weekend open thread – September 18-19, 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: Send for Me, by Lauren Fox. The story of a young  woman in Germany on the brink of World War II, and her granddaughter who finds her letters decades later. Beautifully told.

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

{ 1,016 comments… read them below }

  1. WoodswomanWrites, looking for low FODMAP camping/hiking food*

    Hi all. A while back I asked about suggested food for a low FODMAP diet for day hikes but it was late in the weekend, and now I’m about to go camping for a week and could use suggestions. (I am doing well on the plan and will be working with my physician to start adding things back in soon but not until I get back.) I’ve got breakfast taken care of, so that’s all set.

    I will have a two-burner stove and a cooler. I’m a lazy chef that has to forego a lot of prepared foods I might otherwise bring because they have onion and garlic in them. I eat seafood but not other animals. Suggestions are very welcome for stuff I can throw in my daypack for long hikes during the day, snacks, and dinners.

      1. Observer*

        Actually, for most people low FODMAP does not mean no gluten. Obviously, if you can’t handle gluten, you can’t and I’m not suggesting otherwise. But the actual diet actually does not generally require one to be gluten free.

        For anyone who wants to go on the diet and has a smart phone, I strongly suggest the app put out by Monash University. It’s the best resource I’ve found.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          Yes, here’s another recommendation for the Monash University app. That’s what my physician told me use and it’s great. What I meant was that in my particular case, I have been advised to be gluten-free for now, until I’m ready to add gluten back in.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      For portable stuff, hardboiled eggs, nuts and dried fruit. If it’s not too hot, hard cheeses (like a sharp cheddar), portable vegetables (celery and carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes). Dried fish or squid (check out an Asian market for convenient snack-sized packs).

      For dinners – instant rice could work as a quick-cooking starch. Make a hearty salad or bowl with rice, tuna, diced vegetables, maybe some chopped hardboiled egg, and a vinagrette with lemon juice and olive oil. Or do some sort of fried rice. Canned tomatoes would as a side dish, or a base for a stew.

      1. Jackalope*

        When I’m camping I’ll often take a couple of veggies (usually zucchini and one or two others, since my camping trips are often in zucchini season), cook them in a bit of olive oil or butter, and eat them over rice. Something like that could work if you use instant rice. It’s pretty easy and only takes about 10 min. Or you can also do something similar but toss in eggs and have a breakfast scramble. When I first learned this it included breakfast sausage and hash browns; it sounds like you wouldn’t want the sausage but the hash browns could work. And if you are able to have corn tortillas you can make it into a breakfast burrito.

        1. Jackalope*

          For snacks I usually lean on dried fruit and nut mixes. They travel well and have some oomph when you eat them. And one other option for breakfast if you’re up for oatmeal is: mix in some dried fruit when cooking it (when you first start the water, so it will rehydrate them a bit), cinnamon, peanut butter, and nuts. You can also add some maple syrup to sweeten it instead of sugar. Hope that inspires you!

          1. WoodswomanWrites*

            Do you have a suggestion for dried fruit? All the ones I’ve looked up are not allowed on a low FODMAP diet (except a handful of raisins).

            1. someone*

              Try dehydrated fruits as well. They’re lighter to carry for hiking and don’t have added stuff for drying. I believe berries are on the low fodmap list.

    2. KnittingUpStorms*

      Fellow FODMAP-er here. For snacks I generally take bananas, single serve packets of roasted seaweed (from H-Mart or similar) or popcorn, make a trail mix from seeds and safe nuts like macadamias and Brazil nuts, and either bake a batch of low-FOD granola bars or buy some of the certified ones available. For dinner – tinned tuna with gluten free noodles, tamari and whatever veg you can tolerate is quick and easy.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Sounds good. Your dinner suggestion sounds easy and satisfying. I like veggies, so I won’t have to just tolerate them. :)

        1. KnittingUpStorms*

          Haha! Sorry. I meant tolerate without IBS symptoms! I love veggies too. Canned bean sprouts and bamboo shoots are good in it, but I don’t know how easy they are to find where you are (I’m in Australia where they’re in all grocery stores, but don’t recall if that was the case in the US when I was living there. )

          1. WoodswomanWrites*

            I’m in California, where I can find a wide selection of everything easily. Thanks for the tips about canned veggies. And I appreciate the laugh!

      2. Medusa*

        Do you have to be low FODMAP forever? I’ve been trying it out for about two months, but I will have slip-ups here and there. I’m also vegan, so it’s very limiting.

        1. Observer*

          It depends on your particular problem, but you’ll probably need to be on some form of it from here on in.

          One of the nice things about the Monash app is that it indicated what particular problem each food has, and how much of it (within a range). That has two advantages. Firstly, when you are doing better you can often eat foods that have a small amount of whatever, while you are going to want to be more careful when you are having a flare up. Also, if you track your food intake (and the app has the ability to do that), you can see if you have a greater problem with some of these factors than others. If that’s the case for you, you can choose to eat less of foods with that factor than the others.

    3. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Buckwheat? I know very little about low FODMAP but the quick googling I did seemed to suggest it isn’t off the table (but you should definitely double check with your probably better resources!). It is a grass, as I learned here, so naturally gluten free. It is like any grain in that you can add pretty much everything or anything to it. Ours usually end up being some sort of fat (butter, olive oil, yogurt, whatever) and herbs or spices of various kinds. It goes with veggies and proteins alike. We get the roasted kind and the cooking instructions are really simple: boil in salted water for 10 minutes, then pull off the heat and let it sit for a further 15. Drain, dress, eat.

      ..I feel like I talk about buckwheat all the time on this site. I think this is the fourth or fifth time! But I swear I eat other things. :) It is just so good…

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Is seaweed on FODMAP?
      This is going to sound weird but if you make your own sushi you can control what’s in it. And things like smoked salmon can go without refrigeration for a daytrip.

    5. Not A Manager*

      For hiking, tuna, and salmon come in single serving packs. You could take one or two of those and some gluten-free crackers for a lunch or snack. Shrimp and sardines (can’t tell if those are okay) come in small tins but are still pretty light.

      I looked at the FODMAP list of fruits, and some of those can be purchased dried, like blueberries, coconut, raisins, pineapple and even orange slices and bananas. You could make your own trail mix with acceptable seeds such as pumpkin seeds.

      For dinners, polenta comes in a variety of quick-cooking and instant forms, and I like to make a one-pot meal based on quinoa, broth and whatever veggies and protein I have around.

      Enjoy your trip, that sounds like a lot of fun!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Wow, that is an amazing resource. I appreciate the link.

        Sorry the diet didn’t work for you. Happily, I’m doing really well with it, we’ll just have to see what happens when I start reintroducing things.

    6. OtterB*

      My daughter is on a low FODMAP diet. She likes the snack bars from FODY foods. You can sometimes find them in the grocery store (e.g. Whole Foods) but I usually order several boxes at once on line direct from FODY. (I also like their sauces and salsa with no onion & garlic, but probably not for a camping trip). We also like gluten-free vegan mac & “cheese” boxed mix with tuna mixed in; it calls for milk but you can use whatever nondairy milk you like.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I have some of the Fody bars, as well as the ones by Go Macro. The Go Macro ones are high protein and I typically have at least one with me as a snack when I’m on the go.

        1. OtterB*

          Having something to take on the go is helpful. We were just starting her low FODMAP diet when we made our first trip by air since the pandemic and I was panicking over what to pack in a carryon in case of flight delays. Haven’t tried Go Macro.

    7. WoodswomanWrites*

      Thanks to everyone for the really helpful suggestions! I’m buying my food on Sunday morning and heading out afterward for a week on the Northern California coast and redwood forest.

    8. Retired(but not really)*

      If you like the tuna packets they are easy to eat and transport. Not sure what seasonings you can have, but they do have the plain as well.

  2. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual, this is not limited to fiction writing.
    I’m actually making some pretty good progress, but now that I’m actually writing things out I’m noticing some kinks in my original planning…oops.

    1. KnittingUpStorms*

      I’m finding it really hard to write – we’re on lockdown again and it’s borking my writing brain completely. But! I just had a solid idea for a new SF piece, which is exciting. I’m going to do some plotting and brainstorming and may have a very gentle, no pressure run at NaNoWriMo.

    2. Girasol*

      I’m doing short stories to teach myself to make one plot after another because plotting is my downfall. It’s working! Okay, not brilliantly, but I get better with every story.

      1. Distracted Librarian*

        This is encouraging! Plotting is my downfall too, and I’m writing more short stories in the hope I’ll get better. Glad to hear you’re seeing improvement.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      My sequel is out!!
      I’m supposed to get the paperback proof for Confluence today, so we’ll see how that looks. It was okay in the previewer but you never know. If there are any typos, I don’t care at this point; I just want the layout to look good. I think I caught them all (I hope). Also, Tunerville is on sale through today (ebook only).

      I would really like to do NaNoWriMo, but this situation, gah. I have no clue what’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen, or if anything will happen. I hate the idea of getting started and then having to suspend it because (when not if!) I get a job, I need to move as soon as possible. I really want to be in my own place before it gets cold—the high level of frustration and uncertainty is breaking down my concentration. Every time I start doing anything, all I can think is “I don’t want to be doing this,” or “I don’t want to be doing this HERE.” It really sucks.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Thank you, and the paperback is up now. :) I do have to fix a couple of the errors that carried over to the ebook. No content changes at all, just stupid formatting stuff that got borked during converting. Ugh.

          Lol maybe someday when I’m famous my mistakes will be worth money :’D

    4. Front Desk Clerk*

      I’m not writing but working on a translation of a text from 1891. It’s really exciting but it’s sluggish work since I’m using Google Translate image import to do it.

      I believe it’s normal to run into kinks when moving from outline to actual draft. I’d take that as a good sign.

    5. Cendol*

      I finished another short story! I think it’s going to be the launching point for a series of short stories (maybe even a novella?) about the protagonist. These are detective stories set in outer space, not quite hardboiled…softboiled? Haha. Gunning for publication, as usual, but I’m going to take a bit of a break before I try to edit this one down. It’s much too long right now, at 14k.

  3. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual this is not limited to video games so feel free to talk about any kind of game you want including phone games and board games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.
    Still on the Sims 3, though a recent Windows update is once again making me bluescreen more often than not. Now Microsoft even managed to break my ability to update drivers because trying to open the device manager gives an error message instead, which as far as I can find is linked to DLL files once again mysteriously vanishing. How, Microsoft? How and why is it possible for important files that make your operating system work to just vanish?

    Also, a few weeks ago someone mentioned that you can still get The Sims 2 if you e-mail Origin support. Has anyone here actually tried that and is there anything specific they expect you to say or something? Or do you just have to send evidence you own the game?

    1. Jess DosPescados*

      I just finished my first playthrough of Horizon Zero Dawn (with the Frozen Wilds expansion) and I adored it! Can’t wait for the next expansion to drop in February. Best part is that we’re figured out how to make a separate save game for my spouse (use your own playstation log in) and now he’s playing!

    2. lady gamer or something*

      I’m playing Heeey! Park-Boy right now. It’s such a cute game. If you were into Gamecube and PS2 era games, you’ll see a lot of callbacks (Pikmin, Katamari, Mario Sunshine, Chibi-Robo, etc.), but it manages to be fun of its own accord. I don’t think I’ve filled quite half of my park spaces with flowers, but I’m getting there!

    3. Aneurin*

      Not played as such, but this week I came across a card game called OuiSi online – it’s a bunch of square cards with photographs on them, and you play by combining them in different ways (e.g. by colour/pattern/shape matching, by using them as story prompts, and so on). I enjoy games that are either designed for or lend themselves to cooperate/collaborative play, and this one looked pretty interesting!

      Does anyone have any experience with it? It’s a bit pricy for my budget so I wanted to get some other people’s thoughts on it before buying.

    4. twocents*

      I finished Skyward Sword last weekend, so I’ve started up Monster Hunter Stories 2. It’s a solid B game so far. The silent protag sucks and the quests so far are more than a little repetitive, so I go back and forth between not minding the gameplay loop and finding it a bit worn.

    5. Love WFH*

      I play the “boardgames” and card games online with friends. We recently discover Garticphone, and it’s _hilarious_! You need at least 5 people to get the best results.

      Person 1 writes a short sentence.
      2 draws a picture if it.
      3 writes a sentence based on #2’s picture.
      4 draws picture based on #3’s sentence
      5 writes sentence
      And so on.

      You have just enough time to draw, and a very brief time to write.
      When you see the sequence of pictures and words, it’s so funny!

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        I’ve played this in a paper version and it does produce some incredibly bizarre and hilarious stories. Didn’t know there was an online version though – might have to give that a go sometime! Thank you for the recommendation.

    6. Skates*

      Long time lurker, first time poster in the game thread! My husband and I have been having a pretty stressful few weeks so we’ve been unwinding with endless mariokart (both the snes OG and 8 on the switch) and it’s just so endlessly playable and fun. Also, I am not actually much of a gamer but I got Overboard for the Switch, which is kind of like a choose your own adventure game but with a rogue-like loop element and I love love loved it.

    7. Wireknitter*

      I’m looking for recommendations for games in an old genre I don’t know if they still make. Puzzle/adventure/exploration games like Myst, Grim Fandango, The Longest Journey, etc. Not shooters or games that need a lot of coordination/ manipulation.

      Sorry if this is a double post-what I was writing just vanished.

      1. Purt's Peas*

        There aren’t a ton of them, but Return of the Obra Dinn is an incredible game with incredible music. You’re exploring a single ship, through different snapshots of a single event–a “snapshot” being an entire 3D version of the ship, with people and things frozen in time. You move around in first person and try to solve the mystery.

        Machinarium was a fun point-and-click adventure, with a kind of colored-pencil art style. Thimbleweed Park is a point-and-click adventure very much in the Maniac Mansion / Monkey Island style.

        If you’re interested in story & dialogue as well I have additional recommendations :)

        My highest rec, though, is *definitely* Return of the Obra Dinn. I just constantly want more games like that, but there’s only one, alas!!

      2. Phoenix Wright*

        If you like stories more than puzzles, I think a modern take on the point & click genre is the narrative adventure genre. Examples include Telltale’s latest games, such as the Walking Dead seasons and The Wolf Among Us, Life Is Strange (one of my favorite games of all time), and To the Moon. Most of these involve branching stories where you choose how to act, and the game changes accordingly to your choices, although To the Moon is the exception since it tells a fixed story.

        If you’re a puzzle fan and have some tolerance to explicit gore, I can’t recommend the Zero Escape series enough, and their spiritual successor AI: The Somnium Files. These titles are a mix of visual novel (games where the plot and dialogue are mostly portrayed via text rather than cinematic scenes or through gameplay, although these ones have voice acting) and escape the room games, featuring awesome stories with science fiction and metaphysical elements. The escape the room parts involve searching through a closed area and interacting with different items, sometimes combining them in order to find the way forward, similar to what you’d find in Monkey Island.

      3. Retired(but not really)*

        Not too familiar with specific games, but I just recently discovered what I’m told is a fairly old game – Hidden City from G5E. It is primarily a find the object in the picture style game, with occasionally a find the difference s plus “side games” of match the cards and avoid the bombs. I’m not very good at it yet so I run out of energy fairly quickly and have to wait awhile for it to reset. I’m too cheap to buy more

    8. Cute Li'l UFO*

      I’m about to pick up Eastward once I get paid. I’ve had around five or six people recommend it to me because it brings to mind Earthbound without trying too hard to *be* Earthbound, if that makes sense. I’ve seen the trailer and it really does look quite charming.

      1. DistantAudacity*

        I’m trying it.

        I’ve just played for about an hour, but I did enjoy whacking slugs with a pan, and the game-within-game! V. charming so far :)

    9. Phoenix Wright*

      I’m still playing Ys 7. This series is awesome, but there are so many games and different versions that no matter how many I finish they keep coming and I can never catch up. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, because I don’t want the series to end.

    10. The Dude Abides*

      The third Innistrad block just dropped. I’ve been loath to burn WCs on certain cards, but may have to.

      Paper-wise, I just picked up some more fancy basics off eBay to add to my collection, and am sending stuff off to a couple artists next week (Anson Maddocks and Scott Murphy). I also need to update two EDH decks due to the Golos ban.

  4. Llama face!*

    A friend and I started a habit a few years ago, while in a very dysfunctional workplace together, of sharing with each other 3 good things for that day. It could be as simple as the weather or the time left on the clock or some amazing thing we noticed in nature. I found it helps reframe my thinking when life is tough so I don’t only see the bad parts. Does anyone want to join me in posting theirs on here for this weekend?

    Mine are:
    1). We are getting a surprise return to summer weather day tomorrow
    2). My garden tomatoes are turning red- finally!
    3). We finally have some health orders to help control our rapidly growing 4th wave (ok this is a negative positive but it is a true relief so I’m counting it)

    1. StellaBella*

      Sure. Great. thread idea. Here are mine…
      1. my broken shoulder fracture is healing well, 15 days post fall on metro.
      2. a friend arrives in 30 min for a walk and coffee. it is warm enough to walk without a jacket still (helps, due to sling).
      3. there are a dozen large grey herons in the fields these days post harvest, such beautiful birds to watch.

    2. Pennyworth*

      I need to adopt this habit ! Here are mine:
      1. My new exercise regime is making me feel so much better.
      2. I have rediscovered the pleasure of painting.
      3. My neighbor gave me a beautiful flower from her garden.

    3. lady gamer or something*

      1. We released a swallowtail butterfly into the wild!
      2. I walked past not one, but two pairs of people speaking my second language today.
      3. A neighborhood cat let me pet it today. It’s usually too skittish :)

    4. HouseHunting*

      1) Fried dough and ice cream by the sea with a lovely colleague
      2) One of my least favorite senior leaders at work resigned!
      3) My toddler son saying “I love you mommy”

      Gratitude lists are the best!

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      1) We are going on a trip next week. For fun, not a family emergency. And I actually believe it will happen and not be derailed by stuff going wrong, a major theme these past 2 years.
      2) Because I needed to exercise in a different part of the pool, with a higher fixed handle for my stretches, I accidentally discovered a better way to hit my irradiated ribs.
      3) The small orange cat is plotting to sit on my keyboard.

      1. ElsieD*

        1. Our orange kitten is bouncing around. (Mom is still hiding under the bed,)
        2. I just found Lucy Parker romances- such fun.
        3. My simmering soup stock smells amazing.

        1. LK03*

          Lucy Parker is wonderful! She’s an internet friend of mine from before she started publishing, and she’s an absolutely lovely person. I’m so excited that her books have done so well!

    6. AGD*

      1. Got to see a couple of old friends in person for the first time in a long while.
      2. The weather yesterday was perfect.
      3. I watched a bunch of 6-year-olds in a schoolyard play a game (newly invented?) where they went up to the back fence and very earnestly/politely tried to get random passersby on the sidewalk to say the word ‘hyena’ for them – and whenever anyone did, the kids all cheered and laughed and gave each other high fives. It was adorable and made me laugh so hard.

    7. Voluptuousfire*

      1. The contractor came to finish my front steps.
      2. Watching my cat intently watch the contractors from the window is highly entertaining.
      3. Chocolate chip eggs waffles and a very funny short horror film I rented on Amazon Prime called Helsinki Mansplaining Massacre.

      1. Llama face!*

        Oh, my friend is a horror aficianado and I bet she would love that film. I wonder if it is available on Canadian Prime.

    8. Nethwen*

      1. It’s cool enough to sleep with the windows open, so I can hear insects buzzing and chirping all night (one of the most comforting sounds to put me to sleep).
      2. I have a cold (COVID test was negative, but staying out of work) and last night was the best sleep I’ve gotten since Sunday.
      3. The native butterfly weed I planted this summer has the most visually interesting seed pods. I think I like the look of the seed pods almost better than the flowers.

    9. Dwight Schrute*

      1) my puppy slept through the night with no accidents
      2) I get go to the eye doctor today and get new contacts
      3) I was able to fall back to sleep this morning and sleep until almost 9

    10. Llama face!*

      Thanks everyone who’s participated! I love reading your unique good things lists! They’re giving me so many smiles :)

    11. the cat's ass*

      This delightful!
      1)Trader Joe’s Squash ravioli pasta with sage butter.
      2) everyone I saw this week at the office was wonderful , including one person who’s usually beastly.
      3) My DD is adjusting to High School pretty well!

    12. Aphrodite*

      I love this. Please post this same discussion each week and we can list three things for that week here to share. Mine are;

      (1) The autumn decor I put up yesterday. I adore pumpkins and have probably 15 faux ones in various colors and materials, and will be adding some real ones within a few days.

      (2) The weather. It feels like fall in the morning with clouds and cool temperatures. I love, love, love that the heat is mostly gone.

      (3) My good friend Donna who has been a friend in an unexpected way that is helping me over a serious hump. Good friends, all of them, are truly worth their weight in gold.

    13. Jane of all Trades*

      I love this!
      1) nature is insanely beautiful in my neck of the woods, especially right now in early fall
      2) I’m getting to hang out on the sofa with the cats and a coffee
      3) I was anxious that yesterday would be a bad day at the place we don’t speak about and therefore an altogether stressful day, instead it was a really good day, and then I got to have coffee and dinner with friends and laughed at lot

      1. Not a cat*

        1. The earthquake we had last night didn’t cause any damage.
        2. I just finished the article I was writing.
        3. My box from Sephora arrived three days early.

    14. Camolita*

      Love this idea!!
      1) we’re celebrating my daughter-in-law’s birthday today with a homemade meal and made from scratch cake, then board games!
      2) my hubby and I have been talking walks around the neighborhood each evening, which has been a nice time together while getting some exercise at the same time.
      3) I’ve been in the process of training my cats to use the toilet (instead of a litter box) and it’s been going even better than expected! One of them has been totally on board with each progressive change in the process and is apparently going to be no problem getting trained. The other is a little nervous/confused with each change, but comes around fairly quickly after she gets used to the difference. Lots of encouragement and praises for both, plus treats, seem to be helping things along. :-)

    15. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Great idea!
      1) The staff at my medical appointment today took me early and were SUPER nice!
      2) Everyone at the drugstore was masked, so I felt safe in there today.
      3) I got it together to put the chicken in the toaster oven, so it’s gonna be BBQ chicken for dinner tonight!

    16. Rara Avis*

      1. I watched Schmigadoon last night with my husband and 13 yo dad ghetto and it was hysterically funny.
      2. I made yummy zucchini bread from one of the last (maybe?) of the garden zucchini’s.
      3. We attended a memorial service that was truly joyful (more laughing than crying — just what our friend would have wanted) and got to connect with old friends that we haven’t seen in a long time. And alpacas.

    17. Potatoes gonna potate*

      – Last week I stood up for myself.

      – Had a 25 minute phone call with my mother where we weren’t at each others’ throats. That’s the longest we’ve talked without fighting for 3 years now.

  5. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I have started repairing a friendship that my pride almost let me destroy. The whole thing was a lot of bad timing with my mental state, and other issues but I’m so glad to be talking with my friend again. Lots of mea culpa from me, but it’s necessary.

    Please share your joys both big and small.

    1. Paralegal Part Deux*

      I got my Val Kilmer autographed (and artist signed) Doc Holliday print back from the frame shop, and it looks amazing! It was worth every penny. I’ve never spent that much on a frame in my life, but it looks great and couldn’t be happier.

    2. lady gamer or something*

      My local library reopened recently and I was able to go in to browse the books and other materials again. It looks like they updated their services, too, which is really great for the people that need them.

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      A grove of redwoods featuring some of the world’s largest trees is now accessible on a brand new trail that opened a few days ago. I’m excited to hike to see them on my birthday in a couple days.

      1. Merle Grey*

        Oooh, redwoods are some of my favorite trees (I’ve been mildly obsessed with them since childhood and finally got to meet some about 5 years ago). Enjoy!

    4. Liz*

      We have a large family of orbweavers in our garden, and this morning we went out to find dew covered webs spanning every gap and covering our hedges and climbing plants. I’m a little nervous of spiders but I’ve been trying to confront this by observing our beautiful garden dwellers, and the webs this morning really were pretty.

      1. Llama face!*

        Oh I love orbweavers! They are my favourite spiders. I’ve been fascinated by them since I was about 5 or 6 years old. They are very non agressive to humans too so even if you end up in close contact with one it will just want to crawl away. And they make fantastic webs! The dewy web covered yard must have been spectacular! <3

      2. LilPinkSock*

        Orbweavers are the best! I have a pretty blue one living outside my back door. She does a great job of keeping other critters out of the house, so I hope she doesn’t move away anytime soon. She did get inside once, but I scooped her up and that was that—like a helpful roommate.

    5. I take tea*

      I just read a book straight through, couldn’t put it down to go and do everything I have to do today until I had read it. Luckily it was not very long. I do read a lot, but the completely engrossing texts are not as plentiful as when I was younger (when I could literally walk and read at the same time). It always makes me happy to feel really engaged by my reading.

      The book was Izzy Youngs daughter’s book about her relationship with her father, not translated (yet?), but worth picking up if you read Swedish.

    6. Hotdog not dog*

      I have two joys this week…
      1. This thread always cheers me up. Thank you for starting it!
      2. Best Good Dog had another checkup at the vet for his cancer, and the tumor hasn’t grown at all since his June visit! He sleeps a lot but doesn’t seem to be in any discomfort (he does get pain meds). He still loves sitting on my feet while I work from home, cookies, and belly rubs. I’m so glad I get to keep spoiling him for a while longer!

    7. HouseHunting*

      My favorite cheese shop stocking a phenomenal 5 year aged Gouda. The flavor, the crunchy crystals, the everything!

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I love cheese that’s developed crystals. Plus a good cheese shop is wonderful in its own right–it’s so filled with possibility and surprise.

    8. fposte*

      I tried stand-up paddleboarding this week! It’s not going to replace kayaking for me any time soon, but SUP yoga was one of the great suggestions I got last week and I figured this was a logical first step. And my YouTube research paid off–I was able to stand up without falling off and to paddle reasonably effectively, even if my feet were desperately gripping the whole time.

      And I have found an indoor skydiving venue and I’m looking at an October overnight that will include a go. So thank you all very much for the brilliant suggestions; it’s giving me a lot to look forward to and some great ideas for further exploration.

      1. Colette*

        I had never heard of indoor skydiving. I have now located several companies within a few hours of my house. (None here, though.)

    9. Wishing You Well*

      Big joy: I had been searching for YEARS for a certain collectible. It showed up on ebay recently and I won it! YAY!
      Small joy: a big Northern flicker (woodpecker) peered into my window yesterday. I was eye-to-eye with it from 2 feet away! I think it was telling me to put the flicker box back up on the house. We did!

    10. AGD*

      We had a big online meeting for Place That Shall Go Unnamed and many people’s cats showed up at the same time, to the point that the meeting got derailed because everyone was just watching the kitties and hitting the heart reaction button.

    11. Girasol*

      I installed kit lighting under my kitchen cabinets. It was easy and it came out looking downright professional. I keep turning it on and off to admire how it looks just like what I wanted.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Whoo-hoo! I don’t know if you’ve already had a bat mitzvah, but if not, you have now.

        I hadn’t ever had one, and when I told me more-religious friend that I finally got called up for my first aliyah at age 50 or so, she said that technically, doing that counts as a bat mitzvah. No presents, but it did make me really happy to have gotten that bat mitzvah at last. : )

        In either case, Mazel Tov!

    12. WoodswomanWrites*

      It’s raining today on the California coast for the first time in many months, wonderful in our parched state. I’m hopeful it will slow down the fires.

      1. Double A*

        Yes, we had a thunderstorm last week in the Sierra foothills and it was wonderful! My husband and I sat outside under the eaves of the house watching the lightning. It wasn’t that helpful to the fires and indeed started some new ones…but having a night and day where the weather wasn’t hot, dry, dusty, and dirty felt good. In general the temperatures are trending down and I’m so glad.

      2. All Monkeys are French*

        I am so excited about the rain! It’s great to see everything washed clean of ashy dust and my herb garden smells delightful.

    13. small town*

      The figs are ripening and delicious. We were able to have dinner with our sons (away at school) and listen to their lives. And picnic book club tomorrow!

    14. *daha**

      It’s an incredibly difficult time to shop for a car, but the insurance company totaled mine out after a crash and I needed to replace it. I ended up with a 2010 Mazdaspeed3 – the faster version of the Mazda 3 hatchback. It’s got a stick shift!

    15. Colette*

      The foundation of my new shed is in! It’s a shed/gazebo combination, driven by the fact that my Girl Guides now meet in my backyard. So excited to get it done!

    16. Retired(but not really)*

      They’ve started fixing the potholes on my street! Two of the worst stretches are now crushed concrete over roadbase and hopefully the rest will get done next week. It’s really nice not to try to navigate the maze that was that portion of the street.

    17. Not the dog*

      Took Friday off to take my kids to a science museum. It was fun to walk leisurely around a usually crowded place and be able to just enjoy the moments.

  6. Laura H.*

    I want to thank the commenter in the “easy food thread” two weeks ago for recommending that microwaveable pasta! It’s just lovely!

    I also hope Bibliovore, the op on that thread is doing a little better.

    1. Bibliovore*

      Laura H., thank you for asking after me. I would like to say thank you to everyone who commented. It was super helpful and I really felt seen by this community.
      The Trader Joes recommendations were especially helpful. Keeping things simple- buying packaged lettuce. Not trying to plan too much. I don’t have much freezer space and day 4 of whatever I made I’m not so interested.
      Giving myself a break.
      Eggs on rice continues to be the go-to.
      Started drinking smoothies. Thank you for that recommendation.
      I discovered that I can get a take out meal of a Vietnamese cold rice noodle salad with shrimp and pork and have the shrimp for dinner and the pork the next day.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        I love that re-purposing of leftover takeout — brilliant! And I’m so glad you’re finding strategies that work for you. <3

        1. The cat's pajamas*

          I missed that one. Is the microwavable pasta a particular brand, or just cooking regular pasta in the microwave?

  7. monique*

    Do you talk to your friends about money and do you know things like roughly how much each other earn or pay for rent/mortgage or how well situated you each are for retirement? If you do, do you find it easier to talk about if you have roughly similar financial situations and harder if you don’t? I have realized I don’t talk about financial things with anyone besides my partner, not even with very close friends and I’m wondering how usual that is. I think I did used to talk with friends about it more when we were younger and just starting out and we were all basically poor. We’ve all gotten mum about it as we’ve gotten older and ended up with more differences in our finances.

    1. KeinName*

      We do; we‘re in our mid-thirties and my friends mostly come from working-class backgrounds or at least have an awareness of class privilege; but also with friends who are of another generation we talk about their economical and retirement situation . I know what most of my close friends earn and if they had any inheritances or will in the future. Rent is also a topic. I know only one couple who has a house/mortgage and I know how much funds they had when applying and so forth; we‘re not that close, they were our neighbours. So I guess when you share similar class backgrounds it is maybe easy to talk about it.

      1. Liz*

        The inheritance thing is so important as it makes a huge difference! I remember reading an article recently and the writer had been trying for years to save enough to buy a home. When a friend of similar income bought a house, the writer saw this as a sign that they could, too, with the right strategy. But they couldn’t make the numbers work. They saved and applied and searched but it just didn’t seem feasible, so in the end they asked how Friend had made it work. The friend then explained that they had actually inherited the money but didn’t want to say anything because they didn’t want to look like they were rubbing it in anyone’s face.

        It’s such a tricky thing to navigate as class and socioeconomic status play this huge factor, but also in a world with growing wealth gaps and huge income disparity, I think it’s helpful to have these conversations as it gives you a perspective on just how broad the divide can be and avoid beating yourself up for failing to “keep up” with peers. A 10k inheritance made the difference between my being able to buy a tiny cheap apartment in a crap neighbourhood vs being stuck in a perpetual cycle of horrible rented houseshares (or possibly being homeless). These things are absolutely worth discussing, if you feel comfortable doing so.

        1. Filosofickle*

          There’s a fair bit of money talk around me because I live in a tippy top HCOL region. (We mostly talk about money as it relates to mortgages, though, less so retirement or salary.) We’re always trying to figure it out. How much? What did you get? How did you make it work? Even having “lots” of money here doesn’t get you squat. These conversations can definitely be intrusive or uncomfortable at times, and lots of people opt out, but when we do talk openly it’s borne of frustration and desperation. I think it’s a kindness to mention my inheritance because that’s how I’ll do it (if I even can) — I didn’t work harder, earn more, plan better, or find a loophole.

