weekend open thread – May 15-16, 2021

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: The Fortunate Ones, by Ed Tarkington. A coming-of-age story in which a young man’s friendship with a son of a wealthy family pulls him into a different world.

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

{ 1,002 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Hello! A reminder that the weekend posts are for relatively light discussion and are not well suited for medical advice. Please don’t post questions here that would be better posed to a doctor or pharmacist. That includes questions about the Covid vaccine. If you have questions about the vaccine, you should check the guidance from the CDC or talk to your health care provider.

    The full weekend rules are here.

    Thank you!

  2. fancy olive oil*

    I bought some very fancy and flavourful olive oil. Any ideas on the best way to eat it to show off it’s flavour? So far, we’ve just been dipping fancy bread it in. Other ideas?

    1. But Faaaaaaamily*

      Caprese! Mozzarella, Tomato, Fresh Basil, nice olive oil and nice balsamic vinegar (plus salt and pepper to taste). With so few ingredients the olive oil really shines. It’s one of our favorite summer treats.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Ooooh, I need to see if I can still order Hojiblanca, that was my favorite! I would sometimes just pour a bit of that over pasta, maybe with broccoli and/or pine nuts, and a bit of salt.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Ooh, yes! I’d try it over simple pasta with egg & Parmesan. Maybe with some asparagus, now that it’s spring.

    3. Generic Name*

      I like putting truffle oil on popcorn. It’s great sprinkled with grated Parmesan

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’d want to try it in an olive oil cake. But that would be a dang expensive cake!

    5. BlueWolf*

      Popcorn! We recently bought an air popper and some fancy olive oil to use instead of melted butter on popcorn. We just drizzle it, but you could also get an oil mister to get more even distribution on the popcorn.

      1. MissCoco*

        Yes! We also recently have started adding white balsamic to our popcorn – it’s just a bit sweet so it tastes kind of like kettle corn, but with a vinegar bite

    6. lemon meringue*

      When I volunteered picking olives and we wanted to taste the new oil, we made the most basic bruschetta by toasting bread, rubbing a clove of raw garlic over each piece and drizzling it with olive oil. It would probably be good with a slice of tomato or some basil as well.

    7. Purt’s Peas*

      It’d be a wonderful finish to a simple puréed vegetable soup—serve each bowl with some oil drizzled on top (along with something like toasted nuts, lemon zest, etc). On a salad—wonderful. Crush some garlic and finely tear some herbs, add some lemon zest and juice, mix in oil for a lazy delicious pesto—I had this with blanched green beans and crushed pistachios.

    8. Elle Woods*

      I love roasting vegetables with my fancy, flavorful olive oil. It also works great for grilling vegetables too.

      1. Sam I Am*

        Seconding the roasting, maybe when you have a cool day. The flavored oils really shine here, more than I expected.

    9. Team9to5*

      This might be weird, but olive oil is great on fancy vanilla ice cream with a little sprinkle of flaky salt!

    1. But Faaaaaaamily*

      A mug of honey vanilla chamomile tea and a warm scone! I’ve started making big batches of mini scones and freezing them. They cook up beautifully in the toaster oven and it makes a regular weekday morning feel like a lazy cozy Sunday.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      Mama fox and 3 babies are living under our shed. Baby foxes wrestling with each other is probably the cutest thing ever!

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I took my husband to the local casino for his birthday and I won some money. :) He at least he broke even. But I felt bad so I gave him some of my money. We had a free room, but took the upgrade to a suite. It was a nice time.

    4. Queer Earthling*

      I’m a doll collector and two that I’d been waiting on arrived this week! One had been stuck in customs for about a month, and then abruptly appeared on my doorstep.

      1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        I’m envisioning Dolly in a little basket on the doorstep of her/his new home.

        1. Queer Earthling*

          omg I love this idea! They came in boxes, though, with layers of foam padding. Much less picturesque.

    5. Laura H.*

      This is why I always skim.

      A little joy is that this thread doesn’t always need me to post it. Thanks for doing it this week, Fran!

      Mine for the thread is that I got to pay for my breakfast before work on Saturday. Being paid for is nice but so is paying for yourself.

    6. Generic Name*

      We had an outdoor gathering with coworkers (were all fully vaccinated), and it was amazing. I haven’t talked to that many people in so long.

    7. OTGW*

      Gonna go plant shopping today! Get herbs and maybe a little flower for the balcony. V excited.

      1. Generic Name*

        I need to do that too! This spring has been very cold, so I hope it’s safe to put out annuals by now. :)

    8. Charlotte Lucas*

      My first CSA box of the year came. It was bursting with greens, & smelled like Spring.

    9. AGD*

      The weather warmed up and I went for a very long walk and enjoyed a lot of urban gardens. Also got a couple of lovely notes from students.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I picked up my long-awaited reserve book from the library — hurrah to whoever returned it before its due-date!
      On the way out, I saw a couple of pre-schoolers eagerly pawing through a stack of books. The little one looked up at me and waved a book at me. “Oh you have books too!” I said…and he was off showing it to me from his side of the bench. He was too little to speak clearly yet, but he was so very excited to say BOOK! BALL! And yes, that was on the cover. So I shared the joy: “Books AND balls? Thats great! I’m going to learn to knit!”
      He went running over to his dad and shouted “Books and balls!”
      So cute it made my day.

    11. I take tea*

      Congratulations mini-Fran :-)

      I got my first shot today. I’ve been humming Chris Mann’s Girl on Pfizer the whole day.

      Also: our neighbors have the most adorable labradoodle puppy and have been posting on Facebook that we are welcome to help socialize it, as long as we are careful (outdoors of course). I got to help with that today, and it was very curious and cuddly. So cute!

    12. Yellow Warbler*

      I maxed out both our IRAs this year, on only my income. We only accomplished that previously when we both had jobs. The debit will happen Monday at the last possible moment, but I did it.

    13. allathian*

      Happy birthday to your little one!

      Called a friend today and we spoke for nearly two hours. Most of that time I either walked outdoors or sat on our deck. We’re having July weather in May and our garden is exploding into color.

      1. allathian*

        The awesome video of a black cat who jumped from the 5th storey of a burning building in Chicago and just walked away.

    14. Jackalope*

      We had our first overnight visitor since the pandemic started – my dad!! He came over for a few days, and we got to hang out and spend time together, plus he did a lot of the stereotypical “Dad” things – we now have several hard-to-reach screws that are tightened, a random obscure light that’s working, a cabinet door that closes properly, etc. I made sure he knew that he was welcome to just relax and be a guest, but he had a fun time doing things around the house (I think it also helps that our house is older and quirkier than his, so we probably have more scope for handyman tinkering). Plus, I mentioned on some of the projects he took on (that I’d asked him about) that Mr. Jackalope and I didn’t know how to do them ourselves, so he made sure to take the time to show me how to do it myself for next time. So much fun to hang out with him and chat in person (we’ve talked almost every day during the pandemic, but phone isn’t the same), and every time I wander through our house and see random things that now function properly I think of him!

        1. Jackalope*

          It’s really nice. We used to talk once a week, but when the pandemic started he was living alone a few hours away from me and so I started calling him most days to check in and see how he was doing. We kept that up and talk about six days a week.

    15. Solar Moose*

      I bought goat milk soap and a sisal soap bag on a whim. I’m not generally feminine, but wow, I love it! Treat yo self :)

    16. Susie*

      Sitting in my garden this morning with my kids entertaining themselves so I was able to finish my coffee while it was still hot.

    17. Be the Change*

      This is a huge, giant joy: an old friend of mine who lost her beloved husband years ago to brain cancer *just* got married anew to a lovely, sweet man in her faith tradition, and they livestreamed the wedding so friends from afar could see. I’m so happy for them.

    18. Clisby*

      The basil plant in my garden seems to have recovered from my cat lying on it. OK, I didn’t catch the cat doing the deed, but he likes to lie around in the garden, and the basil plant was decidedly squashed. I’ve put a cage around it now (the kind you put around tomato plants) so maybe it’ll prosper. I hope so, because basil is really easy to propagate.

    19. Voluptuousfire*

      Had the week off and it was fantastic. Went to brunch, spent some time with family and on Wednesday got my hair cut and ran errands. It was a beautiful day and I got to do a ton of driving so all the windows were down.

    20. Small town*

      My younger son graduated from high school and the regional Governor’s school! Older one is done with the first year of law school. The peonies are blooming and are little explosions of joy. My Dad turned 88! A great week, I must say. The small joys are what keep us going, I think.

    21. Laura Petrie*

      I just made an awesome breakfast sandwich of veggie lorne sausage, veggie black pudding, hash brown potato waffle and eggs fried with veggie facon bits. Yum!

      I’ve been volunteering at a social group for men who are lonely, in the early stages of dementia or who have a physical or learning disability. I had a lovely chilled session on Friday chatting to the service users. I was also given a top with their logo on so I’m officially part of the group.

      My rats have been extra snuggly this week. Their excitement when they hear my voice warms my heart.

    22. Not Australian*

      We’re helping our friend sell some unwanted bits and pieces on eBay.

      This week she turned up with an *original*, personalised, early 1960s autographed photo of *Ringo Starr*.

      When our panic attack subsided, we helped her find a specialist pop memorabilia auctioneer who will be happy to handle it for her. This is the sort of job you need an expert for!

    23. Rebecca Stewart*

      Watching birds at the feeder I set up from my lovely sunroom.
      And watching the cats (3) watch the birds, flat to the ground, butts wiggling if they get too close, from their cat tree and various points of vantage in the sunroom.

  3. Grim*

    Anyone get hung up in the gas shortage in the USA? How difficult is it to find gas? Is hoarding an issue?

    I’m in the SF Bay area and we have plenty gas, although it’s $4.35 a gallon.

    1. But Faaaaaaamily*

      I’m in North Carolina by the coast and it’s been crazy! Police officers having to direct traffic at some of the more popular stations even yesterday. Gas Buddy has been a very helpful app for seeing who has fuel. We hope things go back to normal this week…

    2. fposte*

      I talked to a friend in Florida who said about 40% of the stations around her have no gas, but she could get it if she was willing to drive for it. Near as I can tell no problem in the Midwest.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I’m in the Midwest and saw nothing unusual at any gas stations. Even though the state I’m in ranks high in OMG levels of idiocy, everyone has been behaving pretty normally. For once.

    3. Deschain*

      I’m in Charlottesville, VA. I had a medical appointment Thursday and the office called and asked if we had enough gas to get there. I was a little baffled but appreciated the concern. We had plenty of gas and the office is only a few miles away. When we headed out, we saw that all the gas stations we passed had signs saying they were out of fuel. Then I understood the question! I’ve seen this before—day of 9/11 and weeks after Katrina (was in southern MS then).

    4. newbie*

      I rode my bike last week because I was on E and not about to deal with all the panic-buying lines. My town had an idiot surplus, not a gas shortage.

      1. Blackcat*

        “idiot surplus, not a gas shortage.” LOL great way to explain hoarding-caused shortages.

      2. Is it tea time yet?*

        Same here – my poor car had less than a gallon left. The station closest to me finally had gas yesterday and I drove like a hyper-miler to go fill up my tank. Still, I’m planning to ride my bike to work next week too, as long as the weather stays nice (getting a little rain while riding isn’t a problem, but I eat lunch outside and getting rained on then wouldn’t be fun).

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I fully read it that way (and was like, “I like the destigmatization”) and just realized from your comment that it didn’t mean that.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Upstate NY. 2.99 or just over 3.00 per gal. No lines, no problems– at least around me.

    6. Let me be dark and twisty*

      Northern Virginia here (DC suburbs). Gas is around $3.25. Only the two Sheetz and Costco stations have gas, and long lines at each one. I think it’s just being in a high-density area, not necessarily hoarders.

      My parents live just outside of Richmond VA and they’re dealing with price-gougers. It’s between $6-$10 in their area. Not many people hoarding in their area, but where my cousin lives (rural VA), they have the idiot hoarders who are using plastic tubs and spare tanks. Their local fire department has had to issue a warning that if you call for assistance, you have to tell them if you have extra gasoline so they can take extra precautions when they roll up. They’re also commandeering extra gasoline from the hoarders, especially if it is improperly stored, so first responders (nurses, teachers, local police, and volunteer firefighters) can get to work. Everyone is PO’d.

      1. Flower necklace*

        I’m in Northern VA as well, and it’s definitely bad here. People were calling out at work because they couldn’t find gas. I live close and (coincidentally) filled up last weekend, but a lot of people have much longer commutes and need to fill up more frequently. Hopefully it will be better by Monday.

    7. Blackcat*

      It’s my understanding it’s largely a hoarding problem, ala the great toilet paper shortage of 2020.

      1. pancakes*

        Yep. People panic-buying have increased demand, in some places 15%, up to 35% in some areas. It’s not a shortage problem, it’s a hoarding problem.

    8. OtterB*

      DC Maryland suburbs. I passed multiple stations that had fairly long lines or blocked off with cones indicating they were out, but finally hit good timing at my nearest station yesterday and filled up. Noticeable but not impossible.

    9. Meh*

      North Central VA, I topped up at Costco this week, but since in only drive about 10 miles a month, I felt a bad about even doing that.

    10. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Haven’t had any issues getting gas but I fill up about every 8 days. It’s 2.95 where I am.

      Im reading news stories, someone hitting another car to cut in line, someone else who was hoarding gas in a stolen vehicle I believe? and crashed and the car burst into flames. Terrible.

    11. Quinalla*

      Weird, hadn’t heard about this, no issues in the Midwest so far, hopefully panic hoarding doesn’t catch on here!

    12. Paralegal Part Deux*

      Gulf coast and yes on gas shortage! People are hoarding it. It’s ridiculous. Currently, prices are around $2.75/gal., though.

    13. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      I’m thankful to be just north of all of the problems in the NYC area. There’s plenty of gas here, but definitely more people at the stations, and because of the idiot hoarders, prices have pushed up to about $3.15 per gallon from $2.79ish before. I picked just the right time to buy a car that averages 40 miles per gallon!

    14. BlueWolf*

      I’m in Maryland. Luckily I don’t have to drive much and I happened to put a bit of gas in my tank the other day right before the news came out about the hack. Haven’t needed to fill up yet, so my hope is everything will be sorted out before I run out.

    15. Gas shortage*

      I’m in East Tennessee & haven’t seen a crowded gas station yet? But Kroger is reportedly out of fuel, and gas has jumped 20 cents/gallon in the last 72 hours.

    16. MissDisplaced*

      I’m in PA and there seems to be no issues getting gas, though I’ve noticed the prices are higher.

      There is no gas shortage. This is a supply chain disruption turned hoarding issue in certain areas. And it’s being fed to a certain suggestible population by the fake media talking heads that Biden caused it and is rationing gas. Must rile up their base I guess.

      1. kt*

        Apologies. I work in supply chain, and from my point of view there is no less gas, it’s just in the wrong place. I understand that on a practical level in some regions of the US there’s not difference to a person with a car who needs gas.

    17. Loopy*

      It was super crazy for a day or two in SC but not as bad as I expected now. Pleasantly surprised.

    18. Clisby*

      I haven’t had a problem in Charleston, SC, although gas is close to $3 a gallon. That being said, a full tank of gas, for me, will last at least 2 weeks. I filled up on Tuesday, so don’t know what it’ll be like in a week or so.

    19. MissB*

      I suppose it’s in poor form to mention that I picked up my new all electric vehicle yesterday?

      Sorry.

      We do still own a truck, but it may make like one 10-mile trip every other week, and a long (12-hr drive each way) trip once a year. So we do still consume gas.

    20. *daha**

      I’m in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Gas is plentiful. The price actually dropped over the past week from $2.95/gallon for 87 octane unleaded to $2.79, though it seems to vary widely from one gas station to the next.

    21. ampersand*

      Did we learn nothing from the great toilet paper shortage of 2020?!

      I’m in Austin and hope I’m not speaking too soon—we don’t seem to be affected by a gas shortage here. i.e., people have not started freaking out and lining up for gas yet

    22. Generic Name*

      No shortages in the Denver area. Prices are a bit higher, but I think it’s the start of the summer driving season prices. Hopefully.

  4. Book Wyrm*

    How is everyone doing with the CDC saying masks aren’t needed any more? My state is lifting the mask mandate so they’re only required in public transportation and schools. I’m really anxious about this, especially for my friends who have customer service jobs that now can’t/won’t force customers to wear masks and maintain social distance. I get wanting to return to normal, I want nothing more than go to back to normal, but I also don’t trust that everyone I would interact with in public is actually vaxxed.

    1. CheeseWhizzies*

      I understand why you’re worried, but it’s not worth getting anxious about something you can’t control. Just do what you can to keep yourself safe. Wear your mask, avoid crowded places.

      1. kt*

        Hey, I’m with you in a lot of ways, but this seems flippant and unkind. I have friends with immunocompromised children in school and saying, “Don’t worry about it! Nothing you can do anyway!” is just not… you know. One friend had to pull her child out of daycare again after finally getting back; this is a kid who was getting hospitalized from common childhood illnesses before COVID and benefited from the mask usage, and while one can certainly be unsympathetic and say that the kid doesn’t really deserve to go to daycare if she’s got poor health, it’s not nice.

        1. RagingADHD*

          “Here’s a way to work on your anxiety: focus on things you can control”

          is not at all the same thing as saying

          “Don’t worry about it! Who cares?”

          I mean, practically speaking, in what way does person A experiencing anxiety give any help or support to person B’s immunocompromised kid? None. Nothing.

          If you want to write letters to the health department, or have a calling bank to the governor’s office, or talk to the school administrators — great. Do that.

          Protip: those actions are things you can control.

        2. LilPinkSock*

          Wait, did someone say that your friend’s kid doesn’t deserve to go to daycare?!

          1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

            I’m not sure how that particular conclusion was reached either.

        3. Kiwiapple*

          @kt I absolutely fail to see how cheesewhizzies is being unkind. They are in fact being really realistic – you *can* only control your own actions and not those of strangers.

      2. I'm A Little Teapot*

        I’m with you., ChesseWhizzies. I can only control myself, and I don’t feel like making myself more stressed out than needed. I do feel badly for parents who are stuck between a rock and a hard place right now. At least the teens can get vaccinated now, and hopefully younger kids will be able to soon.

        Plus, the reason I got vaccinated is to protect myself. I’m less likely to get sick, and if I do get covid it’ll probably be mild. It might be nasty, but at this point I don’t much care if all the antivaxxers get sick. They’re adults, they have agency.

        1. Pippa K*

          I understand not caring about antivaxxers in a way, but on the other hand the large pool of unvaccinated people is where the next Covid variants will probably develop, rendering our vaccines less effective and putting us all right back where we started. Maybe you’re right that there’s nothing most of us can do about that, but I don’t really blame anyone for being worried about dealing with unvaccinated people.

          1. Ranon*

            The vast vast percentage of the pool of unvaccinated people is the rest of the globe, though- if we’re trying to prevent variants getting more vaccines to the rest of the world is probably easier and more effective than focusing within our borders.

    2. But Faaaaaaamily*

      As someone with a small child, I will very much be continuing to wear my mask. I have to model good behavior for him until he can be vaccinated (plus I LOVE that we haven’t gotten sick since mask wearing started!).

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      My local government is keeping the mandate in place for now. We’re doing great with vaccinations, but we’re surrounded by areas that… aren’t. I think they’re waiting for the numbers to get where they want them to be.

      Not only did I love the lack of a flu season this past year, but I noticed that masks keep bugs out of my mouth when I’m on a walk!

    4. Mimmy*

      I’m very mixed about it. My state is keeping the mandate for now (I think just indoors?). But it’s important to keep in mind that the CDC isn’t saying you CAN’T wear a mask. I think vaccinated people should do what they are comfortable with. If they choose to continue wearing masks, those who don’t should respect that.

    5. Deschain*

      I plan on wearing my mask as long as I can. I’m lucky to work from home so I don’t have to wear a mask all day—only when I shop once a week, so that absolutely colors my view. That being said, I love wearing a mask. Not only have I not gotten sick this year and my allergies are way better, but it’s so wonderful to be anonymous. Probably sounds silly. I don’t want to be invisible to people. I like to wave and nod. But my extreme introvert personality is soothed by knowing that I’m basically incognito between my mask and my baseball cap. It’s just awesome.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Whenever I do stop wearing it, I’m going to have to be very mindful of my facial expressions. I’ve been getting away with a lot.

        1. Sparkles McFadden*

          Oh, for sure. I once had a boss hiss at me “Control your face!” during a particularly ridiculous meeting. I don’t know that I can manage to do that anymore.

      2. Rebecca Stewart*

        It does make me feel better about the perimenopausal acne that is manifesting as random big honkin’ zits around my nose.

        (Do I really have to do this again?!)

        The N95 is very nice in that regard….

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      I wish they had presented it differently. Like “there is no individual benefit if you’re fully vaccinated, but communities should continue masking until X% of the population is vaccinated.” I think a lot of people who SHOULD still wear them won’t, and places that want to keep enforcing them will have a harder time. I’ll still be wearing a mask for my kids’ sake at least until our local case numbers improve.

      1. PostalMixup*

        I also wish they had done this. That would actually be an incentive to get vaccinated! And it would protect those in communities with low vaccination rates.

    7. Girasol*

      I’m wearing a mask even though vaccinated because it seems like the right thing to do. Some people aren’t vaccinated yet or can’t develop immunity, and I don’t want them to worry about whether they’re safe around me. Some people don’t choose to be vaccinated and I want to set an example of mask wearing for them. Our area is high risk right now – lots of cases, lots of people who prefer not to mask, distance, or get a vaccination. It’s too soon for us to let up yet.

    8. BRR*

      I’m extremely unhappy with the CDC. I understand they want to incentivize getting vaccinated but since everyplace is going to be in the honor system, I’m not sure why they seemed to ignore that people lie? Daily case counts are still pretty high and vaccination rates too low.

      1. kt*

        Yeah, this has no incentive built in. I work in a nerdy field and we have to communicate with business people and this feels like every stupid misunderstanding where the nerds present something that is technically right and the biz people just take it away in the opposite direction to do exactly what was not intended.

        1. ampersand*

          That’s a really good way to put it!

          I keep wondering who the CDC is catering to with these new guidelines. They said their intent is to try to incentivize people to get vaccinated, but—have they not been paying attention this past year? Do they not know what people will do with this new guidance? Have they ever met an American*?! This is incentive for people to pretend they’re vaccinated, not actually get the vaccine.

          *I say this as a vaccinated American that just wants this country to be and do better, but that is also painfully aware of alllll of our problems.

    9. Molly Mac*

      I shake my head because many of the comments here over the past year lamented over the people who didn’t follow the rules laid out by the CDC and the authorities, but now are complaining about what the CDC said / saying they won’t listen just because they don’t like it. Not everyone wants to remain isolated and socially distanced forever. You should still listen to science even if you don’t like what it means.

      1. BRR*

        My issue isn’t with the literal guidance. If I was only around fully vaccinated people I would be fine being inside and unmasked. But I don’t trust strangers on this. And realistically they had to know businesses who follow their guidance wouldn’t be verifying vaccination status. Im also not as worried about myself since I’m fully vaccinated but the people who can’t or won’t get vaccinated who are going to pay the price for this.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          This. It’s not “I only trust science when I like what it says” – it’s concern about the larger implications of how our individual choices affect the community as a whole. It would be great news if everyone’s actions had been reasonable, caring, and science-driven from the start but this pandemic would’ve looked very different if that were the case.

        2. Bex*

          I completely agree. I trust science. I don’t trust people, because the pandemic proved that so many people are deeply selfish and refuse to be inconvenienced.

        3. Natalie*

          But the question was about the literal guidance, and most of the responses are from people who don’t seem to be accepting the science.

          The reason the guidance was changed is that fully vaccinated people are at essentially zero risk from contact with unvaccinated people. (Yep, I’m aware it’s not literally zero, neither is anything on earth. It is low enough to be zero for epidemiological purposes.) If one is fully vaccinated, being worried about the vaccine status of strangers is anxiety, not science.

