weekend open thread – April 24-25, 2021

This is an optical illusion. In reality, she is one-third his size.

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: Early Morning Riser, by Katherine Heiny. A strangely charming story of Jane; her ladies’ man boyfriend, Duncan; his seemingly perfect ex, Aggie; Aggie’s extremely odd husband, Gary; and the small, too-close-for-comfort town they all live in.

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

{ 1,236 comments… read them below }

  1. Book Club no. 1*

    I’m taking part in a (online) book club! It’s with people in my organisation so they’re not friends or people I know well.
    To those of you who have done it before: What things do I expect? What kind of things do you discuss about the book?
    Other than reading the book, is there anything else I can do to prepare?
    We’re reading Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield.
    This is so different to the type of stuff that I usually read – I’m very much a paranormal romance type of person – so it’s interesting to read something that’s definitely more ‘grown up’.

    P.S. Alison, your kitties are so sweet :)

    1. Reader*

      There’s no common set of rules for book clubs!

      Some are very structured, with someone moderating the discussion and asking leading questions about the book — kind of an English class. Some groups talk about the book for maybe 15 minutes, and then just chat. And there’s everything in between.

    2. Anono-me*

      Many books have book club discussion points at the back of the book or online. Although I think it is not necessary, you might find it reassuring to review one or two of the discussion suggestion sites.

      Also, Reader might be being a little generous with the 15 minutes of discussion, I’ve been to book club meetings where the book was never even mentioned.

      I hope you have fun.

    3. the cat's ass*

      Great book,BTW, as was her first!
      Mostly you just read the book, discuss it, and see where the conversation takes you! Enjoy!

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I just started a book that’s so unlike me. I’m more the New Yorker short story type, but Natalie Zina Walschots’ debut novel “Hench” is about a temp agency that places people to work for supervillains. The main character is bi and others are various orientations and so far I enjoy it. It has a sense of humor and I didn’t realize how “niche” it might be till I read some reviews. It doesn’t feel that much of a “fantasy” to me. So far it has the feel of a series for TV or film.

        1. Karatesnowmachinechopsit*

          Hench was a good read but I upon reflection I didn’t love it. There were a lot of plot problems and at the end I felt annoyed because it seemed like it could have easily been written better. It left a lot of plot lines unfinished and felt completely ignored. It was a fun read for one time but not a great book overall

          1. Joan Rivers*

            That’s too bad. I read mysteries, as well as New Yorker type fiction, and love me a good PLOT. When the premise is intriguing and different it gets me interested — but I hate when plot lines get dropped. There has to be a certain interior logic going on.

            And I hate if a character is introduced and dangled in front of us but then disappears.

            1. Joan Rivers*

              But so far this seems like it has potential to be a series on TV or film.
              As does “The Thursday Murder Club” by Richard Osman. It’s set in a “senior” community w/lots of wine drinking — not cutesy.

              1. Book Club no. 1*

                I could NOT get into The Thursday Murder Club at all. I really dislike present tense writing.

              2. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

                Ooh, I enjoyed that too. Any recommendations for similar books?

        2. Book Club no. 1*

          That sounds so cool! Did Alison mention it here once? I feel like I’ve heard about it before.

          1. Lilo*

            Yes, I believe a while back and I added it to my Libby holds then but just got it. I thought it was good, definitely wasn’t expecting the direction it took.

    4. Goddess47*

      Besides looking for questions about the book, find something smaller that you liked or disliked. A character, a setting, a sub-plot… And why did you like/dislike it. That will help you feel like you have something to add to the discussion. It doesn’t have to be ‘literary’ — but something along the lines of “I liked the scene where Fergus did X, it was so realistic and I’ve seen friends do the same thing” or “I disliked the description about the living room, those were colors I’d never use and it distracted me so much”

      Also, if you’re prepared with an overall opinion about the book, that will also make you feel better. Along the lines of why would you recommend/not recommend the book to another person.

      And since it’s your first time, don’t hesitate to sit back and let the others lead the discussion. See what sort of things they bring up and you can join in when you want.

      Have fun!

    5. Artemesia*

      I am in 3 book clubs and we all moved on line. The problem with groups on zoom is that it is very easy for the aggressive brayers to dominate and many people don’t spot social clues of others wanting to participate as you would in a physical group. Thus it is important to have a facilitator and some expected process in place especially till the group has developed its mojo. We usually start with a round robin so everyone can reports their reactions to the group then the facilitator suggests questions and moderates participation.

      You may find being more informal works — one of my groups works very well without firm moderation and in another one person dominates if we don’t have structure. And in the third — the person who was a big advocate for free flowing unstructured conversation routinely interrupts and dominates and our less assertive members have trouble getting a word in edgewise.

      It is easier to start with structure and the expectation that the facilitator each time will come with some questions to guide discussion if needed than to try to deal with a situation where half the group is POed because they never get a word in.

      One of my groups just met in person for the first time in a year last night — all are vaccinated. What a pleasure. Another is planning on meeting in June in person if things continue to go well.

      1. Book Club no. 1*

        We do have a moderator, so hopefully that won’t happen! I’m happy to just sit and mostly listen in at first.

    6. Alexis Rosay*

      There is a famous librarian in Seattle who advised book clubs to always start by talking about the title of the book. I think her reasoning is that otherwise the first question people ask is “Did you like it?” which can kind of shut down discussion early.

    7. Joan Rivers*

      One thing I’ve done is email writers, and even an artist whose illustration was on a book. And they write back — if they’re not too famous! You have to hit them at the right time in their career, maybe. I always wanted to write Elmore Leonard but by the time I tried, he had an “asst.” who seemed to shield him. He was a god by then.
      But Robert Crais responded because I sent a heartfelt email re: his mystery told partly from the point of Maggie, the bomb-sniffing dog.
      I had back and forth correspondence with Joan Frank — a fiction writer I HIGHLY recommend. She’s brilliant. Very generous and warm!
      Just look for contact info. at their website, sometimes they do read their emails! The artist’s credit on a book jacket led me to his website and he could not have been nicer.
      If I were reading an author for a book club and we really liked the book, I’d try writing them to let them know. Writing can be lonely and they can appreciate the praise.

    8. Sc@rlettNZ*

      I’m in a book club at work. Our meeting involve going to the local bar for snacks and drinks. Sometimes the book gets a mention, and other times it doesn’t :-)

      (I’m in New Zealand so we aren’t under any Covid restrictions at the moment).

    9. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

      In my country, book clubs function more as private communal libraries with a small membership of perhaps 6-12 people.

      The book club owns a collection of books, and each month a member has a turn to host a book club meeting. They take money from the kitty to buy new books – new releases or whatever people are keen to read (each member contributes a certain amount each month). At the meeting, everyone can borrow from the collection and return them the following month. So everyone is reading different books. The only discussion about the books is when people ask for recommendations. The rest of the time it’s just casual conversation.

      Once the books start to pile up, we take out the older ones and donate them to a public library or old folks home.

  2. Work Food*

    Removed because this is the non-work thread but you could repost the same question without the work spin if you want!

  3. Fran*

    Exercise thread.
    Thank you to the person who recommended move with Nicole last week. I did one whole body workout and I liked it.
    I got a barbell and I am looking for 30 min video recommendations.

    1. Becky S.*

      Balance & Strength (Jane Adams) is an interesting one. It has a variety of exercises from 10 to 30 minutes and you can add light hand held dumbbells to many of them.

    2. Teapot Translator*

      I saw a new physical therapist this week for my knee problems. She said I can’t exercise two days in a row. ;_; But she also said I can increase my bike rides to 45 minutes so I’m going to do that this morning.
      Does anyone know of any resource (website, videos, etc.) for strength training that doesn’t involve the legs? I’m going to google “chair and dumbbells” later, but I thought maybe someone here would have ideas.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        I’ve had good results with pushups. :) The plank is considered the best core exercise.
        Another one that was prescribed to me by a physical therapist is like a pushup, but you leave your hips and legs on the floor and only raise from the hips up. It stretches the front of your torso to counter hunching, and it also seems to strengthen my arms and shoulders.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            You can start small with push-ups! I started on my knees going down about halfway and I could do five at a time. Now I’m still on my knees but going down further and can do eight or nine.
            There’s nothing wrong with starting small! :)

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Saturday morning TV, harnessing my childhood bad habit for a good habit: I got the exercise bike in front of the TV and I’m watching Law & Order.

    4. Sapphire (they)*

      I went on a bike ride on Thursday, which was fun, but I really need to take my bike in to get tuned up. I also need to find a new bike shop in the city where I’m living.

    5. Artemesia*

      I learned to say ‘I exercise every morning’ in French, will that count as exercise?

    6. Professor Plum*

      I went to my first water aerobics class today in more than a year. It felt so good to move in the water! (And strange to be around people at the same time—only 8 in the class also there was lots of space.) My gym used to have 3 classes/week—they’ve started back with 2 and hope to build back up to a full schedule.

    7. Fold in the Cheese*

      My newest obsession is the YouTube channel “Fabulous50s.” I’m not in my 50s yet, but holy mackerel, the workouts are amazing! I have so much more stamina, energy, and the woman who does the workouts is so genuine and lovely, she makes me *want* to exercise! There’s cardio, toning, strength, stretching, in all different lengths.

  4. Scent Exile*

    Has anyone had an experience with neighbors who use a really strong smelling cleaning products? I live next to an apartment complex and sometimes the scent (I think from laundry sheets?) is so strong it pervades my yard and sometimes even the house with the windows closed. It gives me a headache and itchy throat, and my office is in the area. I can’t pinpoint where it comes from, but it’s starting to drive me mad. Aside from leaving a note on the entrance (gated complex) asking people to not use strongly scented products, I have no idea how to approach this. Thoughts?

    1. Lizabeth*

      I can think of two things:
      1. Contact the apartment complex management instead of a flyer.
      2. is there a dryer vent located near your house?

      1. Effie*

        I agree with Lizabeth, it sounds like a dryer vent. That sounds rough because you’re not even in the same complex – would a humidifier help at all?

    2. RagingADHD*

      If it makes you feel like you’re doing something to leave a note or contact the management, feel free. But it’s not realistic to expect that it will have any effect.

      I know it’s annoying, but it’s really not something you can control.

    3. Unfettered scientist*

      Yeah it sounds like you live downwind of laundry… I kind of doubt it’s just one person. Unfortunately this doesn’t sound like something you this is a long term solution but can control… can you plant hedges or put up a fence to try to block wind?

      1. Run mad; don't faint*

        Also, look into improving your windows since you’re also smelling it inside. Reglazing individual panes, caulk and window stripping can all help prevent drafts. You could also try layering window treatments the same way people do to keep out cold air. Put blinds against the glass; sheers over those and a heavier curtain over that.

    4. Rara Avis*

      My next door neighbors smoke a lot —A LOT — of pot, and always outside. We have no AC and the only way to cool the house in the summer is to open it up at night. So we can either suffer heat exhaustion or constant congestion ugh int and hacking from second-hand smoke. I would SJ there was a good solution. If you can keep the windows closed, it was recommended to us to use an air purifier to counteract smoke from the fires in our area last summer.

    5. Amaranth*

      Do they have a laundry room near your home, rather than individual laundry in the units? There might be something in their cleaning/laundry products that you’re getting in large doses. Also check if there is a pool. Some pool cleaning chemicals could bother you as well. If nothing else, if its a cleaning product issue, you might be able to find out when they use them. If its a single apartment near you, ask if they can check their maintenance, that something is making you sick. You might also be able to get some better filters for particulates and odors added to your vents. If you can smell it inside your house, have you asked your neighbors if they small it as well? If you go on Next Door or ask around and others notice it, a group approach to the property manager might have more impact.

    6. Windchime*

      In my old neighborhood, the houses were very close together. I could tell when my neighbor was doing laundry because she used a really strong, perfumed dryer sheet and it was so smelly! I can sympathize; it’s really hard to not have control over stuff like that.

  5. Teatime is Goodtime*

    For Old and Don’t Care, from last week:
    The buckwheat brand we buy is called Dovgan.

    Context if anyone else is curious:
    Last week we were talking about breakfast foods. My family has been eating buckwheat recently and we all love it: it is nutty and nutritious and you can add anything to it (butter, herbs, cheese, yoghurt and jam, oil and flax seeds, etc.) We make it like couscous, so cooked for 10 minutes in lightly salted water, and then covered and off the heat for 15 minutes, then drained and consumed. Leftovers we put over salad or rewarmed.

    We like the roasted version, which is a dark toasty brown, and imported from Russia (Please note, I am not in the USA at the moment if that matters for your brand shopping!). Nonroasted still tastes good, but less nutty, and has a slightly green tinge that some find less appetizing (but doesn’t matter much for salads!). We tried roasting it ourselves but couldn’t do it as well.

    What have you all been eating for breakfast?

      1. Peanut*

        If you’re in the US, I recommend trying to find Wolff’s Kasha. It’s roasted buckwheat groats and is an Ashkenazi Jewish staple food – we eat it for breakfast, and also for dinner mixed with onions, celery, and noodles. =). Several “regular” grocery stores in my (not very Jewish) area have it, so it’s not hard to find around here though is usually in the “ethnic” section.

    1. Asenath*

      Missed this topic last week. I like hot cereals mixed with frozen or dried fruit and yogurt. I usually try mixed grains. I am still lamenting my recent discovery that the reason I can’t find Red River cereal (flax seeds, rye meal and cracked wheat), which I ate alone or mixed with oatmeal, is that it isn’t being made any more. I’m thinking about trying to make a substitute, but am having trouble finding the rye meal and cracked wheat at a reasonable price, especially considering shipping costs. Meanwhile, I’m using the last of my Red River cereal stock, oatmeal, and a locally-available 12-grain blend (Steerville Mill), which I like better than the last brand I tried. Sometimes I eat bacon and eggs or pancakes – I just got some buckwheat flour for buckwheat pancakes, and I have tried buckwheat groats, which I like.

      1. pancakes*

        Try Purcell Mountain Farms. I’ve been ordering red and blue cornmeal from them for years and they sell all sorts of other grains.

      2. Tacky B*

        Oh no. I grew up at summer camp with Red River cereal. We used to call it the bird seed breakfast.

        1. Squeakrad*

          We purchased the eight grain version from King Arthur foods – it can be used as an additive to bread or as a hot cereal and it’s really delicious.

      3. Teatime is Goodtime*

        Oh no! It is so terrible when beloved things get discontinued. :( Bummer. I wish you much luck finding a good alternative!

    2. Venus*

      I found out that I can eat oatmeal by soaking it in liquid (milk, yogurt, etc) for a day or more. I add a bit of sweetener but I use much less than when I cook the oats. This is much faster as there is no cook time, much easier to clean, and I don’t know if I will ever cook oats again.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        My friend calls these overnight oats! I like them, but I like them cooked better because I like them warm rather than cold. :)

          1. Teatime is Goodtime*

            Oh, where I am Bircher müsli is something else. More like a mix of oats and other stuff and not necessarily set overnight (though often with milk). How interesting!

      2. AceLibrarian*

        I’ve discovered overnight oats this month too – I add a spoonful of brown sugar and some cinnamon, then chop up an apple in the morning and throw it in with some peanut butter granola. It’s like eating a cobbler for breakfast! I’ve never really liked oatmeal before, but I feel like soaking them overnight leaves them less mushy and I like it much better this way.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Do y’all heat up the overnight oats? I find the idea of eating cold oatmeal right out of the fridge very gross.

          1. Teatime is Goodtime*

            My friend doesn’t! She does let it get closer to room temperature, though. Still, I don’t get it at all! I will say she uses whole rolled oats, too, which means the texture isn’t as bad as it sounds like it would be. But then again, I always use whole rolled oats in my oatmeal anyway, so maybe that’s just me? Steel cut oats aren’t available where I am, unfortunately, unless I special-order them online.

          2. AceLibrarian*

            I don’t! I eat it straight out of the fridge. I’ve seen some recipes say that you can heat them, but the thought doesn’t appeal to me. Also, like Teatime is Goodtime says, overnight oats typically use whole rolled oats so I think they keep their shape/texture better than other oat types.

          3. Kiwi*

            I reheat it, can’t stand the texture when it’s cold. I usually add a little extra milk to make the heated oats less gooey

          4. Venus*

            I’m using steel cut and eating it cold. But I’m eating them for the first time as I only cooked the rolled, and was gifted these, so it feels a bit like granola and I use as much yogurt as milk.

    3. Teapot Translator*

      Yesterday, I tried making poached eggs in the microwave. I didn’t like the process. Last weekend, I tried to do poached eggs on the stove and it wasn’t a success, so I’m going to try to find a small sieve at the supermarket. According to the Internet, it might help with the wisps.
      My usual breakfast is very boring: hard-boiled egg, toast and yogurt with fruit and honey. I’m trying to reduce salt and sugar in my diet for health reasons, so I have a hard time coming up with new breakfast ideas. I experiment mainly on the weekend.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          Thanks for the link! I buy my eggs at the supermarket. I’m thinking they’re not the freshest. That’s where the sieve is supposed to help.

      1. Trixie*

        I ordered some silicone poaching cups online and will be trying those out next week. I also have an egg bites mold which I am experimenting with in the Instant pot this weekend. I like the idea of eggs on a bed of lentils or spring mix greens. Maybe with sourdough toast over the weekends for a treat.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          I like soft-boiled egg, but I also like the eggs to still be a bit warm when I eat them on toast? So, if I make a soft-boiled egg, I’m also trying not to burn myself while peeling them. :)

        1. Teapot Translator*

          I tried it today. One egg “sieved”, one not. The first egg looked better than the second!

      2. Groundhogs Again*

        I have so much love for my pottery microwave egg cookers. I bought the scrambled egg/omelet one on a whim and the poached egg one because the scrambled egg one worked so well. I got them from UncommonGoods .com they’re made by a potter named Tony. I think they were $25 each. I’ll find the link and post – I seriously love these things.

    4. Lurkey Turkey*

      Thanks for the kasha recommendation. I tried it this week and it’s really tasty. I Made a big batch and reheated it throughout the week with some sauteed veggies and a fried egg on top. I will try savory oatmeal recipes next.

    5. Anonymath*

      I needed a low calorie, high-fiber breakfast, and I prefer savory to sweet. I had been making chicken congee in my crockpot, but was looking for a substitute for the white rice. I finally found Pompanoosuc Porridge, from King Arthur Baking. It’s a blend of steel cut oats, whole wheat bulgur, and flax seeds. Two cups of that in my largest crockpot with about 2 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breast (thighs are good too), a tablespoon of kosher salt, a handful (or more to taste) of peeled sliced ginger root, and 8 cups of water over low till bubbly (about 4 hours) then over warm until chicken is easily shreddable. Make sure your warm setting keeps the food above 145 F for safety. If you stir it occasionally it comes out creamier but you can also just set it to heat all night and wake up to nice hot porridge in the morning. It makes enough to last all week and rewarms nicely in the microwave. I like mine with a splash of sweet soy stirred in. Tasty, savory, and keeps me full till lunchtime.

      1. Artemesia*

        My go to is toast made from Ezekial sesame bread which is made without flour (my husband calls it ‘floor sweepings’ bread and won’t touch it — but I like it — substantial, and I use peanut only peanut butter on it. I am pre-diabetic and so want things that digest slowly and do not contain sugar. It is easy and substantial and tasty and doesn’t dirty up a pot.

    6. AL*

      Today I had toast with avocado spread and smoked salmon on top. Normally I am not so fancy and just grab a Fage 0 yogurt!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I used to make sandwiches with avocado, smoked salmon, and cream cheese on wheat bread. So tasty.

    7. Loredena*

      My typical breakfast is plain yogurt with granola stirred in. I just moved though and am having trouble finding a yogurt I really like so I’m considering making muffin quiche on the weekend to get me through the week

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        I go through phases of this. I only ever make my own granola these days, though, because the store-bought stuff ends up being way too sweet.

        And my empathy on the yogurt. There’s only one brand in my area that I like so far and they only have it at one store…and since that store doesn’t do pick-up, I haven’t had regular access to it. I miss it!

    8. Bibliovore*

      I eat an odd breakfast. a jammy egg- recipe is Momofuko soy egg. 1/2 cup of sushi rice, about 1/2 cup of Mother-in-Law Kimchi, home made fresh cucumber pickles, pickled ginger, about a half teaspoon of chili oil (chili crisp) a sprinkle of furake.
      Pretty much everyday OR a banana orange smoothie with protein powder.

      1. Not a cat*

        This isn’t in the least bit odd. In fact, this rice/egg mixture is traditional comfort food in Japan. It is good, though and I have it for lunch.

    9. lemon meringue*

      Breakfast crumble. I make my own granola and sprinkle it over fruits cooked with a little maple syrup and vanilla. (I try to use sweet fruits so they don’t need much additional sweetening.) Apple, pear, blueberry, strawberry-rhubarb: all winners.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Apple oatmeal custard with golden raisins and chopped dried apricots. Keeps well in the fridge and is good warmed up in the microwave or cold. It only has 1/3 cup of brown sugar for an 8×8 pan, so really low sugar

    10. Elizabeth West*

      Hm, that sounds kinda tasty. I’ll have to bookmark this.

      I tend to eat the same thing every day—Greek yogurt with honey, almonds, and two tiny mandarin oranges. Or steel-cut quick oats with almonds and thawed frozen blueberries Fresh is good too, but I only like blueberries if they’re in stuff, and frozen keeps longer. Sometimes I make a simple egg tortilla thing I found a recipe for on Quora. I add spinach leaves and sriracha (I need a stove for this, however, so I haven’t had it for a while).

      I can’t eat right away in the morning, so I have coffee first. I got one of those mugs with lines on it where your mood gets better as you get to the bottom of the cup, like:
      —–Now you may speak


      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        Ahhh I need my cup of tea or I am a bear in the morning. I was once a greek yogurt with honey person, but now I am a greek yogurt with maple syrup person…And the only way I like blueberries is in muffins or maybe pancakes, that only once or twice a year. :) Blueberries are funny.

    11. Run mad; don't faint*

      Recently, I’ve had plain greek yogurt topped with fruit. Yesterday I had chopped avocado and cucumber, topped with feta and a little balsamic vinaigrette. Not the most traditional breakfast, but it was very filling and tasted so good!

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        I was not a fan of most breakfast foods for a long time, so I basically only ate non-traditional breakfasts…. Breaking your fast is breaking your fast, I don’t judge! :D

    12. Kt*

      Since you mention buckwheat, I found a Cream of Buckwheat by a company called Pocono — it’s gluten free and organic, if one cares about such things, and tastes pretty good for breakfast. I have also had Bob’s Red Mill buckwheat hot cereal and it’s usually pretty good but sometimes tastes a little, I don’t know, that thing that buckwheat does sometimes… can’t describe it. Anyhow, happy with the Pocono cereal.

      I’ve also been making wild sourdough bread with buckwheat flour, sorghum, oat, and some starches thrown in. To me the buckwheat is crucial to making it taste dark and good like I want my sourdough to taste.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        Woah that sounds like great sourdough! I’m just starting in on sourdough, so I’m still flailing about with more traditional recipes. But there’s a neat goal to work towards, thank you! What other starches do you use? Any resources you can recommend?

    13. Ann Non*

      Wait, this is how you cook couscous? I thought the beauty of couscous is that you pour boiling water on it, wait for two minutes and it’s good to go!
      Having to wait 30 minutes for breakfast seems very long… I like to eat bread with cheese for breakfast. Yum.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        There are different kinds of couscous, so maybe it depends on which one? There is the one with little tiny tiny specks, but there is also pearl couscous, which is bigger. I mean, not huge, but bigger. It has been a while, so maybe I’m also misremembering the time amounts for couscous. What I meant was cooking then letting it stand. That part is important otherwise the texture suffers.

    14. WoodswomanWrites*

      I never tire of my usual breakfast. I have three soft-boiled eggs with a little salt. I also have a bowl of quick oats with a sliced banana and powdered stevia leaf as the sweetener. I pour boiling water over the oats, banana, and stevia in a ceramic bowl that holds heat, cover the bowl, and the oatmeal is ready to eat in 10 minutes. I love the combination of protein, oats, and fruit.

    15. Public Sector Manager*

      I’m a life long sugary cereal fiend, followed up some sort of snack 2 hours later. I started consulting with a nutritionist and realized I wasn’t even getting close to enough protein every day. So I switched my breakfast to 6 ounces of the Costco egg whites, an ounce of cheese, and a ounce or less of meat, usually something like salami or turkey. It gets me around 300 calories and 30-35 grams of protein, which keeps me going after my morning workout and all the way to lunch with zero desire to have a snack.

      I’m not doing keto, but making sure I get enough protein every day has really curbed my appetite and I’m eating way less. Best part is that I’ve never felt better!

      1. Ethyl*

        I was so shocked when I started counting my macros and found out how much protein I wasn’t getting! Now I know why my weightlifting plateaued! I might steal your breakfast :-)

    16. c-*

      I usually have a mug of tea, and a couple hours later a yogurt, a fruit, and a piece of toasted bread with olive oil, smushed fresh tomato, and maybe a slice of ham or turkey on top (look up pan tumaca if you’re curious). Very delicious :)

    17. Enid*

      Broiled cheesy bagel. I toast the bagel, cover each slice with cheese (usually cheddar and/or parmesan), then put it under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is nice and bubbly and chewy. If I have the time and supplies, I pair this with fresh fruit for fiber. I also want to try adding fresh herbs under the cheese…

      PB&J oatmeal. Oatmeal plus 2 tbsp low sugar peanut butter and 1-2 tsp low sugar strawberry preserves. The peanut butter melts in and the flavor is subtle, but the texture is nice and creamy.

      I’ve been trying to up protein while reducing added sugar. Getting some good ideas from this thread, thank you!

  6. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread.

    What brought you joy this week?

    The weather was nice this week!

    Please share your joys.

    1. Might be Spam*

      My daughter got her second Covid shot on Monday and my son and I got ours on Tuesday. The timing was purely coincidental. It was nice to support each other and track our symptoms while we recovered from the side effects. Our standards for entertainment have really been dropping lately. Lol

    2. AGD*

      I got the nicest compliment from a colleague, and that bit of kindness has stayed with me for days.

    3. Bucky Barnes*

      The ending of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I won’t spoil in case someone hasn’t watched yet, but it was so perfect and satisfying. And that new suit!

    4. AnonEmployee*

      I participated in an Earth Day event last week which was so much fun after months of being cooped up inside. Even though it was about 47 degrees out, there was a good deal of shoveling, planting, and other physical activities to keep me warm. It was a good group of people, everyone was in a good mood and laughing all day. I was quite sore after the fact, but look forward to being more involved in these types of events in the future.

    5. Anon5775*

      I had the most perfect pear the other day, sweet and perfect texture. And the Oscars are airing tomorrow and it’s starting to look like spring where I am.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      I got my second covid shot and determined my surgery next month is still on. (Got postponed for covid numbers.) 2020 might end!

    7. Llama face!*

      My sister sent a hilarious picture of the expression my month and a half old niece makes when she wants to be fed. It made me laugh out loud for a good 5 min.

      Also, NACI issued the recommendation yesterday that the restriction for the AZ vaccine be lowered further so it’s available to people in their 30s. Recently it had been lowered to 40 but I’m just a few years shy of that cutoff. This means I may have the opportunity to get vaccinated sooner than I expected if my province decides to follow their guidelines. :D

    8. Filosofickle*

      In my Buy Nothing group, I posted some empty booze bottles that were interesting/useful enough to reuse instead of recycle. They all got taken! But even better, a neighbor I don’t know aligns with my taste in alcohol and wants to get together for some sake on the porch. Sort of unusual but hey why not?

      Post-pandemic I need to rekindle some old relationships, but I think there will be a wave of people wanting to make new ones. Vaccinated and ready to mingle!

    9. violet04*

      I went to a park that was fairly empty and took a walk. Then I decided to use the swings. I’m 43 and it’s been years since I’ve done that. It was fun!

    10. StellaBella*

      Three little joys: 1st pfizer/bioNtech shot, sleeping well, and a super long walk today and last saturday. :)

    11. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I have a fuzzy purring cat on my lap. Also, my child keeps learning new words and it is so cute!

    12. Run mad; don't faint*

      The irises and daylillies are blooming; there have been lots of hummingbirds in my garden, and my oldest child is helping me cook nightly!

    13. Rara Avis*

      We rearranged some furniture and the cats have decided that sharing the comfy chair with a human is their new favorite activity.

      1. OyHiOh*

        I’ve been learning pastels (oils and chalks both) this winter. It is delightful (and frustrating; some of the artists in my plein air group are trained, studied professionals and I . . . . am not). Sandpaper turns out to be a magical surface for chalks!

    14. Laura Petrie*

      I went for my first ever outdoor swim in a local reservoir this morning. I’ve wanted to try outdoor swimming for ages and found a local group through my organic veg box delivery. The water was cold but I absolutely loved the swim. It is quite a long, steep walk to get there too so I feel like I’ve had a good workout this morning.

      I also made some enquiries about volunteering my local area and found a great activity group for lonely older people that also runs activities for people in the early stages of dementia. I’m meeting them next week but it sounds like a great fit for my skills.

      I bought some awesome dinosaur print dungarees and I can’t wait to wear them!

    15. Muddlethru*

      I’m 8 months pregnant after 6 years of struggle… and I can feel him hiccup every day. It’s so cute. I can’t wait to meet him.

      1. allathian*

        Congratulations! That brings me back 12 years, when I was about 8 months pregnant and could feel my son’s hiccups… Thanks for the memory and the smile.

    16. Jackalope*

      As of yesterday it’s been 2 weeks since our second shot and so my spouse & I are fully vaccinated! Also, we bought a house recently, and I am fulfilling a lifelong dream of having a bedroom with walls painted my favorite color. I spent Friday & Saturday painting and got a little over half the room done (it’s a funny-shaped room and so has 12 walls [some of them tiny]). It was a lot of work, and I’m going to have to wait for a different time to finish the rest, but it’s still fun to look at the walls that are already painted and enjoy them!

    17. Windchime*

      This is my first spring in this house, and I discovered that I have a beautiful lilac bush on the side of my house. I was overjoyed when I found it.

    18. Voluptuousfire*

      Got my second Covid shot, had gorgeous weather, got to wear my new Dansko clogs. Also went grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s for the first time since March 2020. Got all my favorite stuff and a potted hyacinth for my front porch.

    19. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Another little joy… over on twitter I answered the conversation by mentioning books by authors who I love… and on a lark I tagged them. Two of them responded in agreement — and one carried the conversation farther. I got a silly big grin.

    20. Monkey in the middle*

      My kids being super excited to see me after I got home from work. They both wanted to talk to me. Made my heart happy.

  7. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual, this is not limited to fiction writing.
    Still no recreational writing for me, except for the odd thing that pops into my head which I write down in a little notebook. I’ve finally trained myself into realising that no, I won’t remember that great line later.

    1. Goddess47*

      I write fiction short stories and I find that writing begets writing. I follow a weekly prompt group and making myself participate in that every week helps me keep writing more. I have to have at least 300 words done every Friday night and sometimes I’m still up at midnight on Friday finishing a piece that’s barely 300 words and some weeks I have 2500 words by Thursday… but it helps to keep me going.

      And I also never remember that great line! ;-)

    2. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Book edit finally done! …and now I need to actually make the changes for the last few chapters…

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I learned the hard way to write that idea down, lol. In fact, I’ve literally gotten up in the night to do that because there is no way in hell I’d remember it in the morning. But my best ones always seem to come to me in the shower!

  8. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual, this is not limited to video games, so feel free to talk about any kind of game you want, including phone games and board games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.
    I’m still on Euclidea, a geometry-based puzzle game. Some of these genuinely stump me.

    1. No Name Yet*

      I’ve never heard of Euclidea before, but that sounds intriguing! Need to go check it out….

    2. Kitchen Kevin*

      Im back into Kitchen Scramble lol. I never spend any money to buy stuff and its a good way to pass the time.

    3. A Girl Named Fred*

      I’m still playing FFXIV! After playing for a year, I’m finally almost caught up to the main story point and I’m thrilled I’ll get to experience new stuff in real time with my partner and friends.