    2. Liz*

      I do, I think moreso than when I was younger in my case. I think when I was young and extremely poor, there was nothing to discuss as there simply wasn’t enough money to cover everything, and so any choices to be made simply boiled down to choosing which bill to ignore until next month. I did have one close friend back then who I would occasionally talk money with, but her response to “that’s not in my budget” was “just put it on a credit card” so I stopped.

      Now I do talk about things in a more detailed manner. You’re right in that it’s probably easier when you’re in similar situations. My partner and I are probably in the middle of two very disparate groups of friends, so we have:
      • Decidedly middle class friends with decent paying professional jobs, higher mortgages, and expensive hobbies.
      • Us, low income but coming from privileged background that meant we were able to buy a cheap house to keep bills low, keeping our heads above water and having a little money leftover for fun.
      • Former college friends who are mostly in minimum wage jobs or on disability, either stuck renting expensive houses or, in some cases, renting rooms from the middle class friends and contributing what they can.

      I think it is sometimes easier to talk finances with people in a similar situation, as there will be aspects of poverty that higher earners just don’t get. One friend’s response to learning our joint income was a shocked “this is just not sustainable?!” while another expressed confusion as to why we, as educated people with degrees, “accepted” such a low wage. It’s hard to hear this advice as anything other than “you need to stop being poor!” Likewise, I feel guilty talking to our poorer friends about our future plans to pool money with my father to buy a larger property to run a business, because they can’t break out of renting.

      That said, one high earning friend did give us the suggestion of borrowing money off my father to buy our house as she didn’t want us to get bitten by interest hikes or risk repossession if we lost our jobs. This hadn’t occurred to us, but worked out really well for everyone involved.

      I think the most useful comparison though has been our friends in the most similar income bracket, who live a very different lifestyle to us. We own our home, enjoy DIY, buy good food, and eat out quite a bit. They rent, eat cheap frozen meals, but travel abroad every year at least once. I think this difference has been helpful in recognising how making different choices with money can lead to very different lifestyles, even on lower income, and how everyone has their own priorities.

    3. Anona*

      We might share our mortgage, but not our salary. It’s higher than many of our friends’, and we don’t want to hurt feelings.
      Same thing with the amount of our retirement savings. Though friends have shared all of that with us, I think sometimes wanting us to reciprocate.
      And I don’t think we’d mind sharing if it wouldn’t make them feel weird. But a friend who always asks is also someone who gets weirdly competitive, and then upset when he doesn’t “win”.

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        This is where I’m at too. I have a group of close friends who I grew up with and we talk about money, but I make double what some of them make and have no debt except a mortgage, so I tend not to share specifics on salary or amount of money saved, although I do talk in relative terms (like “six months emergency fund” or when I got a promotion I said it came with a “10% raise”).

        I’m more comfortable talking about expenses, because those are things I have some control over and they’re relatively similar to my friends’ even with our different incomes. That said, I know it feels a lot different for me than it does for each of them so I try to be aware of that. There’s a big difference between spending $X and saving a little bit, vs spending $X a month and also saving $X a month.

        If my best friend had an income similar to mine, I would absolutely talk specific numbers with her, but since we’re so far apart, I haven’t found a way to do it that doesn’t feel like bragging (even when she initiates the conversation). So even with her I tend to stick to relative figures.

        We do talk money strategies a lot though. Budgeting basics, pros and cons of paying off a mortgage early, debt avalanche vs debt snowball approach, pretty much all of that is freely talked about.

      2. Me*

        Yeah we don’t discuss our finances with our friends. Or family.

        Dh and I both make really good money, have no mortgage and our retirement savings are just fabulous, thank you very much.

        We both work white collar jobs and most of our friends are blue collar with a few white collar. We’ve been very fortunate in our careers, staying at the same employers for our entire careers.

        I talk to my coworkers about salary and retirement all the time. They make the same amount of money that I do and are close to or at a similar point in their lives, so it’s all good.

    4. Asenath*

      Not much at all, really, in detail. Some superficial things – I know one couple has been investing steadily and regularly over the years and one of them handles all that personally and has made a bit of a hobby of learning about investment, and another couple has, from the moment they got together, planned and worked so that they lived well on small incomes, including paying off their mortgage early and were in a good position to retire. They probably know I hire an investment advisor to help me out, since I know little about investing and don’t want to put in the time to improve my skills, and that I now live reasonably comfortably after a much poorer start. We can probably all guess each others’ income and/or salary before retirement fairly well, because we have known each other a long time and know the local employers involved, even if we don’t work for the same ones. But no one says “I earn $X”. The amount paid for rent/mortgage might be mentioned in passing when moving in, but not later. Money is still considered a pretty private topic, so conversations about it don’t occur often and are general, not specific. Money in even more general terms is OK to discuss – eg prices go up, and the minimum wage doesn’t, so how do people manage, or, conversely, someone built a wildly extravagant mansion; who needs that.

    5. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I have no qualms sharing many of my financial details with my close friends, and I know some of theirs, just as it has come up. However, I am not living in the US at the moment, so most of my friends are of another culture. That makes a huge difference, in my opinion: my very anecdotal experience is that folks are more sensitive and also more careful about talking about money in the US.

    6. bookcase*

      My best friend and I talk about money. We are very close and we are similar enough financial positions.

      I have a number of friends who are extremely wealthy and we don’t discuss money. I prefer this. I feel grateful for what I have, which is better than some people have, but still my friends bought million dollar properties in their 20’s so I’d rather not talk about it because it makes me feel a little weird.

      I feel like some people don’t realise that stretching to afford elite education (be it you with loans or your parents) is good and education is great but it can make friendships weird once you get past about the age of 25. Going to a top private school or super fancy college moves you into those circles and the disparity once you get older between those whose parents spent every dime on the school and are modest people and those it was just a given can be stark.

      I do feel sometimes I don’t want to talk about money because people can be judgey. I once rented a place on my own when many others were share housing. I had been share housing for years and mentally couldn’t do it anymore. I was fine to spend a little more to have my own place (which was in a slum by the way, or first world equivalent so not fancy). The GRIEF people gave me about my choice and the costs and the demand to know my rent and my budget. It was exhausting having everyone chime in about my rent.

      1. Asenath*

        That sounds like me – I moved into a place of my own when I just couldn’t do the roommates/shared apartment thing any more; I just wanted a place of my own where I didn’t need to talk to anyone, or deal with their dramas, when I got home at night. Of course, I could barely afford an extremely basic setup in a poorly divided drafty old house, but it was better than sharing and I was pleased with it. I can remember only one person commenting on it, and that didn’t get to what I was spending to live there. When I said, yes, I’d finally found a place to live, she asked where, and I said “X Street”. She was absolutely horrified! (OK, it was mostly commercial, and I’m sure not all the residents of the nearby rooming house were waiting for their trial on arson charges, as some people alleged, but it was also centrally located and cheap and actually spacious as well.) She said something like “But, but, you might as well live on Y Street!”. And wouldn’t you know it, a friend of mine also in the conversation said “My boyfriend grew up on Y Street”, which stopped the conversation in its tracks. In fact, his family still lived there at that time. They were certainly poor, but respectable, as people used to say, and he was in university well on his way to a professional career. I moved in fairly mixed circles – no one from a really rich background, but the rest ranged from first of their family to get to university (sometimes through high school) to being from solidly middle-class backgrounds where of course everyone went to university, and mostly people kept their mouths shut about how terrible certain parts of town were, because the person standing next to you might live there. But this time, that one friend of mine was so shocked at my living quarters she forgot that rule.

        1. Liz*

          I had the same thing when I bought my house. I’m an odd mix of comfortable middle class background, good education, but extremely broke due to prolonged unemployment and disability. I finally managed to find my feet at some point in my mid 30s but am still on poverty wages due to being unable to work full time, so my house is super cheap in a cheap area. The only reason I could afford it at all is because dad helped us out. The number of people from my hometown who asked why I didn’t want to stay closer to my dad!! For context, my dad lives in one of the most expensive towns in this city, albeit in a regular house rather than the mansions up the street where the pro football players live. I couldn’t AFFORD to stay near my dad! His neighbours’ houses both sold recently, and even the smaller, cheaper one that needed a lot of work doing sold for over twice our maximum budget, and it’s about the same size as ours. I’ve had people ask if I’ve been mugged. The truth is, the neighbours are amazing people and I happily walk to and from the shops after dark. I’ve been here for 3 years.

        2. Liz*

          Yesterday we also experienced another form of this – the “why is it so cheap? There must be something wrong with it!” factor.

          I showed a friend some dream properties in a cheap, rural location – still very much a pipe dream at this stage – because this makes for a fun bit of inspiration to imagine my future and push me to finish my studies. She wrinkled her nose at every house in our budget because surely there is something hugely suspect for it to be so cheap! “What’s the EPC rating? You’ll need a survey doing. No it’s not the decor, it has to be structural. You’ll be so isolated, what happens if it snows? What about work? You need to consider these things!” Because what is aspirational to us is taking a gamble on a dodgy wreck to her. I’ve learned not to take it personally. I will consider these things when the time comes, but I don’t think she gets the idea that looking at properties even at a price she considers low enough to be suspect is actually a form of escapism for us.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I love to talk household management logistics with people, which includes things like “how do you and your partner/household arrange your finances,” but we don’t usually get into the actual exact numbers. Every once in a while, something will pop up – I got super excited with my bestie when my retirement account crossed into the six digits, for example, and there were actual numbers involved when I was getting her thoughts as a second opinion when I was debating whether to finish paying my car off out of my savings and make the last year and a half of payments “to myself” to replenish it, vs keep paying the lender and keep my savings intact. And we both know generally what the variation is between our salaries (which is large because educators are grossly underpaid :P ). But usually we keep the discussions more oriented toward the logistics than the specific numbers.

      That said, my husband and I have fully separated finances, except for one joint savings account, and he and I don’t get toooooo specific about our individual finances most of the time, because as long as he pays his share of the bills and anything we’ve agreed on, I don’t much care what he does with the rest of his money, and vice versa. He knows approximately what I make and I know approximately what he makes (which are pretty close to each other), and we have general ideas of each other’s debt load (he has a couple of credit cards he’s paying down and his car loan, I paid off my car and keep my credit cards paid off regularly but have the house mortgage, we both have student loans) and file our taxes together, but otherwise we don’t get too detailed about it as long as all obligations are met.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      We don’t. 50s, I infer circle tends to be pretty comfortable but not super rich.

      I think you’re onto something with it being a common topic when we and our friends were young and poor.

    9. Person from the Resume*

      Not really. I make significantly more than my friends … just tipped over 6 figures … and I have no kids (or pets). I am secure and can buy what I want. (I don’t really want very expensive/wealth flaunting things except for my two sporty hobbies.) I’m saving like crazy for retirement because I’d like to retire early and I hope to live a long life and won’t have kids to lean for help.

      My friends make less. Some very much less. I don’t mention much to them. They may talk about their current concerns. But also I have a friend who is following her passion and is willing to live on the financial edge because of it. I just too risk adverse for that.

      OTOH when my job was terribly stressful and very likely contributing to depression she suggested quitting. It’s got great benefits and great pay and I work from home; I’d never find anything as good here again. That was a big “no way” for me; I work for money and not for passion. And luckily now that I’m on a different project in the same role, it’s not at all stressful. So what I’m saying here, we can’t really advise each other because our risk tolerances are so very different.

      I do have another friend more like me who doesn’t make as much money as me but we’re both like … she doesn’t understand how much we appreciate the benefits we get from our current jobs even if we always would rather be doing something else.

      1. Loopy*

        I relate to this a lot. I’m not at 6 figures, but am similar in how I have always been willing to “work for the man” for stability and benefits. Do I LOVE my job? No. It’s been very stressful lately, but for me personally, I’ll choose job stress over financial stress (and I feel EXTREMELY lucky to even be able to make that choice- to even have the option of a comfortable living salary and benefits, even if for me there’s a trade off).

      2. SoloKid*

        Very similar to Loopy. I am married. We own a home, also no kids, also each at around 6 figures. Most couples in our friend group are in a similar industry and situation (homes in the same area, no kids). We don’t know details down to the dollar but we assume that they are in a similar financial situation.

        I do have one friend in a lower paying industry that is open about keeping her expenses low. I don’t know how much she makes exactly, but our friend group offers to cover her and there’s no awkwardness around it. IMO of course, but it’s been a dynamic going on for over a decade so I assume everyone else is cool with it.

      3. Ali G*

        We are similar. We both make six figures and no kids. Most of my other double-income friends have kids and the expenses that go along with that. We are working our butts off now so we can retire early. My husband will retire in about 10 years (late 50s) and I will a couple years later (he’s 4 years older than I am).
        However the interesting thing with us is a lot, if not all, of our friends come from money. So while they don’t make as much, and/or have more expenses, they have the luxury of not having student loans, parents close by for regular child care, etc. One of my friends bought her childhood home from her parents and they all live together and her parents provide free child care in exchange for living for free. Another friend bought her first home from her sister (who had help from their dad to buy it). We didn’t have help like that, but our choices with money and jobs will hopefully get us to where we want to go.

    10. Loopy*

      No, we don’t at all. I feel there’s a lot of anxiety around retirement in particular. It feels so impossible and depressing. I just started feeling like I’m actually on track and I started at 25 (now 33) but it’s been a monumental, financially difficult and exhausting effort and that’s WITH some privilege aspects added in. Knowing how few people could likely contribute what I did reasonably feels depressing to me.

      Also, my husband and I are dual income no kids, we don’s do joint finances, but I always feel most of my friends with families obviously have much higher expenses (and that’s not a bad thing it just makes our situations wildly different).

      I am not wealthy by any means and I’m likely far too frugal for my own good in terms of taking savings too far- but I still fell like the ability to even do that it privileged and perhaps I have some guilt around that. I would definitely feel awkward getting into the finer details.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        When my friend with kids say “I’m just going to work until I die,” I’m sad and concerned. I get it. Her retirement savings are low and she helps an occasionally homeless family member when she can, but I really hope that’s just an exaggeration. I know she does have some retirement savings that has taken hits when stocks dropped and is aware of what is needed for retirement.

        Better than my dreamer friend who has been extremely poor into middle age, and has taken steps to follow her dream which is not particularly lucrative. I don’t know that she understands how far behind she is. Maybe she does and just doesn’t want to talk about it because she’s still little more than living paycheck to paycheck.

        1. fposte*

          FWIW, unless she took her money out or changed it to cash, she should be doing fine with money in stocks; she’s probably more likely to share about how they’re doing during a scary dip, but they’ve rebounded and had a great year. Not that that automatically means she has enough for retirement, but at least that’s something you may not need to worry about.

        2. Liz*

          I can only speak for myself, but as someone who uses that phrase, no I’m not kidding. Many people do see retirement as an impossibility. In my case, I only really started work at 35, and I have some emergency funds but that’s it. I’ve spent several years studying to get into a job that should earn me reasonable money, but I’ll be pushing 40 by the time that happens. I’m extremely far behind, but it is what it is and I can’t change the past. The job I’m training for (therapist) is one I would be able to do in a flexible freelance capacity well into old age. I’ve seen one lady still working private practice in her late 80s. I’ll gladly do that to get by, and failing that, I am making sure I have a solid life insurance policy that covers being unable to work due to ill health.

          1. Loopy*

            I always take people who use that or similar phrasing at face value as, unfortunately, I think it’s a very real and very common situation. I am still early enough that while I’m on track, life can throw me some disasters and boom- I definitely am not in a bracket where a natural disaster wiping out everything I own or major injury/illness wouldn’t change everything.

            Even though I am doing well, retirement and finances always seem fraught with uncertainty for me.

          2. Lady Glittersparkles*

            I’m in the exact same boat- I’m 40 years old, just finished grad school and am beginning my second career of being a therapist. I just now started saving for retirement. (Well, I was saving before but lost what I had saved at 35 due to unforeseen events). If I really think about it I get anxious but like you said, there’s nothing I can do about it now!

        3. matcha123*

          Why does it make you sad?
          I’m in my mid-late 30s and am coming up on 30 years of work, and I planned on working until I die. That’s literally all my family knows. If you come from a comfortable background and never needed to help family members in need, saving for retirement is nice and all. But not all of us are in that position.

          1. Liz*

            Agreed. There have always been populations for whom retirement has been impossible, and we are now simply seeing more and more people fall into that bracket. Workplace pensions are now a fraction of what they once were, and the only way to retire is to cultivate private investments, and/or own multiple properties. There’s an episode of the Netfix series “Explained” that calculates an American middle class individual would need savings of 7 figures to maintain their lifestyle and costs across an ever lengthening old age. That seems on the high side, but I can’t even imagine most people being able to achieve even a slim fraction of that. With so many living paycheck to paycheck, it makes perfect sense to me that many people don’t ever plan to fully retire, because it is practically and theoretically impossible.

            1. matcha123*

              Exactly this. One side of my family was basically excluded from the “ideal” marriage > home > kids > work a nice job > retire lifescript that we are expected to follow.
              It seems that people who were able to ride that lifescript wave have blinders on when it comes to understanding the realities of the “others.”

          2. Person from the Resume*

            Why does it make me sad? Does anyone actually want to work into their 70s and hopefully 80s? Wouldn’t they rather be retired? Hell I’d rather be retired now. I like my job okay, but it’s not my first choice of what I want to do today. And I sure wish there was more of balance than work all week, tired on weeknights, do chores on weekends. I already wish I had more time to do what I want.

            Americans used to die in their 60s. Those that did retire usually only had a few years of retirement before death. Or we really saying that we think it’s okay that people HAVE to keep working into their 70s and 80s. Is that even realistic?

            1. matcha123*

              A lot of us don’t have a choice. After college graduation, I worked with a number of other new grads on the same pay scale. They were traveling AND able to save money. I, on the other hand, was perpetually broke due to taking care of my family and paying back college loans.
              No one in my family has ever retired. They worked until they died. Retirement was not even on the radar. I don’t know what your friend’s backstory is, but it might be good to keep in mind that not everyone can retire…

        4. Lora*

          I’m in this position and post-menopausal. And I am definitely not kidding when I say it. When I calculate inflation and cost of living changes, I’m hosed. First, I didn’t make crap for money for a long time. A LONG time. Everyone wants to discover a cure for (horrible disease), so supply & demand – the job pays crap. Grad school for a long time also means you aren’t putting money into a 401k. I ended up switching careers because I like eating and sleeping indoors, and drug discovery wasn’t going to support those goals. A lot of my very brilliant colleagues went into finance or some other semi-related field for the same reason. And for 15 years my then-husband was in and out of rehab at ridiculous expense (it didn’t work); then my mother screwed up her own retirement savings spectacularly through not knowing how to handle money at ALL + dementia. Every time I had a decent amount of money in a 401k, some dire emergency happened that I had to cash it out: cancer treatment while uninsured, then-husband’s back surgery while uninsured, fired for reporting harassment and unemployed for 5 months, divorced and found out ex had been siphoning off money for his drug-and-hooker habit, etc. I didn’t really build up a decent amount in my 401k until the past few years, mostly by ignoring my family when they ask for money (it was past the point of enabling).

          I do talk to my friends about money and many MANY are in a similar position, either via a lot of student loans (theirs and/or their kids’), being drastically underpaid at their jobs, married to a spouse who is unemployable for various reasons or in a job that pays so little they essentially would have to support two people in retirement, having disabled kids they’ll have to support the rest of their lives, kids who are school teachers or some other job that will never pay enough to live on.

          The whole ideal of: graduate from college, get married, have kids, retire, has really only been financially feasible for like, a generation and a half. Like staying with one company your whole career and getting a gold watch at retirement, this just isn’t common anymore for very many people.

    11. fposte*

      Sort of? I’m obsessed with planning so I’ve been asked by friends a few times for input, and also several of my friends work at the same state institution so our salaries are public record. We don’t share monthly budgets or anything, but it’s okay within us to politely ask “Roughly, how much did your kitchen remodel cost?” and to share where we are on mortgages.

      I don’t get as specific with friends and family with less money, but I’m often still transparent about the actual mechanisms (like doing Roth conversions, or paying quarterly taxes, or figuring out money as part of the retirement transition) when they’re relevant to mention. In general, my friends who have less financial wiggle room are earlier in their careers or have kids, so it’s not so much that I’m “doing better” as our journeys are different or at different stages. And living in a fairly low cost of living area means that all of us in town have a pretty similar standard of living.

    12. RussianInTexas*

      Very very little. Most of my friends are in the same roughly middle class professional circle, engineers, programmers, legal, other white collar office type jobs. I am personally is one of the lowest paid people, being a CSR, but my household income is pretty high. Most people I know have mortgages or rent nice apartments that cost basically mortgage money (my area is not super expensive), and not buying houses for personal reasons.
      Money only come up when something specific happens, like my friend and I were unemployed at the same time, or another friend was offered an early retirement payout, things like that. But not in specifics. I know we all mostly spend similar money on the things from the same categories: clothes, food, travel, etc.

    13. ThatGirl*

      My two besties and I have talked a bit, more about how our parents are doing than us for retirement planning as well as the idea that we’re finally getting comfortable. We all turned 40 this year and have solid jobs but different circumstances. I’m married with no kids and very minimal student debt, one has a husband, two kids and law school debt; the third is unmarried but does have a long term boyfriend with a kid. And our parents’ circumstances all vary too. I don’t think it would make anyone feel bad if we did talk numbers, but we talk more in generalities.

    14. MeepMeep*

      We don’t. We are still trying to pay off enormous debts, and debts are embarrassing. My wife has six figures’ worth of student loans. We actually have a pretty high income, but it doesn’t show because it all goes to paying down debt.

      Even my parents don’t know exactly how much.

    15. Texan In Exile*

      As much as I can, especially about salaries, as I think information is power. I don’t care if people share information with me – I am done with the corporate world so that data is not useful to me anymore.

      We have really good friends who have millions of dollars in savings. He is a partner at a major law firm and earns probably $600K or more a year. He plans to work until he’s 60 (two more years) because he’ll get an extra $200K in pension.

      They were horrified that I quit my job without having another job.

      I explained to them that it’s easier to walk away from $67K (my salary) than a lot of money.

    16. Wishing You Well*

      No, we don’t say a word about finances to friends or family. Some people are competitive; some are jealous types. One close relative kisses up to “richer” family members and treats poorer relatives poorly. Personal finances are not a safe subject.
      I am older and it sounds right that you might be more open about finances when you’re all young and all in the same financial boat. As you get older, though, your group’s finances can differ by a lot. My dad told me, “Don’t compare salaries with people. Someone always gets angry.” Rich people use the phrase “I’m very comfortable” and don’t say any more than that. I think that’s wise but if you have a peer group where you can truly discuss money without repercussions, I’d say you’re very blessed.

    17. Exif*

      I don’t talk about money, sex, or medical problems with anyone besides my spouse. I’m a private person.

      Demographics: as a childfree couple our friend group is extremely mixed, from early-20s artists and freelancers to early-60s truck drivers and construction workers.

    18. Alexis Rosay*

      No–it’s very superficial and vague if we talk about money at all. We know relatively how much money each other probably makes just based on our jobs, and based on the lifestyle each person has, but we usually avoid sharing specifics.

      Despite a pretty wide range of earnings among us, we maintain fairly similar day-to-day lifestyles. Differences in earnings show up more in the types of vacations each person takes–some are going to Hawaii regularly and some of us only travel when we can stay with relatives. But since that only happens a few times per year, it doesn’t cause friction.

    19. Sunflower*

      We don’t really talk about it in actual numbers- we’ll usually say ‘I splurged and got X’. And it’s clear some folks idea of a splurge is so different than others.

      I personally don’t care and think information is power- and I think it’s so much more about how you spend what you have than what you make- but I am also very good with watching how I spend my money. I have no qualms about choosing to live in a smaller, not as nice place and not buying new clothes all the time. I have a feeling if I wasn’t such a saver, I’d probably feel more self conscious talking about it. Also- there are just some things that I don’t care if I was making millions a year, I wouldn’t see myself buying.

      We don’t talk at all about retirement savings which I find to be the most interesting because we’re in our mid-30’s. Financially, most of us are doing OK and don’t need to stress about making bills on an everyday basis so I think how much we are saving vs what we are buying is probably top of mind right now.

    20. Not So NewReader*

      As I have aged I find that my conversations about money are more open and more detailed.

      I think some of that comes from being widowed, wrestling with medical debt and so on. Some of it came from [volunteer work] where I knew of grants and I would open a discussion with folks who I thought might know people who would benefit. And some of it comes from my belief that sharing information to help others is really important.

      My friends vary. I have some friends who had a 7 digit savings and lost it. Others kept that savings. Some of my friends do not appear to have savings…. whoops. Sadly, I am seeing that medical debt levels a lot of playing fields. My motto is do not waste a minute thinking about that braggart who has a million dollars saved up. They are one catastrophic illness away from the poor house.

      Of the family members who told us their (Healthy) income they never seemed to notice we did not mention our income level. hmmm. Overall, the pattern in my life seems to be that people who have lower incomes/lost large amounts of money seem more willing to talk about that and to try to help others with cost savings. I see why. Just from my own experience, my friends collectively have cut my monthly bills in half with their tips and suggestions. It’s been an amazing experience.

    21. KateM*

      I don’t remember last time I talked with someone about our finances. Even with parents/siblings we talk only on non-number level “we have now our mortgage paid off, so you won’t worry about us, kids”, or “we had to sell that apartment in town to buy the farm of our dreams”, etc. Of course we do speak about it with husband (fully joint finances but no joint account so we need to share the information) and with older kids (“now if you do get that stipend, you better start saving for X”). But I live in Europe and I think the differences in finances are not as big or at least not as visible.

      1. German Girl*

        I think the biggest difference in Europe is that we don’t usually get thrown into medical debt because of more or less universal health care.

        Also, while it’s ideal to save up for your kids college education and your retirement, they and you won’t be in dire circumstances if you don’t, because the social security systems are at least somewhat functional. So these factors level the playing field a bit.

        1. NACSACJACK*

          I’ve been wondering in Europeans make less than Americans, because of your healthcare system. Am I correct in saying, most Europeans dont own their own homes, or else inherited their homes? Has anyone ever done a salary comparison between western Europe and USA/Canada?

    22. FACS*

      Our friend circle does talk about retirement and money, but we are all late career professionals or retired. All with 6 figure jobs and 7 figure retirements. We still have children in the higher ed system. Neither of our children will have any educational debt and they understand how privileged they are. Spouse and I both paid our way all the way through school as we came from poor families (family knack for standardized tests). I think that as the money gets easier the conversations get easier. Both of the children have had age appropriate conversations about money, credit, and savings.

    23. Anon scientist*

      A few years ago, I received a six-figure inheritance unexpectedly (grandparent died who had way more money squirreled away than I realized) and the only people who know are others in my family who received the same inheritance, my husband, and a single friend who is utterly non materialistic and who came from money. We suddenly could buy a house for cash. Nobody knows we don’t have a mortgage. Not worth the drama.

    24. matcha123*

      I talk about these things to an extent with a few friends.
      The friends who also came from low-income backgrounds are much easier to talk to and have much more empathy. The ones who came from upper-income backgrounds act like I’m speaking a foreign language because they didn’t need to put money into the family or take any job to survive.
      It’s frustrating trying to find articles that touch on my particular situation, and it’s frustrating trying to get rich friends to understand.

      1. Lora*

        Wow, I hear this. Grew up in a poor farming community, the first 30 years of my life were very tough. Inevitably upper-middle class to affluent friends say something that is seriously offensive, often to the point of being unforgivable, about their horror of either becoming poor (through divorce or some other life change) or their horror of Those People who are poor and the miserable subhuman lifestyles they must live. I point out that um, thanks, *I* lived like that for a very long time, not because I was stupid or didn’t know how money worked, but because I was not paid fairly by my employers, something I had no power to change effectively while I lived in an area with high unemployment, a crap educational system, and a lot of economic exploitation (partly due to corporations, partly due to regressive government policies). And then there’s the whole crabs in a bucket / tall dandelion thing from the culture, which is another problem…

        1. matcha123*

          Yep, with the affluent friends, I split them into two groups: those who worked with their parents and were able to get out of their low-income backgrounds (and are sensitive to others in similar positions) and the others who seem to believe that lower income people (me) would be well-off if only we’d saved more and stopped being stupid (and they also tend to say things like, “Things can’t make you happy,” while having the ability to buy all the things they want, but that’s another story…)

          The surprise and subtle disgust thrown at low-income people who were able to go to a good university or who don’t seem “stupid” is also soul crushing.

    25. NACSACJACK*

      Thank you for bringing this up and thank you all for commenting. Not knowing the age range of the commenters, I’ll just say I’m older. My parents never talked about money or finances with me. I am the example. Teach your kids about financing, dont just tell them “No Credit Cards”. Do go with them for their first apartment.

      Back in our 20s and 30s, I knew roughly what my friends made. I knew who came from money and who didn’t, but of those who were good with money, they didn’t understand how to get from my position of in debt to solvency to emergency fund. They either didnt go out or received $ gifts from Mom&Dad. In that group of friends, I am 2nd highest earner. I knew what each of my partners(2 ex’s and current) made and I am making significantly more. Somehow, though, each of them had savings, while I was struggling to make the rent/mortgage & utilities. Each of them lived with roommates or like I said above, didn’t go out, didn’t travel, didn’t see the world(actually one did, but imagine quitting your job…). I’ve watched my parents and grandparents get to 70 and do nothing. I don’t want to be there and I’m mad about not traveling more in my 40s, but ARM mortgage + car + change in payment cycles = broke. I know what one of my sisters and her husband make and I know what my parents made, but I dont know how healthy/wealthy they are. I dont know what my other sister or my cousins make, but all seem to be able to buy new cars and toys.

      I’ll say this – don’t try to compete, don’t try to keep up. I wanted to do all the things my friends were doing and let me tell ya, I’m paying for it big time now. But my circumstances are different – Single income, no kids, (formerly two dogs with vet bills), older house, nicer neighborhood, rising taxes, medical debt. There is a reason I keep fixing and driving a almost 20 year old car – it runs and it does what I want to do (camp, kayak, etc). I just wish it wasn’t rusted.

      Double income or a second income definitely gets you where you’re going.

  8. Liz*

    I feel like a bit of an ass posting this, but I feel like I need some anonymous, objective advice: Does anyone have any tips for dealing with a chronic complainer?

    Longer post in the replies, but TLDR: I have a friend whose primary style of communication is basically to complain about his life, thoughts and relationships while never listening to anything I have to say. He doesn’t want advice, never acknowledges his own faults, isn’t great with boundaries, and effectively uses me as a silent sounding board even if I don’t reply. I’m running out of patience and sympathy right at the point his only other friendship has also imploded, and am unsure how to move forward. He’s in a very vulnerable state right now, but I have no idea what to say anymore and I’m at the end of my tether. I don’t want to make things worse for him but I’m also completely out of fucks to give.

    Any thoughts on how to proceed? Help? Salvage? Escape?

    1. Lbd*

      Sometimes the question, “what do you plan to do about that?” can bump them out of their pattern and into a space of actually moving to a resolution. Or it might annoy them and train them to complain less to you.
      Other phrases:
      What have you tried so far?
      What are your options?
      Who can you go to for help?

      1. Liz*

        I think I might try some variation on that where I can suggest he consider those things but avoiding getting myself dragged into an in depth conversation. Part of my difficulty is that I work in mental health and so I spend my working day having these kinds of conversations and have very little energy for giving free therapy at the end of the day. So I might tweak the phrasing!

    2. Alexis Rosay*

      I had a friend like this. I unfortunately had to pull back from the friendship for a while. Not entirely cutting it off, just reducing the time we spend together. What I noticed was that my friend targeted me with her complaints because I’m apparently a good listener. When others were around, she didn’t complain as much. So I tried to only hang out with her in a group setting.

      Why didn’t she complain as much around others? Well, the truth is I noticed those others were a bit more domineering in the conversation–not in a bad way in this case. They did not let her dominate the conversation with her complaints, they would simply introduce a new conversation topic that they were more interested in and make sure the conversation would stay on that topic as much as possible. Though I am not great at this, maybe it’s something you could try.

      1. who is me*

        Group setting helps with that too. Friend X can introduce a new topic and someone other then complainer can help keep the group conversation on it instead of the complaints.

      2. Liz*

        Further context in my follow up post below, but this is a long distance friendship and so IM convos only. I do have a group setup but the one other person on there has already confessed to muting him for this very reason. One thing I have tried to do is sort of… deflect a little when he starts monologuing, so if I sense some self pity incoming I’ll try and switch to a cheerier topic. This sometimes keeps the misery at bay. I definitely fell into the “good listener” trap, although truth be told, I feel like I’ve stopped being a good listener where he’s concerned. A great many of these messages actually just come through in a long chain while I’m sleeping, so my response is clearly non existent and irrelevant, which I actually find even MORE frustrating because at that point I’m not even a factor in the conversation.