          1. Rosy Smile*

            Exactly. I get the impression even when/if we do hit the 70% number, a lot of these folks will still continue to find reasons we can’t return to normal. Some experts have also said herd immunity is unlikely. What is the solution then- We wear masks for the rest of our lives?

            I think there is a lot of understandable pent up anxiety and fear around COVID because of all that we didn’t know 12 months ago and some of the habits we formed- but let’s acknowledge that for the phenomenon it is rather than say science.

          2. BRR*

            the cdc needed to consider the ramifications of their guidance though. Maybe if they added something about not relying on the honor system?

            And I wouldn’t say it’s anxiety. It’s partially a concern for others and I know there’s a lot of my own frustrations with people coming into play.

            1. Ferdie*

              Maybe if they added something about not relying on the honor system?

              What exactly should the CDC be instructing people (specifically business employees) to do to enforce this?

              1. BRR*

                No idea. Realistically I know theres no way to do it and this is drifting to business policy anyways. It just all blurs together.

              2. Blackcat*

                “What exactly should the CDC be instructing people (specifically business employees) to do to enforce this?”
                They should be recommending local governments keep indoor mask mandates until 60+% (or some other threshold) is fully vaccinated.

                1. Girasol*

                  I don’t suppose it’s the CDC’s job to run a million dollar lottery for vaccinated people, but the state of Ohio is doing it. That’s just brilliant.

            2. fhqwhgads*

              In theory “no masks if you’re vaccinated” is intended to be a carrot for people to get vaccinated, not an excuse to lie about being vaccinated. But humans gonna human, probably.

          3. Girasol*

            That would make sense if it was only strangers we were concerned about. Those of us with un-vaccinated kids or immuno-compromised family members need to know if we who are protected from a serious case could pass unknowingly to a loved one who is not. Right now the CDC says “the risk of a vaccinated person spreading is very low,” but if that were a scientific finding, there would be numbers. So I need to be even more careful, because when I meet a maskless person, I can’t tell if it’s someone like Natalie who’s been vaccinated and is making a safe and logical decision to skip the mask, or one of our local anti-masker/anti-vaxxers who could be carelessly spreading germs that I could take home and share with someone who isn’t protected.

            1. Filosofickle*

              There are numbers, but a reason you don’t see specific ones is that each local scenario is a different calculation. They can’t say “you have 0.25% of spreading it” because it depends on local transmission rates, health conditions, which vaccine, which variants, community immunization rates etc. There are more pessimistic models, but most scenarios for contracting it post-vaccination range from nearly zero to a 0.5 % chance. The likelihood of spreading it is even lower than that.

              Definitely do what you feel is necessary to protect your loved ones though! Just noting there is data.

          4. Dark Macadamia*

            I don’t see anyone here, or anyone else I know who feels iffy about this, rejecting the science. We’re concerned about the people who DO reject science who have not been complying with the CDC, have not been vaccinated, and will use this opportunity to stop even going through the motions. We’re concerned about the people who CAN’T be vaccinated who will be placed at a higher risk of exposure when fewer people are wearing masks. It’s literally the same reasonable, reality-based worry we’ve had all along, that the actions of others DO affect the community at large during a public health crisis and we can’t trust those others to make the right choice.

            1. Anonymous for this one*

              Thank you. I’ve been at work the whole time and have several co-workers who have tried to get around masks. I’m vaccinated. They aren’t.

            2. Blackcat*

              “We’re concerned about the people who DO reject science who have not been complying with the CDC, have not been vaccinated, and will use this opportunity to stop even going through the motions.”

              Right. I trust the CDC’s immunology conclusions. I do not trust their social psychology conclusions.

          5. LQ*

            It’s all a risk measure. Everything you do is risky, some more and some less. I’m annoyed about the requirements that are being kept in place. I would like to (and will, against my municipality’s mandate) take my mask off when I’m with a couple of people I know are fully vaccinated. I’m frustrated that the guidance from my city says that this isn’t acceptable. I’m vaccinated, I’m with others I know are vaccinated and no one else, but nope, that’s not ok. I’ve decided this is a rule I”m ok breaking because of that.

      2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        The CDC isn’t telling people vaccinated people we can’t wear masks if we think it’s prudent for whatever reasons, only that we don’t have to. I’ll be wearing one today, despite being fully vaccinated, because I have a cough–I’m fairly sure it’s either an ordinary cold or an allergy, not Covid, but my neighbors don’t know that I’m vaccinated.

      3. OtterB*

        The science says these things are low risk for vaccinated people. People who are not able to be vaccinated for medical reasons, kids who are still too young, and people with compromised immune systems who don’t know how effective the vaccine will be for them are still at risk. They can wear masks, yes, but they will be more exposed because of unvaccinated liars who say “No more masks!”

      4. pancakes*

        I don’t doubt that’s driving some people who are complaining, but it’s not the entirety of people objecting to the CDC’s latest decision. See May 13, 2021 NY Times article, “Hundreds of Epidemiologists Expected Mask-Wearing in Public for at Least a Year.” An excerpt:

        “When federal health officials said on Thursday that fully vaccinated Americans no longer needed to wear masks in most places, it came as a surprise to many people in public health. It also was a stark contrast with the views of a large majority of epidemiologists surveyed in the last two weeks by The New York Times.

        In the informal survey, 80 percent said they thought Americans would need to wear masks in public indoor places for at least another year. Just 5 percent said people would no longer need to wear masks indoors by this summer.

        In large crowds outdoors, like at a concert or protest, 88 percent of the epidemiologists said it was necessary even for fully vaccinated people to wear masks.”

        The idea that the CDC (or any government agency) only ever acts due to scientific consensus rather than out of, say, political or economic goals, seems naive to me.

        1. tangerineRose*

          I get the impression that in this case, the CDC figured that it’s better to have more people vaccinated than to have everyone wear masks, and that it’s harder to get people vaccinated if they still have to wear masks, so they figure this is the better solution.

          Kind of like when they said at first the general public didn’t need to wear masks because they weren’t sure that we did, and they didn’t want people hoarding masks. And based on the toilet paper thing, I’m sure people would have hoarded masks, and being without masks would have caused the deaths of a lot more medical professionals, which would have been horrible.

          I wish that we the people as a group were a little (or a lot) more sane about these kinds of things so those kinds of decisions didn’t have to be made. I’m vaccinated and will keep wearing my mask when in public and anywhere near people (except several close friends/family who I know have been vaccinated)

          1. pancakes*

            Maybe. Personally I’m happy to go without outside now that I’m vaccinated, unless I’m in a crowd, but my personal comfort seems irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. The anti-vax and anti-mask crowd remains a potential threat to all of us if they overwhelm hospitals.

          2. kt*

            I just feel the CDC has consistently failed on their understanding of human psychology, from the very beginning. First the “don’t wear masks” oversimplified version of “don’t hoard masks and prevent health care workers from getting them”, then the “sanitize everything” oversimplified version of “surface transmission may be a risk”, then the “mask outside” oversimplified and wrong version of their mischaracterization of research from Israel and Singapore — and now this, which gets the headline of “no need for masks!” rather than any nuance, and provides no real carrot to getting the vaccine.

            You know what would’ve been a carrot? “No masks needed after x% of the population gets vaxxed.” That’s an incentive! All we have now is an incentive to lie. The anti-vaxxer anti-maskers I know feel that all government is oppressive and evil so lying to the government and private business is a virtuous act. And the lack of warning to state and local governments was really terrible. How ’bout two weeks to get some messaging together?

            1. pancakes*

              Yeah. It was slow to issue updated guidance on aerosol transmission too, which hasn’t received nearly as much attention as the (relatively low) probability of surface transmission. OSHA could issue updated guidance on aerosol transmission, too, but to my knowledge it has not.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              This is a huge problem with confusing messaging. I have seen very intelligent people totally misunderstand what is going on today. They have last week’s message or something from last month and it’s all mixed up.

      5. LQ*

        I’m with you on this. I’ve had a few very angry why are people being so anti-science moments. My city is continuing with a mandate despite the science because “I lost someone close to me.” That’s very sad. But that’s not actually science. And there are plenty of times we lose people close to us that government doesn’t ignore the science to enforce nonscientific nonsense. It’s also been framed as a if you don’t mask up and don’t want to enforce masking you hate children and black people. It is entirely politicized with no actual goal post to hit.

    10. Blackcat*

      The only way I’m coping is relying on the fact that I live somewhere likely to hit the 70%+ vaxxed threshold soon (MA, >60% have one dose and everyone I know with 12-15yos is rushing to get their kids vaxxed).

      But it does mean I no longer feel comfortable taking my young kid into stores, because I’m less confident about mask wearing.

    11. Decidedly Me*

      I’m disappointed with the timing of the announcement. Mask requirements are dropping left and right, with no requirement to actually show that you’re vaxxed. I worry it’s just going to increase cases, which could lead to a mutation that puts us all back at square one.

      1. Natalie*

        This seems unlikely as vaccines are effective against the variants that have arisen so far.

        1. Decidedly Me*

          So far is what matters here. We don’t know what the next mutations will be like and the longer a virus circulates, the more likely mutations are to emerge.

          1. Natalie*

            It’s still extremely unlikely given how viruses actually mutate and how these vaccines work. The mRNA vaccine is also very easily modified without requiring additional safety testing (it’s quite cool technology, actually).

        2. TechWorker*

          Not sure this is the full story? There’s some variants that are showing vaccine resistance and overall just not enough data yet to draw firm conclusions. (At least, in the articles I’ve read)

    12. OtterB*

      Ongoing conversation with my chorus about how/when we move back to rehearsing in person. By survey, everyone is already fully vaccinated or will be shortly. But we know that in-person singing is a high-risk activity. The new CDC guidelines say it’s safe for vaccinated people to sing together indoors but we are probably going to move more cautiously. Our indoor rehearsal spot is in a senior center that hasn’t reopened yet anyway.

    13. Ranon*

      Eh, I live in a state that hasn’t had a mask mandate since March, has a mediocre vaccine rollout, and still our cases are on a moseying downward trend. I get that this is really anxiety inducing if you’re in an area where the norm was always masked, even outside five miles from the nearest person, but it’s quite likely going to be fine. I also don’t think behavior will change as fast as people fear or a ton more than it already has, at first, there’s no difference between the dude that doesn’t wear his mask over his nose and no mask at all, after all.

      We’ll still mask when we’re out and about with the kiddo in solidarity, and won’t be taking him to crowded indoor spaces anytime soon, but as cases go down I’m increasingly comfortable with doing things with the kiddo outside or in indoor places where there’s good air volume and low sustained contact with other people.

    14. Meh*

      MASKER 4 LIFE
      Seriously though, it’s a great sun shield, prevents my melasma mustache, covers my RBF, no man has told me to smile, hides most of my facial expressions and sunglasses do the rest. I’m keeping mine.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Not as much as a cold in 16 months, and low allergies despite my forgetting to use the sinus irrigator. (Aka “nose squirt”. This little piece of fluff has done better for my health than I cold imagine.

    15. RagingADHD*

      My state lifted the mandate a couple of weeks ago and we’re already seeing cases rise.

      We have amazing vaccine availability – mass walk thrus and drive thrus, no appointment needed, pharmacies and big-box stores giving shots all weekend, zero wait for most people, all tiers have been open for 6 weeks. Most any adult who wants one can get it and be back home within an hour. The health department is driving door to door to vax folks without transporation in rural areas.

      Problem is, we have low vaccine acceptance.

      I’m going to keep masking in public till the 12+ cohort gets thru. And then we’ll see.

      Im starting to get to the other side of my anger at antimaskers / antivaxxers because they’re no threat to me anymore. And soon my kids will be safe too. So hopefully I’ll be able to regain some empathy for how awful it must be to live in superstitious fear with no understanding of how science works. I feel bad for the folks who can’t get vaxxed for medical reasons, because they don’t need one more thing in their life that sucks.

      But overall I’m making peace with the fact that I’ve done everything I can, and the rest is up to other people’s choices that I can’t control.

      1. RagingADHD*

        And when I say public, I mean indoors/close proximity. I haven’t ever masked outdoors unless I had to make close contact for some reason. It’s pretty easy where I am to stay 15+ feet away from anyone unless you have a reason to step in.

        1. 33whiteroses*

          Do you also support people paying for their own HIV/AIDS treatment if they have unprotected sex?

            1. Maggie*

              I honestly don’t see how that’s different. Its probably crossing a line to continue this line of conversation on the blog, so I’ll stop after what I say here, but part of medical ethics is providing care to people who need it. We also don’t reject care for people who drove without seatbelts, ate raw meat, or played with matches. We still care for those people because they are in need whether they’re “Good” or not. Should we hold back medical care from prisoners if they’ve committed a bad crime? What if they killed someone? That’s the whole talking point with COVID is that “you could kill someone”. We don’t hold back medical care from actual murderer because its considered wrong.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Refraining to treat a murderer… makes us murderers.
                If we really think about it- most of live is patching someone else’s mistake/indifference/heartlessness. Trace a problem back far enough and too many times we find someone who did something wrong, or worse, they did something despicable.

                To counter-balance this thought, I also think we take for granted the things that go RIGHT. [Insert long paragraph here.]

                So many times in life I have thought, “It’s not about the fairness we get. It’s about the fairness we give.”

              2. llamaswithouthats*

                I agree with this. I also want to add that some people have gotten COVID even after taking precautions. Please don’t assume everyone who got infected with COVID was a reckless anti masker. I’ve actually been hearing worrying anecdotes of people getting infected with COVID being treated horribly because people automatically assume they’ve done something wrong.

    16. Rosy Smile*

      CDC guidance does not automatically change the rules. I know some states have pulled their orders but I wish that had been highlighted more in the announcement. I got a lot of texts from friends excited that we won’t have to wear a mask in Target anymore and that’s not at all what this means. I live in PA and Gov has said this doesn’t change what he said before – we need to be at 70% vaccination before we lift the indoor mask order. So while it’s great, I’m at the same time frustrated by the once again inability of government organizations to work together and provide clear messaging. That being said, it’s very promising and I’m excited about the timing- we’ll be back in the office in some form in September so I’m excited to have a normal summer with flexible working.

      I understand some people are still anxious or have discovered other benefits to masking- they can continue to wear their mask. The issue of course is that the mask has become quite a polarizing symbol vs aide at this point and my answer to that is- there will always be assholes. Wear your mask and if someone has a problem, keep going and take pity on the person who is more concerned with your lifestyle choices that don’t affect them rather than their happiness.

      I see a lot of concern about those who can’t get vaccinated due to medical reasons. Does anyone have legit data on the number of people who fall into this category? It’s impossible for me to form a viewpoint on this without knowing if it’s 1 or 20%. I’m in an area where they trying to give out vaccines- if people don’t want them, we can’t keep waiting around for them to not change their minds. I’m not sure what the answer for immunocompromised would be then considering it seems pretty unlikely we’ll ever eradicate COVID completely.

      Think the other factor in play here is people clearly view masking and distancing in 2 opposite ways- for some, it’s easy and doesn’t affect their daily lives and for others, not so much. Economy wise, restaurants and bars can simply not survive until masking and distancing are over. I’m in favor of a vaccine passport but I just don’t see tht idea ever taking hold in the US

      1. Anon for this*

        The number of people who are able to catch and spread the virus could be higher than the number of people who cannot be vaccinated. My mother-in-law is a transplant recipient. Her doctors recommended vaccination, but no one really knows how well or IF this will work for someone on immunosuppressants.

      2. PostalMixup*

        Currently, about 15% of the population is ineligible due to age. And this is also the group that can’t be left home alone if they have to quarantine, so risk to them is a risk to the ability of their parents to work.

        1. Rosy Smile*

          Kids still have to mask. They also get sick a lot regardless of COVID 19. I’d argue the mask mandates might actually reduce the time parents have to take off work since kids aren’t putting each others hands in their mouths. My nephew got sick once this year. It’s usually once every 2 months.

          Additionally, I just don’t have a lot of confidence in kids being vaccinated once it’s allowable anyway. I know a lot of smart, well-informed people who think all adults should get the vaccine but will not give their children because there’s too much unknown. The younger they are, the more resistance. So even if it is authorized, I think we’ll see much more hesitancy with them than with adults.

          1. PostalMixup*

            Yes, kids still have to mask. But my city just lifted its mask mandate yesterday, which means a whole lot of people who are unvaccinated and should be masked won’t wear them. My kids wearing masks won’t protect them nearly as well as unvaccinated people wearing masks will. Plus, my younger is barely a year old. It’s not recommended that kids that young wear masks.

          2. Clisby*

            Kids still have to mask? Tell that to our SC governor who just announced that masks are optional for the rest of the school year. Why that was necessary when there are maybe 3 weeks left in the school year is beyond me.

            1. Rosy Smile*

              Your government isn’t following the CDC recommendation then- which is the point I was driving in my post that states are still in charge of what the rules are regardless of what the CDC says- whether it’s lifting mandates or sticking with them. And hasn’t SC not required facemasks in most places for sometime now? The school ruling also happened pre-CDC announcement. If your state has been disregarding the CDC guidance the entire pandemic then that’s an entirely different problem.

            1. Rosy Smile*

              Then your government isn’t following CDC guidance. My post was pointing out that CDC and government guidance are not the same- states are still in charge of what the rules are regardless of what the CDC says- whether it’s lifting mandates or sticking with them.

      3. Blackcat*

        “I got a lot of texts from friends excited that we won’t have to wear a mask in Target anymore and that’s not at all what this means. ”

        Walmart yes, Target no. Target is keeping their mask requirement! Walmart ditched theirs (defaulting to local regulations).

    17. Lilo*

      I don’t bother with masks outside as much but I wear mine in and out of work and inside the store. I’ll probably always wear one on crowded public transportation, particularly during flu season.

      1. allathian*

        Yup, me too on public transit. But I’ll be happy to give it up everywhere else…

    18. Jackalope*

      Not quite ready to drop it in public places, but we’ve dropped it with our pod and with small gatherings as a way of working up to it, and it’s been…. strange/anxiety-inducing, but so nice too. I’m not chomping at the bit to rush into the public, but I’m looking forward to it in some ways.

    19. Old and Don’t Care*

      I honestly don’t care. Put a sign on the door and tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it. I’m not going to seek out a grocery store because of their mask policy one way or the other (the largest chain in my town surprisingly hasn’t changed their policy yet; I’m not going to go to a different store so I don’t have to wear a mask.). I’m vaccinated and I don’t feel compelled to worry about whether everyone I come into contact with is or not.

      Cases are falling in literally almost every state. A couple months ago when Michigan was spiking an epidemiologist stated that while spikes were a concern, she was happy with avg/100k/day below 20, and happy below 10. The U.S. is at 10 now, with only 3 states at 20 or above. (Source: New York Times infographic.). The vaccines are working. I’d like to see many more of us realize that but there is nothing I can do about it.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, this is where I’m at, too. I’m vaccinated so I’m really not worried about it. I’m glad to be taking steps towards things going back to somewhat normal. When I went to the local diner this morning, I noticed several people come in or leave without masks and was surprised since it’s been so long. But then dismissed it and thought, “Not my business. I’m vaccinated. I’m not going to judge anyone. Maybe they’re vaccinated, too.”

      2. Lilo*

        The one thing is, I’m hoping my kid’s daycare goes back to normal soon. I hate not being able to go in to drop him off and chat with the people in his room about his day.

        1. Blackcat*

          I don’t expect daycare/early childhood education rules to change where I am until the kid’s cohorts can get vaccinated. So fall for the 2+ age groups, early 2022 for infants.

      3. LQ*

        That cases have been falling regardless of mask mandates is…something I will be interested to read a detailed analysis of in like 5 years. The total transmission of the virus is actually the story I want to read when we have some more space from it.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I’m not a scientist but my guess is it’s because a fair amount of people have immunity from either vaccines or having gotten COVID, plus weather is warmer, plus this has naturally come in waves regardless. It’s going to end up like flu season in all likelihood.

    20. PT*

      I am not thrilled about this, because I live in an area with low vaccination rates (my state is at 37% first dose, and we’ve been open-to-all for two months…) I am going to continue to wear my mask in stores and similar places. But I am vaccinated myself, and all but one person who I will see socially is vaccinated, and the vaccines WORK. So I think basic precautions will be enough.

    21. Excited*

      I have a job similar to your friends (couldn’t stay home at all). I welcome it. I’m so excited life is getting back to normal.

      1. Rosy Smile*

        I’m happy you chimed in! One of my thoughts upon reading that comment was ‘Maybe those folks feel protected by the vaccine and excited they don’t have to wear a mask while they are running around and on their feet all day’? Also I’d imagine no longer needing to enforce mask rules and deal with unruly customers who threaten violence/withhold tips doesn’t suck either!!

        1. Book Wyrm*

          You could not be more wrong. I have two teacher friends who have been miserable since returning to in-person teaching (remote teaching wasn’t a walk in the park but they felt safe), a librarian friend who cried when she told me about the county decision to drop the mask mandate, and several friends in retail who know they’ll have a harder time enforcing store policy to wear masks (they already get the ‘you can’t tell me what to do, I have rights’ complaints and it will be even worse with the government backing the maskless). Wearing a mask all day can be a pain but it’s not as crippling as you make it sound. My friend who is an x-ray technician with reduced lung capacity from lung cancer does it every day. So while I’m sure there are people like Excited who want to return to normal, I have not met a single one in real life.

          1. Rosy Smile*

            Can I ask what they are actually scared of ? If they are all vaccinated, there are at essentially zero risk from unvaccinated people- that is why the CDC changed their guidance. The risk is not zero- it will never be zero. I very much believe there is a legitimate emotional element at play here but it has nothing to do with the science of the vaccine.

            1. Jackalope*

              For me it’s a mix. A part of it is fear of the virus – I’m fully vaccinated, and each time I get worried I remind myself of that and use my self-talk to remember that I’m safe as I can be and it will be okay, but after a year of being afraid those feelings won’t go away immediately. And the other main part is being unused to having people around besides my pod; I’ve always been an introvert, and while I’ve loved being around people it’s still a bit harder than being by myself. This year definitely amplified that and it will take awhile to go away.

        2. Excited*

          Yeah, we’re all super excited that we don’t have to deal with the people who get upset about the masks. Some of us are more cautious than others about this whole thing but we’re just done with the angry people.

    22. KR*

      I’m not keen on it. I feel like people are just going to lie about whether they’re vaccinated or not. I haven’t been vaccinated yet so I’m going to keep wearing mine out and about, though the state I’m in hasn’t relaxed their COVID precautions or mask rules.

    23. Kimmybear*

      Most vaccinated people I know are still wearing them. Especially those with small kids.

      1. HR person*

        That is exactly why we will continue to wear them and make anyone visiting our home wear them (such as a repair person). We have a young toddler who can’t be vaccinated yet and don’t want to count on the honor system for protecting his life.

    24. *daha**

      I’m still wearing my mask while at the gym and shopping. I’m fully vaccinated but that’s not a 100% guarantee against infection, and the mask will reduce my exposure at least a little. I’ve already seen anti-vax people on facebook bragging how they aren’t going to mask and no one can prove they aren’t vaccinated, so I know there are plenty of fools putting the rest of us at risk.
      The CDC jumped the gun, and our Governor has given up after holding firm for a year.

    25. Elizabeth West*

      I’m continuing to wear it inside. I like being anonymous, plus no colds, plus it’s helping with my allergies. I’ll probably wear them forever during cold and flu season.

    26. Smol Book Wizard*

      I’m vaccinated, but I’m going to keep wearing my mask while it remains a local habit – for politeness if not for protection. Also, I work with kids, and proper mask wearing is a good example for them (and keeps me safe from their various germs and viruses when they do, inevitably, not wear their masks correctly all the time – and them safe from any germs and viruses I have too!).