      I also picked up a phone game called Animal Restaurant, does anyone play that?? I normally dislike phone games but this one’s art is adorable and it’s just the right balance of idle/active, plus it’s had a great pace of opening new and slightly different mechanics!

    4. Sapphire (they)*

      Earlier this year, I finished Life Is Strange and really loved it, so I think the prequel and sequel are on my list next. If anyone has other adventure game recs, I’d love to hear them! I also might be getting into JRPGs soon ish, now that I have a console to play on.

      1. Unfettered scientist*

        Prequel is excellent, sequel not so much IMO. I’d also recommend What Remains of Edith Finch and Night in the Woods. NITW esp is great.

    5. Nicki Name*

      I didn’t make much progress on FE3H during the week, but I’m back at the Crimson Flower route today.

      I’m fascinated lately by how the students can develop differently based on when you get to start training them and the vagaries of their level-up rolls. For instance, Ashe was definitely second-tier in all my previous playthroughs, but he’s an absolute powerhouse in this one.

    6. AceLibrarian*

      My DND group is heading into part two of a big battle tonight. We were literally between a beholder and a demon lord that just manifested when we stopped for the night last week. I’ve been freaking out! I’ve already used most of my high level spells in the fight before the demon showed up.

      Also I’ve gotten really into bubble pop games on my phone. Does anyone have a favorite app for that? The one I’ve been playing has a LOT of pay-to-play options and it’s driving me a little crazy.

      1. Squeebird*

        Oo, good luck! Get the beholder and demon lord to fight each other and leave you alone, perhaps?

        I have been running our D&D group through Tomb of Horrors for the last few weeks. Unfortunately, they are all very smart, cautious, and well-equipped (as well as being level 17), so it isn’t proving as difficult for them as I’d hoped – though they do seem to be enjoying it. One person did walk through the “you are deposited back at the dungeon entrance, entirely nude, and the lich gets all your equipment” magic archway though, so perhaps that will introduce some challenge for our next session…

        1. AceLibrarian*

          Thanks! Unfortunately the demon is the lord of aberrations like beholders, so I think they’re in cahoots.

          That sounds awesome! I’ve always wanted to run Tomb of Horrors, but the sheer death rate it can create is a little intimidating.

          1. Squeebird*

            Yeah, it is definitely an adventure where you want to check in with your players ahead of time re: the risks. We are just wrapping up a years-long campaign and we decided together that we all wanted to do it as a non-canonical “last hurrah” for these characters.

      2. PersephoneUnderground*

        My group continues to be totally in over our heads in Greywall (Eberron setting, country of Droaam which is mostly populated and ruled by monstrous races). We did have a great talk with a very nice were-snake doctor about where we could find poison ingredients though.

      3. Jackalope*

        My D&D group started a second, concurrent campaign recently. The main DM has been having scheduling issues, so someone else stepped up to run a different campaign for the weeks he can’t run (and once a month on the regular to give him a chance to have a break). We’ve started the 2nd campaign and have been having fun with it; we all tried to pick characters that are very different from our characters in the other campaign. The next game will be the original cast, but it’s been fun to step out of that for a little while.

    7. Dan*

      Oculus (VR stuff) is killing me. The Oculus Rift 2 is a standalone headset that can be tethered to the PC to play games that are more intense than what the standalone headset can handle.

      Last week they announced that they were enabling a wireless mode so we don’t need the cable run to the PC. This is a really big deal for the people who care.

      Except… the software that enables this is *slowly* rolling out, and Oculus won’t say when individual users will get the update. So we have to wait. And then… the initial updates won’t actually have that specific feature enabled right away, so we have to wait again. I’ve been checking my OS updates everyday for a week, and nada.

      These guys are killing me. I wish they would have announced this with a generic time frame (like “Q2”) or just waited until it rolled out to say “surprise!”.

      Instead they’re just being annoying.

    8. DarthVelma*

      Still immersed in Valheim. The partner and I fought boss 4 of 5 yesterday afternoon and got supremely lucky. We were all kitted out – the best armor we can have at this stage, best weapons, appropriate supplies for dealing with this particular boss – giant angry momma dragon.

      We get to the appropriate spot on the map and while we didn’t know it at the time, we lucked out. Every player’s world randomly generates, so while you can watch other folks do the fight, it won’t always be in the same place. For us, it was in a very very small clearing on the side of a mountain. Lots of trees and rocks for us to hide behind when the dragon could get airborne. And when it was on the ground, it was penned in and couldn’t really maneuver to get either of us cornered. It wasn’t an “easy” fight, but it could have been so much harder.

      But it’s a win and I’ll take it! :-)

      Probably going to be trying out No Man’s Sky soon as a potential replacement once we’ve beaten boss 5 in Valheim. The recent expansions look amazing. Every time they update that game it just gets prettier.

    9. Ms. K*

      I’m really excited, because I just received the guest project I’ve ever backed on kickstarter. It’s called Bristol 1350, and the goal is to be on the first cart out of town before you catch the Black Death. It’s light strategy and light social deduction (if someone else had plague on your cart when it leaves Bristol the entire cart loses). It made everyone at my family have night from those of us who love complicated involved board games to my mom who usually sticks to things like Phase 10.

  9. Effie*

    Update from last week – I managed to snag my sold out, discontinued dream dress from a secondhand site! Really enjoyed hearing everyone’s stories last week, thank you.

    I’ve lately become obsessed with collecting Hill House Home dresses, I get a huge adrenaline rush. Seeing them in my closet also makes me happy, and they’re super comfy. Has anyone else picked up random hobbies/new obsessions lately?

    1. Mary Lynne*

      My Pandemic hobby is fermenting all the things! I make kombucha, homemade yogurt, ricotta cheese, and then I use the whey from the yogurt to make sodas and fermented fruit and veggies. I found some leftover strawberry crisp in the freezer, it looked a little worse for wear but was still edible. I mixed it up with some whey and ginger bug and fermented it! It made an amazing yogurt and ice cream topping. My 20-year-old daughter really hates all the dripping and bubbling things in the kitchen, but luckily I don’t care.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I started getting really into embroidery last year, lost momentum for awhile, and now have two projects in the works plus some other vague ideas for later. Also learning more mending techniques to extend the life of my family’s clothing – I have a couple heavily patched pairs of “around the house” yoga pants and my daughter is quickly acquiring patches on the knees of all her leggings.

      1. pancakes*

        I just bookmarked a promising-looking site someone recommended for mending techniques, repairwhatyouwear dot com.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I have holes in a 2ndhand sweater I haven’t been able to replace (JCrew, lambswool, so soft I can sleep in it, I’m searching for it like a dream dress.) And so I’m reading up on darning & repairing techniques. I quite like the idea of visible repairs — kinsugi for sweaters?– so I knit a patch in a contrasting color into a hole at the cuff. Mauve on green makes me smile, but the yarn’s not quite the right weight.
        I’m also tempted to try my hand as the steeling to shorten the sleeves and salvage yarn for the repairs. But it’s scary to cut a favorite garment!

        1. Bibliovore*

          I have a sweater patch kit that is wool that you felt to fill in the hole. I will see if I can find the link and put in the comments.

            1. Emma2*

              I realise you shared this in response to Seeking Second Childhood, but this is exactly what I need, thank you. I have some woollen slippers that I love but the insole on one of them is wearing away (it is essentially a felted wool insole) and I have been trying to think about how to mend it. I looked at your link and it looks like the perfect approach. Am now browsing needle felting materials on Etsy.

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              I’ll look into it thanks. That might strengthen some parts that are thinning too.

        2. Dark Macadamia*

          Visible mending is so fun. I feel like worrying that I wouldn’t do a good job and the repair would be obvious really held me back from trying, but when you make it noticeable on purpose it’s a lot more enjoyable!

      3. Emma2*

        I have also been learning mending and really enjoying my visible mends. I have been practicing on things like pillowcases, bath towels and tea towels (ie thing that are fairly low stakes if I don’t love how the mend turns out). I then graduated to a particularly comfortable pair of pyjama pants. I knew the holes I was repairing were in the crotch/bum area, but did not try on the pants to consider the placement before doing the visible mending. I will say my mends look quite lovely on their own. Once I put the pants on, however, the colourful mends that emerge from the crotch and come part way up the front of the pants make for quite an interesting look. It could almost be an artistic statement, although I think I will aim for invisible mending in that area in future.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Yes, this happens to all my pants eventually lol. The ones I’ve done so far are black yoga pants, and I used the most worn out pair to make patches for the others so you can see an outline but that’s it. I’ve seen people do some really dramatic patches and it looks cool but not something I’d want to wear in public

    3. Chantel*

      I’ve been buying little fairy garden things; I just LOVE them! So far I have a tiny ladder, a tiny bridge, and a tiny broom. I also picked up a 4-inch-tall little fairy doorway that I affixed just above a floor baseboard in my livingroom, and it is absolutely adorable.

      I’m also spending a lot of money on cat toys and really soft baby blankets. My two girls are so spoiled. It’s like our home is a cat sanctuary – which is the whole idea!

    4. DarthVelma*

      I recently took up making infused spirits and liqueurs. I had the best apple martini of my life a couple nights ago made with homemade green apple vodka. My partner really enjoys homemade coffee liqueur in his espresso martinis. (Made some Irish cream for those as well.) And I have a truly frightening jalapeno tequila now – I may have let the jalapenos soak in the liquor for a day too long. I like hot stuff, but my partner thinks it tastes and smells like jet fuel. *snort*

      The best part is being able to experiment with small batches to get an idea if I’m going to like something or if it needs tweaking. I like knowing that quality liquor went into the final product. And I can make flavors that you’d never find pre-made.

  10. Might be Spam*

    What are your favorite podcasts to help you sleep?

    I start by listening to either Welcome to Nightvale or Wolf359 to get my mind off of my day and the state of the world.
    Then I queue up a bunch of Nothing Much Happens episodes, because her voice is so soothing and the stories are peaceful.

    Since I started listening to podcasts, I usually sleep straight through the night and stopped needing medication to make me sleep. I put my tablet under my pillow with the volume very low.

    1. mreasy*

      I listen to Sleep With Me, with earplugs in and my sleep headphones headband over that. Definitely the only way I can sleep through the night!

    2. FD*

      ARGonaughts Podcast–it’s a podcast about alternate reality games (ARGs). The hosts have really good chemistry together and each episode is a couple hours long.

      Also, White Vault is an absolutely amazing horror podcast but I would not go to sleep to it unless you want to have nightmares.

    3. nep*

      I generally have a brief YT video of Rupert Spira on my phone for drifting off to sleep. If I have any audio on for too long it wakes me back up at some point.

    4. Wordnerd*

      The Empty Bowl, a Meditative Podcast About Cereal. I rarely hear the end of an episode!

    5. CatCat*

      Not sure it’s exactly a podcast, but the Calm app’s “sleep stories” put me right out. Ones featuring narrations of trips on a train and one relaying the rules of cricket knock me out in under 10 minutes.

      1. Fold in the Cheese*

        Totally agree re: Calm app sleep stories! Anything narrated by Alan Sklar puts me right out. He could read the back of a cereal box and I would be out like a light.

    6. Mr. Cajun2core*

      Religious podcast. Usually the Q&A radio call in show type. If not, then a financial radio call in show type. Find something you are interested in, find a call in show about it.

      1. another scientist*

        I have one that I find interesting (Gardener’s question time), but also one where I am not actually interested in the topic (Internet of Things). The latter has a host with a nice voice, and helps when I’m trying to fall asleep in an unfamiliar location and need it to not be silent.

    7. twocents*

      Not a podcast, but I listen to the Sleepcasts in the Headspace app. Rainday Antiques is my favorite one.

    8. Ethyl*

      Any of the “clearing the docket” episodes of Judge John Hodgman work great for me. John and Jesse have very nice voices, they seem to genuinely like each other, the humor is gentle and stays PG rated, and the questions are all extremely, extremely low stakes. Bonus nice voiceness — there’s an old episode where Nick Offerman joins them!

    9. BetsCounts*

      I really like In our Time with Melvin Bragg. It’s several English people sitting around talking about something from history or science or literature. It’s strangely calming.

  11. Just Lurking*

    I hope this isn’t too work-related. My actual question isn’t about the work piece, so I’ll try to articulate this clearly.

    Anyone here who’s gone back to college for a second degree after a long layoff? If so, how significant were the lifestyle changes? Particularly financial.

    I graduated with my BSc about seven years ago, and am considering going back for a Master’s. One of the things that worries me is my ability to maintain my lifestyle financially. I’m single and live alone in a higher COL area, have a cat, and also send my mom a bit of money each month. I make more more than anyone in my family ever has…but for my region my income *barely* puts me in the middle class.

    I’m in my early 30’s and not getting younger, so now seems like as good a time as any to go back. That said, I’m not sure I could afford my bills and helping my mom if I worked less…also not sure I could complete the program if I worked full time to support myself. I’m only just now paying off undergrad loans, so the thought of borrowing more again is distressing.

    At this age basically everyone I know is married/has kids, and I don’t really have close friends so a roommate situation seems unlikely. Now that I loans and credit card debt are out from under me, I feel like I need to start prepping for my future more. Saving for retirement and investing. In a lot of ways school is like a step backward, though in the long run it may reap financial benefits. In the meantime though I feel stuck, which is why I haven’t gone back to school yet.

    Anyone else navigate something similar? What factors did you consider when making your decision?

    1. Fran*

      I can only offer my experience studying while working full time in my early 30s. In most cases you will be more organised and motivated than younger students as you will know when you have time to study, you will want to maintain time to unwind and of course complete do your job .

    2. Laura Petrie*

      I recently returned to education after a 14 year career in the university sector. I’d worked my way up to manager level and had a role with lots of responsibility and a good salary.

      I hated my job and it was making me miserable. When the opportunity for redundancy came up, I grabbed it. I’m in the UK so student loans are different. I also had a decent redundancy payout but it has to keep me going for 3 years.

      Some things I did to help with living costs whilst studying:

      Saved what I could whilst I was still working
      Cut out some non-essential spending
      Bought some key books I’d need when I still had an income. Ditto any other expensive items like a new coat and a laptop
      Shopped around for deals on utilities and other bills

      I had a couple of months of both working and studying full time. It was hard, I really wouldn’t recommend it.

      Are there any part time or distance learning options for the subject you want to study? Can you reduce or stop the payments to your mum? Before I met my OH, I lived in a houseshare with a group of strangers. Is this an option where you are? Could you move to a cheaper area or city for university?

      Forget about what you ‘should’ be doing, what do you actually want to do?

    3. Asenath*

      I went back part time twice. I don’t think I would have considered full time, and the second attempt (which unlike the first did result in a degree) I was really short of money. It was worth it to me even though it wasn’t as useful in a job search as I had expected. I have always liked taking courses, both academic and non-academic, anything from a semester-long demanding course to a one evening hobby-type course (like drawing) and still do take them as a kind of hobby. And getting through an entire academic program gave me a real morale boost at a time when I really needed it. I did spend time tracking every penny I spent and working out budgets – rather informal ones – which I didn’t like, but which in the long run benefited me because I learned I could live on very little and it gave me a feeling of control over my finances which I still work at and which helps me a lot better than panicking over the money running out. So – I found the process beneficial from a personal and not necessarily work perspective.

    4. saltedchocolatechip*

      I was able to pick a program where I was a good candidate and get funding that kept costs down, while working part-time at internship-type jobs that paid OK but not amazing. I still had loans but with the pay increase they are definitely manageable,

      Another option is to try to get a job at university you want to attend that has tuition remission. It might take longer to get through (but some programs are fine with you taking fewer courses) but you wouldn’t take on the debt as long as the salary covered your regular living expenses. I think tuition remission is taxed as income usually though so watch out for that.

      Good luck!! I have definitely felt stuck (feeling it now for different reasons) and while grad school wasn’t perfect I definitely learned some interesting things, had some very cool experiences, and came out with solid new friends and mentors.

      1. saltedchocolatechip*

        Also just to add — being a late-twenties person with career experience/interests from my classmates was definitely a pro in terms of getting funding.

        I was living alone (unicorn of an apartment rent-wise) on a salary under 50k in an expensive city pre grad school so my lifestyle didn’t change much, but as another commenter said below, because I was working part-time while going to school full-time and I was pretty disciplined with my schoolwork, I definitely was able to carve out me time to read, watch tv, relax in a way that some of my classmates who were working more OR straight out of undergrad and hanging with friends in that way might not have.

      2. saf*

        Working for the university with tuition remission is how I got my MA. It was a good deal. As for tuition remission being taxable – that changed several times while I was in school. So check on that periodically.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I decided not to get a masters. The ROI wasn’t there for my area and I am not interested in moving just for the sake of a job. My number one thought is to make sure you know where you and your master’s are going in life. If you don’t see a destination, go with caution.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Yes, do research for your area or an area you want to move to. Would the master’s help you get a better job? Be as sure as possible before you change your whole life and go into debt. Many people get master’s and still aren’t able to get a better job. MBAs are so common there aren’t enough jobs for all of them.

        Also, are there other ways for you to advance? Could you work your way up? Take courses sponsored or recommended by your employer? Change your career path a little to make it possible to advance without going back to school?

    6. Law student*

      I’m doing this now, I quit a good career to go to law school in my early 30s. It is definitely a lifestyle change. I am living with a roommate for the first time in nearly a decade and she’s great, but that was definitely an adjustment. And I don’t really feel like I fit in anywhere anymore—my non-law school peers are all getting married and promoted and having babies, while I’m looking for entry level positions, and then my classmates are all in their 20s and (pre-pandemic) partying and dating around. It’s fine, it’s temporary and will be over soon and I’m sure my investment will pay off, but it is absolutely a lifestyle change and kind of a lonely one.

      On the flip side, I also feel like being in school has given me much more time to focus on myself. My time is my own in a way it wasn’t when I was working and I do take my school work more seriously than many of my classmates, which now translates to more free time to read, do yoga, etc.

      Hope this helps!

    7. Texan In Exile*

      I went to grad school for my MBA five years after I graduated from college. The best advice I got (from a friend who went to med school after a few years at Arthur Andersen) was to treat school like a job. I wasn’t there to party, to drink, to make friends. I was there to work.

      I got up in the morning, I went to class, I came home, I did my homework, I did the reading for the next day, I worked out, I had supper, I read, I went to bed.

      I was lucky to have saved enough money to finance school – but the reality is that I could finance it because at the time, the University of Texas charged $12 a semester hour for its graduate business program. :(

      Even so, I lived super cheaply – I found a very inexpensive one-bedroom duplex, I ate a lot of rice and beans and never went out to eat, I took the free bus to school instead of driving and paying for parking. But again – the big part – the tuition – was almost nothing.

      So I don’t think I can really give you any financial advice, but if you do go, treat it like a job. My grades in grad school were so much better than in college – 4.0 vs 3.0.

      1. Glomzarization, Esq.*

        treat school like a job

        Yeah, when I was in law school, I did the math on the costs and figured out how many dollars I was spending on each hour of classroom time. Definitely got me to take it more seriously than most of the youngsters around me.

        1. PT*

          When I was in undergrad (I graduated in ’07) everyone on campus knew the cost of an hour of class time off the top of their head. It was $75-ish when we started and $85-ish when we graduated.

          Students would lecture the professors if the professor was goofing around too much (movies instead of lecture, canceling class instead of getting someone to cover classes when they were absent if it was more frequently than a real emergency.) “Excuse me we’re paying $79 an hour for this.”

    8. Glomzarization, Esq.*

      I went to law school in my 30s, because after my divorce I was tired of kicking around in administrative assistant jobs. I figured, well, in 3 years I can still be a legal secretary, or I can be a lawyer.

      I got a small scholarship and took out some loans. To keep my spending under control, I would think “this sandwich at the food truck is $5 now, but if I use loan money to pay for it, it will actually cost me $8.” In the end I graduated into a recession, so getting work was very difficult. That’s the downside. The upside is that, well, in the end I was a lawyer. My loans are paid off, and I very much enjoy my work. In law school I made some great friends who are now excellent colleagues as well.

      I’d caution, though, that you shouldn’t pick a program or degree just because you think you’ll make money. Choose something you definitely want to be doing (that will make you money).

    9. ten four*

      I went back to grad school in one of the highest COL cities in the US because I was making 25k a year in the service industry and I wanted to transition to working with Fortune 500 companies. I actually dropped out after the first semester because I got a job consulting with Fortune 500 companies, and I never went back. My peers in that program graduated into the teeth of the 2007 crash, and almost none of them improved their job situation and also had the debt on top of it.

      Long way of saying: for me it worked out BUT I also saw first hand what a roll of the dice it is to pay out of pocket for an advanced degree. A good rule of thumb for grad school is that if you’re good enough/connected enough to succeed with the advanced degree you’ll know because you’ll get it funded (doesn’t apply to MBA, med school and law).

      I think you’re really smart to think forward to your financial future, and I’d be VERY leary of taking on new debt + the opportunity costs of school instead of working. Does your field require an advanced degree to progress? Might there be another field with better pay that you could apply your skills in?

      I got swept up in the crash a few years after my MBA classmates when my consultancy fell apart and laid off my office. I wound up transitioning to digital: a field that is both growing and well paid. I don’t code either – I started in project management and moved up. No degree required, and I’m currently making a lot more than I ever dreamed I could – plus I really like it! I don’t want to imply that it’s easy to switch fields – it took a few years and some false starts – BUT I got paid pretty well the whole time.

      Overall in my own career I have found that the key to getting ahead is to look for a field that pays well that I’d be good enough at, then taking jobs that let me build up my resume and accomplishments. I’d really strongly consider trying that route instead of getting an advanced degree!

      1. Squeakrad*

        The short version: I went back to graduate school at 50 during the recession of 2008 and I lost my job and couldn’t find another, almost literally, literally to save my life. But I did the opposite of what some folks have done – I went for an MFA in play writing which is pretty much the most useless degree you can imagine in terms of ensuring your future financial success. But I figured I may as well do what I want while I have the energy. Shortly after I entered graduate school my husband also lost his job which made for a lien few years. I still have student loans that I’m paying but is it is our only debt. We paid off credit cards to prepare for all this.

        The twist is, in California, if you take several courses in addition to an MFA, you are then then certified to teach post secondary writing at any community college or four-year university in California. So for the past eight years I’ve been a lecturer at two universities, making a decent living but not much more than that. However,, since I work for the state, once I retire they will pay for my medical (Medicare supplement) and offer me extremely reduced fees for dental and vision for myself and my husband. And thanks to a strong union I am pretty much guaranteed enough classes to live on until I do retire.

        About the same time I graduated from my program, my husband was able to find a job with the city so he is in a similar situation to myself. He will retire sometime this year and the city will offer a small but workable pension.

        So we’re not rich – we don’t own a home and never will in the bay area. But we were both able to keep our jobs during this pandemic and have worked from home pretty successfully since March 16 of last year. When I think about the kind of work I had been doing prior to my program, I certainly would’ve been laid off by now with not many prospects for work.

        It was an is a struggle but I’m really glad I did it. I’ve had some opportunities to have my work produced as a playwright I have met many more fascinating people than I probably would have working in small offices.

    10. Ancient Llama*

      Scholarships, scholarships,scholarships. There is $ out there. Get first one and note that in applications to others, they are more likely to give, not less, because a) someone else liked you so makes the new one more likely to take a chance b) if you get enough between them you are more likely to finish, which is the scholarships funder’s goal. Keep looking, it will take a lot of hay to find enough neddles, but they are there. Some are one time, others will renew yearly if you meet criteria.
      Scholarships, scholarships, scholarships.

      1. Squeakrad*

        I second the idea about scholarships – I applied for every scholarship I was possibly eligible for and while I still had to take out some loans for living expenses, much of my tuition was paid through the scholarships.

    11. Lizzo*

      You are right to give serious consideration to the financial impact of quitting a job and/or going back to school using loans. I would STRONGLY encourage you to figure out a way to get school paid for while also maintaining your income. This might include scholarships, but it could also include working for the university where you’re studying in a full-time staff capacity, or seeking out an employer who offers tuition reimbursement. Trying to work full-time and do school in any capacity is going to be hellish, but it’s a short-term hell.

      Continuing to save for retirement and put money aside for a rainy day means you’ll have some flexibility in the future if you find yourself in an untenable situation, e.g. need to quit a toxic job, need to take unpaid leave, need $$ in order to extract yourself from a bad relationship, etc. I know that sounds super boring and practical, but I cannot overstate how valuable financial stability is, having seen various scenarios play out for myself and my friends in their 30s and 40s.

  12. aarti*

    How do you go about forgiving a relative who gave you COVID?

    I got it from my brother-in-law who had to stay with us for a few days for work and was not taking safety precautions seriously. I was super sick for a week (I’m also pregnant) and now have to spend another week isolating in my bedroom so I don’t infect my husband or mother-in-law who also live with us. It’s super frustrating because my in-laws (including my MIL) have a very “oh these things happen” attitude. My husband was more upset but he’s also not a fan of starting a lot of arguments about it. We’ve already agreed that we’re not hosting anymore family members.

    My brother-in-law messaged me once to ask how I was doing (I did not respond) but otherwise hasn’t apologised or reached out to me at all. I know it could have been a lot worse (I’m fine, the baby is fine). But more than a year in, I’m done with people not taking it seriously.

    I don’t know what to do. I’m so angry and I feel like being isolated in my bedroom is making me more angry and upset because these thoughts are just rattling around in my head. Any suggestions on how to move forward?

    1. Not A Manager*

      Why do you need to forgive him? He put you at risk, and he doesn’t seem to be seriously sorry or prepared to make any kind of amends.

      1. aarti*

        I don’t like being angry, it’s upsetting to me personally, so I’m looking for a way of moving past it, which I think will be better for me in the long run.

        1. fposte*

          I usually just close the mental discussion down with “It’s not helping anybody for me to keep thinking about this” and redirect my thoughts (or try). I don’t worry a lot about forgiveness, and for me it’s not always the appropriate way to move on. Would that maybe work for you?

        2. Loredena*

          Separate the forgiveness from the anger. He hasn’t asked, hasn’t done the work, doesn’t deserve forgiveness. But. That doesn’t mean you can’t let the anger go. Frame it as not being worth your energy at a time when you are presumably focused and excited about your baby. When you feel it building redirect yourself and pour the emotion into something you enjoy

        3. DJ Abbott*

          Do you have any good novels to read? Or maybe there’s good reading online, or downloadable?
          Reading a novel by one of my favorite authors always helps me. Takes my mind off my problems and I spend time with interesting characters in an interesting story. It’s a good break from reality.
          I recently reread Watership Down by Richard Adams and it is excellent. I also highly recommend anything by Elizabeth Peters. If possible I would start with the first in the Amelia Peabody series – Crocodile on the Sandbank. :)

        4. Esmeralda*

          You can work on managing your anger, but it may take a long time to get over it. You don’t have to forgive— doesn’t sound like he’s done anything to deserve it. Forgiveness can be overrated. It’s reasonable to aim for putting it behind you, finding a way to not dwell on it, without forgiving. Not seeing or communicating with him will help. I recommend therapy also.

    2. allathian*

      You don’t have to forgive them, but trying to move forward is a good idea.

      It’s unfortunate that you live with your MIL, because she’s unlikely to agree to cutting her son out of her life for your sake and I wouldn’t blame you if you decided that you never want to see your BIL again.

      I hope that as more people get vaccinated and the pandemic hopefully subsides, you’ll be able to live with the unfortunate situation better, especially given that you didn’t have any long-term consequences from it. Given that you’ll have a new baby in the family, I hope that will make other family members more inclined to follow your lead. They’ll have to toe the line or they won’t get to see the baby.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Couple thoughts maybe a bit unpopular:
      1. It’s not anyone’s fault for getting sick in the middle of a pandemic – your BIL’s behavior could have been better and he could still have ending up getting you sick. So I’m not sure blame is a fair thing.
      2. You invited someone you knew was traveling, you knew was not WFH, and you (probably) knew wasn’t taking the same precautions into your home. Maybe you really have to forgive yourself? And your husband? It’s easier to be mad at an outsider than yourself or a spouse.

      1. ....*

        Yeah, exactly. I’m kind of surprised the suggestion above is to cut him out of your life forever!

        1. allathian*

          I wasn’t suggesting that, just said that I wouldn’t blame her if she wanted to do that.

      2. PT*

        And when they’re not vaccinated (assuming they’re in the US and the shot is available to them.)

      3. traffic_spiral*

        Yeah, it kinda seems that accepting someone else into your house (especially if you hadn’t pre-agreed on some strict safety rules) is kinda assumption of risk. Like if someone you played touch football or basketball with crashed into you and broke your nose or something. You might be a bit pissed at some carelessness, but it’s well within the spectrum of “stuff that could easily go wrong.”

        Is this a bigger issue about too much of your husband’s family getting in your space and your life? I noticed your MiL lives with you.

    4. Well...*

      I have trouble forgiving people, especially when it feels so UNFAIR. My therapist has helped me with the fixation part by giving me the following three steps:

      1) acknowledge that this feeling sucks. Find a phrase that resonates with you (mine is “this sucks”)
      2) connect to the fact that this feeling is human and shared by others. My thought is, “this injustice, however small, is the same feeling of injustice other people feel. Experiencing this helps me empathize with people who experience injustice on a scale I’ll be never know.”
      3) ask yourself what you can do to help yourself in this moment.

      Might be worth a try! I find it helps me feel less angry and let go, though I’m not saying it automatically leads to forgiving or even that forgiveness should be the goal. It just clears my head.

    5. WS*

      I don’t think it’s entirely the BIL’s fault in that you and your immediate family knew he was not taking precautions and still invited him to stay. Maybe your anger is more at MIL and husband and yourself and now being stuck in your bedroom? And how you feel about who comes first in your family – feelings which are exacerbated greatly by pregnancy for very good reasons – and how your husband and MIL will deal with this in the future. It’s a lot to deal with in one hit, especially while you’re already sick and pregnant.

      1. aarti*

        I think what’s hard, is that he hasn’t apologised or acknowledged that he did anything wrong. Although logically I realise it’s not really his fault, it’s frustrating because we agreed on certain safety precautions before he showed up (staying in a separate room, wearing a mask whenever he had to come into shared rooms). But after he showed up, he kept pushing the boundaries. Like he’d be sitting in our living room without a mask on and when I’d ask him why he wasn’t wearing a mask he’d say that he’s more than 6ft away from me. Which was not what we agreed upon in the first place!

        1. Lizzie*

          Dear Aarti, your anger is justified, your brother-in-law was staying in your home and you made the safety requirements clear to him and he then chose to ignore them because he did not want to follow them. He did not want to inconvenience himself, and he prioritised his own wish to not bother with a mask, over your health concerns as a pregnant woman and the possibility that his own mother could be at risk also.

          You were the host, and he was DISRESPECTFUL to you by being dismissive of your concerns. So be justifiably angry! You are now confined to a room by yourself, while YOU do the appropriate thing so that you do not infect your husband and his mother.

          Unless you stick your head out of the window and scream “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!”, you don’t have a huge range of outlets for your anger at the moment. No long walks or thumping some bread dough or smashing a few dishes. But maybe you can draw a picture of your brother in law and then scribble over it until it is all blocked out. Or write a short story in which he is a cartoon character and ALL THE BAD THINGS happen to him, falling pianos and Mr Burns releasing the hounds on him, etc etc. Go for it.

          After you have let a bit of anger out, see if you can watch something you like on the interwebs that makes you laugh, and see if you can find some songs to sing along to as loudly as possible. Laughing and singing are both relaxing and soothing, and the baby will enjoy them too, especially if you can dance around a bit as well. Best wishes to you!

        2. tangerineRose*

          I’d be tempted to respond to his message by telling him exactly how sick I was (with details), how worried I was about the baby and your MIL and husband, how tough it is being stuck in 1 room while recovering. Then I’d want to ask him why he didn’t follow the safety precautions that he’d agreed on.

          However, depending on what he and his mom are like, this might be a serious rift-causer, so it might not be a good thing to do.

          It might be helpful to write it all down on paper or something and NOT send it.

          Also, I’m sorry you’re stuck in your room. Maybe we other AAM readers can suggest fun sites to go to if you tell us some of your interests.

