago. I had chosen an out-of-network surgeon because I had more faith in him than the in-network one I visited. I had out-of-network coverage at a reduced rate and I was prepared to pay the extra for the surgeon. I confirmed that the hospital was in-network. But then I also got an out-of-network bill for a pathologist, who I hadn’t even known would be involved. In my case it resolved itself; somebody from the hospital or the insurance company or the doctor’s office or something took care of it before I had to start pursuing it. But, yeah, unpleasant surprise.

    6. Dan*

      The system is broke and needs to get fixed. I have some friends of mine who snub their noses at any mention of medicare for all and won’t even entertain the conversation. Incidentally, I met my friend and work and we had the same health insurance for awhile. And then we got laid off on the same day…

      After I found a new job, I ended up out of the blue getting diagnosed with a heart condition. That year, I had the diagnostics, two non-invasive procedures, and an invasive procedure. The invasive procedure alone retailed for $70k. But between everything combined, I was out $1500 that year. Which for me was practically free. (My FSA covered a lot of it, so my net out of pocket was less.)

      Oh, and a side note: When I first got the diagnosis, my PCP picked it up on an EKG and referred me to the ER. The ER bill? $4,000, and for what, really? My out of pocket? $150 copay. Keep in mind, too, that I went because my *doctor* told me to go *right now*.

      This is how I explained things to my friend. Because I have a job, my out of pocket health care costs were basically nothing. However, had I gotten sick when were were between jobs and I had no health insurance, I’d be looking at close to $100,000 in health care costs, and I’d go bankrupt over that.

      I love the fact that I have great health insurance. I hate the fact that my great health insurance is tied to my employment at any given point in time. (And I work on behalf of the government, so often my employment is tied to budgets and politics, and not my competency.)

      So if “medicare for all” is the line that gets the conversation going about health care reform, so be it. I’m a fan of anything that starts the conversation. My friend will then begrudgingly say, “I didn’t say the system was perfect, just that medicare for all isn’t the answer…”

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Even if medicare for all isn’t the answer, can we try it while we look for a better approach? Because I am not too happy with the system we have. I’m willing to give “not perfect” a chance – it has to be better than “awful.”

        1. Dan*

          Tell me about it. My friend is one of the smartest people I know. But when it comes to certain things, particularly involving the P-word? The blinders are *on*…

          And speaking of awful, when I had said invasive procedure, my cardiologist looked at me and said, “you have two choices, and they’re really up to you. I have no preference.” My choices? “Try the invasive procedure, and it works, you could very well be in the clear for the rest of your life, but there’s no way to know. Alternatively, we can try managing it with medication.”

          I kind of looked at him like he was stupid, because at that point, it was late in the calendar year. I had already met my deductible and out of pocket max with the other procedures, so the invasive deal was going to cost me *nothing* out of pocket. The alternative was presumably expensive drugs that I would need insurance (and thus a job) to cover.

          I’m like, I’ll take the free procedure that may preclude the need for lifelong drugs and a job with good insurance, and take my chances, TYVM.

    7. Cruciatus*

      I hope we have a similar outcome with my mom’s prescription costs, though obviously it won’t be due to the same reasons. My mom died 3 weeks ago (today, oof. Feels both like 5 minutes and 5 years). She was on Uptravi which is something like $35,000 a month, and obviously most people are on prescription assistance (that you have to go around begging for. They’d send you a check that you’d have to then send to insurance to pay the costs). I know my mom was on the phone with people all the time regarding this but would tell my dad not to worry about things (he can be kind of annoying in that regard and she obviously just wanted him to back off, though of course in hindsight it would have been better for him to know….) Well, now we’re being told she owes something like $270,000. My mom was *not* a flake about money but now that she’s gone we have no idea what solution she had in place, but, again, my mom was not one who would have just ignored this issue (and her death was unexpected). My dad’s been on the phone with insurance and the prescription people but I’m really scared they are going to put us/him on the hook for this full amount (which is probably their legal right). Oof. The death was bad enough…this is more stressful than the funeral planning and other stuff that followed her death.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’m so sorry for your loss. When talking to the healthcare advocate she mentioned their office handles stuff like this so it may be worth a call. If they can’t help, they will be able to tell you who can.

    8. Not trying to be rude, just good at it*

      My dual surgeries last year added a $200 a month payment that will seem forever. Insurance did pay for lots, but denied a lot for the second surgery. I was able to fight down some of the bill, but it’s just another bill to pay at the beginning of the month and less money to spend at the end of the month.

  15. Captain Morgan*

    I’m 55 and suspect I’m on the autism spectrum. Thinking of having an assessment but am not sure if pursuing a diagnosis would be the right choice.

    Has anyone here been diagnosed as an adult? What were the benefits and detriments of diagnosis?

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      What are you trying to accomplish? Workplace accommodations? Just know yourself better? Or seeking the family and relationship equivalent of a workplace accommodation (which doesn’t really exist IMO)?

      The main driving force behind diagnosis in children is for school and other services – unless you are looking for something at work, there’s not as much benefit for an adult. And also much much much fewer clinicians who would be willing to see you.

      1. pancakes*

        I’m pretty sure I’m NT, fwiw, but this is at odds with many accounts I’ve read from people who pursued diagnosis as adults. My impression has been they’re almost invariably really moved by and grateful to have a framework that helps make sense of previous struggles.

        1. LDF*

          Sure, but there’s also nothing stopping OP from looking at autism resources right now and using techniques for autistic folks right now and seeing what works for them. I’m not saying they shouldn’t pursue dx if they want, but they don’t have to unless there’s something they want to access thst requires dx.

        2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

          I wasn’t saying the OP couldn’t pursue a diagnosis. I was suggesting it would be good to think about what the goal is ahead of time.

          Clinicians and resources primarily exist for children which is why there are established pathways to get a diagnosis for them. It’s probably possible to find a developmental clinician as an adult but outside of a major metropolitan area, I bet it’s difficult. And the poster would likely have to pay for all of that as I doubt insurance would cover any of it.

    2. I need tea*

      I was recently diagnosed as an adult. Diagnosis is good for accommodations and validation, essentially. I’ve been able to ask for workplace accommodations which has been really helpful. That said, the biggest benefit for me has been knowing I’m autistic. That knowledge has made it a lot easier for me to identify my needs, set clear boundaries and improve my quality of life. That kind of self-knowledge doesn’t have to come from formal diagnosis, though – the ActuallyAutistic community is very supportive of self-diagnosis and there are lots of resources out there for learning more about what autism looks like and means to different people. Even if after doing that research you ultimately don’t feel autism is the right description for you, reading those accounts and seeking peer support might be helpful.

      The main downside is accessibility – there aren’t all that many specialists for adults who are autistic, and even then there are low rates of diagnosis in women and POC. In many places there are long waiting lists, and you may need a second or third opinion, meaning it can take anywhere from months to years from the point of asking for an assessment to getting that assessment, plus more time as assessment takes place over multiple appointments before getting a diagnosis, if diagnosis is appropriate.

    3. pancakes*

      No personal experience at all, but there’s an interesting article in this week’s New Yorker about an Australian comedian who pursued diagnosis in his late 20s, while writing a tv show about teens on the spectrum. Title is “Josh Thomas’s Comedy of Self-Diagnosis.”

    4. Just an autistic redhead*

      I was diagnosed last year as an adult. I was having some problems with my introspection where Inner Critic insisted I shouldn’t dare look upon my life through that lens unless I was diagnosed. Due to interactions with fibromyalgia, I was experiencing even more sensory overload than normal and I was also terrified that returning to the office would mean extreme pain every week if I didn’t have an “official reason” for accomodation. Those made it worthwhile to pursue the diagnosis, though I was extremely anxious about it and spent a lot of time writing down anecdotes from my entire life as evidence. It meant a lot to me – I had some happy tears as I left the psychiatrist’s office. Since, my reflections on my past have all made so much more sense; and if I do have problems returning to the office, I’ll have backup to my reasons for requesting accomodation. I’m not sure I’ve really experienced detriments, though I’m sure at some point I may run into people whom I end up telling who may then treat me differently or something – that is, in a different way from how they would ordinarily have treated me differently because I’m different to begin with, named or not.

  16. nep*

    Making home safe for kitty.
    We’ve not had a kitten in a long time. If all goes well, we’ll be bringing new family member home today.
    Of course countless websites / -pages exist laying out how to kitty-proof the home, and we’ve been setting things up. But for anyone who’d like to share, what are some of the safety-related things you found to be most important when it comes to bringing a kitty home?
    (She’s around three months old. We have no children or other pets in the house.)

    1. c-*

      Make sure she can’t chew on cables! Get them covered or hidden and train her out of chewing them.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I have brought home 1 kitten and 1 adult cats. All three were very timid at first. I had planned to limit their range but they limited their own range by being kind of shy, especially at first.

      I used a large dog crate for the kitten when I first got her. I used it when I could not be home- had to work or get groceries, etc. My relative thought it was cruel. Oddly, just as we were discussing this the kitten got her head stuck in the back of a wooden Windsor chair in my kitchen. I lifted her up to get her head out from between the dowels but that could have been nasty if she was left to her own devices to solve that problem. My relative saw all this and said , “Ohhhhhh……”. Yeah, legit concern.
      This same kitten also fell into the dog’s water dish. smh. The dog rescued her before I could get over to her. (Where was my camera? Sixty pound dog with a tiny kitten laying across her nose.)

      I let her out of the crate a lot. The sooner she learned about things and how the world works the sooner I could just get rid of the crate. So the crate was just for times when I was not at home.
      A funny thing I found is that I could wipe stuff down with vinegar and the scent was enough to deter her. So I’d dampen a paper towel with vinegar and wipe down things that I knew she’d get into- such as my kitchen counter. I never had a cat on my kitchen counter- they just did not bother. The only drawback was that I wiped things down daily or every other day. The vinegar also deterred my pups.

        1. pancakes*

          I highly recommend the Twitter account “place where cat shouldn’t be” for this sort of thing. I think they’re on Instagram too.

            1. pancakes*

              It is a good one. Always something that makes me laugh. My latest favorite is the little maniac who jumps in a refrigerator and chomps an eggplant.

    3. No Tribble At All*

      Plants, if you have live plants in the house. Check a list of unsafe-for-cats. I know pointsettas and lilies are especially dangerous.

      Honestly the cat will find a weird area to go, so in terms of cat-proofing an area, I’m not as concerned about that as I am accidental poison.

      Congrats on your kitty!!

    4. Max Kitty*

      Shades and curtains, including ties and cords. I have one kitty who loves climbing up shades. I’m a bit worried she might get caught in cords, so I tied them up out of the way. We keep a lot of shades just open all the time.

      And keep an eye out for little things that kitty may be attracted to and end up eating — twist ties, bits of string or ribbon.

    5. CatCat*

      Make sure you know where kitty is before you start the dryer. I literally close the dryer after loading it, locate kittes, and only then start the dryer. Never leave dryer door open when you’re not using it to reduce chance of a horrible dryer accident.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Likewise washers– I don’t know the product name, but a friend had a little clip/clamp to prop open her front loading washer ( about 1 inch) so it could dry and her cat could not get in.
        Check that your screens are secure when it’s window opening time, and maybe check that you can open window or screen at the top. My kitten tried climbing up the screen between it & the window and was stuck until we opened it up.

    6. Generic Name*

      I avoid buying plants known to be poisonous to cats. I make sure small holes are blocked. One of my cats was so tiny as a kitten she managed to get herself behind the dishwasher. Later my big cat pulled up the heat register in the floor and convinced the smaller one to go in and check out the neat space in there (in my head this is how I imagine what happened). She spent most of a day trapped between the floor and ceiling. My husband loved it when I called him frantically to tell him the cat was stuck and I could hear her meowing in the basement ceiling (not). She also managed to get herself tangled in the air hose of my husband’s aquarium, so make sure things like dangling cords for blinds are tied up and out of their reach. Certain essential oils are poisonous to cats, to check for that if you have an aromatherapy diffuser.

    7. Trixie*

      How fun! Consider items like ribbons, strings, thread, hair ties. All fun toys when supervised but nothing to be consumed by accident.

    8. Yellow Warbler*

      Magnetic door holders. Open windows on a nice day can cause pressure changes that slam doors shut. My neighbor’s cat lost a tail tip to this. All your doors should be either closed, or secured in the open position.

      1. Lizzie*

        You can buy (or make) “tail savers” to put on the top of your doors in the house – they look like a crescent shaped piece of closed cell foam, and they stop your door from slamming and leave a gap of about 2 cm if the door suddenly moves. That is enough to save a tail! They seem to also be called pinch savers (for saving babies’ fingers).

    9. Dancing Otter*

      Get in the habit of (a) keeping closet and cupboard doors closed, and (b) checking location of kitten before closing them.

    10. NRG*

      Keep the toilet lid closed. When tiny, they can fall in and might not be able to get out. Also my current cat ate part of a bar of soap as a kitten. He was ok (obviously),but got pretty sick. He also ate an entire pot of herbs that was on a shelf 6 feet up, a bouquet of flowers, and part of a feather duster. The point being really that they can get into things that you would swear were out of reach.

  17. Not So NewReader*

    My cousin was a realtor. She said that “your first offer will probably be your best offer.” So you do have the right to turn down an offer but she felt that subsequent offers were usually not as much. I was disappointed in the first offer on my father’s house and her thoughts comforted me as I really wanted to unload the property. You might want to get a feel for how offers are going in your area so you have an idea of how you want to handle that first offer once you see it.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      For Detective Rosa way north of here. I am not sure how this comment ended up down here.

  18. Tesla!*

    We ordered the Tesla. Should have it by June.
    Having slight post purchase dissonance.
    If you have a Tesla and love it tell me why.
    Also looking for road trip recommendations with a Twin Cities MN starting point.
    Starting small, less than 4 hours in the car a day.
    I have an abundance of vacation.
    We like botanical gardens, nature preserves, hot springs, good food. Swimming. Some hiking but not too challenging due to my disabilities..

    Thinking since

      1. Jay*

        I’d buy the charger. If you can, get one with both a Tesla plug and the other kind. We have an electric car (Hyundai Kona, we love it!) and we have a charger in our garage. Hubs had the wiring installed when we built our screened porch two years before we bought the car because he knew he’d want an electric car someday. We have solar panels so we run the car on sunshine part of the year. The effective range is about 200 miles and we’ve found public rapid chargers in a few key places. We do still have a hybrid that takes gas (and is also a plug-in, so we use that charger!) for longer trips.

    1. Jenny*

      Not a Tesla but I just bought a Bolt and the EVs are great. It’s a commuter car, the acceleration is crazy smooth and it’s so quiet.

      Would definitely buy the charger. I actually got the idea to get the car because the house I bought had a charger from the previous owner, who had a Tesla.

    2. Coenobita*

      It sounds like we have similar interests! Here are some places we drove from the Twin Cities when my spouse lived there for a couple years, and would recommend:
      – Duluth
      – The Dells of the Wisconsin River
      – Sioux Falls
      – Des Moines
      – Rapid City/Badlands NP (maybe do that one in two days since it’s about 8 hours – but it’s so worth it)

      1. Generic Name*

        Duluth for sure! If you’re a geography nerd, you can also check out the headwaters of the Mississippi. Lake Superior is so amazing. I’m from Nebraska where I’m used to always being able to see the opposite bank of a body of water (even the Missouri River), so Lake Superior really blew my mind.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      For sure a circle trip of Lake Superior, with perhaps a few nights on Madeline Island. (But shhh — keep Madeline Island a secret. We don’t want everyone going there and ruining it for the rest of us!)

    4. noahwynn*

      I see someone else mentioned Duluth. I like to go a little further. There’s an Airbnb I stay at often in Tofte. There’s a ton of hiking trails in the area that you can accomplish in a day and then spend the night. It is the perfect weekend getaway on the lake for me.

      I love the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin. I think that’s about 3 hours from Minneapolis. Also Pattison State Park in Wisconsin is great for waterfalls.

      When my family was here a few years ago we also went to Dorothy. It is an abandoned town and was a fun stop for an hour or so to explore the old buildings.

    5. Kristin Anderson*

      Late response, but as I live in Duluth I thought I’d advocate hard for one or more trips to the North Shore of Lake Superior in the summertime or if you plan ahead, for Fall. Lots of good restaurants (New Scenic Cafe, Northern Waters Smokehaus, and OMC in Lincoln Park are personal favorites), and so much to see and do that it is worth plenty of time. Given your interests, I’d suggest a visit to Enger Tower and Park (lovely little Japanese garden, plus a tower that was dedicated by King Haakon of Norway). Then on day 2 I’d drive up to Gooseberry Falls (easy short walk to get to the falls), and you could pick just about any beach on the big Lake to dip toes in very cold water and pick agates (Park Point is a natural choice, but there are lots of other beaches. It’s a big lake).

      Another idea might be Spring Green, WI: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin is there and once you get off I-94 the roads are lovely. The American Players Theater (outdoors) is there as well, if they are putting on productions this year. Also the Spring Green Preserve.

      And this is a very off the wall recommendation, but you might enjoy it – the Soudan Mine/Lake Vermilion area. The Soudan Mine is the deepest place you can tour in North America – closed down mine that they take you down into using mining elevators. They used to use it for particle physics experiments in dark matter, but I think they may have closed down that lab. It’s still pretty cool, though.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Adding to the Spring Green idea – the Driftless region in WI is beautiful. We have not been to Mineral Point – on the list – but have been to Galena, IL, which is another mining town and, I think, also in the Driftless region.

    6. Lady Alys*

      There was an article in today’s Star Tribune about that very topic – the author plotted a trip all the way from Duluth to Grand Marais (I think), with chargers, hotels, and breweries all along the way.

    7. Tesla!*

      Thank you all. A Japanese garden is my dream trip. Mr. Tesla loves Spring Green and longs to return. Will look at the Star Tribune article.

  19. Mourning Reader*

    I have an etymology question this morning.

    Recently, the phrase “a piece of work” came to mind, in the sarcastic sense as in “that guy’s a real piece of work,” a nonspecific disparagement. Then I had that song from Hair running through my head, and it made me wonder. (It seems to suit my mood, as I have of late lost all my mirth, but I remembered these words were not the songwriter’s.)

    When Shakespeare wrote Hamlet’s speech, “what a piece of work is man, how noble in reason,” etc., was this phrase of disparagement already in use as such, or did Shakespeare create it?

    I could go down the rabbit hole on this (while attributing that phrase to Lewis Carroll) on the internet, but I thought it would be more fun to seek out opinions here. And who knows, maybe one of you is a scholar who actually knows!