    27. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Book wyrm,
      Our mask mandate ended in our state/city. I understand the fear and frustration. And I think, for most of us, getting vaccinated is working. I plan to keep wearing the mask at work (with the public!) and keeping my distance as best I can.

      There is an emotional side to this, I feel a bit shocked when I see a patron with no mask. My job for a year has been to tell them to put it on, and that was not easy! And now I have to train myself to just stop saying anything. Its all around weird.

      Before vaccines, we had about 5 people on a staff of 60 get covid from outside work, come to work, and not spread it. And more whose family members got it and they quarantined after they realized it. Again, no spread at work.

      And we have been working with the public since last September (with coworkers since last May). Many coworkers still don’t wear their masks properly and every hour I was on the public facing desk I had to ask at least 4 people to wear a mask or to wear it properly.

      So even though we had mask and social distancing requirements, we were not following them perfectly and still, no spread of covid to staff from the public or other staff.

      This gives me hope that now that most of our staff are vaccinated, we will continue to be safe even though we work with the public and the public are no longer required to wear masks.

      My immune compromised friends got WFH jobs and they get to keep doing that work, they are lucky!

    28. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I came to this thread looking for this topic (though in hindsight, should’ve come here yesterday or the day before!) Last month, I moved to a more liberal/progressive part of our metro area, which is great! But now I’m seeing (both from the passersby on the street and in FB posts and comments from FB friends who live here) a good deal of peer pressure for vaccinated people to continue to wear a mask outside and inside. I’m like… I love fresh air, I’ll be honest. I’ve been slipping mine on when passing someone on my walks, otherwise people freak out and run into traffic to get away from me. I’ve been fully vaccinated for over a month, but of course I cannot prove it to a stranger in the street. From the social media comments, I’ve been catching a whiff of performative mask-wearing and I’m not comfortable getting behind that myself. I’m ridiculously healthy for my age and, between that and the vaccine, I’m not worried about myself getting sick at all. On the other hand, I know I have to be cognizant of young children who cannot get vaccinated. So I’m telling myself that this is for the kids and I don’t really know who of the people that I pass on the street, works with kids or has kids at home, and that helped make the continuous masking make sense in my head. Plus I have a large collection of cute masks that do a great job covering my wrinkles and whatnot. Bottom line, at this point I’m doing it for other people’s benefit and not for mine, and am following whatever the others around me do. Not going to be the only person on the street to wear a mask, but not going to be the only one without a mask, either. That’s too much pressure either way. I am very confused about what I should be doing going forward, to be honest.

  5. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How is everyone’s writing going? As usual, this is not limited to fiction writing.
    I’m hitting a bit of a roadblock, which is not ideal so close to deadlines, but I will power through.

    1. Laura H.*

      I just opened a huge can of character angst that I was NOT prepared to hit so dang hard. (I knew it’d be a doozy but Geeze Blondie! Lighten up man!)

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Oof, I know that feeling. Sometimes you’re just sitting there thinking “I’m your author and *I* think you’re being A Bit Much.”

        1. Laura H.*

          Well it’s more like, “Dude, I agree with you but I was hoping you’d ease into it, not go full salvo on me.” Should be a good (couple of) chapter(s) at any rate.

    2. Suzy Q*

      I just discovered London Writers Salon. They do a free zoom write-in at four time zones in the day (8.00am) and I’ve found it almost magically helpful.

    3. Grace*

      I’m involved in a fic exchange, and it’s been my first time writing something to a strict(ish) deadline that hasn’t been academic writing – especially something on the longer side of things, this is around 40k and until now my longest has been 30k – and it’s been…a time. And add work stress and pandemic stress to a certain level of underlying executive dysfunction?

      Let’s just say that this is shaping up to be a 15k-in-two-days-with-minimal-planning sort of weekend. Which is not what I was hoping for, but here we are, so we’ve gotta cope with it now.

    4. Nearly Grad*

      Writing a project and my dissertation, about 10,000 words to go in the next week and a half! Had a problem with my results for my diss experiment so I’m stuck writing the whole part of that pretty late in the day

  6. BRR*

    I’ll be flying soon to finally see my parents again (not thrilled but they live across the country so there isn’t really another option). I get extremely uncomfortable when warm, I think it’s partially an adhd thing, and in general can sometimes have sensory issues. Any tips on dealing with that while being masked for so long? I’m anxious because when something is uncomfortable to me, it’s just an awful experience (and flying isn’t wonderful to begins with). Most of my searching just lists different brands/types of masks. I have comfortable masks with adjustable straps and metal pieces on the nose so at least that should make it easier.

    1. But Faaaaaaamily*

      You might be able to look in to some of the forums for parents of autistic kids. I have a similar sensory issue at night where I cannot breathe warm air. Even in the dead of winter my nose has to have access to cold air. I usually wear a regular surgical mask but my nose is, ahem, large enough that it keeps the fabric away from my mouth.

    2. fposte*

      How are you with a damp cloth on pulse points? Obviously drinking water is good too, but especially in airplane conditions it might be useful to have a non-oral method.

      1. RagingADHD*

        The best refreshing/cooling compresses I ever used were when I’d wring out a washcloth in water with a little peppermint castille soap, then keep them in the fridge overnight. I used to take them in an insulated lunch bag if I was going to be out all day in the heat.

        Instachill. So nice.

    3. Legalchef*

      I’d look for things to cool you – gel neck coolers you keep in a cooler until it’s time to use them, for example.

      1. acmx*

        Not sure gel would get through TSA? Maybe just one that you wet (from the lavatory) to make it cool.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      Another thing you could try is cooling towels like EnduraCool. You can soak it prior to boarding so you’re not worried about spilling all over your seat and just put a tiny bit of water in the container to refresh it if needed.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I notice I sleep better with a more even body temp if I avoid cooked (heated) foods/beverages, spicy foods and sugars- especially near bedtime. Perhaps just even a reduction in some of this would help dial things back for you?

    6. OtterB*

      There are “singer/speaker” masks and plastic frames you can insert under a regular mask that hold the mask away from physical contact with your nose and mouth while still keeping them covered. Maybe something like that would help?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I found that having the frame against my face actually made my face sweatier than just the mask, so if you decide to try this, I would definitely do a trial run before you take it on the plane.

    7. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I usually take a folding fan or one of those tiny battery powered fans on flights. Maybe that would be helpful? Or can you find a freezable cool pack that’s small enough for the liquid rules? I’m sure I’ve seen ones designed for kids with fevers that are pretty small.

      1. Jaxom of Ruth*

        A completely frozen pack goes through security without an issue. I flew multiple times with breast milk and if the ice pack was frozen, they didn’t glance at it.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I found someone on etsy selling linen mask, with a tight cotton lining. It is by far the most comfortable one I’ve found.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I should have added, linen wicks away moisture, so if sweatiness is your issue, that might help.

    9. Megdc*

      I have a similar sensory issue and it’s been rough now that it’s getting warmer and more humid where I live. Something that has helped me has been an allergy nasal spray that helps with swelling nasal membranes. The anti-inflammatory properties have really helped decrease the anxiety I feel when breathing warm air, and I work actively, on my feet, masked at all times, 8 hrs a day. Also! A drop of peppermint essential oil on my mask is very cooling and helps me breath better too. I flew last July and I definitely used that trick on the plane.

    10. Taxachusetts*

      your primary care physician can prescribe you a few pills of a beta blocker to just help you stay calm, if that’s medically okay for you.

    11. Nearly Grad*

      Look into the best masks. If Uniqlo is in your country, their airism masks are without a doubt the best I’ve used. I’m overheat easily and found that I would get incredibly damp skin under my mask which I hated (also have adhd and GAD) and these masks were brilliant. If not, do your research, ask friends and family etc.
      I’d also consider buying those metal ice cubes and bringing them in an insulated water bottle. They’ll get through airport security and you can top it up after. It’ll help keep you cool.
      Stay away from hot food (unless it’s a long flight off), spicy food, alcohol etc. And wear layers you can remove easily so you won’t end up too warm in your clothes.

    12. Small town*

      This is an OR trick. Have a handful of alcohol wipes. One across the back of your neck helps as it evaporates. Works for hot flashes too!

    13. LemonLyman*

      If you’re willing to spend a little money (~$30 USD) look into a neck fan. I just discovered this and it looks like it’d be great for travel and just anytime it’s super hot!

  7. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual, this is not limited to video games, feel free to talk about board games and any other games you wish. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.
    Well, the Epic v Apple lawsuit is… definitely something. I really pity the poor judge presiding over that one.
    Meanwhile, I’ve gone back to Deiland, a game I got for free on Steam once. It’s a bit like Story of Seasons or Stardew Valley, but the twist is you’re a little boy living on your own on a tiny planet – merchants etc appear by spaceship. Bonus points for the green alien chef being named Brram, which is an oddly normal name for an alien to have.

    1. OTGW*

      I’ve been obsessed with Sims for the past 3 months. My brain can’t handle big brain games at all. But it’s really fun. I’m getting better at building so my houses are starting to look nice lol

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Oooh, yeah, building in the Sims was always an experience for me XD. Usually the first rooms I build/furnish look super nice and then by the end I get bored and just throw stuff together that kinda looks nice – most of my houses have near-identical bathrooms as a result. Same goes for creating sims – I put a lot of thought in everyday outfits and formal wear and after that it just becomes “whatever. This shirt looks comfy to sleep in.”

        1. OTGW*

          Lmao, I did too. It’s helped that I learned about a lot of cheats—not necessarily game-breaking but like alt-placing—to make things look nicer. But yeah, I too get bored with the outfits. I almost never the others anyways so why bother lol.

      1. No Sleep Till Hippo*

        Omg me too!!! I played A TON last year, and always seemed to get bored with it around Spring of Year 4, lol – I looked at my multiple save files and they all stop at about the same date, which is kind of funny to me. It’s like once I get married, take my spouse to the movies, and have a kid, I’m like “Well, this life is complete.” XD

        But THEN. Then the update came. And I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t gotten there yet, but I am SO IN on the new stuff!!

        What system do you play on?

          1. No Sleep Till Hippo*

            Oh yeah, same!! I play on my Switch, and was so disappointed when I discovered the interface doesn’t allow me to put hats on pufferfish. I was going to have a full-on pufferfish haberdashery. :'(

        1. AVP*

          omggg I stopped playing a few years ago and didn’t know there was an update, going back in…

      2. Anhaga*

        This was not a place I expected to see conversations about Stardew. It’s one of my favorite games, and I have entirely too many farms that are usually in Year 2 or 3. I need to push through so that I can get to the actual new content that Willy’s big quest gives you access to.

    2. anon24*

      Playing the first Witcher game. It’s from 2007 so it’s a little… rough. But I’ve only played the 3rd game and I’ve read the books and the games take place after the books so the only way to find out what happens between the 3rd game and the books is to watch a YouTube playthrough of the other games or do it myself and I hate watching someone else play a game.

    3. The Dude Abides*

      I’ve tried to get started in Minish Cap rando, but haven’t found a decent item/logic tracker to help me learn the ropes like I had for LttP. Decided to shelve it for a bit and take another run later.

    4. Decidedly Me*

      I finished the main story on Frostpunk, which was a lot of fun, but so many brutal choices, lol! I’ll pick it back up later to play the other content. I’m now playing The Long Dark, which I saw recommended here (forgot by who!).

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Guild Wars 2…my husband has his griffon AND skyscale and I am still groundbound. He has offered to do the bits that have been making me carsick and I’m going to take him up on it.

    6. twocents*

      Today is Saturday, so my DnD table will be playing virtually. I can’t wait until it’s safe to play in person again, and I can roll my fancy kickstarter dice!

      Otherwise, I’ve been swept up in my replay of Dragon Quest Builders 2. I really hope a DQB3 is among the announcements Square is making for the franchise’s 35th anniversary!

    7. Nicki Name*

      My copy of Octopath Traveler arrived on Wednesday. I’m loving it! I just collected the eighth character today.

    8. Bookgarden*

      Been playing Mass Effect Legendary Edition. I’m falling in love with the series all over again and am really enjoying some of the QOL changes to the first game. No more hopping out of the Mako to defeat enemies on foot and maximize XP gain is the best.

      1. Squeebird*

        Me too! And despite having played the game multiple times in the past, I still can’t find that one last darn Keeper on the Citadel…

        1. Bookgarden*

          Yay Shepard buddies! Arggh, good luck with the Keepers, there’s always that one holdout, and it’s always a different one each playthrough (mine was in Flux this time).

    9. MEH Squared*

      I’m still playing Cozy Grove by Spry Fox every day and it’s just as whimsical and soothing as ever. I’ve described it as Animal Crossing with hints of Spiritfarer and it’s utterly charming.

      Doing a 180, I finally picked up Binding of Isaac: Repentance by Edmund McMillen. I have put in an embarrassing number of hours into BoI:Rebirth and felt it went downhill with the Afterbirth and Afterbirth+ expansions. I wasn’t going to buy Repentance but curiosity got the best of me. Repentance is simultaneously amazing and too over the top. It has a tone of new content, including new characters, alternate paths, and alternate characters. It’s taken a game I was very comfortable with and made it fresh again–but still retained the same compulsive loop.

      For anyone who hasn’t played, it’s a rogue-like-lite that has religious themes and a very steep learning curve. It’s also highly addictive and there’s always something new to discover. It’s kind of the granddaddy of the current crop of rogue-like-lites and it’s reputation is well-deserved.

      1. MEH Squared*

        And, of course, in the last paragraph, I meant “its” and not “it’s”. Sigh.

      2. NearlyGrad*

        Have you watched hilda on Netflix? Just watched the trailer for cozy grove and it reminds me of Hilda crossed with animal crossing!

        1. MEH Squared*

          Ooooh, I had not heard of Hilda before. I looked it up on Netflix and I’m intrigued. Thanks for the recommendation!

    10. Old Woman in Purple*

      I’m still dabbling with Grim Dawn (from Steam). Working on getting a character to level-100 in Hardcore, just because.

      Really wishing Steam had Mayfair Games ‘Empire Builder’ [“crayon-rails”]. The independent jamoke that currently has the rights to the online version of the game wants folks to basically re-buy the game every year.

    11. ecnaseener*

      Before covid, a group of friends was playing a game of Pandemic: Legacy, and today we finally got to continue it! It’s a cooperative board game where you try to save the world from a pandemic (the irony of abandoning said game due to the IRL pandemic was…..fun). It’s played over multiple sessions, and we had two tough losses today :( but it was so nice to be able to play again!

    12. LimeRoos*

      Perpetually late to this party (Sunday morning is my OT for the week so I read the weekend thread then) – but I’m currently playing Terraria and Brunhilda & The Dark Crystal. Terraria has been pretty awesome, hubby and I can kill The Dark Lord on expert hard so that is exciting. There’s a ton of ridiculous costumes showing up now and I’m running around as a white bear or something purple w/ goggles. I also have Christmas wings so uh yeah, highly recommend if you like something between Minecraft & Metroid with the customization of Animal Crossing.

      Brunhilda was an Ipad game for me years ago that I haven’t been able to play because it wasn’t compatible with the system updates XD, but we got a Surface since we needed a computer/tablet thingy and it’s been awesome. It’s just a search/hidden pictures game but the characters are hilarious and the world building/lore is pretty fantastic. Very fun and chill for relaxing. Also it has great music.

      I want to get back into 9 Parchments on the Switch because of the gorgeous environments. It can be co-op and it’s so fun to run around shooting fireballs at things.

      1. Bookgarden*

        Ohh, love Terraria! Can’t wait for the new/final PC update to come out on consoles. My next goal in the game is to get the reindeer flying mount, but it eludes me.

    13. Cat Mom*

      I have been playing Pinball Wizard every day, right around when the daily dungeon is refreshed. I have scored 100,000,000+ a few times now.

    14. Not Australian*

      I’m playing Forge of Empires, and am just about to gradate from the Early Middle Ages to the High Middle Ages. So far I’m managing nicely without an army (I just ‘negotiate’ for land) *or* buying anything with real-world money. It’s slow, but it suits me better that way.

    15. Anhaga*

      I am soooo late to this thread (Happy Monday!). :-D

      My coworkers and I just decided to roll characters together on World of Warcraft Classic. 2 of the 5 have never played WoW before, so the other 3 of us figure we’re giving them the right start by doing Classic–Retail WoW will seem completely easy by comparison. It’s exciting to get to introduce people to the game 17 years on!

  8. only rage*

    I’m gonna try to keep this succicent.

    I, a young cis woman, have been on and off questioning my gender for the past ~5 years. Not that I am a man but nonbinary (sorry for the poor wording on that). I don’t know if I’m just doing it to like…. seem special??? Because I’m already queer in my sexuality so I need to be more queer? Or because I just… don’t care. When I talk about gender, I do feel like “yeah!!! i’m a woman!!! female power!!!” But a lot of the times it’s a big ol’ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    I’ve never been into feminine things—dresses, makeup—though I am very pro-“nothing has a gender men can wear dresses” thing. I think about being a “she” and a “they” and both are like…. I don’t care. Call me what you want, just not “he” k thx bye.

    Idk. I’m not wording this well. I haven’t talked to any IRL people about this. I guess I just want to know: have any of y’all been in this situation where you’re in a similar situation of questioning gender but not really knowing where you stand? Did you ever come to a decision, or an understanding with yourself that maybe you don’t really need to know?

    1. ThatGirl*

      On the one hand, you get to decide how you define being female – on the other hand, if you don’t always feel like that applies that is also fine! If this is bothering you, can I recommend a counselor to help you sort it out? But if it’s just like…well, some days I feel more gender fluid or non-binary, that’s totally fine to embrace. I think there are a lot of people who don’t feel super attached to their assigned-at-birth sex. You get to decide, nobody else can do that for you.

      1. only rage*

        I appreciate that. I… might talk to a counselor. I know it could be super beneficial I just don’t know how I could do that without my SO knowing.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I mean… you don’t owe your SO an immediate explanation but could you just say you have a few things on your mind you’d like to talk to someone about? Or do zoom sessions during the workday? It honestly concerns me a bit if you don’t think you can tell your person the bare minimum, though that’s a separate problem from your gender identity.

        2. Julia*

          If you want to see a counselor your SO doesn’t need to know. Therapy is confidential and supposed to happen in a private setting.

          One thing to think about is that you might benefit more from a support group for people who are questioning their gender (these will probably be under the umbrella of trans support groups). Lots of support groups are meeting online via zoom. I would google for groups in your state.

        3. Observer*

          And why do you want to keep counseling secret from you SO?

          I don’t agree with the people who think that it’s none of your SO’s business. Now, WHAT you are seeking counseling about is not necessarily something that you need to share with an SO. But the fact that you are in counseling and grappling with an issue of importance to you seems to me something that you shouldn’t be keeping a secret.

          1. ThatGirl*

            To be clear I think the OP should be able to keep the topic private for now if they’d like to, for sure. The details of counseling are nobody’s business. But the simple fact of going to counseling, that I don’t think should be a secret from your SO, and I think it’s worth considering why that was the first reaction.

    2. Anonymoose*

      I have some similarities. I would never feel comfortable identifying as male, and I don’t mind female or gender-neutral although I don’t strongly connect with either. I like the term gender-queer, which from what I’ve read means that I don’t identify with the gender stereotypes. If I’m with my community of friends who are a mix of all different identities then I don’t mind if they use female pronouns because I know they don’t have any defined expectations. If I’m with people who talk about makeup and refer to me as “One of the girls” then I cringe.

      I work in a very male-dominated industry (tech) so I find it a hard balance because I’m often pushed into Women in STEM events and I appreciate the thought as I know that I’m a gender minority, but I don’t think that a lot of the participants realise that I’m a minority within a minority (I’m not a woman the way that they define it, as I don’t want to talk about female-type topics, but I’m also not a man or in the gender-majority). I have had really supportive bosses, and one of them has been willing to educate others on my behalf although I explained that I would rather just default to female with the average coworker and default to gender-neutral on paperwork. So my performance review is gender-neutral, and I get very cranky if I don’t have a gender-neutral option for paperwork, but I happily accept that my coworkers will refer to me with female pronouns as it’s not worth the emotional investment for me at this time.

      So yes, I get it, and no, I haven’t come to a decision although it tends to be specific based on the situation.

      1. only rage*

        I hadn’t heard of gender-queer, thanks for bringing that up. Perhaps that might help me figure stuff out. Haha, I too cringe with the “one of the girls” speak, though I’m lucky to be in a female-dominated industry.

        I’m glad you have a supportive boss, that helps a lot.

    3. AGD*

      Cis woman here with some gender nonconformity in my expression (e.g. I don’t wear makeup), but not in my identity (I am 100% female on the inside – I wondered for a little while when I kept getting told I wasn’t being female in socially acceptable ways, but then decided that gender roles can and should be taken out to the middle of the desert and set on fire). All sorts of combinations exist, but this also means it takes a bit more effort for everyone to figure out where they fit. I think it’s worth it – gender is complex and includes so many different factors, plus the ways we’ve been talking about it in recent years have become far more nuanced – but yeah, it’s a thing. Mathematician/YouTuber Vi Hart has a video about very much not having a gender identity in the way other people seem to; this might be of interest.

      1. only rage*

        Lol I too feel the “gender roles should be set on fire” thing. Thanks for the vote of confidence, and for that video. I’ll definitely give it a look.

      2. Jackalope*

        I feel the part about setting gender roles on fire and wondering if I wasn’t cis because I didn’t have the socially acceptable “female” traits. If I’d been born earlier I would probably have wondered pretty seriously if I was non-binary. I too came to the conclusion that I still felt female all the way through and was just going to try and be true to who I was as a non-gender-role-conforming cis woman. I hope you too can either figure out the right place to land, or get to the point where being in-between is a comfortable place.

    4. a ghost*

      I felt similarly off and on for a long time, but now I’m in the process of coming out as a trans man! Life is truly a rich tapestry. Gender identity is such a complex thing and can be so difficult to pin down.

      The main thing I would recommend is connecting with trans and non-binary people (either in-person or online) and/or reading, listening to or watching the work of trans creators. Sometimes when you hear someone else articulate a nebulous feeling you’ve had for a while, it helps give it some definition and clarity.

      My other recommendation is to not be afraid to spend some time just reflecting on how you feel, maybe with a therapist, maybe by writing in a journal, or just taking long walks and thinking about ways you might like to present yourself to the world, or just to yourself. It’s easy to build up a lot of preconceptions about what is the “right” way to feel or how you “should” act if you decide you are non-binary, but really your gender identity is all about what feels good and comfortable for you. It can be something you share with others, or totally private. It is really a freeing feeling to decide that gender can be something that’s yours, whatever it means for you, not something that’s forced on you.

    5. Anon100*

      This is going to be long, apologies in advance. I currently am a cis-hetero woman in her 30s and I am fine with it now, although some days I do wonder if I was a teenager now, where would I be in 2040 or 2050? If I had known that “gender-queer” or “gender-fluid” was an option?

      So when I was a teenager in the early 2000s, I desperately wished I was born a male since I was growing up in a highly conservative patriarchal society (not the US) and hated being the society expectations of being a woman and all the restrictive expectations included in that. I also went to a small private school where my year had a ratio of 3:1 male to females, so I didn’t want to be “one of the girls.” Also, when I was 13, I cut my hair short, and it was disastrous to the point where shopkeepers and strangers would greet me as “little brother” instead of “little sister.” I thought I was ugly as a female and entertained the thought of being a male and how much easier life would be as a boy. Not to mention that my parents had made it clear that they were disappointed my sister and I were born girls…

      In retrospect now, 20 years later and living in the US, a lot my gender-orientation confusion of came from the internalized misogyny I had grown up with and I wanted to freedoms boys were allowed to have. I came to the US for college and all of a sudden, living on the other side of the world by myself away from family oversight, I had so many of the freedoms that the boys in my home country had. By being exposed to lots of different types of people even by mere exposure of seeing LGBT+ signs on campus (I went to a state uni in a fairly liberal state), I came to the conclusion that I identify mostly as a cis-hetero female even if I retain some more “tomboyish” traits. I rarely wear makeup, but it’s up to the wearer if they want to wear it or not. I wear pants all year round and will only wear dresses to weddings, but liking wearing dresses isn’t necessarily an indicator of “girlyness,” it’s just that I like pants because I can run and jump over fences in them. I don’t like videogames but I don’t know a lot of “girly hobbies” other than I liked to read a lot, and anyone of any sort can like to read a lot.