        3. Artemesia*

          I’d probably have to tell him once, that he put your life and your baby’s life at risk by refusing to abide by the simple steps you agreed to (6 feet is irrelevant in a shared space like a home– he was filling the air with virus) and that you are furious about it. You think he was deeply selfish.

          Then work on letting it go for your own sake. Pregnant women are more vulnerable to death with COVID and he should never have been allowed in your home and the first time he sat in your living room without a mask your husband should have insisted he leave.

          But dwelling on it won’t do you any good. Sorry and glad it wasn’t worse. It could have been so much worse.

        4. Kt*

          I think this gets to the crux of things: sure, you got COVID (“it’s a thing that happens”) but you got it from someone who pushed your boundaries and did not respect your rules. This wasn’t a pure accident. You’d talked beforehand and he betrayed his end of the bargain. He made choices to put you at risk — for what? for his comfort? so he didn’t have to move his lazy butt another three feet? so he didn’t have to wear a mask because…? He just told you that his chin comfort is more important than your health or your baby’s health.

          That’s the problem.

        5. WS*

          Oh, no, that definitely is his fault then. If he’d followed your rules and you’d still got COVID, that’s one thing, but he was an absolute dick and you paid the price. But even so, it doesn’t really matter what he does, it matters that your husband and MIL learn from this and respect boundaries in the future, because right now you’re feeling (justifiably) very unsafe.

    6. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      This all sounds pretty fresh. If I were you, I’d let yourself be angry and upset for a little while.

      If the thoughts are rattling around, try journaling or venting to a friend or a mindfulness exercise (maybe ‘leaves on a stream’), or an activity you enjoy (personally, I find gardening, cooking and dancing to be good mind-clearers).

      But I’d be patient with the uncomfortable feelings; they need to have their say.

      1. aarti*

        Yeah, part of the problem is that I am literally stuck in my bedroom! We live in an apartment, so I can’t do any cooking or even go into another part of the house. If I was just in my apartment, I’d feel better about it. But I’m literally shut off from everyone especially my husband during a really emotional fragile time.

        It’s hard, I know I’m being irrational.

        1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          You really don’t sound to me like you’re being irrational. You’re pregnant, it’s a pandemic, you’ve been ill, there’s a lot of confusion and angst around managing boundaries and responsbility during this time.

          I dislike being angry. But my own experience is that if I try to rush through it, it ends up hanging around longer or resurfacing later.

          Being stuck in a single room is hard; could your husband and MIL bring you some activities (puzzles with podcasts are soothing to me). Social activities will likely be helpful too, in terms of taking your mind off things: online board games or Netflix Watch Party with a friend could be useful.

        2. Texan In Exile*

          I don’t think you are being irrational at all.

          I think your anger and your frustration are completely rational and justified.

          I have no intentions of ever talking to my husband’s brother again and that’s just because he’s been a complete jerk to me a few times – he hasn’t even threatened my life or that of my baby.

          Your anger is OK. You are right, he was wrong.

        3. ..Kat..*

          I don’t think you should stay in your bedroom. Your MIL believes that these things just happen, so if she catches it, she catches it. Your husband does not want to make a big deal out of it, so don’t make a deal out of isolating yourself. And if either of of them get Covid, they can take care of each other (and leave you out of it).

          1. Kt*

            Yeah, I tend to agree. If MIL is worried she can stay in her own bedroom. It’s your apartment. Why are you showing these other people any consideration when they don’t show the same consideration to you?

        4. Outside*

          Is it possible for you to get outside? To literally be outside, preferable in a more nature-y space? If so I highly recommend that, going for a walk or just sitting outside, and if at all possible making sure you get some sunlight every day, even if only through the window. (Sunlight wouldn’t be possible in my apartment, but I would be able to walk outside to a nearby park, so try to find some version that works for you.) You can exist outside while wearing a mask. If you can’t get outside, at least try to get some fresh air inside. It seems unlikely but I’ve found it can actually make a big difference.

    7. Teatime is Goodtime*

      So I don’t want to dismiss or belittle your very legitimate feelings, but is there any chance your emotions are being effected by pregnancy hormones? Mine DEFINITELY were, to a greater or lesser degree, all throughout, which included getting emotionally hung up on stuff that I would normally have had an easier time letting go of. That might not help in the short term, but in the long term that piece of it would solve itself.

      That said, having a baby also made me thoroughly less patient with certain BS behaviors with particular family members in the long term. While I was able and willing to grin and bear it for myself and on my own time, I wasn’t willing to subject my child to it, nor did I have time to humor them anymore. So if any of the stuff you are describing above is part of a much larger pattern, that might come in to sharp focus, wherein this is just the jumping off point.

      1. Kt*

        When I had a kid I got a good dose of mama bear hormones and I no longer have the f’s I used to have. It’s made me a better manager and I think it’s made me a better person, because I no longer feel the need to coddle people around their BS to the same extent, and it turns out that makes my world a better place to be.

    8. KeinName*

      I am sorry this happened to you! Not wearing a mask when you asked him to is really shitty and to me is very boundary violating. See, if he took the precautions you asked of him and he still got you sick I suppose you would have to forgive him since it IS a pandemic and these things have happened – but as it is I personally would write down my grievances and read them out to him or send him a letter. This pandemic should spark conversations around consent- who do I want close to me, do they respect my safety choices for my body.
      I think maybe his asking how you are might have been the prelude to an apology and maybe you might contact him yourself and express your anger?

      1. NewHampshire*

        You captured my thoughts EXACTLY. We are going through a lot of boundary issues with my husband’s families so this just felt like red flags all over the place.
        – Did you have a (real) say in whether or not your BIL stay with you? Would you have been “allowed” to say no?
        – Does your husband’s family have a lot of unwritten rules like this (ex. Are you expected to travel long distances, prioritize and attend certain family functions regardless of inconvenience or short notice)?
        – When you have legitimate concerns, are they ignored or steamrolled?
        – Who in the family seems to be above reproach, catered to by others, or otherwise the missing stair?
        – Does your husband often side with his family at your expense? Will he defend your new child in the event of a conflict?
        – What was your husband’s childhood like? Was he the scapegoat or the golden child? Are there similar patterns at play here?

        It took YEARS and a lot of therapy to map out a lot of the toxic patterns in my husbands family. The unspoken hierarchy and knowing your place. The heavily enforced “rules” with pressure both explicit and subtle. We got out by physical distance and financial independence. As soon as we got pregnant we realized we would never let them treat our son the way they treated my husband. The “jokes”, the casual unkindness, the endless expectations, the lack of any apology.

        If your husband doesn’t have your back here because the family expectations run too deep, it’s worth therapy before the baby is born to get on the same page about your future relationship with his family. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing either. You can have excellent boundaries (which they will fight) that eventually give you the kind of space and peace you desire. You have the grandbaby, that is much more power than you think.

        Wishing you much luck and patience ahead along with a healthy and comfortable (well as much as possible!) rest of your pregnancy.

      2. Legalchef*

        I definitely wouldn’t write down a list of grievances to read to him or send to him. I don’t see what that would accomplish other than to prolong conflict, since it’s unlikely to induce remorse. Certainly if journaling helps the OP then writing it down might just help her get it off her chest, but that’s as far as I would go.

          1. pancakes*

            Sorry, hang on, I see someone did! I don’t think it’s a terrible idea to tell him, “here’s why I’m so angry at you.”

            1. DJ Abbott*

              I agree, but it’s contingent on how he and MIL would respond. If there’s a chance he’ll hear what you’re saying and have more respect for you, go for it.

              If it’s more likely that he’ll get defensive, fight, get toxic, etc. then don’t. Then I would keep a distance from him and maybe get therapy as has been suggested.

    9. Legalchef*

      I guess my thinking is a little different than everyone else’s… I don’t think this is something worth being angry about. Yes, it is super frustrating, but we’ve all heard stories about or known people who were super careful but still got it anyone. Unfortunately, this is a sneaky little virus no matter what precautions you take. I would just be thankful you’re fine, thankful that he is (presumably?) fine, and decide to move on. Holding onto a grudge doesn’t help anyone, particularly now and particularly not with your baby’s uncle.

      1. pancakes*

        Considering the prevalence of long covid, it’s too soon to say anyone here is fine. Yes, very careful people get it too, but this guy deliberately ignored previously agreed-upon boundaries, knowing that he was a guest in the home of a pregnant woman. And he’s still there. I don’t think anyone is recommending holding a grudge for eternity, but this is all still very fresh, and there’s no indication whatsoever that this guy might or will be less self-regarding in the future.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Yeah, that’s what gets to me. If he’d followed the boundaries, and she still got sick (which could have happened), that have been one thing, but he ignored boundaries that he’d agreed to – what’s up with that? He could have accidentally killed someone.

      2. Dan*

        Speaking of opinions that are a little different than everyone else’s… I live by myself and very quickly decided that the best way to handle “covid behavior rules” is just assume that people will lie about compliance. And if that’s the case, what I would I do? Which basically means don’t let them in your bubble in the first place if you have a say in the matter.

      3. Kt*

        If he’s not willing to help prevent a pregnant mama from catching COVID by being a mildly decent houseguest, who is to say he’s going to be a good BIL in other ways? This dude has showed you who he is, and you should believe it.

        Sure, stop being angry, but this is not a guy you want to trust with anything important.

      4. Chantel*

        “…we’ve all heard stories about or known people who were super careful but still got it anyone.”

        But that isn’t what happened here. BIL was invited to stay as long as he took precautions, and then he snubbed wearing a mask.

        There has to be a consequence for that. No one should be able to get away with such disregard.

    10. Asenath*

      I can understand why you are so angry, but based on my own reactions to people who have wronged me in some way, I think yes, you need for your own peace of mind to forgive him and move on. It’s part of the process of getting him out of your head and not letting his actions affect you any more than they have already done. Some things I found helpful, were writing out my feelings – real rants, no holds barred – and then destroying the writings. Setting up some changes so that the incident won’t recur is good – sounds like you’re already doing this by not hosting relatives again. Many people recommend talking the situation over with others – I’ve found that of limited help since talking sometimes seems to reinforce my anger and hurt, and keep it in the forefront of my mind. Maybe discussing it a few times with someone trustworthy and outside the family might help, but for me, I need to stop myself from ruminating over what happened. I try to discipline my own thoughts – if I find myself thinking “what a nasty stupid jerk…” I tell myself “I’ve dealt with that; I need to do/think of someone else”. I planned on how I would speak and act it a polite cool manner when I had to meet the person. And time. It sometimes takes a lot of time for me to let things go. I’m no professional, just a stranger on the internet, but these are things that helped me.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I also like to think about the difference between forgive and forget. I will forgive, but I won’t forget. Once someone’s shown me who they are, that’s important information.

        1. allathian*

          Exactly. If you can forgive someone to make yourself feel better, because carrying a grudge takes a lot of mental energy, then do so. But that doesn’t mean you have to give them implicit permission to do the same thing again.

    11. Anona*

      I got covid from someone not taking precautions and it was SO frustrating. I’m still, 4 months later, occasionally frustrated by it.

      What’s helped me the most has been thinking about how, though it REALLY sucks that I caught covid because of them, at this point there’s nothing they or I can do to change it. At this point it is what it is.

      That’s helped me move on, even though it’s really not fair. It’s unfortunately something neither of us can change now.

      1. Reba*

        Sorry you went through that!

        I like that your attitude is more about acceptance than forgiveness. I think people can get really stuck on the forgiveness concept, because you know what the person did was not ok! I think acceptance of where you are at is great grounds for moving on.

        (Note I’m not saying one should “accept” behavior like the BIL’s! It isn’t ok, and you should do your best to avoid relying on him for anything important in future. Just that in this case, it has happened.)

        When I’ve been hurt by someone, it has helped me to think like “well, now I know that about him” or “that really confirms a feeling I had that I might not be able to trust her for X.”

        You have information now–especially about the family dynamics of not making a fuss!! –that can inform how you move forward.

        1. ten four*

          I think you two have the right idea! Acceptance feels like a better goal than forgiveness – especially because BIL hasn’t actually apologized or taken any responsibility.

          I’d definitely agree that aarti has a lot more information now about a lot of things, most importantly how her husband fits into various family dynamics and how he handles conflict.

          If you feel up to it you and your husband might choose to address this directly and kindly with BIL – calmly tell him that you’re upset that he chose to not follow the safety rules he agreed to and then…stop talking. Let him marinate. You don’t have to make this a CONFLICT – you can just say you’re upset and decline to get shouty.

    12. Blue Eagle*

      I would answer him and let him know the negative effects to you that were caused by him. Don’t give him a pass on this.
      Maybe ask him in your reply email – what does he propose to do to make this up to you?

      1. Asenath*

        This is one of the kinds of wrongs that can’t be made up – which is another reason it’s important to not expect anything from the brother-in-law before forgiving him and moving on. What kind of compensation would be acceptable? It’s too late for him to have not passed on the disease and there’s not much point in requiring him to change his behaviour since he’s already exposed his family to it. Any possible amends is too little, too late. I suppose an apology might help – but there are so many meaningless apologies proffered for wrongdoing that it’s hard to think that an apology means anything without some kind of action.

        1. Artemesia*

          Nothing can be done now BUT there is a future — a future where the family steamroles over the OP and her child — demands they drive hours to visit at Christmas, or that they open their home to them to stay when they are traveling yadda yadda. If I were the OP after expressing one time to BIL how angry she is that he ignored their safety precautions and put her baby’s life at risk, I would remember this when her ‘no’ is not being heard in the future.

          Say ‘no’ to visiting relatives who want to cram into a small space rather than get a motel. Say ‘no’ to dragging your kids to other people’s homes for Christmas. Say ‘no’ to things you want to say ‘no’ to in the future. Don’t let them push you around again as they did this time. Make it your ‘get out of jail free’ card.

    13. Purt’s Peas*

      Journaling, pretty much. The situation is ripe for rumination and journaling helps with that.

      While I think that not all feelings have a “point” it can sometimes be helpful to pretend they do. Like, what’s this anger trying to tell me? Why is my mind holding onto it? If you let the journaling lead you to something that feels like a conclusion that might be helpful. With smaller things, for me, the conclusion has been, “I can’t trust this person with X” or “I don’t really want to see them.”

      Also, I have asked for apologies before and received them. This kind of conversation is not an argument and it’s not laying out grievances. It’s the mirror of a good apology: you start by talking about what happened—you broke our house rules all the time when you were a guest in my home. Then how it affected you—COVID made me feel awful for a while, it put my child at risk, and I had to isolate from my husband. Then the action you’d like to see (being truthful!)—you know, I really just want an apology for breaking the house rules and then we’re good.

      Obviously conversations like the above never go perfectly. (Also do this in person or over video, seriously!) I’ve done it with coworkers and friends and it has always left me feeling a lot, a lot better.

      I’m glad you’re feeling better, and I hope you get through the rest of this ordeal ok.

      1. Blue Eagle*

        I like this answer but I’d want more than just an apology. Obviously he can’t undo what he did, but what can he do in the future to make-up for it – specific help related to the baby or something else?

        1. pancakes*

          I wouldn’t trust this guy with baby stuff. He’s just made a point of letting everyone in the household know he’s not trustworthy. He needs to demonstrate that he can be more sensible about safety, and that he’s capable of keeping up with agreements he’s made.

        2. fposte*

          That just seems like a recipe for another anger-provoking failure, though—he’s not even apologizing, let alone trying to make amends, on his own. I’d be inclined to focus that energy on my husband for a greater commitment to backing his partner up even when it means saying no to his FOO.

        3. Purt’s Peas*


          Re more than an apology…First I do think it’d probably be a waste of energy—I think it’d be tough to come up with something to make up for this, let alone trust BIL to do it.

          But also, OP doesn’t mention already being at the end of her rope in the relationship, or that he’s a routine boundary stomper or whatever. And as awful as his actions were, there can genuinely be powerful healing in simply hearing an apology and an acknowledgment.

          If you think you won’t get that, or that it won’t be enough, or that the incident is part of a pattern of mistreatment and cruelty, or that the incident is so big it’s irreparable, of course that’s ok. And that may be the case here—the last thing I want to do is advise OP to simply forgive and forget!

          But for something where an apology might help, I find it profoundly healing, and helpful to my own state of mind—not to let go of the anger I’m feeling, but to offer the other person a chance to show a small amount of grace.

          That said I also absolutely would not let BIL visit for quite some time. Especially not around a newborn or baby.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. I lost my post somehow.
      Trying again.

      Sometimes there is that one event that just changes relationships permanently because a person can see the other person in a whole new light. I had a family member do something very irresponsible while staying here. Because of the nature of the action I had to reconsider my relationship with this person. In my case there had been little things right along but I kept ignoring those things because I felt it was more important to be a family. This irresponsible action changed all that forever.

      We can’t let people into our homes who do not prioritize the safety of those people and pets in our homes.
      You were not asking him to agree with you that masks were necessary. You were asking him to put the mask on. These are two very different questions and for some people would get different responses… but not him. He was in YOUR home. My rule is do as asked OR leave- when I am in other people’s houses. (eh, I have never left yet!! Requests are usually modest and easy to accommodate.)

      The other part of the story here is that he did actually reach out to you and you did not answer- which is fine, that is your choice and it’s legit. However, if it were me I would have known you were really flippin’ angry with me and I probably would not reach out again. So there’s that. I think you can safely say that you have made your point.

      I think one way to process anger is to develop an action plan and vow to stick to your action plan.
      Now that you see the level of risk (first hand) involved when you invite someone into you home, you can choose to do less or zero invites.
      You can redefine what your relationship with BIL will look like in the future. Limited contact? Visits away from home? It can be whatever makes sense.
      I’d take that anger (excess energy) and channel it into plans that protect you and yours in new ways other than what you have been doing. This is actually a huge topic that goes out beyond Covid and goes out beyond just protecting human health. There are all kinds of ways we need to be watchful and take care of our interests.

      I had a family member stay here. It had never been a problem before. But this one time this person’s behavior went so out of control– it’s like something that makes news headlines. I almost called 911 but others persuaded me not to call. My house was trashed, there was lots of yelling but the straw that broke the camel’s back was they let my beloved dog out, loose, in an ice storm.

      I was done.
      I could not move beyond the fact that this person had such total disregard for a being in my house. I had busted my butt for this visit and this is my thanks, trashed house, yelling and lost dog.

      This single story forever changed me, changed my thinking and changed my relationship with this person. While a lost dog is not Covid, the combined impact of many other things left me pretty hopping upset, like you show here. My best thought here is to channel that anger into figuring out how you will handle things differently in the future.

      I got the dog back. He was fine. My person has never been invited here again. I’ve had many house guests and I have never had such a time as that visit.

      1. Chantel*

        >I got the dog back. He was fine.

        So thankful for that. Agree with your entire post, but that was the best part.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          After many months of thought and lots of tears I landed on: Watch how people treat the least of those around you, don’t expect to be treated better. I had just lost my previous dog because she got away from me and my person knew that, yet here we were. I knew I had to stop thinking of what *I want* and start thinking about my husband and my pets and work to keep all of them safe.

      2. Not Australian*

        Similar scenario, trusted a friend to look after my home while I was away, with one proviso: “Don’t let the cat out, no matter how much he begs.”

        No prizes for guessing what happened; we never saw the cat again.

    15. Generic Name*

      Well, getting a disease in the midst of a pandemic that is infecting millions worldwide isn’t a moral failing. Sure, there are precautions one can take, as recommended by the cdc, but even those aren’t 100% effective. I have friends who followed all the rules and still got infected. I mean, you could have not allowed him to stay with you while traveling, right? I’m not putting the blame on you at all, but it’s not like he got you sick on purpose. How is your relationship with him otherwise? Is it strained? I wonder if that is affecting your perception. Hang in there and I hope you feel better soon.

      1. Artemesia*

        he agreed to wear a mask in public areas of her house and then didn’t do so and made excuses. So yeah — it is his fault she got this. If he had conformed to the rules and she still got sick, she would be mad at herself for letting him stay but not mad at him necessarily.

        1. Kt*

          Yep, I’m with you. It’s like food allergies — you tell someone you’re allergic to peanuts and they agree to not bring any to the house and then you find them eating Reese’s in the living room and feeding bits to your toddler. This houseguest reneged on agreements made before the visit, which would change my attitude entirely.

      2. DJ Abbott*

        The issue isn’t the pandemic. It’s the disrespect. No matter what else is going on, OP needed BIL to do certain things to make her feel safe. He didn’t do them, and didn’t have a good reason or even apologize for not doing them.
        BIL didn’t respect OP’s need for precautions, and didn’t respect that if he brought covid it might hurt her or her baby.
        That’s the real issue. If it had been something else going on that he didn’t respect, the issue would be the same.
        I think OP should not let this guy in her house anymore, and definitely not around her baby. Or child, or future children, or pets. Whenever he’s around there should be a responsible adult supervising, until/unless he grows up and starts respecting people.

    16. Courageous cat*

      My question is, for everyone here saying “I got covid from ____”, how do you… know? Asymptomatic people can transmit COVID too, and there’s that 2 week incubation time, so there’s no real way to know where you picked it up necessarily, unless all of you never leave your house and none of your housemates do either. I don’t even know how I’d know that I weren’t the person who gave the virus to *them* in this case.”

      Anyway, I would focus less on specifically forgiveness and more on just letting it go in general. I find you don’t have to forgive to let something go.

      1. Chantel*

        But that isn’t the point. A condition of BIL staying at the OP’s house was that he would follow hers and her husband’s safety protocols – and he flouted part of those rules. As such, it’s entirely reasonable to suspect BIL as the cause.

        I’m not sure how it is that the BIL’s arrogance is lost in many of these comments.

    17. bunniferous*

      My pastor always says that before you forgive someone you need to tally up the totality of what that person did-in other words if they did 25 dollars worth of damage you don’t want to just give a ten cent forgiveness.

      I would write him an email detailing why you are upset with him-go into as much detail as you like. Then tell him you would like him to acknowledge his part in what happened, and that if he does so it will help you to get past it.

      Whether or not he responds the way you like he needs to hear exactly why you are angry. I am angry for you! But I don’t think you should put a bandaid on this. I think once you know HE knows why you are so angry it will be easier for you to forgive; I hope he mans up and admits his fault because it will make it easier. And -this is between you and him-this is not for anyone else in the family to have an opinion on. Your husband needs to stand behind you because it really is a big deal particularly since you are pregnant. If others want to try to get you to minimize-tell them the quickest way for you all to get back to family harmony is for brother in law to admit he screwed up.

    18. Mephyle*

      I could never understand how you could forgive, or “let go and move on” if the offender is unrepentant (or absent, like forgiving someone who is out of your life or no longer alive) until I heard this definition: It means accepting that time travel and time machines don’t exist. It happened, and there’s no way to rewind time and do it over again but this time do it differently to avoid the bad thing happening.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, but there’s also a difference between forgiveness and acceptance. I don’t think you can ever forgive anyone without a heartfelt apology from that person, but even without an apology it’s possible to accept that a horrible thing has happened so that you don’t keep dwelling on it for too long.

        1. Mephyle*

          Quite so, yet some people use them interchangeably; that is, the way they describe forgiveness, it sounds like what I would think of as acceptance. Conclusion: “forgiveness” means different things to different people. Also, acceptance is more practical; more productive.

          1. Windchime*

            I agree so much. If someone isn’t sorry and doesn’t apologize, then that doesn’t warrant forgiveness from me (that’s assuming that the person is mentally capable of remorse; I wouldn’t necessarily expect remorse from a person with dementia, for example).

            I had a friend who wronged me in a very real way. She made my life hell and played terrible, manipulative mind games. She doesn’t think she did anything wrong so she will never be sorry or apologize. So I will never forgive. That doesn’t mean I am carrying around some horrible burden of hate and resentment for her; I’m not. I just see her for the misguided, cruel person that she is and have moved on. She doesn’t take up space in my head and, while I don’t wish bad things on anyone, I don’t care what happens to her. I’ve moved on and I’m glad to be out of that situation. But forgive someone who isn’t the least bit sorry? Nah.

    19. Come On Eileen*

      How to move forward: don’t focus on forgiveness or him apologizing. Acceptance is a better answer. There’s no way to perfectly protect yourself from a virus that is seeking a host. I’m so sorry you got it, and I hope you fully recover. This past year HAS been exhausting. The more you can focus on accepting what happened, not seeking an apology from someone who might not give it (and might not owe it), the better your mental and emotional health will likely be.

    20. Tofu pie*

      I’m sorry to hear you got covid. That itself is awful but to catch it while pregnant; knowing it was from a careless, unapologetic relative, added to the mix your IL’s lack of appropriate response. I would be absolutely furious too.

      I’ve found forgiveness to be a process rather than a magical switch. Rather than forgiveness as the focus I find it easier to allow myself to go through the anger, resentment, hurt, etc. What your BIL has done is genuinely shitty.

      Also, it’s important to distinguish forgiveness from consequences. If you were previously on good terms with BIL it’s understandable if you feel betrayed and lose respect for him as a person. The onus isn’t on you to act as though he hasn’t been reckless and inconsiderate. It’s okay to decide you don’t like him going forward and limit contact or whatever you decide your relationship with him now looks like. It’s okay to not allow him to stay in your home again. If MIL is unhappy about that, this is a consequence BIL inflicted as a direct result of *his* actions; and not you being mean or selfish.

      My ILs are similar to your MIL in that they just ignore bad behaviour from other family members and treat them the same way as they do everyone else they like. I find this to be a breeding ground for long term resentment as I much prefer to address conflict rather than ignore it. To each their own, I guess. But it doesn’t mean I have to conform to their way of dealing with conflict.

    21. Artemesia*

      Next time someone puts you at risk, don’t be polite, say no. He was careless and should never have been allowed to stay with pregnant you — I am furious on your behalf. Sorry you are stuck with jerks like this in your family.

      A nephew of my BIL infected his family and my BIL’s family March a year ago — my BIL was tutoring him in math. At least they didn’t realize he was at risk so there wasn’t ‘fault’ but my BIL has never fully recovered and it has probably lopped years off his life.

    22. Dan*

      Just out of curiosity, since he was traveling for work, what would he have done if you weren’t available to host?

      I’m with you on not hosting anymore family members… and if BIL has to travel for work again, I’d really be wondering why work wasn’t picking up the hotel. (And heck, my org has had a “no travel during COVID” rule in place for the last year.)

  13. Laura*

    Been thinking about how the line from ‘young’ to ‘old’ gets crossed so abruptly when you go from your 20s to your 30s. There’s a lot of angst in your 20s because you feel like you should be an adult and do the ‘adult things’, but there’s an inherent sense that it’s okay if you’re not quite up to it, and that you’re allowed to hold on to the ‘childish’ things for a bit longer. But once you’re in your 30s it stops being okay, and the expiration date for those childish things have passed, and the warning to let them go gets louder with each passing year.

    I guess part of it is the way this ageing process is depicted in popular culture. There are a lot of shows that start off with a relatively young (early-mid 20s) group of characters because that’s probably the market they’re targeting. But if the show is successful then obviously the characters will age, and there’s very little variation in storylines from the tried-and-tested ‘get married have children’ route. Then once people have children – especially women – the jokes about getting old and being out of touch starting popping up every other episode.

    I’ve been watching some shows from the 90s/00s recently (some of them for the first time), and it really struck me how all the characters who were young then (and who were making fun of the older generation) would be in their 40s/50s now, and so would be the people they were making fun of back then. I know decades have passed and that’s just the way of things, but it makes me wonder at what point the ‘transition’ comes.

    1. Helvetica*

      Oh, I feel you on the idea that almost no matter the show, everyone’s happily ever after has to be married-with-children. This is the reason I disliked some choices on Parks&Rec, Andy and April having a baby didn’t seem like the logical step to me. Ben and Leslie having children did make sense and I think the way that played out in the last season was great because it didn’t become about the children.
      I feel a show which did sidestep this was You’re the Worst. The final conclusion was so in keeping with who the characters were.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Love You’re the Worst, and never understood why it wasn’t more popular. I love that ending montage set to ‘No Children’ by the Mountain Goats.

        I find it oddly comforting.

      2. Team9to5*

        Oh my goodness, I have the exact same feeling about April and Andy! On a broader level, there aren’t many shows that depict being single as a happy ending, either. So weird that our culture expects both partnership and progeny!

        1. Washi*

          SAME. I feel like the real outcome of April and Andy having a kid together is Andy’s antics would no longer be cute and April would end up a single mom with Andy as a well meaning but irresponsible “fun dad.”

      3. Yellow Warbler*

        This is why I quit B99. I was so disgusted by the way they forced Jake to agree to have a kid.

    2. Camelid coordinator*

      I am about to be in my mid-50s, which appears to be ancient in popular culture. I’ve been reading a novel in which a woman in her fifties is described as grandmotherly and that’s it. I get that she could be a grandmother but it pains me that women aren’t really seen after their 30s. I hope this isn’t hijacking your thread!

      1. NewHampshire*

        If you haven’t seen them yet, the RED movies (Retired, Extremely Dangerous) are an absolute riot. Not a substitute for culture basically erasing women after the age of 30 (but hey, here’s a cream for your wrinkles and some dye for your hair! Ugh) but it was an enjoyable moment of representation.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I’m enjoying Helen Mirren’s appearances in the Fast and Furious movies too. :)

        2. Filosofickle*

          The scene in RED 2 where they do the action sequence of Helen Mirren in a spinning car with two guns, one out each side window, shooting as it goes round brings me joy.

      2. Asenath*

        I’m in my mid-sixties, and really, I like the freedom that comes with age and no longer caring so much about the things I agonized over in my teens, twenties, thirties…. In fact, I was much struck by a comment in a presentation I saw on aging to the effect that we were all physically old (meaning 50+, with accompanying physical changes). That opened my eyes, in a way, to the idea that I was what I was, and that sure wasn’t young any more! For what it’s worth, I’ve never been one for whom exact age was important – I see going through life as a progression, not a series of transitions, and never really understood why many of my friends put so much importance on special ages – turning 30, 40, 50 etc. And I don’t watch many of the popular TV series, more out of lack of interest than anything else, so I don’t worry about how people my age are portrayed there, or whether we’re invisible in them.

    3. mreasy*

      I will say that the pressure I felt in my 20s to be some young miracle in my career evaporated when I turned 30, and it’s even better now that I’m 40! I decided long ago not to have kids, so that probably helps. Though I work in media so I’m probably “in touch” with youth culture (this does not mean I understand the appeal of so many things) more than people who don’t have to do it for a living? So far I have loved aging though.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, me too. But I guess it helps that while I took longer than most to graduate from college, 8 years in total because I was almost incapacitated by untreated depression for several years, when I finally got myself into treatment it helped pretty quickly, my life has otherwise followed a pretty standard path. I had a relationship that didn’t work out in my early 20s, I met my husband in my early 30s, married him when I was 8 months pregnant and then we built a house. So I’m living a pretty standard middle-class life. I’m fairly content because now I’m where I suppose I always wanted to end up, although having children was never a big goal for me and I only started feeling broody for a kid when I met my husband because I knew from the start that he’d be a great father for my child. I also lucked out because at 36 I knew I was probably past my prime in fertility, but I got pregnant in the first cycle when we started trying.

        I wasn’t a rebellious teen but I didn’t particularly enjoy those years, either. To me, the surest sign of peaking early is when someone says they’re nostalgic for their teens. My 20s I spent mostly in college while all my friends graduated before me and I felt like I wasn’t keeping up with them because they met their spouses about 5 years before I met mine, and most of them married before they hit 30 and most of them are still married to the same person. When I graduated, I worked odd jobs that had nothing to do with my degree and never seemed to find my place. But then when I met my husband and got my current job in my mid-30s, I’ve felt fairly at peace with the world most of the time.

        I’m not particularly ambitious, but I do want to do my job well and keep improving at it for my professional self-esteem if nothing else. But it really helps that now at nearly 50 I mostly don’t care what other people think of me. I grew up a people-pleaser, but once I got over that, my life improved enormously.

        1. mreasy*

          Nailed it about being a people-pleaser. It’s so much better as that need loosens up over time!

      2. pieforbreakfast*

        I was so excited to turn 30, I figured people would stop asking me about my life goals and they did! It’s like, “you made it to 30 without dying so you must know what you’re doing” or something.