        1. Who is the asshole*

          When a person is creating their own misery and therefore making you miserable, I find it instructive to list all the things they could do, but are not doing.

          Because he could endeavor to be a better listener and conversationalist, he could look out for mental health support, he could search for an online support group or hobby group, he could put into words what he needs from you and accept whatever answer you give him to that etc.

          Instead he’s testing the patience of one of the only people who’s still around (allegedly, we can’t really know what’s happening where he lives). That is a choice,even if it’s made out of misery and bad coping strategies.

          Therefore I vote to check in with yourself what you are getting out of this friendship and if it’s enough to sustain the connection. or maybe you want to stay in contact, but you purposefully limit your availability or you mute him after you’ve tried to redirect the conversation twice and it doesn’t take.

          Don’t set yourself on fire to keep him warm.

        2. Hornets*

          I think your friend who muted him had the right idea. Ask yourself what is keeping you from doing the same thing – do you feel guilty? Do you feel like you’re helping him by responding? etc. It really sounds like you’re not getting anything out of the relationship so I’m not sure who you’re still so invested.

    3. Aphrodite*

      I used to be your friend a long time ago. Perhaps not quite as bad but close. I suggest that you do what my best friend (at the time) did and be blunt and honest. She told me how she saw and heard me and said she could not take it any more, that while it helped me feel better that it made her feel worse. I was treating her not just as a sounding board but as a dumping ground for all my negative emotions. And she couldn’t be that any more because it was in danger of taking over her life.

      I listened but I was deeply hurt. I raged for a while (to myself at the pity party I was throwing) but I also soon realized how right she was. I got into therapy. Unfortunately, I was never able to resume our friendship even though she contacted me several years later. As I told my therapist, I couldn’t trust where the line would be between answering her when she would have asked how I was or what was going on in my life and reverting to the old me. It wasn’t her, it truly was me. But even though I couldn’t resume the relationship I remain to this day eternally grateful to her for doing what must have been so hard for her. She gave me the gift of life that I have today.

      1. Liz*

        This is so refreshing to hear. I’d like to think my friend would listen if I laid it on the line. I also know that’s rather beyond my control, but I’d feel better for the both of us if I was honest. I don’t want to take the cowards way out, but I also don’t want to be cruel. Congratulations on all the work you’ve done. It can be so hard moving past these patterns of behaviour, no matter which corner of the drama triangle you prefer to sit!

        1. twocents*

          Carolyn Hax had a similar scenario presented to her in yesterday’s chat, and said: “Consider giving kind bluntness a try. When that feels mean, it can help to think of what you’re planning to do — ditch this person, essentially — and recognize that she might actually prefer a chance not to get ditched.”

          It sounds like you’re at the point where you need to distance yourself for your own health at least, and you have a lot of reasonable frustration with your friend. You can say the truth without being cruel about it. It may even be easier given that these are IM conversations, because then he can process whatever you have to say without you seeing him process it.

    4. Purt’s Peas*

      It seems like your choices right now are, say nothing & leave the friendship, OR say something and *maybe* leave the friendship. Ok the first option has some subtlety to it like, maybe you ghost vs suffer in silence until you really can’t take it anymore and block him.

      I do think the second option, saying something, is the best way to preserve the friendship. (And maybe it ends anyway.)

      I would recommend keeping it about you, and what you need, not about what’s best for him: “I want to support you but every conversation has been venting/complaining to me and I can’t support you in this way. I’m so sorry you’re hurting, but I need time where we have trivial conversations, or you ask me how I’m doing.”

      Maybe this implodes the friendship anyway, because he won’t be able to handle this kind of feedback. Maybe it means you go on a friendship break for a couple years but it opens the door for you to be friends again later, instead of leaving bitterness a-lingering. Good luck and best wishes!

    5. Liz*

      Thank you to those who already replied! Here’s some extra context (original post got locked up in moderation, probably because I swore) to give further detail:

      Friend in question is long distance, we only talk via skype having met online, although we have visited in person twice over the 8 years we’ve known each other. We first started taking many years ago, when I was a perpetual “rescuer”, with a tendency to befriend wounded people who needed help. Originally we were a group of 4, but my friend had a blow up with the other 2 members and I tried to smooth things over to keep the peace, even though I thought my friend was the one in the wrong. I’ve managed to kick my rescuing habit through therapy, and most of the friendships I made in that time have imploded or dissolved because I’m not That Person anymore. Unfortunately my friendship with This One Guy still seems very much entrenched in that dynamic. When things are going fine, I don’t hear from him, but when he gets down, or goes on one of his frequent “I need to sort my life out” kicks, I get a steam of consciousness style series of messages detailing whatever he’s ruminating over. Sometimes it will just be little things that annoy him, sometimes it’s a live commentary on his budgeting plan that he’s making for the tenth time, sometimes it’s a journal of all the Bad Thoughts he’s having over his ex/mother/self.

      I have tried telling him directly that I find his topics of conversation very negative, and he tried to blow this off as an “East Coast thing” called “kvetching”. He describes his conversational style as “work sucks blah blah blah” and apparently this is just neutral, not negative, and I’m perceiving it wrong. Now I’m not exactly the most chipper and Pollyannaish person myself (in fact I’ve had bouts of depression) but I’ll usually temper my rants into a genuine appeal for support if they’re really a bit of an issue, or amusing/dramatic stories if they’re not. I can tell I’m reaching BEC with this guy because I’ve now started noticing that half his opening messages start with “ugh” and I’m having a visceral reaction to that trio of letters because I’m bracing for another steam of “here are all the sad thoughts I’m having” or “people on the bus are annoying”.

      I’ve ceased responding to his late night stream of consciousness monologues, which he has noticed, and I told him outright that I actually find them quite distressing and I never know what to say. Now he simply adds a disclaimer stating that I don’t need to reply and he’s not really that upset.

      The frustrating thing is, he really genuinely does have a lot of difficulties in his life, but doesn’t seem to want to do anything constructive to solve them. My instinct is usually to offer solutions to people, and he’s indicated that he doesn’t want that, but I’m having a hard time just making sympathetic noises when it seems he makes no real attempts to help himself. He complains about being lonely, but doesn’t want to socialize and claims he hates people. He’s perpetually broke but all he does is start a new budget every month and try out new and different ways to track his spending (which I don’t think he ever actually does). I’ve told him outright I can’t help him with money advice anymore so he doesn’t ask now but texts me blow by blow accounts of his budgeting plans anyway, and then starts from scratch a couple of months later.

      It’s all come to a head recently as he made a friend (I think at work) who he was going to move in with, but now the friend has changed his mind. There were red flags early on and I advised him not to put all his eggs in one basket, but I don’t think he can really afford to live on his own, and he’s ranting about how his friend should have talked to him instead of making this decision. I feel bad for him, but the way I see it, his friend is free to make whatever choices he wishes over his living situation, and given how overinvested my friend was getting, I can totally see why the other guy just backed out. Given the emotional explosion this has caused, I wouldn’t have wanted to talk things through first, either! This is the second time I’ve seen him have a dramatic meltdown over a friend putting in a boundary that he didn’t like, and it makes me quite uncomfortable. All my suggestions were shot down in flames so I told him I didn’t really know what to suggest anymore, and he just kept talking. I told him I am really not the best person to talk to. He kept talking. I’m just…. done.

      It doesn’t help that I’m bitter because the one time I had a real emotional blow over recent years, he basically gave minimal responses and immediately started talking about himself. I’m frustrated because I feel like we’ve been talking in circles for years, listening to him come up with a plan for the future and then abandon it and complain at me about how his life isn’t going anywhere. Apparently he was in therapy for years but wasn’t really able to name a single issue that he worked on in depth. I don’t think he can afford therapy anymore, but I’m tired of being treated as a silent sounding board for all his issues, especially when there are many aspects where he’s at fault, but even if I speak to about them, he doesn’t even register what I’m saying and glosses over it to go right back to complaining about what the other person did.

      This guy is clearly in a very vulnerable situation, extremely isolated, and emotionally volatile. I don’t want to torpedo his last scraps of self esteem, but I just can’t be on the receiving end of his “poor me” tirades anymore. I don’t feel I can even be vaguely honest with him anymore and I’m just getting more and more resentful, which I hate, because I don’t enjoy being The Jerk in the relationship. How do I go about either salvaging or extracting myself feel this relationship with minimal fallout?

      1. Not A Manager*

        If you are looking for permission to drop the friendship, you have mine. This guy sounds exhausting. You cannot control the level of fallout, all you can do is wish him well and say goodbye. If he’s like my toxic friend, you will probably need to be prepared to block him if/when he responds inappropriately. If this happens, it is not your fault.

        1. Anon for this*

          Agree with this – I was going to comment about a situation with a friend who was legitimately going through a very tough time in all areas of his life. He’d got to the stage of being unrelentingly negative and his only conversation with me (and the rest of his friends) was a monologue of work complaints. I felt like a combination of emotional dumping ground and unpaid therapist.

          In that case, I went for blunt kindness (told him the effect it was having on me and pointed out that the last x times we’d seen each other he hadn’t even asked about me even though he knew I was having major health issues, and had instead just launched into work complaints for the entire time we’d met). When I was dealing with burnout myself a bit later on I told him I couldn’t deal with hearing about his work stress on top of mine. That helped temporarily, what really made the difference is that he started therapy and started working really hard at the therapy and making a lot of changes in his life. Our friendship is more balanced again and I’m so impressed with how he’s managed to make such big changes. I’m glad to have my friend back.

          But that does not sound like your situation, and the way you describe it it doesn’t sound like there’s much of a friendship there for you to salvage tbh.

      2. ThatGirl*

        Even if for him, bitching is neutral, that doesn’t mean you have to like it. I know Captain Awkward gets mentioned a lot but she’s great for this sort of thing. The short version is that you don’t his or anyone’s permission to drop him… just be polite but firm, say goodbye, and then block him everywhere if you need to. Helps that he’s long distance.

      3. Keyboard Jockey*

        Man, this is hard. My spouse is in a similar scenario. Some things we’ve talked about:
        – Only make yourself available at certain times. Preferably when you have a hard stop — even if that’s just “well, Spouse is telling me dinner is ready so I need to go” or “I have plans to keep that start at the hour” (“plans” are often “I wanted to go for a bike ride” but Friend doesn’t need to know that). For an IM convo, maybe that means setting yourself as “away” more frequently and saying you’ve gotten busier.
        – Be clear about the ways you can and can’t help. For us, this looks like, “I can’t sit here and listen to you complain about the same things over and over. If I can help, I’d love to help, but listening doesn’t seem to help you change the things that bother you.” Some ways we’re happy to help are money to help cover bills, help job searching, safety from family dynamics. But emotional labor — whether or not Friend thinks his “kvetching” requires it — is a boundary we’re tougher with.

        But it’s hard, and especially after you’ve had a full day of dealing with this kind of thing at work. Doing a slow Homer Fade Into A Bush is probably the least destructive way to extract yourself. You slowly get busier at work, take longer to reply, go offline more. You might be able to get to a point where you can maintain the friendship at lower levels of engagement, or you can just sort of fade the relationship out completely.

        Friends have to fill you up sometimes for the relationship to be even. You can’t always be the one pouring into someone else if they never pour into you. There are periods of relationships where sometimes a friend needs you to carry them for a while, but it should always be cyclical. This guy just sounds like an emotional leech.

        1. Who is the asshole*

          “Friends have to fill you up sometimes for the relationship to be even. You can’t always be the one pouring into someone else if they never pour into you.”

          Very much this!! Yes, in specific circumstances there might be a longer dysbalance or what the one person gives (emotional support) differs from what the other person gives (monetary, practical support), but if it just doesn’t feel even it’s not a functional friendship.

      4. PollyQ*

        This dude is not your friend.

        I don’t mean that he’s your enemy, but I mean that in the sense that he doesn’t really care about you. He’s just using you as an emotional dumping ground. And I think you know that already. The facts that he’s “in a very vulnerable situation, extremely isolated, and emotionally volatile” don’t in any way obligate you to continue to put yourself at his service. If you want an internet stranger’s permission to African Violet him, you have mine.

        Not sure the best way to end things. Perhaps saying something like, “[Friend], I just can’t deal with your constant negativity right now. I need to take a break from this friendship.” without specifying how long a break. Then block him — maybe not right away, but shortly thereafter. That would also give you the flexibility of reconsidering, if you find you miss him some time down the road.

        1. Windchime*

          Yeah, this seems like a really one-sided relationship. You are there as a sounding board for him, but he doesn’t really seem to care much about what’s going on with you. He blows you off when you tell him that his constant complaining is getting you down. I’m on team “slow fade” here unless you can honestly say that you are getting something of value from this relationship.

          1. Squirrel Nutkin*

            I agree with Windchime: the part that got me was that he wasn’t there for you when you needed support. It’s okay to decide to put up with a modicum of bad behavior in a friendship — hey, nobody’s perfect — but if you’re not really getting *anything* positive out of the friendship, it might be time to cut back.

        2. Expiring Cat Memes*

          Yes, this. Dining out on misery is almost obscenely pleasurable for some people. He is inserting himself into your phone purely to pleasure himself and achieve release. He is actively ignoring your discomfort and unwillingness to be his toxic emotion receptacle and will keep right on doing it because it feels good for him and that’s all he cares about. He’s not your friend, he’s a selfish jerk.

          You need to stop worrying about fallout mate, because there is going to be one regardless of how “nice” you are about it. There always is with these jerks because you’re taking away something he feels entitled to. He will likely try to manipulate you into believing you’re at fault somehow and that you “owe” him, so if you decide to have a conversation be prepared for that and don’t fall for the guilt trip. It’s also 100% fine to opt out of the drama altogether and just ghost on out now if that’s what you’d prefer.

          Good luck, sounds like it’ll be a huge relief for you to have this guy out of your life.

      5. Paralegal Part Deux*

        He’s not talking TO you; he’s talking AT you. I’d let this friendship die. It’s run it’s natural course, and there is nothing wrong with that.

      6. ampersand*

        1. What PollyQ said upthread: this guy is not your friend, in that he doesn’t actually care about you. This friendship is one-sided.
        2. Keep repeating this part to yourself until you really, truly believe it and are ready to take action on it: “I just can’t be on the receiving end of his “poor me” tirades anymore.”
        3. An argument could be made for ghosting him, fading out, or explaining to him why you’re ending the friendship/communication. If you decide to talk to him first, I recommend being matter of fact (e.g., “You send me long messages in the middle of the night, and even though you’ve said I don’t have to respond, your messages still cause me anxiety/stress/worry/etc. when I read them the next day.” or “You have a lot of feelings and problems it seems like you want to talk about, and they would be better directed at a therapist.” or even “This friendship isn’t working for me and I need to end it.”) And then be prepared to block him.
        4. You’re not responsible for his mental health, and you taking care of your own mental health isn’t something you’re doing to make him feel worse. If you’re literally the last of his friends because no one wants to be his friend anymore, that’s on him, and he needs to make some changes. Still not your responsibility. The best you can do is be kind. Sometimes the truth hurts.

      7. Aphrodite*

        Liz, I’ll be a bit blunt with you too. He’s not going to change as long as anyone, literally anyone, will be his emotional toxic dumping ground. There’s nothing you can do. There’s nothing anyone but him can do–and there’s nothing he will do until he has no one to dump on. Basically, you are enabling him to continue to be the way he is. He likes it this way (in a odd sort of way) because you are the excuse he uses and needs to convince himself that he is the victim and can’t do anything. Only when you turn and walk away, blocking him from sending you any messages or calls or personal visits, will you get better. He may or may or may not. He may or may not choose to take control of his life. He may or may not find someone to replace you. But nothing will change for you until you walk–and whether you stay or walk nothing will change for him until HE wants to changne.

        So the only question here is: what do YOU want?

        1. AcademiaNut*

          The other thing to realize is that being the vent sponge for someone isn’t necessarily a good thing for them. He gets to dump a stream of negative rants on you which make him feel better, and he’s trained you not to offer advice or criticism. He gets soothing noises, but feels just better enough that he doesn’t need to actually do anything about it.

          I’d go with something like “I’ve got a lot going on right now, and I’m finding that I can’t be the person you complain to. I’m happy to talk about other stuff – [movies, sports, books etc, fill in as appropriate]. Even if you don’t need an answer, and aren’t that upset, it still upsets me.”

          With this, you’re giving him the option to continue the friendships, on terms that work for you. He might take you up on it, but I’d be prepared for an explosion, as he has a habit of going nuclear when people try to set reasonable limits. Just keep repeating something like “I’m sorry to hear that, but I can’t do what you want me to.” And don’t respond to *any* rant texts after that. You can try positive reinforcement for a short period (couple of weeks, say), where you respond promptly to non-rant overtures, but ignore anything else. If he doesn’t change, a repeat of “Dude, we talked about this. No rants!” followed by increasing levels of ignoring, up to and including blocking if needed.

      8. Quandong*

        It sounds like you are done with this relationship from your past. It seems like work, but you don’t get paid. It’s really okay to put your needs first and to end the relationship and block the dude from contacting you.

        You have been patient but he keeps showing you that he will draw on your emotional reserves for support but provide none in return when you are in need. It’s a mismatch and you are justifiably angry.

        Do yourself a tremendous favour and set yourself free of this situation. He will be fine, or not, and he has other options for help if he chooses to take them up. That’s not your responsibility.
        Life is too short to be wrestling with this when you can devote energy to balanced friendships!

      9. Batgirl*

        He’s using you for free emotional labour while not giving a damn about your troubles. That would be enough for me to pleasantly tell him you’re not enjoying the friendship any more and good luck with everything. (Unless there’s something you’re getting out of this?!)

      10. Workerbee*

        Please don’t think of yourself as The Jerk here because that is categorically untrue.

        This person has both stated and shown that he does not want to do even the simplest things in his control that would mitigate even one of the many things he claims to bother him so, so much!

        You are being used. You are not a real person to him. You are an ear. No mouth (he doesn’t listen), no brain (he takes zero advice), no needs (it’s always about him). I’m thinking this dude is well out of adolescence, so you are neither the first, second, nor third ear in his life, either.

        The real question is, do you wish to still be nothing but an unpaid therapist ear for this guy a year down the road, let alone when the next wall of text comes bludgeoning in?

        And if you are at all worried about him existing without you, well, he had someone before you, and he found you, didn’t he, so rest assured he will 100% find another ear after you.

      11. Emily Elizabeth*

        Do you actually like him at all?

        I mean that genuinely as something to reflect on, because I was in a similar situation with someone who eventually my partner pointed out I never seemed to enjoy a single one of our conversations or hang outs anymore. I realized I was hanging on simply because of a mix of shared history/that same vision of myself as a “loyal friend”/”good listener”/savior type role you describe. I think if you do actually like him as a person and this is a downside for you, a tough love/honest call out like people mention is in the works. But if you just feel a sense of obligation to him as a general person in need? You will never be able to solve that, and it’s not healthy for either of you. The long distance part makes this easier than most and you can fully part loving ways, wishing him well, while still not needing to be part of his narrative anymore.

      12. Retired(but not really)*

        I have a friend that is very much prone to the stream of consciousness monologue, a great deal of which comes across as “why did you need to tell me this?” or else negative thought processes.

        I typically just put her on speakerphone, acknowledge with a ummm or something periodically and go on with whatever else I’m doing.

        I’m a very private person so usually have one or two sentence replies when she asks me anything. Occasionally I’ll get on a roll about something and almost invariably she will either change the subject or end the conversation.

        The thing I find most annoying is that she keeps talking to me while ordering at a drivethru or checking out at a grocery store. To me this is so rude to the person waiting on her.

        You have my sympathy for sure!

        If you want to continue the friendship, my advice would be to give minimal responses and don’t let yourself internalize this person’s issues, since (s)he isn’t willing to move forward with the recommendations you have provided.

        Best wishes to you!

      13. matcha123*

        I feel for you and for the friend. On the one hand, I am often in crappy circumstances that from an outside perspective are easy to change, but are actually a lot harder than my friends may think. I try not to talk too much about it because I know some of them would want to help and then get frustrated when their advice isn’t heeded…but then I feel even more stressed because I don’t have anyone who really knows what’s going on with me.

        On the other hand, I have people who really want to blast me with their problems and then blow off mine when I try to speak up. There are definitely people who talk out all of their problems as a way of blowing off steam and it is very hard for me to understand whether they are looking for me to offer solutions, stay quiet and listen, or agree with them that the world sucks.

        The emotional volitivity is something I’ve experienced with a few people. What I’ve resorted to is giving short answers/replies and then jumping out of the chat for a few days/weeks/months. Some I feel comfortable enough with saying that they overwhelm me with their blast of problems.

        I get the feeling you’re not looking to end this friendship, so, that’s my solution for keeping someone at arm’s length without being overly cruel about it.

    6. allathian*

      This guy doesn’t act like a friend.

      Some people have to hit rock bottom before they change. You’re enabling his behavior as long as you continue to listen to him. You mentioned in another post that the one time you asked him for some sympathy, he just blew you off. The truth is, you can’t help him. Listening to his rants, or reading them, isn’t helping him, it’s only enabling him to avoid seeking professional help.

      You don’t have to set yourself on fire to keep him warm. Contacts with this guy are harming your mental health, and if you need permission from an internet stranger to put yourself first and cut this guy out of your life, you have mine.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      What this post immediately reminded me of was comments on a post I made some time back, looking for advice on what to do with the “let me tell you how rough your sister has it” that had become every phone call with my mom.

      A few people had the experience of being the “only” support for someone who just used them to vent to…. and eventually learning that that was what their ever-suffering friend was telling more than one person.

    8. NACSACJACK*

      I am that person. I recommend you be blunt. Essentially, “You complain a lot.” It wakes them up and gives us a reality check. It’s hard to be happy when life keeps knocking you down and thwarting your goals. May also need to tell them, maybe their goals are unrealistic. Maybe they need to change their life goals or let go of the life they have now. No ship ever found new lands without losing site of the shore or their home dock.

  9. Lecturer in Recent Runes*

    Going back to university today after 5 weeks at home. Is it bad that I’m probably going to miss my 10 year old spaniel more than anyone else?
    Anyone doing anything nice with their pets this weekend?

    1. Bazza7*

      No, I usually have only missed the cats and dogs that we have or had. They are easier to please and not as high maintenance as people and are pleased to see you return home.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I sent my kids lots of pictures of the dogs and cats when they were at school. I figure they definitely mix Snookums.

    3. Pam*

      We are driving out to see the dinosaurs at Cabazon, and the dogs are coming too. Thinking they may be Flintstones for Halloween.

    4. Liz*

      A month ago we adopted an adorable elderly tabby cat. Our friends got very sentimental over her as she looks like their cat who passed a few years ago. This weekend they came to meet her in person, and she was the friendliest little soul. They were really besotted with her, both for the shared traits that they saw and for her unique personally. She is full of life for 14 years old and very, very affectionate.

  10. Bobina*

    I’m trying to get back into the habit of reading actual things on the internet rather than just spending way too much time on Reddit (much as I love Reddit) and am wondering what the best way to do this is in terms of logistics. Do you read on your phone? Tablet? Is there a sensible way to store lots of disparate links until I’m ready to read them other than having 100 tabs open in my browser? I’m trying to figure out what works best for me, and I think I get way too easily distracted on my laptop.

    My contribution to this weekend thread – this article available on Eater (avoiding link so as to not go to moderation, or you can just search eater whatsapp mango): Inside the Secretive, Semi-Illicit, High Stakes World of WhatsApp Mango Importing

    1. WorkNowPaintLater*

      It depends on where/when I’m reading. At home I tend to stick to my iPad – larger fonts, lighter weight, and freebees I get from a sci-fi publisher are easily transferred to its library. At work lunchtime, it’s either my phone or the small Amazon Fire tablet I have – which is cheap, easily replaced, and can get to my Amazon library. I recently restarted reading Bright-sided on the Fire tablet at lunch, trying to think of what business/non-fiction to go after next.

      Links aren’t so easy to keep anymore regretfully – I either try to keep bookmarks on Chrome or in Twitter if I find a link in there.

    2. comityoferrors*

      For the endless links, I add them all to my “Reading list” on Chrome. You can’t really organize it, but it keeps me from having 100 tabs open all the time, and I make myself go through the whole list every 1-2 weeks depending on how much I’m adding. If something is good info and worth coming back to, I save it to specific bookmarks by subject. Once you read something from your reading list it disappears, so be aware of that if you try it!

    3. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I read on my iPad mini. Phones are too small. I use Libby app for books and occasionally the kindle app. Chrome in incognito mode for web browsing. You can bookmark sites to read later.

    4. PollyQ*

      For saving links, I greatly recommend Pocket. It’s got plug-ins for browsers and apps for iPhones & Androids, and allows you to tag links. Then when you read the site, you can check it off and feel that sense of accomplishment.

      1. Kw10*

        I second Pocket! It’s super convenient since you can save to it from pretty much any website/app or even by sending a link via email. And then you can access your saved articles wherever you are (eg switching between phone and laptop).

    5. OTGW*

      Onethread is a chrome extention that let’s you put every tab onto one page. I don’t think it’s organizable but it’s still pretty helpful.

  11. Bobina*

    Gardening Thread: How do your plants grow?

    I need to order some winter flowering bulbs soon because I realised thats what I really want so I can have some life in the gloom of January. Thinking Crocuses (bonus saffron?) and Scilla. And definitely more anemones for spring because I really enjoyed those even though they seemed to have a fairly low success rate in terms of flowering.

    Also need to do some digging up and repotting of previous bulbs (the Dutch Irises I have seem to have multiplied quite a bit and I dont think I have space for all of them!) and probably order another window box as one of mine got stolen earlier this year (which I am still salty about).

    What are you all doing as summer winds down/winds up?

    1. allathian*

      I really should plant a few bulbs, too. We don’t have any crocuses yet, and I really like them. One problem with those is that rabbits/hares love them.

      1. KateM*

        Oh… I have a bag of crocus bulbs waiting, I should definitely plant them! And a bunch of autumn flowers from pots to soil.

    2. Venus*

      Thank you for posting! I’m away this week and don’t have an update. I miss my plants :( Although I am enjoying the ones here.

      1. Bobina*

        No worries! I’m a fan of the thread, I just sometimes feel like I dont have much to offer – but always happy to kick if off if needed :)

    3. Sangamo Girl*

      I’m starting to clean up beds, empty and clean spent summer pots, and start cuttings for next year. In another couple of weeks I will divide hostas and the like and dig up tubers that aren’t winter hardy.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My oldest spider plant threw a third propagation vine!! Earlier this week, I was looking at my Facebook memories and I’d posted one year previously, “Holy crap I didn’t know these things could have flowers!” and now I have prop vines with flowers and baby plants coming out my ears, haha.

      1. WorkNowPaintLater*

        Mine (which I’ve had for nearly 10 years) has always bloomed when in the right light, but never had given a baby plant until last month!

    5. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I’ll be moving house soon and am looking at my houseplant collection (which has grown to over 150+ during covid) with some trepidation. Some of the behemoths will require depotting, wrapping and quick repotting at the new house because they’re just too large and heavy to move in their pots.
      I think I might lose some of my favourites too, just because they’re fussy about Their Spot.
      Any suggestions about moving a large houseplant collection welcome!

      1. Keyboard Jockey*

        Do you have a pot mover? Those things are magic for big pots (requires a second person, but holy crow are they handy).

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          Thanks, I might have a look into one of those. It’s the stairs and our steep driveway (too steep for a long wheel base vehicle to back into) that I’m really dreading!

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Visiting in-laws (in the deep South) discovered the American Beautyberry Bush, which this time of year is covered in massive shiny light purple aggregate berries.

      If a four-year-old girl were to design shrubby bushes for her unicorn to eat, it would be this plant.

      1. Bobina*

        Just googled them and they are very pretty! And apparently edible and the leaves have all sorts of good properties. Someday when I have an actual garden, I feel like I need to investigate if they will grow here!

    7. fposte*

      I can guess our climate differences by the fact that those are spring flowering bulbs here!

      I’ve been telling myself it’ll be fine to start my garden cleanup next spring, rather than attacking fully grown annual weeds now, but I have to do some cleaning out of the front bed as a pile of tulip bulbs will be going in there in a month or so.

      1. allathian*

        Yup, they’re spring flowering bulbs here, too, but we plant them in the fall because they need a cold spell to germinate. Crocuses are among the first flowers we get, sometimes in the right conditions they can flower on a sunny bit of ground even when there’s lots of snow elsewhere.

      2. Bobina*

        Hah – the things you can learn from plants eh?!

        Ooh, good luck with the tulips. I did a tiny bit of weeding this week and felt so satisfied with the amount of difference it made.

        1. fposte*

          I do a big tulip show in my front yard; I get a bunch of bulbs from Colorblends and plant new every other year. It is one of my favorite parts of spring. It’s about 400 tulip bulbs to plant and I have it down to a system–15 minutes a day for 6 days, marking divisions with sticks stuck in the ground, and I just use a shovel to scoop out holes and put three bulbs in each. I will not be stopped by weeds.

    8. Campfire Raccoon*

      Two weeks until planting date! Although it looks like we’re going to hover around 100 from now on, so I will probably start early. Today I need to grade the big garden and get it wet. Tomorrow I may put in the garlic, itoi onions, and maybe the fava beans (since they’re so slow anyway). Yesterday I moved all the cabbage & flower starts from the grow rack onto the shaded porch. “Hardening off” to the heat is so ridiculously backwards, lol.

    9. noncommital pseudonym*

      Harvested some of my heirloom tomatoes to save the seeds. It’s a cute variety called “Dancing with Smurfs” and I’d really like to keep it going.

      The saffron crocuses need to go into a pot soon. I pulled them in spring because we have rainy summers, and they should be dry while dormant. I hope to get some flowers this year, as it’ll be their second year in the ground. I did get a *ton* of little baby bulbs that will need a year or two to start flowering. I’m thinking of putting them in their own nursery pot.

      I started a bunch of seedlings for bonsai and I need to transplant them into larger pots to overwinter.

      I need to pull the last of the basil and make a big bunch of pesto to put in the freezer.

    10. Bluebell*

      Bobina- May I suggest Hellebore/Lenten Rose? They have pink/white/purple flowers and don’t need full sun. A friend bought me one in 2020 and another this last March. After they finished blooming, I planted them outside and they are flourishing.

      1. Bobina*

        It feels so petty but something about the shape of Hellebores just puts me off. I dont know what it is because they would indeed be the perfect thing for my needs, but alas, they dont tick my “ooh shiny” box as far as plants go.

        1. Bluebell*

          Oh well, I had never been a fan of them before, but they brightened up my dining room table at the beginning of covid, so now I’m a fan. I do need to buy and plant liatris bulbs, because they have died off a bit over the past few years.

    11. Bibliovore*

      Mr. Bibliovore was the gardener. It has been 125 days since he died. I finally paid someone to weed the garden. Turns out what I thought WAS the garden was all weeds. Shows you how much attention I have been paying over the last 9 years. My contribution has always been hanging geraniums from the farmers market and planting annuals on the front walkway.
      My neighbors planted the annuals that we had bought at the Farmers Market that were sitting in the driveway. Even with the drought, the front yard has not ever looked this lush and beautiful. Another neighbor is doing the mowing. I gave him Paul’s gardening stuff like the weedwacker.

  12. Meh - What's the weirdest (maybe gross) cleaning/housekeeping thing you do?*

    I used to subscribe to a newsletter about being frugal and it had tips for house keeping things. The one that lives rent free in my mind was a reader submission.

    “Take hair from your brush and wad it into a ball. It’s great for cleaning up the sink and you don’t have to buy a scrubber.”

    It’s gross but I did try it..and it worked. (Note, I do not do this, just the one time)

    What’s that weirdest/grossest cleaning or housekeeping advice you do or have heard to do?

    1. chi chan*

      How interesting. There is research in using coconut hair to clean up oil spills. Hair is an interesting material. It lasts a long time. Like biological plastic.

      1. Aneurin*

        I remember reading an article once about a hairdresser who developed a similar method (for cleaning oil spills) using hair trimmings from his shop stuffed into nylon tights!

        1. Chaordic One*

          I had a hairdresser tell me that she had a male friend who would ask for the hair that she swept up off the floor. Her friend used the hair to tie flies. (To make fishing flies for use in fly fishing.) He especially wanted “red” hair to use in making flies.