      Anyway, the point of telling you my life story is that I think it’s okay to question yourself and change your perceptions of yourself over time. My 15 year old self would barely recognize the 27 year old me, and even less recognize the 30-something year old me.

      1. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

        Lots of familiar stuff here. I wanted all the stuff boys got to do, and wanted to be one, but I knew I wasn’t a boy, so trans doesn’t fit.

    6. peasblossom*

      You’ve gotten lots of great advice on this, so all I’ll add is that: yes, I’ve definitely felt like this/feel like this. I find that, for me, labels are more troubling than anything else, so I identify as queer and genderqueer more often than not. I feel like my identity is fluid enough that I really can’t be bothered to sort through where I am in the gender spectrum day to day–even if I tend to present as pretty femme.

      I’ve found that in American culture there’s a lot of pressure to “identify!” and “be your authentic self!” and that this is currently manifesting around pronoun usage and gender labels. For me, it’s a very frustrating experience, and sometimes I just want to yell (mostly at well-meaning cis people) to chill out. Because it’s an unnecessary and dangerous pressure. There is no right way to be gendered. Gender isn’t necessarily stable, fixed, or decided. And people’s experience of their gender is shaped by their history, social context, and inner life; so there’s also no right way to perform certain gendered behaviors or to feel about one’s own gender.

      I think talking to a therapist is a great idea; looking for communities where you can talk to others who might be genderqueer or gender fluid also can help you feel less isolated even as you shrug your way through gender. Also, wish I could just go “it’s a big ol’ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯” any time anyone asks me about my gender. I think that’s perfect!

      1. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

        thanks – really agree about the pressure to “identify!” and “be your authentic self!” which is well meaning but doesn’t allow a lot of nuance.

      2. ecnaseener*

        Related to that, I’ve seen good advice to stop asking yourself “what am I” and just ask “what do I want” and “what would make me happiest”

    7. RagingADHD*

      I’ve never questioned my gender, but I have also never been particularly girly. I used to get mistaken for a man fairly freqently in my 20s because of my height, build, and haircut. I thought that was wierd but it didn’t deeply bother me.

      Most of the time I don’t think about it at all and don’t care, unless there are inequality issues going on or being discussed.

      Not thinking about it a lot/not caring a whole lot just seems….average. I mean, isn’t that the end goal of inclusion and acceptance, to get to the point where nobody is forced to think about it a whole lot?

      The fact that it’s on your mind a lot in the last 5 years…it’s a huge part of the cultural conversation, especially in spaces like this. Do you find yourself wondering/questioning about this in isolation? Like, if you did a digital/social media detox break, do you think it would still be on your mind as much? There’s a whole lot of people on the internet who just want to tell people they’re doing it wrong — whatever “it” may be. And that unwinnable scenario, where you’re doing it wrong no matter what you do, can mess with your head.

      Ultimately, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone. If you did just want to be “more queer,” that’s okay. If you don’t, that’s okay. If you care or if you don’t, it’s all okay.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Wow, you sound like me! I used to get called “Sir” because I’ve almost always had short hair, I’ve seldom worn skirts in my adult life (no choice when I was a child in the 50s and 60s), and I have no interest in fashion and stereotyped “girly” things. But I’m very female otherwise. I think you’re right on how it’s too easy to over-analyze and over-label ourselves and each other. I’m just a woman who likes to be comfortable; it’s not an identity thing at all. I don’t particularly care what anyone else assumes about me.

      2. allathian*

        I’ve never questioned my gender, nor have I been particularly girly. That said, I’ve never been misgendered as a man or boy either.

        As a kid, my best friends were always boys. I never really wanted to play with dolls, although I would sometimes if I had nobody but my sister to play with, and she was very girly as a kid. I vastly preferred legos and toy cars, and I even played with my dad’s old Meccano set from the 50s, and outdoorsy games like cops and robbers or hide and seek, although to be fair, everyone played those in our neighborhood.

        I always hated wearing skirts and dresses, and rebelled completely after a year spent in the UK in a school with a uniform that included a skirt for girls. I utterly refused to wear skirts between the ages of 13 and 17, when I wore one for my high school prom. After that I sometimes wore them for special occasions, but never as daily wear. I haven’t had an interest in fashion since my longing for Levi’s jeans in high school in the late 80s persuaded me to get my first summer job.

        My hair length has varied between a buzz cut and my current hair that’s long enough to wear in a ponytail. These days I rarely wear makeup, although I went through a period in high school when I wouldn’t take out the trash without painting my face more than I would for a party today.

        I like sci-fi and action movies. Romantic stuff usually leaves me cold, although I do like musicals like Mamma Mia! and I also have a penchant for well-made period drama.

        I hate the idea that you have to fit into some sort of standardized gender roles exactly and if you don’t, you’re queer.

        1. Anonnie*

          This isn’t what people are talking about when they talk about being non-binary or queer. It’s about who you feel like at your core, not if you like action movies and wear your hair short.

    8. Solar Moose*

      This is incredibly common. I think the current paradigm with gender, focusing on an internal sense of identity, just doesn’t work for most people. Ozy Brennan, a trans blogger, wrote an article called “Cis By Default” that I think was pretty insightful.

      How we talk about gender is different from 10 years ago, and it’ll probably be different in another 10 years. Until then, I’m fine calling myself “politically a woman” (in that I still suffer from misogyny, regardless of internal identity), and I hope the next paradigm shift solves some of the problems we still have.

    9. Julia*

      Hello I’m a queer cis woman and I think it’s awesome you’re thinking more deeply about your gender. Gender is super complicated and it’s OK if how you self identify changes. I’ve noticed that lockdown has led to many people I know thinking more deeply about their gender. Being away from people means you’re dealing with fewer external gendered expectations about how you should dress or act. I don’t think you’re doing this to be special. I think it’s a pretty normal reaction especially among queer people.

      I think that talking online to more not-cis people will help you get a better idea of some of the many identities out there. Some of what you talk about gender reminds me of what I hear from non-binary friends. Other aspects remind me of butch women I know. Also trans masculine people. Those identities may or may not fit you. You don’t need to classify your gender for other people. If you want to use she/they pronouns then do it. If someone asks for more information on your identify you could say “it’s complicated” and leave it at that. You don’t owe anyone an answer. What people need to know is what pronouns you use.

      Beyond pronouns it can also be helpful to think about how you feel if someone used gendered honorifics or collective nouns. Like how do you feel if someone called you ma’am (like ma’am this a Wendy’s) or you were with a bunch of female friends and someone said “ok babes, we’re ready to leave.” I have friend who use she/they pronouns that are ok with some words but not others. I’m a cis woman who doesn’t like being referred to as a lady.

      It also might be helpful to separate identifying as a woman from liking feminine things. I happen to be a cis woman who likes dresses and makeup. I would still be a cis woman if I only wore pants, hated cooking and did all my car maintenance myself. In queer spaces I identify as a femme.

      You don’t have to come up with a final answer about your gender. I hope this journey goes well for you.

    10. kt*

      This might be an interesting read for you: https://arxiv.org/pdf/2105.03394.pdf

      A quote that really struck me:
      “This is the point, in a conventional twenty-first century American coming out
      narrative, where I should tell you what my pronouns are. The problem is that I
      have a distinct and genuine emotional response to stating my pronouns, and that
      response is fury that I’m being asked to be complicit in a broken system. I was fine
      using she/her pronouns, as long as I didn’t have to pretend that I liked them.

      I’m happy with they/them pronouns in contexts where they feel legitimately
      amorphous. Many kind and well-meaning people are tempted to replace the binary
      gender system by a triple gender system, and the change from n boxes to n + 1
      boxes does not bring me joy. For that matter, I’m fine with he/him pronouns, if
      they’re not attached to the assumption that all serious mathematicians use he/him.”

      1. Minerva*

        My biggest problem with my gender identity is certain people who think our current conception of sex and gender is perfect. And I find that quote surprisingly resonant for me for those reasons.

        Some of this focus on personal identity to me hides that I think our conception of gender is still broken. Would I feel more or less like a woman if I lived somewhere with a different concept of what that means? I’m pretty sure yes. I still think there’s more of a sociology problem we’re discussing as psychology.

        But I don’t give pronouns because it’s fraught and nothing fits. I figure I’m not broken if I’m not happy with the categories. My and my more queer friends just call me gender queer if they must. I do have parties I attend where everyone gives pronouns so we have long chats about this.

        OP – be you. Use words you like to refer to yourself. If you also find the categorical system imperfect, it’s not you that’s wrong, use what approximates to you best in the situation.

    11. Almost Academic*

      Yes this resonates with me so much! I felt like this for a long time (especially the question of “do I just want to be special?”), eventually came out as nonbinary this past year after thinking pretty deeply about it for the past 7 years or so. I think that the fact that it has been on your mind for 5-ish years is pretty telling that there is something that you can’t quite shake about it, and identifying what that is may be helpful. You might also want to look into the broader nonbinary spectrum? Like, genderfluid or agender identities may resonate more with as well.

      One question to consider is, what about the nonbinary / agender / genderqueer / whatever label you are considering community really resonates with you? Reflecting on this was helpful for me in sorting out my identity. I realized that when I first hear about an “X” gender option for a drivers license, it just felt right and really resonated with me deeply. Putting on gendered clothing (in either direction) is fun but feels like dress-up to me, and I’ve never really minded a lot of gender stuff either way. I started playing around with different pronouns, and figuring out what resonated with me and what didn’t. I think having experiences where I identified what resonated with me about a nonbinary identity really helped me to feel less like I was just running away from the aspects of female identity that are tough to navigate in our world. I really echo everyone’s recommendation about taking time to immerser yourself more in the broader trans communities, and would also encourage conversations about gender with other cis people as well (it was helpful to hear about how they conceptualized their identities to realize that their experiences didn’t resonate with me).

    12. NRG*

      Well, you don’t have to be constantly “I AM WOMAN ARRRR” to be a woman. I am also a cis woman, and I often don’t think much about it. I would be pretty startled to suddenly be not a woman, but it would not be personally upsetting (although I know that repercussions from others would probably be pretty bad). I feel like my “self” is separate from my gender somehow. And I do non-gender conforming things, because I want to do them. Many things are only arbitrarily gendered anyway (like wearing pants? ) Sometimes I would like everyone to be nongendered, at least some of the time, because it would be relaxing.

    13. MEH Squared*

      I’ve had similar thoughts myself and I usually end up with, “Oh, just call me by my name.” When I was a young girl, I wanted to be a boy so badly, but more because of what they were allowed to do than because I felt like a boy. I’m Asian to boot, so I got it from two cultures, not just one. I’m not very stereotypically feminine in the way I dress (no makeup, no dresses/skirts/no frills) and my interests skew more traditionally masculine rather than feminine (taiji weapons, video games, used to like sports, etc.).

      For me, though, it’s always been more about what I’m not. Not straight or gay, but bisexual. Not a theist or an atheist, but something in between. Not black or white, but Asian. It’s the same with gender. I don’t feel like a man at all, but I don’t really feel like a woman. I just get tripped up as to whether it’s more because of the stereotypical expectations or something more. I don’t care for ‘they/them’, either.

      I think personally at the end of the day, I’m mostly fine with being woman-shaped or something similar. Woman-adjacent? Something like that. I also relate to being all, ‘Women power!’ when talking about gender because that’s how I’m perceived and that’s how many of my experiences in this society have gone. I don’t think I need a hard and fast answer at the end of the day.

    14. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

      I’m in a similar state of mind, thought it’s not new – I’ve always felt I’m just “me”, not she or he. It’s never bothered me or made me feel I need to take any action. Any identification with my physical gender has more to do with how other people treat me than my own identification, which is okay. I’m 66 which might make a difference.
      Now that there are more people talking about their own journeys, it makes me more aware of this, but I’m still about where you are – I don’t care, and maybe I don’t need to know / resolve it one way or the other.
      There’s nothing I feel I need to do like change my pronouns or how I dress. I know a couple of people whose young adult children want to use “they” but don’t know anybody well enough, myself, to discuss it and understand why they need this, compared to me. I’m curious about it.

    15. Dot*

      I’ve struggled with this – trying to find a label that makes sense. Born female, was a young tomboy, had some body dysphoria growing up, came out as bisexual. I read more about feminism, and realized that label for me was “feminists”. Took years to undo my internalized misogyny and I accept myself as a gender nonconforming woman. Ultimately I said f*ck gender. Wear what you want, do your hair as you’d like, use makeup or not. I really love RuPaul’s message “We’re all born naked, and the rest is drag.”

    16. WoodswomanWrites*

      Here’s a resource you might find helpful, the LGBT National Hotline at https://www.glbthotline.org/national-hotline.html. It’s a peer counseling service–meaning everyone there identifies as LGBTQ–that’s completely anonymous and you can either talk on the phone or connect by chat. If you are in the US, they have the most extensive database of resources anywhere which you can access even if you don’t want to talk to anyone individually. I was a volunteer peer counselor there for several years, and it was really rewarding to help people who contacted us. It can make a big difference to have someone to talk to, and I’ll reiterate again that it’s anonymous.

    17. ampersand*

      I understand what you mean. I’m a woman, I identify as female, and I wouldn’t say there’s anything that calls that into question for me exactly–but if I stop to think about it, I don’t completely identify with that part of my identity (whew, that’s kind of confusing). I think that’s the best way to put it. I wear makeup, I’ll wear dresses when I have to, but I’m not what anyone would call girly. Obviously part of the issue here is that in most cultures gender is binary–it’s entirely possible that if I were born into a world where there existed a third/other option for gender I would have chosen that as my identity, because when I think about it female doesn’t exactly fit.

      I don’t feel male, either; I think what you said is how I feel about it: I kind of just don’t care? I realize I’m fortunate that this isn’t something I’m struggling with. I suspect there are more people out there who feel similarly and don’t talk about it because it doesn’t come up or isn’t an issue.

      It doesn’t sound like you’re trying to seem special; to me it sounds like you’re questioning whether continuing to identify as you have still makes sense for you. That’s valid.

    18. LucasY*

      A lot of people have already given you good advice. I just wanted to add this: what would be the point of doing this to “seem special” if in 5 years’ time, you haven’t told a single person IRL about this? My brain also likes to throw this at me sometimes (as far as I can tell now, I’m a transmasculine nonbinary person and still very much figuring things out – a year ago I still thought I was a woman) but really, if that were the case you wouldn’t keep coming back to it, I think. There’s something there that’s worth exploring. It can be scary, but also very exciting! I hope you can find a trusted person to talk to about this. Best of luck to you.

  9. Venus*

    How does your garden grow? How is your moss, your weeds, and your veggies? How are the beasts and bugs that feed off the greenery?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      My poppies have started to bloom. The garden has been severely overhauled twice (professionally) and they have survived through it all, kind of like hostas. That’s OK, though. I like the poppies. They look like bright orange tissue paper. My peonies have lots of buds all over them, so I’m hoping those bloom soon.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I tried planting poppy seeds and so far none have sprouted. I may just give up and get plants from the nursery. My peonies are looking promising too, and the irises & pinks are in bud. This yard has such a temperature differential between the sunny & shaded areas that I have another round of azaleas in the chilly section.
        I transplanted the “are these going to sprout” wildflower seeds into the area where the poppies didn’t come up so there should at least be a bit of *something* there. Assuming they survive dry weather & hose water — we’ve had very little rain.

    2. TX Lizard*

      Some small mushrooms have popped up in my little herb pots. Is that something I should be worried about, especially for herbs I plan to eat?

      1. Venus*

        Only if they are poisonous mushrooms. The problem with mushrooms is only that the okay ones are often hard to distinguish from ones that cause stomach issues.

        I would remove them from the pot, wash your hands afterwards, then try to keep the top of the dirt mostly dry. At least let it dry out between waterings.

    3. Bobina*

      My Dutch Iris finally flowered! I bought a pack of 20 bulbs and planted half in November and have been eagerly anticipating my first one, and after despairing for the last couple of weeks, this week I finally have a very pretty flower! Oddly enough, none of the other bulbs look like they are ready to flower at all, so not sure whats going on, but at least I have one.

      Lots more violas making an appearance, and my ranunculus which was also planted in November has finally flowered, although it looks very small compared to what I was expecting (and quite a few of those bulbs just died very early on for some reason).

      My rocket is just getting very leggy but not even a set of true leaves which I’m kind of surprised by. Tomorrow I need to see how the pots on the wall are doing, hopefully the slugs wont have caused any more havoc.

      1. Hornets*

        “Lots more violas making an appearance”

        As someone who used to play the viola, I find this incredibly charming.

    4. BlueWolf*

      The weather is finally warming up again so I’m going to plant out the rest of my tomatoes and my bell peppers today! My kale forest is out of control. We’re seriously considering getting a chest freezer because we can’t eat kale fast enough haha, but also so we can buy other things in bulk.

      1. Susie*

        I went a little crazy with the kale this year too! Planning on making lots of kale chips.

    5. MinotJ*

      Somebody is eating my tiny little beet seedlings in the middle of the night and it makes me so sad that I want to give up on gardening forever. This happens every year. It’s slugs. I restarted with new seeds and put down the sluggo barrier and I’ll likely stop crying in a week or so.

      My tomatoes are going gangbusters. But how the heck did I end up with 13 plants?! Last year we had six plants and too many tomatoes. I literally don’t know what happened.

      Has anybody grown tromboncino squash? I’m trying it this year, training it to go up a tall grid frame over the raised bed – I’m hoping they’ll hang down and stay nice and straight. Do I treat them like winter or summer squash? I’m hoping to use them in my spiralizer.

      1. Ellen*

        I grew tromboncinos one year, and hung the vines along our deck railing. It was quite a sight to behold. I was disappointed in the taste though. I think regular summer squashes have better taste and texture, but if you add it to a stew or something, it will probably be fine.

      2. Natalie*

        Weird slug tip – you can make a trap with a beer can, just leave some beer in it. Slugs like beer, I really don’t know why, and they crawl in the can and get stuck.

        1. MinotJ*

          I tried this a few years ago. It was strange to see them drown themselves. But there’s no fence now and the dogs would gladly stick their faces in the raised beds to drink slug beer.

    6. fposte*

      It looks like the woody weeds rampant in the backyard are honeysuckle. I actually like honeysuckle, but it’s super-invasive around here so it’s going to be a task to eradicate. On the bright side, peonies continue to blossom; this is maybe the best time, when I have two beautiful ones and a bunch to look forward to.

    7. Filosofickle*

      I planted herbs and they are thriving. I also seem to have revived my dying Sticks on Fire! It turns out I wasn’t watering anything enough, even the succulents. I always heard stuff like “give it a good soak then let it dry” but my definition of “lots” of water was completely insufficient. Now everything is much happier.

    8. Girasol*

      I did a great job taking out the aphids this year…until the second hatch. I’m spraying soap like crazy, but the nectarine tree has a tendency to lose all its leaves if an aphid even looks at it funny. Meanwhile, the iris and lupine are blooming and everything’s sprouting in the vegetable raised beds. I’m going out to replace the soaker tubes today. They seem to get blocked with minerals after a few years and need replacement. I’ll repurpose the old ones to tie up trees and shrubs.

    9. The teapots are on fire*

      My SO were heading out on our walk last night and checked on our dwarf peach tree (which it turns out makes little dwarf peaches). The little budding peaches we saw last week seem to be gone. We only got one or two last year, too. Last night we saw snail slime on the trunk going right up to the top of the tree and the mystery was solved.

      1. Venus*

        That’s bad news! I don’t know about your situation, but we used to catch caterpillars on tree trunks by tying a thick cloth around the trunk and folding it over, so the bug would crawl up and then get stuck under the flap. Then we would destroy them.

    10. Yellow Warbler*

      I’m tired of tending the scraggly grass on our shady steep hills. It’s ugly, and mowing is dangerous. I want to put down moss and ferns, but the neighbors on both sides have full grass, and I’m struggling to figure out how to meet their property lines. I really don’t want to do hardscaping, but it seems like the only option.

    11. CatCat*

      I’m moving to a place with lots of sun exposure in the little yard. Going to make self watering containers and take a stab at some veggies! I’m taking an online gardening class to learn more.

    12. tangerineRose*

      There’s a section of my yard that’s full of gravel and weeds. I want to shovel up as much of the gravel as I can (which won’t be all of it; it gets packed tighter and tighter as I shovel), put some bags of potting soil on top, add landscape cloth, and then plant something, but I’m not sure what to plant. Whatever I plant needs to be very low maintenance and be comfortable in the Pacific Northwest of the USA.

      I’d like to plant some flowering shrubs, but most of them have roots that are at least 12 inches at length, and this section of yard is probably about 4 feet wide – I don’t know that I can get the dirt to stay piled up that high.

      I like flowers too, but I’d like something that wouldn’t disappear in the fall and winter – something that had some green even during those months.

      What do you think?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Try a Web search for “erosion control pacific northwest”–I saw a lot of suggestions. It’s something we looked into a few years ago for a family member’s property (different region). Native plants are often a low-maintenance choice.

      2. Venus*

        I tend to rely on local gardening stores in these situations. Plants are very regional. The only green things here in winter are plastic ;)

    13. allathian*

      Our daffodils are in full bloom, there’s a lily that’s about to burst into bloom, and the geraniums we just planted in pots outdoors look lovely. I’m also cheering for the dandelions. I know they’re weeds really, but I think they’re pretty and besides, they’re good for the pollinators.

    14. Susie*

      This is the first weekend in about 6 weeks we haven’t had to spend most of the weekend doing yard work. The vines around our property lines are gone (for now…thanks for the advice a few weeks ago). Our new raised beds are built, filled and planted. So I’m sitting in the garden just enjoying it today. My son had a blast watering the garden (and himself) this morning.

      We’ve seen gophers, rabbits, chipmunks, and tons of birds, but so far all our plants are intact.

      I plan on enjoying the vegetable garden for a few more weeks (and maybe spend next weekend installing the new drip system if it ever arrives). But soon I’m going to start fantasizing about planning garden phase 2–flowers. Any advice for designing a flower garden? I want to focus on native perennials.

      1. Venus*

        Native plants are so unique to the area, so I suggest finding a local store. We have a yearly sale of native plants by a charity so you might be lucky and have something similar. I look forward to enjoying my yard too! I’m happy for you, well done!

    15. peasblossom*

      The first of my tomatoes are coming in this week and all of my herbs (except, weirdly, my dill) are thriving. I’m going to have to move my mint soon (or at least split it) or I’m worried it’ll kill my basil plant.

      I have been playing around with the idea of planting some natural mosquito-repelling plants (citronella, lemongrass, more rosemary). Has anyone ever tried this? Google and discussions with friends have led to mixed reviews.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The deer ate hostas 15 feet from the house. I’m now thinking seriously about a motion detector sprinkler.

      1. Vanellope*

        Lol we have feral pumpkins too! Even tried to clear them out and plant other things this year but they have sprung up among the tomatoes and peppers. Drives my husband crazy but I kind of love them. :)

    16. NRG*

      Today the finches discovered my lettuce, and my beet seedlings. My lovely perfect lettuce is now 1/3 munched, and I am down to a handful of beets. I’ve planted more beet seed and netted the vegetable bed.

    17. Generic Name*

      I finally planted my annuals! I’m so happy! I also cleaned out part of the front perennial bed. Spring has been cold and snowy this year. Everything is about 2 weeks later than normal. I told my teenager I’d pay him $20 if he’d fill a contractor garbage bag of pinecones. I love our ponderosa trees, but the cones get overwhelming sometimes. We’ll see if he’d rather play video games or have $20. Husband planted some of the veggies he’s been growing from seed. Our back deck, that he built, looks amazing right now with the pots of annuals.