    1. nep*

      I like this question.
      I recall hearing once that the expression came from Shakespeare/Hamlet, but of course I don’t know for sure.

    2. Buni*

      If memory serves – and I absolutely allow that it may not, it’s been a while – Hamlet was a 100% being a sarcastic salty b!tch; it may indeed be that this was the first time it had been used thus…

      1. Ramona Q*

        Shakespeare is regularly a salty bitch, but not here! In this context, Hamlet is legitimately marveling. The phrase didn’t take on the derogatory sheen until 1700 or so – check out the Oxford English Dictionary for more!

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      There’s an old (most likely apocryphal) story of someone going to see a production of Hamlet & overhearing this exchange:

      “Did you like it?”
      “Oh yes, but I didn’t expect Shakespeare to use so many cliches!”

      Many common phrases can be traced to the plays, but some might have been used before they were written down. (Think of how many expressions we still get from movies or TV shows.)

    4. fposte*

      I’m looking at the OED, and its first reference for “piece of work” meaning “problematic person” is from 1713 (when someone is called a “whidling, dangerous, piece of work,” which I plan to work into conversation ASAP). However, “piece of work” meaning “difficult undertaking” has a first cite of 1533, pre-Shakespeare; I suspect that this expanded to mean a human who is tough work.

      Shakespeare’s meaning, a more neutral “product of manufacturing,” goes back farther to 1473.

      1. Laura H.*

        But the idea that you can use the desparaging sense of that phrase and it “fits” is kinda scary cool.

      2. Generic Name*

        I was going to suggest looking at the OED! This conversation brings me back to dinner parties my parents used to have. My mom would joke that it wasn’t a true party unless someone had to break out the OED to settle an argument. :) I had a weird upbringing.

    5. Not A Manager*

      I love this question, partly because I love most of the soundtrack from Hair. But if you read the speech (Act 2, scene 2, line 1389), I don’t think it supports the interpretation.

      Hamlet is comparing the objective or apparent beauty and symmetry that surrounds him, to his own mental situation. Even the sun and the sky don’t seem brilliant to him; they seem like the miasma over a swamp. (I’m interpreting “pestilential congregation of vapors” as best I can – but those suggest disease-carrying foul air.) Since he’s already made one comparison of “something objectively admirable that I hate,” I think it’s fair to interpret his description of man the same way. “What a piece of work is a man” is followed by standard religious imagery of his time. Man is created to be like gods and angels, he is the best of the animals, the pinnacle of creation. And yet, just as the sky seems swampy to Hamlet, men are only dustballs that he has no interest in.

      Shakespeare being Shakespeare there’s obviously irony underlying the description of man, but there’s truth too. It’s not ONLY “man’s a real piece of work, isn’t he?” Humans really are amazing creations, and in Shakespeare’s time they were amazing creations of a divine creator. Hamlet is illustrating the extent to which he has, of late, lost all his mirth. It’s a moving description of depression – nothing seems beautiful to him or worth connecting with.

  20. Venus*

    How does your garden grow? Everything is a garden, we welcome updates on everything, including that new weed struggling to make it in the sidewalk crack.

    1. Venus*

      My tomato seedlings are almost doing too well! They get both artificial light and sunlight through a window, and our weather has been beautiful. They are on their second set of full leaves, maybe more. The only positive is that our spring has been very warm, so I am hoping to put them outside sooner.

      I have started to clean up the yard and will do some work on it this weekend. I think the most important part will be ordering dirt for the raised beds as I have a new one.

    2. Drtheliz*

      Petra the African Violet has her first flower Atem since last May! I got her as a desk “pet” (she shares a pot with a novelty “pet rock” I was given once) and it turned out that my desk just didn’t get enough light. Then I moved to a window desk (unrelated), and she started to recover, and finally came back home in December. She’s on the best windowledge we’ve got, and has just started to sprout a tentative little flower :)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Aren’t they gorgeous!? My mother used to grow them… I used to kill them. Then a co-worker going on vacation asked me to water her plant and from her insttuctions I learned I’d been drowning my poor plants. Also that they don’t like some cities’ treated water. I finally have one that I have kept alive for four years. (Rain water before moving to a house with a well.)

        1. pancakes*

          My grandmother kept violets and I’ve never tried to, despite being generally good with plants. I’ve always been intimidated by them. I do have one fussy plant, a begonia Rex, that takes distilled water, so maybe I should try. Thank you for that tip. I have a good humidifier now too, which seems like it might help.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I grinned at your weed comment because yesterday I grinned hugely at the first dandelion flowering between the patio bricks.
      My newly planted pansies are looking cute but lonely so today I’ll spring for a few more. The old packet of wildflower seeds we found sprouted, so we’ll be trying to get them in the dirt.
      My frozen shoulder is keeping me from effective garden prep–I may have to postpone the terrace reclamation for another year and sow wildflowers there as well. The exotics should be going outside for the warm days, but the shoulder interferes with that too.
      The big experiment begins though — I am going to plant black walnuts in containers. These trees produce a chemical that inhibits sprouting. Because it iinhibits their own nuts too, I have aged these in a basket for 2 or 3 winters. Hopefully by summer I will “hold a forest in my hands” like Beverly Nichols did in Merry Hall.

    4. Ali G*

      I’m so excited! Back in January I sowed a bunch of shade tolerant native wildflower seeds in the shady back corner of the yard (there are abandoned garden beds along the fence from the previous owner) and they are sprouting! It’s going to be so cool! I can’t wait to see what comes up.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Womp womp. I planted a bunch of strawberries yesterday in a washtub-style planter, so fingers crossed for those. My oxalis are coming along okay, some more oomphy than others.

      I currently have a gardenia in a cage on my back deck table – I wasn’t sure the pot it was planted in was heavy enough to not be blown off the table in the wind, so I put it in an old dog crate that will give it enough room to tip, if the wind will tip it, but not let it fall off the table and spill everywhere. My husband was like “But what if the whole crate blows off the table?” I said “…. then the pot is definitely not heavy enough to stand up to that kind of wind.” I bought the gardenia a week ago as sort of an impulse – over the week, a bunch of the leaves have been yellowing. It was already getting pretty close to root-bound, so I repotted it yesterday and I’m hoping that giving it the extra room will help. I’m not sure whether it’s under- or over-watered yellowing, or something entirely different :P

      My spider plant has about six different sets of growth on its vine, and I’m hoping that at least one or two of them will be more babies – I have a waiting list of friends who want them, haha. The original baby is doing great, and probably getting pretty close to pot-bound, so I keep telling it that as soon as it starts propagating too, it can have a bigger pot. :P (I figure spider plants are an acceptable way to be a backyard breeder. :P )

      Speaking of backyard, I have two more raspberry bushes I’m going to be planting in my backyard this weekend, and an experiment – it’s a biodegradable cloth-ish mat with seeds embedded in it that are good for partial shade areas, so I don’t have to plant the seeds individually or plan a layout – I can just put the mat down, cover it lightly with soil and mulch and see what comes up!

      And my front yard is chock full of dandelions, sigh. I like them well enough when they’re short yellow flowers, but I hate when they shoot up all tall and gangly and go to seed, it’s just ugly.

    6. Grim*

      I just sprayed weed killer on my sidewalk weeds yesterday. I’ll check their state if withering today!

      Die weeds, die!

      1. MizPurple*

        Vinegar for sidewalk weeds for the eco-friendly solution. There is even a more a concentrated version (use with caution and serious gloves/eye protection). I once had a weed burner thing that used propane and did a wonderfully satisfying job of sizzling the weeds in a large paved patio.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I love my “flame thrower” but have to be careful because former owners had landscaping fabric in unexpected areas….it melts.

        2. pancakes*

          The burner sounds fun and satisfying to use. Creme brûlée as a reward for the gardener!

    7. GoryDetails*

      More spring bulbs popping up, including some daffodils. Other perennials include the catmint – which I fear I will have to dig up, as it attracts roving neighborhood cats to the yard and my indoor cats go ballistic seeing them through the windows. [I planted the catmint back when I had indoor/outdoor cats years ago, and as it’s a handsome plant and a robust perennial I let it stay, but I think it has to go now.]

      1. missb*

        I put a metal cage over mine. It’s an old two-sided milk crate that I found on the property. I just dumped it upside down over the catnip plants. Anything that pokes through is fair game for any random kitties and anything underneath is stuff that I can pick to feed my indoor kitty.

        Maybe you can transfer it to a pot and put in a place where your indoor kitty can’t see it?

        1. GoryDetails*

          I already have a cage over it – kept my old indoor/outdoor cats from rubbing it down to the stem! But I really don’t want to attract the neighborhood cats to my yard at all, so it’ll have to come out.

    8. Never Nicky*

      I’m all out of windowsill, bench space and pots so things will need to get out in the garden soon!

      My tomatoes are going great guns especially but there’s too many plants for the two of us, so I’m going to share with friends – same with the chillies.

      Of the flowers, I’m disappointed in the various poppy varieties but the nasturtiums appear to be crossed with triffids…

    9. HannahS*

      My tomato seedlings are up! Yay! That and some basil is the only thing I’m growing this year (tiny condo, we’re moving in a few months). But the experience is reminding me how much I enjoy growing things. I think I’ll try and grow pea shoots over the winter, because it’s just so fun to have little indoor plants that change so much day to day. The lemon tree is fun too, in its way, but things change much more slowly. The little lemons are maybe 1.5 cm long.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        You might get some enjoyment out of an Aerogarden? herbs and lettuce grow like gangbusters. :)

    10. fposte*

      I went to see cherry blossoms this week! A nearby place has a lot of them and a lovely setting, but I’ve never actually been there when they were blooming. It was gorgeous, and it was also nice to see a reasonable group of well-behaved and largely vaccinated people enjoying the sight and even following the tradition of picnicking under them.

    11. Jenny*

      I’m trying to figure out netting for my various fruits. I have strawberries kind of all over the place, blueberries, and various fruit trees. I would rather have no fruit than use pesticides.

    12. missb*

      I counted up my basement tomato and pepper seedlings yesterday. I have 55 tomato starts (8 varieties total) and 32 pepper seedlings (4 varieties). They’re all potted up in 32 oz containers, which hopefully they’ll stay in until ready to go outside to harden off. I also have some ground cherries and Mexican sunflowers growing in the basement.

      I don’t have garden space for 55 tomatoes and 32 peppers, so as usual I’ll be giving some away to my siblings that live nearby and planting the rest.

      I did manage to transplant all my baby leeks and they seemed to have survived. I also transplanted some poorly timed chard and the previously transplanted mustards and kales are all doing fabulous.

      Holding off on planting my seed potatoes for now. Soon though.

    13. Bobina*

      All the Irises I planted last winter have grown loads but not flowered and I. am. mad about it! I just want flowers and some color! Same with the ranunculus. Anemones are just coming up (I planted them later), so fingers crossed I’ll have some success with those.

      Other than that, I planted some cilantro and the logical place is the kitchen window but the light there is super diffuse so I just got extremely leggy seedlings. Moved them to my bedroom which is apparently the best place for seedlings (warm and bright) where they seem to be growing like mad which is good I guess, but they will eventually have to go back to the kitchen so we’ll see how they do there.

      Hosta is alive and growing, so looking forward to seeing that get big. Had to move it from its more sheltered spot as slugs were attacking it. We’ve been having a cold snap though which has definitely slowed down a lot of the outside plants, so quite keen for the temperatures to go back up so I can enjoy seeing things grow.

      There are definitely new weeds growing in the wall, so I shall see how they do :D

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        I have anemones and ranunculus for the first time. They’re looking very green and cheery just below our Little Free Library. When in the season did you plant (and what’s your local climate like)?

        1. Bobina*

          I planted most of the ranunculus in..November? I probably had about a 50% success rate in terms of sprouting and the shoots that I’ve got seem healthy and are maybe 5 inches tall – but have been like that since about January/February? I’m in the UK (USDA zone 8/9 according to the internet) and I will say that we’ve probably had a bit of a colder winter/spring than recent years, so that probably doesnt help. Either that or the fact that we’ve not had much sunshine!

    14. Sparkly Librarian*

      Many things springing up! We cut back the (wanted, planted) blackberry brambles a few weeks ago and have a ton of new green growth. A few tiny raspberries out of season (unsure why the poor plant is confused). In February I took a gamble and planted some bulbs and corms that had spent about year in the crisper drawer, and it seems that more than half of them have decided to sprout. This week we have the first bud! I also transplanted tomato starts from friends into my raised beds and containers, added the next succession of fava beans, planted some bush beans in a new spot, and dubiously sprinkled some tiny feverfew seeds into a large pot. Guess this year’s about experimentation.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Just checking bc a friend didn’t know–blackberries are biennial. This year’s growth is next year’s berry cane. She cut it -all- back, and had very healthy plants but no berries. Fingers crossed you’re not in that boat.

    15. pancakes*

      I’ve been letting my fireplace thyme fend for itself over the winter and it’s looking surprisingly lush. I’m behind on everything else, but at least I have thyme!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I actually plan to have plants in my fireplace after we managed to get electric to that area. LED lamps for the win. (Long story it’s not usable without some work.)

          1. pancakes*

            Good luck with it! I’ve grown so many things on various fire escapes over the years. Tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, hot peppers, herbs, flowers. Two years in a row mourning doves built nests and had babies in my potted plants, which was a joy to watch.

            This year I’m growing tomatoes and sunflowers again, and flowers meant for pollinators tbd. The present & likely forever fire escape is south-facing and gets good sun.

    16. Might Be Spam*

      I grew green peppers on my balcony last year and brought them in for the winter. They are ALL Still Alive and one even has a flower on it.

    17. Teapot Translator*

      I have a question! We’re having an unusually warm April. As long as the temperature doesn’t go under 0 Celsius degrees overnight, can I take out some of my plants? One pot has a geranium and what might be a dragontree (according to my Google research) and the other has only a dragontree (again, based on Google).
      They’re big pots; they go on the balcony for the summer and I’m going to buy more geraniums to put around the dragontrees. They take a lot of space inside. Thanks!

      1. Reba*

        Dracaena? There are so many varieties, with different cold tolerance, I think you may want to try to get a little more specific to the species in order to research its care. In any case, almost all of them are tropical, so getting close to freezing is probably too cold!

        1. Teapot Translator*

          I think so. I didn’t keep the information on the plant because when I bought them last year, I didn’t think they’d survive a summer with me! But if you say it’s a tropical plant, I’ll wait patiently before taking them outside.

    18. Pam Adams*

      The birds ate a lot of seeds and tried picking at our plantings. Apparently, freshly turned garden beds are good for dust baths, and birds don’t care if they crush your baby annuals to do it. Netting to the rescue!!

      Not quite a crack in the sidewalk, but we do have some feral tomatoes trying to survive in our graveled walkway. We will move them this weekend.

    19. Sleepless*

      It’s the most gorgeous season of the year in Atlanta…the azaleas are blooming! I remembered to feed mine this year so they are doing great. The dogwoods have just finished, my hydrangeas are leafing out, and the trees are greening up. Sadly, I’m really concerned about the zoysia sod we put in last year. I think it got too wet over the winter.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Zoysia dies back and goes yellow with short days. Try raking out the dead straw, to make room for new growth.

    20. Intermittent Introvert*

      I thought I had vigorous weeds growing between the patio bricks and then realized it’s spinach from the end of last year’s crop that went to seed. Kind of makes me happy.

  21. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Imposter syndrome gets mentioned here often. I’d like to share an idea that immediately felt right when I read it: it’s a lot like 19th c “female hysteria”–not really medical. In their article (link in a reply) Ruchika Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey re-identify it as internalized self doubt grown from years of sexism & often racism. I’ll add homophobia for my LBGTQ+ friends.
    “Imposter syndrome directs our view toward fixing women at work instead of fixing the places where women work.”
    I had to stop at that point as images & experiences & friends’ stories came back to me.
    Article in the Harvard Business Review, link spotted when someone shared it in Carolyn Hax’s Live Chat yesterday. (Another Hax commenter pointed readers to Alison & Ask A Manager yay.)

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I have wondered where the term “imposter syndrome” came from. Growing up I heard adults referring to “lack of self-confidence”. Which still conveniently throws the problem back onto the sufferer and negates any responsibility for those around that person. However, as a teen and young adult there was none of this type of discussion going on. It was up to me, to “build my self-confidence up”.

    2. Jay*

      OMG. World turned upside down. Thank you. Off to find the article (missed Hax’s chat yesterday).

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Link’s made it through moderation by now. I’m glad others are interested too.

    3. Overeducated*

      I think it has a lot to do with environment. When I went from academia, where I had to constantly document and assert my competence and compete for grants, jobs, publications, etc., I felt constantly not good enough. (And maybe I wasn’t – many people with better mentoring and willingness to ask for more DID objectively do better on all fronts.) In my current sector, people simply assume I’m the expert in my field, and I’m never competing with anyone, an d the “imposter syndrome” vanished like a puff of smoke.

      So yes. I agree it’s about “where women work.”

    4. Jane of all Trades*

      Wow – thank you for sharing. I felt very seen (which, I guess, is unfortunate).
      I feel like based on this article I would define “imposter syndrome” more as a recognition that the person operates in a space where they are at a structural disadvantage based on innate characteristics.

  22. Charlotte Lucas*

    I love Parnassus on Wheels! There’s also a sequel called The Haunted Bookshop.

    1. Pam Adams*

      Just read Parnassus- adorable! and have started Haunted Bookshop. HB seems more Wodehosian.

  23. Hotdog not dog*

    Anyone else’s yarn stash attempting a coup? After a whole year of pandemic afghans, scarves, hats, etc; trading stashes with a friend, donating yarn to a local seniors group and even (gasp!) Throwing. Yarn. Out. the stash seems larger than ever! Any suggestions for beating it into submission? (My spouse thinks it’s breeding in the bins, he may be right!)

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I brought mine up from the basement in hopes it would grow into completed ptojects when given some sunlight. (It’s helping me remember to knit more and buy less, but boy I’m a slow knitter. And slow to mail off when finished.)

    2. Lifelong student*

      My yarn stash is down to 57,000 yards. However, my stash of completed afghans is now in the sixth 50 gallon container because the places I normally donate to have been closed for so long. Of course, the yarn stash has many orphan balls so I need to buy some more colors when supplies are plentiful again!

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        Lifelong Student, I’m trying to ignore the bins of finished projects too. At least I know they’ll eventually find new homes, though! Seeking Second Childhood, I’m a little afraid that if the stash gets more light it might start to sprout… I think I may need to just grit my teeth and donate it without going through it first!

    3. Never Nicky*

      My yarn stash is in boxes in the attic, so I’m calling it loft insulation and hence energy saving … Fortunately my younger friends and colleagues are going through a bit of a baby boom at the moment which is helping!