    2. allathian*

      I might actually try that! I have long COVID hair and my brush is full of it. Seems a waste to just throw it out.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My mom cleaned paint off old brass by heating it in tomato sauce. Not 1980s brass-finish, the solid stuff that doesn’t have a finish to peel away. (Just warn your family they are not getting pasta for dinner. )
      Reducing hard water stains in a toilet by pouring in Coca-Cola. I hate flat soda so I have tried it…no luck so far, but I’m thinking it’s worth trying with higher% so I’m thinking of a “flat soda jug”.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        I don’t know if it was water stains or regular stains, but I moved into a place with an old toilet that had brown sludgy stains all over the bend which gradually started going away after months of regular cleans with bleach.

        What I couldn’t get rid of though was the coin that had been dropped in the bottom. I mean, I *could* have reached in to grab it, but I’d met the guy who lived there before in person, and, just… no. I was not up for removing his years-long shat on coin from that brown toilet.

        Ex-boyfriend saved me though. Proudly emerged from the loo one day telling me about his “man shit” that had finally dislodged the coin.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ha, I used to spray the pit area of my dress with vodka when we had more than one skating show performance in a weekend. It’s an old dancer’s trick for keeping costumes from stinking up the place.

      2. cat wrangler*

        We do this backstage for theater all the time! Depending on the show and actors (i.e. community theater instead of professional shows), I sometimes had to label the spray bottle ‘costume spray’ or it might disappear.

    4. Pinky Sally*

      I throw used dryer sheets on top of the dryer and then use them to wipe off all of the lint from on top of my washer and dryer. I don’t know if that is usual or not.

    5. Stephanie*

      I read one very frugal tip that totally grossed me out: cut up old T-shirts into small squares to use instead of toilet paper. The person who suggested it kept a small waste basket for the used squares and washed them when it got full enough.
      Frugal and eco-friendly, sure, but super gross to me.

      1. Melody Pond*

        Heh – this isn’t exactly frugal, as I shelled out some money to buy these on Etsy, but during the pandemic I did stop using toilet paper and now use cloth flannel wipes instead.

        I think the key, though, is that we have a bidet attachment, and so we’re getting ourselves clean with that, and then just using the cloths to pat dry. Without the bidet, I’d be a LOT more squicked out about washing and re-using these cloth wipes.

        1. KateM*

          I think there’s enormous difference between wiping your excrements with a reusable towel, or drying yourself after washing with a reusable towel! After all, I usually washed&dried my babies after they pooped themselves instead of using disposable wipes – how is using a bidet any different?

        2. Pinky Sally*

          Yeah, the bidet makes all the difference, otherwise no way! I could see using the t-shirt squares and then throwing them away to save paper, but throwing in the wash? Just yucky to me!
          @Stephanie – do they keep toilet paper for guests?

        3. Stephanie*

          Yeah, a bidet gets rid of the grossness factor, for sure. I read the tip years and years ago before bidet attachments were a common thing, so I think I just have a knee-jerk “nope” reaction, not based in reason.

      2. Bagpuss*

        I guess it’s not much different from using cloth nappies (diapers) for a baby or small child.
        As long as the bin is one with a well-fitting lid and then the cloths are washed separately I don’t know that it’s really all that icky.
        Although whether it’s actually cheaper or more environmentally friendly once you factor in the extra costs of additional hot washes etc, is another question!

      3. Meh*

        I saw a family doing this on one of those extreme cheapskate shows. The toddler was helping mom fold them after washing and he held one up and said it was dirty, mom was like, no its just stained. Ugghhhh

    6. the cat's ass*

      my really nutty but endearing very much former roommate used to store spunk in a bab yfood jar in the fridge and use it for moisturizer.

      1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

        I really hope I don’t read anything more shuddery that that today! I think it is stuck in my head now though

      2. Jackalope*

        I’m probably really going to regret asking this, but what does “spunk” mean in this context? I really don’t want to look it up just in case.

    7. MeepMeep*

      Wow, finally an advantage to having coarse, rough hair that sheds like crazy. I don’t think I’ll ever buy a sink scrubber ever again.

    8. Retired(but not really)*

      My daughter just told me about using dry yeast packets instead of RidX for the septic system. She has been doing it and recommended it to me. Will give it a try.

  13. Adult book recommendations?*

    My niece is turning 21 soon and I’d like to get her a book on how to be an adult. (Heck even at 40 I might be tempted to get myself a copy)

    After she got her first internship I gave her Alison’s Ask a Manager book and she appreciated it.

    Does anyone have any recommendations? Something they’d suggest over ADULTING by KELLY WILLIAMS BROWN?

    Thanks

    1. chi chan*

      Around that age I read Dale Carnegie’s How to win Friends and Influence People and The Art of Public Speaking. I found both helped my confidence in social situations.

    2. bookcase*

      In Australia we have a book called Barefoot Investing which is a comprehensive how-to on money for people of regular incomes and lives. It is a very popular book here.

      In your country there may be a similar basic investing and money book. If you start managing your money well at 21 it’s a very good thing.

    3. Janet Pinkerton*

      I enjoyed Adulting and still own a copy in my 30s. One book I find more useful, less cutesy, is Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson. It’s a reference guide! It’s truly wonderful. I also have her book Laundry and I regularly pull it off the shelf to figure out how to treat a _____ stain on my clothing.

      If you don’t think a “how to do laundry” reference book is too dry to give as a gift, I’d give Laundry first, or give it with Adulting.

    4. Anona*

      Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck by Michael Rubin is a book that really helped me when I just graduated from college. It’s hokey as hell, but it helped me learn about the importance of saving for retirement early. I *think* it has one of those graphs about what happens if you contribute $X a month from age 20-30, and then stop, and then your retirement earnings will still often eclipse someone who contributed more later. I believe it talked a lot about compounding interest.

      It also made the point that if you’re contributing to a 401k, if you’re ok with contributing $500, you can actually contribute more than that because it’s pre tax- you can contribute slightly more, and your paycheck will still just go down by $500.

      I wouldn’t give it as the only book, but maybe pair it with something. It’s currently $10 on Amazon. And I’d find the retirement savings graph in the book and show it to her when you give it to her and be like this is why I got you this book, since you’re at an age where you can actually really get ahead!

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        YES. Great way to help people spot predators and trust their instincts to save themselves. I recall someone’s saying that it’s a little victim-blamey re: victims of domestic violence, but I think the rest of it is really solid

    5. Generic Name*

      It’s maybe a dark read, but “Why Does he do That” by Lundy Bancroft. My hope is that any young person who reads it inoculates themselves against being in a relationship with an abusive man, or at least can recognize the signs when she is in a relationship and can get out.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Honestly I think that’s too dark for a birthday gift to a niece.

        It’s available online for free (with the author’s permission I believe) so it’s totally worth recommending.

    6. Texan In Exile*

      Dr Jen Gunter’s “Vagina Bible” has information that would have been so useful to me 40 years ago. I mean, it’s useful now, but it would have saved me a lot of suffering and trouble back then.

    7. riverflows*

      Bad with Money: The Imperfect Art of Getting Your Financial Sh*t Together by Gaby Dunn.

      They even have a podcast was well.

    8. Storm in a teacup*

      I think How to be w woman by Caitlin Moran is a great book. It’s funny and pithy and has some sage advice mixed into the lighter topics

      1. the cat's ass*

        This is just about cooking, but” home cooking” and “more home cooking” by Laurie Colwin are filled with recipes and info about how to equip a kitchen and feed yourself.

        1. Bluebell*

          I love Laurie Colwin’s writing, and there are some very simple, super dependable recipes in those books.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Boundaries books. As an adult there is no parent stepping in to stop stuff. It’s up to us to draw the line. And we need to know how to pick where we want that line to be.

    10. Double A*

      I think “The Index Card” is a good book about the basics of personal finance that is a good foundation for a 21 year old.

    11. star*

      The Book by Alan Watts. Not at all practical adulting like the other suggestions, more like spiritual education.

  14. Teatime is Goodtime*

    What are your favorite carrot recipes? We keep getting loads of them in our veggie box. I like carrots, and I like that we get a variety of different kinds so they don’t all taste the same. But I’m running out of ideas and it is not even winter yet!

    My favorite is still noshing on them with hummus. Bonus points for good hummus recipes! Our local grocery store does one with falafel spices and one with (I think) cumin in it, and both are soooo good. I will be stealing that when I start to make my own.

    1. Buni*

      Excess veg always = soup, in my mind. Branch out a bit from the standard carrot ‘n’ coriander; I’m v. fond of carrot & rosemary.

      They also make a nice pie a la pumpkin.

      1. allathian*

        Carrot cake is also delicious, and so are carrot chips roasted in the oven with a bit of olive oil.

        My husband makes a great carrot soup with chili. I love the sweet/hot combo.

        1. Teatime is Goodtime*

          Ooh chips is a great idea! And I will add chili to my carrot soup, that sounds good too. Thank you!

          What carrot cake recipe do you use?

    2. HouseHunting*

      If you have a deep freezer, chop them up into whatever size you usually cook with (bite size for roasting, minced for sautéing as the base of other dishes etc), freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet and then pop into a ziploc bag. I do that for celery, onion, carrot, and bell pepper. Makes weeknight cooking so much faster!

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        I dream of the day when we have a big chest freezer….but even so, I still need to have more ideas of what to do with them! I mean, we got like twenty carrots this week, a bundle with greens last week, ten huge ones the week before and so on. :) So even if I freeze them, they have to go somewhere, otherwise the freezer will just be full of carrots!

    3. Cookie D'oh*

      If you eat meat, these recipes from Budget Bytes use shredded carrots:

      Spaghetti with Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce
      Mini Garden Turkey Loaves

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      Fritters. Dice and boil the carrots, mix with bread crumbs, egg, thyme, salt, and pepper. (It will all mush together). When it’s cool enough to handle, press into small patties and fry a few minutes on each side until crispy. We like them with a little honey mustard sauce but they’re also good plain.
      I don’t measure the ingredients, because it depends on how many carrots you have. I’m guessing, but about 2 cups carrots, 1/2 to 1 cup crumbs, 1 egg seems about right. It should feel like lumpy play doh when you form the patties.

    5. heckofabecca*

      I’m a big fan of roasting in general, and you can pretty much put whatever you want on there for flavor. As an example, this is a recipe for Spicy Carrot Sticks from Kosher By Design for Teens and Twenty-Somethings by Susie M Fishbein. (Although not truly roasting, since roasting imo is at 500 or nothing haha.)

      6 large carrots, peeled, ends trimmed
      1 egg white from a large egg
      3 tablespoons olive oil
      1 tablespoon water
      1 1⁄2 teaspoons garlic powder
      1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground cumin
      1 1⁄2 teaspoons sugar
      1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
      1⁄4 teaspoon ground white pepper
      1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
      1. Preheat oven to 450˚F. Cover a jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
      2. Cut each carrot in half to make 2 (3–4 inch) pieces.
      3. Cut each carrot half in half lengthwise. With the cut-side-down on your cutting board, cut each half into 3 equal strips to make thin carrot sticks.
      4. Place the egg white into a large shallow bowl or container and whip with a fork or whisk till foamy.
      5. In a large bowl, mix the olive oil, water, garlic powder, cumin, sugar, paprika, and white pepper.
      6. Place the carrot sticks into the beaten egg; toss to coat the carrots in the egg white.
      7. Stir the carrots into the spice mixture. Arrange in a single layer on the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the salt.
      8. Roast, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
      9. Transfer to a serving plate or bowl.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Shredded carrot with caraway seed, balsamic vinegar, olive oil. Variations –add some brown sugar, garlic, or shredded onion.
      Mandoline-strips of carrot boiled in a mix of rice wine vinegar & sake for use in homemade sushi. (No we don’t risk raw ingredients –smoked salmon, broiled fish, etc.)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Corrections from the chef: Pinch of sugar&salt yes. Almost always onion, 4 (or 5):1 carrot:onion. Dill seed if you’re out of caraway.
        Sometimes ground mustard or cumin.

    7. Llellayena*

      Roasted! Just some oil and in a 400F oven until they start getting carmelized and wrinkly. You can add ginger or herbs for another flavor.

      Also, I love the carrot and raisin salad you often see in Indian restaurants. Not sure on the recipe though.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I oven-roast carrots with sausage and other root veg. My husband also sous-vides them with butter and salt and a tiny bit of sugar, then reduces the liquid to a glaze on the stove, and I will literally eat a pound or more of them in a sitting when he does that. (It’s the Sous Vide Glazed Carrots recipe on the Serious Eats website – it’s written for baby carrots, I think, but also works fine if you cut whole carrots into chunks.)

      They’re also one of my dog’s favorite treats. :)

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      These carrot burgers from Smitten Kitchen. Teenaged athlete devours them. (“Burgers” are closer to falafel than anything meaty–I prefer my veggie recipes to say “Yeah, I’m a vegetable and I’m proud.”)

      https://smittenkitchen.com/2020/03/carrot-and-white-bean-burgers/
      If you cut the beans to 1 can and leave the rest of the ingredients the same, makes four rather than six which is a better number for us.

      This first appeared as a covid shutdown recipe, and was really appreciated for being simple, filling, healthy, tasty, and made with staple ingredients.

      The quick-pickled red onions described are a really good addition here and elsewhere, easy to scale.

    10. AcademiaNut*

      Grated raw carrot salad with toasted cumin seeds and lemon juice. Turkish carrot dip (sauteed grated carrots with yoghurt and dill – it’s amazing!) I do a variation with lots of ground coriander and garlic that’s also good. Diced roast carrots (and any other root vegetables want), tossed with olive oil and cumin, roasted until shriveled and browning, and dressed with a splash of vinegar – they shrink, so it uses up a lot. Carrot and daikon pickle (smells like feet but is delicious). Pureed carrot and ginger soup. Marcella Hazan’s pan braised carrots with parmesan. Shaved carrot salad (very good with multi-coloured carrots).

    11. Anona*

      Budget bytes (food blog) has a really easy hummus recipe that my husband and I love. You need a food processor (a blender might be ok).
      The basic recipe is canned chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, and spices. She also lists a few variations. It is SO good!

      1. balanceofthemis*

        A very good quality blender, like a Vitamix, will do it, but otherwise go with a food processor. I also recommend buying dried chickpeas and soaking them. It will cost a little less than canned, you’ll get more, and I find the canned chickpeas can get a flavor from the cans.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        I love Mollie Katzen’s Orange Hummus recipe. It is great with carrots.

        My SO loves Mexican pickled carrots. I’ve never made them, but since our go-to place for them just closed, I think I will have to learn. There are tons of recipes online.

        I concur with roasting & adding to soups. When I can’t find gobo (burdock root), I’ve sometimes made kinpira with just carrots.

    12. Koala dreams*

      Carrot soup. With tomato and cream (or silk tofu) for a milder version, with ginger and onion for a spicy version.

      Carrot bread/buns. Put grated carrots in the dough when making bread.

      I also like putting carrots in any soup or stew, and in salad.

    13. Alex*

      Carrot breakfast cookies! I eat this for breakfast very frequently. I like the recipe from she likes food dot com. It is a vegan recipe but you can sub in regular egg and milk if you aren’t vegan (I’m not).

    14. RussianInTexas*

      “Korean Carrot” Russian recipe. I know it sounds weird, but it came from the Russian Far East and the Korean immigrants there.
      It’s a julienned carrots with oil and vinegar, some spices like paprika, coriander seeds, cayenne, onion, garlic, etc. Refrigerated for few hours. There are various versions floating around on internet.

    15. BRR*

      I grill them a lot. Boil them for 4 to 6 minutes until slightly cooked but still crisp. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Melt 1/2 stick butter with 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar and 1/4 tsp nutmeg. Brush carrots with half of the butter, salt and pepper then, grill over high heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Brush with remaining butter and salt and pepper to taste.

      NYT has a carrot tart recipe that I also like.

    16. pieforbreakfast*

      Curry Carrot soup with coconut milk; slice thinly and pickle in the fridge for use on tacos or salads, cake.
      My mom occasionally made a carrot pie that tasted like pumpkin pie. She wouldn’t tell us kids until after we ate it, but I remember it tasting fine.

    17. Dancing Otter*

      I simmer baby carrots or carrot chunks in beef bouillon when I don’t feel like making pot roast or stew.

    18. RagingADHD*

      Carrot garlic soup!

      There are a million recipes out there. My “house version” is similar to a Provencal garlic soup, but with the addition of 3 carrots per person, chopped and sauteed before adding the liquid. Then it’s pureed after cooking. Delicious!

    19. Trixie*

      Carrot soup from Moosewood Cookbook.

      2 pounds peeled or scrubbed, chopped carrots
      4 cups stock or water
      1 1/2 teaspoon salt
      1 medium potato, chopped (optional, for heartier soup)
      3-4 tablespoons butter
      1 cup chopped onion
      1-2 small cloves crushed garlic
      1/3 cup chopped cashews or almonds
      1 cup milk, or 1 cup yogurt or buttermilk plus a little honey, or 1/2 pint heavy cream, or3/4 cup sour cream
      2 pinches of nutmeg, 1/2 tsp dried mint, dash of cinnamon; or 1 tsp each of thyme, marjoram and basil; or 1 tsp grated ginger

      Place carrots, liquid and salt (and potato if you are using it) into a medium sized soup pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer it for 12-15 minutes. Let it cool to room temp. Saute the onion, garlic and nuts in the butter until the onions are clear. You can sprinkle in a little salt to help draw the moisture out of the onions. Towards the end of cooking, stir in the seasoning combo of your choice. Puree everything together in a blender until smooth, or put the sauteed onions, garlic and nuts into the pot with the cooked carrots and use an immersion blender to puree. This soup will last about a week refrigerated. Add in one of your dairy products right before eating! Garnish with toasted nuts, some toasted bread crumbs or eat just as it is.

    20. Damn it, Hardison!*

      The Smitten Kitchen website has several good carrot recipes. My favorite is the carrot salad with tahini and crisped chickpeas. Just make sure to get your chickpeas really crispy.

      1. banoffee pie*

        Roast them and make carrot hummous (carrots, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil). Also carrot and coriander soup is lovely if you can get fresh coriander

    21. ronda*

      I remember making a vegetarian chili recipe a very long time ago that you chopped the carrots up pretty small for. I remember liking it, but I dont remember tons more about it.

      I do like a pickle and you can pickle the carrots. The Mexican restaurant have them as pickle chips and I rather like them. (also asian version pickles are good). Those are quick pickles usually, but you can also take up canning for pickling if you want something to last longer.

      candied. cook then cover in butter / honey/ cinnamon & another spice if you like- nutmeg? clove?

      a local bbq restaurant serves bbq carrots for the vegetarians, I have never tried the place, but I am fascinated.

    22. I take tea*

      Carrot juice is quite nice, mix with apples, preferably of the sour kind, for variation. Ginger is good too. Then you use the leftover bulk (depending on juicer) in bread or just thrown into any stew.

    23. saf*

      Epicurious dot com has a very good recipe called “Gingered Carrot Latkes.” Also, carrot fennel soup is delicious.

      1. saf*

        Oh, and food52 dot com has Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for Sweet and Smoky roasted carrots from “Everyday Dorie.” It is popular here.

        Also, carrot raisin salad. I see there are southern versions, but the one I grew up on was a German version. Shredded carrots, a handful of raisins, a spoon of sugar, and enough mayo to make a nice dressing. Some people add parsley.

    24. Retired(but not really)*

      My mom used to put shredded carrots in lots of things – meat loaf or meat balls, orange jello, mixed with shredded cabbage for slaw.

  15. Software Dev*

    I’m up at 6 am with ovarian cyst discomfort and wondering if anyone has any fun blogs/sites they read? I read Ask A Manager, Captain Awkward and Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (romance novel reviews), plus a bunch of video game and board game websites.

    1. I take tea*

      I regularly read Not Always Right and marvel at the entitlement of some people. Yes, it makes me a smug person, I admit.

    2. HouseHunting*

      Carolyn Hax at Washington Post is usually a good one! Dear Prudence has really struggled to find a solid advice columnist but the comments are spot on. Savage Love also has fabulous archives. Wishing you a speedy recovery!

    3. GraceC*

      Disappearing down a TV Tropes rabbithole for all your books/games/shows can be wonderfully distracting – as can writing entries when the righteous anger that your favourite character isn’t being appreciated gets to be too much

      Also agreed with Not Always Right and its spin-off sites, although in the last few years it’s become more obvious than ever that the most popular posts are of the “and everyone clapped” wish fulfillment variety. You can either suspend your disbelief or just enjoy reading it as fiction, really

      1. GoryDetails*

        TV Tropes is great fun – and, yes, addicting. It’s also introduced me to a huge selection of manga that I hadn’t noticed until it popped up in the entries for yet another obscure but amusing trope. (Also got me to add quite a few movies and anime series to my watchlists!)

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Natania Barron’s “ThreadTalk” has been a recent joy–gorgeous historic dresses, with history around it, social/cultural implications, and the damage fashion can bring/reveal. I’m hoping she brings her older Twitter threads onto the new website because Twitter indexing is nonexistent. I’ll post a follow-up comment with the first one I discovered, about muslin.

        1. Llama face!*

          Wow! I had no idea about that part of history and although I knew the Brits liked to steal their fashion inspirations (and food, and tea, and basically everything) from other cultures I didn’t realize just how steal-y they were when it came to fabrics.

          And yes I see what you mean vis a vis the fable.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      My Modern Met. Short pieces on art, lovely photographs, and suggested the knitting supplies bag I got for my daughter at Xmas. I found this site especially helpful when I was avoiding hard news as a mental health break.

    6. NeonFireworks*

      Messy Nessy Chic, Apartment Therapy, Aeon, Atlas Obscura, Smithsonian, Damn Interesting, Ars Technica, Captain Awkward, Tor.com, Den of Geek, The Mary Sue, John Scalzi’s Whatever, and a fair bit of stuff on Webtoon and YouTube and TikTok.

    7. RussianInTexas*

      Fug Girls for the fashion fix, Jalopnik, McMansionHell, Paging Dr Nerdlove.
      Giant Military Cats on Twitter.

    8. Nicki Name*

      I just discovered The Whippet (thewhippet.substack.com), which is a weekly collection of all sorts of interesting links and facts. Reading that archive should keep you entertained for a while!

    9. GoryDetails*

      Lots of my favorites have been mentioned already, but I can add Cake Wrecks (hilariously/horrifyingly bizarre supposedly-professionally-made cakes – with Sundays reserved for really stunning ones) and EPBOT (the crafts/personal-commentary/fandom blog by the same blogger). EPBOT’s recently included a post on inexpensive Halloween crafts made by dismembering cheap plastic dolls; I laughed a lot! (It also featured some cosplay from DragonCon, including a brilliant soul who crafted an outfit based on the container ship that blocked the Suez Canal, and went around the convention blocking doorways with it. Oh, I miss going to conventions…)

      1. Windchime*

        OMG Cake Wrecks is the funniest thing ever. When I first discovered it, I read it for hours and was laughing hysterically and uncontrollably for hours. So funny.

        Another one that I like is the Vivienne Files. The blogger starts with some kind of inspiration (usually a scarf or a piece of art) and then builds capsule wardrobe around it. It is my aspirational blog; someday I hope to dress like she does. I even was tempted to buy an Hermes scarf for awhile (I resisted).

    10. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Feel much better soon, I hope!
      It’s not getting updated anymore, but the Etiquette Hell archives are a fun rabbit hole.

    11. *daha**

      postsecret – readers create a postcard revealing a secret and mail it in. New content goes up every Sunday (sometimes a little early)
      fark – readers submit links to interesting, bizarre, and appalling news stories. decent comments, also

  16. Richard Hershberger*

    The paperwork (i.e. the contract) is finalized for my book with University of Missouri Press. The book is about the rise of baseball from an obscure folk game to the American national game, trying to address not merely what happened but why, and why it did when it did, coming at these questions from a cultural history perspective.

    I have just one problem. The working title is “A History of Baseball 1744-1871.” In modern publishing, that is fine for the subtitle, but everyone agrees that it is necessary to have a snappy title in front of that. So I am putting out the call to friends, family, and random passersby on the street for suggestions.

    1. StellaBella*

      “Play ball! A History of Baseball 1744-1871”
      “Ahead in the count. A History of Baseball 1744-1871”
      “Home run! A History of Baseball 1744-1871”
      “Hey. batter. batter! A History of Baseball 1744-1871”
      “From base hits and bat flips to southpaw sluggers. A History of Baseball 1744-1871”
      i can add more…
      “Before The Show. A History of Baseball 1744-1871″
      From the bullpen to the outfield. A History of Baseball 1744-1871”

    2. Forensic13*

      Who Was on First?: A History of Baseball 1744-1871.

      Playing for Peanuts: A History of Baseball 1744-1871.

      Is there any specific element from this period that relates to the game we know but slightly different?
      Like: Bone Bats and Sock Gloves: A History of Baseball 1744-1871.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          If “Who Was On First” doesn’t make it into the book title, perhaps you can use it as a chapter title.

          And congratulations!

    3. heckofabecca*

      Woo! That’s awesome! Congrats! I definitely think StellaBella has a ton of winners, but here are a couple more:

      “There is but one game and that game is baseball.”- John McGraw > The One Game: A history….

      America’s Pasttime’s Past Times: A History… (okay this is terrible but I had to lol)

    4. Kathenus*

      From Obscurity to Prominence (or Dominance, or Preeminence, etc.): A History of Baseball 1744-1871

      The Rise of Baseball (using your phrasing from above) 1744-1871

      Baseball – from Obscurity to ….(see above)

      Take Me Out to the Ballgame: The Rise/History of Baseball 1744-1871

    5. Other Duties as Assigned*

      Congrats!
      A lot of the titles suggested are excellent. I will offer a couple of insights from a fellow author:

      When my book was in development, my subtitle had dates in it like yours (1916-1978). The publisher suggested I leave them off, fearing the work would sound “too academic” and might put off potential buyers. However, in this case I’d leave them on; 1744 is a lot earlier than many people may think applies to this history.

      The main title probably should indeed be some sort of baseball lingo, but familiar enough to today’s potential buyer to generate curiosity. I’d steer clear of early terminology, though. I once did a radio documentary on “vintage” baseball and during the game, the “barrister” (umpire) announced “striker to the line, no hands down.” That might be one to avoid.

      I look forward to reading your book!

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I’ve seen that advice about years. I can’t speak to it as marketing advice, but personally, as a book reader, I find the objection very weird. It is useful information for my book-buying decision. And the general objection to coming across as an academic book, well, it is. That is why I went with a university press. But again, that doesn’t mean it isn’t good marketing advice. Fortunately, I have the freedom of low financial expectations. That isn’t why you write this sort of book. I expect essentially beer money.

        1. Other Duties as Assigned*

          FWIW, mine was also a university press (University of Wisconsin). They had an odd suggestion for the main title as well and I held my ground for what I wanted.

          I also had the “freedom of low financial expectations.” Good thing, too (ha).

          I agree, you don’t write these types of books to get rich.

        2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Would the years be more accessible if phrased differently? For instance, I just read a book with a subtitle that mentioned “in jazz age New York” which is more catchy than “in 1915-1936 New York”.

          Maybe “A History of Baseball from Colonial America through ___” (I’m blanking on something for the second.)

      2. Mephyle*

        I agree that the years are necessary for this particular book. Without them, the potential reader is very likely to expect a history that goes up to the present day. When they find out otherwise, it will throw them off.

        Also the potential reader who notices the start date may be intrigued; as Other Duties mentioned, 1744 is a lot earlier than many people would expect.

    6. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Uniquely American: A History of (etc.)
      I’m trying to think of something that would make me pick up this book, because I don’t like baseball but I would like the cultural/sociological aspects. So not necessarily snappy but something that would tell me there’s more than stats.
      The Birth of Baseball: (something something, eliminating the dates)… I’m tired!
      The Birth of Baseball: How American Culture Shaped and Defined Its Favorite Sport

    7. noncommital pseudonym*

      America’s Game: A History of Baseball 1744-1871
      Take Me Out to the Ballgame: A History of Baseball 1744-1871

    8. Olive Hornby*

      A few thoughts from a trade editor:

      -Since your subtitle is pretty general/broad, you want the title to speak to the book’s themes. Is there a descriptive phrase you came across in your research that speaks to the rise of baseball as “America’s Game”? If part of the point of the book is this cultural association of baseball with the evolution of American nationalism, you’ll want to go with something that pings on those concepts of Americanness.
      -Avoid very common/generic baseball lingo—you’ll get lost on Amazon, where most people buy their books (especially UP books that are not likely to be heavily distributed.) It never hurts to put your title into Amazon to see what comes up—if there are a lot of books with a similar name that appear to sell reasonably well/have lots of reviews, it’s going to be challenging to make your book surface in search.
      -Keep the years unless you’re open to shifting the subtitle (I can imagine something like “The Invention of Baseball: How An [Adjective] Folk Game Became America’s Pasttime” that would sound more commercial while still making clear what the book’s about and not suggest that you’re telling the full history up to the present.)

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Thank you for this thoughtful advice. I agree about generic baseball lingo. One suggestion I got was “Diamonds in the Rough.” This is already the title of a good baseball book, plus a couple of self-help books and an astonishing number of romances. Even my previous book’s title “Strike Four” is also the name of a baseball novel and a collection of baseball-related Crankshaft comic strips.

        “Invention” is a delicate word in baseball history. It points to too much bad baseball history work. But perhaps “Rise,” as in “The Rise of Baseball: How an English Folk Game Became America’s Pastime.” That might work.

          1. banoffee pie*

            Or what about ‘The Rise of Baseball: English Folk Game to America’s Pastime’? It’s a wee bit shorter
            or even
            ‘The Rise of Baseball: English Folk Game to Anerica’s Obession’? Too far? I have no idea if it’s America’s obsession because I’m not American but it’s pretty popular isn’t it? Didn’t know it started as an English folk game, interesting!

            1. banoffee pie*

              might be better as ‘From English Folk Game to America’s Pastime’ actually. Need an edit button!

    9. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Ooh, 1744?! A bit off topic here, but did you find anything in England that would have been called base ball in the late 18th and early 19th centuries? There’s a mention of it in *Northanger Abbey*(1818, but written earlier) that I wanted to write a footnote about once, and I couldn’t find more information on it.

      1. Emma2*

        I don’t know whether you are specifically interested in the name or the form of the game. It might be called “rounders” – rounders is still played by children in England and Ireland and I believe it has been around for centuries. It is similar to baseball in that you have a pitcher/bowler, you hit the ball with a bat and run around posts/bases and there are innings. The games are not quite the same, and the bases or posts are set up differently in rounders, but I would guess the games are related (I would probably need to read Richard’s book to find out).

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        1744 is the earliest known use of the term, from an book of children’s games. (Strictly speaking no copies of the 1744 edition exist. The earliest extant copy a later edition a decade or so later. But there is no reason to believe the first edition is different.) The simplified version is that the game was brought to America by the colonists. Then a different name, “rounders,” arose in Britain and took over. The less simplified version is, well, more complicated. The English game split into two versions, “rounders” using a bat and “base ball” hitting the ball with the open hand. Rounders is still played today.

        If you are at all interested, I recommend the books by David Block “Baseball Before We Knew It,” which is aimed at the origin of the American game, and “Pastime Lost,” which examines the course of the “base ball” version in Britain, which was played through the 19th century then entirely forgotten that it ever existed.

    10. Undine*

      I’d like to see something that tells me the arc of the story, not just a baseball theme. So “who’s on first” is fairly genetic, it could be a book of baseball trivia, for example.

      I don’t know baseball terminology, so all I can think of is Diamond in the Rough: the rise (or transformation) of Baseball from (years). I’m not saying that’s the answer, but what I like about it is I know from that that it’s about polishing the sport.

    11. Batgirl*

      “From folk game to high fame”, it’s your expression of “folk game” that caught my interest any way.

    12. HouseHunting*

      Late to the party but have been thinking about this question all weekend!

      “Dugout Secrets: A History of Baseball 1744-1871”
      “Deeper in the Dugout: A History of Baseball 1744-1871”
      “Pitching for Greatness: A History of Baseball 1744-1871”
      “Homerun History: The Fascinating Story of Baseball from 1744-1871”

  17. HouseHunting*

    Thread for house hunters in today’s market! We’ve fallen in love with the town we’ve been renting in for the last 3 months and yet inventory is crazy low. We’ve befriended the neighbors and found an excellent realtor but has anyone ever had their realtor send out a mailer to your desired neighborhood or even, gasp, knock on doors? What’s the craziest part of your house hunt right now?