    18. HannahS*

      My tomato seedlings have moved to the balcony to harden off on this warm day. They can probably start living outside by the end of this week, which will be nice.

      How long does basil take pop up if you’re sowing from seed? I gave up a while ago because it was taking soooo long, but if it’s a matter of just being patient for a few weeks, I’ll give it another go.

    19. Might Be Spam*

      I’m not much of a gardener and I’m not sure what I am doing. However, I dug up a bunch of plants from my mom’s garden and put them around the edge of my apartment building (landlord said OK) and everything is still alive. I planted some bleeding hearts last year and most of them came up this year.

      1. MinotJ*

        Bleeding hearts are amazing! They look so delicate but they’re better with neglect than my other, fussier flowers. And they come back bigger every spring.

  10. Myrin*

    I’m an avid reader of fanfiction and recently, a discussion I read here on AAM years ago came to mind.

    I don’t remember the context but there was talk about “fair use”, which is mentioned pretty often in fan circles in an “I don’t own these characters, I’m only borrowing them under the ‘fair use’ [noun which I now can’t remember for the life of me; something like “rule”? “clause”?]” kind of way.

    And in this discussion here on AAM, someone – I’m fairly sure it was fposte but I could be wrong – said that that’s not actually how you use “fair use”/what “fair use” is but rather that for it to come into play, someone would have to sue a fanfic writer and they would then be able to invoke fair use, as in, it only comes up in response to an accusation and isn’t something you can just claim pre-emptively.

    Can someone go into more depth regarding this topic? I tried googling some but honestly of the few results I found, I either didn’t quite understand them or they didn’t seem hugely credible. I’m not a writer myself so this isn’t that personal to me but I see it brought up fairly often and would love to read the thoughts of people I know I can trust and who know what they’re talking about.

      1. Laura H.*

        Also I can but it may take a while to put my thoughts down. I’ll get back on that.

      2. Myrin*

        Ack, I thought that it was “doctrine” – I even looked up if I had the English spelling correct – but then I backed down like a coward because I started thinking about its definition too much and suddenly had no idea what it meant anymore.

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      The way they explain this in law school is to think of copyright as a bundle of different rights. There’s the right to sell the work, copy the work, print the work, write sequels and prequels to the work, make movies or TV shows of the work, and so on. Sequels, prequels, and movies and TV shows of a work are called derivative works. Fanfic is also a “derivative work,” so whoever holds the copyright of the original work has the right to decide who is allowed to create fanfic of it. If you don’t get permission (or a “license”), then your fanfic infringes on the rights of whoever owns the right to make derivative works of the original work.

      “Fair use” is a defense to a claim of infringement. That is, if you’re sued for infringement, you can say, “Well, yeah, I infringed, but in my defense it was ‘fair use.'” There are specific ways to successfully invoke the fair use defense. In the U.S., it’s things like writing a review where you use excerpts of the original work, reporting on the news, using the work in a classroom, publishing scholarship, or creating a parody. Depending on what kind of fair use defense you invoke, you have to convince a court or jury that your infringement was excusable. But in any event, when you invoke “fair use,” you’ve already admitted infringement of someone’s copyright.

      Most fanfic doesn’t even fall into a fair use analysis anyway, because it’s a derivative work, not the use of an unaltered excerpt of the original work. It’s just straight-up copyright infringement: making a derivative work without the copyright owner’s permission.

      1. 3L*

        This is all correct. And copyright law is very poorly understood by laypeople, so disclaimers often include language that’s straight up wrong. Fair use is only a defense after you’ve been sued, so saying “I can write this story because it’s fair use” is incorrect:

    2. OTGW*

      Idk if this is quite what you’re looking for but: People used to put disclaimers at the beginning of stories/new chapters. The “I don’t own these characters/I’m playing in George Lucas’ sandbox/etc” thing. I’ve never seen fair use. But! While this was before my time (I’ve been in fanfic for only ~10 years, I was in middle school when I started writing, etc) the reason people got really obsessive with disclaimers was because of Ann Rice.

      I don’t remember the full story but she sued a writer for using her characters and it got into a big whole fiasco. But the courts or whatever did side with the fanfic writer, I believe. So people got obsessed with putting disclaimers so they wouldn’t be sued.

      I’m gonna try to find something that explains it better, but yeah. That’s what started the whole “don’t sue me” thing. Though I almost never see it today.

      1. Myrin*

        Oh yeah, I’m aware of all of that. And interestingly, I’ve found that this differs by fandom – I’ve seen “fair use” brought up fairly rarely for years and then started reading in a new fandom and it was everywhere! I’ve never figured out if there’s any particularly bad blood between fans and the original creators (didn’t seem like it) or if it was just a thing a few popular writers did and then it caught on it became A Thing (more likely IMO).

      2. RagingADHD*

        IIRC, the fanfic was an infringement but Rice couldn’t claim any damage was done to her sales or the value of her work, so there was nothing for the court to award her.

    3. D3*

      Along similar lines, it always cracks me up when people infringe copyright while saying “no copyright infringement intended.”
      If that worked, you’d find a lot of bank robbers using notes that say:
      “Give me all the money in the till! PS No bank robbery intended!”
      If you stole a photo or a song or something, you’re violating copyright no matter what you say about your intentions.

      1. MEH Squared*

        This tickles me every time I see it on YouTube. That’s not how any of this works!

    4. Reba*

      The Digital Media Law Project has a good explainer, as well as the Organization for Transformative Works, which specifically addresses fan works.
      (One of the factors includes the degree to which the new work is “transformative” — hence this term has been adopted by some fanfic type communities.)

      Your memory is correct, in that “fair use” is not a right, or a clause, or a rule. “Fair Use” is a set of four factors that a court would use to decide, in a lawsuit, whether a usage of copyrighted material is allowed. It’s vague! and subjective! Courts are supposed to consider the four factors holistically in rendering judgment. There is not, like, a formula to follow or a test that an author/creator/person can use to be sure that the piece would be allowed.

      So yes, when writers assert they are protected by “fair use” or people reposting things on Youtube say “I don’t claim ownership of this video,” that is very silly.

        1. pancakes*

          Transformative and derivative aren’t synonyms for US copyright purposes, though. They’re referring to different things. The US Copyright Office has some pretty good, surprisingly readable material on this stuff, including a Fair Use Index, and a circular titled “Copyright in Derivative Works and Compilations.”

          1. Reba*

            Yes, I didn’t mean to suggest that, but I realize it sounds that way! I was trying to make a little joke! In that, of course people would prefer to call their works the term that sounds kind of magical, as opposed to the term that has a connotation (outside of its legal or contractual meaning) of banal, unimaginative, etc. The Organization of Transformative Works, that’s not just a title but a claim about the fan works they archive. Just a little gentle ribbing of fanfic community — of which I am sometimes part.

    5. mreasy*

      Correct that a preemptive “fair use” claim doesn’t mean anything. There is a pretty limited definition of fair use, and it’s restricted for a reason. In music copyright (my world), “fair use” is generally applied to parodies. Weird Al famously asks for permission before he parodies a song, but not because he legally has to – his works are all pretty clearly fair use as parody. Less straightforward was 2 Live Crew’s parody use of Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman,” which was eventually ruled as fair use/parody but lower courts flipped their opinion multiple times. But e.g. you can’t use an element of a song in your new work without clearances, even if the work is vastly different from the original, unless it is firmly satire or parody. That’s just a copyright violation. I can’t imagine why fan fiction that wasn’t a clear parody would be any different (but maybe it is). Probably very hard to police regardless, and in some cases likely a benefit to the author/publisher as it strengthens fan loyalty to the franchise – also one reason some artists make their stems available for fan remixes and don’t take down YouTube UGC videos using their music.

    6. Emily*

      Okay, so I went to https://ao3commentoftheday.tumblr.com/ who does work at ao3 and there was a link to this: https://www.transformativeworks.org/faq/

      Legal
      Why does the OTW believe that transformative works are legal?
      Copyright is intended to protect the creator’s right to profit from her work for a period of time to encourage creative endeavor and the widespread sharing of knowledge. But this does not preclude the right of others to respond to the original work, either with critical commentary, parody, or, we believe, transformative works.
      In the United States, copyright is limited by the fair use doctrine. The legal case of Campbell v. Acuff-Rose held that transformative uses receive special consideration in fair use analysis. For those interested in reading in-depth legal analysis, more information can be found on the Fanlore Legal Analysis page.

      What exactly is fair use?
      Fair use is the right to make some use of copyrighted material without getting permission or paying. It is a basic limit on copyright law that protects free expression. “Fair use” is an American phrase, although all copyright laws have some limits that keep copyright from being private censorship.
      Fair use favors uses that (1) are noncommercial and not sold for a profit; (2) are transformative, adding new meaning and messages to the original; (3) are limited, not copying the entirety of the original; and (4) do not substituts for the original work. None of these factors is absolutely necessary for fair use, but they all help, and we believe that fanworks like those in the archive easily qualify as fair uses based on all these factors.

      (There are other fac on that site as well.)

      Hope this is helpful :)

    7. RagingADHD*

      A crucial element of copyright law is that it is a civil matter, not a criminal one. So in order for a court case to be worth pursuing, there has to be some practical basis to award money damages. Usually that means that the infringer is profiting from the work, and / or is devaluing or reducing sales from the rightful owner.

      Fanfiction is always copyright infringement. It doesn’t matter what they say in a disclaimer.

      The issue is whether it’s worth pursuing. Most fanfiction thrives because the original creators aren’t losing money, so they don’t care. A few see it as adding value by building fan loyalty.

      Some oppose it, and will send a cease-and desist to the hosting site. The site then becomes liable for any potential damages, and since there usually is some money involved (ad revenue or donations, something) there’s a potential claim. So they take the offending content down. They don’t want to litigate, because that’s expensive.

      The chances of a fanfic writer having negative consequences personally are very slim. But it’s not because fanfic has any fair use defense, or any rights. It’s because it’s usually not worth bothering with for the copyright holder to do anything about it.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Strictly speaking, a copyright owner can seek lost profits and also statutory damages. That is, in addition to (or in place of) any actual lost profits or other damages they can prove, the copyright owner can claim up to $30,000 or $150,000, depending on various factors, if they win the lawsuit. They have to have registered their work with the U.S. Copyright Office in order to demand statutory damages, though. The copyright owner can also claim attorney’s fees in either case. So it can be financially reasonable to go after fanfic producers, though as you say it’s mostly a fool’s errand. A cease-and-desist nastygram is cheaper and usually works faster, though it’s good evidence that further infringement was “willful” per the statute and thus the lawsuit later on would be worth more.

        (Also, copyright law does include the possibility of criminal charges for some things, but not things like writing and publishing fanfic.)

        1. RagingADHD*

          There’s also the “blood from a stone” issue.

          You could theoretically win $30k plus costs, but how many fanfic writers are good for it?

          A judgment you can never collect isn’t worth much but aggravation.

      2. Lilo*

        Copyright holders often don’t bother with fanatic because of optics and because it can build the popularity of their product. Anne Rice is the exception, not the rule.

        1. Queer Earthling*

          Anne Rice is the exception, not the rule.

          On many levels, in many situations…

    8. Buni*

      We were taught that it basically came down to profit: you cannot profit on the back of another’s work, and you cannot take potential profit away from them. So copying & distributing a whole book is obviously out, as by doing that you’re not buying a proper copy and thus ‘denying’ the author the profit of a sold copy. But fanfic is not sold, the fanfic author doesn’t profit and it’s not like the OC author was going to write that anyway.

      As RagingADHD noted upthread, you could absolutely still be sued for a Cease & Desist, but so long as your profit was zero most likely so would the damages be.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        > so long as your profit was zero most likely so would the damages be

        This is not the accurate. There are statutory damages available under the U.S. copyright law, which does not require that the copyright owner prove anything beyond the infringement.

        1. Buni*

          I’m not in the US so it could be different, but as mentioned upthread I did mean it more in the actual result sense: you’re welcome to sue me for tens of millions, but I absolutely guarantee you’re not going to get it..!

        2. mreasy*

          Yes – and this is why the copyright infringement cases you hear about are for hit songs and big artists (or those affiliated with big labels or publishers), because that’s where the money is. Thousands of smaller artists are using uncleared samples and illegally interpolating others’ works every year, but generally only “Blurred Lines”-level cases get picked up. However, there is a new law in the works that would enable musicians with lower-level complaints to file for up to $30k (IIRC), not requiring the legal representation and making it possible for working musicians to be made whole from smaller-scale infractions.

    9. A name*

      I know that for AO3 (major fanfiction site) a big part of their defence is that it’s all free. There are rules about authors not posting patreon or kofi links on the site directly because it potentially jeopardises the ability to defend the fan works.

      1. Myrin*

        Ooooh yeah, I actually read about that recently – an author I followed had posted a link to her kofi and later deleted it and explained that AO3 had asked her to, but I didn’t quite make that connection!

    10. Not Australian*

      ‘Fair use’ is really about *literally quoting* or repurposing someone else’s work and putting your own name on it. In academic circles in particular the doctrine of ‘fair use’ is applied pretty rigorously, because you have to be able to show evidence of an independent thought process rather than just regurgitating someone else’s. This is not at all relevant to fanworks, and anyone who thinks it is has completely misunderstood the difference.

      Under English law, what counts most with fanfiction is ‘passing off’, i.e. making it clear that the fanwork is not intended to be taken as being *by* the original author of the work it’s based on. US and other countries have different variations of the same thing (intellectual property etc.), hence the one-size-fits-all disclaimers. The other essential is that a fan author should not to be seen to profit from work based on someone else’s characters/situations, which was a tricky needle to thread back before the Internet when fanzines were the logical means of distribution. You were virtually left just charging people for the paper the zine was printed on and the postage to send it to them – at least, that was the theory!

      Source: personal experience. Published my first fanzine in 1979 and never looked back.

  11. CheeseWhizzies*

    Anybody else have really bad PMS symptoms after their first vaccine? I’ve had a migraine for days now. (No need to give advice! I’m just curious to know if other people who menstruate had the same experience.)

    1. mreasy*

      Yes! I had particularly bad symptoms and a friend got her period a week early. Dr. Jen Gunter wrote a piece about this.

    2. Enough*

      There has been some discussion that the first cycle can have some changes for some people. Had a discussion with a friend with education in microbiology and immunology and that the vaccine can effect inflammation. I definitely had an episode after each shot that caused a bigger flair up of some inflammation that I have experienced before.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, it woke my ulcerative colitis from its slumber, unfortunately. Still worth it though.

      2. OtterB*

        Oh, that’s interesting. I hadn’t realized that. My daughter is having some digestive issues – not new, but worse recently. She’s definitely lactose intolerant, but also seems to have some IBS beyond that that we think is sort of new. I wonder if her vaccination could have triggered that or made it worse. Not that it matters at this point, I suppose – she’s got it, we treat it.

      3. Yellow Warbler*

        I have definitely noticed a change in how my GERD presents since before the shot (I got the J&J single). Before, I had lower gut pain and gallbladder issues. Now it’s completely moved upwards, to throat burning and feeling short of breath.

    3. Invisible Fish*

      My 2nd shot jump started my cycle a week early …. I got it earlier than many due to *reasons* so that possibility hadn’t made the news yet.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        COVID itself can have an effect so it doesn’t surprise me that the vaccine would do something similar.
        To avoid bugging the moderator, here’s a title to look up instead of a URL.
        “Long COVID and periods: The unspoken impact on female well-being”
        Written by Maria Cohut, Ph.D. on February 17, 2021
        Medical News Today

    4. allathian*

      Nothing terrible, but the vaccine did seem to delay the start of my period by a couple days and it was slightly heavier than it has been recently. But I’m almost 50 and probably perimenopausal, so my periods have been getting lighter and more frequent the last couple years. My cycle used to be 30-33 days long, now it’s more like 27-28.

    5. Bagpuss*

      I wonder whether it depends on where in your cycle you are? I had side effects from the vaccine for about 4 days, and was just at the end of my period. The next one started about a week sooner than anticipated but I’m perimenopausal and have never been very regular so it may or may not be connected!

    6. PT*

      My first shot triggered a migraine, too, within a few hours of getting it. I am under treatment for migraine management, but I don’t get menstrual migraines. I got rid of the worst of it after a day or two and it took another day or two to fully clear the migraine (because that’s how bad migraines work.)

    7. Caterpie*

      I got my second dose a month ago ago, and my period is 5 days late! I’m not pregnant, but stopped the pill 2 months ago and know it takes a while for it to re-regularize. I was always very regular both before and on the pill.

      I was hoping to start TTC next month, so I hope my schedule goes back to normal soon.

    8. ecnaseener*

      I live with my sister and we both take birth control so our periods are usually very regular and light — I got vaxxed first and didn’t notice any menstrual changes, but shortly after she got her second shot we BOTH had super long, heavy periods! It wasn’t even the right time for my period so I ended up with two that month >:[

    9. Potatoes gonna potate*

      hunh that’s really interesting.
      I got my first dose in February, second dose in March. My period was about 2 weeks late.
      This was my second period after my second dose, and I had the most major weepies the other night, right in the middle of it. I used to get the weepies all the time in PMS a while back. Forget how that stopped.

      Could all be a huge coincidence/related to something completely different.

    10. Blackcat*

      I’ve heard period disruptions are super common (maybe 40-50% of menstruating people?). Early/late/heavy/light are all possible.

    11. Rebecca Stewart*

      I had a fibromyalgia flare, but that was expected. I have a fibro flare when anything changes; get one with my period, if I take a car ride out of the county, if I stand longer than usual, if anything. (rolls eyes)

      As to my period, I’m in perimenopause, I get a different period every month and never quite know when or where. I can’t separate vaccine weirdness from the general weirdness anymore.

    12. Anon3*

      I had incredibly intense cramps, which I usually experience only 1-2 times a year, for ~3 months, I think starting around the time before got the first shot. It’s gone now. I attributed it to stress – for me, being in the “home stretch” (the three week gap between shots and the two weeks after the second shot) was tremendously anxiety-provoking because I was so afraid that I would make a wrong decision and either get the virus (“waste” the vaccine, in my head) or give it to someone and not know because of lack of symptoms. And after getting through that, my emotions were all over the place for a while – pent up processing from the year, I’m sure.

      So to;dr – yes, but I’m hesitant to attribute it to anything more than stress and the whiplash from the sudden easing of that stress (and I’m actually surprised that factor isn’t being discussed more in these articles).

    13. SocialLerker*

      Yes! I had signs that I was menopausal – no period for 5 months. Got my shots and quickly my periods returned like a horrific hurricane of cramping and over-the-top what-nots. Glad to know I’m not alone in this weirdness. After the third month/round it seemed to be tapering off somewhat. Fingers and toes crossed.

  12. TX Lizard*

    Baking thread! What’s in your oven?
    I just pulled my GF honey-butter dinner rolls out of the oven. I switched flours and they are the fluffiest thing I have ever made. I’m addicted. I want to start experimenting with adding some other flavors. I think I’ll start with lavender- anyone e;se have any suggestions for a savory/sweet roll flavor?

    1. Soupspoon McGee*

      I accidentally added dried fennel to my bread dough instead of rosemary, so I just went with it and added turmeric, cardamom, and cinnamon. It was amazing! It works well with savory foods or slathered with apricot jam.

        1. fposte*

          To cross the threads–I have fennel self-seeding in my garden, and it’s a lovely subtle scent at night.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I just tried King Arthur’s white wheat flour this week. I made delicious bread that was light & fluffy but 100% whole wheat. I still like regular whole wheat for its stronger flavor, but this is adds more options.

      1. Is it tea time yet?*

        Ooh, I’ve been using their white whole wheat for a while. It makes great pizza crust and scones, and I can pretend they are healthier! Kiddo isn’t fond of regular whole wheat, so it’s a good substitute.

    3. Mary Berry*

      Been experimenting with scone flavors – vanilla bean, cinnamon/coffee, lemon/lavender, and dark chocolate/orange all turned out really well! This week I’m planning to make mixed berry and lemon poppyseed scones.

    4. Girasol*

      Cookies. I make up four or five batches of drop cookies that bake at the same temperature, make the dough balls, and then freeze them, so I can take out a mixed half dozen and bake them up in the toaster oven. The current batches are molasses spice, chewy oatmeal raisin, chocolate, and brown sugar.
      Bread flavors: my old cookbook recommends cheese/pimento and also the odd herb combination of sage, nutmeg, and caraway, which actually is quite good.

    5. Lcsa99*

      I’d love your recipe. We have a few GF people in our lives so would like to try it out on them!

      1. TX Lizard*

        It’s slightly modified but from “The Big Book Of Gluten-Free Baking” by Paola Anna Miget (the only cookbook I ever actually use). I have used both King Arthur Measure for Measure flour and Bob’s Red Mill 1-1, but the Bob’s Red Mill is the best for light and fluffy rolls. Both already have xanthum gum mixed in.
        It’s pretty simple as far as GF baking goes.

        Ingredients:
        250 grams bread flour
        1.5 tsp xanthum gum (omit if your flour blend already has it)
        1 tsp baking powder
        1/2 tsp salt
        50 grams sugar
        1 (7 gram) packet of instant yeast (I use 2.25 tsp instant bread machine yeast)
        2 tbsp melted butter
        1/2 cup warm whole milk (100-110 degrees or whatever your yeast recommends)
        1 large egg, beaten (room temp, not cold)
        2 tbsp honey
        1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
        A little olive oil for your fingers
        Shortening or olive oil for the pan

        Topping ingredients:
        2 tbsp melted butter
        1 tbsp honey

        1. Grease a 9×9 baking dish with shortening or olive oil.
        2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, xanthum gum (if using), baking powder, and salt.
        3. In a large bowl, stir together sugar, yeast, melted butter, and warm milk. Let sit for 5 minutes.
        4. Add the beaten egg, honey, and vinegar to the yeast mixture and stir to combine.
        5. Using a handheld mixer w/ dough hook, add half the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until a dough forms. It will be very sticky.
        6. Oil your fingers and divide the dough into 8-12 evenly sized, smooth balls. (You can do this on a floured surface or straight from the bowl, you may have to roll them in your hands gently.) Place the dough balls in the baking dish so that they barely touch, and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Let rise for at least 2 hours.
        ~Intermission~
        7. Preheat the oven to 375. While it preheats, melt the butter for the topping. Add the honey.
        8. Brush about half of the topping on the dough balls.
        9. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and brush the rest of the honey butter on top.
        10. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, and serve fresh! They will last a couple days in airtight storage and should be eaten warm.

        1. TX Lizard*

          Also, my next project is to use this recipe as a starting point for monkey bread. I think it would work decently well, and I could do brown sugar and cinnamon in place of the honey topping. If anyone is inspired to experiment in that direction, let’s compare notes!

        2. Lcsa99*

          Thank you! We’re gonna test this as is and vegan for all the iterations we need for Thanksgiving. We usually bring biscuits and rolls, will be fun if we can bring three types of bread to make everyone happy.

          1. TX Lizard*

            The original recipe recommended some vegan swaps! Any non dairy butter alternative, So Delicious Original coconut milk (or similar “drinking” coconut milk, not the canned stuff), and Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer or golden flaxseed (both are 3 tbsp per egg). Hope this helps!

    6. Elle Woods*

      I’m not necessarily a chocolate chip cookie fan but I finally found a recipe I love. It’s from Pinch of Yum and is for browned butter chocolate chip cookies. Browning the butter made all the difference. The cookies had crispy edges and a chewy, almost gooey center. My family loved them too.

      1. Meh*

        I’ve made those! Browned butter makes a huge difference. I need to cross that with another recipe that does a really low temp and time ( but I have to find it first)

    7. I take tea*

      I just made Get Curried’s Vegan Chocolate Cake (from YouTube). It’s so easy to make (especially if you skip the glazing, but today I did it with coconut flakes) and it’s a bit lighter than the banana cake that is a classical vegan staple. Can recommend. The video is nice too, she has a lovely accent and a bit of humor.