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Consider Goodwill or other charities that take craft supplies. There are charities that knit and/or crochet items for people in need. Donations of yarn are usually welcome. (Covid might have changed this, though.)
      Personally, I like the idea of filling my attic with yarn for insulation! Love it!

    5. EmbroideryWonk*

      I personally love acquiring yarn bundles for freehand embroidery/fiber art. I hit up all my knitting friends for their stashes and they are glad to be rid of them! I also buy from a shop that sells handmade yarn and they sell “sample” bundles of 3 yards each of 10 coordinated types of yarn. Perfect for my craft use.

      If you’re willing to set up etsy, you could sell curated bundles of coordinated colored yarn, or mystery bags of “scrap yarn”. They sell!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My lengthwise random fiber scarf came from a $2 gallon bag of color coordinated half balls that I bought at a garage sale a couple Summers back. Realized halfway through it really needs more yarn than that, so shucks I just had to visit my local yarn shop’s “end lots” bin.

    6. my name is she-devil*

      ha, I decided to buy a spinning wheel and learn to spin, so now my yarn stash is essentially never going away! I found that explicitly attaching yarn to projects I want to do can slow down the “buy yarn then buy pattern for that yarn then pattern needs some extra yarn etc.” cycle I got stuck kn! Im also hopeful that two patterns I got which have lots of bits of contrast color will be useful for using up some leftover half skeins I have, but the jury is still out on that.

    7. Juniper*

      My mom just knitted a cute little pants and sweater set for my 2 year old out of yarn she has had for 30+ years. So you might not want to throw it away, you never know when it will come in handy!

    8. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      The explanation I have heard is that collecting yarn is an entirely separate hobby from knitting/crocheting/otherwise using the yarn!

      I find it helps me to have a plan for the yarn. I will “shop” my stash, and separate yarn into bags to use in a specific project. Reusable grocery bags are great for this – they turn into the project bag when you start working. I also organize my bins by type of project – hats, sweaters, socks, blankets, etc. Basically, I don’t have a specific project in mind, but I know the yarn in this bin is all lightweight and good for socks, or large quantities of a single color and good for sweaters, that sort of thing. For me at least, being able to find what I have in existing stash helps me avoid large purchases.

      Of course, this doesn’t help when I need 14 different colors of acrylic yarn, and 90% of my stash is wool…

    9. twocents*

      I knit kitten blankets that I donate to a local shelter. It doesn’t have to look good and the shelter always needs more; the cats go home with a blanket so they have something comforting/familiar as they settle into their forget home.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      Someone last week mentioned the Almond Butter Tofu Stir-Fry recipe by the Minimalist Baker. I tried it this week. As I have to be careful with the amount of salt I eat, I had to modify the marinade and it didn’t work? It tasted great with the vegetables, but the tofu was bland. I think it’s because by reducing the amounts, there wasn’t enough marinade for everything?
      Here’s the ingredient list:
      2 Tbsp sesame oil (divided)
      4 Tbsp reduced-sodium tamari (or soy sauce if not GF)
      3 Tbsp maple syrup
      2 Tbsp almond butter (or sub peanut butter)
      2 Tbsp lime juice
      1-2 tsp chili garlic sauce (or 1/2 tsp red pepper flake // or 1-2 Thai chilies, minced // amounts as original recipe is written)

      Should I add water to replace the sodium I don’t use? Or canola oil?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’d suggest something with flavor, like a no-salt-added bouillion, maybe more garlic, or some almond/peanut/sesame oil to pull out some more nut flavor. Also, did you marinate the tofu alone before adding the veg? (The meals when it is my night to cook have been tasting better since I started working from home… because I can do morning prep and let the protein marinate 7-8 hours.)

        1. Teapot Translator*

          The recipe said to marinate 5 minutes. So that’s what I did. :( Good idea with the bouillon!

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      A recent health scare has meant more fiber & less salt is being consumed in my household. Yesterday I made pizza with a whole wheat crust. It worked really well. (Once again, thank you to America’s Test Kitchen.)

      1. Ali G*

        If you haven’t tried them, the Mrs. Dash blends are actually pretty great. I use the spicy ones on chicken thighs and the chicken blend on fish.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Oh, I have quite the spice /herb collection. (Penzey’s & I became penoals in 2021.) Unfortunately, the patient is off spices for a while, too.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Assumong no soy allergy, here’s another thought for you –we put TVP on pizza as a Lent experiment and it worked in place of ground meat. With ground meat it extends it and makes it lower salt, higher fiber. (My family also sprinkles the larger flake version on salad, but I didn’t like the texture.)

        1. mystiknitter*

          I tried using TVP (Bob’s Red Mill brand) for half the bulgur in tabouli, same amount of water and soaking time, followed the recipe on the bulgur wheat package (also from Bob’s. Thank you, Red Mill, I’ve used a lot of your products in the last year :) ) – and it was great. Also, use as much or more mint than parsley, such a luscious way to enjoy summer tomatoes, herbs and cucumbers.

    3. Ali G*

      Tonight is blue cheese stuffed burgers with a mushroom and caramelized onion topping (this is a recipe I created and Hubs loves it).
      Tomorrow I am riffing on a Kitchn recipe for nacho potato skins. It’s basically potato skins with a nacho/chili topping so it’s kind of a meal?

    4. HannahS*

      This week, I tried Smitten Kitchen’s foccacia recipe (we made veggie sandwiches with it) and it was great. So easy. I’d use half the oil next time, though, as it came out a bit greasy for my taste.

      I tried to recreate a hearts-of-palm salad that I had a few years ago–sliced hearts of palm, cherry tomatoes, corn kernels, red onion (soaked in cold water to make it a bit less fierce), with lemon, oil, parsley, salt and pepper. Tasted just like I remembered!

      I also made Budget Bytes beef kofta (accidentally added cinnamon, but it worked) and served it with potatoes and salad (lemon-tahini dressing, so good).

      The warmer weather is definitely driving me to want meals with lots and lots of vegetables.

    5. Slinky*

      I’m making a German chocolate cake later today using my sourdough discard. I’m also trying an experiment for dinner of topping cheese grits with scallops.

    6. missb*

      I’m trying a Thai tofu noodle bowl tonight from a recent budget bytes post. I really like lime peanut sauce, so the tofu and noodles and veggies are really just vehicles for that.

    7. Buni*

      Made a batch of sweet pepper & chili jam – as usual the answer to the question ‘How much will this make?’ is ‘One more jar than you thought to sterilise’.

      Haven’t tried it yet (beyond pan-dipping) so it might be too sweet as a straight condiment, will try sticking a spoonful in a stir-fry, but just walking into my kitchen right now guarantees clear sinuses for a week…

    8. tab*

      I made Spicy Low Country Shrimp & Grits (adapted from a Food Network recipe) last night. It was very tasty.

    9. OtterB*

      My daughter has developed lactose intolerance. I never realized how many things I fixed with cheese. We can’t eat pasta with meat sauce EVERY night, so I am trying out other recipes. I have learned that one of the pizza places in town offers a vegan cheese option, so that will be helpful; several of our other carryout places have fallen off the rotation due to lack of non-dairy options.

      1. It's a fish, Al*

        Not every cheese has lactose! Aged cheeses (including most mozarellas) are good to go for us lactose intolerants. Milk, cream, ice cream, fresh cheese, and some yogurts (usually the oversweetened “child-friendly” ones) are the bad guys.

    10. twocents*

      I bought Heroes’ Feast in an attempt to make cooking fun for me. (I don’t particularly enjoy it but my waist and wallet don’t enjoy the alternative.) I’m going to make hand pies today and a braised beef thing later this week! Wish me luck!

    11. Tabitha Paine*

      I made curry for the first time. It was a simple receipe that I got off Tasty co and it tasted good, which I was happy about as I felt completely out of my depth. Next time I am going to make it a little more spicy and see how that goes.

  24. Teapot Translator*

    Exercise thread!
    Tell all about what you’re doing! Any questions for the group?

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Been going on miles of walks in training for a hiking vacation in a month.

      Anybody know what the best frequency of exercise for getting in shape rapidly is? I’m pushing hard enough I get kinda sore, and am not sure if I should take a day off occasionally to let my body rest and recover, or keep doing daily miles. I’ve got a hard deadline so I don’t want to waste any time.

      1. CheeryO*

        1-2 days per week of pure rest or lower stress activities (yoga or just a shorter, slower walk) would be a good idea just to let your body recover. I’m not sure if this holds entirely true for walking, but with running, your body actually absorbs the training and makes adaptations when you decrease the training load, hence why runners will rest up (taper) prior to an endurance event.

      2. Qwerty*

        There’s a website called NomadsWithAPurpose which has a great post on “How to train for a strenuous hike”. It also explains some good exercises to build important muscles so you don’t injure yourself by overdoing it (with a video at the bottom).

        Depending on how strenuous your walks are, you should probably take a day or two off to rest. Or cross train (core workouts are great) if you don’t want to completely skip that day.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Frozen shoulder got worse after last week’s tumble, so I’m back at square one and feeling like a slug. So far the best physical therapy I have found is hanging laundry on the line. Ow. Effective because I have to get 2 hands up there at once. As always, any new shoulder stretch ideas welcome. (Pools can’t come back soon enough, and I am hoping to find a physicsl therapist to start after my vax#2.)

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        I’ve been doing Kinstretch with Beth Lewis (online classes) and it has changed my whole world. I went from waking up in shoulder pain in the middle of the night, to comfortably bench pressing and overhead pressing!

        Without buying the classes, you can look up PRI and go on youtube to find “shoulder CARs” which is the main exercise I do every morning, noon, and night and has helped so much. I do the one with arm extended, and also an easier modification where you make squares with your shoulders (bring them up to your ears, back, down, forward, and up again). The theory of PRI is that our brain “forgets” how to talk to your muscles after an injury, and you have to teach it how to talk again by basically just trying over and over until it ‘clicks’. It took me a few weeks before my shoulders remotely did anything like what I wanted, and 3 months before I felt like I was feeling what I was “supposed” to with the exercise.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’ll look into it. Sounds like you have a different thing than what I’m dealing with though. If I relax and let someone else move my arm, they can’t get it to go past a certain point either. So I don’t think it’s arm/brain communication for me, it’s the arm itself.

    3. blue wall*

      I would like to get back into some strength training for health reasons. Would love recommendations for an easy-t0-reference list of exercises or something like that. I know there are lots of videos but I’m not huge into videos (but if there’s one you super-recommend, I’ll check it out!).

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        I got started in strength training with Starting Strength about 1 year ago and I truly believe it is the best way to gain strength quickly and effectively. None of that ‘toning’ bs that makes your muscles sore and tired but does not make them grow. Also theres some good arguments that it’s lower injury risk, because you can’t do movements wrong with heavy weight, but you can do light weight with bad form enough times to really mess yourself up.

        The concept is very simple: 3 times a week you squat 3×5, bench or overhead press (rotating) 3×5, and deadlift 1×5. That’s it. Most untrained women start with the bare bar, maybe a light bar for pressing. Eaxh session you go up 5lbs on lower body and 2.5lbs on upper.

        Seriously. It’s all you need for at least 6 months. I’m now squatting body weight for 15 reps and deadlifting almost 1.5 body weight for 6 reps! I also lost 2″ on my waist and gained 3″ on my butt, haha. Stayed pretty much the same weight.

        There’s some nuance here, especially for women, so I do recommend buying the book and watching the videos Starting Strength has on youtube for the basic lift tutorials (hey, at least it’s only 4). Also a session with a certified Starting Strength coach or a subscription to Barbell Logic online coaching (pricey but it means a professional is supervising what you do) is super valuable.

    4. Juniper*

      I’m getting back into the swing of runnung! It’s always been by go-to, but I have also dabbled in home exercise apps for strength training and flexibility. Lately I have dabbled in Netflix and wine, so I was feeling down about my conditioning. Feeling like I’m over that early hump and loving it. Honestly nothing beats strapping on my running shoes, getting out in the fresh air and running my trail by the sea.

    5. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I did Couch 2 5k day 2 on Monday and surprisingly, it felt easier than day 1 even with a few days in between! Unfortunately I had to take a few days off from the gym this week. On day 1 (Friday) I skipped half of the jogging intervals and on day 2 (the following Monday), I skipped only one.

      Also last night, I spent an hour cleaning the bathroom. Used a mop for the first time [shower head loosened and leaked water all over the floor as I was showering so there were huge puddles that couldn’t be Swiffered away, and decided to just do a full deep clean of the space]. A lot of squatting. and sweating. It was actually really funny, or at least I can find the humor in it. Today I briskly walked across the mall and man is my body sore for some reason. I totally count these 2 things as exercise :p

      This coming week….going to stick to my 3 days a week of Couch25k followed by lower body weights. For the first two weeks I’m focusing on increasing my endurance so the transitions become easier and I find skipping an interval or pausing isn’t necessary. Once I get that down pat, I’ll focus on increasing the speeds and inclines.

  25. Teapot Translator*

    This is not a book thread. This is maybe an antibook thread?
    Inspired by something I saw on Twitter.
    What classic (any genre) did you try to read and couldn’t because of *-isms?
    I’ll start. When I was studying literature, a teacher recommended I read Robert Heinlein’s A Stranger in a Strange Land (I think that was the one). I tried, but then there was a scene about a man being fawned over by scantily clad women (in my mind, I see it as the King Herod scene in Jesus Christ Superstar) and I had to stop.
    I also tried another classic SF book from French literature, The Ice People by René Barjavel. And I had to stop when they find a woman in the ice and she has no personality, just men around her falling in love with her and not asking her opinion on what her life should be.

    1. sequined histories*

      I grew up reading the Nancy Drew books in their mid-twentieth century versions. When the originals from the 1920s were re-issued, I started reading them. I thought they were a lot better than the versions I grew up with. Until I got to the first scene with a Black character.

      1. OtterB*

        Oof. Yeah. I haven’t tried the original Nancy Drew books but ran across something similar in one of the later books in the Five Little Peppers series.

      1. allathian*

        Same here. The only one I’ve managed to read is Anna Karenina, and it’s a lot less heavy than some. But it’s not because of any isms, they just aren’t my style.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        No shame, lol. It defeats me, and I had to read both War and Peace and Crime and Punishment in high school, for the Russian lit classes, back in Russia.
        My teacher took a pity on us and only required to read specific passages from War and Peace that would come up on quizzes or essays.
        Of you want one book that you can finish, I would recommend Master and Margarita, by Bulgakov. It’s a lot more modern and has interesting back story.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          It’s also the inspiration for a Rolling Stones song. (I recommend an annotated version, to understand all the references.)

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I had trouble with Dracula for this. I forced my way through it, but the stereotypes and casual sexism were more disturbing to me than the vampire. (Seriously, if they had armed Mina and taken her along when chasing the vampire, she would have been safer. Don’t get me started on Lucy.)
      I had a related thought earlier this week, when an old saying popped back into my head as I looked for something in my sewing box. Remember this one? “Needles and pins, needles and pins, when a man marries his trouble begins.” Ick. I need brain bleach.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        May I recommend Carmilla, by Sheridan Le Fanu then?

        This story (about 100 pages) predates Dracula by about 30 years and is the origin of a lot of the lesbian vampire mythos that exists today. I’ve only recently read it and was amazed at how much Stoker used this story as an inspiration for his.

        It’s out of copyright so you can read it here if you don’t mind the functional look of the website: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Carmilla But I thought it was more enjoyable than Dracula.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          On the more modern front, Theodora Goss’s Athena Club trilogy is fantastic. The main characters are the daughters/experimental subjects of literary mad scientists (Dr Moreau, Dr Jekyll, Dr Frankenstein etc), who end up banding together. I believe the author did a PhD thesis on Gothic lit, so it’s well grounded in the literature, but the story is from a very female perspective, with themes of research ethics and consent. Most of the cast of Dracula appears, plus characters from a wide variety of gothic and period literature.

      2. Emily*

        I really enjoy Dracula, but I do spend a lot of the latter half of the book wanting to laugh at/shake them.

        The Men: “Mina has better not come along on this mission; it’s too dangerous.”
        Mina: Gets bitten by Dracula while no one else is around.
        The Men: “Mina has been really pale and tired recently. It’s probably because she’s stressed out!”

    3. Llellayena*

      I absolutely refused to read Candide in high school. I thought the whole think was highly insulting and I could feel my lip curling with disgust in the first few pages. I know it was supposed to be controversial but it was too much for me. I also could not get through Catcher in the Rye. Only book I ever used cliff notes for. So…boring…

        1. Nessun*

          I read the whole thing to spite my teacher – she couldn’t believe anyone wouldn’t love the whole thing if they read it through. I despised Holden and I gave her chapter and verse quotes for why….she stopped looking when I put my hand up. Did the same with Gatsby – both it and Catcher were just awful IMO.

          1. MEH*

            I read the whole thing, too. Hated Holden more and more with each page. I also loathed The Great Gatsby!

          2. Charlotte Lucas*

            The only positive about The Great Gatsby is that it’s short. Otherwise, it’s a horrible book about horrible people.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      Most biographies and especially autobiographies. I don’t know why but real historical figures are just not exciting to me. Especially modern people that are/were alive during my adult years. I see them on TV, I don’t care to also read about them. And autobiographies feel too uncomfortably intimate, I don’t want to know real people thoughts and feelings.
      And most poetry. It bores me to tears.

    5. Foreign Octopus*

      I am 100% with you on Heinlein’s one. I forced myself to read through to the end and I was so disappointed in it as the premise was a brilliant one: Man born on Mars, comes back to Earth, things happen. But it just hit the wrong note every single time with me.

      1. Nessun*

        I third Heinlein. I was told his writing was amazing, and his ideas seemed really great when I was given the plot, but there were several I read all the way through wth a serious case of Ick. The sexism was so gross.

      2. OyHiOh*

        I, a grown ass adult in early 40’s, got tired of the “horrified” gasps from friends upon learning I’d never read Stranger in a Strange Land – as a matter of fact, had not heard of the title of this book until around three years ago. So I read it this past winter and was terribly, terribly disappointed. Phenomenal premise, even some pretty good science fiction peaks into the future, had the potential to be sex positive or at least much less prudish than most of the fiction of its time – and yet managed to disappoint from about the third chapter on.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      While in college, I received “Flatland” as a gift. I was astonished at the misogyny in it.

      1. moar coffee please*

        I read flatland when I was in uni. My copy has a preface that is discussing all the sexism/classism in the book. The preface was nearly as long as the book. As a (female) mathematician, I loved it though. I still use its ideas to explain dimensions. It gave me real context for that. As a female math grad student in the 1980’s that book was certainly not the worst example of sexism that I was coming across ….