    1. Coco*

      My sister in law received a knock on the door asking whether they wanted to sell their home. They were thinking of downsizing anyway with 2 kids in college so they are now selling. The closing is less than 2 months away and they’ve been scrambling to find a home to buy.

      They’re pretty close to finalizing the contract on a potential new home but with inventory being so scarce it has been difficult.

      1. HouseHunting*

        Love to hear a success story! There are several empty nesters in the neighborhood and while they may 1000% have plans to stay in their homes forever (it really is a great town and location!), we’re in a heavy winter climate and maybe they don’t want to shovel the driveway anymore? Hope springs eternal!

      2. Coenobita*

        Yeah, I would never have thought that kind of thing happened in real life – but then my parents’ next-door neighbors got a knock on the door and, well, now my parents have different next-door neighbors!

    2. bookcase*

      We moved from one small town to another small town within a country region that is growing in popularity. Our new house was on the market for 2 days.

      What helped us secure the new place was we used the same real estate company that sold our place. You can also post on social media looking for leads.

      1. HouseHunting*

        We’re hoping to land in a pretty specific neighborhood of just 4 streets (amazing walkability, lots of families, lovely green space) so we picked a realtor who’s handled a bunch of those hyper local sales. We’re living in the lone neighborhood rental so we’re putting the word out kind of slowly so we don’t cause issues with our landlady.

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          Might your landlady want to sell to you? We rented our current home. When the owner mentioned she was thinking about selling, we offered to buy it. We’ve now owned it for about 20 years.

          1. HouseHunting*

            We had originally had that in mind but now that we live here we can see a lot of issues that would be $$$ to fix – foundation settling, older roof, humidity issues, bathroom overflow leaking through to a downstairs ceiling (!). It’s been a rental for at least 5 years and she hasn’t don’t much/any upkeep along the way. It also doesn’t have a garage which in a winter climate is… boooo.

            1. Ali G*

              Just thought, as a veteran homeowner, it might be worth doing some research on the current place before tossing that idea altogether. It’s not very expensive to get an appraisal and an inspection on your own to take a reasonable offer to your landlady. If you can get an idea of the costs to fix up the current place versus how much you have to overpay to get a place in your chosen area, it might be a better choice in the long run. Where we live people are paying over $50k (at least) to get contracts on homes, and then they don’t appraise. When that happens, you the borrower need to make up the difference to get a loan. Either way you are out the cash.
              Anyway, you can ignore me of course! I just wanted to offer my unsolicited advice :)

    3. Llellayena*

      I’m still in the planning stage looking to try to buy in the spring. It’s amazing how many houses on Zillow don’t actually have open houses right now. It’s annoying since I just want to look at layouts (looking at townhomes, if I see one in the community, I have a good idea of what something else there will be in the spring) so I don’t want to make an appointment. I am trying to determine when I should line up a realtor though.

      1. HouseHunting*

        That’s surprising! Might be my region of the country but every listing has had an open house so far. I researched every listing from the past 10 years in our target area and that’s how I honed in on the top few realtors who covered the neighborhood. The one we picked helped our current neighbors buy and they loved her. Can’t hurt to research early!

      2. Meh*

        We sold our house this summer and bought in anew city. Neither had open houses – our selling realtor said he doesn’t see the benefit in this market. It sold in three days, so he was right. I went to one open house in a snazzy area that my realtor expected there to be a bidding war on. Otherwise everything was an agent showing.

      3. Generic Name*

        I have sold two houses, and I’ve never had an open house. My last realtor said that they are mostly used as marketing for real estate agents and don’t normally actually sell the house. It’s a lot of work for little reward (they attract lots of lookie-loos but few actual offers.)

    4. Venus*

      I live in a popular area and get mailers often. These include personal notes that look written by potential owners, then photocopied and dropped off at each home. I feel badly for wasting their efforts on me, as I plan to stay for decades, but older neighbors have sold to other neighbors so if you live in the area then definitely mention who you are as that has helped.

      1. HouseHunting*

        This is absolutely our hope – our immediate neighbors rented before buying and the seller there wanted to sell *to them* instead of taking an offer that was over asking. Every house here was built at the same time so an entire generation of kids grew up together. The houses are turning over now that everyone from that time is an empty nester or even retired but I think many folks feel protective about keeping this a family neighborhood. I don’t know that we’d feel ready to write a specific letter without it getting back to our landlady but two of the neighbors are keeping an ear out for us.

    5. fposte*

      I bought during a very hot market and it was a big mental shift for me to realize that I wasn’t so much choosing from a house buffet as waiting for the right house to come on the market. My realtor didn’t send out mailers but there are definitely realtors doing it now as I’ve been getting them.

      1. HouseHunting*

        Yep definitely not a buffet over here! We’ve sort of resigned ourselves to factoring in a decent renovation budget since virtually nothing is move in ready.

    6. dear liza dear liza*

      We bought 3 years ago, before the market went bananas, but inventory was already really low in our preferred neighborhoods. Our realtor tracked down and cold-called a few people who had empty lots that weren’t currently up for sale and while that didn’t pan out this time, it DID work for us in our previous home. The realtor also offered to put flyers in mailboxes. Before that happened, a house (now OUR house) popped up on the market and we jumped on it.

      1. HouseHunting*

        Sounds like a really similar situation! And agreed on going through a realtor – we’re definitely not writing any notes or knocking on doors ourselves. A local realtor taking a pulse on new business is a totally different feeling than wondering if a person is watching you and your home.

    7. PostalMixup*

      Don’t discount house hunting in the off season, even in a “seller’s market.” People who list off season often have no other choice, and are highly motivated to sell, with fewer buyers. I know our market has cooled considerably in the last few weeks. We just sold our house (listed the Thursday after Labor Day) and despite listing at the low end of comps and holding two open houses, we only got one offer, for list + we pay closing costs. Our realtor thinks that if we’d been able to get on the market a month earlier we’d have had multiple offers and probably would have gotten another 5-10k. So even with limited inventory, you might have less competition.

      1. HouseHunting*

        I’m sorry you missed out on a possible bigger offer! Real estate is such a roller coaster. We’re hoping that fall and winter in this colder climate will turn up some motivated sellers. The neighborhood is definitely overdue for a property to come on the market. We don’t mind moving in winter.

    8. Daffodilly*

      We have had three people in the last year knock on our door and want to buy our home, and a few personal notes left on the door, too. Our home is NOT for sale. Not listed anywhere. No sign. Nothing at all to indicate it’s available.
      Honestly, it’s invasive and creepy. One even wanted me to listen to his sob story about divorce, cancer and a bunch of other stuff I don’t even remember. Even after I closed the door and walked away he stood on my porch loudly talking.
      One of the personal notes mentioned things about the house and yard that showed the author had been looking in windows and over the 8 foot fence into the backyard.

      1. HouseHunting*

        To clarify, we aren’t writing notes or knocking on doors, just asking if anyone has had their realtor do so. I typed it above but a realtor pleasantly drumming up business comes across totally different than an aggressive rando leaving notes or knocking on your door. I hope you can get some peace as the market cools off!

      2. Wishing You Well*

        That IS creepy! Sorry.
        We don’t answer the door these days, so we wouldn’t know if someone wanted to buy our house!
        Our friend bought a house in a hot seller’s market by writing a tear-jerking letter to the seller. Now those letters are disallowed due to potential discrimination issues.

        1. Windchime*

          I got a tear-jerking letter when I was selling my house a year ago. The lady seemed really nice and I really wanted her to have my house, but my realtor advised me that her offer wasn’t that (it indicated financing trouble) so I went with a different offer. The letter definitely tugged at my heartstrings, but I can see how they could also lead to discrimination issues.

          1. HouseHunting*

            Without going into too much detail, part of why we love his neighborhood is that it’s becoming more diverse. There’s a gay couple with multiple kids and an immigrant family who both joined in the last 5 years. Kind, hardworking folks who have made us feel really welcome.

    9. Texan In Exile*

      A friend – a recent widower – sold his house to people up his street who left a note in his mailbox last Christmas, six months after his wife died. They wrote that if he ever wanted to sell, they would love to have the home for their growing family – that they had always loved the house.

      When he finally decided to sell, in June, he called them.

      1. HouseHunting*

        Oh gosh I have no idea how one would go about writing that kind of letter! The closest we’ve come is befriending a couple other families and letting them know we’re looking. They have the best pulse on the neighborhood news and who may be considering selling. So sorry about your friend – I hope he found a wonderful new home and community!

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I am not house hunting but I get oversized post cards with pictures of houses for sale in my neighborhood. It’s kind of strange, but the pictures are lovely.

    11. Filosofickle*

      A realtor friend recently spent 1K on neighborhood mailers to try to find a home in that area for a client. o_O

      1. HouseHunting*

        1K!!!! I can’t even imagine. This mailer would be way more targeted – less than 50 houses located in a very specific area.

    12. the cat's ass*

      I had a yard sale a few years ago (fundraiser for DD Gs troop to go to Japan on an exchange) and this young couple frisked up in their Tesla (strike one, I’m sorry, but this car definitely says to scholarship kid-child of immigrants me, “HI! I’m an arrogant a-hole!” ) and proceeded to try to wedge themselves into a tour of my home/first denial on a sale, etc. WHILE I WAS CONDUCTING A FUNDRAISER. I took their business cards so I’ll remember their names so i NEVER EVER sell my home to them. So folks, don’t do this.

    13. Clisby*

      Looking at it from the other side, living in a house in what is now a very desirable area, I get these cold calls (so far no knocks on the door – I’d tell them to fuck off right away) from people who apparently are trying to take advantage of people they think have no idea of what their property is worth.

      If somebody calls, ask them what they’re willing to offer. Then laugh at them and hang up.

      1. HouseHunting*

        You must be getting a lot of aggressive contacts! The housing market here even at peak was more like 5-7 offers vs. 25+. The inventory is low because there just aren’t a ton of houses in this specific town due to zoning and a ton of (gorgeous) conservation land. Still, I’ll think with our realtor about the right way to phrase any mailers that go out. Didn’t realize how much spam and harassment some folks were getting!

        1. Retired(but not really)*

          Every so often in the past couple of years I get a letter from some random “investor” wanting to purchase my “vacant lot”. It’s not for sale nor is it vacant either.

  18. bookcase*

    Does anyone live in a smaller town or city that did live, and that place has become more popular?

    My area is rapidly growing, after being sleepy since it was colonised in the late 1800s. My family have been here from the start, although I have lived in the big city for a time.

    People in our area are up and down about it. Some people are very rude to the new comers from the city. They gatekeeper who is local. I am as local as it gets but I think everyone is welcome from the moment they arrive, you don’t need to be here 100 years. It’s rude to act like that.

    Some people are so rude about the new people. They trash them on social media. These people are simply existing. House prices are rising because our government restricts supply to keep prices high. It’s not individuals newcomers fault the prices are rising. Take it up with the government, we’ve got a tonne of land if they’d let us build on it.

    People keep saying stuff like ‘this area has enough locals to sustain it!’ No it doesn’t. I work for a local business and without the increase in people we couldn’t exist. Also it’s one of those country places where the average age is like 75. New young families is new blood.

    Has anyone else experienced these kind of growing pains and what did you say to people who were rude about the new people?

    1. HouseHunting*

      I’m one of those newcomers! Thankfully haven’t heard any mean comments but so far we’ve largely connected with other transplants.

      If you’re a local yourself, it’s a kindness to question the gatekeeping. If they value local businesses, emphasize that newcomers keep Main Street viable. There are dozens (hundreds!) of towns that have shuttered once their young folks left. Welcoming families is the cheapest way to boost the economy. Unless they would prefer higher taxes…

      Similarly, ensuring the town is desirable to outsiders selfishly keeps their own property values high. If they’re religious, references to welcoming the stranger can help.

      Mostly thank you for being the kind and welcoming person you are!

    2. Loopy*

      I’m in a bit of a different situation- not rural but where I live has exploded in the last 10 years and people have been snarky about it for pretty much the whole time. I’m actually NOT a local but I moved here right before the growth and was pretty excited about living here the way it was when I arrived.

      My issue is not about who’s local or not though, it’s more about rapid development totally destroying vast amounts of natural habitat. It absolutely destroys me and I can’t really be pro-growth because none of it seems to be done with any of the local wildlife and nature in mind- or even serious long term impacts of shoddy infrastructure planning (and I don’t just mean traffic, but flooding).

      1. Blomma*

        Yup, I same experience where I live. Rapid development, destroying natural habitats for wildlife, no major improvements to roads so we have more traffic and accidents. The cost of housing has risen but not the local wages, so the people who can afford to buy houses are the newcomers who are moving here but commuting to the large city a couple of hours away. They people who have lived here forever are being pushed out. The wildlife is being pushed out. It’s sad.

    3. curly sue*

      The town/city I live in has been growing incredibly rapidly over the last two years (with slower but steadier growth before that). Some of it has been very welcome – folks coming in with a real interest in the area and in becoming a part of the community.

      But many of the more recent arrivals have tended to be from areas of the country with much higher property prices and much larger populations, ergo more amenities. They come here because housing costs are much lower and because we did a bang-up job on keeping Covid case-counts low.

      We get people sitting on house sale prices of 2 million+ from selling their homes in the bigger cities, coming in and driving up those gosh-darned property values and pricing locals completely out of the market. We now have a vacancy rate of less than 1% and the homeless rate skyrocketing.

      We’re also seeing moves to sell off previously protected crown land and wilderness areas to private corporations for things like luxury condos and golf courses, to satisfy demand from these newer, wealthier communities. We have tent cities growing where there were none before due to the housing crisis, and then the incoming folks complain about it! And they whine and moan about how X, Y and Z was ~so much nicer~ in Toronto and why can’t This Town support X, Y and Z like ~Toronto~ does??

      So patience does tend to wear a little thin on occasion.

    4. fposte*

      I saw an anecdote on another site about somebody who’d bought in as a newcomer and who was listening to the complaints of a local. The newcomer said, “I know one local who was pretty happy we came–the guy we bought the house from.” The listener took the point and shut up.

      That being said, I have some sympathy–it really is a cultural change at the very least and it can be an economic change that swamps some boats while lifting others. I think it’s especially galling in areas where new home purchases or builds aren’t for primary occupancy–they’re second homes or AirBnB rentals.

      One possible response to people who are complaining is to ask them for their ideas on how to best manage the situation. It allows for the possibility that there are some mitigations that can help manage the influx while also putting the onus on them to do something other than just moan.

    5. Lotus*

      I think this is similar to the issue of gentrification in cities (although that issue also has a layer of racial tension in addition to locals being grumpy.) It’s really easy to blame newcomers but the whole reason we have these issues to begin with is the fact that – as you pointed out – housing supply is kept low. The whole thing is frustrating.

      1. Overeducated*

        Yes – I moved to a smaller city a hear ago that is experiencing a lot of these growing pains and price increases because I just couldn’t afford to live in the bigger (and heavily gentrified) city any more. It’s all connected. We’re all connected.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      We have that in this area.
      As a newcomer I started mentioning it after I was here a few years.
      The most effective thing I have seen is if the members of the Old Families, call it out for what it is. And if those same people actually hang out with the newcomers.

      You can say, “At one point all of our families were new comers.” OR

      “Technically speaking all of us are transplants.”

      Here the kids are leaving so I can go with, “It’s nice to see young people taking an interest in putting down roots here.”

      “I don’t think they will leave anytime to soon. So just as we have to adjust to them, they have to adjust to us.”

      Works in rural areas: “We all need each other so it’s just best to get along.”

      “The average age here is 75, we need younger people to carry on what we and our predecessors have built.”

      I think that it’s good to realize that it never goes away. But the older folks don’t run for public office, they don’t staff the public works and so on. And the older folks do fade out- either in passing away or they just get tired of the changes that just. keep. happening.

      It amazes me how many forms of hate we carry in this country. I am “lucky” because my last name is the same country as the original settlers here. But it’s my married name- not my actual heritage.

      One suggestion I have is to support newcomers who run for public office- if the person is actually inline with your own thinking.

  19. Expiring Cat Memes*

    Misheard lyrics, AAM edition?

    No Australian sings AC/DC’s Long Way To The Top the way it was intended – it’s always “a long way to the shop if you wanna sausage roll”.

    But I was just listening to it though (don’t ask!) and thought “it’s a long way overtop if you brought those cheap ass rolls”.

    Anyone up for sullying some classics with some classic AAM vernacular?

    1. AGD*

      I’d heard a certain song by Guns N’ Roses on the radio a good dozen times before I realized it was “Paradise City” and not “Very Last City.”

    2. RussianInTexas*

      Hinder, Lips of an Angel. Is says “my girlfriend in the next room” and I forever heard “my cousin in the next room” and was forever confused.

    3. fposte*

      There’s a French song I like, “Un peu comme un bateau” (a little like a boat), which I always here as “Un peu comme un gateau” (a little like a cake), because cake>boat.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        That’s the spirit. In the same vein, I imagine Mary J Blige celebrating no more llama in our lives.

        1. Anonymato*

          Nothing will surprise me anymore! When looking for a movie to watch yesterday, I came across “Llamageddon” – it seems to be a story of a killer llama for outer space!

    4. Frally*

      My favorite song is Toto’s “Africa.” I had been enjoying it for 40 years before I happened to read somewhere that the line I thought was “Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like a leopress above the Serengeti” was actually “rises like OLYMPUS!” OMG, mind blown!

      See, I thought it was leopress, as in a female leopard. But a female leopard is actually a leopardess! The closest word to leopress is lepress, which means a woman with leprosy!!!

      1. fposte*

        I think that’s a reasonable one from context clues–it’s not like you were expecting an Olympus reference in the Serengeti!

      2. noncommital pseudonym*

        You’re still ahead of me. Until right this moment, I thought he was mumbling “an empress”.

    5. Toucan-related?*

      Non-native English speaker here, singing along for years to Duke of Earl (Gene Chandler’s) as “Too-too-toocabird” (presuming toocabird is some type of bird, who knows, maybe they are related to toucans) LOL Facepalm

    6. Don’t put metal in the science oven*

      The classic from Bad Moon Rising, “there’s a bathroom on the right.” instead of, “there’s a bad moon on the rise.”

    7. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      Heres a couple that I misheard untill recently. Stevie Nicks Edge of 17…How the song goes- “Just like the white winged dove. What I heard-“Just like the one winged dove”
      Till Tuesdays Voices Carry…How the song goes- “Hush hush, keep it down now, voices carry.” What I heard…”Hush hush, even downtown, its so scary.”

    8. *daha**

      I kept trying to figure out the plot of Doo Wah Diddy Diddy . The line I was having trouble with sure sounded like “Now I’m hurt. She’s mad. I’m hurt, she’s mad. Wedding bells are gonna chime.” I finally decided that she was pregnant and they were being forced to get married.

    9. Deanna Troi*

      For 30+ years, I thought Secret Agent Man was Secret Asian Man….I was so confused. Why would you want to hide the fact that he was Asian? How did they do? Was he wearing a mask? Very embarrassing.

    10. allathian*

      In Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer, for the longest time I heard “It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not” as “It doesn’t make a difference if we’re naked or not”. Maybe that could be twisted into “It doesn’t make a difference if it’s Wakeen or not”…

      1. Jackalope*

        This is a really awful one so I apologize up front. There’s a new Maroon Five song out called Beautiful Mistakes. It’s already a bit risqué, since it has the line (verified as correct), “She’s naked in my bed,” and is clearly at least in part about sex. There’s another line at the end of the chorus that I thought was, “I’m in love with her vag,” (which made sense given the prior line), which was… just a bit too much for public radio? I was relieved to learn that the line is in fact, “I’m in love with the past.”

    11. Bethlam*

      Billy Joel’s Piano Man: I always heard “when I were a younger man, so.” It’s really: “when I wore a younger man’s clothes. “

  20. Colette*

    My niece has moved in for university, which is great except for the food. I’m used to relying on leftovers, and everything goes fast (as it should! The issue is not an extra person, it’s that I need to adjust my meal planning.)

    Does anyone have suggestions for quick lunches – think 10-15 minutes of preparation. (If there’s boiling water involved, I wouldn’t include putting the water on to boil in the 15 minutes. )

    Thanks!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      1) Avocado toast.

      2) If you don’t count boiling water and like rice, can I suggest a rice cooker? Rice in the bottom, you can toss some veggies in a steamer basket on top, and even rewarm a bit of protein in the top at the end. It’s very “toss it in, hit the button, come back 15-20 minutes later to see if the light is off”–you don’t need to worry about the bottom burning while you do something else. My son took the rice cooker back to college (it is his, but he was either living at home or on a mealplan until now) and we are considering getting our own.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Here’s my tip on a rice cooker: Bigger is not better. I got a bigger rice cooker than we needed for my household, and it turns out I can’t make a small enough batch of rice in it to be worthwhile – we’re all a little leery of leftover rice (probably overly paranoid to be honest, but the boys have both gotten bad food poisoning from it in the past) and my rice cooker can’t make less than 4 cups of cooked rice at a time. So the rice cooker never gets used and I finally figured out how to make the perfect amount of rice for us (which is 1 rice-cup of rice to 1.25 cup-cups of broth and results in ~1.5 cup-cups of cooked rice) on the stove. :)

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              Ours made small amounts–probably half a cup of dry rice would be the practical limit. I got the type they had at my local fancy kitchen store.

              For me, I wanted something that just did rice, rather than it-whizzes-it-dices. I think child’s default home-cooked meal is rice with steamed vegetable (both in rice cooker) and some sort of protein.

          1. Annie Moose*

            A tip for leftover rice: rice freezes very well, and the bacteria that causes food poisoning in rice won’t multiply in the freezer. I divide it into serving size portions, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap (or in a plastic baggie–the point is you don’t want air in there or it’ll dry out), then pop the portions in a freezer bag and stick it in the freezer.

            To reheat, you can just toss the whole package in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Once it thaws a bit I sometimes transfer it into a bowl so I can stir it up, otherwise sometimes the edges get a bit overdone. (you want to cover it though, so it’ll steam a bit) Lasts 3-4 weeks without much loss of flavor/texture; if you don’t mind it getting a bit chewy, it theoretically can last months.

    2. Sunshine*

      1 could you double the cooking recipe for more left overs?
      2. I’ve gotten some bento boxes and make lazy adult lunchables. Lunch meat, veggies, crackers, cheese.
      3. Soup and crackers. The big box store has yummy large quantity soup. It’s my go to when I’m running late.
      4 freezing ahead and just pulling it out for lunch. Penne and red sauce freezes surprising well.

      1. Colette*

        I usually go the leftover route, but with another person in the house, less is left over and it goes faster! I do like the lunch ales and soup ideas, thanks!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I am in the reverse position: Youngest went back to school and now we can finally attain left-overs. But I have to remind myself at the grocery store that there is no teenage athlete to feed, so food will actually hang out and go bad.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I had shared this comparison with my daughter (mid-20s) and she was like “Heck, I still eat lunchables.”

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If bringing water to a boil doesn’t count against your time limit, the dried pasta I buy cooks in 9-11 minutes (depending on the style), and frozen ravioli or tortellini usually cook in under five. Ploughman’s lunch – some combination of cheese, salami/smoked sausage (or whatever deli meat you like), crackers or bread, apples, grapes, olives, depending on what you like. I buy tuna in the foil packets (you can get plain or differently seasoned options) and make tuna salad for sandwiches, you could also put those on salad. Omelets or scrambled eggs. Deli meat sandwiches, or PB&J/honey/banana/pickle/whatever you like on your peanut butter sandwich :) I sometimes do frozen popcorn shrimp, chicken nuggets or breaded fish fillets in my air fryer, those take 7-10 minutes (and I make a quick garlic “aioli” for dipping while they’re in the fryer, om nom nom – mayonnaise, a bit of dill relish, and garlic salt to taste). Housemate does up the cheap ramen using the noodles but not the seasoning packet, then seasons it on his own and usually cracks a couple eggs into the cooking broth, and that tends to be under ten minutes in prep. Husband goes the pre-packaged route and gets single serving cups of instant rice and these heat-and-eat packets of various Indian food that he really enjoys, and can have himself a plate of lunch in under five minutes.

      If you wanted to pre-prep some protein to add to options on the fly, or use things like tinned chicken (which I’m fine with but some people don’t like, so YMMV) – You could look at the Lipton/Knorr rice or pasta packets; those tend to go well with some sort of added protein and usually microwave in 7 minutes or so. Instant mashed potatoes – once the water is boiled, you pour it into the flakes and your potatoes are edible (albeit probably still too hot to eat) in under a minute. I love these with bbq sauce and shredded pork or chicken mixed in, personally.

      1. Colette*

        Thanks! A lot of these might work – somehow I never thought or omelets for lunch, although I’ve thought of them for other meals.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Other breakfast too – pancakes or toaster waffles with heat-and-eat sausage or bacon? Probably not just a bowl of cold cereal, I wouldn’t think, but if you’re an oatmeal fan, load it up with the toppings, maybe try savory oats or porridge. A small jacket potato will “bake” in the microwave oven in about 6-7 minutes – wash it up and leave it wet, poke it a bunch of times with a knife tip or fork, wrap it in a piece of paper towel and microwave it for 6-7 minutes (if it’s not quite done, give it a couple more, but even the biggest honkers don’t take more than 12 in my microwave at least), then top it with cheese, bacon, broccoli, whatever sounds good. Burgers on a George Foreman grill take about 5-7 minutes from frozen, if you buy the premade types, and hot dogs take even less time. I sometimes get frozen breaded chicken patties and nuke those for a hot chicken sandwich (they’re BETTER in the oven than the microwave, but certainly still decent enough in the micro). Kraft dinner too, you can mix all kinds of goodies in there to jazz it up.

          1. I take tea*

            Sweet potato is very easy to microwave too, just cut the skin in both directions (as if slicing it into four pieces), microwave for 4-6 mins on one side, flip over and do aboo4-6 mins (depending on size, might be a bit more if big). Fry up cooked black beans (or other) with a little garlic and maybe some quick greens, kale, zucchini, grean beans. Serve with some sauce, tsatziki or other yoghurt sauce is nice (we do it with soygurth and add a little citric acid to make it sour) but it can work with canned tomato pasta sauce or anything. Without sauce it is too dry, but otherwise it’s a really quick meal.

            YouTuber Cheap Lazy Vegans pasta with kale, lemon and garlic is very quick too. I usually either use bean pasta or add some tofu crumble for protein

    4. RussianInTexas*

      Sometimes I make a butch of gazpacho on Sunday and eat for few days for lunch with cheese sandwiches. Sometimes I make a bunch of Texas caviar (basically bean and corn salad with onions, garlic, cilantro, jalapenos, bell pepper) and eat for few days, it keeps really well in the fridge.

      1. ronda*

        texas caviar is often served as a dip with tortilla chips, but one site I read was saying to put it over lettuce for a salad.

        There are lots of thing you can put on a salad, or make into a wrap.

    5. fposte*

      I’m a firm adherent of batch cooking and freezing in serving size containers. Nuke a soup or stew in 3 minutes, which gives you 7 minutes to play with.

      Also, bagel pizzas under the broiler. Sliced bagels with mozzarella and whatever veg or meat shards you’ve got lying around.

      1. Colette*

        Thanks! I’ve never mastered batch cooking – I typically cook a big batch of something on Sunday and eat it until it’s gone, but it’s getting finished faster. Maybe some batch cooking would fill in the gaps!

        I hate meal planning. It’s the future, should we have meal replacement pills like the Jetsons already?

        1. fposte*

          Well, there’s Ensure. Not very sleek and space age, but there you go.

          I think you gotta do exactly what you’re doing–collect a bunch of different possibilities and see which ones seem to fit you best. Batch cooking and freezing allows me to satisfy my hoarding impulses in a beneficial way, so it’s a perfect fit for me. You may find that you’re a rice cooker person or omelet royalty or whatever.

          1. Colette*

            I think the answer is going to be a bunch of things – maybe batch cooking for backup, with some of the other great suggestions for go-tos.

    6. Generic Name*

      I used to love bringing leftovers for work lunches. Then my son grew into a teenager and I married a man with a fast metabolism and a physical job and suddenly I had no leftovers! My solution is pretty lazy, but I just started buying frozen lunches for myself. The Evol brand is pretty good. Still cheaper than eating out and requires basically zero thought.

      1. Colette*

        It’s an adjustment! Frozen meals are another good idea – I’d need to do family-size since we’re all at home most lunches. Thanks!

        1. Generic Name*

          Oh! I thought it was just for you. If there are other people involved, why not involve them in the planning and execution of the meals? Even if one person’s contribution is pb&j sandwiches, at least you didn’t have to think of it. :)

          1. Colette*

            Yeah, they are planning and cooking some meals, but due to schedules lunch is largely on me. My schedule is most flexible, and I’m closest to the kitchen.

    7. LilPinkSock*

      My go-to is a half sandwich, a hard-boiled egg, a little container of veggies, and a fruit cup for dessert. I think I’ve eaten more or less the same thing for lunch for about 20 years. No reason to over complicate it!

    8. AcademiaNut*

      At the beginning of the week, cut and wash a bunch of vegetables for snacking – carrots, celery, cucumber, peppers, radish, cherry tomatoes, lightly blanched green beans/snow peas/okra etc. Make or buy some dips – hummus and other bean dips, tatziki and other yoghurt tips, onion dip, even salad dressings like ranch, and they can give you your veggie component for quick lunches. Add sliced cheese and meats, pickles and olives, hard boiled eggs or freshly cooked eggs. Tuna salad, or canned sardines, can provide a quick protein – I like sardines in oil on lettuce, with some sliced red onion, capers and lemon juice.

      Soups can be a fast lunch. One good one is chicken or mushroom broth, diced soft tofu, tomato wedges, diced green onions, some sliced leafy greens like bok choy, some grated ginger and soy sauce, and an egg at the end, either drizzled in egg drop soup style, or poached. You start the broth heating, and add the vegetables as you cut them up, in order of how long they need to cook, so it’s very fast. Thai hot and sour soup paste makes a good base for a spicy soup as well.

  21. Gifting Gretchen*

    A friend recently went through a lot of big events in a short period of time (house renos, friends moving in temporarily and then moving out, working 2 jobs, etc).

    She’s finally turning the corner and living on her own for the first time in a very long time in a renoed house.

    I want to get her something to mark a new start but none of the occasions seem to fit exactly.

    Looking for gift ideas.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Plants are a popular choice, for house or yard. Sometimes the sort designed to be short-lived (toss in compost after the blooms die) can be nice for someone who struggles to keep any alive long-term.

      Something I crave but haven’t gotten is the little succulent gardens in a bowl. So pretty! My garden center has them, and a relative has hand-sculpted a larger one on a sunny porch.

      I’ll also toss in cozy slippers or socks, or a good book with a card about reading it in the newly renovated space.

    2. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Renos, working 2 jobs, long term houseguests..? I’d be wanting something to relax with, like a massage. Could you get her a gift voucher maybe?

      If you especially want something to mark a new start though, what about a really nice dressing robe? There’s so many cute choices for all budgets on Etsy. It’s such a luxury to roll out of bed and put on something that makes you feel good as you start your day.

        1. Squirrel Nutkin*

          Love all these “you can relax a bit now” ideas! Maybe some luxurious lotion or bubble bath as well?

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      What is her opinion of Halloween? It’s an easy bit of frivolity that becomes its own occasion, and is not something that has a standard expectation of reciprocation. Nothing that requires electricity, but something she could have for future years in her new home.

      1. MissCoco*

        Along the same lines, I have snuck by a few friends’ homes to put up some porch decor. Mums or ornamental kale in the fall, a potted herb garden or hanging basket in the spring or summer, a wreath in winter, a cute welcome mat, etc. I always do it as a surprise so they have something pleasant waiting the next time they come home

        For something more substantial, I love the idea of a a massage or spa gift certificate, or maybe a subscription to a cocktail, wine, or another favorite of hers for a month

        1. Might Be Spam*

          One year my mom and I made witch costumes for some pink plastic flamingos and put them in my sister’ yards. They never guessed it was us.

          1. the cat's ass*

            i adore this! My GS troop does this as a thing for people celebrating various things, and this actually called “flocking” someone!

        2. Not a cat*

          As a gift, one of my friends decorated my old loft for Christmas as a surprise. She also left a letter from my cats telling me about “this strange woman with a tree.” It was hilarious.

  22. CatCat*

    Question about progressive lenses.

    I got glasses with progressive lenses a few weeks ago and I just cannot get used to them. I inevitably end up with headaches when I wear them. Shouldn’t I have been able to adjust by now? Any tips for getting used to progressive lenses?