    4. FD*

      Are you hearing this from people around you, or internalizing it from popular culture?

      If you’re hearing it from people around you, then you may need to set some boundaries and/or cut out some a-holes from your life.

      I think one of the most freeing things about being in your 30s is realizing that almost no one actually cares what you like. Do you like She-Ra? Voltron? Fluffy JohnLock fanfiction? First of all, very few people have enough time to give a crap if you do and second, there is likely a group of fans in a similar demographic to you who have been loving it since it came out and are still out there making content. (This is also true whatever the ‘childish’ thing you’re into, those are just some of the stereotypically ‘childish’ things that I know are popular in my social group.)

      Once you turn 30, no one really expects you to be young and hip, and that’s honestly pretty fantastic because it can free you to just go be obsessed with whatever you’re obsessed with.

      It’s entirely possible to be someone who can both do a budget and also be ready to sack out on the couch and watch Gargoyles on Disney+ after work.

      If you’re more internalizing these messages from media, well…I mean, the media already creates these silly ideals so why should we care what they think? If you’re too old to be a Friends character, you don’t have to hold yourself to those standards, right?

      1. AGD*

        Love this! Also, I think pretty much everyone should want to watch Gargoyles on Disney+ after work.

        1. FD*

          I missed it the first time because we didn’t have Disney Channel when I was a kid, so my wife’s been showing it to me! It’s pretty great.

    5. NewHampshire*

      Oh this one hits home! I’m early thirties with a toddler. A few thoughts in no particular order:

      – A *lot* of women realize after having kids that they do not enjoy parenting. It was simply expected of them by society and there can be a lot of anger around not feeling like there was another socially acceptable or even visible option (note, most women still love their kids, they just don’t love the intense and unrelenting physical and emotional labor involved. If I had a nanny or a stay at home spouse to do all the unpleasant tasks, I’d happily have a dozen kids. See: men of every prior generation…)
      – I was appalled at the number of parents who sang the praises of kids before we got pregnant and then once we were expecting all the horror stories out. The marital issues, the exhaustion, the resentment. Holy culture shock, Batman!
      – Folks spend a lot of time speculating on why other people are single. What must be “wrong” with them. But almost no one looks at a married person and asks/thinks “gosh I don’t know why they lowered their standards so much.”
      – I like to cultivate my inner 50 year old for many things. Specifically, I do not intend to let culture tell me what is and isn’t acceptable. If I like dragons and magic, those are going to be the books I buy. Anyone who has a problem with that probably has their own insecurity issues. Life is too short to play a bit role in someone else’s production. Whatever you like, childish or no, own it and trust that eventually you’ll still find your people.

        1. ....*

          Yeah I think that like…. all the time LOL! I’m 30 so lots of people are getting married or just got married. Of my best friends and siblings I basically think “yeeeeesh why did you settle” for 4/5 of their husbands.

      1. matcha123*

        I am continually surprised by friends who announce pregnancies. When I was little I remember listening to my mom and the other moms complain non-stop about raising kids, their (useless/annoying) husbands, their lack of free time and money, and I thought, “Surely no person of sound mind in my age would ever have a kid.” And yet, here we are…and some of them are walking the same steps as their parents (ie – complaining about partners and child rearing).

        I’m also surprised at why so many people are invested in *why* someone else is single. Our culture puts couples on a pedestal, but also tells people to stand up for themselves and leave bad relationships. It’s strange that we would think poorly of people who want to wait for a partner that matches them??

        1. Dan*

          I think a huge reason why our culture puts couples on a pedestal is the consumerism behind it. “Follow the money, you know?”

          The wedding juggernaut is probably the clearest example, and one can draw all sorts of tentacles from there. I mean, single people don’t throw $30,000 weddings for themselves. And after the wedding, there’s the kids (and everything related to kids that costs money), the big (expensive) house in the suburbs, the big SUV to haul everybody around, etc.

          Sure, I’m generalizing a bit, but I can tell you as a single person with no kids that my 1) Smaller, cheaper apartment is just fine, and I don’t *need* a bigger space. 2) My small sedan is just fine, TYVM, and well, I didn’t spend $30k on a wedding.

          Even when kids and weddings are taken out of the mix, being in a “couple” comes with a monetary cost in our society. There’s the pressure around holidays that are pure consumerism (hi valentine’s day!) and just in general, when I’m on my own I can be downright cheap with money in ways that would be considered rude otherwise,

          So yeah, I’m convinced a lot of the “couples on a pedestal” culture comes from the commercial juggernaut that makes money off of them.

      2. Frankie Derwent*

        I hate people who ask me why i’m single. My own parents have a wonderful marriage but most people i know do not. My friends in relationships insist that I should date and find a boyfriend myself and sometimes it takes all my willpower to say their relationships are hardly an endorsement of married/ relationship life. I wish society would be more accepting of the fact that people can be and some are happily single.

        1. Dan*

          Yeah, and guys aren’t immune from that pressure either.

          It’s funny how the default in our culture is to assume that a breakup or divorce is a bad thing. When I finally split from my ex, the default language from my acquaintances was “sorry to hear that”. From my close friends and people who knew what was really going on, I got, “I’m glad you got out of that mess, sorry you had to go through that.”

          The other thing too is the assumption that couples need to live together. Why? I am oh so very happy living by myself… especially in my one bedroom apartment.

          1. allathian*

            My sister had a 10-year engagement that ended when her ex finally realized that she meant it when she said she didn’t want any kids of her own. She’s now happy in a relationship with a guy who has a serious relationship in his past, but they don’t live together. Both of them like their own space.

            My MIL got a divorce 30 years ago when she caught my FIL maintaining a second household with another woman (he traveled a lot for work so was often away on overnight trips). She’s now married again, but she and her husband keep separate households and completely separate finances. She got used to having her own space in the 20 years she was single, and this way it’ll make things easier for both her husbands’ and her heirs when they die. Here a widow/er has an automatic right to remain in the dwelling that the couple used as their home during the marriage, even if the heirs inherit the property, and descendants by blood are always given priority over new spouses. There’s no absolute right to distribute property with a will, heirs are always entitled to at least half of what they would have received without a will, and the inheritance tax for heirs who aren’t direct descendants is heavy.

      3. TL -*

        I think that about partnered people all the time. I’ve said it a time or two (just not to the partnered people themselves, unless the relationship is legitimately bad.)

        I’m in my early thirties and most of my friends are partnered and while I like most of the partners, I definitely see the relationships more as “sacrifices friends have made for X trade-off that I would never personally be okay with.” (Why, yes I am still single!)

        The older I get, the higher my standards become and the less I’m willing to sacrifice. And it doesn’t help at all that I’m a woman and not at all willing to make “gender norm” sacrifices.

        I will say, a lot of people don’t like my stance (which is fair) – one of my friends was arguing with me about how it’s easy to find a truly supportive partner and I finally asked her to name all of her partnered (female) friends who had moved for their male partners’ job (all of them but one), and then to name all of her friends whose male partners had moved for their job (zero.)

        And. Her friends are educated, liberal, independent women with partners who are, to a large degree, supportive of their careers. Who have all followed their male partners because “it just makes more sense in the situation.” (sometimes they add, and it doesn’t make sense to even ask him to move/stay for my career.) It was only when I specifically called out the pattern that she realized it was actually happening on a larger scale – and also she very much agreed I would not do that.

      4. Dan*

        To your first two points… how sincere were the horror stories? Was it blowing off steam at the bar, or was it legit at their wits end and something big is about to go down?

        I’m curious, because even as a dude with no kids, if I say, “I don’t think I want kids, they seem like a lot of work and expense” I get the brush off and get told that I’ll adjust once they come or that I have plenty of time to change my mind. Only one person has ever said, “yeah, they’re a ton of work and expensive, I can very much understand if that’s not for you.”

        My cynical opinion is that people with kids are secretly jealous of those that don’t. Those that don’t have more time and money to do more of the things they *want* to do. Discouraging others from having kids means one would have to endure the trials and tribulations alone. (Misery loves company I guess?)

        1. NewHampshire*

          If you can believe it, the horror stories were often an *understatement* of what I have since seen!

          If you own any pets you know that they come with certain care activities. A healthy cat as an example:
          – Food
          – Water
          – Cleaning dishes
          – Scooping litter
          – Toys and games
          – Grocery shopping for supplies
          – Vet care

          If you have a dog, you up the ante a bit:
          – Walking the dog
          – Crate/Leash/Obedience training
          – Regular grooming
          – Picking up poop
          – Socializing your pup
          – Additional dedicated playtime

          If you had siblings growing up, you know that some folks take these tasks more seriously than others. In marriage, you will find similar negotiations. I’ll walk the dog today and tomorrow if you give him a bath etc. I scooped the litter last time. It’s YOUR turn.

          Having a puppy prepares you for having a kid the way having an internship prepares you to be a CEO. They’re both work, but in the second one, the stakes are higher you are never really “off”. It’s an 18+ year job that you can’t leave. Couples can get divorced but you cannot ever stop being a parent (well, you can, but it’s considered monstrous in every culture for a reason!). If you’re very lucky and have trusted people or gobs of money, you can get help to run your company, but otherwise it’s just you and your spouse trying to do everything. And in the early days, you have to add in often severe sleep deprivation.

          It takes a rock solid marriage to handle the kind of communication you need to run a company. If the financials are shaky or your visions isn’t aligned or the other person doesn’t do their half of the work, the stress and resentment can be enormous.

          I see it time and again that the dude doesn’t do their share of the lift either in housework or after work childcare or general child related effort (meal planning, meal preparation, researching daycare, interfacing with teachers, making appointments, coordinating play dates etc) and it takes a lot of hard conversations to change OR leads to profound resentment.

          Do you love your kid? Would you run into a burning building for them? Absolutely! But parenting isn’t a one time effort. It’s a daily, unceasing grind. And I consider myself lucky! I have a healthy kid who I adore with a husband who pulls his weight and some family help. I love him to bits and can’t imagine life without him now. And yet I can also now very strongly say that the only people who should have kids are the ones who really REALLY want them. They are not puppies, or a status symbol or an obligation. They are small humans who require a lot of love and time and yes, money. If that doesn’t appeal to you, there are many of kids who you can still love and support without far less commitment (and their parents will love you!).

        2. Calliope*

          I had my kid at 36 so pretty late and after most of my friends, so I feel like I’ve been on both sides of this. It is a lot of work but if it is the right choice for you, it’s worth it. I enjoyed being childless for my 20s and first half of my 30s but then I felt ready to do something else, and that something else was, for me, raise a child.

          I do think it’s totally great if people have other things that fulfill them, but no, I’m not secretly jealous of that. We all have our paths and it’s ok if they’re different.

          1. Clisby*

            Similar here. I had mine at 42 and 48, and they’ve been a joy to me. I didn’t have them in my earlier years because I didn’t want them then. There’s nothing for me to be secretly jealous of – I did what I wanted, and got what I wanted.

    6. My Brain Is Exploding*

      The flip side of that is the “you’re too old to…” and newspapers mentioning “an elderly 62 year old!” OLD is not a synonym for INFIRM.

      1. Dan*

        Yeah, that cultural phrasing drives me nuts. I worked with a guy for several years who recently retired at 70. The dude is still sharp as a tack and in good physical shape. “70 years young” is an appropriate description. I would *never* refer to him as old.

        1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          Ew, I hate that “70 years young” wording; it’s so patronizing. I’m 71, and why can’t people just say So and so is 70 or 50 or 20 or 80 without sticking “young” or “old” on it? I think in some languages, it’s worded “Esmeralda has 53 years.” Why can’t English accommodate that wording?

          1. c-*

            Oh, those languages aren’t totally exempt from condescending BS related to age either, I’m afraid! ;) Spanish, my native language, does this, and in addition of having a truckload of terms to describe people based on age*, there are also phrases like “x years young/old”: “tener x primaveras/abriles/inviernos”, lit. “having x springtimes/aprils/winters”.

            * If anyone is curious, for women we have, loosely from young to old: bebé (baby), niña, chica, cría (girl), moza, joven, señorita (young lady), mujer, señora (lady), vieja, abuela (old lady).

    7. pancakes*

      A lot of TV shows, particularly 90s shows, were really corny and unrealistic about this sort of thing, though. I’ve always preferred the company of people who have friends in a range of ages, and have always had older people in my life I like and admire. It isn’t mandatory to be blinkered about it.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      “But once you’re in your 30s it stops being okay, and the expiration date for those childish things have passed, and the warning to let them go gets louder with each passing year.”

      I see this in law and I see this in medicine also.
      In the process of helping friends with their kids get through the legal system I see over and over that courts agree, once a person is in their 30s they are old enough to know better. By late 30s , people can even be deemed a career criminal, informally. By the time we are pushing 40 we should have a fair idea of what is right and wrong legally.

      In medicine what I see is a bit more subtle and maybe a bit later in life- 40s and on? I see the head shaking about someone who is frequently drunk [or other habit]. It’s the same head shake lawyers can use when a person is beyond helping. It’s as if their course has been set.

      I do agree that each generation makes fun of it’s elders. And each generation has legit beefs about their older generations, too. And then that generation ages and they too become part of the process. We all have a turn at this one.

      Going just one step further, I often wonder if that push back against the previous generation is almost necessary for the next generation to launch itself. It’s almost like making fun and rebelling etc are necessary to some degree.

      1. Aly_b*

        On the flip side though, doctors take medical stuff way more seriously now that I’m in my mid thirties than they did when I was “young and healthy”. I’m still about as healthy as I was, but now when I say there’s an issue they bother checking it (mostly.)

        1. DJ Abbott*

          I’m 59 and I had a pain in my upper arm, another in my side, and sharp pain in my opposite elbow.
          Whenever I mentioned these pains to a medical professional the first word they said was “arthritis”.
          Funny how that never happened in my 30’s!
          In fact the arm pain was caused by a frozen shoulder which has since cleared with physical therapy. The side pain was caused by weak hip muscles, also helped by physical therapy. The elbow pain is mostly gone with ben-gay and ice.
          I have no symptoms of arthritis.

    9. matcha123*

      I…never wanted to be an “adult,” I’m sorry. I always gave the side-eye to kids that wanted to be grown and do grown things. I knew that grown meant more responsibilities, possibility of jail for something that a kid could be forgiven for, and jobs that you hated.
      I did, for a time, think that adults that liked “childish” things were dumb, because that’s what pop culture and other adults tried to feed me. But the more I thought about it, the stranger I found it. Why shouldn’t an adult be able to enjoy a ball pit? Why should I stop liking cartoons because I was a certain age? Rather than bowing to…something and locking away the things we like, why not enjoy them?

    10. ThatGirl*

      I turned 40 a few weeks ago. My husband will be 38 this year. We do not have kids, nor are we planning to. And nobody has judged us. We both have good jobs, we own a house, are responsible human beings…who watch plenty of cartoons, play video games, talk in silly voices to our dog, wear baby yoda tshirts… who cares! Live your life, enjoy yourself.

    11. Joan Rivers*

      Have you seen “Thirtysomething”? The series was on TV ’87-91 and I loved it. Don’t know how it would hold up now but the characters were engrossing then.

    12. Grapey*

      I think it’s more acceptable to be “childish” if you can support yourself. I’m not having kids (mostly because I also find the life script you mention exhausting and don’t think it’s moral to put that burden on another generation of my own doing) but I gather part of the point of raising them is to get them to “launch” at a certain age.

  14. NewHampshire*

    Moving! Two questions:

    Normal: Does anyone have a favorite comprehensive moving checklist? I’ve moved before and been more organized each time but this will be the biggest one yet, across a big chunk of the country so no popping back home if we forget something.

    Reach: Does anyone here have a recommendation for how to snag a rental in the Seacoast area of New Hampshire? I’ve posted on Craigslist and set up a notification for my search and asked to join a couple of the housing groups on Facebook. We will need a lease in July so we have some time but I’ll feel better once it’s all locked in! (Looking for a 4bd/2ba or 3bd with bonus room and 2ba. Mentally budgeting around 3K before utilities but if I’m off I’d welcome any thoughts from others!).

    1. Sled dog mama*

      Can’t speak to the budget but I made a similar move a few years ago and a local real estate agent who specialized in rentals was a life saver in finding what we needed. I think I found the one we worked with by cold calling a couple of offices and asking if they knew of anyone but also got some recommendations from the agent we used to sell our house.

      1. NewHampshire*

        Thank you so much! This prompted me to finally bite the bullet and reach out to a realtor who supposedly knows the market. Appreciate the nudge!

      1. NewHampshire*

        Ooo I have heard wonderful things about this website. Thank you for the brilliant share!

    2. Also moving*

      I am also about to move, and downloaded some checklists from The Art of Happy Moving: https://www.artofhappymoving.com/
      I also downloaded her audiobook from the library using Hoopla, and listen to it while I declutter and prep items to sell, for a bit of motivation.

      1. NewHampshire*

        Shudder. The declutter and packing are going to take ages after everything we’ve accumulated. Hoping to go one box at a time. Thank you for the link!

    3. Skeeder Jones*

      I don’t really have advice but I’m also embarking on a significant move, it’s about 1000 miles and I’m moving June/July. July 1st is when I’ll need to be all moved but I have budgeted for some overlap if I have to sign a lease for June. If I do sign for June, then I’ll likely move mid-month. So I’m at least 6 weeks away from moving. I’ve been packing slowly a few boxes a day but I live in a studio so it’s hard to find space for the boxes once they are packed. I’ll be renting a storage space for 1-2 months so I can make room to pack more boxes.

      I’m also concerned about trying to rent something while living so far away. I am planning a trip there mid-May but if I don’t lock something down that weekend, I’ll have to try to rent using only virtual means. I’d love to hear from anyone who has moved without physically seeing the place they are moving to.

      1. NewHampshire*

        I feel you! We have a toddler running around so space is at a premium as we try to pack. I like the approach of one box at a time :). We are also having to look at thing virtually. I’ve had some luck checking out Google street view, Google satellite, Zillow, Trulia etc for additional photos and additional angles. People are very crafty in hiding things like super steep driveways!

    4. Public Sector Manager*

      I only know of Harris Real Estate down in Hampton Beach where my good friends live.

      1. NewHampshire*

        Thank you for sharing :). We’re aiming a bit further north to be close to Amtrak but I’ll keep that in mind if we end up looking closer to the beaches!

    5. KR*

      I had the most luck finding a rental by driving around and looking at places I wanted to rent, and checking the websites/looking at signs in windows/so on. When I was last looking for a rental in that part of NH I found most places didn’t advertise online. I’m assuming you’re looking for a house and not an apartment though, so the experience will probably be different. Good luck, the market is super tight right now and NH does not have a lot of rental housing available at all and hasn’t for years.

      1. NewHampshire*

        It’s nuts right now. $4500 for a 4bd2ba in Exeter. It doesn’t even have an attached garage!! I’ve joined a few Facebook groups and have a search alert on Craiglist. I’ve also messaged a couple of realtors to see if they have an eye on things before they hit the market. We have our current place until the end of August so the move in day is flexible if needed but I’d prefer to lock something in early.

    6. Pocket Mouse*

      My main pieces of advice:

      1. Figure out what you need on day 1, and pack those things together and make them as accessible as possible. By this I mean anything you need to eat, shower, and go to sleep without leaving a mess- a change of clothes, pajamas, toiletries, shower curtain, snacks, a bowl and set of silverware per person, dish soap and sponge, trash bag/can, toilet paper, paper towels/dish rag, phone charger, etc. Same for day 2 supplies: wifi gear, work necessities, scissors for unpacking, etc.

      2. Label all your packed boxes bags with both what they contain and which room they will go in.

      3. Refill all prescription medications before moving.

      4. Forward your mail with USPS ahead of time, and also leave/mail a note to your old address for the next tenant with your contact info in case something important-looking gets delivered to you there.

      5. Echoing others, stay hydrated.

      Good luck!

  15. The Other Dawn*

    Any current or previous MINI owners out there? I’m curious as to whether or not you named your car. If so, what did you name it and why?

    I bought one used last year–2016 Cooper 4-door hardtop–and decided to name mine. I wasn’t going to, but it seems to be what MINI owners do, so why not? I searched online to see what other owners have named theirs and also tried a name generator, which gave such bizarre results sometimes. Since I wanted to get the name on a license plate, I decided to go on the state DMV website to see what’s available and choose the name that way. We’re now allowed to have up to seven total numbers and/or letters. My top choices, which were Sheldon or Marty, were not available. Bradley and Alice weren’t either. I then tried Charlie (my late father), Cooper1, and Neo (because I love Keanu Reeves and I loved The Matrix), all of which are available. Since I could enter up to three choices, those were the ones I entered. I don’t know which one will arrive in the mail, but it should be Charlie since that was the first choice.

    I feel like Charlie fits because my father seemed to think of himself as a speed demon in a cute package in his later years. Once he accepted he should be using one of those motorized scooters to get around the store and other places, he embraced it. He’d speed around the grocery store to get his items, sometimes a little too close on my sister’s heels.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t have a Mini, but I’ve named every car I’ve ever driven for more than a week, including rentals. My current one is Nux the Warboy, because his predecessor was Sif and when she got totaled I commented that she was off to ride the roads of Valhalla, and my brain added “shiny and chrome” at the end of that because I had just seen Fury Road again. The Warboy – I usually call him by title rather than name – is the first car I’ve ever had with a related custom license plate though, usually I just go with the random assignment.

    2. Llellayena*

      I don’t have a mini, but I’ve named my cars. My last one was Kimi (Dragonriders of Pern reference, the car was gold) and my current car is Jadzia. I’m not one for the specialty plates though.

    3. Dwight Schrute*

      No MINI either but I name my cars. They’ve been Fergie, Felicia, Jane Honda, and Rita

    4. Pregnant during COVID*

      I hope your license plate is Charlie! That’s a nice memory of your dad to recall every time you are in your car. I had two MINIs in my life and I dearly miss driving them (I had to step up to an SUV to fit car seats). Both I named Mini Me. Not terribly original but I’m really short myself so the name fit ;).

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, the license plate will be Charlie. It was my first choice out of the three I provided to DMV and available, so I should be able to get it.

    5. the cat's ass*

      I love this thread! I too have named all my cars. I have never has a Mini, but my cars were Lara the Volvo (the first car i bought myself), Helmut the mercedes (i bought from a friend so she could finish law school), Audrey the bronze subaru-she was my favorite (little shop of horrors reference). Current Subaru (used but new to me), is still nameless as i wait for a name to swim up out of the ether.

    6. londonedit*

      I’m currently borrowing a Mini and it doesn’t have a name! A few of our family cars have had names, but not this one. I haven’t really heard of it being a particular Mini owners’ thing, naming their cars, but maybe it is! I feel like sometimes a car wants a name (usually in my experience a name suggests itself from the numberplate – ours have three letters at the end so if they happen to resemble a word then that can help with naming) but often it feels like a car is quite happy without a name. My current Mini definitely has a personality but it’s never suggested a name to us.

    7. Yellow Warbler*

      I owned an R53 named Skye. She was the old version of starlight blue (forget what they called it back then) with white roof/mirrors/double racing stripe.

      I had just dropped eight grand on a new transmission, when a deer ran into the front quarter panel, flipped up over the hood and windshield, and totaled her. To be clear, I did not hit the deer, it plowed into me like a bull charging a matador. Effing rat with hooves.

      I miss her so much, but I hate the new gens with a passion. I would definitely buy another R53, but nothing newer unless they drastically restyle and undo the swollen barges they’ve turned into.

    8. Sandra Dee*

      Yes, I had a MINI countryman, which is the largest MINI that is made, therefore his name was Max the MINI. I now own a Subaru Outback, and her name is Shelia.

    9. mini owner*

      I call my Cooper Caspar, because it has been haunted by a friendly ghost for much of its life (purchased new in 2006). Probably a glitch in the main instrument control cluster, but no mechanic has even been able to give me a clear diagnosis or fix, so I’m sticking with the ghost hypothesis.

    10. Not Australian*

      We had a *real* Mini (1983 version) for over 20 years who was named Primrose because that was her original colour; two paint jobs later we sold her to a loving new family and she is now Bluebell for obvious reasons! Every car we own has a name, and we even named the one that we hired for a couple of months about five winters ago; the name usually arises from some ‘personal’ characteristic, and we currently have Hester the Fiesta. [My ex-sister, some decades ago, had the original Ester the Fiesta.]

      We’re currently searching for a new campervan. Our old one, Snoopy, was too small; the current one, Gertie, is too big; the new one, which we haven’t even seen yet, will therefore – whenever it arrives – have to be called Goldilocks.

      None of this, unfortunately, bears any relationship to the registration number – different country, different system.

    11. k8page*

      I love Charlie for your Mini! My 2004 Mini was named Ellie. I thought about naming her L-Train because my previous mode of transportation had been the L subway line from Manhattan to Brooklyn, and my mom suggested Queen Elizabeth because the Mini is British. I put the two together and came up with Ellie. My 2015 Mini Countryman was named Granny Smith partly because she was green, but mainly because she was slow – I could slam on the gas pedal and almost hear the car saying “you go on ahead, I’ll meet you there.” I do not miss driving that Countryman!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Good to know about the Countryman! I personally don’t want one, but my husband keeps saying, “Look! It’s got those big doors in back!” Now I can tell him another reason why I don’t want one. ;)

    1. Sled dog mama*

      I transplanted a whole bunch of daylillies and hostas from various places around the property in to a new bed and they are just starting to come up! These were all huge clumps of plants that I divided up so they could have more space.

    2. Teatime is Goodtime*

      My roses are doing well! One of them has bloomed in three different colors which is totally cool. A light pink, an orangy-pink, and one new bud that looks like it is coming out a dark pink.

      For those of you who know roses: do you have any favorite beginner-friendly rose resources? I’m a little overwhelmed by what I am finding online…like if and when and how I’m supposed to cut it back and so on. I’m all ears!

    3. Lilo*

      I bought my house this year and the previous owner was an avid gardener, so I’ve been thrown in the deep end a bit. I’ve been battling the Ivy that wants to murder everything pretty regularly. I need an absurd amount of mulch to stop the weeds from coming up in the berry patch. Although I’m pretty sure one of the gooseberries is dead.

      Boy do I hate Ivy. Cutting/pulling it away is tough in my hands even through gloves.

      I don’t really know what I’m doing but I’m trying with help from the internet.

    4. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Still absurdly cold here at night so plants are languishing in the plastic greenhouse. I started some seeds a few weeks ago and they are starting to go crazy so I’ll need to repot them soon.

      Some of the plants that I expected to be perfectly fine with the cold weather seem to have died in the last few weeks. I’ll give it a few more weeks and see if they recover.

    5. fposte*

      We had a couple of freeze nights last week after a lovely warm period; I put towels over the cold-sown seedlings outside but left the tulips to fend for themselves based on experience. They’re mostly doubles this year and they’re oddly beautiful with the post-cold droop that makes their blossoms front facing instead of top-facing, since you see so much more. (They’ve straightened up now.)

    6. Generic Name*

      My husband is researching fruit trees to put in our yard in the Denver suburbs as we speak. It’s been a cold and snowy April, so everything is behind. The trees are just now starting to leaf out. My bulbs are blooming, and that makes me happy.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Have you & he seen the apples that have been grafted to have several varieties on one tree?

        1. Generic Name*

          Yes! I worry the graft would fail and we’d get a dead or lopsided tree. I’m trying not to be too opinionated about it, since he’ll be doing all the work and care for it. :)

    7. BlueWolf*

      I started some tomatoes and peppers from seed probably a bit too early and they’ve grown like crazy. I’m just anxiously waiting to put them in the ground. We had a few cold nights (30s) this week, but it’s looking like nighttime temps are warming up significantly next week so I can finally plant them out in the garden this week! This is my first vegetable garden so I just hope I don’t fail completely haha. I also ended up with more seedlings than I originally planned because basically all my seeds germinated and I couldn’t bring myself to thin them all.

    8. Aly_b*

      I revived my herb garden from last week, which we’d been under watering because we were scared of the classic newb mistake of overwatering. No plants were lost! I’m now trying to get some jalapeño seeds to germinate, but I think it might be too cold. I may try to repurpose my instant pot’s yogurt setting for a few days if nothing pops up in the next day or two.

      1. Generic Name*

        The whole looming thing, or just a dormant root/rhizome? I think the weather is pretty temperate now, so it should fare ok.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It’s not dormamt, but only 5-6 inches tall. I’m hoping to ship it bare root so I can reduce the chance of sharing soil pests with someone ~40 miles away. I figured I’d protect it with tissue paper & brown paper, and a cardboard box. Does that sound logical?

    9. Bobina*

      I have my first flower! A viola from a bunch I ordered in Jan/Feb? Its a very pretty purple and yellow, and I think once the rest of the plants flower it’ll look really pretty.

      Still waiting on the ranunculus and irises to do anything, as well as the random assortment of annuals from last week.

    10. Ali G*

      Anyone else’s houseplants just really thirsty?? I typically check them every weekend and only some need water, but lately they ALL want water. The longer days are kicking in!
      Today I sowed my cardinal flower seeds and started hardening off my veggies and herbs. Next week I’ll move everyone to their summer homes.

    11. Rara Avis*

      The garden is the work of my husband and daughter (I just enjoy it) — sunflowers, kale, and pumpkins have sprouted. Cherry, fig, and orange trees have bloomed.

    12. Smol Book Wizard*

      This is the first spring I’ve really thought much about gardening, since my fiance and I are working on his yard together… does anyone have tips on how to keep rhododendrons well-behaved? The previous owners of the house did not trim them, so they’re basically pom-poms of chaos.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Wait until they bloom before pruning! They set buds so soon afterwards, if you cut midyear, you miss the year’s flowers.

    13. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      My daffodils took forever to sprout and then bloom, but they have been gloriously yellow for several days. Two groups of four, one on each edge of the (long, narrow) yard.

      This is particularly nice because I didn’t remember what I’d planted where, last fall.

      1. Generic Name*

        I feel like all my bulbs were late this year as well. We had a very cold and snowy April, so I’m assuming it’s the weather.

    14. TiffIf*

      There are a ton of dandelions in my back yard :( I hate them.

      I tilled my garden today and planted cucumbers and peppers and some bee balm.

      Tomatoes will be soon!

    15. Venus*

      My tomato seedlings are root-bound so I need to repot them. I am still a week or four away from warm weather so have to do them.

      I destroyed an invasive bush which felt really good, and this weekend I will be finishing up a raised bed and then planting cold-resistant veggies. Last year I had little energy for the garden so I’m trying to make up for it this year.

    16. Susie*

      The bed is prepped and hopefully the new raised bed parts will come this week. We are delayed because we decided to install a new fence.

      The fence presented a problem—lots of weeds and vines coming over all of our shared property lines. One in particular-the owners have moved out but haven’t sold. They pay for the lawn to be mowed, but the back half of their yard is covered in weeds and vines. This is next to the part of our yard where we are laying out our beds. My husband and I have spent probably 30+ hours cutting back the vines so that the fence company can remove the old fence. Over the years, we have spent many more hours fighting the vines. One summer after having a baby, I didn’t cut them back and they killed a lilac tree and covered some other bushes at the property line. This year, we even had a landscaper come in to grind the stumps of the more established vines. I despise these vines.
      Just a week after the fence installation, I have found the vines trying to come back. I’m so frustrated with these neighborhood. They are fine with us coming in their yard to cut the vines back, but that is just more work for us. Do any of y’all have any advice on how to keep the vines and other weeds from coming into our yard from our neighbors? No chemicals-small kids who like to eat dirt and a dog use the yard.

      1. Ali G*

        Unfortunately if your neighbors don’t also keep on top of it, you are fighting a slow, long losing battle. I know you said no spray, but if you have vines with large woody stems above ground, you can drill holes into them and spray directly into the holes (so no broadcast spraying) to kill the roots. This works! We saved 4 trees on our property this way. Also cut the vines away from the stems before you do this so those already in the tree will die too.
        If you have large patches on the ground, you can pull up as much as you can and cover the area with plastic or garden paper to smother them. But you have to be willing to leave the cover there like a year. We also did this and with continued pulling we’ve been able to keep it manageable Like your our neighbors don’t stay on top of it, so we are now mostly just fighting what is coming through the fence. It sucks.