    7. OtterB*

      I was participating in a discussion on twitter recently about the Sector General science fiction novels. The poster said someone had recommended them as “kindness” sf and she couldn’t see it because of the misogyny. I could see it both ways. The kindness is in the nonviolent relationship between alien races and the existence of Sector General, a big space station hospital to tend to the health needs of many diverse species. It’s extraordinarily positive in that way. But the misogyny and gender essentialism is clearly there – women are valued as nurses, but doctors need a kind of brain imprinting to treat new species and women’s brains don’t work right for it. I noticed it when I first read the books in the 80s but it didn’t bother me too much, perhaps because such things were more ubiquitous then. I was rereading them recently and noticed it more but could still let it pass. But I could see why some people can’t.

    8. Llama face!*

      This past year I finally realized I can’t read Agatha Christie anymore. Somehow through all the years of reading her books previously I hadn’t realized just how bad the racism was. But it is SO SO bad! I know it was more common when they were written but still there are writers even from that period in time that weren’t constantly referencing the untrustworthiness of certain skin toned characters or putting in dialogue about how the characters just don’t like black people (and that was the supposed heroine, not just the villain saying it).

      1. Frankie Derwent*

        Personally, I like how her novels are a product of her time. Her main characters were definitely flawed humans who were representative of their settings.
        But I’m not british so i cant attest to the accuracy of how racist theor society was in the 20th century. Also, I’m a biased agatha christie fan here, as you may deduce from my user name. :)

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, same here. I read the books as products of their time. I don’t like the racism, or the implied sexism in most of the books. All that crap about women’s intuition vs. male logic, or the supposedly fickle female mind. Or the supposed characteristics of people of different nationalities, like Italians typically using a knife as a weapon, or an admiration for a cold, mathematical Anglo-Saxon brain. It irritates me, but not to the point that I can’t read the books. Most of my favorite Christie books were written in the 1920s or 1930s, and attitudes then were very different from what they are today.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            As someone with an English degree, my attitude is to read books as a product of their times, & that’s what Christie’s work is. I often read her narrators as being more ironic in their descriptions, showing a common attitude but not necessarily sharing it.

      2. Llama face!*

        I get where you all are coming from and if I was reading them for educational purposes that would make a difference. But personally I just can’t keep reading them as entertainment because the extensive racism (and yes, also the sexism, etc) make them tainted for me. It feels like I’m perpetuating racial harm by using them as entertainment. I know it’s different for everybody but that’s the line for me.

      3. MEH*

        This is a really sore spot with me because I love the Poirot books (having read all of them several times), but I’ve always been aware of how very problematic they are. Racism, sexism, classism, the whole gambit. I haven’t read them in a few years and I wonder if I’d be able to get past it now. Also, I love the TV series and David Suchet, but that’s even more problematic.

        I think they should retire the character from movies unless it’s an actual Belgian actor playing a young Poirot as a policeman.

    9. Generic Name*

      This isn’t literature, but I started reading “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” a few years ago and thought it was filled with obvious tips (write things down! On a calendar even!!) or outright BS. So I thought to myself that the first effective thing I was going to do was stop reading that book.

    10. Not A Manager*

      I’m sure there are books that I couldn’t read because of attitudes expressed by the author or the characters, but I haven’t personally come across any “great literature” or “classic” that I’ve had that reaction to. Mostly I’ll have a reaction to the character or statement and then I’ll try to think about whether the author intended me to have that reaction, and if not what it says about the author and the context that this *is* obnoxious to me but *wasn’t* obnoxious to them.

      Here’s an example: the only reference to Jews that I’ve ever noticed in Jane Eyre is when she assures Rochester that she is not a “Jew-usurer.” Well, to me that doesn’t seem like a very nice thing to say. But clearly Bronte isn’t throwing some sly shade at Jane. And the whole book is super colorist in its depiction of Blanche and other darker-skinned white people, and racist in the whole background to Bertha and her brother, etc. I’m aware of those things, and I’m aware that Bronte probably wasn’t aware of them. I’m willing to sit with that. And I still love reading Jane Eyre.

      Everyone has their own comfort levels, especially for their leisure reading. For myself, the classics tend to have enough nuance and enough else going for them that I’m okay that the characters (and the authors) tend to reflect the perceptions and values of the authors’ times.

      1. Observer*

        : the only reference to Jews that I’ve ever noticed in Jane Eyre is when she assures Rochester that she is not a “Jew-usurer.” Well, to me that doesn’t seem like a very nice thing to say. But clearly Bronte isn’t throwing some sly shade at Jane.

        I don’t know if this changes anything for you, since I’m not 100% of what you are getting at here. But, that comment is a throwaway jibe at Jews (who are usurers).

        1. Not A Manager*

          Um, yes, thank you I knew that. My point is that this is a throw-away anti-semitic statement, by a character that the author sympathizes with and that the reader is supposed to like. Sorry that was somehow unclear?

          In case the rest of my statements weren’t clear, the otherwise-sympathetic characters have a lot to say about the dark skin tone of some secondary characters and the mixed race of others, which I interpret to be colorist and racist.

          Since I’m not 100% of what you’re getting at here, are you saying that Jews are *actually* usurers?

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Not speaking for Observer, but your previous post read to me like you were saying didn’t mind all that much about the anti-semitic throwaway line. I’m still not clear on what your point was about that particular bit of the book. The thread was about books that were ruined for you because of the bigotry of their time, but you seemed to be saying the books you were mentioning were not ruined for you, and then mentioned this example. So I’m confused. You agree that it’s anti-semitic, and other parts of the books are colorist and racist, but it feels like there’s a but? That’s where I’m lost.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        I recommend The Wide Sargasso Sea to anyone who’s read Jane Eyre. It’s essentially an literary reply to all her isms.

    11. Qwerty*

      Not a classic, but I couldn’t make it through the Game of Thrones books because of the sexism. I am really stubborn about finishing a book or a series once I start it, so I think I made it through half the books before I gave up.

      1. OtterB*

        I read the first one because I liked some of GRRM’s earlier work a lot, but it was just way too violent and grimdark for me, so I gave it up after that.

      2. Retros*

        oh my God, the sexism in these books is all over the place ! I’ve actually managed to read the first four books (I had watched the series and wanted to see how different the books were) but it doesn’t get better, believe me :/

      3. allathian*

        I started the first one two years ago, and it keeps getting dropped to the bottom of my TBR pile… I just can’t so I guess I’ll give up on it.

    12. MEH*

      A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. I had to read it for my MA in ‘Writing and Consciousness’ and I threw it across the room once I was done with it. Hundreds of pages of constant whining about how hard his life was and how underappreciated he was. Ugh. It’s the book that made me realize life is too short to force myself to finish a book if I didn’t have to.

      Also from that degree–Tropic of either Cancer or Capricorn by Henry James. I felt it was self-pretentious twaddle.

      I tried to read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy when I was in sixth grade because it was the longest book I knew. I gave up after 500 pages because I was confused as to who was whom (all those nicknames)! This one I blame on me, not the book.

      Around the same time, I read The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and even then I wondered why SHE was the one to get in trouble and not the priest. I did not enjoy that book at all.

      1. I take tea*

        I haven’t read A Portrait… but I’ve tried to read James Joyce’s Ulysses and just had to give up. All. The. Rambling.

      2. allathian*

        I read The Scarlet Letter for an English class in high school and hated it for precisely that reason. I realized it was a different time, but I hated reading it all the same.

      3. Workerbee*

        Thank you for saying that about Tropic of Cancer. I have my dad’s copy, I keep feeling I should read it, I crack it open and—nope. I guess it was daring at its time?

      4. Cedrus Libani*

        Back when I was a pretentious 8th grader, I chose to do a project on Tolstoy, knowing nothing about his work except that his books were supposed to be challenging. We were meant to read two books by the author and then write a short story in that author’s style. Fast forward a month or so, with the due date looming, I read War and Peace and Anna Karenina in a weekend…and then, sleep-deprived and VERY cranky, I wrote several thousand words about a roughly thirty-second interval in which a family sits down to eat an ordinary dinner. The events were recounted from the POV of absolutely everyone, including the dog, and they were all named Alexei Alexovich or the female equivalent.

        I might appreciate it more now, but I still think the preteen shade was entirely called for.

    13. Dark Macadamia*

      I recently gave up on Louise Erdrich’s “Round House” because I found it grotesque that a gendered crime against a woman was the catalyst for the male protagonist’s story.

    14. Double A*

      I was going through a period of reading various nobel prize winners and picked up a book by the Japanese author Kenzaburo Oe. His depiction of a Black American solider was so racist and shocking to me that I put the book down and never came back to it.

      I did finish this because college, but “The Sorrows of Young Werther” by Goethe makes me so mad. He’s so abusive; just harassing this poor girl because of his feelings until he finally kills himself and puts the blame on her. She has no interiority and he’s just the worst.

    15. not that Leia*

      Lolita. Tried reading on my own, and in a class led by a (female) professor but I could NOT get past the rape-rape-rapiness of the whole premise. I finished it but I didn’t like it.
      On the SF front, couldn’t handle the “classic” Chronicles of Amber. Similar 70s male fantasy style extravaganza. Couldn’t even finish.

    16. Dinoweeds*

      My most recent read that I couldn’t stand was actually one that Alison recommended awhile ago – The Supper Club. I absolutely couldn’t stand the protagonist because she was such a weird empty shell of a character. Throw in a rape scene halfway through and I had to put it down. I did finish it eventually because I’m a completionist but I had to cringe my way through it.

    17. Rick Tq*

      Stranger is NOT the place to start reading Heinlein, you would have much better served by starting with one of his juveniles instead of that late work. Heinlein’s “Glory Road” and “Tunnel in the Sky” both have strong female characters. Weber’s Honor Harrington books have a strong female protagonist and are quite popular. I also like Dorothy Grant’s three novellas “Scaling the Rim”, “Shattered Under Moonlight”, and “Going Ballistic”. They are a bit more romantic SF and she is a very good writer.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I fully agree. Don’t read Stranger until you’ve read the juveniles. His style is very different in those.

        Out of Heinlein’s adult novels, I did enjoy The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, though. The premise is quite interesting, a colony on the Moon where women are so scarce that they get to set the terms in relationships. The most common marriage type is one woman and two men, although there are others. He makes a convincing point in favor of line marriages. No man would dream of raping a woman because he’d only get killed by other men. No man would even dream of touching a woman without her consent because he’d be the object of scorn by all right-thinking people. It’s really refreshing to read a story where sexual harassment is considered completely unacceptable. That said, Heinlein’s libertarian politics show through in this one, and it might be a bit too much for some for that reason, although he does describe the one environment where they actually make sense.

        1. allathian*

          I’m struggling to get through Asimov’s original Foundation trilogy. It’s full of men. I do like the prequels and the last book, Foundation and Earth, which were written later and also feature important female protagonists.

          1. allathian*

            And the last one even features a subspecies of artificially created human hermaphrodites, the Solarians.

    18. llamaswithouthats*

      The Sun Also Rises. There was bitter incel-y energy throughout the whole book.

    19. OtterB*

      The science fiction writer Jo Walton has written about coming back to a book you loved from long ago and finding that the “suck fairy” has visited it and inserted all the *isms that you don’t remember at all.

      1. Girasol*

        Oh yeah. Louisa May Alcott’s work explores early feminism in a rather naive way, but it’s racist. Surely it wasn’t racist like that when I loved it as a kid.

        1. WS*

          Louisa May Alcott and her family were considered radical anti-racists in her time – they were part of the Underground Railway, outspoken abolitionists, argued against the Mexican-American war, and were advocates for African-American voting rights (as well as women’s voting rights). It certainly shows how times change.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            Yeah – the Alcotts were anti-racist to the point of personal hardship, and, in the context of their time period, a lot more active about their beliefs than most of the most self-consciously woke people today. As an example – Louisa May’s father had a school he ran fail in part because he refused to kick out the black students.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The suck fairy! That’s perfect oh, that’s exactly what happened to Robinson Crusoe between 7th grade and last summer.

    20. Undine*

      Bleak House. Esther Somerson is is just oh so grateful and modest and unbearable. A master of the humble brag. Dickens in general loves to put his good women on a pedestal and make sure they can’t get down.

    21. NRG*

      Jules Verne, “The Mysterious Island”! I read what must have been a very abridged version when I was a kid, because I remember it being much shorter. Maybe there were kid’s editions? The full, unabridged version has so much weird racism, and drags on forever. I skipped to the end at about the halfway point.

  26. sswj*

    Alison, you made my day with this book recommendation! I took a peek at the link (as I always do) and listened to the audio clip. It’s read by my absolutely favorite narrator, Nadia May. I’m an audiobook addict, and there’s something about her voice and her readings that just, well … speak to me.

    And now I’m off to add Parnassus On Wheels to my audio library, and then I’ll come back to enjoy today’s Open Thread.

    Thank you!

    1. IntoTheSarchasm*

      I live in NE lower peninsula. The local health system tripled inpatient cases in a week. I see decent mask compliance but we have areas that have politicized vaccine and probably haven’t gotten it.

  27. Halfway Vaccinated*

    With vaccines rolling out, how is everyone feeling with returning to activities that are pre-pandemic ‘normal’? Going to the movies, eating inside a restaurant, seeing friends outside of your quarantine bubble. I know some people who are still very much sticking too pandemic precautions even fully vaccinated and some are jumping back into how things were before. I’m eager for ‘normalcy’ but also cautious, and still have two weeks until I can get my second dose, so these thoughts are hovering around my brain. Where do you fall?

    1. nep*

      I hadn’t gone to movies or eaten in a restaurant for years and years (don’t like either activity), so that won’t be an issue at all.
      ‘Normal’ for me would be chatting with people up close or indoors without masks, and I don’t see doing that for a long while, even after being vaccinated.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m not in any rush to get back to indoor restaurants. Movie theaters will depend on how the theater is handling things, but is a possibility. I’m definitely looking forward to being able to see (also-vaccinated) friends for gaming nights once all our vaccines are completed and effective – I haven’t been able to run my Pathfinder game since pre-Covid, and I haven’t been able to PLAY (instead of being the GM) in something like five years, but since my game has been on hiatus for so long, my husband is actually going to take over GM’ing so I can PLAY instead, and I’m SUPER stoked about that.

    3. GoryDetails*

      My main group of friends and I (we’re all in our late 60s/early 70s) will have been vaccinated by mid-April, and we’re looking forward to being able to dine face to face indoors in safety. (The timing is such that our favorite restaurants have outdoor seating again, so we don’t *have* to dine indoors, but it’ll be great to have the option.) More important for me: I’ll be able to join friends on road-trips again. Spending hours together in a car is something we haven’t done in over a year, though it used to be a regular thing.

      Am also looking forward to visiting family again, though the younger generation won’t have their shots for a while yet.

      More mundane things – getting a haircut, going to the dentist – are also on the list of Things To Do Once the Vaccines are Done, but I admit I could go longer without those!

    4. allathian*

      It’ll be a while before I’m fully vaccinated, I’m not eligible for my first dose yet and they’re giving them at 12-week intervals to ensure a maximum first-dose coverage as soon as possible.

      I find that wearing a mask spoils things for me, so for as long as they are mandated, strongly recommended, or even considered necessary, I’m not going anywhere. I’d far rather watch a movie on blu-ray or a streaming service at home than go to a theater and wear a mask. Granted, we have a movie room with a projector and 100 inch screen diagonal and a 5.1 sound system.

      I hate the idea of being surrounded by strangers when I don’t know what precautions they have or haven’t been taking. I’m mostly looking forward to being able to see my friends and family in the summer, outdoors.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I am baffled that there is no vaccine available for people under 16, and the world is acting like we can go back to normal already. Maybe those kids weren’t dying, but until they can be protected, they still need to be included in the calculations of 70% that needs to be counted towards the 70% vaccinated to have the hoped-for herd immunity.

      1. Reba*

        I read that pfizer has filed for authorization to use on 12-16s! Hopefully others follow soon.

        But to your point, yes, there is so much magical thinking going on.

      2. fposte*

        Vaccines for kids are always going to be slower, because their inability to give full consent means there are very strict rules about how experimentation on them works. So if the vaccine had required kid inclusion from the get-go it would have come out later. It wasn’t because of a belief about kid vulnerability.

        1. Reba*

          On rereading, I think SSC’s point is not about the vaccine as such, more about how people don’t seem to be considering youth vax rates in the general hurry to reopen everywhere. It’s not just like they are waiting for their group to be eligible, there *is* no shot for them yet!

          In a lot of quarters there does seem to be an attitude of like, “we have vaccines now, so just do whatever (or carry on doing whatever)!” It’s like senioritis.

      3. OtterB*

        Agreed. Was talking to some friends on Zoom this morning and one said that her kids’ pediatrician was participating in a trial of vaccine for ages 11 months – 12 years. So things are moving, but still, important to keep that in mind.

      4. Natalie*

        I’m not sure why you’re assuming they aren’t being included in that calculation? Less than 30% of the US population is under 18, so it’s mathematically possible to achieve heard immunity without vaccinating any children.

    6. Oxford Comma*

      I’m fully vaccinated and I’m still being careful. I’m allowing myself a few new things, but there’s no way I’m eating in a restaurant inside. Not with the cases in my county skyrocketing.

    7. CTT*

      So, I am considering going to a movie theater near the end of the month. We have a very pretty old theater that usually does live shows but a few years ago started occasionally showing movies (usually old ones, sometimes new releases). They are doing a double feature of Minari and Nomadland on my birthday and I may go because it’s going to be limited capacity and masks required, and I’m not in the most…film-literate city, let’s say. So I don’t think it would be busy even in the before times, which makes me feel better about that, although I’m still debating on going.

    8. Jules the First*

      I’m pregnant and therefore can’t get my first shot until after baby arrives (my medical team has decided that it’s too risky to try vaccinating me in my third trimester), so I’m mostly not going back to normal and feeling grumpy about that fact that other people going back to normal means I don’t get to do as much. That said, I’m happy to hang out indoors with people who are at least 2 weeks + past their first shot based on the science, but only one or two at a time. That said, I am seriously tempted to throw caution to the wind and get a haircut (haven’t had one since March 2020!) and a pedicure (I usually get them monthly, but have had only two in the last year, and the last one was December!) before baby arrives…

      1. TL -*

        Are there complicating factors in your case? Vaccinating pregnant women is safe and effective, and the antibodies can be passed on to fetuses/breastfed babies, providing them some protection as well.

        Everyone’s case is different, but that’s an unusual decision given the recent findings on vaccines in pregnant women (safe and effective.)