    1. Tib*

      If you’re wearing them regularly, I’d expect you to be used to them by now. I’d go back to where you purchased them. Often optical shops have a return policy for your first progressives, because some people just can’t tolerate them. I’ve found it’s important during the fitting that *you* position the glasses where you’ll wear them on your nose so that the prescription is positioned correctly. And I vaguely remember something about there being two types of progressives and that one is easier to adapt to than the other, but that’s all I know.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      I love my progressive lenses! Mine only took about a day to get used to, but the shop did have a 30 day full refund or replacement policy if that hadn’t been the case.
      Seconding Tib’s recommendation that you be the one to place your glasses when they mark them. My optician had mine all the way up to the top of my nose, which I find presses on a lump left over from a broken nose. I don’t think I’d have been able to see if the lenses had been marked there.

    3. MissCoco*

      They probably told you the big one – point your nose where you’re looking, but to me it sounds like you need a glasses adjustment (best case scenario is that the optician can fix it for you right away), or a remake if there is a problem with how the prescription is lined up in the frames, or another adjustment that needs to be made for it to work for you

      1. Imtheone*

        The optical shop told me I should just spend more time getting used to them, but when I went back, they looked carefully and saw a flaw in the lens! So always a possibility.

    4. Generic Name*

      I’m at that stage but decided not to get them (mostly due to the price). When my dr was talking to me about it, he said that you have to point your nose at what you want to look at.

    5. CatPerson*

      I have had them for years with no problems until the last one. I went back to the optician, and he found a problem with the prescription. You shouldn’t be having problems.

      1. Windchime*

        Same. I can only use progressives for things like driving or watching TV. I absolutely cannot read with them, or use them at the computer. To read, I would have to tilt my head into incredibly awkward positions in order to find the pinhole at the bottom of the lense where the prescription would allow it. I gave up. I now have glasses for the computer (not progressive), progressives for driving or going to the movies, and luckily I don’t need anything for reading….yet.

    6. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      After getting them checked out to make sure they are not defective, it just takes time. I didn’t think I would ever get used to mine, but eventually I did. I don’t love them but at least they don’t bother me anymore. And I do need them.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Mine took about 3 days to stop feeling wierd and about a week to completely acclimate. Two weeks of headaches indicate something is wrong.

      Could be they haven’t lined the lens up properly with your central focus point. Could be they just did the prescription wrong. Could be you’d do better with standard bifocals.

      Take ’em back. That’s too much pain.

    8. Burnt eggs*

      One thing I found is when they measured, the tech pushed the glasses high up on my nose to measure, which is not where they normally sit on my face. Could it be the progression line isn’t correct?

    9. The teapots are on fire*

      The centers of the lenses could be wrong, there could be a flaw in the lens, the prescription could be wrong, or they could have chosen the wrong lens design for you (the specific brand and model of blank lens they used to grind your prescription). All you can do is go back and ask for help. If it’s been this long, it’s not you, and don’t let anyone tell you it is.

      I have a complicated prescription (progressives, astigmatism, and prisms) and I’ve had to leave money on the table and switch to a different optician to dispense my lenses, but that’s not common to have to do.

    10. Healthcare Worker*

      I love my progressives! Have them check your prescription against how the lens is put into the frame; I have astigmatism and that makes a huge difference. I’ve also had to try different types of lenses. Once I used a new lens that was supposed to be better and couldn’t tolerate it. Make sure your provider will work with you to check these things! Once you hit the sweet spot I hope you love them. It’s only taken me a week at most to adjust to new lenses.

    11. Daffodilly*

      Don’t switch to them mid day.
      Start wearing them first thing in the morning, wear them as long as you can. Repeat the next day.
      I did this with my first progressives (based on advice from a family member) and I was able to wear them longer each day and by day 4-5 I was good for the whole day.

    12. allathian*

      I love my progressives. When I got my first pair, it took me about 3 days to get comfortable with them, and 3 weeks before I felt comfortable walking downstairs with them on. At my office we’re on 3 floors of a building, and I often use the spiral staircase to walk between floors just to get some exercise, and it’s usually faster than waiting for the elevator.

      That said, two years ago I had to get a pair of computer glasses. Fortunately my job paid for those, but my ordinary prescription had to be less than a year old.

      Progressives aren’t for everyone, but get them checked to ensure they’re the right prescription and that they sit properly on your nose.

  23. Dr. Doll*

    Anyone have a recommendation for an air dryer? I heard about the Breville on my favorite frothy fun podcast (Happer in Hollywood) . Pretty expensive though so thought I would ask here.

        1. Dr. Doll*

          I have a great clothesline, this giant four armed rotating thing from Lehman’s. It’s a conversation piece. It amuses me mightily that a clothesline is a piece of political landscape art.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My husband the chef / engineer picked a Cosori with a rotisserie insert, and a bread proofing setting. My only problem is I haven’t been able to find a second fry basket for doing two rounds of fries at once.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Mine is a 5-quart Gourmia model – Costco has the current version (I’ve had mine for three years) on their shelves for $50, if I recall correctly, and it’s worked a treat all along.

  24. Dwight Schrute*

    What are your favorite subreddits? I’m somewhat new to Reddit and far I really enjoy but I’m looking for some new ones to join. I like AITA, askreddit, something I made, dogs, popping, skincare ones etc

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I like the ones where you help people find things they vaguely remember – tipofmytongue, whatstheword, and whatsthatbook. It’s like playing a trivia game!

      Hobby ones can be fun, and I also follow some for my favorite shows – even older shows sometimes have pretty active subreddits from people rewatching or newly discovering them.

    2. Sleepless*

      My favorite is askreddit, but I like science, nextfuckinglevel, eli5, whatisthisthing, and you can never go wrong with aww.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I subscribe to Awww, MadeMeSmile, GuineaPigs, Books, WorldNews, and a few others.

      When I’m ready to dip my toes in some snark, I check out stuff like AntiMLM, InstagramReality, MaliciousCompliance, IDontWorkHereLady, and KitchenConfidential.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        AntiMLM led me to LuLaNo the other day, which is just pictures of the most WTF LuLaRoe fabric designs. I scrolled for like an hour laughing myself to tears

    4. comityoferrors*

      If you like the storytelling/drama in AITA and AskReddit, I’d also recommend BestOfLegalAdvice. WeddingShaming might be up your alley too.

    5. MissCoco*

      BirdsFacingForward, Buncomfortable (bunnies sleeping in weird places), DivorcedBirds are some favorites of mine, and I follow some craft, hobby, and pet ones that interest me as well.

  25. Epsilon Delta*

    A couple weeks ago I started getting spam text messages sent to as a group text message to me and about five other numbers that I don’t know. I’m getting almost one a day at this point, always from a different number starting a new group text. Has anyone else experienced this? What gives? Any idea how to make it stop? I tried blocking the sender the first few times, but it’s not easy to know which number to block because they all show up in a list.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve blocked them all, on the couple of occasions that’s happened to me, but mine have all been one-offs, not regular occurrences. Yuck!

    2. fposte*

      In my experience they come in waves. I’ll have a bunch for a week and then it’ll stop. I don’t think there are any good text-filtering tools yet, unfortunately, and changing numbers doesn’t help because it’s just a random block of numbers that get targeted.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I reply to the messages with “spam” or “scam”. Doesn’t seem to do much, but it makes me feel better.

        1. Sunny Dulcibella*

          Well, somebody used MY number to send spam texts. The reason I know is that I got a bunch of “Fk Off” and “Fk you” replies which was rather upsetting.
          The nicer people replied with “remove me from your list please”. It really made for an unpleasant morning altogether. I contacted the local Verizon office and they said there was nothing I could do to stop it. So when you get a spam text, maybe it makes *you* feel better to reply “Fk off” but it isn’t very nice for the person whose number they are using to receive that message. The actual jerks sending the message aren’t seeing your reply, so you might as well just ignore the text.

          1. Llellayena*

            I actually had my number used for spam once and got a nasty, threatening phone call because of it. Guy said he was in the military, something way up the chain (general maybe), and would send the Feds to my door if I called him again. He would not believe me that I personally had never called him (apparently on his restricted military office line) and that my number was spoofed to use for spam. Ugh.

    4. Sleepless*

      They do tend to come in waves. I mostly ignore them. They tend to die down. I have a number of spectacularly gross work-related pictures on my phone, so I’m always tempted to reply with one of those, but I don’t want to send it to all the other poor recipients.

  26. My Brain Is Exploding*

    What weird thing do you keep in your car? We have been involved in dog rescue/transport but haven’t done anything for them in several years. However, I still keep a slip lead in the car because you never know when you might find a stray without a collar. Also earplugs; had them there in case I forgot to take them to an exercise class with really loud music, quit the class, kept the earplugs (a new pack with about 3 pairs). Took someone to the airport and partway there they lamented they forgot their earplugs. No problem, grab some from the glove box!

    1. fposte*

      A reusable grocery bag full of towel. On longer drives, I prop my left arm on it to minimize shoulder irritation, but otherwise it’s just floating around, and passengers are like, “Um, can I move this towel bag?” Perhaps relevant to note that I live nowhere near any coastline.

    2. Janet Pinkerton*

      Probably the weirdest is those drink carriers for multiple beverages—I keep a few in my car at all times in case I need them. I too keep earplugs in the car—I use them for super bowl parties and concerts and anything loud. Oh and two swimsuits, two pairs of flip flops, and a large beach towel. You never know when you will be struck by the sudden urge to drive three hours to the beach!

      The other big one is evacuation sneakers—all of my old sneakers get stashed somewhere in case I have to walk a long distance. I have a pair in my car (socks too), I have a pair at work. I’m in DC so there’s been several occasions over the past few decades than have required folks to walk home. I’m about 8 miles out so I definitely wouldn’t want to do it in work flats. Or if my car breaks down! Or if I decide on a spontaneous hike. They’re not ideal for hiking but they’re sure better than Sperrys

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        That is a really good idea!
        I think the weirdest thing I keep in the back of my car is a bag of ropes and tie downs. I just got tired of looking for it when it was time to hook up the trailer.

    3. anon24*

      I have some weird stuff in my car that just looks bad when put all together:
      Zip ties, because quick repairs.
      Duct tape, because it works great for temporary auto body fixes. Used it once when I was in an accident and I was able to tape my bumper back on and tape my trunk shut (latch busted) and drive the car home.
      A camping hatchet, because I used to drive alone through some rural areas and someone was talking once about how they had to cut up a branch across the road once and I was like huh that’s a decent thing to keep in the trunk.
      A foldable shovel for digging out of snow in emergencies.
      And a bag with a blanket and an extra change of clothing.

      I’m prepared for anything, but my friends joke that if the police ever decide to search my car I’m in for some questions.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I have most of this, along with a go-bag backpack, in case I get stuck somewhere in a zombie apocalypse and have to get home, but I didn’t think of the hatchet. I do have a foldable saw, though, so I guess that would work.

        Oh, and rope. If I need furniture, I go to flea markets first. Then if I find something, I can just slap it on the roof or the trunk of my car and tie it down (the trunk has a spoiler).

      2. Pippa K*

        How clever of you to put this story out here in advance of whatever heinous (but possibly justified – I’m not judging!) crime you’re planning to commit. “Why, I’ve had these items in my car for years, officer. Just ask any of my friends or AAM readers!” :)

      3. Generic Name*

        Ha! My husband is The Most Prepared Man in the World, and he carries stuff like this at all times. Luckily, he’s a carpenter, so there’s all kinds of random stuff in his truck.

    4. Kathenus*

      A small bag of cornstarch. When I transport pets for any reason I always tried to remember to bring quik-stop with me in case of an emergency, and it was a pain to always remember it. And since quik-stop is expensive to have a bottle just for the car, I use a bag of cornstarch since it works the same way. Luckily I’ve never been stopped and had my car searched, finding a random bag of white powder in the glovebox.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Bungie cords of various sizes because you never know when they are just the thing. A bicyclist fell off their bike. They were fine but my aftermarket fog light not so much. Rather than cutting wires (noooooo). I took a mini bungie cord and strapped it securely inside the front bumper. I drove home slowly and carefully. When my husband got done laughing he remounted it.

      Years later the rear window on the hatch had ONE hinge break. Picture a child’s loose tooth but on a larger scale. I used a couple bungie cords attached to the head rests in the back seat to hold the glass in place. Again, I drove slowly to the repair shop and again, when the mechanic got done laughing he fixed it.

    6. Cute Li'l UFO*

      Earplugs is a good one! I’ve got some in my makeup kit at all times. Lots of concerts and I’m always ready.

      -Plastic bag of plastic bags. Not just as sickness bags (even with a two seater I will never not be prepared) but for emergency waterproofing, muddy shoe storage, etc.
      -Small wooden crate. Good for impromptu plant sale pickups but if you buy fresh squeezed juice (or anything you don’t want tipping over, like takeout) it’s great for keeping these things upright.
      -Napkins on napkins. When I got rid of my old car I transferred all my drivethru napkins to the new car. I am never without a napkin to mop up a quick spill or anything to blow my nose on. I did throw out the ancient McDonald’s ketchup packet that somehow snuck in there. When I was in high school I ran out of napkins once and had to sacrifice a tampon for a bloody nose.
      -Ski gloves, hiking boots, flats for walking. I have a pair of flats in my trunk because I’d often walk to interviews/work in them and swap out my shoes. They’re professional and passable but after all this time are at least still dependable. Hiking boots in case something happens and I have to walk or push the car (been there) and I want protection. Ski gloves as an old habit when I was sleeping in my car. Even in the summer it dips down pretty chilly here. It was a miserable time but not waking up because my fingers turned to icicles was slightly better. I don’t drive a car that I can easily or safely take to snow country but the gloves stay… they hardly take up space and I’d rather have them than not. I gave my thrift store Nine West leather jacket to a friend who had no jacket years back and my current trunk jacket is a SuperDry one I got from a Black Friday deal, which worked out better since it’s water resistant and has a hood.
      -Beach bag (summer months.) Because sometimes you just need to run away to the beach. Has my favorite sun hat and big old beach towel.

    7. LizB*

      This is reminding me that now that I’m driving places more often, I should really re-assemble my car emergency kit and put it in my trunk again. At the moment, the weirdest thing I have is a (clean) pair of period underwear – I threw them in the glove compartment before a weekend camping trip just in case my period snuck up on me, but it can’t hurt to have them available as a backup, I guess!

      1. Annie Moose*

        I had a very bad day a few years ago and needless to say, I’ve kept a clean pair of underwear and a handful of pads in my car ever since… you hope you never need this sort of thing but when you need it you REALLY need it!!

    8. small town*

      Bags of bags.
      A dog lead.
      Charging cables for phone types I do not have because often a friend will need one.
      Tweezers (somehow the best light to get the chin whiskers is in the car). I like Tweezerman.

      1. The cat's pajamas*

        I have a pandemic car picnic kit. Paper plates, napkins, plastic silverware, gloves, hand sanitizer for when I get drive thru or takeout at places too far away to bring food home before it gets cold.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I do have a slip lead in my glove box. Also a spare t-shirt and pair of panties in a ziplock bag in the side pocket of the trunk along with an emergency pair of flip flops. I keep four collapsible crates, two collapsible shopping baskets and a cooler tote in the back of my SUV for grocery trips (the baskets are mostly for like, farmer’s market runs, but also if I’m leery of how well the grocery store is sanitizing their baskets, I can just take my own). Box of bandaids and a stash of disposable masks in the glove box as well. Also one of those USB blocks that has a jumper cable attachment, so that if I need a jump, I don’t have to rely on the kindness of strangers or worry about the logistics of arranging two cars, I can just do it myself in under a minute and a half.

    10. Redhairedrunner*

      I work with boats so I always have a life jacket and a full set of dry clothes in my trunk. In the colder months I add my dry suit and bright orange survival suit (basically coveralls that float) as well which take up half of my trunk.

    11. Don’t judge*

      A clean empty plastic wide mouth jar with a partial roll of TP as an emergency pee jar. As a woman who has been stuck on a mountain road traffic jam where there was nowhere to “go in the woods,” I know I can aim better in such a jar. That and some basic emergency go-bag items: first aid kit, duct tape, rope, water.

    12. MissCoco*

      Diving/swimming fins. I put them in there as a high school swimmer, and there they have stayed through many college dorms, three apartments, and across three states. It’s even a different car now, but I always know where they are, and they don’t take up enough space for me to bother moving them.

      Aside from that, my car definitely belongs to a slightly anxious person who likes to be prepared. I keep a box in my trunk (separate from my car breakdown kit) with the following: socks for summer or winter, running shoes, snow boots, waterproof gloves, toe warmers, a jacket, period supplies, first aid kit, toe and hand warmers, and bug spray.

      I’m definitely going to add earplugs and a towel to this kit!

    13. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      I can’t contribute anything interesting from my own car, but one of my mother’s friends kept a spoon in her glove compartment in case of an ice cream emergency.

  27. Home Office*

    Remote workers, will you help me design my home office?

    I have large computer set-ups for both my personal and work systems, neither of which are light or easy to move (I’m not looking to mesh them, strict separation is the name of the game.) I’m trying to decide where to put both in the room. It has two windows, both on only one wall. Currently my iMac is on a TV cart between the windows, so I can look outside while I work. There’s only about 30 inches of width there, so I never bought a full desk, but what I have has been good enough.

    I will be getting a new work Windows laptop and double monitor some time this week, and I’m trying to decide how to go about this. Put the work system in the “good” spot with the view, since that’s the one I’ll use most often? Keep the home system in the “good” spot, since it’s already there and/or I want to enjoy my downtime? Put an L-shaped desk in the back of the room and put both systems side by side, so neither has a great view, but there’s less furniture in the room? Something else entirely?

    WWYD?

    1. acmx*

      I just set up my home office and I put my work desk by the good window since I am there during the day. However, my windows are opposite each other so my personal desk is in front of the other window.

      Can you put a L desk at the window and still enjoy the view?

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Do you want to keep your two setups near each other, or would you prefer to keep them separate? I put both my work computer and my personal computer on the same desk, and in fact they actually share the keyboard and mouse, but that’s just me. :)

      In your case, I would be tempted to put one long desk (I have a tabletop I’ve used in the past, about six feet long, currently in my storage unit from Ikea, relatively inexpensive) under both windows (or one smaller desk in front of each) and set up one computer in front of each window. Similar pros as to the L-shaped desk in terms of floor space, gives you a different good view from your work seat as from your not-work seat, and still gives you separation in that you have to consciously move from one computer to the other, but (depending on your flooring) you could just roll your chair down and back without having to actually get up and migrate around the room.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I worded that weird. The long tabletop and its legs came from Ikea, and it is currently in my storage shed, which did not come from Ikea. Anyway. The one I have appears to have been changed around, but the Lagkapten tabletop is about the same thing and comes in a 78″ length (so slightly over 6 foot) at $48, the Adil legs (this length takes five legs, four corners and a center support) are $4 each.

    3. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I would do the thing that gives you the most amount of enjoyment for the most amount of hours you spend in that room. It’s hard to say what that would be without understanding your layout and setup though…

      One thing many people default to doing is placing furniture against walls, which often makes sense, but there are other possibilities if you don’t mind the idea of room divisions.

      30 inches is a standard desk depth… is it possible to use that spot between windows to abut the short edge of a long desk and use either side of it for work / non work purposes? Sounds like you would have a view to your side from either side of the desk.

  28. Just thinking*

    Here’s a thought I’ve often had: it seems that there’s a difference between what is true and what is helpful or beneficial to believe. I think this goes against modern cultural assumptions about the value of truth, but for example: the truth is that the course of any given person’s life is mostly a matter of chance and circumstances beyond their control. Right? But most people find that a bad thing to believe about their own lives because, frankly, it’s depressing. Unless you have managed to cultivate an almost monk-like tranquility and equanimity, you are probably healthier if you can manage to sustain the belief that you are in control of your own destiny, or that some benevolent force will always take care of you. So truth is not necessarily a good thing.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I would disagree that the course of a person’s life is mostly a matter of chance. Chance/circumstances is absolutely a factor, and a big one, but so is choice. The balance probably swings back and forth, but I suspect averages out to about 50/50.

      There are people who come from backgrounds of unspeakable abuse, neglect, poverty, etc and they end up being very successful in life (the definition of success varies of course). Other people from similar backgrounds have very different outcomes. Even people who have very positive backgrounds can have wildly different lives. Yes, sometimes the underlying causes are out of a person’s control, but even then your choices can mitigate or worsen the situation. You don’t choose to develop mental illness, but you do choose to go visit the social media site that ends up making everything worse.

      I do agree that for many people the thought of a benevolent force is very comforting. We wouldn’t have religion if that wasn’t the case! Unfortunately, that can actually cause its own set of problems. Being human is complicated.

      1. Just thinking*

        I just keep thinking about the typical conservative belief that with hard work and smart choices, you can achieve anything. This strikes me as obviously not true, which is why I am not a conservative. But at times in my life when I have convinced myself to temporarily buy into it, I have done better because I don’t give up as easily.

        But this is not just an observation about conservatism; activists across the political spectrum have embraced the saying, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (This is often attributed to Margaret Mead.) It’s essentially the same idea, but with the mythical rugged individual replaced by a “small group” of people. And I don’t think the slight multiplication of entities makes it any more rationally believable … but without such beliefs, it would be hard for many people to keep their spirits up in whatever struggle they are engaged in.

        And then of course, on the left side of the political landscape, you often find a profound faith that *very large* numbers of people, acting together, will ultimately achieve great things. I don’t think that’s likely to be true either, but I convince myself to suspend my disbelief every time there’s an election.

        I think that only about 10% of what happens to us is within our power to decide … but if I tell myself that too much, I give up on even that 10%. It just doesn’t seem worth it. So it’s a truth that, in the long run, hurts me to acknowledge.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Are you naturally pessimistic? I am naturally optimistic, mixed with realist. But I know people who are naturally more pessimistic, and what you’re saying sounds very much like what they would say. I honestly don’t quite get that viewpoint. Yes, there’s a lot wrong and bad. But there’s also a lot right and good.

          As for the small groups of people, or the large groups – I’m not sure why you dismiss them so easily. Small groups of people HAVE had substantial impacts. Large groups of people HAVE had substantial impacts. Why is it so hard to believe that it could happen again? It’s happened before after all.

          1. Just thinking*

            I’m definitely a glass-half-empty type.

            It’s not that I don’t think people working together can EVER make a positive difference; I just think that usually, it doesn’t work.

        2. SoloKid*

          “hard work and smart choices, you can achieve anything.”

          Anything, no. But often, hard work does get you satisfaction.

          People are social creatures and do better in situations where people agree with them or are in the same boat at least. The bus boycotts of the 60’s wouldn’t’ve worked out if only one person felt empowered to do it. (Rosa Parks is the face; much of the black community agreeing to carpool or walk miles to work was the strength behind it.) I can’t imagine large swaths of today’s population agreeing to do something as simple as not shopping at Amazon to protest workers’ rights for example.

    2. Tonia*

      Why is that depressing? It’s freeing! The bad stuff isn’t something you’re to blame for. You didn’t do anything wrong.

      And frankly the idea of some benevolent force “taking care of me” is terrifying. No thank you! Do. Not. Want.

      I think you are generalising far too broadly here. These thoughts may help YOU. They are absolutely not helpful for me. It’s better to focus on finding your own path than prescribing one for others to take.

      1. Just thinking*

        You’re right that I am overgeneralizing. I don’t really know how everyone else’s mind works. But I feel sure that lots of people’s minds work the way mine does.

        I actually do feel a sense of freedom and comfort when I think of the Buddhist notion that the world is “unsatisfactory”. Hearing that some revered sages declared this to be true allows me to let myself off the hook for feeling that way. It’s not on ME to somehow find a way to see everything that I cannot change as acceptable. But when I need to stop thinking in abstractions and get up and go to work, I find that the relief disappears. The idea that my work might be for naught, and there might not be anything I can do about it, becomes intolerable.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I don’t really know how everyone else’s mind works. But I feel sure that lots of people’s minds work the way mine does.
          Just going to note that this seems to follow the same logical dichotomy pointed out elsewhere in the thread, of picking what feels right and then trying to logic yourself into that being true.

    3. Daffodilly*

      Disagree with your example premise. Chance and circumstances no doubt play a role. But “mostly”? I don’t know that it is a universal truth. Personally, I think there are so many factors no one factor is universally the dominant one. For every story of someone who gumptioned themselves out of hard times, there are also stories of those who faced horrible things that happened by chance, or who had oppressive circumstances.
      We all have different lives. Chance plays a role. Circumstances play a role. Personal action plays a role. Proportions vary.
      The rest of your argument falls apart after that premise.
      You sound like someone who doesn’t want to act because they cannot be 100% in control. And you’re doing mental gymnastics to justify that.

    4. Generic Name*

      I see what you are saying, but I think that you are falling prey to a false dichotomy: people have total control over their lives and people have no control over their lives. Really, it’s a mixture of both, and it’s healthy to realize what you can control and what you can’t. Some things you can’t control (other people, some kinds of disease, the weather), and some things you can (do I marry this person, do I take this job, do I have sushi for lunch). We don’t always have control over what happens to us, but we have control over how respond to what life throws at us.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I especially find in my 50s that wherever you are usually has a lot to do with choices you made along the way. And also with whatever starting position you were in when that choice appeared.

    5. Sunflower*

      I think the healthy balance is ‘I can control only as much as I can control’ while accepting there are things you can’t control that can take your life off course. I’d like to think most humans operate this way while leaning maybe slightly more in one direction.

      And by ‘healthier’ to subscribe to one of those 2 beliefs, I think you mean living in a state of avoidance- which is certainly not healthy and will catch up to you at some point. I do think a toxic levels of both of these beliefs exists in our culture- and it mostly comes from privileged people – but I find them to be outliers more than the norm.

      1. Lotus*

        Yeah the privilege issue is important to keep in mind. There are too many scammy self help books circulating about how if you just “believe in yourself and get up at 5 am” then you will be rich, and in effect blaming poor people for their circumstances even though they are exploited. The conflict is keeping the truth in perspective without getting too pessimistic. It’s complicated.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      I disagree your example because your assumptions are wrong as others state, but also it occasionally true in specific circumstances to think “it seems that there’s a difference between what is true and what is helpful or beneficial to believe.”

      In a tv example. Robert Crawley trusted a rich, famous, distinguished doctor over his local doctor during his daughters childbirth and his daughter died. If he had listened to his long time family doctor she may have lived. Robert Crawley and his wife fight and grow apart through their grief because Cora blames him. His mother convinces the local doctor to lie and say the daughter probably would have died anyway in order to help them stop arguing and grieve together. That’s probably a beneficial lie to stop useless blame.

      In general the truth is better, but sometimes the truth hurts. “Her death was painless.” seems like it can often be a kind lie.

      OTOH the lies that the COVID vaccine is unsafe is extremely damaging and deadly to many people and hurt loved ones of the people dying of COVID who did not have to.

      If someone can’t find a job because their resume is terrible, it is much more kind and beneficial to tell them it’s terrible so they can fix it instead of saying it’s great and they’re just having bad luck,

      In general truth is better. There may be occasions where a lie can help a person.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Off topic, but I did a bit of research about what Sybil’s chances really would have been, and I think it was roughly 50/50.

    7. fposte*

      Other people have addressed your particular example. I’ll also argue that you seem to be positing the existence of an objective truth, when often that’s the real myth.

      But certainly there are things like parents’ tendency to rate their baby’s cuteness much higher than non-relatives of the baby–that’s an evolutionary advantage. The placebo effect is another example of a beneficial belief.

      1. Lotus*

        Omg yes the placebo effect! I took a class on medical anthropology in college that had a whole segment on how rituals and beliefs in those rituals are sometimes just as important in healing as medicine (but not a replacement!!)

        1. fposte*

          The placebo effect fascinates me–for instance, the fact that it’s getting stronger, but also that it works differently in different cultures/countries. I try to maximize it with my own health stuff–no idea how much I’m harnessing it, but might as well try to make as much use as I can.

      2. Just thinking*

        I think that there has to be an objective truth, even if we cannot quite reach it. I have tried to imagine the possibility of “no objective truth”, and it seems to imply that nothing is real and nothing matters. Plus, if there is no absolute truth, then it is not necessary true that there is no absolute truth. :P Somewhere out there, there must surely be a universe that we all live in.

        1. fposte*

          Okay, then turn your initial question on yourself–how do you benefit from your belief in an objective truth?

          I personally don’t see how the rarity of objective truth means that nothing is real and nothing matters. It’s more like the need for tempering an instrument–the intervals aren’t pure but you can still play the music.

    8. ecnaseener*

      Agreed with other commenters that your example isn’t great (and that perhaps you’re falling prey to this problem in the other direction…it’s easier for you to believe that you have fairly little control over your life, so you convinced yourself it’s true)

      To your main point: yes, absolutely people tend to believe what they want to believe. The human brain isn’t a truth machine, it’s an imperfect survival mechanism. Big philosophical questions like “how much free will do we really have” aren’t the most obvious example of this IMO – just look at all the conspiracy theories and how many people swallow fake news because it “feels right.”

    9. Lotus*

      Did you read my mind?? This was literally my shower thought yesterday!

      I was thinking about how even though I logically know that “everything happens for a reason” is not true, and it’s something that can sound very sensitive and dismissive if you tell it to someone else, I also have found the phrase very comforting when making meaning of my own trials.

      I also secretly really like the concept of “manifesting” even though I know if I admitted that to people around me they would think I’m cuckoo.

      That being said, I do think it’s important to keep in perspective how much we rely on this stuff due to structural issues, and try and address those issues if that is the case. But I do notice that focusing on what I can control puts me in a better mindset than focusing on what I can’t control.

      1. fposte*

        The discussion above sent me on a search and I found something unrelated but delightful: an experiment about year-old babies and fairness. The babies watched a puppet show where a rabbit either helped a lamb open a box or meanly slammed the box shut when the lamb succeeded in opening it, whereupon the lamb sprawled in despair. Then both puppets offered the baby a plate with graham crackers on it. And the babies who’d seen the rabbit be mean reliably took the crackers from the lamb rather than the rabbit, even though the rabbit had more crackers–at least until the rabbit had a *lot* more crackers (8 seemed to be the magic number), at which point the babies’ loyalties could be bought :-).

        So we seem to be a cooperation-focused species, at least to a point.

      2. Sunflower*

        I think it’s OK and totally healthy to use the words that comfort you. We all need some of these things especially when trauma and grief are new/fresh and we are just trying to survive through it.

        I’m a big believer that we don’t all need to accept or know the raw truth of things- We just need to accept the facts and reality as it is and that will help us keep growing. Let’s say you let get laid off at your job. It doesn’t matter if you mindset around it is ‘this is OK because everything happens for a reason’ or ‘eff those people, they’re morons’ or ‘this is awful, why did this happen to me’ as long as you come out of the situation thinking ‘I will not let this consume my life forever.’

        When you say manifesting, the idea of it may sound a little spacey- But I understand it in the sense of if you say ‘I will be more organized’, it’s not that you saying it is bestowing organization powers upon you. It’s that you may unconsciously start making decisions you can control that help you become more organized.

        I mostly think about this when someone talks about Karma striking. Is Karma real? Well no in the sense that I don’t believe there is some higher power looking down upon bestowing good or bad things on people due to their past actions. But it’s real in the sense that if you treat people like crap, people will notice and treat you the same!

    10. RagingADHD*

      I disagree. I believe it is always better and more helpful to know the truth (as far as one can) and reconcile oneself to it.

      You are starting in a false position by believing that you know “truths” when you’re actually stating unproveable premises.

      The ideas “there is a benevolent force that takes care of me,” and “there is no benevolent force” are both philosophical ideas that are not subject to objective, empirical proof. The idea that people have zero control over their own lives is an even weaker premise, since there are many counter examples. You can only prove that to be true by gerrymandering your definitions of “control”.

      So whichever one you subscribe to, you are just choosing the one you like better. There’s a lot to be learned from examining your own assumptions and motivations as to *why* you prefer one over the other. And from examining your definition of truth.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      ” it seems that there’s a difference between what is true and what is helpful or beneficial to believe.”

      Using your example, I believe that while we cannot control what happens to us but we can control our response to that event. We cannot stop the hurricane/snow storm/whatever from hitting us but we can take steps to protect our own and those around us.

      I dunno why but your last sentence jumped at me. The truth is not necessarily good or bad, it just is. I think the greater question is how do we know when we have arrived at the real truth. It used to be the truth that the world was flat. Well, that was true until it wasn’t.

      Maybe you are driving at the well known rule of thumb that some people are afraid of the truth. Well that happens also.