        1. Susie*

          Thanks for this! We are going to use gardening fabric in our yard under the raised bed area, but I might see if the neighbors will let me run a sheet along the other side of the fence…
          Most of the heavy duty stumps were ground down, but I’ll keep your suggestion of drilling a hole in my back pocket.

    17. Not Australian*

      As with last year, the daffodils I planted have been a big disappointment and the crocuses vanished almost as soon as they appeared. The tulips, however, are putting on quite a show; I’m especially fond of ‘Queen of the Night’, the dark purple ones, and I have them everywhere I live – and they’ve never let me down yet.

      1. Venus*

        I think it depends on where you live as it has been near freezing here at night and the white daffodils have lasted weeks. The yellow ones haven’t bloomed yet but they don’t last as long.

    18. SpellingBee*

      Last summer I planted a bunch of pass-along irises I got from a friend, and they all survived and are happily growing! Many of them are blooming this year, which makes me very happy. My tomatoes and peppers are doing well despite the couple of cold nights we had last week; I think the fact that they’re in metal-sided raised beds may have helped (they get warmed by the sun during the day and hold the heat into the night). The green beans and lemon cucumbers have sprouted, and I think I may have some snap peas that are almost ready to pick. I’ve been working hard to get a bunch of things planted and moved before it gets too hot, but of course I had to add to my burden by going to a native plant sale last Friday and picking up a bunch of things for the meadow garden. As usual, my eyes are bigger than my shovel!

    19. Teapot Translator*

      I don’t know if anyone will see my question. I’ll repost in next week’s thread, too, just in case.
      I just saw there are mushrooms growing in my self-watering planters. :-O
      Is this bad? It it too much water? Should I change all the soil? These planters are supposed to go outside once nights are warmer.

    20. I'm A Little Teapot*

      It’s spring, and yet it snowed. And it isn’t raining enough. Hopefully it’ll start soon.

      Lots of weeds. I did a bunch of weeding last weekend and got the backyard fairly well cleared. Barely touched the front though. I also have seeds out in the grass and front bed, hopefully some of them will sprout and grow but honestly, I’m letting nature do its thing.

      I have plans to till up the a newly created bed in the backyard and then get a bunch of plants. Weather has not cooperated thus far, and now I’m busy for a week or 2.

    21. Bluebell*

      The daffodils and grape hyacinth I planted last fall are looking great, but there aren’t many tulips that survived the squirrels and bunny. I still haven’t planted seeds yet, but hope to get to it this week. I have lots of nasturtiums, marigolds, and some cosmos and zinnias.

  16. Shoeless Joe*

    I realize Ask a Manager is not known for sports fanatics, but I was really frustrated by something that happened this week and wondered if anyone else has had a similar experience. 

    I bought tickets for my dad and I to see a live Major League Baseball game next month (we are both fully vaccinated and my father, who loves going to baseball games more than anything, probably doesn’t have many years left). The other day, the team called and said they’d oversold the tickets — expecting the capacity limit in our state to be increased by now — and revoked our tickets. 

    On the face of it, that was OK, because I had misgivings about being in a big crowd and have been nervous seeing all the unmasked fans on TV. But the way the team did it bothered me immensely. They issued me a credit, not a refund, due to their error. They tried to sell me on a “pre-sale” where I’d get “priority access” for tickets later this season. When I told them anything less than a refund was unacceptable, they told me I could “apply” for one starting April 30 (with no apparent guarantee that I’ll get one).

    I want to tell this team to stick their “pre-sale” where the sun doesn’t shine (they essentially stole my money, and not a small amount), but my father told me not to be angry about this, that this is just typical corporate America, and to try for a game later this season. I might need a reality check. Taking any threat of COVID out of the equation — if you were me, what would you do in this situation?

    1. Mstr*

      Did you pay with a credit card? Can you open a dispute with them saying the tickets were not received/issued?

    2. Colette*

      I’d escalate. They sold you something they can’t deliver; you should get a refund (even if you turn around and use it to buy more tickets.

    3. Baseball Fan*

      This happened to a bunch of baseball season ticket holders last year. I believe most teams reversed course after bad publicity.

      I’d start with social media — tweet at the team and politely ask for assistance.

      If that doesn’t work, go to your credit card — explain the situation and file a charge back.

      1. bunniferous*

        YES! Twitter is the absolute best to get things resolved. Don’t forget to use hashtags too along with the team twitter account.

        1. Shoeless Joe*

          Unfortunately, I deleted my Twitter account a few months ago, because I figured out that certain aspects of Twitter just freaked the heck out of me. But Twitter does have a few positives, and that’s certainly one.

    4. CTT*

      That is really frustrating; I agree with the others to reach out on social media and to dispute the charge with your credit card company. I know they’re dealing with a lot with organizing seating amid COVID, but that is a crappy and shady business practice. (Also, if the team was the Red Sox, FSG is already in a horrible publicity cycle this week with the Liverpool/European Super League kerfuffle, so all the more reason to go on social media with it).

    5. Blue Eagle*

      Disclaimer – hubs and I are sports fans. Yes, this is a frustrating situation but if I were you my questions would be – do I plan to take my Dad to another MLB game this season? If no, then OK, I get that you want your money back.
      If yes, then why are your panties in a knot? Just use the credit for the next game. Heck, our university asked us to defer the money we paid for 2020 season football tickets to the 2021 season rather than refunding it to us and we did so.
      Plus, do you ever want to buy tickets from them again? Do you think that telling them to “stick it where the sun don’t shine” will get them to say “oh, so sorry Joe, we’ll get the money back to you immediately” or will they say “ok Joe, you are now on our ‘in the future do not sell to this guy’ list”.

      1. Shoeless Joe*

        I think that’s a pretty unkind response, honestly, but I realize now that I left out an important detail as to why my “panties are in a knot.” The team pulled this same trick in 2020, I asked for a refund, and after weeks of telephone tag I never got it. The credit was instead carried over to this season. To answer your question, either outcome you mention would be acceptable to me.

        Re: a charge back, I already paid the bill this charge appeared on, so not sure it’s still disputable. Also, the credit card company is a major sponsor of Major League Baseball so I assume the company is on board with this. But I am willing to try it anyway if I’m not approved for a refund.

        1. pancakes*

          You should still be able to dispute the charge, since you didn’t receive what you paid for. I’d start there.

          I’m not following your dad’s logic that typical = not a worthy thing to be angry about. If anything, it’s more angering that something irritatingly unfair and one-sided is expected to be endured without complaint.

          1. Shoeless Joe*

            My father has had real problems with anger management through his life. To his great credit, he’s worked hard on it over the years and it’s no longer an issue. In cases like this, he might have overcorrected too far! But on the other hand, rereading the tone of my post and my initial response to Blue Eagle, maybe it’s passed on to me. Something for me to think about…

            1. pancakes*

              Ah, that makes sense. I’d be angry about this too, though, especially if it had happened before.

        2. The Other Dawn*

          Check what the dispute timeframe is. It’s usually on the back of the statement. If I remember correctly, it typically says you have 45-60 days after you receive the bill to dispute the charge, regardless of whether you paid it or not.

          1. Shoeless Joe*

            Thank you. I’ll take a look at the dispute timeframe and see what it says. I guess I’ve been pretty lucky so far in my life — have never really disputed any charges.

        3. Blue Eagle*

          Ah, your reaction makes more sense now. If the team pulled a fast one on you last year and then did it again this year I’d be super frustrated too. And while not necessarily changing my answer about it, I would definitely have been more kind in my response. My apologies!

          1. Shoeless Joe*

            No worries! That was an important detail to leave out, and I did ask for a reality check…

        4. Lawyer But Not That Kind of Lawyer*

          Look at the laws in the country you are located. In the UK and Canada there are laws regarding getting a refund back on your credit card if “the goods or services were not rendered”. You bought tickets for a specific date, they are unable to allow you to attend for the specific date. The services were not rendered. You did not by a lifetime investment into tickets to the game at some point into the future. File a refund request with your credit card. First step they will ask is if you tried to reach out to them, you did, they stalled. Note, the postponed date by the team may make it so that you may miss the allowed deadline to request this type of refund by your credit card company. I have had to do this twice when I was getting jerked around on a refund by a company. (Once in the UK, and once in Canada)

      2. Observer*

        If yes, then why are your panties in a knot?

        Because the team has no business trying to force the issue. The customer gets to decide if and when they want a ticket, NOT the team.

        or will they say “ok Joe, you are now on our ‘in the future do not sell to this guy’ list”.

        Puleeze. Unless Shoeless actually threatens someone or does something equally ridiculous, the team is NOT going to ban them. If they did that, it would an forced error with the potential for a really bad PR backlash.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      I agree with others to take to social media and if it’s not fixed, dispute the charge with the credit card company/bank.

      This now has me wondering about a concert I have planned for July. It was rescheduled from last August. I’m traveling out of state for it to Hershey, PA, and right now there are capacity limits. If those are still in place AND the tour still happens, I have no idea how they will chose which ticketholders can attend and which ones can’t. And for those they say can’t attend, do people get a refund? A future credit? Good question.

    7. Llellayena*

      Check elliott dot org. They have guidelines on how to pursue companies for refunds when they’re being stubborn. I’m not sure you’ll have much luck with a chargeback though, the time to request might be past (depending how recently you bought the tickets) and part of it is that you need to try to resolve with the company first. You’re probably better off appealing to someone higher up the food chain. Honestly though, if you do plan to go to a game later in the season and don’t need the money to cover bills or something in the interim, I’d probably let them do the credit. I might pursue a refund if you’re not planning to go back until next season, but short term should be ok.

      1. Decidedly Me*

        Chargebacks are frequently successful, usually unfairly so (not saying it’s unfair here!). I’ve responded to chargebacks for companies, have shown multiple pieces of proof that the chargeback is invalid, and the bank/card still sides with the customer (who is their customer, of course). Trying to resolve it with the company first is needed, but no one enforces that.

    8. CatCat*

      If a refund is what you want, go through the normal customer service channels to dispute. Go ahead and “apply for a refund” on April 30.

      If the refund does not happen, you’ve basically done all you can through normal channels. Time for an Executive Email Carpet Bomb to get help higher up the chain. Here’s an article about what it is and how to do it: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/05/your-money/the-best-consumer-self-advocacy-tool-youve-never-used.html?referringSource=articleShare

      I’ve had to do it exactly once in my life and it 100% worked.

      1. PersephoneUnderground*

        I wouldn’t wait on their timeline if it might take you outside the window for a chargeback though. In fact the cynic in me wonders if the refund process is designed to drag things out for just that purpose, to make it too late to dispute. Just do the chargeback now, you already tried to address it with the company plenty.

    9. LQ*

      Honestly, I’d take the pre-sale. I’d maybe even try for a soft sell about this is about taking my father to a game and how the last year has shown you that he may not have that many left and it’s really important to get a gauranteed seat.

      I think part of this is how much fight do you have in you? If you’ve got a lot? Escalate it, fight it but don’t walk away. If you don’t have a lot, take the pre-sale.

      Is it about being right? Or getting to see a game with your dad? (And it’s ok to say it’s about doing what’s right and you’re going to take your dad to a minor league game or drive somewhere instead!)

    10. Artemesia*

      When my flights to Paris were cancelled a year ago it took a lot of aggressive action on my part to finally get refunded. Once they have your money they will do all they can to keep it even if they are not providing the service. Keep bugging them.

    11. Dumpster Fire*

      I’d contact the team and see if you can make a deal – that you won’t splash their bad business practices all over social media if they’ll provide you with BETTER seats than you had originally purchased, maybe on or about Father’s Day, and perhaps some team swag for good measure. If that doesn’t work, maybe tweet at your dad’s favorite player and tell him what happened, tagging the team and MLB for good measure.

    12. miyeritari*

      i don’t think there’s any reason to get angry at the person talking to you – they didn’t make the rule, and they just work there. you can say politely that you think this is unfair, because it is, and they can take that to their boss, but getting angry at the person on the phone doesn’t really do anything for you OR the person on the phone.

      i think this system sucks and you’ve got a right to be pissed, but being the cynic that i am, and having been buying baseball tickets for 15 years, it is not at all a surprise to me that they were shitty to you about it. (i find that sporting events are notoriously shitty with refunds in my experience.)

      since i typically attend 20-30 games year myself, i would just be like “this sucks but i will just get some tickets for later.”

      i don’t think you’re in the wrong for looking for a refund. if you’re looking to get your money back you can:
      1) apply for a refund with their policy. you might win, you might lose.
      2) chargeback/dispute with your credit card. (i deal with these at work a lot.) you have a pretty good chance to win, but there’s always a possibility that the team no longer accepts that payment method becuase there’s a dispute lodged on it. also, while you do have a strong (70% in my professional experience) chance to win, getting the money back can take 3-4 months.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I tried tempeh this week. Not a big fan. I also tried extra-firm tofu again and I think it’s just not for me? Next time I buy tofu, I’ll buy the firm kind.
      Do you have easy recipes to recommend for tofu? I’m particularly looking for recipes where I cook the vegetables and the tofu together because I’m trying to increase how much vegetables I eat and it’s easier to add noodles, pasta or rice after than vegetables.
      I did see a recipe for ramen, but it’s a long recipe and I don’t have the bandwidth right now.

      1. mreasy*

        Hi! With tempeh, it is vastly improved by marinating or cooking in a sauce for 30 minutes or so – or it does keep a lot of bitterness. (I love to marinate in soy then pan-fry, or I put it in stews – though not great with tomato in my experience.) my favorite tofu use is to press it, slice it up, marinate, spray or brush with olive oil, then bake, as its relatively low-maintenance but gives it a much more appealing texture (pan-frying also great of course, like frying always is I guess). Cooks Illustrated had a great tofu stir fry recipe that had you press, cube, then coat the cubes with cornstarch before pan frying in the hot oil on all sides – very crispy edges in that style that were tasty. In general I like to cook the tofu by itself before the veg for a stirfry to avoid it soaking up too much moisture from the veggies. Good luck.

      2. Teatime is Goodtime*

        What kind of tempeh did you try? I disliked the black bean one (super funky), but liked white bean and lupin. I don’t remember what I thought of the soybean one.

        1. Teatime is Goodtime*

          By coincidence we had some soybean tempeh this evening: it was good! Though I think I like lupin or white bean better, they had a better texture.

        2. Teapot Translator*

          I think I had one with red peppers? Next time I go to the organic store, I’ll see if they have other types. My local supermarket doesn’t have a lot of choice.

      3. Ali G*

        If you press the tofu for a while to dry it out and then cut it into chunks, you can just roast it along with a bunch of veggies. I would do broccoli, small potatoes, and onion.

        1. Marillenbaum*

          I also like to dust the chopped tofu with cornstarch, spices, and a little bit of oil–it gets beautifully crispy in the oven, even if it’s on the same sheet pan as the vegetables!

          1. pancakes*

            A light dusting of cornstarch is very good this way. It also helps make chopped and roasted sweet potato crispy.

      4. crookedglasses*

        For the best texture on tofu, I’d cook it and the veggies separately. If you cook them together, they’ll just end up steaming each other.

        I usually slice up the tofu into pieces that are ~1/2″ thick and quickly press the water out. Then I cook over med-high heat until each side is golden brown.

        I pull the tofu out, set it on a plate, and then cook the veggies. I’ll toss the tofu back in when I’m ready to sauce/season towards the end. (You could flip the order on those to cook the veggies first and then the tofu, and that would be fine too.)

        So far as recipes go, I’ve been making some spring rolls lately! I make mine with fried tofu, cucumbers, carrots, and cilantro along with bean thread noodles. They come together pretty quickly, but it would go even faster if you pre-gamed slicing up some veggies and frying up the tofu.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          That’s what the recipe I followed said to do! Cook tofu, take it out, cook veggies, put tofu back in at the end.
          This falls in the “cook everything together” category. Then, I just use some rice or noodles to complete the meal.

      5. violet04*

        I’ve seen tofu recipes on Pinch of Yum, but haven’t tried any myself. I want to because I would like to incorporate more meatless meals into my recipe rotation.

      6. AcademiaNut*

        I like tofu, but the extra firm stuff is my least favourite variety – I find it kind of rubbery.

        My favourite tofu recipes are ones that cook tofu as tofu, rather than using it as a meat substitute, so leaning towards East Asian recipes, where tofu is a normal ingredient, not a meat substitute. The silken tofu is very good in soups – I did an egg drop soup recently with chicken broth, tomato wedges, leafy greens, green onion, ginger, soy sauce, cubed silken tofu, and the egg. Kimchi stew with silken tofu and cabbage and thinly sliced pork. Miso soup with vegetables and silken tofu. Chanpuru is an Okinawan stirfry with vegetables, meat and tofu – the version with bitter melon and spam is excellent.

        There’s a Japanese vegetable preparation called shiraee, in which medium tofu is pressed to remove some of the liquid, mashed with ground sesame seeds, miso and ginger, and used as a sauce for lightly cooked vegetables. It’s delicious!

        One of my favourite easy and vegetable/tofu heavy meals is hot pot. You can buy a table-top unit with gas canisters, or assemble it on the stove and cook all together. Heat the broth, then cook thinly sliced meat, cubed tofu, mushrooms, whatever vegetables you want (cabbage, sliced carrots, corn on the cob sections, baby corn, green beans, snow peas, broccoli, leafy greens, daikon, onion, green onion, tomatoes), dumplings, fishpaste, etc. When they’re cooked fish them out, dip in sauce and eat. You can drink some of the flavour soaked broth at the end, or cook noodles (udon, ramen) in it to finish. There are lots of broth options from simple (water or a light broth), to complex (mala hot pot), and it’s a great way to use up random vegetables at the end of the week, with minimal effort or cleanup.

      7. Emma2*

        If you want something super fast – you could buy smoked tofu. It is essentially pre-flavoured (flavouring can differ a lot between brands – some I like, some I hate). Roast the tofu spread out on a tray with veg, and then serve with a base of lettuce, quinoa, or something else and top with a dressing (I often use the ginger lemon tahini dressing from Minimalist Baker).
        My current favourite tofu dish is an Indonesian recipe, but is not an all-in-one dish, but is something I will prep then use during the week. While this may sound a bit involved – it is really a matter of quickly processing some ingredients the popping everything in a pan that you just need to check on every now and then – it does not take a lot of active engagement; I will get it going then leave it on the stove while I do other things.
        You extract 1 t tamarind pulp in 3 T warm water. After 10-15 minutes, pour the mixture through sieve and press to extract all the pulp.
        Grind 2 T coriander seeds. Then process ground coriander with tamarind extract, 2 cloves garlic, 2 chopped shallots, about 1-inch of galangal, sliced (or sub a smaller amount of ginger), 2 T kecap manis (you can find suggested subs online), 2 T palm sugar (or sub dark brown sugar – probably use a bit less for brown sugar as it is likely to have finer crystals); 1 c water. You want the mixture to be fairly well pureed.
        Put the marinade in a large sauté pan; add 1 lb tofu (I cut the tofu into large pieces about 1/2 inch thick). Bring to a simmer, reduce heat and simmer gently, uncovered. Turn the tofu from time to time so both sides get well-marinaded. Let it simmer for 30-45 minutes until there is no liquid left. As you get towards the end, keep an eye on it so the tofu does not stick to the pan. This is the point at which I stop – I let the tofu cool then pop it in containers in the fridge.
        When you want to serve the tofu, either deep fry or pan fry it so the sides get crispy.
        I usually serve with a rice and one or more veg dishes, but this tofu could also be used in sandwiches (have not done it yet, but I think this would work really well in banh mi), and would go well in a stir fry with veg and noodles.

    2. Lilo*

      I’ve been making a lot of muffins because my picky 2 year old seems to prefer things in muffin form.

      I’m trying to find good crispy veggies recipes. He’s also in a heavy crispy/texture phase.

      1. HannahS*

        Smitten Kitchen has a lot of shallow-fried fritter recipes, from when her kid was in a similar phase.

      2. Joan Rivers*

        Also, you can bake meatloaf in a muffin tin. And probably a lot of other things, including macncheese or scalloped potatoes. The size probably is nice for a kid.

        1. DarthVelma*

          I have done this. Several years back I did a meal for my partner’s birthday where everything was in cupcake form. Meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato “frosting”. Mac and cheese cupcakes. And key lime cupcakes with key lime cream cheese frosting for dessert. And yes, I tinted the mashed potatoes bright green to match the key lime frosting on the actual cupcakes.

          Everything is better in cupcake form. :-)

      3. Teatime is Goodtime*

        Ahhh two year olds… I’m lucky that mine is great with food in general, but shape and especially dish-type seems to be important at the moment, too. But that’s a moving target, so like today will be bowls and then tomorrow it has to be that plate (and only that plate) and then the next day the fruit needs to be uncut and the day after that cut AND peeled…

        1. Lilo*

          His old favorites also get rejected, like meatballs and quesadillas, both of which I hid spinach in previously. It’s also so hard not to give in at dinner because you’re already so darn tired by then.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            I have Esther Brody’s 500 Best Muffin Recipes. (Won in a raffle years ago.) It includes both sweet & savory muffins, including ones with vegetables in them. It’s a great book if you’re looking for a wide variety of muffins.

            I still love muffins as much as I did when I was 2, & I’m middle-aged now. (I prefer bready traditional muffins to cakey coffeeshop muffins.)

    3. Texan In Exile*

      I have a huge deadline at work that depends on VPs reviewing and approving my materials and I have never met them and we got them the materials late because this is the first time we have done this thing and they haven’t responded and if they don’t like it we won’t have time to re-work and I’m not sleeping well and I got up at 6:00 a.m. after being awake since 4:00 a.m. and thought I might as well make chocolate cake and hey why don’t I use this bag of coconut flour that we got for $1 from the bargain counter at Fleet Farm two years ago and I am just going to proceed on my merry way without checking to see if coconut flour is different from wheat flour in any way.

      TLDR For every one cup of wheat flour, you’re supposed to use only 1/3 cup of coconut flour.

      So I had chocolate – something. But it tastes great with ice cream.

    4. Ali G*

      Tonight I am making clams with a spicy lamb sausage sauce. I don’t like pork (except for bacon and the occasional loin) so my husband doesn’t get sausage. The lamb is a compromise! I am going to make garlic butter to slather French bread for dipping.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I’m sauteeing a lamb chop in garlic and rosemary w/leftover Au Gratin Potatoes w/Carrots, Onions, and Fat Pea Pods. Very soupy dish.

    5. violet04*

      I made some good recipes this week! I don’t love to cook, but I’m glad I made myself do some meal planning for the week.

      Spaghetti with hidden vegetable pasta sauce – Budget Bytes
      Sweet potato corn and black bean tacos – Cooking Classy
      Thai pork salad – Budget Bytes – although I use ground turkey instead of pork

      One day, my husband spotted a Cousins Maine Lobster food trunk in our town and we treated ourselves to some yummy lobster rolls.

      It’s going to be warm next week, so I’m going to look for things to grill.

    6. Princess Deviant*

      I made the most amazing BBQ jackfruit. It was delicious the next day also in a toasted sandwich with vegan mayo. Definitely making it again.
      I’ve also discovered a vegan chocolate mug cake, in the microwave. It takes less than 2 minutes to cook… Which is both good and bad!

    7. MsChanandlerBong*

      I’m a bit disappointed with a new Delish recipe I tried last night. You take chicken breasts, cut several slits in them, and fill the slits with a mixture of cream cheese, artichokes, spinach, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, then add a little bit of bacon and top with mozzarella. I had high hopes, but the dish was extremely underwhelming. The first problem is that the mozzarella got really brown and melted into one piece that fell off the chicken as soon as you cut into it. The second problem is that the flavor was very uneven. If you managed to get a bite with the spinach filling, it was okay (although still quite bland); otherwise, it lacked flavor and was just a disappointment overall. If I made it again, I would brush the mixture all over the chicken instead of just cutting slits and putting the filling in them, and I would also add the mozzarella 15 minutes or so before the end of the cook time so it didn’t get all brown and stuck together. I would probably also add garlic to the filling for a little more flavor.

      This week’s menu is roasted chicken, taco salad, honey mustard chicken, Santa Fe chicken, honey-brushed cumin chicken, and oven-fried chicken with various side dishes (mashed sweet potatoes, brown rice, roasted carrots, etc.). I’ve made all of them before, so at least I know we like them!

    8. Chantel*

      Crockpot minestrone soup, and vegan sloppy joes using red lentils as the base!

      Plus two salads: cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions, marinated in a vingegary dressing, and which I could eat all day; and a mayo-less cole slaw with red and green cabbages, green pepper, onion, vinegar-based dressing, to which I add bleu cheese crumbles for tang.

      1. Ethyl*

        Ooh I haven’t made lentil sloppy joes in forever and now I think I absolutely must do so as soon as possible.

  17. Birthday gift*

    What is your favorite birthday gift you’ve bought for yourself?

    I usually like to treat myself to something small but not really drawn to anything this year

    1. Lilo*

      I got myself a subscription to a chocolate and a book box. I might consider something like that, one of those boxes where you get something. It takes some of the mental selection energy off of you and it usuallycomes nicely wrapped. The downside is not all the books were really great or they might send you something you already have.

      1. Mary Lynne*

        I just discovered subscription boxes – I love them! Every possible budget and every possible topic or kind. Chocolate, science fiction, gardening, crafts, international or regional snacks, decorative, learning, inspirational, and thousands 0f “self care” – beauty, lotions, candles, etc in fun curated little boxes. Many are a good value compared to if you got the items yourself, and you can get just one box to see if it’s for you. Most are a little cheaper per box if you subscribe for a period of time. Cratejoy has thousands to look at. Since they’ve gotten popular there are some sketchy ones that have popped up so look at reviews and see how long they’ve been around. Whatever you do, I hope you treat yourself and have fun!

      2. MissCoco*

        Sticker subscription for me! So silly and unnecessary, but pretty affordable, and it turns out my inner child was absolutely delighted by an envelope of stickers and stationery every month! I did it for not quite a year, but just the other day was fondly flipping through my little collection to add to a note for a friend.

        If there is some small thing that always makes you grin, I highly recommend finding a subscription box for it.

    2. Blue Eagle*

      Last year I took my stimulus money and bought a stand-up paddleboard that I used all last summer. I’m grateful that someone asked the question on this forum last June and reported their satisfaction with the SUP they purchased. I purchased the same SUP and had a blast last summer. Happy Birthday!

    3. Pregnant during COVID*

      A splurge-y brand of skincare products to celebrate a milestone birthday (and hopefully ward off future signs of aging, ha!). It feels so luxe using them every day.

    4. bunniferous*

      I bought myself one of those Instant Pot blenders that both blend AND cook (they heat too!) You can make soups in them! I love kitchen gadgets!

    5. Skeeder Jones*

      Some years I’ve bought some fancy chocolate, other years I’ve bought some jewelry or art off of Etsy. I love to buy from Etsy because then I get something unique and I get to support working artists. Since I’m moving soon, I went the chocolate route this year since that disappears as I eat it and I don’t have to pack it!

    6. twocents*

      This may sound ridiculous, but my birthday is in the summer. I go to the state fair, early in the morning before it’s crowded. and enjoy a coffee and a giant chocolate chip pancake. It’s oddly soothing to just be quietly outside with a treat I never otherwise eat.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        It doesn’t sound odd to me at all. In non covid times, a favorite thing is to go to the beach and walk along the docks with a soft serve ice cream but I just don’t want any place else.

    7. Happy Birthday!*

      When I turned 35 I went to a bookstore and bought all the children’s books I had loved that somehow had disappeared over the years. I still have them and read them every year and it’s a joy.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I’ve been gathering and re-reading childhood favorites, too. And as a bonus, I’ve discovered some I missed out on during my first childhood.

    8. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’m a fan of giving myself experiences in nature for my birthday. Except for one year with a scheduling challenge, for many years I’ve spent my birthdays traveling to a beautiful national or state park, usually deliberately alone. One year I booked myself a stay at the historic lodge at Mt. Rainier, other times I’ve camped in the California redwoods, etc.

    9. allathian*

      I usually buy myself some luxury chocolate for my birthday. In the shopping mall near my office, there’s a chocolatier who makes handmade chocolates. Next year I’m getting some of those for my 50th birthday.

    10. Squidhead*

      Some retro bowls from eBay! They’re a discontinued pattern and shape I really like, and I saw them in a thrift shop and passed them up and have since regretted it. They weren’t expensive, and now they are our go-to ice cream bowls. (P.S. Happy Birthday OP, whenever it rolls around!)

  18. Sled dog mama*

    So I happened to scroll all the way down the page and as I was scrolling back up it caught my eye that Alison has 79 posts in the “The Plague” category.
    Anyone else astonished at how low that seems?

    1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Now that you mention it, yeah. It feels like I’ve seen little else in the last year.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        I wonder if maybe there were some posts that could have had the tag but for whatever reason it wasn’t added to them?

    2. AnonInCanada*

      Let’s hope we won’t see too many more plague posts. I’m sure we’ve all heard enough of them. And please get vaccinated the moment you get your chance to. That’ll end this once and for all once we reach herd immunity and we can go back to doing the things we enjoy.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ll bet that items with that #are from early 2020, before we accustomed to life with pandemic.

    4. Kiwiapple*

      The majority of covid q’s are in the 5 question posts OR open threads which aren’t tagged.
      I wish they weren’t tagged with ‘the plague’ personally but ‘covid’ but it’s not my blog.

  19. mreasy*

    Has anyone successfully treated female hair loss? I think my hair is thinning in the front, though I am not 100% sure, and most of the treatments seem like expensive scams. Minoxidil seems like the only real option but it sounds like you can never stop once you start using it? Any stories or suggestions are very welcome.

    1. mreasy*

      I recognize the irony of this post in the context of saying that I have liked aging up above, but it’s true! Lol

      1. ....*

        lol well you can like being older and not want thinning hair! I think minodoxil or whatever it’s called has the most clinical studies to actually back it up.

    2. Dwight Schrute*

      Stuff You Should Know did a recent episode on hair loss and they talk about treatments! Might be worth a listen

    3. Frankie Derwent*

      Same but I think mine is due to PCOS. Exercise is supposed to help since it lowers the testosterone levels but I can’t really tell. I just sort of accepted that my hair is definitely thinner an my hairline has receded a bit (and I’m not even 30!). I’ve decided to avoid rebond, perms and heat-treatment as much as I can.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I asked a similar question a month or two ago and here’s some of the suggestions people had:

      Supplements – vitamin D, biotin, collagen (takes a long time to see results and likely to only help if your hair loss is due to a deficiency, although it won’t hurt)

      Doctor – potential issues are genetic, thyroid, iron deficiency, PCOS (good to catch underlying causes sooner rather than later)

      You do have to continue taking Rogaine to maintain results, and some people said you end up with pretty wispy, different texture hair than what you naturally grow

    5. Yellow Warbler*

      I tracked my hair thinning around the forehead to tretinoin use. Turns out it both increases vellus hairs (on the cheeks, upper lip, and jaw) and thins the actual head hair at the same time.

        1. Yellow Warbler*

          I have gotten diligent about slugging my eyebrows and hairline, and about “centering” the tret more and keeping it away from the edges. It is known to spread, so hopefully it will still give good coverage over time. Too soon to tell if it’s helping.

    6. Tbubui*

      I started experiencing female hair loss 4 years ago, when I was 20. I finally got an appointment with a dermatologist (love Canadian wait times for healthcare) and she put me on spironolactone. It’s technically a blood pressure medication but it’s not that effective for blood pressure management (per my dermatologist). However, one of the off-label uses is for female hair loss. I’ve been taking it for six months and my hair loss has dramatically improved. I’m not shedding a million hairs a day and I’m actually experiencing new growth and hair thickness.

      Most hair loss treatments do require continuous use, both for men and women. Once you start a course of treatment, you do have to stay on it. That’s true for spironolactone as well as Minoxidil.

      Obviously you should talk to a doctor about this since they’ll be able to walk you through some options and work with you to see what course of treatment is appropriate for you.