      1. TX Lizard*

        Posted as a reply above! I do not have the cabinet space or energy to blend my own flours, so I only get pre-made blends. I love the Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 flour, but if I can’t find it near me the King Arthur Measure for Measure is pretty good for most things. For yeast breads including this recipe I would go with Bob’s Red Mill if you can.

    8. Meh*

      I just made KAF strawberry brioche. Um yum! It was a little under baked in the center but fabulous toasted.

    9. KristinaL*

      I’m planning to make brownies, but I’m getting bored with my regular ingredients and want to ask for suggestions. I’ve added chocolate chips and toffee bits and cinnamon. I want to try something else.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Mint. Butterscotch chips. Caramel swirls. Cheesecake swirls! Drop globs of chocolate chip cookie dough on top for cookie brownies. Strawberry or raspberry are both popular with chocolate.

      2. D3*

        Immediately after you take them out of the oven, sprinkle mini marshmallows on them and broil until golden. This is my family’s favorite.

      3. Jackalope*

        Take raspberry jam, dump a few dollops on the brownie batter once it’s already in the pan but before baking, and then swirl it in a bit. What you’re going for is bits of brownie that have a ribbon of jam but it’s not mixed evenly through the whole thing.

      4. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

        If you’re just looking for a different brownie recipe and not necessarily special ingredients, have we got a treat for you. For a really rich, chocolatey brownie, there’s no beating this one. (Note: It’s a bit of a fussy recipe and as silly as some of the method seems, it has to be done exactly as written for the correct–amazing–results.)

        Connie’s “PMS” Brownies (from Extreme Brownies by Connie Weis)

        Vegetable shortening for pan
        3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter
        2 cups (12 ounces) 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips
        6 large eggs, at room temperature
        3 cups (1 pound 5 ounces) sugar
        1 teaspoon salt
        1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
        1 1/4 cups cake flour
        1 cups and 2 tablespoons (4.2 ounces) Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder

        To make the brownies, adjust an oven rack to the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350F. Prepare a 9 x 13″ baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

        Cut the butter sticks into 1-inch slices. In a small, heavy saucepan, melt the butter pieces over the lowest setting; add the bittersweet chocolate chips. Stir with a small whisk until combined and the chocolate is melted and smooth. Turn off the heat but leave the saucepan on the burner while proceeding with the recipe.

        Using a large whisk, lightly beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Place the sugar and salt in a separate small mixing bowl, then whisk into the egg mixture until just combined. Briefly whisk in the vanilla.

        Place the flour and cocoa powder in the small mixing bowl; whisk together to combine. Sift through a medium strainer directly onto the batter; stir in with a silicone spatula until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with a small offset spatula.

        Bake for 34 minutes (note: that’s what’s listed in the recipe but in our oven, it usually takes 40; when you think it’s done, add 4-5 more minutes to avoid an under cooked mess) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let cool at room temperature for at least 15 minutes. Enjoy!

      5. Bookgarden*

        We started making brownies with flavor infused olive oil, and much to our surprise they turn out really well. We used blood orange for the last batch and they were great!

      6. Mary Berry*

        Peanut butter swirls, walnuts, caramel, chopped up candy bar, cherries, add a frosting or glaze!

      7. Rebecca Stewart*

        I have had good results with a blondie that had butterscotch schnapps in the batter and a dark chocolate ribbon in the dough.

        The first person who tried them said, “Oh, these are evil!” and now they are on file as “The Evil Blondies.”

    10. Jackalope*

      I just made brioche for the first time in years. Oh my gosh youall, what have I been doing with my life and why haven’t I been making brioche nonstop instead??? I made half of it in a roll with rum-soaked raisins and the other half just plain. It was so tasty and buttery and eggy. And the plain stuff was great with cherry jam.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        1) My favorite brownie recipe is so FUDGY that I don’t add things usually. It’s cocoa, butter, sugar, salt, and egg. With nuts if I have them.
        Not using pre-sweetened chocolate makes the difference.
        The cocoa and butter and sugar all come through as separate flavors to some extent, and they’re always fudgy.

        2) I bought a fresh pineapple and am thinking about making upside down cake or cupcakes. Haven’t found recipes for using a fresh one, so we’ll see.

  13. Creative Cloud*

    Does anyone know if an alumni edu address “counts” as valid for an Adobe CC subscription teacher/student discount? I do “Women in Business” training and workshops through my alma mater, so not technically a professor, but still an educator that represents the school. I would be using the software to support that work.

    1. Green Snickers*

      I think as long as it ends in edu it should. My sister is a nurse at a hospital that is part of a university and I believe she can get the student rate on Amazon.

  14. Bobina*

    This week I found myself watching Youtube videos of a guy who goes around clearing blocked drains on flooded streets and getting really into it. Some of it is the satisfaction of seeing something go from point A to B, but its also nicely informative. The person often talks about why the floods they are unclogging could have been prevented with proper city planning. A good reminder of why things like civil engineering and urban planning and sewers and plumbing are very important, but also what happens when infrastructure is poorly maintained…

    So in that vein, what is the most random (to you) thing you have found yourself watching on Youtube?

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I think I’ve had those videos recommended to me as well…Cleared up a flooded street with nothing but a rake as I recall. Also, whirlpools.
      Most random thing I’ve watched is a half-hour video on how dishwashers work (and why those handy-dandy detergent pods aren’t all that good as a result). Also, YouTube recommended me a video in which a young woman who is a quadruple amputee bought some of those kitchen mobility aids off of Amazon and tested them out to see how good they actually were. I have no use for such information, but I really loved her energy and honestly I’ve always wondered if those things actually worked.

      1. Bobina*

        Yes! Haha, just him and his trusty rake, and then the whirlpools when the drain gets going :D

        I could definitely see myself watching something about how dishwashers work, and the video about testing mobility aids actually sounds interesting!

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          I’ve put the links in a reply. Honestly I’m not sure where the dishwasher came from – I do watch a lot of videos about repairing and modding retro gaming consoles but…Dishwashers seemed like a fairly random connection to make. It was super interesting though.

          1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

            Probably Technology Connections. I saw a video he did about dishwashers a while ago.

      2. Yellow Warbler*

        If you like drain cleaning, you’re going to love power washing. There’s an entire genre of cleaning siding and pavement with high-powered spray nozzles.

      3. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I’m hooked on ear wax videos, specifically Mr. Barber from Wales.

        Also, bunny the “talking” dog has interesting videos.

    2. Miss Cranky Pants*

      Griffi the dancing cockatoo. OMG, if you need a laugh, she is da bomb! Was rescued from a neglectful situation, was plucking her own feathers in distress, and is now blossoming in her new home. She luvs music–all kinds! She dances to rap, country, rock, disco, and it is absolutely hysterical to watch.

      Yeah, she looks weird with her feathers growing back but her sense of rhythm and dance moves will crack yer shit up.

      1. pancakes*

        Not familiar with Griffi, but I have a feeling you’ll like Onion the Scottish parrot, and Fable the raven.

      2. KristinaL*

        That’s so cool! If you google “dancing ostrich”, that can find some amazing videos.

    3. Lady Alys*

      My husband has found some guy in England who goes around trimming cows’ hooves. It’s sometimes sort of gross but otoh you can tell the cows feel better afterwards.

      1. Bobina*

        Oh my god, this sounds amazing. I feel like I might regret starting this thread because now I want to go and watch all these videos!

        Also, I now feel like I know why shows like Dr. Pimplepopper exist….!

    4. Double A*

      Dry rock wall building (basically stacking rocks to make a garden wall). I was watching this because I was wanting to build one, but it’s super soothing and I watched way more than was necessary to learn how to do it.

    5. NopityNope*

      I watch the guy cleaning drains, too! I’m still not sure why…. :-)

      Other randoms: wood turning and some guy’s crazy neighbor’s bizarre antics caught on home security cameras.

      1. Bobina*

        Hah, considering some of his videos have more than 5 million views, clearly there are plenty of us who just love watching drains get cleared I guess!

        Ooh, crazy neighbour antics I can definitely see as being entertaining.

    6. fposte*

      Not completely random, in that I like art, but art conservation videos. The V&A has lovely ones of an amazing costume historian working on costumes, among others, and Baumgartner Restoration has some really fascinating ones.

    7. Helvetica*

      I’ve been watching all of TwoSetViolin. It’s random for me because 1) I’m not a musician; 2) I don’t have a good ear for music; 3) I don’t understand all the jokes if they feel too much like a musicians’ inside joke.
      But I love their content, and it has made me learn a lot about classical music, has made me appreciate violin music in general – I used to prefer piano pieces over anything else – and I actually feel like I’m learning about musician culture which is very fascinating to me.
      So, I’d say they’re not random but it is very random for me, especially how much I like them.

    8. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      I didn’t see anyone mention it, but I think the drain guy goes by “Post10” on youtube. I have watched a lot of those videos, too. At my previous house, there was a retention pond that had a stream that went to a large concrete cylinder with a grate at the bottom of it. Sometimes the grate would get blocked and the pond would stay filled up. It was 10 feet deep at the drain. I started going out on my kayak with a long pole and would poke down at the grate until it started flowing. It would usually take a whole day to drain back down to just a stream. I was doing it for safety because there was no fence around it (it was not supposed to stay filled), but there was definitely something satisfying about getting the water flowing. Baumgartner Art Restoration is another thing that I happened upon randomly, but now watch regularly.

      1. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

        Thank you! These are right up my street. I’ve cleared drains in my suburban neighborhood many times.
        Though I want to say to him, “Dude, throw the sticks and stuff up on the bank or it will just clog again.”

    9. CatCat*

      Therea’s a guy who makes videos of himself sitting in his car opining on the US economy. IDK, I’m hooked.

      1. Rick T*

        The short ones are the most fun, he opens some ‘security’ product using a spoon or piece of plastic in seconds to show you how bad commercial products can be. He does do comparison episodes to show you what is available for real security. Between LPL and BosnianBill you can get a real education in locks and lockpicking.

    10. AGD*

      I’ve been watching people build miniatures on YouTube. Hanabira’s are all gorgeous and meticulous and soothingly shot.

    11. The Other Dawn*

      I like zefrank1. He does the Sad Cat Diary and the Dear Kitten commercials for Friskies. He also does “true facts about” videos, which are pretty funny usually.

    12. Frally*

      I’ve been watching videos of people who put together really long and intricate domino trails and then knock them over.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I just wish we’d known they are geared for adults before we watched True Facts About the Duck …with a 6th grader.

    13. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I got semi-hooked on watching metal detectorists, but ESPECIALLY Russian/Polish teams. Good lord what they were hauling out of the ground. It made the American guy looking for old coins near old houses look like the tamest thing on the internet.

    14. Mx*

      I’ve watched many of GTOger’s videos. They’re videos about a towing company towing cars from a business parking lot. Sounds boring, but it’s well-edited, has jokes, and even has its own merch. The business literally has signs that say that unauthorized vehicles will get towed and the footage may end up on their YouTube channel. It’s perfect when you want to watch something but only half pay attention. Certainly not something I ever expected to like!

    15. ecnaseener*

      I haven’t seen anyone suggest Kiwami Japan! He makes very sharp knives out of the most random materials (masking tape, jello, bismuth to name a few).

      1. Bobina*

        Oooh I think I’ve seen those make their way over to Tumblr and they are super fun to watch. Will add to my now growing list of videos to watch someday :D

    16. Incessant Owlbears*

      I went down a rabbit hole of videos of street food vendors in Asia preparing their goods. No music, no narrator, no dialog, just people shaping dough, frying dough in oil, and even making elaborate coiled dough desserts. There’s one where they start with a lump of dough the size of a baseball and it ends up as a huge hollow sphere.

      1. Bobina*

        Mmm. I’m a foodie anyway, so watching food videos is already something of a pasttime, and this sounds like fun.

    17. L6orac6*

      I watch him too! It’s interesting, he goes out in storms, very early in the morning to unblock drains, I love he does what’s needed with that rake. And it’s a hobby, I don’t believe he gets paid for doing it. That’s the most random thing I watch.

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      “The fine art of brickwork – Twisted brickwork” by Rob Songer. And down the rabbit hole of extreme masonry from there. Songer even covers the calculations of how much brick for certain types of bond (brick-laying pattern).

    19. WoodswomanWrites*

      I stumbled on a video of a couple of professional cyclists training for a race in South Africa and getting chased down the road by an ostrich. I confess I return to it periodically to watch again.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          You can find the original on YouTube at “Cyclists chased by an ostrich. The funniest thing you’ll see today.” This thread prompted me to watch it again. I still love it!

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I always enjoy videos of stupid drivers. The inept ones more than the aggressive ones. But it IS fun when the aggressive ones get pulled over.

    20. Clisby*

      My city has a program where you can adopt a drain, and commit to keeping it cleared. Blocked drains are a big problem here (Charleston, SC), because flooding is pretty common. (Some streets flood just from the tides, and it doesn’t take too much of a rainstorm right at high tide for it to be exponentially worse.)

    21. I take tea*

      I don’t know why YouTube suggested it to me originally, but I’ve been watching Grand Illusions, which is an older English collector of small toys and gadgets that shows them off. I love his calm voice and visible enjoyment of the things and the videos are usually pretty short, perfect to watch for a small pick me up.

    22. Not Australian*

      I did question my sanity when I realised I was watching a German guy tidy his workshop – but then, it was one odd uninteresting episode of a long and fascinating series about a man who is slowly renovating an abandoned tiny house. The fact that the guy is charming, self-deprecating and also a damned good handyman/builder with a wry sense of humour has kept me watching for more than a year. The series is called ‘renovation east’ if anyone’s interested.

    23. Might Be Spam*

      The Marble League 2021 season will start soon and they are showing practice runs and there is a NEW team! The announcer is great and you can join in on the live chat with other fans.
      Marbles and Legos combined are mesmerizing.

  15. Green Snickers*

    This feels like a long shot and it’s low stakes for me but I’m hoping someone who is into fashion can lend a hand here. If I’m trying to find a specific item by a designer, is it possible to find a list/archive of the colors or designs it was produced in?

    I’ve been eyeing this pink Kate spade bag and have found it available through a ton of sellers on Poshmark. Problem is the bag looks like a totally different shade of pink in each of the listings and I can’t tell if there are different colors available or if it’s just a lighting issue (I’m a Poshmark seller and have found their app isn’t great at conveying the accuracy of colors). The colors range from coral to watermelon to bubblegum pink so I’ve reached out to a few of the sellers to describe the shade and they have given me different answers as well. There’s minimal stock photos online- I’ve found the name of the bag and it seems to come in a variety of other colors(blue, white, etc) and I think they may have produced the bag over a several year period because the closures look different in some of them. I can’t find any sign of it on the official Kate spade website so I’m guessing it’s at least a few seasons old.

    Of course, companies use non-helpful color names (like Rose Water) instead of Pantone shades so I’m hoping if I can at least find the colors it was produced in, I can narrow down if I’m just losing my mind here. I’ve even tried comparing the linings but they don’t seem to match up to a set color either! Any other ideas here?

    1. Reba*

      In general, fashion companies guard these archives pretty zealously!

      You’ll want to look at the Vogue Runway website, which documents every fashion show, but I’m not sure if it has the detailed specs you are looking for (or if the bags shown on runway are the same as the full retail range).

      Purseblog / purseforum could be a good place to ask, they are the real experts! although it is a particularly bananas little part of the internet. :)

      1. Yellow Warbler*

        Yeah, putting that info out there is basically giving counterfeiters a how-to guide. You’re probably not going to find that, at least not from an official source.

    2. pancakes*

      Even if you find the colors it was produced in, the photos of them might not accurately depict how the bag would look to you in person, under the lighting in your own house or whatnot. I think your best bet is to try to find a seller that will let you return it if you’re unhappy with the color.

      One thing to be aware of, big brands like Kate Spade, J. Crew, etc., often design items specifically for their outlet mall shops. That may be why you’re seeing different closures and different color choices on some of the bags.

    3. fposte*

      Would the sellers be willing to take a picture of the bag next to something you have physical access to, like a bottle or package or something, that’s pink so you can see how the colors relate to each other? It doesn’t have to be the same pink, just something that’ll give you some idea if there’s a yellow or blue cast that’s affecting how you’re seeing the bag.

    4. Grace*

      “I can’t find any sign of it on the official Kate spade website so I’m guessing it’s at least a few seasons old.”

      Might be a long shot, but have you tried checking the Kate Spade site via a web archive like the Wayback Machine?

  16. Confused (not)Single Mom*

    Hey all! So I’m looking at potentially getting all new flooring in my home minus the kitchen and bathrooms. I have a basement that I won’t be replacing either. I know I’ll need to move all my stuff and furniture, but I don’t really have any place to put it. Has anyone redone their flooring and can give me advice on what I need to do to prepare my house and deal with the process? Thanks!

    1. Double A*

      We installed flooring ourselves and we just cleared one room at a time. So we’d have one empty room and one crowded room, then we’d move the furniture back into the finished room, and repeat with the next room.

      But if you’re having someone install for you they’ll be able to tell you what they need you to do.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      You can mention this planning portion to the contractors. They probably won’t be able to do the whole house in one day. If you are planning on doing the work yourself- I know first hand it can take a bit longer. If you are doing it yourself you might be able to go just one room at a time.

      The contractors should be able to tell you how many rooms to clear for one day’s work. You can consolidate into other rooms. Then once the floor is in place in those rooms they can come back and do the second group.

      My situation was not the same because I did not redo all my flooring but I did have a lot of work done all around the house. At one point it made sense to put things in the guest room, so I knocked down the guest bed and stacked all the pieces against the wall. Since my guest room is not large, I solid packed the room with stuff. To unpack it I had to deal with the items immediately inside the door. It wasn’t ideal…. at all. I put things in there that were not necessary for day-to-day functioning.
      However, it did give me the opportunity to do a light sort and I got rid of some stuff.
      Then I needed more space so I knocked down the dining room table and put that up against the wall. I stacked the chairs on each other. This allowed me to put the refrigerator in the dining room and I could still keep food cold.
      The laundry room was the toughest because of the way the house is laid out. My poor washer and dryer ended up in a tent outside and that actually went okay.

      While you are thinking about this think about how you use the rooms in your house and try not to have all the high use rooms out of commission at the same time. My laundry room got taken apart then put back together THEN we looked at the kitchen. It’s just too hard to have everything out of use all at the same time. I went the tent route because it was super cheap to do and I knew my stuff would be reasonably safe here. You can rent storage units and they deliver them to your property. A bit more money, but probably a pretty secure and dry place to put things. I also considered paying a neighbor to rent their garage space- people around here are not wealthy and usually pretty open to making deals like this where they are able to.

    3. Elle Woods*

      We re-did the carpeting & painted in our house a few years back. One of the best tips I got from the painter: get furniture moving pads for the big stuff. You put a pad under each leg and then you can slide the pieces to your heart’s content without scratching the floors. They sell them in various sizes and amounts at most home improvement stores and online retailers.

      The other bit of advice, from experience: Use the time as an opportunity to de-clutter (if necessary, needed, or wanted). We had to move everything out of our living room and bedrooms and used it as an opportunity to go through the rooms and get rid of things we didn’t want anymore. We wound up with two carloads of stuff that we donated.

    4. OtterB*

      I’ve been thinking about this since we would like to refinish our hardwood floors. There’s not enough space to put the furniture in the kitchen and basement. I’m kind of thinking we would have to rent a storage pod to put in our driveway and move everything into it, then repaint walls/refinish floors and move everything back. But this seems like such a hassle that I don’t know that we will undertake it.

      1. Clisby*

        Having dealt with this kind of thing in my previous house, I’d say moving everything into the pod will be far less hassle than trying to redistribute it around the house.

    5. Anono-me*

      Often people will have a moving company load everything into a pod for the duration.

      Using a pod for onsite storage is usually significantly less expensive than having it stored offsite as pods that will be moved require more secure, time consuming, and skilled packing. It may also be less expensive than having movers put everything in the basement and haul it back up as moving on stairs requires more care to avoid damage and or injury.

      Especially is you go with a smaller company you may be able to get a better rate if can schedule for off peak times. (Everyone wants to move the last weekend of the month. )

      I recommend painting before you replace the floors. That way you don’t have to worry about spilling. Especially if you remove the baseboards, which will also reduce the taping and edge painting.

      Save a couple of larger scrap pieces of the new flooring. That way if you need to patch something later, you will have the exact materials.

      Fyi – going from carpet to laminate usually means the gap at the bottom of your doors will increase and vice versa.

    6. Generic Name*

      When I had my carpets replaced, the installers moved all the furniture, including my son’s bunk bed, which required complete disassembly.

    7. NoLongerYoung*

      I got just the bedrooms done, but … related hint? We had a “bad” dog that angrily pee’d in a special spot on the carpet in the master bedroom (when he didn’t get enough attention). AND – it turned out once the carpet was pulled up, the other bedroom at some former point had had a BIG dog spot. (nor ours!).

      Got some odor-killing kilz (gallon) and a big roller / handle. Between the time the carpet was removed (moved
      all the furniture from the 3 bedrooms into the living / dining room, etc)…. I vacuumed, and then rolled the kilz onto the old floor/subfloor over all the stained areas. (Used floor fans to blow it dry as quickly as possible). The house returned to smelling much fresher (who knew?).

      Flooring contractor friend gave me the hint – I sprang for the kilz and painting equipment but was WELL worth it.

    8. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Our friends got a POD storage in the driveway to help manage a flooring install.

      The contractors moved the big pieces out of several rooms. The smaller but necessary stuff or big stuff that was too hard to move all the way out got shifted from room to room.

  17. Let me be dark and twisty*

    I am cleaning out my work wardrobe. I’ve been putting this off for a VERY long time but with the announcement that my company is going back to the office after Labor Day and the mask mandates going away, I should probably get cracking. Which means confronting my COVID weight gain. So absolutely nothing fits. I’m not in denial about my new size but I hate clothes-shopping in the first place because in my new size. Hopefully the stores will start opening their fitting rooms soon because I am not about to buy 20 things so I can try them on at home to inevitably return 19 items back to the store. And current trends for women’s fashion now are not my style at all. Who the heck thought crop tops was appropriate for workwear?! And why is it that the bigger your shirt size, shirts only get wider but not longer?

    If anyone else is grappling with COVID weight gain, do you have any shopping success stories to give the rest of us hope?

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      No advice, just commiseration. I’m in a cycle of spending forever deciding which size/items to order online and then they don’t fit and I have to pay to return them and it’s like I have a subscription to disappointment lol.

      The thing that DOES work out is that I’ve gotten better at narrowing my choices – I know which shirts from Brand A look best on me so I try to find that style from other stores, Brand B has comfortable pants so I get the same ones every time I need a new pair, etc. If you have some pieces you really like but no longer fit, maybe trying to find something similar in a size up is a good place to start?

    2. Lady Alys*

      “And why is it that the bigger your shirt size, shirts only get wider but not longer?”

      Truly a question for the ages. SO irritating!

      1. Filosofickle*

        Ha, I feel the total opposite! I want them to get wider NOT longer! I am round and 5’2″ and by the time the size is big enough I’m swallowed by the length.

          1. MissCoco*

            LOL fposte! I’m still rolling up my sleeves, but once I finish, I’ll give a fist bump to that as well!

      2. Yellow Warbler*

        Tunic-length tops being stylish was an epic time for me. To give you an idea how long I milked that…I only just threw out a bunch of The Limited tunic sweaters this year, because they were indecently threadbare.

    3. Natalie*

      Not specifically weight related but I hate shopping (I’m just not very creative and I get bored quickly), when we were last in the office I was 7 months pregnant, and I’m busy (see, was pregnant), so I’m trying one of those personal shopping subscriptions. It’s been pretty good so far! Since you have the whole summer, that might be something to consider.