        1. Juniper*

          Well, the public health officials in my country are still advising pregnant women to wait, so it’s not strange that her personal medical team would arrive at a similar conclusion.

        2. Disco Janet*

          If someone says that their medical team has deemed them unsafe to be vaccinated, why ask this question? It’s the exact sort of prying we see people complain about in AAM letters.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            The one-and-only completed trial involving pregnant people was specifically of those in the third-trimester, and concluded it is safe and effective and the babies are born with antibodies. Additionally, analysis of real-world vaccinated persons (not in a trial, regular people who got vaccinated while pregnant and thus continued to be monitored by their doctors) concluded the same. I’m not trying to convince anyone not to believe their own doctors, but I do think if someone is familiar with that data, it was a reasonable question to ask given the phrase “too risky in the third trimester”. Unless there are complicating factors, the one thing that does seem to be known – to the extent it can be known six months in – is that third trimester is OK. If it had only said “too risky for me” and left it at that, it wouldn’t have begged that particular question.

        3. Double A*

          I’m pregnant and got vaccinated at 27w, with the second shot at 30w (so early 3rd trimester). Pregnant women were excluded from the trials, so it’s basically everyone for themselves in terms of analyzing the data and making the choice. I have not heard anything about why a 3rd trimester vaccination would be particularly risky, and in fact I felt good about that timing because at that point the baby is basically fully formed, just getting bigger.

          Pregnant women are identified as a high risk group, and yet because there are no official studies, many doctors won’t make an official recommendation, or will recommend against simply because the data is preliminary, not because of identified risks.

          I personally just jumped when I got the chance, and I believe the risk of the vaccine is lower than the risk of the virus. I would suspect that some doctors are figuring that if you’re in your 3rd trimester it’s “only 3 more months” of social isolation so just make that choice. My doctor basically sent me the info and didn’t make a recommendation one way or another. It’s really frustrating.

          1. TL -*

            Oh, that’s helpful context. There’s definitely been some new evidence coming out confirming vaccine efficacy and safety in pregnant women, though it doesn’t seem like it’s been rolled into official guidelines yet.

        4. Jules the First*

          If it were up to me, I would have gotten it already. Unfortunately, I’m in the UK and our regulator is not allowing pregnant women to get vaccinated unless they are frontline healthcare workers or otherwise at high risk and you need a doctor to sign off on that decision. Because I’m single, working full time from home, and not bubbled with anyone, I’m at low risk of catching covid (or anything, for that matter), and because I have an autoimmune condition that makes my pregnancy a higher risk of preterm labour, which is the one significant known complication of covid vaccination in the third trimester, my team has decided they’re not comfortable signing off the consent to vaccinate. I’ll be going in for my vaccination as soon as possible after baby arrives.

    9. Nicki Name*

      I’m on my way to full immunization (shot done, waiting for the 2-week mark) and I feel like the most important thing to keep in mind is that I can still be a carrier, and most of the people I’ll be around when I venture out aren’t vaccinated yet. So I’m still going to be very cautious for a while. I’m thinking I can start taking short trips on mass transit and doing some less-essential errands, but I’m not going to be dining at a restaurant or watching a movie at a theater for a while yet.

    10. Disco Janet*

      My husband and two closest friends have been vaccinated, so I’ve been enjoying getting back to visiting with those friends at each other’s houses without having to be masked and distanced outside, and occasionally dining out. Not doing that second one regularly as obviously there is still some risk involved, but for special occasions we will book a table at a restaurant that has been carefully following Covid precautions and can seat us somewhere fairly spaced out – bonus points if it’s outdoors!

      It hasn’t been a huge change – we have young children who obviously can’t be vaccinated yet, so we’re not taking them out anywhere (except like, the park, hiking, etc.) Still getting groceries delivered, shopping online, etc. And avoiding crowds – so if we do go out to eat we’ll pick a less busy time/day.

      Basically trying to find a happy middle ground where I’m not taking too many risks but am also able to do some things that make a difference to me in terms of mental health.

    11. OtterB*

      I hit two weeks post-vaccination today, as did my young adult daughter with intellectual disabilities. We are going back to church in person tomorrow, and looking forward to it. There will be masks and social distancing anyway, but I haven’t felt like risking it.

      I made plane reservations for Memorial Day weekend for a family reunion. I find I am anxious.

      I have been grocery shopping in person all along, but for major shopping runs, always going early in the morning when there were few shoppers. I feel less need to do that.

      My daughter’s passport has expired. We don’t have international trips planned now but might in the future, so I want to renew it before it’s expired so long that we have to start over. But I haven’t felt that getting a passport photo was urgent enough to go out in the pandemic.

      I’m still hesitant about eating indoors. We’ve been getting carryout all along. We might go out for Mother’s Day, but I haven’t decided yet.

      I have been driving my daughter to work and picking her up since her part-time job reopened over the summer. I may start having her take public transit again for at least the trips home.

    12. Decidedly Me*

      We’re not going to be going to restaurants or movies for a bit, but have plans to see other fully vaccinated friends at that time. I also reconnected with a family member that I really want to see, but it means deciding between a long drive or short flight. Even with a mask and being fully vaccinated, the idea of getting on a plane makes me uneasy.

    13. tangerineRose*

      I’m going to get my shot soon (Johnson&Johnson) and plan to keep being fairly careful, although maybe not quite as careful. Maybe I’ll get take out sandwiches (I haven’t eaten out much at all and have stuck to stuff like pizza, that I can heat up).

        1. tangerineRose*

          I know it’s supposed to be harmless in food. Even though it sounds like it’s rare for COVID-19 to be passed on surfaces, I’ve been more worried about that. I mean, I have to hold the sandwich.

          1. Anna*

            The CDC released new guidelines talking about how rare that is too, which is recognizing what scientists have been saying for a while. No, it’s not 100% impossible but it’s vanishingly unlikely, like 1 in 10,000. Obviously your comfort level is yours and yours alone, but it doesn’t really register on the risk spectrum from a scientific standpoint.

            1. tangerineRose*

              That should make my life easier. I have gone to the CDC website, but it was hard finding that kind of thing – most of it seemed to be about hand washing, distance, and wearing masks, which I already know.

              1. tangerineRose*

                I ended up googling and then went to WebMD, which had a link to this in the CDC, but anyway, at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html

                It says: COVID-19 spreads less commonly through contact with contaminated surfaces
                Respiratory droplets can also land on surfaces and objects. It is possible that a person could get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.
                Spread from touching surfaces is not thought to be a common way that COVID-19 spreads

            2. tangerineRose*

              Here’s what WebMD says:
              “In my opinion, the chance of transmission through inanimate surfaces is very small, and only in instances where an infected person coughs or sneezes on the surface, and someone else touches that surface soon after the cough or sneeze (within 1-2 hours),” Goldman wrote. Basically, it would take the perfect combination of events Blumberg described to get sick from touching something contaminated with the virus.

              Also, studies have only proved that the virus stays alive on surfaces — not that you can catch it from touching those surfaces. “They don’t prove that just because it can survive on a surface, it can be transmitted that way,” Blumberg says.

    14. Not A Manager*

      My spouse and I have been talking about this. We are willing to trust the vaccine for our own health. That means that we will continue to take precautions in order to keep other people safe, but we’re willing to resume other activities that we previously avoided for our own safety.

      We’re especially looking forward to eating in restaurants and being indoors with friends.

      We both agree that in the future in large crowds/airplanes/public transport we will wear masks, but that’s not especially a COVID thing and more the realization that contagious disease is, in fact, contagious and we’d just as soon neither contract nor carry any serious disease.

    15. Filosofickle*

      I get my 2nd in a week and my partner just got his 2nd. We’re going on a local trip a few hours up the coast next month and am excited to eat indoors once or twice! Though still outdoors mostly. Still not ready to fly or go big, but a few days away with a little bit of indoor dining is a reasonable start.

      I expect to socialize more once most of our people are vaccinated. Our parents already are, but honestly we were seeing them before. What this does is take away some of the self-isolation and math — I no longer have to think about what I do for the two weeks prior to seeing my mom, I can just go. I will also start seeing more friends and his larger family. I’m still going to avoid large venues and crowds, preferring outdoor and small gatherings. Masks are still required here so I don’t have to decide on that yet and don’t yet know what I’ll do when the time comes. I always wear them but truly hate them so I’ll want to stop as soon as it’s within the guidelines. As long as it involves wearing masks for hours, I probably won’t go many places no matter how much I miss museums.

      The vaccination doesn’t make me bulletproof. I will remain aware and somewhat cautious. But I have also decided that the numbers look good and if not now, when? What exactly will I be waiting for? It could be years before herd immunity. If I am vaccinated I feel protected enough to venture out without going crazy and with an eye on the case counts.

    16. Dan*

      I’m not a movie goer (my equipment at home is pretty nice, I don’t see the point of going out).

      I’ve been eating indoors since my area opened up at limited capacity. I have a friend who will only eat outside, but dining out is a big thing for both of us, so that’s going to be activity we’re both looking forward to properly returning to.

      But yeah… there’s just plenty of normal life stuff we’re looking forward to. Even outdoor concerts have been cancelled. So there’s that plus pro sports and all of the normal stuff.

      I’m looking forward to international travel, hopefully in 2022. 2021 is still out. I’m going to see what might be available within the US this year, but that’s still dependent on how “opened up” most areas are. We’ll just have to see about that.

      I got my first dose this week and I’ll get my second in early May. I’ll be honest and say that my caution/hesitancy levels are going to be way lower than many. That is to say, whenever a new opening phase gets implemented, I’ll probably see how it goes for a month first and then jump in.

    17. pancakes*

      I still have a week to go and I’m not sure yet. I love going to the movies but I’ve always been more of a small rep theater person than a megaplex person, and two of my three favorites haven’t reopened yet. I love restaurants too and haven’t been to one in over a year, but will probably stick with outdoor seating for a while once I resume because why not, now that the weather is pleasant here?

    18. ....*

      Honestly I fall in the back to normal camp and will be resuming everything I possibly can while still following the local and business requirements!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I fall into the same camp, though I don’t think I’ll be doing plan travel for quite a while. That’s the one thing I’m uncomfortable with even though I’m vaccinated. Besides, the places I want to travel to are going to be pretty crowded for a while until things get back to normal and settle down. People are going to be booking ASAP so I’ll just wait.

    19. Loopy*

      I made my first plane reservations for about a month after my second shot. I found myself still feeling a mixture or nervous and maybe guilty? It felt irresponsible still even though by then even more people will also be vaccinated and still wearing masks on planes too.

      Still I took a much less desirable time so I could do a direct flight instead of having a layover, I wrestled with that quite a bit. In the end it felt safer to still minimize the number of airports and planes.

      I’ve never had so much inner turmoil when booking travel accomodations! Im also going to probably wrestle with getting used to indoor eating being acceptable and an option when I’m able.

      1. Disco Janet*

        We have a vacation booked in July that I’m very excited about. The flight does require a Covid test (as does the flight home), which I realize isn’t foolproof, but combine that with the fact that I’m vaccinated and I’m not feeling any guilt about it. I have been more careful than the average person all year and dealt with a very stressful in-person job, and I cannot wait to go lay on a beach and do absolutely nothing for a week.

    20. old biddy*

      We’re relaxing but not going 100% back to pre-pandemic behavior yet. My husband and I are fully vaccinated as of last weekend. We’re still pretty much acting the same as before with minor relaxation in some situations (e.g. he’ll get together maskless with some of his vaccinated friends, everyone at my work is getting more relaxed on elevator occupancy rules, I’ve gone back to wearing cloth masks instead of KN95’s, etc)
      I also went to the dentist, got my hair cut, and will pick out some new glasses tomorrow.
      I’m still prioritizing things based on importance/how much I like them, though. Last night my husband suggested going out to eat at a restaurant that I don’t like (his friend works there but it’s a hotel bar). Pre-pandemic I would’ve been up for it, but post-pandemic I want my dining out to be with better food, especially my first dinner out.

    21. RagingADHD*

      My husband and I have both had the first dose. Knowing that our risk of serious illness is so much reduced is a huge relief, but we are still being careful about some things. All adults are now eligible here, and getting an appointment from the waitlist takes about a week. There are also a number of walk-up clinics with no appointment required, and lots of places to get end-of-day leftover doses from people who no-showed their appointments.

      On the one hand that’s great for those who want it. The bad news is that the reason it’s so easy is that we have such low demand. Lots of general antivaxxers. Lots of covid deniers & vaccine conspiracy theorists. And lots of people who are nervous about side effects and want to wait for full FDA approval.

      Fortunately the weather has been nice for several weeks (so lots of outdoor stuff), and they have pushed vaxxing the most vulnerable very hard, so our cases, hospitalizations and deaths are on a strong downward trend.

      We had normal inside dinner with hugging, with my fully-vaxxed dad and stepmom. My fully-vaxxed inlaws were going to come stay with us. I was not happy when there was talk of them also bringing my as yet unvaxxed brother in law (he’s not a holdout AFAIK, he’s just not eligible in his state). But that fell through for other reasons before I had to say anything about it.

      Next week I’m going to have coffee with a fully vaxxed friend at her house. We let my daughter go to an outdoor birthday party and an outdoor playdate that we would not have allowed before.

      We are still minimizing shopping and doing curbside pickup when possible, masking in public places, masking at school, avoiding crowds, etc. We don’t eat indoors in restaurants, and only outdoors if there is tons of space and it’s not busy.

    22. Coenobita*

      I got my second shot on February 3rd, so I’ve been fully vaccinated for quite a while. I just today ate (outdoors) at a restaurant for the first time since the pandemic started! I know outdoor dining is fairly low-risk but I wanted to wait for restaurant workers to be eligible, it just felt weird otherwise.

      I’ve managed to avoid public transit this whole time, mostly because I just don’t ever leave the neighborhood since I started working from home. But I’m ready to start taking the bus again! And I’m scheduling in-person preventative care appointments! That I will take the bus to get to! How exciting :)

      1. RagingADHD*

        Oh, see – that’s an interesting point. I never skipped preventative care except for the ones that fell at the very beginning during hard lockdown, before there were protocols in place.

        So this question of “what are you doing now” is really apples-and-oranges without knowing what the person *wasn’t* doing before.

        Like, our kids have been in school since October. We started going back to church (with precautions) around the same time.

        I let my kid do outdoor archery, but we yanked her from the indoor program when I saw that all the adults at the range were flouting mask mandates. We haven’t let our other kid do dance class, but we’d probably let her take in-person violin lessons now instead of Zoom if the teacher was offering them.

        Everyone’s situation is just so different, in terms of what’s even available or allowed where they live, on top of personal risk decisions.

        1. Coenobita*

          Absolutely! It’s like that joke where the guy says “doctor, doctor, will I be able to play the piano after the surgery??” when he didn’t know how to play in the first place. Like, I only go to the movies under duress, so covid didn’t change that at all for me :)

          My job, main volunteer commitment, and faith community are still completely online, and I’ve been going to the store in person this whole time and going on walks with friends was always one of my preferred ways to socialize. So aside from restaurants and public transit, there isn’t all that much for me to do differently anyway. But your post did make me want to sign up for outdoor archery lessons!

          1. RagingADHD*

            Yeah, I always leave off shopping because we do *less* shopping and avoided certain stores during the very high numbers, and we prefer curbside, but it’s not always available.

            But we never did without things we needed once the supply chain issues got sorted out.

            OTOH, I’m not going to start spending hours at the mall for fun, because I never did.

    23. Elizabeth West*

      I will go see Black Widow in the theater. It’s coming out July 9, and I will be fully vaxed by then. Still going to wear a mask, though, and unless I’m at Alamo Drafthouse or similar, I doubt I’ll have anything to eat.

      I’m not going out to eat until way more people have been vaxed and I have a job.

    24. Is it tea time yet?*

      My child will be 16 late summer, so I will still continue to be careful until they get their shots, even though by this time next week I will be considered fully vaccinated. For me, this means a lot less worry while having to go to the grocery store, I can schedule some appointments that are overdue, I will get to see vaccinated friends more often/in less distanced situations, and to finally get to see family I haven’t seen in over a year. I am currently too broke to even think about eating out or going to the movie theater.

    25. Potatoes gonna potate*

      It’s been a month since I’ve been vaccinated.

      My “before” life activities included:
      Working in an office, daily and Commuting on public transit
      Weekends going to the mall or grocery shopping. and just planning out my outfits and makeup for the week (was/am a total makeup junkie).
      Maybe every 2-3 months I’d go out with friends or coworkers.

      Now my life is:
      being a mom
      working from home a few hours a week
      going to the gym when I can (I take it as my second job!)

      Two friends that I am so eager to meet are still hesitant due to the pandemic. Other friends in our group are travelling countries and holding large friend & family gatherings weekly and going to weddings. so some of us are still hesitant to meet up as one group.

      the coworker friends are no more.

      on a side note, I’ll admit I do struggle occasionally with “is my life drastically different because of COVID or having a baby?” I know lots of people who had kids (in the before times) and it seemed like their life didn’t change – they still socialized and travelled just as much, both with and without the kids.

      Just because of having a child now and not having as much “freedom” I don’t think my life will ever return to pre-pandemic, at least not for years. Everything else I can deal with but the only thing I’m truly looking forward to is not having to wear a mask anymore (I do wear it all the time, I’m not one of those people, ut I don’t have to like it).

      1. rkz*

        Oh my goodness I am in this boat too. In fact I had a baby and moved to a new state. So I’m having a lot of trouble even thinking about what my new normal is going to be! Just glad someone else is in the same boat.

    26. fhqwhgads*

      I am fully vaccinated as of today. I am still extremely hesitant to do a lot of “before” things merely because I don’t trust those around me (not the people I know, the general public). I know my risk of catching it is now small, and my risk of dying from it is even smaller, and that’s comforting. But it’s been so so so long and so many people have been so so so stupid in this area. Until I see official numbers that something like 75% are vaccinated, I’m probably not going to feel comfortable with the public. At this point my fear is less-so COVID and moreso angry, potentially violent anti-maskers who might get belligerent for no good reason.
      Basically my currently vaccinated state means I’ll be a lot less stressed when I have to go buy something in person, and I may have some friends over in the backyard later in the summer, as I know they’re A: as cautious about this as I am and B: on a vaccine schedule 3 days off from mine.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          They got their first dose 3 days after I did. Second dose scheduled for 3 days after mine was.