    7. MissCoco*

      My mother uses minoxidil, has had great results, and regrets not starting it sooner.
      She likes the style you drop onto your scalp (not the mousse), and buys the men’s concentration from Costco.
      You can stop using it, it’s just that your hair loss will re-start. I don’t know of any curative treatments for hair loss aside from I guess hair plugs? Or treating underlying causes if hair loss is related to other health conditions.

      For probably the first year, it was quite noticeable if she stopped for more than a few days, but now she’s been using it a few years and regained an impressive amount of thickness, so she can stop for a week or two without any noticeable loss, more than that and she does have to start parting her hair strategically.

    8. WS*

      The first thing to do is get a medical checkup. Hair loss in women can be just genetics and bad luck, but it can also be an early sign of medical problems. I lost a lot of hair with hypothyroidism – I didn’t really notice at the time because I was so sick that it was the least of my concerns, but looking back at photos, it’s really visible.

    9. Anon for this one*

      ask your dermatologist about taking spironolactone (aldactone is the brand name)! it’s worked well for me! I take 100 mg per day and it’s definitely increased my growth and stopped me from losing more hair.

  20. FD*

    One small ray of sunshine in all this is that I’ve been learning new skills this last year. My dad’s been teaching me some basic woodworking and I’ve been slooooowly learning to sew.

    I just dropped my sewing machine–an absolute BEAST, a Sears Kenmore from the early 60s that I swear must weigh 50 pounds and that I got from Goodwill for $6.99–off at the repair shop to have the zig-zag stitch fixed.

    Have you learned any new skills? If so, what have you learned and what have you made with the new skill?

    1. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Sewing on a serger! I’ve done quilts on a normal sewing machine, so although I knew some about sewing already, this was a bit of a learning curve. I’m seeing mainly jersey fabrics at the moment, so stretchy stuff that’s harder (but not impossible) to sew on a normal sewing machine. I’ve done lots of baby and toddler pants, covered rocking chair cushions and I’m on to tshirts for me and my child at the moment. It’s fun, though I tend to think things should take a shorter amount of time than they do.

      I also started a sourdough culture which has been fun but also sometimes a bit frustrating. I need to do a lot more work, which means eating a lot of bread… Shucks.

      I’d love to learn woodworking! Alas I do not have the space or time for it right now, but someday…

    2. Texan In Exile*

      I got my Singer out last weekend! My dad gave it to my mom as a wedding present in 1963. It still works.

    3. Elf*

      I managed to snag a used trumpet and violin, and am teaching myself both! We’ve also started making all our own yogurt (we go through about a gallon a week).

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I mentioned above on the “new obsessions” thread, but I’m learning more embroidery and also doing a lot of mending. My most ambitious project so far is going to be embellishing a plain tank top using a vintage embroidery pattern from the 1880s (ferns and flowers)!

      I also tried making a bookshelf nook that has kind of been more trouble than it’s worth. I wanted to include a battery-operated light fixture but the first one I ordered got canceled after a month of “in transit” and the second ended up being wired so I had to return it. Still looking for a third option so I can finish it!

      1. FD*

        That’s really cool! I find embroidery painful due to a shoulder problem; one of these days, I might see if I can build myself a rig to hold it up at a better angle for my particular body.

    5. Imprudence*

      I’m teaching myself calligraphy. Not sure why, but the intense focus needed, which I can sustain for about 20 minutes, is a welcome distraction from every day worries.

    6. Squeebird*

      I enrolled in an ASL course over Zoom. I probably wouldn’t have traveled to the neighbouring city to take it in person, so I do file it under the “things I would not have done if COVID wasn’t a thing”!

    7. Skeeder Jones*

      I learned paper quilling, something I’d been wanting to try for a long time and it was much easier than I expected. I also reached deep into my past and pulled out some embroidery skills from 7th grade. I have been making my own wall art and I love it. What I like about embroidery is that it doesn’t take up a ton of space and I can work on projects from anywhere.

    8. Colette*

      I’ve learned to build online escape rooms (out of necessity – one of the major fundraisers for my Girl Guide travel group is escape rooms, and we can’t do them in person any more!) And I did a bunch of online paint Nite-type events earlier in the pandemic. I got a ukulele kit for Christmas, and I had a great time painting it but haven’t actually learned to play.

    9. Bubble Teacher*

      I learned to knit socks and I’m trying to learn Gaelic. Should I ever pull an Outlander and get pulled back to 1740s Scotland, I will be prepared (j/k).

  21. nep*

    Best balsamic vinegar for salads?
    I’ve never had balsamic vinegar. I’m intrigued and I’d like to try a few different kinds (and decrease the olive oil I consume–currently I use lime + olive oil on salad). I’m not sure I’d like it, but I want to try.
    What balsamic vinegar do you like? How do you use it?

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I don’t know much about balsamic vinegar.
      My only recommendation is start small. The taste is stronger than lime and sometimes I overshoot and start coughing while eating my salad.

      1. nep*

        Good advice. Esp since I’m not used to eating any kind of vinegar…though I probably should work some in.

    2. nep*

      (Or now that I think about it, I guess the general use is balsamic with some oil for a salad–not on its own…)

      1. sagewhiz*

        Balsamic vinegar, like wine, can be very, very! expensive—the upper-priced ones are often used in desserts (as in topping strawberries). And yes, the vinegar is paired with a good olive oil for vignettes. Having tried numerous brands, my fave is Gia Russa Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, an Italian import. Since I don’t shop gourmet groceries, I know it should be readily available here in the States.

        1. nep*

          Thanks. Yeah, I was really getting things mixed up. For salad dressing balsamic would be an ingredient, not standalone.
          I have noticed (looking online) that the good stuff is pricey.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      How about flavored vinegars? You could totally eliminate the oil if you wanted to. Lots of specialty food stores, both in-person and online, sell them. You can also combine flavors. Last summer when I visited my cousin in PA we went to a shop that sells nothing but cooking oil and flavored vinegars. They suggested buying the pineapple vinegar and the coconut vinegar and then combining them to make a pina colada-type flavor. I did and it’s delicious. I use them for grilling chicken mostly.

      1. Kathenus*

        Totally seconding this – there’s a store near me called Vom Fass that has an amazing array of oils, vinegars, spirits, and some specialty food items. You can taste any of the oils and vinegars on site. I like things on the tart side so my two favorites, at the moment, are the pomegranate and passion fruit balsamics. I sometimes use them as salad dressing just on their own. For the oils, the lemon infused olive oil is amazing.

    4. pancakes*

      Avoid cheap brands, which are browned with sugar rather than aging. I’m really fond of the ones from Fiore in Maine, but otherwise mostly prefer a good Spanish sherry vinegar.

      1. nep*

        Thanks–that’s what I’ve seen. Look for grape must as first ingredient, and avoid ‘caramel color.’

    5. GoryDetails*

      I love balsamic vinegar! But, yeah, there are lots of different styles, not all suitable for the same purposes. I admit to keeping some inexpensive supermarket brands around for cooking – Pompeiian, I think, is my current one; I use it for mixing up salad dressing or marinades. But my favorite style is the high-end aged, syrupy version – which is pricey, but you only need a little at a time. Might be a good item to put on a wishlist for special-occasion gifts if you don’t want to spring for it yourself? I was gifted a little jug by good friends, and used it to drizzle over avocados or strawberries or thin slices of a good Parmesan cheese… marvelous!

      If you just want to try some, you might see if you have any local shops that offer tastings; local wine shops near me have offered tastings for varieties of olive oils and vinegars as well as wines.

    6. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I buy the store brand organic balsamic. I mainly use it to make salad dressings. ( about 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/6 cup canola oil, 1/6 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp dried parsley or a little more if using fresh, 1/2 Tb real maple syrup-I use a cruet from Good Seasonings that has markings so I don’t really measure) this dressing is good on salads and also makes a great marinade for grilling shrimp, veggies, chicken and beef.

      Also adding a splash onto roasted veggies is really good.

    7. ThatGirl*

      Just a note, fat (aka oil) in your dressing helps you absorb the nutrients from the veggies! So you may want to reduce your dressing overall but I don’t think just plain vinegar is the best idea either taste or nutrition wise.

      1. Reba*

        I tell myself that olive oil is so good for you that it doesn’t count as a fat. (Also we need fat to live!)

        We keep a big jug of basic EVOO for cooking with or making dressings, and also buy smaller “splurge” ones for when we are really going to taste it, like for drizzling on things or dipping bread.

    8. lemon meringue*

      I like flavoured white balsamic vinegars. I used to live close to a fancy olive oil and balsamic vinegar shop, and it was the best. You could get all kinds of different flavours. I think the honey and ginger white balsamic was my favourite.

    9. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I like Lucini or Colavita balsamic vinegar, as far as supermarket brands. The higher end stuff is honestly lost on me. I’m come to prefer a good sherry vinegar after buying some for gazpacho. It’s a bit more subtle and less astringent than balsamic to my taste.

    10. Sopranistin*

      My favorite is from Napa Valley Naturals. It’s very thick and on the sweet side.
      I make a basic 3-2-1 salad dressing. 3 parts vinegar, 2 parts dijon mustard, 1 part maple syrup. Usually I cut it with some water.

    11. Not Australian*

      I found out (when I needed some in a hurry!) that you can actually make your own. I found a recipe online, and it was surprisingly easy – IIRC just ordinary vinegar and brown sugar heated together. You could maybe experiment with different recipes, and you don;t have to commit to a large quantity.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Just to be pedantic for a second, that may mimic the taste of balsamic vinegar but it’s not even close to the real stuff, which has a designation of origin label and can be very expensive.

  22. Blue Eagle*

    Reading thread
    What are you reading this week?
    I just finished Parnassus on Wheels that Alison recommended two weeks ago. A great read – and to quote one review from my local library’s website “C’mon, if someone showed up on your doorstep with a traveling wagon full of books, pulled by a horse named Pegasus, I bet you’d go too.” Although I was a little disappointed that the heroine didn’t go on a longer adventure in the traveling bookstore, but given that the book was written in 1915 – what can you expect. The interesting thing on the library’s copy of the book is that it was printed in 1955 and was gifted to the library in 1996. Usually they do not accept any gift items.
    Perhaps the only reason the library accepted this gift is because the book was about books?

    1. nep*

      Picked up Martha Gellhorn’s The Face of War from the library, but I’ve not started it yet.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I’m reading No Man’s Land, the fourth book in David Baldacci’s John Puller series.

      I read this week that Robert McCammon just finished writing the next book in the Matthew Corbett series. I’m so excited for the next book, but I’m guessing it will take a while to be published (I have no idea how long that takes). It’s been so long since the last book, I can’t remember what happened so I’ll have to refresh my memory before the new one.

    3. bassclefchick*

      I just finished Romancing Mr. Bridgerton (Colin’s book). Now I’ve started Lover Unveiled (Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward). Clearly, I have varied tastes. I’m beyond excited for Go Tell the Bees I am Gone – the next Outlander book. But I have to wait until November for that one.

    4. WellRed*

      I’m trying to get into the latest VI Warshaski novel but it’s a bit shouty. The author introduced a niece in a recent book and brought her back and she’s annoying and emotional.

    5. Dr. Doll*

      Finally read “A Gentleman in Moscow” and found the Count equally delightful and exasperating, which seems to be how everyone else experienced him too, including his closest friends. For my other life I just picked up “Creating Wicked Students” which has a refreshingly non-eduspik tone.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        A Gentleman in Moscow has been on my nightstand for months now…Thanks for the reminder!

      2. Marillenbaum*

        I adore A Gentleman in Moscow! Genuinely one of my favorites, and one thing I’m looking forward to in winter (ages away, I know) is searching out a recipe for the Latvian stew.

      3. Workerbee*

        I was inspired to pick up Gentleman, and I am loving it so far! Thanks for mentioning it, I don’t know if I would have come across it otherwise.

    6. GoryDetails*

      Lots of reading, as usual; some notable titles include:

      FIVE FORGET MOTHER’S DAY by Bruno Vincent, from a series of humorous parodies/homages to Enid Blyton’s “Famous Five” books; here, the kid-protagonists are grown up, living together in London, but still having wacky adventures. In this case George has managed to forget to give a present to her mother (Aunt Fanny, the aunt to the other three), and attempts to come up with the perfect gift for Mother’s Day; chaos and hilarity ensue.

      WORLD OF WONDERS by Aimee Nezhukumatathil: this one was on display at Barnes and Noble as their book of the year or some such thing, and I assumed it was a collection of nature essays about unusual plants and animals. And so it is, but with a lot more behind the essays – a mix of personal memoir, issues of conservation and racism, and some touching anecdotes. One of my favorite bits was when the author described her use of the corpse flower as a kind of test when dating; if a guy asked about her interests she’d describe the corpse flower and her travels in search of a blooming specimen, and his reaction would tell her whether a second date would be worthwhile or not.

      SNEEZE by Naoki Urasawa: this manga collects a number of short works by mangaka Urasawa, whose “Monster” and “20th Century Boys” and “Pluto” series are all awesome. The short works here range from visits to music festivals to a hilarious – and touching – tale of a kaiju otaku in a world where the kaiju really do hit Tokyo regularly, and have become a tourist industry in their own right.

      KNIGHTS CLUB: THE BURIED CITY: this is the third in a series of choose-your-own-adventure books for children, formatted as graphic novels, and with the “which path to choose” elements presented in the form of page numbers fitted in to the illustrations – for example, a scene of an alley with doorways, a horse trough, and a distant hillside might have numbers on each door and the trough and the hill. Sometimes the numbers are practically invisible, adding a “find the extra page number in this picture” aspect. I’ve enjoyed other volumes in the series and this one’s living up to my expectations.

    7. londonedit*

      I’m reading American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins for my next book club meeting. It’s a fast-paced read and I really didn’t know anything about the subject matter beforehand (people escaping from drug cartels in Mexico and trying to reach the US) so that’s interesting, and it definitely falls into the category of ‘book club books that I wouldn’t have picked myself’, which is good, but…it’s a LOT. Just relentless peril at this point, which I guess is exactly what would happen to characters in this situation, but it’s quite draining having them always being in danger of yet another awful thing happening.

      1. Homo neanderthalensis*

        Be aware that the author did little to no research on the matter and people who’re actually Mexican/Chicano have deeply criticized that book for it’s inaccuracy and stereotypical portrayal of Mexico/Mexicans. Google “Pendeja, You ain’t Steinbeck” for more info.

        1. londonedit*

          Thanks, I didn’t know that – interestingly the book has seemed ‘off’ to me for some reason, but having no clue about Mexico myself I wasn’t sure whether it was a legitimate concern!

    8. Decidedly Me*

      I finished The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adam’s, which was a fun and weird read, lol!

      I just started Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman on recommendation by a friend.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      I’ve had a lot of “meh, it’s fine” books lately, currently “The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August.” My favorites of the past month or two have been “Middlesex” and “The Sun is Also a Star”

    10. RagingADHD*

      I am very disgruntled about my library books. I recently discovered that Georgette Heyer also wrote mysteries, which I was very interested to try- 1930s detective stories are my favorite.

      I thought at first that maybe I was just suffering from pandemic screentime overload, that had ruined my attention span, so I kept plugging at them, hoping to get to the good part.

      Nope. Couldn’t do it. The two I checked out both became insufferable by Chapter Four. I just can’t put up with protagonists who are feckless idiots.

      These people were all stupider than Bertie Wooster, without the humor or self-awareness to counterbalance it. So disappointing!

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I just discovered the prolific Bill Bryson and enjoyed his ’92 travelogue of Great Britain. Reading the newer one now. Somehow a review gave me a distorted view of him so it took a long time to realize he’s so funny and informative. It’s always great to find someone w/lots of books.

        1. Teatime is Goodtime*

          I love Bill Bryson, but have found his newer books less good. I think there’s also a really big difference between his travel literature and his pop-history/science/other ones. I like both, but I can see how a review of one type vs. the other could be misleading. My favorites are In a Sunburned Country (his travels in Australia) for the one category and One Summer (Summer of 1927) for his other. I also enjoyed At Home and loved the one you’re reading. Glad you found him!

          1. Teatime is Goodtime*

            Correction: I meant the one you READ. I did not enjoy the newer nearly as much, unfortunately.

      2. OtterB*

        I had the same reaction back in late high school when I first discovered Heyer’s Regencies. Tried the mysteries too and just … couldn’t.

      3. Teatime is Goodtime*

        Oh no! I didn’t know she wrote mysteries, but it is good to know that they probably wouldn’t be my thing. I’m super picky with mysteries anyway.

    11. violet04*

      I’ve been working my way through the Cat in the Stacks mystery series by Miranda James. I think it falls under the cozy mysteries genre. Currently on book #10 which is called Six Cats a Slayin’.

    12. OtterB*

      I just finished Becky Chambers’s newest and, I understand, the last from her Wayfarers series, The Galaxy and the Ground Beyond. Her books are space opera with a heavy dose of kindness, and I love them for that. This one is very strongly character-driven and is about how we encounter each other, make connections across differences, and change.

      I am anxiously waiting for two more new science fiction to be released next week, Fugitive Telemetry, the new Murderbot book by Martha Wells, and Murder by Other Means, the second Dispatcher story by John Scalzi.

      Meanwhile, I am rereading James White’s Sector General series, science fiction about a huge multi-species hospital in space. It ticks the kindness box because the whole premise of the civilization is for interactions between species to be respectful and nonviolent. I started rereading because someone had said the misogyny put her off. It’s true, the misogyny is clearly there, especially in the earlier books (originally written in the 1950s) but it got better later, and I’m enjoying the rest of it enough to go “eh” and put it by.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I love the “Sector General” books! While it’s true that the series is biased re Earth females, it does get (a bit) better by the end (though there was still a lengthy scene about a recovering bunch of patients enjoying the sight of Pathologist Murchison in her swimsuit). But most of the series focuses on alien species for which gender – if it exists at all – has no bearing on capability, and there’s a lot of “it/they/them” terminology whenever the viewpoint is that of an alien, and I find it rather refreshing. The alien viewpoints of Earthlings’ odd attitudes towards gender differentials was also amusing – just another thing they had to get used to re those wacky Earth people…

        All the themes of learning to cooperate with lifeforms with wildly different shapes, sizes, needs, and communication methods – and some strong plots surrounding xenophobic characters and how to deal with them – were really solid, and the generally upbeat attitude was much appreciated.

        1. OtterB*

          I agree re the upbeat attitude. It’s one of the reasons I’ve found myself rereading the whole series. Also agree it got better about gender as it went along. As you commented, I noticed that the medical staff makes a point of referring to other species with “it” pronouns unless something specific to the reproductive system is involved. They point out that other species can’t always tell each other’s genders apart and it’s sometimes considered insulting to get it wrong, and they don’t care anyay.

          I did notice, which I didn’t the first time I read them and which would probably be different now, that there’s a strong hetero assumption about Earth-humans. Any of the males are presumed to be strongly attracted to the female Pathologist Murchison.

    13. Torrance*

      I started Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman earlier this week and I’m really enjoying it (unsurprisingly, considering my love for nearly everything else he’s written). I’ve been curious about the Norse pantheon for a time and, as a pagan and a MCU fan, I feel it’s my duty to learn more about the real gods.

    14. Not Australian*

      Re-reading ‘Finding Everett Ruess’ by David Roberts, and finding I have even less sympathy for the subject than I had previously. The older I get, the sorrier I feel for the poor parents who just went on and on financing this boy’s adventures and unwillingness to grow up. I have nothing against him setting out to explore the world, but I really don’t see why he expected his parents to pay for it – and subsequently for some of the searches after he went missing, etc. etc. There has to be a line between indulging and over-indulging one’s kids, and if the money tap had been turned off sooner he might actually have settled down somewhere and made a living for himself.

    15. twocents*

      I’ve picked up The Fall of Koli by MR Carey, and I’m so excited to find out what happens at the end of the trilogy! I also picked up Mark Lawrence’s The Girl and the Mountain at the same time, though I will probably read that second since it’s only book 2 and book 3 isn’t due out until sometime next year I think.

    16. Seeking Second Childhood*

      C.L.Polk, The Midnight Bargain. I got hooked so quickly I had a ‘no don’t do it!’ reaction to a particular character decision that drives the plot … I’m dying to know where it goes but have to push past this point. (I have this reaction to much fiction, if I follow my typical pattern, I’ll be able to pick it back up next week.)

      1. I take tea*

        I know this reaction! I just hatehatehate when the plot depends on somebody doing something stupid and have left (or paused indefinitely) several books and TV-series because of it. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one.

  23. anon24*

    Has anyone legally changed their name outside of marriage/divorce/adoption? I changed my last name when I got married and really regret it, but I don’t want to go back to my maiden name. I also hate my middle name (always have) and would really love to just change my whole name, first, middle, and last, but don’t know anything about the process except that it’s complicated. I’d love to hear from anyone who’s been through the process or looked into it.

    1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I have! It was very easy, but that may be dependent on where you are. After getting married, my spouse and I chose a new last name that’s from neither family, and they took the opportunity to switch first and last names (due to the inconvenience of going by their middle name their whole life).

      We spent half an hour talking to a family law lawyer who drafted the request and filed for us. It took a few weeks for a judge to approve, and that was that. It was around $300 for that, then we had to get several original copies of the decree and spend some time changing info at the Social Security office, DMV, and for insurance, bills, IRS, etc. Kind of a hassle, but nothing was actually difficult.

      1. Msnotmrs*

        Definitely not easy everywhere, unfortunately. I’m a librarian so I’ve helped people through the process several times, and to quote from our state supreme court’s website, “The procedure for legally changing your name is somewhat complicated.” And then they go on to strongly hint you should use a lawyer.

    2. pancakes*

      Yes, I changed my first and last name legally shortly after graduating college, when I finally had a job and some income. Dropped my middle name, which I’d never liked either. The process was probably a bit easier as that was pre-9/11, but I went to a lawyer and didn’t have to do much myself, besides rounding up all the essential documents for him. The process will vary a bit depending on where you live.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      It’s totally dependent on where you are.

      When I legally changed my first name in King County, Washington, I looked up the form on the county court website, printed it out, filled it in, went down the next day on my lunch break with a check for $75 to the daily docket, raised my hand and said “Yes sir, no sir, no sir, no sir, no sir,” and went back to work with my legal name change order. Nothing complex about it at all. That was back in like 2004 (geez) or so, but I looked the last time this question came up, within the last year, and that’s still the process for King County, except the fee is higher now.

      Other jurisdictions require you to post announcements in newspapers or such – your best bet is to google “(your county, state), name change” and see just how onerous it really is.

      The actual process of changing your name with places is also a lot easier than people like to make it sound. You’ll hear “order ten copies of your paperwork,” but that’s pretty outdated – I’ve changed various parts of my name six times through marriage, divorce and court order, and I’ve never ordered more than two copies and never needed more than one. The only place I actually had to send anything in was with my passport change and possibly with my TSA Pre-Check (I forget for sure on that one), and they returned it. Everybody else just needed to see the paperwork.

      1. Yellow Warbler*

        …so if you’re changing your name to get away from an abuser, in some places you have to announce it in the paper? That’s beyond stupid. You’d think the ACLU would be all over that.

        1. pancakes*

          I wouldn’t assume that in places where that’s a requirement, there’s no method to ask for special dispensation not to.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I dunno. I just looked up the rules for my current county of residence in Indiana, and the instructions say that you have to run a notice in the paper once a week for at least 3 weeks, and the last appearance has to be at least 30 days before your court date, but if you feel unsafe running the newspaper notice or having a public hearing, see page 8 for instructions. *flipflipflip* It looks like there’s additional paperwork you can file with the court to request that the public notice and the public hearing be waived and the public records be sealed, but the judge has to approve that. The example they give is someone changing their name for reasons of transgender status, because some people may not feel safe coming out publicly, so I would assume that hiding from an abuser would also be an acceptable reason?

          (I’m definitely glad I changed mine when and where I did though :P )

        3. Glomzarization, Esq.*

          In the jurisdiction where I practice, you can file a petition requesting that your name change be sealed and that you be exempt from the publication requirement. Reasons include things like trans people changing their names, minors taking the name of their adopted parent, and, yes, people who have left abusers.

      2. HBJ*

        To the last paragraph, yes. I did change my name when I got married, and I only ordered one certified copy of the marriage certificate. Many places only needed to see it, and a surprising number, including our bank, only needed to see a photocopy. The only place where it had to leave my hands was changing my passport, and they sent it back. So we just didn’t have the certificate for a few weeks. No big deal.

    4. AL*

      I have. I changed my first name a couple years after college. I always hated my first name (it was unpronounceable, had no meaning in my family, sounded ugly to me, and I already had an unusual last name). The process was easy (WA): you fill out paperwork and show up at court. I still remember the judge saying “I don’t blame you.” As I’m writing this, I realize I still harbor resentment towards my mother for trying to be different and giving me such a weird name- I think it was a big reason I was so shy as a child.

    5. Erin*

      I’ve worked as a volunteer with an organization that helps trans folks obtain legal name changes. The process is location-dependent, so you’ll need to find out what it takes in your county (if you are in the US). There is often a residency requirement (you may need to show that you’ve been living in the county where you’re filing for the name change for a certain amount of time). I would recommend looking in your county for online resources created for trans people – even though that’s not your reason for changing your name, you can find out the steps of the process there (and ignore the parts about changing your gender marker).

    6. RagingADHD*

      It really depends on your local system.

      My name change was due to marriage, and in the place I lived at the time, I was legally entitled to use any combination of the 4 names: 1st, middle, last, & new last. So I dropped my first name and made my maiden name into my middle name, had all my IDs reissued.

      But when we moved back to my home state, there was a recordkeeping conflict because my original driver’s license had been issued under OldFirst. So I had to get a court order, the same as if I were changing it completely.

      However, the process was quite straightforward: fill out a form at the courthouse, pay a modest fee, walk the form to another window, and get some certified copies made. I think the total cost was about $35 for the copies and all.

      I understand it can be more complex or expensive in other places. It all comes down to your local laws/requirements, and how busy or backlogged the courts are at the time.

    7. Undine*

      Just for laughs, I changed my name so long ago, I didn’t need a court order. Literally, I changed it on a whim. It was only my first and middle name, I’d been kinda joking about changing it, and I went to the DMV to get my first ID, and I checked some box that said I was changing my name by common usage and that was it.

      Everything else took my ID, or didn’t even ask for one. For some reason it took years to get it right on my passport (they changed the middle name, not the first one) and I only got that done about 5 years ago. That was a bit of a pain whenever I got a new job because I would have to insist they get me into the system in my real name.

      It never seemed to bother social security or anyone that there was a slight discrepancy. It must have helped that my new first name was a version of my old first name. But overall, nobody ever worried.

      It was also only a few years ago that I figured out that the fact that I didn’t have a copy of my consular report of birth abroad didn’t didn’t mean it didn’t exist and that I could get it by asking for a replacement and not having to jump through the hoops for the first time around.

      Things were harder to figure out before the internet, but way less regulated, too.

    8. Initial B (they/them)*

      I’m in the process right now in NC in the US- as everyone else has stated, it varies by location- and boy is it complicated! You have to get fingerprints done, get a background check from the state and federal FBI, and post an announcement in the town hall (though this can be waived if you have safety concerns), as an example of what I’m dealing with. You can also only do it once in your life excepting marriage/divorce/etc here. May you be in a place where it’s an awful lot simpler!

    9. Melody Pond*

      I changed my last name during the pandemic!

      I was already married, but had kept my original last name when I got married. But, I was never particularly attached to my original last name, plus I don’t have a great relationship with my dad. (He actually missed my wedding in favor of a vacation to Europe.) I changed it to my maternal grandfather’s last name, because I friggin’ adore him and hope to be just like him and my grandmother when I reach retirement.

      Anyway – I am in Multnomah County in Oregon and the process was not too hard, though I still haven’t updated everything. There was actually an option in my county to submit my legal petition for a name change electronically. Otherwise, I would’ve had to mail in a form.

      After the petition was approved, I received a certified copy of the judgment via mail. I had to order a few more copies (for a small fee) so that I could take those copies and use them to get various documents changed, like my social security card.

      I think the social security card was the trickiest, because I had to mail in a form, along with a certified copy of the judgment, and my actual, physical passport. Then, the social security office actually misplaced the copy of the judgment, and it took a bit for them to find it again. But eventually they got it figured out and they mailed my passport and the judgment back to me. A new social security card was mailed to me a couple weeks later.

      Once I had the social security card, it was pretty easy to change my drivers license, bank info/debit card, etc. I still need to update my passport, but will get to it.

      So – it can be done! Even during the pandemic. Just slowly and involves a lot of mail and a few physical checks for fees.

    10. Tofu pie*

      On my formal documents my first name was spelt with a space (think Jay Zee) when I’ve always spelt it as “Jayzee”. I didn’t really think about it at all and always wrote my name as Jayzee. But occasionally I would be addressed as “Jay” because some bureaucrat or medical admin staff unilaterally decided “Zee” was a middle name and decided to omit it on my paperwork. It was bugging me so I decided to formally change it to Jayzee.

      It wasn’t complicated for me at all – I just submitted the form and it was done. Occasionally when I fill out paperwork they will ask if I was known by another name and I will note it down; but was never asked to submit any documents for proof.

      I also have a non-English name and in high school decided briefly to go by an anglican first name. I felt awkward and never really felt comfortable with it. I’ve since reverted back to my original name.

    11. The Time Being*

      Yep, done it.

      How complicated it is depends on your state. I didn’t find it too bad — filed a pretty simple form with my county court, paid a fee, paid to publish a brief announcement of my name change in the local legal newspaper, and then got a certificate in the mail about two weeks later where a judge had signed off on my name change.

      Once that was done, the update process was no different than it would be for a name change by marriage. Hit up the Social Security admin for a new social security card, hit up the DMV/MVA/RMV/whatever your state calls it to update my driver’s license, registration, and title of my car, go to HR to update my name with my employer, and then send out inquiries to each of my credit card issuers, my bank, cable company, etc to ask their specific process for updating a legal name.

      I have heard from friends in other states that their process for a legal name change was more expensive or more complicated — multiple visits to the courthouse, having to go in front of a judge, etc.

    12. anon24*

      Thanks for the replies all! It’s interesting to read about the different processes. I looked up my county/state and it looks like here it’s a complicated process, involving court filings, hearings, and fingerprinting. I downloaded the local name change packet just for fun and it’s 40 pages of legalese that I don’t understand at all. I think when I’m ready I’m going to call the local bar association and find a lawyer to deal with it for me so I don’t inadvertently screw something up.

      I’ve never talked to a lawyer before. Anything I should know about finding a lawyer?

    13. No Sleep Till Hippo*

      Something I want to flag about name-changing, because it blindsided me: keep an eye on your credit!!

      I changed my first, middle, and last names all at once during a divorce, and had no idea that doing so would completely disconnect my credit score under OldName from any score under NewName. This may have been a slightly unusual case, since I only had one credit card under the old name and I just canceled it when the bank failed repeatedly to update their records (thanks, Chase, you absolute waste of space). But it was absolutely maddening to learn all the good credit I had built up from age 18 was just… gone, and No Sleep Till Hippo v2.0 only started existing in 2013 as far as my new bank was concerned. The advice I got was to call the big three credit agencies and have them connect my previous credit history with my current one. (I… still haven’t done that. I’ve never been great at dealing with bureaucracy.)

      So, yeah. Might be one other thing to check with a lawyer about, which I agree is good advice (and which I also haven’t done, cringe cringe).

      All that said – good luck with the change, and congrats! Even with the total admin fail mentioned above, I’ve never ever regretted changing mine. I changed my middle name to something ridiculous (think Virginia Unicorn Warbleworth) and I still get gleeful when I receive official government mail with my full name printed on it. :)

      1. anon24*

        That is good advice! Thanks! I was hoping that my credit would roll over since my social security # wouldn’t change and I’ll be keeping my credit cards, but I’ll have to make sure I don’t lose my credit. I never would have thought about that. I have my new middle name picked out and it’s going to be something ridiculous from a fantasy series I love and I’m sure it will get a lot of ridicule but I don’t care- it’s just a middle name and I love it!

        1. No Sleep Till Hippo*

          If you have credit cards that will carry over, you’ll probably be fine – I think it was the fact that I canceled *the only card I had* under OldName that broke the link, so to speak. My SSN didn’t change either, but I was told the credit companies don’t automatically use SSNs to link credit histories together. (?!?) Which blew my mind, but here we are.