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      Warning: brief discussion about weight loss and mild weight-related angst.

      How about buying vintage? You can search ThredUp or eBay by size, color, type of garment, brand, etc.
      Pro: This widens your search beyond the current styles.
      Con: It’s easy to over-buy while telling yourself “I can just return it.” In fact, returns may be difficult. I don’t mean that the sellers have unreasonable rules; rather, that you have to plan ahead to allow time to repackage the unwanted items and get them to the shipper or Post Office in time to meet the return deadline.

      For various reasons, after my second ThredUp purchase my life got too crazy to accommodate any return-related activities. Result: I own several ThredUp items that aren’t exactly ideal. (Maybe if I lost 5-7 pounds, but that’s a lot to ask of a stress eater.) I actually requested and received a one-time “return exception” for my first purchase, but that was before life then handed me another challenge that required all of my spare time and energy

      No disrespect to ThredUp! It’s not their fault that my life events have temporarily pulled me away from the resale clothing market.

      1. MissCoco*

        I’ve had good luck with thredup as well, but only after an emergency pants shopping expedition, so I knew my new sizes. I spent ~$120 and got 4 work tops and a cardigan that fit me now
        I also like thredup because I can dodge at least some of the trends, there are soo many options it can be overwhelming, but also there are plenty of things that are a few years old so they are trends I do like

        I am also very bad at the doing returns thing, so it’s something I consider when I order from them

      2. Let me be dark and twisty*

        I used ThredUp before and didn’t have a good experience (the stylists weren’t listening to what I asked for). I had better luck with StitchFix and used them right up till COVID hit, so I plan to go back to them. I’m reluctant to go back to ThredUp but since it’s been several years, maybe it is time for another try.

      3. mreasy*

        I use Poshmark so that I can re-buy things I’ve liked from previous seasons that I know fit, in multiple colors – for exactly this reason of disliking shopping!

        1. Reba*

          I do this too! I repurchased a beloved sweater after it made an accidental tour in the dryer, and I’ve also replaced the same garment with a new size when my size changed.

          I have been stung by Poshmark once, but on the whole I prefer the shopping experience there to Thredup, because the Poshmark sellers actually make an effort, lol. (I understand that Thredup keeps their expenses down this way, it makes sense, but I just need some non-blurry photos!)

    5. Jean (just Jean)*

      As for hope, well, we might as well continue hoping. It’s less discouraging than the alternative. Sorry I don’t have better ideas. Solidarity.

    6. Aphrodite*

      I gained weight too. I am also a big fan of the Becoming Minimalist blog even though I am not a fan of owning a lo of “things.” On one video ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nr0-FiZTV_E ) he offered up the suggestion that you wear the same thing every day. So when we were notified that we would begin going back to the office on a limited basis beginning June 15 I thought about what I was going to do.

      I’ve been living in sweatshirts and tee shirts I had converted to nightshirts a month or two after we left the office and only dressed when I went out. Comfort has become a priority so I decided to see if I could find cotton tee shirt dresses. I didn’t want to spend much money so I ended up finding exactly where I was looking for at Target and bought mulitples in black. And tht is my new work wardrobe. Five days a week, summer or winter, that’s it.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        For many years, I have done a variation of that – find a pair of pants I like, then get them in black, navy, khaki, and either olive, sage, or gray. If the brand offers jeans cut the same way, that’s my jeans for that decade. Same with shirts/tops, find one or two I like, then order in colors that will mix/match with the pants. I REALLY hate shopping, so this method works on several levels.

    7. Whiskey on the rocks*

      Dependent on the style of the clothes you already have and how much/where weight you gained — I haven’t been calling it The Covid 19 for nothing… :,( — altering some of your existing wardrobe can be an option. Look for a reputable tailor or seamstress and set up an appointment for them to look over some of your clothes and see if that’s possible. Clothes shopping is the worst even at the best of times.

    8. Joan Rivers*

      IF you don’t usually shop at consignment stores, try it. Prices are a third of retail and they even sales on top of that seasonally.
      You can find basics that are well made, if sometimes a little boring. But aren’t work clothes boring sometimes? Black pants are black pants.
      You’ll only find one of anything, but sometimes you’ll find that someone consigned a lot of things and you seem to fit their size and their taste.
      I’ve found Eileen Fisher and Ralph Lauren on sale! EF coat even, my favorite.
      It can get you through this time. And the clothes are still only a year or so old. People sometimes consign their shopping mistakes w/the tags still on them!

    9. Little Miss Sunshine*

      Walmart actually has some good basics for an office environment and very affordable. Black pants and pretty blouses go a long way.

    10. heckofabecca*

      In terms of hating shopping: at least one department store (Macy’s maybe?) has personal shoppers that will help you for free! Basically, you meet with them, tell them what you like, they get your size(s), and then you go back and they offer you a bunch of stuff to try. Worked GREAT for my MIL.

      1. Philosophia*

        Nordstrom’s offers this service (or at least did in the Before Times, and I haven’t seen anything to the contrary).

    11. JustKnope*

      I highly recommend taking your actual measurements with a tape measure, and then looking at the specific measurements for clothing you’re considering purchasing online! It saves (at least some of) the pain of “which version of a size 14 is this item”. (Rant: sizing women’s clothing is just terrible! I just got a stitch fix box while looking for dresses to wear to a wedding and got two size L dresses that were too large/baggy and one size L dress that didn’t even come close to zipping. Just… why!)

  18. Tax Day*

    For my fellow ADHD peeps: remember taxes are due on Monday!

    (Except for states declared winter storm disaster areas, like TX, y’all have another month.)

    1. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I finished my draft last night, just needing to put the finishing touches and set up my payments.

      How’s this for procrastination? I stopped working in taxes in 2019. I started up again this year in April, contracting with my former company. I still waited til the very last minute to finish our return, to my husband’s extreme annoyance.

    2. Dancing Otter*

      It’s not too late to file an extension (form 4868). They don’t even ask why you want it.
      You do need to make payment if you think you will owe taxes, or get hit with a late payment penalty and interest. That’s a lot better than the hit for “failure to file”, though.

      1. the cat's ass*

        I sent out the troop financial reports for both GS troops yesterday, does that count?

        I know.

        (I’ve already filed for an extension on my taxes).

  19. Dream Jobbed*

    Any recommendations for a good toaster oven under $100? Looking for one that can actually toast the full piece of bread, currently I get half burned, half raw, cook small portions (a few french fries), and frozen meals and single serve pizzas. Doesn’t need to be fancy, just dependable and accurate. Under cabinet mounting would be nice, but not required. And one that will last a while.

    Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

      1. Generic Name*

        This is what I have. I’ve had it for at least 7 years, and I’ve got no complaints.

    1. Double A*

      I don’t have a specific recommendation, but I use The Wirecutter for reviews for this type of thing!

    2. Girasol*

      I just got a Mueller from Amazon for about $50 and I like it. It’s a counter top model. I haven’t tried toast in it but it bakes cookies, heats sandwiches, and does small casseroles just fine. It will run the top element, the bottom, or both, has two shelf levels, and comes with a shut-off timer. I suspect it of running too hot, though, so I set it 25-50 degrees cooler than I would set the big oven.

    3. OtterB*

      We have a Black & Decker 4-slice toaster oven that I like, but I’m not sure it’s still available.

    4. violet04*

      I’ve had a Breville toaster oven for years. Not sure how much they cost these days, but I think it was below $100 when I bought it. I got it from Bed, Bath & Beyond with one of their coupons. It lives on the counter and gets used daily. It had toast, bake and broil settings. Good for baking a couple of cookies from dough I keep in the freezer. Also great for reheating food.

      1. Public Sector Manager*

        My Breville toaster oven is the most used kitchen appliance I have. Bar none. From toast to a 5-lb roast, I’ve done everything in it. I would say upgrade a little and get the Breville. I’ve had mine for 5 years and it is still going great!

    5. RagingADHD*

      We got an Oster several years ago that we’ve been very happy with and use daily. I’ve done everything from normal toast to baking off small batches of cookies or pasites when the regular oven was full.

      It has a convection featute which has never been particularly helpful, so I wouldn’t pay extra for that if you see it. But it does everything I wanted it to do, quite reliably.

    6. *daha**

      I’ve had the BLACK+DECKER TO3250XSB 8-Slice Extra Wide Convection Countertop Toaster Oven for ten weeks now. I needed something that would help me make it without a regular oven. This one is big enough to hold a full muffin pan (12 cups), my tube-type cake pan, 9 x 13 pans, a 12″ pizza, etc.
      Toasting is fine and completely without issue. The toasting controls are different from what I’m used to. You set the main control knob to Toast, then twist a toasting-specific timer knob to where you want it. The indicated medium setting works fine for me. I toast my Aldi 12-grain bread daily.
      Broiling is powerful and the broiler elements heat up quickly. The drip pan that goes underneath the grid ought to be bigger than it is, because it is possible to have meat on the broiler without the pan underneath if you don’t place the pan carefully or if you slide it by mistake.
      Although it is a convection oven and the fan is on whenever you use a Bake setting, you will have to experiment to see if there is a temperature/time combo that works out quicker than what regular non-convection recipes call for. If I understand the owner manual right, the temperature shown on the control dial will actually be higher than the true temperature inside the oven, but it will bake or roast as if the temperature were correct. They say this is because they have “advanced heating elements.” I call shenanigans, but my cakes come out right. The one thing I’ve noticed is that the top of the cake can overbrown because the top element is active when baking. You might want to use foil on top of things, at least part of the time.
      Currently $71 at Amazon.

  20. Herbs?*

    How do you take care of herbs? I buy them in those flimsy plastic pots and they die on me before I can replant them into something more durable. What’s the secret? Never cutting off too much? I’ve had basil, minth, cilantro, persil die on me in a mattwr of days. All other plants love it here.

    1. Myrin*

      Nearly every type of herb is different, so it’s hard to give blanket advice in the vein of “all herbs” – basil, for example, needs to be watered from the bottom, as in, you put the water into the little plate you put the pot on and the roots will suck it up from there, and you also need to cut not only single leaves but entire stems; mint, on the other hand, usually grows like weed and shouldn’t cause any problems at all; and so on.

      The fact that you seem to be having problems with all of your (very different) herbs makes me think that they might just not be very good quality (for example, the poor herbs you typically get at the supermarket are specifically made to be used once and then thrown away; you can foster and grow those as well, I’ve done so successfully many times, but it generally takes more work than stuff I’ve grown myself). Would that be a possible explanation?

      1. Natalie*

        Yeah that would be my first guess too – you might be getting herbs with bug infestations or some other issue.

    2. Llellayena*

      Replant them within a couple days of buying them, there’s not enough room in those “flimsy plastic” containers for their roots. Also, wait at least a month before trying to cut off more than a leaf or two. The plant needs time to establish itself before it can handle harvesting. Water when the top soil gets dryish, overwatering will kill basically anything except mint. If you’re planting indoors, get a grow light, herbs like sun.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I used to work in a nursery. I think that some times plants just sit too long in some stores. My rule of thumb is if I am going to buy a plant at a grocery store or similar chain store, I try to buy them when the plants first come in. The growers probably fertilized them and had them in good light. Not all retailers maintain this practice. The longer the plant sits there the more minerals and nutrients are gone from the soil. The roots become pot bound and the plant can’t sustain it’s own life.

      Since your other plants are doing fine, that suggests to me that it’s probably not something that you are doing. I’d check the plants over before buying, try to guess how long they have been in the store without something to eat (fertilizer).
      Once you find something that looks like it might be okay (it hasn’t been sitting there for weeks) when you bring it home throw a little bit of fertilizer on it right away. I keep 5-10-5 on hand because I use it on almost everything and it’s as close to an organic fertilizer as I can afford. So just give them a pinch to tied them over until you re-pot them.

      The other thing I have had to watch here is that my window sills can get surprisingly cold at night. Running hot during the day then cold at night can stress out plants. I like to keep them on my kitchen window sill because it looks homey, but I end up with plants that look homeLY instead.

    4. Helvetica*

      Loads of water! I just recently bought some basil and it wilted on me pretty quick. But then a friend recommended I drown it in water a bit, because they can be very dry in the store. Now it sits near the window, not in direct sunlight, and I give it moderate amounts of water and it’s thriving.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Basil likes full sun, heat and good drainage- not dry but not soggy. So if you’re growing indoors you’ll need very bright light or a good sunny window.

      Mint and cilantro can take bright light (though not baking all day like in the South), but prefer a little bit cooler, damper, and less bright conditions than basil or your Mediterranean herbs like rosemary.

      In general, herbs like a lot more light than most houseplants. Partial shade outdoors is much, much more intense light than bright indoor light.

    6. DistantAudacity*

      I’ve had great luck with one of those self-watering herb planter thingies (hydroponics). It also provides the right kind of lights, so can be placed anywhere.

      I’ve been very happy with mine from Tregren (tregren dot com).

  21. Yikes!*

    I’m so embarrassed asking for comments on this. I have a list of things I want to do in life, goals I want to accomplish, dreams to strive for and a household to do list. I call it “the adventure list”. Though I’m not good at it, I’ve always enjoyed writing. I realize the chances of publishing The Great American Novel and becoming a successful author are very slim to none. I was thinking documenting my adventure list in a blog. Does that sound silly? Stupid? Interesting? I can’t imagine anyone being interested in my personal goals. Has anyone done something similar? I was looking at this as a journal of sorts where I would get to write and see my goals accomplished. If it matters, My adventure list is all over the place not one topic.

    I’m not offended if AAM readers think a blog is not the way to go.

    1. Myrin*

      I would think that’s a lovely topic for a blog!
      I’ve actually read some as well as watched Youtube videos in the same vein (hey, look, it’s the very original meaning of “vlogging”!) and mostly enjoyed them (much of it depends on the writing/filming style and the voice of the people themselves, of course, but in general, I’ve found this to be a fitting topic for online journaling).

    2. Anon100*

      I think if you want to be able to share it to the public, a blog is probably the best way to go. Otherwise it could be some sort of google-doc to share with family and friends?

      1. pancakes*

        It’s been a long while since I’ve used another platform or compared features among them, but on WordPress you can set posts to private.

    3. Yellow Warbler*

      Blogs are hard because you need to find a way to drive traffic to your site, so you’re spending a lot of time on SEO and engagement instead of content. You could do it on Insta or Twitter or Tiktok, and let their algorithms do the work for you.

      1. pancakes*

        You don’t have to do any of that, particularly if you’re not hoping to sell ads on it.

        1. pancakes*

          The commenter who is just beginning to think about blogging may not know.

          Fwiw, I didn’t do any of that with either of my (now dormant) blogs, and readers nonetheless made their way to both. Not millions of them, but I did get an enthusiastic review from a newspaper on the other coast, and had various other rewarding interactions with readers all over the world.

    4. Rick T*

      Open a blog and start writing. It is a way for you to get into the habit of writing something every day, not ‘when my Muse strikes me’. I follow the blogs of a bunch of different writers and treating writing as a job to be done when you don’t feel like it is a part of becoming a professional. Writing, editing, plotting, dialog, character development all come when you do them over and over and over, your blog is a way to start.

      This is a development ground for you, not a cash source so don’t worry about SEO or readership or monetization now. If and when you start publishing your work then it might become important but not here at the beginning.

      Don’t discount self-publishing when your first novel is done, the Big Publishing houses are struggling and aren’t set up to nurture budding writers now. They want quick hits in established genres (that are acceptable to their staff), not to identify the next Steven King early in his career.

    5. AGD*

      For sure! You never know – and if you do find yourself having a big adventure, you’ll have captured the experience!

      I just asked Google if 43 Things is still online, and apparently not – but yeah, plenty of humans have goals and talk about them online, so why not?

    6. RagingADHD*

      Doing cool stuff is interesting! The quality of a blog depends a lot on the personality/thoughts of the blogger, as well as the writing style, moreso even than the topic.

      Go for it! Why not?

    7. twocents*

      A blog sounds like a fine idea! As long as you don’t think you’ll get too hung up on the traffic you get (or don’t), then go for it.

      I’ve gotten a ton of my own ideas for adventures I want to take from blogs.

    8. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I think it depends entirely on whether or not you would actually enjoy the act of writing about your adventure list in a blog. If the answer to that is yes, I say: Go for it! If you’re unsure, I say: Try it and see!

      If, however, writing about it would become a chore, or you like the idea of having done it but don’t really like doing it, or feel like it has to be “successful” (e.g. many readers) in order to be valuable to you, I say: proceed with lots of caution. Sort our your feelings of what you want the blog to do and to be for you before you dive in.

    9. Queer Earthling*

      I have A Blog and quite a number of people read it (amazingly) and sometimes I get money. I started it in 2019 and I’ve got a decent following now. (For the record, it’s 18+ with a primary focus on adult content, but I do wander around through many topics within that and sometimes only tangentially related. I’m using my experiences but trying not to be explicit! Also I apologize if my wording gets weird in here, I had a nasty confrontation with gravity yesterday and I’m sore enough to have some trouble communicating in any known human language.)

      Here’s the thing: Blogs are never a guarantee. A lot of people blog, and it’s a full-time job to promote it, especially at the beginning, if you want it monetized and if you want to gain a large readership. And frankly, if you don’t actually enjoy writing and blogging, then it’s not sustainable. (In my particular niche, a lot of people start blogging thinking “Hey I can get free products!” and don’t realize how much work goes in! They tend to fizzle out…)

      However: if you want to blog, then you should blog. You can have a record of your stuff. You can improve your writing. And you can go back and look at what you’ve written later! Maybe the only people who read it are you, your mom, and your mom under a proxy account to try to inflate your numbers. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing and documenting.

      The important thing is this: Do you have stuff you want to say? Do you have a way you want to say it? Then maybe you should. Even if that stuff you want to say is, “Hey, I’m here, right now!” or “There are things I want to accomplish, I want to record my accomplishments!” Don’t go into it expecting to be The Next Big Influencer; just go into it because you enjoy it.

      And also consider this: If it doesn’t pan out, is there any harm done?

    10. FD*

      Brandon Sanderson (a professional fantasy/sci-fi author) has this really great story from when he was just getting rejection after rejection. He decided that if he died with a bunch of finished but unpublished books that it would still be worth it to him to keep writing, even if no one ever saw it but his family and friends and he had to do something else professionally. So, I’d say, do it! Do it with the assumption that no one but you and a few friends will ever read it, but if it’s still worth it to you to put in the time, then why not?

  22. Grim*

    I need a new phone and I’d like recommendations for an android phone, Samsung. Budget is $500 to $600.

    Thanks!

    1. Holly the spa pro*

      I have the galaxy s10 lite. Its gigantic so if you want a big screen this is the one for you. I only get a new phone like every 5 years (that feels like 20 in phone years) so obviously it felt lkke a huge leap up but im not sure its much better/different than the a10

    2. Formerly Frustrated Optimist*

      I got a Moto G Power this past January and am very happy with it. And it’s actually below your budget, at around $220 (unlocked) on Amazon.

      Android users unite!

    3. Whiskey on the rocks*

      I had a moto x for a minute in between samsungs but I went back as soon as it was time for a new phone. My last one was an s7 that I loved. So easy for me to use, and it was a good size that fit in my back pocket. But it was showing signs of sudden death approaching so several months ago I got an s20 FE 5G UW on sale at Costco for I think $300. It is the less fancy version of the regular s20, which means it was harder to find a case and screen protector (ended up with 2 Spigen cases off Amazon that I’m pretty happy with, although I would have preferred a cushioned Otterbox considering how I treat my phones). It also didn’t come with earbuds, which the s20 does, and I am pretty sure I need to buy them straight from Samsung as the phone doesn’t have an aux port and not just any converter will work (because of course). It’s very light, about the same width as my s7 but longer so it feels huge. The camera is beautiful and the battery life is pretty incredible considering I use my phone all day every day.

    4. Observer*

      If you are willing to wait, wait for the Galaxy S21FE. From what I’m seeing that should be in your price range with some of their best features.

      I’d look at the A52 or A72. Also, I would give a look at GSM Arena, as they have really good information to help you make a decision.

    5. Talala*

      I have the Google Pixel 4a and love it so far! For your price range, you could probably go for the flagship (Pixel 5 – unless they’ve released another recently, I haven’t kept up) which would have more bells and whistles. But the 4a has a great camera, a headphone jack, and is mainstream enough to have cases etc available.

  23. Loopy*

    As I’ve start working more hours and have found myself more stressed than usual, I’m trying to claim back more time to balance that out.

    What this means in reality is I’ve gotten weirdly resentful of all aspects of meal planning and cooking- from even thinking about what to eat, much less shopping and meal prep. I’ve liked Hello Fresh but I’m a sloooow cook and it now feels like too much time, despite the loving the meals. The other consideration is I’m not exercising so I probably need something healthier.

    Does anyone know of any almost ZERO prep/already prepared meal kits that are actually healthy…ish and have a few vegetarian offerings?? I’ve seen some special weight loss ones, but not sure how those are. I know with less prep I’ll have to compromise on quality but I’d rather find something better than frozen microwave meals from the grocery store (in taste and health). Does such a thing exist?

    1. acmx*

      I’ve used Freshly. It’s not bad. It’s completely no cook (3 minutes to microwave) and not frozen.

    2. Let me be dark and twisty*

      I have used Freshly and BistroMD. Both were good. Everything comes premade so all you have to do is nuke it. The services were very similar – you buy based on a meal plan and you can pick your menu a week or two in advance. You can either custom-select your menu or have someone else do it for you. Pretty good healthy options, from what I can remember. BistroMD has a couple of plans that are based on health concerns (like over 50/diabetes, weight loss, etc.) so if that’s something important, I’d start there.

      I stopped both services because I just ended up ordering the same foods over and over again. I’m not an adventurous eater and there were more foods I didn’t like than foods I did like. Now I just buy the premade meals from the hot bar and the deli at my grocery store.

      (And be careful with Freshly. I got a bunch of bad containers once – the meal containers were cracked and broken and I kept finding plastic in my food from the containers. They refunded me for one box that had a bunch of cracked containers but I noped out after getting a second box of cracked/broken containers.)

    3. Danish*

      Daily harvest is 100% ready to eat smoothies, flatbread and lentil bowls – they come frozen and you either slap them in the blender or on the stove and have food in about five min. Healthy plant-based stuff. Probably wouldn’t be good for 100% of your meals but are so so easy and quite good.

      1. Loopy*

        Those bowls are exactly what I’m looking for!!! I swore I’d be willing to pay but seeing those costs apparently I was lying to myself, oops. But this is a perfect suggestion, I guess I’m not tired enough yet to pay that, it is very pricey!

    4. Two Dog Night*

      We’re loving Meez Meals–it only delivers in part of the Midwest, but if you live in its range, it’s great. It pre-chops all the vegetables, so there’s still cooking, but it usually goes really quickly. They always have vegetarian options. And the best thing is, it delivers in insulated bags that you return the next week (along with the ice packs), so there’s a whole lot less packaging to deal with.

    5. BRR*

      Some restaurants around me were doing take and bake meals. I’m not sure if they’ve kept that up now that people are eating out more but I loved the concept.

    6. Old and Don’t Care*

      I’ve seen what appear to be almost fully-prepped mess as l kits in grocery stores, under a store brand. Kroger and Fresh Market come to mind. I imagine most upscale grocery stores would have something.

      1. Tortally HareBrained*

        My regional chain grocery is doing these too both in microwave and oven versions.

    7. WellRed*

      Sun basket? Also, most of my local grocery stores have lots of prepared food, salads and meals. Some even have meal kits.

    8. ten four*

      I was exactly there in February! I started with Cook Unity, a meal delivery service that hires NY chefs to create ready-to-eat meals. They offer a good range of options including vegetarian, whole 360, and low calorie meals. They are priced at about 12 bucks a meal, and you have to order a minimum of four in each delivery.

      We’ve been going for months now and I’ve only had one meal that was a dud. I heartily recommend!