          1. Annie*

            Ah, I misread! I thought you were saying that your criteria for having _any_ friend over was that they were getting vaccinated 3 days off from you! I was having an awfully hard time wrapping my head around that level of pandemic-related self-imposed restrictions lol

    27. KR*

      I’m not vaccinated yet (just became eligible but I’m moving soon so will have to get it in new state), but my grandparents are and they are comfortable with husband and I visiting them and hugging them, masks on unless we’re outside and distanced, or eating. It feels so good. I won’t feel comfortable for probably the rest of the year at least, even when I’m vaccinated. Maybe into next year. I’m just not comfortable in public spaces anymore.

    28. Amy*

      I’ve been fully vaccinated since February, but I’ve been very slow in returning to pre-pandemic activities because 1) my husband was not vaccinated until last week, 2) my young children cannot be vaccinated, and 3) most of my town is not yet eligible (but will be soon).

      The things we have started doing are:
      – Sent my four-year-old back to preschool after a full year at home with only us, which has been a HUGE win for everybody’s mental health (most of all hers)
      – Allowing fully vaccinated out-of-state family members to come visit
      – Not obsessively wiping down groceries, packages, etc. (since it also just came out that surfaces are not a significant source of transmission)

      I’ve also felt much less anxious about being around other people in public, though we continue to mask and avoid crowds, and are not going into indoor public spaces. We are not planning on indoor dining, movies, concerts, or air travel anytime soon, but we might if we didn’t have unvaccinated children.

    29. Emily*

      The things I most want to do are go to a gym (masked), play outdoor sports (masked), and visit friends and family who are also vaccinated. I know that some people have been doing those things all along, but I decided to hold off on pretty much anything indoors (aside from grocery shopping and quick errands) until I’m vaccinated.

      I don’t think that I’ll be rushing back to indoor dining or movies right away, although it helps that I wasn’t super into those things pre-pandemic either. I’m also content to wear a mask in public for the foreseeable future, although as the vaccination rate goes up I might worry less about if it’s the “best” mask (N95 or comparable) vs. just an “okay” but slightly more comfortable cloth mask.

    30. team .010*

      I miss going to the movies.
      If 20% max seating is an option, hopefully right after my 2nd dose requirements are met.

    31. lemon meringue*

      I probably won’t be fully vaccinated until the fall, and right now cases are at their highest level ever in my area. So basically I have no idea when any restrictions will start to relax. I am still pretty confident in my health authority’s guidance, so I’ll just do what they recommend. What I’m really looking forward to (hopefully) is a decrease in anxiety once enough people in my community are vaccinated.

    32. Katefish*

      I’m most looking forward to seeing my parents and relatives across the country once we’re all vaccine immune. We have been appropriately cautious this whole time, so it’ll be a year and a half when I go… Way too long to be apart!
      That and indoor dining, which I’ve refused despite less cautious local relatives.

  28. nep*

    Any other Michiganders here? How is the COVID situation in your part of Michigan? It’s devastatingly sad how bad things have gotten–again. I won’t get into my disgust for how things have been handled–no politics here (beyond that statement, I guess).
    Just curious to hear about people’s experiences–health workers, people w COVID in the family, etc in Michigan.

    1. Michigander*

      Our county health dept has a webpage that updates every other day showing new infections for the past 2 weeks. We check it regularly for our zip code. Luckily in our county, almost everyone wears a mask (at least where we go) so we are relatively comfortable with the Gov’s current requirements. Our personal restaurant protocol is to partake of indoor dining only when the restaurant opens for the day.
      Our only comment is that it is so unfortunate that the Gov is getting so much pushback on trying to keep fellow Michiganders safe. And has given up on new restrictions because it would be political suicide. We guess that some Michiganders would rather play russian roulette and get/not get the virus by not wearing masks or social distancing. We just feel really bad for the hospital workers who then get stuck taking care of those jerks (or people who catch the virus from those jerks).

    2. Disco Janet*

      It’s sooooooo bad in my Michigan county. People just do. not. care.

      I vented in yesterday’s work thread about how unsafe my work in behaving. My in laws (who own a local small business!) are currently sick and refuse to be tested because “it’s probably just a stomach flu.” People being wildly irresponsible all around, and reporting it does no good since our local authorities here don’t care much either.

      1. nep*

        So sorry to hear that. Sorry you have to deal with that.
        Too many deniers out here. If only their recklessness and ignoring of science hurt only themselves, but alas.
        (I know, it’s all been said…)
        Michigan’s situation is pathetic.

    3. CJM*

      Fellow Michigander here. I’m so dismayed by many citizens’ disregard for rules and for others. I agree with what you’ve all said so far.

      My county has mostly compliant residents, but when we head to small towns that aren’t compliant, wow. I drove my younger daughter to Adrian on Thursday for her shot and went with my husband to Coldwater today for his shot — both at CVS stores. (Our county is swamped, and the nurse on Thursday said he’s seeing a lot of our county’s residents make the drive to Adrian. Today we chatted with another customer who also made the 90-minute drive [each way] from our town to Coldwater to get his vaccine.)

      I saw terrible mask compliance in those small towns, and I see it too in my older daughter’s area near Grand Rapids. I’m so dismayed. Isn’t it the essence of kindness to show care and consideration for others’ health and safety? It just boggles my mind.

      I’m emerging from the past year with far less regard for many of my fellow humans.

      Oh, one more thing: We celebrated today by eating outdoors at our favorite tavern. This was our first restaurant meal (besides takeout) in over a year. When I mentioned my husband’s vaccine, our waitress made it clear she’s anti-vaccine. How and when will I feel safe eating indoors with servers and fellow customers like that? Even though I’m vaccinated, I’m going to remain very, very cautious.

      1. nep*

        I’m with you. Lord knows even fully vaccinated people can still get it.
        We’ve got to do what it takes to stop the spread. But far too many people act as if we’re not in the middle of a pandemic.

    4. 70C*

      Thank you for the question and commenters feedback – very timely. I am traveling to Michigan to visit my mom for the first time since the pandemic began. My husband, mother and I have all been vaccinated but our five year old obviously hasn’t. My mom’s county is in bad shape and this gives me grave concerns for my five year old’s exposure risk. As such, we are going to just stay within the confines of her gated neighborhood and say no to other visitors.

      The anecdotes about what is basically COVID denial are no surprise. Just another sad symptom of a majority population stubbornly clinging to a past that will never return.

  29. Pocket Mouse*

    What do medical professionals want to know when they ask about surgeries?

    I’ve had I guess a couple surgeries that just don’t seem to be relevant, really. They were truly minimal, leaving no scars internally or externally, nothing noticeably different to anyone who wasn’t directly involved in the care of those body parts beforehand (one was getting my wisdom teeth removed, the other is similar but more private and even less health-relevant). The only thing I can think of that these could tell a person is that I’ve had general anesthesia and didn’t have a disastrous reaction. Am I missing something? Do I have to talk about these when asked, and if so, can I talk about the wisdom teeth only? Are even more minimal surgeries that require less medical intervention/involvement, like getting a mole removed, relevant for this question?

    This is the main thing that comes to my mind, but welcoming others to chime in with additional questions about questions from medical providers!

    1. Asenath*

      I always figure that if I haven’t been under general anesthesia, the surgeon might not need to hear about it – so I don’t mention mole or wisdom teeth removal. But I am not a medical professional, and I’d probably ask the surgeon if I had any doubts about what was relevant.

    2. HannahS*

      Usually, they’re most interested in hearing about surgeries that were done under general anesthesia, but there are procedures that are done under local that are relevant to your medical history, (ex. vasectomy, abortion). If it’s true, you can say “I’ve had procedures under local, like wisdom teeth, mole removal,” and ask if they need the full list. It’s also context-dependent. Your gynecologist probably should know if you had a D+C, but your dentist probably doesn’t care.

    3. Jenny*

      I know from having a couple surgeries that I don’t react well to the opiods they give me after surgery.

      I’ve had a c section, which can explain some muscle pain but you’re not super likely to miss the scar for that. It would be extremely relevant if I had another baby, I suppose or had gyno issues later.

    4. Coggleshah*

      It is context dependent as others have said. Generally surgery means an incision and therefore a D&C or colonoscopy aren’t considered as such. If I am evaluating you pre op I will ask if you have ever had ANY form of anesthesia to address that history. But general anesthesia isn’t used for MANY surgeries, so that’s not a marker for surgery or not.

      If I’m trying to get a global history I ask about surgery, ER visits, intubations, hospitalizations and biopsies. In women’s health situations we always ask about pregnancy, the outcome of each.

      When I worked surgical services, I was also assessing your surgical history because your internal scar tissue/anatomic changes/implanted materials mattered.

      Cosmetic procedures (no incision) aren’t surgeries. So fillers, Botox, abrasions etc. If I need that info, I will ask.

      Basically, you can’t really offer too much info (I mean, you can but…). We can parse it. We are looking for lots of things: clues to your past, clues to your current health, information that will inform the plan. All that said, people forget things all the time. Including open heart surgery and joint replacements. A good clinician will compare your record and your stated history and compile a complete history.

      So: Yes, please tell us. We aren’t judging, we are collecting info. You can bring a written list if you don’t want to speak them but omitting information can be dangerous. If you intentionally omit information that could have impacted your outcomes, you l may lose the ability to collect for malpractice, disability, workers comp etc. I’ve seen that and sometimes the omitted info didn’t really change outcomes (like marijuana use) or was really unlikely (history of prior D&C) but in both those cases (delayed wound healing and uterine perf at IUD) it was used to imply shared responsibility with the patient (note: this is often State dependent).

    5. RagingADHD*

      It just never occurred to me to list my wisdom teeth as a surgery, but I suppose I should because it is. It’s also one of the only 2 times I had any kind of general “twilight” anesthetic.

      I would lean toward listing everything you can think of, because the underlying reason why you needed the surgery might also be relevant – like if you had a precancerous mole, that’s medical history.

      It kind of sounds like you want to intentionally withhold information about one of your procedures, and I’m not sure why. Everything in your body is connected to everything else, and there are all kinds of interlocking risk factors where having previously had X is correlated with a higher risk of Y, even though they don’t seem related to a layperson. Or there are syndromes where the incidence of A, B, and C might happen separately and randomly, but if they all happen to the same person, you should screen them for an underlying condition.

      I rarely have to discuss anything on my medical history with the doctor. If there’s a follow up it’s usually like, “you listed an allergy to this – what type of reaction did you have?” Or “I see you had this procedure, were there any complications?” Nothing prying or asking “why”.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Please trust me when I say it’s private and not health-relevant, thanks. It was something multiple providers had looked at and had zero concern about, but that (for private reasons) I felt was disruptive to my life and wanted to address. Think of a bellybutton that sticks way out, making it physically and socially uncomfortable to wear my favorite clothes- procedures to address this are uncommon and there’s no medical impetus for doing it, but it’s not cosmetic either. And it’s not related to the function of anything else in my body.

        Now I’m starting care with a handful of new doctors so am giving my medical history a bunch… I did disclose to a medical provider who specializes in the general region of the body and got asked why it was done.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I didn’t mean to offend you. Your question indicated that you yourself were not clear on what was or was not relevant.

          1. Pocket Mouse*

            In my initial post, I was hoping to suss out where the technically correct answer to providers’ question overlaps with the information they’re looking for when they ask it, and where it doesn’t. Relevant to the wording of the question and relevant to providers’ information needs can be two very different things- in brushandfloss’s comment below, there are many surgeries that wouldn’t be relevant to the considerations. Personally, I would like to see the question from providers be more targeted to those procedures that *are* relevant as a result of this disconnect.

            I hope my reply above clarifies why I feel confident the surgery in question is not relevant to my current, past, or future health concerns, and why I don’t want to talk about it unless it is medically relevant somehow (anesthesia, sure, but I had that with the wisdom teeth). While I wish I similarly receive no follow-ups to my list of surgeries, that hasn’t been my experience thus far, so here I am asking the AAM community.

    6. brushandfloss*

      At the dental office, we are trying to determine if you need medical clearance/antibiotics before dental treatments. We need to know if you had new knees, hips, heart valves, rods or pins. I was had a patient mention she was having surgery soon but nothing that affected the mouth, when pressed she mentioned she was having a knee replacement. I then had to explain to her antibiotic prophylaxis and gave her information to ask her surgeon(who for some strange reason never mention this to their patients.

        1. brushandfloss*

          Sorry for the late response. For surgeries that age the most important information is what was done not the exact date. If it was joint replacement someone wouldn’t probably need antibiotics now but for heart valve replacements, valve regurgitation or pacemakers those usually require prophylaxis for life/ medical clearance from a doctor

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Brushandfloss, I never would have thought of antibiotic prophylaxis, even though I do know dental health is highly impactful for other parts of the body- thank you for teaching me something today! You’re right, this should definitely be mention in the lead-up to those surgeries.

  30. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    Welp, that was easy.

    Vaccines opened up to everyone in my state this week, so I thought I’d at least get registered though I expected appointments to be clogged up for at least several weeks. Nope! I have an appointment for Friday next week first thing in the morning.

    How long do the bad side effects take to kick in, if they’re going to happen? I’m planning to go to work that day, but wondering if I will need to go home at lunch or something.

    1. Moderna Madam*

      Got mine Thurs afternoon. Arm pain intensified 3 hrs later then got rattling ear(drum) and tiny muscle aches here & there. No medicating so far (knock on wood) and I’ve got a low pain threshold. Late last night, extreme fatigue till this morning. Headache that faded.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I got the J & J shot on Tuesday morning and was fine during the workday. That night I had chills and body aches which I had through Wednesday, with the addition of a headache (but no fever). I was working from home so I went to meetings but otherwise laid on the couch. Felt fine on Thursday. My husband had similar side effects and duration. Good luck!

      1. violet04*

        I had a similar experience with the J&J shot. The worst part was that the body aches and chills kept me up at night and I was exhausted the next day. I felt better once I got a good night’s rest. My husband had his on. Saturday morning and felt pretty rough that night and through Sunday. He was okay going to work on Monday.

      2. CJM*

        I got the J & J shot on a Wednesday afternoon and didn’t notice anything besides a sore arm until that Friday. That day I had a few chills, but mostly I felt weak and achy as if I had a mild flu. It lasted about a day, and I’ve been fine since.

    3. Oxford Comma*

      I had Pfizer. Nothing to speak of with the first shot. Second shot the arm HURT about four hours after and then I was exhausted for about 24 hours. You might have a strong immune response. You might have nothing. I would just plan on making the following day a light one if you can.

      1. pancakes*

        Agree with this and had a similar experience, though for me the arm pain was only present with the first shot. I was surprised by how much the second shot exhausted me, but then again it was a beautiful day when I went to get it, and I ended up walking all the way home from the Javits Center, a good four miles. It was really nice but I might’ve been better off taking it easy that day.

    4. Pfizer Pfan*

      Husband & I had #1 so far. I had 2 days of a slightly sore & stiff arm, and 3 days of what might be just my spring allergies triggering low-grade headache/dizziness.
      He’s the higher risk human and had 3 days of his arm feeling badly bruised, 2 days feeling feverish (never registered on an old-fashioned thermometer), and only 1 night where arm & body aches kept waking him up. “Not as bad as my last tetanus shot.”

    5. 653-CXK*

      Extremely easy…I had my first shot Wednesday (Pfizer) from my company, who is doing it a local site, with a followup shot three weeks after that.

      The only real symptoms I felt were arm pain and tiredness. The arm pain was less than what you would get from a tetanus shot (when I had a booster shot several years ago – that one hurt) and I have been taking low doses of ibuprofen to keep the aches at bay. The tiredness is what I call a relaxed tired (“I’ve accomplished a lot today”).

    6. Also Moderna*

      Sore AF arm after first Moderna shot, even to the point where it felt like it was broken! Couldn’t touch it, could barely lift it up.

      Second shot, arm soreness wasn’t that bad but I had a baby flu for about 18 hours that started 12 hours after I got the shot. Low fever (99-99.5) and awful body aches. Felt like I had been run over by a truck! I took no meds.

      Everyone I know who’s gotten the vaccines have had different effects. Stomach issues, headaches, higher fevers, general tiredness.

      My recommendation is for the second shot, plan to not work the next day.

    7. fposte*

      I had Pfizer. First shot sore arm only. Second shot I had nausea, fever, and headache starting @18 hours after the shot; they lasted about 12-18 hours. Weirdly, my arm barely hurt at all that time.

    8. nep*

      I’ve not heard from anywhere where I’ve registered, but the other day received notification from the city that it’s teamed up with a local pharmacy to give out 300 doses. I signed up for that right away–it’s at the local community center right up the street. Nice.
      I don’t get the flu vaccine and I know they’re all different anyway… I didn’t have any bad reactions from vaccines I needed for overseas travel over the years, so here’s hoping I won’t have serious side effects. Only one way to find out though. I’d been on the fence about getting vaccinated but the plusses are far outweighing the (some unknown?) minuses right now.

    9. Michigander*

      Got Pfizer #2 today. Only a slight arm ache at the injection site for both kicking in right before bed and continuing for ~24 hours. Hope yours will be the same.

    10. Laura H.*

      Take it easy and drink plenty of fluids. I got the first moderna a few days ago. Arm was sore, I was achy, with a mild headache, and while the sore arm has eased considerably, it’s still occasionally making itself known.

      I got a spot quickly as well… registered on the waitlist last Friday and got pinged this past Monday for this past Thursday.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I didn’t even go on a waitlist! Just went on the website to register and picked a time and location as well. Maybe 15 minutes from “Hey, didn’t vaccines open up today? I should register for that,” to “your appointment is Friday”. I was shocked!

        If people have been waiting to sign up for the vaccine, I recommend they go ahead and register. Maybe you’ll have to wait, but maybe not.

        1. Tulips*

          Every person who’s had an appointment that I know of, it’s scheduled within a few days. There hasn’t been an option to schedule one a few weeks out. Some are even same day.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Same here. The county doesn’t know how much supply they’ll get until about a week out, so first dose appointments are only schedulable within about a week. Second dose appointments are book on the recommended timeline, so those are the only ones booked way in advance.

    11. Corky's Wife Bonnie*

      I had Moderna. First dose not bad at all, little bit of a sore arm the next day. Second dose, arm hurt pretty bad the next day and I was tired, achy and lethargic. I had a fever that spiked to 101.5. Next day felt like myself again. I’m hearing the younger you are, the more symptoms you feel. My mom is late 70’s and tends to over dramatize things, and she felt fine. It’s different for each person so it’s hard to base it on other’s experiences. I would suggest you take off work the next day after your second dose. I’m currently working from home and I still didn’t feel well enough to work. Good luck!!

    12. Mimmy*

      Moderna shot here.

      First shot: Felt slightly “off” and slight headache that evening, sore arm beginning the next day and lasting maybe a couple of days

      Second shot, which I got a couple days ago: Very sore arm beginning a few hours after shot, couldn’t stay asleep that night, felt like I had a fever. Woke up with a cough and generally foggy all day (probably due to poor sleep the night before). Today, similar symptoms but better. Arm still a bit sore.