          I’ve gotten nothing but curiosity and delight over my middle name, I hope it’s the same for you :)

    14. Aphrodite*

      I did. Back in 1985 I used the court petition method to change my first, middle and last names. Nolo Press has a book on how to do it yourself, and it is easy! The most fun part was choosing my three names. The least fun part was notifying everyone. (Government is easy; they are used to it. My cable company gave me the most hassle until I reached the manager. You will need official copies of the court order so order at least a dozen, maybe more if you have a lot of investment, banking, etc. These, at least in California, will have an official purple stamp on them. The legal process to do it is very easy though it will take a couple of months. But it feels wonderful!

      Don’t be surprised by any reactions from family. For me, they ranged all over. My parents were actually quite accepting of it though I am sure they were hurt. It took about two or three years before they quit making mistakes when they said my name but I was cool with it. One sister was outright hostile, accusing me of being ashamed of family. I basically ignored it because I told her (only once) it was FOR me, not against anyone.

      1. anon24*

        My husband is supportive. He knows I’ve never identified with his last name even though I changed it for him and it’s no longer important to him that we have the same last name. I’m not going to tell the rest of my family until the paperwork goes through. They will not be supportive at all and I don’t expect that they will honor it, but family, what can you do? I don’t have to have any more contact with them than I choose to.

    15. Not Australian*

      Yes. I only changed my middle name, because I felt the ship had long since sailed on my first name – which I don’t like anyway – and I was happy enough with my surname. The middle name, however, was the most unimaginative heap of vowels and consonants anyone could ever scrape together, and I got rid of it eventually.

      Where I live you can change your name ‘by repute’, and that was good enough for a while. However you can never change your birth certificate (or couldn’t at the time), and that’s the name that you have to use on such things as tax documentation and all official forms. I was fine until some years later when I needed a passport, and that was when I had to take out an official ‘deed poll’ which was witnessed etc. and then I was able to use that name everywhere in perpetuity.

      To be clear, the reason I didn’t do this earlier was simply financial; there was a fee involved which at the time I couldn’t afford to pay. It would have been a lot simpler to do it all in one hit if I’d had the money in the first place!

      But nobody ever asks you why, IME; they just take the money, process the papers, and that’s that. Your choice, your reasons, should all be completely straightforward.

  24. Lcsa99*

    So we’re thinking about costumes again and need some input. Right now we’re playing with the idea of Werewolves of London. Werewolf makeup and fangs is the easy part but I could use some help coming up with what to wear to make us look British or like Londoners. All I can come up with now is lots of tweed. My husband has already vetoed anything with the flag that’s bigger than a pin. (We would need a costume for both a man and a woman) so what do you think? What could we wear to give the right impression?

    1. pancakes*

      Search “London Tweed Run” and you’ll find lots of photos of hundreds of bicyclists in their best tweeds. It’s an annual thing.

    2. RC Rascal*

      Be sure and drink a pina colada. Your hair must be perfect. Also, carry a Chinese menu in your hand.

  25. Katia*

    Hi all! I hope everyone is having a pleasant time as possible right now.
    I’ve been wondering if this wonderful community could help me out with this:
    I’ve been talking with my therapist lately, and she told me that I need to work in my sense of self love, if that makes sense.
    Do you (general you) have any ideas for starting this journey? Books, meditations, other things?

    1. Not A Manager*

      Yes I do! I suggest thinking of yourself and treating yourself the way you would treat another person you are very fond of. What are your negative character traits as you currently perceive them? If your friend that you cared about had these flaws, would some of them, sometimes, be charming eccentricities rather than flaws? Would the things that are annoying about them also have wonderful benefits at times? (People who are “flaky” can also be delightfully spontaneous. People who sometimes don’t read the room can be refreshingly authentic. People who don’t quite understand boundaries can sometimes be the only ones who show up when you need them.)

      If you were getting to know you, and you were telling yourself stories about your life and your past, how would this person who is fond of you hear and re-cast some of these stories? When you were naughty as a child and were blamed and shamed, would this caring friend think that maybe some adults had seriously over-reacted to normal childhood behavior? When you lost that first job and it’s haunted you ever since, would your friend realize that you’d been new to the workforce and that you’d immediately learned from that experience and done better? Etc.

      Also, in terms of present behavior, I’ll bet that if you were tired and exhausted from a long week, your friend might tell you to postpone your chores and have a quiet evening with a cup of tea and a book. They might encourage you not to call your difficult sibling quite as often as you do. They might ask you, “are you doing this thing because you want to, or because you think you have to?”

      Obviously, these examples probably say more about my own life than they do about yours, but you can substitute whatever works for you. They say that you can’t love other people until you learn to love yourself, but sometimes I think that if you are capable of loving other people, you’re capable of treating yourself with the same consideration, and extending yourself the same grace, that you do to others.

      1. Filosofickle*

        The “talk to yourself like a friend” is a great place to start. When I hear myself saying something mean about me that I would never say to someone I love, that’s a flashing sign. That’s not me. That’s my inner critic. And it needs to sit down.

        I also love myself better through loving other people better. Judging other people less has really helped judge myself less.

        1. MissCoco*

          A similar cue I also find helpful is “what would you say to a child going through that?” especially with regards to anxiety, I find it really helpful to avoid anxiety spirals and avoid the mean self talk of “just quit worrying”
          If a child shared a fear with me, I would listen, and tell them I would help them, and compassionately try to ease their concerns. If I couldn’t get rid of their fear, I’d still validate their feelings, and try to make the scary thing as palatable as possible, and reassure them it would be over or we would get through it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I think it’s actions over time.

      I care enough about me to:

      Build a plan to take care of myself financially in the future.

      Stand by my own NO answers. NO does not mean I will relent if nagged enough.

      Allow enough time each day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

      Allow myself to cry when I need to, without inserting my own judgement on myself. Conversely, when things
      are hard and I find something humorous I will allow myself to laugh.

      Recognize toxic situations and rescue my own self.

      Keep my car, home, clothing and other necessities in working order.

      Quietly do things that cause me to actually feel proud of myself- be it an accomplishment or making a good

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I keep lotion near my computer because I feel so dry this winter and it helps to have it right there where I spend a lot of time. Having studied healing massage therapy, one tip was that your body appreciates things like lotion.
        Also, I had the idea of a “First Aid Kit” for myself that would hold those things I love to find in it when I’m down or don’t feel myself —
        the music and bubble bath and chocolate and poem and colors and joke that I know always puts me in touch w/who I am. It’s no one else’s FAK, it’s mine.

    3. Derivative Poster*

      Since you mentioned meditation, I’ll recommend the book Lovingkindness by Sharon Salzberg. Metta (AKA loving kindness) practice starts with directing compassion towards yourself before directing it towards others. Salzberg describes the epiphanies she had as a result and includes exercises for you to try. I read it years ago but it’s stayed with me.

    4. Dr.KMnO4*

      The Body Is Not An Apology: The Power Of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor. Best nonfiction book I have ever read. Changed my life.

    5. comityoferrors*

      I’m working on the same thing with my therapist! I’m not sure how you identify, but I’ve worked through a few chapters of the “Self-Love Workbook for Women” by Megan Logan, MSW LCSW. I got it on Amazon for like $10. I have a hard time connecting to a sense of self-love during my therapy sessions (I feel so much pressure!!), so the workbook is a nice way to process my emotions in a slower and more relaxed way. I’ve set aside 20-30 minutes every night for self-care, which is sometimes working on the book, sometimes meditation, sometimes a face mask and snuggling with a soft blanket and a book.

    6. Chantel*

      Whenever I feel I need some self love, I scour my bathroom and then take a bath with Epsom salts and bubble bath. I don’t think about anything but the water and that my bathroom is clean.

      Might sound a little weird but it works for me.

      1. Lizzie*

        I don’t keep things “for best” any more. I use my few bits of fancy china daily, my best sheets (lovely linen I bought at an op shop, in the original sixty year old box, never Before opened), I wear my favourite socks, and so on. I used the tablecloth my mother embroidered for me every day, and the embroidery is very faded now, but I have appreciated it every day too. If I had only used it once a year – the colours would be brighter now, but who cares about that?
        If you have things you value and enjoy, use them! You are worthy of enjoying the things that matter to you.

    7. Information Central*

      Small tips:
      Try to be aware of what your mind is doing – verbalized thoughts, but also what kind of associations it’s making, what kinds of patterns of thought happen. (One time I caught myself feeling grumpy about getting fast food because there were like 7 different negative thoughts I associated with fast food.) Awareness by itself is really helpful, as well as being a foundation you can build on. Beware of the next-level mental gremlin who likes to claim that being aware of a thought means you should instantly be able to fix it. Not how this works!

      Watch out for red-flag words like “should” and “just”/“only”. Those are very often associated with ways to put yourself down. Look for ways to reframe those thoughts that don’t include value judgments against yourself.

  26. Dr. Doll*

    I did two extremely responsible and boring things yesterday: made an appointment for a physical therapy evaluation of my shoulder which has been jacked up for months for no reason. And emailed a local estate attorney to see if I can finally get my affairs in order, as they say.

    What did you do, or what do you need to do that verbalizing might help?

    1. nep*

      or what do you need to do that verbalizing might help
      Love that.
      I need to (it’s been on the to-do list for weeks) call my bank back to finalise transfering retirement account funds. Also wayyyyyy overdue for dental work / cleaning. I’ve been hesitant throughout COVID.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I found out I need to amend my 2019 taxes before I can file my 2020 taxes and I do not want to deal with it. I sold my old house last year, which was rented out (awful six years…I’ll never be an landlord ever again). I’m having TurboTax do my taxes this year and we realized H&R Block made a mistake last year, which I didn’t catch until I had to go through the depreciation schedule. So I have to deal with that first. I’m also going to have capital gains and a 401k penalty unfortunately. Can’t wait until both these tax returns are behind me.

      I don’t think verbalizing it will help though…I’ve been verbalizing it for a few weeks now.

      1. Dr. Doll*

        Sheesh, the poot cherry on top of the crap sundae that your rental saga was. So sorry you have to deal with this too.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          “Cherry on top of the crap sundae” is quite accurate! And thanks for the support. :) Once my 2020 taxes are filing, and the bill I know is coming is paid, I will never need to think about that house or either set of tenants again!

    3. Loredena*

      IMO need to schedule several appointments (dentist, physical, knee) and since I just moved so it’s all new to me doctors I’m putting it off. Even knowing what practice to call for most of those it’s energy sapping!

        1. mreasy*

          Full immunity hits Tuesday so I’m doing eye doctor, dentist, dermatologist. Pushing through!

    4. Imprudence*

      Great thought! I have a friend who calls this “adulting”. What I need to do is reread the pension advisor’s advice and decide what to do about it.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I need to make a final decision about whether to add mini-split air conditioning, and if yes, fill out the application for 0% interest financing from my local utility. I hate making decisions involving a lot money.

      1. Dumpster Fire*

        We had a mini-split put in last summer and love it. Yes, it cost a lot, but I had already looked into central air and the construction of my house doesn’t support that. Look into rebates either from the manufacturer or your utility company.

        1. Damn it, Hardison!*

          Thanks, that’s good to hear! Central air wasn’t an option for my house either, we have hot water baseboards so no existing duct work or space to add it. I’m filling out the financing and rebate paperwork today. Massachusetts has a pretty good efficiency rebate and financing program (Mass Save) which I previously used to replace my oil heat with natural gas.

          1. Dumpster Fire*

            Yes, I’m in the same place – baseboard (hot water) heat, vaulted ceiling in the main living space so no room for ductwork even if I wanted to add it…. raised ranch so not even a real basement for ductwork either (or, if so, it’d really interfere with the space downstairs.) Yes, Massachusetts is pretty good for rebates etc. Good luck!

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I am putting off writing a homework assignment that’s due tomorrow, because there’s about twelve thousand things that are more interesting than a Goofus and Gallant “identify all the ethical issues in this scenario” essay. :P

    7. Bethlam*

      Turning 65 in August and have a huge stack of Medicare paperwork/ research that i need to slog through in order to make a decision prior to enrollment.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I procrastinated on Medicare and picked an advantage plan at the last minute, kind of at random from the $0 premium list, and I’ve been very happy with it for six (urgh!) years now. But it was really overwhelming going through all the types of plans and choices within them.

    8. Derivative Poster*

      I need to finally get my act together about a regular nighttime routine and bedtime. I’ve been a terrible sleeper my whole life and I just can’t keep going this way.

      I also need to choose and order a new phone.

    9. Double A*

      I need to deal with the registration for our truck. There was a whole mess where it needed to get smogged, but the battery was dead, so it didn’t and it just…has lapsed yet again.

      I also need to deal with a customer service/warranty issue that I’m really frustrated about. Or I can decide to just forget about it and flush $400 down the toilet which is frankly what the likely outcome is going to be, because advocating for what I think they should do (repair or replace the thing that clearly was made improperly) makes me feel like a Karen.

      I need to rollover a 401k for my husband and get his IRA set up but this involves unlocking his account that I locked myself out of. I’m really annoyed I didn’t just open his account under my name; maybe I’ll just abandon what I was trying to do and take that approach.

      But hey I filed my taxes before April 15! And also processed a refund for a solar battery we installed just before the deadline, so that was productive!

    10. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I read this while eating chocolate on the couch. I’m sure I have things that I need to do but all of them fell out of my head on reading your words…

    11. Rara Avis*

      Get new glasses. I skipped my annual appointment last year and as 50 looms closer my eyes need all the help they can get. Or I need longer arms and bugger print.

      1. Dr. Doll*

        Hmmmmmmm. I’m sure the DMV *means* to have a perfectly clear and user friendly website that’s actually helpful. but, uh, they don’t.

    12. Teapot Translator*

      I don’t want to say because I don’t want to do it!
      Although, I did start a list and I’m writing down stuff I need to do as I think of them. I’m feeling a bit anxious because there’s a lot of stuff coming this week and I have my final exam on Tuesday. I think the list is helping.

  27. Emily Elizabeth*

    What kind of TMJ treatments have people had success with? Whenever I try to research it, it seems like treatment is offered everywhere from orthodontists to chiropractors to oral surgeons. I would obviously prefer not to spend more than I need, but also want to get a good quality solution and not waste time going to lots of different practitioners. I was told by my dentist it’s probably jaw clenching and maybe misalignment but not tooth grinding, if that matters. Thank you!

    1. fposte*

      There is also some specialized massage that can help; a couple of friends of mine have treated that way and found it useful.

      1. Emily Elizabeth*

        I’m definitely interested in that; any idea where your friends searched for/found that service?

        1. fposte*

          There’s a local established massage therapy business, non-chain, with a strong health rather than cosmetic/spa focus. They’ve long been the main game in town here so it’s where people naturally gravitated. I don’t think the therapist did any extra special training but they’re mostly certified in precision neuromuscular therapy there.

    2. Enough*

      If there is a misalignment then you probably want to start with the orthodontist to verify.. Jaw clenching might be improved by using a night guard. While you can catch yourself during the day the guard can help your teeth glide past each other instead of catching.
      I was treated for TMJ. A couple of years later I was having what seemed to be teeth pain. Was just clenching too much. started were my splint from the TMJ treatment and when that broke got a night guard. Been 35 years and this has worked pretty well.

      1. CJM*

        Same here. I was diagnosed with TMJ about three decades ago, and symptoms cleared up as soon as I started wearing a night guard. That was easy to get used to, and now it feels weird to sleep without it (the few times I forget to pack it when I travel).

    3. Anon5775*

      I’m doing the LVI method. They advocate non surgical methods. It’s not cheap but I’m hopeful it will improve my bite. Google LVI and look for the Las Vegas Institute.

        1. Anon5775*

          There should be a search tool there to find a dentist near you that has taken the LVI training.

    4. Tuesday*

      I tried a guided mindfulness meditation, the kind where you just focus on your breath, and the unexpected result was that my TMJ symptoms really improved. It was the only thing that caused my muscles to remain unclenched for any length of time. I guess it’s kind of along the same lines as the specialized massage fposte mentioned.

      1. Emily Elizabeth*

        Thanks for the tip! Any particular meditation podcast/video/etc that you liked in particular?

        1. Tuesday*

          The one that worked for me was available from my library as a 20-minute audiobook: “Follow Your Breath” by Sharon Salzberg. Since then, I’ve also downloaded the 15-minute “Breath Meditation” from her website.

    5. Yellow Warbler*

      Masseter Botox did wonders for me. I have a square jaw that could cut glass (dashing on a male movie star, not cute on a women who’s five-foot-nothing) and as the muscles relax, your profile softens. I’m thrilled with the results.

    6. RC Rascal*

      I’ve been fighting the TMJ demon for 4 years now. Mine is fairly severe & triggered by wisdom tooth removal surgery.

      I would get evaluated by several TMJ dentists & also find a good chiropractor & physical therapist. I would stay away from orthodontics because their focus is teeth straightening more than structural issues.

      I had to have my bite reset, non surgically. First they use a splint to fine the correct jaw position then reset with braces if needed. I had to have palate expanders both upper & lower & it was way more painful than my childhood orthodontics where they just straightened your teeth.

      My case was extreme; dentist said I was the most extreme case he had seen that didn’t require surgery. Resetting your bite also throws off the rest of your body & I am still working through the after effects of that with PT & chiropractic.

      1. Emily Elizabeth*

        That’s really helpful advice thank you! I’m so sorry you’ve been suffering with it for so long and so extremely. Do you have any recommendations on how to evaluate dentists? Several in my area advertise TMJ services on their sites but not sure if there’s any criteria I should use to pick one.

        1. RC Rascal*

          My TMJ doc happened to be the partner of my regular dentist, so I lucked out there. While I can’t give you detailed advice about this it did seem like there is an element of “ witch doctoring “ to getting it right. Mine reads energy fields and did muscle testing to find the right bite position. You might do a little reading on muscle testing & ask questions about it as you consult with dentists. My dentist also teaches TMJ courses to other dentists so you might ask about that as well.

          My dentist told me he got really into the TMJ issue & how muscles/ alignment affect the teeth & jaw because he was tired of placing mouth guards on TMJ patients & not having it work.

          I would stay away from anyone who wants to throw antidepressants at the issue. That’s common.

  28. Pop up camper*

    I want to get a used pop up but the demand in my area is insane. I’m tempted to pay a ton of money and buy new, but there are so many horror stories of campers being manufactured shoddily. Any experience or tips?

    1. Pregnant during COVID*

      How about a rental? RVShare is a popular site in the US, but there are likely others depending on where you live. I believe you pay by the night.

    2. Sandra Dee*

      I just purchased a teardrop trailer, and will pick it up next weekend. The resale camper market is extremely hot right now, mainly because the inventory of new RVs is at an all time low due to availability of parts from overseas due to the pandemic, and the Suez Canal issue didnt help matters. I am looking forward to several long weekends this summer in my new home on wheels.

    3. Juneybug*

      1. Look for water damage (number 1 enemy of campers!!). Make sure the dealership or private seller expand all of the sides/roof so you can look for discolor, damage, etc. Are their squishy spots in the walls or floors? Is their damage outside to the shell of the RV? Check the roof for damage as well.
      2. Smell the camper (seriously). Does the camper smell musty or moldy? Or is the seller using scented products to mask the smell? Open all cabinets and smell inside. Do the same for outside cabinets/storage.
      3. Visit plenty of dealerships and RV shows to see what you like and don’t like. For example – Do you need access to the bathroom if the slide-out is in (we mistakenly brought a RV that when the slide-out was in, we could not access the bathroom. Oops!) Are the windows tinted too dark and it feels cave-like inside? Does the RV have storage you need? We prefer our own cooking so my RVs need plenty of counterspace and food storage. Do you like the fact you can see the bed or prefer a door? Does it have enough room to sleep family and guests (there is always guests!)? Do you have storage for linens? Are the upper cabinets too tall for you?
      4. Make sure your vehicle can pull the RV. Don’t forget that your gear, food, etc., will add weight. Also fresh water in the holding tank will add weight. Aim for a RV that is much lighter than your vehicle’s pull capacity to save wear and tear.
      Having a RV is one of the best things about our lives (guest house, camping, visiting family and friends, and traveling).

    4. Dumpster Fire*

      We’ve been thinking of a camper for the last couple years but haven’t pulled the trigger yet; this summer we already have a trip planned that doesn’t involve camping so we’ve decided to wait until next year. The market has been SO hot between last year and this that I’m expected a lot of quite-new/slightly-used campers to be available next year, being sold by all the people who got them during the pandemic but decide that they really aren’t cut out for camping and would rather do resorts or cruises once those are realistic options again.

    5. NerdyPrettyThings*

      We only kept our pop up for a year before we got a bumper pull trailer. It was such a pain to pop it up and down to load and unload it. It also seemed like it always rained either the day before we left or the day we got back. If it rains, you have to wait for it to dry out before you can pop it back down, or the canvas parts will mildew. If I had it to do over, I would have just bought a smaller bumper-pull model to start out with.
      I second all Juneybug’s advice. Don’t let the sellers tell you you can pull it with a vehicle that’s not rated for its weight, especially if you plan to haul it in the mountains.

    6. Epsilon Delta*

      This is not helpful if you want a camper for this summer, but my biggest tip is to buy in the fall. People who want to get rid of their campers don’t want to store them for the winter and there are generally fewer buyers. Buying in the spring, everybody else has the same idea and you have more competition/less selection. (We’ve bought and sold several campers private party, I’m not sure how much this holds at dealerships)

      I also like the suggestion of a rental. We rented a camper one year for a long vacation when we were in between campers and it was in pretty good but not perfect condition, so trying that out would give you an idea of what to look for when you buy. If you’ve never owned a camper before, it will also help you determine if you actually like camping in one!

      Last thing with pop ups specifically: make sure the owner shows you how to properly pop it up and down, and do it yourself once too. You might want to write down the steps or take a video. They’re all a little bit different.

  29. AL*

    This may be a strange question, but does anyone else cry extremely easily? I find myself tearing up at anything ranging from sentimental commercials to negativity at work/home and anything in between. It doesn’t matter if I know logically that something is no big deal. Any tips to be able to stop?

        1. nep*

          I see. (I should have said–I didn’t mean to sound snarky w that question. Genuinely wondered the basis for your wanting it to stop.)
          Are you generally a content person? At peace with your life? Is there something you’re sad about deep down and you’re not addressing it? Not to say that’s what’s going on, but it comes to mind.

          1. AL*

            I didn’t think you were being snarky. :-) I do consider myself a content person. I guess I may need to dig a bit deeper though to see if there is something behind it. I grew up reading the Baby-Sitters Club and identified with Mary Anne for exactly this reason, so I think I’ve always been prone to unnecessary tears even as a kid.

            1. Joan Rivers*

              There’s a book, “The Highly Sensitive Person.” Some of us are just wired that way. Of course we tend to be intuitive and pick up on others’ energy.
              When someone in person or on TV is about to cry but hasn’t yet, I’ll start welling up and then they cry. Even if it’s acting — if it’s good acting, based on the actor using real emotion, I’ll tear up. But if it’s fake crying, I won’t.
              You see people faking crying sometimes when lying about something, and I don’t feel it from them.

    1. Frankie Derwent*

      I hope I don’t offend you but do you take OTC pills? My sister and I noticed we became more emotional (higher tendency to cry and become annoyed) when we started taking pills. They do mess up our hormones. Could be because of that? In which case you can talk to your ob and see if another brand suits you better.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Are you under chronic physical or mental stress? I tear up pretty easily, but mostly at socially-acceptable things, like weddings or movies, or a big argument with my spouse, etc.

      I find that it happens more often at little things if I’m sleep deprived, sick, my hormones are wacky, or Im under a lot of strain about some life situation (grieving, money trouble, job stress, family illness, etc).

      The best way I know to de-escalate emotional sensitivity is active stress management: exercise, sleep hygeine, good nutrition, talking it out, social support, mindfulness/journalling, etc.

    3. D3*

      For me, that’s usually a sign that I have emotions I need to deal with.
      Sometimes that means journaling, sometimes it means having a difficult discussion with a loved one that I’ve been avoiding, sometimes it means giving myself time and space and privacy for a good cry or an outpouring of grief.
      Usually once I’ve figured it out and dealt with the emotions bubbling up, I am much less likely to cry over little things.

    4. Yellow Warbler*

      Yes. Being overly emotional means I need to check my vitamin D, zinc, and magnesium levels. I am hypothyroid and prone to absorption problems.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Similar from me, the easy river of tears was lack of vitamins for my heart. I did some B’s, some minerals such as calcium and so on. If a doc had put me in an office to talk through the tears I would still be sitting there now. No amount of talking was going to fix this, I could feel this fact inside my body.

        1. Juneybug*

          I came here to say the same thing – got to take my multi, D, B, and C or I am a mess!

        2. NoLongerYoung*

          Thank you for this. I have been crying every weekend (one night of it). I don’t usually watch tv, but have chosen a show about helping people…and I just find tears streaming. Lots going on, though, too. But I’ll check the B vitamins (i’m better about the D and Calcium now).

          1. Not So NewReader*

            It’s definitely worth sinking time/money into. Grief really depletes our vitamins and minerals at a huge clip. The weepies are just one symptom of that depletion. In the case of a loss, the depletion can go on for years.

            You know what I have been liking lately is those fruit flavored waters with electrolytes and vitamins. My most recent habit has been a brand called Propel. I use it as a treat once in a while in addition to other things that I work with. You will probably find things to do that you actually enjoy.

    5. Msnotmrs*

      I do. Basically any time I have any sort of strong emotion, I tear up. From glee to sadness to even reading stories about cute animal friendships or community cooperation.

      I don’t really have any advice. I just roll with it. No one really seems to notice or care.

      1. Nessun*

        I’m the same way. My friends know that I’m liable to cry at the drop of a hat, and would (kindly) tease that I have kleenex if we were watching a show or movie. Now that I’m mostly not seeing friends or family, I just make sure there’s tissues nearby. I don’t worry about it- it’s just part of who I am.

    6. fhqwhgads*

      This started for me after my hysterectomy. There wasn’t anything I could do to stop it. It annoyed me because it’d happen even with, say, sad movies I thought were bad, not particularly moving, and clearly tear-jerker bait. So I’d be irritated that it seemed like the bad writing actually hit me in the feels, when really, I know it was almost certainly hormones. I did not enjoy the juxtaposition of intellectually “I don’t actually care about this at all” vs “why am I crying”?
      So, solidarity, fellow human, and I’m sorry I don’t have actual advice for you.

    7. Tab*

      Try pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth when you feel like you’re tearing up. Works for me.

    8. Casey*

      I’ve been a HUGE crier my whole life. The second anyone in authority said anything not explicitly positive the tears would flow. Last year I had a majorly stressful situation at college, and I became well-known amongst my professors for crying in class/office hours and just talking/working through it, which really freaked them out, which in turn made me laugh and then cry more.

      Anyways, now I’m on anti-depressants and it turns out I don’t cry nearly as much when my brain is a little better balanced chemically. I kind of miss it though? There are times I wish I had that physical catharsis.

      But that isn’t to say that YOU need to go on anti-depressants, just that it might not even be up to you to stop crying. Which sucks.

    9. GoryDetails*

      I tend to be a crier – those old AT&T commercials (“I just called to say I love you, Mom”) would wreck me, and I sob quite cheerfully at a number of poignant books/films/TV-shows as well. I don’t mind that at all, and sometimes share my favorite “scenes that make me choke up” with friends just for fun. (And yes, I generally cry while *describing* the things that make me cry; fun for everyone!)

      But I do sometimes regret it, especially if I have to have a serious conversation with a friend or a store clerk or government official and start to get teary (usually from stress in those situations). It’s hard for me to talk while crying, and I always hope that the other party will ignore it, let me squeak out my words, and move on; if somebody gets all solicitous it just makes things worse. Luckily this kind of situation has become fewer as I’ve grown older – not sure if I’m better at dealing with tricky situations or better at avoiding them in the first place.

    10. Sob machine*

      I was told it is a common symptom of depression. Mine stopped when my doctor adjusted my antidepressants. Good luck! It’s no fun. Church would make me sob audibly.

    11. Anon for this one*

      The only thing that worked for me was antidepressants (which I was using, in a lower dosage, already). My primary care doctor sent me to a psychiatrist for that.

      People sometimes talk about emotional lability — but that tends to be people who also laugh very easily, not those of us who only overflow with tears.

    12. Nela*

      Literally my entire life, and no I haven’t found a way to prevent it. Thankfully it hasn’t happened in work related situations in many years, and as far as personal relationships go, I’m no longer embarrassed by it. People who care about me already know that it’s not unusual.

    13. TPS reporter*

      It me! I cried when I passed by children playing soccer today. Something about the weather and their joy and the thought of vaccinations happening just got to me. I’d like to think criers are just super in tune to the beauty of little moments and that’s a special quality. There’s too much cynicism and negativity out there.

    14. mreasy*

      I am a a big crier, and it definitely is hormone related. But I’ve noticed that once I started treatment for C-PTSD (EMDR), I cried a TON in sessions but less often the rest of the time. Either way, I have gotten used to blinking back tears and telling someone “oh I’m a big crier don’t worry about this” and it usually works out okay.

  30. HannahS*

    HannahS is having a girl and we’re now on the project of names. What are your favourites, and why? Anything you would use in a fantasy land? Any cultural naming traditions you followed or found meaningful?
    My not-to-be-used favourite is Na’ama. I love the name, which means “pleasant,” but the way anglophones pronounce it hurts my ears, so it’s off the table. I do like the tradition of naming a child after what’s happening around the time of their birth, so a child born during Chanukah might have “light” or “candle” in their name (or just straight up be named “Chanukah”). Our baby is due around the High Holidays, so lots of options.

    1. Helvetica*

      I really like Cosima and I would never use it because it does not work in my language at all. But I think it’s quite beautiful and unique and I also think it might be hassle for the child to have it. So that’s why it’s firmly in the “not in a real world” pile.
      My actual favourite girl names are Iris, Julia and Olivia. Would work in many languages, sweet and classical.

    2. fposte*

      I have no particular suggestions, but I think the idea of “not-to-be-used favorite” is brilliant. It gives you a chance to love the name while also choosing something that may work better for your daughter’s daily life.

      1. HannahS*

        Thanks! We’re also considering that a middle name is a great place to stick something that’s unpronounceable.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      There are a number of really pretty old names in my family that are not great for modern children. Iona, for one. I love the sound, I love the family story, I love the origin, I hate the idea of a child having “I own” in her name.

      If you really love a name though, dogs don’t care about having a stupid sounding name. Or cats, or gerbils, or goldfish. Of course, it would take a whole lot of animals to use up all the names that I’ve fallen in love with, especially because I keep naming mine something else! And also it would be kind of weird to name a pet after a dead relative.

      1. Blue Eagle*

        Reminds me of a story told by basketball coach Jim Valvano. He was at a big meeting and introducing himself to someone he said “Jim Valvano, Iona College”. The fellow tilted his head, looked at him oddly and responded “you look kind of young to own your own college”.

      2. MissCoco*

        I love the name Iona.

        We name (some) of our pets after dead relatives in my family! Usually somewhat distant ones, like great-great aunts, and cousins of grandparents.

        I think they are beautiful names, and we only do it if people close to the deceased think they would have enjoyed sharing their name with a pet. We do think of them more than if we didn’t have their tiny namesakes in our lives.

      3. Nicotene*

        This is why it’s wonderful to be a writer; you can use these unusual names in your books, and still name your daughter “Kate” or “Ann” :D

      4. HannahS*

        Oh wow, I had no idea that’s how “Iona” is pronounced! I would have guessed “Ee-oh-na” or even “Yo-na.” It’s pretty both ways, but I get your point.

        I’m pretty staunchly anti-pet (for me, of course, not for other people) but I’d 100% name a pet Beowulf. I don’t know why, but the idea of a guinea pig or rabbit named Beowulf cracks me up.