      I tend to think the answer is in the middle. There are some truths we cannot change. But that does not render us helpless at every turn. This is why we have phrases in our language such as “fall-out control” or “mitigating damage”. Eh, insurance companies talk about “managing risk”. We have techniques/methods of warding off some problems before they get bigger.

      My husband believed that life just happens to us and there is nothing we can do about it. We had some interesting discussions on that point.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      You give what to me is a very odd example: One which I don’t think is true, at least not in my time and place.

      For the general topic, I read that if you could manage to relax and drift when you can’t sleep–rather than getting all worked up about how it’s now 3:20–then that was about 90% as good as sleeping. And I found that when I managed to do it, it felt like a much healthier response–so I deliberately haven’t researched the medical truth of it.

    13. MeepMeep*

      I’m not sure that we have as little control over our lives as all that. For example, if I decided, starting tomorrow, to binge-drink all day every day, I’d ruin my life pretty damn quick. That would be my choice and my decision, and it would not be “random chance” or anything beyond my control.

      I’m pondering a major life decision at present – whether or not to emigrate to another country. This is a decision within my control and making it will be life changing, either way – whether staying or leaving.

      I’m not talking about the privileged lies Americans are fed (pull yourself up by your bootstraps and all that), but even leaving that aside, most of us do have at least some control over our lives.

  29. GoryDetails*

    Book recommendations (general – there’s a “how to adult” recommendation thread farther up)/current reading thread:

    THE LADY’S GUIDE TO PETTICOATS AND PIRACY by Mackenzi Lee – an amusing romp featuring LGBTQ characters having adventures in an alternate-history 19th century. [Talk Like a Pirate Day is on the 19th so I’ve been reading pirate-themed books recently.]

    THE DEEPEST BLUE by Sarah Beth Durst is a fantasy set in her “Tales of Renthia” ‘verse, with a young island woman who can control powerful nature spirits being captured and forced to compete with others in a battle to the death – with the winner becoming the next queen. But she only wants to go home to her artist-husband for a quiet life.

    I AM BEHIND YOU by John Ajvide Lindqvist, a very creepy/surreal novel by the author of the vampire tale Let The Right One In; this one has four unrelated families who happened to set up camp near each other in a trailer park wake up one day to find they and their campers are situated in the middle of a vast grassy plain, with no phone service, nothing but themed music by a single producer on the radio, and a brightly lit sky with no sun…

    1. Person from the Resume*

      A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers is delightful and I absolutely recommend everyone read it.

      It’s characters are gentle, kind, and curious, and absolutely nothing bad happens, but the non-binary tea monk Sibling Dex and the robot Mosscap have philosophical discussions about what people/humans/beings want on the moon where the humans have learned to live in harmony with nature.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re Chambers: I really enjoyed her Record of a Spaceborn Few; will look for Psalm for the Wild-Built.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Scythe by Neal Schusterman – it’s a YA that has been on my list for a couple years. There are aspects that are super heavy-handed but I’m enjoying it.

      Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrow – I started this one on audiobook just after finishing (and loving) Ten Thousand Doors of January by the same author. Suffragettes and witches!!

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Jeeves and the King of Clubs by Ben Schott. An ode to the classic Jeeves and Wooster pair, but now they also get to be spies.

    4. Pam*

      A lot of rereading lately. Some young adult novels by Margot Benary-Isbert about German refugee families post WW2, written in the 1950’s.
      The Ark, Rowan Farm, and Always Coming Home.

    5. cleo*

      The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri – it’s the beginning of a new fantasy trilogy and I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s a feminist, queer epic fantasy set in an Indian / SE Asian inspired world. It’s beautifully written, with lots of interesting things to say about power and faith and the hidden costs of both – but it’s not preachy or pedantic. There’s a lot going on, but at its heart, it’s the story of two flawed and complicated queer women (an exiled princess and a maidservant with a secret past) who form an unlikely connection.

      It is intense and the violence can be graphic – here’s the author’s content warnings https://tashasuri.com/contentwarn/

  30. brdy75*

    Hi all, I have a question about depressed people. I get that they don’t want to communicate sometimes. They just want to be left alone and can’t really do normal activities. My boyfriend, who lives alone, gets bouts of depression. He’ll go 12 hrs without replying to any of my texts. I’m worrying about him but he doesn’t seem to see the issue with not replying. I understand that he might not want to get together, but surely a simple text letting me know he’s still alive is not too much to ask, right? Advice on how to respect his feelings but not worry incessantly is appreciated. Thanks!

    1. ecnaseener*

      It sounds like you’ve only tried to talk to him about this when he’s in the middle of a depressive funk or shortly after he emerges? If so, I would definitely recommend talking to him at a time when he’s more lucid and able to understand where you’re coming from.

      When you’re in a depressive funk you genuinely can’t see the problem with going silent (the passage of time doesn’t feel as real) so it’ll be very hard to get through to him during that. If you come up with a plan ahead of time, he *might* be able to remember to follow that. Maybe something like a code word he can send you. It’s not going to work perfectly.

    2. fposte*

      It can be a reasonable thing to ask and still be beyond him to do.

      It may be that you have communication needs he can’t fulfill; it’s okay for there to be a mismatch of needs here. The question for you is what do you want to do if he’s not going change his texting back speed? Is there something else that he’s likelier to do that would work for you, or does this strike too much at the core of your relationship needs to get over?

    3. Newbie*

      I’m not depressed but also don’t always respond promptly to texts. They’re texts! If someone leaves a message, email or text that something is urgent, then certainly I’d drop everything and see what’s going on but expecting a reply in a certain, narrow timeframe would be smothering to me (I’m female, genX, if it matters).
      Sounds like a talk and some compromise about communication preferences is in order.

      1. Dr B Crusher*

        I think that’s reasonable most of the time, for most friends and family, but generally for a SO responding more rapidly is a reasonable thing to expect.

    4. Washi*

      I wonder if you can compromise a bit here, like maybe agreeing that he doesn’t need to write a whole text back, but can just send one emoji or word that means “I am alive but in a funk.” Sometimes when I was depressed I would get into a cycle of not responding, then feeling bad it had been so long, but overwhelmed by composing an apologetic yet reassuring text. So some sort of shorthand might help.

      1. Daffodilly*

        This is what I do with my college age kids. If they’re not up for replying, they can just send me a single letter or emoji. It doesn’t have to mean anything other than “I’m here, just not up for responding.”
        Which sometimes is depression, sometimes is because they’re studying or in class, and sometimes they’re with friends or out partying.
        One always sends me a heart emoji, every time.
        One sends me a sad face, a book or confetti, depending on why.
        The third always replies with TTYL. And she is good about following up later.
        I’m not left hanging or wondering.

    5. Kathenus*

      I agree with the others’ suggestions of some type of shorthand for this, but would also like to suggest that 12 hours is not long at all, so maybe you both compromise a bit? He agrees to some type of response within an agreed upon time frame so you can not worry, and you lengthen the time frame you’re currently hoping for to something that is longer – maybe 1-2 days?

    6. Generic Name*

      I hope I’m saying this in a helpful way rather than a harsh way, so I apologize if it doesn’t land as I intend. What if you didn’t try to guess/predict why he isn’t as responsive to your texts as you world like him to be and sit with the question of “is he willing/able to communicate with me in a way that feels good to me?” Then you can try to address your concern without preloading a reason behind it. Could you tell your boyfriend how it makes you feel when he is non-responsive and ask that he respond more quickly. His reaction will tell you a lot. Does he apologize and do better or does he get defensive and blame you/blow up/ignore you for days? It’s okay to decide that he isn’t meeting your needs, even if he’s a nice (but depressed) guy.

    7. brdy75*

      We did set up a code word years ago but he’s never used it and we probably need to revisit that/remind ourselves about it. And sometimes I am needing a response because we had tentatively agreed to do something minor (think an errand not a date), so I would like to know if I should plan on his participation or if I am on my own. And “it can be a completely reasonable thing to ask and still beyond him to do” is exactly what I am trying to navigate.

      1. fposte*

        Okay, then let go of the “is it too much to ask?” question, because it doesn’t get you anywhere. If the problem is simply knowing whether he’ll come or not, change the framing of the plan so that you’re not waiting on that information; make it something that you’ll be doing at x time and you’d love to do it together, and if you don’t hear from him, you carry on rather than waiting.

        I totally understand if this isn’t what you want, and hopefully there is room for discussion between you two about ways to stay engaged even when he’s not doing well. But it sounds like you’ve raised this with him and it hasn’t changed, so pragmatically it’s up to you to make changes or make your peace.

      2. Ranon*

        Instead of framing your questions so they require communication for you to make a decision, for stuff like errands you can also use the “still up for “x”? I’ll head out by “y” if I don’t hear from you” format. You know he’s not always going to/ able to respond so it’s a kindness to both of you to format stuff so a non response doesn’t leave you hanging plans wise

          1. Generic Name*

            Even this feels too much like putting the onus on a chronic non-responder to respond. I like: I’m heading out at 11:30, so if I don’t see/hear from you by 11, have a great rest of your day

            1. Washi*

              I would imagine this gets tricky if the activity is one OP wouldn’t just do by herself anyway. In which case it might be something more like “since I haven’t heard from you, I assume we are not getting lunch. If that’s not the case, let me know by 11. Hope you’re doing well!”

              And yeah, worth thinking about you if you have mismatched communication needs. Personally, I am not bothered by not hearing from someone for 1-2 days, but it would drive me nuts to have plans up in the air on a regular basis. (And I say this as someone who has experienced serious depression).

    8. Observer*

      He’ll go 12 hrs without replying to any of my texts.

      That doesn’t sound all that outrageous. Granted, if I were dealing with someone I cared about who got so anxious, I’d probably respond sooner. But this does not sound like an essentially MAJOR issue.

      but surely a simple text letting me know he’s still alive is not too much to ask, right?

      You’re assuming he’s seeing your texts and deliberately ignoring them. He might just not even be looking at his phone at all. Or seeing the texts and thinking “What am I supposed to tell her now?” In that state it is often NOT obvious that “Got your message, going back to bed” is a sufficient response.

      Advice on how to respect his feelings but not worry incessantly is appreciated

      Just as it is NOT *your* responsibility to manage *his* depression, it’s not ~~his~~ responsibility to manage ~~your~~ anxiety. You know that this is a pattern. You have no real reason to believe that something major is wrong. So the anxiety is mostly for you to manage.

      I do think that discussing it with him when he’s not in a depressed state is a good idea. And coming up with some canned and easy response that you both agree on that he can use in these cases may be a good idea. But you need to explain what your issue actually is – and recognize that it actually IS primarily *your* issue.

    9. allathian*

      If you’re worrying incessantly, it’s just another way of saying that you’re experiencing anxiety. Just like he can’t ask you to cure his depression, you can’t ask him to cure your anxiety, you need to deal with that yourself.

      Are you truly worried that he might be suicidal, or was your comment about letting him know he’s still alive more hype than anything else?

      Anyway, I second the suggestion to talk to him when he’s not experiencing a bout of depression to try and find a way to communicate that works for both of you.

      I’ve had bouts of depression when I was in a relationship that didn’t work out. I was in college at the time, and got access to low-cost therapy through the student health center. Through therapy, I realized that I needed to leave my dysfunctional relationship to feel better. And I did feel better as soon as I left him, although it took a while to fully recover, and the depression delayed my graduation by a year, because I couldn’t focus on my studies.

      When I started dating my husband, he worked a 5-hour drive away. I had moderate separation anxiety during the first few months. I really, really, really wanted a text first thing in the morning when he woke up, and I’d be really anxious until I got it. We did talk about it, and while I don’t think he ever really understood how important it was to me, he tried to do as I asked. As we got to know each other better, and when I realized that he loved me and wasn’t going anywhere, my anxiety eased a lot, and I stopped worrying about him having forgotten all about me during the night if he sent me a text when he got to work instead of when he woke up (sounds absurd, but that’s what I was worried about). To be fair, he wasn’t depressed, he just had other things on his mind when he got up in the morning and had to get ready for work. And he did try, when he realized how important it was to me.

      How about if you stop planning mundane things like errands to include him for a while? If you didn’t take the initiative, how long do you think it would take for him to miss you and contact you?

      Presumably you’ve been with this guy for years for a reason. I hope you’re getting something other than anxiety out of the relationship, and aren’t just staying with him because you’re afraid he’d kill himself if you left.

      1. RagingADHD*

        “If you’re worrying incessantly, it’s just another way of saying that you’re experiencing anxiety.”

        Yup.

  31. the cat's ass*

    Re Messy Cats

    Does anyone have suggestions about my 3 very messy eaters? They are Persian rescues with little smooshy faces and hardly any profile. I’ve tried deep bowls, flat plates, shallow bowls on a raised tilted holder (the oldest guy likes that because he doesn’t have to bend down to eat, but still, kibble everywhere), special food formulated for Persians and their little mouths, and feeding them well apart from each other so nobody intrudes on anyone else. I have mats under all their bowls as well. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

    1. Epsilon Delta*

      I have a cat who takes a mouthful of food, walks to the rug in the next room, spits it out, eats it off the rug, and leaves his crumbs there. Sometimes he goes to the rug in the other room. Sometimes he takes too much and it falls out of his mouth on the way, leaving a trail of cat food on the floor. So I’ve just resigned myself to cleaning up after him regularly. Clearly I have not found a way to fix it. At least it sounds like your cats are keeping their mess in one spot! :)

    2. Dino*

      My cat uses her jaw like a bulldozer and pushes kibble out of the bowl. I tried mats but after too many ant incidents I just moved her dishes to the table. I eat at the coffee table.

      I will be following this thread with interest.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I had a Persian and I read that they need flat dishes.

      I dunno about cats, but I know with dogs if they spread their food out all over that is because they think they have too much food. I tried giving my dog less and sure enough, no more messes.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I use trays under my cats’ dishes. It corrals most of what they scoop out of the bowl, but I still haven’t found a solution Tottenham wet flood that they somehow get on the wall.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      My cat like to pick up a single piece of kibble, put it on the floor next to the bowl, bite off 2/3 of it, eat the big piece, then leave the little piece behind. Yes, there’s a lot of food on the floor. She gets fed on a mat. Other than that, I just vacuum it regularly.

  32. Filosofickle*

    Getting ready to go to bed last night and out of the corner of my eye, a mouse under the kitchen island. Ugh.

    I’m at a loss. Obviously I’ll bug my landlord to send an exterminator (again). But there just doesn’t seem to be any solutions and they don’t show up often enough to keep the landlord and exterminator engaged in solving it. It’s a century old triplex with loads of gaps and entry points. My downstairs neighbors believe they live in the exterior walls. In my flat I’ve crawled around every corner, every cabinet, every floorboard, every closet looking for more gaps to seal but mice fit through tiny tiny spaces. Luckily it is only mice. They aren’t scary like rats, which we also had early on but the sealing work has successfully kept them out for the past decade. (Still get rats in the detached garage.) I never find any actual evidence of the mice in the kitchen — no nests, no droppings, no gnawed boxes or food, no shredded paper. They seem to be passing through. But from where to where?! How many?! How do they disappear like magic? I’ve trapped a couple, but I need to stop them from coming in. Or move.

    Best tips for mouse control?

    1. fposte*

      While it sounds like your landlord could improve his mouse-proofing, IMHO mice are just endemic in a lot of places, especially neighborhoods of older houses. Cheerful advice about blocking up all entry holes just isn’t reckoning with the reality of a lot of buildings and the tininess of mouse holes (and yes, they quite likely are living in exterior–or interior–walls). It’s more like dealing with weeds in garden–you can mitigate the problem, but you’re going to be back out weeding again next spring. I just bring out an exterminator around every couple of years.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Call pest control for the best answers. I wouldn’t assume mice are just passing through.
      We had one mouse in the house, caught it and set it free far away. We’ve put steel wool in small gaps and crevices because we were told mice can’t chew through it to get into the house. We haven’t seen another mouse since but please get expert mice advice.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I know they’re not passing through exactly — they probably nest behind the kitchen cabinets, that is where they get in and out. (I just can’t find the exact spots.) But when they enter the kitchen they just seem to be passing through from one side to the other, not accessing food/water/nest materials or even staying long enough to poop once. (Compared the rats, which threw nightly parties on my counters. Shudder.) I will definitely have the landlord send someone and I hope they are good.

    3. Country Dweller*

      “It’s a century old triplex with loads of gaps and entry points.”
      “I need to stop them from coming in.”

      I don’t think you will find permanent solution for this. They are mice; if there is a sufficient supply of mice outdoors they will find a way inside if they want to come in. I would assume a house with loads of gaps and entry points is not possible to mouseproof 100%, if there is enough mouse-pressure from the outdoor world around you.

      If you haven’t had traps out consistently, there may be a backlog of mice to kill, but it doesn’t sound too bad yet if you aren’t seeing “evidence.” Put traps out along walls in frequented areas and check daily; once mice seem to be diminished leave traps out ALL THE TIME to catch the occasional mouse wandering through. (To be clear, I mean kill traps!! Nobody has invented a better mousetrap except that I do like the ones with the big paddle, so they have to step on the paddle to get the bit of peanut butter.)

      1. Filosofickle*

        Yeah, I’ve left out snap traps only briefly when I see one (about every 6 months) and could be braver about leaving them out. The thought of little toe injuring devices under my kitchen cabinets where my toes go is yikes.

        1. the cat's ass*

          We had an influx of cute little deer mice a couple of years ago,and got the small have a heart plastic traps and baited them with peanut butter. We caught a lot of them and took them up to the local park where there’s an actual deer mice colony. No ouchy traps and no death, tho my cats got really excited (but were unable to capture any)

        2. Country Dweller*

          Oh, for sure, unless there’s an obvious entry point they are using I would just put a trap in a couple places I’ll never step or possibly even look at — right next to the fridge, the oven, behind trash can, etc, depending on your kitchen layout. Mice would rather be out of sight where people don’t go, so no need to put a trap where a person would encounter it by accident.

          Honestly though if it were me I’d probably just bother putting traps out if I thought one was about, if that’s only a couple times a year. And around this time of year, when (at least where it gets cold) mice like to look for somewhere warmer.

        3. Speaks to Dragonflies*

          On the use of snap traps…If you ever the lil buggers get the bait without setting off the trap, do this. Put a small dab of peanut butter where the bait goes then wrap it loosly with sewing thread untill its almost completly covered. They LOVE peanut butter and will start chewing through the thread to get to it. Thread gets caught in their teeth and !SNAP! Bye bye mouse.

        1. Filosofickle*

          The third unit has a dog, and they are the only ones who don’t report any sightings. The dog is likely a deterrent.

      1. the cat's ass*

        my cats….are not smart. And i am totally fine with the fact that they, on the stuffed animal to ferocious mouser scale are closer to the stuffed animal part of the continuum. peanut butter >cats in this case!

        1. Dancing Otter*

          Only exceptionally stupid or suicidal mice go where they can smell CAT, good hunter or not. Which doesn’t help the neighbors they visit instead.
          But if you’re allergic, that’s too bad.

          1. allathian*

            Toxoplasmosis is endemic in mice in some areas. It makes them fearless and some of them actually seek out cats. The toxoplasma parasite also affects cats, and is the reason why in some areas pregnant women are told to avoid cleaning litter boxes, because toxoplasmosis can kill fetuses and cause neurocognitive and neurologic deficits in surviving babies. Most humans who get toxoplasmosis don’t show any symptoms, it’s only dangerous to unborn babies.

    4. Incessant Owlbears*

      We fought this battle for years, only with rats. We had an exterminator coming every month; no effect. Stopped up gaps and crevices; no effect. Left out tons of traps; caught many many rats but the overall number did not go down, so no effect. Left out poison; got a few that way, but the overall number did not go down, so no effect.

      The only thing that worked was adopting two semi-feral cats from an organization that rehomes cats from kill shelters to people who need rodent control. These cats could hunt, and they made short work of the rodent problem. If you can’t have indoor cats, maybe you could have outdoor cats? The “Barn Cats R Us” organization where I live just asks requestors to provide a safe space for the barn cats to sleep, and regular food.

    5. Gatomon*

      I had an infestation when I moved into my townhome, but I get about one a year now. Not in the main house, but the crawlspace below, the garage and up into the walls. I use an electronic zapping trap in the garage. No mess, quick and painless. I bait with a cat kibble since they’re high protein and can be tossed easily along with the body, plus they preserve well. I could try to block entry points but it feels a little futile being on crawlspace.

      My cat has been useless, for all the interest he shows. I’ve jokingly considered sending my big tough Guinea pig into battle, as he bosses the cat around.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Follow your water pipes and thoroughly check. I have hot water baseboard heat so I have pipes every-freakin’-where.

      I can tell you first hand my last experience with mice it seemed like I had an army. I had three. A friend helped me get them. So you may just have 2-3 but they are busy so it seems like more.

      I am more apt to see them in the winter than the summer.

    7. Alex*

      My parents had a bit of a mouse problem and they bought some kind of sound emitter that keeps them away. Not the “As seen on TV!” version, but something that had a guarantee. They also make different ones with different sounds for other animals. I wish I could remember the brand name but it is escaping me now. But it worked great for their (country) home.

    8. Formerly in HR*

      I had one and the pest control brought by the landlord came over, looked around and left a trap in the bathroom (although mouse was seen in hallway). Landlord put some steel wool in spaces left around exhaust pipes and bathroom pipes, although I didn’t think those were the culprit. Years later (and no mouse seen since) I was vacuuming and noticed that under the frint entrance door there’s the same type of dent that’s visible under the bathroom door where the mouse squeezed through. It’s in the corner, next to the door jamb, so it’s very easy to miss, but it’s there. Went to store and got steel wool and placed it around the door corner (would need to take out carpet, but I live in a rental). So check out the door area as well.

    9. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Obviously YMMV, but I have a cat. She handles rodent control pretty well for me. And occasionally she brings them inside to play with. Sigh.

      Agreed with fposte though, if mice are part of the environment then they’re just around. You can’t really keep all the spiders out of the house after all.

      1. Speaks to Dragonflies*

        Yeah, you cant keep them out forever…Whats really fun is when the opposums start coming in to visit.

    10. Girasol*

      If you have some particularly problematic gaps where they’re getting in, cramming them tightly full of steel wool can work. That’s what all the farmers around here do to keep mice out of old houses.

  33. Filosofickle*

    Second question: Why would a standing mat make my feet and legs MORE fatigued?

    Mats are supposed to make it easier to stand, though I’ve been using a standing desk for many years and once I built up a tolerance for standing I didn’t find it hard on my legs or feet. Since they come recommended I bought a fairly expensive one, and after 15 minutes my legs and feet ache! My best guess is that the squishier surface (versus my barely carpeted floor) is requiring lots of micro muscles to engage and keep me balanced, and that’s creating strain. Is it worth using it to build up those muscles? Or give it away? FWIW, I am almost always barefoot but I have tried this mat with shoes and it wasn’t much better.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I have had leg problems all my life and those standing mats – the foamy ones look worthless for my purposes. And you nailed the explanation why.

      My legs/feet do best on wood floors and optionally a regular rug to stand on. (no foam pad under the rug, though.)

    2. ShinyPenny*

      For me, it’s the depth my heels sink compared to the depth the front of my feet sink– the difference produces a painful stretch that’s the opposite of wearing high heels, and also the opposite of standard shoes (where the heels are basically always higher, to some noticeable degree, than the toes).
      The deeper and softer the surface, the more extremely unhappy my feet are (walking on sand, for instance, is impossible for me). Some people might say the stretch is “good for you” but if your feet have been broken or otherwise injured, then no, it’s just painful and damaging. Depends on the history of your feet?
      The amount of heel-sink is weight-dependent, so a smaller person wouldn’t notice it as much… I wonder if standing mats have a density rating/PSI rating?

      1. Filosofickle*

        Oh, interesting! I just stood on it, and sure enough it set me right back on my heels. I hadn’t noticed that nuance. I have learned that I can’t wear any flat or negative shoes — there must be a little lift in the heel for my feet to be happy.

        1. Colette*

          If that’s the issue, you might want to put something under where you heels are to see if that helps.

          If it’s the stability that’s the problem, it might be good to keep using it for a while longer to see if it gets easier (I.e. if the muscles strengthen).

        2. ShinyPenny*

          Bummer! If you already know that the “reverse angle” hurts your feet, the softer standing mats are bound to be horrible. (Unless you can set it up so only your heels are on the mat! I’d have to cut the mat up, so my feet could be at comfortable angles…)
          You might want to try the restaurant-type rubber mats that have half-inch holes set about an inch apart? I’ve had good luck with them– my heels don’t sink in, but they somehow make standing on concrete better.

  34. ThursdaysGeek*

    I was having lunch with former coworkers yesterday: two of us vaccinated, two who had had Covid. Today I see news articles about restaurants not allowing non-vaccinated people in to eat. And… someone who has had Covid may not have the piece of paper, but they’ve got antibodies, they might even be more protected than me, who is only vaccinated. It seems like the Covid survivors are being left out of the discussion, out of the restaurants. What am I missing?

    1. Daffodilly*

      People who have had Covid should still be vaccinated! They’re not left out of the discussion, they just mistakenly think they’re exempt.

    2. RMNPgirl*

      Most studies are showing that antibodies from natural infection go away at about 3 months on average. Also, vaccination provides more robust immunity and longer lasting memory cells. It’s true that when vaccines first rolled out the suggestion was that anyone who had had Covid in the previous 3 months not get vaccinated but that was because of supply and they would still have some antibodies. Now the recommendation is that everyone get vaccinated whether they’ve had it or not.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yep, there was a big article in The Atlantic about this. The vaccine is better and doesn’t carry the risks of COVID.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      1) That people can get covid twice. (e.g. yesterday’s letter from someone who got it despite having it before and being vaccinated.)
      2) That a lot of “had covid” was self-diagnosed–especially early in the pandemic, I remember a whole ton of people who were like “Ooh, I had a really bad flu in fall of ’19, musta been covid so I’m now completely immune and should be allowed in bars.”
      3) That the vaccine is recommended even for those who already had covid. Donald and Melania Trump, who famously had covid in October, nonetheless got vaccinated in January.

      What would the problem be with getting the vaccine for these people? Then no one has to guess about whether they got covid or are telling what they think is a white lie about the conspiracy. No one has to guess whether their infection actually made them immune (no) or resistant (maybe) to covid.

      tldr: Just get the damn vaccine.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      The CDC recommends that people who have recovered from Covid should still be vaccinated. They cite a study showing that unvaccinated Covid survivors are actually more than twice as likely to get Covid again as those who are vaccinated. (will link in a reply)

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        “Among Kentucky residents infected with SARS-CoV-2 in 2020, vaccination status of those reinfected during May–June 2021 was compared with that of residents who were not reinfected. In this case-control study, being unvaccinated was associated with 2.34 times the odds of reinfection compared with being fully vaccinated.” https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7032e1.htm

    5. Aurora Leigh*

      I had COVID in Nov 2020 and I’m vaccinated. I think I remember hearing that there’s supposed to be a waiting period between having COVID (or maybe just being treated in the hospital for COVID) and getting the shot, but it’s only a few weeks if I remember right.

      Also, I live in a heavily anti-vax, anti-mask area, and I can tell you that people would 100% lie about having had COVID. People are always looking for loopholes. Granted the vaccine cards are easily faked at this point too. I basically don’t take my 5 month old out of the house because of the Delta spike here. Until there’s a vaccine for all children, adults really need to do there part.

  35. LQ*

    I find myself incredibly frustrated by a narrative I see floating around that is like an isolationist, anti-extrovert, pro-introvert narrative that is the pandemic has been great and that people never want to have human contact again and if you want it you’re bad and should feel bad. And I’m feeling it a lot because I saw a friend recently who was in tears because she wants some human contact but has partially bought into the narrative. It’s been really hard for her because she’s not lived alone much in her life and this is the first time for her in a long time she’s living alone and all these people with other humans they can touch and hug and see smile and she’s hearing them say she’s bad for wanting to have a socially distant outdoor coffee. And she may or may not actually be an introvert, it’s a part of her identity certainly. But I know for certain I am an introvert, but that doesn’t mean that zero human contact or zero human touch until someone has to manhandle my corpse onto a gurney is ok for me. I can be an introvert, a decent human being, and someone who would like to have human interaction. And I want her to feel the same. I’m just full of rage at all the people saying that going out is evil, but she’s still hurting from me. Other than buying her coffee and giving her masked hugs I don’t want to infect her with my rage and bitterness. I’m trying to not do that but it’s really hard and I feel like a lot of people don’t see the damage they are doing.

    1. Coenobita*

      Oh my GOSH yes I am 100% right there with you. I sort of thought/hoped that it was only a thing in the parts of the internet where I hang out, but I’m so sorry your friend is feeling this way!

      1. LQ*

        It’s definitely a thing broadly. I mostly am not hanging out in social places online right now that are not single topic because my mental health can’t handle it *even this site is too much for me most of the time! But she’s spending a lot of time around groups that are saying this because she wants to spend time with groups that are liberal enough to not be antivaxx, but with that online seems to come this trend too.

        I’m going to preschedule the next coffee with her so she’s got it on her schedule.

      2. Coenobita*

        Thinking about this a little more – for me the struggle is definitely wrapped up in feelings of guilt and privilege and comparison, like “all I have to do is sit in my house and work at my cushy desk job, I don’t even have kids, literally everyone else is worse off than me right now, what right do I have to be unhappy!” It feels almost… irresponsible to wish that I could go enjoy a dinner party or a street fair or hug a faraway friend or whatever, because a “good person” would be content with what they’ve got.

        But, like, humans are a social species! Isolation and loneliness are honest-to-goodness threats to health and wellbeing, and living alone can be particularly rough. It is fine and good and reasonable to desire touch and companionship.

        1. LQ*

          I totally get the privilege thing, and I think (I refuse to use the word lucky here) this is part of where she and I differ on this. I’ve been so angry about the work things in the last year I don’t feel like I’ve had a cushy year and a half at all, so my anger on that insulates me a little from being hurt by this the way she has been. Which is a good thing to reflect on.

          We are a social species! We have to be. It’s how we propagate! Little versions take a long time where they need bigger version around. We don’t bury eggs in the sand and shuffle away. It’s ok for us to be social and to want touch and companionship. And to somehow be tired after investing a lot in it too!
          Thank you

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      As an introvert, I empathize a lot with this–lots of bad behavior seems to get papered over with “well I have introversion” or “I have social awkwardness, I get infinity do-overs.” (For example, no, going along as the plus one to the wedding of someone in your partner’s circle is not some unbelievable request on their part; it’s a routine partner thing.)

      xkcd had a good cartoon on this, with a graph of hugs over the last several years and discovery that, while not usually a huggy person, author is huggier than 2020.

      I shall share the anecdote, I think from here, of someone whose work did a meeting on “Introverts! So incredibly rare and special, and you probably have no idea how to talk to this unicorn” and then it turned out most of the room were introverts and it wasn’t rare at all.

      1. Coenobita*

        I think (at least in my general social/work/internet circles) there’s been a bit of an introversion over-correction in the past few years. There are definitely lots of social conventions that expect a certain level of extroversion/outgoingness/assertiveness – usually in combination with whiteness and/or maleness, of course – and it’s great that we’re examining the problems associated with that. But that doesn’t mean that extroversion/outgoingness/assertiveness are inherently bad in any way. Like, the problem is with socially constructed systems, not with individual personality traits and preferences.

        (I say this as someone who was a bookish, socially awkward kid who grew up to realize that I’m definitely not an introvert, and it kind of threw me for a loop! I had definitely internalized some of that introversion smugness as a lonely teenager.)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Um. Tell her to not read stuff that makes value judgements about people. It’s not helpful, necessary or kind.

      Really, I mean if you look at this statement: ” that people never want to have human contact again and if you want it you’re bad and should feel bad.”
      So this means that people trapped in floods and fires should feel bad about themselves because they want someone to come help them??? Or how about people who need food pantries? They should feel bad? I could go on.
      Wow. Just wow.

      Ask her why she reads such downer stuff. Ask her why she thinks it is helping her.

      1. LQ*

        It’s not like she’s going out of her way to read these narratives, they are a part of the communities she’s a part of. And I don’t think they are exclusively there. I’ve seen people express pretty similar though softer worded sentiments here. She’s trying to get human interaction that’s she’s craving. Which makes perfect sense.

        1. fposte*

          It sure does. The narrative you’re talking about isn’t dominant in the online spaces I frequent, fortunately, but it sounds like not just introversion but anxiety getting codified as ethics.