    13. Decidedly Me*

      My partner and I got our first Pfizer shot this week.

      Both of us had arm soreness that started overnight (shots were in the afternoon) and continued for a few days. He felt tired the next day, but not sure if it was due to the shot as he’d been more fatigued the day before too. I actually had a ton of energy, but was also yawning midday, which is unusual for me.

      I have friends that have gotten Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J. A few other Pfizer folks just had arm soreness (still just first shot), but one called out sick the day of her shot and has felt off for a few days – though she thinks the length of time is actually due to getting a cold or allergies.

      My Moderna (first shot) friend was fine day of, but extremely fatigued the day after.

      My J&J friend was fine day of, but was feverish and chilled the day after.

    14. MEH*

      Hello! I got my first Pfizer jab on Wednesday. I knew ahead of time that I would have a reaction because I get really bad reactions to other similar shots like the flu shot. I got the shot around 1 p.m. and it immediately started swelling and ached a bit. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected, though. Then, suddenly, around 10 that night, the ache intensified.

      Next morning, more swollen and ached more. A bit tired. Friday, the swelling and arm ache went down, but the exhaustion exploded. Today, it’s the same. Swelling almost gone and arm ache is minimal. However, the exhaustion has increased and I feel a migraine brewing.

      With all that said, it’s still not as bad as I had been expecting and much better than the alternative (not getting the vax). Also, studies have shown that women are reacting more to the vax than men (no info on NB/genderfluid).

    15. RagingADHD*

      I had Phizer #1. Sore arm (not extreme, just a lump like a lot of shots give you) took about 5 hours to come on. Next day I was tired.

    16. BuildMeUp*

      I’ve only had my first Pfizer shot so far. My side effects weren’t too bad. Arm pain on par with over-exercising – like I’d done a really intense upper arm workout the day before, but just on that arm. The pain would get worse when I would reach for or lift things. It felt a lot better after just icing. I did feel pretty tired for about 24 hours after.

      I hope yours goes well!

    17. Jen Erik*

      My husband had a sore arm (couldn’t sleep on it) straight after the first Pfizer, and was tired for a few days afterwards – hard to know if that was the vaccine or something else – and was completely fine after the second. He got vaccinated at the same time as everyone else from work, and a lot of them have had a couple of bad days after the second jab. I had the first Astra Zeneca a couple of weeks ago and was fine apart from a bit of a headache the next day, which might, or might not, have been related. However in the past few days it got really red & itchy where I had the vaccine – the internet says that happens sometimes and is fine, and it’s gradually bothering me less.

    18. noahwynn*

      I had the J&J back in March. Felt fine the day of. The next day I didn’t feel great and worked from home and went to bed early. Nothing terrible, just run down and chills a few times. After a good night of sleep I was back to normal the day after that.

    19. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I got Pfizer. A teeny bit of soreness after the first shot– my worst “side effect” happened because I’m mildly allergic to the adhesive in Band-Aids. I told the nurse about that before my second shot and she gave me a kid’s Band-Aid, which I loved.

      Second shot… I felt suddenly tired about 4 hours later, but I am generally tired and it was an exciting day. Exactly 12 hours later, I developed a mild fever– weird dreams, tossing and turning, mild muscle aches. Took ibuprofen. The next day I was just tired. I had planned a light day at work, so I took a few naps and just took it easy. I was also a little disoriented for a while– did flaky things like forgetting to put on moisturizer and leaving my apartment without my mask. I was much better the day after that.

      Basically, as this thread shows, everyone is different! Drink a lot of fluids the day before and day of, have Tylenol or ibuprofen nearby (paracetamol or nurofen– I think– for the Brits) and don’t make major plans for the day after.

  31. Workerbee*

    What do you use to wet-clean your vinyl flooring? Our new house seems to have luxury vinyl, if that makes a difference.

    Looking for options that don’t include kneeling on the floor, or a ton of stages to go through. You could say I want the laziest yet most efficient way, if there is one!

    1. Sandra Dee*

      We put luxury vinyl in our family cottage (over bare concrete floors) which has been a tremendous help for warmth, cleanliness etc. Lots of kids, dogs, dirt and sand traffic. We use a steam mop to clean. Quick and easy, and does a great job, as long as you don’t let it go too long between moppings. Plus regular sweeping and general cleanup. I love these floors.

    2. Stephanie*

      I really like the Bona line of floor products. They make a cleaner specifically for vinyl/tile/laminate that worked well on our laminate floors in our previous house. I use a Libman brand mop that has a refillable chamber for your cleaning solution and a trigger on the handle to spray the floor as you go. It has reusable microfiber pads, so it’s eco-friendly, too. I bought an extra couple of pads so that I’d always have a clean one on hand.

    3. Blue Eagle*

      This question makes me laugh. I don’t do this all the time but every so often I will wash the floor by taking two washcloths, getting them wet with hot water (no soap so no rinsing required) and putting each one under a foot. Then washing the floor with my feet.
      This only works when your floor isn’t a total mess, but it is the easiest, lazyest way for me.

    4. violet04*

      I use a vacuum first to pick up crumbs and cat hair. Then I squirt some Method floor cleaner and go over it with my steam mop. I have a Shatk.

    5. Generic Name*

      I’m old fashioned so I use the wand attachment on my vacuum to get up the big bits of dirt, and then I use a mop and bucket to wash the floors. I’ll use either vinegar and warm water or Murphy’s oil soap or pine sol. In between deep cleanings with a mop, I use a stiffer wet.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Mop & bucket with whatever general cleaner I’m using in the house (right now it’s Pine Sol).

      I mentioned here before how much I like the spin mop because you can wring it out without bending over, and leave it wetter or just barely damp as you need.

    7. CJM*

      I like my Rubbermaid Reveal mop with microfiber pads. I don’t use the spray feature on the mop; instead I wet my five or six pads with hot water and a little soap, wring them out until they’re damp but not dripping, and make a pile of pads to swap in and out. I use one pad per 50 to 80 square feet of floor and let the floors air dry. (A rinse might be smart.) I can do all my hard floors in ten minutes. I machine wash the pads in hot water and air dry them, and they’re holding up nicely after at least five years.

      That said, I try to get on my hands and knees once or twice a year and do it the old-fashioned way with soapy water, a scrub brush, and clean rinse water. But I hate that chore and try to avoid it. Using the Rubbermaid thingy more often would be good.

  32. Moderna Madam*

    Got vaxxed Thurs afternoon (1/2). Arm pain intensified 3 hrs later then got rattling ear(drum) and tiny muscle aches here & there. No medicating so far (knock on wood) and I’ve got a low pain threshold. Anybody else get rattling ear? Or bizarre side effects?

    1. 653-CXK*

      I had my first shot Wednesday (Pfizer) from my company, who is doing it a local site.

      The only real symptoms I felt were arm pain and tiredness. The arm pain was less than what you would get from a tetanus shot – when I had a booster shot several years ago (that one hurt) and I have been taking low doses of ibuprofen to keep the aches at bay. The tiredness is what I call a relaxed tired (“I’ve accomplished a lot today”).

      My next shot is in three weeks at the same location.

    2. Also Moderna*

      I got my first Moderna shot at the end of February and that evening started to feel my arm get sore. The next day, it literally felt like it was broken! Couldn’t touch it, could barely lift it up, it was crazy. It was much better the next day but still sore, and the day after almost 100%.

      For my second shot, I felt 100% until 12 hours later. I was going to bed, and all of a sudden started feeling like I got ran over by a truck. Awful body aches, no position was comfortable, and a low grade fever (99 -99.5, which is high for me considering my avg temperature is 97.5 and I’ve had a fever once in 18 years). Finally fell asleep around 4am, woke up at 8, then just read a book all day and rested. I never took anything and just let my body work it out.

      Fever went away in the late afternoon the next day, perhaps around 6pm, and body aches started subsiding around 2pm.

      I know people who’ve had worse symptoms and I think it kind of depends on what you’re susceptible to. If you have a sensitive stomach, maybe you’ll have stomach issues. If you get headaches and migraines, you might get those. (both of these things happened to people I know who are prone to those problems). For my mom who got Pfizer, she had Covid twice and the last time she had it was about 2 months before the shot. For both shots she had a fever of over 102 and felt awful for 2 days.

      1. nep*

        It is quite the crapshoot as far as side effects.
        Hope you’re feeling all back to normal now?

        1. Also Moderna*

          100% now! I got my vaccine Saturday morning and by Monday morning everything was back to normal.

    3. Chaordic One*

      Moderna here. Not so much pain, just a general numbness. Mostly in my arm, but also to a lesser extent, in the whole side of my body that the injection was given. I felt that it was a side effect from the vaccine. One of my friends (who also had Moderna) thinks that the nurse hit a nerve with the needle when she gave the injection. My arm is still just a tiny bit numb.

      Going back for the second injection next week. I think I’ll have them do it in the other side. Then maybe they’ll match.

    4. Princess Deviant*

      Had my second vaccine last week. I experienced very painful swollen glands/lymph nodes under my armpits and down to my elbow, which was worse on the side I’d had the injection. I looked for common side effects and apparently that is one of them! It is fine now, although at first I thought it was hormonal as I came on at the same time.

    5. NRG*

      I had a sudden sore armpit with some swelling 5 days after my shot, on the side with the shot. It lasted about 12 hours, and then I got a kind patchy dry skin on that arm for about a day. It’s all back to regular arm state now.

  33. Curtain Call*

    I have a friend Kate who does theater work for a living (not an actor, behind the scenes stuff). She’s very good at it, truly excellent, but she has been struggling to make a living off of it since our college graduation 12 years ago, even before Covid shut down live theater. We don’t live in an area with a huge theater community, like NYC or Las Vegas or anything like that. There are some theaters around but not a ton. She moved once to an area with a better theater community but came back because she didn’t want to be so far from all her family and friends.

    A lot of her talk about her career recently has been around how the theater industry is broken. Kate says that all the theaters want amazing work on shoestring budgets, want her full dedication to their show without paying her a full time salary (she’s been told if you’re working on this show, you’re not allowed to get another job at another theater, even though it’s part-time freelance work), and they’d rather cut corners with cheaper less experienced staff than pay her for her knowledge. She’s lived paycheck to paycheck, struggling some months to pay for the necessities, and has said that doing freelance self-employment takes such a huge chunk out for taxes, she’s barely making 18k a year most years.

    The frustration at her lack of work and stability has really been getting to Kate lately. She’s mad at the industry, at her past bosses, at those who do theater for a hobby rather than a job (‘they must have a rich spouse so they don’t have to get paid’), even at those who do successfully make a living off their work (‘they’re not that good; why can they do it and I can’t?’). It’s turning her really bitter that she doesn’t even seem to enjoy the work anymore. But Kate also has no desire to try anything else. She’s said it feels like giving up on her dreams, and that all the hard work she put into it would be a waste. Even suggesting she do any kind of temp or part-time work doing anything else, to get a steady paycheck even briefly, she is completely against it.

    Everything has been taking a toll on her mental and physical health. Kate is usually a pretty happy and friendly person but this theater career stuff has a constant cloud over her head and she brings it up frequently to vent about it.

    I want to support my friend in all of her endeavors and I want her to succeed but I’m also concerned Kate is burning herself out, to the point she doesn’t enjoy what she was once so passionate about. I’m worried she’s going to continue throwing herself at an industry that in her own words can’t afford her and get mad for expecting different results. I don’t know what to say to her anymore when she bring up the topic because I just want to shake her and say ‘You’re making yourself so miserable, please try something else!’ but she has ignored kinder versions of those suggestions before. I’ve never thought of doing a fully staged intervention for someone but Kate has me considering it. What can I do for my friend, or is there even nothing I can do but let her continue as she is and be a shoulder for her endless frustrations?

    1. MommaCat*

      I’m dealing and have dealt with similar issues; my solution was to go into theater education. My income doubled when I started working at a private high school, which probably says more about how poorly theater pays than how well education pays. The teachers at my school were constantly complaining about how poorly paid they were, which made me think I was making a lot more than them… nope. I was getting paid in line with a first year teacher.

      1. Curtain Call*

        Kate has an undergrad theater degree, and she’s wanted to get a master’s but is running into the ‘lack of money’ issue. She actually had an interview with a university to be part of their very limited master’s program for theater, and she was very excited about it, but then they rejected her when they looked at her finances and said ‘You can’t afford us’. That was really disheartening for Kate and she hasn’t looked into another program since.

        1. Lifelong student*

          If she can’t make any money where she is with her current education and experience- why would she even consider an additional degree unless she is willing to move?

          If one is desperate to follow a certain career- there are trade-offs like where you live and what the reasonable return on your investment should be.

          I question a school rejecting a student because of finances. I caan understand the school declining to give a discount or scholarship for a variety of reasons- but to reject for admission?

          Seems like Kate has unreasonable expectations.

          1. Reba*

            I also think that the narrative Kate has shared about that grad school admissions experience doesn’t seem to be all there. Grad school applicant pools are growing, while departmental funding pools are not, and I know some programs only admit students whom they can fund. I mean, maybe someone really uncouth said that to her, it’s possible! But I’m doubtful that the selection committee looked at her finances, that seems really off to me.

            (And anyway, if they had admitted her with no financial aid she could easily be $100 000 in the hole… much worse off!)

            1. Dan*

              And in my corner of the world, Masters degrees are rarely funded (I paid my own way, worth every dime) but PhDs almost always are. (I would not pay my own way for a PhD.)

              1. Reba*

                True! I may have had MFA in my mind, where there tend to more options for part- and full funding.

        2. MommaCat*

          I don’t have a master’s degree, and my partner, who also works in theater education, doesn’t have an undergrad degree. We aren’t teachers, but we’ve been Technical Directors or scenic carpenters or electricians in various educational shops. A masters would give her a leg up for those jobs, but would probably make her over-qualified for a lot of other theater jobs. I’m in a lucky position of having two state colleges and a number of community colleges within ok commuting distance, though, so her miles may vary.

          Of course, I’m here, unemployed, giving advice about getting employed in a notoriously difficult industry during an even more difficult time, so take it with a grain of salt. I’m lucky in that my partner is still employed at a college, so we’re getting by, but ugh. Not much call for a scenic carpenter when all the shows are virtual.

    2. Reba*

      No, not an “intervention” but you can definitely try resetting the conversational terms! You could say something like, “I know this is really weighing on you, but right now, I just can’t take much more work and career talk. Could we have a moratorium on this topic for 6 months?” And what will help a lot is to be a bit proactive in bringing up something to fill the gap. Maybe you read or watch something together and discuss?

      I don’t think there’s a magic phrase you can say that will make your friend change her mind. It sounds like her thinking on this is still really rigid and she’s just not ready to hear otherwise. It’s tough because being so laser focused on one’s dream career is helpful if you are going to have a chance at “making it”* — but if you don’t get onto that envisioned path, it’s a real hindrance to finding other ways to work.

      *problematic concept in itself!!

      If you do think you want to keep open the possibility of talking about this topic, but change the direction, I wonder if she’d be open to reading some different perspectives and talking about them (if she can’t hear you on the subject, maybe she could hear an author or poet). My recommendations are the afterword in Lewis Hyde’s “The Gift,” and there is a TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert in which she says something like “creative jobs make for crap careers.”

    3. Crispy Pork*

      Kate has chosen a field that is unlikely to pay well and remains there despite ongoing financial insecurity. She continues to choose to not take any alternative forms of employment. Further, she is choosing to process her feelings about this situation by venting to you about it regularly.

      None of it sounds healthy.

      Kate can choose to do whatever she likes with her life. There isn’t anything you can do to persuade her otherwise. It’s highly unlikely you will find a magical solution she hasn’t thought of already. In the mean time her stress and constant venting sounds stressful to YOU. Obviously the venting doesn’t make her feel better long term because it seems like she’s talking to you about it over and over again. At this stage I would gently encourage her to see a therapist.

      If you have the patience to continue listening that’s fine- the most you can offer is validation and sympathy. But also feel free to not engage with her about this. I’ve had friends and family who come to me to vent repeatedly about the same issues and honestly there is nothing you can do to change their situation practically.

    4. fposte*

      I don’t think you have to fix this, and I really don’t think an intervention is likely to help. I really think Kate needs to be in counseling, because it sounds like she’s really stuck and feels like her identity is wrapped up in this.

      But I also don’t think you have to be a shoulder for endless frustrations. This is where you get into saying your piece once, clearly, if you haven’t already, and then you can either use “What do you think you want to do about that?” or “You already know what I think.” And you can say, if you want to, that you know this is hard for her but you’ve hit your limit on the topic unless there’s a change.

      Keep in mind that a change may not happen. Sometimes people just can’t manage the action that will help them. You might take a little time to face and accept that possibility; I know how it feels to watch a friend heading toward what feels like a wreck, but you can’t wreck-proof other people.

    5. WellRed*

      Kate sounds exhausting. I think you should put a moratorium on her “career” talk and tell her why. You might be doing her a favor. And getting a masters in theater? Just, no. She can’t afford it.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      You can’t save Kate from herself but you can save yourself from her kvetching. When Kate starts complaining, consider asking in a caring tone: “Kate, what are you going to do about it?” Every time she starts up, you could ask this.
      Alternatively, you could tell her that while you want to be supportive, you’ve reached your limit on listening to her career issues. Kate doesn’t have the right to exhaust you with her problems and her venting isn’t yielding positive results anyway. Don’t bother with advice; Kate’s immune to it. You can insist on a time limit or a complete moratorium on her venting. Do you have something else you can talk about?
      Best of Luck

      1. Juniper*

        Yeah, these are the kinds of conversations my close girlfriends and I have. We don’t change the subject or gently try to re-direct: we call each other out. “Fergus, you’ve been moaning about how you hate working with government contracts for 3 years now. For the love of all that is holy, do something about it and stop kvetching!” We say it lovingly, but directly.

    7. Dan*

      When one feels “called” to a career, there’s no talking them off the ledge. So you’d be wasting your time trying. Kate needs to make decisions for Kate, because she has to live with the outcome. You, OTOH, can choose how much you want to listen to her.

      I pursued a career path for awhile that on the outside looks glamorous, but once you find out how the sausage gets made (e.g., the career path to get to the top) you realize how terrible it is. But if you’re committed to it, then so be it.

      In this career path, entry level jobs don’t pay well, and the employment is unstable. It’s also seniority-list driven, so much of your paycheck and quality of life are determined by fate and not your individual performance. (The industry has its roots with heavy union involvement, and for better or worse, even the companies that aren’t unionized still follow a lot of the model.) And the worst part about the seniority list aspects is that if you get laid off from your entry level job and find a new job in the industry, you’re entry level again.