    4. Asenath*

      In my family we have generally gone with one name of the parents’ choice (sometimes arrived at after, umm, considerable discussion) and one name from another family member. Middle name is a good place to put a name with family meaning which the child (or their parents) may not want to use every day – too “odd” – long, complicated to spell and/or pronounce, old-fashioned etc. I would add please do not give your child a name that you actually intend to use on a daily basis that is too unusual or has variant spellings. My real first name isn’t actually all that unusual in the big scheme of things, but I went through a period in my childhood when I insisted on being called by a series of other names (one at a time), most of which were those names that were popular among my age group. I eventually got used to and accepted my real name, but to this day I still have to spell it out when I give it to anyone new because there’s a good chance they’ll spell it wrong on whatever forms or schedules they’re putting it on. If I had a child, I’d stick to traditional names with the traditional spelling for the first one, and a family one for the second name, just like my parents did except they skipped that rule for me.

      1. Sleepless*

        My first name is one that was common 60 or 70 years ago, with a spelling that was trendy in the 50s. I don’t really love my name, and I really don’t love that it sounds and looks like an old lady name, and I really really don’t love having to spell it all the time.

      2. HannahS*

        Oh gosh, yeah, I went through a phase as a pre-teen where I desperately wanted to be called Rachel. My real name (not Hannah) is unusual outside of Israel and I just wanted to fit in.

    5. AGD*

      Congrats! I have a Hebrew name and an English name, which sound partially similar but are not related to each other – maybe an option?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        My Hebrew and English names are completely unrelated– my mom gave me the English name she wanted and followed tradition for my Hebrew name. I am named for her grandmother, and even that took some maneuvering– my Hebrew name is the Hebrew equivalent of my great-grandmother’s unfortunate Yiddish name.

        Basically, there is room to maneuver. :-)

        If I had a kid born near Yom Kippur, I would probably consider naming her Hannah, after my favorite haftarah (reading). But that is not an option for HannahS!

        1. HannahS*

          Hah! My real name isn’t Hannah! It’s a fairly unusual modern Hebrew name that’s too distinctive to use on the internet–there isn’t anyone else on the internet with my first and last name. But Hannah’s out because it’s a relative’s family name. My husband takes the Ashkenazi “no naming after living relatives” thing more seriously than I do. In my family, we just don’t share names cross-generationally, but we have generations where five girls are all named after the same grandmother.

      2. OyHiOh*

        My children have English names and Hebrew names – son has a distinctively American first name and a middle/Hebrew name that sounds good in both English and Hebrew. My girls have first names and middle/Hebrew names but both are drawn from Hebrew or Aramaic. No particular reason, just how things worked out with meanings and sounds we liked.

      3. HannahS*

        Definitely possible! I don’t actually have an English name, myself. I do prefer English/Hebrew pairs that either sound very similar (Hannah/Chanah) or are equivalent (Lily/Shoshannah). I knew a Tiffany/Simcha, which is less my style.

      1. HannahS*

        A very nice meaning! Personally, we set a no-“ch” rule for naming this kid who’ll move through the anglo public school system. I have a relative–who, to be fair, was not expected to immigrate to Minnesota–whose first name is Tzivia, but she goes by her middle name, Chedva. It’s not too easy for her!

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      For both of my daughters we ended up choosing names that allow for a variety of nicknames, particularly with at least one being a more neutral or masculine variation – think Tina/Christie/Chris for Christina. We actually chose my first kid’s name specifically because we wanted to use a certain nickname and after maybe a year switched to only using the full version anyway.

      1. HannahS*

        Oh, smart. We’ve considered nicknames also. Like, if the kid doesn’t like the name we choose, could they use the English version? A shortened version? Their middle name?

    7. Disco Janet*

      We have two boys and are done having kids, so I have many favorite girl names! I don’t really have reasons for them – we don’t tend to think much about meaning and just looked for names we liked. Our girls list included Kaylie/Kaylee (what we decided on but never used), Aurora (my favorite), Olive or Olivia (husband’s favorite), Mia or Amelia, and Allison.

    8. Blomma*

      My dad is from Sweden and my mom’s American. They gave my siblings and me first and middle names used in Sweden but not too “out there” so we wouldn’t be ridiculed. My name is also a flower, and I love the idea (if I ever have kids) of giving them flower names, preferably ones that are less common (so, not Lily or Rose) and ones that work in Swedish too.

        1. c-*

          I also like flower names! Today I was thinking what a nice girl’s name Jara is: it’s a Spanish flower that’s in bloom right now, white and yellow, very pretty. :)

          One of my best friends is named Ruth, and I love her name, it’s beautiful and short.

    9. LDF*

      I wouldn’t trust Enish speakers with Naama either, hah. How about Naomi? Same root, but familiar to English speakers.

    10. Buni*

      I always like names that will give the kid options in later life if they want a change – you can pull about half a dozen alternate names out of e.g. Elizabeth or Katherine, so they can pick ‘n’ choose what they want to be called without changing their actual name…

      1. HannahS*

        Mm, yeah. We’ve considered that giving a Hebrew name means they can choose to go by the English version or use their middle name instead.

    11. Fellow Traveller*

      The girl name I didn’t get to use is Beatrix/ Trixie. Husband didn’t like it. Zelda was also a favorite that we couldn’t bring ourselves to use (actually we put it on the hospital form then scribbled it out right before we turned the form in)
      Our children all have middle names chosen by my parents that are from their language/ culture.
      My favorite name blog is Swistle (https://www.swistle.com/babynames/). The reader comments are really thoughtful.

      1. pancakes*

        The hospital crossing-out reminds me of a tweet I saw on Friday – a woman brought her new baby home and realized that somehow Kora had been registered as Korn, and that she now has a baby named Korn. She’s having the birth certificate adjusted and lots of people are having a good laugh in the meantime!

    12. Rara Avis*

      My daughter’s first name came from my grandfather and her middle name from my husband’s father. Family names were important to us.

      1. HannahS*

        How nice! We have some family names that we can’t decide on. We’re running up against the fact that most of the family names we’d like to use don’t sound great when spoken by English-speakers.

        1. Rara Avis*

          My daughter’s name is just unusual enough that it is frequently misspelled or mispronounced. But at least she has never been in a class where she has to share her name. (Despite my name being the third most common name given to girls in the U.S. in my birth year, I got all the way to college without sharing my name with a classmate.)

    13. Perpetua*

      My not-to-be-used favorite is Leonor. I’ve loved it ever since I heard it when the Spanish princess was born, but it doesn’t really work in our language, so it was never a real contender.

      I was actually surprised by how we chose the name, or rather by which name we chose in the end. I think I never expected that I’d give my daughter a name that had absolutely never crossed my mind prior to my partner suggesting it. And he heard it in a TV show, which is not something very inspiring, I kind of wish we had a better story for it. :D
      At first, I wasn’t sold on it, but as we kept our options open, I got used to it and liked it.

      We had several requirements – short, can work well internationally (although our surnames are not very international, but oh well), not too “hard” sounding (so more along the L, N, S sounds, rather than R, S, K, if that makes sense), fairly uncommon but not unheard of. The name we chose fit the bill, although it does seem that it might be more trendy than we originally thought.

      It’s funny that both my partner and I had Sofia or Sonja as one of the names we’d give our future child (prior to meeting), but in the end we didn’t go for either one of those (seemed a bit too popular for our taste). I also really like Olivia and Annabelle.

      1. Nicotene*

        It’s strange that all the modern girl’s names are soooo soft now. Emma, Ava, Sofia … little whispers. Extra funny since our standards for girls are getting tougher! I grew up with so many Kates, Julies, etc.

        1. HannahS*

          You might like the website Baby Name Wizard and its newer home, Namerology. It’s written by, I think, a statistician who follows naming trends. Super, super interesting.

    14. MissCoco*

      I love family names.
      My brother and I are named after great grandparents on either side of the family. Both unusual, old fashioned, but quite easy to spell! I like having a unique name, but I think I’d like it less if I had to constantly tell people how to spell it.

      Ruth is my favorite name, but mostly for family reasons. I think it’s a hard one for nicknames though, which I like, and has been the only complaint I have about my own name (nicknames don’t work well for mine)

    15. OyHiOh*

      I adore the name Shulamit. First heard it in my late teens and knew then and there I was going to name a daughter that. I like the Hebraic shortening “Shuli” but the child who wound up with this as part of her name detests the “i” ending and prefers the more American “Shula” version.

      Also love Ya’el and Lilit, although – one of my daughters has Lilit in her name – we’ve run into a few issues with very Orthodox women using her Hebrew name instead because they won’t pronounce the name of a demon. I’m somewhere between Reform and Reconstructionist at this point; myths and superstitions don’t bother me and I love the strength that’s implied in the name.

    16. Invisible Fish*

      True story: older lady relatives from same generation have Lavinia as a name – but one pronounced La-vin-e-ah and the other pronounced La-vine-ah. Hard pass on both.

      People who know me in real life would be surprised that I’d probably go for some religious sounding names- Mercy, Charity …. they’re just vital character traits that we all need more of. Please note that Chastity is NOT a name on that list!! ;)

        1. Jackalope*

          I’ve always felt sorry for girls named Chastity. No matter how you feel about discussing it, it can’t be fun having a name that deliberately references your (lack of) sex life. Why, parents, why?

    17. Jules the First*

      Names are so hard! I’m 34 weeks and the longlist is still shifting (I’m a believer in the idea that you have to meet baby before you can make a final decision…plus mine is very protective of their genitals, so no idea whether I’m carrying a boy or a girl).

      On my girls list in no particular order: Zillah, Phoebe, Diana, Rose, Zoe, Beatrix, and Mae.

      I also love Ilona, Annabelle, Willow, Isabella, Madeleine, and Yael, but for various reasons can’t use them. Fave not-to-be-used name is Tallullah, I love it, but feel like it’s a bit extreme to actually give to a kid…so much name to live up to.

      1. HannahS*

        I love Tallulah! I don’t think it’s too much name. She could be Tallie, or Lula while she’s little.

    18. J.B.*

      We chose Cecily for our youngest. Our oldest got a family name, but Cecily had a historical ring to it that we just loved.

      1. HannahS*

        It does have a historical ring to it! I love that it’s so close to Sweet Cecily, the plant name. It would always make me think of sweetness.

    19. Bluebell*

      I was trying to think of a Hebrew name that meshed with the New Year and a sideways name popped into my head – Ramona is somewhat close to pomegranate in Hebrew. I always think the Hebrew names are so interesting with the split between biblical vs nature. I do love the name Aviva but didn’t use it.

  31. MechanicalPencil*

    Kitten question! I feel like y’all are a knowledgeable pool of cat people.

    I am fostering two bottle babies that were singletons and then the shelter grouped them together.

    We have reached that crucial weaning/litterbox stage, and I am stumped. I’ve kind of suspected these two kittens weren’t exactly the same age, so it could just be that?

    For weaning, Kitten A took to it beautifully. Kitten B is not a fan and won’t try more solid foods in any way I’ve presented them. He does eat them as part of his bottle (like a chunky milk).

    For litter training, we have minimal success. I’ve done the used tissues in the litterbox, started elimination over the box and put them down. Scratched their paws in the litter. Kitten attract. Is this just a time thing? They eliminate near the box sometimes (never in their bedding), but I’m not seeing any actual success in the box.

    I’ve watched Kittenlady and tried her suggestions. I’ve tried various other google suggestions. I’m at a bit of a loss. These are my first that I’ve tried to take through the weaning/litter process and I don’t know if I need more patience (not my forte) or if I’m doing something wrong.

    1. tangerineRose*

      Have you talked to your vet or to the shelter?

      For the weaning, I’d probably given Kitten B more time.

      Sorry I can’t be more help. You’re a hero for taking care of such young kittens!

    2. Cat and dog fosterer*

      Weaning age varies by kitten even within a litter. I had bottle baby poopies who refused to wean until over 5 weeks old, and ones with a mama who were eating wet food at 3 weeks and then switched to dry kibble by 4 weeks old. Kittens typically wean between 4 and 5 weeks, but if they haven’t by then you can mix milk into a bowl of wet food which is easier than a bottle.

      There is something called litter attract at pet stores. I haven’t used it myself but have heard good things.

    3. Nicotene*

      I am a multi time fosterer and the last kittens always wean eventually – it just takes some longer than others (even in a litter where they are exactly the same age) I had one who was still eating only soft Petlac / Second Step mixed with wet food long after the rest were eating kibble. This was probably around a pound and a half.

      With the litterbox, perhaps they are just not old enough yet – like babies, they can’t really do it until they’re able to realize they need to go and hold it until the right moment. You’re moving their elimination into the box, right? Very young kittens just automatically go right after they eat (well, mom stimulates them) without any control. They might be behind schedule as bottle bbs.

    4. Worked in IT forever*

      We have inexpensive fleece throws that we bought at Lands End. We got them for 40% off or better (they constantly have discounts). We bought them in colours to go with the couches and drape them over the ends of the couches where one of our cats likes to scratch. It might not look beautiful, but if it’s just my husband and I, we don’t care. If someone is coming over, which hasn’t happened since before the pandemic, we can take off the throws.

      (Side note: these throws are soft and highly washable. Folded up, they make great padded cat beds and can be tossed in the wash, because, barf happens.)

  32. CatCat*

    Looking for sofa buying advice!

    Our sofa is in its last legs at 8 years old. It really started to get uncomfortable a couple years ago, but we made do by adding some extra padding. But it is time for an upgrade. I want something that will hold up for at least 10 years. It needs to support larger bodies (up to 250 lbs person) and prefer velvet or microfiber for cat reasons. I want a three-seater.

    I don’t even really know what to look for in how a couch is made. I’m getting inundated with internet ads for couches and they’re all starting to look the same. Budget up to $1,500.

    Any tips most welcome!

    1. Not A Manager*

      I’ve never bought a sofa that wasn’t on sale. If you have time to wait, I’d keep an eye out online and at local stores for upcoming sales. I’ve purchased, over the years, from Crate and Barrel, West Elm, and Room and Board all within that price range, and the sofas have held up very well. Twice I’ve purchased from local department/furniture stores. Those have a wider selection and can have better pricing, but you miss out on the crowdsourcing benefits of online reviews.

      1. Nacho*

        Agreeing with NAM. Sofas are like beds: They are always, ALWAYS on sale somewhere, usually multiple somewheres at once.

        1. Joan Rivers*

          The most comfortable sofa I ever owned was long and had removable back cushions so a tall guy could sleep on it like a twin bed. It was great and a bargain, except the upholstery didn’t hold up. Now I wish I’d have found sofa covers and kept it forever. Or got cushion covers made. It would have been worth it. When the stuffing doesn’t go bad, try to keep it.

    2. violet04*

      If you’re okay with going to a furniture store, I would suggest checking out some couches in person. We are finally upgrading our 17 year old couches and went to a Macys furniture store. We sat on several couches to see what was most comfortable and were able to decide on a set on our first visit. We were lucky that our furniture will be delivered in a couple of weeks, but some styles we looked at were a few months out due to pandemic delays.

    3. Ins mom*

      Our couch was not inexpensive but is up on five inch legs. Every day I’m flat on the floor retrieving dog toys. Also the legs screwed in and over time wiggled loose damaging the brackets. My large husband deserves to have a comfy couch but I’m not happy with this one

      1. Chaordic One*

        The IKEA Ektorp certainly looks nice, but I’ve read a lot of reviews of the Ektorp (and other IKEA sofas in general) where they complain about it being too hard.

    4. MissCoco*

      I’m quite happy with my Article sofa.
      Wood frame, metal springs, has held up well in the 2 years we’ve had it. A coffee shop in our town has the same one, which I suspect is a far better endorsement with regards to durability

      Not sure what one ought to look for in a couch. For me it came down to wanting a specific style and needing it to fit up a weird stairwell, throw in cost-effective delivery and that was that.

    5. Not Australian*

      Have you considered buying a ‘pre-loved’ one? Decades of scraping every penny have shown me that sometimes you can pay the same and get something far better if you’re willing to ignore the fact that someone else has already had it in their home – sometimes not for very long! The most comfortable couch we ever had was a little two-seater we bought in a charity/thrift/opp shop for absolute peanuts; we loved it for several years until successive generations of cats had torn it to shreds – and then we went out and got something nearly identical, but new!

    6. Daydreamer*

      I’m sitting on the Bassett sofa we purchased brand new in 2007. It was pricey, but is still comfy and has held up very, very well. I highly recommend Bassett. Happy shopping!

  33. nep*

    Natural, safe ways to keep kitty from scratching furniture?
    Hazel (~3-month-old kitty) has been with us two weeks now. She’s lovely and sweet. It’s so great having her with us. She seems happy and content to be with us–glad of that.
    Cats we’ve had in the past have scratched fabric chairs and couches–Hazel (or Purple Haze, as I sometimes call her) likes to dig her claws into a leather ottoman. She’s already done some damage, but I want to avoid more. I’ve heard of vinegar, some essential oils for keeping cats away from furniture. I want to use something that won’t harm her, of course, and that won’t stink up the place…Suggestions?
    (She has a ‘tower’ that includes a scratch post, as well as a toy that includes a surface for scratching, but she doesn’t use either yet. Also, I’m going to have her claws trimmed soon and regularly, so that should help some.)

    1. CatCat*

      You can buy wide double-sided tape made for this purpose. It deters scratching. Should be able to get it online or at a pet supply store.

      Lots of praise or whatever motivates kitty (treats, pets, play) when she scratches in an appropriate spot.

      If she doesn’t like the scratching post you have, you might try alternative types of scratching surfaces. My cats couldn’t give two rips about corrugated cardboard scratching surfaces, but love the wrapped rope type posts.

      1. Tuesday*

        Seconding the suggestion to try different types of scratching surfaces. My cat only liked the sisal rope kind, and it was a big relief for me and my furniture when I found that out.

    2. the cat's ass*

      orange peels near her fave scratching area might work. One of my cats loves to scratch an ottoman in the bedroom, but if i drape a towel over it, he loses interest. I also trim both cats claws using a regular human nail clipper about every other week, after which i praise them lavishly and give a special treat.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The two-sided tape is the only thing that’s worked for us. That, and putting a scratching post right in front of whatever the thing is you don’t want them to scratch.

      Don’t use essential oils; they can be toxic to cats.

    4. violet04*

      I have the Smart Cat Ultimate Scratching Post and it is well used by my five cats. I also keep cardboard scratchers around the house because some of them like the horizonal surface. The Sofa Scratcher can be placed on the corner of a couch. I have heard good things about Sticky Paws, but haven’t used the product myself.

    5. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Have you tried both vertical and horizontal scratching surfaces? Both the twine-y sort and cardboard? I ask because we had a heck of a time with our cat and the furniture before we figured out she only likes horizontal cardboard scratching options. I’ve never had a cat that liked either before, much less both. Worth a try if you haven’t already.

    6. Kirby and Isabelle's Mom*

      We covered everything (except their scratchng post) in aluminum foil for a couple of weeks – the cats hate the feel of it. Once they were broken of the habit we removed the foil and didn’t have any problems in the many years we had them.

    7. nep*

      (Hazel’s the fourth cat we’ve had over many years, and she’s our first one to sleep belly-up. So flipping cute.)

    8. Pucci*

      Soft paws nail covers. They are glued in with nail glue (use that instead of the thicker glue that come with them). It keeps the cats from digging their nails into the furniture, but they can still scratch sisal or cardboard scratching posts. I started my current cats with these when they were kittens, stopped using them when they were 2, they are now 12 and do not scratch the furniture.

      1. tangerineRose*

        If you plan to use soft paws, you need to trim the kitty’s nails first. I had considered using these for a kitty I had but with that particular cat, trimming her nails would not have gone well.

    9. ShinyPenny*

      All the ideas already mentioned!
      And also, maybe try communal scratching?
      I read once that scratching can be a happy greeting activity, so I ran with that with a litter of semi-feral kittens I was socializing. When I arrived home I’d lead the pack to the (proper!) scratching post(s), and scratch noisily with my nails while happily chanting “Claws! Claws! Claws!” I could also successfully redirect scratching by doing this.
      They all quickly learned to focus on the authorized objects. And “Claws!” remained useful for life as a command/communication word for the two kittens I kept.

    10. ShinyPenny*

      Haven’t seen this mentioned here yet, as another ‘texture’ option: a soft cedar fence board (look for the widest spaced grain lines to maximize the soft wood area).
      The 6 inch wide boards have more appeal than the 4″ ones, for big cats.
      I’ve had a tuxedo male that stretched a bit over 36 inches in vertical height. He wanted a vertical cedar board, that was *solidly* screwed to the wall (no wiggling!) a few inches taller than he could reach (he liked a challenge!). That was his lifelong favorite, though he also dabbled in a loose horizontal piece that he would stabilize by crouching on it.
      One upside to this material is that there’s not a whole lot of furniture made out of raw soft cedar, so it’s a pretty safe texture for cats to get hooked on for scratching.
      If your kitten is going after leather, that might be showing a preference for smooth-but-hard. Maybe cedar would fit the bill?

  34. ModernaShot2*

    Getting my 2nd Moderna shot. Super nervous since for my 1st shot I had a weird side effect, painfully sensitive teeth, for 2 weeks after that finally went away.

    Any advice/tips? Gatorade? Ideas?

    1. nep*

      You’re getting it today? I wish you well. Here’s hoping the side effects will be mild. I guess one consolation is in pretty much all cases, they don’t last. Whatever you’re going to go through will pass. I hope you’ll have time for rest.
      I don’t have any specific tips except drink plenty of water and rest a lot if you’re able–both things help with any malaise. And I always have peppermint oil on hand if I’m feeling ill or headachy. Sniff it, rub it on the temples or sore parts…
      All the best.

    2. Courageous cat*

      Nah, no advice or tips since there’s nothing you can do. Take tylenol sparingly. Just be prepared to lay on the couch all day.

    3. Not A Manager*

      I appreciated Gatorade and instant noodle soup. Was only under the weather for about 36 hours. For me, the symptoms were transient and varied, so it was like a little tapas table of flu symptoms. I was MUCH less miserable than I would have been with a flu, simply because I knew why I felt that way and that it would pass quickly.

    4. T. Boone Pickens*

      Yup, agree with nep. Lots of hydration–water, Pedialyte (I’m partial to Pedialyte v. Gatorade) and Tylenol. Hopefully you’re able to relax/sleep as needed the day after. Sending you positive vibes!

    5. Might be Spam*

      I had surprisingly pronounced side effects after the first shot, but the second one wasn’t as bad as I feared.
      Do you have any neck problems in general? It could be that inflammation as a side effect tipped things over the edge. When my teeth hurt, it has always had something to do with my neck. Maybe try a heating pad around your neck and shoulders and very gentle stretching.
      I don’t like ginger, but candied pineapple really helped my stomach.
      Keep your favorite comfort foods on hand.
      (Lazy house keeping hack) I also found that a cowl neck sweater catches cracker crumbs really well and I just dumped my cracker crumbs in the sink every time I got up to get more crackers.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I had my 2nd Phizer this week, and my arm was much less sore than the first time. I was a bit more tired the next day, that’s all.

      Here’s hoping you have an easy time!

      (When my teeth are extra sensitive, it’s always sinus pressure. You could try a Neti pot, which is harmless either way).

      1. nep*

        I hope my Pfizer-2 story resembles that.
        (A friend of mine urges me to try the Neti pot, so mind-blowingly wonderful are the benefits, she says. I’ve bought one in the past–never could bring myself to use it. My friend says it’s part of her routine and couldn’t live without it.)

      2. Chaordic One*

        If you feel intimidated by the Neti pot, you could get one of those NeilMed Sinus Rinse kits with the little plastic squeeze bottle. It’s the same basic idea as the Neti pot, but a lot easier to use.

      1. Nicotene*

        Was so nervous about this side effect as it was already day #1 for me in my cycle (what was I thinking??), and I was already miserable not using my usual motrin to handle the cramping. I was prepared for a biblical flood and even worse monthly than usual; weirdly, nothing happened. I didn’t notice the second pfizer being much different than the first, and both were pretty mild. Just felt a little hungover.

    7. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      When I made the appointment for the first shot, my doctor told me to block out the day after that second dose to stay home and do nothing in particular, just in case. I didn’t have bad side effects, but yes I was tired.

      Have easy foods around:” easy” meaning both easy for you, specifically, to digest, and to eat when you’re not feeling well, and easy to prepare. (If you live with someone who can handle food prep, that’s less an issue.)

    8. Chaordic One*

      I got my second Moderna shot on a Thursday afternoon. Mild fever and chills shortly afterwards and into the next day, so I called in sick on Friday. Saturday morning I woke up with the worst headache. Not a migraine, but just a dull horrible pain on both sides of my head. Drank a cup of coffee, went back to sleep for 4 more hours and when I woke up around noon, it wasn’t so bad and I was fine the next day.

    9. ShinyPenny*

      Things I prepped:
      Propel Zero on hand. Pre-cooked food in the freezer all ready to thaw in the microwave. Confirmed I had Tylenol that for sure wasn’t already expired (though I held out until about 30 hours post-vaccine, in case it ends up mattering). Did laundry and ran the dishwasher the day before. Cleared my calendar so I could sleep for several days if it seemed best. Asked a friend to water some newly planted veggies the day after, because I knew they’d need it and I figured it would be too hard for me (I was right). Saved a book to read, that I knew I’d love, as a reward/distraction.
      I did have extreme fatigue starting about 24 hours afterwards (2nd Moderna), so I was glad I’d prepped. Mild headache, faint transient nausea (possibly because I read too long instead of napping, ha!) Weird feverish brain state. Couldn’t regulate my body tempurature for a couple days (got really cold easily). By 48-60 hours later I was pretty much back to normal. The localized arm pain and redness/swelling and periodic chills lasted maybe 5 days but weren’t significant.
      The feverish brain state was the weirdest. Not exactly dizzy, but…”like a balloon” lol. The most surprising was how hypersensitive the skin on my hands became! When I washed my hands, it felt really strange for about 2 days.
      I agree with Not A Manager– for me, knowing *why* I was feeling weird made it much easier to just wait it out.
      Prep what you can, and have some good distractions ready. Good luck!

  35. nep*

    I hope this doesn’t tip into work territory–please delete if so, of course.
    In my town is a building for rent–downstairs is a space that would be perfect for my personal training and Zoom workouts I run. (That space is currently being used as a small gym.) Upstairs is a sweet, bright apartment.
    I looked at the building when it was available for lease a few years back. Didn’t have the money then and I don’t now. But I just love the idea of living above that great gym space.
    Not even sure what my question is here. Generally, now that the space is for lease again, something in me just doesn’t want to give up on the idea. I keep thinking about it, but it’s pure fantasy at this point. (I think I’d be more aggressive about going for it if it weren’t for the pandemic… I could be more aggressive about marketing the workouts and personal training. But then, I didn’t go for it last time either.) I guess I’m just wondering whether anyone has had a similar situation and found a way to go for it. How did you go for it? What worked, what didn’t? Not necessarily a property, but just a big idea.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I am pretty conservative. I have to have enough ducks in a row to see that I have at least a 50-50 chance of making it with “the big idea”. I don’t like starting out behind.
      Of my larger ideas that have worked out there has been a gut feeling of, “If I try, I will get this. I have to really try but it will be okay.”

      I tend to think that my big ideas were never that big. Then I think about the low level support I had and I realize that most of it I did on my own. So maybe my ideas were bigger for me given my givens? Not clear on that one.

    2. Pharmgirl*

      If you were to go for it, would leasing the space below in addition to your own offerings be an option?

    3. ronda*

      I think we only live once, so if you really want it, see what you think you can spend and contact them and see if they will negotiate.
      If $ is a ton more than you can spend… probably not feasible, but if it is not too far off, maybe possible to get it. Sounds like they are having trouble getting a long term tenant and maybe there is some room for negotiation. It doesn’t hurt to ask (even if you are pretty far off their price).

    4. Glomzarization, Esq.*

      How did you go for it? … Not necessarily a property, but just a big idea.

      I’d start by drawing up a business plan. There’s just no way to get a realistic idea of whether you can tackle a business venture without having the data in place. At the very least, keep in mind that for a commercial/mixed-use property, it’s not just the rent, but (depending on where you are) it’s probably a triple-net situation where you’d be responsible for property taxes, insurance, and maintenance in addition to your rent, utilities, and business expenses. Anyway, there are lots of useful free guides online, as well as “for dummies” books and resources from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

  36. Grey Panther*

    What a great photo! And I’d never even considered stacking my cats, but looks like it works.

    1. I take tea*

      I laughed at the optical illusion, we have a collapsible cat too. She can seem small or really long, depending on how much she streches. We call her the kitty accordion.

    2. Pam*

      Cats have variable personal gravity; I guess variable size was an add-on.

      Did she grow or did he shrink?

    3. Minocho*

      I have a great cat sizing photo too. My fur babies are littermates. One is 5.5 lbs, one is 13.

  37. SheLooksFamiliar*

    For the first time in over a year, I’m meeting a special group of friends for a long-overdue celebration dinner tonight. We’re all vaccinated, my state actually does a lot of the right things regarding Covid-19, and the restaurant is well-known for enforcing safety standards. We live over an hour away from each other so we had to plan for even casual get-togethers, and I’m so excited to see this crew I can hardly stand it!

    I’m a bit of a hermit by nature but still had a hard time isolating this past year. I’ve met a few people for a drink or quick bite here and there without a problem, but this group is very special to me. Dinner with friends…it really is the little things that make life wonderful, isn’t it?

    1. AGD*

      This just put a huge smile on my face. My area is not there yet, but I can’t wait until it is. Soon!

      1. allathian*

        Same here! I can’t wait for this to be possible, hopefully in the summer. My town is currently vaccinating people with no risk factors who were born in 1971 or earlier. So my age group will be up next! I really hope I’ll be able to get my first vaccine in less than a month.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Two of my best girlfriends are coming to visit next month. All of us fully vaccinated. I’ve been looking into stuff to do, but really I think we’ll be happy to hang out on my roof chatting all day. I haven’t been this excited in ages and there will be lots of happy tears.

      In other words, I GET IT. Enjoy!

  38. nep*

    Anyone plan on ordering those rapid at-home COVID tests? I was thinking it would be good to have some on hand just in case of suspected exposure, or to make sure not carrying the virus and contagious before some event, say.
    For now they’re pretty expensive but I hear the cost is expected to come down.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      I’m not mainly because the accuracy on the rapid tests is not great. A positive would be useful info, but a negative on one of those would just send me to a drive-up site for a PCR test, so I don’t plan to bother. Also fully vaccinated as of today so hopefully my need would be extreeeeeeeeeeeemely low, but even if that weren’t the case yet, the rapids seem a waste to me.

      1. nep*

        I thought they would be a waste too, but I heard in a report on NPR that they can be very accurate to show whether someone is contagious right now, which I can see as useful when planning for an event with potential for close contact.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I have- we can now get them free and are encouraged to test twice weekly to help track outbreaks.
      Before that I did buy some for myself because I have lots of allergies etc and found it helpful to be able to do the test for reassurance that it was just normal allergies etc, especially as I have been working in person.

      Here, the advice is to get a PCP test to confirm, if you get a positive on a lateral flow test – apparently false positives are more likely than false negatives, so they are pretty good for confirming you aren’t infectious

      1. londonedit*

        Exactly what I was just going to say! I ordered a pack of tests when the government announced they were giving them out free, and I’ve been testing myself twice a week. I’m not really going anywhere in particular but I have started to meet up with friends for outdoor drinks/brunch etc (froze our arses off yesterday but we’re British, we won’t be deterred by bad weather) and for peace of mind it’s good to know I’m not asymptomatically spreading Covid around the place. I think it makes sense – as you say, the real risk is a false positive, and then it’s no hardship to go to a test centre (here in London they’re all over the place) and get a PCP test to make sure.

    3. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I bought a couple and have used one so far. It is really easy! It is now a requirement before attending a thing I go to for my child once a week. I firmly support that choice, but it does make going feel that much more expensive right now.

  39. Clodagh*

    Anyone out there still playing Harry Potter Wizards Unite? I’m looking for some friends if so! My code is 3757 1927 5277

  40. MissB*

    Would you have called the police?

    Hopefully this isn’t too long. We live on the edge of a large city, not in the city limits but maybe a 15 minute drive to downtown. The lots are half acre to an acre. No busin