    9. Anono-me*

      I did Seattle Sutton* for a while. They had ready to eat fresh meals that sometimes needed to be microwaved. I picked them up at a nearby location twice a week. I didn’t do the vegetarian option, but I found the food to be of good quality if a little bland.

      They may have a new name.

    10. ronda*

      I have been making a list of these and ordered my 1st one to try this week.

      If you happen to be in Atlanta or Athens GA. Good Measures Meals. It is run by a local food charity, so that is nice too. I used them about 10 years ago but am no longer in Atlanta.

      I ordered from Splendid Spoon (all plant based). They are currently late on delivery, so not impressed so far.
      My sister ordered from Factor. She really liked the pork chop meal but didn’t like the turkey meal

      I don’t remember if all of these were remade meals… some might be that you have to cook, and some have both options. Haven’t tried them yet, but once I am over the Spoon I will pick another to try.

      Shef – I think this was Indian food and only in NY and SanFran. If I was in those places I probably would have tried it
      provenance meals
      sakara
      Factor
      Splendid Spoon
      Sunbasket
      HungryRoot
      veestro
      HomeChef
      Purple Carrot
      Gooble
      bistromd
      Huel hot and savory
      Trifecta nutrition
      Thistle
      Freshly
      Nutrition for longevity
      modify health
      the good kitchen
      remedy organics
      metabolic meals
      top chef
      Daily harvest
      Kevins natural foods
      proper good
      FlexPro meals
      good stock
      518kitchen
      dinnerly

      1. squeakrad*

        We tried Shef here in SF -It’s home-cooked to get their kitchens license for meals for takeout and delivery – I have to say I was really impressed. Two of the meals were actually quite bad and when was nothing like as described. So we stopped.

      2. ronda*

        spoon arrived… no longer chilled, so going in the trash. It said they sent it for shipping wed to arrive on Friday. arrived on Monday. Not planning to try them again. But maybe you live in a place that they don’t have shipping issues.

        My sister said factor75 was good and sent me a free box (4 meals), so that is set to arrive the middle of next week. We will see if they are capable of getting me a delivery in a timely manner. (she did not have issue with her delivery in GA)

    11. Nerdgal*

      This is not a kit but it is the best quick meal I’ve done in a long time.
      In large skillet, saute half an onion, chopped, until soft. Add a can of black beans, drained and rinsed, a can of corn, drained, and about a cup of salsa, plus salt and pepper. Stir in a pouch of Ready Rice, white or brown. If you like garlic, add a little garlic powder. Add more salsa to get the consistency you like. When hot and bubbly, sprinkle with grated cheese (cheddar or Mexican blend or Colby Jack or vegan version of any of these). Turn off heat. Cover skillet until cheese is melted.

    12. ..Kat..*

      Have you Amy’s frozen meals? All are vegetarian (some are vegan). They are good quality, tasty, and pretty healthy.

      1. ten four*

        oh I love Amy’s meals – definitely recommend these if you want to go for frozen over a service!

    13. mreasy*

      I did Splendid Spoon for awhile and thought their stuff was, on the whole, quite good.

    14. T. Boone Pickens*

      Lots of good suggestions here. The only thing I can think to add is maybe check your city’s Reddit board? Might be able to get a lead or two from there.

  24. Next Month(er)*

    Hubs and I got vaccinated and are taking a beach trip/starting TTC early next month(!!) As in a “let’s see what happens”…

    Part of me is super excited for this next adventure. But also part of me is emetophobe-levels terrified of how I might feel 1st trimester. I already ordered preggie pop candies and have ginger on standby.

    How do others face this process, anticipating future exhaustion and misery, but future joys up ahead? All I can imagine is how miserable I might feel in the next few months. Also for winter pregnancies, what’s the best thing to wear? Especially if working out of an office come winter? I imagine it’s too cold to wear dresses. Also, I’m worried I won’t find anything since I’m petite…it’s like my brain makes up new problems every day…

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Have B12 vitamins on hand as well, it can be subbed for Diclegis (prescription med for nausea).

      I had a lot of maternity sweaters and comfy leggings for my winter pregnancy, I definitely preferred that to summer wear during my second one. I feel like you can always add layers if you’re cold but there’s only so much you can remove if you’re hot :)

    2. Lilo*

      So while it’s all over the media, actually throwing up isn’t universal in pregnant women, it’s only about 30%. I can’t say for sure if you will or won’t. I certainly felt nauseous but the only time I actually threw up while pregnant is when I choked on a prenatal vitamin.

      Those ginger mints from Trader Joe’s are great.

      1. allathian*

        I was often nauseous but I never actually threw up when I was pregnant. But I kept crackers by my bed that I could chew before getting up and a glass of water.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Yeah, if pregnancy were as bad for everyone all the time as media makes it sound, we would have all started eating our mates like preying mantises, and died out eons ago.

      3. Clisby*

        Second this. I had two children and never had any morning sickness (not even nausea.) Of course, some women do, so it’s good to be prepared, but don’t just assume you will.
        Also, you won’t necessarily need maternity clothes – I didn’t buy any for either pregnancy. During my first pregnancy, I worked in a place where most people dressed ultra-casually, and by the time #2 came along I was working from home. Both times, I bought a few tracksuit pants, a size larger than normal; matching sweatshirts a size larger than normal; and wore my husband’s shirts for a change.

        1. Clisby*

          I did feel REALLY tired for the first trimester both times. I mean REALLY REALLY REALLY tired. But I’ll take fatigue over nausea/vomiting any day.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Winter pregnancy = layers. You will be surprised how often you get overheated and sweaty.

      Don’t fixate on feeling miserable. It’s good that society hears the truth from many women who have difficult pregnancies, and that some discomfort is to be expected. But I think we’ve kind of lost balance in the cultural narrative of the wide spectrum of normal in pregnancy.

      Lots and lots of people have easy pregancies with minimal nausea or discomfort. It is not a nonstop horror show for most people.

      Personally, I had a lot of fatigue but no nausea for my first, and some nausea but no vomiting for my second. And after about 12 weeks I felt fantastic, because my autoimmune disease was in remission. I liked being pregnant. Lots of people do. Some don’t, and that’s just the reality that people & bodies are different. And each pregnancy is different for the same person, too.

      You’ll find out what you get when you get there, so there’s no point stressing over what may never happen. Best of luck & best wishes!

      1. Sleepless*

        This! My first pregnancy was very easy, some nausea the first trimester that was mostly in the early afternoon, but I felt good most of the way. I had a few problems with my second, like carpal tunnel syndrome and oh yeah, pre-eclampsia at the end, but we all made it fine. For maternity clothes, consignment shops are your best friend. I enjoyed being pregnant! Twice was enough for me, but it was a neat experience. Good luck!

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      You don’t need a whole pregnancy wardrobe – you just need a couple of things. I like black or navy pants with the belly band (kinda stretchy stocking material that goes over your belly). That and a couple of cotton sweaters with side ruching in neutral colors should pretty much cover most of what you’d need work wear wise.

      1. Lilo*

        You can also extend the use of your pants with a hairband looped around the button hole.

    5. Caterpie*

      Fellow TTC-er here! We start next month in earnest too. I’m having a lot of anxiety that it won’t happen, even though there isn’t much medical reason for me to worry like this yet.

      Best of luck to you and your husband!

    6. Double A*

      39 weeks pregnant here! If you’re truly terrified of throwing up, just know there is medication that can help and it’s perfectly safe. The vast majority of pregnancy nausea can be treated by over the counter medicine or a prescription. And a lot of women it can be managed with diet and some things like mint, lemon, and ginger.

      Agree with the comment that you don’t need a pregnancy wardrobe, and it’s definitely not something you need to worry about in advance. Like, maybe you start thinking about it towards the end of the first trimester. Leggings will be a big part of any pregnancy wardrobe, but I’ve never gotten special pregnancy ones. I happen to have a pretty big pregnancy wardrobe because I’ve gotten things from friends; I will then pass them on.

      The thing with pregnancy and having a baby is you can do things as they come and there aren’t many things that if you don’t do them in advance would be a total disaster. If you get home from the hospital and realize you didn’t buy any diapers, which is probably the most important thing you’ll need…you can have someone buy to diapers.

      I’d recommend exercising and obviously taking prenatal vitamins, because the biggest thing you can do for yourself going into pregnancy is to be in decent shape.

    7. Generic Name*

      Uh, honestly, throwing up multiple times a week from morning sickness cured me of my fear of vomiting. I would throw up whatever I ate for breakfast, and I learned that throwing up something like front loops is much more pleasant than throwing up Raisin Bran. :/

      I was pregnant in the winter. Maternity pants and sweaters were just fine. If you think you’ll need a coat, I’d try to find one secondhand, or you might be able to get away with wearing your normal coat unzipped. Hormones made me really hot, so I don’t think I ever felt cold.

      Some people feel miserable while pregnant, some feel great. Talk to the other mothers to get a sampling of what their experience has been. You might consider talking to a counselor if the worries or anxiety become overwhelming and prevent you from enjoying your life.

    8. Sunshine*

      Check resale shops (there are specialty consignment shops for kids/maternity). I loved maternity clothes. Dresses or sweaters with leggings.

    9. Cambridge Comma*

      CW for sickness

      Can you get therapy for the phobia? I never threw up during pregnancy but my nearly three year old has thrown up on me at least 15 times this week, a couple of times in my hair or on my face. If you can get help before any baby is born it would be a good idea.

    10. My two cents*

      I felt really nauseous in my pregnancies but only threw up a few times–all were related to motion sickness (riding a bus was part of my morning commute) or iron supplements pushing me over. Mostly, I just felt TIRED. I wasn’t miserable, just tired.

      My friend has a phobia of throwing up and having a kid has massively reduced her reaction just because of confrontation. If she is anything to go by, by the time the kid is throwing up on you, you’ll love him or her more than anything and you’ll deal with it far better than you fear.

  25. tangerineRose*

    Recommendations for a lawn mower? My old electric lawn mower suddenly stopped working. I’d like to get either a battery-powered lawn mower (if I got an electric lawn mower with a cord, I’d be afraid I’d accidentally mow the cord) or a powerless lawn mower that I’d just push.

    Thanks,

    1. Rick T*

      We have battery mowers by Eco and Ryobi, both brands work quite well. Eco seems to have fallen by the wayside so we went with Ryobi for our new mower. It uses the same battery as their other battery-powered tools so you can save money that way. The 40V 6ah battery is pricy but was able to mow our yard on about 2/3rd of a charge.

    2. Michaele Burris*

      I just bought a Toro electric cordless self-propelled mower. We YIKED at the price, but decided it was necessary. I’m a slight 5’5” female of 73 and my husband is breathing down the neck of 80. We are both noticeably slowing down. Our yard is sloped and bumpy, and more and more I’m going to be the one doing the mowing. Gas would be cheaper, but we live in a valley that gets really smoggy in the summer and I did not want to contribute to the pollution.
      The Toro charges in an hour and a half, has multiple cutting heights, and a bag. The self-propelled feature really makes a difference in how easy it is to mow. You pay the higher price once, then use the features that you need henceforth and (practically) forever. As frugal as I am (ok, cheap) it was worth it.

    3. Girasol*

      I have a Gardena reel mower, the old fashioned no-power kind. It’s somewhat less expensive than other aerobic exercise machines plus it cuts grass. It’s just 21 pounds, a little light weight thing. It works great if the lawn is dry and if I didn’t procrastinate and let the grass get too long. If I did then I have to take down the shaggy parts with a string trimmer, otherwise the mower blades will seize up and the mower will just scoot across the tall spots without cutting.

    4. BlueWolf*

      I got the Ryobi push mower mainly because we had already gotten several other Ryobi yard tools. I like it so far, but I have only used it a few times. The battery lasts for my whole yard, which is good because the 6Ah battery does take quite a while to charge. My property is about a half acre, although it’s probably just over a quarter acre of actual lawn that I mow.

    5. Sparkles McFadden*

      I have a Craftsman 18” reel mower with height adjustment. I bought it years ago, when Sears was still in business, and it’s still in great shape. I like that I never have to worry about having gas around or make sure I have a charged battery. I think I would run over an electric cord for sure as I have cut my extension cord twice with the hedge trimmer.

    6. Sleepless*

      We just got a Snapper XL battery powered mower that I love. It’s powerful, quiet, and the charge lasts more than long enough to mow our half acre or so of lawn. Battery powered mowers are the way to go! I hate the noise of a gas powered one and I hate starting them.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      You have some great recommendations here.

      I’d like to throw in, if prices are scary to you (like they are to me) consider getting a used machine from a reputable place. The combo of good name brand plus reputable dealer can really work out well. My husband and I got our tractor used. It needed a bagging kit so we were stuck buying new for that. We spent about 5300, but we ended up with a set up that would have cost 12k initially. (1800 was for the bagging kit.) This tractor has been with me for about 20 years and people who are well-versed in tractors are telling me it probably will keep going for at least another 20 years as long as I can find parts for it.

      Look for a lawn/yard equipment dealer who has been in business a while. The two places I have done business with also did a lot of volunteer stuff in the community and offered free loan of equipment in times of crisis/need. These are the business that want to stay in business, they build positive connections and put down roots in the community. (The first place closed when the owner retired-so I looked for a place that was like-minded.)

    8. tangerineRose*

      Thanks for the replies! I should get something that can handle it when I let the back yard get overgrown (which happens more than I’d like to admin). I like the idea of a mower that wouldn’t need electricity or gas.

      I think I’d also like it to have some kind of guard or something that protects me from any flying debris when I’m using it. I’ve noticed some manual mowers don’t seem to have anything like that.

      1. ..Kat..*

        Push mowers can be hard to use if you let the grass get overgrown, especially if it is a tough grass like St Augustine. (Disregard this comment if you are big and strong.)

        I never had a problem with flying debris using a push mower.

        1. Girasol*

          What Kat says! The biggest downside to a push mower is that you must not let the grass get overgrown. In our small yard a $30 electric corded string trimmer is enough to rescue me when I’ve let it get out of hand though. And she’s right, no flying debris. A push mower can’t launch high speed rocks like a power mower. There are soft grass clippings though. My mower has an optional grass catcher but I didn’t get it. I just let the clippings fall to be mulch/fertilizer.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        My lot gets really wet. It gets so wet that I have river grasses growing across the back of it. These are thin bladed grasses that get tall fast. (They choke the mower because it’s dense growth.) Additionally because of the water, I can’t drive my tractor out there because it will get stuck. (Okay, if I am careless I could easily bury it over the axles. That would be a huge problem.) So there’s the water, the river grasses and the rest of the lawn just plain grows FAST because it’s so darn wet.
        I mowed out back last night for the first time this year. Some of the grasses were at least 12 inches high.
        Unless I handle it carefully, I will break a belt. I had been breaking about 3 belts each spring, which gets spendy.

        So now what I do is raise the deck up really high. I disconnect the bagger entirely. And I cut small swaths with each pass. My tractor can cut a 48 inch swath. I made it a point to cut about 18 inches each pass.
        I ended up covered in grass because like you say, blow back. My tractor looked a like a relative of Cousin It as it was covered in clippings. And I had to stop a few times to clean out the chute. Time consuming and tedious but I got through it.

        I will let that all dry up a bit and then I will cut it a second time and cut it lower that next time.

        I did get a walk-behind weed whacker to handle the tall grasses. It’s not avoidable here I am going to have tall grass and if the tractor can’t handle it I need an alternative. Some people get brush hogs, that might be overkill for my setting, though. I can get into more spots with the walk-behind weed whacker but it’s not amphibious I still can’t go through the standing water out there.

        I don’t think flying debris is totally avoidable. I think that most manuals for lawn mowers contain a warning about flying objects. Same with weed whackers.

        1. tangerineRose*

          I used to have a manual push mower, and yeah, when I let the grass get too long, I had to do a bit at a time, and I usually set it as high as possible.

      3. Sparkles McFadden*

        Most manual mowers have a small basket that hooks on. The clippings don’t really fly up beyond the basket. I don’t use the basket because our municipal yard waste guidelines won’t take bagged grass (because of the nitrogen) and the clippings just fall where they may. The yard seems to like that better anyway.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Just a side thought–do you know if it’s just the battery perma-died? I thought I’d lost my robo-vac, but a new battery did the trick.
      And 2,things I am embarrassed I didn’t know when we got a house… if you mowed wet/long grass, the underside can get clogged and need clearing. And the blades need regular sharpening. (Insert headslap gif.)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, sharpening the blades makes a difference. I sharpen mine each spring on a bench grinder. It’s worth the extra minute or so.
        Wet grasses do clog up the machine and make mowing so much harder.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I turned it over to check, and the blades move freely. It might just be the battery. I can call Batteries Plus and see if they can deal with it.

    10. Dwight Schrute*

      I have a Ryobi and I LOVE IT. I would say I have an average sized yard for suburbia and it does a great job, it’s quiet and easy to push.

    11. Stephanie*

      We have a powerless push mower, and it works well on our small lawn unless we let the grass get too long. My husband likes it (I have not cut the grass in 20 years), and it doesn’t take him any longer with the powerless mower than it does with our old gas mower (he uses that one when the grass is too long for the push mower). I like that it is so quiet and environmentally friendly. Plus, it was pretty inexpensive, as mowers go.

    12. Cruciatus*

      I bought an Ego self-propelled push mower with battery. It was about $500 (on sale) but I told myself it was worth it because of the effort and money I would save on gas (my state has the highest gas tax in the country, and dealing with getting gas and filling it up did not appeal). I’ve been quite pleased with it so far. It takes me about 45 minutes to mow my small yard and I get through with 1 battery charge EXCEPT when the grass on the side of my yard is too long (but this is my fault for being a mowing procrastinator). But it takes less than an hour to charge the battery (really more like 45 minutes from being completely dead).

      It’s been 2 years now and I’m still happy with my purchase. I hate mowing the lawn, but it’s not because of my mower!

  26. Jazzman Seeking Headphones*

    Can anyone recommend a decent pair of wireless, earmuff-style headphones? (I don’t like buds in my ears.) These will primarily be for the office. I haven’t bought headphones in a long time, so am not up to date on all the latest gizmos … poking around online quickly got overwhelming! So I thought I’d seek advice from the AAM commentariat! I don’t need / can’t afford super high-end headphones and they don’t have to have noise-cancelling features — just a decent set that will allow me to listen to music on my computer through a subscription service. I’m hoping to stay within $100 (USD). Any suggestions appreciated — thanks!

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Very pleased with our Cowin E7 headsets. One of us uses the regular model; I have the noise-cancelling model. The regular one has been in near-constant use by a remote-school teen since March 2020 and has survived numerous drops.
      There were some long discussions on this site, at least as far back as November/December 2019.

    2. LQ*

      I’ve got a pair of Corwins which are ok. But I splurged on the Sony wireless noise cancelling ones and they were a revelation. They fit my ears better, I can wear them for 9 hours of meetings a day no problem, no on ear bruising, nothing. Just like comfortable listening. Great battery life. They are amazing. I just checked and it looks like they are at less than $100 on amazon. Search for: Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones WHCH710N: Wireless Bluetooth Over the Ear Headset with Mic for Phone-Call, Blue (Amazon Exclusive)

  27. Trixie Belle LaRue*

    Good day!
    Looking for suggestions are the following:
    1 – Hair treatments for thin dry blinded aging hair – currently using Kerastase Absolut Overnight serum, Kerastase Blond Oil and Shampoo, Olaplex Repair Mask #8, Olaplex Bond Oil, Nature Lab Tokyo Perfect Repair Mask and Conditioner, and Kerastase Resistance Shampoo.
    2 – Japan 2022 – looking at tours for Fall 2022, traveling by myself. Any use EF tours? Looks like a good deal.
    3 – weight loss- I lost a lot of weight on a Vegan diet, slept better, face didn’t get red, didn’t have BO, more energy. But felt like it was so restrictive, this is the only diet that has helped me lose weight. Besides just not eating. I gained all the weight back staying home. I know I should return to eating this way but have no motivation to do so.
    4 – Comfortable light-weight cotton clothes for overweight, middle-aged folks.
    5 – Sleep – anxiety is rearing its ugly head. I am not able to turn off the thoughts at night. I have a lot on my mind right now. I am thinking of asking for a sleep aid. I have tried Calm.

    Thank you for any suggestions.

    1. Lifelong student*

      I went to Japan a few years ago. There were not a lot of places offering tours at that time. I can’t remember the name of the company I used- it wasn’t one of the big names like Trafalgar or Gate One. My local agent was able to work with them. The company I used scheduled nicely- it was not a fully escorted tour and there was lots of free time which might be difficult for someone traveling alone. However, we had no problems even in our free time or getting around without the constant presence of our guide. One big reccomendation if you are not on the west coast- plan an overnight stay on the west coast. Also, if your tour does not include airport pick up make sure you book that.

    2. xyz*

      3 –
      a major reason that ‘avoid x ingredient’ diets work for weight loss – x ingredient can be animal products, or it can be gluten, or FODMAP, or any ingredient with an odd number of syllables, anything really – is because they are a barrier for impulse eating, and impulse buying food, and eating processed food. It’s a lot harder to quickly add a candy bar to your basket at the grocery store check-out if you need it to be vegan, or to get a donut with your morning latte if you are eating gluten-free. Then there is dfficulty eating out (restaurants generally have large portions) and difficulty eating pre-packaged processed food (those generally have a lot of sugar or hidden sugar added).

      So basically avoiding one ingredient/group of ingredients is a way to avoid temptation.

      (And avoiding temptation is easier than resisting temptation.)

      1. xyz*

        I don’t mean to say people go on gluten-free, FODMAP, vegan diets for weight loss, by the way. In fact often people who follow such a diet per a doctor’s recommendation gain weight, because their body is finally absorbing nutrients again (celiac) or eating finally isn’t painful anymore (IBS).

        But people who aren’t on such a diet for medical reasons often lose weight.

        1. xyz*

          What helped my relationship with food was to let go of a lot of the ‘lifestyle moralisms’ that we are surrounded by in society.
          – People with self-control take two months to finish a bag of M&Ms
          – Breakfast is the most important part of the day, smart people have heavy breakfasts and light dinners
          – Productive people get up early in the morning

          I’m a night owl who isn’t hungry in the morning and a bag of M&Ms doesn’t last more than a couple of days, if that. Once I stopped trying to be a GoodPerson™, things became easier. I don’t generally eat breakfast and have two pieces of fruit mid-morning. I limit how often I buy sweets and when I do, I finish the bag quickly.

          If you can identify where it goes wrong for you, you can work to avoid those moments.

          I’ve also heard of people losing weight successfully with budgeting: capping the amount they spent on food like snacks, sweets, biscuits, juice and fizzy drinks. It was easier for them to budget spending than to budget eating/calories.

    3. WellRed*

      I’ve had some luck with melatonin gummies, think they were NyQuil zzzz or something similar at drugstore.

    4. Enough*

      For sleep I count backwards from 1000 by 3s. I find this is enough mindless with just enough mindfulness to keep my brain occupied with the subtraction and not not the thoughts.

    5. old biddy*

      5: I have trouble falling asleep too. I’ve found that writing in my journal right before bed helps my brain slow down. I use a paper notebook and just do a brain dump before turning off the light. It’s the most boring diary ever because the goal is sleep, not a record of anything interesting.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Hair- not exactly in line with the products you mention here but hair telegraphs how the body is doing overall. Double check your daily water intake. I measure mine out in the morning because, yeah, life gets in the way a LOT.
      Healthy oils in your diet can also help hair.

      Sleep. Calm I believe is magnesium? You might benefit from a beverage with electrolytes in it. You might be okay on magnesium but be short on other minerals. Lack of minerals can mess up sleep patterns.
      In my opinion, I think it’s almost cruel but we need energy to sleep. If we run low on energy it can be really tough to sleep at night. This could go back to protein consumption. You might benefit from a protein drink on a temporary basis to help yourself build up.
      On the good news side- these types of things can also help hair and nails.