      It’s also a job where you don’t get paid for time you’re “at work”, but only for the time you’re actually *working*. (And the definition of work is very narrow.) So in the entry level roles where the pay is bad, there’s also lots of unbillable work time. It’s not unheard of to be “at work” for 14 hours, but only getting paid for 8 of them.

      Once I fully grasped all of those realities, I took the skills I learned along the way and found an office job. I probably get paid triple what the entry level jobs are paying, work 9-5 and live life on my terms.

      But only I could decide that my original plan wasn’t for me.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Yes, she’s right: trust-fund babies, retirees, or stay-at-home partners who don’t need to make a living are the long-term backbone of these organizations.

      Kate is running headfirst into why performing arts are a young person’s game, and how it continues to be so. Young, idealistic people with lots of enthusiasm and very little interest in doing math are willing to sacrifice their long-term comfort and stability to do things that are cool and interesting.

      And at some point, they get old enough to realize that it sucks being broke, they have no safety net, nobody is coming to “discover” them and give them the wealth and success they dreamed about, they have maxed out their opportunities in this location or network, and they’re being exploited.

      They rage. They grieve. Eventually they make a decision about how to move forward and take better care of themselves, that in one way or another moves them up or out of this semi-professional poverty level ecosystem.

      And another crop of starry-eyed youngsters swoops right in to take their place.

      Kate is at the “rage and grieve” stage. She’ll get through it by herself. You can’t make her get there.

      What you can do is stop letting her siphon off that energy by venting to you. She needs that energy to take action. Captain Awkward has some good material on friends who chronically complain to the point of exhausting you. Look up Question 143: I lent an ear to my friend, how do I get it back?

      1. RagingADHD*

        On reflection, there’s another side to this. The economics of producing theater are hard, and doing it outside a major metro area is even harder.

        If there just aren’t enough people willing to buy tickets, or grant money available, the money just isn’t there to pay people enough. But modest shows that are cheao to produce don’t have the “wow” factor that draws buzz and audiences. It’s a balancing act.

        Lots of people consciously use these type of gigs as resume filler, or short-term learning and networking opportunities. And lots of people take them as long-term side gigs, knowing it will never be more than that.

        Unfortunately, too many people like Kate get overcommitted because of unrealistic expectations. And it’s a hard thing to let go.

        Are those expectations because the person isn’t seeing things clearly, or because theater programs don’t do enough training on the business of show business? Some of both.

    9. llamaswithouthats*

      Stop shouldering this burden and I implement boundaries. I went through a similar problem with another friend and only recently realized she can’t be helped. I think part of the issue is this myth that your main job has to be your passion. It sucks that the theatre industry is like this, but sometimes your have to be realistic about the fact you need financial stability.

    10. allathian*

      This is simple, but far from easy. You can’t change Kate, but you can definitely tell her that you don’t want to deal with her venting anymore.

      An honest question, what do you get out of this friendship? It sounds like a very one-sided and not particularly healthy one.

  34. Traveling with a dog*

    Does anyone know what the process is for returning to the US after traveling abroad (to a non-rabies country) for more than 30 days? From what I’ve read, it seems like the health certificate required to travel will expire within X amount of days (I thought I read 30, but I might be wrong). Thinking of traveling with him for 6 weeks and would like to know what would be needed when returning home.

  35. anon today*

    What do women in their mid 20’s wear? Where do you shop? I am trying to develop my style and build a more adult wardrobe. I am willing to spend more than I have in the past but I can’t find clothes that are well made and that I like. I look younger than I am and I’m self concious of dressing like a college student, but I also don’t want to look frumpy or stuffy.

    1. ThatGirl*

      It depends somewhat on your budget. But stores like Loft and Gap are good starts for inspiration. Is NY&Co still around? Look for things that fit you well, and layers and accessories can go a long way. The right shoes and a scarf or necklace can glam up an outfit, or a fitted blazer or cardigan. I’m not in my 20s anymore, but those are my suggestions :)

      1. anon today*

        Thanks! I think that fit is really what will make the difference. I’ve been trying to talk myself into just budgeting and planning to get most things tailored/altered.

    2. ATX*

      I’m 33 now but when I started to wear more professional clothes and went away from Forever 21 and Express, I went to Banana Republic and Ann Taylor. I also found some boutique stores, they have more trendy styles now but have good staple items (Ariztia and Oak and Fort are the store names).

      Another thing I did and still do, is try on expensive stuff at Nordstrom to get my size then find what I like on Poshmark, Ebay, or sites like Last Call (Neiman Marcus). Some of my favorite work style brands are Theory, Vince, and Joie.

      Nordstrom Rack is also one of my favorites and returning items is so easy if there’s a store by you. I usually shop online, since the stores sometimes have limited items. They have tons of great blouses and pants for work that are affordable!

      1. anon today*

        Thank you for the brand recs! I wish I had a Nordstrom Rack near me. Once it’s safer I’ll probably suck it up and make the drive to nearest Big City to find one.

    3. violet04*

      I’m in my 40s, but I like blogs like Putting Me Together and Extra Petite for outfit ideas. Cap Hill Style has some outfit posts too with ideas about how to style certain pieces of clothing for casual and work wear.

      1. anon today*

        Thanks for the recommendation! I haven’t heard of these so I’ll take a look. I avoid using pinterest for inspiration, since you can rarely find brands and I am hyper aware that what looks good on an Instagram model probably won’t look the same on me. And I always wonder: do I like that outfit, or do I just wish I looked like the person wearing it?

        1. Ali + Nino*

          “And I always wonder: do I like that outfit, or do I just wish I looked like the person wearing it?” – My thoughts exactly!

          If you’re still figuring out your style and don’t want to spend a lot, I recommend thrift shops such as Goodwill where you can try on different looks, pieces, etc. without investing too much – and you never know, sometimes there are great finds at great prices!

      2. Annie Moose*

        Putting Me Together is a great resource for when you’re trying to go, hold up, what even is style, what are outfit formulas I like, and so on! It was very helpful for me a couple years ago when I was in a similar rut where I woke up and was like, I have no clue how to properly dress myself, haha. Her outfits and suggestions are pretty easy and accessible (a lot of Old Navy, Nordstrom, Amazon, etc. links so not outrageously expensive) and IMO looks, well, put-together. ;)

    4. Redhairedrunner*

      I’m in my mid 20s and shop pretty exclusively at Madewell and J Crew. Madewell is the casual spin off of J Crew, but J Crew does have some great everyday basics.

      1. anon today*

        I buy all my jeans at Madewell and I want to love their other stuff but I just… don’t. I think part of my issue is that I don’t really know what I like style-wise, but I know what I don’t like. The muted earth tones and boxy/ /peasanty/ minimal stuff is just not for me, but it seems like that’s whats in style right now. I haven’t looked at J Crew, but I’ll see what I can find.
        I think the “effortless casual” look that Madewell sells doesn’t read that way on me. I tend to just look rumpled and unpolished in those kind of clothes so I’m trying to find a bit of a different vibe or style.

    5. not that Leia*

      I recommend using Pinterest for getting an idea of the shapes/cuts/silhouettes you like, and that can then help you target your shopping at places like Nordstrom Rack, which can have an over abundance of different styles. So you know you’re looking for narrow pants and tunic-length tops, for example, and don’t get distracted by randomly stuff that doesn’t fit your style. It also helps make sure everything you buy can be interchangeable in outfits.

    6. Annie Moose*

      A big piece of advice that I have is to really get in the habit of observing others. Obviously with covid this may be a little trickier than normal ;) but if you’re out in a store or walking down a sidewalk, keep an eye open for women roughly your age with outfits or style that appeal to you. Even if it isn’t necessarily something you’d wear (I love some styles on others that just do not work on me!), it can help hone your sense of personal style, what sort of colors and shapes and details you’re drawn to. Write it down, if you’re that sort of person! And you can browse online too–the front pages and bestsellers on various retail websites or style websites like WhoWhatWear will lean trendy, and that can be helpful for you too, seeing what kind of trends appeal to you and looking for patterns.

      Aside from that, I’d also take a cold hard look at your own closet. What items do you really like wearing, and why? How do they make you feel? Are there consistent elements between them that you could try to emphasize? (e.g. maybe you find all your favorite shirts are pastels, or you like the oversized/boxy look, or big flowy sleeves) And the flipside: which of your clothes do you dislike and feel the least comfortable in? Are there any patterns there too, things to know to avoid?

      (One example from when I overhauled my closet a couple years ago: I had this sleeveless mockneck blouse that I just loved in isolation. On a hanger, it was fantastic. But I never actually wore it, and finally one day in front of the bathroom mirror, trying to convince myself to wear it, I had an epiphany: the color was just wrong for me. It was this mustard color that looked great by itself… but makes my skin look green. Now I know what color to never buy!)

      With regards to well-made clothing: I will offer a word of caution, which is that unfortunately, more expensive doesn’t always mean better quality. I’ve been burned by spending way too much on a sweater, pants, etc. only to realize they were about the same quality as Old Navy anyway. So read reviews and look critically at an item, not just rely on the price tag. And mind how you launder things–you can keep even a cheap item looking nice much longer by always washing on cold and air drying.

    7. Amy*

      I’m in my early 30’s, but my go-to stores are Nordstrom Rack, Gap, Everlane, J. Crew, and Anthropologie. If I can find those brands on ThredUp I’ll purchase them there too. I also shop at Old Navy (for casual t-shirts and such) and Modcloth (for more fun, unique prints) but with the expectation that quality is going to be fairly low.

      You could also try StitchFix boxes – some of my favorite items have come from there and they often pick out things I wouldn’t necessarily choose on my own, but I actually like. But the quality can be hit or miss and I find the prices to be higher than I would pay in a store.

    8. c-*

      If you’re still figuring it out, I second buying second-hand clothes and experimenting. Do a bit of introspection first, though, so you have an end-goal (or at least a guiding idea) in mind. Some questions to help with this:
      – Do you want to iron your clothes? Do you want to hand-wash them? Are you looking for hardy or flimsy fabrics?
      – What shoes do you usually wear? Heels: yay or nay?
      – Do you prefer pants or skirts?
      – What cuts and lenghts do you like on tops and bottoms?
      – Colours: do you prefer neutrals or more eye-catching tones? Darks or lights? Cool or warm shades? Prints or plains?

      Use these questions and pictures or people whose style you like to figure out what you’re going for, write down a list with a few pieces you need, and then go shop for those, wherever they may be found.

    9. twocents*

      Personally, I shop at Old Navy for jeans and cute dresses/skirts and Target for sweats and comfy clothes. For something a little jazzier, I usually go to Francesca’s. When I was in a department that required business casual, I got some nicer basics at J Crew. DSW supplies most of my shoes, though I favor the comfort of Sanuks.

    10. Jane of all Trades*

      I like Karl Lagerfeld for what you are describing – the look has a classical element to it, but generally with a modern twist (caveat – I think he was a pretty shitty person). You can find that stuff at places like Lord&Taylor, Bloomingdales, ecc.

    11. Gamer Girl*

      Take a look on Etsy. Initially it looks pricier than retail stores, BUT, most makers will custom make outfits for you, and you are supporting an individual or small group instead of sweatshop work. I have slowly built my wardrobe with a combo of well-fitting trousers and a couple of incredible design blazers from Etsy, skirts I made myself or found at thrift stores (usually a much wider selection than dresses! Skirts are often hardly written whereas I find dresses can be pit stained or worn on the shoulders) Plus a couple of cool dresses I commissioned from costume design school makers in my area because my tastes are modern/vintage.

      You will have to look a little longer than walking into a store, but if you find a good tailor online or in your area, you can commission pieces in colors and fabrics that you love and can wear for years rather than buying cheap that wear out quickly and need to be replaced many times over, imo. (Think 70-100 euro for one pair of trousers vs 10-40 euro)

  36. Almost Academic*

    I recently had a salary increase (including some stock options given) and reached my early 30s. A friend suggested that I speak with a financial planner, given the recent windfall, newfound ability to save for retirement, and some big life plans I’m trying to save for (wedding, house, etc.) I’m pretty good with budgeting, so I guess my question is what does a financial planner even do or help with? Is it worth it to get one? If so, how do I find a good one and any ballpark for how much this would cost? Thanks for any input!

    1. ATX*

      I personally don’t feel like financial planners are that worth it unless you make a ton of money. I make a good salary (over 6 figures), have stock options, and have very low monthly expenses and do not have one. My husband makes about 50k more than I do and also doesn’t have one.

      I max out my 401k, have a roth IRA, traditional IRA, and a separate stocks and bonds account that I contribute to. I also have a cushion savings for emergencies that I put extra money in (thankful for this because I was able to buy a car and pay in cash!).

    2. fposte*

      If you do go to a financial planner, I’d say stick to a fee-only planner (you don’t want one that makes money based on commissions) and I’d suggest looking at the Garrett Financial Network. But I’m with ATX in thinking it’s not necessary—try a little reading in the wiki and forums for bogleheads dot or in the personalfinance subreddit.

    3. Ali G*

      A financial planner is a person you give money to so they can invest it for you, guided by a plan that yo come up with together based on your goals. I agree with ATX that unless this is a substantial increase in salary and it’s going to be sustained over the long-term, it’s probably overkill.
      You could look at some investing websites yourself and consider things like: paying off bad debt, maxing out your 401k, opening your own IRA, consider Roth IRA/401k, etc.

      1. Not A Manager*

        That’s an investment advisor. A financial planner helps you come up with a financial plan for your current and future spending needs.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Read up on basic financial planning and determine if you want to do this yourself. I did my own financial planning because I was interested in the topic and motivated to act on what I learned. If the book puts you to sleep or frustrates you, consider hiring a certified financial planner (CFP). Get a fee-only CFP who charges a fixed amount, not a percentage of your assets. Anybody can call themselves a financial advisor or planner, so be careful. Don’t use a broker or salesperson. Interview 2 or 3 CFPs and ask what their fees are before deciding who to work with. (I met just once with the financial planner at my bank. Wow, I could never work with her!)
      Even if you hire a CFP, know some basics about personal finance. Never invest in something you don’t understand. One retiree I knew let his broker put all his retirement money into high-risk futures. The money was lost. The retiree had to go back to work!
      You’re already on the right track, asking the right questions! Best of Luck!

    5. Not A Manager*

      I’m not up on all the lingo, but there’s a difference between someone who invests for you, someone who budgets for you, and someone who helps you understand your investment and budgeting options. It sounds to me like your friend is suggesting the last of those to you.

      I believe, but I’m not entirely sure, that you can consult with a financial planner for one or two sessions to look over your current portfolio, discuss your current and future needs, and get some ideas about how to be sure that you can achieve your goals. A lot of times this is regarding a safe retirement, but it could also be for things like buying a home or paying college tuition. This person should be able to discuss specific products that you might not know about, like special college tuition accounts, or health savings accounts, or different IRA options. While that advice *can* be coupled with actually investing your portfolio for you, it doesn’t have to be. You can absolutely find someone to give you general advice about “I suggest that you have x percent in stocks, y percent in bonds, this kind of mortgage, a Roth IRA, and an HSA and here’s why,” and then you go and make those investments yourself.

    6. Dan*

      I use one. He gets paid a small percentage of assets under (active) management. For me, this works out, because all my money is tied up in retirement accounts, and my 401k with my current employer is not under his management. And I’m going to be with my current employer until I retire, so all he really has at the moment is a 401k rollover from my previous job.

      I’m a math geek for a living, so I don’t pay him to crunch numbers. (I can do that just fine.) But I use him mostly because I live in an HCOL area, and financial decisions are just… bigger. I do place a value on having someone to be a real partner in my financial success.

    7. LDF*

      I have a financial planner. I pay her to look at my situation, ask me about my goals, come up with a plan of where and how to invest my money, and answer questions I have over the next year or two about how to put that advice into effect. Things like, how much I should have in savings vs bonds vs index funds and whih ones, how to invest my 401k, when to excercise and sell options based on my tax situation, etc. The person I use is fee-only and only plans, doesn’t execute anything. After a few years if I want to rejigger anything I pay again for a new full workup if I want.

      Some people would say that’s not worth it because I could do it myself, but there are so many possibilities and I don’t want to take the time to sift through all of them then have the pressure to decide the best strategy. I’d much rather just take a professional’s advice to offload that labor. I also like her forward-looking spreadsheets that make me feel good about retirement. Figuring it out myself would stress me out, this way I’m pretty stress-free.

      I literally found her on Yelp. Searched for people in my area and when I read her website I really liked her approach. I also got recs from friends, but didn’t click with any of them.

    8. Girasol*

      Do you have a 401K? The company that holds it – Fidelity, Vanguard, T Rowe, etc. – may offer free financial advising for you as a customer. If you are a member of a credit union, they may offer that service too. Free service may not be as objective as that of someone whose advice you’d pay for, and you’d want to keep that in mind. But you can listen and ask questions. If you go in planning to say, “I’ll think about that” on any recommendations, you can avoid getting rushed into anything. It’s likely to give you some new ideas to consider and research on your own and maybe act on later, and you’d have a better idea of some of the things a financial advisor might do for you.

    9. NRG*

      If you are a credit union member, they often have some free seminars and consultations. I would start there. They are often dealing with people who have no idea what to do with their money, so there will be really basic stuff initially. Don’t turn your nose up at that though, you might still get something out of it that you didn’t think about before.

    10. Almost Academic*

      Thank you everyone for the input and advice! It was really helpful. I’m much more of a control freak than my friend, so it sounds like the best route for me at the moment is doing some research and reading on my own, and structuring finances accordingly. I’ll definitely keep your suggestions in mind for what to look for if I decide to go down the financial planner route in the future though.

      Thanks again!

  37. ThatGirl*

    Looking for suggestions for sandals or slip ons that are somewhat stylish but above all comfortable for walking around, tourist style, so my feet won’t be beat up or sore at the end of the day. I’m willing to pay for quality but $150 is about my limit.

      1. lapgiraffe*

        LOVE Taos, and basically any Spanish cork sandal. I have troublesome feet – arch issues, easy to blister, angry toes from ballet abuse – and these shoes truly never hurt. And I have really tested them over the years, walked all over European cities, miles upon miles, day after day, no problems whatsoever.

    1. nep*

      I don’t know whether you like the Crocs sandals that are out there, but the few pair I’ve had are so comfortable–it’s all I wear on warmer days. And they have come up with some pretty stylish options.
      I can’t really help beyond that, as I haven’t tried many different brands of sandals.

      1. mreasy*