        2. banoffee pie*

          That seems quite extreme. I haven’t noticed any of that attitude here (Northern Ireland). Here we’re all supposed to be over the fear and socialising indoors in the pub again. I’m not quite ready for that but definitely wouldn’t blame your friend for meeting people outdoors, especially if she lives alone!! I wonder what kind of communities are saying these things?

    4. Ranon*

      It’s frustrating because it’s so profoundly wrong! It’s like basic evolution stuff that humans need other humans, even my very introverted spouse who has two other people living in his house with him has probably gone no more than a few days without at least chatting to another human not living in our house (chatty neighborhood with room for distancing being one of the more undervalued Covid fortunes we lucked into).

      I think it’s more of a self reinforcing anxiety thing masquerading as introversion, not interacting with people because of fear of Covid means associating people with fear and that just gets looped into a rut forever. I hope for her sake and yours you’re both able to keep connecting, hopefully with less guilt over time- there are so many options for connecting with other people with very low risks and huge rewards (and it’s mostly not too cold outside yet even!)

    5. Easily Lemon squeezy*

      This sounds like a regional construct to me. In my area, we’ve been encouraged by public health to have socially distant coffees and exercise outside. But we have high vaccination rates and moderate spikes. A constant message from public health was that hey these are the orders you must follow, but please have kindness and understanding for those who follow a more strict plan for their situation. It has worked.. not perfectly, but reasonably well. Maybe the focus for you and your friend is less rage, less defensiveness, and define your boundaries within the ones ordered or recommended by health and own it without rancor. I might be being naive, but when I’m confident about my well thought through boundaries, other people’s judgements don’t get to me nearly as much.

    6. photon*

      I think 2 things are going on —

      (1) Humans are really bad at risk analysis, and human contact (right now) has an elevated chance of causing death. I would try pointing her at something like microcovid.org – showing her that there’s a way to reduce your risk of getting/transmitting covid, without shutting you off from the rest of the world. We’re inherently social animals, and we’re going to have to learn to live with this virus at some point.

      (2) For a long time, there have been “how to care for your introvert” articles, as though introverts are defective and fragile. Now we’re getting a little bit of “extraverts are needy”. It’s all a bit silly, since most people aren’t at extreme ends of the spectrum, but it’s expected in the world of listiciles and “You Wouldn’t Believe That ____” articles. The most important things are to figure out when you need people & how to have those needs met, while also respecting that others may have different needs/their boundaries are worth respecting.

    7. Buni*

      The best explanation I saw re classifying Introverts vs. Extroverts was not some huge dividing world view, but rather: How do you recharge? So if you’ve had a mad stressful day at work, would you rather de-stress by going to a loud bar with friends, or by going home and sitting alone for a while.

      I am absolutely in the latter category: I would need to destress in silence. But then once I am de-stressed / recharged, I would absolutely love to go out to the bar. The problem is the way it’s been construed as ‘You absolutely have to be one or the other, a mad party animal or a misanthropic loner’. That’s the unhelpful / frustrating bit.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        And even with that, introversion vs extroversion isn’t a binary, anyways. It’s a sliding scale of what level of human interaction is optimal for you. And for many introverts, being unable to interact face to face with any human beings for over a year is far less than their optimal social interaction levels. And I’d like to point out that pre-pandemic, having such a low level of human interaction tolerance that being able to handle this pandemic without craving human contact by this point was considered a mental disorder, often by the same people who are posting bad takes on facebook in the other direction.

      2. Roja*

        Agreed. I really, really hate the definition shift I’ve seen in various places on the internet that introvert is now supposed to mean “total loner who hates people and never wants to leave the house.” I’m an introvert! I recharge alone. But when I’m done, like you, I want people. I love people! People are great. My family and friends are awesome and I love them dearly. Just, when we’re done, I’ll take an hour alone please. ;)

  36. Whataboutthat*

    Anyone else in NYC trying to move back and rent an apartment right now? I’ve just started looking again and am hearing horror stories about the competition for apartments. I do not necessarily need to be back in the city soon as we’re still 100% remote- but I’m living at my parents 2 hours away and would prefer to get out sooner rather than later. My friend advised waiting until the dead of winter to start looking but UGH- that seems like forever! I was planning to sublet (or at this point I’ll need to Airbnb because even sublets are flying super quick) for a month with a suitcase but I’m nervous even that won’t yield much!

    Just curious what others are doing and if anyone wants to commiserate…

    1. mreasy*

      I was looking recently in case our lease wasn’t renewed. There were some options on Streeteasy that had been around for awhile – maybe think outside of the box on neighborhoods and you’ll have better luck? Not great specific advice but I wouldn’t despair just yet.

    2. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Wasn’t looking in this difficult market, but I always had the best of luck getting good NYC rentals if I sucked it up and paid a realtor’s fee (1 month’s rent or more) to have them help me find an apartment. Good luck!

    3. photon*

      If you’re working remote, why are your only options “NYC” and “living with your parents 2hrs away”? Why not pick some nice town with cheap rent?

  37. Coenobita*

    I’m asking a question about weight gain/loss (possibly including numbers/sizes) so I’m going to put it in the reply. Please collapse and/or scroll by if you’d prefer not to see it!

    1. Coenobita*

      So a few weeks ago, there was a discussion on a weekend thread about how to avoid weight gain during/after your mid-30s (particularly for cis women).

      I want to say up front that I have zero issues with that kind of conversation and found the replies really interesting. But when that kind of thing comes up, I feel like people’s answers are often “I cut out all sugar, stopped drinking alcohol, cook every meal from scratch, and do 16:8 intermittent fasting every day.”

      And if that’s your thing and you like it and it makes you feel good, more power to you! But how many people actually, like, DO that? And – I think this is my real question – what’s the mental calculus where you decide whether or not it’s worth it??

      For background, I’m 35 and I’m a pretty average-sized human (albeit a short one, LOL), but I’ve gained enough weight in the past couple years that my mental image of myself doesn’t really match how I look anymore. I’m no athlete or anything, but I’m active and healthy and in ok shape, I’m just noticeably bigger than I used to be. And my thought is, I enjoy snack food and takeout and wine and beer and… I don’t actually want to give that up? That’s… ok, right? I mean, intellectually, I know that’s a silly question but I grew up in an environment where women definitely talked about other women “letting themselves go” (e.g., my mom once commented to me that an acquaintance had “blown up like a balloon”) so it’s a constant little thing in the back of my mind. What are your thoughts?

      1. bookcase*

        The only way to lose weight I found in my experience was to drastically reduce intake of calories.

        Is it worth it only you can answer. Personally I am happy being moderately fat and enjoying life. My cut off point for my acceptable weight is probably a bit higher than some people’s. I don’t mind a bit of squish. I think I look fine being a touch fat. Not a lot, just a reasonable bit.

        I have found there are benefits to being bigger. I used to be slim and attractive and the sexual harassment was constant. Now I am bigger it’s not an issue really. Bonus!

      2. fueled by coffee*

        Yes, it’s okay!!! I think we have a lot of cultural messaging that says women need to be constantly suffering and depriving themselves to fit some ideal body image, and that if women ever gain weight they *must* be trying to lose it and like…

        On the one hand, yes, if you’re trying to lose weight (because you’re unhappy with your appearance or for health reasons), then you’re going to have to either exercise more or change your diet. But if you’re otherwise happy with your lifestyle, getting all the nutrients you need and relatively active, there’s no need to change that! And if you like your lifestyle but aren’t thrilled with your appearance… you could also always resolve the conflict by working on learning to like your body as it is (but funny how we never really see that as an option).

        I’ve found the “Maintenance Phase” podcast to be a super interesting look at diet culture/fat phobia/the health industry in general. It’s definitely really informed my thinking on a lot of things like this.

        1. Coenobita*

          That’s a super interesting point about the need-to-be-constantly-suffering! That definitely rings true to me. And I love Maintenance Phase!

      3. CTT*

        So for me, there are a few categories of things I have cut out entirely – like chips. I have stopped buying them because I would always end up mindlessly eating a whole bag in one sitting and not even enjoy it because it was just something to do while watching TV. And as much as I miss chips (salt & vinegar, I still love you), I know I’m not getting out of it what I do with other “junk” foods.

        For everything else, I try to change up my routine so that I’m balancing everything better. Like, I was always having a glass or two of wine after work because I would think “I have had a long day of drinking boring water and I DESERVE something fun.” Which I do! But why did fun always have to be alcohol and not, like, a glass of wine one night and decaf flavored iced tea the next.

      4. ThatGirl*

        I turned 40 this year. I watched my mom on the diet rollercoaster most of her 30s and 40s. I don’t want to do that. I have always been on the heavier side, and have definitely put on lbs since my 20s. Metabolisms slow, life changes.

        I like ice cream, cheese, bread, beer, etc. I also like veggies and fruits and exercise. So it’s a work in progress, always, but I don’t want to commit to hardcore diets or exercise plans that won’t last. Instead my focus now is on lasting habits – not keeping tons of sweets in the house, making regular exercise part of my routine, making sure I eat my veggies. Listening to my body. But not giving up every little pleasure in life, that’s for sure.

        1. mreasy*

          Very similar to my strategy. I am relatively slim but definitely a medium where I was once a small. To get back there would take a tremendous amount of self-denial that I’m just not interested in, and cutting carbs/dieting ratchets up my GAD and sometimes depression. I just don’t keep the stuff in the house (sweets, chips) that I know I’ll inhale, and otherwise mostly just try to eat a ton of veggies (in yummy meals, not as a penance) and get some protein. And some wine or a beer or pizza or a burger every now and then to keep things going.

          1. Venus*

            I’m somewhat similar. I buy treats but think about it when I eat them so it isn’t mindless, and I eat a lot of veggies (not excessive, but 4-6 portions on good days, sometimes as a pile of raw carrots, green beans as a snack).

      5. Exif*

        I don’t have a choice. I’m fighting GERD and gallstones and despite doing literally all the things you mention, I’m still facing surgery. Eating right, exercising right, sleeping right; all they’re doing is making it so I can get through the day without doubling over in anguish.

        My body, for whatever reason, demands absolute perfection in my daily habits, with no wiggle room. I’ve had to work through extreme bitterness about that, but I’m hoping that long-term it will allow me to avoid common lifestyle illnesses.

        So, when someone asks, “What do you do to stay slim?” my answer is true in that my habits do ensure that I stay thin, but I usually skip sharing the baggage about why I’m going to such lengths.

        1. Coenobita*

          Ugh, that sounds really tough, I’m sorry. My mom is in a very similar situation and can only eat, like, four types of things if she doesn’t want to be in pain for days afterward. But she’s an “eat to live” type person who’s basically made out of willpower and it honestly doesn’t seem to bother her all that much. On the other hand, I remember her mother – my grandmother, who developed similar issues toward the end of her life – saying that she wished she had eaten more chocolate cake and drunk more red wine while she could still enjoy it. If someday soon it turns out that I’m only going to be able to eat oatmeal and cauliflower for the rest of my life, I kind of want to get my enjoyment in while I still can!

      6. Kathenus*

        I’m in my 50’s, and a few years ago decided to try to lose some weight, and knew that a strict diet or lots of exercise were not likely to stick for me based on past experience. So I focused on a few things I thought I could do instead. First, I reduced alcohol consumption – I didn’t try to eliminate it since I thought I’d be less likely to stick to that but I consciously reduced it. Second, addressing a definite issue for me, I focused on eating smaller portions. I did allow myself to get more if still hungry after, but only if I was still hungry after 30 minutes versus my prior reacting as soon as I finished eating and getting more before it had really hit my system. And then I just tried to eat a bit healthier, make better choices, but without high pressure on myself that I could only eat ‘good’ stuff all the time. This approach really worked for me and I was able to maintain it and lost 15 pounds over the course of about six months. I definitely think, for me, looking for realistic steps I could take versus arbitrary ones that I knew weren’t likely to be maintained was the key.

        1. Kathenus*

          And one thing that helped me with reducing alcohol is to replace it with a huge stock of those no/low calorie flavors you can add to water – the single serve style. I have a huge mug full of them with a lot of choices which seem more ‘fun’ than just plain water. Silly but it helped for me.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Level up: mix them! I have a couple flavors of those single-serving packets that are pretty meh on their own – strawberry, for me, and pineapple and peach lemonade. I really wanted all three of those to be amazing, and they’re just not, but if I get out a big cup (I do most of my water drinking out of a quart mason jar these days, which is two single-serving packets) and mix either the pineapple or peach lemonade with the strawberry, the results are the dynamite I was looking for. :)

            1. Coenobita*

              oh, now THAT’s an idea! I prefer seltzer so I’m always mixing flavors in with water I carbonated with my sodastream, and there’s an extra level of “not quite there” because the flavors are calibrated for still water. But mixing them opens up a whole new world of possibilities! :)

      7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I turned 40 on my last birthday, and my general rule is, I don’t pay too much attention to my weight, so much as I mind whether my pants are still fitting. I hate pants shopping, so if the pants still fit, then I’m fine, but if the pants start to get snug, then I have to decide between minding my caloric deficit (which means some combination of eating less and moving more) or going pants shopping. (I mostly live in leggings and oversized dude jeans these days, which buys me a lot of wiggle room, but I do put on actual-facts pants at least every couple of weeks so that I can hopefully avoid being caught off-guard by a pants emergency :P )

      8. Cookie D'oh*

        My attitude is similar to yours.. I’m 44 and I weigh 40 lbs more than I do when I was 24. I suppose I could try to lose weight, but I don’t but I don’t want to give up my snacks and cocktails and dessert. I do try to wait until 11 or 12 to eat and I limit portion sizes. I need to eat more fruits and vegetables. I also drink water regularly. Also, I own a scale but I don’t weigh myself regularly. I only started exercising regularly last year and my focus is more on strength and endurance rather than losing weight.

        1. Venus*

          Thanks for reminding me…
          I only have a small snack with coffee at 9 or 10 am. For some people breakfast is very important, whereas for me it makes me hungry all day. I eat a lot more if I have anything substantial before noon. I tend to eat a small-to-medium lunch and a larger supper.

          1. Kathenus*

            Thank you for showing me I’m not the only one! My only difference is I generally just have coffee in the mornings. I’ve never found anyone else who also has the hungry all morning if they eat breakfast thing.

            I’m so tired of the ‘breakfast is the most important meal’ message that some people can’t let go of. That may be true for some, or even most, but not for all. Im in my 50’s but anytime I visit my dad I have to hear it every single morning.

        2. the cat's ass*

          This is SO key-strength and endurance. I’m in my 60’s and am a big woman who folds exercise into my daily life as well as daily walks after work. I had my gall bladder out 10 years ago and i cant really tolerate rich foods (or falafel, dammit) anymore and around the same time alcohol stopped tasting good, so I’ve been maintaining. I also keep an eye on how my clothes fit. The big thing is to keep moving.

      9. traffic_spiral*

        “And my thought is, I enjoy snack food and takeout and wine and beer and… I don’t actually want to give that up? That’s… ok, right?”

        I mean… it’s your life? You’re an adult, there’s no one else that’s gonna make you eat your veggies if you don’t want to.

        Staying fit will have benefits far beyond fitting into the same clothes for a decade. You can walk or run without your thighs chafing, knees aching and lower back twanging. And the thing is, it’s cumulative. It’ll be extra aches and pains in your 30’s, and in your 40’s it’s “LOL, I sleep with my head on the pillow wrong (when I can sleep) and I hurt for the whole day,” and then in your 50’s you can barely lift your grandkids, and by 60 you can’t join your younger family and/or fitter friends on a simple walking tour longer than 20 minutes.

        Also there’s a lot of incremental changes you can make to diet and exercise that’ll help. I think that, like the commenter above who posed the “either it’s all chance or it’s all according to plan or all under our control” question, you’re trying to pose this as a choice between two extremes in order to get the answer you want.

        The truth is that yes, after 25 or so your body’s cells destruct faster than they regenerate, and muscular decline starts in your 30s, so either you up your your bodily maintenance, or you start degenerating faster. It’s not a moral choice, it’s just a lifestyle choice – like spending vs. saving. It takes effort and you might get hit by a bus tomorrow and have all that work be for nothing.

        Oprah doesn’t show up to give you a bedazzled “Live Laugh Love” poster for bravely choosing that microwave pizza for dinner, nor does Jane Fonda show up to give you a prize for fitting into the same jeans for 30 years. It’s your life, your free time, your money, your choice of hobbies, your tastebuds, joints, vertebrae, liver, and spleen. Prioritize them however you like.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Thing is, my thighs are gonna touch whether I’m a size 8 or 16. My back hurts because I sit at a desk all day, not because of my weight. You can be fit and still heavy, don’t conflate the two. I do spin class, weights, elliptical, etc. I walk a lot. I’m never gonna have grandkids but I can be heavy and still be able to pick up my niblings,

          1. Kali*

            That’s not what Traffic Spiral was saying at all. Of course fitness and health are different, and there are circumstances and genetics that you can’t control for. But ultimately there are lifestyle choices you can make that will help you stay fit and mobile for longer, within the boundaries of your specific body and health.

            People get so touchy about this. It’s just the reality of life, it’s not a personal attack. Of course you can snack and do whatever else you want, but the facts are still facts, no matter how inconvenient we may find them.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Paragraph 3 read as very judgy to me. Maybe not to you, but traffic_spiral can tell me otherwise if I’m wrong. In the meantime, yes of course you can make choices that will help you stay fitter and more mobile, that’s exactly what I said. But that doesn’t mean my thighs won’t touch or my back won’t ache!

              1. traffic_spiral*

                Paragraph 3 being “Staying fit will have benefits far beyond fitting into the same clothes?” That’s not judgy, it’s not un-judgy, it’s a statement of fact, like “regular flossing will have benefits beyond not getting an awkward bit of lettuce stuck in your teeth.”

                Regarding your thighs and back, since you’ve mentioned them twice:

                1. Whether your thighs touch is irrelevant outside of an instagram trend that was over years ago, and no one but you is talking about it. Whether your thighs *chafe,* as in, can you walk long-distance in a skirt without special leg protection and not end up in serious pain? That’s absolutely going to be different at size 8 or 16. The circumference of your leg (and the width of your pelvis, obviously, but there’s no changing that) controls the area of the skin that’s in contact and the pressure exerted against said skin at each step, which obviously controls the size and severity of the chafed area.

                2. Your back shouldn’t hurt just because you have a desk job. I have no idea whether your problem is due to poor posture, lack of core strength, a more severe medical problem, or some combination of those 3 things, but… you actually should probably look into that. It’s not normal to be in pain at the end of a day spent at a desk.

                1. ThatGirl*

                  I’m so glad you’ve lived in my body and know exactly how it’s behaved at every size! /sarcasm

                  And I didn’t say I was in constant back pain, I said it ached sometimes.

      10. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

        I’m right with you on not wanting to give up food and drinks that I enjoy. I used to be quite thin and now in my mid-fifties I am a little chubby.
        And I’m fine with it. I really think it’s healthier (mentally at least) to not diet. I don’t want to live the rest of my life worrying about my weight and constantly watching what I eat.

      11. Bagpuss*

        Yes, it’s OK, but also it’s possible to make less drastic changes and not give up the things you enjoy.

        I m in my 40s and a few years ago I decided I needed to get fitter and lose weight. I was overweight and my doctor had advised that I should try to lose some weight.

        I didn’t (& still don’t) think that totally cutting out anything was going to work for me, (not least as I felt that the ‘failure’ if I didn’t stick to it would be unhelpful from a mental health standpoint)

        What I did was to cut down rather than cutting things out, be careful about portion size, and look critically at my own habits and try to manage them.

        For me, for instance, I realised that one bad habit was if I worked late I would get home really hungry and tired, so would grab sugary snacks, and then wind up cooking and eating a full meal as well.

        So making sure I have meals that I can get on the table really quickly if I get home tired helped, (I cook in bulk and freeze individual portions of things such as curry, spaghetti sauce etc, so I can microwave them and cook some rice or pasta, and eat within 10 minutes. So I have healthy, homemade from scratch food but I don’t cook from scratch every night)
        I also found getting into the habit of getting myself a glass of water instead of a snack, and only eating something if I am actually hungry after I drink it, was useful. So was getting into the habit of just taking one thing – so if I want more i have to get up and go back in the kitchen to get another!

        Smaller portions (on smaller plates)
        I did weigh stuff until I recalibrated what I saw as a normal serving.
        And if I want a glass of wine, or a donut, or a meal out with friends, I have it and enjoy it.

        For me, I find that knowing I *could* have something, but choose not to have it right now, works much better than forbidding anything. So I have crisps (chips) in the cupboard, I don’t eat them every day but I know that I can have them if I get a sudden craving. I maybe eat one bag every couple of weeks, instead of every weekday.

        I also tend to have less of things – e.g. tonight I had a glass of wine with my supper, but it was a small glass and I only had one. 3 years ago it would probably have been a couple of large glasses.

        It’s worked out well so far for me . I lost around 60lbs/3 dress sizes and now weigh around what I did when I was in my early 20s, and feel so much better, both physically and because I like more about how I look.

        I am not a gym person but I also made an effort to get more active, mostly just walking more. Nothing excessive but I do have a cheap, basic Fitbit and aim for 10,000 steps and 30 active minutes a day. (& again, mostly I do it, but some days it doesn’t happen and that’s ok)

        1. banoffee pie*

          You don’t have to cut any food out completely in my experience, even cake, just cut down. Although I barely drink at all so that might help me to stay thin. Even a few drinks can add up. And I know it isn’t the current thinking but I really think exercise helps.I know they say you can;t lose weight with exercise alone but I feel like I did. Maybe I’m just folling myself, maybe I’m eating less too, but I’m finding playing tennis a few times a week keeps the weight off. And that is literally the only exercise I do. But you have to play quite vigorously, not just ‘stand and deliver’ lol

          1. ThatGirl*

            Exercise is good for a lot of things, including building muscle so you burn calories more efficiently. It helps maintain weight loss, that’s for sure. But to create a calorie deficit for weight loss it’s much easier and healthier to eat less (to a point) than to exercise hours a day.

          2. Bagpuss*

            Yeah, I like cake and chocolate and gin and fine dining and I haven’t given any of them up. I tend to the view that ‘a little of what you fancy does you good’

            (I also have some physical limitations which mean a lot of more vigorous options for exercise are not possible for me, so I walk, and sometimes swim, but nothing more energetic. I am sure it helped with the weight loss and I am definitely fitter with much more stamina than I used to be.

      12. I'm A Little Teapot*

        I don’t cut out stuff I don’t want to. I do manage portion sizes. So, maybe I’ll have 2 instead of 3 cookies. That sort of thing. I don’t starve myself by any means, but I don’t need to eat all the cookies. I have gained a little bit of weight this year due to eating differently, but the circumstances which lead to that different eating have reverted to normal. I expect that I’ll slowly revert to normal.

        I haven’t yet experienced the hormonal shifts (or whatever they are) which lead to gaining weight. Or if I have, I’m not actually gaining weight. No idea why.

      13. RagingADHD*

        I think that age 35 is slap in the middle of primetime for learning to distinguish between your mother’s opinion, the opinions of of strangers on the Internet, and your own opinion.

        Nobody else is in charge of what you put in your mouth or how you feel about it. Are YOU okay with your choices? If yes, then it’s okay.

      14. matcha123*

        Hmm, I am a few years older than you and have gained weight as I’ve gotten older, but not to the extent where I can’t fit into clothes from 10 or more years ago.
        I enjoy wine and beer…and pizza and microwave dinners and all matter of things.
        The only difference I can think of is that I’ve been more in-tuned to my body since my youth. As an adult it took me a few years to figure out how to plan drinking alcohol around my monthly cycle (I tend to get very sick that time of the month and cutting alcohol a week before I expect to start has helped a lot).
        I also love moving and exercising, so if you are traditionally a stationary person, then it might take some time to get into that habit. My family was poor when I was growing up, so I walked or took public transportation everywhere. I live in a large city now and actually walk less than before, but still try to take the stairs whenever possible and walk to places rather than take the train.

        At the end of the day it’s got to come from within you. If you feel healthy and happy at where you are, then keep up with what you’re doing. Sometimes just tweaking your clothing a bit can make you feel put together, or trying a different hairstyle.

      15. Michaela*

        So I’m a year older than you, and put on 30 pounds and climbing since covid.

        Pre covid, however I would eat whatever, and it was always fine – I’ve even been called a human garbage disposal – that’s multiple large pizzas in one sitting and having a flat stomach the next day (though not after the pizza). For me, it was weight training, and heavy, as in deadlifting up to 300 pounds heavy. Hated running or cardio stuff and never did it. When I was younger I would eat a lot less and was heavier, so for me, strength training was my ticket to gluttony and being small.

        Post covid, I still eat all the things, and do no exercise, so the consequences are obvious. Would absolutely recommend to give heavy weights a go, though all bodies react differently.

      16. Chonky McChonkFace*

        Big mood here, and I’m not even 30. I started gaining weight after college and it’s just… never stopped. I’m now 5’4” and just over 200 lbs… so according to BMI readings I’m 60 lbs overweight.

        I really struggle with portion control because my mood is drastically affected if I’m hungry. Like, severely anxious, cranky, can’t focus on anything other than NEED FOOD NOW. Then I panic eat too much. Or I eat in anticipation of not being able to have snacks later. We get meal kits delivered, and I always pick the ones that are in a healthy calorie range, but a lot of times the portion feels like 2/3 of what I want to eat.

        I have an Apple Watch, and it’s useful for tracking movement. I try to exercise a few times a week, but it’s hard. I do feel stronger— I can keep up with people better. I like to focus on the benefits of exercise other than weight loss because I get super sad when I think about being chonky forever. But I can think about treadmill time = a cooler hike I can go on later.

        My parents are super health nuts and love cycling. My dad lost over 50 lbs when I was in high school by biking so much. They also eat very healthy— low fat bc my mom’s gallbladder issues— but I always think… this is what it takes? This is what I’d have to do? Cut out all cheese and dessert, bike for several hours a day?? Be constantly worried about what you eat? Admit that you stop eating when you’re still hungry? I’ve seen it’s possible to lose that much weight, but I’ve also seen the discipline required, and I don’t think I can do that…

        So I guess I’ll just wait until I can squeeze myself like a custard-filled donut to make all the filling come out :’(

        1. banoffee pie*

          ‘Cut out all cheese and dessert, bike for several hours a day?? Be constantly worried about what you eat?’
          No I don’t think you have to do that, that sounds depressing. I think just cutting down a bit on the bad stuff will help. I agree that some people act like you have to be really strict amd self-denying, I’m not sure why they labour that point so much tbh. I often eat three types of cheese a day ;) Don’t try to take them off me or there could be trouble ;)

      17. EventPlannerGal*

        I think you’ve got a lot of good answers but I just wanted to respond to this bit – “I feel like people’s answers are often “I cut out all sugar, stopped drinking alcohol, cook every meal from scratch, and do 16:8 intermittent fasting every day.””

        I think more than anything that’s a sign to look elsewhere for actual advice on these topics, particularly if it’s bringing up negative feelings or putting you off making changes. Particularly in pseudonymous forums like this, you have no idea whether the people saying that kind of thing are honestly describing what they’re doing or if they’re sticking to it, or what other effects it’s having on their bodies or lives in general. If it’s making you feel bad about enjoying snack food or a glass of wine, I really think you’d be better off looking at any of the many, many actual health/fitness professionals who will tell you that balance, moderation and portion control are more sustainable and effective than suddenly cutting out everything you love. You do have to put in a bit of effort to find the right people to follow and figure out what gels with your lifestyle, but it’s going to be a million times more helpful than random comments in the AAM weekend thread telling you they dropped 50lb by living off egg whites or whatever you’ve come across.

      18. MeepMeep*

        You know, I think I am one of the people who actually, like, DOES that. Never thought I would be one – I was definitely not a health nut until I was well into my 30’s. I was a couch potato, I liked my sweets, I was basically the antithesis of “healthy living”. Then, when I got into my 30’s, I had multiple realizations all along the same lines: I’m not immortal, heart disease runs in my family, and I need to start taking care of this body while it is still working. I made a tentative foray into Paleo eating and noticed that my acne cleared up immediately, like magic. That motivated me to start more self-experimentation in the diet and exercise area. I took up weight lifting, and noticed an instant improvement in mood. I started a regular walking regimen and noticed a further improvement in energy and wellbeing. And so on. Every lifestyle change was motivated by something other than weight, and resulted in an immediate improvement in the way I felt.

        What I noticed is that after a while on this diet plan, your tastebuds change; fruit starts tasting very sweet, and conventional American sweets start tasting completely disgusting. At this point, I don’t even enjoy sweets all that much, even though I used to be hugely into them. I am not 100% rigid about it, and I veer off-plan for social reasons or just because, but my reaction is usually “Meh, this wasn’t worth the acne that I will get afterwards”.

        1. banoffee pie*

          I’m not on a paleo diet and I agree that fruit tastes sweet and shop-bought sweets (candy) taste sickly sweet. I don’t eat shop-bought bread, cakes, cookies etc any more since I started baking my own, which helps to control weight. Overprocessed carbs in that type of thing can lead to metabolic changes, making you put on weight. I’ll try to link to a story. I know not everyone has time to bake, it helps I don’t work set hours, and I’m not trying to say everyone should do it :) Just a suggestion if it helps. I really don’t feel like my home made cakes etc put on as much weight as shop bought ones

      19. Ranon*

        I have to exercise in order to be able to do things like sit in chairs without pain and other basic life stuff, and I’m fortunate to have found some other active things I enjoy doing and to some extent they do control my diet because in my mid 30s I absolutely notice how much slower my body is after one serving of alcohol within 24 hours of a workout and same with generally fueling my body and etc.

        I’m zero motivated by numbers so any kind of weight or calorie tracking just doesn’t happen. Overall I think about a long term hedonistic view towards food- I want it to taste good today and not make me feel awful tomorrow. So that largely leads towards moderation in the refined stuff and absolutely no control in the produce department which works out pretty okay.

    2. Double A*

      Well, my very first thought is of that Onion headline, “Study Links Meat, Sugar Consumption To Early Death Among Those Who Choose To Be Happy In Life.”

      Something lucky happened to me in my early 20s: I developed horrible lower back problems. Days when I couldn’t walk. However, they were completely treatable with physical therapy, which I pursued. And I learned that pilates basically incorporates all the exercises my PT did, so I began doing pilates regularly.

      I took up running. I pushed myself to injury, went back to PT. And really learned about my limits.

      These experiences really helped me be tuned into my body. They forced me to leaned about and respect my limits, and to learn about how to make myself functionally strong. Building my core strength in my 20s is the best thing I’ve ever done, because it set me up with a lifetime foundation for functional strength, by which I mean strength that lets me do the things I want to do in my life. That is my only standard for fitness and health: can I do the things I want to do?

      I’m about 30lbs heavier than I was in my most of my 30s. But I gained a lot of weight when I started rock climbing, and my arms got a lot bigger (and I could lift much heavier stuff!) and my back was visibly muscled. Now, with two young kids, I’m not the fittest. A lot of that rock climbing muscle has softened into fat. But I hardly drink alcohol and my eating is a bit better than it’s been at times.

      Basically, all things fluctuate. I try to have strong foundations for eating and fitness that I can come back to, but I’m not always able to do the things that would make me optimally fit and healthy for my body. I guess this is all to say, I really don’t worry too much about weight. I do try to limit some snacks that I know I can’t control myself around (I just can’t really have sweets in the house). Everything in moderation and in it’s season.

    3. Fitbit*

      Oooo this is a good question because I’m one of those people who counts macros 75% of the time so that I can stay the shape I want.

      Preface: I have hypothyroid issues and even though my blood levels are normal, I still gain weight easily. By easily I mean even if I ate healthy, a couple fun meals during the week (tacos/pasta/etc), and worked out 4-5 days a week, I would probably gain weight because I’m not weighing out my food thus I don’t know how much I’m eating.

      While not everyone feels this way, I feel my best and an happiest when I’m a certain size, which is pretty small. I’m not your average thin woman, I have curves (more pear shaped) with an athletic tone.

      My normal lifestyle/diet if you will consists of minimal sugar (less than 25 grams a day including fruit) but I do one sweet treat a week like a brownie or cookies, weigh out all my food down to the sauce, stay below 1500-1650 calories, watch my carbs and fat, and make sure I get enough protein.

      I also make 90% of my food so I know what I’m putting in my body. I don’t drink much, and I work out 4-5 times a week for an hour each, doing a mix of cardio and weightlifting with some Pilates style work outs.

      It works for me and makes me happy. I wish I could have more binge nights but I end